Marquese Chriss

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Pacific Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Pacific Division:

Marquese Chriss, Warriors, 22, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $2.48MM deal in 2019
The eighth overall pick of the 2016 draft flamed out in Phoenix, Houston and Cleveland, but he’s taken advantage of his opportunity in Golden State. His playing time has gradually increased and so has his production. He averaged 13.8 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.0 APG and 1.8 BPG last month; In his first four games this month, he’s posted a stat line of 14.5/10.0/3.8/1.5 in those categories. Golden State has until mid-July to guarantee his $1.824MM salary for next season. That’s a dirt-cheap price for a young rotation big man.

Marcus Morris, Clippers, 30, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2019
Morris has jumped right into the Clippers’ rotation since the Knicks traded him. He’s started all 11 games since the deal became official, averaging 28.9 MPG. Unfortunately, Morris seemingly left his jump shot in the Big Apple. He’s made just 37.3% of his field-goal attempts and 26.3% of his 3-point tries with his new team. In the big showdown with the Lakers on Sunday, Morris clanked all nine of his shots. His defensive versatility will keep him in the rotation, but he needs to regain his perimeter touch to stay on the court in crunch time. Otherwise, he may have to drop his price tag this summer.

Quinn Cook, Lakers, 26, PG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $6MM deal in 2019
Cook was a steady presence with Golden State last season, as he appeared in 74 regular-season games and 17 more in the postseason. He’s gotten lost in the shuffle with the Lakers. He’s the de facto No. 4 point guard behind Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo and Alex Caruso, and has only played 22 minutes since the All-Star break. Cook is a solid 3-point shooter — 41.2% for his career — which would make him a valuable reserve on many rosters. The Lakers have until June 29 to guarantee Cook’s $3MM salary for next season. It seems likely he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, despite a $1MM partial guarantee.

Frank Kaminsky, Suns, 26, PF (Down) – Signed to two-year, $9.77MM deal in 2019
Kaminsky was in and out of Charlotte’s rotation last season, but he got a chance to reboot his career in Phoenix. The early returns were promising — he had four 20-point games in December. Shortly after Christmas, Kaminsky suffered a stress fracture in his right knee and he hasn’t seen the court again. The team holds a $5MM option on his contract next season. With Dario Saric and Aron Baynes headed to the open market, the Suns will have tough decision to make regarding Kaminsky, since that option must be exercised before free agency begins.

Alex Len, Kings, 26, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $8.5MM deal in 2018
Len has generally been productive since being dealt to Sacramento. He had a double-double in 21 minutes against Oklahoma City, an 8-point, 13-rebound, 5-block performance against Detroit and a 15-point, 7-rebound outing in 15 minutes against Toronto. His playing time will continue to fluctuate in the Kings’ crowded frontcourt. Sacramento’s motivation to acquire him was his expiring contract, but he definitely hasn’t hurt his value since the deal. He’ll head into unrestricted free agency this summer and should be able to hook on with a team seeking another big body to fortify its bench.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: Bender, Kings, Lakers, Ayton

After failing to become long-term building blocks in Phoenix, former Suns lottery picks Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender have reunited in Golden State. Bender is only on a 10-day contract for now, but Chriss thinks his former and current frontcourt mate is fitting in nicely with the Warriors, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic details.

“I think it’s a good fit for him, especially being around people who believe in you and help you grow,” Chriss said. “I think that’s all he needs.”

Bender’s 10-day contract with the Warriors will expire on Tuesday night, at which time Golden State will have the option of signing him to a second 10-day deal before having to make a decision on a rest-of-season commitment. Bender, who is simply looking to prove he still belongs in the NBA, hopes he’s making a good impression.

“I take it day-by-day,” Bender recently said, per Rankin. “I think there’s always options, but with this team, take it day-by-day and see what happens. Obviously, a great place to be, like I said. Great organization. I’m looking forward to the opportunity, but like I said, take it day-by-day and see what happens.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Although the Kings have missed Richaun Holmes over the last two months, they could actually have a logjam at center soon, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California. Holmes is reportedly nearing a return, but Harry Giles and Alex Len have played well up front for Sacramento as of late, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team divvies up playing time down the stretch.
  • Despite the fact that Anthony Tolliver was waived by the Kings over the weekend, he and Kent Bazemore helped get the team out of its lowest point of the season in January, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The two recently-acquired veterans told their new teammates in a team meeting that they were better than their record showed. “We were very vocal about the potential here,” Tolliver said. “Coming from Portland and seeing how we played there, and seeing how these guys played here, even though they were losing a lot of games at that point, we were like, ‘You guys are not that far away from winning.'” Sacramento is 11-5 since that motivational pep talk.
  • With a comfortable hold on the top seed in the West, the Lakers are using the final stretch of the season to experiment a little with lineups, says Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. That included starting Alex Caruso when Danny Green missed Saturday’s game with a minor hip injury.
  • Even though he’s not the All-Star and borderline MVP candidate that Luka Doncic is, Deandre Ayton is on an impressive run for the Suns, averaging 20.9 PPG and 12.4 RPG in his last 19 games. Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic makes the case that it wasn’t a mistake for Phoenix to select Ayton first overall in 2018, two spots ahead of Doncic.

