Eugene Omoruyi

Wizards Notes: Unseld, Starting Point, Muscala, Omoruyi

While the Wizards‘ new front office has publicly shown support for incumbent head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who was hired by the previous regime, Josh Robbins of The Athletic believes 2023/24 will be a “make-or-break season” for Unseld’s future with the organization.

As Robbins writes, the Wizards have gone 35-47 in each of Unseld’s two seasons at the helm. After trading away Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, Washington likely took a short-term step backwards, so evaluating Unseld by the team’s record might not be prudent.

Robbins is interested to see how much buy-in Unseld will be able to coax out of the many new faces on the roster, and if the team’s young draft picks will develop over the course of the season, among other evaluation tools.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • In the same mailbag article, Robbins thinks Tyus Jones, who was acquired from Memphis in the Porzingis trade, has the edge for the starting point guard job heading into the season. His main competition is likely Delon Wright, who has been in trade rumors this offseason. As Robbins notes, Jordan Poole should have plenty of on-ball opportunities as well, even if he’s technically slotted as the shooting guard.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington evaluates what big man Mike Muscala will bring to the Wizards. As with Jones, Muscala was acquired in the Porzingis deal (from Boston). The 32-year-old makes quick decisions and is a strong off-ball mover in addition to being a threat from deep, Hughes writes.
  • The Wizards signed forward Eugene Omoruyi to a two-way deal last month after he split last season with the Thunder and Pistons. According to Bijan Todd of NBC Sports Washington, Omoruyi is a late bloomer, as he didn’t start playing basketball until he was a sophomore in high school. The 26-year-old is known as a strong cutter and versatile defender, Todd notes.

Wizards Sign Eugene Omoruyi To Two-Way Contract

JULY 12: Omoruyi has officially signed a two-way contract with the Wizards, the club announced today in a press release.

JULY 11: The Wizards have agreed to a two-way contract with forward Eugene Omoruyi, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets.

Omoruyi became a free agent when the Pistons waived him at the beginning of the month. He appeared in 17 games after initially signing a pair of 10-day deals with Detroit in early March. He averaged 9.7 points and 3.5 rebounds in 21.9 minutes per game.

Omoruyi was able to earn a contract that ran through 2023/24, but it contained no guaranteed money beyond last season.

He also appeared in 23 games with Oklahoma City last season and four games with Dallas the previous season.

The Wizards have now filled two of their three two-way slots, as our two-way tracker shows. Quenton Jackson holds one of the other two-way spots.

Pistons Waive Eugene Omoruyi

The Pistons have waived small forward Eugene Omoruyi, the team announced (via Twitter).

Detroit picked up Omoruyi’s $1.9MM option on Wednesday, but his salary for next season remained non-guaranteed, so the move won’t cost the team any money. Omoruyi will become an unrestricted free agent if he clears waivers.

The Pistons arranged trades on Friday for Nets swingman Joe Harris and Wizards point guard Monte Morris, so they may have needed to part with Omoruyi’s salary to clear cap room before those deals can be finalized.

Omoruyi appeared in 17 games after signing a pair of 10-day deals in early March. He was able to earn a contract that ran through 2023/24, but it contained no guaranteed money beyond last season.

Pistons Picking Up Option On Eugene Omoruyi

The Pistons have exercised their $1.9MM option on Eugene Omoruyi, sources tell James L. Edwards of The Athletic. (Twitter link).

The 26-year-old small forward joined the team in early March on a pair of 10-day deals and earned a contract that extends through 2023/24.

Although the Pistons have reportedly picked up his option, it’s believed that Omoruyi’s salary for next season won’t immediately become fully guaranteed.

Omoruyi impressed team officials with the effort he shows when he’s on the court, Edwards adds. In 17 games with Detroit, he averaged 9.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 21.9 minutes per night.

Pistons Notes: Burks, Livers, Coaching Search, Diallo, Offseason

The Pistons are likely to exercise their team options on Alec Burks and Isaiah Livers for next season, but the decision on Eugene Omoruyi appears to be less clear, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscription required).

Burks, who will make $10.5MM if Detroit decides to keep him, was a valuable member of the team’s reserve unit because of his ability to create shots for himself and his teammates, Curtis notes. There was speculation that Burks might be moved at the trade deadline, but Curtis believes the front office sees him as a valuable component for a team that hopes to contend for a play-in spot next season.

Livers seems like a safe investment at his $1.8MM price tag for next season. Although injuries have slowed his progress, Curtis notes that he has responded to the nightly challenge of guarding the opposing team’s best player. He has also improved his mid-range game and shows promise of developing into a reliable scorer.

Omoruyi joined the Pistons in February on a pair of 10-day contracts and landed a deal that included a non-guaranteed $1.9MM salary for 2023/24. If his option is picked up, he’ll likely be part of Detroit’s Summer League team.

