Marcus Thornton

Pistons Hosting Free-Agent Mini-Camp

While most NBA teams are spending their time hosting pre-draft workouts for draft-eligible prospects, the Pistons are concentrating their energy on the free agent market already, holding a free-agent minicamp today for multiple NBA hopefuls and a few former NBA players.

Bereft of a first round selection in the 2018 NBA Draft as a result of the club’s mid-season trade for Blake Griffin, the Pistons are surely hoping to get a jump start on the competition for the services of some lesser known free agents this summer.

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com provides a look at the minicamp roster, with the most well-known name having to be former No. 2 overall pick, Derrick Williams, who holds career averages of 8.9 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 428 career contests.

Other invitees with NBA experience include Williams’ former teammate with the Cavs during the 2016/17 season, Jordan McRae, as well as five-year veteran John Jenkins, the No. 40 overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft – Diamond Stone, and a 10-day contract recipient from this past season – Marcus Thornton.

And-Ones: G League Mini Camp, Combine, Balls

A number of NBA players with recent big league experience have been named to the G League’s Elite Mini Camp roster. In mid-May, about 40 players from the developmental league will get the chance to strut their stuff in front of NBA personnel.

A total of 13 players from the initial roster have had at least some NBA experience, including the always intriguing likes of K.J. McDaniels and Archie Goodwin.

Other players, like Marcus Thornton and Naz Mitrou-Long who signed 10-day contracts in 2017/18 will look to prove that they deserve another crack at a rotation spot.

While it will be tough for a significant number of these players to make final rosters next season, there are plenty of opportunities between training camp and the regular season, especially now with the introduction of two-way contracts last season.

Jonathon Simmons, the G League is quick to mention, once participated in this event, prior to latching on with the Spurs and spinning that into a role with the Magic last summer.

There’s more from around the league this afternoon:

  • While it’s become commonplace for highly regarded draft prospects to skip out on the combine, a number of reputable players from last year’s class were in attendance, including Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype broke down some of the best players from this year’s rookie crop that are actually expected to participate in the pre-draft event later this month.
  • The dust has settled after LaVar Ball‘s decision to move his non-Lonzo sons to Lithuania. According to Donatas Urbonas of 15min.It, LiAngelo Ball may have been slightly underrated prior to arriving in Europe while LaMelo Ball isn’t prepared to perform at the pro level yet. Urbonas connected with USA Today’s Andrew Joseph to discuss the Ball family’s Lithuanian adventure.
  • The NBA offseason is a lot closer than you might think. In fact, players like Cory Joseph and Wesley Johnson have already made key decisions on contract options for the 2018/19 campaign. For a rundown of what we expect from each team’s pending free agents, check out your respective team’s recap in our Free Agent Stock Watch series. Similarly, Hoops Rumors writers have ranked who we think the top available 2018 NBA free agents are.

Marcus Thornton Set To Play In China

Veteran NBA guard Marcus Thornton is headed overseas, according to international basketball journalist David Pick (Twitter links), who reports that Thornton will sign with the Beijing Ducks in China. He’ll replace Aaron Jackson, who is out for the rest of the CBA season with an injured collarbone.

Thornton had been playing for the Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit’s G League affiliate, averaging 18.9 PPG in just 24.6 MPG in 15 contests, with a shooting line of .500/.392/.833. The eight-year NBA veteran was likely hoping that his solid G League stint would result in a call-up to an NBA club. Still, he’ll have the opportunity to return stateside before season’s end, since the CBA year ends before the NBA’s. The CBA regular season ends next week, with the playoffs beginning shortly thereafter.

Thornton, 30, has played in 483 NBA regular season games since the start of the 2009/10 season, spending time with seven NBA teams over the course of his professional career. Most recently, the LSU alum averaged 6.6 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 33 contests for the Wizards in 2016/17. Although he worked out for the Timberwolves in the offseason, he was unable to land an NBA contract.

This Marcus Thornton should not be confused with the Marcus Thornton who was selected 45th overall in the 2015 draft by the Celtics — that former William & Mary guard, who has not appeared in an NBA regular season game, is currently playing for the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s G League affiliate.

Marcus Thornton Joins Pistons’ G League Team

Veteran NBA guard Marcus Thornton has signed a G League contract and has been acquired from the available player pool by the Pistons’ affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, a league source tells Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). The G League’s official transactions log confirms the move.

This Marcus Thornton should not be confused with the Marcus Thornton who was selected 45th overall in the 2015 draft by the Celtics — that former William & Mary guard, who has not appeared in an NBA regular season game, is currently playing for the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s G League affiliate.

This Thornton, 30, has played in 483 NBA regular season games since the start of the 2009/10 season, spending time with seven NBA teams over the course of his professional career. Most recently, the LSU alum averaged 6.6 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 33 contests for the Wizards in 2016/17. Although he worked out for the Timberwolves in the offseason, he was unable to land an NBA contract.

Thornton is the second former NBA player acquired by the Drive this week — the team also added swingman K.J. McDaniels. It’s not clear what sort of roles the two veterans will have for the Pistons’ G League affiliate, but both players will look to use the opportunity as a springboard back into the NBA.

