Isaiah Joe

Northwest Notes: Murray, Nuggets, Trent, Joe, Sharpe, Markkanen

Shams Charania reported back on June 27 that the Nuggets and Jamal Murray were “working toward” a four-year, maximum-salary contract extension, with the team expected to make the offer and the star guard expected to accept it. Over two weeks later, there’s still no deal in place.

A report earlier this week indicated that the Nuggets and Murray will likely wait until after the Olympics to finalize an agreement, and the 27-year-old Canadian essentially confirmed as much when asked this week by Troy Renck of The Denver Post about his contract situation.

“When we get there, we get there,” Murray said after the Canadian team lost an exhibition game to Team USA in Las Vegas on Wednesday. “I’m playing games right now for Canada, so that’s not on my mind.”

A maximum-salary extension for Murray, who is entering the final year of his current deal, would be worth a projected $207.85MM over four seasons.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Gary Trent Jr. isn’t a viable target for the Nuggets in free agency, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link), who hears that the 25-year-old swingman isn’t interested in accepting a minimum-salary contract and that there may not be much interest on Denver’s side anyway.
  • Isaiah Joe‘s new four-year, $48MM contract with the Thunder includes a fourth-year team option and has a descending salary structure, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Joe’s cap hit in 2024/25 will be $12,991,650 before dipping to $12,362,338 in ’25/26, with third- and fourth-year salaries of $11,323,006.
  • Although he attended Team Canada’s pre-Olympic training camp this summer, Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe wasn’t in the mix for a spot on the 2024 Paris roster. But Sharpe, who has been medically cleared following his core muscle surgery in February, is in Canada’s future plans, head coach Jordi Fernandez tells Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Substack link). “We value him as an important player in the future, being a big part of this program,” Fernandez said. “We don’t only care about this tournament. We care about AmeriCup and the World Cup and L.A. in 2028. We want Shaedon to be a part of that.”
  • Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune takes a closer look at the Lauri Markkanen situation in Utah, exploring why the Jazz might be motivated to move the star forward and what they could reasonably expect to get in return.

Thunder Sign Isaiah Joe To Four-Year Contract

JULY 7: The deal is now official, per a team press statement.

JULY 1: The Thunder and swingman Isaiah Joe have agreed to terms on a new four-year contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the deal will be worth $48MM.

Joe has spent the past two seasons in Oklahoma City after being waived by the Sixers in 2022. During that time, he has been one of the Thunder’s most reliable shooters off the bench, averaging 8.8 points per game with a .412 3PT% in 151 outings (11 starts; 18.8 MPG).

The Thunder held an extremely team-friendly option on Joe for the 2024/25 season. However, the club opted to decline that $2.165MM option in order to sign the sharpshooter to a longer-term contract.

While Oklahoma City could have exercised the option and then negotiated an extension with Joe, turning down the option – which technically allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent – ensured that he’ll receive a raise in ’24/25 and won’t compromise the Thunder’s offseason cap room. They can keep his minimum-salary cap hold on the books until they’ve used all that room, then go over the cap using his Early Bird rights to officially re-sign him to his new deal.

The maximum amount the Thunder could have given Joe on an Early Bird contract was about $58.2MM over four years, so this deal will come in a little lower than that.

The Thunder took a similar route with another rotation player, Aaron Wiggins, declining his minimum-salary team option for 2024/25, making him a restricted free agent, and agreeing to terms with him on a new five-year, $47MM deal.

Joe was the No. 23 free agent on our top-50 list.

Thunder Declining 2024/25 Options On Joe, Wiggins

The Thunder won’t exercise their team options for 2024/25 on wings Isaiah Joe or Aaron Wiggins, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Both options were for very team-friendly rates — Joe’s was worth $2.165MM, while Wiggins’ was for $1.989MM. On the surface, it looks like a surprise that Oklahoma City is turning them down, given that the two players were solid rotation pieces in 2023/24.

However, as Charania notes, the Thunder don’t intend to let either player get away and will work on longer-term deals with both of them.

