Georges Niang

Eastern Notes: J. Johnson, Thompson, Niang, Bagley

Hawks forward Jalen Johnson will undergo further testing on his left wrist, which he injured during Saturday’s win in Washington, writes Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Johnson left the game about two-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter after taking a hard hit from Kyle Kuzma as he attempted to complete a fast-break dunk (video link). Johnson fell into the stanchion and landed on his left hand, which he immediately grabbed in obvious pain. After taking his free throws, he exited to the locker room and didn’t return.

The Hawks haven’t provided any updates on the injury since ruling out Johnson for the rest of Saturday’s game. He’ll be further evaluated in the coming days, a source tells Williams.

If he’s forced to miss time, it would be a blow to the Hawks, who have benefited from a breakout year from Johnson so far in 2023/24. Entering Saturday’s contest, the 21-year-old had averaged 14.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 31.4 minutes per night (14 games), with a .590/.421/.774 shooting line.

[UPDATE: Johnson Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks]

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Only two players in NBA history who are 6’6″ or shorter have ever averaged at least 10 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.0 steal per game over the course of a season (Charles Barkley and Gar Heard). Pistons guard Ausar Thompson is flirting with that feat through 16 games (9.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 1.1 SPG), which makes him something of a unicorn, according to James L. Edwards of The Athletic, who says the rookie likes the label. “I’m a unicorn, even if it doesn’t appear that way because of how people see ‘unicorns’ in their head, physically,” Thompson said. “What I’m out there doing, as you pointed out, only two people have done it before.”
  • Now a member of the Cavaliers, forward Georges Niang faced his former team this week and spoke about how much he enjoyed his time with the Sixers, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It felt like home while I was here,” Niang said during his return to Philadelphia. “It’s a place that I’ll always enjoy coming back to. … It jolted me into the next part of my career. So I’m super thankful for the organization, the fans, the people, staff. It was an amazing place to be.” Niang also praised former teammate Tyrese Maxey and suggested the experience the 76ers gained from going through the Ben Simmons saga in 2021/22 helped them navigate James Harden‘s trade request this year.
  • Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III is playing some of the best basketball of his career this season, making a career-high 58.6% of his shots from the floor, as Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press details. Bagley credits a newfound focus on his mental health as one important reason for his strong start, noting that he has given up social media and is meditating when he can.

Central Notes: Bulls, Cavs, Thompson, Pacers

The starting lineup has received more attention this fall, but the Bulls are also still determining which players will make up their closing lineup, as Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times writes. While it seems safe to assume that Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic, at least, will be part of those groups, head coach Billy Donovan suggested that different end-of-game scenarios might call for different looks.

“We have a lot of guys that can finish in certain situations,” Donovan said. “Theoretically, you’re up by five points with maybe 20 seconds to go, maybe you decide to go all defense in that situation. The last five minutes of the game, based on who the other team has out there, maybe we feel we have guys that have guarded a guy particularly well. So I do feel we have some versatility certainly defensively, to play a number of guys closing a game.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Cavaliers‘ starting lineup on Monday – in a game its five regular starters sat – could provide a glimpse at what the team’s second unit will look like when the season begins, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Ty Jerome, Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, and Damian Jones made up the team’s replacement starting five, with Georges Niang and Emoni Bates as the first two players off the bench.
  • Pistons rookie Ausar Thompson, whose defensive ability may earn him a starting job, relishes the idea of becoming the club’s perimeter stopper, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. “That’s the most exciting thing for me, that they trust me to go out and guard those guys,” Thompson said after matching up with Devin Booker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Detroit’s first two preseason games. “I’ve always believed those are the guys I want and now those are the guys who are going to make me better and learn more.”
  • Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle pushed back on Monday against the idea that his starting lineup is settled, telling reporters that Bruce Brown, Bennedict Mathurin, and Obi Toppin need reps alongside Tyrese Haliburton before any final decisions are made, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Haliburton missed the Pacers’ first two preseason games, but looked good as part of the new-look starting five on Monday vs. Atlanta, expressing enthusiasm about the pace that Indiana’s tentative starters can play with. “With Obi and Benn and Bruce, those are guys that can really get up and down the floor,” Haliburton said. “… As long as we get stops and rebound, not many people are going to beat us up and down the floor.”

