Tristan Vukcevic

Wizards Notes: Bagley, Holmes, Vukcevic, Future In D.C.

It’s been a season of change for Marvin Bagley III, and it didn’t stop with the January 14 trade that sent him from Detroit to the Wizards, writes Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network. Bagley was brought in to be the primary backup to Daniel Gafford, but he moved into a starting role when Gafford got injured. Washington sent Gafford to Dallas at the trade deadline for Richaun Holmes, who took over as the starter, but his recent absence due to a left toe contusion put Bagley back in the starting lineup.

“I’m comfortable now. I think the first few weeks it took me to kind of figure out what guys like to do out there on the court, how guys play a little bit. But now I have a pretty good idea of that, just watching film and playing how many games I’ve played here,” Bagley said. “But just every game figuring it out and I think now I’m at the point where I know what guys like to do, where they like to be out there. I’m just trying to make it easier for them and they make it a lot easier for me. It’s just getting that chemistry together.”

Bagley hasn’t enjoyed much stability in his career, but with one year left on his contract he appears to be a fixture in Washington for at least for another season. The Wizards are happy with the Bagley-Holmes combination, according to Hughes, because they’re similar players who can rebound and be effective in the pick-and-roll. Bagley enjoys being in Washington and believes the experiences he’s had in his career can help him guide younger players.

“I try to be a leader and lead by example,” he said. “I think it’s good to have vets like that in the locker room.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Bagley won’t need surgery after leaving Tuesday’s game with an injury to his right knee, a team official tells Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bagley has been diagnosed with a sprain, and interim coach Brian Keefe said he’ll be reevaluated “week to week,” which virtually assures that his season is over.
  • With Bagley and Holmes both sidelined, rookie Tristan Vukcevic is making his first NBA start tonight against the Lakers, Robbins tweets. This is just the seventh NBA game for Vukcevic, who signed with the Wizards last month after spending most of the season with KK Partizan in Serbia.
  • It’s been a difficult season for the Wizards, but Tuesday’s win over Milwaukee provides a reason for optimism, Robbins notes in a full story. Washington was able to hold on for a victory against one of the league’s best teams even though it was down to eight healthy players after Bagley left in the second quarter. “It’s a step forward, maybe two steps forward,” Corey Kispert said. “This is the attitude we need to have and the aggression we need to have when we play these kind of games, especially against a championship team like this. Super proud of everybody who played tonight.”
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic examines the future for the Wizards and the NHL’s Capitals in Washington after owner Ted Leonsis‘ plan to move both franchises to Virginia fell apart.

Wizards Notes: Vukcevic, Young Players, Coulibaly, More

Second-round pick Tristan Vukcevic spent much of the 2023/24 season in Europe, but he signed a two-year contract with the Wizards a couple weeks ago. He has been active for three games so far, averaging just 5.3 minutes in those outings. He says he’s still adjusting to the speed of the NBA, according to Bijan Todd of Monumental Sports Network.

It’s a different game, I think,” Vukcevic said. “It’s more fast-paced, less plays. I think Europe is just more, like, textbook basketball, and that’s just something I have to learn. It’s a learning process, the speed, the pace and everything.”

The 21-year-old was thrilled to make his debut last weekend after having a limited role overseas, Todd adds.

It felt amazing. It was kind of unexpected, in a way, but I was very happy to be thrown into the fire and be out there,” Vukcevic said. “I haven’t played since like January, a lot of games in Europe, so I was just happy to play the sport I love.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Jared Butler and Justin Champagnie are among the young players who have made key contributions in recent games with several rotation regulars injured, writes Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network. Both Butler and Champagnie are on two-way contracts with the Wizards, who have won three of their past four games to move ahead of the last-place Pistons.
  • Rookie lottery pick Bilal Coulibaly will miss the rest of the season after fracturing his right wrist. Once the injury heals, the 19-year-old hopes to play for Team France at the 2024 Olympics in Paris this summer, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter links). I will, for sure, try to be on the team,” Coulibaly said. “But, yeah, we’ll see. I mean, coaches make their choices, and I totally respect it. So, yeah, we’ll see.”
  • During Wednesday’s press conference announcing that the Wizards reached an agreement to stay in the District of Columbia long-term, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said the team intends to build a new practice facility in the area, as Ava Wallace of The Washington Post relays (via Twitter).

