Scotty Pippen Jr.

Southwest Notes: Ryan, Morant, Grizzlies, Gafford, Mavs

When the Pelicans converted Matt Ryan from his two-way deal to a standard contract on the day before their regular season finale, they used their mid-level exception to sign him to a three-year deal that paid him $1.5MM in guaranteed money for the final two days of this season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

In exchange for that substantial end-of-season payday, Ryan gave the Pelicans two additional years of low-cost control — he’s under contract for a non-guaranteed minimum salary ($2,196,970) in 2024/25, with a non-guaranteed minimum-salary team option ($2,381,501) for ’25/26.

Ryan’s salary for ’24/25 would become guaranteed if he remains under contract through the start of the regular season, but there are no trigger dates before that point, so New Orleans won’t necessarily need to make a decision on him until the fall.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is now being represented by Lift Management, according to a tweet from the agency. Morant reportedly parted ways with longtime agent Jim Tanner earlier this spring. The two-time All-Star has seen his stock drop following multiple suspensions for his off-court behavior, along with a shoulder injury that cost him nearly all of the 2023/24 season, but his maximum-salary contract runs for four more seasons.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal takes a look at what the Grizzlies want to see from their young players this summer, including projected Summer League participants like GG Jackson and Scotty Pippen Jr. As Cole observes, it’ll also a big offseason for Jake LaRavia, who will be entering his third NBA season, but it’s rare for former first-round picks to return for a third year of Summer League.
  • With center Daniel Gafford listed as questionable for Game 3 vs. the Clippers on Friday due to back spasms, the Mavericks could be forced to make a change to their starting lineup, writes Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Dereck Lively would likely be the top candidate to move into the starting five, though Maxi Kleber – who has averaged 27.0 minutes per game so far in the series – would also play a major role. Dwight Powell and Markieff Morris are also in the mix as depth options.

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Rockets, Pippen, Bane, Clarke

Spurs rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama looked like he was hitting the so-called “rookie wall” early in February when he posted a 5-of-16 performance and a 15-point, one-rebound game within days of each other, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez writes. However, Wembanyama shut down all talk about any potential slump when he put up a triple-double with blocks against the Raptors just before the All-Star break.

Since then, he’s had one of the finest stretches of his young career, averaging 22.5 points, 11.7 boards, 4.9 assists and 4.9 blocks in his last 11 games. Lopez writes that Wembanyama is focused on ending the season on a high note.

How important is it? It’s the whole point,” Wembanyama said. “Coach said it again tonight in the locker room. It’s our job and this is what we’re here for, to win as soon as possible but also in the long run. So there is no other option.

In the past month, Wembanyama has posted that aforementioned triple-double, recorded a 5×5, and is on pace to lead the league in blocks. Lopez writes his teammates have become used to his absurd stat lines.

There’s still moments where we’re like, ‘Oh, what was that? We ain’t never seen that before.’ But I think overall, we’ve seen so much of what he’s done and what he can become and what he is going to become that it’s kind of normal for us now,” teammate Jeremy Sochan said.We just know he can do way more than he’s doing right now, and what he’s doing right now is unbelievable.

According to Lopez, there are no plans to shut down Wembanyama for the rest of the season even though the Spurs have nothing to play for after being eliminated from postseason contention.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets bench players Reggie Bullock, Jock Landale and Jae’Sean Tate are embracing a next-man up mentality after recent injuries to Cam Whitmore and Alperen Sengun, writes Houston Chronicle’s Danielle Lerner. “We talk every day. We just talk about opportunity,” Bullock said of discussions between him, Landale and Tate. “We know that we are the guys that need to be able to step up with guys that’ve been out, and we all got that same mindset of going out and take whatever needs to be done to help the team win.” All three players saw a spike in playing time on Tuesday against San Antonio.
  • After being out since Feb. 12 with an injury, Grizzlies two-way guard Scotty Pippen Jr. returned to the lineup on Wednesday against Charlotte. He scored nine points and 10 assists in his return. As Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Damichael Cole observes (Twitter link), due to the amount of time he missed with injury, the Grizzlies don’t have to worry about Pippen hitting his games played limit per his two-way deal and will likely lean on him moving forward. Pippen was eligible to be active for up to 26 games after signing his two-way on Jan. 16 and the Grizzlies played 27 times since then, so he wouldn’t have been eligible for all of their games anyway.
  • Key Grizzlies players Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke did some “extensive” work this week with Memphis’ G League affiliate, the Hustle, according to Cole (Twitter link). Clarke is now back to playing five-on-five after suffering an Achilles injury last season. Cole expects Bane to be back within the next couple games and Clarke to be back before the end of the month.

