Isaiah Livers

Wizards Sign Jared Butler To Three-Year Deal

4:20pm: Butler has officially been promoted and Livers has been released, the Wizards announced in a press release.

2:33pm: The Wizards intend to waive Livers to make room on the roster for Butler, confirms Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

2:21pm: The Wizards and third-year guard Jared Butler have reached an agreement on a three-year contract, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The deal will promote Butler to the 15-man roster and will keep him under team control for two seasons after this one.

While the exact details aren’t yet known, Butler’s new contract will likely feature little to no guaranteed salary beyond 2023/24. The Wizards will use a portion of their mid-level exception to give him a deal that covers more than just two seasons.

The No. 40 overall pick in the 2021 draft, Butler began his NBA career in Utah but was waived ahead of his second season in October 2022. He finished the ’22/23 season on a two-way contract with the Thunder, then signed a two-year deal with Washington last July.

In 35 games as a Wizard, Butler has averaged 5.6 points, 2.9 assists, and 1.3 rebounds in 13.0 minutes per contest, with a shooting line of .490/.313/.885. He has been a regular part of the rotation in recent weeks, appearing in each of Washington’s last 13 games and averaging 21.3 minutes in those outings.

The Wizards currently have a full 15-man standard roster, so someone will need to be waived in order to make room for Butler. Isaiah Livers, who is on an expiring contract and is out for the season due to a hip injury, is the likeliest candidate.

Since the deadline to sign a player to a two-way contract passed last month, Washington won’t be able to fill Butler’s two-way slot once he’s promoted.

Wizards’ Isaiah Livers To Miss Rest Of Season

Wizards forward Isaiah Livers will miss the remainder of the 2023/24 season due to joint capsule inflammation in his right hip, the team’s PR department tweets.

Livers, who was traded along with Marvin Bagley III and two second-round picks for Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala in mid-January, has been beset by injuries during his young career.

The third-year forward has yet to make his Washington debut due to a combination of being out of the rotation and the hip issue. Livers appeared in 23 games (six starts) for Detroit this season, averaging 5.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 20.4 minutes. He missed nearly a month of action after suffering an ankle sprain during a pre-training camp workout.

Livers saw action in 52 games last season, his second in the league after being drafted in the second round by the Pistons in 2021. He missed 20 games as a result of a right shoulder sprain.

Livers had a foot injury stemming from his college career at Michigan when he was drafted. That limited him to 19 games in his rookie year. Overall, he’s seen action in 94 career games.

He’ll be a restricted free agent this offseason if the Wizards extend him a qualifying offer worth a projected $2.37MM.

Wizards Notes: Keefe, Kuzma, Bagley, Trade Deadline

Brian Keefe picked up his first victory as interim head coach of the Wizards this afternoon in Detroit, writes Kareem Copeland of The Washington Post. Keefe, the team’s former top assistant, took over after Wes Unseld Jr. was moved to a front office role on Thursday. It’s just the eighth win of the season for Washington, but Keefe said players are responding well to the coaching change.

“Obviously very cool,” he said of his first win. “But most important is [I’m] just really excited for our guys and how they played and how they trusted each other. … Our communication was great on defense. We were putting multiple guys in there to rebound. And then when the guy was open, we made the correct pass. So I took great joy in our team doing that.”

Keefe didn’t want to talk much about himself, choosing to focus on the need to create better habits and get the most out of the team for the rest of the season, Copeland adds. Kyle Kuzma indicated that the players view the move as a chance for a “fresh start.”

