Raptors Promote Yuta Watanabe To 15-Man Roster

7:20am: Watanabe’s second-year salary is non-guaranteed, but would become partially guaranteed for $375K if he remains under contract for three days beyond the free agency moratorium in August, reports Murphy (Twitter link). If he makes next season’s regular season roster, Watanabe would receive his full ’21/22 guarantee.

6:38am: The Raptors have elevated Yuta Watanabe to their 15-man roster, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed the third-year forward to a standard contract.

Watanabe had spent the season on a two-way deal with Toronto, having had his Exhibit 10 contract converted before the regular season began in December. Originally considered a depth piece, the 26-year-old has become a more regular rotation fixture, appearing in 39 games for the club.

While he is valued more for his defense and his energy off the bench than his offense, Watanabe has shot the ball well this season too, averaging 4.0 PPG and 3.3 RPG on .448/.400/.826 shooting in 13.4 minutes per contest. Those numbers all exceed the ones he put up in two seasons in Memphis from 2018-20.

The exact details of Watanabe weren’t announced in the Raptors’ press release, but the team used its full mid-level exception prior to the season signing Aron Baynes and Alex Len, and didn’t have its bi-annual exception available this season. As such, we can safely assume it’s a minimum-salary deal, and Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link) confirms it covers next season as well, though it’s unclear if the 2021/22 salary is partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed.

Watanabe’s rest-of-season salary, at least, will be fully guaranteed — he’ll make $321,893 the rest of the way, in addition to what he has already earned on his two-way contract ($359,939).

The Raptors now have a full 15-man roster, with 14 players on standard contracts and Freddie Gillespie on a 10-day deal. Jalen Harris is Toronto’s lone two-way player, so the club could fill its other two-way slot at some point before the regular season ends on May 16.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Spurs Fined $25K For Player Rest Violations

Despite a 26-point victory over the Suns yesterday, the No. 2 seed in the West, the Spurs were fined $25K by the NBA for resting three nominally available players in the contest, including DeMar DeRozan, as Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News details.

In a press release, the league said that it was penalizing San Antonio for sitting DeRozan, starting center Jakob Poeltl, and key reserve guard Patty Mills during “the same road game.” Orsborn tweets that San Antonio sat Mills and point guard Dejounte Murray against the Cavaliers last month without a similar financial ding from the league.

Orbsorn notes that the Spurs were playing on the second night of a back-to-back, and have been struggling through a brutal second-half schedule for the 2020/21 season, where they will have played 40 games in 68 days.

Given the impressive nature of the victory and recent outcry over an unusually compressed season schedule this year, the league’s punitive decision here is interesting. The Spurs beat a healthy Phoenix team. The Suns’ All-Star back court of Chris Paul and Devin Booker scored a combined 21 points on 9-of-28 shooting from the field.

At 27-28, the Spurs are clinging to the No. 10 seed in the West by 2.5 games over the Pelicans as of this writing. The Suns are 40-16, 1.5 games behind the top-seeded Jazz.

The Raptors were also fined $25K this weekend for violating the NBA’s policies on rest and injury reporting.

Raptors Sign Freddie Gillespie To Second 10-Day Deal

APRIL 18: The signing is official, the Raptors announced in a press release.

APRIL 17: Rookie power forward Freddie Gillespie will sign a second 10-day contract with the Raptors on Sunday, a source tells Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Gillespie is averaging 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in five games since inking his first 10-day deal on April 8. He has been a regular member of the rotation for the short-handed team, playing 16 minutes per night.

Murphy expects Toronto to make a longer investment in Gillespie once the second deal expires, likely signing him for the rest of the season with a partial guarantee for 2021/22.

Gillespie, 23, went undrafted out of Baylor in November, but established himself with a strong performance in the G League. In 15 games for the Memphis Hustle, he posted 10.5 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per night.

He will earn $61,528 during the second contract, which will also be the cap hit for the Raptors.

Warriors To Give Gary Payton II Another 10-Day Contract

Gary Payton II will sign a second 10-day contract with the Warriors, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

The versatile guard appeared in five games during his first 10-day deal, averaging 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds in 3.6 minutes per night. He was effective in Saturday’s loss to the Celtics, Slater notes, displaying his defensive skills in seven minutes of action.

Payton, 28, has logged brief stays with four teams in a five-year NBA career. He has also spent extensive time in the G League and was named Defensive Player of the Year during the league’s abbreviated season in Orlando.

Payton will earn $118,983 during his second 10-day contract. If it’s finalized today, it will expire April 27, and the Warriors would have to sign him for the rest of the season if they want to keep him on the roster beyond that.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Signs Second 10-Day Deal With Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers have given Rondae Hollis-Jefferson a second 10-day contract, the team announced in a press release.

The 26-year-old forward got into two games during his first 10-day deal, scoring four points in 12 total minutes. He joined the team on April 8 as Portland faced a league deadline to fill one of its two roster openings.

A first-round draft pick in 2015, Hollis-Jefferson spent his first four seasons with the Nets before signing with the Raptors as a free agent last year. He was with the Timberwolves in training camp, but failed to win a roster spot.

