Pat Connaughton

Poll: Who Will Win 2020 Slam Dunk Contest?

Bulls guard Zach LaVine, a two-time Slam Dunk Contest winner, flirted with the idea of taking part in this year’s event in his home arena. However, after suggesting that he’d only participate if he was named to the All-Star team, LaVine has stuck to that stance. That means fans in Chicago this weekend won’t get the opportunity to see a rematch of the 2016 final, which pitted LaVine against Aaron Gordon in perhaps the most memorable Dunk Contest of the decade.

Gordon will participate though, and he’ll be one of the most experienced dunkers on the court this Saturday night. Besides finishing as the runner-up to LaVine in 2016, Gordon also took part in 2017’s contest. Having fallen short twice before, the Magic forward is confident the third time will be the charm, telling Josh Robbins of The Athletic, “I’m gonna win.”

However, it’s Dwight Howard – not Gordon – who has the most Dunk Contest experience of any of this year’s participants. This will be Howard’s fourth time taking part in the event, and he even has a win under his belt.

That win came in 2008 though, and the Lakers center hasn’t participated in a Dunk Contest since 2009, more than a decade ago. A win this year for the 34-year-old Howard would be unprecedented in an event that’s typically a young man’s game. Dominique Wilkins, who had just turned 30 when he won 1990’s contest, is the oldest all-time winner. The second-oldest? Nate Robinson, who was 26 when he beat Howard in 2009.

If you believe that youth will win out in 2020, you’ll have to consider Bucks wing Pat Connaughton an underdog as well. The 27-year-old will be participating in his first NBA Dunk Contest, and is flying under the radar as Saturday’s festivities near — something he says is just fine with him.

No one’s worried about me and hopefully Saturday night they’ll be like, ‘Damn, I should have been worried about him,'” Connaughton said this week, per Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The fourth contestant this year will be Heat swingman Derrick Jones Jr., who will also be celebrating his birthday on Saturday, as he turns 23. Jones finished as the runner-up to Glenn Robinson III in 2017’s event and will likely have some new tricks up his sleeve this time around.

What do you think? Will Howard defy the odds and win his second Dunk Contest? Will Gordon or Jones get over the hump after placing second in past competitions? Will the first-time Connaughton make a name for himself with a win on Saturday?

Vote below our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Team USA Updates: Millsap, Plumlee, Harrell, Select Team

USA Basketball has issued a press release announcing a series of updates relating to the team it’s putting together for the 2019 World Cup in China, as well as the training camp that will take place in August before that event. Here are the highlights of that announcement:

More withdrawals:

Nuggets big man Paul Millsap has joined the ever-growing list of players from Team USA’s initial 20-man roster who have decided not to participate in this year’s World Cup. As expected, Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love has also withdrawn from Team USA’s 2019 roster.

Millsap and Love join Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, James Harden, Tobias Harris, Damian Lillard, and CJ McCollum among the original invitees who have removed their names from World Cup consideration.

New invitees:

Team USA confirmed that Thaddeus Young, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, and Jaylen Brown will join the training camp roster for next month, as previous reports indicated.

In addition to those four players, two big men will join the roster as well, with Clippers center Montrezl Harrell and Nuggets center Mason Plumlee have received invitations from USA Basketball. Assuming the remaining 11 players from the original 20-man roster remain committed, that would bring the roster back up to 17.

[UPDATE: Harrell may turn down his invitation]

Those 11 other players are Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kyle Kuzma, Brook Lopez, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Myles Turner, and Kemba Walker.

Select Team:

For the first time, USA Basketball confirmed the players who will make up the Select Team at next month’s training camp in Las Vegas. The members of the 13-man Select Team will practice and scrimmage with Team USA’s training camp invitees, and will be coached by Jeff Van Gundy.

It’s possible that a player could be elevated from the Select Team to the primary roster and eventually find his way onto the 12-man squad that will play in China, but that’s probably a long shot.

The 13 players who will play for the Select Team are as follows:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Nets)
  2. Marvin Bagley III (Kings)
  3. Mikal Bridges (Suns)
  4. Jalen Brunson (Mavericks)
  5. John Collins (Hawks)
  6. Pat Connaughton (Bucks)
  7. De’Aaron Fox (Kings)
  8. Joe Harris (Nets)
  9. Jonathan Isaac (Magic)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Landry Shamet (Clippers)
  12. Derrick White (Spurs)
  13. Trae Young (Hawks)

Team USA’s training camp will take place during the week of August 5, while the World Cup itself is scheduled to run from August 31 to September 15.

