Vasilije Micic

Southeast Notes: Bertāns, Micić, Wizards, Wagner

Hornets forward Dāvis Bertāns joined the team alongside Tre Mann and Vasilije Micić at the February trade deadline, but wasn’t viewed as a centerpiece of the deal that sent Gordon Hayward out of Charlotte. However, as The Charlotte Observer’s Roderick Boone points out, Bertāns is performing well for the Hornets after working his way into the rotation, averaging his most points (8.8) and minutes (20.8) per game since he was with the Wizards in 2020/21.

Bertāns quickly became one of former head coach Steve Clifford‘s trusted reserves, with the team running set plays for the dangerous three-point scorer. In his 27 games with the Hornets so far, he’s shooting 37.3% from deep on 6.3 attempts per night. In fact, he has 18 games with multiple three-pointers made off the bench, marking the most in the NBA during that stretch.

He’s a terrific shooter, obviously, but he creates a lot of problems for the defense just with his movement,” Clifford said. “And he never holds the ball. He either shoots it or moves it, which is the play.

Bertāns’ play provides a glimpse into what could be next season when LaMelo Ball is healthy, with the 6’10” allowing the star guard more room to maneuver with his floor-stretching capabilities. However, Boone ponders whether Bertāns will remain with the team next season. Bertāns has an early termination option for next season worth $16MM and could get multiyear offers from contending teams if he hits the open market, Boone writes.

For what it’s worth, Bertans seems to have enjoyed his time in Charlotte so far this season.

I’ve always loved shooting in [Spectrum Center], so it’s good to have more games [there] than before,” Bertāns said. “And definitely the crowd. Even though the season hasn’t been great winning-wise, the fans have been great and it’s a lot more people in [that] arena than other teams that are not making the playoffs. So, I think a bright future is ahead for the organization.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Like Bertāns, Micić didn’t play much for the Thunder after coming over from Europe to begin his NBA career this season. However, he has turned a corner after earning playing time with the Hornets, averaging 11.3 points and 6.4 assists in his first 28 games (19 starts) with Charlotte. “I’m more comfortable every day,” Micić said this week, according to “… I’m trying to play more relaxed, at my own rhythm, without chasing anything. It’s hard when you don’t have enough minutes, but at this moment, with these circumstances, I have these minutes, and I’m just hoping it looks good from the outside.” Micić is in the first year of the three-year, $23.6MM deal he signed last offseason. He’s under contract for about $7.7MM next year and has a team option worth $8.1MM in 2025/26.
  • At 15-65, the Wizards are wrapping up what will be the worst season in franchise history in regard to record. ESPN’s Dotun Akintoye explores Washington’s rebuild and how the Wizards have gotten to this point. Akintoye cautions against the ritual of losing and expecting to lose, along with the lack of cohesion that can follow.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley said Franz Wagner is “progressing slowly” from his right ankle sprain, according to Orlando Sentinel’s Jason Beede (Twitter link). “He’ll go through some work tomorrow as well and we’ll continue to see how he responds to those treatments,” Mosley said.

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.

Southeast Notes: J. Davis, Dawkins, Micic, Isaac

Wizards guard Johnny Davis has played in all three of the team’s games since the All-Star break, averaging 17.0 minutes in those contests. While that’s a modest role, it represents a significant uptick in minutes for the former 10th overall pick, who had averaged 7.9 MPG in 23 appearances prior to the break.

“It feels really good,” Davis said, per Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network. “I feel like I’ve been preparing myself and putting in the work for this opportunity. When I go out there, I just want to do what it takes to help my team win.”

While the sample size is small, Davis has underwhelmed offensively in those three games, making 3-of-15 shots (20.0%) from the floor and compiling more fouls (9) than points (6). The Wizards also have an atrocious -31.9 net rating during his 51 minutes on the floor. Still, interim head coach Brian Keefe suggested he’s encouraged by what he’s seen on defense from Davis, who is celebrating his 22nd birthday on Tuesday.

