Boris Diaw

Five Notable Forwards Still Available In Free Agency

While most of the biggest names still available on the free agent market are restricted free agents, there are several noteworthy unrestricted players who are free to sign outright with any NBA team. Over the last several days, we’ve identified a number of those players, examining five notable guards, wings, and big men who remain unsigned.

Today, we’ll close out our look at those notable remaining free agents by focusing on a handful of forwards who could appeal to NBA clubs. Some of these players could be considered wings or bigs, but we’ve split them off into their own category — these are frontcourt players who probably shouldn’t be relied on as the man in the middle of any lineup that’s not unusually small.

The Raptors, Hawks, Timberwolves, Pelicans, Spurs, and Hornets are among the teams that could potentially use a little more frontcourt depth, though those aren’t the only clubs who may be suitors for the players listed below.

Here are five notable free agent forwards to keep an eye on:

  • Dante Cunningham — An eight-year veteran, Cunningham has been a solid rotation player for most of his career, but recently added a new wrinkle to his game. After making just two three-pointers in his first six seasons, Cunningham has made 126 over the last two years, shooting an impressive 39.2% from long range in 2016/17. The apparent lack of interest in the 30-year-old so far suggests teams may be a little skeptical of his newfound range, but if he can keep it up, he’d make for an intriguing stretch four. The Knicks were linked to Cunningham in May and the Jazz were said to have interest last month, though it’s not clear if either team is still in on him.
  • Michael Beasley — While he never lived up to his pre-draft billing, Beasley – a former second overall pick – continued to provide value as a scorer off the bench in Milwaukee last season. In 56 games for the Bucks, the veteran forward averaged 9.4 PPG with a career-best .532 FG% and .419 3PT%. The lack of recent updates on our player page on Beasley suggests that he hasn’t been the subject of any substantial rumors this summer, which is a little surprising. I can think of several teams that could use a player like him in their second unit.
  • Luke Babbitt — Babbitt started 55 games for the Heat last season, but only averaged 15.7 minutes per contest, so his role was limited. Still, few players around the NBA have been more reliable three-point shooters in recent years. Babbitt has made an impressive 43.8% of his long-distance attempts since the start of the 2014/15 season. Miami was reportedly monitoring the former first-round pick earlier in the free agent period, but with Kelly Olynyk now in the mix for the Heat, a reunion may not be cards — Babbitt is said to be weighing other options.
  • Boris Diaw — A longtime contributor in San Antonio, Diaw joined the Jazz last season and saw his production dip — his PPG (4.6), FG% (.446), and 3PT% (.247) marks were all among the worst of his career. Diaw is 35, so we shouldn’t necessarily count on him to bounce back strong in 2017/18, but if he still has something left in the tank, he’s worth a minimum salary investment. Diaw’s ability to distribute the ball is somewhat rare for a forward, and he can fit into a wide range of lineups. The Raptors may be one possibility for him.
  • Mike Dunleavy Jr. — Like Babbitt, Dunleavy could provide immediate help for a team in need of some outside shooting, but like Diaw, his age is a concern; he’ll turn 37 in September. Nonetheless, Dunleavy continued to make threes at a consistent rate in 2016/17, converting 39.6% of his outside attempts despite averaging a career-low 15.9 minutes per game. The Timberwolves were identified as a possible suitor for Dunleavy earlier in the offseason, and even though that report is over a month old, Minnesota still makes sense as a landing spot. Tom Thibodeau‘s club could use another shooter or two, and Thibodeau coached Dunleavy in Chicago.

Note: Restricted free agents aren’t noted here, since they’re not free to sign with any team, but Nikola Mirotic and JaMychal Green are among the noteworthy RFA forwards still on the market.

Jazz Waive Boris Diaw

The Jazz were expected to wait until the weekend to waive Boris Diaw, but the team decided not to wait and has placed him on waivers today, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports (Twitter link).

Diaw had one year left on his contract with a salary of $7.5MM for the 2017/18 season. That figure was set to become guaranteed at the end of the week and Utah was exploring trade scenarios involving the big man.

The 14-year veteran came to the Jazz in a trade last offseason and although he made 33 starts, he didn’t produce up to his normal standards. He scored 4.6 points per game, which was his lowest mark since his rookie season.

The Jazz are looking to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year and they’ve been busy adding veterans since Gordon Hayward departed. Earlier this week, the team inked  Thabo Sefolosha (two years, $10.5MM), Jonas Jerebko (two years, $8.2MM), and Ekpe Udoh (two years, $6.5MM). Utah will presumably use the cap space created from waiving Diaw as well as the team’s mid-level exception to fit in those deals.

Raptors Inquire On Boris Diaw

The Raptors have reached out to the Jazz to inquire on Boris Diaw, reports Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter links). Jones describes the contact – and any talks between the two teams – as “strictly preliminary.”

