Davis Bertans

Central Notes: Cavaliers, Strus, Lillard, Haliburton

With an established rotation already in place, the chances of the Cavaliers adding help in the buyout market are “incredibly low,” according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscription required). The recent returns from injury by Darius Garland and Evan Mobley have given the team a healthy roster, leaving no obvious role for a buyout player to fill. Sources tell Fedor that the front office is being honest with prospective additions about the shortage of available playing time.

Many of the top names on the market — such as Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie and Delon Wright — have already committed to other teams. Fedor hears that Cleveland had interest in Danilo Gallinari, but the veteran forward chose Milwaukee, where he’ll have a better shot at regular minutes. Marcus Morris appears unlikely to land with the Cavs since he’s reportedly leaning toward the Timberwolves if the Spurs buy him out, according to former teammate Patrick Beverley (Twitter link).

Fedor says Cleveland would like to add one more shooter off its bench, which makes former Net Joe Harris and ex-Sixer Furkan Korkmaz intriguing names to watch. The Cavaliers have liked Korkmaz for a long time and made an effort to sign him in free agency in 2021, according to Fedor. He also mentions Davis Bertans and Seth Curry as options if they agree to buyouts with the Hornets and considers the PistonsEvan Fournier as a more remote possibility.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are committed to Max Strus as a starter and are unlikely to shake up their starting five before the end of the season, Fedor adds in the same piece. The team pursued Strus last summer to provide improved shooting and floor spacing, and Fedor notes that he requires constant attention from opposing defenses, even though his shooting numbers have declined. Fedor also points out that coach J.B. Bickerstaff wants a longer look at his current starting lineup, which has been limited to 239 total minutes together because of injuries.
  • Bucks guard Damian Lillard doesn’t bring much strategy to the Three-Point Contest, which he won for the second straight year Saturday night, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I didn’t prepare at all,” Lillard said. “I think that’s the key to it. I kept telling (teammate Malik Beasley) my first two times I did it, I was practicing, I had racks, I was trying to get ready for it and I just went out there and I didn’t win. And then last year, I never practiced. I never shot off a rack. I just showed up and won.”
  • Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton plans to keep trying for a three-point title after a close call on his home court, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Haliburton was in a four-way deadlock for the best score after the first round, but he lost in a tie-breaker and failed to reach the finals. “I think I’m going to just keep coming back until they don’t allow me to, and eventually I’m going to win one,” he said.

Buyout Market Rumors: Fournier, Wright, Bertans, Young, Gallinari

After spending the better part of the last two seasons on the bench in New York, Evan Fournier was traded from the Knicks to the Pistons as a salary-matching piece in the deadline-day deal that sent Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks out of Detroit. Given that Fournier isn’t owed any guaranteed money beyond this season and the Pistons have the NBA’s worst record, he has been viewed as a buyout candidate.

However, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, the Pistons have indicated that they plan to hang onto Fournier, so barring an unexpected development, he won’t reach the buyout market in the coming days or weeks.

Fournier, who appeared in just three games for the Knicks prior to last week’s trade, has logged over 25 minutes per night in his first two games as a Piston, averaging 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on the buyout market from Scotto:

  • After averaging about 15 minutes per contest in his first 29 appearances in Washington this season, Delon Wright hasn’t played more than seven minutes in any of the four games since the trade deadline. A number of playoff contenders, including the Suns, are keeping on eye on the situation to see if the Wizards guard – who is on an expiring contact – will be bought out, Scotto writes.
  • Veteran sharpshooter Davis Bertans has played double-digit minutes off the bench in each of his first three games with the Hornets and appears unlikely to be let go in the immediate future, per Scotto. Bertans’ $16MM salary for 2024/25 is partially guaranteed for $5.25MM next season, which is one reason why Charlotte may wait until the summer to make any move involving him.
  • Thaddeus Young is expected to complete his deal with the Suns after the All-Star break next week, says Scotto, adding that the veteran forward also drew interest from the Sixers, Pelicans, and Celtics before agreeing to sign in Phoenix.
  • Although the Suns had interest in Danilo Gallinari, they were out of the mix for the forward after agreeing to sign Young, Scotto notes. Since the Cavaliers couldn’t guarantee Gallinari the kind of role he sought and the Bulls aren’t a legitimate title contender, Gallinari’s decision ultimately came down to the Clippers and Bucks. He chose Milwaukee after debating the two options for a few days, according to Scotto.

Thunder Acquire Gordon Hayward From Hornets

9:57pm: The trade is official, according to a press release from the Hornets. Charlotte received Bertans, Mann, Micic, and second-round picks in 2024 and 2025 in exchange for Hayward.

The Thunder announced in their own press release confirming the deal that the 2024 second-rounder is Houston’s and the 2025 second-rounder is Philadelphia’s. Oklahoma City also said it sent cash to Charlotte in the swap.

The Hornets waived guards Ish Smith and Frank Ntilikina to make room on their roster for the incoming players.

1:04pm: The Hornets will receive a pair of second-round picks from the Thunder in the deal, reports ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

11:17am: Oklahoma City will include Vasilije Micic in the deal for salary-matching purposes, Charania tweets. The 30-year-old point guard makes $7.7MM this season and next year, with an $8.1 team option for 2025/26. Charlotte will also receive draft compensation, Charania adds.

The trade will leave the Thunder $6.9MM below the tax threshold with two open roster spots, Gozlan notes (Twitter link).

9:54am: The Thunder are nearing a deal for Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Tre Mann and Davis Bertans will be sent to Charlotte in return, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Hayward’s contract includes a 15% trade bonus that will adjust his salary from $31.5MM to about $33.3MM tweets Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. That would move Oklahoma City into luxury tax territory unless Hayward opts to waive part of the bonus, but there’s been no indication yet that he will agree to that. Gozlan notes that Hayward is eligible for an extension of up to two seasons through the end of June.

The Thunder will have to take back more money for the deal to be finalized, points out Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Bertans is making $17MM this season and Mann is at $3.2MM, which isn’t enough to match Hayward’s salary.

The 33-year-old Hayward brings a veteran presence to a young OKC team that has exceeded expectations this year. Injuries have limited him to 25 games, but he has been productive when he’s been able to play, averaging 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 46.8% from the field and 36.1% from three-point range.

Bertans, a 31-year-old power forward, is headed for his fourth team in the last three years. The veteran sharpshooter has been out of the Thunder’s rotation all season, with minimal playing time in 15 games. He holds a $5.25MM guarantee on his $16MM salary for 2024/25.

Mann, a third-year point guard, has seen limited action in 13 games this season. He was selected with the 18th pick in the 2021 draft and is under contract for one more season at $4.9MM.

Thunder, Davis Bertans Agree To Contract Revision

The Thunder and forward Davis Bertans have agreed to revise part of the sharpshooter’s contract, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

As Scotto details, if Bertans had appeared in 75% of Oklahoma City’s games this season, his partially guaranteed deal for 2024/25 would have become fully guaranteed at $16MM. However, that clause has been removed. Instead, Bertans will receive a slight increase to his partial guarantee for next season, from $5MM to $5.25MM.

Bertans has only played in five of the Thunder’s 17 games this fall, so it seems unlikely he would have hit the 75% trigger threshold. By agreeing to remove that clause, he’ll earn $250K.

The move won’t have an impact on Bertans or the Thunder in ’23/24, as his salary for this season is fully guaranteed at $17MM.

Bertans, who turns 32 in a couple weeks, is averaging career lows of 3.4 points and 9.2 minutes per night. Nicknamed the “Latvian Laser” for his shooting prowess, Bertans holds a career mark of 39.7% from three-point range. He has converted three of his 12 looks from beyond the arc in ’23/24.

Thunder Notes: Top Trio, Bertans, K. Williams, Holmgren

The Thunder trio of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren have excelled during their first 10 games together. Oklahoma City should be a perennial threat going forward, but coach Mark Daigneault cautions that there are many lessons to be learned before the team reaches a championship level, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“Wisdom is not something you can shortcut,” Daigneault said. “We have to have a level of patience. It’s something you can’t fast forward.”

We have more on the Thunder:

  • Forward Davis Bertans, who was traded by the Spurs in 2019, believes San Antonio will soon become a free agent destination thanks to Victor Wembanyama. The Spurs rookie and Holmgren will face each other in a much-anticipated matchup on Tuesday. “I think once everyone sees they have the potential to win, then yes. Especially when they don’t have any max or super max players at the moment,” Bertans told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “There is plenty of money available. So they can make something happen, maybe.”
  • Bertans is now OKC’s oldest player at 31 and he has tried to impart his knowledge to his teammates. “I definitely have some experience. I can help with that,” he said. “Most of the guys on the team, I’ve been in the same type of position they’ve been in before. I try to help any way I can.” Bertans is signed through next season, though he holds an early termination option on his $16MM salary for 2024/25, which is only partially guaranteed for $5MM.
  • Kenrich Williams is available to play for the first time this season. Williams, who was sidelined by a back injury, can’t wait to suit up, Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman tweets. “Felt like the night before Christmas,” he said on Tuesday morning.
  • Holmgren has become the focus of the national media but he doesn’t want to be the focal point of the team. He’s trying to blend his skills to his teammates in his first year, he told Lorenzi. “I just tried to come in and find the balance between being aggressive and not making it the Chet show,” Holmgren said. “It’s not that, it’ll never be that.” Thus far, Holmgren is averaging 16.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.3 blocks per game.

World Cup Semifinals Set; Serbia, Germany Qualify For Olympics

Germany completed a comeback win over Latvia on Wednesday to earn a place in the World Cup semifinals, while Canada defeated Slovenia to claim a spot in the final four as well.

The World Cup semifinal games, which will take place on Friday, are as follows:

  • United States vs. Germany
  • Canada vs. Serbia

Although Team USA will enter the semifinal as a heavy favorite, Germany is the only undefeated team left in the tournament, having come out victorious in all six of their games so far.

The Germans, who got Magic forward Franz Wagner back on Wednesday following an ankle injury, recovered from an early deficit and overcame an off day from guard Dennis Schröder, who made just four of his 26 shot attempts from the floor. The rest of the team shot 54.5% (24-of-44), with Wagner contributing a team-high 16 points to overcome Davis Bertans (20 points) and the Latvians by a score of 81-79.

The Canadians, meanwhile, pulled away from Luka Doncic and the Slovenians in a strong third quarter and won 100-89, earning their first-ever berth in a World Cup semifinal.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (31 points on 8-of-12 shooting) and RJ Barrett (24 points on 9-of-22 shooting) scored more than half of Canada’s points, while Dillon Brooks (14 points on 5-of-7 shooting) chipped in and played tough defense on Doncic, who scored 26 points on 8-of-20 shooting. Both Doncic and Brooks were ejected during a chippy fourth quarter.

While Latvia and Slovenia will join Lithuania and Italy in the classification games to determine the fifth-through-eight seeds, Germany and Serbia have assured themselves of spots in the 2024 Olympics by finishing as the top two European teams in the World Cup, regardless of the semifinal outcomes.

The eight teams that have qualified for the Paris Olympics so far are the United States, Canada, Germany, Serbia, France, Australia, Japan, and South Sudan. The remaining four spots will be claimed next summer in a series of qualifying tournaments.

World Cup Notes: Edwards, Italy, Australia, Bertans

Timberwolves shooting guard Anthony Edwards has been the team’s top scorer for most of the World Cup but he was silent in the quarterfinals, as he produced just three points and three assists in the rout of Italy. He wasn’t upset about it afterward, The Athletic’s Joe Vardon reports.

“Ant could get 30 whatever he wants, like easily,” said Mikal Bridges, who led the team with 24 points. “We talked to him and tried to help him out just to find guys, and that’s what he did. And he’s probably the happiest dude in the locker room right now.”

We have more from the World Cup:

  • Italy’s coach wasn’t happy his club had to play Team USA in the quarterfinals after winning its group, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. USA finished second in its group due to the upset loss to Lithuania. “My players didn’t deserve it to play against America because we were first in our group,” Gianmarco Pozzecco said. “You need to be a little bit lucky. I think we did everything we could do in our group. … We deserve maybe a little bit better, we deserve to overcome quarterfinals.”
  • Following Australia’s disappointing performance in the World Cup, CEO Matt Scriven gave head coach Brian Goorjian a vote of confidence via a press release, ESPN’s Olgun Uluc tweets. “Brian is one of the country’s most respected and qualified coaches, he is contracted until Paris and our support of him is unwavering… he will be at the helm of the Boomers,” Scriven wrote. However, there will be some other changes made prior to the Olympics. “There is no doubt we’ll have to make some tough decisions around selections but when the time is right, we’ll commence discussions with players around their availability and willingness to represent the green and gold,” Scriven wrote.
  • Davis Bertans, currently on the Thunder‘s roster, has been in the NBA since 2016. Nothing he’s done in his career compares to Latvia’s success in the World Cup. Latvia advanced to the quarterfinals and will face Germany on Wednesday. “Every game playing for the national team is already up there,” he told Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net. “And this tournament, making history for our country… I’m pretty sure that every single person [in Latvia] was at the TV screens or watching big screens somewhere in the cities watching us. We felt that energy from almost two million people.”

Davis Bertans On Thunder Expectations, World Cup, More

Forward Davis Bertans is coming off a disappointing NBA season, averaging a career-low 10.9 minutes per game in 45 contests (also a career low) with Dallas in 2022/23.

He was traded to the Thunder last month, with the Mavs motivated to dump his salary. Oklahoma City is facing a roster crunch, so Bertans isn’t a lock to be on the team’s roster entering ’23/24, despite carrying a $17MM cap hit for the upcoming season and a $5MM partial guarantee for ’24/25.

The 30-year-old sharpshooter is currently competing for his native Latvia at the 2023 World Cup. The Latvians got off to a strong start on Friday, easily defeating Lebanon by a score of 109-70.

Bertans spoke to Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net ahead of Latvia’s Sunday clash with France, touching on a number of topics.

