Robin Lopez

Cavaliers Sign Robin Lopez

JULY 7: The Cavaliers have officially signed Lopez, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.


JULY 1: The Cavaliers have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent center Robin Lopez, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). It’s a minimum-salary contract for Lopez, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Lopez is coming off a one-year, $5MM deal with the Magic. The 34-year-old was effective in a limited role in Orlando, but was in and out of the rotation as the club focused on developing young bigs Wendell Carter and Mohamed Bamba.

In 36 games (17.0 MPG), Lopez averaged 7.1 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 1.5 APG on 55.3% shooting. The former 15th overall pick is valued by NBA teams in large part due to his willingness and ability to do the dirty work on both ends of the court, including setting good screens and effectively boxing out rebounders.

Lopez will provide some depth and veteran leadership in a Cavaliers frontcourt headed by All-Star center Jarrett Allen and promising youngster Evan Mobley.

And-Ones: Kerr, Schofield, Lopez, Harrell, Play-In, McClung, Harrison

Would less be more? When it comes to the NBA schedule, Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes so. He’d like to see the NBA cut its regular season from 82 games to 72, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. That would encourage coaches to play their regulars more often, instead of giving them nights off, particularly as the season winds down.

What makes the most sense is cutting back to maybe a 72-game schedule,” Kerr said. “Take 10 games off and get more time to rest in between games. I think you’ll get buy-in from the teams to play their guys more often.”

We have more tidbits from around the basketball world:

  • Magic forward Admiral Schofield was fined $20K, while Magic center Robin Lopez and Hornets center Montrezl Harrell were fined $15K for their roles in an on-court altercation on Thursday, the NBA announced (Twitter link). All three were ejected during the fourth-quarter scuffle (video link).
  • Commissioner Adam Silver likes the way the play-in tournament has encouraged teams on the playoff bubble to remain competitive but might tweak it in future years, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic tweets. Executive VP of basketball strategy and analytics Evan Wasch suggested the league would consider a scenario where the ninth- and 10th-place finishers in each conference would have to win a certain number of games to qualify for the play-in.
  • Guard Mac McClung was named NBA G League Rookie of the Year after averaging 21.6 PPG and 7.6 APG for the South Bay Lakers, the league tweets. The Lakers rewarded McClung with a two-way contract on Saturday.
  • Free agent guard Shaquille Harrison has been named G League Defensive Player of the Year, according to a league press release. Harrison averaged 1.93 steals per game for the Delaware Blue Coats.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Southeast Division

For the rest of the regular season and postseason, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this offseason. We consider whether their stock is rising or falling due to their performance and other factors. Today, we’re focusing on a handful of Southeast players.


P.J. Tucker, F, Heat

2021/22: $7MM
2022/23: $7.35MM player option
Stock: Up ⬆️

Tucker will turn 37 years old in May, and there aren’t many non-stars in the NBA who could realistically turn down a $7.35MM guarantee at that age. Tucker might be in position to do so though. He has been everything the Heat hoped for this season, starting 56 games, playing stellar defense, and knocking down a career-high 44.9% of his three-point attempts. If that performance carries over to the postseason and he plays a key role in a deep playoff run, Tucker could realistically command one more multiyear contract this summer.

Mohamed Bamba, C, Magic

2021/22: $7.57MM
2022/23: RFA
Stock: Up ⬆️

Entering 2021/22, Bamba was facing a make-or-break year. He had battled injuries and failed to take major steps forward in his first three seasons after being drafted sixth overall in 2018. If this season had resembled his first three, he would’ve been hard-pressed to find more than a minimum-salary deal during his upcoming free agency.

Bamba has responded to the challenge, starting 52 games so far for a rebuilding Magic team and establishing new career highs in PPG (10.2), RPG (7.9), BPG (1.8), and MPG (26.1), among other categories. While he hasn’t yet reached the level that some envisioned when he was drafted, his ability to protect the rim and hit the occasional three-pointer (34.5% on 3.6 attempts per game) should make him a popular target for teams in need of a center this offseason.

Bamba will be a restricted free agent if Orlando extends him a $10.1MM qualifying offer. I expect the Magic will do so unless they don’t see Bamba as part of their future.

Thomas Bryant, C, Wizards

2021/22: $8.67MM
2022/23: UFA
Stock: Down ⬇️

Bryant hasn’t been bad since returning to action following his recovery from a torn ACL, but he hasn’t been the same player he was prior to the injury in 2019-21, when he averaged 13.4 PPG and 7.0 RPG with a .411 3PT%.

