Sekou Doumbouya

New York Notes: Harden, Bembry, Doumbouya, Simms, Irving

James Harden told participants at T.J. Ford’s basketball academy in Houston on Tuesday that he’s “kinda still in rehab” with the hamstring injury that affected him during the postseason. However, that shouldn’t be a major concern, according to NetsDaily.com. There’s been no reported change to the timetable set by GM Sean Marks regarding the playoff injuries that hampered Harden and Kyrie Irving and both should be ready for training camp.

Harden said last month that “I want to make sure I’m completely healed and strong enough so I can go out there and completely be myself. My rehab is going very, very well, and my getting my conditioning right is a big part of that.”

We have more on the New York teams:

  • The Nets officially have 17 players on the roster — 15 with fully guaranteed deals — plus two unsigned draft picks and a two-way player. Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News takes a look at the players who may be on the roster bubble. DeAndre’ Bembry has a partially guaranteed contract, while Sekou Doumbouya — acquired from the Pistons in the DeAndre Jordan salary dump — might have to prove his worth in camp. Jevon Carter, acquired from the Suns in the Landry Shamet deal, could also be in some trouble due to the team’s guard depth.
  • Undrafted rookie forward Aamir Simms, who signed a training camp deal with the Knicks, believes he’s a good fit for a team with Tom Thibodeau as its head coach. “After the draft, I wasn’t surprised the organization wanted me,” the former Clemson big man told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Thibs is known as a gritty coach who puts defense first. That’s what separates him when he shocks people in the league.”
  • Irving was irritated by a tweet from Fox Sports’ Nick Wright that claimed his agents “have made it known that Kyrie would simply retire from the NBA if the Nets were to trade him.” Irving called Wright a “puppet” in a social media post, Jeremy Layton of the New York Post relays. Marks said last month he was confident about reaching extension agreements with both Irving and Harden.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Hornets, Doumbouya, Nets

It’s no secret that the Sixers and maximum-salaried All-Star lead ball-handler Ben Simmons appear destined for a divorce via trade. Evan Sidery of Basketball News posits that the pending split could work out well on both sides of the deal.

Simmons, 25, is a three-time All-Star and an All-Defensive Team staple. His offensive limitations have often confounded his teammates, coaches, and fans in Philadelphia. Sidery notes that, though Simmons may have been initially projected as a Magic Johnson-esque oversized point guard, he now appears destined to become more of a Draymond Green type, a pass-first point forward who can defend anybody.

Sidery suggests that the Sixers would benefit from moving on from Simmons, too, should they acquire a new guard with more scoring punch in a trade. Such a player could help create spacing against All-NBA Philadelphia center Joel Embiid.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

Nets Trade Jordan, Draft Picks To Pistons For Okafor, Doumbouya

SEPTEMBER 4: The trade is official, according to a Brooklyn press release.

“We appreciate everything DeAndre has contributed to our organization over the past two seasons both on and off the court and wish him and his family the best moving forward,” Nets GM Sean Marks said in a statement.


SEPTEMBER 3: The Nets and Pistons have reached an agreement on a trade, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who reports that Detroit will acquire center DeAndre Jordan, four second-round picks, and $5.78MM in cash. Brooklyn will receive Jahlil Okafor and Sekou Doumbouya in return.

The draft picks headed to Detroit in the deal are the Nets’ own 2022 and 2027 second-round picks, plus the Wizards’ or Grizzlies’ 2024 second-rounder (whichever is more favorable) and the Warriors’ or Wizards’ 2025 second-rounder (whichever is more favorable), sources tell ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, the plan is for the Pistons to work out a buyout agreement with Jordan, who has about $20MM left on his contract over the next two years.

The Nets had been trying for much of the offseason to find a taker for Jordan, a three-time All-NBA center who joined the team as a free agent in 2019 along with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving but fell out of the rotation in 2020/21. A report earlier this week indicated Jordan and the Nets were exploring a possible buyout — now it’ll be up to the Pistons to complete those talks.

