Nate Wolters

And-Ones: Josh Smith, Draft, Free Agency, Ayon

Josh Smith had an ugly debut in the Big3 last night, writes J.L. Kirven of The Detroit Free Press. Smith was loudly booed by a Detroit crowd that hasn’t forgiven him for his short stay with the Pistons, then got tossed from the game after a skirmish with Royce White.

Smith, 33, is part of a fresh influx of talent in the league, playing his last NBA games during the 2017/18 season. However, Detroit was probably the worst city for him to start on the BIG3’s revolving tour. He lasted just a season and a half there after signing a four-year, $54MM deal in 2013. The Pistons used the stretch provision to unload him, and he won’t come off their payroll until collecting another $5,331,729 next season.

“I enjoyed the intensity and the passion,” Reggie Theus, his BIG3 coach, said after the game. “Obviously he’s got to contain himself …”

 There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:
  • Fewer than half of the underclassmen who entered this year’s NBA draft were selected, prompting Michael Rand and Marcus Fuller of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune to examine whether players are benefiting from the current system. Rand contends an expanded G League and the addition of two-way contracts have created more opportunities for undrafted players. Fuller defends the rights of underclassmen to pursue their dreams of playing professionally even if they turn out to be bad decisions.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN takes a look at the 13 teams with cap space, including nine with $20MM or more, that are positioned to make big moves as the free agency sweepstakes kicks off next Sunday. The Nuggets, Magic and Sixers could join that list, but only if they renounce significant free agents.
  • Mexican center Gustavo Ayon is leaving Real Madrid and wants another shot at the NBA, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Ayon, 34, spent time with the Hornets, Magic, Bucks and Hawks, but hasn’t played in the league since the 2013/14 season. “I don’t know if it is a farewell. Today I don’t have any offer,” Ayon said. “I want to go back to the NBA. It is a personal desire.” Jordan Mickey, who played for the Celtics and Heat, may replace Ayon if he leaves, writes Alessandro Maggi of Sportando.
  • Former Bucks, Pelicans and Jazz guard Nate Wolters has signed with Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, Carchia reports. He spent this season with Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania.

Jazz Release Nate Wolters

The Jazz have released two-way signee Nate Wolters, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The 26-year-old guard only had only seen 3.8 minutes per game of action across five contests with the big league squad so far this season.

Wolters, who hadn’t played in the NBA since a 2014/15 campaign split between the Bucks and Pelicans, has started 13 games for Utah’s G League affiliate the Salt Lake City Stars.

The announcement comes a day after the Jazz let another player on a two-way contract go, waiving Eric Griffin to free up room in order to sign Erik McCree.

With Wolters out of the picture now as well, the Jazz will have one of their two allotted two-way slots free until they find somebody to sign. A player signed to such a deal today would have about 30 days of big league service time (down from the typical 45-day limit based on a full season).

Jazz Sign Nate Wolters To Two-Way Deal

SEPTEMBER 13: The Jazz have officially announced Wolters’ two-way contract. Having also signed Naz Mitrou-Long today, Utah now has 19 players on its roster.

SEPTEMBER 12: Nate Wolters is close to signing a two-way contract with the Jazz, tweets Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.

The 26-year-old point guard was a second-round pick in 2013 and began his career in Milwaukee. He started 31 games as a rookie, but was waived by the Bucks the following season and caught on briefly with the Pelicans. Wolters was in training camp with the Nuggets last year before spending the season in Serbia.

Wolters would fill the second two-way slot in Utah and would give the team 18 players in camp. The Jazz already have 15 guaranteed contracts, so the odds are against Wolters earning a roster spot.

And-Ones: Warney, Head Coaches, Wolters

Jameel Warney, who spent the 2016/17 season with the Texas Legends in the G League, was a key player for USA Basketball in last week’s AmeriCup tournament. Earning MVP honors for the FIBA event and helping lead Team USA to a gold medal, Warney averaged 12.8 PPG and 8.6 RPG to go along with a .649 FG%.

