McKinley Wright

McKinley Wright IV, Mouhamadou Gueye Sign With Mavericks

AUGUST 15: The Mavericks have officially signed both Wright and Gueye to Exhibit 10 contracts, Hoops Rumors has learned.

AUGUST 14: The Mavericks will sign McKinley Wright IV and Mouhamadou Gueye to training camp deals and will give them a chance to compete for roster spots, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Wright, a 23-year-old point guard, signed a two-way contract with the Timberwolves last August after going undrafted out of Colorado. He appeared in just five games for Minnesota, spending most of the season with the team’s G League affiliate in Iowa, where he averaged 19.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 7.7 assists in 18 games. Wright played for the Suns in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League and is on Team USA’s roster for the World Cup qualifiers later this month.

Gueye, a 24-year-old forward, is a free agent who played last season at Pittsburgh after transferring from Stony Brook. He averaged 9.8 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Panthers during his lone season in the ACC.

Dallas has 14 players with guaranteed contracts and just one of its two-way slots filled, so there will be opportunities for whoever is impressive during training camp and the preseason.

Team USA Sets Roster For August World Cup Qualifiers

Team USA will play a pair of qualifying games for the 2023 World Cup this month, squaring off against Uruguay on August 25 in Las Vegas and then facing Colombia on August 29 in Barranquilla, Colombia.

USA Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 12-man roster for those qualifying games. The following players will be representing the U.S. on a club led by head coach Jim Boylen:

McClung is the only member of the 12-man group who is currently under contract with an NBA team, having signed a training camp contract with the Warriors last month. However, everyone on the roster except for Ellison has appeared in at least one NBA regular season game.

Galloway and Jenkins are the most experienced NBA veterans on the roster. Galloway has 452 regular season games for seven teams under his belt, while Jenkins has made 171 appearances for five clubs.

Team USA has a 5-1 record through the first three qualifying windows, putting the squad in a tie for first place with Brazil atop Group F. After this month’s games, the remaining two qualifying windows are scheduled for November and February — teams will end up playing a total of 12 qualifying contests apiece.

The 2023 World Cup will take place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10 next year. Assuming its team qualifies – which looks like a pretty safe bet – USA Basketball is expected to send a roster of more accomplished NBA veterans to the event.

Josh Okogie Won’t Receive QO, Will Become UFA

The Timberwolves don’t intend to issue a qualifying offer to former first-round pick Josh Okogie, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link).

Having completed his four-year rookie scale contract, Okogie would become a restricted free agent this offseason if Minnesota extends a qualifying offer worth $5,857,966. In that scenario, the Wolves would have the ability to match rival offer the veteran wing receives, and he’d have the option of simply accepting the one-year offer worth nearly $6MM before reaching unrestricted free agency in 2023.

Given Okogie’s so-so NBA résumé and limited role, he seems unlikely to generate interest at more than the minimum salary this offseason, so the Wolves’ decision to pass on a QO and make him an unrestricted free agent isn’t surprising. It doesn’t mean Minnesota can’t bring him back — he’ll just be free to sign elsewhere without the Wolves having the ability to match.

Okogie, 23, was the 20th overall pick in the 2018 draft. He started 52 games as a rookie for the Wolves and averaged 24.3 MPG in his first two NBA seasons, but has seen his playing time cut back since then. In 2021/22, he averaged 2.7 PPG and 1.4 RPG in just 10.5 minutes per contest (49 games).

Okogie is viewed as a solid defender but has never shown much of an offensive game, putting up a career average of 6.4 PPG with a .403/.275/.758 shooting line.

The Timberwolves also appear unlikely to retain two-way free agent McKinley Wright IV, according to Wolfson, who says Wright will probably join a new team for next month’s summer league.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Wright, MPJ, Arthur

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, an unrestricted free agent this summer, will be sitting for at least four weeks with a plantar fasciitis injury. John Hollinger of The Athletic reads the tea leaves and examines Nurkic’s potential future in Portland, as well as explaining why the club will likely operate over the cap during the 2022 offseason.

Nurkic is in the final season of a four-year, $48MM deal with the Trail Blazers and has averaged 17.4 PPG, 12.6 RPG and 3.4 APG since the start of 2022. Though the 27-year-old is no longer the shot blocker he was before suffering a compound fracture of his left leg near the end of the 2018/19 NBA season, Hollinger notes that the rest of his game seems more or less to have returned. The 6’11” big man is averaging 15.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.8 APG and 1.1 SPG this year.

