R.J. Hunter

Celtics Notes: Williams, Irving, Stevens, Hunter

The Celtics are dealing with another injured center after rookie Robert Williams took a hard fall onto his back in last night’s game, writes Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston. Making his first career start because of injuries to Al Horford and Aron Baynes, Williams left the game with a back contusion in the second quarter.

“I’m guessing we’re looking at a Jaylen (Brown) time frame from this year, at least,” coach Brad Stevens said. Brown suffered a similar injury last March and missed six games. Boston has nine games left, so it’s possible that Williams won’t return until the playoffs. Jayson Tatum also fell on his back last night, but his injury appears to be less severe.

Losing Williams could affect the Celtics’ plans for their open roster spot. There was a report Friday night that they would be signing Greg Monroe to a 10-day contract, but when that didn’t happen yesterday, there were suggestions that the opening might go to Thomas Robinson, who joined the organization’s G League affiliate last week. If Williams is out for the rest of the season, that might tip the scales back in favor of Monroe.

There’s more this morning out of Boston:

  • Kyrie Irving appeared to take another swipe at his young teammates, saying the Celtics need to be “more mature down the stretch” after blowing an 18-point fourth quarter lead in a loss to the Hornets, relays A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Irving, who has been outspoken about the difficulties of being a veteran leader on a young team, also questioned Stevens’ approach to handling Kemba Walker, who scored 18 fourth quarter points to lead the comeback. “We should have probably trapped him more like every other team does in the league but we didn’t,” Irving said. “He torches us every time we play them, so it’s no surprise.”
  • Before Saturday’s meltdown, Stevens indicated rotation changes could be coming, Blakely adds in a separate story. He told his players that “toughness” will determine who plays in the postseason. “We are in evaluation stage on who’s reliable,” Stevens said. “… If you don’t have that reliability; if you don’t have that toughness. If you don’t have the ability to move on to what’s next, you don’t last very long.”
  • R.J. Hunter hasn’t taken the court for Boston since signing a two-way contract in January, but he believes he’s a mentally stronger player than when he was drafted by the team in 2015. He talks about that aspect of the game an interview tweeted by the Celtics.

Celtics Sign R.J. Hunter To Two-Way Deal

JANUARY 10: The Celtics have officially signed Hunter to a two-way contract, the team confirmed today in a press release.

JANUARY 9: The Celtics are bringing back former first-round pick R.J. Hunter on a two-way contract, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Hunter’s agency, Priority Sports, first announced (via Twitter) that Hunter would be returning to Boston.

Hunter, the 28th overall pick in 2015 out of Georgia State, spent just one season with the Celtics before being waived. He spent time with the Bulls in 2016/17, then signed a two-way contract with the Rockets in 2017/18. The 25-year-old was also in camp with the Hawks this past fall.

Over those few years, Hunter has been unable to carve out a regular NBA role, appearing in just 44 total games. In limited minutes (8.4 MPG), he has posted 2.6 PPG and 1.0 RPG with a .361/.282/.889 shooting line. His career G League numbers – 19.6 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.4 APG, and .418/.350/.803 shooting – have been more impressive.

In 22 games for the Erie BayHawks this season, Hunter has averaged 22.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.3 APG, and 2.0 SPG, earning him a two-way offer from the Celtics.

The C’s have been carrying just one two-way player (P.J. Dozier) since late November, when they waived Walt Lemon Jr., so Hunter will fill their open slot.

Celtics Notes: Irving, Hunter, Horford, Draft Picks

The Celtics wrapped up a dominant home stand on Wednesday night with a 135-108 win over Indiana, capping off a four-game stretch in which they outscored their opponents by over 20 points per game. Boston has now won seven of nine games since a home loss to Milwaukee on December 21, and Kyrie Irving points to the team meeting that took place after that game a turning point for the C’s, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com details.

“At that point, playing against Milwaukee, we weren’t at rock bottom, but we needed to address some s— in this locker room,” Irving said. “It’s just good to get stuff out in the air. As grown men and guys that have expectations for themselves, it was good to hear guys talk about what they wanted for themselves and what they wanted for this team.”

It has been a somewhat inconsistent first half for the Celtics, who were viewed as the Eastern Conference frontrunners entering the season. The club played just .500 ball in its first 20 games and had a couple more bad losses after that. But as the C’s reach the midpoint of their schedule, they’re back on pace for 50+ wins, and Irving believes they’re starting to hit their stride.

“Everything we talked about at the beginning of the season, I feel like it’s translating now as we continue to get to know one another,” he said. “Meat of the season right now and you can tell that our team is just feeling really good being around each other. And it’s totally different in terms of how we feel out there. It’s just really positive. And when I don’t have to go out there and score 30 it’s cool with me. I probably won’t have to score 30 for us until we play one of the best teams in the league — or, if any — until the playoffs. So I’m happy about that.”