Southwest Notes: Gafford, Lively, Wembanyama, Adams, Pippen

Head coach Jason Kidd may consider changing the starting lineup or tightening his 10-man rotation to help pull the Mavericks out of their current tailspin, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

The Mavs have dropped their last five games by an average of 14.6 points and have the worst defensive rating in the league by a wide margin since the All-Star break. Townsend says Kidd “bristled” when asked if changes were needed before Tuesday’s game, but he was more open to the possibility after watching his team give up 137 points in a home loss to Indiana.

“We can look at different rotations,” he said. “We can look at different starting lineups. … We have options and we’ll explore those.”

Townsend suggests starting Daniel Gafford at center instead of rookie Dereck Lively II as an obvious change. Gafford had 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench against the Pacers, while Lively went scoreless and struggled on defense against Myles Turner.

“We’ve got a 20-year-old who’s starting at center and has never seen this before,” Kidd said. “… And there’s a rookie wall. He’s a young man who’s seeing the NBA for the first time. There’s gonna be ups and downs. But that’s why it’s called a team. And that’s why Gafford picked him up tonight. … Lively’s had a heck of a rookie season, and he’s going to only get better, but he could be tired. He’s never played this many games or minutes.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Victor Wembanyama will miss his seventh game of the season Thursday at Sacramento, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The Spurs rookie sprained his right ankle at some point during Tuesday’s loss at Houston, and he was listed as questionable coming into that game with soreness in his left shoulder.
  • Steven Adams visited his new Rockets teammates this week for the first time since being acquired in a trade with Memphis last month, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Adams is out for the rest of the season after having knee surgery in October, but he’s expected to be fully recovered and ready for training camp by fall. Adams said his doctors still have to determine a more definite recovery timeline. “(The next step) has to be cleared by a few different medical professionals because if it was up to me, I’d be behind a long time,” he said. “’Oh yeah, I can do this,’ but then ruin myself. It’s up to the surgeons, the one who did the surgery and also medical people I trust.”
  • The Grizzlies could have Scotty Pippen Jr. back on the court by next week, tweets Michael Wallace of The second-year point guard, who signed a two-way contract with Memphis in January, has been out of action since February 12 with a bulging disc in his lower back.

Several Two-Way Players Nearing Active Game Limit

A player who signs a two-way contract with an NBA team is permitted to be active for up to 50 regular season games. That limit is prorated if the player signed his two-way deal after the regular season got underway — for instance, a player who finalized a two-way contract halfway through the season would be permitted to be active for up to 25 contests at the NBA level.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Two-Way Contract]

Several two-way players have been promoted to standard contracts recently, eliminating those games-played limits. GG Jackson (Grizzlies), Keon Ellis (Kings), Lindy Waters III (Thunder), Craig Porter Jr. (Cavaliers), Duop Reath (Trail Blazers), and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Pelicans) have all signed new deals since the trade deadline.

However, there are still a number of players on two-way contracts around the league who are at or near their active-game limit for the season. Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link) identifies Celtics big man Neemias Queta, Mavericks guard Brandon Williams, Grizzlies guard Jacob Gilyard, and Hornets teammates Leaky Black and Nathan Mensah as two-way players who have 10 or fewer active games left, while Hawks guard Trent Forrest has already reached his 50-game limit.

In some cases, promotions to the standard roster may be forthcoming. Queta, for instance, has been a semi-regular contributor off the bench for the Celtics, who have an open spot on their 15-man roster, so if Boston wants to make him playoff-eligible and ensure he’s able to be active for the rest of the regular season, a contract conversion would be pretty straightforward.

Other cases could be trickier. While the Hawks would presumably like to have Forrest available for the rest of the season, they have a full 15-man roster, so they’d have to waive someone to make room to promote him.

Atlanta at least has some viable release candidates on its roster — for instance, veterans Patty Mills and Wesley Matthews haven’t played much and aren’t owed guaranteed money beyond this season. But that’s not the case in Memphis, where Gilyard has made a strong case for a promotion from his two-way deal by averaging 4.7 points and 3.5 assists in 37 games (17.7 MPG), with a .425 3PT%.

The Grizzlies have already promoted Jackson and Vince Williams from two-way contracts and may not have any expendable players left on their 15-man roster who could be cut to make room for Gilyard. Luke Kennard ($14.8MM team option for 2024/25) and Lamar Stevens (unrestricted free agent this summer) are the only Grizzlies not owed any guaranteed money after this season, and both are playing rotation roles for the banged-up club.