Northwest Notes: Robinson, Thornton, Westbrook

The Timberwolves have plenty of room on their roster to bring aboard talent ahead of the 2017/18 season and have been busy looking for the perfect fit. Per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link), veterans Nate Robinson, Shawne Williams and Marcus Thornton have all stopped by to make an impression.

Of the three, Robinson is the highest profile but the 33-year-old hasn’t seen consistent NBA action since 2014/15 when he played 33 games in half a season with the Nuggets. The scrappy guard with a career average of 11.0 points per game could potentially add depth to the Timberwolves second unit.

A more intriguing option for the Timberwolves, however, may be adding Thornton.  Not only is the two-guard three years young, he’s played more substantial roles for other teams lately than Robinson has. The journeyman has suited up for seven teams in the past four seasons, granted, but has the ability to put points on the board when given the opportunity. In 2011/12. Thornton averaged 18.7 points per game for the Kings.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz are still reeling from the loss of Gordon Hayward this summer but have an intriguing long-term prospect in lottery pick Donovan Mitchell, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes.
  • With his original five-year Jordan Brand deal set to expire after this season, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook signed a 10-year extension with the Nike offshoot. Now, Nick DePaula of ESPN writes, the company will start developing an on-court Westbrook shoe.
  • The massive 10-year Jordan Brand extension could impact Russell Westbrook’s decision to sign an extension with the Thunder, Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman writes. While a player like Westbrook, who relies heavily on athleticism, may normally be inclined to lock in a long-term deal at age 28, Westbrook won’t exactly be hard up for cash if he decides to pursue other options.

Latest On Timberwolves’ Free Agent Search

2:08pm: Wolfson has provided an update to his initial report, tweeting that Thornton is actually working out for the Wolves later this week. However, veteran guard Jason Terry was spotted at the team’s facility today, per Wolfson.

11:27am: After working out several free agents last week, the Timberwolves are once again taking a closer look at some available players today, says Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter). According to Wolfson, veteran shooting guard Marcus Thornton is among the players working out today for Minnesota.

The Timberwolves have been on the lookout for much of the offseason for three veteran players who could fill out the team’s roster. Minnesota is said to be in the market for a pair of wings and a backup point guard, and auditioned a handful of players last week that fit that bill, including Anthony Morrow, Alan Anderson, Trey Burke, and Isaiah Canaan.

One of Minnesota’s top choices would be to simply re-sign Shabazz Muhammad, who remains on the free agent market. The Wolves renounced Muhammad’s rights in July, so they can’t offer him more than a minimum salary deal, but it’s possible that will be enough — Wolfson reports that there’s “slightly growing optimism” on the possibility of bringing back the free agent swingman.

The Wolves currently have 11 players on fully guaranteed contracts, and are open to increasing that number to 14 by the start of training camp. That would leave one opening on the 15-man regular season roster, which could be filled by a non-guaranteed player who has an impressive camp, or could be left open to start the season.

Pistons Notes: Downtown Move, Kennard, FA Workouts

The Detroit City Council voted on Tuesday in favor of several key agreements related to the Pistons’ move downtown, as Christine Ferretti and Jennifer Chambers of The Detroit News report. However, while Tuesday’s votes finalized approvals for the Pistons’ new practice facility and headquarters, there are more roadblocks that will need to be cleared before the club’s move to the Little Caesars arena is fully approved.

On June 20, the Detroit city council is scheduled to vote on the issuance of $34.5MM in proposed taxpayer-funded DDA bonds. Shortly after Tuesday’s city council session took place though, a federal judge granted a June 19 lawsuit that seeks to halt that June 20 vote, per Louis Aguilar of The Detroit News. As Aguilar explains, that lawsuit seeks to allow Detroit and Wayne County residents to vote on whether taxpayer money should be put toward the new arena and team facilities.

As the Pistons wait for resolution to the legal battle over their potential new arena, here are a few more items related to the team:

Nets Notes: Lopez, Lin, Dinwiddie, Nicholson, McDaniels

Nets GM Sean Marks spoke to the press about Brooklyn’s trade deadline activity. While the team held onto Brook Lopez and Trevor Booker (each of whom have another year left on their contract), Marks was involved in a few lower-profile transactions.

“We’re very familiar with Andrew [Nicholson]…he’s a system fit for us,” Marks said. “He’s a stellar young man and another guy with high character and that’s exactly we’re trying to do.”

The Nets acquired Nicholson along with a first-round pick and Marcus Thornton (who was subsequently waived) in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough. Bogdanovic performed well for the 9-47 Nets, but was a restricted free agent-to-be, and was dealt for an invaluable draft pick. Marks spoke about his team’s position in the upcoming draft.

“Now having two first round picks, it all helps,” Marks said. “It helps give us another vehicle where were can be systematic with the draft and see what happens. We obviously value the draft or we wouldn’t have done it. It’s about being strategic and having two picks now gives us an opportunity to move up with those picks, you can hold them where you are if your players are there at the time.”