Western Notes: Leonard, Beasley, Chriss, Tucker

The All-Star Game provided a glimpse of how dominant the Lakers would have been if Kawhi Leonard had signed with them instead of the Clippers, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times notes. The trio of Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 27 of Team LeBron’s first 30 points.

“I didn’t really go there mentally,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “It was an All-Star game. It’s an exhibition. I had fun with that aspect of it, but I love my Lakers team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Guard Malik Beasley has been rejuvenated by getting traded to the Timberwolves, Mike Singer of the Denver Post points out. Beasley was a victim of the Nuggets’ depth but he’s now getting steady minutes with Minnesota, which will pump up his value entering restricted free agency. “It’s good to see him have the opportunity and take advantage of it,” former teammate Jamal Murray said.
  • Reclamation projects such as Marquese Chriss are the types of players the Warriors will need to improve their roster, according to Marcus Thompson of The Athletic. Chriss can eventually complement the trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green by running the floor, finishing at the rim and rebounding, Thompson continues. Chriss has been especially productive since signing a two-year, $2.5MM deal and that’s significant, since the Warriors won’t have salary-cap space to upgrade their roster by many other methods for at least two more seasons, Thompson adds.
  • Former Rockets guard Chris Paul says Houston should give P.J. Tucker a contract extension, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. Tucker, who will earn just under $8MM in the final year of his contract in 2020/21, will be extension-eligible during the offseason. He has been playing center in a very undersized lineup in recent games.

Warriors Notes: Wiggins, Curry, Chriss, Luxury Tax

Andrew Wiggins‘ first game with the Warriors may have eased the doubts from those who wonder if he will be a good fit for the organization, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Acquired Thursday in exchange for D’Angelo Russell, Wiggins posted 24 points and five steals Saturday night. Coming to Golden State gives him a chance to change the arc of his career after five-and-a-half seasons with the Timberwolves.

“We lost a lot in Minnesota,” Wiggins said. “So coming here, being part of a winning culture, it’s different. Losing’s never fun. Being here, you can tell by everyone’s attitude, everyone’s approach, everything that’s everywhere, they’re winners. That’s something I’ve wanted to be my whole career.”

Slater points out that one of the benefits of making the Russell deal now instead of hoping for a better return this summer is that Wiggins has 30 games to adjust to the Warriors’ style of play. Ideally, he will evolve into a new version of Harrison Barnes, who was able to play power forward in brief stretches next to Draymond Green at center.

“A huge part of this trade is we know Andrew is a better positional fit for us than D’Angelo was,” coach Steve Kerr said. “… To be able to get a valuable wing player is not easy. There’s very few of them in the draft according to scouts and very few of them available in free agency. Wings are hard to come by. Just by bringing in a positional fit, a guy who has a lot of talent, I think the move makes sense.”

There’s more Warriors news this morning:

  • Stephen Curry confirmed on last night’s broadcast that he’s targeting the first week of March to return from his broken hand (video from NBA.com). Curry played just four games before suffering the injury in late October. He called his rehab “a work in progress.”
  • Marquese Chriss gave himself flexibility by signing for two years rather than three, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Chris will be just 24 years old when he becomes a free agent in 2021.
  • After reshaping the roster at the trade deadline, general manager Bob Myers talked about the importance of getting under the luxury tax line for this season (video link from Slater). “To see the numbers of being a repeater the level we would’ve been, the numbers got pretty high,” Myers said. “If we would’ve drafted in top five … the (taxpayer mid-level exception) … the traded player exception, all of a sudden you’re talking high 200 (millions).”

Warriors Sign Marquese Chriss To Two-Year Deal

2:49pm: Chriss’ new deal with the Warriors is now official, according to a press release from the club.

11:25am: The Warriors have reached an agreement to sign Marquese Chriss to a two-year deal, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

A promotion to the 15-man roster for Chriss, who had been on a two-way contract, had been widely expected after Golden State traded more than a third of its roster at the deadline. The Warriors’ deadline deals left them with just nine players on their standard roster. The team has since reached agreements with Ky Bowman (promotion from two-way deal), Juan Toscano-Anderson (standard contract), Zach Norvell (10-day contract), and now Chriss.

