Mychal Mulder

Warriors Waive Gary Payton II, Avery Bradley, Two Others

The Warriors made several roster cuts late on Friday night following their final preseason game, announcing in a press release that they’ve cut guards Gary Payton II, Avery Bradley, and Mychal Mulder, as well as big man Jordan Bell.

The four players had been vying for the 15th spot on Golden State’s regular season roster. Instead, it seems the team has decided to keep that spot open — at least for now.

As Anthony Slater of The Athletic explains, if the Warriors had decided to carry a 15th man, it almost certainly would’ve been Payton. In fact, there’s a possibility the club could bring back the 28-year-old on a new deal if he clears waivers, according to Slater.

The language in Payton’s contract called for him to receive a $659K partial guarantee if he had made the opening-night roster. The Warriors, who are far over the luxury tax line, would face a tax penalty worth several million dollars if they were to commit to that partial guarantee, which they weren’t prepared to do.

According to Slater, if Golden State re-signs Payton, it would likely be to a non-guaranteed deal that doesn’t include any trigger dates, so the team would essentially be paying the guard by the day until the league-wide guarantee date in January.

Bradley, Mulder, and Bell, meanwhile, figure to be on the lookout for new jobs if and when they clear waivers on Monday. All three players have multiple years of NBA experience on their résumés and Bradley, in particular, will be among the more accomplished veterans hitting the market this week. However, many teams around the NBA don’t have the flexibility – or the desire – to make last-minute additions to their 15-man regular season rosters.

It’s worth noting that Golden State does still have an open two-way contract slot. However, of the four players released today, only Mulder qualifies to sign a two-way deal. Perhaps that’s a possibility if he goes unclaimed on waivers.

In addition to their four cuts, the Warriors also announced that they’ve signed free agent forward Axel Toupane. That move was almost certainly made for G League purposes — Toupane will likely be cut on Saturday.

Warriors Notes: Green, Centers, Front Office, Mulder

Draymond Green missed the Warriors‘ Media Day on Monday and the first two days of the club’s training camp for personal reasons, but he returned on Thursday from his excused absence, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

As Slater details in an Athletic story, it’ll be Kevon Looney who starts at center for the Warriors this season, but the expectation is that Green will play plenty of minutes at the five. Golden State didn’t prioritize adding more traditional big men this offseason and doesn’t play to use them regularly, according to Slater, who predicts we’ll see a ton of small lineups from the club in 2021/22.

“The league feels different to me than five, six years ago,” Kerr said. “There are more and more small lineups out there. Every team has more shooting, so you have to cover more ground, which is something Draymond is really good at. Then when we’re on offense, we want to have more shooting, so putting him at five, having him run pick-and-roll with Steph and shooters around them, that’s tough to guard.”

As Slater points out, the equation will change a little for the Warriors when James Wiseman gets healthy and is ready to return to the lineup, but the club is planning to be cautious and patient with the youngster’s recovery process. Wiseman could get some rehab work in at the G League level before he plays in the NBA and is unlikely to have a huge role when he returns to action, Slater adds.

Here’s more on the Dubs:

  • The Warriors announced a wide range of front office promotions and additions today, including naming Mike Dunleavy Jr. as their vice president, basketball operations and Zaza Pachulia as a liaison, basketball and business. The full list of updates to the basketball operations department can be found in the team’s press release.
  • Battling against several other players for the 15th spot on the Warriors’ roster, Mychal Mulder faces an uphill climb to make the team after appearing in 60 games for Golden State last season, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Tim Kawakami of The Athletic believes Golden State is confident that Andrew Wiggins will ultimately get vaccinated, noting that the Warriors aren’t acting with the sort of urgency you’d expect if they were preparing to be without a starting forward for 41 games.

Pacific Notes: Warriors, Armstrong, Paul, Anthony

A $659K contract guarantee kicks in Wednesday for Gary Payton II, which may affect the Warriors‘ decision to keep him on the roster, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. There’s an expectation that Golden State will release Payton with the hope of re-signing him if he clears waivers, Slater adds. That would give him a chance to win a roster spot in camp on a non-guaranteed deal.