More from Brooklyn…

  • One of the reasons Marks held onto Lopez at the deadline was to see how well he played with Jeremy Lin, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Lin has been limited to just 13 games this season due to injury, and hasn’t had an opportunity to be properly assessed by coach Kenny Atkinson. “To have a healthy Jeremy and a healthy Brook out there together with this team, it’ll be nice to evaluate that,” Marks said. “It’s something we started the season off with, and unfortunately, we only got a handful of games under our belt seeing that. We all know what those two bring to the table: They lift everybody else’s play.”
  • Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post profiled Spencer Dinwiddie, a former collegiate star at University of Colorado Boulder. Dinwiddie suffered a torn ACL during his junior year at CU, falling to the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft. Still just 23 years old, Dinwiddie has averaged more than 20 MPG for the first time in his career with Brooklyn. “He’s steadily getting better,” Atkinson said of Dinwiddie. “He played pretty well before the all-star break, started shooting it better and getting to the rim. We like his defense. He’s been a pleasant surprise, quite honestly.
  • Nicholson and K.J. McDaniels– each acquired at the deadline- are ready to step in right now for the rebuilding Nets. “I feel like it’s a great opportunity for me,” McDaniels told Greg Logan of Newsday“I’ll be able to show Brooklyn what I do, and play both ends of the court and just try to bring energy.” McDaniels’ acquisition was commended by writers across the league. Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post gave the trade an “A” grade, describing the transaction as low-risk, high-reward. “If he doesn’t do anything, the Nets can simply decline his option for next season. If he does something, then it’s found money. For a team with no talent or assets to speak of, it’s a good move to make — and saves them money to boot, as they were below the salary floor.”
  • Dan Favale of Bleacher Report echoed Bontemps’ sentiments, praising Marks for taking a flier on McDaniels. “Getting K.J. McDaniels for absolutely nothing is a great encore to parlaying Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough into Andrew Nicholson and a first-round pick,” Favale wrote. “Although McDaniels is beyond raw, he has the length and lateral gait to be a lockdown defender across all wing positions.”

Nets Waive Marcus Thornton

Thursday, 2:49 PM: Brooklyn has officially waived Thornton, according to a team press release.

Wednesday, 8:04 PM: The Nets will waive Marcus Thornton, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reports (Twitter link). Thornton came to Brooklyn in the Bojan Bogdanovic deal earlier today.

Thornton is on a one-year, $1.3MM deal, which is fully guaranteed. He was seeing regular minutes for the Wizards before rookie Sheldon McClellan took his role off the bench and the 29-year-old shooting guard didn’t play in Washington’s last 21 games.

In the 33 appearances this season, Thornton averaged 6.6 points and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 35% from the field. He’s also sported a 10.5 player efficiency rating.

Nets Trade Bojan Bogdanovic To Wizards

7:53 PM: The trade is official, according to a Nets’ press release.

3:01 PM: The Nets and Wizards have agreed to a deal that will send Bojan Bogdanovic to Washington, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter). Wojnarowski had previously identified the Wizards and Kings as teams with interest in the Brooklyn sharpshooter.Bojan Bogdanovic horizontal

In exchange for Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough, who will also head to Washington in the deal, the Nets will receive Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton, and the Wizards’ 2017 first-round pick, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter links). The pick will be lottery protected, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

Bogdanovic, who will turn 28 in April, was the 31st overall pick in the 2011 draft and eventually arrived stateside to join the Nets in 2014. The 6’8″ forward is is enjoying a career year this season, with 14.2 PPG and a .357 3PT% in 55 games so far.

Although Bogdanovic is on an expiring deal, he’ll be eligible for restricted – rather than unrestricted – free agency this summer. His matching rights will now be held by the Wizards, rather than by Brooklyn, and that has some value. The Nets know first-hand that it can be difficult to steal an RFA away from another team — the club had offer sheets for Allen Crabbe, Tyler Johnson, and Donatas Motiejunas matched in 2016.

Depending on whether the Wizards want to commit to Bogdanovic beyond the 2016/17 season, they may have to worry about re-signing two key RFAs in the summer, as Otto Porter is also on track for restricted free agency.

From the Nets’ perspective, the club gets another first-round pick in what’s expected to be a deep and talented draft. That probably makes the deal a win for GM Sean Marks, even though the Wizards’ pick currently projects to fall just 24th overall, as our reverse standings show. The Nets, of course, don’t have their own first-rounder, but they’ll also get Boston’s pick, setting them up for two selections in the 20s.

As for the financial details of the trade, the Nets had been well below the salary floor, but they’ll inch about $2.3MM closer to that mark by taking on Nicholson and Thornton, who combine to earn more than $7MM. Meanwhile, the Wizards will cut costs a little by taking on Bogdanovic ($3.57MM) and McCullough ($1.19MM). Washington should also be able to create a traded player exception in the deal worth about $2.5MM.

While Bogdanovic and Thornton are free agents at season’s end, Nicholson and McCullough are controllable through the 2018/19 season. McCullough will be eligible for restricted free agency in the summer of ’19, while Nicholson has a player option for the ’19/20 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.