P.J. Washington

Southeast Notes: Lillard, Coulibaly, Washington, Williams, McClung

While the Heat continue to explore options to acquire star guard Damian Lillard from the Trail Blazers, the NBA eliminated one potential option that could have led to Portland delaying a trade, notes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

As part of the league’s ruling that healthy star players can’t sit out from games, the NBA also prohibited teams from making any long-term shutdown “when a star player stops participating in games or plays in a materially reduced role in circumstances affecting the integrity of the game.”

As Jackson notes, ESPN’s Bobby Marks said the rule specifically precludes Lillard and Portland from mutually agreeing for the seven-time All-Star to stay away from the team while it works on a trade. A punishment for disregarding the rule would involve significant fines, per Marks.

While it’s unclear whether either party was exploring that as an option, it won’t be possible anymore. This is advantageous for the Heat, writes Jackson, who says that Portland must decide whether to play Lillard and risk possible injury, which would diminish his value.

There are still a handful of notable free agent point guards available if the Heat don’t get Lillard, such as the recently released Cameron Payne, but the Heat haven’t been actively pursuing one, Jackson writes. According to Jackson’s source, the Heat could look at options that involve Tyler Herro or Josh Richardson as the starting primary ball-handler if the team is unable to land the star guard.

Of the available free agent point guards, Goran Dragic is a veteran option who spent 2015-21 in Miami. Jackson writes that Dragic has interest in joining the Heat.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards rookie wing Bilal Coulibaly was one of the 2023 draft’s biggest risers, culminating in him being selected with the No. 7 overall pick. Josh Robbins of The Athletic spoke to three anonymous NBA scouts about Coulibaly, who spent part of the last year playing alongside No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. The scouts agreed that athleticism and an impressive defensive toolbox and instincts are among Coulibaly’s strengths, while his shooting and physicality are improvement points. However, all scouts appeared to be high on the 19-year-old’s upside. “The sky’s the limit for him,” one anonymous scout said to Robbins.
  • Hornets forward P.J. Washington re-signed with Charlotte on a three-year, $46.5MM deal in August, nearly two months after free agency began. While there was some speculation about whether Washington would ultimately return to the Queen City, the 25-year-old forward sounds relieved to be back with the Hornets. “It means the world to me,” Washington said in a video posted by the Hornets social media team (Twitter link). “Obviously, back in 2019, Charlotte took a chance on me and I’m just blessed to be in the position I am today.”
  • The Magic announced they signed Brandon Williams and Mac McClung to Exhibit 10 deals on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. Orlando’s G League affiliate Osceola Magic acquired the returning player rights to both Williams and McClung. If an Exhibit 10 player is waived by an NBA club before the season begins and spends at least 60 days with that team’s G League affiliate, he can earn a bonus worth up to $75K. This week’s G League trades assure that Williams and McClung can suit up for Osceola this season if and when they are waived by Orlando. Williams was acquired from the College Park Skyhawks in exchange for Joel Ayayi, Robert Baker II and a 2023 G League first-round pick, per the Orlando Sentinel’s Jason Beede (Twitter link), while McClung was acquired from the Delaware Blue Coats in exchange for the rights to Jeff Dowtin and a 2024 G League second-round pick (Twitter link).

Eastern Notes: Washington, Bryant, Heat, Pistons, Mykhailiuk

Following a press conference to talk about his new three-year contract, Hornets forward P.J. Washington gave an exclusive interview to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Washington, who was the last standard restricted free agent left on the board, said he was relieved to finally re-sign with Charlotte, nearly two full months after free agency opened at the end of June. He also touched on Miles Bridges‘ return, playing under head coach Steve Clifford, rookie additions Brandon Miller and Nick Smith, and what he’s been working to improve on this offseason, among other topics.

As far as the team’s goal, Washington says the Hornets are focused on something he has yet to achieve in his four-year career — making the playoffs.

That’s the main focus for us,” Washington told Boone. “Since I’ve been here I haven’t been in the playoffs at all. So I want to get a taste of that. I want to see how it feels, and I want to eventually win in the playoffs. I think we have a good coaching staff, we have a good front office, we have good players. So, I think we have everything it takes to be there. It’s just about us being consistent each and every day and trying, but we have to fight and make it happen.”