There’s more on the Pistons:

  • General manager Troy Weaver appears to be open to hiring an unproven head coach, observes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscription required). Pistons assistant coaches Rex Kalamian and Jerome Allen are both candidates for the job, and other names mentioned include Bucks assistant Charles Lee, Heat assistant Chris Quinn, Nets assistant Brian Keefe, Pelicans assistant Jarrod Collins and Bulls assistant Josh Longstaff. Sankofa notes that the first-time coach strategy has paid off recently for teams such as the Grizzlies, Thunder, Jazz and Pelicans.
  • The Pistons could have up to $30MM in cap space this summer, but there’s a chance they may lose some of their own free agents while they concentrate on the bigger names on the market, Keith Langlois of states in a mailbag column. One possibility is Hamidou Diallo, who Langlois said may appeal to a team with limited resources to offer.
  • James L. Edwards of The Athletic examines what a perfect offseason would look like for Detroit. It starts, of course, by winning the draft lottery and drafting Victor Wembanyama, and may include bringing back Jerami Grant in free agency and trading Bojan Bogdanovic.

Central Notes: Haslam, Hield, Omoruyi, Bulls

Appearing at the NFL owners’ meetings in Arizona this week, Jimmy Haslam spoke publicly for the first time about his impeding purchase of Marc Lasry‘s stake in the Bucks, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Because the sale hasn’t been officially finalized, Haslam declined to get into specifics, but he did tell reporters that Bucks co-owner Wes Edens would reclaim his role as the team’s governor while the Haslams learn the ropes of NBA ownership. Under the previous agreement, Edens and Lasry traded the governor title every five years — Edens held it from 2014-19.

Haslam, the owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns along with his wife Dee, described his purchase of a stake in the Bucks as “opportunistic,” Owczarski relays.

“I mean listen, we never thought we’d own 10% of the Steelers. Never thought we’d own the Browns. Dee and I had never been, beside watching (daughter) Whitney play high school soccer, had never been to a soccer game,” said Haslam, who also owns the Columbus Crew (MLS). “So it’s just opportunistic. It was straightened set of circumstances; we were called on this opportunity. Business, sports, you tend to be optimistic. I have no idea what will happen next. First thing’s first, let’s get this done and then let’s get the Browns winning games.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield was sidelined for Monday’s game due to a non-COVID illness, marking just the fourth time since he entered the NBA in 2016 that he has missed a game, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Hield started Indiana’s first 73 games this season, but has come off the bench since then so that the team can get a look at different lineup combinations, with an eye toward next season, tweets Agness.
  • According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link), Eugene Omoruyi‘s new contract with the Pistons covers two seasons — it’s guaranteed for the rest of 2022/23, with a team option for ’23/24. In order to give Omoruyi more than the prorated minimum for the rest of this season, Detroit used a portion of its room exception to complete the signing, Hoops Rumors has learned. Instead of the $169,445 he would’ve gotten on a minimum-salary deal, the 26-year-old received $269,445 for ’22/23.
  • With the Trail Blazers set to miss the postseason again, the Bulls won’t get the lottery-protected first-round pick owed to them by Portland this season, and Chicago’s own top-four protected first-rounder appears ticketed for Orlando. However, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago wonders if the Bulls could end up with a first-rounder in 2023 by negotiating a trade with the Blazers, who are on track to receive the Knicks’ first-round pick. As Johnson observes, Portland may want to reacquire its own first-rounder, which remains lottery-protected through 2028, in order to regain flexibility for future trades.

Pistons Sign Eugene Omoruyi

The Pistons have signed second-year forward Eugene Omoruyi to a contract that covers at least the rest of the 2022/23 season, the team announced.

The 26-year-old just completed his second 10-day deal with Detroit, and the Pistons decided to keep him around. Head coach Dwane Casey and center James Wiseman praised Omoruyi for his drive, energy and defense in recent weeks.

The former Oregon standout was on a two-way contract with the Thunder earlier this season until being promoted to Oklahoma City’s standard roster after last month’s trade deadline. However, he was cut in late February in order to make room for Lindy Waters on OKC’s 15-man squad.

Omoruyi appeared in 23 games with the Thunder, averaging 4.9 points and 2.3 rebounds on .468/.258/.607 shooting in 11.8 minutes per night. In 10 games with the Pistons, he’s averaging 8.8 points and 3.6 rebounds on .455/.231/.750 shooting in 21.3 minutes per contest.

We’ll have to wait for more details to see whether Omoruyi’s new contract only covers the rest of the season or is a multiyear deal. Either way, the Pistons had a roster opening after his second 10-day contract expired, so they didn’t have to release anyone to bring him back.