“I thought he was great,” Keefe said after Davis spent some time guarding Cavs stars Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland on Sunday. “He got caught with one foul when he went for the pump fake, but other than that, Johnny’s been great. The last three games, his defense has been great. His defensive rebounding has been great. He brings great energy. That’s kind of the role we envision for him. He’s been a positive on the defensive end.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Wizards general manager Will Dawkins spoke to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman about how his time in the Thunder’s front office prepared him for a larger role in Washington and the lessons he learned in Oklahoma City that he has taken with him to D.C.
  • Vasilije Micic didn’t play much in Oklahoma City this season as an NBA rookie, but he has taken on a rotation role since being sent to the Hornets in the Gordon Hayward trade and has made an impression on new head coach Steve Clifford, according to Eurohoops. “He’s a talented player,” Clifford said of the former EuroLeague MVP. “His awareness and feel for the game are really exceptional. There’s still newness to us. The more organized we get offensively, the better he’ll play.” Micic has averaged 9.7 points and 6.0 assists in 22.2 minutes per game for the Hornets, who have gone 5-1 since his debut for the club.
  • Magic forward Jonathan Isaac has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game vs. Brooklyn due to a left knee strain, but he’s relieved that his MRI showed no significant issues and thinks he could be back in action on Thursday, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter video link). “I’m definitely still a little sore, so just kind of taking it day by day there, but I don’t foresee this being a multiple-game injury,” Isaac said.

Southeast Notes: G. Williams, Micic, A. Williams, Forrest

New Hornets forward Grant Williams was a fan of the franchise while growing up in the city and enjoyed watching Kemba Walker, who has become a close friend and mentor for Williams, according to The Charlotte Observer’s Shane Connuck. In his debut game, he helped his new team win for the first time since Jan. 22.

I always thought it would be at the end of my career, but it’s kind of funny that it happened this way because it allows you to be part of something that can be built around,” Williams said. “You know, new ownership. New team. Bunch of guys who are young and talented. We have a chance to build something special here in the city.

Williams and guard Seth Curry both have local ties, having played high school basketball in Charlotte. Curry is also the son of former Hornets guard Dell Curry.

We just have Mr. Curry in the back right there,” Williams said of Dell, who is now a Bally Sports Southeast TV analyst. “This is something that, as a kid, you always wanted to play for your hometown team. You always wanted to create something special — here. Because, as a kid, you want to get the same joy that you had at that age.

Williams finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in his Charlotte debut.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Like Williams, new Hornets acquisition Vasilije Micic had a good first outing in his new NBA home. Though he played sparingly in Oklahoma City, Micic logged 26 minutes and put up 18 points and nine assists in the Saturday win over the Grizzlies. He admitted he wasn’t expecting to play right away, but he quickly won over head coach Steve Clifford, according to Eurohoops. “He knows where everybody is on the floor. He is a terrific passer and a good pick-and-roll player. And he’s got size,” Clifford said.
  • New Heat two-way guard Alondes Williams turned heads with high-scoring performances in the G League this season, including a 55-point outing on Jan. 7. However, the development of other areas of his game is what ultimately led to the Heat promoting him to a two-way contract on Friday, according to the Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang. Williams spent training camp with Miami before being waived and suiting up for their NBAGL affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, to begin the season. “It was more about the overall development,” Spoelstra said. “I think it’s easy to point to some big scoring games. That was really down the list for us. Sure, it’s great that he was able to have those kinds of nights. But it was really about previously playing the role, defending and doing a lot of intangibles and impacting winning while the rest of his game was improving.
  • Hawks guard Trent Forrest hit his 50th active game as a two-way player on Feb. 9 against the Sixers, observes Locked on Hawks’ Brad Rowland (Twitter link). He cannot appear in another game for the Hawks this season due to league rules regarding two-way contracts, unless he’s promoted to a standard deal. However, Atlanta has a full 15-man roster at the moment.

Thunder Acquire Gordon Hayward From Hornets

9:57pm: The trade is official, according to a press release from the Hornets. Charlotte received Bertans, Mann, Micic, and second-round picks in 2024 and 2025 in exchange for Hayward.

The Thunder announced in their own press release confirming the deal that the 2024 second-rounder is Houston’s and the 2025 second-rounder is Philadelphia’s. Oklahoma City also said it sent cash to Charlotte in the swap.

The Hornets waived guards Ish Smith and Frank Ntilikina to make room on their roster for the incoming players.