Players can only sign two 10-day contracts with a team during the season, so the Blazers will have to either part with Hollis-Jefferson or sign him for the rest of the season when this deal expires April 27. He will earn $128,963 over the next 10 days.

Kings Sign Damian Jones To Second 10-Day Deal

APRIL 17: The Kings have made it official, announcing Jones’ second 10-day deal in a press release.

APRIL 16: The Kings are signing center Damian Jones to a second 10-day contract, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Jones’ first 10-day contract with Sacramento is set to expire on Friday night.

Jones began the season with the Suns before being waived in February, then signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Lakers. He played 14 games with Phoenix and eight with L.A., averaging a combined 3.0 PPG and 2.0 RPG. Since his arrival in Sacramento, Jones has started three games and averaged 2.3 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 13.3 MPG.

Sacramento will have another decision to make on Jones later this month, since teams can only sign players to two 10 days in a season.

The Kings’ usual starting center, Richaun Holmes, is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury.

No Structural Damage To Mitchell’s Right Ankle

The Jazz can breathe a little easier. An MRI revealed no structural damage to Donovan Mitchell‘s right ankle, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. However, the All-Star guard will miss multiple games as he recovers from a sprain suffered on Friday afternoon against Indiana.

Mitchell had to be helped off the court after turning his ankle, but X-rays shortly after he was taken to the locker room were negative. The Jazz, with the league’s top record, will obviously take a cautious approach with Mitchell to get him ready for the postseason. He’s averaged 29.5 PPG since the All-Star break.

Overall, he’s posting a career-best 26.4 PPG and 5.2 APG, scoring 40-plus points in three of past six games.

In the short run, the Jazz figure to lean more heavily on veteran guards Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson, while giving more playing time to Miye Oni and Matt Thomas.

Celtics Add Jabari Parker, Waive Moritz Wagner

APRIL 17: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

APRIL 16: The Celtics are signing free agent forward Jabari Parker and waiving Moritz Wagner, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links). Parker will sign a two-year deal with Boston, Charania adds.

Parker has been looking for a new NBA home since the Kings waived him late last month. Parker had a $6.5MM expiring contract that Sacramento was unable to deal.

The second overall pick of the 2014 draft only appeared in three games with the Kings this season, due to a back injury, personal reasons, and being placed under the league’s health and safety protocols. Even when he was available, Parker wasn’t a regular part of Sacramento’s rotation.

Sacramento was Parker’s fifth NBA stop. He was included a trade deadline swap with Atlanta last February. Parker averaged 15.0 PPG in 32 games with the Hawks but only played six games with Sacramento last season.

Wagner was thrown into a three-team swap involving the Wizards, Celtics and Bulls at the trade deadline. He played nine games with Boston but only averaged 6.8 MPG in those appearances. Wagner, who was a first-round pick by the Lakers in 2018, has an expiring $2.16MM contract.

Donovan Mitchell Sprains Ankle, Undergoing MRI

Jazz star Donovan Mitchell left the team’s game against Indiana on Friday afternoon after turning his right ankle. Although the injury looked scary at the time, the Jazz got some positive early news, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that X-rays on the ankle were negative.

The Jazz and Mitchell aren’t out of the woods yet, as he’ll undergo an MRI on his right ankle to determine the severity of the injury, per Wojnarowski. Still, it’s a lower ankle sprain and there’s some early optimism that it won’t be a major injury, sources tell Woj (Twitter link).

A significant injury to Mitchell would be a devastating blow to the Jazz, who own the NBA’s best record at 41-14, entering today. The All-Star guard has been Utah’s leading scorer by a wide margin, posting a career-best 26.5 points per game on .438/.385/.842 shooting in 52 games (33.7 MPG).

Assuming Mitchell has to miss some time, the Jazz figure to lean more heavily on veteran guards Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson. Depth pieces like Miye Oni and Matt Thomas would be among the other candidates for increased roles.

NBA G League Elite Camp To Take Place June 19-21

After having to cancel it in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA will once again hold its G League Elite Camp prior to the draft combine this year, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who says the event will take place from June 19-21. The combine will follow, in the same location, from June 21-27.

In 2019, after the NBA revamped it, the Elite Camp consisted of 40 NBA G League invitees participating in the first half of the event, followed by 40 top draft-eligible players (who weren’t invited to the actual combine) taking part in the second half. It’s unclear if the format will remain the same this year.

The list of draft-eligible players who took part in the 2019 G League Elite Camp included a handful of prospects who were eventually drafted, such as Terance Mann, Cody Martin, Justin Wright-Foreman, Reggie Perry, and Dewan Hernandez.

Many of the draft-eligible participants in the 2019 Elite Camp also made it to the NBA after going undrafted, including Oshae Brissett, Chris Clemons, Tyler Cook, Tacko Fall, DaQuan Jeffries, Caleb Martin, Justin Robinson, and Max Strus.

Several players from the G League portion of the 2019 Elite Camp – such as Juan Toscano-Anderson, Norvel Pelle, Mychal Mulder, and Jordan McLaughlin – have also played in the NBA during the last couple years.

When the NBA announced its plans for the 2021 draft combine, the league noted that the event will be subject to “evolving health conditions.” It’s safe to say that caveat will apply to the G League Elite Camp as well.