Rodney McGruder

And-Ones: Scoring Rate, McGruder, A. Williams, Sheppard

There has been a noticeable dip in points and fouls per game across the NBA since the All-Star break. According to Marc Stein at Substack, entering Tuesday’s games, teams were averaging 111.7 points and 19.9 free throws per game since the All-Star game, compared to 115.5 points and 22.7 free throws per contest prior to the break.

As Stein notes, there has been some speculation that – following a record-setting first half and an embarrassing All-Star game that saw nearly 400 points scored – the NBA quietly instructed its officials to call fewer shooting fouls in recent weeks.

However, a league spokesperson told Stein that the league office hasn’t given any directive to referees to call games any differently. The NBA’s position, then, is that the recent trend is a statistical anomaly, though those numbers are worth watching down the stretch, Stein writes.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Olimpia Milano and veteran guard Rodney McGruder have parted ways, the Italian club announced today (via Twitter). Milano’s statement indicates that McGruder was granted permission to return to the U.S. for personal reasons. The 32-year-old wing, who has appeared in over 300 NBA regular season games and was in camp with the Warriors last fall, averaged 7.6 PPG and 2.6 RPG in seven EuroLeague games this season.
  • Drexel big man Amari Williams has opted to enter the NCAA transfer portal while declaring for the 2024 NBA draft, agent George Langberg tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Williams, who has year of NCAA eligibility remaining, has been named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Defensive Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons, though he’s not on ESPN top-100 prospect list for ’24.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic names the nine NCAA prospects he’ll be watching most closely in March, starting with Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard. Hollinger jokingly suggests that NBA evaluators have been trying to avoid reaching the conclusion that Sheppard is this year’s best college prospect “despite having the evidence punch them in the face every day.” Providence’s Devin Carter and Iowa’s Payton Sandfort are among the less obvious names on Hollinger’s list of players to monitor.

Rodney McGruder Signs With Olimpia Milano

Veteran NBA wing Rodney McGruder has reached a rest-of-season deal with Olimpia Milano, the Italian team confirmed today in a press release.

A former Kansas State standout, McGruder made his NBA debut in 2016 for Miami and has since appeared in 317 total regular season games with the Heat, Clippers, and Pistons, including 32 last season in Detroit.

Known as a versatile defender and a solid presence in the locker room, McGruder has career averages of 5.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 19.4 minutes per game, with a shooting line of .420/.360/.672. The 32-year-old was in training camp with the Warriors this past fall, but didn’t earn a spot on Golden State’s regular season roster and was waived in October.

McGruder will join an Olimpia Milano squad that has been on the lookout for reliable backcourt depth for much of the season and was linked to Shaquille Harrison in November before those talks stalled.

Milan has gone just 9-11 in EuroLeague play and sits in 12th place out of 18 teams. The club has had more success in Italy’s Lega Basket Seria A (LBA), where its 9-6 record is good for a tie for fourth out of 16 teams.

Warriors Waive Rudy Gay, Rodney McGruder

The Warriors have officially waived forward Rudy Gay and swingman Rodney McGruder, the team announced following the conclusion of Friday’s preseason finale (Twitter press release).

Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link), who first reported the cuts, say that Golden State will open the season with just 13 players on standard contracts for added roster and financial flexibility, and will plan to add a 14th man within the first two weeks of the season. That player will likely be signed to a non-guaranteed contract.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, a team is permitted to carry fewer than 14 players on standard contracts for up to two weeks and up to 28 total days in a given season. That means if the Warriors don’t fill that 14th roster spot until two weeks into the season, they’d only be permitted to dip to 13 players again for up to 14 more days for the rest of the season.

Gay and McGruder, both NBA veterans, were believed to fighting for a single roster spot, but neither player earned significant playing time during the preseason. Gay registered four points and seven rebounds in 15 total minutes across two contests, while McGruder appeared in just one game, putting up eight points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.

Given that the Warriors will need to sign a 14th man soon, they could circle back to Gay, McGruder, or Javonte Green, who was also waived this week. If the team isn’t enamored of any of those vets, it could look elsewhere on the free agent market. Promoting a two-way player to a standard contract and then signing a new two-way player would be another option.

Gay and McGruder will clear waivers on Monday, assuming they go unclaimed.

