Shake Milton

Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic 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 during the 2023 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 Atlantic players.


Fred VanVleet, G, Raptors

  • 2022/23: $21,250,000
  • 2023/24: $22,824,074 player option
  • Stock: Down

VanVleet was a deserving first-time All-Star last season, averaging 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.6 steals on .419/.401/.874 (.572 true) shooting through 50 games. However, he struggled mightily after the break due to a lingering bone bruise in his right knee, appearing in just 15 games with averages of 16.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.9 steals on .343/.291/.872 (.479 true) shooting. He was clearly hampered in the playoffs as well, posting similar shooting percentages.

In the offseason, he and the Raptors discussed a four-year, $114MM extension – the maximum amount they can offer based on his current contract. VanVleet felt he had outplayed his four-year, $85MM deal to that point, so he wanted to wait and see if he could get a more lucrative contract in 2023.

I definitely understand why VanVleet bet on himself. The former undrafted free agent has turned himself into a very good player through his hard work, tenacity and determination. He was also a major part of the Toronto’s title-winning team in 2019.

Unfortunately, things haven’t gone according VanVleet’s plan thus far in 2022/23. A significant portion of his offensive game is tied to his ability to space the floor, but he’s shooting just 32.9% from three, compared to his 37.5% career mark.

VanVleet turns 29 next month, is undersized, has played a ton of minutes the past few years, his point-of-attack defense isn’t what it once was, and he missed an average of just over 18 regular season games from 2018-22. VanVleet’s leadership and competitiveness are unquestioned, but there are a lot of red flags for potential suitors if he declines his player option, which seems likely.

T.J. Warren, F, Nets

  • 2022/23: $2,628,597
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Warren is another player with an injury history, having appeared in just four games in the two seasons leading up to ‘22/23. While the length of those absences was abnormal, the 29-year-old has never appeared in more than 67 games in a season, averaging just under 55 games in his first six years, so durability has always been a concern.

As a free agent last summer, Warren wound up signing a “prove it” deal with the Nets for the veteran’s minimum, and it took him a while to return to action — he made his season debut on December 2. However, he has only missed one game since (the second of a back-to-back), and his production hasn’t disappointed.

Warren has always been a mid-range sniper, and this season is no different – he’s shooting 52% on those looks, which ranks in the 93rd percentile of all players, per DunksAndThrees.com. Through 17 games, he’s averaging 10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 assists on .532/.353/.889 shooting in 20.4 minutes per contest.

As long as Warren stays healthy, there’s a very good chance he’ll get a big raise in free agency — his ability to score from all over the court is the most valuable trait in basketball.

Grant Williams, F, Celtics

  • 2022/23: $4,306,281
  • 2023/24: RFA
  • Stock: Up

Williams and the Celtics couldn’t agree on a rookie scale extension prior to the season, with the 24-year-old reportedly looking for more money than the cost-conscious Celtics were willing to offer. Betting on himself in restricted free agency has been a worthwhile gamble for Williams so far.

Although his averages of 9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game are all career highs, those numbers don’t jump at you. But he’s a solid defender across the three frontcourt positions and is highly efficient, posting a .504/.404/.859 (.659 true) shooting line through 42 games (16 starts, 28.0 MPG).

If he maintains his top-tier efficiency, Williams might get more than he was reportedly seeking before the season, which was in the $14-16MM range annually.

Derrick Rose, G, Knicks

  • 2022/23: $14,520,730
  • 2023/24: $15,596,339 team option
  • Stock: Down

The former league MVP has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, but he’s actually been relatively healthy in ’22/23. The problem is, he just hasn’t been effective on the court, averaging career lows in minutes (12.9), points (5.8) and FG% (.394) through 26 games.

Long a favorite of head coach Tom Thibodeau, Rose has fallen out of the Knicks’ rotation. His $14.5MM contract has negative value on the trade market, and his team option for ’23/24 is essentially a lock to be declined at this point.

Unless there’s a dramatic turnaround, the 34-year-old is probably looking at a veteran’s minimum deal in the offseason. Considering his age and injury history, even that might not be a given.

Shake Milton, G, Sixers

  • 2022/23: $1,997,718
  • 2023/24: UFA
  • Stock: Up

Milton is an interesting player. He’s a subpar defender who isn’t a great athlete by NBA standards, but he finds effective ways to work around those limitations.

He impressed as a fill-in starter when Tyrese Maxey and James Harden were injured, averaging 20.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists on .542/.425/.967 (.652 true) shooting in nine games (38.0 minutes). While those shooting percentages are an anomaly, given his career averages (.457/.361/.822 splits, including .557 true), Milton is a patient and crafty pick-and-roll play-maker who has plus size (6’5″, 205 pounds) for a combo guard.

The former 54th overall pick initially signed a two-way deal and then was converted to a standard four-year, $7MM contract back in 2019. He’s only 26 years old, and has certainly outperformed his current deal. Something in the $5-8MM per year range seems within reach.

Sixers Notes: Milton, Trade Deadline, Harden, Embiid

Sixers guard Shake Milton, a free agent in 2023, proved critical in helping Philadelphia stay afloat in November without its starting backcourt of James Harden and Tyrese Maxey. He has remained an important role player for the club even with Harden back in the lineup, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

“I remember early in my career there used to be highs and lows,” Milton told Fischer. “You never really know what it feels like until you’re in it… You gotta fight internally every day to make sure you’re in a good spot, make sure you’re putting yourself in the best place to succeed. It definitely took me my years to kind of go through that, to know how to move and how to stay with it.”