As Hollinger writes, the Trail Blazers could sign Nurkic to a contract extension that starts at $14.4MM, a 120% annual increase of his current salary. However, Hollinger believes that Nurkic should be able to net significantly more than that in free agency this summer. If they re-sign Nurkic and retain Josh Hart, the Blazers would likely be an over-the-cap team, allowing them to retain their $20MM+ trade exception.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Injured Timberwolves point guard McKinley Wright IV, currently on a two-way deal with the club, will start taking contact in team practices as he continues to recover from a left UCL issue, per Minnesota’s official PR team (via Twitter). The Timberwolves are set to reassess Wright on Sunday. The 23-year-old rookie out of Colorado has appeared in just three games with Minnesota this year.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. will soon scrimmage with the Grand Rapids Gold, Denver’s NBA G League affiliate, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Porter, still working to rehabilitate following a December 1 back surgery, has already resumed one-on-one contact workouts. “You got a 6-foot-10 guy that shoots it like that, and then you start to remind yourself, ‘Man, like, last year, before we had injuries to [guard Jamal Murray], we all felt we had a chance to win it,’” head coach Michael Malone said. “Whenever we get those guys back, this year or next year, we feel the same way. We have a chance to win it when we get fully healthy… As of right now, still in the early steps of trying to re-integrate those guys back slowly, and as they get cleared to do more and more things, then, obviously, we can ramp it up with them.” 
  • The Nuggets have hired former NBA forward Darrell Arthur to serve as a basketball operations associate for the team, Denver announced (Twitter link). Arthur, 33, played for nine NBA seasons, appearing in 503 games. He was with the Nuggets from the 2013/14 season through the 2017/18 season.

Northwest Notes: Giddey, SGA, Cousins, House, Wright

Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are both more comfortable with the ball in their hands, but comments made by head coach Mark Daigneault after the two guards played together on Thursday strongly suggest the Thunder ultimately view Giddey as their primary initiator, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.

As Mussatto details, Gilgeous-Alexander will be still be the Thunder’s primary scorer, but it sounds like the team wants to get him more comfortable playing off-ball, as he did earlier in his career when Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder were on the roster.

“(Giddey’s) a really good initiator, he’s a really good creator and we’ve gotta use that part of his game to unlock the potential of the team,” Daigneault said. “It’s gonna require Shai to make some plays off the ball a little bit, where he’s driving close-outs, where he’s shooting open shots — but it’s also gonna take some load off of Shai. He’s not gonna have to work as hard.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, who advocated for the signing of DeMarcus Cousins earlier this season, is thrilled to have the veteran big man under contract for the rest of the season, says Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “His personality is really important,” Malone said of Cousins. “He is a voice. He’s a personality, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. That can be refreshing at times because we have a locker room of great guys, but who are not always willing to police each other.”
  • Having been signed for the rest of the season following a series of 10-day deals, Danuel House is looking to repay the Jazz‘s investment in him with his play on the court, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “This is a good organization. And they believe so much in me, they’re pouring into me,” House said. “So my job is, if they’re pouring into me, to make sure that when the water hits the glass, make sure it’s purified enough for us to drink.”
  • Timberwolves two-way player McKinley Wright IV, who is dealing with a left UCL injury, is moving closer toward returning to action after getting his splint taken off, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Wolfson estimates that Wright will be playing for the Iowa Wolves – Minnesota’s G League affiliate – in another week or two. The rookie guard has appeared in just three NBA games this season.

COVID-19 Updates: Sixers, Celtics, Rondo, Blazers, More

Sixers wing Danny Green cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Sunday, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. However, Jaden Springer and Matisse Thybulle are both in the protocols now, joining two-way player Myles Powell.

In the latest injury report for the Sixers’ Monday game vs. Houston, Powell and Springer are both listed as out, while Thybulle is considered questionable. That suggests that the team is likely waiting for the results of Thybulle’s latest COVID-19 test before determining whether or not he’ll be available.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Dennis Schröder and Bruno Fernando returned to action for the Celtics on Sunday after a stint in the health and safety protocols. Jayson Tatum has exited the protocols, but remained sidelined for Sunday’s game — he’s expected to return on Wednesday, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • On the LakersSunday injury report, Rajon Rondo was listed as out due to return to competition reconditioning. Rondo had been in the COVID-19 protocols since December 26, which presumably delayed the official completion of the trade sending him to Cleveland. Now that he has cleared the protocols, the Cavaliers and Lakers should soon officially announce that deal.
  • Robert Covington, Trendon Watford, and Keljin Blevins are no longer in the health and safety protocols for the Trail Blazers, per the injury report.
  • Knicks center Jericho Sims remained out of action on Sunday, but he was listed on the injury report as taking part in return to competition conditioning, so he has exited the protocols.
  • McKinley Wright (Timberwolves), Jarrett Culver (Grizzlies), and Jay Scrubb (Clippers) are among the other players who have recently cleared the COVID-19 protocols, according to the league’s injury report.
  • Our full health and safety protocols tracker can be found right here.