Payton finished last season with the Warriors, appearing in 10 games after signing a pair of 10-day contracts in April. Slater points out that the team could use a defensive specialist like Payton to make up for the losses of Kelly Oubre and Kent Bazemore.

Golden State’s roster will be nearly set heading into camp, Slater notes. Thirteen players have guaranteed contracts and a large part of Damion Lee‘s deal will become guaranteed if he remains with the team through August 15, which is expected. Payton may wind up competing for the final roster spot with Mychal Mulder, whose contract is non-guaranteed. A source told Slater that the Warriors are “still monitoring” the free agent market in hopes of adding another veteran.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Former NBA center Hilton Armstrong has joined the Warriors‘ coaching staff, Slater adds. He will work in the video department and has been involved with the Summer League team in Sacramento and Las Vegas.
  • Suns guard Chris Paul should be healed in plenty of time for training camp after having surgery on his left wrist after the NBA Finals, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic“For Chris, it was something minor,” general manager James Jones said in an ESPN interview. “He’ll be ready in a couple of weeks to get back out on the court with these guys as we start to try to get back after this short offseason.”  
  • Carmelo Anthony is thrilled to finally team up with his long-time friend LeBron James on the Lakers, per Mark Medina of USA Today. They have both been in the league for 18 years, but are teammates for the first time after Anthony agreed to a one-year contract with L.A. “Most people would say you should’ve gotten together years ago or earlier in our careers. But we were in two different lanes,” Anthony said. “We were in two different paths. Everything comes full circle.”

Rosters Announced For Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

Four qualifying tournaments to determine the final four teams in the men’s basketball pool at the Tokyo Olympics are set to tip off on Tuesday. In advance of the Olympic qualifiers, the 24 teams involved have officially set their 12-man rosters, according to a press release from FIBA.

More than two dozen current NBA players are participating in the tournament, and 11 of the 24 teams competing for Olympic spots have at least one current NBA players on their respective rosters. Of those clubs, Team Canada has the biggest contingent of NBA players — eight of the 12 players on Nick Nurse‘s squad finished the season on an NBA roster. Turkey is next with four NBA players.

The four qualifying tournaments will take place in Serbia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Canada. Only the winner of each six-team group will advance to Tokyo. Those four winners will join Japan, Nigeria, Argentina, Iran, France, Spain, Australia, and the U.S. in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

The teams that move onto the Olympics may tweak their rosters for Tokyo, depending on the availability of certain players. For instance, if Greece were to win its qualifying tournament, perhaps Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo – who remains active in the playoffs for now – would make an effort to join the team in Tokyo next month.

Here are the NBA players on the OQT rosters:

Belgrade, Serbia

Kaunas, Lithuania

Split, Croatia

Victoria, Canada

There are also many former NBA players among the 24 rosters, including Mario Hezonja (Croatia), Milos Teodosic (Serbia), Jan Vesely (Czech Republic), Timofey Mozgov (Russia), and Anthony Bennett (Canada).

To view the full rosters, be sure to visit FIBA’s official site and click through to each team from there.

14 NBA Players On Canada’s Preliminary Olympic Qualifying Roster

Team Canada has yet to secure a place in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics, but the club should have a loaded roster as it looks to lock up a spot in a qualifying tournament next month.

Canada Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 21-player preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifier, and the group includes 14 players who finished the season on NBA contracts. Here’s the full list:

Of the seven players who didn’t play in the NBA this season, one (Bennett) is a former first overall pick, another (Nicholson) was also a first-round selection, and a third (Alexander) has NBA experience. Bell-Haynes has played in the G League, while Doornekamp, Ejim, and Nembhard all have extensive experience representing Canada in past international competitions.

Still, a few noteworthy names are missing from the list. Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is recovering from a torn ACL and won’t be able to participate. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also dealing with an injury, announcing on Instagram that rehabbing the plantar fasciitis in his right foot will prevent him from representing Team Canada.

Raptors big man Chris Boucher is a third notable omission. According to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link), Boucher is focused on rehabbing a knee sprain and wants to make sure he’s 100% healthy heading into 2021/22. He also has a somewhat uncertain contract situation — his $7MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed, though I’d be shocked if he’s not retained.