The Wizards have a -11.7 net rating when Bryant plays this season, compared to a -1.2 mark when he doesn’t. And there’s no guarantee he’ll see consistent minutes the rest of the way if Kristaps Porzingis stays healthy — Bryant was a DNP-CD in Porzingis’ Wizards debut on Sunday.

Gorgui Dieng, F/C, Hawks

2021/22: $4MM
2022/23: UFA
Stock: Down ⬇️

The Hawks presumably envisioned Dieng being a regular part of the frontcourt rotation when they used part of their mid-level exception to sign him last summer. And for a while, he was.

Dieng played in 28 of Atlanta’s first 33 games, but following a stint in the health and safety protocols and the emergence of Onyeka Okongwu, his role has all but disappeared. Dieng has only appeared in 12 of the team’s last 30 games, logging more than eight minutes just three times during that stretch. At this point, it’s hard to imagine the 32-year-old getting another offer above the minimum this summer.

Cody Martin, G/F, Hornets

2021/22: $1.78MM
2022/23: RFA
Stock: Up ⬆️

Cody’s twin brother Caleb Martin has gotten more press for his breakout year in Miami, but Cody has also taken his game to another level this season. He has averaged career highs virtually across the board, putting up 8.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG and a .465/.406/.692 shooting line while playing an important role in Charlotte’s rotation.

While he’s probably not in line for a massive payday, Cody has assured himself of a qualifying offer (it’ll likely be worth $2.23MM) and should have some leverage to negotiate a multiyear deal with the Hornets, who won’t want to lose him in unrestricted free agency in 2023.

Stein’s Latest: Rivers, Dragic, Harris, R. Lopez, Dinwiddie, Bertans

The Sixers have confidence in coach Doc Rivers to lead the team to a title now that James Harden has been paired up with Joel Embiid, a source tells Marc Stein (Substack link). Philadelphia hasn’t won an NBA championship in 39 years and Rivers has a recent history of playoff disappointments, but team officials believe he can oversee the new partnership.

Shortly after the trade with the Nets was completed, Stein heard rumors that the Sixers might be considering Mike D’Antoni, who coached Harden for four years in Houston. D’Antoni is currently serving as a coaching advisor to the Pelicans after spending last season with Harden as an assistant in Brooklyn.

However, Stein’s source insists that Rivers’ job is safe, saying he gained admiration from ownership and the front office with the way he guided the team through the distractions caused by Ben Simmons‘ absence.

Stein offers more inside information from around the league:

  • Goran Dragic met with the Nets on Friday as he considers his next team following a buyout with the Spurs. Coach Steve Nash served as a mentor when Dragic entered the NBA with the Suns and has been the team’s lead recruiter for the free agent guard. Along with Brooklyn, Stein cites the Bucks, Bulls, Warriors and Clippers as the top suitors for Dragic. He’s been “really open-minded” to the offers from each team, a source tells Stein.
  • Magic veterans Gary Harris and Robin Lopez haven’t pushed for buyouts so far, according to Stein’s sources, who add that Harris may want to stay in Orlando in hopes of re-signing during the offseason. There was talk that Lopez might join his brother in Milwaukee after a buyout, Stein states, but the recent additions of Greg Monroe and Serge Ibaka may have quelled the Bucks‘ interest (though Monroe’s most recent 10-day contract has expired). Golden State may need another center for the playoffs, and Stein sees Lopez as a potential “home run” for the Warriors if he becomes available.
  • Small guarantees for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans in the final year of their contracts motivated the Mavericks to acquire them in last week’s trade for Kristaps Porzingis. Dinwiddie has just a $10MM guarantee on his $18.9MM salary for 2023/24, while Bertans carries a $5MM guarantee on his $16MM salary for 2024/25. Dallas is hoping those limited guarantees will make both contracts easier to trade.

Warriors Notes: K. Thompson, Kuminga, R. Lopez, Wiseman

After two-and-a-half years of rehab to overcome two serious injuries, Klay Thompson was back in a familiar role for the Warriors Saturday night, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. With a nationally televised game against the Lakers hanging in the balance, Thompson exploded for 16 points in the fourth quarter of a 117-115 victory. It was his highest-scoring quarter since 2018, and the 33-point effort marked his biggest scoring night since returning.

“After not feeling that feeling for a few years, don’t take a 30-ball lightly in this league,” Thompson said. “I know that is always in me, but these things happen naturally. I can’t — if I can play to do that every fourth quarter, I would. It’s not the game of ball. It’s the flow of the game. Great things happen with time.”

