Sam Dekker

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southeast Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southeast Division:

Justin Anderson, Hawks, 25, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $7MM deal in 2015
The Hawks can make Anderson a restricted free agent if they extend a $3.62MM qualifying offer. Anderson hasn’t given them much incentive to do so since they acquired him in an offseason trade with Philadelphia. Anderson is getting fewer minutes off the bench than ageless wonder Vince Carter, with under six minutes per game in seven March appearances. A recent report indicated that the Hawks would be aggressive in free agency. Renouncing Anderson’s rights would give them more elbow room to pursue top-tier players.

Shelvin Mack, Hornets, 28, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2018
It’s rare when NBA players are claimed off waivers. Mack proved to be an exception after the Grizzlies traded him to the Hawks last month, who weren’t interested in retaining his services. The Hornets were looking for some insurance behind backup Tony Parker, but Mack has been mostly a spectator. He’s appeared in just three games since the waiver claim after receiving steady minutes on Memphis’ second unit. Mack will be shopping around for a one-year minimum deal once again this offseason.

Derrick Jones Jr., Heat,, 22, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $3.16MM deal in 2018
The Heat have an August 1 deadline to guarantee Jones’ $1.645MM salary for next season. Considering that Jones is a young rotation player, that would seem to be an easy decision. Jones remains a work in progress offensively but advanced metrics indicate he’s making a defensive impact. His Defensive Box Plus/Minus rating, according to Basketball-Reference is a solid 1.4. Jones is shooting 49% from the field, mainly due to the fact that 54% of his attempts have come within three feet of the basket. He’s averaging 21.5 MPG in March, a sign of trust from coach Erik Spoelstra.

Nikola Vucevic, Magic, 28, C (Up) — Signed to a four-year, $53MM deal in 2015
There have been conflicting reports whether Dallas will make a big push for Orlando’s big man this summer. No doubt, there will be a market for Vucevic’s services. He’s averaging career highs of 20.6 PPG and 12.2 RPG in his walk year and coach Steve Clifford adds that Vucevic essentially gives the team “two point guards” when he’s on the floor. Vucevic isn’t considered a defensive stalwart but his Defensive Box rating this season is a career-high 3.7. Vucevic won’t get a max-level offer but he’ll be making a lot more than $12.75MM next season.

Sam Dekker, Wizards, 24, SF (Down)– Signed to a four-year, $7.9MM deal in 2015
Dekker could be a restricted free agent this summer if the Wizards extend a $3.91MM qualifying offer. That’s not going to happen, as Dekker hasn’t been any better in Washington than he was in three other NBA stops. The 18th overall pick in the 2015 draft has made 33 appearances with the Wizards since he was acquired from Cleveland in early December. He’s averaging 5.9 PPG in 15.4 MPG, but shooting just 29.4% from deep and 51.6% from the foul line. Dekker’s expectations should be modest in the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wizards Notes: Ariza, Oubre, Dekker, Porter

Suns guard Devin Booker referred to Trevor Ariza as a player who was “loved in the locker room” in Phoenix, but the club’s slow start to the season took a toll on the veteran forward — sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic that Ariza “checked out mentally” early in the 2018/19 campaign. The decision to trade him was a mutual one made by the Suns and Ariza’s camp, Rankin adds.

Ariza, who is joining the Wizards for the second time in his career, will be thrown into the fire right away by his new team — he’ll be in Washington’s starting lineup on Tuesday night, head coach Scott Brooks said today (Twitter link via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post).

As Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington observes, Ariza primarily came off the bench during his first season in D.C. back in 2012/13, but he has started every game since then, so it’s no surprise that he’ll slot right into the starting five for the Wizards. His old teammates are looking forward to playing alongside him again, as Standig relays.