Even without Murray, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Boucher, Canada Basketball is in position to run out a roster stacked with NBA talent and led by former NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse.

While the final roster will depend in part on which players are available, none of the 21 players on the preliminary are on teams expected to still be alive for the conference finals. However, a club like Powell’s Mavericks or Barrett’s Knicks could surprise.

Team Canada will compete against Greece, China, Uruguay, Turkey, and the Czech Republic in a qualifying tournament in Victoria, British Columbia between June 29 and July 4. If the club wins that six-team qualifier, it will be part of the 12-team field in Tokyo and would be a legit contender for a medal.

NBA Announces 2020/21 Rising Stars Rosters

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the pared-down nature of the NBA’s 2021 All-Star weekend, a Rising Stars Game showcasing the league’s top rookies and sophomores won’t be played this year.

However, the league has still announced the rosters for the event, via NBA Top Shot, naming the 20 players who would have been selected to participate if the game was taking place. Here are those rosters:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

The 20-man group includes eight rookies and 11 sophomores. The 20th player, Porter, made the cut as a sophomore since he missed his entire rookie season in 2018/19 due to an injury — this is technically his third year of NBA service.

Western Notes: Porzingis, Mavs, Cousins, Mulder, Kings

The Mavericks have put on a full-court press in downplaying reports from Bleacher Report and SNY.tv suggesting that they’d gauged Kristaps Porzingis‘ potential value on the trade market. Team owner Mark Cuban sent messages to beat reporters on Tuesday denying that the team had discussed Porzingis with anyone and expressing displeasure with at least one of the anonymous quotes in the Bleacher Report story.

Additionally, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News reports, multiple other key members of the organization disputed the idea that Porzingis might be a trade candidate. Townsend says he was told that the “pat answer” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson gives to teams asking the Mavs about trades is that Luka Doncic and Porzingis are off the table.

According to Townsend, he was also “emphatically” told that the Mavericks haven’t initiated discussions with any franchise about a Porzingis trade, and that when one team did inquire about the big man, “the answer was a quick no.”

When a team swiftly and emphatically denies a report about a rumored trade discussion, it’s sometimes the case that the report got some details wrong, or was altogether false. However, in this instance, multiple reputable reporters had similar stories, and the Mavs’ insistence that they’d never deign to consider a Porzingis trade feels a little over the top, given his injury history, his contract, and his good-but-not-great production.

While I don’t expect the Mavericks to actually trade Porzingis this season or even in the offseason, it’s not unreasonable to assume the team is doing some damage control here and won’t consider the former lottery pick completely off-limits going forward.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Although the Mavericks have had on-and-off interest in DeMarcus Cousins for years and could use some rebounding help, Dallas isn’t considered a viable landing spot for the veteran center, who is currently on waivers, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Warriors guard Mychal Mulder had been viewed as a candidate to be released today, before his full-season salary became guaranteed, but Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link) hears that Mulder isn’t going anywhere for now. The 26-year-old has another non-guaranteed season on his deal, so Golden State will retain some flexibility with him this offseason if he remains on the roster.
  • In spit of the Kings‘ eight-game losing streak and Tyrese Haliburton‘s increased production (17.1 PPG and 5.4 APG on .529/.485/.778 shooting in his last 11 games), head coach Luke Walton has no plans to change the starting lineup and insert the rookie guard, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California.

Warriors Notes: Curry, Bazemore, Oubre, Mulder

The Warriors‘ hopes to get back into title contention start with Stephen Curry, and coach Steve Kerr was thrilled to see the former MVP back on the court Saturday night, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Curry is fully recovered from the broken left hand that limited him to five games last season. He shot just 3-of-10 from the field, but having him back in the lineup was a big deal for Kerr.

“It’s always just great to see him out on the floor,” Kerr said. “And I think he looks really good physically, that’s the main thing. He worked so hard in the offseason and he’s in great shape. And now it’s just a matter of getting his timing and his rhythm down, but he’s definitely a sight for sore eyes.”

