Duop Reath

Northwest Notes: Henderson, Reath, OKC’s Big Three, Johnson

Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson has earned another opportunity to be a starter, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Henderson was reinserted into the starting five on Thursday, contributing 15 points and four assists against Minnesota.

“He’s made so many advancements, he’s just doing so good,” coach Chauncey Billups said. “And also, I just felt like as a young player, I want him to learn everything he gets. And he’s played so well on both sides of the floor.”

Henderson feels that having a former star point guard like Billups to coach him has aided his development, he told Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports.

“I take hard coaching very well,” said Henderson, who participated in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend. “When I was growing up, my dad was really hard on me. He taught me lessons, and I’m glad I went through things when I was younger, rather than learning them now. I had Coach [Jason] Hart last year, and he’s not easy to be coached by. Chauncey is coaching me hard, but it’s more information rather than just pounding on me.”

We have more from Northwest Division:

  • Trail Blazers big man Duop Reath‘s new three-year contract is guaranteed for two seasons and non-guaranteed for the third, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who tweets that Portland used $1.95MM of its non-tax mid level exception to sign him. The Blazers are now $1.3MM below the luxury tax, adds Marks, noting that Reath’s first-year salary is five times more than the minimum for a first-year player.
  • The Thunder now have a new Big Three in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. While that trio might not reach the levels of OKC’s former Big Three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, it’s amazing how quickly the franchise has assembled three top-level talents in the early stages of their careers, Mussatto observes.
  • Thunder second-round pick Keyontae Johnson participated in the NBA G League Next Up game on Sunday. It’s another achievement for a player who faced a major health crisis. Sports Illustrated’s Rylan Stiles details Johnson’s journey to the pros after he collapsed on the court while playing for the University of Florida due to a heart condition. Johnson was initially told by doctors he would never play competitive basketball again.

Trail Blazers Sign Duop Reath To Three-Year Deal

10:00pm: Reath’s promotion to a standard contract is official, the Blazers announced in a press release.

1:50pm: The Trail Blazers are promoting Duop Reath to their standard roster, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that the rookie center has agreed to a three-year contract with the club.

Reath, 27, signed a two-way contract with the Blazers in October and has emerged as a regular part of the team’s frontcourt rotation, appearing in 40 games so far this season, including 11 starts. He has averaged 8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 17.4 minutes per night, with a shooting line of .475/.385/.741.

As Wojnarowski observes (Twitter link), Reath’s path to his first standard NBA contract has been an unorthodox one. He and his family fled South Sudan for a refugee camp in Kenya when he was nine years old and ultimately relocated to Australia.

After later moving to America, Reath spent two seasons at Lee College in Texas, then transferred to LSU for two more years. He went undrafted in 2018 and played professionally in Serbia, Australia, China, and Lebanon from 2018-23 before catching on with Portland. The big man was in camp with the Blazers on a non-guaranteed contract, but made enough of an impression to earn a two-way deal and has now received another promotion.

While the exact terms of Reath’s new contract aren’t yet known, the Blazers will use a portion of their mid-level exception in order to sign him for more than two seasons. The deal will be guaranteed for the rest of this season, and I’d expect it to include at least a partial guarantee for 2024/25.

The Blazers currently have a full 15-man roster, but Ashton Hagans‘ 10-day contract with the club will expire on Saturday night, opening up a spot for Reath.

Northwest Notes: Jokic, George, Ayton, Blazers, Gobert

Sixers star Joel Embiid racked up 41 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds in a comeback victory over the Nuggets on Tuesday, but after the game he had nothing but praise for opposing center and fellow MVP Nikola Jokic, as Bennett Durando of The Denver Post writes.

Embiid joked that there’s a “war” on Twitter between Sixers and Nuggets fans about which player is better, but suggested that Jokic has earned that honor, at least for now, after leading Denver to a championship in 2023.

“He deserves (the title of best in the NBA),” Embiid said. “Until you knock him down, that’s the best in the league, and he’s the Finals MVP. So until someone else takes that away, then you can claim that.