Here’s more from the East:

  • Veteran center Thomas Bryant says he prioritized the Heat in free agency because “they really wanted me,” according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. A skilled scorer, Bryant thinks his offensive versatility will help Miami. “I feel like I can help this team based on what I’ve seen as an interior presence, interior scoring, my versatility out there to be able to shoot the three and make mid-range jump shots and score at the rim,” Bryant said. “But I feel like the versatility that I will bring to the table will really help the team in a great way.” Bryant, who signed a two-year deal with the Heat that includes a player option, will be competing for backup center minutes, Chiang notes.
  • The Heat have a full 21-man offseason roster at the moment, but five players are on Exhibit 10 training camp deals, three are on two-way deals, and Orlando Robinson‘s contract is only partially guaranteed for $75K. In practical terms, that means the Heat only have 12 players with guaranteed standard contracts. Assuming Robinson makes the roster out of camp, Miami will still need to add at least one player to its standard regular season roster, Chiang adds in the same article. As Chiang writes, in the new CBA teams can carry fewer than 14 players on standard deals for a total of 28 days in a season, and only up to 14 consecutively.
  • The Pistons have an intriguing blend of youth combined with veterans who can shoot. While the young core gains more experience, Detroit’s depth should provide new head coach Monty Williams plenty of options ahead of training camp, per Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.
  • Svi Mykhailiuk recently signed a one-year deal with the Celtics that — for now — is partially guaranteed at $200K. Jared Weiss of The Athletic examines what the veteran wing might provide for Boston, writing that Mykhailiuk is a talented if inconsistent offensive player who has some defensive limitations. Still, his size, shooting and complementary play-making could be useful off the bench, according to Weiss.

Contract Details: Mykhailiuk, Harrison, Washington, More

The contract that Svi Mykhailiuk signed with the Celtics is a one-year, minimum-salary deal that is partially guaranteed for $200K, Hoops Rumors has learned. If Mykhailiuk remains under contract through at least the start of the regular season, his partial guarantee would increase to 50% of his $2,346,614 salary, which works out to $1,173,307. He’d be assured of his full salary for 2023/24 if he isn’t waived on or before January 7.

Here are more details on a few recently signed contracts:

  • Shaquille Harrison‘s contract with the Grizzlies is a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 deal, Hoops Rumors has learned. While there has been some speculation that Harrison could fill the extra roster spot Memphis will create after the first five games of the season (when Ja Morant can be moved to the suspended list), he seems unlikely to make the opening-night roster. So if the Grizzlies want to have him fill that spot, Harrison would likely be waived and then re-signed.
  • As previously reported, P.J. Washington‘s contract with the Hornets is worth exactly $46.5MM, with $1.5MM in total incentives ($500K per year). It’s fully guaranteed with no options. Since his bonuses are considered unlikely, Washington’s first-year cap hit is $16,847,826; he’ll make a base salary of $15.5MM in year two and $14,152,174 in year three.
  • The two-way contracts recently signed by GG Jackson (Grizzlies) and TyTy Washington (Bucks) are each just for one year, so both players will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2024.

Southeast Notes: Jovic, Washington, Hornets’ Affiliate

Heat forward Nikola Jovic didn’t get to play much during his rookie season in 2022/23, but he’s been making his mark at the 2023 World Cup, Ira Winderman writes in a pair of stories for The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Competing for the Serbian national team, which went 3-0 in its group and advanced to the second round, Jovic had a solid if unspectacular first game, putting up nine points (on 3-of-6 shooting), three rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes against China.

On Monday against Puerto Rico, the 2022 first-round pick recorded a game-high 17 points (tied with teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic) on just nine field goal attempts. He also recorded four assists and three rebounds in 24 minutes.

Jovic followed up that strong performance with a perfect game on Wednesday against South Sudan, once again leading the contest with 25 points while shooting 9-of-9 from the field, to go along with three assists and two rebounds in 27 minutes.

Overall, the 20-year-old has averaged 17.0 PPG, 3.0 APG and 2.7 RPG with a scorching-hot .750/.667/.778 shooting line thus far. He has yet to commit a turnover in his 75 minutes on the court.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Former first-round pick Nikola Milutinov, whose draft rights are held by the Nets, praised his Serbian teammate after defeating South Sudan, per Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops.net. “He’s playing amazing, he’s a great part of our team and has a bright future,” Milutinov said of the Heat‘s Nikola Jovic. Serbia faces Italy on Friday and the Domnican Republic on Sunday.
  • P.J. Washington‘s new contract with the Hornets features a declining structure, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, who reports (via Twitter) that Washington will earn base salaries of $16.8MM, $15.5MM and $14.2MM over the next three years. The 25-year-old also has $500K in annual incentives, which are currently considered unlikely. Washington needs to play at least 74 games and 2,400 minutes to achieve the bonus in each season, Marks adds. Washington played a career-high 73 games for 2,380 total minutes last season.
  • The Hornets‘ NBA G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, has retained head coach Jordan Surenkamp for a third season, but the Swarm have a new general manager, per a team press release. Taking over GM duties is Cole Teal, who acted as manager of basketball operations and player development last season. Cole is replacing Cam Twiss, who is now a pro scout for Charlotte.