As we noted this morning, the Jazz are expected to waive Diaw within the next couple days if they can’t find a trade partner for him. His $7.5MM salary is set to become guaranteed for 2017/18 if he remains under contract beyond Saturday.

Given Diaw’s contract situation, the Raptors’ interest is somewhat confusing. Once the DeMarre Carroll trade is finished, Toronto would have a trade exception big enough to accommodate Diaw’s salary, but that would push the team into the tax, and it’s not clear why the Raptors would be willing to cross back over that threshold for a player who will likely be waived by Utah anyway.

As such, it makes sense that the Raptors would be sending out some salary of their own in any deal involving Diaw. With Carroll ticketed for the Nets and Cory Joseph on the verge of being sent to Indiana, the only salary-dump candidate left on Toronto’s roster is Jonas Valanciunas. However, I’m skeptical that the Jazz would have much interest in him, particularly since acquiring him compromise the team’s ability to finalize deals with Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko, and Ekpe Udoh, based on the terms reported.

It’s possible the Raptors are interested in somehow pulling Diaw into the Joseph deal with the Pacers or the Carroll deal with the Nets — neither of those trades has been officially finalized yet. I don’t see any obvious motivation for that either though, so I’d be surprised if the Raptors and Jazz worked out anything involving the French forward.

Jazz Expected To Waive Boris Diaw

The Jazz are expected to waive veteran forward Boris Diaw before his 2017/18 salary becomes guaranteed this weekend, tweets Tim MacMahon of The team had been exploring trades involving Diaw’s non-guaranteed contract, and a deal is still possible, as MacMahon acknowledges (via Twitter). But an outright release appears to be the more likely outcome.

A 14-year NBA veteran, Diaw joined the Jazz in a trade last offseason, and appeared in 73 games for the team, making 33 starts. However, 2016/17 was one of the worst seasons of Diaw’s long career — his 4.6 PPG was his lowest mark since his rookie year, and his numbers in several other categories, including FG% (.446) and 3PT% (.247), were far below his career averages.

Diaw is entering the final year of his contract and had been slated to earn $7.5MM in 2017/18. However, that figure is fully non-guaranteed for two more days, meaning Utah could waive him and not be on the hook for any of it.

While Diaw’s contract would make a good trade chip, any deal involving the veteran forward would likely involve the Jazz taking back a chunk of salary. That scenario no longer looks as viable for Utah, since the club has agreed to a handful of free agent contracts that appear to require cap room.

Within the last couple days, the Jazz have agreed to sign Thabo Sefolosha (two years, $10.5MM), Jonas Jerebko (two years, $8.2MM), and Ekpe Udoh (two years, $6.5MM). Based on the reported terms, those three deals look a little too expensive to fit into the team’s mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, signaling that Utah will instead use cap space – and probably the room exception – to finalize them. Waiving Diaw would clear the necessary room.

Jazz Target Free Agents, Hope To Trade Boris Diaw

After signing Thabo Sefolosha earlier today, the Jazz are looking at more moves to beef up their front line, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Utah would like to add another forward and a center to back up Rudy Gobert, Jones relays. The Jazz are trying to trade veteran big man Boris Diaw, whose $7.5MM salary for the upcoming season doesn’t become fully guaranteed until Saturday. If they can’t find a trade partner, they are expected to waive Diaw before the end of the week.

Jones mentions three free agents that Utah is targeting: small forward Dante Cunningham, who spent last season with the Pelicans, power forward Ersan Ilyasova, who was traded from the Sixers to the Hawks at the February deadline, and center Willie Reed, who is coming off a breakthrough season as a backup with the Heat.

Jazz management is especially fond of Cunningham and Reed because they bring toughness and atleticism on defense. Cunningham is also coming off a career-best year from 3-point range, connecting on 39% from long distance.

Sefolosha, who also has a strong reputation as a defender, chose the Jazz because they utilize an international style of offense similar to what he experienced in Atlanta, Jones writes. He started 42 games for Atlanta last season, but Utah may view him as a backup to Joe Ingles.

The Jazz have two options for signing Sefolosha, who will receive $10.5MM over two years, according to a post from Bobby Marks on ESPN Now. They could remain over the cap and use part of their mid-level exception, which would allow them to keep a $3.3MM bi-annual exception and $3.2MM of the MLE. The other option is to waive Diaw and sign Sefolosha with cap room, leaving them with $6MM to spend, along with a $4.3MM room MLE.

Jazz Notes: Hayward, Hill, Diaw, Ingles

After being swept by the Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals, the Jazz enter the offseason with one major question: Will Gordon Hayward be in Utah next season and beyond? Speaking to the media at the Jazz’s end-of-season media press conference, the former first-round pick from 2010 had nothing but the highest of praises for the team, Ryan McDonald of Deseret News Sports writes.