Bucks To Keep Pat Connaughton, Sterling Brown Past Guarantee Date

The Bucks plan on keeping Pat Connaughton and Sterling Brown on the roster through July 1 when each players’ contracts will become guaranteed, Matt Velazquez of the Journal Sentinel reports (Twitter link).

Connaughton will make slightly over $1.72MM while Brown will receive just under $1.62MM next season. Neither player’s contract runs past this upcoming season.

Milwaukee could have waived either player today and given themselves some minor cap relief. However, the franchise had no need for the additional cap room after re-signing both Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez earlier today.

Connaughton and Brown project to be low-cost rotation players next season before they reach the open market in 2020. Connaughton will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, while Brown can be restricted.

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Smith, Griffin, Connaughton

Former Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff is “definitely interested” in the Cavaliers’ head coaching opening, he said in a SiruisXM interview with Mitch Lawrence, Zach Harper and Sarah Kustok (Twitter link). “It would be an honor to have an opportunity to work with that group,” said Bickerstaff, who was fired by Memphis two weeks ago. Bickerstaff is reportedly on Cleveland’s radar screen, though there has been no indication if he’ll be interviewed for the job.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Backup point guard Ish Smith is willing to return to the Pistons but it’s uncertain if there’s mutual interest, Rod Beard of the Detroit News reports. Smith will enter unrestricted free agency this summer. “Obviously, if they call, I’m for sure going to pick up,” Smith said. “This has been home the last three years.” The cap-strapped Pistons could look to re-sign Smith at a lower cost than the $6MM he made this season. Otherwise, they might go with an in-house alternative, such as Luke Kennard or Bruce Brown.
  • Pistons All-Star forward Blake Griffin said he won’t get involved in personnel decisions this offseason unless his opinion is requested, Beard writes in a separate story. “I’m not here to make decisions; it’s the front office. (Senior adviser) Ed (Stefanski) and all those guys do a really good job, in the short time I’ve known them,” Griffin said. “They have plans and an idea and a direction. It might not happen overnight because of the (financial) situation. They have a great grasp on that. If they ask my opinion, I’ll, of course, give my honest opinion. I’ve never been the type of player to go in and make demands, just because sometimes as players and coaches, we’re all about winning right now, which is very important but not at the expense of the next year or however that may be.”
  • Bucks reserve guard Pat Connaughton hasn’t given up his dream to play major league baseball, as he explained to’s Steve Aschburner in a Q&A session. Connaughton was a minor-league pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles system five years ago before choosing to pursue his basketball dreams. “Obviously I’ve wanted to be as successful at both sports as possible. You have to shoot for being an All-Star to have a chance to even make it in either, right? But I did think, “If I really went into baseball right now, if I dropped basketball when I was coming out of high school, I fully believe I’d have had the chance to be an All-Star, to be one of the top two pitchers on a championship team.” But something drew me to basketball, something drew me to having success in two sports,” Connaughton said. The Bucks have until July 1 to guarantee his $1.723MM salary for next season.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Eastern Conference

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. With the playoffs underway, we turn our attention to the Eastern Conference:

Michael Carter-Williams, Magic, 27, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $60K deal in 2019
Carter-Williams was scrounging for work six weeks ago after getting traded from Houston to Chicago in early January and then immediately getting waived. The former Rookie of the Year had to settle for 10-day contracts with Orlando before he was signed for the remainder of the season. Not only did he help the Magic reach the playoffs, he’s been one of their main cogs off the bench against Toronto. He posted 10 points, five rebounds and two assists in Orlando’s Game One upset. Carter-Williams has played well enough to receive offers commensurate to other veteran backup point guards.

Glenn Robinson III, Pistons, 25, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $8.35MM deal in 2018
With Blake Griffin sidelined by a knee in the first two games against Milwaukee, Robinson got one last chance to convince the Pistons that they should exercise their $4.3MM option on him for next season. Robinson has been utilized as an undersized power forward in the series but his perimeter shooting woes have continued. After shooting just 29% from deep and falling out of Dwane Casey‘s rotation during the regular season, Robinson has made just one of his eight 3-point attempts in the first two games. Robinson will assuredly return to the free agent market this summer.

