McKinley Wright

Mavericks Notes: Green, Roster Spot, Wood, Dorsey

Mavericks guard Josh Green participated in contact drills Friday and is hoping to return soon from a sprained right elbow, writes Eddie Sefko of While most of his teammates were watching film, Green was taking part in drills and one-on-one scrimmages to test the condition of his elbow.

“I feel good,” he said afterward. “I started with contact the last two days. It’s been tough because we’ve had so many games and there’s not so many practice days. So I’m just going to continue with this, see how the elbow feels, put it in situations that (simulate games) and see how it goes.”

Green was on a hot streak before being hurt December 9, averaging 9.2 points and shooting 44.8% on three-pointers in his previous 10 games. He hurt the elbow playing defense in a game against the Bucks and said he knew right away that something was wrong.

“In the first half, I kind of got a steal out of bounds, a deflection and my arm kind of got arm-locked by Grayson Allen,” Green said. “I kind of got stuck and it hurt a lot. I couldn’t really shoot too much in the second half, so I tried to get to the basket as much as I could. And I wanted to finish the game out.”

There’s more from Dallas:

  • The Mavericks may consider re-signing Kemba Walker, who was waived Friday in advance of the league-wide contract guarantee date, but first the team will see what other options are available, Sefko adds. With a newly open roster spot, Dallas may decide to target someone else. “You’re always looking at the waiver wire to see if you can better the team,” coach Jason Kidd said. “That’s what management will be doing to see who is let go here in the next couple of days for tax purposes or just making moves.” Sefko suggests that the opening could also be used to convert McKinley Wright IV‘s two-way contract to a standard deal.
  • In an interview with Grant Afseth of DallasBasketball, Christian Wood said he has been working to improve his defense since being inserted into the starting lineup. “My teammates have trust in me to make big plays,” Wood said. “My coaches have trust in me to make big plays. With a few guys out like our defensive anchors — (Dorian Finney-Smith), Maxi (Kleber), Josh — the guys have to step up, and I think I’ve been doing that as of late.”
  • After signing a contract to return to the G League, Tyler Dorsey‘s rights have been acquired by the Mavericks’ affiliate, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Dorsey played for the Texas Legends earlier this season while on a two-way contract with Dallas, but the Mavs waived him in late December.

Mavericks Waive Kemba Walker

10:48am: The move is official, the Mavericks confirmed (via Twitter).

10:19am: Kemba Walker‘s comeback with the Mavericks only lasted nine games, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who tweets that Dallas will waive the veteran guard before his contract becomes fully guaranteed this weekend.

Walker, 32, signed with the team in late November, hoping to resurrect his NBA career after knee issues cut short his stays with the Knicks and Celtics. Walker averaged 8.0 points in 16.0 minutes per game during his time in Dallas and even turned in a 32-point outing.

MacMahon states that the Mavs want to dedicate more playing time to young guard McKinley Wright IV, who has been earning minutes on a two-way contract, and second-round pick Jaden Hardy, who may get a larger role in the second half of the season. A source told MacMahon that Walker was an “ultimate pro” in his short stay with the Mavs.

The team will have a $684,712 cap hit for Walker, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

A four-time All-Star with Charlotte and Boston, Walker is in his 12th NBA season. His performance in Dallas may lead to other opportunities now that teams are able to offer 10-day contracts.

Southwest Notes: Morant, Brooks, Zion, Pelicans, Wright

Grizzlies star Ja Morant is being sued, according to TMZ Sports. The lawsuit was reportedly filed by a 17-year-old who was playing a pickup game at Morant’s home over the summer. The two got in a verbal altercation and the teenager threw the ball at Morant’s face, with Morant punching him in return.

