Lester Quinones

Warriors Promote Lester Quinones To 15-Man Roster

February 22: Quinones has officially been converted to a standard contract, the Warriors announced (via Twitter).


February 20: The Warriors plan to convert two-way guard Lester Quinones to a standard NBA contract, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter). The contract is expected to be signed Thursday, Wojnarowski adds.

Quinones has been with Golden State for the last two seasons. He has appeared in 19 NBA contests this season, averaging 4.8 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 12.9 minutes per game.

Quinones has played regularly off the bench this month, averaging 7.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 19.6 minutes per night. He hasn’t been inactive or registered a DNP-CD since January 27.

The Warriors had only 13 players on the 15-man roster entering the All-Star break and needed to add at least one more by Thursday. Golden State got down to 13 by trading Cory Joseph. After officially promoting Quinones, Golden State will have another two-way slot available.

Quinones was signed to a two-way deal late last season and re-signed in July. He was the named the 2023 Most Improved Player in the NBA G League when he averaged 21.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists for Santa Cruz.

Several Two-Way Players Nearing Active Game Limit

A player who signs a two-way contract with an NBA team is permitted to be active for up to 50 regular season games. That limit is prorated if the player signed his two-way deal after the regular season got underway — for instance, a player who finalized a two-way contract halfway through the season would be permitted to be active for up to 25 contests at the NBA level.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Two-Way Contract]

Several two-way players have been promoted to standard contracts recently, eliminating those games-played limits. GG Jackson (Grizzlies), Keon Ellis (Kings), Lindy Waters III (Thunder), Craig Porter Jr. (Cavaliers), Duop Reath (Trail Blazers), and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Pelicans) have all signed new deals since the trade deadline.

However, there are still a number of players on two-way contracts around the league who are at or near their active-game limit for the season. Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link) identifies Celtics big man Neemias Queta, Mavericks guard Brandon Williams, Grizzlies guard Jacob Gilyard, and Hornets teammates Leaky Black and Nathan Mensah as two-way players who have 10 or fewer active games left, while Hawks guard Trent Forrest has already reached his 50-game limit.

In some cases, promotions to the standard roster may be forthcoming. Queta, for instance, has been a semi-regular contributor off the bench for the Celtics, who have an open spot on their 15-man roster, so if Boston wants to make him playoff-eligible and ensure he’s able to be active for the rest of the regular season, a contract conversion would be pretty straightforward.

Other cases could be trickier. While the Hawks would presumably like to have Forrest available for the rest of the season, they have a full 15-man roster, so they’d have to waive someone to make room to promote him.

Atlanta at least has some viable release candidates on its roster — for instance, veterans Patty Mills and Wesley Matthews haven’t played much and aren’t owed guaranteed money beyond this season. But that’s not the case in Memphis, where Gilyard has made a strong case for a promotion from his two-way deal by averaging 4.7 points and 3.5 assists in 37 games (17.7 MPG), with a .425 3PT%.

The Grizzlies have already promoted Jackson and Vince Williams from two-way contracts and may not have any expendable players left on their 15-man roster who could be cut to make room for Gilyard. Luke Kennard ($14.8MM team option for 2024/25) and Lamar Stevens (unrestricted free agent this summer) are the only Grizzlies not owed any guaranteed money after this season, and both are playing rotation roles for the banged-up club.

“We’ll see what happens when the time comes,” Gilyard said of his uncertain situation, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “As a basketball player, it’s definitely on your mind. I try not to let it affect me. I think that’s probably the worst part about being a point guard is you start to understand things and start to grasp things like that.”

“It’s kind of a juggling act,” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said of working within those active-game limits for his two-way players, including Gilyard and Scotty Pippen Jr. “It’s hard to make those decisions, trying to preserve those dates. (Pippen’s) understood it. I was very upfront with him when he came in, (general manager) Zach (Kleiman) and myself. I think when he came in, we were maybe on the 40-game mark, but he didn’t have 40 games available, so it’s very unfortunate.

“Maybe it’s something that we look into as a league because I think he’s earned the opportunity to play every single night. We just have to balance the games he actually has available to him.”

Besides those players who are approaching their games-played limits, there are a few others on two-way contracts around the league who look like candidates to be promoted to standard rosters before the end of the regular season. Nets forward Jalen Wilson and Warriors guard Lester Quinones are among those who were playing regularly for their respective clubs leading up to the All-Star break.

