Luguentz Dort

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Dort, Russell, Horton-Tucker

Following Wednesday’s win over Detroit, Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault was asked by Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman how important it is to the team to make the play-in. Daigneault’s response didn’t exactly make it sound as if Oklahoma City is going all-out to secure a top-10 spot in the Western Conference.

“I think if it is an outcome that’s downstream of our process and the way that we’re trying to do things, it would be great, because it would be a marker along the way,” Daigneault said, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter links). “Not so important that it’s gonna distract us from our way of doing things. We need to bet on that day over day over day. We’ve done that for two or three years. That’s what’s put us in a position to compete for the play-in, so for us to abandon that at this point would be hasty.”

The Thunder were projected to finish at or near the bottom of the NBA standings coming into training camp, especially given that No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren had been sidelined with a season-ending injury. As a result, player development rather than short-term success has been the primary goal in OKC this year

Daigneault’s comments suggest player development is still the top priority, but some of the Thunder’s young players – including breakout rookie Jalen Williams – have been so good that the club may still find itself in a play-in game. With five contests left in their season, the Thunder hold the No. 10 seed in the West and hold a one-game lead over the 11th-place Mavericks.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Within a profile on Luguentz Dort, who is in the first season of a five-year contract with Oklahoma City, Jason Quick of The Athletic notes that the Thunder forward drew high praise from Damian Lillard. The Trail Blazers star referred to Dort as the NBA’s best defender. “I think he has the perfect balance of strength, quickness, speed and desire to do it,” Lillard said. “And he’s young. So I just think he is the best at it.” Thunder All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also raved about his teammate, telling Quick that “every team needs a Lu Dort.”
  • As his Lakers prepare for a big game in Minnesota on Friday night, point guard D’Angelo Russell had nothing but praise for his former team and his former city, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune details. Russell was traded from the Timberwolves to L.A. at last month’s deadline. “Fans here were amazing. I have nothing bad to say about Minnesota,” Russell said. “If you’re not here or you haven’t lived here or anything like that, then you’re not aware of how good of a city (Minneapolis) is and a sports town, how committed fans are to their sports, things like that. So the city has a lot to offer. They treated me with great respect.”
  • Talen Horton-Tucker is still learning the ropes at point guard for the Jazz, but he has shown some “undeniable talent” in the process, including on Wednesday when he scored 41 points in 30 minutes in San Antonio, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. “There aren’t that many pure point guards left in the league,” head coach Will Hardy said of Horton-Tucker, who holds an $11MM player option for 2023/24. “Talen is dynamic. He knows how to run pick and roll. He has to know how to react when teams play him differently. He has to know to get off the ball when teams give him a lot of attention. But he’s very talented.”

21 More NBA Players Become Trade-Eligible

Today is Sunday, January 15, which means that nearly two dozen players who signed free agent contracts meeting specific criteria this past offseason are now eligible to be traded.

Most offseason signees became trade-eligible on December 15, but players who met the following criteria were ineligible to be moved for an extra month:

  1. The player re-signed with his previous team.
  2. He got a raise of at least 20%.
  3. His salary is worth more than the minimum.
  4. His team was over the cap and used Bird or Early Bird rights to sign him.

The following players met that criteria and are eligible to be traded as of Sunday:

(* Players marked with an asterisk have the ability to veto trades.)

Most of the players on NBA rosters are now eligible to be moved, though a small handful still can’t be dealt. That group includes Thunder guard Isaiah Joe, who becomes trade-eligible on Monday, Bucks swingman Pat Connaughton (trade-eligible on Wednesday), and Thunder forward Kenrich Williams (trade-eligible on Friday).

There are also several players who won’t become trade-eligible before this season’s February 9 deadline, including Lakers star LeBron James. Players on 10-day contracts are also ineligible to be dealt.