1:04pm: The Hornets will receive a pair of second-round picks from the Thunder in the deal, reports ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

11:17am: Oklahoma City will include Vasilije Micic in the deal for salary-matching purposes, Charania tweets. The 30-year-old point guard makes $7.7MM this season and next year, with an $8.1 team option for 2025/26. Charlotte will also receive draft compensation, Charania adds.

The trade will leave the Thunder $6.9MM below the tax threshold with two open roster spots, Gozlan notes (Twitter link).

9:54am: The Thunder are nearing a deal for Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Tre Mann and Davis Bertans will be sent to Charlotte in return, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Hayward’s contract includes a 15% trade bonus that will adjust his salary from $31.5MM to about $33.3MM tweets Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. That would move Oklahoma City into luxury tax territory unless Hayward opts to waive part of the bonus, but there’s been no indication yet that he will agree to that. Gozlan notes that Hayward is eligible for an extension of up to two seasons through the end of June.

The Thunder will have to take back more money for the deal to be finalized, points out Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Bertans is making $17MM this season and Mann is at $3.2MM, which isn’t enough to match Hayward’s salary.

The 33-year-old Hayward brings a veteran presence to a young OKC team that has exceeded expectations this year. Injuries have limited him to 25 games, but he has been productive when he’s been able to play, averaging 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 46.8% from the field and 36.1% from three-point range.

Bertans, a 31-year-old power forward, is headed for his fourth team in the last three years. The veteran sharpshooter has been out of the Thunder’s rotation all season, with minimal playing time in 15 games. He holds a $5.25MM guarantee on his $16MM salary for 2024/25.

Mann, a third-year point guard, has seen limited action in 13 games this season. He was selected with the 18th pick in the 2021 draft and is under contract for one more season at $4.9MM.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Brogdon, NAW, Micic, Jokic

Bucks guard Damian Lillard expects to have a positive reception from fans when he plays in Portland on Wednesday for the first time as a visitor, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian (subscriber link). The longtime Trail Blazers star is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, spending his first 11 NBA seasons with the club.

I think it will be emotional because I care,” Lillard said. “I loved playing in Portland. I loved living there and still live there. I’m not like a big crier. I don’t think I’ll be crying, and all of that. But I care. Everything I ever said about my time in Portland playing there, I meant that s–t. So, yeah, it will be.”

Lillard requested a trade last summer when he felt like he and the Blazers were moving in different directions. The 33-year-old wanted a chance to compete for championships. Milwaukee (32-15, second in the East) and Portland (14-33, 14th in the West) are at opposite ends of the standings thus far in 2023/24.

I loved the organization. I loved everybody I went to work with every day. And I think what made it the hardest is it wasn’t a wasn’t a broken relationship. So coming back, being able to be here, I’m in a great situation,” Lillard said, per “The reason it all came about in the first place was for a chance to win it all. We couldn’t be at that place at the same time. So I come back with love, and I’m excited to be back in the Moda Center.”

Here’s from the Northwest:

  • Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon has been a popular name in trade rumors ever since he was sent to Portland as part of the Jrue Holiday deal. However, he tells Jason Quick of The Athletic that he’s pleased with his situation and isn’t seeking a trade. “I’m happy here. I’m valued here. Valued in this leadership/lead-guard role,” Brogdon told The Athletic. “And I can’t complain with that. I’m happy in Portland.” The reigning Sixth Man of the Year, who also said he hasn’t spoken to GM Joe Cronin about a potential deal, added that he didn’t necessarily feel as valued by the Celtics, who traded him after a single season.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker says he was “terrified” after being traded to the Timberwolves last February, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. The 25-year-old had already been traded two times in 2022 (to Portland and Utah), and wasn’t playing a regular role with the Jazz last season. Alexander-Walker wondered how he’d be able to crack the rotation for the Wolves, but wound up becoming a key contributor after injuries to Naz Reid and Jaden McDaniels down the stretch. He re-signed with Minnesota on a two-year, $9MM contract over the summer.
  • Former EuroLeague MVP Vasilije Micic doesn’t seem to mind his lack of playing time thus far with the Thunder, per Micic won back-to-back EuroLeague titles (2021 and 2022) with Anadolu Efes. “From the outside for people that follow my career, maybe some things are not smooth and easygoing for me,” Micic said. “But that’s not important to me. The most important is my current feeling, and my current feeling is showing me that everything makes sense, everything was with a reason.Everything in Europe that I achieved was not given to me. I had to work for that. Nobody gave me anything there. So that’s how I learned it.” The 30-year-old NBA rookie is averaging 3.2 PPG and 2.3 APG in 11.8 MPG over 26 appearances with Oklahoma City this season.
  • Nuggets star Nikola Jokic will be sidelined for Wednesday’s contest in Oklahoma City due to lower back pain, but it’s not expected to be a long-term injury, head coach Michael Malone told reporters prior to the game (Twitter link via Bennett Durando of The Denver Post). “I wouldn’t say anything that I think is gonna be a long-term concern. … That back pain was not improving, wasn’t getting any better, so it was just determined by medical staff to try to get that back right, rehab and treatment,” Malone said.