The point guard admitted to striking the teenager, per TMZ, but said it was in self-defense after he’d been threatened. Police investigated the incident and referred the matter to the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office, which declined to press criminal charges, as Lucas Finton of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Morant and the rest of the Grizzlies appreciate Dillon Brooks‘ contributions, even if some question his shot selection, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Insider link). “He’s the head of the snake on the defensive end for us,” Morant said. “Guards the best player, takes on that challenge every single day. Obviously when he’s out there, being Dillon, he gives us a lot of energy. And then once he goes to the offensive end and makes shots, it’s hard for teams to guard us.”
  • Expect the Pelicans to be very cautious with Zion Williamson‘s hamstring strain — they can be very tricky injuries and are prone to being aggravated if not fully healed, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Williamson is officially out at least three weeks, but Guillory thinks it will be longer than that. He also expects Brandon Ingram to return to action pretty soon, though it’s hard to say exactly when — the forward has been dealing with a big toe sprain, but has been ramping up his practice activity.
  • Mavericks point guard McKinley Wright IV, who is on a two-way contract, has been getting some run lately with so many key rotation players injured. He’s grateful for the opportunity to play NBA minutes, as Eddie Sefko of writes. “It’s been a dream come true for me,” Wright said. “Everybody’s dream is to play in the NBA and I’ve been earning pretty valuable minutes to help contribute to our winning. Right now, that’s defending the ball, bringing energy off the bench and using my speed to get downcourt. I’m thankful to be in the position I am.” The former Colorado star has primarily played in the G League in his first two pro seasons.

Mavericks Convert McKinley Wright To Two-Way Deal

The Mavericks have converted McKinley Wright‘s Exhibit 10 deal into a two-way contract, the team announced (via Twitter). In addition, Dallas has also signed guard Grant Riller.

Wright, who will turn 24 later this month, signed a two-way contract with the Timberwolves last August after going undrafted out of Colorado. He appeared in just five games for Minnesota, spending most of the season with the team’s G League affiliate in Iowa, where he averaged 19.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 7.7 assists in 18 games.

Wright played for the Suns in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League in July and was on Team USA’s roster for the World Cup qualifiers in August before signing with the Mavs on an Exhibit 10 contract. He’ll join Tyler Dorsey as the team’s two-way players.

As for Riller, his deal with Dallas is likely aimed at getting his G League rights. He’ll probably be waived soon and join the Texas Legends, the Mavs’ NBAGL affiliate.

Why Most Teams Will Finalize Roster Cuts On Saturday

NBA teams have until Monday night to officially set their rosters for the 2022/23 regular season. However, a majority of NBA teams will likely have their rosters ready to go on Saturday, with far more roster cuts expected today than on Sunday or Monday.

Why is that? Well, releasing a player today will ensure he clears waivers on Monday, before the regular season gets underway.

Players who are cut during the season are also paid for each day they spend on waivers, so a player who hits waivers on Sunday and doesn’t clear until the first day of the season on Tuesday would technically earn one day’s worth of pay, even if his salary isn’t guaranteed. A player released on Monday would spend two regular season days on waivers.

[RELATED: 2022/23 NBA Roster Counts]

For players with partial or full guarantees, spending the first day or two of the regular season on waivers doesn’t really matter, since they’re getting their full 2022/23 salary (or their partial guarantees) no matter when they’re released. But if a team waits until Monday to cut a player with a non-guaranteed salary, that team will be on the hook for two days’ worth of dead money for the player.

Two days’ worth of dead money won’t exactly break the bank — it would come in around $21K for most minimum-salary players. But a majority of teams already know which players are in and which are out, so there’s no need to take the decision down to the wire on Monday. They’ll make those cuts today and will avoid adding extra cap charges to their books for ’22/23. Even that small amount of savings could make a difference for teams who are right around the tax line or up against a hard cap.

While many teams will make their cuts today, a handful of clubs can afford to wait an extra day or two if they want to, since they’ll be waiving players who have full or partial guarantees.

The Thunder, for instance, have 17 players on fully guaranteed contracts and will need to reduce that number to 15. Waiting until Sunday or Monday to make their cuts won’t affect their cap outlook at all, since all 17 of those players will receive their full-season salaries either way.

Additionally, teams whose final roster moves won’t involve placing a player on waivers can afford to wait until Monday to finalize those moves.