“Having a [new coach at the halfway point of the season] is tough,” Kuzma said. “It’s something I never went through, a lot of us probably never went through. … I can say one thing about Keefe — it’s no nonsense. If you’re messing with the game, you probably won’t be on the court. For us, I think it just holds a little bit more accountability for all of us to not look bad. You don’t want to be on the film the next day looking crazy.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Kuzma starred in Keefe’s first win with 30 points, six rebounds and four assists. The Flint, Michigan, native told Copeland that he’s always motivated when he comes to Detroit. “I love playing here,” Kuzma said. “My mom and stuff is here, and I don’t want to play bad in front of my family because I know I’m [going to] hear about it. And I don’t really like hearing about how bad I played.”
  • Marvin Bagley III said it felt “a little weird” to be back in Detroit less than two weeks after being traded, per Copeland. Bagley had 13 points and eight rebounds today and has scored in double figures in all six of his games with the Wizards. “His energy has been really contagious for us,” Kuzma said. “You just see it with his offensive rebounding, his rebounding skills. I really like him on offense. I think him playing [center], anytime he has situations where he can get downhill and close space on defenders, he’s tough because he’s long, he’s mobile, athletic and skilled, too.” Isaiah Livers, who was acquired from the Pistons in the same deal, missed today’s game with a hip issue.
  • Mark Deeks of HoopsHype lists the Cavaliers, Mavericks, Warriors and Kings as potential destinations for Kuzma if the Wizards decide to trade him before the February 8 deadline.

Southeast Notes: Gafford, Bagley, Murray, Wagner, Okeke

Wizards starting center Daniel Gafford entered the NBA’s concussion protocol this week following a head-on-head collision with Isaiah Stewart on Monday and was unavailable for Thursday’s contest vs. New York, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

Having traded Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari to Detroit, the Wizards had limited options up front with Gafford out. As Alex Schiffer of The Washington Post observes, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. could have opted to go small by starting Bilal Coulibaly or Patrick Baldwin, who had played well as of late, writes Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network.

Instead, newly acquired big man Marvin Bagley III was immediately thrust into the starting lineup at the five and played a team-high 39 minutes in a competitive loss to the Knicks. Bagley impressed in his Wizards debut, racking up 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. He was also a plus-two in a game that Washington lost by four points.

“That’s a heck of a start for him,” Unseld said, per Schiffer. “Played a well-balanced game, offense and defensively. Even things that happened on the fly I thought the group in general helped talk him through situations to keep him organized. That’s growth for us.”

The other player the Wizards acquired from the Pistons, Isaiah Livers, didn’t see the court in his first game with his new team. Livers will have to work his way into the rotation, according to Unseld, who said he expects opportunities to come for the third-year wing.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Within a look at the team’s potential approach to the trade deadline, Ken Sugiura of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution talks to an NBA scout who says the Hawks will likely have to accept the idea of getting less for Dejounte Murray than what they gave up for him in 2022. “The Trae (Young) and Dejounte backcourt has not worked,” the scout said. “And I don’t think they’re going to get what they gave up for him, which puts them in a tough spot. They have to swallow their pride a little bit and take a loss, I think, to move forward.”
  • Zach Kram of The Ringer takes a closer look at Murray’s trade value, noting that various defensive metrics all suggest that the Hawks guard has taken a noticeable step back on that end of the court within the past year or two.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said he expects forward Franz Wagner (right ankle sprain) to be back “sooner than later,” adding that Wagner should resume full-contact work “pretty soon” (Twitter links via Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel). Wagner will miss his eighth consecutive game on Friday vs. Philadelphia.
  • Fourth-year Magic forward Chuma Okeke has been out of the rotation for much of the season, but he has started the past seven games with Wagner and wing Gary Harris sidelined. As Beede writes for The Orlando Sentinel, Okeke has earned praise from his teammates for how he’s adjusted to the increase in his playing time and especially for his performance on defense. “It’s not easy going from not playing to playing and then guarding most of the better players on the court, especially one-on-one,” Caleb Houstan said.

Pistons/Wizards Notes: Morris, Trade, Baldwin, Avdija, Gafford

One of the Pistons‘ primary offseason acquisitions — guard Monte Morris — has yet to play this season. However, he should be back before this month ends, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

A steady veteran, Morris is known for his ability to take care of the ball, which has been Detroit’s biggest weakness this season. In 2022/23, the Michigan native had a 5.3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He has also shot 39.2% from deep in his career, though it’s on fairly low volume (3.1 attempts per game).

Morris has been sidelined by back and quad injuries this season. He’s in the final season of his contract, which will pay him $9.8MM in 2023/24.

