Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender Aims For NBA Return

Dragan Bender, the No. 4 pick of the 2016 draft, still dreams of an NBA return, Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net relays.

In an interview with Israel’s One, Bender stated that his ultimate goal is to make it back to the U.S.

“Undoubtedly, I want to return to the NBA down the road,’” he said.

Bender last played in the NBA during the 2019/20 season, appearing in a combined 16 games with Milwaukee and Golden State. He spent his first three seasons with Phoenix, where he never lived up to his draft status. Over 187 games, Bender averaged 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game.

Bender played the 2020/21 season with Maccabi Tel Aviv but suffered an ACL injury in May 2021, which forced him to sit out all of last season.

“I believe you just know something has happened in these situations.” he said. “After the diagnosis, you definitely feel terrible, but it is what it is. I had a great season up to that point. I was playing and then I was out for a year and a half. This is basketball and you must be ready for these kinds of setbacks.”

Bender signed with Monbus Obradoiro over the summer and has excelled during his first seven games in Spain’s Liga Endesa, averaging 20.6 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 58.1% overall and 46.9% on 3-point attempts.

Bender wouldn’t mind playing for Maccabi again before pursuing another NBA opportunity.

“Of course, I would love to return to Maccabi. It is a special club,” he said. “For me, it is more about how the situation unfolds, more about which teams will be aiming to qualify for the playoffs and be championship contenders. Those are the teams I want to be part of.”

Dragan Bender Signs With Obradoiro

Former NBA lottery pick Dragan Bender will resume his playing career in Spain, having signed a one-year contract with Obradoiro, the team announced today in a press release.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Bender spent his first three NBA seasons in Phoenix, then played for the Bucks and Warriors in 2019/20. In 187 career NBA regular season appearances (20.1 MPG), the forward/center averaged 5.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 1.3 APG on .399/.323/.654 shooting.

Having failed to develop into a reliable rotation player in the NBA, Bender returned overseas in 2020, signing with Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv. The 24-year-old tore his ACL during the 2021 playoffs and missed the entire 2021/22 season, but appears poised to return to the court for the ’22/23 campaign.

“Dragan is a power forward who can form a pair with any of the inside players we already have on the team thanks to his size, versatility and outside shooting,” Obradoiro GM José Luis Mateo said in a statement. “He has just been a year without playing, but we are confident in his talent, work ethic, and enthusiasm to return to the highest level.”

Obradoiro, which competes in Spain’s top league (Liga ACB), also signed another former NBA player, point guard Marcus Paige, this offseason.

And-Ones: Johnson, Martin, COVID-19 Protocols, Bender

Mavericks forward James Johnson and Hornets forwards Cody Martin and Caleb Martin have been fined for their roles in an on-court altercation on Wednesday, according to an NBA press release.

Johnson, who was ejected, was fined $40K for deliberately pushing Cody Martin out of bounds, aggressively confronting him, and initiating the incident. Cody, who was also ejected, was fined $25K for pushing Johnson in retaliation and making contact with a game official. Caleb Martin was fined $20K for entering the altercation and making contact with a game official.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA is planning to require players and many team staffers to wear sensor devices during all team-organized activities outside of games starting January 7, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. The plan is aimed on improving its contact tracing program. Players and specific staff members, such as coaches, will be required to wear Kinexon SafeZone contact sensor devices on the team plane, the team bus, during practices and while traveling to and from the arena or their home practice facility.
  • The league is placing more responsibility on team officials to monitor and mete out discipline for COVID-19 protocol violations among players and staff, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The NBA told teams that they’re required to notify the league office of any discipline imposed. The league office still holds the power to override team decisions on player punishments.
  • Maccabi Tel Aviv has extended the contract of former NBA big man Dragan Bender for the remainder of the season, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando writes. Bender signed with the Israeli team in September. Bender played seven games with the Bucks last season before being waived in February. He joined the Warriors on a pair of 10-day deals and averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG in nine games before the hiatus began.

Dragan Bender Signs With Israeli Team

After spending four seasons in the NBA, Dragan Bender has signed a contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, tweets European basketball reporter Nemanja Zoric. The deal will cover three months with an option to extend it for the entire season, according to Moses Barda of Team Scout (Twitter link).