Thunder Notes: Williams, Micic, Dort

Thunder reserve big man Jaylin Williams will miss some early regular season games due a hamstring strain suffered in practice, Brett Dawson tweets. Williams will be reevaluated in a couple of weeks.

Williams projects as Chet Holmgren‘s backup this season after starting 36 of 49 games last season during his rookie campaign. A second-round pick in 2022, Williams averaged 5.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 18.7 minutes.

Olivier Sarr and Ousmane Dieng could see more action until Williams returns.

We have more on the Thunder:

  • Vasilije Micic has noticed some major differences between the EuroLeague and NBA, as relays. “It’s open space, with a much higher pace of play compared to the EuroLeague,” he said. “The paint is more open, providing a lot of opportunities for creative players to penetrate and gain an advantage, especially for skilled ball handlers. It’s also a bit easier to create from that spacing. I’m still trying to adjust. Everything is still new for me, but my teammates are helping me learn as quickly as possible. I believe that, together, we will get there eventually.” The former EuroLeague MVP signed a three-year, $23.5MM contract with Oklahoma City in July.
  • Luguentz Dort scored a team-high 24 points during the team’s exhibition game Thursday in Montreal. It was an emotional homecoming for the Montreal native, he told Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. He spoke in French to the crowd prior to the contest. “I just told them that we were honored to be here,” Dort said, “As a Montreal guy, it was an honor for me to bring my team here and play in front of them.”
  • Get all the details on the big Thunder-Rockets trade here.

And-Ones: Dybantsa, Weatherspoon, Breakout Candidates, More

A.J. Dybantsa, a 6’8″ wing from Massachusetts and one of the top high school prospects in the country, intends to reclassify to the 2025 recruiting class, as Jeff Borzello of writes. Dybantsa had previously been the No. 1 player in ESPN’s 2026 recruiting rankings. Now, he becomes the favorite to be selected first overall in the 2026 NBA draft, according to Borzello.

As Borzello explains, Dybantsa, Cooper Flagg, and Cameron Boozer are widely considered the best high school prospects in the country. When ESPN asked 20 college coaches and NBA evaluators to rank the trio this summer, Dybantsa earned seven first-place votes and placed second behind Flagg, who is the frontrunner to be the top pick in the 2025 draft.

“Dybantsa is just the most complete,” one coach told ESPN. “Scores at all three levels. Super athletic. He’s the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft whenever he goes.”

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

  • Former Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon will be the next head coach of the WNBA’s Chiacgo Sky, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The former WNBA star was an assistant in New Orleans for four seasons before the team parted ways with her in June.
  • In John Schuhmann’s general manager poll, two players received more votes than Magic forward Franz Wagner for this season’s top breakout candidate. However, Wagner sits atop the list compiled by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who spoke to 25 executives around the NBA and has shared the top nine vote-getters. Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Rockets guard Jalen Green round out Scotto’s top three.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic lists a dozen under-the-radar NBA players whom he expects to have a real impact this season, including Celtics wing Oshae Brissett, Nuggets forward Peyton Watson, Thunder guard Vasilije Micic, and Pelicans forward Naji Marshall.
  • The Capital City Go-Go have traded the returning rights to Isaiah Mucius to the Delaware Blue Coats along with a 2024 first-round pick and 2023 second-round pick in the G League draft. In exchange, the Sixers‘ G League affiliate has sent Michael Foster Jr.‘s returning rights to the Wizards‘ affiliate, the Go-Go announced today (via Twitter).