Pat Connaughton, Bucks, 26, SG (Up) — Signed to a two-year, $3.36MM deal in 2018
Connaughton’s modest salary of $1.723MM for next season becomes guaranteed if he’s still on the roster July 1st. That already seemed like a good bet heading into the postseason; now it’s a no-brainer. He’s taken advantage of an expanded role with Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell sidelined by injuries. Connaughton has been a difference-maker against Detroit, averaging 14.0 PPG on 73.4% shooting and 8.5 RPG in 29.5 MPG. He also recorded four blocks on perimeter shooters in Game Two. He’ll be one of the league’s best bargains next season.

Jeremy Lin, Raptors, 30, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $487K deal in 2019
Lin chose the Raptors after agreeing to a buyout with the Hawks in mid-February. The expectation was that he would bolster the playoff rotation behind Kyle Lowry. But Lin has had trouble finding his footing in Toronto and with Fred VanVleet healthy, he has been the odd man out in the postseason. He never left the bench in the Game One loss to Orlando and played four meaningless minutes in Game Two. Lin should still find work this summer but he’ll likely have to settle for something close to the veteran’s minimum.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks Sign Pat Connaughton

AUGUST 1: The Bucks have officially signed Connaughton, the team announced today in a press release.

“Pat is a talented wing player with a tremendous work ethic and great character,” GM Jon Horst said in a statement. “We believe he will continue to grow and develop his skills working with Coach Bud and his staff. We are excited to welcome him to the Bucks organization and we know he will be a positive addition to our roster both on and off the court.”

JULY 27: The Bucks have reached an agreement to sign free agent swingman Pat Connaughton, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). According to Charania (via Twitter), Connaughton will ink a two-year deal that will be worth slightly more than the minimum in each season. The first year will be guaranteed.

The Bucks are over the cap and used their entire bi-annual exception to sign Brook Lopez. However, the team still has a bit of its mid-level exception available. Having used $7MM of the $8.641MM exception to add Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee could give Connaughton a starting salary of $1.641MM, which would exceed his minimum salary of $1,567,007.

Assuming Connaughton gets the rest of the Bucks’ MLE and the maximum allowable 5% raise in year two, the two-year pact would be worth about $3.36MM.

Connaughton, 25, spent the last three seasons in Portland, carving out a regular rotation role in 2017/18. Appearing in all 82 games for the Blazers, the former Notre Dame standout averaged 5.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG in 18.1 minutes per contest, with a .423/.352/.841 shooting line. However, he didn’t receive a qualifying offer from the team last month, making him an unrestricted free agent.

While he’s unlikely to see an increase in minutes in Milwaukee, Connaughton will provide solid depth for the Bucks. We had mentioned him earlier today in our look at the top free agent wings still available.

Once Connaughton is officially under contract, the Bucks will have 14 players on guaranteed salaries, with Brandon Jennings and Tyler Zeller on non-guaranteed deals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Blazers’ Pat Connaughton To Become UFA

The Trail Blazers will not tender a qualifying offer to Pat Connaughton, reports Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link). Rather than hitting the open market as a restricted free agent on Sunday, Connaughton will be unrestricted.

Connaughton, 25, emerged as a reliable rotation piece for Portland in 2017/18, appearing in all 82 of the team’s regular season games and averaging 18.1 minutes per contest. He chipped in 5.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG with a .423/.352/.841 shooting line.

The Trail Blazers issued a qualifying offer to Jusuf Nurkic, but have decided against doing so for Connaughton and Shabazz Napier, two players who saw regular minutes for the club last season.

Napier’s QO would have been worth $3.45MM, while Connaughton’s would have only been for $1.84MM. However, the cap-strapped Blazers already have $110MM+ in guaranteed money on their books for eight players, so a new deal for Nurkic could put them up against the tax line with several players still to sign. As such, Portland will be cautious about every dollar it spends, and may not have wanted to risk Napier and/or Connaughton accepting their qualifying offers.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers are burdened by some unpalatable long-term contracts, but the $112MM already on the books for 2018/19 is tolerable given that they’re in the running for home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs.

With little foreseeable cap space projected until the summer of 2020 at the earliest, the Blazers will have to make some decisions on whether to keep the current core together or make more ambitious, financially-driven moves to position themselves for the future.

The 2017/18 campaign saw general manager Neil Olshey unload 22-year-old Noah Vonleh at the trade deadline in order to duck under the luxury tax line. Could a deep postseason run in the spring be enough to convince franchise owner Paul Allen to blow by that threshold next year?

