David Lee

And-Ones: Smith, Biyombo, Spurs, Hall, Almansa, Trade Market

The Pistons officially renounced their rights to Wayne Ellington, who has signed with the Lakers, and Dennis Smith Jr., according to the RealGM transactions log. The Hornets renounced four players, including Bismack Biyombo, while the Spurs renounced their rights to a whopping 13 players. San Antonio’s list includes Donatas Motiejunas and David Lee, who haven’t appeared in an NBA game for years. Renouncing those rights allows teams to maximize their cap room in free agency.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Donta Hall has signed with France’s Betclic Elite side AS Monaco, Sportando relays. Hall, who turns 24 on Saturday, played 13 games with the Magic this past season on two 10-day contracts and an end-of-the-season deal via the hardship exception. The power forward also played a total of nine games for the Pistons and Nets in 2019/20.
  • Overtime Elite has added another top European prospect. Izan Almansa has signed with the league, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. The 6’9” Almansa, a 16-year old Spanish power forward, is the second player OTE has signed from Real Madrid’s youth program and seventh international prospect.
  • While free agency is winding down, the trade market could continue to percolate in the coming weeks, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes. Ben Simmons and Damian Lillard top the list of stars who could be on the move, while the Raptors and Magic are teams to watch, with the latter possibly taking on an onerous contract in order to acquire future assets.
  • The ESPN duo of Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks also take a look at unresolved storylines this month involving free agency, the trade market and potential extensions.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers Culture, Rozier, Wright

Love or hate The Process, it produced a Sixers team that is every bit an Eastern Conference contender. Beyond the roster loaded with talent, however, is a strong culture, one that ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz points out is far more developed and nuanced than we all assumed while they were losing historically.

All of that was a time of learning, a time of progression, a time of really seeing the type of person you can become when you endure hard time,” said Sixers forward Robert Covington. “That journey made us who we are. The 18-win season, the 10-win season. All that, it built us up for this moment.

A mainstay for the team during those lean years is a tradition of having players give presentations about topics that resonate with them on a monthly basis. The result? A series of PowerPoint speeches over which Sixers staffers and stars have been connecting.

Arnovitz breaks down the motivation behind the Sixers’ discussions, which range from Covington’s lecture on snakes to Dario Saric‘s lesson on the Balkan conflict that shaped his childhood. If you dive into one #LongRead today, make it this one.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Consider David Lee a supporter of the notion that the Knicks should hire Mark Jackson. Lee played in New York and later for Jackson in Golden State. “Mark understands the difference in New York basketball. He’s from there,” Lee told Marc Berman of The New York Post. “He understands the politics, the fans, things involved unique to the Knicks. That’s an advantage he has.
  • A pair of Atlantic Division point guards have developed slowly over time. Now, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer wonders if Delon Wright and Terry Rozier could eventually leave the Raptors and Celtics for a chance to play a bigger role on another squad. Both players will be eligible for extensions this offseason, and Toronto and Boston may not have the cap flexibility to invest in them for the long term.
  • The Nets have seen a trend of development in players that they’ve had for two or more seasons. Tom Dowd of the team’s official website writes that all eyes will be on D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe and Jarrett Allen to see if they’ll show similar improvements when they reach their second year under the tutelage of head coach Kenny Atkinson.

David Lee Announces Retirement

Two-time All-Star David Lee announced on his Instagram page that he has retired from the league.

The Knicks drafted Lee with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2005 draft and he spent five seasons with the franchise. New York dealt him to Golden State via sign-and-trade during the 2010 offseason in order to make room for Amar’e Stoudemire.

Lee started at power forward during his first four seasons as a Warrior. In 2014, he ceded his starting spot to Draymond Green and a year later, he was dealt to the Celtics. He didn’t carve out a meaningful role in Boston and the team found there wasn’t much of a trade market for a traditional low-post four. The Celtics then waived Lee and he spent the rest of the 2015/16 season with the Mavs.

Lee played for the Spurs last season, where he showcased his ability to produce as a role player. He saw 18.7 minutes per game in San Antonio and sported a player efficiency rating of 18.5.

He’ll end his career with a 19.1 player efficiency rating and averages of 13.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.

Five Notable Veteran Free Agents Still Available

While most noteworthy free agents came off the board in July, September brought with it a wave of pre-camp signings that saw the last few restricted free agents locked up, along with veteran unrestricted free agents like Tony Allen, Dante Cunningham, Aaron Brooks, and Shabazz Muhammad.