Pacific Notes: McGruder, Vincent, Nurkic, Sabonis

Veteran wing Rodney McGruder has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol and will be sidelined for the Warriors‘ first preseason game against the Lakers on Saturday, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

McGruder, 32, is on a non-guaranteed Exhibit 9 deal for training camp and has a “real shot” to make the regular season roster, according to Slater. McGruder averaged 5.7 points while shooting 42.3% from three-point range last season for the Pistons.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Gabe Vincent was the main external free agent addition for the Lakers, who signed the 27-year-old guard to a three-year, $33MM contract. Vincent tells Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (subscriber link) that he’s ready for his new role in one of the league’s biggest markets. “The game changes, the game evolves, you have to adapt,” he said. “You change teams, you change situations, you have to adapt. I think that’s very much part of surviving in this league, being able to adapt.”
  • Suns center Jusuf Nurkic was recently traded to Phoenix from Portland, and he’s enjoying his time playing with the “Big 3” of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (subscriber link). “It’s kind of crazy when you think about it,” Nurkic said. “The spacing and everything is so big. It’s really fun to be out there.” The Bosnian big man will make $54.4MM over the next three seasons.
  • The Kings renegotiated and extended Domantas Sabonis‘ contract this offseason, adding four more years onto his deal, which is now worth nearly $204MM in total guaranteed money. According to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee, the All-NBA center cited the Kings’ fans and his partnership with De’Aaron Fox as key reasons for why he was “more than happy” to sign a long-term deal. “Having a dynamic guard like that, a superstar who can do everything, offense and defense, it means everything,” Sabonis said of Fox. “You guys saw it last year, and for me as a big to play with someone like that makes life so much easier.”

Warriors Notes: McGruder, Green, Saric, Paul, Thompson

Before Rodney McGruder signed an Exhibit 9 contract with the Warriors, his closest connection with Draymond Green came through an expletive-filled tirade that Green delivered three years ago, writes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. After McGruder had a verbal confrontation with Juan Toscano-Anderson, Green went on a two-minute postgame rant asking when McGruder became his team’s “tough guy.”

“Draymond and I talked it out before I got here,” McGruder said. “It’s all love. It’s just the competitive nature of the game. You say things, you do things, then you move on.”

Green has become one of McGruder’s top supporters, Letourneau adds, because he can identify with the work the 32-year-old guard had to put in to carve out a role in the NBA. McGruder went undrafted out of Kansas State in 2013, then spent time in Hungary and the G League before earning a contract with Miami. He finds himself trying to earn another roster spot late in his career, which Letourneau notes involves the challenge of beating out veteran forward Rudy Gay.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Dario Saric had offers in free agency from several teams that needed frontcourt depth, but he opted for a veteran’s minimum deal with Golden State because he saw a good fit with the roster, per C.J. Holmes of The San Francisco Chronicle. “I looked (around at different opportunities) a little bit those couple days,” Saric said. “I looked a little bit at the Warriors, how they run stuff, how I can fit there. Obviously I think I can. … I hope I’ll prove to fans that I deserve to be part of this team.” Saric’s decision reunites him with former Suns teammate Chris Paul, and he’s confident they can duplicate the pick-and-roll chemistry they had in Phoenix.
  • Paul’s priority will be to keep the offense flowing when Stephen Curry isn’t on the court, states Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. At media day, coach Steve Kerr said the team has always struggled to get points without its star in the game. “Even when we had Kevin (Durant) and that group that won back-to-back titles, our whole goal for the non-Steph minutes was to just put a great defensive team on the floor and win those minutes with defense,” Kerr said. “We’ve never really generated great offense with Steph on the bench. Chris will help us do that.”
  • Kerr plans to continue the practice of having Klay Thompson guard some power forwards, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Kerr wants to have Curry, Paul and Thompson on the floor together frequently, and Andrew Wiggins is needed to match up with high-scoring small forwards.

Warriors Notes: Green, Joseph, Payton, Thompson, Paul, Gay, McGruder

The Warriors provided a minor injury update on Draymond Green, who expects to miss four-to-six weeks with a left ankle sprain. According to the team, Green will be reevaluated in two weeks (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic).

Golden State also had an update on veteran guard Cory Joseph, who signed with the Warriors in free agency. Joseph sustained a back injury while preparing with the Canadian national team for the World Cup, which caused him to miss the tournament.