Here’s more on the Pistons and Wizards, who made a trade yesterday:

  • Since the Pistons decided to create a traded player exception in Sunday’s deal and operate over the salary cap, they won’t be able to aggregate the salaries of Danilo Gallinari or Mike Muscala in a future trade, notes Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link). Both players can still be traded on their own — they can also be flipped in multi-player deals where their salaries don’t need to be combined with others for matching purposes.
  • Pistons head coach Monty Williams touched on all four players involved in the deal that saw Marvin Bagley III, Isaiah Livers and two second-round picks head to Washington, while Gallinari and Muscala were sent to Detroit, per Sankofa (Twitter link). “I just got to Detroit and I got a chance to be with Bags and Liv for a short period, but those guys were stellar in how they handled their business. … Trades are never easy on either party, especially when you have family,” Williams said. “We do have room for guys like Gallo and Muscala just because they are vets, they understand how to play … we’ll try to figure out their (fit) as we go along.” Williams went on to say that the two veteran big men will be able to space the floor for Detroit, but they’ll probably have to play center due to their lack of defensive mobility, Sankofa adds (via Twitter).
  • Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. praised Gallinari and Muscala, as Sankofa relays (Twitter links). “We’re going to miss their veteran leadership and shooting … they’ll really help the young group,” Unseld said. “They’ve been really good as far as barometers, bringing that experience and perspective to a younger core. Those guys were terrific for us.” Unseld also touched on the additions of Bagley and Livers. “He’s a skilled big,” Unseld said of Bagley. “He can score around the rim, good touch and can expand his range as he gets comfortable … Isaiah’s been a pretty good shooter in his career and has the ability to be a two-way player, has defensive size.”
  • The four players were not cleared to play in time for Monday’s contest, but Bagley and Livers attended the game and watched in owner Ted Leonsis‘ luxury box, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Pistons won the game, snapping their seven-game losing streak.
  • Second-year forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. got some run as a small-ball center on Monday with the Wizards shorthanded and played well in limited minutes, going 3-of-3 from long distance for nine points in 12 minutes, notes Robbins (Twitter links). Baldwin had only played 71 minutes this season leading into the game.
  • The Wizards haven’t had many bright spots this season but the development of Deni Avdija stands out as a positive, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Avdija, who inked a four-year, $55MM rookie scale extension in the offseason (it begins in 2024/25), is averaging career highs in several statistics and has grown as a play-maker, per O’Connor.
  • Wizards center Daniel Gafford sustained a head injury on Monday and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest (Twitter link). Gafford has been mentioned in some trade rumors this season.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Black, Bagley, Livers

The Hornets were expecting to improve once their roster got healthier, but it hasn’t worked out that way, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte dropped its fifth straight game Sunday at Miami and its second since LaMelo Ball returned after missing 20 games with a severely sprained right ankle. The two losses with Ball have been by 36 and 17 points, and the players understand that something has to change.

“I think we are going to talk it over at a players’ only (meeting) and I think we are going to figure it out,” Terry Rozier said, “because as bad as things are going, we are only five, six games behind a (play-in tournament spot). We win the next three, things can turn for us. We’ve just got to believe that as a team and put that effort toward it.”

Postseason talk doesn’t seem realistic for a team with just one victory in its past 17 games. The Hornets are struggling everywhere, as the offense failed to reach 100 points Sunday for the third time in four games and coach Steve Clifford lamented a lack of effort on defense.

“A bunch of stuff is happening,” said P.J. Washington, who was back in the lineup after missing three games with a sprained ankle. “If I had the answers, I feel like things would be different. But for us, we’ve just got to buy into the process and keep trying to get better each and every day and have a better attitude and play more together.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Rookie guard Anthony Black has become the Magic‘s best defender and has gotten used to matching up with elite scorers every night, notes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Black’s 108.1 defensive rating is tops among all rookies who average more than 15 minutes per game and ranks 25th overall in the NBA, according to Beede. “Really just getting more settled in,” Black said. “Game by game, I feel like I’m getting more comfortable and finding my spots — just being aggressive when I’m out there and disrupting the game on defense.”
  • Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Livers will get a chance to prove themselves with the Wizards, but fans shouldn’t expect them to be a lot better than they were in Detroit, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic says in a discussion with Josh Robbins about Sunday’s trade. Edwards views Bagley as a proven low-post scorer with limited impact on defense, while Livers was a huge disappointment as a shooter this season.
  • The Wizards created a $3.5MM trade exception in the deal with the Pistons, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Washington could have structured the trade to create an exception worth $6.8MM, but it would’ve required the team to use an existing $12MM+ TPE.