Central Notes: Pacers, R. Lopez, Merrill, Livers, Omoruyi

The Pacers‘ decision to hold Tyrese Haliburton (left knee bruise), Myles Turner (sore lower back), and T.J. McConnell (sore back) out of games on Saturday and Monday signaled that the team isn’t exactly going all-out for a spot in the play-in tournament, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

While Bennedict Mathurin‘s ankle sprain would have sidelined him in any situation, the other Pacers regulars who sat out those two contests in Detroit likely would’ve been active if Indiana was in win-now mode instead of focusing on player development. As Dopirak notes, the absences of the team’s regulars resulted in big minutes for young players like Andrew Nembhard, Aaron Nesmith, Oshae Brissett, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson, and Jordan Nwora.

“It’s just valuable for our young guys to get this kind of experience,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Drew Nembhard needs this kind of work at the point position. He needs to play 35 minutes a game a few games playing the point position. He played 36 (on Monday). He did a lot of good things in both games. There’s a different rhythm to that position, a different flow.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Robin Lopez hasn’t had much of a role this season after signing with the Cavaliers as a free agent last summer, but his nine minutes in Sunday’s win over Charlotte with Jarrett Allen out were the most he has played in a game since January. Just trying to put some size out there,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff explained (Twitter link via Chris Fedor of “With Jarrett being out, we are limited with size. I thought RoLo was good, played hard. Everybody is going to be called upon.”
  • Within his story on the Cavaliers‘ new multiyear deal for Sam Merrill, Fedor notes that the club views the swingman as more than just a “one-dimensional” sharpshooter. “I think he was leading or near the top of the G League in taking charges, so he’s got a willingness to scrap, a willingness to help on the defensive end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “Can create shots and make shots.”
  • After being limited to 19 games as a rookie for health reasons, Pistons forward Isaiah Livers is trying to establish himself as part of the team’s future plans with his play this season. James L. Edwards III of The Athletic takes a look at how those efforts are going and explores the strides Livers is making in his second NBA season.
  • Eugene Omoruyi, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Pistons on Monday, is making a strong case to earn a rest-of-season deal once those 10 days are up, Edwards writes in another story for The Athletic. “I always say, a guy who has his Ph.D. — poor, hungry, driven — they’re going to make it in this league,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s hungry.”

Eugene Omoruyi Signs Second 10-Day Contract With Pistons

10:47am: The signing is now official, the Pistons announced in a press release.

8:42am: The Pistons will sign Eugene Omoruyi to another 10-day contract, tweets James L. Edwards III of The Athletic.

The deal is expected to be finalized today, Edwards adds, which means it will run through March 22. Detroit would have to sign the 26-year-old forward for the rest of the season to keep him on the roster beyond that date.

Omoruyi appeared in five games during his first 10-day contract, which expired Sunday night. He averaged 8.2 points and 2.6 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per night and impressed the coaching staff on both ends of the court, according to Edwards.

Omoruyi began the season with the Thunder, playing 23 games before being waived last month. He also spent 13 games with the G League’s Oklahoma City Blue.

He will earn $94,136 on his 10-day contract as a second-year player, as our chart shows.

Pistons Notes: Bogdanovic, Ivey, Injuries, Omoruyi

Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic has sat out the last three games with what the team is referring to as bilateral Achilles tendinopathy. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, that ailment could jeopardize the rest of Bogdanovic’s season.

Charania has heard that the Pistons are considering taking precautionary measures to manage Bogdanovic’s health and may soon to decide to shut him down.

Certainly, the Pistons aren’t in desperate need of Bogdanovic’s contributions on the court down the stretch. Detroit signed the veteran to a contract extension last fall and has repeatedly suggested it views him as a player who can help the team return to playoff contention next season, but that’s not happening this year — the 15-51 Pistons currently have the NBA’s worst record, so the only race they’ll be involved in during the next few weeks is the one for the league’s top draft lottery odds.

Here’s more on the Pistons:

  • Pistons rookie Jaden Ivey is showing real signs of progress as a ball-handler and play-maker in the second half of the season, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Since January 6, Ivey has averaged 16.1 points and 6.1 assists per game on .433/.358/.746 shooting in 24 appearances (30.8 MPG). He has been even better as of late, racking up 39 points and 25 assists in his last two contests. The next step for Ivey will be figuring out how to share those ball-handling and play-making duties with Cade Cunningham next season.
  • With several players, including Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart (right hip soreness), and Jalen Duren (bilateral ankle soreness) on the shelf this week, Eugene Omoruyi has gotten a chance to play for the Pistons since signing a 10-day contract on Friday, notes Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscriber-only story). “He’s just a dog, especially on both ends of the floor,” James Wiseman said of his new teammate, who had 15 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes on Tuesday. “But really just locking up the rebounds and just being in there and mucking everything up on defense and being an energy guy. That’s what we needed to get over the hump, especially for this game. I feel like he was a great piece for our team.”
  • In case you missed it, an ankle injury will sideline Hamidou Diallo for at least the next few weeks, and possibly for the rest of the season.