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Former first-round pick R.J. Hunter, who agreed to a two-way contract with the Celtics, called it a “crazy feeling” to return to his original team two and a half years after being waived, as Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweets. “R.J. wants to show the people of Boston they made the right decision when the Celtics drafted him,” agent Mark Bartelstein said, per Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link). “He turned down all kinds of offers from overseas to make his way back to the NBA. I have so much respect for him.”
  • Al Horford, who missed time with a knee injury in December, figures to remain on a minutes restriction for the foreseeable future, writes Taylor Snow of Celtics.com. After initially looking to limit him to around 25 minutes per game, the Celtics are now willing to go up to 27-28 MPG for Horford, Snow notes.
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton explores how valuable the Celtics’ four 2019 first-round picks might end up being. Pelton believes that if Boston makes a play for Anthony Davis during the coming offseason, the team’s young players will likely be more valuable trade chips than those draft picks.

Hawks Cut Thomas Robinson, R.J. Hunter, C.J. Anderson

The Hawks have trimmed their preseason roster by three, waiving Thomas Robinson, R.J. Hunter, and C.J. Anderson, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Atlanta’s roster is now at the regular season limit of 17 players, including two on two-way contracts.

Robinson, the fifth overall pick in the 2012 draft, has appeared in 313 career regular season games, but didn’t play in the NBA last season and was always a long shot to make the Hawks’ regular season roster, since the team is already carrying 15 players on guaranteed contracts. Hunter is also a former first-round pick who has struggled to find an NBA home.

Anderson, meanwhile, went undrafted out of the University of Massachusetts after averaging 10.6 PPG, 5.2 APG, and 5.0 RPG with a .414/.400/.813 shooting line as a senior in 2017/18. If he clears waivers, the Hawks would hold his G League rights as an affiliate player, so he may end up with the Erie BayHawks.

Hawks Sign R.J. Hunter

12:02pm: The Hawks have formally announced their deal with Hunter, issuing a press release to confirm the signing.

11:27am: The Hawks will announce the signing of free agent shooting guard R.J. Hunter today, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Once Atlanta officially signs both Hunter and Cole Aldrich, whose deal with the Hawks was reported on Thursday, the team’s 20-man offseason roster will be full.

Hunter, a 2015 first-round pick, spent just one season with the Celtics before being waived. Since then, Hunter has appeared in a handful of NBA games for the Bulls and Rockets. He was on a two-way contract with Houston before being waived by the club last month.

The Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Erie BayHawks – the G League affiliates for the Rockets and Hawks – completed a trade last week that saw the BayHawks acquire Hunter’s NBAGL rights. As Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days.com noted at the time (via Twitter), there was a feeling that Atlanta would offer Hunter an Exhibit 10 contract after securing his G League rights.

With 15 players on guaranteed salaries and Thomas Robinson and Aldrich among the non-guaranteed players also vying for roster spots, there likely won’t be room on the Hawks’ regular season roster for Hunter, but he’ll apparently attend camp with Atlanta. If he’s waived and opts to play in the G League for the 2018/19 season, he’ll suit up for Erie.

Rockets Waive Guard R.J. Hunter

AUG. 18: The Rockets officially announced that Hunter has been waived.

AUG. 17: The Rockets have waived guard R.J. Hunter, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.

That opens up a two-way contract slot for Houston, since Hunter was signed in January under one of those agreements. The 6’5” Hunter appeared in five games with the Rockets, including a start, averaging 3.8 PPG in 9.0 MPG.

Hunter played for Houston’s summer league team in July, the fourth consecutive offseason that he appeared in summer league games. He averaged 11.2 PPG in five Las Vegas appearances.

Hunter was chosen 28th overall by the Celtics in the 2015 draft. He played 36 games during his rookie season for Boston, then was waived during training camp the following season. He was claimed by the Bulls and saw action in three games before they waived him in December 2016.

Southwest Notes: Conley, Hunter, Parker, Broekhoff

Last month’s signing of Kyle Anderson will enable Mike Conley to adopt a different role for the Grizzlies this season, according to Peter Edmiston of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. A point guard throughout his 11-year career, Conley will be used off the ball more frequently and will be counted on to provide more scoring.

Conley said he talked to former Memphis coach David Fizdale about such a move two years ago. However, any progress was short circuited last year when an injury ended Conley’s season after 12 games and Fizdale was fired in November.

“When Kyle and anybody else on the ball make plays, I don’t have to make plays for myself,” Conley said. “I’m excited about that and I think it bodes well for my season and our team.”

Conley also addressed questions about his injured heel that required season-ended surgery, saying he’s feeling “on track” and expects to be at full strength when the new season starts in October.