“But then again,” Embiid continued, with a smile. “I also believe in myself. … I’ve just gotta get there.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Following a victory over Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Paul George said the 2019 trade that sent him from the Thunder to the Clippers for a package that included Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and several first-round picks has been a win for both sides — and acknowledged that it may have been a bigger win for OKC. “I just think both sides won. I did think it was quite a lot that the Clippers were willing to give up, but their commitment to me is my commitment to them,” George said (Twitter video link via Joey Linn of SI.com). “… We knew Shai was gonna be really, really good, but he’s special. In a way, Oklahoma won that trade with picks and a future MVP. Great trade for both sides.”
  • After missing the Trail Blazers‘ past 11 games due to a knee issue, starting center Deandre Ayton was on track to return Wednesday vs. Brooklyn, but icy conditions in Portland prevented him from getting to the game, as Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report tweets. Ayton will presumably be available on Friday vs. Indiana.
  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups tried a new starting lineup on Wednesday, with Jerami Grant, Anfernee Simons, Malcolm Brogdon, Duop Reath, and Jabari Walker making up the 19th starting five the team has used this season. After the game, Billups explained that he wanted to make a change due to the slow starts the Blazers had been having (Twitter link via Highkin). The original plan, Billups added, was to move Shaedon Sharpe into Scoot Henderson‘s starting spot, but Sharpe is sidelined with an abdominal injury.
  • While Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert has been lauded for a bounce-back season on defense, he lauded his teammates for making things easier on him at the end of the court, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “We got people that can guard. We got people that can move their feet and take the challenge,” Gobert said.

Blazers’ Brown To Miss At Least Six Weeks After Wrist Surgery

JANUARY 10: Brown had successful surgery on Tuesday and will be reevaluated in six weeks, the Trail Blazers announced (via Twitter).

JANUARY 8: Trail Blazers center Moses Brown has been diagnosed with a non-displaced scaphoid fracture in his left wrist, which will require surgery this week, the team announced in a press release. A return timeline will be determined post-surgery, per the team.

A 7’2″ big man who played one season of collegiate ball at UCLA, Brown signed a one-year, partially guaranteed contract with Portland back in August. While it’s obviously unfortunate for Brown that he’s out indefinitely, the good news is his salary became fully guaranteed after he remained on the roster past Sunday’s deadline — he’ll earn the full veteran’s minimum ($2,165,000) for a player with his level of experience.

Brown returning to Portland in the offseason was actually a reunion, as the 24-year-old spent his rookie season with the Blazers on a two-way deal. He has bounced around a good deal during his five seasons, having also played for the Thunder, Mavericks, Cavaliers, Clippers and Nets.

In total, Brown has averaged 5.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 12.2 minutes per night over 137 career regular season games. He has appeared in nine games for Portland in 2023/24 and played 82 total minutes.

According to Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link), it’s “within the realm of possibility” that Brown could still be released despite his contract becoming guaranteed, depending on how long he might be out or if the team needs to cut a player to complete a trade.

In other Blazers roster news, Highkin expects center Duop Reath to have his two-way deal converted to a standard deal at some point in the next two weeks. The Blazers have until January 20 to reach the 14-man roster limit after waiving Skylar Mays and Ish Wainright on Saturday.

Northwest Notes: MPJ, Nuggets, Watson, Thunder, Reath

After scoring 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting in his first 16 minutes of action on Friday to help the Nuggets build an 18-point lead, Michael Porter Jr. attempted just three more field goals in his final 15 minutes as Denver’s lead slipped away and Orlando pulled out a 122-120 victory.

Asked after the game about his recent trend of disappearing from the Nuggets’ offense after getting off to hot starts, Porter suggested it’s an issue that affects the team more broadly rather than applying specifically to him, per Bennett Durando of The Denver Post.

“I think it’s something we’re collectively still trying to master. Like, continuing to find guys’ shots throughout the midst of the game,” Porter said. “Because sometimes we play different in the first quarter than we do in the fourth quarter. … And that’s a lot of teams. But Aaron (Gordon) for example: He got most of his shots probably in the first quarter. Didn’t really touch the ball in the third quarter or the fourth quarter much.

“.. It’s a tough balance. When you’ve got a lot of guys who are very capable, sometimes you go a long stretch without really touching the ball. So for me, I kind of realize if I’m gonna get some shot attempts up, it’s gonna have to come in the flow of the game, and I’m gonna have to really, at times, be aggressive and things like that.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Heading into Friday’s game, the Nuggets had the NBA’s eighth-best defensive rating, compared to the No. 25 ranking at the same time a year ago. In another story for The Denver Post, Durando explores why the team has been significantly better on that end of the court in the first half of this season, singling out second-year wing Peyton Watson as a key difference-maker. Watson wasn’t part of the rotation last season, but his 109.6 defensive rating this season is the best mark among Denver’s regulars.
  • Even without making any moves on the trade market, the Thunder – who rank fourth in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating – already look like a legitimate contender, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman, who argues that the club certainly has the assets to make a deal but should be in no rush to do so before the “missing ingredient” on the roster becomes more apparent.
  • The Trail Blazers, who now have two openings on their 15-man roster, are a virtual lock to promote big man Duop Reath from his two-way deal to a standard contract sooner or later, tweets Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. However, it’s unclear whether that move is in Portland’s short-term plans or if it will happen sometime after the trade deadline. The Blazers will have to make at least one roster addition by January 20, but that could just be a 10-day signing.