Southeast Notes: Clifford, Windler, Houstan, Bagley, Vukcevic

Steve Clifford has seen a lot of losing since returning to the Hornets‘ sidelines last season, but Saturday’s blowout in Atlanta stood out because of a lack of competitiveness from his team, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Charlotte dropped its fourth straight game in the midst of a 17-53 season, and Clifford was upset that his players didn’t fight back after falling behind early.

“As soon as we started subbing, our intensity went downhill and we never really got it back,” he said. “That was just as poor an effort, and just for a team that’s tried all year, we didn’t try very hard. We’re not going to be able to do that. I thought Miles (Bridges) was really good. And in terms of effort, it ended there.”

When Clifford became the Hornets’ coach last season, he inherited a team that was already off to a rough start in its rebuilding process. None of its draft picks from 2021 panned out — including first-rounders Kai Jones and James Bouknight — which creates a difficult situation for a franchise that’s not in position to attract top free agent talent.

“I remember we used to say all the time, ‘It gets late early in the NBA,’” Clifford said. “You bring a guy in who had been in college four years and he doesn’t play well in his first year, those guys would be gone. But you’re crazy to do that now because the guys are so young. Everything used to be, you drafted in performance. Now, you’re drafting by potential and it’s much, much harder. Younger players are not as ready to play, and it makes it harder on coaches, but it makes it much, much harder on management.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Injuries have forced the Hawks to go deep into their bench, notes Lauren Williams of The Journal-Constitution. That included 19 minutes Saturday night for Dylan Windler, who made his home debut after signing a two-way contract earlier this month. “I felt pretty comfortable for the most part,” Windler said. “Obviously, I haven’t had any live extended minutes like that in a while. So, it just feels good to get up and down for a little bit, try to get my legs back. But for the most part it felt comfortable. Just trying to add a little bit of energy to us, add a spark, crash the boards hard and make shots for us.”
  • Caleb Houstan made a rare start for the Magic on Saturday with Gary Harris unavailable due to a right plantar fascia strain, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. However, the second-year small forward experienced soreness in his left ankle and didn’t play in the second half. Coach Jamahl Mosley said Houstan will be evaluated today.
  • Wizards big man Marvin Bagley III returned Saturday after missing nearly three weeks with lower back spasms, according to Stephen Whyno of The Associated Press. Tristan Vukcevic, who signed with Washington 11 days ago, played three minutes in his NBA debut. “It was amazing, a dream come true,” Vukcevic told Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network (video link).

Southeast Notes: Micic, Wizards, Vukcevic, Jovic, Herro

Hornets guard Vasilije Micic is one of the more unusual NBA rookies in recent memory. A two-time EuroLeague champion and two-time EuroLeague Final Four MVP who also won the regular season MVP for 2020/21, the 30-year-old signed a three-year deal with Oklahoma City last summer.

Despite his excellent international résumé, Micic struggled to crack the Thunder’s deep rotation, and he was sent to Charlotte at the trade deadline. According to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer, the Serbian veteran said he’s still trying to find his footing in the NBA.

I’m still trying to find myself,” said Micic. “It’s a mix of what’s really happening. We have a lot of injured players and it’s something that opened a lot of room for me in terms of minutes. But at the same time I’m at the age of, now, 30 and I’ve kind of shaped my game already. And I’m coming from five years of playing … the same way.

So, it’s not an easy to adjust to fit in the team that needs more of a creator or passer — whatever it is. And I’m just trying to find the mix to still be aggressive, to still be capable of also scoring. But at the same time playing the right way.”

Micic had the best game of his NBA career in Wednesday’s victory over Memphis, recording 25 points (on 9-of-10 shooting), eight assists and two steals in 30 minutes. He has now scored in double figures in seven straight games, averaging 15.4 PPG, 6.4 APG, 2.9 RPG and 1.3 SPG over that span (31.3 MPG).

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • After winning two straight games, the Wizards had a “soft, all-too-often listless performance” on Tuesday against an injury-plagued Memphis team, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Forward Kyle Kuzma, who started at center with Marvin Bagley III (lower back spasm) and Richaun Holmes (left big toe sprain) injured, didn’t mince words after the loss. “We disrespected the game,” Kuzma said. “We disrespected ourselves. … It also just boils down to professionalism and giving a f— a little bit. And tonight, we just didn’t. Anybody (on the Grizzlies) could go score. Anybody could lay the ball in. We were playing selfish on both ends. Just wasn’t good tonight from all of us.”
  • 2023 second-round pick Tristan Vukcevic spent most of this season playing in Europe, but he just signed a two-year contract with the Wizards. A league source tells Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link) that the 21-year-old big man received $2,424,892 for the remainder of 2023/24 via the mid-level exception, and Washington holds a team option at the same rate for ’24/25. Vukcevic reportedly had a buyout worth seven figures, which explains why his salary is far above the norm for a second-rounder. Dionysis Aravantinos of HoopsHype takes a closer look at the young Serbian’s game and what he could bring to the Wizards.
  • With Tyler Herro and Kevin Love injured, Heat forward Nikola Jovic has received extended playing time the past few weeks. Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel examines whether Jovic will stick in the rotation once Miami gets back to full strength. Head coach Erik Spoelstra said on Wednesday there’s still no return timeline for Herro, who has missed nine consecutive games with a foot injury (Twitter link via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press). “He’s doing everything he needs to do,” Spoelstra said.