Southeast Notes: Livers, Bagley, Christopher, Hawks’ Trade Chatter, Washington

The Wizards view Isaiah Livers and Marvin Bagley III as the most important parts of their trade with the Pistons on Sunday, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, rather than the two second-round picks Detroit tossed in to rid itself of Bagley’s contract.

Washngton parted with Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala in the deal. The Wizards are banking on their player development system to get more out of the two forwards they acquired. The team can make Livers a restricted free agent this summer if it likes what it sees from him the rest of the season.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Josh Christopher is joining the Heat’s NBA G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Christopher, who had a two-way contract with the Jazz before he was waived on Monday, appeared in 138 games with Houston from 2021-23 but hasn’t seen any NBA action this season. He has appeared in 18 games (17 starts) for the Jazz’s G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, averaging 17.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in 29.0 minutes per contest.
  • Trae Young and Jalen Johnson are the only players the Hawks are unwilling to trade, John Hollinger of The Athletic confirms. There’s plenty of trade chatter involving Dejounte Murray and they’re also trying to determine the trade value of De’Andre Hunter and Clint Capela. The Hawks could use Murray as means to shed the contract of either Capela or Hunter.
  • Hornets forward P.J. Washington returned to action on Sunday after missing the previous three games with a foot injury. the team’s PR department tweets. Washington, who is averaging 13.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this season, signed a three-year contract over the summer.

Pistons Notes: Bagley, Livers, More Possible Deals, Trade Exception

Ex-Pistons players Marvin Bagley III and Isaiah Livers got news of their trade to Washington in the midst of a Detroit practice. As Mike Curtis of The Detroit News relays (Twitter video link), Bagley and Livers – now members of the Wizards – were filmed bidding their Pistons colleagues farewell.

The duo, along with a pair of second-round draft picks, was shipped out to the Wizards earlier today. Detroit added forwards Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala, while saving considerable coin on Bagley’s contract for 2024/25.

There’s more out of the Motor City:

  • With the trade deadline looming and the Pistons still spiraling at a league-worst 3-36, Omari Sankofa II Detroit Free Press has cooked up several potential trades that could help slightly elevate the club’s dismal 2023/24 season. Sankofa’s piece was published prior to today’s trade, hence the inclusion of Bagley in one of the proposals. Several of the hypothetical moves involve shipping out veterans Bojan Bogdanovic and/or Alec Burks.
  • Today’s trade seems to forecast a change-heavy summer for the Pistons, posits James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Veterans Gallinari and Muscala are both signed to expiring deals, which – along with the expiring salaries of Burks, Joe Harris and Monte Morris – will put Detroit in position to create upwards of $60MM in cap room.
  • Sankofa confirms (via Twitter) that the Pistons generated a $5.7MM trade exception as part of the deal. As Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link) observes, that means Detroit continues to operate as an over-the-cap team, despite its player salaries coming in a little below the $136MM cap.

Wizards Acquire Bagley, Livers From Pistons In Four-Player Trade

2:31pm: The trade is now official, Detroit has announced in a press release (Twitter link).

9:35am: The Pistons will send Marvin Bagley III, Isaiah Livers and two second-round picks to the Wizards in exchange for Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The picks are for 2025 and 2026, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Detroit used some of its draft assets to offload Bagley’s contract, which will pay him $12.5MM next season. The other three players in the trade are all on expiring deals, with Livers at $1.8MM, Gallinari at $6.8MM and Muscala at $3.5MM.