Central Notes: Wade, Jerome, Cavs, Nesmith, Middleton

After an injury-plagued 2022/23 season, Cavaliers forward Dean Wade is feeling healthy and confident entering ’23/24, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscription required). However, after the Cavs signed Georges Niang to a three-year, $25MM+ deal, Wade’s path to a rotation role is less clear than it was a year ago.

Still, Wade is happy to have Niang in Cleveland, referring to the veteran forward as “a difference-maker with his energy and how well he shoots the ball.” Wade is focusing on making his case this preseason for regular playing time. His performance in Thursday’s preseason game – 14 points and six rebounds while making 4-of-6 threes – was a step in the right direction.

“We’ve had a lot of love for Dean for a long time,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Dean has size. He has shot-making ability. He can guard multiple positions. He can move his feet, keep people in front of him and switch onto smaller guys. It’s our responsibility and his teammates’ responsibility to continue to foster his confidence. But he is an asset for us, and he is someone who can help us play the style we want to play.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In a mailbag for Cleveland.com, Fedor takes a closer look at the Cavaliers‘ potential rotation, noting that the team views newcomer Ty Jerome as its backup point guard. Still, it’s unclear how much Jerome will play, Fedor notes, since Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert are also comfortable stepping in as primary ball-handlers when Darius Garland sits.
  • After spending significant time at power forward last season, Pacers wing Aaron Nesmith worked this offseason to tweak his game to prepare for a move to small forward, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required). “I knew I’d be playing a lot more three this year and there are minutes to be had,” Nesmith said. “The biggest difference is the ability to make those reads, to play above the break more, being able to get downhill and do those things. … It’s spacing and making the right reads and making life easier for others. Creating problems.”
  • Although forward Khris Middleton has been the Bucks‘ second offensive option behind Giannis Antetokounmpo for years, he’s happy to take a step back to allow recently acquired guard Damian Lillard to play the role he’s accustomed to, he tells Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “I mean, you’ve seen how good that guy is,” Middleton said of Lillard. “It would be selfish to try to compete with him for shots and touches when a guy like that wants to come and help us win. Everybody knows that I’m about winning, so I have no problems with putting my pride to the side, sacrificing a couple things for the team to succeed. I think that’s what it’s all about.”

Cavs’ Bickerstaff Talks Strus, Niang, Mitchell, More

Cleveland’s 51-31 record in 2022/23 was the best mark for a Cavaliers team without LeBron James since 1992/93 and resulted in the franchise’s first playoff berth since James’ most recent departure in 2018. Unfortunately for the Cavs, their postseason run was short-lived, as the Knicks quickly dispatched them in a one-sided first-round series.

Speaking to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff admitted that the playoff loss “took some time to process.” But now that he’s a few months removed from it, Bickerstaff is more willing to focus on the Cavaliers’ regular season success and to find silver linings in their early postseason exit.

“I think when you sit back, look at the regular season – and I think the regular season was a test that was passed – and then you get to the playoffs where things ramp up a notch, it was the greatest learning experience our guys could have had, that I could have had,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s the opportunity to be in a position you have never been in before and a responsibility that you’ve never had before. Nothing worth having has ever come easy to anybody.

“At the end of the day, you sit back and look at it and the season was successful. The experience our young guys gained in the playoffs is only going to make them better. That’s the reality of it. We get caught up in the emotion of it all in the moment because we are all so competitive. But in reality, we’re not above the process either. There are steps that just can’t be skipped.”

As Bickerstaff notes, many of the Cavaliers’ core players – such as Evan Mobley and Darius Garland – are still young and were experiencing a playoff environment for the first time. He believes they learned important lessons during that five-game series and will benefit from the experience going forward.

Here are a few more highlights from Fedor’s interview with Bickerstaff:

On how adding Max Strus and Georges Niang as free agents will impact the Cavaliers’ playing style in 2023/24:

“I don’t want to give away too much. But the spacing on the floor becomes different. The attention that goes to those two guys because of Georges’ career 40% 3-point shooting and Max Strus’ ability to make shots off the move, defenses have to make different decisions now than they had to last year. Those are different dynamics that we added.