It was a vintage performance for Thompson, who is still on a minutes restriction, and it’s exactly what the Warriors will need heading into the playoffs. In addition to his offensive brilliance, Thompson was a difference maker on defense, holding Lakers shooters to 1-of-6 from the field as a primary defender.

“There were so many long days in this building,” he recalled, “so many long days doing those tedious things. That is something that I wasn’t used to prior due to my ability to play nightly. Now that I am able to do that, it inspires me to keep going. I am not satisfied. It felt really freaking good, though.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Rookie Jonathan Kuminga played against LeBron James for the first time Saturday night, and coach Steve Kerr said it’s important that he gets those type of experiences out of the way now, per Monte Poole 0f NBC Sports Bay Area. Kuminga has played at least 22 minutes in six straight games and appears to be part of the rotation heading toward the postseason. “Let’s put him on LeBron now, because he’s gonna have to guard LeBron and plenty of other guys in the playoffs who are really, really tough jobs, tough covers,” Kerr said. “We’re just trying to get him all the experience we can right now. He’s handling it beyond anything I could have expected, even a couple weeks ago. His rise this last month has just been brilliant.” 
  • With only one healthy center on the roster, Robin Lopez could emerge as a potential target for the Warriors if he reaches a buyout agreement with the Magic, suggests Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area. Schrock sees Tristan Thompson, DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap as other possibilities, although he considers them less likely.
  • James Wiseman, who is still trying to return after knee surgery, went through a pre-game workout Saturday and has been involved in increased 3-on-3 contact drills over the past few days, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Trade Rumors: Mavs, R. Lopez, Hawks, Wizards, Pistons, More

The Mavericks have made Dwight Powell available, but they remain uninterested in moving Jalen Brunson or Dorian Finney-Smith, reports Matt Moore of ActionNetwork.com. If those two players are off the table, Dallas may have a hard time finding a deal that significantly upgrades its roster.

According to Moore, Tim Hardaway Jr., who is out indefinitely due to a foot injury, is the player the Mavericks have shopped most aggressively. Hardaway was having a down year prior to his injury and is on a sizable long-term contract ($53.7MM for three years after this season), so his value will be limited.

Still, Moore notes that Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle is a big fan of Hardaway, whom he coached in Dallas. Moore has also heard that the Wizards and Mavericks discussed a deal involving Hardaway and Spencer Dinwiddie, though a source tells Moore that the two sides didn’t make much progress.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Magic have been willing to discuss center Robin Lopez, but are apparently asking for a first-round pick, according to Moore. I’d be surprised if a team is willing to meet that price.
  • The Hawks may have a quiet deadline, with John Collins appearing increasingly unlikely to be dealt, but they remain on the lookout for a backup point guard, Moore reports.
  • Within his trade-rumor roundup, Moore also says the Wizards have been willing to discuss anyone besides Bradley Beal or Kyle Kuzma, and adds that Pistons guard Cory Joseph is “gettable.” Moore has received mixed intel on whether Detroit is interested in moving Kelly Olynyk.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner appears less likely to be dealt now that the team has moved Domantas Sabonis, but the Knicks continue to pursue Turner, a league source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The big man is dealing with a foot injury that may sideline him until at least March.
  • With Harrison Barnes looking like a good bet to stay with the Kings through the deadline, Richaun Holmes and Marvin Bagley III are the Sacramento players most often identified by rival teams as candidates to be moved in the next few hours, says Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Stein’s Latest: Collins, Hawks, Poeltl, Turner, Fox, Lopez

Hawks big man John Collins appears increasingly unlikely to be traded before next Thursday’s deadline, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. As Stein explains, Atlanta has been involved in plenty of trade discussions in recent weeks, but the team is playing well lately and seems inclined to push any Collins deal into the offseason.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe conveyed a similar sentiment earlier today. While he didn’t focus specifically on Collins or any other player, Lowe reported that the Hawks remain active in trade talks, but don’t appear to feel the same urgency to make a move that they did a couple weeks ago.

Here are a few more trade rumors from Stein’s latest roundup:

  • The Spurs would require a first-round pick and a quality player in order to part with center Jakob Poeltl, according to Stein, who says the Bulls are among the teams to express interest in the big man. Stein previously identified Toronto as another club with interest in Poeltl.
  • Stein was told on Friday morning that the odds of Pacers big man Myles Turner being moved before the February 10 deadline are a “coin flip.” Turner seemed more likely to be dealt before he sustained a stress fracture in his foot that cooled his market.
  • Despite the Kingsinsistence that they want to keep De’Aaron Fox and build around him and Tyrese Haliburton, Stein says numerous teams still believe Sacramento would be willing to part with Fox.
  • Teams have inquired on center Robin Lopez, but it’s unclear how interested the Magic are in trading him, Stein writes.