“It’s been so much fun for me here in Utah and growing up here, starting a family, growing from a basketball standpoint, growing from just a man standpoint,” Hayward said. “I have nothing but love for everybody in Utah.”

At 27 years old, coming off a season in which he set career-highs in PPG (21.9) and RPG (4.7), and made his first All-Star team, the Butler University product will have no shortage of potential suitors. Teammates like budding star Rudy Gobert expressed kind sentiments, telling the media that he “don’t want to see him leave because he’s a big part of what we’ve been building.” Per Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, Jazz guard George Hill expressed the belief that Hayward’s “heart is here in Utah.”

From enduring a 25-win season in 2013 to eliminating the Clippers in the playoffs this season, Hayward was a major part of making Utah a contending team. However, the 6’8″, 225-pound forward says he hasn’t given much thought to his future.

Here is additional news surrounding the Jazz:

  • Hill, who is a free agent himself this offseason, expressed his desire to remain in Utah. The 31-year-old averaged 16.9 PPG and 4.1 APG in 49 regular season contests for a Jazz team that went 51-31, good for fifth place in the West. Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune noted that Hill’s family will play a role in his free agency decision but the veteran feels the Jazz have “more than enough” to compete with the team’s current core (Twitter links).
  • Boris Diaw, the seasoned veteran who provided a spark off the bench, is also uncertain about a return next season. The Jazz hold an option on the 35-year-old France native, who he indicated his desire to return next season, per Genessy (via Twitter). “I’d like to be back here, but I’d definitely understand any choice that they make,” he said.
  • Joe Ingles, a restricted free agent this offseason, may have the upper-hand on his teammates in regards to a return. The Jazz can match any offer he receives — and both parties have a mutual interest in a reunion, Jones reports (via Twitter). Andy Larsen of Salt City Hoops quoted Ingles, who said all of Utah’s impending free agents want to return (via Twitter).

Jazz Notes: Hayward, Diaw, Favors, Exum

Four weeks after fracturing his left ring finger in practice, Gordon Hayward is expected to make his season debut Sunday, reports ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Hayward was originally given a six-weeks prognosis after the Oct. 7 injury, but he will make it back in a little less than a month. The 6’8″ small forward, who can opt out of his current deal next summer, led the Jazz in scoring last season with 19.7 points per game.

There’s more news out of Utah:

  • Boris Diaw is expected to miss about two weeks with a contusion on his right leg, MacMahon posts on ESPN Now. With Derrick Favors still on a minutes restriction, that should mean more playing time for second-year forward Trey Lyles.
  • With Rudy Gobert‘s extension now out of the way, Utah can turn its attention to locking up the rest of its core, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Hayward will be the priority, and the Jazz are expecting him to earn at least $25MM in his next deal, a hefty raise from this year’s salary of $16,736,710. They would also like to get something done with Favors, who is eligible for a renegotiation and extension through March. Utah’s front office believes he would receive a max contract on the open market and would prefer to reach an extension agreement before that happens. The Jazz may also need to find money for point guard George Hill, who is in the final year of his contract after being acquired from the Pacers in a three-team trade. At age 30, Hill wants a long-term deal and a raise from his current $8MM salary, but he would prefer not to change teams again.
  • Dante Exum seems fully recovered from the ACL tear in his left knee that forced him to miss all of last season, notes Nathan Harker of The Deseret News. Exum played a season-high 29 minutes in Friday’s loss to the Spurs, collecting seven points and seven rebounds. “I feel good. I feel like I’ve put a lot of work into where I am now,” Exum said. “It’s just about continuing to get better, playing those 28-plus minutes where I’m playing those late minutes trying to get the win.”

Northwest Notes: McGary, Quarterman, Faried

A guaranteed contract may not be enough to keep Mitch McGary on the Thunder roster, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. McGary will get a little more than $1.5MM this season whether he plays or not, and a lingering foot injury combined with two violations of the NBA drug policy could seal his fate. McGary wasn’t used at all in Oklahoma City’s six preseason games. The first four were because of the foot problem, but he was a healthy scratch for the final two. “If the opportunity doesn’t present itself [to play], that’s totally on me,” McGary said. “Just means I got to work a little bit harder to get where I want to go. Wherever that is — it may be here; I hope so — I just want to play. That’s it.”