“Our offense can improve and be more dynamic and difficult to guard — even though we were a top-10 offense in the regular season. You learn from the playoffs about how to become more difficult to guard in that setting. I think there is a more dynamic nature that we can have offensively. Those are things I’m studying now and we will implement this coming season.”

On Donovan Mitchell‘s potential long-term future in Cleveland:

“He was with us in Las Vegas and stayed longer than most. He worked out with the guys and went to dinners. … There were conversations we had with him during free agency about trying to get the people we needed in here. There were conversations he had with the guys we were able to bring in.

“All those things tell you that Donovan is all in. If a guy is not attentive to free agency and how we are going to get better as a team, if he is not attentive to his teammates over the summer, if he is not attentive to working on the individual things that may make him uncomfortable but also are best for the team moving forward, to me that would be a guy who is not engaged. I have seen the opposite. I have seen a guy who is all in.”

On whether he’s feeling pressure to live up to increased expectations in 2023/24:

“Pressure from what? I think the funny thing for us coaches when it comes to pressure is you want to have a good team and you want expectations. If you have a team with no expectations, as a coach, competitor, and player, that is ultimately not the job you’re looking for. The word pressure is kind of comical, to be honest with you, because you have a good team and that’s what you want.

“… Pressure isn’t a word that coaches really think about because it’s our job to continue to get better. I think we have done that here. From where we started with this team to where we are now, there is no way to say we haven’t done the job building this the right way. Look at the environment. Look at individual development. Look at team development. There are no holes. Our job is to continue to do what we’ve already done but also continue to get better. That’s what we want.”

Cavaliers Notes: Mitchell, Roster Moves, Garland, Bates

Friday marked the first day the Cavaliers were permitted to submit an extension offer to Donovan Mitchell, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The All-Star guard has two years left on his current contract, along with a $37MM player option for 2025/26. President of basketball operations Koby Altman hopes to iron out a long-term agreement this summer and shut down rumors that the New York native has an eye on eventually joining the Knicks in free agency.

Altman said the front office will have “internal discussions” about the details of an extension that he hopes will appeal to Mitchell. He added that keeping a competitive roster around Mitchell is the best way to make him want to stay in Cleveland.

“He’s really, really happy here and he’ll tell you that,” Altman said. “All I can go off is Donovan’s actions and his intentions. He’s with us in Vegas right now. He’s super excited about the future. He’ll be at the game tonight. He’s been in Cleveland multiple times this offseason already. He’s worked out with guys, he’s bringing guys with him wherever he is. All you can go off are those actions and how genuine he talks about his experience in Cleveland. I think he sees the runway of the players around him and the youth around him. All I can go off is his actions and his intentions and they’ve all been really genuine.”

There’s more on the Cavaliers:

  • Altman told reporters that Mitchell helped with recruiting during free agency, Fedor relays. Cleveland was able to re-sign Caris LeVert, bring in Max Strus in a sign-and-trade and add Georges Niang and Ty Jerome, even though Fedor notes that they all had other options. “This is the team they wanted to come to,” Altman said. “They saw the fit. They saw the upside. They think that we can go a long way.” 
  • Altman pledged to keep the core of last year’s team together and dismissed speculation that he was considering offers for Darius Garland, calling it “the most crazy rumor you’ve ever heard in your life,” Fedor adds.
  • The Cavs are hoping for gradual progress from second-round pick Emoni Bates, Fedor states in a separate Cleveland.com story. Bates, who was once considered the top high school prospect in the nation, is hoping to re-establish himself after struggling through two collegiate seasons. “There’s no expectation here,” Altman said. “Don’t have to come in here and shock the world. Really learn from this group and have fun again. If he blossoms into a rotational player down the road that can really help us space the floor and shoot, which I think is one of his best traits, that’d be great. But no expectation for him and certainly have patience and let him grow.”

Cavaliers Sign Georges Niang To Three-Year Contract

JULY 6: Niang is officially a Cavalier, having formally signed his new contract with the team, per a press release.


