Marreese Speights

Marreese Speights Set To Play In China

Unrestricted NBA free agent Marreese Speights has reached an agreement to join China’s Guangzhou Long Lions and will continue his playing career overseas, per international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link).

It’s a six-month, $2MM deal for Speights, according to Pick, who first reported two weeks ago that the big man was close to reaching a deal with the Chinese club.

[RELATED: 2018 NBA Free Agent Tracker]

Speights, who will turn 31 next month, has bounced around among several NBA teams over the course of his 10-year career, spending time with the Sixers, Grizzlies, Cavaliers, Warriors, Clippers, and Magic. In Orlando in 2017/18, he averaged 7.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG. The veteran has also improved his three-point shooting in recent years, making 1.7 threes per game at a 36.9% clip last season.

Since the Chinese season ends before the NBA season does, Speights could have the opportunity to collect $2MM and then return stateside to catch on with an NBA contender down the stretch in 2018/19.

Marreese Speights Close To Signing With Chinese Team

Veteran big man Marreese Speights is close to an agreement with China’s Guangzhou Long Lions, international reporter David Pick tweets.

This would be an interesting move for Speights, who is once again entering unrestricted NBA free agency next month. It suggests the offer must be substantial, since he could still fit the bill for an NBA team seeking a stretch four and veteran leadership.

Speights has bounced around the league in recent seasons and played on a veteran’s minimum contract — approximately $2.12MM — with the Magic last season. The cap hit on the contract was $1.47MM and the league paid the difference.

Speights, whose career began in 2008/09 with the Sixers, is best known for playing with the Warriors for three seasons. He won a ring in 2015.

He appeared in all 82 regular-season games with the Clippers in 2016/17, then moved on to the Magic last season. He saw action in 52 games, including three starts, and averaged 7.7 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 13.0 MPG.

The 6’10” Speights shot an above-average 36.9% from long range while taking a career-high 4.5 attempts per game.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Orlando Magic

Despite some unsavory long-term contracts, the Magic have plenty of cap space lined up for the 2018/19 season. For that reason, and the obvious one that they haven’t sniffed a .500 record the last six seasons, the franchise is very much a blank canvas heading forward.

Last season was the first year at the helm for new president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman and general manager John Hammond, and they played things rather safe, inking a handful of serviceable, if forgettable, veterans to modest deals and calling it an offseason. This summer we may get our first look at what their long-term plans for the franchise are.

Arron Afflalo, SG, 32 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
While the once-vaunted perimeter defender previously came with a hefty price tag, the Magic managed to snag Afflalo on a cheap deal this past season. You can’t fault the squad for the speculative leadership add considering the lack of identity on the roster, but there’s no obvious reason to expect the veteran to want to return after a forgettable 2017/18. Afflalo played just 12.9 minutes per game this season and literally can’t do any worse on the open market than he did last time when he landed a minimum contract on a terrible team that couldn’t even be bothered to give him consistent playing time. That’s not a knock on either party — sometimes things just aren’t a good fit — but I expect the journeyman to seek a more substantive role for the first time since his stint in Denver.

Aaron Gordon, PF, 22 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $18MM contract in 2014
The Magic have all the flexibility in the world to accommodate a sizable Gordon deal and the combo forward is intriguing enough to convince at least one other team to make a generous offer. While it’s hard to say with certainty that Gordon can carry this franchise on his back given that he hasn’t really done so in four seasons, it’s equally hard to fault a team for pouncing on the opportunity to lock in an All-Star-adjacent asset that hasn’t even turned 23 yet. Could Gordon yield the max contract that he’s said to be seeking? It seems within reach, even if the Magic or any other team that commits to it ends up slightly underwhelmed.

Mario Hezonja, SF, 23 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $12MM contract in 2015Mario Hezonja of the Orlando Magic vertical
The Magic turned down the fourth-year option on Hezonja’s rookie contract and the swingman responded with the most memorable season of his young career so far. In 11 February contests Hezonja averaged 15.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, briefly showcasing that he could potentially be relied upon as an offensive weapon if given the opportunity. Nothing precludes the Magic from putting an offer on the table to bring him back this summer, but they can’t give him a starting salary higher than the value of the option they turned down ($5.17MM). Regardless, declining that option suggests the front office may have already made up its mind about his future with the team. Hezonja should draw interest elsewhere and could end up as a modest rotation player.