International Notes: EuroLeague, Exum, Reath, Cauley-Stein, Zizic

Kemba Walker is among several former NBA players struggling to make the adjustment to the EuroLeague, writes Dimitris Minaretzis of Eurohoops. After signing with AS Monaco this summer, the 33-year-old guard is averaging just 4.4 points and 1.1 assists per game as he fights for playing time in a crowded backcourt. Knee injuries plagued Walker throughout the end of his NBA career, and they appear to still be limiting his effectiveness in Europe.

Elsewhere, Minaretzis notes that FC Barcelona’s Jabari Parker is averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, while KK Partizan has PJ Dozier at 9.2 points and 3.2 assists per night and Frank Kaminsky at 8.6 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

The only players who are standing out after being on NBA rosters last season are Serge Ibaka, who’s averaging 12.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for Bayern Munich, and Kendrick Nunn, who is at 11.6 points and 2.5 assists per night with Panathinaikos. Ibaka has previous EuroLeague experience, having played in Spain before being drafted in 2008.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • After making a surprising impact with their NBA clubs, Dante Exum and Duop Reath are in contention for starting spots with the Australian Olympic team, according to Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Exum, who recently moved into the Mavericks‘ starting lineup because of his strong play, is averaging 15.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists over his last 10 games, and Uluc notes that he’s given Dallas a secondary ball-handler while serving as a strong complement to Luka Doncic. Reath has become a productive weapon for the Trail Blazers after earning a two-way deal in camp. He provides an outside shooting threat and has reached double figures in scoring in seven of Portland’s last 10 games. Reath posted a career-high 25 points against Sacramento this week and may have surpassed Jock Landale as the Boomers’ best option at center.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein‘s first venture in Europe has ended after 20 games, per Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Pallacanestro Varese announced that it has parted ways with the 30-year-old center, who averaged 9.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks for the Italian team.
  • Croatian center Ante Zizic has signed with Virtus Bologna, the team announced in a press release. Zizic, 26, was a first-round pick in 2017 and played 113 total games with Cleveland from 2017 to 2020. He captured a Turkish championship and the President’s Cup last season with Anadolu Efes.

Trail Blazers Notes: Simons, Henderson, Reath, Bench, Grant

Anfernee Simons has become the Trail Blazers‘ franchise cornerstone, answering a looming question the organization had after trading Damian Lillard in the offseason, Jason Quick of The Athletic writes. The 24-year-old guard is averaging 27.1 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 45.6% from the field, 40.0% from beyond the arc on 9.5 attempts and 92.3% from the foul line in his first 11 games.

I’ve put myself out there showing that I want that responsibility every night,” Simons said. “That’s how I’ve been carrying myself.

Since returning from a thumb injury that sidelined him for 18 games, Simons had games of 41 points against the Wizards, 38 points against the Clippers and 30 against the Mavericks.

I think Ant is on his way,” head coach Chauncey Billups said. “He’s our best offensive player, our best scorer. He’s on his way … Ant is still a young player and has a ways to go too … But to answer your question, yeah, he is our obvious offensive guy.

Billups hasn’t been ready to outright anoint Simons as the alpha on the team, Quick writes, but that hasn’t fazed the young guard. According to Quick, Simons is continuing to try and establish himself as the franchise player by being more assertive, consistent and vocal.

With 2023 No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson set to develop at the point guard position, there are still some questions about their fit, but Quick says the Blazers don’t feel they need Simons to commit to either the one or the two yet.

I just see [Simons] as a basketball player,” Billups said. “But if he had to play [point guard] full time, he would be elite. If he has to play the [shooting guard] full time, he could be elite there too. He’s gonna be doing both with the way we are constructed right now.

We have more Trail Blazers notes:

  • Simons missed the Blazers’ Thursday game against the Spurs with an illness, allowing Henderson to draw his first start since Nov. 1 (Twitter links via team and Rose Garden Report’s Sean Highkin). As Aaron Fentress of OregonLive writes, Henderson’s first NBA game against No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama was a mixed bag. Henderson had a career-high 23 points and helped the Blazers get into the game after they fell into an early hole, but he also got into early foul trouble and finished with more turnovers than assists.
  • Two-way big man Duop Reath is continuing to emerge for the Trail Blazers and, in a Tuesday game against the Kings, he registered career highs of 25 points and nine rebounds. Reath joined Arvydas Sabonis and Bill Walton as the only Portland rookies to record 25 points and nine rebounds off the bench since 1975 (Twitter link via team PR) and he’s now averaging 10.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG in December. According to Fentress, the entire bench led by Reath, Henderson, Jabari Walker and Matisse Thybulle paved the way for that victory, scoring 65 combined points.
  • The Blazers raised eyebrows when they gave Jerami Grant a five-year, $160MM deal on the first day of free agency with the future of Lillard in the air and the team coming off back-to-back seasons outside the playoffs. However, The Athletic’s Danny Leroux writes that both parties may end up benefiting from the deal, with Portland positioned to trade Grant to a team that misses out on signing a forward in 2024 free agency and has the cap flexibility to take on his contract.