Hornets Sign P.J. Washington To Three-Year Contract

AUGUST 29: The Hornets have officially re-signed Washington, per NBA.com’s transaction log.

AUGUST 26: Restricted free agent forward P.J. Washington has agreed on a new three-year, $48MM deal to stay with the Hornets, LIFT Sports Management agent Kevin Bradbury and Washington Sports Group’s Paul Washington Sr. tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Washington was the only standard unsigned restricted free agent this summer and one of the most prominent available names in all of free agency, ranking 11th on our top-50 list.

There was some concern earlier in the offseason that Washington and the Hornets wouldn’t be able to come to terms on an agreement. Forward Miles Bridges and Charlotte didn’t agree on a long-term deal and he ended up signing his qualifying offer, putting himself on track for unrestricted free agency next year. Washington was believed to have been considering a similar route.

Other teams, such as the Cavaliers, were also monitoring the Washington situation. Now, the Hornets will bring back the 25-year-old on a three-year deal that pays $16MM annually.

Washington is an integral part of the Hornets’ promising young core that includes LaMelo Ball, 2023 No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller, Mark Williams and more. The Kentucky product averaged a career-high 15.7 points per game last season. The Hornets drafted Washington with the No. 12 overall pick in 2019 and he started 73 games for Charlotte last year.

The Washington signing will give the Hornets a packed roster. He’ll be the 13th Charlotte player on a guaranteed deal, with JT Thor, Kobi Simmons and Frank Ntilikina all signed to non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts.

James Nnaji, the No. 31 overall pick in 2023, hasn’t officially signed (though he may be stashed). The Hornets also have two players on two-way deals (Leaky Black and Amari Bailey), and Angelo Allegri, Tre Scott, Nathan Mensah and R.J. Hunter are all reportedly joining the Hornets on training camp deals. So while Charlotte has some flexibility, there are more moves to come from the Queen City.

Eastern Notes: McMillan, Washington, Giannis, Marks

Jamelle McMillan, the son of longtime NBA coach Nate McMillan, has been named the head coach of the Pistons’ G League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports.

McMillan has a connection to new Pistons head coach Monty Williams. He was on Williams’ staff in New Orleans and most recently was part of his father’s staff in Atlanta.

“The number one thing for me is not trying to be either one of those guys because that’s a really, really tall task for any coach,” McMillan said of his coaching mentors. He replaces DJ Bakker, who has left the Pistons organization and joined the Bucks’ coaching staff.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Hornets restricted free agent P.J. Washington was in limbo most of the summer until agreeing to a three-year, $48MM contract over the weekend. Talks were stagnant for more than a month, according to Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer, until heating up over the past week after the 2023/24 schedule was released. Washington could have signed a qualifying offer and headed to unrestricted free agency next summer but instead decided to play it safe and get the security of a three-year deal.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo said he won’t sign an extension this offseason and might consider joining another organization if he feels like the Bucks aren’t perennial title contenders. Could that factor into the Heat’s thinking regarding a trade for Damian Lillard? Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel doubts it, noting they can’t put Jimmy Butler (player option in the summer of ’25) on hold for a season or two to see if the Bucks’ superstar asks for a trade and eventually becomes a free agent. However, Winderman also notes that if the Heat don’t trade for Lillard, they could retain the assets they’d have to give up in a trade with the Blazers and use them for another blockbuster move.
  • The Nets no longer have the superstar power but they’ve got a lot of interesting young pieces and GM Sean Marks is excited to see how they’ll fit together, Anthony Puccio of Nets Daily relays. “We have all put ourselves in a position to have an exciting few years here where we’ve got a much younger roster than we’ve had in the past and a lot of guys have chips on their shoulders which I think is pretty important,” Marks told Jason Prime of New Zealand’s Weekend Sport on OMNY FM. “They’re pretty self-motivated. They don’t need to listen to me or anyone else for that matter for motivation. They’ve got something to prove.”