Marreese Speights, C, 30 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Speights went from chipping in for four straight Western Conference contenders to a decidedly less competitive Magic squad, but don’t overlook the fact that the veteran established himself as a leader on a team in his home state. While there won’t be a shortage of space or money to bring Speights back in 2018/19, it’s reasonable to believe he’ll at least consider offers that could put him back in a position to contend. Speights was, and remains, an intriguing stretch big capable of filling the stat sheet in limited minutes off the bench. He won’t be any team’s top priority but he’s worth more than what he made this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Wizards, Speights, Bacon

The Heat will be eligible to apply for a hardship exception after tonight’s game, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. To qualify, teams must have at least four players miss three consecutive games with injuries and be ruled out for at least two more weeks by an independent medical specialist. Dion Waiters will sit out his third straight game tonight with a sprained ankle, joining Justise Winslow, who has missed eight games with a left knee sprain, and Rodney McGruder and Okaro White, who are both recovering from surgeries.

Miami, which signed White under similar circumstances last season, has a roster candidate playing for its G League affiliate, Winderman notes. Veteran swingman Alonzo Gee is averaging 17.8 points in five games with Sioux Falls. The 30-year-old, who last appeared in the NBA when he signed a 10-day contract with the Nuggets in January, has played for six teams in eight years.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • John Wall and Bradley Beal both used the word “selfish” to explain why the Wizards frequently suffer letdowns like the one that resulted in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Washington was expected to be among the top teams in the East, but has dropped games to the Mavericks, Suns, Lakers, Clippers, Nets [twice] and Hawks, who all have losing records. “We talk about it. We say when we play these teams that are not above .500 or not one of the great teams, we go out there playing for stats,” Wall said.
  • At age 30, Marreese Speights has become a leader on a young Magic team, notes John Denton of NBA.com. Speights, who signed with Orlando this summer, has been around seasoned veterans throughout his career and is passing on the knowledge he gained to his new teammates. “You never know when this game is going to get taken away from you, and that happens to a lot of people, so you have to cherish it every time you get to play,’’ he said. “You have to understand this is bigger than what you think it is. I never take it for granted putting that jersey on.’’
  • Hornets guard Dwayne Bacon will have a short stay in the G League, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. The rookie out of Florida State made an impression Thursday with 45 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Swarm. “Barring injury to a Hornets player [Friday against Golden State], the plan is to have Bacon play in Greensboro tonight [i.e. Thursday] against Wisconsin, and then on Saturday in Iowa,” GM Rich Cho wrote in a text message. “We would then recall him after the game on Saturday and have him join [the Hornets] in LA.”

Southeast Notes: Gortat, White, Stone, Speights

Marcin Gortat, who expressed doubt about his future with the Wizards during his exit interview in May, now says he’s fully committed to the team, relays Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic. Gortat, who usually spends summers in Poland, joined the team for its informal summer mini-camp this year. Now in his fifth season with the team, Gortat is signed through the 2018/19 season.

“First of all, I knew it right away that I would be coming back,” Gortat said this week on the Wizards TipOff Podcast. “I still have a contract and at the end of the day, I’m a Wizards player. I still have two fully guaranteed years. When I went for the exit interview, I was just preparing myself for the worst. You’ve gotta be ready in this business. You’ve gotta be ready that one day you might get a phone call saying that ‘Hey, I appreciate everything that you did, but we’re going to go in a different direction and trade you.’ I’ve been traded twice in my life. I know how it is. So, at the exit interview I just said I was going to talk to my agent and whatever is going to happen. That doesn’t mean I wanted to be traded.”

There’s more tonight from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat will have to keep Okaro White on their 15-man roster if they want to retain his rights, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The power forward appeared in 35 games for the Heat last season, but spent much of the season with the team’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls. White was claimed Wednesday in the G League expansion draft by the Memphis Hustle, the new affiliate of the Grizzlies. Because White has a guarantee of more than $50K, he cannot be deemed an affiliate player if he gets cut by Miami. He would have to either report to the Hustle or play overseas.
  • New Hornets guard Julyan Stone has an agreement not to discuss the details of his release from his Italian team, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Umana Reyer in Venice agreed to let Stone out of his contract so he could return to the United States to be closer to his ailing father.
  • Joining the Magic fulfills a long-time dream for Florida native Marreese Speights, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. The nine-year veteran has been far from home recently, spending the past four seasons with the Warriors and Clippers. He is excited about the opportunity after signing a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with Orlando last month. “The arena is an hour and 20 minutes from my house in St. Pete,” Speights said. “I grew up watching them; I became a big fan of them as a kid and that’s when I fell in love with the game. I’ve always wanted to play for the Magic. This is a dream come true.”

Marreese Speights Signs With Magic

July 27, 8:01 PM: The signing is official, according to a team press release. “Marreese (Speights) has developed into [an] effective shooting big man during his pro career,” said President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman. “He is a veteran player that brings playoff and championship experience to our team. We are very happy to have Marreese and his family in Orlando.”