Promoting a player to a standard contract would open up a two-way slot for his team, allowing that club to reset its active-game counter for that slot — at least to some extent. Due to the prorated nature of those game limits, a player who signs a two-way contract today could only be active for up to 16 games the rest of the way, but that’s 16 more games than, say, Forrest is eligible to play for the Hawks as long as he remains on his current two-way deal.

Teams have until March 4 to sign players to two-way contracts, so I expect to see a good deal of roster activity related to two-way slots within the next couple weeks.

Warriors Notes: Wiggins, Quinones, Kuminga, Thompson, Green, Paul, Payton

Andrew Wiggins got his wish to stay with the Warriors past the trade deadline, so now he has to prove the team made the correct choice, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Golden State delayed its toughest roster decisions until the summer, Thompson notes, and one of them will surely involve Wiggins, who was spectacular during the run to the 2022 title, but has played a significant role in the team’s failure to meet expectations this season.

The Warriors were barely active at the deadline, with their only move being a trade of Cory Joseph and cash to Indiana for a second-round pick. Thompson points out that they didn’t acquire another wing, a rim protector or a reliable scorer to take some of the burden off Stephen Curry, which means Wiggins will be counted on to contribute in all those areas.

Wiggins was the subject of trade chatter heading into the deadline, and he understood there was a significant possibility that he might be moved. After a disastrous start to the season, he gave the front office a reason to hold onto him with improved play of late, Thompson adds, noting that Wiggins is back in the starting lineup and the unit that coach Steve Kerr uses to close out games.

“At one point,” Wiggins said, “I told myself, ‘It can’t get no worse than this. Keep swinging and you’re gonna get out of it. Sometimes in the NBA, in basketball itself, it can be a roller coaster. Roller coaster of emotions, doubt, uncertainty. But it can also be great things, success. It’s a roller coaster. I’m glad I’m feeling better. On the court, I’m in a greater rhythm.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Two-way player Lester Quinones looks like a strong candidate to have his contract converted and fill the roster opening left by Joseph, according to Andrew Slater of The Athletic. Quinones played regular minutes during the team’s five-game road trip, and Kerr cited the energy and ball pressure he brings to the defense.
  • The Warriors reportedly refused to part with Jonathan Kuminga in trade talks with the Bulls regarding Alex Caruso, and Slater asked general manager Mike Dunleavy if Kuminga is considered untouchable. “Virtually,” Dunleavy said. “I mean, as untouchable as guys can be in this league. He’s certainly at that level. I didn’t see a scenario where Jonathan wouldn’t be on our team after this deadline.”
  • Dunleavy also didn’t rule out the possibility of eventually trading Klay Thompson or Draymond Green despite their role in winning four NBA titles, Slater states in the same piece. “You know, for me personally in this situation, I’m always going to do what’s best for the organization moving forward,” Dunleavy said. “Based on that, that’s how we’re going to operate — whether it’s this deadline, this summer, in the future.”
  • Chris Paul‘s $30MM non-guaranteed contract for next season will give the front office plenty of flexibility this summer, Slater adds. The Warriors can either let Paul go, try to re-sign him at a lower price or work out a trade in which they would guarantee the amount of salary they’re taking back.
  • Gary Payton II, who has been sidelined since January 2 with a strained left hamstring, will return on Saturday, tweets Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Kerr told reporters that Payton won’t be on a set minutes restriction.

Klay Thompson Discusses Latest Fourth Quarter Benching

Longtime Warriors star Klay Thompson sat out the final 7:19 of Golden State’s victory over Brooklyn on Monday, marking the second time in the past three games that he has been on the bench down the stretch in non-garbage-time minutes.

Thompson was part of the Warriors’ closing lineup on Saturday in Atlanta, but didn’t play the final 7:40 of Friday’s win over Memphis and was benched on Monday in favor of rookie Gui Santos, who had his best game as a pro in logging a career-high 18 minutes.

Asked after Monday’s win about his changing role and the fact that he’s no longer on a lock to be part of Golden State’s crunch-time lineup, Thompson said that winning is the most important thing, but admitted the adjustment hasn’t been easy, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“Yeah, you kidding me?” Thompson said. “To go from, you know, one of the best players … it’s hard for anybody. I’ll be honest with you. It’s very hard.”

A five-time All-Star who led the NBA in three-pointers last season, Thompson is making 37.1% of his attempts from beyond the arc in 2023/24. That’s a solid rate for many players, but for Thompson, it represents a career low. Additionally, his 17.1 points per game are the fewest he has averaged since 2012/13.

