Olivier Sarr

Northwest Notes: Markkanen, Thunder, Wallace, Wolves

Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen won’t play for Finland in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Spain, Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net reports. Markkanen aggravated an impingement to his right shoulder in late March and the injury has still not fully healed.

“Certainly, this is tough,” the Jazz forward said in a statement. “Representing Finland and playing for the national team is an honor for me. Along with my teammates, we have been talking all season about how sweet it would be to advance to the Olympic Games.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder had an overload of players on their roster last offseason but that won’t be the case this time around, Rylan Stiles of SI.com notes. Oklahoma City will have four open standard contract roster spots available with Gordon Hayward, Bismack Biyombo, Mike Muscala and possibly Lindy Waters III (club option) headed to free agency. They will also have at least one two-way spot available with Olivier Sarr tearing his Achilles late last season. He’s expected to be out all of next season.
  • Cason Wallace exceeded expectations in his rookie season with the Thunder, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. Wallace, the No. 10 pick of last year’s draft, appeared in every game and make the All-Rookie Second Team. He also shot 41.9% from 3-point range and displayed strong defensive skills.
  • In draft news, Melvin Ajinca (France), Jalen Bridges (Baylor), Tristan Enaruna (Cleveland State), Ajay Mitchell (UC Santa Barbara), Jonathan Mogbo (San Francisco) and Baylor Scheierman (Creighton) worked out for the Timberwolves on Monday, the team’s PR department tweets. Scheierman is currently ranked No. 26 on ESPN’s Best Available list.

Draft Notes: Lottery, Williams, Sarr, Holland, Sheppard, Shannon

This year’s draft lottery isn’t nearly as highly anticipated as the 2023 event that determined which team would get the opportunity to select generational prospect Victor Wembanyama. Still, each team involved in the 2024 lottery would love to come away Sunday with the No. 1 overall pick, as Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo write for ESPN.com (Insider link).

In a team-by-team look at the lottery teams, Givony and Woo explore what’s at stake for each franchise on Sunday and which prospects they’ll be eyeing if they claim a top spot in the draft or if they end up where they are.

Although ESPN’s draft experts have French forward Zaccharie Risacher ranked as the No. 1 prospect in this year’s class, they suggest that both the Wizards and Hornets may prefer another Frenchman (Alexandre Sarr) if they land the top pick, while the Spurs could be an ideal fit for guard Rob Dillingham, whose perimeter shooting and ball-handling would complement Wembanyama’s skill set.

UConn center Donovan Clingan, meanwhile, could be a perfect match for the Grizzlies, who traded away big men Steven Adams and Xavier Tillman earlier this year. Woo also points out that – if he’s still on the board at No. 12 – Colorado prospect Cody Williams would have an opportunity to potentially team up with older brother Jalen Williams on the Thunder.

Here are a few more draft-related items:

  • Cody Williams isn’t the only lottery prospect with an older brother under contract in Oklahoma City — Alexandre Sarr’s older brother Olivier Sarr finished the season on a two-way contract with the Thunder. Marc J. Spears of Andscape spoke to Jalen Williams and Olivier Sarr about the prospect of their younger brothers entering the NBA as high draft picks later this year.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report have updated their big boards for the 2024 draft, with several notable differences between them. The top two prospects on Wasserman’s board – Ron Holland and Reed Sheppard – don’t crack O’Connor’s top five. O’Connor also published a new mock draft, which has UConn’s Clingan coming off the board at No. 2.
  • Wasserman (via Twitter) shares the rosters for the four teams that will scrimmage at the G League Elite Camp this weekend. The standouts from the event will be invited to participate in the NBA’s draft combine next week.
  • A June 10 trial date set for former Illinois guard Terrence Shannon, the No. 33 prospect on ESPN’s top-100 list, who faces felony charges of first-degree rape and sexual aggravated battery, reports Myron Medcalf of ESPN. Shannon’s attorneys say the trial is expected to conclude before the NBA draft, which takes place on June 26 and 27. He has pleaded not guilty.

