Rashard Lewis

Central Notes: Pistons, Middleton, Bucks, Bulls

As had been previously rumored, the Pistons are adding a pair of former NBA players to their coaching staff, announcing today that Keith Bogans and Rashard Lewis are coming aboard as player development assistants, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News.

The Pistons have also hired former Celtics assistant Brandon Bailey as a player development assistant and Brittni Donaldson – formerly of the Raptors – as an assistant coach and director of coaching analytics. The team announced a series of other promotions, including George David to associate general manager and Rob Murphy, Josh Bartelstein, and Tony Leotti to assistant GM.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • As we previously relayed, the Pistons sent the Jazz some cash as part of the Bojan Bogdanovic trade. The exact amount, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), was $1,752,638, which is equal to the amount that Saben Lee is earning in 2022/23. That means, from a financial perspective, Utah essentially swapped Bogdanovic ($19.55MM) for Kelly Olynyk ($12.8MM this season, plus a $3MM partial guarantee in 2023/24) and will get a free look at Lee.
  • Khris Middleton could become a free agent as soon as next summer if he turns down a $40MM+ player option for 2023/24. While he’s not sure how his contract situation will play out, the standout wing tells Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he wants to stay with the Bucks long-term. “I think everybody knows that. Even though I know you’re really not supposed to say it for all the reasons out there, but I think everybody knows deep down that I want to stay,” Middleton said. “But also, you know it’s a business. Things change, things happen. You just never know. For sure I would love to stay, if everything works out.”
  • Eric Nehm of The Athletic poses a series of questions for Bucks players to answer this season, including whether Grayson Allen‘s playoff struggles vs. Boston were a fluke or a harbinger of things to come.
  • The Bulls will miss Lonzo Ball, one of their best two-way players, as he recovers from another knee procedure to open the season, but they have enough depth at point guard and don’t need to make a trade to fortify the position, opines Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

Eastern Notes: McGruder, Lee, Bogans, Lewis, Celtics, Cavs

Barring a trade or injury, the Pistons will likely have to choose between Saben Lee or Rodney McGruder for their final roster spot, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes in his latest mailbag column. Making a trade, perhaps involving one of their big men, would create roster openings for both of those players.

McGruder recently signed a fully guaranteed one-year, minimum salary contract.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Pistons are close to finalizing a contract with Keith Bogans to join Dwane Casey‘s staff, ESPN contributor Frank Isola tweets. Rashard Lewis is also in talks with the Pistons regarding a coaching position, Isola adds.
  • The Celtics lead all teams in projected regular season wins at Caesars Sportsbook, as Doug Kezirian of ESPN relays. The Celtics’ win total over/under for the 2022/23 campaign is 54.5, followed closely by the Suns (53.5), Bucks (52.5), Warriors (52.5) and Clippers (51.5).
  • What do the Cavaliers need to avoid in order to continue their ascent in the Eastern Conference? Injuries, regression in an improved conference and defensive slippage, according to The Athletic’s Kelsey Russo, who takes a closer look at each of those possibilities.

And-Ones: International Expansion, Season Length, Seeding

The limitations of existing air travel technology will prevent any major international expansion, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. While the league has enjoyed success hosting the occasional event in China, there’s just no logical way to incorporate such an ambitious expansion considering how long it would take, and how taxing it would be to send teams back and forth between North America and Asia.

Of course that hasn’t ruled out league commissioner Adam Silver from at least being open to the idea if, or perhaps when, existing airline technology changes. Currently a flight from the West Coast to China takes 14 hours. Entrepreneurs like Elon Musk are hard at work trying to innovate feasible ways of moving people across the globe quicker and more efficiently.

We can play games in China and Europe, or occasional preseason games as a one-off,” Silver said. “But under existing airline technology, the planes aren’t fast enough to at least play in the current frame work of our regular season.

A more realistic option for international expansion would involve Mexico City. Travelling to Mexico is far more practical, although political and financial hurdles remain. Silver cites the success of the league’s international expansion north into Canada as proof that such change is at least possible.

There’s more from around the league:

  • In the same article, Sam Amick of USA Today writes that NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t necessarily consider the 82-game season to be set in stone. “There’s nothing magical about 82 games,” Silver said. “It’s been in place for 50 years, but for the long-term planning of the league, as we learn more about the human body and the wear and tear of travel and the competitive landscape … invariably we’ll look at the regular season.
  • With the first season in the books, the Big3 has turned its attention to next year, bringing back a number of players from the inaugural campaign. A press release on the league’s official site mentions that a batch of players, including league MVP Rashard Lewis, have already signed on to return in 2018.
  • The NBA’s willingness to shake up the All-Star Game format could imply that they’d consider changing how seeding in the playoffs works, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes, although there’s no indication that any change is imminent.