And-Ones: Washington, Available FAs, Player Tiers, CBA

Exploring possible destinations for some of the top remaining free agents, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report suggests that many people around the league think that P.J. Washington – the only standard restricted free agent still on the board – will eventually accept his qualifying offer from the Hornets. Pincus also confirms that the Lakers have conveyed interest in big man Christian Wood.

In considering a potential landing spot for Kelly Oubre, who averaged more than 20 points per game last season, Pincus notes that Memphis makes some sense. While it’s not clear if the Grizzlies have actually expressed interest in Oubre, Pincus points out that they haven’t really replaced Dillon Brooks at forward and have some young players – such as Ziaire Williams or Josh Christopher – who might appeal to the Hornets in a sign-and-trade scenario.

Here are a few more odds and ends from the league:

  • Seth Partnow of The Athletic has published the first two installments of his player tier rankings for the 2023/24 season. Breaking down the top 125 players of the league into five tiers, Partnow lists 45 players in tier five – including Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson and Raptors forward Scottie Barnes – and 41 more in tier four, such as Kings center Domantas Sabonis, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, and Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns. Partnow’s top three tiers will consist of 39 players and will presumably be posted later this week.
  • Now that hoarding cap room into the regular season is no longer a viable strategy, Rob Mahoney of The Ringer wonders how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will change the way that rebuilding teams approach future offseasons.
  • With no sign that the Damian Lillard or James Harden situations will be resolved anytime soon, John Hollinger of The Athletic questions whether the NBA’s player empowerment era has reached its ceiling. During the last several years, stars who ask for trades have sought increasingly specific destinations despite having less and less leverage, Hollinger observes, adding that the outcomes for Lillard and Harden could create new benchmarks for future star trade requests.

Only One Standard Restricted Free Agent Remains Unsigned

Entering 2023 free agency, there were 12 restricted free agents on standard contracts. Of that group, 11 have signed new deals, which means Hornets forward P.J. Washington is the lone standard RFA left on the market.

As our free agent tracker shows, Miles Bridges, Ayo Dosunmu, Rui Hachimura, Cameron Johnson, Tre Jones, Herbert Jones, Austin Reaves, Paul Reed, Matisse Thybulle and Coby White have all returned to the teams that held their rights of first refusal. Only Grant Williams found a new club, joining the Mavericks via a three-team sign-and-trade with Boston and San Antonio.

That doesn’t mean other players in that group weren’t interested in finding new homes in free agency. Thybulle and Reed signed offer sheets with the Mavs and Jazz, respectively, that the Trail Blazers and Sixers decided to match.

Bridges’ representatives reportedly weren’t thrilled with his lack of negotiating leverage in talks with the Hornets, as he was the only standard RFA to sign his $7.9MM qualifying offer, which means he’ll become an unrestricted free agent in 2024. Bridges was ineligible for a sign-and-trade after missing all of last season following domestic violence charges.

Washington is reportedly at an impasse in contract negotiations with Charlotte, and only the Cavaliers have been linked as a potential sign-and-trade suitor for the former 12th overall pick. Still, Cleveland is limited in its ability to make a lucrative offer for Washington due to its proximity to the luxury tax, and the Cavs also don’t have many desirable draft assets, so the Hornets might balk at that idea.

Washington, who turns 25 next week, is reportedly seeking a contract in the range of $18-20MM annually. A month ago, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported that Charlotte had yet to offer Washington a contract that matched or exceeded the rookie scale extension Isaiah Stewart signed with Detroit — $15MM in guaranteed money per year (up to $16MM annually with incentives).

Perhaps Washington will eventually take the same route as Bridges by signing his $8.5MM qualifying offer to hit unrestricted free agency next summer. That scenario would be less than ideal for Charlotte, as the team could potentially lose both of its former lottery picks for nothing in 2024.

In addition to Washington, there are also four two-way restricted free agents who remain unsigned: Trent Forrest (Hawks), Theo Maledon (Hornets), Matt Ryan (Timberwolves) and Terry Taylor (Bulls). Jamal Cain accepted his two-way qualifying offer from the Heat on Friday, taking him off the market.

Central Notes: Rubio, Washington, Cunningham, Thompson

Ricky Rubio‘s decision to take time away from basketball and focus on his mental health leaves the Cavaliers with an uncertain situation at backup point guard, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes in a mailbag column. Rubio didn’t offer any indication of how long he might be inactive, so there’s no way of knowing if he’ll be available when training camp opens in seven weeks or when the season starts in late October.