The thinking is that the Thunder will be able to keep Joe’s and Wiggins’ very small cap holds on the books, use up all of their cap room on other moves, then go over the cap to re-sign the two players to multiyear contracts using their Bird rights (or, in Joe’s case, Early Bird rights).

Joe and Wiggins will be rewarded with raises for the 2024/25 season and may in turn give the Thunder a better long-term rate than they would have if they became free agents a year from now (though that’s not a certainty).

Wiggins can be made a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer, and Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link) confirms he has received that offer (worth about $2.4MM). However, Joe has too many years of service to be an RFA, so I’d imagine the Thunder have a pretty good idea of what it will take to re-sign him.

Joe has spent the past two seasons in Oklahoma City after being waived by the Sixers. During that time, he has been one of the team’s most reliable shooters off the bench, averaging 8.8 points per game with a .412 3PT% in 151 outings (11 starts; 18.8 MPG).

Wiggins, the 55th overall pick in the 2021 draft, has been with the Thunder for three seasons, averaging 7.3 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 1.2 APG in 198 games (53 starts; 18.9 MPG) during that time. His career shooting line is an impressive .514/.394/.780.

Thunder Notes: Hartenstein, Claxton, Collins, Joe, Wiggins, Giddey, Williams

Following a breakthrough year in which they earned the top seed in the West, the Thunder are in position to address their most glaring need by adding another big man in free agency, writes Keith Smith of Spotrac. Oklahoma City can clear roughly $35MM in cap space, mostly by renouncing the rights to free agent forward Gordon Hayward.

Smith points to Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein and Nets center Nic Claxton as two ideal targets. Hartenstein can contribute on both ends of the court, and he may be easier to obtain because New York is limited in what it can offer. With Early Bird rights on Hartenstein, the Knicks can give him roughly $72.5MM over four years, a figure that OKC can easily top. Claxton would add a shot-blocking element to the team’s already-strong defense, but he’s limited offensively and Brooklyn may be willing to pay whatever it takes to keep him.

Smith lists a few other options if the Thunder decide to pursue a forward rather than a center, such as Pascal Siakam, Patrick Williams, OG Anunoby and Paul George.

If general manager Sam Presti prefers a trade, Smith suggests Jazz big man John Collins, who will make $26.6MM in each of the next two seasons and can be acquired via cap space with about $8.5MM left over. Smith notes that Collins’ contract will expire before OKC has to start handing out extensions to its young players.

There’s more from Oklahoma City:

  • The Thunder will likely pick up their $2.2MM option on Isaiah Joe for next season with an eye toward a possible extension, Smith adds in the same piece. Smith also expects the team to keep Aaron Wiggins, either by exercising its $2MM team option and trying to sign him to an extension or turning down the option and hoping to reach a new deal with him as a restricted free agent. Smith sees Lindy Waters III on the “roster bubble,” while the team’s other free agents likely won’t return.
  • There’s a growing perception that Josh Giddey will be traded this summer, but Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman contends the Australian swingman’s struggles were exaggerated. Even though Giddey was benched in the playoffs and saw his minutes reduced during the regular season, Mussatto notes that he has improved his three-point shooting, having gone from 26.3% as a rookie to 33.7% this season. Mussatto also cautions that it might be too early to make a long-term decision on Giddey, who has another year left on his rookie contract and won’t turn 22 until October.
  • Chet Holmgren‘s return from injury cut into Jaylin Williams‘ playing time, but Williams still showed he can be an effective big man in the Thunder’s system, Mussatto adds in a separate story.

Thunder Notes: SGA, Giddey, Hayward, Wiggins, Joe

The young Thunder may not quite be ready to win a tough playoff series, but there’s little doubt that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is, writes Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman. SGA was at his best in Saturday’s Game 6, scoring a series-high 36 points and hitting numerous clutch shots down the stretch. He also handed out eight assists, the biggest of which was an alley-oop that Chet Holmgren slammed home to give OKC a one-point lead with 20 seconds remaining.