And-Ones: Draft, Doncic, Villanueva, BIG3

In the view of NBA general managers and scouts, The league’s 2017 draft is poised to be the strongest in a decade, according to Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider-only link), who has updated his big board with profiles of this year’s top 30 prospects. Washington guard Markelle Fultz remains atop Ford’s board, though he acknowledges that it’s no slam dunk that Fultz will be the No. 1 pick in June. Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson, other candidates for that top spot, held their respective positions at Nos. 2 and 3, while Dennis Smith and Jonathan Isaac moved up to round out Ford’s top five.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Givony’s latest prospect profiles for The Vertical include a player who may be the early frontrunner to come off the board first in the 2018 draft. According to Givony, 17-year-old Luka Doncic is making waves in Europe with his play for Real Madrid this season, having become the youngest player to secure a rotation spot for a Euroleague team since Ricky Rubio in 2007. And so far, Doncic’s production is blowing away Rubio’s, Givony writes.

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • After appearing in 62 games last season for the Mavericks, longtime NBA big man Charlie Villanueva didn’t re-sign with Dallas or land with a new team in free agency. However, Villanueva doesn’t appear to be ready for retirement yet. The 11-year veteran issued the following tweet on Tuesday: “I want back in #NBAcomeback.”
  • Rashard Lewis and Jason Williams will co-captain one of the eight BIG3 teams this summer, according to a press release from the league. The team featuring Lewis, Williams, and three additional players will be known as the 3 Headed Monsters.
  • Cliff Alexander, who was in camp with the Magic in the fall and has spent the season with Orlando’s D-League affiliate, was traded on Tuesday. According to a press release, the Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s NBADL affiliate, acquired Alexander from the Erie BayHawks in exchange for Long Island’s third-round pick in 2017. In 22 D-League games this season for Erie, the Kansas product has recorded 11.9 PPG and 8.0 RPG.

New Pro League For Retired Players To Debut In 2017

Longtime NBA guard Roger Mason is leaving his position as the deputy executive director of the National Basketball Players Association to help launch a new professional basketball league for retired players, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. According to Wojnarowski, Mason will serve as president and commissioner of the new league.

As Wojnarowski details, Mason will partner with rapper and actor Ice Cube – and multiple investors – to launch the league in June 2017. The plan is for eight teams – made up of five players apiece – to tour together from city to city for 10 weeks in the summer, playing three-on-three, half-court games. The league, which will be known as TheBig3, is being founded by Ice Cube, who spoke to Wojnarowski about the project.

“I thought of this concept as a fan who got sick of seeing his heroes retire and not play anymore,” Ice Cube said. “A lot of these guys can still play once they retire – just not the back-to-backs or four games in five nights.

“Not only do we get a chance to see these guys keep playing, but we give guys who retired who still got some game – who don’t want to pick up a [microphone] on TV and who don’t want to go overseas to play … some of these guys still want a stage to play on.”

Per Wojnarowski, former NBA players who have committed to play on teams in the league include Kenyon Martin, Stephen Jackson, Jermaine O’Neal, Rashard Lewis, and Jason Williams. Additionally, Gary Payton has agreed to coach one of the teams.

As for Mason, he played a significant role in the NBPA’s transition over the last several years, and will leave the union as it prepares to officially ratify a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NBA. According to Wojnarowski, the NBPA’s focus on taking care of retired and elderly former players in the new CBA was in large part due to Mason.

An official news conference to announce TheBig3 is expected in January, says Wojnarowski.

And-Ones: Allen, Thabeet, NBPA

In response to commissioner Adam Silver’s statement that a third of the teams in the league are still losing money, new NBPA head Michele Roberts said, “The NBA’s cries of poverty will not work this time,” Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes.”I can say that I was more than surprised,” Roberts told Yahoo Sports. “I am not suggesting that Adam is telling a lie. I am sure that the owners told him that. But it’s difficult for me to believe that, especially after looking at the 2011 CBA negotiations and seeing all the money the players don’t have now. There’s $1.1 billion that the players would’ve been otherwise entitled.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Mavs owner Mark Cuban left open the possibility that Dallas could add either Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis later on in the season, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News reports. “We haven’t talked to him, but I think he’s doing it the right way,” Cuban said of Allen. “He’s waiting to see who’s doing well. If it comes down to it, we’d always consider it. We’re always open to improving the team. But you don’t want to mess up a good thing, either. That’s when Caron Butler got hurt and Roddy [Beaubois] got hurt. But Peja Stojakovic is a good example of us adding a veteran in season.” In regards to Lewis, Cuban added, “Rashard Lewis is working out here. We’ve stayed in touch with him and worked with him.”
  • Hasheem Thabeet has passed on playing in Europe and instead will play for Grand Rapids in the NBA D-League this season, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). It appears that the Pistons, who had waived Thabeet, will retain his D-League rights as franchises can retain the rights of up to four players that they have waived.
  • The NBA D-League Draft is scheduled to be held this Saturday and the crew over at DraftExpress ran down the complete list of eligible players.
  • The Bucks will keep working toward an extension with Brandon Knight up until Friday’s deadline, David Alarcón of HoopsHype tweets. It’s unclear how far apart the two sides are in their discussions, but in his look at Knight in our extension candidate series, Chuck Myron opined that the two sides could compromise on a four-year, $41MM arrangement similar to what the Sixers gave Jrue Holiday two years ago.

