Hamidou Diallo

Raptors Notes: Mitchell, Vezenkov, Agbaji, Diallo, Dick

The Raptors believe Davion Mitchell will bring a perimeter defensive presence they lacked last season, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN. The 25-year-old was acquired from the Kings in a trade on the second night of the draft to fill Toronto’s need for a backup point guard.

“I’m trying to bring leadership, defensive mindset, being that dog, just doing the little things on the floor,” Mitchell said. “Over my career playing basketball, every team that I’ve been on, the guy that’s on the ball brings that energy. I think that me putting pressure on the ball up top, a lot of people are gonna want to play just as hard. No one wants to stand out by not playing hard. So, me bringing that energy is going to show.”

Mitchell’s defensive prowess convinced Sacramento to select him with the ninth pick in 2021, but he struggled to find playing time in a crowded backcourt. Even though he appeared in 72 games last season, he dropped to a career-low 15.3 minutes per night and his other numbers declined across the board. The Kings were looking to unload his contract to provide cap relief, and Toronto welcomed the opportunity to increase its toughness level on defense.

“It’s not just about him, it’s all the guys,” coach Darko Rajakovic said. “Everybody has to step up. We’re working a lot during the summer to really improve on-ball defense, aggressiveness. We’re really, really trying to – as you can see in the draft class as well – find as many possible two-way guys. We call them the most important guy. Most important guy is the guy who’s guarding the ball. He makes it easier for everybody else. And we’re really trying to develop everybody on our roster to be able to do a better job.”

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Toronto hasn’t resolved the situation regarding Sasha Vezenkov, who was acquired from Sacramento in the same trade, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet. Vezenkov reportedly reached a deal with Olympiacos in Greece, but there’s one year left on his NBA contract, plus a team option for 2025/26. “We’re still having that conversation,” team president Masai Ujiri said today on a broadcast of the Raptors’ Summer League game. “He had a tough time in the NBA last year. We are trying to figure it out, and what he wants to do. The right decision will be made. … I think he’s a phenomenal player, had a tough season last season, those things happen, great shooter. Whatever happens, we’re going to make the best out of this situation. We support him in every way and we know where our team is going. So hopefully soon.”
  • Even though it’s somewhat rare for former lottery picks with two full years of experience to participate in Summer League, Ochai Agbaji and Raptors officials both believed it would be beneficial, per Lewenberg (Twitter link). Agbaji appeared in 27 games with Toronto after being acquired from Utah in February.
  • The Raptors hosted a private scrimmage on Friday in Las Vegas that involved representatives of the Clippers, Trail Blazers and Rockets, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iko hears that the standout performer was free agent swingman Hamidou Diallo, who played two games with Washington last season.
  • In an interview with Eric Koreen of The Athletic, Gradey Dick talks about the challenges of his rookie season.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Hunter, Mathews, Hawks, Diallo, Hornets

After missing four games near the end of December due to a left calf strain, Heat star Jimmy Butler ‘s return on Dec. 30 was short-lived. He logged 23 minutes in a loss to Utah that night before suffering a new injury that the team has referred to as a right toe MP joint sprain.

Butler will miss a fifth consecutive game on Wednesday when the Heat face the Thunder, but he told reporters on Tuesday that he’s relieved the injury isn’t more serious and that he doesn’t think his absence will last much longer.

“I (initially) thought it was way worse than it really was. I was scared for a much larger reason because of a bruise or the bone. So glad it wasn’t (that),” Butler said, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “It’s getting better. I’m moving a little bit better. … It was bad. It’s not nearly as bad now. I can put my shoe on and tie it without too much pain. I’m smiling because I’ll be back soon.”

Wednesday’s game will be the 13th contest that Butler has missed so far this season. If he sits out five more games between now and the regular season finale in April, he’ll be ineligible for end-of-season award consideration. However, he said on Tuesday that’s not something that’s on his mind.