“He’s fine,” head coach Steve Kerr said on Monday, according to Bontemps. “This is a season where he’s had a lot of ups and downs. It’s not easy for a guy who’s been so good and a Hall of Fame player to deal with the injuries and … it’s never easy for any player, getting older. (But) he’s mentally tough.”

Kerr added that, while there’s a “spotlight” on Thompson because of his career résumé, the story on Monday should be about how well role players like Santos, Moses Moody, and Lester Quinones performed off the bench to help the Warriors secure a road win. Thompson highlighted those performances by his teammates in explaining why he’s trying not to let his late-game benching bother him.

“I’ve accepted it,” Thompson said. “You can be mad. But I’m not going to be mad. I’m happy for these young guys. Yeah, we won. It’s hard to get wins in this league. … It’s all good. These guys played great. Gui played great. BP (Brandin Podziemski). Jonathan (Kuminga). At the end of the day, winning trumps all.”

Thompson is on an expiring contract and his name has popped up occasionally in the rumor mill leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently reported the Warriors have no interest in moving the veteran sharpshooter.

Slater expressed a belief last month that Golden State will ultimately work out a new contract with Thompson, who reportedly turned down a two-year extension offer from the team prior to the season.

Three Candidates To Be Promoted From Two-Way Contracts

While there is still a bit of time before NBA training camps open, we have a good idea of what most team rosters will look like to begin the season. As we recently detailed, 70 of the league’s 90 available two-way contracts are currently filled. Since those players only have $75K in guaranteed money, however, teams have plenty of flexibility to make changes, whether those come in the form of cuts or promotions to standard deals.

Since the inception of the two-way contract in 2017, dozens of players have been called up from two-way deals to standard contracts. Players like Paul Reed, Chris Boucher and Alex Caruso are among the players to cash in their two-way deals into big standard contracts with their impressive play and development over time. The Heat made waves in the 2023 NBA Finals when several rotation players on their team made big contributions, many of whom spent time on two-way deals, including Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin.

While the Heat are an extreme case of two-way players becoming highly paid standard contract players, more and more teams seem to be recognizing the value of these developmental spots. Almost every team currently has a G League affiliate and those who don’t have committed to adding one. And this year, the NBA increased two-way contract spots from two per team to three, creating 30 new roster spots.

As noted above, teams are still figuring out what to do with those spots, but there are currently players signed to two-way deals who seem poised to continue the trend of promotions making an impact. With that said, here are three prime candidates to be elevated from their two-way deals to standard contracts sometime during the ’23/24 season, whether or not it happens during the preseason process.

Lester Quinones

Quinones wasn’t on many public top 100 big boards ahead of the 2022 NBA draft, so it was a mild surprise to see him signed to a two-way contract right after the draft. Though he was signed, Quinones was an example of a two-way player getting shuffled around in the preseason, and he ended up getting cut before the season began.

More roster shuffling occurred in March and Quinones penned a 10-day deal before being signed to a two-way deal to close out the year. During the time in between, the Memphis product put up terrific numbers for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League, averaging 20.2 points in the regular season and showcase and he shot 37.5% from deep on 7.7 attempts. Quinones continued dominating in the summer during Las Vegas Summer League where he averaged 21.2 points and 5.2 assists. The Warriors re-signed Quinones to another two-way deal in late July.

The Warriors have a ton of roster flexibility moving forward. They have just 13 players signed to standard deals and only Quinones occupies a two-way deal. Preseason and training camp seems like an ample opportunity for the 6’5″ guard to reverse his fortunes from a year ago and get promoted to the main roster.

Lindell Wigginton

Like Quinones, Wigginton is a guy who has been lost in Milwaukee’s back-end roster shuffling. Wigginton has been in Milwaukee’s system for two seasons, playing for the Bucks on a two-way deal in 2021/22, not being re-signed, then later being added to another two-way deal at the end of the ’22/23 season.

Wigginton averaged 19.2 points and 5.9 assists last season in the G League across 38 regular season and Showcase Cup games. The 6’2″ lead guard also has 26 games of NBA experience (one start), holding averages of 5.0 points and 1.4 assists.

The Bucks don’t have a logical way to add Wigginton to their main roster before the ’23/24 season begins. Their 15-man roster is set and a trade or cut prior to the season doesn’t seem likely. If the Bucks make a move at the trade deadline, Wigginton could be a logical option to call up if Milwaukee sends out more than they take in. If not, it’s entirely possible the Bucks sign the Iowa State alum to a standard deal in the offseason, much like they did with A.J. Green this year.