Scotto’s Latest: LaVine, Mavs, Heat, Dort, Raptors

Rival executives believe the Knicks, Mavericks, Lakers, and Heat would be among the most likely suitors for Zach LaVine if the Bulls were to make him available prior to this season’s February 9 trade deadline, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on the latest episode of HoopsHype’s podcast. However, with Chicago still hanging onto the 10th seed in the East despite a disappointing first half (17-21), there’s no indication that the team is on the verge of becoming a seller.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • The Mavericks owe their 2023 first-round pick to New York, but control all their future picks and could theoretically move one or more at the trade deadline. However, Scotto has heard the Mavs will be reluctant to give up a first-rounder unless it’s for a player they believe can help make them a title contender this season.
  • Rival executives are keeping a close eye on the Heat as a team that may be active before the deadline, says Scotto. After finishing with the East’s best record in 2021/22, Miami is just 20-19 so far this season and holds the No. 8 seed. The team never really replaced P.J. Tucker after he departed in free agency and should have some tradable contracts, especially after Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon become movable on January 15 (though Oladipo will have veto power).
  • Luguentz Dort is another player who will become trade-eligible on January 15, but don’t expect him to be mentioned in any rumors this season, according to Scotto, who says the Thunder view him as a part of the team’s long-term future alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • Some people around the league believe the Raptors will be more active in trade talks beginning in mid-January, Scotto says. Toronto may have a better sense by then of which direction the team’s season is headed.

Northwest Notes: Markkanen, Porter, Cancar, Pokusevski, Dort

Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen hasn’t missed a game during his breakout season. That could change on Monday. Markkanen is listed as questionable to play against Chicago due to a right knee contusion.

Markkanen has been a find for the Jazz, averaging 21.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game after being acquired in the Donovan Mitchell blockbuster with Cleveland.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is listed as doubtful to play on Monday due to a left heel contusion, the team tweets. “Right now it’s just real painful for Michael, so he’ll come back and he’ll play when he feels like he’s able to go out there and do his job effectively,” coach Michael Malone told Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Porter has already missed the last two games.
  • Vlatko Cancar is making a case for a Nuggets rotation spot with his play at both ends of the floor, Singer writes in a separate story. Cancar is averaging 11.8 points in 18.5 minutes over the past four games. “Sometimes I can score 20 points, sometimes I can score two points,” he said. “As long as I’m doing the right things on the court to help my team win, I think that’s most important.”
  • Starters Aleksej Pokusevski and Luguentz Dort felt the wrath of Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault in the team’s loss to Houston on Saturday. Pokusevski played just nine minutes and Dort saw a season-low 14 minutes of action, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman notes. “I just thought our overall team energy wasn’t where it needed to be, especially to start the game,” Daigneault said. “When that happens, we have a lot of guys that we want to play. I use those opportunities to try to get different guys out there.”

Northwest Notes: SGA, Dort, K. Williams, Wolves, Edwards, Jazz

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who missed the team’s entire six-game preseason schedule due to Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, is on track to be available for the regular season opener on Wednesday in Minnesota, head coach Mark Daigneault told reporters on Sunday (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman).

It’s good news for the Thunder and for Gilgeous-Alexander, who has missed significant time in each of the last two seasons because of injuries, including the last 10 games of 2021/22 due to a right ankle issue.

Luguentz Dort (left quad contusion) and Kenrich Williams (right groin strain) also should be available for the Thunder in the first game of the regular season, Daigneault said today (Twitter link via Mussatto).