Mavericks Notes: Marion, Aminu, Lewis

Mavericks president Donnie Nelson is still open to signing Shawn Mariontweets Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. This isn’t any different from what Nelson said in a radio interview roughly two weeks ago, when he said that the team wouldn’t close the door on attempting to bring the 6’7 forward back to Dallas. It’s worth noting that the Mavs still had their $2.7MM room exception at that point; however, Nelson said that Marion’s value in the free agent market was much more than the team could afford. Now that the team used the room exception to sign Jameer Nelson, it seems even less likely that a reunion with “The Matrix” would materialize.

Here’s more out of Dallas tonight:

  • Donnie Nelson admitted that the team had originally considered signing Al-Farouq Aminu with their room exception, according to Price (Twitter link). The Mavs were fortunate to land the young forward on a veteran’s minimum deal instead.
  • Price also heard Donnie Nelson say that the Mavs may consider signing Rashard Lewis after he undergoes knee surgery (Twitter link). The team recently voided their one-year, $1.4MM offer after learning that Lewis needed an operation on his right knee.
  • Price (via Twitter) passes along that Donnie and the rest of the team expect Raymond Felton to have a bounce-back year this season.
  • Ivan Johnson‘s contract with the Mavs is a two-year arrangement, a source tells Sportando’s Enea Trapani (Twitter link), and both years are partially guaranteed, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM. It’s almost certainly a minimum-salary deal, as Chuck Myron explained earlier.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Mavs Void Contract With Rashard Lewis

The Mavericks have nullified their contract with Rashard Lewis after a right knee injury requiring surgery was discovered during his team physical, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). Lewis had signed a one-year deal for the minimum salary this past weekend, but today’s move puts him back in free agency immediately. He doesn’t need to pass through waivers. Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, in a statement from the team, stopped short of confirming that the Mavs had voided the contract, but he seemed to hint that the 34-year-old sharpshooting power forward was no longer with the organization.

“It came to our attention during Rashard Lewis’s physical that he is in need of a medical procedure on his right knee,” Nelson said. “We wish him all the best for a speedy recovery and continued success in his remarkable career.”

The Mavs aren’t on the hook for any salary to the client of Dutt Sports Services Inc., even though his contract appeared to be fully guaranteed, but it’s possible that the players association will file a grievance, as is often the case when teams move to nullify contracts with players. It’s not clear how long it will take for Lewis to recover and return to action. The move won’t create any more cap flexibility for Dallas, since the team is already essentially capped out and it appeared the Mavs used the minimum-salary exception on their deal with Lewis.

Rashard Lewis To Have Knee Surgery

10:21pm: Lewis’ injury was discovered during a team physical, and It’s uncertain if the Mavs will look to void his contract at this point, writes Spears.

7:09pm: Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com tweeted that it was unclear how long Lewis would be sidelined. Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram added that it’s not known yet when Lewis will have the surgery or if he’ll be recovered enough to participate in training camp this fall (Twitter links).

5:43pm: Mavericks forward Rashard Lewis will have knee surgery soon, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. Though it isn’t clear how serious the procedure will be, Lewis’ agent, Colin Bryant may have implied that the 6’10 forward could still be able to return at some point this season. Rashard discovered he needs a medical procedure on his right knee to ensure he functions at a high level this season…We look forward to (Lewis) getting this behind him as soon as possible so he can continue his stellar NBA career” (All Twitter links). 

The 34-year-old forward was a key rotation player for the Heat in this past year’s NBA playoffs, logging eight starts and 17.7 MPG in 18 total games en route to a Finals appearance. Lewis signed a one-year deal reportedly worth the veteran’s minimum with Dallas last week.

Mavericks Sign Rashard Lewis

SATURDAY, 3:35pm: The deal is official, the team announced via press release.

TUESDAY, 9:50pm: Rashard Lewis has agreed to a one-year deal with the Mavericks, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Colin Bryant, Lewis’ agent, confirmed the news. According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, the deal will be worth the veteran’s minimum (Twitter link).

In 60 games last season, Lewis averaged 4.5 PPG in 16.2 MPG while shooting 41.5% from the field and 34.3% from long distance. In 18 playoff games, the 34-year-old forward scored 5.3 PPG and raised his three point accuracy to 37.3%.

With Lewis on board, the Mavericks have found a capable veteran backup for Dirk Nowitzki who can spread the floor with his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter. Although his overall shooting percentages from the field over the last two seasons seem far from ideal, Lewis displayed noticeable proficiency as a catch-and-shoot player in this year’s playoffs, as he knocked down 40.0% of his 3.1 three-point attempts on those type of shots.