According to Slater, the Warriors described the injury as a lower back lumbar strain, and Joseph will be reevaluated in two weeks. That means he’ll miss training camp.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • At Monday’s Media Day (Twitter links via ESPN’s Kendra Andrews), Green said he was disappointed with the injury, but he’s pleased with how his ankle is responding thus far and is focused on being in “even better shape by the time, whenever it is, that I start playing … it’s an opportunity for me to get better and continue to improve.”
  • Guard Gary Payton II was limited to just 15 games last season due to a lingering adductor injury, but he’s healthy now and says there’s a “night and day” difference entering 2023/24. “Ready to play 82 (games),” he said, per Slater (Twitter link).
  • Klay Thompson will be a free agent in 2024 unless he signs a contract extension. As Andrews tweets, Thompson says it’s “possible” a deal comes together in the next few months. “If not, life is still great,” he said. “I’m playing basketball in my 13th year in the NBA.”
  • There’s been a lot of speculation about who will start for the Warriors this season after the team traded for Chris Paul, who has never come off the bench in his long NBA career. But Paul noted that he was a reserve for Team USA at the 2008 Olympics, and he’s not concerned about starting in ’23/24. Anybody who knows me knows that I’m all about winning,” Paul said, per Andrews (Twitter link). “Whatever I can do to help the team win.”
  • According to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link), both Rudy Gay and Rodney McGruder  signed non-guaranteed Exhibit 9 deals for training camp. Exhibit 9’s can only be one-year, minimum-salary contracts and do not count against the salary cap until the start of the regular season. Exhibit 9 contracts are primarily used to limit the team’s liability in the event of an injury.

Pacific Notes: Vincent, Primo, Gay, McGruder, Suns

In an interview with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Gabe Vincent said he isn’t upset that Lakers coach Darvin Ham has already chosen D’Angelo Russell as his starting point guard. Vincent is only a few months removed from starting for the Heat in the NBA Finals, but he’s willing to accept a reserve role with his new team.

“That’s something for D-Ham to worry about,” Vincent said. “I’m not the coach. I don’t set lineups. I just go out there and do my job. I’ll do whatever I can to help this team win games and help this organization win games. As I’ve seen in the past, every night doesn’t always look the same. With that big picture in mind with trying to help us win, I’ll wear whatever hat is needed.”

L.A. signed Vincent to a three-year contract worth $33MM, so he’s obviously in the team’s plans even if he won’t start right away. Vincent had several options in free agency, but he liked the idea of playing for Ham because they have similar backgrounds.

“I think it’s just in general his route,” Vincent said. “I think there are some similarities between me and him in that regard and his journey. He spent some time in the G League as did I. There are some similarities that we have naturally, even when we sit down and talk the game and catch up. It’s seamless. We get along well. D Ham has been great. He’s been very real. So I definitely have appreciated him early in this process.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

Warriors Sign Six Players, Including Rudy Gay

The Warriors have signed free agents Rudy Gay, Rodney McGruder, Donovan Williams, Kendric Davis, Javan Johnson and Jayce Johnson ahead of training camp, the team announced on Thursday (via Twitter).

All of the deals had previously been reported except for Davis’. The 5’11” guard went undrafted in June and worked out for Golden State the month prior.

Davis averaged 21.9 PPG, 5.4 APG, 3.7 RPG and 2.0 SPG in 34 games (34.9 MPG) as a “super senior” with Memphis in 2022/23. He likely received a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 contract, which would put him in line for a $75K bonus if he’s waived before ’23/24 starts and spends at least 60 days with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s NBA G League affiliate. Exhibit 10 deals can also be converted into two-way contracts, and the Warriors have one two-way opening.

A 17-year veteran forward who regularly averaged in the neighborhood of 20 points per game during stints in Memphis, Toronto, and Sacramento earlier in his career, Gay is the most noteworthy signing of the group. However, his playing time and production have declined in recent seasons, and he’s 37 years old. Like all the other additions, he’ll be competing for a roster spot in training camp.

McGruder, 32, is a seven-year NBA veteran, appearing in 317 regular season games with the Heat, Clippers and Pistons since 2016. The guard/forward averaged 5.5 PPG and 2.1 RPG on a .441/.412/.768 shooting line over the past three seasons with Detroit (99 games, 14.9 MPG).

Williams reportedly impressed the Warriors during scrimmages at their facility earlier this month. The former UNLV wing spent part of last season on a two-way contract with the Hawks after going undrafted in 2022.

