Sam Merrill

Bucks Acquire Grayson Allen From Grizzlies

AUGUST 7: The trade is now official, the Grizzlies announced in a press release. While Merrill’s salary for 2021/22 is not yet fully guaranteed, Memphis intends to guarantee his deal and keep him on the roster, reports Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).


AUGUST 6: The Grizzlies have agreed to deal guard Grayson Allen to the Bucks for guard Sam Merrill and two future second-round picks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Allen, who is entering his fourth NBA season, had a breakout year for Memphis in which he started 38 of 50 games and averaged 10.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 2.2 APG. The former Duke star has knocked down 38.1% of his 3-point attempts during his three-year career and will give the Bucks another perimeter option.

Milwaukee will absorb Allen’s contract using a $4.89MM traded player exception generated by a deal this past winter that sent guard D.J. Augustin to the Rockets, according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer (Twitter link).

Allen has an expiring $4.1MM contract and is eligible for a rookie scale extension. Merrill has a $500K guarantee on his contract and his $1.5MM deal will become fully guaranteed if he’s on Memphis’ roster through Sunday, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets. It’s uncertain whether Memphis plans to keep Merrill, a 2020 second-pick who appeared in 30 regular season games with the Bucks.

Milwaukee’s projected luxury tax bill will jump via this acquisition. The team’s luxury tax penalty will increase from $36MM to $44MM, Marks notes in a separate tweet. Milwaukee is right at $200MM in salary and luxury tax, Marks adds.

Central Notes: Drummond, Love, Merrill, LaVine

With veteran Cavaliers center Andre Drummond now benched for the express purpose of being preserved for a trade, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examines his possible on-court value and most likely trade or buyout destinations.

“If [you] had a bad center situation, I understand going after him,” a rival executive opined. “But I wouldn’t give up anything real [in a trade].” The Raptors are cited as being able to theoretically construct a workable deal for Drummond. Clubs like the Nets, Clippers, Lakers, Trail Blazers, Mavericks and Rockets could be open to adding Drummond if he’s bought out of his $28.7MM contract.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love practiced with Cleveland on Wednesday, per Kelsey Russo of The Athletic (Twitter link). Russo tweets that Love did not practice with the club on Saturday, though head coach J.B. Bickerstaff would not officially term his absence a setback. “I’ll let our medical staff handle that,” Bickerstaff said. Love has appeared in just two games for Cleveland thus far this season.
  • Rookie Bucks guard Sam Merrill has been recalled from a stint with the Memphis Hustle in the G League bubble, the team announced Friday. Merrill is averaging 6.1 MPG across nine games for Milwaukee.
  • Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine appears to be cementing his case for his first All-Star berth with efficient scoring on a near-.500 Chicago squad that is currently the No. 9 seed in the East. LaVine’s play could put him in line for a lucrative contract extension this summer, writes Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I try to let my game speak for itself,’’ LaVine said. “I let [the press] assess that and put the numbers behind it on the things I’ve done versus my contract and other players.” LaVine is averaging 28.9 PPG while shooting 51.8% from the floor and 42.9% from deep. He pulling down 5.4 RPG and dishing out 5.1 APG.

Central Notes: Nwora, Merrill, Turner, Pistons, Bucks

The Bucks have assigned 2020 draftees Jordan Nwora and Sam Merrill to the G League bubble and transferred two-way player Mamadi Diakite there as well, the team announced today in a press release.

Because the Wisconsin Herd are inactive this season, the three Bucks rookies will be split up, with Nwora joining the Salt Lake City Stars, Merrill reporting to the Memphis Hustle, and Diakite heading to the Lakeland Magic. While any of the three could be recalled to the NBA roster in the coming weeks, we don’t expect to see a ton of the usual back-and-forth this season, given the coronavirus-related complications.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In a conversation with Eric Woodyard of ESPN, Pacers center Myles Turner discusses playing through a hand fracture, as well as his desire to win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award. Indiana’s defensive anchor currently leads the league with an eye-popping 3.9 blocks per game.
  • Despite being in the midst of a tough road trip and having had Monday’s game vs. Denver postponed, the Pistons have no interest in the idea of finishing the season in a bubble or regional bubbles, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “Honestly, any type of bubble is not very appealing,” Wayne Ellington said. “Prayerfully, we can we can get through the season as regularly as possible and keep things as normal as possible without having to enter a bubble or do anything too drastic.”
  • The Bucks have submitted a plan to the City of Milwaukee in the hopes of receiving approval to fill Fiserv Forum to 25% capacity for games starting later this month (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). So far this season, there have been no fans permitted at Bucks home games.