JUNE 30: The Cavaliers and forward Georges Niang have agreed to a three-year contract worth $26MM, agents Mark Bartelstein and Andy Shiffman tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The deal will be fully guaranteed, tweets Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Niang is one of the NBA’s best shooters, having made at least 40% of his three-point attempts in each of the last five seasons. While he’s not a great defender or rebounder, the 30-year-old will help space the floor for the Cavaliers, who had been in the market for frontcourt shooting.

Unless the Cavs work out a sign-and-trade agreement with Philadelphia, Niang’s former team, this signing will come out of Cleveland’s non-taxpayer mid-level exception and will hard-cap them at $172.3MM for the 2023/24 season.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the Cavs – who also reached a contract agreement with Caris LeVert, are still projected to be about $13.5MM below the tax and $20.5MM below the first apron, so they have some flexibility to continue making moves. They’re still looking into the possibility of acquiring free agent swingman Max Strus via sign-and-trade, tweets Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Pre-FA Updates: Toppin, Cavs, Niang, Strus, Draymond, Warriors, More

With just minutes before free agency begins and a flurry of contract agreements are reported, we have a few items to pass along:

  • The Pacers have emerged as the leading candidate to trade for Knicks forward Obi Toppin, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who confirms that the two sides have recently been in contact about a potential Toppin deal, says New York is seeking draft compensation and notes that Indiana could potentially acquire the forward and his $6.8MM expiring contract using cap room, so the Knicks wouldn’t have to take a player back.
  • A scenario in which the Cavaliers sign Georges Niang and acquire Max Strus – either via sign-and-trade or by signing him outright – is being viewed as “increasingly likely,” according to Stein (Twitter link).
  • The latest whispers Stein from has heard from his sources suggest Draymond Green may get a four-year, $100MM deal to re-up with the Warriors (Twitter link).
  • Former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker is back with the team that drafted him, at least for a few games in July. The Bucks announced today that Parker is on their Las Vegas Summer League roster.
  • The Timberwolves have hired former NBA forward Corliss Williamson as an assistant coach, they announced today in a press release. Williams was previously a member of coaching staffs in Sacramento, Orlando, and Phoenix.

Eastern FA Rumors: Kuzma, Kyrie, Bridges, Crowder, Sixers

Free agent forward Kyle Kuzma is seeking a contract “well above the mid-level exception,” according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, but it’s unclear which cap-room team might give him that sort of offer, especially if the Rockets and Pacers use their space on other players.

As Fischer writes, the Jazz were viewed as a legitimate suitor for Kuzma, but that option is almost certainly off the table following Utah’s deal for John Collins. People around the league have begun to consider it increasingly likely that Kuzma could re-sign with the Wizards, according to Fischer. While the Wizards are in the process of reshaping their roster, they’ll have Kuzma’s Bird rights and could view him as a future tradable asset as long as they don’t overpay him.

Here are more free agent rumors from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Following up on a report stating that Kyrie Irving had the Heat on his list of teams to meet with in free agency, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link) cites a source who says the Heat have no meeting scheduled with the star point guard. Irving will, however, meet with the Rockets, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Interestingly, Fischer writes that the Hornets “don’t appear to have a straightforward path to re-sign” restricted free agent forward Miles Bridges. According to Fischer, Bridges and his representatives have broached the idea of Charlotte pulling its qualifying offer to make him unrestricted. Based on Fischer’s report, it sounds like Bridges’ camp may not feel confident about its leverage in talks with the Hornets entering the summer. The forward isn’t eligible to be signed-and-traded because he wasn’t on Charlotte’s roster last season.
  • Although Jae Crowder is considered likely to re-sign with the Bucks, the veteran forward has also drawn interest from the Heat, league sources tell Fischer.
  • While the Sixers may be fairly quiet at the start of free agency, it’s possible it won’t take the team long to come to an agreement with restricted free agent Paul Reed, according to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. The team’s odds of bringing back Georges Niang, Jalen McDaniels, or Shake Milton don’t appear as strong. A source tell Neubeck that Niang may get “a nice chunk of money” from a rival suitor on the first day of free agency. Milton is unlikely to return to Philadelphia, while McDaniels’ free agency could take some time to play out, Neubeck adds.