The brief nature of Bender’s agreement will give him an opportunity to return to the NBA next season if an opportunity arises, writes Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops. Bender played two seasons in Israel before coming to the NBA.

Bender, 22, will replace former NBA player Quincy Acy with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Askounis adds. Acy signed a one-year deal with the team last summer, but couldn’t come to terms for a second season.

Bender’s NBA career was disappointing after the Suns took him with the fourth pick in the 2016 draft. Instead of blossoming into a star, he wound up as a journeyman, with short stints with the Bucks and Warriors this season after spending three years in Phoenix.

His best season was in 2017/18 when he appeared in all 82 games for the Suns, started 37 and averaged 6.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per night. Phoenix elected not to offer him a rookie-scale extension, and he became a free agent last summer.

Bender signed with Milwaukee, but got into just seven games before being waived in February. He joined Golden State on a pair of 10-day deals and averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG in nine games before the hiatus began.

Seven Players On 10-Day Contracts When NBA Suspended Season

A moratorium agreement between the NBA and the NBPA will reportedly affect players on 10-day contracts, as Shams Charania of The Athletic said earlier today. Following up on that point, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter links) confirms that the clock will stop on the 10-day contracts that were active when the NBA suspended its season.

Presumably, Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver won’t be impacted. His 10-day deal with Memphis was set to expire on Wednesday night, the last night of game action before the suspension began. Once the moratorium is lifted and play resumes, he’ll likely have to sign a new 10-day contract or rest-of-season pact with the Grizzlies to remain with the team.

However, there were seven other players whose 10-day contracts had yet to run their course as of Wednesday night. Here are the affected players, with the number of days remaining on their deals noted in parentheses:

We’ll have to wait for official details on the moratorium agreement to confirm exactly how these 10-day deals will be handled.

Based on today’s reports though, it sounds like the contracts for players like Chealey, Hall, and Randle, which would have expired on Thursday night, will carry over to the day the season resumes. A player like Noah, who still had a week left on his 10-day contract, should play out that week following the resumption of the season.

Unless we learn otherwise, our roster counts page and 10-day tracker will assume these seven 10-day contracts remain active.

Mychal Mulder Signs Multi-Year Deal With Warriors

The Warriors have signed Mychal Mulder to a multi-year contract, the team announced on Twitter. It’s a minimum-salary deal that’s not fully guaranteed beyond this season, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The rookie guard out of Kentucky was briefly a free agent after his 10-day contract with the team expired Saturday night. Golden State could have signed him to a second 10-day deal, but opted for the long-term arrangement.

After spending three years in the G League, Mulder made a strong impression in his first real NBA opportunity. He averaged 12.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists in six games, making two starts. Coach Steve Kerr indicated after Saturday’s contest that the Warriors liked Mulder and intended to bring him back.

The signing leaves Golden State $310K under the luxury tax, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). They have two players on 10-day contracts, which each carry a $91,557 tax hit. Chasson Randle‘s deal will expire Thursday, while Dragan Bender is signed through Saturday. Marks adds that signing Bender for the rest of the season on Sunday would cost the team $293K.

Warriors Sign Dragan Bender To Second 10-Day Deal

12:55pm: The move is official, the Warriors announced (Twitter link).

9:46am: Dragan Bender will sign a second 10-day contract with the Warriors, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The decision follows a story yesterday that Golden State was taking a wait-and-see approach to Bender’s future with the team. His first 10-day contract expired after Tuesday’s game.

Bender has played six games since joining the team, starting three and averaging 7.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in 23.3 minutes per night.

The signing will bring Golden State back to a full roster. Two potential openings will arise in the next week with Mychal Mulder‘s 10-day contract expiring Saturday and Chasson Randle‘s 10-day deal ending next Thursday.

Warriors Not Re-Signing Dragan Bender For Now

Dragan Bender‘s 10-day contract with the Warriors expired after Tuesday’s game, and the former fourth overall pick won’t get a second 10-day deal with the club at this time, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

A second 10-day contract for Bender in the coming days or weeks isn’t out of the question, Slater adds. However, Golden State prefers to maintain some roster flexibility for now.