There’s more today from the Southwest Division:

  • R.J. Hunter has become a Summer League regular after the Celtics made him a first-round pick in 2015, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Hunter, who has a two-way contract with the Rockets, played for Houston’s entry this year in his fourth consecutive Summer League. He has appeared in just eight NBA games since the Celtics waived him in 2016, but said his time with the Rockets has been a valuable learning experience. “Whenever I’m on the bench, just see what they need on the court,” Hunter said. “I think it’s more of a thinking game. Houston’s old. A lot of their players are vets, so they’ve been teaching me how to think the game and be patient.”
  • Tony Parker, who signed with the Hornets after 17 years with the Spurs, reflects on his time in San Antonio in a letter on The Players’ Tribune. Parker talks about his embarrassing audition with the team, the transition to Dejounte Murray as the starting point guard and the meaning of “Spurs culture.”
  • After losing Doug McDermott in free agency, the Mavericks hope they have found a replacement in sharpshooter Ryan Broekhoff. The Dallas Morning News takes a closer look at the Australian star, noting that Matthew Dellavedova lobbied the Bucks to sign him.

R.J. Hunter Signs Two-Way Contract With Rockets

JANUARY 15, 8:16am: Hunter’s two-way contract with the Rockets became official on Sunday, per RealGM’s transactions log.

JANUARY 13, 4:08pm: The Rockets will sign G League guard R.J. Hunter to a two-way contract on Sunday, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Hunter has been playing for the organization’s G League affiliate in Rio Grande Valley, where he is averaging 19.0 points in 23 games. He has struggled to find a spot in the NBA after being taken by the Celtics with the 28th pick in 2015. He played 36 games with Boston and another three with Chicago, but most of his experience has been in the G League.

The Rockets have a two-way slot open after terminating their deal with Demetrius Jackson last week. When Hunter signs tomorrow, he’ll have 22 days of NBA eligibility.

G League Notes: Bolomboy, E. Millsap, Tavares

The 2017 NBA G League draft will take place on Saturday, and former Jazz forward Joel Bolomboy is expected to be the first overall pick, a source tells Dakota Schmidt of Ridiculous Upside (Twitter link).

Phoenix’s G League affiliate, the Northern Arizona Suns, made a trade earlier today with the Iowa Wolves that saw the Suns acquire the No. 1 overall pick in exchange for the returning rights to Elijah Millsap, among other pieces. However, Schmidt suggests (via Twitter) that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see that first overall pick change hands again in the next 24 hours.

Here are a few more G League notes and updates, with a focus on more former NBA players like Bolomboy and Millsap:

  • Edy Tavares, whose returning rights are held by the Raptors 905, is headed back to the G League after being waived by Cleveland, according to a report from Gigantes (English link via Sportando).
  • The Rockets‘ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, sent a first-round pick to the Long Island Nets in exchange for R.J. Hunter‘s returning rights. Hunter, a former first-round pick, intends to suit up for the Vipers, his agent confirms to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link).
  • The Long Island Nets acquired the returning rights to Okaro White and Jamaal Franklin in a trade with the Memphis Hustle, according to a press release. White is still on the Heat‘s NBA roster and recently had his 2017/18 salary guaranteed, so Brooklyn’s affiliate seems unlikely to get its hands on him this season.
  • The Texas Legends, the affiliate of the Mavericks, has acquired Will Bynum‘s returning rights, suggesting the veteran guard could join the organization for the G League season, tweets Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Cliff Alexander, who was in camp with New Orleans earlier this month, had his returning rights traded to the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks‘ G League affiliate, per a team release. “Cliff is a highly-skilled big man who is among the best in the league at his position,” Herd GM Dave Dean said in a statement. “He has a tremendous upside and we are excited to add him to the Wisconsin Herd family.”

Trey Burke, 15 Other FAs Attend Bucks’ Mini-Camp

The Bucks are hosting a free agent mini-camp on Tuesday and Wednesday this week as they look to fill out their training camp roster and identify candidates to play for their G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The mini-camp, which will give the club a chance to evaluate possible camp invitees, includes a handful of notable names among its 16 participants.

Former lottery picks Trey Burke and Hasheem Thabeet are among the first-rounders who will be in attendance at the mini-camp, as Velazquez details. MarShon Brooks, Toney Douglas, Archie Goodwin, R.J. Hunter, John Jenkins, Perry Jones, and James Young are also set to get a look from the Bucks.

The Bucks don’t have a ton of flexibility to add more players to their offseason roster, having already locked up 16 players to NBA deals and two more to two-way contracts. That leaves just a pair of openings on the team’s 20-man training camp roster. Still, two of those roster players – Gary Payton II and JeQuan Lewis – are on non-guaranteed contracts, so Milwaukee has some flexibility if it wants to make changes at the back of its roster.

In addition to the players listed above, the following free agents are attending the Bucks’ mini-camp, per Velazquez: Cliff Alexander, Gracin Bakumanya, Trahson Burrell, Jeremy Evans, Aaron Harrison, Luke Petrasek, and Jacob Pullen.

Any player that signs with the Bucks figures to get a minimum salary deal that is non-guaranteed or features a very modest guarantee, since the Bucks are currently slightly above the luxury tax line.