For example, Marc Stein reported (via Twitter) on Friday night that Mavericks guard McKinley Wright is expected to have his Exhibit 10 contract converted into a two-way deal, assuming the club doesn’t make a “late audible” and claim a player who was waived by another team. Dallas could wait until Monday to convert Wright’s contract, since he won’t have to pass through waivers.

McKinley Wright IV, Mouhamadou Gueye Sign With Mavericks

AUGUST 15: The Mavericks have officially signed both Wright and Gueye to Exhibit 10 contracts, Hoops Rumors has learned.

AUGUST 14: The Mavericks will sign McKinley Wright IV and Mouhamadou Gueye to training camp deals and will give them a chance to compete for roster spots, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Wright, a 23-year-old point guard, signed a two-way contract with the Timberwolves last August after going undrafted out of Colorado. He appeared in just five games for Minnesota, spending most of the season with the team’s G League affiliate in Iowa, where he averaged 19.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 7.7 assists in 18 games. Wright played for the Suns in this year’s Las Vegas Summer League and is on Team USA’s roster for the World Cup qualifiers later this month.

Gueye, a 24-year-old forward, is a free agent who played last season at Pittsburgh after transferring from Stony Brook. He averaged 9.8 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Panthers during his lone season in the ACC.

Dallas has 14 players with guaranteed contracts and just one of its two-way slots filled, so there will be opportunities for whoever is impressive during training camp and the preseason.

Team USA Sets Roster For August World Cup Qualifiers

Team USA will play a pair of qualifying games for the 2023 World Cup this month, squaring off against Uruguay on August 25 in Las Vegas and then facing Colombia on August 29 in Barranquilla, Colombia.

USA Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 12-man roster for those qualifying games. The following players will be representing the U.S. on a club led by head coach Jim Boylen:

McClung is the only member of the 12-man group who is currently under contract with an NBA team, having signed a training camp contract with the Warriors last month. However, everyone on the roster except for Ellison has appeared in at least one NBA regular season game.

Galloway and Jenkins are the most experienced NBA veterans on the roster. Galloway has 452 regular season games for seven teams under his belt, while Jenkins has made 171 appearances for five clubs.

Team USA has a 5-1 record through the first three qualifying windows, putting the squad in a tie for first place with Brazil atop Group F. After this month’s games, the remaining two qualifying windows are scheduled for November and February — teams will end up playing a total of 12 qualifying contests apiece.

The 2023 World Cup will take place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia from August 25 to September 10 next year. Assuming its team qualifies – which looks like a pretty safe bet – USA Basketball is expected to send a roster of more accomplished NBA veterans to the event.

Josh Okogie Won’t Receive QO, Will Become UFA

The Timberwolves don’t intend to issue a qualifying offer to former first-round pick Josh Okogie, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link).

Having completed his four-year rookie scale contract, Okogie would become a restricted free agent this offseason if Minnesota extends a qualifying offer worth $5,857,966. In that scenario, the Wolves would have the ability to match rival offer the veteran wing receives, and he’d have the option of simply accepting the one-year offer worth nearly $6MM before reaching unrestricted free agency in 2023.

Given Okogie’s so-so NBA résumé and limited role, he seems unlikely to generate interest at more than the minimum salary this offseason, so the Wolves’ decision to pass on a QO and make him an unrestricted free agent isn’t surprising. It doesn’t mean Minnesota can’t bring him back — he’ll just be free to sign elsewhere without the Wolves having the ability to match.

Okogie, 23, was the 20th overall pick in the 2018 draft. He started 52 games as a rookie for the Wolves and averaged 24.3 MPG in his first two NBA seasons, but has seen his playing time cut back since then. In 2021/22, he averaged 2.7 PPG and 1.4 RPG in just 10.5 minutes per contest (49 games).

Okogie is viewed as a solid defender but has never shown much of an offensive game, putting up a career average of 6.4 PPG with a .403/.275/.758 shooting line.

The Timberwolves also appear unlikely to retain two-way free agent McKinley Wright IV, according to Wolfson, who says Wright will probably join a new team for next month’s summer league.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Wright, MPJ, Arthur

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, an unrestricted free agent this summer, will be sitting for at least four weeks with a plantar fasciitis injury. John Hollinger of The Athletic reads the tea leaves and examines Nurkic’s potential future in Portland, as well as explaining why the club will likely operate over the cap during the 2022 offseason.