Bagley had been a part-time starter since being acquired from Sacramento at the 2022 trade deadline, but the organization is motivated to create as much cap space as possible in the wake of a disastrous season. Detroit will have 11 impending free agents once the trade is finalized and currently projects to have about $64MM to work with in free agency, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.

This could be the start of a complete overhaul for the 3-36 Pistons heading into the February 8 trade deadline, suggests Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports cites a high-ranking source who tells him the deal is just the “first step” (Twitter link).

There are several options available for the two draft picks in the trade, observes John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link). The 2025 selection could be a return of Washington’s pick, while the 2026 choice could be from Minnesota, New York, New Orleans or Portland.

Bagley, the second overall selection in the 2018 draft, will get a chance to revive his career with another rebuilding team in Washington. Although he was averaging 10.2 points and 4.5 rebounds in 26 games this season, he was an awkward fit for a team that already had Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart and James Wiseman in its big-man rotation.

Livers, a 25-year-old forward, established himself as a rotation player in Detroit after being drafted in the second round in 2021. He averaged 5.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in 23 games this season, but was shooting career lows of 34.5% from the field and 28.6% from three-point range.

Gallinari appeared in 26 games in his first year with the Wizards after sitting out all of last season with a torn ACL. The 35-year-old forward was averaging 7.0 points and 2.9 rebounds in 14.8 minutes per night.

Muscala, 32, was acquired from Boston last summer in the same deal as Gallinari. He averaged 4.0 points and 3.1 rebounds in 24 games in his brief time in Washington.

The Pistons will also create a $5.7MM trade exception in the deal, according to cap expert Yossi Gozlan (Twitter link).

Pistons Bench Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson

The Pistons made a pair of significant lineup changes before their 118-112 loss to the Knicks on Thursday night, benching Jaden Ivey and rookie Ausar Thompson and moving Killian Hayes and Isaiah Livers into their starting lineup. With their 16th straight loss, they became the first team to go winless for an entire month since the 2015 Sixers.

Coach Monty Williams making the decision to bench both Ivey and Thompson is significant. Ivey was a key starter for Detroit last season after being selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 draft, averaging 16.3 points in 73 starts last year.

However, his role has been much more suppressed this year under Williams. His efficiency is up (50.8% from the floor this year entering Thursday compared to 41.6% last season), but he’s only started in five of his 15 appearances and was down to 23.4 minutes per night (from 31.1) entering Thursday.

Ivey didn’t begin the year as a starter, with Hayes taking on that role before relenting it to Ivey over the past five games. Hayes, the No. 7 overall pick in 2020, was averaging 8.5 points and 4.4 assists per game entering Thursday but recorded 23 points on 76.9% shooting against New York.

According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link), Williams said the decision to start Hayes over Ivey came down to him liking Hayes’ ability to allow Cade Cunningham to play off the ball more and he likes how the fourth-year guard can get the team organized.

As for Thompson, he was a full-time starter before his benching Thursday. This year’s No. 5 overall pick has been one of the most impressive rookies this season, averaging 11.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.6 blocks. Livers started in his place, recording six points and four rebounds.

Neither Thompson or Ivey played major roles off the bench on Thursday, with both logging just 13 minutes of game time, though Thompson had five fouls. That marks Ivey’s second-lowest minute total this season and Thompson’s lowest in his young career. Marcus Sasser finished with the most minutes off the bench, recording 17 points.

While losing their 16th straight game is obviously disappointing, the Pistons kept it close with the Knicks and seemed to find something with how they utilized Cunningham, tweets Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press. Cunningham finished with 31 points and eight assists. Mike Curtis of The Detroit News observes that the Pistons’ three-guard lineup of Cunningham, Ivey and Hayes helped kick-start a 13-0 run and when Ivey was subbed out, the Knicks hit back.

We’ll be watching Detroit to see what happens with the team’s young pieces moving forward. So far, their young core hasn’t meshed well and moves could be on the way if their losing ways continue. In the short term, Bojan Bogdanovic is expected back soon, which should help with the Pistons’ spacing issues (they ranked 29th in made threes entering Thursday).