Spurs Rumors

Stein’s Latest: Simmons, Sixers, NBPA Executive Director

The structure of Ben Simmons‘ contract may embolden him in his plans to hold out from the Sixers, Marc Stein of Substack writes in his latest newsletter. As Stein explains, Simmons received 25% of his 2021/22 salary on August 1 and will receive another 25% on October 1, meaning he’ll already have earned half of his $33MM salary for the season by the time the preseason starts.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons Adamant About Not Attending Camp, Not Playing For Sixers]

League rules permit the Sixers to assess substantial fines for each game he misses during his holdout (approximately $228K per game), but Stein suggests those fines won’t be docked from Simmons’ pay until November, after the first pay period of the regular season. If Simmons was on a more traditional payment schedule, those fines would be more costly, but it will take a while for them to put a dent into the $16.5MM he’ll already have earned this season.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Don’t expect the Sixers and Simmons to follow the blueprint that Al Horford and the Thunder or John Wall and the Rockets have, according to Stein. While those rebuilding teams were comfortable holding out their veteran players until they found a suitable trade partner, the 76ers continue to try to convince Simmons to report to training camp and have “zero interest” in reaching a mutual agreement to allow the three-time All-Star to remain away from the team, says Stein.
  • According to Stein, many of the teams that have engaged the Sixers in Simmons trade talks – including the Timberwolves, Raptors, Spurs, Cavaliers, and Kings – typically aren’t major players in free agency, and like the idea of securing a young impact player who is under contract for four years. However, most of those teams don’t have stars that would interest Philadelphia, or have made them unavailable in trade negotiations (such as the Wolves with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, or the Kings with De’Aaron Fox).
  • The NBPA has enlisted Chicago-based search firm Heidrick & Struggles to help seek out a new executive director to replace Michele Roberts, according to Stein, who says that “well-placed observers” believe Roberts’ replacement could be an unexpected selection who hasn’t yet been publicly identified.
  • Stein, who previously named Malik Rose as a candidate to become the NBPA’s executive director, suggests Noah Croom, Arne Duncan, Nichole Francis Reynolds, Pat Garrity, and Mark Termini are other viable contenders for the job. Croom and Garrity are veteran team executives, Termini is a longtime player agent, and Duncan and Reynolds work outside of the NBA in education/politics and business, respectively.

Bozic Named G League Coach

The Spurs have a new G League coach in Petar Bozic, according to a press release from the Austin Spurs. Bozic spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach for the G League franchise. Before coming to Austin, he served as head coach of Partizan in his home country of Serbia from 2015-16.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The agreed-upon four-year, $92MM extension between the Nuggets and forward Aaron Gordon is a sign that the franchise is going all out win a title in the next three seasons, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post opines. It’s a declaration that Nikola Jokic and the core group is good enough to capture the championship, regardless of the moves made by the Lakers and other contenders.
  • The two-year contract that guard Frank Ntilikina has signed with the Mavericks includes a team option in the second season, Marc Stein of Substack tweets. It’s still unclear whether the former Knick received a full guarantee for the upcoming season.
  • Kings guard De’Aaron Fox explained why he’s faster than anyone else in the league in an interview with The Reel’s Kenny Beecham, relayed on the team’s website. “The way I move is so much different than everybody else,” Fox said. “Everybody’s not able to make the cuts and just stop and do what I do, especially going at full speed.”

Matt Nielsen Is Spurs' Latest Young Assistant Coach

  • Matt Nielsen is the latest young coach who should benefit from being on Gregg Popovich’s staff, observes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express News. Nielsen, who is replacing Will Hardy, continues the Spurs‘ preference for hiring inexperienced coaches whenever they have an opening.

Spurs Notes: Bates-Diop, Roster Crunch, Nielsen, Offseason

Keita Bates-Diop, who recently re-signed with the Spurs, received a two-year contract worth the veteran’s minimum, with only the first year guaranteed, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link).

Bates-Diop told Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News (via Twitter) that he’s looking forward to the competition of training camp and expects that it won’t be easy to make the final 15-man roster, although his salary being fully guaranteed for the upcoming season is an indication the team likes him. Still, since San Antonio now has 17 players on guaranteed contracts, the situation is worth monitoring.