Karl-Anthony Towns Enters League Protocols

Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. McKinley Wright IV has also been placed in the protocols.

They join a long list of Minnesota players currently in league protocols. Anthony Edwards, Patrick Beverley, Josh Okogie, Taurean Prince and Jarred Vanderbilt will also miss the team’s game against Utah on Thursday.

Towns and Wright will be sidelined at least 10 days, unless they can register two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart during that span.

Towns was the Western Conference Player of the Week as the Timberwolves went 3-0 during the week of December 13-19, with victories over the Nuggets, Lakers, and Mavericks. The former No. 1 overall pick averaged 28.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.7 SPG, and 1.3 BPG on .547/.375/.870 shooting in those three games (33.9 MPG). Wright, a rookie, has appeared in just one game.

Towns and his family have been affected greatly by the virus. Multiple family members, including his mother, died from COVID-19. Towns had his own battle after contracting the virus last winter, as he lost 50 pounds.

Western Notes: Azubuike, Jackson, Wright, Green

Jazz 2020 first-round selection, big man Udoka Azubuike, was hampered by a severe ankle sprain in his rookie campaign, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. Azubuike suffered the injury during the Salt Lake City Stars’ first game in the G League bubble last season. “It was tough, it was really tough for me going through that injury, that process,” Azubuike said. “Not being out on the court practicing or learning, doing what a regular rookie like me would do.” He’ll likely compete for backup center minutes this season with veteran acquisition Hassan Whiteside.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The King’s young players are not the only ones going through a learning process during summer league action. Bobby Jackson, the team’s summer league coach, is also gaining valuable experience, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes. “I can get better in late-game situations, understanding who to have on the floor, the substitutions, all the stuff that comes with it,” Jackson said. “But me and my stuff, just like the players have to do a better job, we’ve got to do a better job of making sure we have the right personnel on the floor. But it’s a growing experience for me, I love it.” Jackson was also recently named the head coach of the G League’s Stockton Kings.
  • McKinley Wright IV received a two-way deal from the Timberwolves last week. The former Colorado standout grew up in Minnesota and is thrilled to play in his home state, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I didn’t know that I was going to be coming home,” Wright said. “I didn’t know that Minnesota was this interested in me. … I told my family, ‘We didn’t hear my name called how we initially planned, but this is better for me, going undrafted, betting on myself, and I continue to look forward to proving people wrong.”
  • Jeff Green’s versatile offensive game, which is built around 3-point shooting and elite finishing around the rim, should be a major boost for the Nuggets’ second unit, Eric Spyropoulos of the team’s website writes. The veteran big man signed a two-year deal with Denver in free agency.

McKinley Wright Signs Two-Way Deal With Timberwolves

AUGUST 5: Wright’s two-way contract with the Timberwolves is now official, according to the transactions log at Both of Minnesota’s two-way slots are now full, as our tracker shows.

JULY 30: The Timberwolves will sign a two-way deal with undrafted Colorado guard McKinley Wright IV, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

The 6’0″ point guard enjoyed four decorated seasons with the Buffaloes. He was a three-time All-Pac-12 selection, a two-time All-Pac-12 Tourney honoree, and a 2020 Pac-12 All-Defensive Team member.

Wright, 22, ranks sixth on ESPN’s list of undrafted prospects. He averaged 15.2 PPG, 5.7 APG, 4.3 RPG and 1.1 SPG in 32 games for the Buffaloes, on .480/.301/.844 shooting during his senior season in 2020/21. Wright started in all but one of his 132 regular season games with the club.

Draft Notes: Mann, Taylor, Cunningham, Hornets

NBA draft prospect Tre Mann expressed confidence that he’s the best guard in this year’s class, as relayed by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Mann, 20, spent the past two seasons at Florida. He held per-game averages of 16 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists during the 2020/21 campaign, shooting 46% from the floor and 40% from deep.

“I think I’m the best guard in the draft, top-five for sure,” Mann said.

When asked about his strengths and weaknesses ahead of Thursday’s event, he gave a fair outlook.

“My strengths are my ability to create for myself and my teammates, my craftiness, and my ability to shoot off the dribble on the three-point line or a couple of steps behind the line,” Mann said. “The weaknesses that I think I need to work on are the simpler plays, like making the simple reads out of the ball screens and trying to make the game as easy as possible.”

Here are some other draft-related notes to pass along: