Dennis Smith Jr.

Nets’ Spencer Dinwiddie Talks Offseason, Nic Claxton, More

In a podcast appearance with Dylan Burris of NetsPress, Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie admitted there is a level of uncertainty surrounding Brooklyn and the league as a whole until the Damian Lillard and James Harden situations are resolved. The Nets have been cited as a possible Tyler Herro suitor in three-team scenarios with Portland and Miami.

Obviously, the offseason isn’t over,” said Dinwiddie. “I know the entire league is in a holding pattern for Dame and James. It could affect what we have going on.”

When asked if he knew anything about the Nets’ interest in possible trades, Dinwiddie said that information was “certainly above my pay grade.”

Assuming the roster remains intact, the 30-year-old expects 2023/24 to be a “building” year, as relays.

If we do have this team, which it looks like we will, it’s going to another year of coalescing, building,” Dinwiddie told Burris. “Mikal (Bridges) will try to establish himself as possibly an All-Star, a first time All-Star. I think Nic (Claxton) is going to try to establish himself as one of the premier big men in the league especially being in a contract year and heading into free agency next year.

Cam (Johnson), I think, has more ball skills than people kind of expected. So I think you’ll see him play extremely well. I think him being comfortable signing his deal, being comfortable and stuff, you’ll see a little bit of a leap there. For Cam, Mikal and Dorian (Finney-Smith), I don’t think any of them had been in another system.

We’re going to be a group that gets up and down and hopefully, we have a healthy Ben (Simmons) and if he’s in All-Star form, you might have two All-Stars. If he’s there, we have a real puncher’s chance against anybody.”

According to NetsDaily, Dinwiddie praised Simmons as a teammate and said he was encouraged by his recovery from back and knee injuries, though he didn’t know the specifics.

As Dinwiddie noted, starting center Claxton is on an expiring $9.6MM contract, and the former No. 31 overall pick is coming off a breakout fourth season, having averaged 12.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.5 blocks in 76 games (29.9 minutes) in ’22/23. Dinwiddie said his teammate has made strides in multiple areas this offseason, including his touch around the rim, strength, balance and conditioning.

I think Nic is going to make the biggest jump,” said Dinwiddie, who is also entering the final year of his deal. “I think he’s going to be supremely motivated. I think we’re going to see a big-time year from him.”

Dinwiddie also said he was a “fan” of the team’s offseason moves to this point, per NetsDaily, specifically mentioning free agent additions Dennis Smith Jr. and Lonnie Walker and second-round pick Jalen Wilson, who is on a two-way contract.

Free Agent Rumors: Oubre, Jones, Brooks, Smith, Giles

The Mavericks are actively looking to improve their roster and have shown “exploratory interest in several free agent forwards,” including veterans Kelly Oubre and Derrick Jones Jr., league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Although Dallas technically still has a good chunk of its full mid-level exception available, the team has yet to sign first-rounder Olivier-Maxence Prosper, and once that occurs the Mavs will be pretty close to the luxury tax line. They do have an open standard roster spot and could offer a free agent more money than the veteran’s minimum, but not much more unless other moves are made.

On a related note, Scotto confirms that the Mavs continue to shop Tim Hardaway Jr. and JaVale McGee in trade talks. Recent rumors have indicated Dallas tried to package Hardaway and McGee to the Pistons for Bojan Bogdanovic and Killian Hayes.

Scotto hears Detroit was looking for “essentially two first-round picks” in exchange for Bogdanovic last season, though Hayes could available with a glut of guards on the Pistons’ roster.

Here are more free agent rumors from Scotto:

  • Free agent guard Armoni Brooks, who has been playing well for the Nets in Summer League, could be a candidate for a two-way deal from Brooklyn, according to Scotto. However, if that doesn’t transpire, the 25-year-old has also drawn interest from “multiple EuroLeague teams,” Scotto reports. Brooks holds two years of NBA experience with the Rockets and Raptors. He played for Atlanta’s G League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks, in 2022/23.
  • League sources tell Scotto that the Hornets offered Dennis Smith Jr. more than the veteran’s minimum to return to Charlotte, but the Nets reached out to the point guard right after free agency opened and he saw an opportunity for more playing time in Brooklyn. The fact that he was a priority for the Nets also appealed to the former lottery pick, says Scotto.
  • The Pistons, Cavaliers, Knicks and Bucks were among the teams who watched Harry Giles‘ recent workout in Las Vegas, sources tell Scotto. Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News recently reported that members of the Timberwolves attended as well, which Scotto confirms. A former first-round pick, Giles has been out of the league the past two seasons after playing with the Kings and Trail Blazers from 2018-21. Still just 25 years old, Giles recently discussed his attempt to make it back into the NBA.

Nets Notes: Smith Jr., Core Group, Wilson, Simmons, Johnson

After signing a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with the Nets, Dennis Smith Jr. is prepared to accept whatever role he’s given, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. The 2017 lottery pick will be playing for his sixth NBA team next season.

“I’m going to have to come in and earn my minutes like everybody else. That’s on par with my brand. Ain’t nothing been given to me. So I’m looking forward to that,” he said.

We have more on the Nets:

  • The roster moves the Nets have made this offseason better define their core players, Lewis relays. Coach Jacque Vaughn has several players entering their prime years that he’s counting on.Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges, Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, those are the 24-to-27-year-old range for us who are going to be able to grow together, define the culture,” Vaughn told NBA TV. “It’s a relentless culture is what we want: To be relentless teammates, be relentless competitors. So they’ll get a chance to define the culture going forward.”
  • Jalen Wilson, who signed a two-way contract last week, could develop into a 3-and-D factor. Wilson helped lead Kansas to a national title in 2022. “Jalen is just physical,” Nets Summer League coach Trevor Hendry told Lewis. “His ability to guard different positions and make catch-and-shoot 3s is something that he’s done at a pretty high clip.”
  • Ben Simmons won’t play for Australia in the FIBA World Cup this summer as he continues his lengthy rehab. Simmons hasn’t been scrimmaging but GM Sean Marks says Simmons is making progress from his back injury, Lewis tweets. “He’s not doing 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 yet. I was down there two weeks ago with him and the training staff and saw the progress,” Marks said. “Happy to report he’s in a great physical shape and also mentally. He’s rearing and champing at the bit to get out there.”
  • Cameron Johnson‘s new four-year contract, which has decreasing salaries during the second and third years, will increase the front office’s flexibility during the rebuilding process, Lewis notes.

Scotto’s Latest: Bridges, O’Neale, Finney-Smith, Blazers, Brown, DSJ

While it’s possible the Nets will get involved in the Damian Lillard sweepstakes, Mikal Bridges is “not for sale,” league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. That was the case leading up to the draft when the Trail Blazers‘ No. 3 pick was rumored to be on the trade block, and it will be the case again if Brooklyn makes a play for Lillard.

While the Nets aren’t Lillard’s preferred landing spot – he’s reportedly focused on Miami – they could put together a strong package of draft picks and quality players on team-friendly contracts, such as Royce O’Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith. According to Scotto, in trade negotiations involving those two forwards, Brooklyn has been unwilling to part with O’Neale for less than the equivalent of a first-round pick or Finney-Smith for the equivalent of two first-rounders.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • The Trail Blazers are expected to discuss Jusuf Nurkic in their Lillard trade talks, Scotto confirms. Meanwhile, even though Jerami Grant is re-signing with Portland, Scotto expects the forward to emerge as a trade candidate down the road, since he may not fit the Blazers’ post-Lillard timeline. The Pistons and Pacers were among the teams expected to have interest in Grant before word broke that he’d be re-signing with the Blazers, Scotto writes.
  • Before he agreed to accept a two-year, $45MM offer from the Pacers, Bruce Brown received six offers in the neighborhood of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12.4MM), according to Scotto, who says other teams with cap room also inquired on the popular free agent guard.
  • The Nets‘ one-year deal with Dennis Smith Jr. is worth $2.53MM, league sources tell Scotto. That makes it a minimum-salary contract — the veteran’s minimum this season for a player with Smith’s six years of NBA experience is $2,528,233.

Nets Sign Dennis Smith Jr. To One-Year Deal

JULY 8: The Nets have officially signed Smith, per’s transaction log.

JULY 1: The Nets have reached an agreement with Dennis Smith Jr., according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), who reports that the free agent guard will sign a one-year contract with Brooklyn.

The ninth overall pick in 2017, Smith struggled during his first few seasons to live up to the expectations that came with his draft slot, but has developed into a solid role player in large part due to his strong perimeter defense.

Smith isn’t much of a scorer, averaging 8.8 PPG on an underwhelming .412/.216/.736 shooting line in 54 games (25.7 MPG) for the Hornets this past season. However, he can handle the ball and can set up teammates, having dished 4.8 assists per contest in 2022/23. The 25-year-old will provide some depth in a Brooklyn backcourt that lacks consistent, reliable options behind Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Nets made Smith a priority in free agency, according to Charania, who reports that he was the team’s “first call” among outside targets. Brooklyn has also agreed to re-sign one of its own free agents, reaching a four-year, $108MM deal with Cameron Johnson.

The terms of Smith’s deal with the Nets have yet to be reported. Having created some breathing room below the tax apron by agreeing to trade Joe Harris and his $20MM salary to Detroit, Brooklyn could offer more than the veteran’s minimum using the mid-level or bi-annual exception.

Draft Notes: Bufkin, Wizards, Nets, Jazz, Hornets, Hawks, More

The Wizards recently hosted Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin for a private workout, Michael Scotto reports in his latest aggregate mock draft for HoopsHype.

Bufkin hasn’t worked out for many teams, and his draft status has been somewhat mysterious because of that, though many seem to believe his stock is on the rise. He’s currently ranked No. 18 on ESPN’s best available list, while the Wizards control the No. 8 pick.

Here are a few more notes ahead of the 2023 NBA draft, which kicks off in less than three hours:

  • The Nets recently hosted several potential first-round picks for workouts, including Ohio State’s Brice Sensabaugh, South Carolina’s G.G. Jackson, France’s Sidy Cissoko, and Marquette’s Olivier-Maxence Prosper, league sources tell Scotto. Brooklyn currently controls the 21st and 22nd picks in the first round, but the team has reportedly discussed moving up as well.
  • The Jazz have had trade discussions involving packaging two of their three first-rounders (Nos. 9 and 16), according to Scotto, but they’ve also discussed the latter pick on its own in separate deals.
  • Scotto hears from sources who say the Hornets plan to prioritize retaining restricted free agents Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington as well as unrestricted free agent Dennis Smith Jr. Bridges missed all of last season after pleading no contest to felony domestic violence charges.
  • The Hawks have been active in trade discussions, but they’ve also been busy working out prospects. On Tuesday, Atlanta hosted Cason Wallace (Kentucky), Rayan Rupert (New Zealand Breakers), Brandin Podziemski (Santa Clara), Mojave King (G League Ignite), Seth Lundy (Penn State) and Miles Norris (UC Santa Barbara), tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. The Hawks control the Nos. 15 and 46 picks. Incidentally, Wallace is the top-ranked prospect of the group according to ESPN, currently ranked No. 15 on their board.
  • Wichita State guard Craig Porter Jr. recently spoke to Alex Kennedy of about a number of topics ahead of the draft.

Southeast Notes: Herro, Wizards, DSJ, Magic

An unlikely run to the Eastern Conference Finals for the Heat has increased the likelihood of Tyler Herro playing again this season. However, he still hasn’t begun to shoot or dribble as he recovers from a fractured right hand, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

After Herro broke his hand in Game 1 of the Heat’s first round series vs. Milwaukee, reports indicated that he likely wouldn’t be able to return unless Miami made the NBA Finals. When he underwent surgery on April 21, the sharpshooter was ruled out for six weeks.

At the time, it seemed safe to conclude Herro’s season was over, but the No. 8 Heat have since won two series, giving him a chance to make it back this spring. Still, as Jackson observes, that six-week timeline would mean Herro will be sidelined until at least Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, so Miami will still need to win a few more games to have any hope of seeing him again this postseason.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis will be asking the questions when he interviews candidates for the team’s top front office job, but six high-ranking executives around the NBA who spoke to Josh Robbins and David Aldridge of The Athletic said they’d have questions of their own they’d want Leonsis to answer if they met with the Wizards. “The biggest one would be: ‘Are you willing to start over and build from the bottom up?'” one exec said. “‘Can you stomach three to four years of struggle in the win column in order to position the team to win (at) a high level in the long run?'”
  • Within a mailbag for The Charlotte Observer, Roderick Boone says he expects the Hornets to re-sign Dennis Smith Jr. in free agency this offseason, referring to the union between Charlotte and the veteran guard as a “perfect marriage.”
  • The Magic are working with the City of Orlando on a bid to host the 2027 NBA All-Star Game, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link), who confirms reporting from Richard Bilbao of The Orlando Business Journal. The team last hosted the All-Star Game in 2012.

Southeast Notes: Young, Murray, Washington, Wizards

Trae Young saved the Hawks‘ season with a game-winning shot Tuesday night, and their series with the Celtics no longer seems like a mismatch as they head back to Atlanta, writes Jeff Schultz of The Athletic. Young drilled a 30-footer with 2.8 seconds left to cap off an improbable victory in Game 5. He scored the team’s final 14 points on a night where he played 44 minutes and didn’t check out of the game in the second half.

“I’ve been owning the moment my whole life. That’s what I do,” he said.

The heroic performance was gratifying for Young, who got off to a miserable start in the series, making 14 of 40 shots and committing 10 turnovers in the first two games in Boston. He has scored 35 and 38 points in the last two contests and has the Hawks believing they can pull off an upset.

“You look at his eyes and there was a calm,” coach Quin Snyder said. “Sometimes that happens in the middle of a storm.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks won Game 5 without Dejounte Murray, who was serving a one-game suspension for making contact with an official following Sunday’s contest. At Tuesday’s shootaround, Murray indicated that his issues with referee Gediminas Petraitis date back to his time in San Antonio, but added that he takes responsibility for the incident (video link from Coley Harvey of ESPN).
  • Re-signing restricted free agent P.J. Washington will likely be an offseason priority for the Hornets, according to Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez of The Charlotte Observer. After not receiving a rookie scale extension last fall, Washington responded with his best NBA season, averaging a career-high 15.7 PPG and ranking fourth in the league in clutch field goal percentage. Charlotte’s front office considers Washington part of the team’s young core and he has expressed a desire to stay there, Melvin-Rodriguez adds. She examines the entire roster, stating that Dennis Smith Jr. will likely get a new contract this summer, Kelly Oubre‘s fate will depend on what offers he gets in free agency and Gordon Hayward may not be moveable right away but could be more attractive at the trade deadline due to his expiring contract.
  • As the Wizards search for a replacement for dismissed general manager Tommy Sheppard, the NBA issued a memo stating that VP of player programs John Thompson III and assistant GM Brett Greenberg are currently running the basketball operations department, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Hornets Notes: Offseason, Bridges, Ball, Clifford, DSJ, FAs

Whether or not Michael Jordan remains in his position as the Hornets‘ controlling owner through the current offseason, president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak doesn’t expect the team to get too aggressive on the free agent market this July, according to Steve Reed of The Associated Press. Kupchak anticipates the front office’s focus to be on re-signing Charlotte’s own free agents and making roster upgrades in the draft and on the trade market.

“Although we have a lot of financial flexibility, we don’t typically go big-game hunting with our free agent money,” Kupchak told reporters on Tuesday.

Kupchak, who has said repeatedly since arriving in Charlotte that the team won’t be active in free agency on an annual basis, said the day could come when that approach changes, but insists it won’t happen in 2023.

“Maybe one day we will get to the point where a marquee free agent would look at our team and we’re winning a bunch of games and he’ll say, ’Hey, that’s a place I really want to go,” he said. “But right now, I don’t think that’s realistic. We’ve got to do it through the draft primarily.”