McGary was a first-round pick in 2014, but has spent his career going back and forth to the D-League. He appeared in 20 games for Oklahoma City last season, averaging 1.3 points and 0.9 rebounds in limited playing time. The Thunder still have 19 players on their roster and must cut down to 15 by Monday afternoon.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • After going undrafted out of LSU, Tim Quarterman has earned a spot on the Trail Blazers’ roster, writes Casey Holdahl of Quarterman signed with Portland in late July, which gave him plenty of time to impress Blazers management and coach Terry Stotts. Quarterman only saw 16 minutes of playing time during the preseason, but was able to beat out Grant Jerrett, Greg Stiemsma and Luis Montero for the final roster spot. “I just try to come in and work every day, push myself, go against the vets on the team and stuff like that every day and try to get better,” Quarterman said. “I never approached it as like I was the frontrunner or anything like that, I always approached it like I was the last guy trying to make it to the front.”
  • The Nuggets‘ best lineup includes big men Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic, contends Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post, which means Kenneth Faried will have to get used to being a backup. Faried, who has been mentioned in trade talks in the past, has started 331 of the 348 games he has played since arriving in Denver five years ago. Coach Michael Malone said he plans to talk to Faried about the situation, emphasizing that the same combinations won’t be used every game. “We’re a deep team, and I don’t think you can get caught up in who’s starting, because we’re going to play a lot of guys,” Malone said. “We’re going to finish small some nights, we may finish big some nights.”
  • Injuries will force the Jazz to rely on offseason acquisitions even more than they expected, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. With Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks all hurting, that means increased responsibility for George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw.

Celtics Notes: Thomas, Horford, Ainge, Zeller

Isaiah Thomas believes the Celtics might have landed Kevin Durant if they could have gone into their meeting with a commitment from Al Horford, relays Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. In a wide-ranging interview, Thomas discusses the bright future in Boston, the additions the Celtics were able to make and how close he believes they came to getting Durant. “In our meeting, he was a fan of what he had going, was a fan of [coach] Brad Stevens and [president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge and those types of things,” Thomas said. “I honestly felt like we probably didn’t have enough for him in that situation. He’s trying to win a championship now. Like I said, if we had Al Horford going into that meeting, I think that would have been enough.”

There’s more today out of Boston:

  • The Celtics recognize that they could use another shooter and a rim protector, but Ainge tells The Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett that chemistry is a concern when it comes to making moves. “It would be nice to add a rim protector that didn’t hurt our offense,” Ainge said. “It would be nice to have a shooter that didn’t hurt our defense. But I feel like we have a lot of guys that are good shooters. But the kind of guys you’re talking about, those guys are hard to find.”
  • After appearing in a career-low 60 games last season, center Tyler Zeller hopes his new contract brings a larger role, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of Zeller re-signed with Boston for $16MM over two seasons after becoming a restricted free agent this summer. Even though the second year of the deal is not guaranteed, it represents a significant raise for Zeller, who earned a little more than $2.6MM last year. Zeller often got overlooked in the Celtics’ crowded frontcourt last season, playing 10 minutes or fewer 28 times. “It was a frustrating year for me, but at the same time it was a time where I could work on my game,” Zeller said. “I was able to work out a lot, put a lot of time in the gym. Hopefully I continue to grow as a player and be even better this year.”
  • Evan Turner‘s decision to sign with the Trail Blazers has created an opportunity for Marcus Smart, according to Chris Forsberg of The third-year guard made it into 61 games last season, mostly as a reserve, but Stevens believes he has earned a shot at more playing time. “I think his greatest strength will always be that he’s a guy that makes winning plays that sometimes aren’t quantified,” the coach said, “whether that’s guarding a [Paul] Millsap for eight minutes, or guarding [Kristaps] Porzingis for six minutes, or guarding the point guard for the next four. He’s just a guy that will do anything you ask to help this team win.”

Northwest Notes: Hill, Jazz, Abrines

When George Hill attended a basketball camp in early June in Highland, Utah, he had no idea that he was close to his next NBA home, relays Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Later that month, the Pacers shipped him to the Jazz in a three-team deal. The trade may have taken Hill by surprise, but he’s settling into his new surroundings and looking forward to the upcoming season. The Jazz like Hill’s mix of shooting and defensive prowess and are hoping he will serve as a mentor to Dante Exum, who showed promise as a rookie before missing all of last season with a knee injury.

Hill is eligible for a contract extension in October and will become a free agent next summer if one is not reached. “I haven’t really talked about that much with anyone,” Hill said. “My whole focus is to come in here and be the best player that I can possibly be. I feel that the contract situation will work itself out, once you do that.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz should be a contender in the West after adding a mix of veteran players to their young core, writes A.J. Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today. Along with Hill, Utah picked up Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw.
  • FC Barcelona executive Manel Arroyo said the team is “upset” about losing Alex Abrines, even though he understands the allure of playing in the NBA, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Abrines left the Spanish club in July to sign a three-year deal worth roughly $17.1MM with Oklahoma City. Horne adds that the move probably wouldn’t have happened if Kevin Durant had remained with the Thunder. “Sometimes it is a situation where we are discussing how we manage the future of the team and how we must be the model of the other basketball teams because for the players the target is always to be in the United States,” Arroyo said. “Clearly when he [Abrines] receives a call and proposal from the NBA, he wants to be in the main league in the basketball world.”