Alex Fudge

Southwest Notes: H. Jones, Udoka, Rockets, THJ, Fudge

After seeing the way that opposing defenders sagged off of him during his first two NBA seasons, Pelicans forward Herbert Jones was determined to develop a more consistent three-point shot. He has done just that in 2023/24, writes William Guillory of The Athletic.

After knocking down just 33.6% of 2.3 attempts per game from beyond the arc in his first 144 NBA games, Jones has taken a career-high 3.5 three-pointers per game in his third NBA season and made 42.9% of them.

“Above anything else, the guy is a worker. No one could ever question his commitment to the game,” Pelicans head coach Willie Green said. “It’s no shock to us to see him improve as much as he has this season because he’s done what it takes to get those results.”

Jones’ improved three-point shot, which has helped boost his scoring average to a career-best 11.4 points per game, has made the 25-year-old a more well-rounded offensive player, but most of his value still comes on the defensive end of the court. As Rod Walker of details, while Jones isn’t particularly interested in making his own case for All-Defensive recognition, his teammates and coaches are happy to do it for him.

“I don’t know who is first-team All-Defense if it’s not Herb Jones,” Green said. “He’s one of the best in the league. The beauty is the guys he plays against, his peers, they understand that. When you have one of the best guys defensively, he should be rewarded for that.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Rockets head coach Ime Udoka spoke to Kelly Iko of The Athletic about a handful of topics, including his young players, Houston’s offensive inconsistency, and the need to be patient with a young team. Udoka said he “knew what he was signing up for” when he was hired by a franchise that hadn’t won more than 22 games in a season since 2019/20. “We have six first-round picks over the last three years with the task at hand, so I’m not surprised,” he said. “Just continuing to stay positive. We see glimpses and signs of how close we can be. And so you look at it as a positive and you’re optimistic about everything going forward.”
  • Although they’re six games out of the No. 10 seed at 26-34, the Rockets haven’t thrown in the towel on their push for a play-in spot, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). While it’s an extreme long shot, the fact that Houston has the most favorable remaining schedule of any Western Conference team provides a glimmer of hope, Feigen points out.
  • With Tim Hardaway Jr. in the midst of a slump, Tim Cato of The Athletic digs into the Mavericks‘ dilemma with the veteran wing, who has been considered a trade candidate for multiple seasons but continues to play a key role in Dallas. “We trust and need (Hardaway) if we’re going to win a championship,” head coach Jason Kidd told reporters.
  • Alex Fudge‘s two-way contract with the Mavericks is for two years, Hoops Rumors has learned. It will cover 2024/25 as well as the rest of this season.

Mavericks Sign Alex Fudge To Two-Way Deal

11:42am: Fudge’s new contract is official, the Mavericks announced (via Twitter).

10:17am: Alex Fudge will join the Mavericks on a two-way contract, agent Shayaun Saee of One Legacy Sports tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

The 20-year-old small forward began the season on a two-way deal with the Lakers, appearing in four games before being waived in early January. He returned to the G League’s South Bay Lakers, where he’s averaging 7.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 18 regular season games.

Fudge signed with L.A. last summer after going undrafted out of Florida. He played one season at LSU before joining the Gators.

Dallas will have a full 18-man roster once Fudge’s signing becomes official.

Today marks the last day this season that players can be signed to two-way contracts. Dallas’ deal with Fudge leaves Atlanta, Indiana and New York as the remaining teams that currently have openings.

Lakers Sign Dylan Windler To Two-Way Contract

JANUARY 7: Windler officially signed his two-way contract on Saturday, according to’s transaction log.

JANUARY 6: Veteran wing Dylan Windler, who had been playing in the G League, has agreed to sign a two-way contract with the Lakers, agents Mark Bartelstein and Andy Shiffman tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

A first-round pick in 2019, Windler signed a two-way contract with the Knicks in July following four seasons in Cleveland, then was converted to a standard non-guaranteed contract prior to the start of the regular season. He appeared in three games for the Knicks before being waived last month, before his 2023/24 salary became fully guaranteed.

Windler continued to play for the Westchester Knicks, New York’s G League affiliate, after being waived by the NBA team. He’s coming off a monster performance on Friday vs. the Delaware Blue Coats, as he put up 23 points to go along with a NBAGL-record 33 rebounds (11 offensive) in a loss.

For the season, he has averaged 13.8 PPG and 8.8 RPG on .443/.360/.714 shooting in 13 appearances for Westchester.

Players with four years of NBA service are typically ineligible for two-way contracts. However, Windler qualifies under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement due to a rule tweak that allows players who missed one of their four seasons as a result of an injury to retain their two-way eligibility — the former Belmont standout didn’t play at all as a rookie in 2019/20 due to a leg injury.

Assuming he officially signs his contract today, Windler will be eligible to appear in up to 29 games and will earn $321,714 on his two-way deal with the Lakers.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has to waive one of its current two-way players to open up a spot for Windler. Colin Castleton, D’Moi Hodge, and Alex Fudge currently occupy those slots, and the Lakers intend to waive Fudge, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link). He logged just 14 total minutes in four NBA appearances as a rookie out of Florida this season.