But Gilgeous-Alexander made a critical mistake, committing a foul that sent P.J. Washington to the line for three free throws to decide the series. Washington made his first two shots to give Dallas the lead, then missed the third on purpose to take time off the clock and force Oklahoma City into a long heave on its final possession.

“We talk about it all year, the little things that go into winning games. And being disciplined. It sucks,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of his foul on Washington. “Obviously if I had the moment back I wouldn’t have fouled him and just let him make or miss the shot.” 

At the post-game press conference, Gilgeous-Alexander told reporters that he isn’t interested in watching a replay of the foul. Thunder coach Mark Daigneault challenged the play, which cost him his final timeout, but officials determined that SGA’s contact warranted a foul.

Even if it’s part of the learning process for a team that appears to have an incredibly bright future, the loss was painful in the moment as the players feel like they let an opportunity slip away.

“It’s hard to tell what you remember more, the wins or the losses, but this definitely stings,” Holmgren said. “It doesn’t feel great. Nobody wins 12 straight championships, so the chances I’m gonna feel this at some point again is definitely there. But I’m gonna do everything in my power to avoid this feeling again.”

There’s more on the Thunder:

  • The series highlighted the decision that OKC will eventually have to make about Josh Giddey‘s fit with the rest of the team, notes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Gilgeous-Alexander’s rise to an MVP candidate and the addition of Jalen Williams have significantly cut into Giddey’s usage rate, and he doesn’t shoot well enough from long distance to be an effective complementary player. Slater notes that Giddey was replaced in the starting lineup for Games 5 and 6 and didn’t start the second half in Games 2 and 4. Giddey will make $8.3MM next season in the final year of his rookie contract, but he’s extension-eligible this summer and Slater suggests he may be a trade candidate if the Thunder go shopping for veteran help.
  • There may not be a future in Oklahoma City for Gordon Hayward, whose $33.3MM salary will come off the books this summer, Slater adds. The team sent unwanted contracts to Charlotte to acquire Hayward at the trade deadline, but he wasn’t a factor in the playoffs, going scoreless in 46 total minutes.
  • The Thunder have a two-year window to upgrade their roster before future extensions start to kick in for their stars, Bobby Marks of ESPN states in his offseason overview of the team. Marks suggests that general manager Sam Presti might decline modest team options for Aaron Wiggins and Isaiah Joe and try to reach long-term deals with both players.

Thunder Move Josh Giddey To Bench For Game 5

The Thunder made a change to their starting line up on Wednesday night, benching Josh Giddey in favor of Isaiah Joe to optimize floor spacing for Game 5 of their semifinal matchup with Dallas, writes Justin Martinez of The Oklahoman. The series is currently tied at two games apiece.

The No. 6 overall pick of the 2021 draft, Giddey had started all 218 games — including the postseason — of his three-year career prior to Wednesday.

As Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman wrote late last week, Giddey struggled mightily in the first two games of the series and saw his role drastically reduced — that has continued as the series has unfolded. Through four games, the 21-year-old is averaging 6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG and 1.3 APG in just 13.3 MPG, posting a .385/.182/1.000 shooting line. The team is minus-22 in his 53 minutes on the court.

In 80 regular season games in 2023/24, Giddey averaged 12.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 4.8 APG on .475/.337/.806 shooting in 25.1 MPG.

The Mavericks have been daring Giddey to shoot throughout the series, playing so far off him that it clogs passing lanes and makes life difficult for his teammates. The Australian has also struggled on the other end of the court, Lorenzi added.

Still, Coach of the Year Mark Daigneault called Giddey was a “very important part” of the team’s present and future.

What I’ve seen is three years of Josh Giddey, and he’s a very good player and a very important player to our team,” Daigneault said, per Lorenzi. “In Game 4 of New Orleans, I don’t know that we close that series if he’s not banging in shots in the fourth quarter. These games are high stakes, they’re obviously emotional. But I think it’s important with every player — good, bad — to zoom out and see the big picture. And the big picture is he’s been a very productive player for a long time. He’s 21 years old. He’s gonna be a very productive player for a long time moving forward.”

Giddey will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.