In the wake of that performance, Warney spoke to HoopsHype and expressed hope that he’ll get a chance to make his NBA debut this season, as Bryan Kalbrosky details. While there has been no word yet of a contract agreement for Warney, he seems like a good bet to land a training camp deal or a two-way contract. In the days since Team USA’s win, his teammates Larry Drew II and C.J. Williams have landed camp deals with the Heat and Clippers respectively, so we’ll see if Warney is next.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In a piece for Basketball Insiders, Steve Kyler examines some head coaches around the NBA who may find themselves on the hot seat if their teams struggle out of the gate in 2017/18. Kyler identifies Dwane Casey (Raptors), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), Steve Clifford (Hornets), Doc Rivers (Clippers), and Brett Brown (Sixers) as coaches who fit that bill.
  • Nate Wolters, who has played overseas for the last two seasons, was close to joining Brose Bamberg in Germany, but is now leaning toward signing an NBA deal, according to Sportando (Twitter link). It’s not yet clear which NBA team might have interest in adding Wolters, who previously spent two seasons with the Bucks and Pelicans after being selected 38th in the 2013 draft.
  • Brad Botkin of CBSSports.com singles out five praiseworthy roster moves that flew under the radar this offseason, starting with the Thunder‘s signing of Patrick Patterson.
  • Second round picks who become All-Star players are rare — Isaiah Thomas, Draymond Green, and DeAndre Jordan are the only ones to achieve the feat since 2008. Nonetheless, Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders believes there are several candidates to do so in 2017/18 and compiles a list of his top picks.

Nuggets Waive Robbie Hummel, Nate Wolters

11:37am: The Nuggets officially announced the moves via press release.

8:22am: The Nuggets will waive Robbie Hummel and Nate Wolters, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post reports (via Twitter). These moves reduce the team’s roster count to 15 players, which is the regular season maximum. Denver will be on the hook for $50,000 for Wolters and $150,000 for Hummel, provided the players aren’t claimed off waivers by another team.

Hummel played in Italy last season for Emporio Armani Milano. He suffered a shoulder injury midseason and he was released by the team.  The Wolves selected the former Purdue star with the No. 58 overall selection in the 2012 draft. He spent two season in Minnesota, averaging 3.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.

Wolters, the 38th pick in 2013 draft, played in Turkey last season. He appeared in 58 games with the Bucks, including 31 starts, in 2013/14. He averaged 7.2 points and 3.2 assists that season. He then played another 11 games with Milwaukee the following season and 10 more with the Pelicans off the bench. According to international journalist David Pick (Twitter link), Wolters is headed overseas after agreeing to a contract that is worth $200K-$225K with Red Star Belgrade.

Contract Details: Warriors, Nuggets, Celtics, Pistons

Teams signing players to training camp deals in the hopes that those players will eventually land with their D-League affiliates often incentivize their offers by including partial guarantees. That appears to be the case with the Warriors — as we noted earlier today, Golden State awarded $50K guarantees to Cameron Jones, Scott Wood, and Elgin Cook, who all seem like good bets to end up with Santa Cruz. Given how modest D-League salaries are, that extra guaranteed money can motivate players to accept D-League assignments rather than seeking more lucrative jobs overseas.

According to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link), another Warriors camp invitee, Phil Pressey, also received a small guarantee, worth $35K. However, JaVale McGee‘s contract with the team is fully non-guaranteed. Of course, McGee seems more likely to earn a spot on Golden State’s regular-season roster than many of his fellow camp invitees, in which case he’d have an opportunity to earn his full $1.4MM+ salary.