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • Kupchak believes that the Hornets, who went 27-55 this season, would have won 40 games “if we had our team intact this year,” as Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer relays. He expects to enter next season with greater aspirations. “In the exit meetings, I made it clear that next year playoffs are our goal,” Kupchak said. “And I feel great. I do want to see this through. I don’t know if I’ll be sitting here 10 years from now. But I’d like to be sitting here a year from now, two years from now, three years from now and watching this team that our staff has put together perform. I think it’s realistic that next year will be a playoff (season).”
  • One reason the Hornets didn’t have their team “intact” in 2022/23 was because Miles Bridges remained unsigned all season long due to the fallout from a domestic violence incident. While Charlotte may still end up re-signing Bridges, it sounds like it would happen sometime during the ’23/24 league year if it happens at all. “The NBA is conducting an investigation and that’s the status of the situation right now,” Kupchak said, according to Boone. “… Even when they complete their investigation there are going to be steps that need to be taken, whether that’s us or other teams. … Maybe there was some thought that somebody or us would sign him during the season. But that’s not possible. So, this whole issue will roll over to July 1st.”
  • Kupchak also spoke in his end-of-season media session on Tuesday about a desire for LaMelo Ball to continue growing into a leadership role for the Hornets and expressed support for Steve Clifford, praising the job the head coach did in his first year back with the team.
  • Dennis Smith Jr., who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, has hired new representation. Octagon Sports published a tweet this week welcoming Smith to the agency.
  • Smith, P.J. Washington, and Kelly Oubre, all of whom are headed for free agency, each expressed interest this week in re-signing with the Hornets, Boone writes for The Observer. “I definitely want to be here in Charlotte,” said Washington, who will be a restricted free agent. “This is like home to me now, so this is where I want to be. I haven’t thought about being anywhere else.”
  • In yet another story for The Charlotte Observer, Boone looks for silver linings in a difficult year for the Hornets, identifying five reasons why the team’s future could be bright.

Southeast Notes: Yurtseven, Butler, Hornets, Smith, Suggs

Omer Yurtseven‘s second season was derailed by an ankle injury that required surgery and caused him to miss the first 65 games of 2022/23. After returning in early March, he struggled to gain traction in the Heat‘s rotation despite feeling “100 percent” healthy, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

It’s not been, I guess, the best,” Yurtseven said regarding the uncertainty currently surrounding his role. “But in terms of the opportunity, it’s there and I think the toughest part has been not knowing and staying ready. But that’s my job right now, so I’m embracing it.”

As Chiang writes, Yurtseven was getting an extended look during the preseason playing alongside Bam Adebayo in a two-big lineup, and Yurtseven started his lone preseason game before the injury. Now his role and future are uncertain — the 24-year-old center will be a restricted free agent this summer if the Heat give him a $2.2MM qualifying offer, Chiang notes.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Heat star Jimmy Butler was ruled out of Tuesday’s loss to Toronto due to neck soreness, Chiang adds in the same story. It’s unclear if he will be available for Wednesday’s game in New York.
  • The Hornets surprisingly have the NBA’s top defense since the All-Star break, writes Nekias Duncan of, who takes a look at how Charlotte has made strides on the less glamorous end of the court. One player making a major impact is point guard Dennis Smith Jr., according to Duncan. Smith, who missed Tuesday’s win over the Thunder due to a sprained right big toe, is on an expiring minimum-salary contract and is set to his unrestricted free agency in the offseason.
  • Magic guard Jalen Suggs had a strong performance in Sunday’s win over Brooklyn following a four-game absence due to a concussion, notes Nathaniel Marrero of The Orlando Sentinel. The 2021 No. 5 overall pick recorded 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 24 minutes. Suggs has been hampered by a variety of injuries in his first two pro seasons, but has been playing better the past couple months when active, averaging 10.8 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.2 APG and 1.6 SPG on .444/.388/.732 shooting over his past 19 games (25.2 MPG). Unfortunately, he finished just 1-of-10 from the field in Tuesday’s loss at Memphis.