“It’s always great to add a guy like Trevor back, one of the best veterans and teammates I had,” John Wall said. “We know what he brings to the table.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • In an article for NBC Sports Washington, Chase Hughes explores whether the Wizards got enough for Kelly Oubre after spending several years developing him. Within the piece, a source tells Hughes that Oubre and the Wizards never got very close to reaching a deal on a contract extension during the offseason.
  • Sam Dekker is turning out to not just be a throw-in in a trade that saved the Wizards some money — the veteran forward has earned regular minutes in Washington’s rotation during his first week and a half with his new team, as Ben Standig details for NBC Sports Washington. “He cuts to the basket, he moves the ball, he plays hard, he brings energy, he plays with the proper respect for the game,” head coach Scott Brooks said of Dekker. “That is what I love about him, he always seems to be prepared. He doesn’t have to turn the switch on, it’s on.”
  • Otto Porter was diagnosed with a Grade II strain of his right vastus medialis, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link), who explains that the vastus medialis is part of the quadriceps muscle group. Porter will likely sit out until next week, Buckner reports.
  • Earlier today, the Wizards finalized their signing of Chasson Randle and we took a closer look at the timing of that move.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wizards, Bamba, Heat

While it may be a little too early to determine with certainty whether the Hornets will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer suggests in his latest mailbag that he expects the team to be more focused on improving this season’s roster than acquiring future assets. However, they’re unlikely to take on much salary in any deal, since they’re only about $3.4MM below the luxury tax threshold, Bonnell notes.

If the Hornets were to fall out of the playoff picture, they could explore the trade market for 2019 free-agents-to-be like Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky, per Bonnell. However, it would require a major slump to slip out of the playoff race in the East, where the ninth-seeded Heat have an 11-16 record.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • While the Wizards were something of a third wheel in last week’s trade that primarily featured the Cavaliers and Bucks, their involvement shouldn’t be overlooked. Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington explored the impact of Jason Smith‘s departure on the locker room and on Smith himself, while Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington spoke to Sam Dekker about becoming a Wizard.
  • Mohamed Bamba sat out the Magic‘s most recent game on Monday after violating team rules, head coach Steve Clifford said, per ESPN.com. “It’s just bad on my part, and I need to be better. I’ve got to be on time,” Bamba said. He’s expected to return to Orlando’s lineup on Thursday night against Chicago.
  • In a pair of articles for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman explores whether the Heat will be able to continue to find enough minutes and opportunities for both Justise Winslow and Derrick Jones if and when their roster is fully healthy.

Wizards Notes: Wall, Smith, Dekker

John Wall is blaming an injury for his one-point performance in Saturday’s loss at Cleveland, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Wall has been suffering from a bone spur in his left heel and was treated for the condition after the game.

“It’s just like a bone spur but today it got really hot,” Wall told Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). “Probably shouldn’t have played. That’s my fault. … I’ve had it for a while. It comes and goes from days where it’s hot and today it’s like I really couldn’t run.”

Wall had six assists, but missed all five of his shots from the field and was pulled from the game late in the third quarter. Cavaliers rookie Collin Sexton took advantage of the matchup to score a career-high 29 points. More concerning to the Wizards than Saturday’s loss is how the condition will affect Wall for the rest of the season.

“Some days it’s great. Some days it’s bad,” he said. “It come and go. You know what I mean? You just got to monitor when it’s good and when it’s bad, don’t try to force the issue and play with that one because it’s kind of hard. You can’t run. Today it just got real hot. It didn’t get no better.”

There’s more news out of Washington:

  • Concerns about effort and focus have haunted the Wizards throughout their 11-15 start and Cleveland center Tristan Thompson suggested that was an issue again Saturday night, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic“Obviously every team that comes in here is going to feel very relaxed and feel like they don’t have to put their best foot forward,” Thompson said of facing the six-win Cavaliers. “I know how teams come in and approach us because we used to be that team that would approach teams that are in a different stage or got a lot of younger players.”
  • The Wizards lowered their potential tax bill by shipping Jason Smith to the Bucks for Sam Dekker, but the move wasn’t popular in the locker room, Buckner writes in a separate story. Smith was only averaging about 11 minutes per night, but was was well liked by his teammates, who viewed him as a supportive and calming presence. “If you can go through things of ups and downs and sporadic seasons, playing or not playing and still be that happy of an individual and cheer people on and just continue to be an overall good dude, why can’t everybody be that?” Kelly Oubre asked. “He really taught me how to be a good human being, to be honest.”
  • Coach Scott Brooks promises that Dekker will get a chance to earn playing time. In an video clip tweeted by the team, Brooks says he likes Dekker’s “motor” and “athleticism” and calls him a “developing shooter.”