Here are a few more salary details from around the NBA, via Pincus:

  • According to Pincus’ salary information, the Nuggets signed Robbie Hummel and Jarnell Stokes to two-year, minimum-salary contracts, while Nate Wolters got a three-year, minimum-salary deal. Hummel and Stokes received guarantees worth $150K apiece, while Wolters received $50K in guaranteed money.
  • The Celtics signed Damion Lee to a two-year, minimum-salary contract that features $50K in guaranteed money, while Jalen Jones got a one-year deal with a $25K guarantee, per Pincus (Twitter link).
  • The one-year, minimum-salary deals Nikola Jovanovic and Trey Freeman inked with the Pistons are both worth about $543K, the rookie minimum. However, Jovanovic got a $30K guarantee from the team, while Freeman’s deal is fully non-guaranteed, Pincus notes.

Northwest Notes: Exum, Oladipo, Wolters, Garnett

Jazz point guard Dante Exum proclaims himself fully healed from the ACL injury that wiped out last season, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Exum suffered the injury in August of 2015 while playing for the Australian national team and says the mental anguish was worse than the physical pain. “There were plenty of times where I wondered, why me,” Exum told The Tribune. “I wondered if I would be the guy I was before the injury. I was supposed to go home to Australia the next day, and I hadn’t been home in a year. I wondered, what’s going to happen with the Jazz? That was the pain I was going through.” With Utah’s training camp opening this week, Exum says his knee feels stronger than ever and his speed, leaping ability and explosive first step have all returned. Exum, who started 41 games during his rookie season, will ease back into the NBA in a reserve role after the Jazz made an offseason deal for George Hill.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • For several years, the Thunder have tried to surround their stars with “3-and-D” players, but Victor Oladipo tells Erik Horne of The Oklahoman that he wants to be more than that. Oladipo, who came to Oklahoma City in a draft-day trade involving Serge Ibaka, is expected to start alongside MVP candidate Russell Westbrook in the OKC backcourt, but he doesn’t see himself as just a complementary player. “I don’t just want to be a three-point shooter. I don’t just want to be a defensive stopper,” Oladipo said. “I want to be one of the best players in this league, and in order to do that, you have to affect the game on both ends and do multiple things.”
  • Coming off an impressive season in Turkey, Nate Wolters is hoping to work his way back into the NBA with the Nuggets, relays Jake Rauchbach of Basketball Insiders. The 38th pick in the 2013 draft, Wolters spent two seasons with the Bucks and Pelicans before heading overseas last year. He is projected as the fourth point guard on Denver’s roster, but is hoping to make an impression at training camp. “When you’re trying to make a team, there is kind of a fine line between trying to do too much and proving yourself,” Wolters said. “But still, at the same time, you want to be aggressive so they notice you a little bit. [I’ll] just try to run the team and then kind of pick my spots when I feel like I can be aggressive and try to make plays.”
  • Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau has issued a statement honoring Kevin Garnett upon his retirement, relays The Star-Tribune. “Kevin will always be remembered for the way in which he played the game,” Thibodeau said. “His fierce competitiveness, his unequaled passion for the game and the many ways in which he cared about this team was truly special. KG is without question the all-time best player to wear a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, and he is also one of the best ever to play this game.’’

Nate Wolters Agrees To Deal With Nuggets

SEPTEMBER 15: The signing is official, per team release.

AUGUST 19: Free agent guard Nate Wolters has agreed to a deal with the Nuggets, league sources told Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link).

Wolters, the 38th pick in 2013 draft, played in Turkey last season. He appeared in 58 games with the Bucks, including 31 starts, in 2013/14. He averaged 7.2 points and 3.2 assists that season. He then played another 11 games with Milwaukee the following season and 10 more with the Pelicans off the bench.

The 6’4” Wolters has a chance to make the final roster as the No. 3 point guard behind Emmanuel Mudiay and Jameer Nelson.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Ford, Pekovic, Nuggets

After initially agreeing to terms with undrafted free agent Quincy Ford in June, the Jazz finally made the deal official this week, and according to Aaron Falk and Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, Ford’s three-year pact includes a modest guarantee of $75K. Despite the guaranteed money though, the Northeastern alum is a long shot for a roster spot.