Northwest Notes: Billups, Blazers, Porter Jr., Sarr, Biyombo

Chauncey Billups is entering the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Trail Blazers, who hold a team option on the 2025/26 season. Billups realizes that the team needs to show significant improvement in order for him to get an extension, according to Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report.

“In this business, I always feel like you’re trying to prove what you can do and what kind of coach you can be,” he said. “I’ve always felt that way and I feel no different going into next year. I’m looking forward to that opportunity to be able to prove how good I can be. In this league and any league in the professional ranks, you’re always coaching for your job. It’s a part of the business. But that doesn’t scare me. I’m not worried about it. I’ll be fine. I’m looking forward to it.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Blazers are planning to improve from within rather than making aggressive moves for high-priced veterans that could cost them major resources, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian reports. “We’re heavily invested in a lot of our young guys, so development will continue to be a focus,” GM Joe Cronin said. “We’re not going to win at an extremely high level until some of those guys are ready. But at the same time, it’s our job to give them the best environment to thrive in. And often that’s with additional help. I think this year there were some flaws in the roster, especially in some missing skill sets and just in general imbalance, where it made it complicated for those guys to reach their highest potential.”
  • Jontay Porter‘s ban from the NBA for gambling-related violations has taken a toll on his brother, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Bennett Durando of the Denver Post tweets. “It has not been easy for him,” coach Michael Malone said. “That’s why I give him credit, because he’s carrying so much in his heart and in his mind.”
  • Thunder big man and two-way player Olivier Sarr suffered a left Achilles tendon rupture during the G League Finals on Monday night, according to a team press release. In 15 games this season with the Thunder, Sarr averaged 2.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 6.5 minutes. Sarr also saw action in 18 games with the Blue and averaged 14.0 points, 13.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 28.2 minutes.
  • Bismack Biyombo fainted during a game in early March. The Thunder center revealed to Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman that he was dehydrated due to fasting. Biyombo has fasted at various times throughout his career for religious reasons.

Thunder Notes: Williams, Micic, Dort

Thunder reserve big man Jaylin Williams will miss some early regular season games due a hamstring strain suffered in practice, Brett Dawson tweets. Williams will be reevaluated in a couple of weeks.

Williams projects as Chet Holmgren‘s backup this season after starting 36 of 49 games last season during his rookie campaign. A second-round pick in 2022, Williams averaged 5.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 18.7 minutes.

Olivier Sarr and Ousmane Dieng could see more action until Williams returns.

We have more on the Thunder:

  • Vasilije Micic has noticed some major differences between the EuroLeague and NBA, as Eurohoops.net relays. “It’s open space, with a much higher pace of play compared to the EuroLeague,” he said. “The paint is more open, providing a lot of opportunities for creative players to penetrate and gain an advantage, especially for skilled ball handlers. It’s also a bit easier to create from that spacing. I’m still trying to adjust. Everything is still new for me, but my teammates are helping me learn as quickly as possible. I believe that, together, we will get there eventually.” The former EuroLeague MVP signed a three-year, $23.5MM contract with Oklahoma City in July.
  • Luguentz Dort scored a team-high 24 points during the team’s exhibition game Thursday in Montreal. It was an emotional homecoming for the Montreal native, he told Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. He spoke in French to the crowd prior to the contest. “I just told them that we were honored to be here,” Dort said, “As a Montreal guy, it was an honor for me to bring my team here and play in front of them.”
  • Get all the details on the big Thunder-Rockets trade here.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Sarr, Waters, Brown, Watson, Key