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • With Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns sharing the court on the first time in Friday’s preseason finale, the Timberwolves looked very much like a group that had yet to play together, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who writes that “the lane was clogged, the ball movement was non-existent and shots were clanking.” However, as Krawczynski outlines, the Wolves know integrating Gobert and the other new players on the roster will take some time and weren’t discouraged by the early returns. “I thought it was good at times, bad at times,” Gobert said after the game. “But I think that’s the fun of it.”
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune takes an in-depth look at Anthony Edwards‘ intense offseason training regimen and explores how that work might translate to the court in the Timberwolves guard’s third NBA season. While much of the focus will be on Gobert’s impact, Edwards’ ability to continue taking his game to new levels may determine how high Minnesota’s ceiling rises.
  • The Jazz issued a press release on Friday announces several new hires and promotions within the team’s basketball operations department. Most notably, Bart Taylor was named Utah’s vice president of player personnel, while Marquis Newman‘s is now director of pro personnel for the Jazz and general manager of the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s G League affiliate.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Dort, Alexander-Walker, Hyland

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns is back in practice after being hospitalized for a non-COVID illness, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Anthony-Towns still hasn’t fully recovered his voice and will be eased back into action, but expects to be ready for the season opener.

“I’m still recovering, I’m still getting better,” Towns said. ” I know it sounds weird I’m talking like this, but this is as loud as I can get. This is as much as I could give you.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder guard Luguentz Dort sustained a concussion during Sunday’s practice and has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol, according to a team press release. Dort, who was limited to 51 games last season, signed a five-year, $87.5MM contract in July and projects as the team’s starting small forward.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker appeared in 15 games with the Jazz last season after being acquired in a three-team deal. He has made a strong impression early in training camp as he attempts to solidify a rotation spot, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. Alexander-Walker, who could be a restricted free agent next summer, believes his development has been stalled by playing under different systems. “It’s hard to develop under five different coaches in four years … I think it’s safe to say that in all four years I’ve had a different role and it’s not always clear what that role is,” he said. “I’m still trying to understand that and understand how I can get better.”
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone wasn’t happy with the performance of Bones Hyland in Monday’s preseason opener, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post“Bones has to do a better job of running his team, and when things aren’t going your way, keep playing,” Malone said. “I thought he took some plays off, which is unacceptable.” Hyland took the criticism well. “He came in here (for Tuesday’s practice) ready to work, ready to get better, and he owned it,” Malone said. “He didn’t come in here feeling sorry for himself. That’s a big step for him.”

Contract Details: Rubio, Bol, Dort, Boucher

The Cavaliers will use a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Ricky Rubio, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Rubio has agreed to a three-year, $18.4MM contract to return to Cleveland.

Rubio, who suffered a torn ACL in late December, finished the season with the Pacers. The Cavs’ front office explored the possibility of a sign-and-trade with the Pacers but couldn’t come to an agreement, Fedor explains.

Here are a few more contract-related notes from around the league:

  • The second year of Bol Bol‘s contract with the Magic is a team option, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. According to Spotrac, Bol Bol’s two-year deal is a minimum-salary contract worth a total of $3,968,718.
  • The unlikely bonuses in Luguentz Dort‘s contract with the Thunder are for making the All-Defensive Team and the Defensive Player of the Year award, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (video link). Those bonuses are worth $1MM annually. The five-year deal has a total base value of $82.5MM.
  • Chris Boucher‘s three-year, $35.2MM contract with the Raptors is fully guaranteed, Marks tweets. The first year of the contract is worth $12.7MM and his cap hits decline over the following two seasons.

Contract Details: Monk, Bucks, Edwards, Dort, Jones

Malik Monk‘s two-year deal with the Kings is worth approximately $19.42MM in total, with a first-year salary of $9.47MM, Hoops Rumors has learned. While Sacramento used most of the mid-level exception to bring Monk aboard, the team still has $1,017,781 left on the MLE, which is the exact value of the rookie minimum salary.

The Kings didn’t have a second-round pick in this year’s draft, so that leftover mid-level money won’t go to a 2022 draftee. But the club may have it earmarked for a player like Sasha Vezenkov, a 2017 second-rounder whose draft rights were acquired from Cleveland last month. Using that leftover mid-level money, Sacramento could offer Vezenkov – or another player – a minimum-salary deal that exceeds two years.

