Brandan Wright

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Bridges, Labissiere, Clippers

The Lakers ensured themselves a successful offseason when they signed LeBron James, but they still need to fill a vacancy at center, writes Matt John of Basketball Insiders. The addition of free agent JaVale McGee doesn’t really solidify the position, and the only other choices on the roster are rookie Moe Wagner and Ivica Zubac.

With David West and Brandan Wright as the best free agents left on the market, John identifies several potential trade targets, including Tristan Thompson, James’ former teammate in Cleveland. Thompson is a physical rebounder and defender with whom James had a good rapport. However, John notes that he may not be available unless Cleveland decides to rebuild.

Other possibilities include the Bismack Biyombo, who finds himself in a center logjam after being traded to Charlotte, the Bucks’ John Henson, the Bulls’ Robin Lopez, the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic and the Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon.

There’s more news from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns rookie swingman Mikal Bridges was a little disappointed he didn’t play more in the summer league, James Blancarte of Basketeball Insiders reports. “It’s tough you know. Coming in mentally, you don’t know what the coach is going to do and how they are going to play you,” Bridges told Blancarte. “Couple of games, not playing as much as I thought I was going to be [playing]. Just staying mentally [tough], going through that.” Bridges averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.6 RPG in 20 MPG during five Las Vegas outings. He will also likely have wait his turn during his rookie campaign but Phoenix thought enough of him to swing a draft-night trade with the Sixers, Blancarte notes.
  • Kings big man Skal Labissiere is looking to improve his durability during his offseason workouts, Jason Wise of the team’s website relays. Memphis-area trainer Raheem Shabazz has made Instagram posts showing the work Labissiere is putting in as he prepares for his third NBA season.
  • Clippers lottery picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson showed flashes of potential in summer league games but they were far from perfect, according to Keith Smith of RealGM. Gilgeous-Alexander has a solid all-around game but needs lot of work with his shot. Robinson has to focus more on the defensive end, Smith continues, while undrafted big man Angel Delgado struggled on the perimeter. However, Delgado displayed strong rebounding instincts and toughness on the interior, Smith adds.

Rockets Waive Brandan Wright, Sign Le’Bryan Nash

MARCH 24: The NBA’s official transactions log indicates that both moves are now official. The league’s site classifies Nash’s new deal as a 10-day contract.

MARCH 23: Brandan Wright‘s time in Houston will be coming to an early end, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who reports that the Rockets are waiving the veteran. The team will sign forward Le’Bryan Nash to fill the newly-opened roster spot, Feigen adds.

Wright, 30, received a buyout from the Grizzlies after last month’s trade deadline and quickly reached an agreement to join the Rockets. While the versatile big man was viewed as a good fit for Houston, he only appeared in one game for the club before being shut down due to right knee soreness. Wright underwent a minor procedure to address that issue and will continue to work on his rehab with the Rockets’ medical staff even after being waived, a source tells Feigen.

It sounds like Wright won’t be healthy enough this season to return to the court for the postseason anyway, but even if he were to make a quick recovery, he wouldn’t be playoff-eligible for a new team, since he’s being waived after March 1.

As for Nash, the former Oklahoma State standout played in South Korea this season after spending 2016/17 with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s G League affiliate. I would expect him to be assigned to the Vipers again for the NBAGL playoffs once he officially signs with the Rockets.

It’s also worth noting, as Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report recently observed, that signing a player like Nash to a multiyear, minimum salary deal could help the Rockets accommodate another summer trade like the one they made a year ago for Chris Paul, but that’s merely hypothetical for now.

Raptors Notes: Roster, Buyout Targets, Carter

With the NBA schedule set to resume following the All-Star break, the Raptors currently hold the No. 1 spot in the East and this year’s squad looks capable of setting a new franchise record for wins in a regular season. As head coach Dwane Casey tells Shaun Powell of, the Raptors have built their roster without luring any big names to Toronto.

“It’s not like we’ve gone outside and got a superstar free agent,” Casey said. “We’ve done it organically by growing our young players and the rewarding part was people questioning what we were trying to do. We’re not there yet. We haven’t arrived. But we’ve done it the traditional way. A lot of guys around the league are partnering up, adding superstars, superstars and superstars. We’ve developed players, starting with DeMar [DeRozan].”