Nurkic is in the final season of a four-year, $48MM deal with the Trail Blazers and has averaged 17.4 PPG, 12.6 RPG and 3.4 APG since the start of 2022. Though the 27-year-old is no longer the shot blocker he was before suffering a compound fracture of his left leg near the end of the 2018/19 NBA season, Hollinger notes that the rest of his game seems more or less to have returned. The 6’11” big man is averaging 15.0 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.8 APG and 1.1 SPG this year.

As Hollinger writes, the Trail Blazers could sign Nurkic to a contract extension that starts at $14.4MM, a 120% annual increase of his current salary. However, Hollinger believes that Nurkic should be able to net significantly more than that in free agency this summer. If they re-sign Nurkic and retain Josh Hart, the Blazers would likely be an over-the-cap team, allowing them to retain their $20MM+ trade exception.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Injured Timberwolves point guard McKinley Wright IV, currently on a two-way deal with the club, will start taking contact in team practices as he continues to recover from a left UCL issue, per Minnesota’s official PR team (via Twitter). The Timberwolves are set to reassess Wright on Sunday. The 23-year-old rookie out of Colorado has appeared in just three games with Minnesota this year.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. will soon scrimmage with the Grand Rapids Gold, Denver’s NBA G League affiliate, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Porter, still working to rehabilitate following a December 1 back surgery, has already resumed one-on-one contact workouts. “You got a 6-foot-10 guy that shoots it like that, and then you start to remind yourself, ‘Man, like, last year, before we had injuries to [guard Jamal Murray], we all felt we had a chance to win it,’” head coach Michael Malone said. “Whenever we get those guys back, this year or next year, we feel the same way. We have a chance to win it when we get fully healthy… As of right now, still in the early steps of trying to re-integrate those guys back slowly, and as they get cleared to do more and more things, then, obviously, we can ramp it up with them.” 
  • The Nuggets have hired former NBA forward Darrell Arthur to serve as a basketball operations associate for the team, Denver announced (Twitter link). Arthur, 33, played for nine NBA seasons, appearing in 503 games. He was with the Nuggets from the 2013/14 season through the 2017/18 season.

Northwest Notes: Giddey, SGA, Cousins, House, Wright

Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are both more comfortable with the ball in their hands, but comments made by head coach Mark Daigneault after the two guards played together on Thursday strongly suggest the Thunder ultimately view Giddey as their primary initiator, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.

As Mussatto details, Gilgeous-Alexander will be still be the Thunder’s primary scorer, but it sounds like the team wants to get him more comfortable playing off-ball, as he did earlier in his career when Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder were on the roster.

“(Giddey’s) a really good initiator, he’s a really good creator and we’ve gotta use that part of his game to unlock the potential of the team,” Daigneault said. “It’s gonna require Shai to make some plays off the ball a little bit, where he’s driving close-outs, where he’s shooting open shots — but it’s also gonna take some load off of Shai. He’s not gonna have to work as hard.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone, who advocated for the signing of DeMarcus Cousins earlier this season, is thrilled to have the veteran big man under contract for the rest of the season, says Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “His personality is really important,” Malone said of Cousins. “He is a voice. He’s a personality, and he’s not afraid to speak his mind. That can be refreshing at times because we have a locker room of great guys, but who are not always willing to police each other.”
  • Having been signed for the rest of the season following a series of 10-day deals, Danuel House is looking to repay the Jazz‘s investment in him with his play on the court, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “This is a good organization. And they believe so much in me, they’re pouring into me,” House said. “So my job is, if they’re pouring into me, to make sure that when the water hits the glass, make sure it’s purified enough for us to drink.”
  • Timberwolves two-way player McKinley Wright IV, who is dealing with a left UCL injury, is moving closer toward returning to action after getting his splint taken off, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Wolfson estimates that Wright will be playing for the Iowa Wolves – Minnesota’s G League affiliate – in another week or two. The rookie guard has appeared in just three NBA games this season.