Four-Team Jrue Holiday, Steven Adams Trade Officially Complete

The Pelicans, Thunder, Bucks, and Nuggets have officially completed the four-team trade that will send Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee and Steven Adams to New Orleans, the Pelicans announced today in a press release.

In total, the mega-deal involves 10 players, five draft picks, and two future pick swaps. The trade breaks down as follows:

  • Bucks acquire Holiday and the draft rights to Sam Merrill (No. 60 pick; from Pelicans).
  • Pelicans acquire Adams, Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks’ 2025 first-round pick (unprotected), the Bucks’ 2027 first-round pick (unprotected), and the right to swap first-round picks with the Bucks in 2024 and 2026.
  • Thunder acquire George Hill, Darius MillerKenrich Williams (sign-and-trade), Josh Gray (sign-and-trade), Zylan Cheatham (sign-and-trade), the Nuggets’ 2023 first-round pick (top-14 protected), the Wizards’ 2023 second-round pick (from Pelicans), and the Hornets’ 2024 second-round pick (from Pelicans).
  • Nuggets acquire the draft rights to RJ Hampton (No. 24 pick; from Bucks).

The deal began when the Bucks and Pelicans reached an agreement on a trade sending Holiday to Milwaukee last week. From there, the Thunder got involved when New Orleans agreed to flip Hill to Oklahoma City in a trade for Adams.

A draft-night deal between the Nuggets and Pelicans that involved the Nuggets’ 2023 first-rounder and the Bucks’ No. 24 pick (sent to New Orleans as part of the original Holiday agreement) was folded in to make it a four-team trade when the Pels agreed to flip Denver’s ’23 pick to OKC as part of the Adams package.

As cap expert Albert Nahmad has pointed out (via Twitter), it’s an intricate, complex transaction that had to make use of a slew of CBA rules. The Pelicans, who are signing Adams to a two-year extension as part of the trade, needed to sign-and-trade Williams, Gray, and Cheatham to Oklahoma City and guarantee most or all of Miller’s $7MM salary in order to abide by salary-matching rules.

Meanwhile, Adams gets a trade bonus worth a little over $2MM as part of the deal, while the Thunder create the largest trade exception in NBA history, worth $27.5MM, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).

Unfortunately, as Nahmad observes (via Twitter), Oklahoma City will likely have to use that massive TPE immediately to accommodate the acquisition of Al Horford. Still, as John Hollinger of The Athletic writes, the Thunder should come out of their series of transactions with a handful of usable trade exceptions, including one worth $15.4MM.

A full breakdown of this offseason’s trades – including the ones not yet made official – can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks Sign No. 60 Pick Sam Merrill To Two-Year Deal

DECEMBER 1: Merrill’s contract is now official, according to the NBA’s transactions log.


NOVEMBER 19: The last pick in the 2020 draft has become one of the first players to agree to a contract, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the Bucks are signing No. 60 selection Sam Merrill to a two-year deal.

Jones says Merrill’s two-year pact will feature about $1.4MM in guaranteed money, including a fully guaranteed first year. It seems safe to assume the former Utah State guard will sign for the minimum, as Milwaukee attempts to keep costs down to fill out the rest of its roster. That’d mean a fully guaranteed $898K salary in year one with a partially guaranteed $1.52MM salary in 2021/22.

Merrill, who spent all four years of his college career at Utah State, averaged 19.7 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 3.9 APG in 32 games (35.0 MPG) as a senior, posting an impressive shooting line of .461/.410/.893.

The Bucks are acquiring Merrill’s rights in their Jrue Holiday deal with the Pelicans, which is not yet official. Once the deal is completed and the new league year begins, Merrill will be able to officially sign his first NBA contract.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.

Draft Notes: Russell, Williams, Vassell, Mays

Rhode Island guard Fatts Russell has declared for the draft but will maintain his college eligibility throughout the process, he wrote on an Instagram post. The junior averaged 18.8 PPG, 4.6 APG and 2.9 SPG this season. The 5’10” Russell averaged 14.2 PPG last season.

We have more draft news:

  • Cincinnati’s Keith Williams announced his intention to enter the draft and hire an agent on his Twitter feed. The 6’5” Williams averaged 12.6 PPG and shot 34.2% from long range as a junior this season. Williams has started two seasons for the Bearcats after being a rotation reserve as a freshman.
  • Oregon guard Payton Pritchard, Florida State guard Devin Vassell, Utah State guard Sam Merrill, Penn State forward Lamar Stevens and LSU guard Skylar Mays are five players who could make a surprising impact in the NBA, Jon Rothstein declares in a Yahoo Sports video post. Vassell, currently ranked No. 19 on ESPN’s Best Available list, is the only prospect among that group considered a likely first-rounder.
  • Potential lottery selection Killian Hayes has declared for the draft. Get the details here.