Anthony Edwards has become the breakout star for USA Basketball this summer. For the Timberwolves to take the next step, Edwards needs to be their unquestioned leader, Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune opines. While he has remained deferential to Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, Edwards will be the player the Timberwolves turn to when they need a basket or a lift this upcoming season.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The two-way contracts signed by Thunder big man Olivier Sarr and wing Lindy Waters both cover only the 2023/24 season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Sarr and Waters will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2024, assuming they finish the season on those deals.
  • Moses Brown has a partial guarantee of $250K in the one-year contract he signed with the Trail Blazers this week, Spotrac contributor Keith Smith tweets. Brown’s guarantee increases to $500K if he’s on the opening night roster and would become fully guaranteed on the league-wide date in January. Brown’s contract is for the veteran’s minimum, so he’ll receive $2.165MM as a four-year veteran if he remains on the roster after the January deadline.
  • Forward Peyton Watson‘s development will be a key component to the Nuggets’ season, Harrison Wind of TheDNVR.com opines. Watson needs to emerge as a reliable reserve with the free agent loss of Jeff Green to the Rockets. Another potential factor for the second unit is two-way player Braxton Key, a defense-oriented wing that the organization believes could emerge as a reliable option.

Thunder Sign Olivier Sarr To Two-Way Deal

The Thunder have brought back Olivier Sarr, announcing in a press release that they have re-signed the free agent big man to another two-way contract.

While Oklahoma City has an open two-way slot, the team was unable to fill it until now because it was at the offseason limit of 21 players under contract. The Thunder created a roster opening this morning when they released Usman Garuba, which allowed them to sign Sarr.

Sarr went undrafted in 2021 after four college seasons — he spent his first three campaigns at Wake Forest before finishing up at Kentucky. He signed a training camp deal with the Thunder in October 2021 and was promptly waived, spending part of 2021/22 with their G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue.

During the COVID-19 outbreak that winter, the French center signed a pair of 10-day hardship deals with the Thunder, then inked a two-way contract in February 2022. He played well at the NBA level as a rookie, averaging 7.0 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 22 games (19.1 MPG), but the Thunder opted to cut him just before the season ended in April.

Sarr caught on with the Trail Blazers prior to ’22/23, initially signing an Exhibit 10 contract which was converted into a two-way deal after he impressed during preseason. However, he sustained a torn ligament in his wrist last fall, which caused Portland to release him in mid-November.

The 24-year-old signed a G League deal with the Blue after recovering from the injury, averaging 12.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.9 APG and 2.4 BPG in 12 regular season games. His play in the NBAGL earned Sarr a promotion in February to a two-way deal. He finished last season with the Thunder, averaging 4.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in nine games (12.7 MPG).

Sarr was eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but the Thunder didn’t give him a qualifying offer, making him unrestricted. Either way, he’s back with OKC on a two-way contract.

Thunder Notes: Saric, Deadline Deals, Omoruyi, Sarr

Although he’s still just 28 years old, Dario Saric suddenly finds himself in the position of being his team’s oldest player following a trade from Phoenix to Oklahoma City last Thursday. Saric, who referred to the Thunder as a “high-level organization,” doesn’t sound like someone who will pursue a buyout from his new club, suggesting on Monday that he’s looking forward to taking on the role of veteran mentor in OKC.

“You’re always surprised,” Saric said of the trade, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “That’s kind of how things go. At the end of the day, happy to be here. Happy to be part of this organization, a part of this group of young, talented guys who have a lot of years in front of them to play basketball.”

Asked about the role he anticipates playing with the Thunder, Saric said he doesn’t have any real expectations and is happy to play things by ear.

“I think I will go with the flow,” he said. “We’re gonna figure out everything, how the games go. I’m here open-minded, and coach (Mark Daigneault) says he’s open-minded.”

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is looking forward to seeing what Saric brings to the Thunder, but admitted it was tough to say goodbye to Darius Bazley and Mike Muscala at the trade deadline. Gilgeous-Alexander referred to the club’s locker room as “close-knit” and added that Bazley is “like a brother” to him. Daigneault, meanwhile, said he hopes Bazley and Muscala thrive with their new teams, Mussatto writes for The Oklahoman. “We want those guys to move on and continue to have success and contribute to the teams that they’re on,” the head coach said. “I think that would be a good reflection on the program.”
  • Eugene Omoruyi‘s new contract with the Thunder is a two-year, minimum-salary deal that isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Oklahoma City will hold a non-guaranteed $1,927,896 team option on Omoruyi for the 2023/24 season following his promotion from a two-way contract last week.
  • As for Olivier Sarr‘s two-way deal, it only covers the rest of this season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Players who sign two-way contracts during the second half often agree to add a second year, but that’s not the case for Sarr, who will be eligible this summer for restricted free agency.