“What you think?” Butler said when asked if he cares about possibly becoming ineligible for awards. “You think I’m worried about some reward? The only reward I give a damn about is those banners over there.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The Hawks issued a pair of health updates on Tuesday, announcing (via Twitter) that injured forward De’Andre Hunter (right knee) recently begun taking part in half-court workouts and will increase his basketball activities soon. The team also stated that guard Garrison Mathews, who underwent an MRI after injuring his left ankle on Sunday, has been diagnosed with a sprain and will be reevaluated in one or two weeks.
  • Danny Chau of The Ringer digs into whether the Trae Young era in Atlanta can be salvaged and whether big roster changes might be coming for the Hawks in the next few weeks.
  • Discussing the newest addition to the Wizards‘ roster on Wednesday, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. talked about what Hamidou Diallo will bring to the team, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). “High-level energy,” Unseld said. “He defends. He plays downhill, plays with force. He can be very disruptive, very active. He’s got positional size, which I think is great. He’s improved his three-point shooting.” There hasn’t been much in-game evidence for Unseld’s final claim, as Diallo made just 7-of-33 threes (21.2%) with the Capital City Go-Go in the G League this season before signing a 10-day contract with Washington.
  • In a mailbag for The Charlotte Observer, Roderick Boone tackles several Hornets-related topics, weighing the odds of an in-season trade involving Terry Rozier and explaining why he doesn’t think Charlotte will let Miles Bridges walk for nothing in free agency in the summer.

Wizards Sign Hamidou Diallo To 10-Day Deal

1:58pm: The Wizards have officially signed Diallo to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. The deal will run through next Thursday (January 18).

8:14am: The Wizards have agreed to sign free agent wing Hamidou Diallo to a 10-day contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Diallo, 25, was the 45th overall pick in the 2018 draft. Over his first five years in the NBA, he appeared in 263 regular season games for the Thunder and Pistons, averaging 8.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per night. Last season, he made a career-high 57.3% of shots from the field in 56 games (17.8 MPG) for Detroit, putting up 9.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG.

While Diallo is an athletic player, an above-average rebounder for his position, and an active defender, he’s an awkward fit in some lineups due to his inability to space the floor — he has made just 27.4% of his career three-point attempts. That’s presumably a key reason why he didn’t find an NBA home when he became an unrestricted free agent this past offseason.

Washington eventually signed Diallo to an Exhibit 10 contract at the end of the offseason and made him an affiliate player for the Capital City Go-Go. The former Kentucky standout has averaged 18.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 31.1 minutes per game across 20 appearances this season for the Go-Go.

The Wizards have an open spot on their 15-man roster after having waived Ryan Rollins on Monday. Diallo will fill that opening and will earn $134,863 over the course of his 10 days with the club. He’ll be available for the team’s next four games, assuming he officially signs today or tomorrow. Washington would be eligible to sign Diallo to one more 10-day contract after his first deal expires.

As Rylan Stiles of Locked on Thunder points out (via Twitter), current Wizards general manager Will Dawkins was in the Thunder’s front office during Diallo’s time in Oklahoma City.

Wizards Sign, Waive Hamidou Diallo, Gabe Kalscheur

2:10pm: Diallo and Kalscheur have been waived, the Wizards announced (via Twitter).

11:12am: The Wizards have signed free agent wing Hamidou Diallo and guard Gabe Kalscheur to Exhibit 10 contracts, the team announced today (via Twitter).

Diallo, 25, was the 45th overall pick in the 2018 draft. Over the last five years, he has appeared in 263 regular season games for the Thunder and Pistons, averaging 8.6 points and 3.8 rebounds in 18.7 minutes per night. Last season, he made a career-high 57.3% of shots from the field in 56 games (17.8 MPG) for Detroit, putting up 9.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG.

I gave Diallo a spot near the bottom of my list of this year’s top 50 free agents, writing that his athleticism, rebounding ability, and defensive acumen helped make up for his lack of outside shot. However, it seems NBA teams weren’t as high on the veteran wing, who remained on the market for over three-and-a-half months before finally catching on today with the Wizards.

The terms of Diallo’s deal – along with Washington’s roster crunch – indicates that the plan is for him to be waived and join the Capital City Go-Go, the Wizards’ G League affiliate. That’s presumably the next step for Kalscheur too. Both players would earn Exhibit 10 bonuses worth up to $75K if they spend at least 60 days with the Go-Go.