That wave of pre-camp signings created a scarcity of viable options on the list of 2017 free agents, but the shrinking group of available options still features a handful of intriguing vets. Here’s a breakdown of five names worth keeping an eye on:Deron Williams vertical

  1. Deron Williams, PG: While the former third overall pick is obviously no longer the player he was seven years ago – when he averaged 20+ PPG and 10+ APG – it was just last summer that he received $9MM from the Mavericks to be the club’s starting point guard. For the season, Williams averaged a respectable 11.0 PPG and 5.6 APG, with a .363 3PT% in 64 games for the Mavs and Cavs, but a disastrous showing in the NBA Finals against Golden State diminished his value heading into 2017/18. Still, he’s only 33 years old, and it would be surprising if he didn’t get an opportunity with an NBA team as a backup point guard this year.
  2. Monta Ellis, SG: Ellis is facing a five-game suspension to start the 2017/18 season and is coming off his worst year (8.5 PPG) since his rookie season. He’s not far removed from a 2014/15 campaign in which he averaged 18.9 PPG though, and while he’ll likely never match that figure again, this is only his age-32 season. He should still have something in the tank and could appeal to a team seeking a scorer off the bench.
  3. David Lee, PF: Like Ellis, Lee posted his worst scoring average since his rookie year last season, recording just 7.3 PPG. But Lee’s declining numbers were mostly a result of his new role in San Antonio — his .590 FG% was his best mark in a decade, and his per-minute averages weren’t far off from his career rates. Given how the value of offensive-minded, low-post bigs around the NBA has declined in recent years, however, it’s not a huge surprise that Lee has had trouble finding work.
  4. Derrick Williams, PF: Williams, of course, hasn’t lived up to the hype that surrounded him when he was selected second overall in the 2011 draft. But he was a part of the Cavaliers team that went to the NBA Finals last season, and was solid when he saw action for the team, scoring 6.2 PPG on 50.5% shooting in 25 regular season contests. If former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett can get a training camp invite from an NBA team, it seems like Williams should be on a roster too.
  5. Spencer Hawes, C: Hawes’ contract made him an expendable piece in 2017, first in Charlotte and then in Milwaukee. After acquiring him at the trade deadline, the Bucks waived and stretched him in August to avoid the luxury-tax threshold. Like most of the other players on this list, Hawes’ best days are probably behind him, but his ability to knock down the occasional three-point shot (.350 career 3PT%) and to help out on the glass (9.0 career rebounds per 36 minutes) could make him a target for teams in need of frontcourt help.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Free Agents, Antic, Bagley, Heat

The addition of two-way contracts has impacted the ability of veteran free agents to find new homes this offseason, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com in his latest Morning Tip column. Gerald Green, David Lee, Anthony Morrow and Shabazz Muhammad are among the notable free agents who remain on the market and Aldridge points out that many teams are leaving their 15th roster spot open, rather than signing another player. That’s in part due to the ability of teams to sign two players to low-cost two-way deals, Aldridge continues. The increase in veteran minimum salaries under the new CBA has also depressed the free agent market, especially for teams close to or over the luxury tax threshold, Aldridge adds.

In other notable developments around the league:

  • Former NBA big man Pero Antic will play in Serbia for KK Crvena Zvezda during the upcoming season, according to a Sportando report. Antic, who signed a one-year contract, spent the last two seasons in Turkey with Fenerbahce. Antic played 113 games over two seasons for the Hawks, averaging 6.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG in 17.4 MPG.
  • Russell Westbrook‘s ability to coexist with another star player in Paul George and Kemba Walker‘s impact on Dwight Howard in Charlotte are two of the five big NBA questions heading into training camp, according to Buddy Grizzard of Basketball Insiders. The league’s proposal to change the draft lottery has much more to do with access to star players rather than concerns about tanking, Grizzard argues in another of the hot topics he addresses.
  • The potential No. 1 overall pick in the next draft, Marvin Bagley, has been officially cleared to play for Duke, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com tweets. The 6’11” power forward was reclassified into the class of 2017 last month.
  • Roof damage to the Heat’s AmericanAirlines Arena by Hurricane Irma was superficial, Ira Winderman of the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. The team’s practice court also sustained minor damage, Winderman adds.

Five Notable Big Men Still Available In Free Agency

Andrew Bogut is a former No. 1 pick with NBA Finals experience, and he probably would have had more if not for a fractured tibia he suffered in his first game with the Cavaliers. He’s among several free agent big men remaining on the market who could become bargains as teams fill out their rosters.

Bogut was able to recover without surgery and has been cleared for full basketball workouts. The 12-year veteran is only 32 and believes he has a lot of productive basketball left.

“Rehab’s been good,” he told Steve Aschburner of NBA.com late last month. “I feel strong, everything feels good. But the full explosive stuff will be about another three weeks.”

Bogut was a fixture in Golden State until the Warriors got the opportunity to sign Kevin Durant. They needed to shed salary, so Bogut and his $11MM deal were sent to Dallas. He was traded to the Sixers at the February deadline, then agreed to a buyout before his ill-fated stint in Cleveland.

Bogut doesn’t fear any long-term effects from the injury, saying the bone will “heal stronger than it was before.” He and his agent have sent copies of the medical report to several teams that expressed interest in signing him.