A former lottery pick, Chriss earned the Warriors’ final roster spot in the preseason and has averaged 7.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG in 47 contests (18.6 MPG) so far this season.

He briefly reached free agency last month when Golden State waived him before his 2019/20 salary could become fully guaranteed. He returned to the club on a two-way contract within a week and now will be moved back to the standard roster. Details of his new contract aren’t yet known, but it figures to be a minimum-salary deal and probably won’t be fully guaranteed for next season.

Even after completing all their reported signings, the Warriors will still have just 13 players under contract, so another move will be required to reach the NBA-mandated minimum of 14.

With Golden State moving both Bowman and Chriss to the standard roster, the team won’t have any two-way players for the rest of the season, since the deadline to sign players to two-way contracts was January 15.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacific Notes: GRIII, Warriors, Kings, Hield

The 2019/20 Warriors haven’t been the contender that Glenn Robinson III may have thought he was joining when he signed with the franchise last summer. However, the injuries that have derailed the team’s season have cleared a path to a major role for Robinson, who has started 44 games and averaged 31.8 minutes per game this season — both are easily career highs. The veteran tells Scott Agness of The Athletic that he’s appreciative of the opportunity he has received in Golden State.

“That 25- to 30-minute range a night, to be able to show what I can do and to showcase my skills and to do it with an organization as great as the Warriors, I think it’s everything I wanted in free agency,” Robinson said.

Robinson, whose 12.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, .470 FG%, and 1.3 3PG are also career bests, signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Warriors during the 2019 offseason. That modest deal makes him a candidate to be moved at the trade deadline, but even if he remains in Golden State this season, he’ll have the opportunity to consider offers from other teams this July. As he tells Agness, he wouldn’t mind sticking around beyond this season.

“Hopefully, it can be another great free agency for me and I would love to be back here,” the Warriors’ swingman said. “So we’ll see what happens.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • After trading Willie Cauley-Stein to Dallas, the Warriors have a chance to take an extended look at Omari Spellman and Marquese Chriss up front, writes Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area. Neither player is really a natural center, but they’re embracing the challenge of handling minutes at the five. “I’ve tried making a role off playing hard and doing the dirty work,” Chriss said. “I’m not the guy who is going to shoot 20 shots and get you 40 points. I’m gonna try and be that guy that is down low and banging, getting rebounds and setting screens.”
  • For the first time since the 2017/18 season, the Kings removed Buddy Hield from their starting lineup over the last two games, starting Bogdan Bogdanovic in his place. It seems safe to assume that experiment will continue for the time being, as Hield scored 63 points and made 14-of-23 three-point attempts in those two games, both Sacramento wins. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic explores how grief from Kobe Bryant‘s death fueled a historic night for Hield on Monday.
  • Replacing Hield with Bogdanovic in the starting lineup gives the Kings‘ first unit stronger ball-handling, play-making, and defense, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. As Anderson points out, head coach Luke Walton said that Hield’s move to the bench isn’t necessarily permanent, but it’s working for now.
  • In case you missed it on Monday evening, the NBA announced that Tuesday’s Lakers/Clippers game has been postponed in the wake of Kobe Bryant‘s death.

Warriors Officially Sign Damion Lee To Three-Year Deal

Damion Lee‘s long-awaited promotion to the Warriors‘ 15-man roster is now official, with the team announcing the move today in a press release.

Lee, who was previously on a two-way contract, signed a new three-year deal with a partial guarantee for the 2020/21 season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Next season’s partial guarantee will be worth $600K, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

The promotion had been expected since last Tuesday, when the team released Marquese Chriss in order to make room under its hard cap to sign Lee. For his part, Chriss has returned to the team on a two-way contract, essentially swapping places with Lee.

Lee, who is Stephen Curry‘s brother-in-law, has been a regular rotation player all season long for the injury-plagued Warriors, averaging 12.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 2.3 APG with a solid shooting line of .407/.360/.877 in 26 games (13 starts). The 27-year-old had exhausted the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way deal, but will no longer face those restrictions on his new standard contract.

Golden State has had little financial wiggle room all season long due to its hard cap and will now be approximately $394K below the threshold, according to Marks (Twitter link). Marks notes that the Warriors will be able to sign a 15th man to a rest-of-season contract as of March 4 if no trades or 10-day signings before then affect the club’s cap sheet.

