Mamadi Diakite

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Jeffries, Diakite, Walker, Dinwiddie

The Celtics’ bench has turned into a strength during their current hot streak, Jay King of The Athletic writes.

Over the last nine games, Payton Pritchard has averaged 13.9 points and 5.8 assists per game while shooting 47.0% from the field. Meanwhile, Sam Hauser has made 21 three-pointers over his past three games entering Monday’s action. Al Horford, Luke Kornet, Xavier Tillman and Oshae Brissett have also delivered impactful performances.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • DaQuan Jeffries’ contract with the Knicks, which he signed on Monday, runs through the end of this season with a team option for 2024/25, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. Mamadi Diakite’s contract with the Knicks, also signed on Monday, runs through next season too, but the 2024/25 salary is non-guaranteed rather than a team option, Katz adds (Twitter link).
  • Lonnie Walker‘s minutes have dropped since Kevin Ollie was named the Nets’ interim coach but he’s trying to keep a positive attitude, according to “I don’t think it negatively affects me. You might have your ups and downs, your days where you might not feel as much,” Walker said. “But for the most part, I got a great family around me that really supports me and I understand that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.” Walker will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie was given very little leeway by former Nets coach Jacque Vaughn before he was dealt and later joined the Lakers, according to Shams Charania. Speaking on the Run It Back program (video link), Charania said Dinwiddie “was essentially told in Brooklyn: No pick and rolls, no isolations.”

Knicks Re-Sign DaQuan Jeffries, Mamadi Diakite

3:21pm: Both deals run through the end of the season, confirms Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

2:59pm: The Knicks have re-signed swingman DaQuan Jeffries and forward Mamadi Diakite, according to a pair of press releases from the club (Twitter links).

Jeffries and Diakite had been on 10-day contracts with New York, which expired over the weekend. Today’s announcements don’t provide any details on their new agreements, but Jeffries wasn’t eligible to sign another 10-day pact with the Knicks, and there’s no indication in the release that Diakite’s new deal is another 10-day.

Unless we hear otherwise, we’re assuming both players received rest-of-season commitments, filling New York’s two open roster spots and giving the team a full 15-man squad.

Jeffries spent much of the past two seasons under contract with the Knicks on various two-way, 10-day, and non-guaranteed deals. He didn’t play at all at the NBA level last season, but has seen a little action in 13 games in 2023/24, registering 11 points and five rebounds in 34 total minutes.

Diakite, meanwhile, appeared in three NBA games earlier this season while on a two-way deal with San Antonio and has also suited up for the Bucks, Thunder, and Cavaliers since making his NBA debut in 2021. He was waived by the Spurs on March 2, so he wouldn’t be eligible to play for the Knicks in the postseason if he signed a rest-of-season deal.

It’s possible one or both contracts include a non-guaranteed minimum salary for next season, giving New York some offseason roster flexibility, but that has yet to be confirmed one way or the other.

Assuming they both signed for the minimum, Jeffries will earn $261,293 for the rest of this season, while Diakite would make $252,525.

Knicks Notes: Sims, Achiuwa, Anunoby, McBride, Hartenstein, Roster Openings

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau made a change to his frontcourt rotation on Saturday, using Jericho Sims as his primary backup center ahead of Precious Achiuwa, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Thibodeau expressed a need for more “physicality” after his team got pushed around in Thursday’s loss at Denver.

“Whoever’s got it going, that’s where we’re going,” Thibodeau said. “Some nights it’s not your night, it’s someone else’s night and then you put the team first. Everyone sacrifices. And that’s really what we’ve done all year.” 

Sims didn’t score, but he boosted the defense and grabbed seven rebounds in his 18 minutes of action. Achiuwa played just eight minutes, his fewest since January 17. Bondy notes that Achiuwa was used as the starting power forward the last time OG Anunoby was injured. Over the past three games, Thibodeau has moved Josh Hart to that position and inserted Miles McBride into the starting lineup. Thibodeau told reporters that he still has “a lot of confidence” in Achiuwa and indicated that the reduction in playing time may be temporary.

“He’s done a great job for us,” Thibodeau said. “I love the fact that he can play two positions. I think he can guard multiple positions. It allows you to do a lot of switching. So it was more the matchup of, OK, who are we looking at in the Golden State game? We’re looking at (Stephen) Curry (necessitating McBride to be in the lineup to chase him around). And then with Brooklyn, you’re looking at Cam Thomas, who has been rolling.” 