Northwest Notes: Knox, Reath, Wolves, NAW, Thunder, Micic

Kevin Knox‘s new contract with the Trail Blazers is an Exhibit 10 deal, Hoops Rumors has learned. That doesn’t mean Knox won’t have an opportunity to make Portland’s regular season roster, but if he does, he’ll be on a non-guaranteed, minimum-salary contract that only covers a single season.

If Knox is waived before the season begins, he’d be eligible to earn a bonus worth $75K if he signs a G League contract and spends at least 60 days with the Rip City Remix, Portland’s affiliate. Exhibit 10 contracts can also be converted into two-way deals, but that won’t be an option for Knox, who has five years of NBA service, making him ineligible to be a two-way player.

Most of the Trail Blazers’ recent free agent additions also received Exhibit 10 contracts. One exception is big man Duop Reath, whose deal includes an Exhibit 9 clause but not Exhibit 10 language. That suggests he may not be a candidate to join the Remix if he doesn’t make Portland’s regular season roster.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Timberwolves, who defeated Dallas on Thursday, are taking the preseason seriously, recognizing that it’s a good opportunity to establish early chemistry with Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert healthy, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “If we don’t get something out of these games, you’re risking putting yourself behind the eight ball,” said head coach Chris Finch, adding that the team is looking to figure out its identity.
  • One encouraging sign from the Timberwolves‘ preseason opener was that Nickeil Alexander-Walker picked up right where he left off last season, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune, who notes that the guard became a starter and important defender in the postseason. Alexander-Walker signed a two-year, $9MM contract in July to remain in Minnesota.
  • Justin Martinez of The Oklahoman rounds up the highlights from the Thunder‘s media day earlier this week, passing along the most notable comments from head coach Mark Daigneault and many Oklahoma City players, including Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • In a separate story for The Oklahoman, Joe Mussatto goes more in depth on Vasilije Micic‘s first session with local reporters, sharing the explanation the new Thunder wing provided for why he felt the time was right to make the move from Europe to the NBA. According to Micic, he had serious talks with the Thunder a couple years ago, but felt he still had something to prove in the EuroLeague. “I wanted to come somewhere that someone knows me and someone really wanted me, and this is what happened this summer,” he said.

Nikola Jokic Reportedly Won’t Play In 2023 World Cup

Following a championship run with the Nuggets this spring, star center Nikola Jokic won’t suit up for Serbia in this summer’s World Cup, according to a report from Dejan Stankovic of Mozzart Sport.

As Stankovic details, there had been skepticism that Jokic would be available for Serbia at the World Cup after he played into mid-June with Denver. Mozzart Sport’s reporting indicates that the two-time NBA MVP has informed the Serbian national team of his decision and will get some extra rest in advance of training camp.

New Thunder guard Vasilije Micic – who signed a three-year contract with Oklahoma City earlier this month – may also skip the World Cup as he prepares for his first season in the NBA. There’s less certainty about Micic’s status at this point, but Stankovic suggests the longtime EuroLeague star will likely follow Jokic’s lead and decline to participate, leaving Serbia without another key piece of its projected rotation.

The FIBA World Cup is generally viewed as a less prestigious international event than the Olympics, so stars who miss this summer’s event in Asia may still end up playing for their national teams in 2024 in Paris. The U.S. World Cup team, for instance, is headlined by a younger group of stars such as Brandon Ingram, Anthony Edwards, and Tyrese Haliburton, but Team USA will likely have more big-name players available in France next year.

Still, non-U.S. stars are often more inclined to compete in non-Olympic international events than top American players are, so the fact that Serbia will likely be missing two of its best players is a tough blow for the team.

Serbia didn’t qualify for the previous Olympics in Tokyo and isn’t a shoo-in for Paris either — the club will be looking to improve upon its fifth-place finish in the 2019 World Cup. Serbia would have to finish as one of the top two European teams at this year’s World Cup in order to automatically qualify for the 2024 Olympics.