Jamal Cain

As we mentioned, Heat players have historically been elevated from two-way contracts. In fact, they’ve promoted a two-way player to a standard deal in every year (or following offseason) since their inception in 2017 (Derrick Jones in ’17/18; Robinson in ’18/19; Chris Silva in ’19/20; Vincent and Strus in ’20/21; Martin in ’21/22; and Orlando Robinson in ’22/23). Cain is the next logical candidate for a promotion.

Cain was reportedly waiting for a standard contract offer before ultimately re-signing with the Heat on a two-way deal earlier this month. The Oakland product impressed last season, averaging 5.4 points in 18 NBA games and 20.5 points in 25 G League games last year.

The Heat are still waiting on the Damian Lillard situation to shake out, but they still only have 13 players signed to standard deals. Miami needs to sign a 14th player prior to the season and Cain would be a logical option if a Lillard trade doesn’t materialize before then. If not, it seems likely they’ll bring him up at some point during the season.

International Notes: Towns, Hollis-Jefferson, Cleveland, Holland

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns announced on Instagram that he will compete for the Dominican Republic in next month’s FIBA World Cup, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune relays.

As Hine notes, Towns’ late mother was from the Caribbean country. The national team’s preliminary roster, which includes Towns, features a handful of other players with varying levels of NBA experience, including Al Horford, Chris Duarte, Lester Quinones and Justin Minaya.

Towns last competed for the senior national team in 2013 during the AmeriCup tournament, according to FIBA. The president of the Dominican basketball federation previously expressed optimism that Towns would suit up for the World Cup, which begins August 25.

Here are some more international notes:

  • Former NBA forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is in the process of obtaining Jordanian citizenship in order to play for Jordan’s national team at the World Cup, according to Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops.net. Hollis-Jefferson, 28, played for the Nets, Raptors and Trail Blazers over the course of his six NBA seasons, holding career averages of 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game.
  • Antonius Cleveland has inked a two-year deal with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, per a team press release (hat tip to Sportando). Cleveland split last season playing for teams in Australia and Israel. The 29-year-old holds 28 games of NBA experience over two seasons with the Mavericks and Hawks.
  • John Holland, who spent 14 months and played 25 games with the Cavaliers from 2017-18, has signed with Israel’s Hapoel Tel Aviv, the team announced in a press release. The 34-year-old swingman is a well-traveled veteran, having played for teams in France, Spain, Turkey, Russia and most recently Serbia (Crvena Zvedza) over the course of his career.

Lester Quinones Accepts Two-Way Offer From Warriors

JULY 23: Quinones’ new two-way deal is official, according to NBA.com’s transaction log.


JULY 21: Lester Quinones will remain with the Warriors on a two-way contract, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. He will be given a “strong opportunity” to earn a standard deal in training camp, Charania adds.

The 22-year-old guard signed a two-way deal with Golden State last summer after going undrafted out of Memphis. He appeared in just four NBA games as a rookie, spending most of his time in the G League.

Quinones was a standout with the Warriors’ Summer League team, averaging 21.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists in seven games between Las Vegas and the California Classic.

Golden State extended a two-way qualifying offer to Quinones in late June. That offer gives the player an option to return to his team on a two-way contract for another season with a small guarantee.

The Warriors don’t have any two-way players currently under contract, so they will still have two spots open once Quinones’ deal becomes official.

And-Ones: Towns, Smith, George, Moneke

The President of the Dominican Basketball Federation, Rafael Uribe, says there’s a “90 percent” chance that Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns will play in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, Hoops Hype relays. The Dominican team also has several other NBA performers. Lester Quinones, Justin Minaya and Chris Duarte will be part of the Dominican squad that will play a warm-up match against the University of Memphis on August 2, Diamante Deportivo tweets.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Jabari Smith‘s scoring explosion was one of the notable developments in the Summer League, The Athletic’s John Hollinger writes in a recap of this month’s action. The Rockets’ second-year forward scored 71 points in his 64 summer minutes, signaling that he could be a breakout performer next season after struggling through his rookie campaign.
  • In a similar story, ESPN’s Insiders take a closer look at the Summer League’s surprises and disappointments. Kendra Andrews and Tim Bontemps both note that Jazz rookie Keyonte George, the 16th overall pick, was a standout.
  • Former NBA forward Chima Moneke has finalized a two-year agreement with Spain’s Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, according to BasketNews.com. Moneke played with AC Monaco last season after a stint with the Kings. Moneke appeared in two NBA games before Sacramento waived him in January.