There’s more from New York:

  • Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle both worked out before the game, but Anunoby wasn’t seen on the court or in the locker room after reporters were granted access, Bondy adds. There’s no word on whether the soreness in his surgically repaired elbow has eased enough to allow him to practice. “It’s hard to say,” Thibodeau said. “I haven’t seen him. He’s doing better so just let it calm down and go from there.”
  • McBride’s 48-minute marathon on Saturday marked the sixth time he has topped the 40-minute mark since signing an extension in late December, per Bridget Reilly of The New York Post. McBride said he tried not to look at the Knicks’ bench during Saturday’s game so he wouldn’t give any indication that he wanted to come out. “Honestly, it’s mental,” he said. “Just telling myself to keep pushing through, give everything I’ve got in order to get the win.” 
  • Isaiah Hartenstein credits Thibodeau and the Knicks’ medical staff for helping him ease back into the lineup while dealing with Achilles soreness, per Ian Begley of SNY (video link).
  • New York has two roster openings after 10-day contracts expired on Saturday for Mamadi Diakite and DaQuan Jeffries, notes Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter links). Diakite is eligible for another 10-day deal, but Jeffries would have to be signed for the rest of the season if the Knicks want to keep him.

Knicks Sign Diakite To 10-Day Deal, Officially Re-Sign Jeffries

The Knicks have signed forward Mamadi Diakite to a 10-day contract, the team’s PR department tweets. New York also officially signed DaQuan Jeffries to a second 10-day deal, the club announced in a separate tweet.

Diakite became a free agent after the Spurs waived him on March 2. San Antonio had signed Diakite to a two-way deal on New Year’s Day.

Diakite is back in the Knicks’ organization after participating in their training camp last fall and playing for their G League team in Westchester earlier this season. He averaged 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 30.3 minutes while playing six games for the G League club.

Diakite, 27, went undrafted in 2020 out of Virginia after winning the national championship with the Cavaliers in 2018/19. This is his fourth NBA season — he has played a total of 52 games with Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Cleveland and San Antonio. He holds career averages of 3.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per contest.

The Knicks have a roster opening to accommodate Diakite.

New York’s intention to re-sign Jeffries was reported on Wednesday. This is the third separate time Jeffries has been on the Knicks’ roster in 2023/24. He was initially on a standard non-guaranteed contract, but was waived as part of a trade back in late December. Jeffries signed his first 10-day deal with New York this season on February 22.

Spurs Sign RaiQuan Gray To Two-Way Deal, Cut Diakite

MARCH 2: The Spurs have officially signed Gray and waived Diakite, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).

MARCH 1: The Spurs are signing free agent forward RaiQuan Gray to a two-way contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Mamadi Diakite will be waived to create a roster opening.

The 59th pick of the 2021 draft out of Florida State, Gray signed a two-way deal with Brooklyn at the very end of last season, posting 16 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and one block in his lone NBA appearance in 2022/23. That one game means he’s now in his second season.

Gray signed a training camp deal with the Spurs in the fall and was waived before the ’23/24 season began. He has been playing for the team’s G League affiliate in Austin, averaging 18.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 3.9 APG and 2.1 SPG on .629/.353/.780 shooting in 19 regular season games (29.4 MPG).

Diakite, 27, is in his fourth NBA season, having made previous stops with the Bucks, Thunder and Cavaliers. The Guinea native made three brief appearances for the Spurs this season.

Spurs Notes: Wembanyama, Vassell, Johnson, Diakite

Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama has grown increasingly frustrated playing under a minutes restriction, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required). Since injuring his right ankle in mid-December, Wembanyama has sat out three games and has been limited to about 24 minutes per night in the five games he has played.

As Orsborn explains, the team imposed the limit due to concerns that Wembanyama may be at risk of further injury if he plays too much too soon. After being pulled with just over three minutes left in Tuesday’s loss to Memphis, Wembanyama lobbied to return to the game and surpass his usual limit.

“I just talk to the coach and I say, ‘Yeah, I played 25 minutes already. What is two more?'” Wembanyama said after the game, per Orsborn. “Looking back, I understand their point of view, but at the moment it is hard and frustrating.”

Asked on Tuesday if Wembanyama’s minutes restriction will be lifted anytime soon, Popovich suggested that the big man’s ankle will have to be examined again before the team makes a decision.

“In a certain amount of time, we will take more pictures and that will determine whether the minutes thing changes or not,” Popovich said. “It is the same (number of minutes) every night. I think we were a minute off tonight. Twenty-four minutes is the deal.”