As Jones writes, the Jazz already have 14 players on guaranteed contracts, and Jeff Withey is the favorite to earn the final opening on the 15-man roster. That means Ford will likely be ticketed for Utah’s D-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, to open the season.

Here’s more from out of the Northwest division:

  • In a recent episode of The Scoop podcast (hat tip to Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk), Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 Twin Cities notes that Nikola Pekovic worked out in front of Timberwolves personnel last week, but is “still not ready physically.” Pekovic, who continues to recover from an Achilles issue, has been plagued by health problems in recent years, significantly reducing his role in Minnesota and making him a potential release candidatae.
  • With Joffrey Lauvergne no longer in the mix, the Nuggets will likely have one open spot on their 15-man roster, so Adam Mares of DenverStiffs.com conducts a Q&A with D-League expert Chris Reichert to discuss the six prospects vying for that opening. Former Bucks and Pelicans guard Nate Wolters would be Reichert’s pick for the 15th spot on Denver’s roster.
  • Alex Roig of DailyThunder.com proposes three possible trades for the Thunder that could push the team back into contention in the Western Conference. While Roig’s ideas are probably long shots, with Paul George and Jimmy Butler among the suggested targets, it’s worth keeping in mind that Oklahoma City has a crowded frontcourt and an extra guaranteed salary, making Enes Kanter an intriguing trade chip.

And-Ones: Baynes, Kilpatrick, Early

Pistons coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy cannot understand why Aron Baynes has so many social media critics, he told the assembled media, including Hoops Rumors. Van Gundy signed Baynes to a three-year, $20MM contract last summer to back up All-Star center Andre Drummond and believes he’s gotten his money’s worth. “Some of you guys tell me that some fans on comment boards don’t like him. I don’t know what they’re watching,” Van Gundy said. “He’s certainly one of the top backup centers in the league. You compare him to the other backup centers, he’s been absolutely terrific. He plays with great passion and emotion.” Baynes scored a career-high 21 points against the Nets on Saturday.

In other news around the league:
  • Sean Kilpatrick‘s offensive ability earned him some long-term security, Nets interim coach Tony Brown told the media, including Hoops Rumors, over the weekend. The shooting guard agreed to a multiyear deal that includes a guarantee for next season after his two 10-day contracts with the team expired. “He’s very effective shooting from deep and he’s been getting some good looks off the dribble,” Brown said. “Obviously, the new deal for him is well deserved. They’re thinking down the road, for the future of the ballclub, that he’d be a nice piece to have on the roster.”
  • The anticipation for next season is growing in Philadelphia as the current season winds down, Sixers coach Brett Brown told Brian Seltzer of NBA.com. “Names get associated with prospective draft picks that we’re studying now that the [NCAA] Tournament’s going on,” Brown said. “The end is near where you’re looking at our existing players and how we’re going to respond to some of the people that are out of contract.  You start talking a little bit more seriously about some of the free agent strategies.  You start talking a little more seriously about the Joel Embiid situation, and Dario [Saric] situation, how it all fits.”
  • Former Bucks and Pelicans point guard Nate Wolters is leaving his Turkish team Besiktas, international journalist David Pick tweets, citing a source. Wolters chose to play overseas in July after playing for the Clippers’ summer league team.
  • The Trail Blazers recalled shooting guard Luis Montero and power forward Cliff Alexander from the D-League’s Santa Cruz Warriors on Sunday, the team informed Mike Richman of The Oregonian. Both rookies appeared in four games with the Warriors’ D-League affiliate during their assignment and have played seven games apiece for the Blazers this season. Alexander will likely be active for the Blazers’ game against the Mavericks on Wednesday because big man Meyers Leonard is out indefinitely with a dislocated shoulder, Richman adds.
  • The Knicks assigned small forward Cleanthony Early to their D-League affiliate in Westchester on Monday, the team tweets. The Knicks activated him on Sunday for the first time since he was shot in the right knee during a December 30th robbery.

Arthur Hill contributed to this report.