Draft-And-Stash Prospect Tristan Vukcevic Signs With Wizards

7:50pm: Vukcevic’s contract with the Wizards is now official, according to’s transactions log.

9:00am: Vukcevic is on track to sign a multiyear contract with the Wizards, confirms Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’ll be a two-year deal, adds Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

7:55am: Seven-foot center Tristan Vukcevic has agreed to a buyout with KK Partizan, his team in Serbia, according to an announcement from team president Ostoja Mijailovic (Twitter link).

The buyout, which will be split between Partizan and Vukcevic’s former team Real Madrid as a result of a prior arrangement, is reportedly worth in the seven figures and will free up the big man to make the move to the NBA.

Vukcevic, who turned 21 on Monday, was the 42nd overall pick in the 2023 draft. He was selected by the Wizards, with general manager Will Dawkins expressing excitement about the youngster’s upside and lauding his shooting and passing abilities.

Although Vukcevic conveyed a desire last summer to join the team right away, Washington opted to have him spend another season overseas, where he played a very limited role for Partizan in 12 EuroLeague games. However, he impressed in 14 ABA League appearances, averaging 10.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 18.9 minutes per contest, with a shooting line of .544/.440/.805.

It’s unclear whether Vukcevic has an NBA deal lined up with the Wizards or whether he’ll take a route similar to the one fellow draft-and-stash prospect Karlo Matkovic took last month with the Pelicans and finish the season with the Capital City Go-Go in the G League. Given the price of Vukcevic’s buyout, signing with the Wizards seems more likely.

Washington has only used a small portion of its mid-level exception so far in 2023/24, so the club could utilize it to sign Vukcevic to a deal that covers up to four years (including the rest of this season). The Wizards opened up a spot on their 15-man roster when R.J. Hampton‘s 10-day contract expired on Tuesday night.

Checking In On Unsigned 2023 Draft Picks

When he signed a two-way contract with the Grizzlies on Thursday, No. 45 pick overall pick GG Jackson became the 54th player selected in the 2023 draft to sign with his NBA team. Two of the 60 picks in this year’s draft were forfeited, which means there are just four players who have yet to sign NBA contracts.

As our tracker shows, those players are as follows:

  1. Charlotte Hornets: James Nnaji, C
  2. Washington Wizards: Tristan Vukcevic, F
  3. Indiana Pacers: Mojave King, G
  4. Memphis Grizzlies: Tarik Biberovic, G/F

It seems safe to assume we won’t see King and Biberovic in the NBA this season. Reports during or shortly after the draft indicated that they’ll be draft-and-stash prospects who will continue to hone their skills in international leagues while the Pacers and Grizzlies, respectively, control their NBA rights.

It’s possible that Nnaji and Vukcevic will take a similar path, but that has not yet been confirmed.

Speaking in July to Tony Canyameras of Mundo Deportivo (translation via Eurohoops), Nnaji said his expectation at that point was that he’d spend another season in Europe with FC Barcelona, but his future remained up in the air.

“We have to see how everything goes. The circumstances depend on what happens in the Summer League. But for now, I would say yes,” Nnaji said of returning to Barcelona.

The Hornets currently only have 13 players on guaranteed salaries for 2023/24, so they’d have room on their roster to add Nnaji if they want to.

But Frank Ntilikina, who has a $200K partial guarantee, looks like a good bet to be the 14th man, while JT Thor (non-guaranteed contract) and Theo Maledon (two-way RFA) are candidates for the 15th spot. So Charlotte has options and may prefer to wait a year on the 19-year-old Nnaji, who could use another developmental season in Spain.

As for Vukcevic, Christos Tsaltas of (Twitter link) reported in mid-August that there’s a “strong possibility” the 42nd overall pick will remain with overseas for 2023/24. He’s under contract with Partizan Belgrade, though there were rumors in July that the Serbian club was considering loaning him to Greek team Peristeri BC.