The Warriors were able to sign Lee to a three-year, minimum-salary contract by using their mid-level exception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Re-Sign Marquese Chriss To Two-Way Deal

JANUARY 15: Chriss’ two-way contract is now official, according to the Warriors.

JANUARY 14: Just days after waiving him, the Warriors intend to bring back Marquese Chriss on a two-way contract, reports Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).

Chriss has spent most of the 2019/20 season with the Warriors and played well in a part-time role, averaging 7.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 1.9 APG in 37 games (17.7 MPG). However, he was released last Tuesday in advance of the league-wide salary guarantee deadline because Golden State wanted to maximize its flexibility under the team’s hard cap. The two sides were said to have mutual interest in a reunion.

The Warriors reportedly plan to promote two-way player Damion Lee to their standard roster to fill the spot that Chriss previously occupied, so the two players will essentially be swapping places. The pair of moves will need to be completed by the end of the day on Wednesday, since January 15 is the deadline for two-way signings.

Lee has already used his full 45-day NBA allotment this season but can be activated again once he signs a standard contract. As a newly-signed two-way player, Chriss will be eligible to spend up to 24 days in the NBA between now and the end of the G League regular season in March. Once the G League season ends, those restrictions will lift and he can spend the rest of the year in the NBA.

Head coach Steve Kerr had previously talked about Chriss potentially having a future in Golden State beyond 2019/20. The big man’s new two-way contract will make him a free agent at the end of the season, but the Warriors will still have options for re-signing him, particularly if he isn’t offered a sizable raise by a rival team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Evans, Chriss, Lee

Klay Thompson made a rare appearance in front of the media on Tuesday, speaking publicly to reporters for the first time since the Warriors‘ preseason media day. As Nick Friedell of ESPN.com relays, Thompson said his ACL rehab is “going great,” adding that he hasn’t closed the door on the possibility of returning before the end of the 2019/20 campaign.

“Obviously, I wish I could be out there,” Thompson said. “It’s been a long process. I haven’t stopped working since the third day after Game 6 of the 2019 Finals. You might not see me a lot, but I’m working. I don’t know what’s going to come this season, I would love to get out there.”

Despite his optimism and his desire to get back on the court, Thompson seems unlikely to return before the fall. With the Warriors on track to finish dead-last in the Western Conference, the team will be more cautious than ever with the veteran sharpshooter, who is in the first season of a five-year, maximum-salary contract. Thompson sounds like he understands that line of thinking, as Friedell details.

“I’m trying to make sure this type of injury never happens to me again, so I’ll be very patient because I want to play at a high level ’til my late 30s,” he said.

Here’s more on the Dubs:

  • Warriors guard Jacob Evans was taken to a hospital after colliding with Mavericks big man Dwight Powell in the second quarter of Tuesday’s game, according to Friedell. Evans, who took an elbow to the face during the collision, stayed on the floor for several minutes before leaving the game. The team has yet to issue an update on his diagnosis or his potential recovery timeline.
  • The Warriors found a creative way to ultimately retain Marquese Chriss and Damion Lee and keep both players active, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Chriss projects to reach the 24-day NBA limit on his new two-way contract in early March, but Slater suggests the former lottery pick is the frontrunner to be promoted to Golden State’s 15-man roster at that time. The Warriors can’t add a 15th man until late in the season due to their hard cap.
  • Chriss has officially signed his two-way contract with the Warriors, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The team hasn’t announced the finalized deal yet, since Lee will need to be moved to the 15-man roster before Chriss can fill his two-way slot.

Warriors, Marquese Chriss Have Mutual Interest In Reunion

The Warriors waived goodbye to Marquese Chriss prior to his contract becoming guaranteed, though the team has not shut the door on a reunion. Monte Poole of NBC Sports hears that Golden State is high on Chriss’ future and was seeking a way to retain him. However, the Dubs were unable to clear a roster spot before waiving him today.

“He’s a good, young talent,” coach Steve Kerr said after practice Tuesday. “He’s developed. He’s got a fantastic attitude. He’s somebody we were all really hoping we could keep.

“But the rules stipulate that we had to shed money. And this was the end result. Everybody is disappointed — players, coaches, front office. But this is how it worked.”

The franchise needed to open a spot on the roster for Damion Lee, who has just two days of eligibility remaining for the NBA club, as he’s on a two-way contract. Lee and the Warriors are reportedly close to finalizing a multiyear pact.

Golden State could trade away one of its veterans, such as Alec Burks or Willie Cauley-Stein, before the February 6 deadline and open up a roster spot. Poole adds that Chriss, who appeared in 37 games for the club this season, would like to return in the future.