Thunder Notes: SGA, Defense, Wiggins, Williams, Bench

Ahead of Wednesday evening’s MVP announcement, two of the three finalists for the award faced off in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, with Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander outdueling Luka Doncic of the Mavericks, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Doncic, who is still battling a knee sprain, struggled to score efficiently against a Thunder defensive attack led by Luguentz Dort, making just 6-of-19 field goal attempts. Gilgeous-Alexander, meanwhile, racked up 29 points and nine assists and was a game-high +21 in OKC’s 22-point victory.

As Slater notes, neither Gilgeous-Alexander nor Doncic is expected to win this year’s Most Valuable Player award, given that Nikola Jokic is the heavy favorite. But even if Jokic wins, as expected, it’s an open question which star guard will finish as the runner-up. For his part, Gilgeous-Alexander didn’t make it sound as if he’s been eagerly anticipating Wednesday’s announcement.

“If I’m at home (I’ll watch),” Gilgeous-Alexander said, per Slater. “I didn’t know it was (Wednesday).”

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • Through five playoff contests, the Thunder have allowed just 90.6 points per game, the lowest mark by any team through five games since the 2016 Spurs, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “It’s where we hang our hat every night,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of the Thunder’s defense. “Especially this late in the season, we know that if we want to win basketball games, that it’s gonna start on that end. Obviously we have some really talented players on that end of the floor, but we also like to do it together and not just rely on those guys.” Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving described OKC’s “endless amount of energy” as an obstacle Dallas will have to overcome to have a chance in the series, MacMahon adds.
  • The Thunder showed off their depth in Tuesday’s victory, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Led by Aaron Wiggins (16 points) and Jaylin Williams (11 points, nine rebounds), Oklahoma City’s bench outscored Dallas’ by a 42-23 margin. Many of the Thunder’s key reserves are on team-friendly deals for next season — Williams is under contract for the minimum, while OKC holds minimum-salary team options on Wiggins and Isaiah Joe.
  • The Thunder haven’t necessarily been viewed as a legitimate title threat due to their youth and lack of playoff experience, as well as their lack of size and rebounding, but each one of their postseason wins serves as evidence that those perceived weaknesses might not matter much, says Zach Kram of The Ringer. As Kram details, Oklahoma City led the NBA in several statistical categories, including three-point percentage, transition scoring, and turnovers forced, and was the only team besides Boston to rank in the top five in the league in both offensive and defensive rating. It’s true that no team this young has ever won a title, but no team as young as the current Thunder has ever been this good, Kram argues.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Joe, Ingles, McDaniels

As Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (subscription required) writes, the Trail Blazers looked ready on Friday to pull the plug on the 2022/23 season.

Having slipped out of the play-in race during a recent six-game losing streak, Portland ruled out Damian Lillard (right calf tightness) and Jusuf Nurkic (right knee soreness) for Friday’s game vs. Chicago and ran out a starting lineup made up of Ryan Arcidiacono, Shaedon Sharpe, Matisse Thybulle, Trendon Watford, and Drew Eubanks. The outcome was predictable, with the Blazers losing to the Bulls by 28 points.

With the Trail Blazers now sitting at 32-41, three-and-a-half games back of the No. 10 seed in the West with nine games to go, there’s little reason to believe the team will resume its push for a play-in spot down the stretch — and it’s possible we won’t see a whole lot more of banged-up vets like Lillard and Nurkic this season. That would be good news for playoff hopefuls like the Thunder and Pelicans, who will visit Portland on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Given the team’s lack of impact moves on the free agent market since relocating to Oklahoma City, Isaiah Joe may be the most important free agent addition in Thunder history, declares Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link). While Joe won’t become a star and may never even be a starter in OKC, he has enjoyed a breakout season and looks like a potential rotation player for years to come, Lowe writes. Joe has knocked down 42.0% of his three-point attempts this season and the Thunder have a plus-6.6 net rating when he’s on the court, easily the best mark by any player who has spent the entire year with the club.
  • Bucks forward Joe Ingles admits that he took it hard when he was traded by the Jazz at the 2022 trade deadline, but he has since comes to terms with it and now appreciates the fact that he got to spend eight years with the franchise, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. The roster overhaul that the Jazz have undergone since Ingles’ departure made it easier for him to move on. “We had a hell of a run; at some point, they always come to an end,” he said. “Ours did — not by the players’ choice, but that’s how it works.”
  • In an interview with Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link), Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels says he thinks he’s the best defender in the NBA.