An undrafted rookie out of Iowa State, Kalscheur averaged 12.9 PPG on .400/.354/.726 shooting in 33 games (33.6 MPG) as a super-senior in 2022/23.

Only Two Of Our Top 50 Free Agents Remain Unsigned

After big man Christian Wood officially signed with the Lakers on Wednesday, only two players on our list of 2023’s top 50 free agents remain unsigned: Kelly Oubre and Hamidou Diallo.

The 15th pick of the 2015 draft, Oubre has earned at least $12MM in each of the past four seasons. He averaged a career-high 20.3 points in 48 appearances with the Hornets last season while snatching 5.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.

Oubre certainly has positive traits, with prototypical size for a guard/forward (6’7″ with a 7’2″ wingspan) and plus athleticism. However, he has struggled to score efficiently throughout his career, posting a subpar 53.4 true shooting percentage in 2022/23. He also averaged 17.1 shot attempts against 1.1 assists last season — an alarmingly poor ratio.

There haven’t been many rumors regarding potential suitors for Oubre, with the Cavaliers, Mavericks and Heat among the teams that have been mentioned, though all three can only make relatively modest financial offers.

There has been even less buzz for the No. 43 player on our list, former Pistons wing Diallo. Like Oubre, Diallo is a high-flying athlete who struggles at times with decision-making, and his role was cut back somewhat in 2022/23.

Diallo converted a career-high 57.3% from the field last season after basically abandoning the three-ball. He’s also a plus defender and rebounder who plays with a lot of energy, but his game is certainly unconventional for a wing.

Detroit renounced the 25-year-old’s cap hold to operate below the cap and use room, so a reunion is unlikely. It might be difficult for Diallo to match the $5.2MM he made each of the past two seasons at this point, given how much money has been spent and how few roster spots are available around the league.

Jaylen Nowell (Wolves), Kendrick Nunn (Wizards), Terence Davis (Kings) and Javonte Green (Bulls) are among the other free agents we considered for our top-50 list who remain unsigned.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks’ Roster, Bridges, VanVleet, Brown

The Knicks have 12 players on fully or partially guaranteed deals, leaving at least two spots potentially open for free agents. They could look at a variety of players to fill those slots, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic. Hamidou Diallo, Terence Davis and Taj Gibson are some of the available players that could provide depth in areas of need, in Katz’ view.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets forward Mikal Bridges is thrilled he was asked to play for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup, he told Paul George on Podcast P (hat tip to Eurohoops.net). “(Team USA head coach) Steve Kerr brought up the idea to me, and I was like, hell yeah, I’m here, just please let me know. I kind of had the idea there, and then I ended up going to Brooklyn and playing really well,” Bridges said. “After that, when I saw him again and we talked about it, I was really ready for it. So, no, definitely, there was nothing holding me back from that, unless I had some injury or something happen, but no, I was ready. I’m very excited.”
  • Fred VanVleet made 47% of the Raptors’ pull-up 3-pointers and took 42% of their pull-up attempts last season. So how will Toronto replace that element of its offensive game? The Athletic’s Eric Koreen explores that topic, stating that Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby could all take on more responsibility, whether creating those shots or becoming more effective at them.
  • The trade kicker in Jaylen Brown‘s reported super-max extension with the Celtics is less than the 15% max, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe tweets. Brown will also be on a six-month pay schedule each season during his new deal, rather than having the payments spread out over 12 months.

Contract/Cap Notes: Middleton, Lopez, C. Johnson, Watanabe, More

The three-year contract Khris Middleton signed with the Bucks only has a base value of about $93MM, well below the reported figure of $102MM, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

As Marks explains, the deal features approximately $9MM in total incentives — $2MM are currently considered likely to be earned, while the other $7MM are unlikely (meaning Middleton and/or the Bucks didn’t achieve the criteria last season). For now, the forward’s annual cap hits, which take into account his base salaries and likely incentives, will be $29.3MM, $31.7MM, and $34MM.

Meanwhile, Brook Lopez‘s two-year, $48MM contract with the Bucks has a declining structure, according to Marks. The veteran center will earn $25MM in 2023/24 and $23MM in ’24/25.