Lakers Waive Alex Fudge, D’Moi Hodge

In advance of the expected signing of Dylan Windler to a two-way contract, the Lakers have waived two-way players Alex Fudge and D’Moi Hodge, the team announced in a press release. The statement doesn’t mention Windler or indicate how the other open two-way slot might be used.

Sunday marks the waiver deadline to avoid having two-way contracts guaranteed for the remainder of the season, so L.A. won’t have any further financial obligations to either Fudge or Hodge. Both players earned approximately $248K on their two-way deals, and they each received a $250K bonus because the team won the in-season tournament.

Fudge, a 20-year-old small forward, saw minimal playing time in four games with the Lakers, and averaged 8.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 10 games for the team’s South Bay G League affiliate. The two-way contract he signed this summer covered two seasons, but the second year is non-guaranteed.

Hodge, a 25-year-old shooting guard, appeared in seven games with the Lakers and 16 for South Bay, averaging 11.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals with the G League team.

The Lakers Players Who Benefited Most From IST Prize Money

The Lakers‘ team salary this season is just above the $165.3MM luxury tax line, far exceeding the $126MM or so on the Pacers‘ books.

However, not a single player on Indiana’s roster is on a minimum-salary contract and only four Pacers players on standard deals are earning less than $5MM this season. By comparison, Los Angeles has eight players with cap hits below that $5MM threshold, including five earning the minimum.

While the $500K bonus for winning the NBA’s in-season tournament (IST) may be a drop in the bucket for maximum-salary stars like LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it serves as a significant pay raise for the players on the lower half of the Lakers’ cap sheet, as well as the players on two-way contracts who will receive bonuses worth $250K.

Here are the Lakers players for whom the NBA Cup prize money represents more than a 10% raise on their 2023/24 base salary, which is noted in parentheses:

Players receiving a $500K bonus:

Players receiving a $250K bonus:

The bonuses for Lewis and the Lakers’ two-way players represent a raise of roughly 44.7% on their respective base salaries.

The Lakers’ coaching staff also benefited financially from their in-season tournament success. Head coach Darvin Ham earned the same $500K bonus that his players did, while his assistant coaches divvied up $375K in bonus money.

The Pacers’ players and head coach Rick Carlisle went home with bonuses worth $200K (or $100K for two-way players).

None of this prize money will count against the salary cap, so the Lakers’ team salary for cap purposes remains unchanged, as do the team salaries for Indiana and the other six clubs who made the knockout round of the IST.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Buss, Pelinka, Davis, Fudge

Regardless of how much longer LeBron James spends with the Lakers or how his remaining time with the team plays out, the franchise intends to eventually retire his number, team owner Jeanie Buss tells Mark Medina of SportsKeeda.

“The standard for having your jersey retired as a Laker is when a player is inducted into the Hall of Fame. I have absolutely no doubt that LeBron will make it into the Basketball Hall of Fame,” Buss said. “When he does so, then we will retire his jersey. Knowing that he will make it into the Basketball Hall of Fame, he will have his Lakers jersey retired, no doubt about it.”

As Medina observes, James wore a No. 23 jersey during his first three years with the Lakers and will switch back to No. 23 in 2023/24 after wearing No. 6 for the last two seasons. Buss wasn’t prepared to say whether the Lakers would eventually retire both numbers, but stressed that the team would still retire LeBron’s jersey even if he doesn’t finish his career with the franchise.

“It would mean a lot (if LeBron retires as a Laker). But it won’t change his contributions to Lakers history,” Buss said. “… A player like Shaquille O’Neal has meant so much to Lakers history, but he wasn’t a Laker when he retired from the NBA. But that didn’t change what his part of Lakers history was. When he retired from the NBA, we retired his Lakers jersey.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • In her full interview with Medina, Buss addressed a wide range of Lakers-related topics, including her thoughts on the team’s finish in 2022/23, Rob Pelinka‘s performance, and much more. Regarding Pelinka, Buss explained why she stood by the club’s head of basketball operations when he was facing criticism for the acquisition of Russell Westbrook: “I always felt then and now that Rob was the right person to be in charge of our front office. I continued to do so. Every decision that is made isn’t always the perfect one. But it’s the decision you make after that that counts. We had a roster that didn’t work and wasn’t working. But you can’t change things overnight in the NBA. But you can set yourself up by making the next right decision. That’s exactly what Rob did. … Every decision, you have the opportunity to make the next right decision. That’s what Rob has proven.”
  • Asked about a possible contract extension for Anthony Davis, Buss declined to discuss the subject in any depth. However, in deferring to Pelinka, she hinted that she’d be on board with a new deal for Davis: “Rob said it best. Our intention is that we want to keep continuity with our team. I’ll leave it at that.”
  • The two-way contract that undrafted rookie Alex Fudge signed with the Lakers will cover two years rather than one, Hoops Rumors has learned. Fudge is the sixth player to sign a two-year two-way deal this offseason, as our tracker shows.