Although the Nets had to give up four second-round picks to dump Jordan’s salary, the financial benefits will be significant. Jordan is making more than Okafor and Doumbouya combined this year and has multiple years left on his contract, while Okafor and Doumbouya are on expiring deals. Wojnarowski estimates (via Twitter) that the club will save $47MM in the deal after accounting for salaries and projected tax penalties.

That money could be reinvested in buying back second-round picks down the road. However, as Woj points out, Brooklyn is confident in its ability to acquire minimum-salary talent to complement its Durant/Irving/James Harden core, as the team did this week by reaching an agreement with Paul Millsap.

The Nets will also acquire a pair of players in the deal, though it’s unclear if either Okafor or Doumbouya is in their plans. The team will have 14 players on guaranteed contracts and one (DeAndre’ Bembry) on a partial guarantee even before accounting for the incoming Pistons. Perhaps the Nets will give Doumbouya – 2019’s No. 15 pick – a shot, but I’d be surprised if they retain Okafor.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), Brooklyn will create a $6.27MM trade exception in the swap, which is the difference between Jordan’s $9.88MM salary and Doumbouya’s $3.61MM figure. Okafor can be acquired using the minimum salary exception, so the Nets don’t need to match his salary.

As for the Pistons, they’ll take on some dead money as a result of this transaction, but the pros outweigh the cons. Detroit had traded away its own second-round picks from 2022 through 2026 in previous deals, so this gives general manager Troy Weaver a chance to restock his cache of draft assets. Additionally, the $5.78MM in cash the Pistons are getting in the deal – which is the max the Nets could offer – will help cover some of Jordan’s salary.

On top of that, the Pistons had been facing a roster crunch, with 16 players on guaranteed contracts. A two-for-one trade, followed by a Jordan buyout, will reduce that number to 14, giving Detroit an open roster spot to work with. The club could give a camp invitee such as Jamorko Pickett the opportunity to earn that spot this fall or could simply carry 14 players to start the regular season.

Once Jordan is bought out, he’ll be officially placed on waivers and will become an unrestricted free agent two days later. Multiple recent reports have suggested the Lakers are a suitor to keep an eye on, and Wojnarowski reiterates that point today (via Twitter), calling Los Angeles a “serious contender” to sign the veteran center.

Central Notes: J. Jackson, George, White, Markkanen

Josh Jackson may be the most expendable player in the Pistons‘ training camp battle for roster spots, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. When Hamidou Diallo re-signed last month, it gave Detroit 16 guaranteed contracts. Sources tell Edwards it took longer than expected to reach a new deal with Diallo, but he was always in the team’s plans.

Jackson is set to make $5MM in the final year of a deal he signed last offseason. The former No. 4 overall pick was productive in his first season with the Pistons, averaging 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 62 games, but Edwards notes that he’s just an average defender and an unreliable three-point shooter (30% last season). There may also not be enough minutes for Jackson, Diallo and Frank Jackson, who all play similar roles.

Edwards names Jahlil OkaforRodney McGruder and Sekou Doumbouya as other candidates to be traded or waived to reach the regular season roster limit of 15. Okafor will make $2.13MM in the final year of his contract, while McGruder has a $1.67MM expiring deal and isn’t expected to play much. Doumbouya is still on his rookie contract, but Edwards points out that he remains a raw prospect and is left over from the previous front office.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons have officially announced the return of George David as assistant general manager. He held the same position from 2012-14 before leaving for the Wasserman Media Group. “I’m excited to return to the Detroit Pistons and help Tom Gores, Arn Tellem and Troy Weaver in the restoring effort of the franchise,” David said. “Detroit has always been home for me and I know how passionate the city and region is about their sports teams.  Troy’s vision for building the roster aligns with the core values of Detroit Basketball and I look forward to playing a role in the continued rise of the organization.”
  • Even though the Bulls stocked up on guards this summer, there should be playing time available for Coby White once he returns from surgery on his left shoulder, states Jamal Collier of The Chicago Tribune. Collier sees White as a back-up to Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, and he may be on the court with Alex Caruso in three-guard lineups.
  • The Cavaliers will pay Lauri Markkanen $15,690,909 for the upcoming season with slight raises throughout his new four-year deal, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Markkanen will make $16,475,454 in 2022/23, $17,259,999 in 2023/24 and $18,044,544 in 2024/25, giving the contract a total value of more than $67MM, although only $6MM of the final season is guaranteed.