Bucks Acquire George Hill From Cavs

DECEMBER 8, 9:00am: As part of the deal, the Wizards also removed the protections on the 2020 second-round pick they owe the Bucks, reports Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). In summation, the trade looks like this, as Smith tweets:

  • Bucks receive George Hill, Jason Smith, cash considerations (from Wizards), the Wizards’ 2021 second-round pick (from Cavaliers), and the protections removed on the Wizards’ 2020 second-round pick.
  • Cavaliers receive John Henson, Matthew Dellavedova, the Bucks’ 2021 first-round pick (protections detailed below), the Bucks’ 2021 second-round pick, and the Wizards’ 2022 second-round pick.
  • Wizards receive Sam Dekker.

DECEMBER 7, 9:25pm: The trade is official, according to a Cavaliers press release. as relayed by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix.

6:20pm: The Wizards have agreed to make it a three-team deal by acquiring Dekker for big man Jason Smith and a second-round pick, Wojnarowski tweets. The Cavs will swap a 2021 second-rounder with Washington for a 2022 second-rounder, Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets.

5:05pm: The Bucks have agreed to acquire veteran guard George Hill from the Cavaliers in exchange for guard Matthew Dellavedova, injured center John Henson and first- and second-round picks in 2021, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Cleveland is also sending forward Sam Dekker to Milwaukee, Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets.

As always, the deal is contingent on the players passing physicals.

The Bucks will save approximately $18MM for the 2019/20 season with this move, which will increase their flexibility to make more moves next summer, Wojnarowski notes in a separate tweet. With Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe both on track to become free agents in July, that extra flexibility could be crucial.

The Cavs are showing a continued willingness to take on salary in order to acquire future assets, Wojnarowski adds.

There was a sense of urgency in getting this deal done on Friday. These players are now eligible to be aggregated on the February 7th trade deadline, Wojnarowski points out in another tweet. Thus, these players can be combined with other contracts in a deadline deal.

While Cleveland is technically acquiring Milwaukee’s 2021 first-rounder in the deal, it’s likely to get pushed back to 2022. That’s because the first-rounder that Milwaukee owes Phoenix next summer almost certainly won’t change hands until 2020, as it’s protected 1-3 and 17-30 for 2019. Since teams can’t trade future first-round picks in back-to-back seasons, the Cavs would have to wait an extra year to get their pick from Milwaukee.

There are protections on the first-round pick going to Cleveland, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Twitter link). The first-rounder is protected 1-14 in 2021; 1-10 in 2022; 1-10 and 25-30 in 2023; and 1-8 in 2024. If still not conveyed by then, it converts to two second-rounders in 2025.

Hill is making $19MM this season but his $18MM salary for next season doesn’t become fully guaranteed until July 1. Only $1MM is guaranteed, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Milwaukee will almost assuredly cut him loose before then, eating his $1MM partial guarantee. However, Hill can be a contributor this season on a playoff contender.

He joins a guard rotation that includes Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and Tony Snell. The addition of Hill would seemingly reduce Donte DiVincenzo‘s minutes.

Henson is making $11.3MM this season and has a $10.5MM guarantee for next season in the final year of his deal. He recently underwent wrist surgery and could miss the rest of the season.

Dellavedova, who will begin his second stint in Cleveland, is making $9.6MM this season and the same amount next season.

Dekker is making $2.76MM and Milwaukee would have to extend a $3.9MM qualifying offer after the season to make him a restricted free agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Sam Dekker Out 2-4 Weeks With Ankle Sprain

Cavaliers forward Sam Dekker will miss the next two to four weeks with a left ankle injury, the team announced today in a press release. Dekker left Monday’s game with the injury, which was later diagnosed as an ankle sprain.

Dekker, acquired from the Clippers in an offseason trade, didn’t initially project to play major minutes for the Cavaliers, but took on a larger role when Kevin Love went down with an injury of his own last month.

After playing just 44 total minutes in Cleveland’s first five games, Dekker averaged 25.2 MPG in the next five, despite his game on Monday coming to an early end. In total, the 24-year-old has averaged 6.3 PPG and 3.7 RPG in 18.8 MPG for the Cavs, with a .458/.385/.800 shooting line.