Thunder Sign Olivier Sarr To Two-Way Contract

Center Olivier Sarr has returned to the Thunder on a two-way contract, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

The 23-year-old center signed a pair of 10-day contracts and then a two-way deal with Oklahoma City last season. He appeared in 22 total games, averaging 7.0 points and 4.2 rebounds, before being waived in April.

Sarr joined the Trail Blazers for training camp on an Exhibit 10 contract and was impressive enough in the preseason to earn a two-way deal with the team. However, he suffered a partial tear of a ligament in his right wrist that sidelined him for six weeks and he was waived in mid-November. In January, he signed with the Thunder’s G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue.

OKC had a two-way opening after converting Eugene Omoruyi‘s contract to a standard deal on Friday.

Blazers Waive Olivier Sarr, Sign Ibou Badji To Two-Way Deal

2:52pm: The Blazers have officially waived Sarr and signed Badji, the team confirmed today in a press release.

12:47pm: The Trail Blazers are waiving one of their two-way players, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link), who reports that center Olivier Sarr is being released. In Sarr’s place, Portland will sign big man Ibou Badji to a two-way contract, per Wojnarowski.

Sarr, who was in training camp with the Blazers on an Exhibit 10 contract, had that deal converted to a two-way after impressing the team in the preseason. Around the same time, he was diagnosed with a high-grade partial tear of the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist and was ruled out for six weeks, so he has yet to make his season debut in either the NBA or the G League. It appears he’ll have to seek out a new opportunity once he gets healthy.

As for Badji, he has been playing in the G League for the Wisconsin Herd, Milwaukee’s affiliate. Through seven games for the Herd, the 20-year-old from Senegal has averaged a modest 7.3 points in 35.0 minutes per contest. However, as Wojnarowski observes, Badji – who is 7’1″ with a 7’9″ wingspan – has been one of the G League’s best rim protectors, averaging 2.4 blocked shots per game.

The Blazers don’t have an NBAGL club of their own, so if they opt to keep Badji in the G League for now, he’ll have to either remain in Wisconsin or join another team’s affiliate.

Badij will be eligible to be active for up to 42 NBA games if he officially signs his contract on Friday. A player on a full-season two-way contract can be active for as many as 50 NBA games, but that limit is prorated when the player signs after the regular season has started.

Blazers’ Olivier Sarr Out At Least Six Weeks

Trail Blazers big man Olivier Sarr had his Exhibit 10 contract converted into a two-way deal last Thursday, but it doesn’t look like he’ll see regular season action for the team anytime soon. According to the Blazers, Sarr has been diagnosed with a high-grade partial tear of the scapholunate ligament in his right wrist.

After originally being diagnosed with a right wrist sprain last week, Sarr underwent further testing to determine the full extent of the injury. The team announced today that he will be reevaluated in six weeks.

Sarr, 23, spent a portion of his rookie season in 2021/22 with the Thunder, signing a pair of 10-day contracts with Oklahoma City and then receiving a two-way deal. He averaged 7.0 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 22 NBA games (19.1 MPG), with a solid shooting line of .574/.448/.828.

Sarr joined the Trail Blazers on a non-guaranteed training camp deal this offseason and beat out several other camp invitees for one of the team’s two-way slots. Rookie big man John Butler Jr. holds Portland’s other two-way deal.

Given Sarr’s strong preseason, it seemed as if he might challenge Drew Eubanks for minutes as Jusuf Nurkic‘s primary backup at center, but Eubanks is now in position to occupy that role for the foreseeable future.