Jusuf Nurkic, C, 23 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $8MM contract in 2014.
While Nurkic’s value tends to fluctuate from month to month, there’s no denying that he’s capable of big things if given an opportunity. Were it not for the Blazers’ financial binds, bringing back the Bosnian Beast on a significant deal would be a no-brainer. Alas, making or matching a significant offer for the big man would vault Portland well into the luxury tax, something that we’re not quite sure the club is willing to do yet. It would be a shame for the Blazers to watch Nurkic walk for nothing, so expect them to work the phones aggressively to see if they can find a way to make it work. If they can’t, he’ll get paid elsewhere, even with a glut of other available centers on the market.

Pat Connaughton, SG, 25 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3MM deal in 2015.
After two years of sparse playing time, Connaughton has carved out a role for himself in Portland’s rotation. The dual-threat athlete won’t break the bank as a restricted free agent, but could be a welcomed addition should the Blazers look to bring the familiar face back on the cheap.

Ed Davis, C, 29 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $20MM deal in 2015.
While Davis has consistently established himself as an efficient player in reserve minutes, he’s never taken the leap to make a case for himself as a starter. The big man should be able to at least replicate his last contract considering his per-36 rates of 10.2 points and 14.0 boards, but don’t bank on that coming in Portland — he’s a replaceable piece of the current puzzle.

Shabazz Napier, PG, 26 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $6MM contract in 2014.
It took Napier four years and three teams to find a home in the NBA, but he has finally come into his own in Oregon. The prolific 26-year-old combo guard has slotted in admirably behind Portland’s celebrated starting duo – a duo consisting of two other prolific combo guards – and has stepped up occasionally when called upon. In nine games as a starter, the former UConn standout has posted 15.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per contest, and may have shown just enough in those stints to draw an offer sheet out of a desperate team in restricted free agency. It’s hard to imagine Olshey digging deep to match an aggressive offer from a team with cap space to spare but that wouldn’t be for a lack of interest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Trail Blazers, Baldwin, Dieng

The Trail Blazers have jumped out to a hot start this season thanks in large part to their formidable second unit. Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest writes that the club’s bench is becoming one of the league’s best.

The catalyst, Quick writes, has been Evan Turner, the 28-year-old second-year Trail Blazer who’s posted 13.3 points, 3.8 boards and 4.3 assists per game. Between Turner’s production, his ability to minimize turnovers and chip in with solid defense, he’s making an early case to be included in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation.

Other player who have looked solid off the bench for the Trail Blazers include Ed Davis and Pat Connaughton. This season, 28-year-old Davis has emerged as a voracious rebounder (18.8 per-36) and Connaughton has chipped in with 10.8 points per game, including two three-pointers made per contest at a 50% clip.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets strike Gina Mizell of the Denver Post as the ideal landing spot for disgruntled Suns guard Eric Bledsoe. While the team has expressed a willingness to let Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray play through their mistakes, it’s understandable that they may be intrigued to make a play for Bledsoe now that he’s definitely available.
  • Second-year guard Wade Baldwin signed a two-way contract with the Trail Blazers this week but the team’s official website has announced that the guard has undergone surgery and is expected to miss six weeks after tearing a ligament in his right thumb.
  • The Timberwolves will need to figure out just how Gorgui Dieng fits into their plans now that they’ve revamped their roster, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune writes. After playing 32.4 minutes per game last season, the 27-year-old advanced stat darling has seen just 13.8 through five games so far in 2017/18.

Northwest Notes: Hood, Wolves, Connaughton

Prior to Monday’s extension deadline, Rodney Hood‘s camp “worked hard” on getting something done, but couldn’t find common ground with the Jazz, says Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Kyler adds that Utah figures to match any offer for Hood next summer, if he stays healthy in 2017/18.

Although Hood struggled in his first game this season, putting up just six points and two rebounds in 18 minutes as he battled a stomach bug, he’s expected to play a significant role for the Jazz this season in the wake of Gordon Hayward‘s departure. A breakout season for Hood could make him an interesting restricted free agent next July.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • In an extensive and in-depth piece for, Tom Haberstroh takes a closer look at the job Tom Thibodeau is doing in Minnesota as the Timberwolves‘ head coach and president of basketball operations, exploring whether the club is ready to take a leap forward and whether there’s any risk of Thibodeau overworking his key players.
  • Appearing on Altitude AM950 in Denver, Nuggets guard Gary Harris discussed his contract extension, his role for the coming season, and the team’s offseason addition of Paul Millsap.
  • The Trail Blazers had a chance to avoid guaranteeing Pat Connaughton‘s salary for the coming season if they’d waived him over the summer, but Portland decided to keep him around, and that decision looked good on opening night, writes Casey Holdahl of