During the past couple postseasons, the Raptors’ lack of starpower has been an issue, with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and the Cavaliers ending the club’s season in back-to-back years. While we wait to see if the Raps can get over the hump this spring, let’s round up a few more notes out of Toronto…

  • Within a piece on the Raptors storylines to watch down the stretch, Josh Lewenberg of discusses possible buyout targets for the club, noting that Toronto didn’t have interest in Joe Johnson or Brandan Wright, who landed with the Rockets.
  • The Raps are keeping an eye out for veteran wing insurance, since C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby have both battled minor injuries, according to Lewenberg, who noted earlier this week that Arron Afflalo may be a target for Toronto. Lewenberg adds that stretch fours like Channing Frye and Ersan Ilyasova may also be nice fits, but they probably won’t receive buyouts, and would be long shots to choose Toronto even if they do reach free agency.
  • After an early-February report indicated that the Raptors had interest in Vince Carter, Lewenberg recently suggested that idea is on hold for now. He goes into more detail in his latest article, writing that the club has decided “this is not the right time” for a Carter reunion. The organization doesn’t want the media coverage of such a signing to overshadow the accomplishments of this year’s squad, Lewenberg explains. The Raps haven’t ruled out the idea of an eventual reunion, but it’s “on the back burner for now,” tweets Michael Grange of
  • Earlier this week, we asked whether the Raptors will hold onto the No. 1 seed in the East.

Texas Notes: Harden, D’Antoni, Aldridge, Nowitzki

All-star guard James Harden believes the Rockets boosted their chances to win a title by adding free agents Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Both signed with Houston this week after reaching buyout agreements, adding depth to a roster that has the league’s best record at the break.

“Those are experienced vets who both have playoff experience,” Harden said. “And we all want to win – that’s what everyone on this roster has in common. We have a roster full of guys who are hungry and ready to compete at a high level. We have really good depth now. We have a roster of guys, from top to bottom, who can step in and really get the job done. That’s exciting, and it also means everyone’s minutes should go down, but our productivity [as a whole] should go up.”

He also addressed the compatibility concerns that were raised after the trade for Chris Paul last summer. Harden said he and Paul both adopted a team-first attitude that made blending their talents an easy transition.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • After a lifetime in basketball, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has found the perfect team to fit his style, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. D’Antoni, an All-Star coach for the second time in his career, was happy as associate head coach in Philadelphia until Rockets owner Leslie Alexander offered him a job in the summer of 2016. Houston has given D’Antoni a roster filled with shooters to complement his philosophy on offense. “Some people accused me of being stubborn all those years I didn’t change,” he said. “I didn’t think I was being stubborn. I thought that was the way to do it. Why should I change if I know it’s the right thing to do?”
  • Returning to the All-Star Game after a one-year absence, LaMarcus Aldridge no longer feels out of place in San Antonio, according to Tom Orborne of The San Antonio Express-News. An offseason trade request led to a heart-to-heart talk with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and sparked a resurgence in Aldridge, who has increased his scoring average by five points per game and is topping 20 PPG for the first time since leaving Portland. “The Spurs have kind of learned who I am as a person and have let me be me,” Aldridge said. “They had Tim [Duncan], who was an introvert, kind of a private person, so now they understand me better.”
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he laughs any time another team brings up Dirk Nowitzki in a trade proposal, relays Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report. Nowitzki adds that Kobe Bryant once tried to convince him to sign with the Lakers, but he never seriously considered leaving Dallas.

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Holiday, Cousins, Wright, Mavericks

Spurs chairman and co-chief executive officer Julianna Hawn Holt has filed for divorce from former chairman and CEO Peter Holt, Tom Orsborn and Patrick Danner of The San Antonio Express-News write. The couple has been married for more than 30 years and their separation has raised questions about the Spurs’ future.

However, there is no intention to sell the franchise, which is valued at nearly $1.6 billion, according to a report released by Forbes.

“We are dedicated and committed to continued success,” Julianna Hawn Holt said in a statement to KSAT-12 in San Antonio, tweets Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Check out other Southwest Division news and notes:

  • In the Pelicans‘ win over the Lakers on Wednesday, Jrue Holiday reached 2,075 minutes on the season, reaching the minutes criteria bonus in his contract. Holiday will earn $255K thanks to the incentive, which had already been considered “likely,” tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
  • The Pelicans hit a rough patch after 2018 All-Star DeMarcus Cousins suffered a season-ending ruptured Achilles, losing five out of six games as they adjusted to life without their starting center. However, a three-game winning streak keeps the team’s playoff hopes alive heading into the All-Star break, Scott Kushner of The Advocate writes.
  • Former Mavericks owner and co-founder Don Carter passed away on Wednesday, per The Associated Press. He was 84 years old.
  • Free agent addition Brandan Wright does not have a defined role with his new team but Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni knows his purpose, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays. “Insurance, mostly,” D’Antoni said. “He’s to me the type of center we like. He’s long, vertical spacing and athletic, can run. He’s another kind of Clint (Capela). We have Nene and Tarik (Black) being one type and them being another type. That’s the depth. He’s a good guy. He’s going to be a good locker room game. All that’s positive.”