With both Love and Dekker sidelined for at least the next couple weeks – and likely much longer in Love’s case – the Cavs find themselves thin at power forward. Larry Nance Jr. could see a bump in playing time, while forwards like Cedi Osman and Kyle Korver may also spend more time at the four.

Cavaliers Notes: Smith, Dekker, Korver

The Cavaliers told J.R. Smith and his representatives over the summer that it might be difficult to find playing time for him, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Rodney Hood is expected to start at shooting guard, with George Hill at the point. The Cavs want to give significant minutes to rookie Collin Sexton, and Jordan Clarkson excelled in a reserve role with the Lakers. That leaves Smith to compete with Kyle Korver and maybe David Nwaba for wing minutes.

Coach Tyronn Lue believes Smith can still contribute, but he’s now 33 and is coming off his two worst seasons. He lost 20 pounds during the offseason and can still help on defense, but Lue doesn’t like to use him and Korver together, which could mean one of them won’t get see many minutes.

There’s more this morning out of Cleveland, all courtesy of Vardon:

  • Smith has taken over LeBron James‘ role as vocal leader in the locker room. After Saturday’s scrimmage, he was lecturing younger players for not showing up at the training facility early enough before practice and not returning text messages from the training staff.
  • After being with three teams in four seasons, Sam Dekker may have found a home with the Cavs, Vardon writes in the same story. Cleveland picked up the 24-year-old from the Clippers this summer using a trade exception from the Kyrie Irving deal. Lue compares Dekker to Avery Bradley in how he moves without the ball and plans to use him as the primary back-up power forward. “I’m a Midwest guy, back in the Midwest,” Dekker said. “I’m just welcoming it, trying to stay in an open mind, keep learning, but really trying to be aggressive and show my true game and show who I am and I think that’s worked well so far for me.” 
  • Korver was used as a standstill shooter when James was running the offense, but this season he will resume the role he had with the Hawks, with multiple screens designed to set up open shots. Vardon notes that Cleveland has ranked third and second in made 3-pointers over the past two seasons, but won’t have James and Irving to break down defenses anymore. “They’re going to be different types of 3s,” Korver said. “Can we still be a good 3-point-shooting team? I think so. … We’re all going to be moving a lot more. It’s going to be harder to guard each of us.”

Central Notes: Arcidiacono, Dekker, Walton, Clarkson

The way that Ryan Arcidiacono‘s contract with the Bulls is structured to keep him eligible for the G League, Basketball Insiders’ Eric Pincus tweets. Arcidiacano has a $50K guarantee, which will allow him to play with the Windy City Bulls. He signed a minimum one-year deal worth $1,349,383. The 6’3” guard out of Villanova appeared in 24 NBA games last season as a two-way player, averaging 2.0 points in nearly 13 minutes of action. He posted a 13.8/4.5/8.6 line in 37 G League games.

In other news around the Central Division:

  • The Clippers will send $1,247,494 to the Cavaliers as part of the Sam Dekker trade, which was made official on Tuesday, Pincus reveals in another tweet. That amount isn’t random — it’s the exact difference between Dekker’s salary and a veteran’s minimum salary, essentially allowing the Cavs to take a flier on the forward at the minimum.
  • Derrick Walton Jr. gives the Bulls another alternative, along with Arcidiacono, to Cameron Payne as Kris Dunn‘s backup, Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Walton is expected to sign with Chicago, according to his agent, after the Heat cut ties with the former University of Michigan floor leader last month. Walton is a better perimeter shooter than Payne, who is more comfortable having the ball in his hands and running pick-and-rolls, Michael Walton continues. The Bulls have a number of players who can create for themselves, so Walton might be a better fit behind Dunn, Michael Walton adds.
  • Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson is unlikely to play for Philippines in this month’s Asian Games, according to a Sportando report. Clarkson was a late addition to their national team but won’t be able to join them in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Cavaliers Notes: Schedule, James, Sexton, Dekker

As expected when LeBron James announced he was leaving for Los Angeles, the Cavaliers have fallen out of the mix for the NBA’s spotlight games. In the partial schedule announced earlier today, Cleveland isn’t included in any of the nationally televised games for the opening week, Christmas Day or Martin Luther King Day, notes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. It’s quite a change for the Cavs, who hosted last season’s opener and whose matchup with the Warriors had become a yuletide tradition.