“We’ll see what happens when the time comes,” Gilyard said of his uncertain situation, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “As a basketball player, it’s definitely on your mind. I try not to let it affect me. I think that’s probably the worst part about being a point guard is you start to understand things and start to grasp things like that.”

“It’s kind of a juggling act,” Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins said of working within those active-game limits for his two-way players, including Gilyard and Scotty Pippen Jr. “It’s hard to make those decisions, trying to preserve those dates. (Pippen’s) understood it. I was very upfront with him when he came in, (general manager) Zach (Kleiman) and myself. I think when he came in, we were maybe on the 40-game mark, but he didn’t have 40 games available, so it’s very unfortunate.

“Maybe it’s something that we look into as a league because I think he’s earned the opportunity to play every single night. We just have to balance the games he actually has available to him.”

Besides those players who are approaching their games-played limits, there are a few others on two-way contracts around the league who look like candidates to be promoted to standard rosters before the end of the regular season. Nets forward Jalen Wilson and Warriors guard Lester Quinones are among those who were playing regularly for their respective clubs leading up to the All-Star break.

Promoting a player to a standard contract would open up a two-way slot for his team, allowing that club to reset its active-game counter for that slot — at least to some extent. Due to the prorated nature of those game limits, a player who signs a two-way contract today could only be active for up to 16 games the rest of the way, but that’s 16 more games than, say, Forrest is eligible to play for the Hawks as long as he remains on his current two-way deal.

Teams have until March 4 to sign players to two-way contracts, so I expect to see a good deal of roster activity related to two-way slots within the next couple weeks.

Grizzlies’ Scotty Pippen Jr. Out At Least Three Weeks

The injuries keep coming for the banged-up Grizzlies, who announced early on Friday morning (via Twitter) that guard Scotty Pippen Jr. has been diagnosed with a bulging disc in his lower back after undergoing an MRI due to soreness in the area.

Pippen’s ailment will be managed “conservatively,” with physical therapy, according to the team, which added that he’ll be reevaluated in three weeks.

Pippen, who signed a two-way contract in Memphis a month ago, had seen regular action at the NBA level in recent weeks, appearing in eight games and starting four of them since January 20. He had played well during that time, averaging 10.5 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in 22.6 minutes per night, with a scorching-hot shooting line of .475/.565/.714.

Pippen is the latest addition to a very lengthy injury list in Memphis. Ja Morant is out for the season, while Brandon Clarke, Desmond Bane, Marcus Smart, and Jake LaRavia are all on the shelf with long-term injuries. Jaren Jackson Jr. (quad), Luke Kennard (knee), John Konchar (quad), and Derrick Rose (ankle) also sat out the second end of a back-to-back set on Thursday in the team’s final game before the All-Star break.

Scotty Pippen Jr. Signs Two-Way Contract With Grizzlies

2:42pm: Pippen has officially signed with the Grizzlies, the team announced today in a press release (Twitter link). He’ll be eligible to appear in up to 26 regular season games for the club.

2:30pm: Former Lakers guard Scotty Pippen Jr. has agreed to a two-way contract with the Grizzlies, agent Erika Ruiz tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, it will be a two-year deal, covering not just the rest of this season but 2024/25 as well.

Pippen, the son of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, spent his rookie year in 2022/23 on a two-way deal with the Lakers after going undrafted out of Vanderbilt. He logged just 32 total minutes in six games at the NBA level, but played regularly for the South Bay Lakers, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.7 rebounds in 28.3 minutes per game across 35 NBAGL appearances in the Showcase Cup and regular season.

After spending training camp with Los Angeles again this past fall, Pippen was waived ahead of the regular season and returned to South Bay. He has put up 20.2 PPG, 5.9 APG, and 5.3 RPG with a .485/.329/.846 shooting line in 17 G League games this season.

The Grizzlies had a two-way slot available after promoting Vince Williams to their standard 15-man roster last week. Pippen will join G.G. Jackson and Jacob Gilyard as Memphis’ two-way players.

Once Pippen officially signs, Memphis will have a full roster of 15 players on standard contracts and three on two-way deals. However, as we outlined earlier this afternoon, the Grizzlies are in position to fill out their roster beyond the standard limits due to a series of injuries that will make the team eligible for hardship exceptions.

Lakers Waive Vincent Valerio-Bodon, Damion Baugh, Scotty Pippen Jr.

The Lakers have waived forward Vincent Valerio-Bodon and guards Damion Baugh and Scotty Pippen Jr, according to a team press release relayed by The Athletic’s Jovan Buha (Twitter link).