Western Notes: Jazz, Markkanen, Joe, Westbrook

The Jazz will be adding at least two players in the coming days. Now that they’ve bought out and waived Russell Westbrook and Leandro Bolmaro, they’re down to 12 players on the 15-man roster. Teams are only permitted to dip below 14 players on standard contracts for up to two weeks at a time.

The Jazz have a multitude of financial options to expand the roster, including the use of $5.5MM of its midlevel exception available to split up and sign players to multiyear contracts, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • After his All-Star appearance, the Jazz want to see more growth from Lauri Markkanen, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. Now that they’ve traded Mike Conley and Malik Beasley, they will put the ball in Markkanen’s hands more often during crunch time, seeing how he makes decisions for himself and others. The coaching staff also wants to see him in more isolations.
  • Isaiah Joe‘s perimeter shooting has been a critical factor for the Thunder‘s offense, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The reserve guard has knocked down 45.2% of his 3-point attempts. “Giving a guy like him the freedom to take some tough ones and show the other team that he’ll make some tough ones, it opens things up for the offense and I think we’ve benefited from that,” coach Mark Daigneault said.
  • The Clippers are making a foolish mistake by adding Westbrook, who plans to join them once he clears waivers, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times opines. The issues that Westbrook had with the Lakers — poor shooting, ball hogging, sullenness and selfishness — won’t go away when he joins Los Angeles’ other team, according to Plaschke. Adding him negates the Clippers’ strong trade deadline moves and the fact that their lineup was finally playing together, Plaschke adds.

Northwest Notes: Jokic, Mitchell, Joe, Mann

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic put up numbers reminiscent of Wilt Chamberlain on Sunday night, but it’s concerning that Denver needed that type of production to get by the Hornets, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Jokic had one of the best games of his career with 40 points, 27 rebounds, 10 assists and two steals, a line that hasn’t been seen since Chamberlain did it in 1968.

Singer notes that Jokic’s efforts were needed because of the continued struggles of the team’s bench. Denver’s reserves were outscored by Charlotte’s, 46-18, and Jokic had to cut short his rest in both halves.

“Our bench wasn’t giving us anything,” coach Michael Malone said. “… When you’re coming off the bench, you have an obligation. Guys get pissed off when they come out of a game. Well, if you’re playing better, you’re not coming out of a game. Simply stated.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Donovan Mitchell is ready to face the Jazz Monday night for the first time since his trade to the Cavaliers, notes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Although Mitchell’s recent comments about “having fun again” angered some Utah fans, his former teammates aren’t taking offense. “I don’t really interpret it in any bad way at all,” Mike Conley said. “I think when you’re winning and you’re successful, when you have a career year and you’re playing well, you’re having fun. And I’m sure he had that same fun when we were playing really well, like we all did. So, you know, we’re all having fun now. I think everybody who’s been moving around and in different locations or the same location, we’re all having a good time, we’re all enjoying basketball.”
  • The Thunder picked up a three-point specialist when they signed Isaiah Joe after the Sixers waived him in training camp, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Joe has claimed a rotation spot by shooting 46% from beyond the arc, and he was 5-of-8 in a career-high 23-point game Saturday night. “I’m definitely more than just a shooter,” Joe said, “and that’s gonna come out over time, but right now I just feel like this is what the team needs, and I’m going to aspire to be the best at it.”
  • Thunder point guard Tre Mann is taking a positive approach toward his G League assignment, Mussatto tweets. Mann plans to focus on his catch-and-shoot game while he’s with the Oklahoma City Blue. “My mindset is do whatever I’ve gotta do to be the best player I can be,” he said. “That’s what we feel is best for me — me and the coaches. I understand it. I’m gonna go down there and get better.”