There’s no urgency for Cleveland to make a roster move, Fedor adds. The Cavs signed free agent Ty Jerome in the belief that he can handle a larger role than he had with Golden State, and Donovan Mitchell, Caris LeVert and two-way player Craig Porter Jr. are all capable of running the offense for short stretches. Fedor points out that there aren’t any strong options remaining in free agency, but Kendrick Nunn, Michael Carter-Williams, George Hill, Ish Smith, and D.J. Augustin are among the players still available.

General manager Mike Gansey scheduled a trip to Malaga, Spain, this summer to visit with Rubio and watch the Spanish World Cup team in action, according to Fedor. However, Rubio left training camp before Gansey arrived, so he devoted the trip to scouting instead.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers have expressed interest in P.J. Washington and may be “lurking” as his standoff with the Hornets continues, Fedor adds. He notes that Cleveland was able to take advantage of a similar situation in a sign-and-trade with Lauri Markkanen two years ago by offering a contract beyond what the Bulls were willing to pay. Fedor states that Rubio and Dean Wade would be enough to match salary if Washington would accept about $15MM per year, but he’s not sure if that and a few second-round picks would satisfy Charlotte.
  • Cade Cunningham is the only untouchable player on the Pistons‘ roster, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic writes in his annual evaluation of the team’s most valuable assets. Even though he missed most of last season after shin surgery, Cunningham is still viewed around the league as a potential superstar, according to Edwards. Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and rookie Ausar Thompson follow Cunningham on Edwards’ list.
  • Overtime Elite general manager Gerald Wilkins believes Thompson has a bright NBA future, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Wilkins offered a glowing recommendation to Jarrett Jack, a new member of the Pistons‘ coaching staff under Monty Williams. “He would ask me things like what are his strengths, what are his weaknesses, how can I get him the ball,” Wilkins said. “I would just tell him, ‘Just put him on the floor. Just put him in the game. They are basketball players, Ausar and Amen. They’re basketball players. You put him on the floor and a lot of good things are going to happen.’”

Southeast Notes: Hornets, J. Richardson, D. Robinson, Gallinari

Restricted free agent P.J. Washington and the Hornets remain at an impasse in contract negotiations and there have been “no indications” of that changing anytime soon, league sources tell Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Boone examines the team’s roster and depth chart entering the 2023/24 season, writing that No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller projects to come off the bench behind veterans Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward.

Assuming Washington is on the roster, he’ll have the inside track for the starting power forward position, with Miles Bridges suspended for the first 10 games. However, Boone wonders if the Hornets will eventually pivot to Bridges if they get off to a slow start.

2021 first-round picks James Bouknight and Kai Jones will likely find minutes tough to come by, Boone adds.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Appearing at the Heat‘s youth camp on Wednesday, returning swingman Josh Richardson said Damian Lillard is the best player he’s played against, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays. Lillard’s status, of course, has been one of the primary stories of the offseason, as the longtime Trail Blazers star requested a trade to Miami. Richardson, a free agent signee, said his game is malleable and he’s ready for whatever role he’s given. “I mean, you know how (head coach Erik Spoelstra) Spo is, he’s kind of like, ‘I can put you out there and do anything,’” Richardson said of not sweating how the roster or his role ultimately could shake out. “So it’s kind of what I’m good at. I’m kind of a jack of all trades. Our talk was good before, but I’ll guess we’ll see more concrete once the games get started.”
  • In a subscriber-only mailbag for The Sun Sentinel, Winderman notes that while losing Max Strus‘ shooting could make Duncan Robinson more valuable to the Heat, the latter certainly isn’t irreplaceable. Robinson’s name has popped up in trade rumors for several months and he could be used as a salary-matching piece in a possible Lillard deal.
  • Wizards forward Danilo Gallinari, who was acquired from Boston as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade, says he’s looking forward to competing against the Celtics next season, according to Daniel Donabedian of Clutch Points. “I can’t wait to play against Boston,” Gallinari said on the Italian A Cresta Alta podcast. “When the schedule will be unveiled, I’ll put an X on the games we will play at Boston against the Celtics.” Gallinari grew up idolizing Celtics legend Larry Bird and hoped to win a title in Boston, but missed all of last season after tearing his ACL last year.