Pippen, 22, is the son of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen and spent last season, his rookie year, with the Lakers on a two-way contract after going undrafted out of Vanderbilt. He averaged 21.4 points, 5.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds with the South Bay Lakers in 19 regular season G League games. Pippen appeared in two preseason contests with the Lakers this year and averaged 4.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

Baugh, 23, appeared in one game with the Lakers in the preseason. He joined the team after going undrafted out of TCU, where he averaged 12.6 points and 5.8 assists per game in his senior season.

Valerio-Bodon, 22, made one preseason appearance for the Lakers. The 6’10” forward averaged 8.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per night in the Hungarian NBIA last season.

All three players are likely to end up with the South Bay Lakers if they go unclaimed on waivers, given that they signed Exhibit 10 deals. If that happens, they’ll be eligible for a bonus worth up to $75K if they stay with South Bay for at least 60 days.

The Lakers have 14 players on standard contracts and three on two-way contracts. Given that they’ll likely save the 15th spot on their standard roster for flexibility purposes, their roster is pretty set for opening night. It’s possible the Lakers shuffle out players on Exhibit 10 deals in the coming days to funnel them to the G League.

Lakers Sign Four Players To Exhibit 10 Contracts

The Lakers have officially signed guards Scotty Pippen Jr., Bryce Hamilton, and Damion Baugh, along with forward Vincent Valerio-Bodon, the team announced in a press release.

All four players received Exhibit 10 contracts, according to the Lakers. Exhibit 10 contracts are non-guaranteed minimum-salary deals that can be converted to two-way contracts before the regular season begins or can make a player eligible for a bonus worth up to $75K if he’s waived and then spends 60 or more days with the team’s G League affiliate.

Pippen, the son of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, spent his rookie year in 2022/23 on a two-way deal with the Lakers after going undrafted out of Vanderbilt. He logged just 32 total minutes in six games at the NBA level, but played regularly for the South Bay Lakers, averaging 21.4 points, 5.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds in 27.8 minutes per game across 19 NBAGL regular season appearances.

Hamilton also played for South Bay as an undrafted rookie last season, putting up 14.1 PPG and 4.6 RPG on .514/.385/.679 shooting in 29 contests (28.2 MPG).

Baugh opted to forgo his final year of college eligibility this spring to go pro after spending the last two seasons at TCU and the two before that at Memphis. He made the All-Big 12 second team earlier this year after averaging 12.6 PPG, 5.8 APG, and 4.7 RPG in 29 games (35.0 MPG) for the Horned Frogs.

Valerio-Bodon, a 6’10” forward who is 22 years old, has been playing professionally in his home country of Hungary. He averaged 8.2 PPG and 4.1 RPG with a .503/.412/.879 shooting line in 30 games (all starts) last season for Sopron KC in the Hungarian NBIA.

The Lakers now have a full 21-man offseason roster. They’re carrying 14 players on guaranteed contracts and will likely open the season with an open spot on their 15-man roster to maximize their flexibility. Their three two-way slots are also full, so unless one of the four new additions makes a very strong impression in the preseason, Pippen, Hamilton, Baugh, and Valerio-Bodon are good bets to be waived and to report to South Bay this fall.

NBA G League Announces 24 Players For Next Up Game

The NBA G League announced today that G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Timberwolves/Iowa Wolves forward Luka Garza have been named team captains for the NBAGL Next Up Game, which will take place in Salt Lake City during All-Star weekend.

While the exhibition match isn’t technically being called a G League All-Star Game, that’s essentially what it is. The 24-player pool was selected by a fan vote and by the league itself.

Henderson averaged 21.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 4.3 RPG in six Showcase Cup games (28.5 MPG) before missing time with an injury. The guard, widely projected to be the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, has registered 17.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 4.5 RPG in 11 regular season games (29.8 MPG) since returning.

Garza, meanwhile, has been dominant at the G League level while playing for the Timberwolves on a two-way contract. He averaged 29.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG on .628/.500/.794 shooting in nine Showcase Cup games (34.4 MPG) and has been boosted those averages in two regular season games (32.5 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 5.0 APG) for the Iowa Wolves.

Here’s the full list of players who will take part in the G League Next Up Game:

(* Players marked with an asterisk are on two-way contracts with NBA teams.)

As is the case with the NBA All-Star Game, the team captains – in this case, Henderson and Garza – will select their 12-man squads in a draft. The draft for the G League Next Up Game will take place on February 14.

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:



G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.