Here are a few more contract and cap details from around the NBA:

  • Marks also has the specifics (via Twitter) on Cameron Johnson‘s four-year contract with the Nets, which includes several incentives and declines in years two and three before rising again in year four. Johnson has base salaries of $24.5MM, $22.5MM, $20.5MM, and $22.5MM, with annual bonuses of $4.9MM, $4.5MM, $4.1MM, and $4.5MM. Currently, a total of $4.4MM of those incentives are considered likely, while the other $13.6MM are unlikely.
  • The Sunsdeal with Yuta Watanabe is a two-year, minimum-salary agreement with a second-year player option, confirms Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). That was the common structure on the contracts Phoenix offered to free agents — Eric Gordon, Keita Bates-Diop, and Drew Eubanks received similar deals.
  • A pair of two-way contracts that have been signed early in the 2023/24 league year will cover two seasons instead of just one. Craig Porter‘s deal with the Cavaliers and Jaylen Martin‘s agreement with the Knicks are each for two years, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter links).
  • A handful of teams using cap room this season have renounced their free agent rights to one or more players in order to maximize their space. According to RealGM’s transaction log, the Pacers (George Hill), Kings (Terence Davis, Jeremy Lamb, Corey Brewer), Pistons (Hamidou Diallo, Rodney McGruder, and Buddy Boeheim), and Thunder (eight players, including Dario Saric, Jared Butler, and Nick Collison) all renounced players. In some cases, those cap holds had been on teams’ books for multiple seasons — they won’t be there going forward.

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 Pistons.com 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.

Hamidou Diallo Injures Ankle, Likely Out For Season

Pistons wing Hamidou Diallo, a free agent after the season, suffered a Grade 2 right ankle sprain in Monday’s game against Portland, according to a team press release. Diallo will be reevaluated in three-to-four weeks, the release adds.

It’s likely that Diallo has played his last game this season, given that Detroit sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings and the team will play its finale in about four-and-a-half weeks.

Diallo has played 56 games off the bench this season, averaging 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists. The high-flying, energetic Diallo turned his ankle late in the fourth quarter against the Blazers.

Diallo had been playing his best ball this season prior to the injury, averaging 14.4 points over the last nine games for the injury-depleted Pistons.

His explosive moves to the basket led a career-best 57.3 field goal percentage this season, though he remains a non-threat from the perimeter (27.4% on 3-pointers in his career). Diallo, 24, is making $5.2MM this season.

Pistons Notes: Wiseman, Diallo, Draft, Bagley

James Wiseman has received plenty of playing time since being traded from Golden State to the Pistons. The early results from the No. 2 overall pick of the 2020 draft have generally been positive, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press writes in a subscriber-only story.

Wiseman is averaging 10.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in 24.5 minutes through his first six games with the Pistons. Coach Dwane Casey said Wiseman is still early in the learning process.

“Let’s keep it simple,” Casey said. “Eventually we’ll do that. We’ve got to go through the process of elementary, middle school, high school and eventually he’ll get there. Like everything else, everybody wants him to be All-Pro and where we are right now, that’s not going to happen. He will eventually get there at some point on both ends of the floor.”

We have more on the Pistons:

  • There’s no guarantee Detroit will retain reserve wing and impending unrestricted free agent Hamidou Diallo, James Edwards III of The Athletic writes in his latest mailbag. Diallo has established himself as a energetic rotation piece but if the club has an opportunity to significantly upgrade the roster via free agency or trade, Diallo will likely not be retained, according to Edwards, who doesn’t see Diallo getting a big raise from his current two-year, $10.4MM deal.
  • The Pistons will almost assuredly have a top-seven selection and Sankofa predicts which player they’d select at each of those draft slots. If the Pistons slide beyond the top five, Sankofa opines they’ll go for either Arkansas’ Anthony Black or Houston’s Jarace Walker.
  • Marvin Bagley III has cracked the 20-point mark in three of four games since returning from a fractured hand that sidelined him for nearly two months. Bagley has also averaged 13 rebounds in that span. He had 20 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks against Cleveland on Saturday. “Marvin played with as much force as he’s played since he’s been here,” Casey said. “Really proud the way he played. The amount of force he played with was really impressive against two of the top big men in the league.”