Curry is surrounded by a much different roster than during the five-year stretch when Golden State was on top of the league. Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre are major additions over the past year, and the team will eventually incorporate rookie center James Wiseman, who isn’t expected to play during the preseason.

“There’s nobody like him in the NBA,” Kerr said of Curry. “Nobody who can play on and off the ball at that level and who creates that kind of havoc. And so I think with most players who come in, they’re not used to the second half of the possession. They’re sort of used to whatever the pattern is in the beginning. But as soon as maybe Steph gives up the ball, that’s when the action really starts the way we play. And that’s the tricky part for guys to figure out.”

There’s more Warriors news this morning:

  • Golden State projects to have a much better bench than it did a year ago, when the team’s reserve unit was among the NBA’s worst, observes Anthony Slater of the Athletic. The addition of Kent Bazemore and Brad Wanamaker have made the Warriors a deeper team, and Eric Paschall will join them once Draymond Green returns to the starting lineup. Bazemore provides a veteran presence and the versatility to contribute in multiple ways. “Baze is kind of a wild card,” Kerr said. “He can make three or four plays in a row — a bucket, a steal, knock down a 3. He’s a streaky player.”
  • The trade for Oubre gives the Warriors a top defender who can take over Klay Thompson‘s responsibilities on the perimeter, Slater notes in the same piece. Kerr said he believes Golden State can become an excellent defensive team once Green and Wiseman return.
  • Mychal Mulder is in camp on a non-guaranteed contract, but his long-distance shooting may help him win a roster spot, Slater adds. He hit three important three-pointers in the fourth quarter Saturday to help the Warriors claim a close victory.

Pacific Notes: Green, Wiseman, Mulder, AD, LeBron, Clippers

The Warriors shared some positive news on Draymond Green and James Wiseman on Thursday, as Green was able to lift weights and sit in on the team’s film session, while Wiseman completed his first individual workout. Both players had been unable to participate in training camp so far, possibly due to positive coronavirus tests.

However, as Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area writes, head coach Steve Kerr confirmed that both players will miss Saturday’s preseason opener and added that it’s “very unlikely” that either Green or Wiseman will play at all during the preseason. The Warriors’ final two preseason games – both against Sacramento – will take place next Tuesday and Thursday.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Kerr said this week that guard Mychal Mulder, who is on a non-guaranteed contract, has a “good chance” to make the Warriors‘ regular season roster, as Tommy Call III of Warriors Wire writes. “He’s a shooter. He’s a smart player at both ends,” Kerr said of Mulder. “We were really pleased with his play a year ago. We’re a team that’s not heavy on shooting as we know, especially with Klay (Thompson) going out. Mike just has to be himself and play hard and compete.”
  • Lakers stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James won’t play in the team’s preseason opener on Friday, head coach Frank Vogel confirmed (Twitter link via Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group).
  • Paul George‘s $176MM contract extension with the Clippers is a precursor to the real referendum on the franchise, according to Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times, who says that Kawhi Leonard‘s willingness to re-up with the team in 2021 will determine whether or not these are still the same “Clippers of old.”

Heat’s Gabe Vincent Named NBAGL Most Improved Player

Heat two-way player Gabe Vincent has been named the NBA G League’s Most Improved Player for the 2019/20 season, the league announced today in a press release.

Vincent, who went undrafted out of UC Santa Barbara in 2018, played for the Stockton Kings – Sacramento’s G League affiliate – in his first professional season, averaging 8.4 PPG, 2.4 APG, and 2.2 RPG on .382/.291/.710 shooting in 25 games (17.8 MPG).

He took a major step forward in 2019/20, first for Stockton and then for the Sioux Falls Skyforce – Miami’s NBAGL affiliate – after he signed a two-way deal with the Heat in January. In 31 total games (29.3 MPG), Vincent recorded 21.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.1 APG with a .450/.406/.923 shooting line. The 6’3″ guard also made his NBA debut earlier this year, appearing in six total games for the Heat.

The runners-up in the G League’s Most Improved Player vote are also under contract with NBA teams. Raptors two-way player Paul Watson finished second, with Warriors guard Mychal Mulder coming in third.