COVID-19 Updates: Powell, Kings, Pacers, Lopez, Springer, Pons

Trail Blazers wing Norman Powell entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

As our tracker shows, Powell is currently the only Portland player in the protocols. However, the Trail Blazers are also missing Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum due to injuries, so Powell’s absence means the team is without its three top scorers. Lillard, McCollum, and Powell are averaging a combined 63.2 points per game so far this season.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Kings added one big man – center Damian Jones – to the protocols on Sunday as another – forward/center Chimezie Metu – exited, per reports from James Ham of ESPN 1320 and Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links).
  • Pacers swingman Torrey Craig and center Isaiah Jackson were back at practice on Sunday, signaling they’ve cleared the protocols, tweets James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Indiana still has four players in the protocols.
  • Robin Lopez remained sidelined for Sunday’s game vs. Washington, but the Magic center was no longer listed in the protocols, having progressed to return to competition reconditioning (Twitter link via Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel).
  • Sixers rookie Jaden Springer has exited the protocols, but has been ruled out for Monday’s game in Houston due to a non-COVID illness, as Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays (via Twitter).
  • Grizzlies two-way player Yves Pons was placed in the health and safety protocols on Saturday, but was no longer listed in the protocols for Sunday’s game, suggesting he registered a false positive or inconclusive test (Twitter links).

COVID-19 Updates: Payton, Nader, Lopez, Ross, Cavs, Duke

It has been an unusual week for Suns guard Elfrid Payton, who entered the health and safety protocols on Sunday, then exited them on Monday after what appeared to be a false positive. On Wednesday, prior to Phoenix’s game vs. Oklahoma City, Payton reentered the protocols, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes.

The specifics of Payton’s situation are unclear, but he’ll now remain in the protocols for at least six days unless he can once again return two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests at least 24 hours apart.

According to Rankin, Payton wasn’t the only Sun to be placed in the protocols on Wednesday — Abdel Nader has also joined that list. However, Nader has been out of Phoenix’s lineup since November 19 due to what the team has called “right knee injury management,” so his placement in the protocols had no real impact on the rotation.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Magic center Robin Lopez has entered the COVID-19 protocols, the team announced on Thursday morning (via Twitter). However, Terrence Ross is listed on Orlando’s latest injury report as out due to “return to competition reconditioning,” which suggests he has exited the protocols. With Lopez in and Ross out, there are still five Magic players in the protocols.
  • The Cavalierslatest injury report lists Jarrett Allen, Dylan Windler, and Lamar Stevens as going through return to competition reconditioning, so they’ve cleared the protocols. Allen is considered doubtful for Thursday’s game in Washington, while Windler and Stevens are questionable.
  • Nets rookie David Duke has exited the health and safety protocols, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Brooklyn’s list of players in the protocols was in the double-digits earlier this month, but is now down to just two — Kessler Edwards and Day’Ron Sharpe.
  • Our running list of players in the protocols can be found right here.

Southeast Notes: Smith, Lopez, Carter, Bamba

Point guard Ish Smith will be playing for his 12th NBA franchise this season but his stint with the Hornets will be special, Sam Perley of the team’s website notes. Smith grew up in Charlotte, NC.

“I wanted to be home, I’m not going to lie to you,” Smith said. “I’m sure everybody is going mention it in every game we play. Every year, it’s about how many teams you’ve been on. I’m like look, somebody likes me. … [Being here] is something that I’m excited about, it’s something my family’s excited about. So, yeah, it is something I wanted to do.”

Smith signed a two-year deal with the Hornets last month.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Robin Lopez, signed to add depth in the middle for the rebuilding Magic, compares himself to a bullpen specialist in baseball, Josh Cohen of the team’s website writes. “You know the relief pitcher, they’re always a little rotund,” Lopez said with a grin. “They’re not playing every night necessarily, but they are going in there making an impact when the team needs them.” Lopez signed a one-year, $5MM deal with Orlando.
  • The Magic will be evaluating their long-term plans at center over the next 12 months, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The franchise is unlikely to make long-term commitments to both Wendell Carter Jr. and Mohamed Bamba. They are eligible for rookie scale extensions this offseason. If Carter isn’t signed to an extension, he will still have every opportunity to prove himself in the season ahead and perhaps show that his ceiling is higher than many scouts believe he can reach, Robbins adds.
  • ICYMI, a former Nets guard has agreed to a contract with the Hawks. Get the details here.