July 23, 3:31 PM: Speights’ deal with Orlando will be a minimum salary arrangement, Pick tells Hoops Rumors.

12:22 PM: Marreese Speights is “on course” to sign with the Magic, tweets international basketball writer David Pick.

Speights recently held a face-to-face meeting with Orlando officials, who have been searching for shooting help. The 6’10” Speights is a reliable shooter from distance for a big man, connecting on 37% from 3-point range for the Clippers last season while averaging 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.

The Magic have their $4.328MM room exception available, so all or part of that could be used to add Speights. Even if he signs for the veteran’s minimum of $2.1MM, it will match the value of the contract he opted out of with the Clippers.

Speights spent one season in L.A. after signing there last summer. Before that, he was part of the rotation for Warriors teams that captured the 2015 NBA title and won 73 games in 2015/16. A first-round pick of the Sixers in 2008, he also spent time with the Grizzlies and Cavaliers.

Marreese Speights Meets With Magic

The Magic held a face-to-face meeting with free agent center/power forward Marreese Speights, tweets international basketball writer David Pick.

Orlando, which has been looking for shooting help, could benefit from the addition of the 6’10” veteran, who played all 82 games with the Clippers last season. He shot 37% from 3-point range while averaging 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per night.

The Magic still have their $4.328MM room exception available and could offer Speights a nice raise from the minimum-salary deal he opted out of in L.A.

Speights spent just one season with the Clippers after joining the team as a free agent last summer. A 2008 first-round pick by the Sixers, he has also played for the Grizzlies, Cavaliers and Warriors in his nine-year career.

The meeting with Orlando comes a week after negotiations broke off with Atlanta. The Clippers are also reportedly interested in having him return.

Talks Between Hawks, Marreese Speights End

The Hawks had been in discussion with sharp-shooting center Marreese Speights for a week but those talks have ended, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The veteran is thus back in play on the open market.

Earlier this week we wrote about how the Clippers had hoped to retain both Luc Mbah a Moute and Speights. Unfortunately for them, however, Mbah a Moute has already committed to the Rockets leaving only the 29-year-old Speights available as a returning option for the transitioning franchise.

In 82 games for the Clippers last season, Speights averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. His ability to spread the floor from the five position could serve any number of contenders well provided they’re able to land him at a reasonable price. From 2013 to 2016, of course, Speights was a valuable addition to the Warriors’ rotation.

Speights hit the market this summer having opted out of a minimum salary player option with the Clippers. Even if the nine-year vet only inks a veteran’s minimum deal worth $2.1MM in 2017/18, however, he’ll match the value of that player option.

Clippers Remain Engaged On Several Free Agents

The Clippers have had a busy offseason thus far and the team remains active with at least two players from last season’s roster. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter) first noted that Los Angeles has been engaged with Luc Mbah a Moute and Los Angeles Times scribe Brad Turner (via Twitter) added that in addition to Mbah a Moute, the Clippers are interested in retaining Marreese Speights.

While there is interest, Wojnarowski noted that the Clippers’ financial constraints would make a deal difficult and Turner added that no deal is close.

Mbah a Moute, 30, played in 80 games (76 starts) last season while averaging 6.1 PPG and 2.1 RPG. As for Speights, the 29-year-old appeared in all 82 games for Los Angeles and the NBA champion provided his usual solid production with 8.7 PPG and 4.5 RPG.

After losing Chris Paul to the Rockets, the Clippers spent significant money on sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari (three years, $63MM), international superstar Milos Teodosic (two years, $12.3MM), and re-signing Blake Griffin (five years, $173MM). While the team restocked its roster in the sign-and-trade sending Paul to Houston, Speights and Mbah a Moute were two key pieces of last year’s team on both sides of the floor.

Los Angeles has no cap space left as the team used its bi-annual exception last year and used up most of their mid-level exception on Teodosic and Jawun Evans. With approximately $1.5MM left on their MLE, the Clippers’ best chance of retaining Mbah a Moute/Speights would be on deals worth the veteran’s minimum.

Marreese Speights Opts Out

Marreese Speights has opted out of his 2017/18 contract with the Clippers, according to a tweet from his representatives, ASM Sports.

Speights, 29, signed a two-year deal with Los Angeles last summer that included a player option worth nearly $1.46MM for next season. He will be seeking significantly more in a long-term contract this summer.

Speights played all 82 games in his first season with the Clippers, mainly as a reserve, and averaged 8.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in about 16 minutes per night. A first-round pick by the Sixers in 2008, he has also played for the Grizzlies, Cavaliers and Warriors during his nine-year NBA career.