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • Popovich is pleased to see Devin Vassell and Wembanyama continuing to build chemistry on the offensive end of the court, Orsborn writes for The Express-News. The development of their two-man game was cited as one reason for Keldon Johnson‘s move to the bench. “They’re starting to read each other,” Popovich said. “They’re figuring out that he’s 7-3, you can throw it up in the air and when he rolls you got to get a pocket pass in there. (Wembanyama) makes good decisions and can either score or kick it to someone else because we really haven’t had that to a great degree in the past, so seeing those two guys meld together is important for us. They’re doing pretty well.”
  • Johnson’s points and free throw attempts per game have both increased since his move to the bench, and the Spurs wing acknowledged that he’s playing more aggressively in his new role, per Orsborn. “I guess you can say that,” Johnson said. “… I try to bring a lot more energy and try to assert myself a little bit more coming in out the bench and just boost the team any way I can.”
  • After signing a two-way contract with the Spurs, forward/center Mamadi Diakite referred to the franchise as “the best” at player development and expressed excitement about playing for Popovich, according to Orsborn. “I was starstruck because I have watched him since the beginning, before I started playing basketball,” Diakite said. “So, getting to meet him and greet him and play for him is a great accomplishment so far for me. When we first met, I said to him, I had been watching him since I was young. And he answered, ‘You are still young and you have a lot more to go.'”
  • Diakite’s two-way deal covers only the rest of the current season, not 2024/25, Hoops Rumors has confirmed, so he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency in the summer.
  • The injuries continue to pile up for the Spurs, who were already missing big men Zach Collins and Charles Bassey and now have starting guard Malaki Branham dealing with an ankle injury, according to Orsborn. With Branham’s status for Thursday’s game and beyond still unclear, Popovich downplayed San Antonio’s health problems. “We miss Malaki and we miss Zach, but everybody’s got somebody that’s out, so that’s not a big deal,” he said. “But for us it is because they’re such a young team and they need all their bodies. But I’m pleased with their effort. They just have to keep the attitude up.”

Spurs Sign Mamadi Diakite To Two-Way Deal

The Spurs have signed free agent forward/center Mamadi Diakite to a two-way contract, the team announced in a press release.

Diakite, 26, went undrafted in 2020 out of Virginia after winning the national championship with the Cavaliers in 2018/19. This is his fourth NBA season — he played 49 games with Milwaukee, Oklahoma City and Cleveland from 2020-23 and holds career averages of 3.2 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 10.3 MPG.

A native of Guinea, Diakite was unable to find a team as a free agent this offseason, eventually landing with the Knicks on an Exhibit 10 deal that gave him a bonus after he was waived and spent time with their G League affiliate in Westchester. In 19 Showcase Cup and regular season games with Westchester in 2023/24, he averaged 8.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 1.1 BPG.

San Antonio recently released rookie center Charles Bediako from his two-way deal after he suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee, opening up the two-way spot that went to Diakite. The Spurs now have a full 18-man roster.

Knicks Release Diakite, Goodwin, Roby, Washington

The Knicks have waived Mamadi Diakite, Brandon Goodwin, Isaiah Roby and Duane Washington Jr., the team announced (via Twitter).

Diakite, Goodwin and Roby were all signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, which means they could receive a bonus worth up to $75K if they spend at least 60 days the Knicks’ NBA G League affiliate in Westchester.

Washington, on the other hand, was signed to an Exhibit 9 contract. That means he would not be eligible for a bonus if he clears waivers and plays for the Westchester Knicks in 2023/24.

All four players have NBA experience, but were unable to make the Knicks’ regular season roster. Diakite, a 6’9″ forward/center who was born in Guinea, has appeared in 49 NBA games with the Bucks, Thunder and Cavs over the past three seasons.

Goodwin, 28, is a 6’0″ point guard who played 133 regular season games with the Nuggets, Hawks and Cavs from 2018-22. He was out of the league last season.

Roby, 25, spent most of last season with the Spurs, appearing in 42 games and averaging 4.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per night before being released in early March. He spent his first three NBA seasons with Oklahoma City.

Roby signed a multiyear contract with the Knicks on the final day of the 2022/23 regular season that was non-guaranteed for ’23/24. He was recently cut, cleared waivers, and re-signed; now he has been waived again to secure his Exhibit 10 bonus.