Bogut isn’t the only notable unsigned veteran big man on the market. Here are four others:

  • David Lee — The 34-year-old declined his player option after one year in San Antonio. He was a productive part of the Spurs’ rotation, averaging 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds in 79 games, and thought he could do better than the $2.33MM he was due to make next season. He could still return to San Antonio, although the signing of Joffrey Lauvergne may make him expendable.
  • Kris Humphries — The 32-year-old saw his role decline last season with the Hawks, as his minutes dropped to 12.3 per night. Still, he was productive when he played, averaging 4.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 56 games. The Hawks have launched a youth movement and renounced their rights to Humphries three weeks ago, so the veteran forward is searching for a new team.
  • Lavoy Allen — The Pacers declined their $4.3MM team option on the 28-year-old last month, leaving him on the open market. The power forward/center has been part of the rotation in Indiana since arriving in a 2014 trade, but saw his playing time decline late in the season. He averaged 2.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 61 games last year.
  • Roy Hibbert — An All-Star as recently as 2014, Hibbert has been with four teams over the past two seasons and is looking for someone to give him another shot. Hibbert signed with the Hornets last summer and was traded in February to the Bucks, who later sent him to the Nuggets. He played just six games in Denver, wrapping up an overall forgettable year. However, Hibbert is only 30 and will probably get an opportunity from a team in need of veteran help.

Note: Restricted free agents aren’t noted here, since they’re not free to sign with any team, but Nerlens Noel, Alex Len, and Mason Plumlee are among the noteworthy RFA bigs still on the market.

David Lee Declines Player Option

As expected, Spurs big man David Lee has turned down his player option, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets. The 34-year-old big man will hit the open market after posting a solid year off the bench for San Antonio.

After playing the 2016/17 campaign on a minimum salary contract, Lee is in line for a raise should he seek one, although his decision to opt out echoes that of fellow Spurs big man Pau Gasol and could possibly just be a means of freeing up cap flexibility for San Antonio.

In 18.7 minutes of action this year, Lee posted 7.3 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Spurs’ David Lee Expected To Decline Player Option

Veteran big man David Lee is expected to opt out of his contract with the Spurs this summer, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (via Twitter). Lee has a player option worth the minimum salary for 2017/18, and would have earned a guaranteed $2.33MM salary if he had opted in, but he’ll head back to the free agent market instead.

News of Lee’s decision comes on the heels of a report indicating that teammate Pau Gasol will also turn down his ’17/18 player option with the Spurs. However, Gasol is expected to work out a new deal that allows him to remain in San Antonio, perhaps for multiple seasons. It’s not clear yet if Lee will be back with the club.

[RELATED: NBA Player Option Decisions For 2017/18]

Lee, 34, had a nice season as a role player in San Antonio, averaging 7.3 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 79 games (18.7 MPG). His .590 FG% was also his best mark in a decade.

Given his respectable showing last season, Lee’s decision to opt out isn’t a surprising one. Even if he’s not able to land more than the minimum as a free agent this summer, he won’t lose out on any money, and he could tack on an extra year of security.

Spurs Notes: Free Agents, Simmons, Paul, Lee

The Spurs’ decision on whether to pursue Chris Paul will play a role in which free agents return next season, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. The organization would have to clear a massive amount of cap space to offer Paul a max deal, which would probably mean renouncing Patty Mills and not matching an offer sheet for restricted free agent Jonathon Simmons. In addition, Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee both have player options and might also be renounced if they opt out. If the Spurs are able to sign Paul, they will have to fill out the roster using their mid-level exception and veterans minimum deals.

There’s more news out of San Antonio:

  • If the Spurs want to keep Simmons, they will get some help from an “arcane” rule, McDonald notes in the same story. The Gilbert Arenas provision limits first-year offers to Simmons to the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, which will be roughly $8.4MM next season. Of course, offer sheets can be heavily backloaded over the final two years, similar to what the Nets did with Tyler Johnson last summer. If the Spurs are operating over the cap, they won’t have the ability to spread the hit evenly over four seasons, so they could be looking at a substantial salary commitment in 2019/20 and 2020/21 for a player who turns 28 in September.
  • To make a realistic run at Paul, the Spurs would have to find a taker for LaMarcus Aldridge, Danny Green or Tony Parker, writes Nick Moyle of The San Antonio Express-News. That means trading them without taking back salary, which will almost certainly require giving up draft picks. Aldridge would probably be the most difficult of the three to move, as he is signed for $21.461MM for next season, along with a $22.347MM player option for 2018/19. Green will make $10MM next year, with a $10MM player option the following season. Parker is entering the final year of his contract at $15.453MM.
  • Lee won’t need surgery for a strained patellar tendon in his left knee, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. The injury, which Lee suffered in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, is expected to heal in about six weeks.

Kawhi Leonard ‘Likely Out’ For Game 4

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said today that Kawhi Leonard is “likely out” for Monday’s Game 4, relays ESPN.com.

That means San Antonio will have to ward off elimination without its star forward, who hasn’t played since aggravating a sprained left ankle after landing on Zaza Pachulia after a jump shot in Game 1.

A first-team All-NBA selection, Leonard has been an indispensable part of the Spurs this season. He averaged 25.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per night, and is considered one of the top defenders in the league. He increased those numbers to 27.7 and 7.8 in the playoffs before the injury.

Popovich added that David Lee is doubtful for Monday after being hurt early in Game 3. He was diagnosed with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, and the Spurs are waiting for MRI results before they make a decision.