Cleveland will have at least once marquee game on November 21 when James returns with the Lakers for his only appearance in the city this season, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

There’s more Cavaliers news to pass along:

  • First-round pick Collin Sexton tells Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops that he’s excited about the opportunity awaiting him in Cleveland. The eighth selection in this year’s draft, Sexton will be counted on to eventually become the primary creator in the Cavaliers’ offense. “My role will just be able to come in and learn and have an impact on the team,” he said. “No matter what it is, being a distributor, being a scorer. Just going out there playing my game and being the best me I can be.”
  • The Cavs get a B grade from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton for their acquisition of Sam Dekker. Cleveland needed to find someone who could fill both forward spots after losing James and Jeff Green to free agency, and Dekker, who was picked up from the Clippers at minimal cost, has shown an ability to handle both roles. Pelton states that Dekker is better than anyone the team could have signed in free agency.
  • Standing pat until the season starts may be the Cavaliers’ best strategy at this point, according to Evan Dammarell of Forbes. He says the Cavs wouldn’t have benefited from a rumored Kyle Korver for Jerryd Bayless swap with the Sixers and doubts that the Rockets, who have reportedly expressed interest in J.R. Smith have much to offer that Cleveland would want.

Clippers Trade Sam Dekker To Cavaliers

AUGUST 7: The Cavaliers have officially acquired Dekker from the Clippers, the club announced today in a press release. The Clippers will receive the draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko in exchange for Dekker, the draft rights to Renaldas Seibutis, and cash.

Veremeenko and Seibutis were drafted in 2006 and 2007, respectively, and aren’t expected to ever play in the NBA.

AUGUST 5: The Cavaliers are finalizing a trade with the Clippers that would see forward Sam Dekker dealt from Los Angeles to Cleveland, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the two teams are still working out the specifics, but the trade will essentially allow the Clips to start clearing their roster logjam.

Dekker, 24, spent his first two NBA seasons in Houston after being selected 18th overall in the 2015 draft by the Rockets. He was included in last June’s Chris Paul blockbuster between the Rockets and Clippers, part of a package that also included Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, and Montrezl Harrell, among others.

Dekker saw his minutes cut back on his new team in 2017/18, averaging just 12.1 MPG in 73 contests for the Clippers. The former Wisconsin standout recorded 4.2 PPG and 2.4 RPG with a .494 FG% for L.A.

Having re-signed several key players and added a few new ones this offseason, the Clippers were carrying 16 players on fully guaranteed contracts, a total that didn’t include Beverley and his non-guaranteed deal. As such, the club had been expected to trade or release a couple veterans before the start of the regular season in October. The Clips will get a head start on that cutdown process by moving Dekker and his guaranteed $2,760,095 salary. The move will also give the team a little extra breathing room below the tax line.

The Cavaliers won’t have to send out any salary in exchange for Dekker, since they have a traded player exception large enough to accommodate his salary. Cleveland created a $5.8MM trade exception last August in their Kyrie Irving trade with the Celtics — it’s the biggest of four TPEs currently held by the club, and is the only one sizable enough to fit Dekker’s salary. The Clips figure to create a new TPE of their own worth Dekker’s salary.

The move to Cleveland will give Dekker a chance at a fresh start, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), who hears from one source that “a lack of maturity and focus regarding basketball” have been issues for the young forward early in his career.

It will be interesting to see how the Cavaliers plan to use Dekker — he has served primarily as a four, but has spent a little time at the three as well. There may be a clearer path to playing time for Dekker at small forward, where Kyle Korver and Cedi Osman currently sit atop the Cavs’ depth chart, with David Nwaba perhaps entering the mix as well. But Dekker could potentially play at power forward alongside bigs like Kevin Love or Larry Nance in smaller lineups.

While the Cavs’ team salary will inch a little closer to the tax threshold with the acquisition of Dekker, it shouldn’t be a major concern for the team unless Nwaba is getting a lucrative deal and/or Rodney Hood receives a substantial raise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.