Here are a few more details on recently-signed contracts from around the NBA:

  • As expected, Joe Ingles got the full taxpayer mid-level exception ($6.48MM) from the Bucks, while Bobby Portis‘s four-year deal is worth the most he could receive using his Early Bird rights ($48.58MM), Hoops Rumors has learned. Portis’ contract includes a 15% trade kicker and a fourth-year player option.
  • Wesley Matthews‘ new deal with the Bucks is a one-year, minimum-salary contract, while the team used Jevon Carter‘s Non-Bird rights to give him a first-year salary ($2.1MM) worth a little more than his minimum ($1.97MM). Carter’s second-year player option is for the veteran’s minimum.
  • Kessler Edwards‘ two-year deal with the Nets, which features a second-year team option, is – as expected – worth the minimum.
  • Luguentz Dort‘s five-year contract with the Thunder includes a team option in year five and has a total base value of $82.5MM. It can be worth up to $87.5MM if Dort earns $5MM in total unlikely bonuses ($1MM annually), tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
  • Tyus Jones‘ two-year deal with the Grizzlies begins at $15MM and declines to $14MM in 2023/24, per Marks (Twitter link). The deal includes an additional $1MM in unlikely incentives related to the team’s performance, Marks adds.

Luguentz Dort Re-Signs With Thunder On Five-Year Deal

JULY 6: Dort’s new deal with the Thunder is now official, the team announced in a press release.

JUNE 30: The Thunder are re-signing restricted free agent Luguentz Dort to a five-year, $87.5MM contract, Dort’s agent Thad Foucher tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

The barrel-chested Dort, who turned 23 in April, has showed continuous improvement after going undrafted out of Arizona State in 2019. He averaged 6.8 PPG and 2.3 RPG on .394/.297/.792 shooting in 36 games (22.8 MPG) as a rookie, with those averages increasing to 14 PPG and 3.6 RPG on .387/.343/.744 shooting in 2020/21 (52 games, 29.7 MPG).

Dort averaged 17.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG on .404/.332/.843 shooting in 51 games (32.6 MPG) last season. His shooting numbers seem fairly mediocre, but the majority of Dort’s shots come from three or at the rim, and he gets to the line a good amount, so his 54.1% true shooting percentage is actually decent.

Dort’s hallmark comes on the defensive end of the court, where his strength, toughness and versatility really shine. He’s an excellent athlete with a strong frame (6’3″, 215 pounds) and is capable of switching across multiple positions.

A report last week indicated that Oklahoma City would pick up Dort’s team option for ’22/23, which would have made him an unrestricted free agent in 2023, but clearly they had a change of heart after examining the amount of salary cap space rival teams will have next summer. Instead the Thunder chose to decline the option, making him a restricted free agent.

The modern NBA is dominated by wings capable of playing both sides of the ball, so his contract aligns with the value teams place on players of his mold. Considering his trajectory and the fact that he’s only entering his fourth season, there’s a good chance that it will be a very reasonable deal for both sides for years to come.

Thunder’s Luguentz Dort To Become Restricted Free Agent

The Thunder are declining the $1,930,681 team option on Luguentz Dort, making him a restricted free agent, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link).

A report last week indicated that Oklahoma City would pick up the option, with GM Sam Presti telling Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman that was the likely outcome.

“Obviously it’s our plan to exercise that pending anything different,” Presti said.

Evidently Presti has reevaluated that decision, which isn’t very surprising considering Dort would have drawn considerable interest on the open market as an unrestricted free agent in 2023. Declining the option and making him restricted gives the Thunder the ability to match any offer sheet he receives in a free agent market where not many teams have cap space.

The barrel-chested Dort, who turned 23 in April, has showed continuous improvement after going undrafted out of Arizona State in 2019. He averaged 17.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG on .404/.332/.843 shooting in 51 games (32.6 MPG) last season while playing solid, switchable defense.

Given his rate of improvement and the NBA’s ever-growing need for wings who can contribute on both ends of the court, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Dort sign a contract in the range of $15-20MM annually. Dort is ranked No. 9 on our list of top 50 free agents.