As Slater observes, Bender was a little shaky in his first few games with the Warriors, especially on defense, but he looked better as of late. In Golden State’s last three games, two of which were wins, the former Sun averaged 11.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 2.0 APG with a .452/.385/1.000 shooting line. His performance earned him praise from head coach Steve Kerr, as we detailed on Tuesday night.

“He’s got a lot of potential,” Kerr said. “Obviously, fourth pick in the draft, there’s a reason for that. He’s shown in the 10 days if you give him a little confidence, you give him a chance to play and gain some confidence, he can do a lot of good things out there. He’s helped us win two games in a season when we’ve not won a whole lot of games.”

Bender is now an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team, but if he thinks a return to Golden State is a strong possibility, perhaps he won’t seek out a new opportunity. For what it’s worth, Bender’s fellow 2016 Suns lottery pick Marquese Chriss was waived by the Warriors in January, then signed a new deal with the club eight days later, following rumors that there was mutual interest in a reunion. Perhaps Bender and the Dubs will follow a similar path.

For now, the Warriors are carrying 14 players, including two (Mychal Mulder and Chasson Randle) on 10-day deals, leaving one opening on their 15-man roster.

Warriors Impressed With Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender inked a 10-day deal with the Warriors in late February and today was the final day of that pact. Head coach Steve Kerr, who said Bender has impressed the team, would be on board with keeping the big man around.

“I think he has a lot of potential…I’d love to give him another 10 days,” Kerr said (video link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic)

Bender, who was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 draft, is still just 22 years old. He spent the first three years of his career with the team that drafted him, the Suns. He spent the first half of this season with the Bucks, though he appeared in just seven games for Milwaukee before the team waived him.

The Warriors have won two of the past three games with Bender in the rotation. He’s scored 35 points, going +6 over 63 minutes in that timespan.


Pacific Notes: Bender, Kings, Lakers, Ayton

After failing to become long-term building blocks in Phoenix, former Suns lottery picks Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender have reunited in Golden State. Bender is only on a 10-day contract for now, but Chriss thinks his former and current frontcourt mate is fitting in nicely with the Warriors, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic details.

“I think it’s a good fit for him, especially being around people who believe in you and help you grow,” Chriss said. “I think that’s all he needs.”

Bender’s 10-day contract with the Warriors will expire on Tuesday night, at which time Golden State will have the option of signing him to a second 10-day deal before having to make a decision on a rest-of-season commitment. Bender, who is simply looking to prove he still belongs in the NBA, hopes he’s making a good impression.

“I take it day-by-day,” Bender recently said, per Rankin. “I think there’s always options, but with this team, take it day-by-day and see what happens. Obviously, a great place to be, like I said. Great organization. I’m looking forward to the opportunity, but like I said, take it day-by-day and see what happens.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Although the Kings have missed Richaun Holmes over the last two months, they could actually have a logjam at center soon, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California. Holmes is reportedly nearing a return, but Harry Giles and Alex Len have played well up front for Sacramento as of late, so it’ll be interesting to see how the team divvies up playing time down the stretch.
  • Despite the fact that Anthony Tolliver was waived by the Kings over the weekend, he and Kent Bazemore helped get the team out of its lowest point of the season in January, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The two recently-acquired veterans told their new teammates in a team meeting that they were better than their record showed. “We were very vocal about the potential here,” Tolliver said. “Coming from Portland and seeing how we played there, and seeing how these guys played here, even though they were losing a lot of games at that point, we were like, ‘You guys are not that far away from winning.'” Sacramento is 11-5 since that motivational pep talk.
  • With a comfortable hold on the top seed in the West, the Lakers are using the final stretch of the season to experiment a little with lineups, says Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. That included starting Alex Caruso when Danny Green missed Saturday’s game with a minor hip injury.
  • Even though he’s not the All-Star and borderline MVP candidate that Luka Doncic is, Deandre Ayton is on an impressive run for the Suns, averaging 20.9 PPG and 12.4 RPG in his last 19 games. Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic makes the case that it wasn’t a mistake for Phoenix to select Ayton first overall in 2018, two spots ahead of Doncic.