12 Two-Way Restricted Free Agents Remain Unsigned

The action on the NBA’s free agent market has slowed since the start of July, but there are still many FAs seeking new deals, including a notable group of under-the-radar players whose situations will need to be resolved in the coming days, weeks, and months.

A total of 12 two-way restricted free agents are still available, as our up-to-date list shows. Those players are as follows:

That group doesn’t include a 13th player, Neemias Queta, who is also a restricted free agent after finishing last season on a two-way deal. Although he remains eligible to sign another two-way contract, Queta was ineligible for a two-way qualifying offer after having played on a two-way with the Kings for consecutive seasons — his QO is a one-year, minimum-salary contract with a small ($75K) partial guarantee.

For the rest of these players, their qualifying offer is simply another one-year, two-way deal, which limits their leverage to negotiate a more lucrative standard contract.

Some two-way RFAs have managed to earn standard deals this offseason. A.J. Green of the Bucks was one. Julian Champagnie of the Spurs was another. Ty Jerome (Warriors) and Jack White (Nuggets) received standard contract offers from the Cavaliers and Thunder, respectively, that their former teams were unwilling to match, so Golden State and Denver simply withdrew their respective qualifying offers, making Jerome and White unrestricted free agents.

Offer sheets for two-way restricted free agents essentially never happen though. And in general, unless a team has earmarked a 15-man roster spot for a two-way free agent, it’s an uphill battle for these players to earn offseason promotions.

As a result, the majority of the dozen restricted free agents listed above will likely end up accepting their qualifying offers and hoping that their play in 2023/24 forces their clubs to find 15-man roster spots for them later in the season.

Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on this group to see if any of them can do better than another two-way — and to see how long some of them might be willing to wait in the hope of earning that opportunity.

Warriors Notes: Open Roster Spots, Gay, Quinones, Centers, Martin

Although the Warriors aren’t closing the door on the possibility of filling all 15 slots on their standard roster to open the 2023/24 season, the team seems unlikely to carry more than 14, says Anthony Slater of The Athletic. That means that once the Dario Saric signing is official, Golden State will probably just have one standard roster spot left to fill.

There’s no rush to add a 14th man though, according to Slater, who explains that the club already addressed its top two offseason priorities by adding a steady veteran guard (Cory Joseph) and a frontcourt player who can shoot (Saric). Slater expects the Warriors to exercise patience from here on out rather than looking to sign another player right away.

As Slater observes, there are already a few buyout candidates on rosters around the NBA, and more could emerge if certain star trade candidates get moved and roster shake-ups occur. The Warriors may be reluctant to commit a guaranteed contract to a 14th player without knowing which other veterans will reach free agency.

Slater identifies veteran forward Rudy Gay as one player worth keeping an eye on, since the Warriors have had interest in him in the past. He’s being traded from Atlanta to Oklahoma City, and the Thunder seem unlikely to hang onto him due to his age (37 next month) and a roster crunch in OKC.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Slater hears from team sources that Golden State would also be OK with the idea of making the 14th roster spot available in a training camp competition. If the club puts that spot up for grabs, it might make Lester Quinones more inclined to accept his two-way qualifying offer, recognizing that he’d have an opportunity to earn a promotion to the standard roster before the season begins, Slater writes.
  • While the Warriors don’t appear to be in love with any of the free agent centers currently on the market, they’re certainly not opposed to adding another player at that spot. According to Slater, the team looked into veteran bigs like Mason Plumlee or Alex Len early in free agency before both players re-signed with their respective teams.
  • General manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. confirmed on Monday that the team is open to adding another center, either using a standard roster spot or a two-way slot. However, Dunleavy cautioned that it’s hard to find big men who fit the Warriors’ system and stressed that they don’t just want “somebody who’s tall” (Twitter video link via Slater). “We’ve got to be careful with the way we play, the way the league works,” Dunleavy said. “… You’ve gotta be skilled. You’ve gotta have feel. You’ve gotta know how to play.”
  • The Warriors looked into the idea of trading for Kenyon Martin Jr. before Houston sent him to the Clippers, league and team sources tell Slater. Golden State has a trade exception that would have fit Martin without any outgoing salary required, but those negotiations never reached the final stages.