Lakers Sign Alex Fudge To Two-Way Deal, Waive Cole Swider

4:51pm: The contract with Fudge is official, the Lakers announced (via Twitter).

4:33pm: The Lakers will sign Alex Fudge to a two-way contract, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. They will open up a two-way slot by waiving Cole Swider, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Fudge, a 20-year-old forward, put up modest numbers during his college career at LSU and Florida, averaging 4.6 and 3.9 rebounds over two seasons.

Fudge played for L.A.’s Summer League team, and although his statistics didn’t stand out, he impressed the Lakers enough with his athleticism to earn a two-way opportunity. A previous report had indicated he would be signing an Exhibit 10 contract with the team.

Swider, a 24-year-old small forward, signed a two-way contract with L.A. last summer after going undrafted out of Villanova. He appeared in just seven games for the Lakers, spending most of his rookie year in the G League, where he averaged 17.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 27 regular season games.

Swider’s contract for the upcoming season is non-guaranteed, so L.A. won’t be on the hook for any more money. Colin Castleton and D’Moi Hodge occupy the team’s other two-way spots.

Lakers Signing Castleton, Hodge To Two-Way Deals, Fudge To Exhibit 10 Contract

Florida center Colin Castleton and Missouri guard D’Moi Hodge will join the Lakers on two-way contracts, according to tweets from Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times.

Castleton, 23, was a first-team All-SEC selection this season after averaging 16.0 points and 7.7 rebounds as a fifth-year senior. His season ended early after suffering a broken hand in mid-February.

Hodge, 24, was a 2023 finalist for national Defensive Player of the Year honors. Also a fifth-year senior, he averaged 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game in his only season with the Tigers.

In addition, L.A. will sign Florida forward Alex Fudge to an Exhibit 10 contract, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The 20-year-old forward posted 5.8 PPG and 4.5 RPG as a sophomore.

Pacific Notes: Sabonis, Beal, Murray, Lakers’ Workout, Hachimura

Kings big man Domantas Sabonis is unlikely to play in the FIBA World Cup, according to Lithuanian national team head coach Kazys Maksvytis. “We all hope that Domantas will play,” Maksvytis said in the Zalgiris on Air podcast, as relayed by “However, we all know the valid reasons [that could prevent him from playing]. If I had to say on his chances today, I’d say those chances are less than 50 percent.”

Sabonis said earlier this month he may need surgery on his right thumb. The Kings and Sabonis could also pursue an extension this offseason.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings were among the teams to inquire about a trade for Wizards wing Bradley Beal but — not surprisingly — Sacramento balked when Washington asked about last year’s lottery pick, Keegan Murray, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic. The Wizards were interested in drafting Murray and tried to move up from the No. 10 pick to select the versatile forward, Aldridge adds.
  • Gonzaga big man Drew Timme was among the draft prospects who worked out for the Lakers on Monday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Damion Baugh (TCU), Alex Fudge (Florida), Colin Castleton (Florida), Sincere Carry (Kent State) and Hunter Tyson (Clemson) joined Timme at the workout.
  • Rui Hachimura‘s market value is projected to be in the $12-18MM starting range, multiple executives told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. While a majority of teams won’t have more than the $12.2MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception to offer Hachimura, at least seven teams project to have the cap room to put together a substantial offer sheet. Since Hachimura is a restricted free agent, the Lakers can match any offer.

Pacific Notes: Paul, St. Jean, Lakers, Warriors

Suns point guard Chris Paul, a 12-time All-Star, is hoping to stick around in Phoenix for the 2023/24 season, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic .

Paul is owed $30.8MM for the 2023/24 season, but only $15.8MM of that money is fully guaranteed, and the club is reportedly weighing its various options with regard to his future. A decision will likely have to be made by June 28, which is when the rest of the 38-year-old’s salary will become guaranteed.

“Absolutely (I want to stay in Phoenix),” Paul said. “I’ve talked with my family, we’ve had conversations about what could be, what might be… I’ve talked with my agent. Talked to my brother.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • New Suns head coach Frank Vogel will be adding another familiar face as he continues to round out his bench in Phoenix. Sources inform Marc Stein (Twitter link) that former Mavericks assistant coach Greg St. Jean is set to join the team. St. Jean also served under Vogel with the Lakers.
  • The Lakers, who possess two picks in this year’s draft, held another pre-draft workout on Wednesday. Dave McMenamin of ESPN (via Twitter) reveals that San Diego State guard Adam Seiko, Miami combo guard Isaiah Wong, Florida forward Alex Fudge, Akron guard Xavier Castaneda, G League Ignite shooting guard Mojave King, and Memphis small forward Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu auditioned for L.A. brass yesterday.
  • The PR team of the Warriors has been honored with the Professional Basketball Writers Association’s 2022/23 Brian McIntyre Media Relations Award, the PBWA announced in a press statement (Twitter link). The PBWA notes that the media relations staffs of the Hawks, Heat, Mavericks and Pistons comprised the other finalists under consideration this year.