Rockets Sign Brandan Wright

The Rockets have officially signed 11-year veteran Brandan Wright, the team announced on its website. Wright committed to signing with the Rockets once he was waived by the Grizzlies and cleared waivers on Monday.

Wright, 30, has appeared in 27 games with the Grizzlies this season, averaging 5.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 13.6 minutes per contest. Injuries have slowed Wright considerably in recent seasons, but he will provide solid bench depth for the Rockets. Houston remains a half-game behind the Warriors for first place in the Western Conference.

Houston opened up a roster spot for Wright by waiving veteran Bobby Brown on Saturday.

In addition to Wright, the Rockets will add seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson, who was waived by the Kings and committed to Houston. Johnson is expected to clear waivers on Tuesday.

Buyout Details For Belinelli, Johnson, Wright

Several veteran players have been waived by their respective teams since Thursday’s trade deadline, with guard Marco Belinelli, forward Joe Johnson, and big man Brandan Wright receiving buyouts. As those vets prepare to sign with new teams, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) passes along details on how much money they gave back to their old clubs.

According to Wojnarowski, Belinelli gave up $300K to get out of his deal with the Hawks, Johnson surrendered $1MM in his buyout agreement with the Kings, and Wright gave up $776K to the Grizzlies.

[RELATED: 2017/18 Buyout Market Summary]

As Woj observes in his tweet, a player who agrees to buy out typically does so knowing that he’ll earn back most or all of his lost salary once he signs a new deal. With that in mind, it’s worth noting that Wright’s buyout amount doesn’t appear to be arbitrary — if he signs a minimum salary deal with the Rockets today, Wright will earn approximately $776K for the rest of the season with Houston.

Since Belinelli, like Wright, has at least 10 years of NBA experience too, his minimum salary deal would also be worth about $776K if completed today. Those two contracts would count for only about $490K against the cap. As for Johnson, if he signs with Houston on Tuesday, he’d earn about $763K on a minimum salary deal, with a cap hit of approximately $482K.

Johnson, whose salary had been $10.5MM+ before his buyout, apparently agreed to give up a little more salary than he’ll earn the rest of the way with the Rockets. But that trade-off is certainly worth it, since he’ll make the move from the NBA’s worst team to the club with perhaps the best shot at knocking off the defending-champion Warriors.

As for Belinelli, his relatively modest buyout signals that the Hawks were ready to move on from the veteran and hand his minutes over to younger players. He’ll come out ahead financially after signing with the Sixers.

Grizzlies Waive Brandan Wright

The buyout is complete for Brandan Wright, who has already indicated his intention to sign with the Rockets. The Grizzlies waived him this afternoon, announcing the move on their website.

The 30-year-old forward has been slowed by injuries since signing with Memphis in 2015, appearing in a combined 67 games over nearly three seasons. He played 27 games this year, averaging 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 13.6 minutes per night.

Wright will now go through the waiver process, and expects to sign with Houston once he clears on Monday. The Rockets will have a roster spot available after waiving veteran guard Bobby Brown.

Terms of Wright’s buyout were not released, but he was making nearly $5.96MM on an expiring contract. The move leaves Memphis with an open roster spot.

2017/18 Buyout Market Summary

With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, much attention is being paid to what is expected to be several weeks of busy buyout market activity. The last day that a player can be waived from their current team and still be eligible to play in the postseason with a new team is March 1.

Below are a series of lists breaking down the veterans who have already been bought out – or simply waived – by their respective teams since the trade deadline, along with those who are expected to be, and several more who really ought to be considered possible buyout candidates even if no reports have come out explicitly stating as much.

As the weeks unfold, we may see new names surface as buyout candidates, in such cases (and whenever a player is formally bought out) we’ll update the list.

Potential buyout candidates:

Expected to be bought out or released:

  • None

Veterans who have been bought out or released:

Brandan Wright Plans To Sign With Rockets

While he hasn’t yet been formally bought out by the Grizzlies, Brandan Wright plans to sign with the Rockets when he is, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.

Shortly after we posted about Memphis’ intentions earlier this evening, Tim MacMahon of ESPN wrote that Houston had emerged as frontrunners to land the 30-year-old’s services.

In Wright, the Rockets will land a capable veteran that has shown glimpses of potential over the course of an 11-year-career.

While he’s consistently struggled to stay on the court over stints with six separate franchises, he’s an intriguing depth add for a team that can always use extra lob targets.