Javan Johnson, a former DePaul forward, went undrafted in June. The 24-year-old started 33 games for the Blue Demons last season, averaging 14.2 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 2.4 APG while making 41.2% of his 3-point attempts.

Jayce Johnson, a 7’0″ center, led the NBA G League in rebounds per game last season while playing for Santa Cruz. He signed an Exhibit 10 deal and will be vying for the team’s final two-way slot.

The Warriors now have a full 21-man training camp roster, with 13 players on guaranteed standard contracts.

Warriors To Sign Rodney McGruder

The Warriors are signing free agent wing Rodney McGruder, sources tell Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). The veteran guard/forward will be competing for a standard roster spot in training camp, Charania adds.

McGruder, 32, is a seven-year NBA veteran, appearing in 317 regular season games with the Heat, Clippers and Pistons over that span. He has spent the past three seasons with Detroit.

McGruder’s on-court time has been limited in recent seasons — he appeared in 99 games for an average of 14.9 MPG during his Pistons tenure. However, he had solid production when he did play, averaging 5.5 PPG and 2.1 RPG on a .441/.412/.768 shooting line from 2020-23.

A former Kansas State Wildcat, McGruder was reportedly a highly respected locker-room leader for the Pistons, which is part of the reason why they kept bringing him back. Detroit renounced his rights this summer in order to maximize its cap space.

Slater previously reported the Warriors were prioritizing another wing (instead of a big man) to add to their roster ahead of training camp. McGruder will be part of that equation for now.

At a press conference on Monday, GM Mike Dunleavy Jr. said the team was still exploring its options with the final standard roster spots, which suggests McGruder might be on a non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed deal.

We’re open and I think that’s a great position to be in where we have flexibility and can evaluate … We don’t have our sights set on one thing,” Dunleavy said, per ESPN’s Kendra Andrews (Twitter link).

The Warriors currently have 13 players on standard contracts and a pair of players — Lester Quinones and Usman Garuba — on two-way deals. McGruder will fill the 14th spot once his deal is official.

Contract/Cap Notes: Middleton, Lopez, C. Johnson, Watanabe, More

The three-year contract Khris Middleton signed with the Bucks only has a base value of about $93MM, well below the reported figure of $102MM, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

As Marks explains, the deal features approximately $9MM in total incentives — $2MM are currently considered likely to be earned, while the other $7MM are unlikely (meaning Middleton and/or the Bucks didn’t achieve the criteria last season). For now, the forward’s annual cap hits, which take into account his base salaries and likely incentives, will be $29.3MM, $31.7MM, and $34MM.

Meanwhile, Brook Lopez‘s two-year, $48MM contract with the Bucks has a declining structure, according to Marks. The veteran center will earn $25MM in 2023/24 and $23MM in ’24/25.

Here are a few more contract and cap details from around the NBA:

  • Marks also has the specifics (via Twitter) on Cameron Johnson‘s four-year contract with the Nets, which includes several incentives and declines in years two and three before rising again in year four. Johnson has base salaries of $24.5MM, $22.5MM, $20.5MM, and $22.5MM, with annual bonuses of $4.9MM, $4.5MM, $4.1MM, and $4.5MM. Currently, a total of $4.4MM of those incentives are considered likely, while the other $13.6MM are unlikely.
  • The Sunsdeal with Yuta Watanabe is a two-year, minimum-salary agreement with a second-year player option, confirms Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). That was the common structure on the contracts Phoenix offered to free agents — Eric Gordon, Keita Bates-Diop, and Drew Eubanks received similar deals.
  • A pair of two-way contracts that have been signed early in the 2023/24 league year will cover two seasons instead of just one. Craig Porter‘s deal with the Cavaliers and Jaylen Martin‘s agreement with the Knicks are each for two years, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter links).
  • A handful of teams using cap room this season have renounced their free agent rights to one or more players in order to maximize their space. According to RealGM’s transaction log, the Pacers (George Hill), Kings (Terence Davis, Jeremy Lamb, Corey Brewer), Pistons (Hamidou Diallo, Rodney McGruder, and Buddy Boeheim), and Thunder (eight players, including Dario Saric, Jared Butler, and Nick Collison) all renounced players. In some cases, those cap holds had been on teams’ books for multiple seasons — they won’t be there going forward.