Central Notes: Bulls, Garza, Mobley, Rubio, Lowe

As our latest roster count notes, the Bulls only have 12 players on guaranteed contracts. Veteran free agent forwards Paul Millsap and James Ennis are some of the candidates to fill a couple of those open roster spots, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. LaMarcus AldridgeJarred Vanderbilt and Svi Mykhailiuk are three other free agents that the Bulls could c0nsider, Schaefer adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Despite a strong showing in summer league action, Pistons center Luka Garza is unlikely to get rotation minutes during his rookie campaign, Rod Beard of the Detroit News speculates. He might get more of an opportunity if Detroit, which has one too many guaranteed contracts, opts to waive Jahlil Okafor. There’s also a good chance Sekou Doumbouya will spend a chunk of time this upcoming season in the G League unless he shines in training camp, Beard writes.
  • The Cavaliers improved their talent pool this offseason in the estimation of Zach Harper of The Athletic. The addition of lottery pick Evan Mobley gives them a potential star at both ends of the floor, and the acquisition of Ricky Rubio provides much needed veteran leadership in the backcourt. However, they’re still a little thin depth-wise at the wing and forward spots, Harper notes.
  • The Cavaliers have officially added Sidney Lowe to J.B. Bickerstaff’s coaching staff, according to a team press release. The news that Lowe was leaving the Pistons’ staff to join their Central Division rival surfaced two weeks ago. “Sidney brings a wealth of coaching experience and familiarity to our staff,” Bickerstaff said. “He is a great teacher of the game and his ability to build lasting relationships across the board is integral to the growth of our overall culture here in Cleveland.”

Central Notes: Markkanen, Diallo, Mobley, Stevens

The NBA’s investigation of the Bulls for possible tampering involving Lonzo Ball could complicate efforts to find a new team for Lauri Markkanen, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Because Markkanen is a restricted free agent, he will need cooperation from Chicago to go elsewhere, either by not matching his offer or working out a sign-and-trade, but Johnson doesn’t believe the league will permit sign-and-trade negotiations until the probe of the early agreement with Ball is wrapped up.

The Pelicans and Mavericks both have large trade exceptions, so they remain potential destinations for Markkanen, Johnson adds. The Bulls are asking for a first-round pick in any sign-and-trade deal, and they’re not willing to take on a large, lengthy contract in return. Another possibility is for Markkanen to accept his one-year, $9MM qualifying offer and remain in Chicago, but he has indicated that he prefers to play somewhere else next season.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons will face a roster crunch if they keep restricted free agent Hamidou Diallo, observes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Detroit already has 15 guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season, and while Diallo is searching for a better deal than his $2.1MM qualifying offer, he will likely sign it if he can’t get more money elsewhere. Edwards expects Josh Jackson, Jahlil Okafor or Sekou Doumbouya to be traded or released if Diallo stays in Detroit.
  • Jordan Brink and Austin Dufault have been promoted to player development coaches with the Pistons, Edwards tweets. Brink has been with the team since 2016 and is the only remaining member of Stan Van Gundy’s staff. Dufault played collegiately at Colorado and spent six seasons as a player in Europe.
  • The Cavaliers were satisfied with their Summer League showing, which included the first on-court experience for No. 3 pick Evan Mobley, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. In three games, Mobley showed off the skills that made him one of the top prospects in the draft, but also displayed areas where he needs work, as he shot just 1 of 8 from three-point range and didn’t have reliable moves in the post. Summer League also provided a showcase for Lamar Stevens, Fedor adds, who could end up fighting for the final roster spot with Mfiondu Kabengele and Damyean Dotson if the team makes more roster additions.

Central Notes: Doumbouya, Middleton, Antetokoumpo, Simonovic

While fielding a number of questions about the Pistons’ No. 1 pick, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com also addressed the future of 2019 draft pick Sekou Doumbouya. Langlois anticipates Doumbouya, who wasn’t drafted by current general manager Troy Weaver, will play in the summer league where he can show greater consistency and effectiveness. The Pistons must decide this offseason whether to pick up the forward’s fourth-year option at $5.5MM for the 2022/23 season.