Like Nnaji, Vukcevic isn’t locked into a plan for next season yet, but it would make sense for the 20-year-old to spend at least one more season in Europe, despite his desire to come stateside right away. The Wizards currently have 16 players on guaranteed contracts, so their standard roster is already pretty crowded. And they wouldn’t be permitted to sign him to a two-way deal if they were to buy him out from Partizan.

We’ll wait for further clarity on the plans for Nnaji and Vukcevic, but it’s possible that Jackson’s deal with the Grizzlies will be the last contract signed by a 2023 NBA draft pick before the ’23/24 season begins.

Wizards Notes: Vukcevic, Dawkins, Coulibaly, Poole

Second-round pick Tristan Vukcevic is hoping to join the Wizards right away rather than spending more time overseas, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Team officials haven’t decided how to handle Vukcevic yet, but the main roster is already crowded with 16 standard contracts. There’s a two-way opening if the Wizards opt to go that route.

The seven-footer out of Serbia played for Partizan Belgrade last season after spending the previous two years with Real Madrid. He doesn’t believe he needs any more international basketball to be ready for the NBA, and he expressed that to teams during the pre-draft process, according to Hughes.

Vukcevic was impressive during his brief Summer League appearance, posting 21 points in 17 minutes in the only game he played. He acknowledges that the NBA is played at a faster pace than what he’s used to and says he needs to make quicker decisions and become more aggressive in seeking his own offense.

After being drafted, Vukcevic got some tips from Marc Gasol about how to prepare for the NBA.

“He just called me, he said he loves my game and wanted to give me advice,” Vukcevic said. “He just told me the differences in the NBA and how life is in the NBA, like how to get adjusted. Whenever I’m wondering or have any specific questions, to feel free to always call him. I feel grateful for that. He’s a legend.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • In an interview posted on the NBC Sports Washington website (video link), general manager Will Dawkins explains why the organization opted not to pursue a full rebuild after trading Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis last month. Instead, the Wizards re-signed free agent forward Kyle Kuzma and used Chris Paul, who was acquired in the Beal trade, to get Jordan Poole from the Warriors. “There were a lot of good players on the roster,” Dawkins said. “… For us, it’s about building habits. It’s about building a day-to-day mentality that you come in the gym, you compete and you do things the right way.”
  • The Wizards were “super happy” with what they saw from lottery pick Bilal Coulibaly, says Summer League coach Landon Tatum (video link). “We told him the first thing he got here to be a defensive type of guy first,” Tatum said. “And he’s taken that on, trying to defend everyone we put him on, whether it’s a guard, a big or a wing.”
  • In a separate story, Hughes takes an analytical look at the impact Poole can make during his first season in Washington. He notes that Poole was 34th in ESPN’s offensive real plus-minus ratings last season, which is higher than anyone who was on the Wizards’ roster.

Southeast Notes: Vanterpool, Robinson, Magic Trade, Vukcevic

The Wizards are hiring David Vanterpool as an assistant coach, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. He’ll join Wes Unseld Jr.‘s staff after stops with Brooklyn, Minnesota and Portland. Vanterpool has also interviewed for a number of head coaching jobs in recent years. He didn’t coach in the league last season after he was let go by the Nets following the 2021/22 season.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Orlando Robinson had his two-way contract upgraded to a standard deal at the beginning of the month and it appears to be a prudent move by the Heat. Robinson thrived during Summer League action, as The Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang notes. Robinson averaged 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 53% from the field. He also showed an improved 3-point shot, making 8-of-21 in six games.
  • The Magic felt comfortable trading away second-round picks to the Suns because they have a large stash of draft assets, Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel writes. Orlando has eight first-round picks and 12 second-rounders through the next seven drafts. In a trade that’s not yet official, the Magic are sending Phoenix three second-rounders to have the right to swap their own 2026 first-rounder for the least favorable of Phoenix’s and Washington’s two picks. Orlando is essentially gambling on its own future success.
  • Tristan Vukcevic, drafted in the second round by the Wizards, has another option for next season if he doesn’t play in the NBA, relays. The Serbian center could be loaned out to Greece’s Peristeri after playing for Partizan Belgrade last season. SDNA’s Sotiris Betakis first reported the news. Vukcevic has played the past week for Washington’s Summer League squad.

Eight 2023 Draft Picks Have Yet To Sign NBA Contracts

Of the 58 players who were selected in last month’s draft, 50 have signed their first NBA contracts during the first two weeks they’ve been permitted to do so.