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • The Spurs announced in a press release that Matt Nielsen has been named an assistant coach for the team after serving as the head coach of their G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, last season. Nielsen, a native of Australia, had a lengthy playing career in the NBL and then later in Europe prior to becoming a coach. He served as an assistant coach for the Australian National Team at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, where the Boomers won the bronze medal.
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic provided a thorough breakdown of the Spurs’ offseason, including a grade of their roster moves. Harper posits that San Antonio is officially in rebuilding mode and got significantly worse on the wing with the sign-and-trade of DeMar DeRozan to Chicago. DeRozan had one of the best and most efficient seasons of his career last year, and losing him leaves the team without a clear All-Star caliber player.
  • Harper notes that the onus will be on the team’s young core of Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV, and Devin Vassell to show significant growth in order to make the play-in tournament again. He thinks selecting Joshua Primo 12th overall in the draft was a reach, as no other teams rated him as highly as the Spurs.
  • Harper did like team’s acquisition of Thaddeus Young, considering him a clear upgrade over the departed Rudy Gay and Trey Lyles. He also thinks that Doug McDermott will help with perimeter shooting and scoring.

Spurs Re-Sign Keita Bates-Diop To Two-Year Deal

7:42pm: The Spurs have officially re-signed Bates-Diop, the team announced in a press release.

9:34am: Restricted free agent forward Keita Bates-Diop has agreed to re-sign with the Spurs on a two-year contract, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Bates-Diop spent last season on a two-way deal with San Antonio. At season’s end, the club made him an RFA by tendering a qualifying offer that was equivalent to a one-year, two-way contract with a $50K partial guarantee. Based on Wojnarowski’s report, it sounds as if the 25-year-old was able to work out a new standard deal with the Spurs rather than accepting that QO and playing on a two-way contract again.

The 48th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Bates-Diop began his career with Minnesota and has since spent time in Denver and San Antonio. In 2020/21, he averaged 2.6 PPG and 1.6 RPG on .448/.294/.667 shooting in 30 games (8.2 MPG) for the Spurs.

Given Bates-Diop’s underwhelming numbers in his first three NBA seasons, it’s a little surprising that the Spurs were willing to give him a two-year deal, even if it’s almost certainly not fully guaranteed. San Antonio waived Chandler Hutchison over the weekend, but still has 16 other players on guaranteed contracts — adding Bates-Diop to the mix does nothing to clear that roster crunch.

We’ll have to wait for more details on Bates-Diop’s agreement with the Spurs to get a better sense of whether the team envisions him claiming a spot on the 15-man regular season roster. If so, San Antonio will have to trade or release two other players by opening night.

Spurs Sign Joe Wieskamp To Two-Way Contract

SEPTEMBER 7: The Spurs have officially announced the signing of Wieskamp to a two-way deal, per a team press release.

AUGUST 17: Former Iowa wing Joe Wieskamp will sign a two-way contract with the Spurs, according to Scott Dochterman of The Athletic (Twitter link; hat tip to RealGM).

Wieskamp, who will turn 22 next Monday, averaged 14.8 PPG and 6.6 RPG on .491/.462/.677 shooting in 31 games (29.3 MPG) as a junior in 2020/21. He earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors and was the 41st player to come off the board in the July 29 draft.

The Spurs already have 14 players on fully guaranteed contracts, with Drew Eubanks on a partially guaranteed deal and Bryn Forbes and Jock Landale still to sign. As such, there probably wouldn’t have a spot for Wieskamp on the 15-man regular season roster, so it makes sense that San Antonio will start him off on a two-way contract.

Once they sign Wieskamp, the Spurs will still have their second two-way slot open, though Keita Bates-Diop is a candidate to fill it — the team still has a two-way qualifying offer out to him.

And-Ones: Ntilikina, Draft Prospects, Nets, Pistons, Primo

Free agent guard Frank Ntilikina is receiving interest from Italian club Virtus Bologna as a potential replacement for Nico Mannion, according to BasketNews.com. Mannion will miss the beginning of the season as he recovers from an intestinal infection.

“We are looking on the market for an element to be included, a point guard who can also remain in the future,” head coach Sergio Scariolo said as part of a larger quote, according to EuroHoops. Because of that, we focus on young people who can give something important, rather than a veteran addition.”

Ntilikina fits the bill for what Virtus Bologna is looking for. The defensive-minded 23-year-old was drafted eighth overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, spending the past four years with New York.