On Bertans’ expectations with the Thunder:

“My role has always changed for reasons that have to do with what every team expects from me and wants from me. I always try to adapt. Whatever the coach is going to ask from me, that’s what I’m going to do. Everyone knows that when I step on the court I go 100 percent regardless of what I have to do on the court. Whatever the role is, I’ll try to be the best player I can be on that role.”

On hearing about Brazilian guard Raul Neto‘s major knee injury (they were teammates with the Wizards from 2020-22):

“Great guy, great teammate when I was in D.C. Knowing him, he’s a tough guy and he’ll bounce back and hopefully sooner than later he’ll be back on the court.”

On Latvia’s matchup with Olympic silver medalist France, which was dominated by Canada in its opener:

“Even if they won the game, it would be the same France coming at us. Of course, they are facing relegation, in a way of speaking. Honestly, I think they would’ve probably played the same way regardless of the outcome against Canada. That’s because they know that we can be a dangerous team. It’s going to be more about us and the way we command the game. The first minutes are going to be important. You got to be ready for physicality anyway. On offense try to get to our shots, use our advantages and be extremely physical on the defensive end with their big guys.”

World Cup Notes: Latvia, Japan, Philippines, China, Australia

The Latvian Basketball Association has officially announced the national team’s 12-man roster for the upcoming FIBA World Cup (Twitter link).

Thunder forward Davis Bertans is the only active NBA player on Latvia’s roster, but the team features a handful of former NBAers, including Bertans’ brother Dairis Bertans. Former Nets forward Rodions Kurucs and ex-Wizards big man Anzejs Pasecniks are the other Latvians with NBA experience.

Here are a few more notes on the 2023 World Cup:

  • Japan and the Philippines, two of the host nations of the World Cup, have announced their 12-man rosters for the event. Suns forward Yuta Watanabe is the only NBA player representing Japan in this year’s tournament, while Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson is the lone NBA player for the Philippines (Twitter link). Young center Kai Sotto, who committed to the G League Ignite in 2020 and has spent the past two seasons in Australia, is also suiting up for the Philippines.
  • China and Australia are among the other national teams to finalize their 12-man World Cup squads. There are no surprises in either case — while Timberwolves forward Kyle Anderson is China’s only NBA player (Twitter link), the Boomers have nine active NBAers on a loaded roster that includes up-and-comers like Thunder guard Josh Giddey and Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels (link via BasketNews.com).
  • A panel of ESPN’s basketball writers, including Brian Windhorst, has previewed the 2023 World Cup and made predictions for the event. South Sudan is a popular sleeper pick to make it to the knockout round and potentially earn an Olympic berth, but Team USA is widely expected to win the tournament — France was the only other team to receive a single vote.

Thunder Notes: Holmgren, Mann, Williams, Presti

No matter what else happened for the Thunder, the highlight of Summer League was seeing Chet Holmgren back on the court, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. After missing all of last season with a Lisfranc injury to his right foot, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft showed off his potential in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, averaging 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in four games.

While he looked rusty in some areas, such as committing 15 turnovers and shooting 1-of-9 from three-point range, Mussatto notes that the most encouraging part of Holmgren’s game was watching him protect the basket. He averaged 3.5 blocks per game and used his 7’1″ frame to alter numerous other shots.

“Conditioning wise, there’s millions of hurdles you have to go through in the process of returning to play,” Holmgren said after his Summer League return. “Not being able to play a game for a year, it’s really hard to test and see where you are. … It’s definitely something I have to continue to work on, and I’ll be ready by the time training camp starts. I feel like I’ll have myself prepared to be in in-season shape.”

There’s more on the Thunder:

  • Tre Mann was shut down in Las Vegas due to an avulsion fracture in his right middle finger, but it’s not believed to be a long-term concern, Mussatto adds. The Thunder expect the backup point guard to resume basketball activities by the end of July.
  • The selection of Jaylin Williams in the second round of last year’s draft will allow Holmgren to spend more time at power forward and avoid the physical contact that comes with playing center, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Williams is a rugged 6’10” big man who led the NBA in drawing charges last season and shot 40.7% from beyond the arc. “It’s good because it allows my length to be found in the game in different ways,” Holmgren said of playing alongside Williams. “When he’s at the five, he’s in (screen) coverage more, and I’m able to kind of move around and roam the court a little more on defense, be the low man in help and be able to come over for blocks if somebody gets beat or use my length in the passing lanes and as an on-ball defender.”
  • General manager Sam Presti didn’t add anyone this summer who projects as a long-term keeper, Slater observes in the same piece. Presti opted to use his cap room to collect more draft assets while taking on the contracts of Davis Bertans, Victor Oladipo and Rudy Gay. Slater views Oladipo and Gay as buyout options, while Bertans may reach that status eventually with just $5MM guaranteed for 2024/25. Presti also traded for former first-round picks Usman Garuba and TyTy Washington, but Slater doubts that they’ll see much playing time considering the talent that’s already in place.