As our tracker shows, the breakdown is as follows:

  • First-round picks signed using the rookie scale exception: 29
  • Second-round picks signed using the new second-round pick exception: 13
    • Note: Of these 13 players, 12 received four-year contracts, while one (Rayan Rupert) signed a three-year deal.
  • Second-round picks signed to two-way contracts: 8

That leaves eight players from the 2023 draft class who have yet to sign with their respective NBA teams. Those players are as follows:

  1. Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Mavericks
  2. James Nnaji, Hornets
  3. Tristan Vukcevic, Wizards
  4. Sidy Cissoko, Spurs
  5. G.G. Jackson, Grizzlies
  6. Mojave King, Pacers
  7. Jordan Miller, Clippers
  8. Tarik Biberovic, Grizzlies

Not all of these players will sign an NBA contract in 2023/24. King and Biberovic are each expected to spend at least one season playing overseas before coming stateside. Vukcevic is another candidate to become a draft-and-stash prospect.

It’s also unclear whether the Hornets plan to sign Nnaji right away or let the 18-year-old big man continue developing his game in Europe. For now, Charlotte only has 12 players on guaranteed contracts for 2023/24, but depending on which restricted free agents (P.J. Washington, Theo Maledon) and players on non-guaranteed deals (JT Thor, Kobi Simmons) return, there might not be a spot for Nnaji, who remains under contract with FC Barcelona and – as a No. 31 overall pick who would require an international buyout – wouldn’t be a candidate for a two-way deal.

Prosper is the only unsigned first-rounder in this year’s class, but the delay doesn’t seem like anything to worry about. The Mavericks, who continued this past week to explore the trade market and consider how to fill out their roster, have taken their time getting around to signing a handful of players, with deals for free agents like Seth Curry and Dante Exum only becoming official on Friday. I’d expect Prosper’s contract to be finalized soon.

That leaves Cissoko, Jackson, and Miller, each of whom look like candidates to receive two-way contracts. Some of the other players drafted in their range, including No. 41 pick Amari Bailey and No. 46 pick Seth Lundy, have received two-way deals, and the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Clippers all have roster logjams, meaning there may not be room on their 15-man rosters for their unsigned second-rounders.

The Spurs will have 17 players on standard contracts once they officially re-sign Tre Jones and Sandro Mamukelashvili. The Grizzlies also have 17 players under contract and would have a full 15-man roster even if they trade or waive Josh Christopher and Isaiah Todd. The Clippers have 16 players on standard contracts (15 guaranteed). However, all three teams have at least one two-way slot available.

Southeast Notes: Oubre, Poole, Vukcevic, Magic

An abundance of wing players makes it unlikely that the Hornets will re-sign Kelly Oubre, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The free agent forward has expressed a desire to stay in Charlotte and was a valuable contributor last season, but there may not be enough playing time for him with the new roster.

The addition of No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller and the expected return of Miles Bridges reduce the need for Oubre, Boone adds. Gordon Hayward will be back for another season unless the Hornets can find a taker for his $31.5MM expiring contract, and Cody Martin and Bryce McGowens will also compete for playing time.

Oubre has spent the past two seasons in Charlotte after signing as a free agent in 2021. He averaged 17.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 124 games and was effective both as a starter and coming off the bench.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jordan Poole should be the focal point of the Wizards‘ offense next season, Josh Robbins and Anthony Slater of The Athletic state in a look at what he’ll bring to Washington. The Wizards have already traded Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle Kuzma may be leaving in free agency. Without their top three scorers from last season, much of the offense will flow through Poole, who showed an ability to carry the scoring load at times with the Warriors. Robbins notes that coach Wes Unseld Jr. gave Kuzma the freedom to create his own shots, which will likely also happen with Poole.
  • In an interview with NBC Sports Washington, Wizards general manager Will Dawkins said he was happy to land Serbian center Tristan Vukcevic with the 42nd pick in last week’s draft. “Young, 20 years old. He’s played internationally, I feel like I’ve watched him for a long time now, since he was a youth as well,” Dawkins said. “With him, seven feet, skilled, can pass, can shoot.” It hasn’t been determined if the Wizards will bring Vukcevic to the NBA next season or have him spend more time in Europe, but Dawkins plans to talk to his representatives about having him play in Summer League.
  • Dylan Murphy is the new head coach for the Magic‘s G League affiliate in Osceola, the team announced (via Twitter). Murphy has been with Orlando for five years and was an assistant coach for the last three seasons.