Across those four seasons with the Knicks, Ntilikina has averaged 5.5 points, two rebounds and 0.8 steals in 19.5 minutes per game. He’s struggled with his shooting at the NBA level, owning a 36.6% mark from the field and 32.8% mark from deep in his career.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype takes a look at the top prospects for the 2022 NBA draft, crafting an early aggregate mock draft for the event based on the rankings of various draft experts. Among the projected high-lottery picks is Duke freshman Paolo Banchero, whom Kalbrosky pegs as most likely to be drafted first overall.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider link) examines the recent NetsPistons trade featuring veteran center DeAndre Jordan, grading both sides and giving his opinion on which team won the trade. Brooklyn, which received an A grade from Pelton, dealt Jordan, four second-round picks and $5.78MM in cash in exchange for Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya. The Pistons, who got a C-plus, then reached a buyout agreement with Jordan, allowing him to sign with the Lakers.
  • Spurs rookie Joshua Primo has signed a multi-year shoe and endorsement deal with Nike, according to Jeff Garcia of KENS 5. Primo, 18, was selected No. 12 overall in this year’s draft after spending one season at Alabama.

Bryn Forbes Hires Octagon For New Representation

  • Spurs guard Bryn Forbes has hired Octagon for his new representation, the agency announced on social media (Twitter link). Forbes signed with San Antonio last month after spending the 2020/21 season with the NBA champion Bucks. Prior to joining Milwaukee, the 28-year-old sharpshooter played his first four seasons with San Antonio, appearing in 261 games. He was previously represented by Excel Sports Management.
  • In case you missed it, the Spurs decided to waive 25-year-old forward Chandler Hutchison this weekend. San Antonio acquired Hutchison as part of a five-team August trade. He appeared in 25 contests with the Bulls and Wizards last season, averaging 5.7 points and 18.2 minutes per contest.

Spurs Waive Chandler Hutchison

7:12pm: The move is official, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News.

4:40pm: The Spurs plan to release small forward Chandler Hutchison, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Hutchison’s salary for the upcoming season is guaranteed, so San Antonio will owe him the full amount of $4,019,459. He was acquired from the Wizards in a five-team trade last month.

Washington picked up the 25-year-old from the Bulls at the trade deadline in March. He appeared in 18 games with the Wizards, averaging 5.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per night.

Chicago selected Hutchison with the 22nd pick in 2018, but he was never able to able to develop a consistent role. He played just seven games for the Bulls last season and sat out nearly two months before the trade for what the team listed as personal reasons.

The Spurs had 17 guaranteed contracts, so at least one more will need to be waived or traded to get down to the regular season roster limit. They have 16 players signed for camp, plus Joe Wieskamp set to fill one of the two-way slots. Keita Bates-Diop remains a restricted free agent and could fill the other two-way opening.

Southwest Notes: Landale, Pelicans, Grizzlies, Bane

Big man Jock Landale, who signed with the Spurs last month after spending last season with Melbourne United, referred to Australia’s National Basketball League as “the best place to be” for players trying to make jump to the NBA. In an appearance on the NBL’s The Huddle podcast, Landale praised the league’s willingness to let players pursue NBA opportunities.

“I think the NBL does themselves such a service in having that leniency to let people go and pursue that dream, that people now look at it as a legitimate pathway,” Landale said.

Landale signed a two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Spurs as a free agent this offseason. While the second year isn’t guaranteed, the first season is, so he’s in position to make San Antonio’s 15-man squad.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Zach Harper of The Athletic was underwhelmed by the Pelicans‘ offseason, giving the team a grade of D-plus for its summer moves. While Harper liked the acquisition of Jonas Valanciunas and New Orleans’ deal with Josh Hart, he believes the club significantly downgraded its backcourt, calling the Devonte’ Graham signing a “pretty bad” deal.
  • While the city of New Orleans was hit hard by Hurricane Ida, the Pelicans‘ Smoothie King Center only sustained “minor exterior damage,” according to the team. The Pels will be able to play their home games there this fall without issue, as Christian Clark of NOLA.com details.
  • The Grizzlies plan to retire the jerseys for two key members of the team’s “Grit and Grind” era, announcing (via Twitter) that they’ll retire Zach Randolph‘s No. 50 on December 11 and Tony Allen‘s No. 9 on January 28.
  • Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane is changing agents, according to Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal, who tweets that Bane has left Seth Cohen of SAC Sports Family and is in the process of hiring new representation. Bane is still two years away from being extension-eligible for the first time.