A 6’3″ guard who went undrafted out of Ohio State in 2021, Washington spent the past two seasons with the Pacers, Suns and Knicks on two-way deals. He never actually played a game for New York, which waived him in July before re-signing him to a non-guaranteed training camp deal.

By waiving the four players and converting Charlie Brown Jr. and Jacob Toppin to two-way deals, it appears as though DaQuan Jeffries and Ryan Arcidiacono may have made the Knicks’ opening-night roster. Both players were on non-guaranteed camp contracts.

New York is now down to 17 players under contract, with all three two-way slots filled.

Knicks Waive Knight; Sign Diakite, Goodwin

4:18pm: Knight has officially been waived. The Knicks have also signed free agents Mamadi Diakite and Brandon Goodwin to Exhibit 10 contracts (Twitter links). New York now has 20 players under contract.

4:09pm: The Knicks are waiving big man Nathan Knight, league sources tell Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As Katz notes, Knight was signed to a two-way contract, and New York also recently waived Jaylen Martin, so the team now has a pair of two-way spots open.

Knight, who starred in college at William & Mary, has played in 108 NBA games over the past three seasons after going undrafted in 2020. He spent his rookie season with the Hawks on a two-way deal and spent the past two seasons with the Timberwolves.

The Wolves had a minimum-salary team option on Knight for the 2023/24 season but turned it down and opted not to issue him a qualifying offer, so he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He signed a two-way deal with the Knicks a couple weeks later.

The 26-year-old forward/center holds career averages of 3.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in 7.8 minutes per night.

And-Ones: Maccabi Ra’anana, Real Madrid, Embiid, Trade Candidates

Israeli club Maccabi Ra’anana is taking part in three NBA preseason games this year and is getting reinforcements in former NBA players Quinndary Weatherspoon and Dwayne Bacon, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and NBA on TNT (Twitter link). Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets that 18-year-old big man Nathan Missia-Dio is playing for the club as well.

Haynes writes that Bacon and Weatherspoon are joining Maccabi Ra’anana right away, playing on Thursday night against the Nets. Both players are hoping to sign with NBA teams at the conclusion of the preseason. Mamadi Diakite and Bruno Caboclo are among other former NBA players who are suiting up for Maccabi Ra’anana in the preseason.

Weatherspoon, 27, appeared in 42 NBA games from 2019-22 after being drafted with the No. 49 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. He played in two seasons with the Spurs, who drafted him, before playing with the Warriors in the 2021/22 season. The 6’3″ guard averaged 2.1 points in the NBA but was more productive in the G League, where he saw more playing time, averaging 25.3 points in 20 regular season appearances in his most recent season there.

Bacon, 28, made 207 NBA appearances (80 starts) in a productive span from 2017-21. He was selected with the 40th overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Hornets and holds career averages of 7.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in four seasons with Charlotte and Orlando.

As for Missia-Dio, the Belgian big is only taking part in the club’s games against the Cavaliers on October 16 and the Timberwolves on October 17. He’s a 6’9″ Overtime Elite product who is eligible for the 2024 NBA Draft and will return to OTE to finish out the rest of the season, according to Givony (Twitter link).

We have more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said the league is open to playing games at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, the home of Real Madrid’s soccer team, according to a report from ESPN. The stadium can hold up to 85,000 fans, which could be appealing to a league that has never played overseas in an outdoor soccer stadium. “I’ve had the opportunity to see the new Bernabéu, and it’s incredible what they’ve done there,” Tatum said. “I’ve seen the system with which they raise and lower the grass. It will be a world-class stadium. If the circumstances are right, we would love to play there.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid was given an ultimatum by the French Federation to commit to France in the 2024 Olympics by October 10, but he ultimately ended up committing to play for Team USA. French Federation president Jean-Pierre Siutat said that he was disappointed by the process, according to “I met [Embiid] with Boris Diaw during a dinner in March 2022. We never went looking for him, we never asked,” Siutat said. “It was at his request that we took the steps and I am disappointed that we spent so much time and energy on a case that, ultimately, should never have been opened and it wasn’t created by any request of ours. This is a subject that is behind us now.
  • Even after the blockbuster Damian Lillard and Jrue Holiday deals, there could be several more trades that would have a profound impact on the direction of the 2023/24 season, The Ringer’s Seerat Sohi opines. Sohi writes about five potential trade candidates, including James Harden, Pascal Siakam, Karl-Anthony Towns, Buddy Hield and Malcolm Brogdon. I recommend checking the piece, because Sohi describes each situation in full, outlines potential routes forward, and considers what sort of trade package makes sense for each player.