Scotto’s Latest: DiVincenzo, VanVleet, Poeltl, Lakers, Niang, Gallinari, More

Donte DiVincenzo is expected to be a popular target on the free agent market, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who identifies the Knicks, Timberwolves, Pistons, Pelicans, Rockets, Magic, and Bulls as teams that have interest in the veteran swingman. After settling for a $4.5MM salary in his last foray into free agency a year ago, DiVincenzo could get offers in the neighborhood of the full non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($12.4MM) this time around, says Scotto.

Here are a few more highlights from Scotto’s latest round-up of news and rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Raptors are hoping to re-sign Fred VanVleet on a three-year deal in the range of $90-100MM, says Scotto. The team is also looking to bring back center Jakob Poeltl, but may face serious competition from the Rockets on both players. Although Brook Lopez has been considered Houston’s primary target at center, there’s a belief that Lopez would prefer to return to the Bucks as long as their offer is in the same ballpark as Houston’s, Scotto explains. That could prompt Houston to pivot to Poeltl, who is also expected to receive from the Spurs, as previously reported.
  • While the Lakers would like to re-sign Dennis Schröder, they’re keeping an eye on several other free agent point guards, including Shake Milton, Cory Joseph, and Jevon Carter, says Scotto. In addition to the Bucks and Lakers, Carter is expected to receive interest from the Timberwolves and Suns, among others, Scotto adds.
  • Scotto is the second reporter to link Georges Niang to the Cavaliers today, noting that Cleveland offered a pair of second-round picks for him at the trade deadline. The Sixers, Bulls, and Spurs are a few of the other clubs expected to express interest in Niang, league sources tell HoopsHype.
  • Despite a report indicating that the Wizards are likely to buy out Danilo Gallinari, the two sides haven’t had any discussions about that possibility yet, per Scotto, who writes that the veteran forward is comfortable with the idea of opening the season in D.C.
  • According to Scotto, former NBA wing Glenn Robinson III is attempting a comeback, having signed with agent Keith Kreiter and scheduled workouts with a handful of NBA teams in Las Vegas last month. A career 37.3% three-point shooter, Robinson has been out of the league for the last two seasons.
  • Vin Bhavnani and Mike Batiste are expected to join the Raptors as assistants on Darko Rajakovic‘s new coaching staff, Scotto reports. Bhavnani is a former Thunder assistant, while Batiste was on Stephen Silas‘ staff in Houston last season.

Free Agent Rumors: Brown, Lakers, Bridges, Cavs, Heat, Love

The Lakers are “increasingly confident” about their chances of signing Bruce Brown using the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, multiple sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

The Denver Post first reported on Wednesday that the Lakers have “significant” interest in Brown. A subsequent report suggested that the Nuggets‘ free agent guard may receive offers worth more than the mid-level, which would be virtually impossible for L.A. to match. However, Buha’s latest report suggests the Lakers still feel good about their odds of landing the versatile guard.

As Buha details, there’s a path for the Lakers to re-sign D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and Rui Hachimura while also using the full mid-level exception, which would hard-cap their team salary at approximately $172MM. That path would require the club to decline Malik Beasley‘s $16.5MM team option and waive Mohamed Bamba, whose $10.3MM salary is non-guaranteed.

Here are a few more free agent rumblings from around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers have interest in Hornets restricted free agent Miles Bridges, sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. However, with only the mid-level exception to offer, Cleveland is a long shot to land Bridges, given that Charlotte would match a mid-level offer sheet “in an instant,” Fedor writes. Sources tell Cleveland.com that Bridges’ camp is expecting a significantly higher per-year salary.
  • Elsewhere within his look at the Cavaliers‘ options in free agency, Fedor says Max Strus would be near the top of the team’s wish list if he’s attainable with the mid-level exception, which he may not be. Fedor adds that Cleveland is in the market for more forward depth in addition to a two-way wing, naming Georges Niang as a possible target.
  • The Heat and Kevin Love have mutual interest in working out a new deal, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami only holds Love’s Non-Bird rights, so he’d likely have to accept a minimum-salary contract or something slightly above that if he wants to return.
  • In an entertaining piece for GQ.com, Howard Beck speaks to a number of anonymous team executives about their expectations for the NBA’s 2023 offseason.