We have more on the Central Division:

  • Bucks forward Khris Middleton is focused on the Finals but he’s also a minority owner with the Brisbane Bullets in Australia’s NBL. Middleton told Marc Spears of The Undefeated many players are looking into similar ventures. “Being a part of an ownership group is something I wanted to do, for sure,” Middleton said. “As a player it could be tough. But I realize the responsibilities I had wasn’t going to really affect my basketball career right now. But it’s something I think a lot of players are starting to trend towards is finding ways to invest their money, finding things to do with their money that can grow, and it’s something I’m interested in.”
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo and Middleton are the two main building blocks that made the Bucks a championship-level team. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today examines the lengthy partnership between the two teammates. Middleton was acquired in 2013 from Detroit in the same year the two-time MVP was drafted. “At first, friendly competition, a guy like him from Detroit and I just got drafted,” Antetokounmpo said. “We just tried to get on the floor, going at one another in practices. But throughout the time, there was a lot of times that he proved that he’s going to do whatever it takes to help the team win. That’s the type of guy that you want next to you.”
  • Draft-and-stash prospect Marko Simonovic is expected to sign with the Bulls this summer and from what K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago hears, he can be a rotation player at least. Simonovic was a second-round pick so the team’s fans should set their expectations for the 6’11” big man accordingly, Johnson adds.

Central Notes: Joseph, Doumbouya, Bulls, Bucks

Cory Joseph has a partially guaranteed contract for next season and the Pistons could retain him, depending upon how the draft shakes out, Rod Beard of The Detroit News opines in a mailbag post. Only $2.4MM of Joseph’s $12.6MM is guaranteed and the Pistons will have decide whether to give him the full amount prior to free agency.

However, Joseph earned respect with his production and professionalism after being acquired in a mid-season deal with the Kings. If the Pistons draft Cade Cunningham or Jalen Suggs, they’ll probably pass on Joseph’s guarantee. Otherwise, there’s a good chance the Pistons will keep him.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Pistons forward Sekou Doumbouya finished his second season on a high note and next season will be pivotal regarding his future with the franchise, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. He averaged 11.8 PPG and 4.9 RPG over the final eight games. Doumbouya needs to be in top condition to accentuate his strengths as a cutter in half-court situations and finisher in transition. He also needs to improve his 3-point shooting to gain a rotation spot. Detroit will have to decide by the start of next season whether to pick up the fourth-year option on Doumbouya.
  • Even with All-Stars Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls have virtually no shot at reaching the top three in the Eastern Conference in the next few seasons, Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times writes. Chicago will even have difficulty breaking into the next tier of teams, considering that franchises such as the Hawks and Knicks are on the upswing and the Celtics and Heat are committed to winning.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer says his team needs to have a “short-term memory” after its disastrous outing in Game 2 against Brooklyn on Monday, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. “Whether you get beat by a point or by 40, you have to be ready for Game 3,” he said. “You’ve got to have a short-term memory. You’ve got to get yourself ready, understand what we need to do to go home and win Game 3.”

Central Notes: Holiday, LaVine, Hartenstein, Pistons

The Defensive Player of the Year conversation this season has primarily revolved around candidates like Rudy Gobert and Ben Simmons, but Bucks guard Jrue Holiday believes he should be in that discussion. In fact, that’s an opinion he holds year in and year out, as he tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

“Man, I feel like I’m the Defensive Player of the Year every year,” Holiday said. “I’m not joking about that. And I know this is my opinion, and other people have different opinions and they’ll probably think I’m crazy. But I think what I bring defensively on the court, a lot of people don’t really do, to be completely honest.”

As Holiday points out, it’s rare for a guard to receive serious consideration for Defensive Player of the Year honors. The last time a backcourt player won the award was in 1996, when Gary Payton was named DPOY. But Holiday feels that his own performance and versatility on the defensive end of the court shouldn’t be overlooked.