Blazers Re-Sign Duop Reath To Two-Way Contract

5:14pm: The Blazers have officially signed Reath and waived Badji, according to the opening night rosters announced by the NBA (Twitter link).

4:36pm: After being waived by the Trail Blazers on Saturday, center Duop Reath is returning to the team on a two-way contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Reath, 27, has played overseas since going undrafted out of LSU in 2018, spending time with teams in Serbia, Australia, China, and Lebanon over the last five years. Reath averaged 13.0 points and 7.4 rebounds in five games for Portland’s Summer League team in July, then represented Australia in the 2023 World Cup, starting at center for the Boomers.

Although Reath was on a training camp contract with the Blazers this month, his deal only included Exhibit 9 language, not an Exhibit 10 clause, so he was ineligible to be converted directly to a two-way deal. Portland had to put him through waivers in order to re-sign him to a two-way contract.

According to Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link), another big man, Ibou Badji, will be waived to open up a two-way slot for Reath.

Badji, 21, spent much of last season on a two-way contract with Portland, though he didn’t appear in an NBA regular season game.

A 7’1″ Senegalese center with a 7’9″ wingspan, Badji played in Spain from 2019-22 and joined the Wisconsin Herd (the Bucks’ G League affiliate) to begin the 2022/23 campaign after going undrafted last year. He joined the Blazers last November and signed a second two-way contract with the team this July.

Blazers Claim Ish Wainright Off Waivers, Cut Two Players

The Trail Blazers have claimed forward Ish Wainright off waivers, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Portland is waiving another forward, Kevin Knox. The Blazers are also releasing big man Duop Reath, per Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link).

The Suns cut Wainright on Thursday due to their roster crunch — they had 17 players on standard contracts and could only carry 15 on their regular season roster. Wainright’s 2023/24 salary was non-guaranteed, making him a logical odd man out.

Phoenix reportedly had interest in bringing back Wainright, perhaps on a two-way deal, but the club won’t get the chance to do so, as the Trail Blazers will take on his non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract. The 29-year-old’s salary won’t become fully guaranteed unless he remains under contract through January 7, so Portland has some time to assess his fit before making a final decision on whether to keep him for the season.

Wainright appeared in 60 games for the Suns last season, averaging 4.2 points and 2.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per night. His shooting line was .370/.329/.839.

The ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft, Knox finished the season with Portland in 2022/23, averaging 8.5 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 21 games (17.1 MPG). However, when he re-signed with the club over the summer, he only received a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 contract, so he was never assured of a regular season roster spot.

Reath was part of Portland’s Summer League team, averaging 13.0 points and 7.4 rebounds in five games, and represented Australia in the 2023 World Cup. He has played overseas since going undrafted out of LSU in 2018, spending time in Serbia, Australia and China.

According to Highkin, both Knox and Reath are candidates to remain in the organization, perhaps with the Rip City Remix, the Blazers’ G League affiliate. However, Reath’s contract didn’t include an Exhibit 10 clause, so of the two, Knox seems more likely to end up with the Remix.

The Blazers now have 14 players on standard contracts and three on two-way deals. They could add one more player before Monday’s regular season roster deadline or enter opening night with an open spot on their standard 15-man roster.

Trail Blazers Convert Justin Minaya To Two-Way Deal; Waive Two Others

6:35pm: Minaya has officially been converted to a two-way deal, according to NBA.com’s transactions log, while Conditt and Butler have been waived.

3:57pm: Small forward Justin Minaya has agreed to a two-way contract with the Trail Blazers, agent Jared Mucha tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

The 24-year-old finished last season with Portland on a hardship 10-day contract and appeared in four games. He re-signed with the Blazers in early October.

Sources tell Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report that John Butler will be waived to open a two-way slot for Minaya (Twitter link). The 20-year-old center re-signed with Portland in July after spending last season on a two-way deal. He appeared in 19 games, averaging 2.4 PPG and 0.9 RPG in limited minutes.

The team’s other two-way spots belong to Ibou Badji and Skylar Mays.

Highkin also reports that George Conditt, who has an Exhibit 10 contract, will be waived today and is expected to wind up with the Rip City Remix, the organization’s new G League affiliate (Twitter link).

Highkin hears that Moses Brown is likely to make the team, so the battle for the final roster spot appears to be between Duop Reath and Kevin Knox (Twitter link).