“I think to be able to guard some of these guards night in and night out, every single night, and be able to move laterally, moving your feet, fighting over screens, fighting under screens, guarding them one-on-one 30 feet away from the basket,” Holiday told Haynes. “And there were a couple of years where I was blocking a lot of shots for a guard. So I even protected the rim myself. And then at that, I’m guarding positions one through four, and sometimes five. Defensively, I’ve pretty much done it all. That’s why I think I should be in the conversation every year.”

Here are a few more items from around the Central:

  • While there has been a belief that Zach LaVine will look to maximize his earnings on his next contract, several sources who spoke to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times believe LaVine could be persuaded to take a slight discount if the Bulls continue adding quality players around him. Still, a standard extension for LaVine could only be worth up to about $105MM over four years, so he seems unlikely to accept such a deal — Chicago could offer him significantly more in a renegotiation or once he reaches free agency.
  • Cavaliers big man Isaiah Hartenstein, who holds a minimum-salary player option for 2021/22, said he’d like to remain in Cleveland, but hinted that he’s leaning toward opting out in the hopes of signing a new deal. “So far everything has been good,” Hartenstein said of his time with the Cavs, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “Can’t really say what’s going to happen in the future, but I hope we can renegotiate something this summer and I can grow with the young guys. I think that would be a good experience.”
  • In a mailbag for The Detroit News, Rod Beard says that he expects the Pistons to try to re-sign Frank Jackson in free agency, advocates for giving Sekou Doumbouya more time to develop, and addresses a few other Pistons-related topics.

Central Notes: Tucker, Grant, Doumbouya, LaVine, Pacers

After P.J. Tucker requested a trade for months from the rebuilding Rockets, the veteran big man ended up with the Bucks, an Eastern Conference powerhouse in recent seasons. However, despite leading the league in wins two years in a row and getting back-to-back MVP seasons from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee has endured multiple disappointing playoff exits.

As Milwaukee prepares for another postseason, and hopefully a deeper run, Tucker spoke about his role with the team as it aims for a championship. The 35-year-old has been limited to 12 games off the bench for the Bucks after some injury woes, but he tells Sports Illustrated’s Rohan Nadkarni that the team has been clear about his role.

“Yeah, definitely. Coach Bud (Mike Budenholzer) is super transparent,” Tucker said. “And I’m at the point in my career where I know why I’m here. I’ve lived through every situation possible. It’s not rocket science. They don’t want me to do nothing I don’t do. What happened last year, and how they lost the couple years, winning so many games in the regular season, not getting as far as they should have, they are looking for different lineups that can help win games. For me, it’s about bringing all the intangible stuff that they need.”

The rest of the interview is worth a read, as Tucker also talks about his long career, trade from Houston and his time alongside Antetokounmpo.

Check out more Central Division notes:

  • Jerami Grant raised some eyebrows when he decided to depart from the Nuggets fresh off a deep run into the postseason and join the rebuilding Pistons. However, Grant says he has zero regrets about that decision, NBA.com’s Keith Langlois writes. “Between me and (GM) Troy (Weaver), there’s a lot of trust. Between me and this organization, there’s a lot of trust,” said Grant. “There’s a lot of trust. I’m happy with my decision. I wouldn’t change. I’d go back and do the same thing over and over.”
  • One pleasant surprise for the Pistons this season has been the play of Sekou Doumbouya, who has shown flashes of brilliance in 49 games off the bench. As the season winds down, Detroit hopes the 20-year-old can finish strong, Langlois writes in a separate story. “Sekou is one of our best talkers,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s been in the system. He understands it. I see the carryover from last year to this year and he’s out there explaining to guys. That’s good to see, also.”
  • At 29-33, the Pacers have endured a frustrating season that has only been exasperated by all their opening night starters currently being sidelined, Scott Agness of The Fieldhouse Files writes (subscription required).
  • Bulls guard Zach LaVine joined his teammates on the bench on Friday, marking his first big step in returning to the club. He has missed Chicago’s nine games due to being in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and while he has cleared quarantine, it remains to be seen when he’ll be back on the court, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.