This season, the 6’5″ combo guard out of SMU is averaging 11.2 PPG on .509/.361/.849 shooting splits for the Sixers across 27 games. He is also contributing 3.4 APG and 3.3 RPG.

There’s more out of the City of Brotherly Love:

  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer provides a Sixers trade deadline primer, exploring which players could be moved. Mizell notes that, following an injury-plagued and uneven start to the season, Philadelphia has stabilized into looking like a deep championship contender. The team is currently fifth in the East with a 19-12 record. Still, the club could look into upgrading its frontcourt reserves behind starters Joel Embiid and P.J. Tucker, and could perhaps seek a more traditional backup guard behind starters Harden and Maxey.
  • Sixers All-Stars Embiid and Harden are beginning to truly click as a dynamic duo in their first full season together, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. “Constant work, constant work,” Harden said of how the two have been working to thrive together. “Talking about it, communication, go out there, do it… Obviously, you want to see each other succeed, so if I ask him something or tell him something and vice versa, he’ll do it.”
  • In their eight contests together since Harden returned from injury, Embiid is posting averages of 36.1 PPG while shooting 56% from the floor, along with 9.9 RPG and 3.8 APG, per Neubeck. “As soon as [the opposing team goes] to the switching, what we’ve gotten better at is just the timing,” Embiid said. “Knowing when he gets the iso, or I get the ball at the elbow, or I go to the post, that’s where we’ve gotten at. Just the timing, us working together, always talking, and he’s been great. Been on him about taking more catch-and-shoot, and he’s been doing that.”
  • Can the Sixers emerge out of the Eastern Conference? Weigh in on today’s Community Shootaround.

Sixers Notes: Harris, Reed, Milton, Embiid

After spending most of his career as an isolation scorer, Sixers forward Tobias Harris concentrated on improving his catch-and-shoot game over the summer to provide a complementary weapon to Joel Embiid and James Harden, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The results have been impressive, as Harris is thriving in the role and the Sixers have reeled off six straight wins. He scored 17 points in 21 minutes Wednesday, two days after sinking a game-winning three-pointer against the Raptors.

Harris is averaging 17.1 points per game this season, which is his lowest mark since being acquired in a trade nearly four years ago. But he’s shooting 42.2% from beyond the arc, which would be the best figure of his career.

“I know that if you threw me out there two years ago, I wouldn’t be able to do it and get going because that wasn’t the mentality for me, catching and shooting really fast,” Harris said. “At first it was tough, but now I kind of changed my mentality toward it and just said like, ‘OK, if that’s the case and situation, how do you be the best at it?’”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Montrezl Harrell has reclaimed the backup center role from Paul Reed, who has fallen out of the rotation over the past two weeks, Pompey states in a separate story. Reed, who saw just four minutes in Wednesday’s rout of the Pistons, acknowledges that he needs to play better. “You have to handle it like a professional,” he said. “I understand that I have areas that I need to improve on. I ain’t trippin’. I just know I have to get better so I’m putting in the work every day, and I know it’s going to pay off.”
  • Shake Milton‘s improvement gives the team four rotation-level guards and could lead to some interesting decisions when Tyrese Maxey returns from injury, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. Hofman expects coach Doc Rivers to use more three-guard lineups when the roster is healthy with some mixture of Maxey, Harden, Milton and De’Anthony Melton.
  • In an interview with Cassidy Hubbarth of ESPN, Embiid rejects the idea that he and Harden aren’t ideal complements to one another. “I don’t know where that’s coming from because last year when we got him, we just kept dominating teams,” Embiid said.

Trade Rumors: Sixers, Bogdanovic, Quickley, Bamba

Every trade deadline features at least a small handful of deals that are exclusively about money rather than players, and this season’s deadline likely won’t be any different, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Pincus suggests the Sixers are one team worth keeping a close eye on for a possible financially motivated trade.

Philadelphia is just barely over the luxury tax line, so moving a player like Jaden Springer or Shake Milton to sneak under that threshold would save a ton of money for the team. Not only would the Sixers avoid paying a small tax bill in that scenario — they’d also be one of the non-taxpayers that receives a portion of the league-wide tax payments at season’s end. Pincus has estimated that each non-taxpayer will get a share of about $17MM, based on the current tax projections.

Here are a few more highlights from Pincus’ latest look at the trade market:

  • Although the Pistons‘ front office has downplayed the likelihood of a Bojan Bogdanovic trade, Pincus hears from “well-placed” sources that Detroit may simply be waiting for an offer with a “suitable” first-round pick. Presumably, a suitable first-rounder would be one that doesn’t include heavy protections and has a chance to land in the teens or higher.
  • While there has been no indication they’re pursuing him, some rival executives think the Mavericks should be targeting Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley, Pincus writes.
  • Pincus identifies Magic center Mohamed Bamba as a possible trade candidate to watch, since his role has declined due to Paolo Banchero‘s arrival and Bol Bol‘s emergence. Bamba’s 2023/24 salary is non-guaranteed, so his two-year, $20.6MM contract is relatively team-friendly.
  • The three-team trade talks the Suns had with the Bucks and Rockets about a possible Jae Crowder trade expanded to include the Warriors, who are among the teams with interest in Crowder, says Pincus. However, nothing came of those discussions.

Atlantic Notes: Milton, Raptors, Williams, Smart

The recent performance of Sixers reserve guard Shake Milton has convinced head coach Doc Rivers that Milton deserves regular rotation minutes even when the team’s starting backcourt of James Harden and Tyrese Maxey returns to the floor, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“We’re deep,” Rivers said of his backcourt. “There’s always a competition going on, a competition for minutes… and Shake has proven that he should play. Hopefully that continues, you know? Can he play this role with shorter minutes? That’s what happens. “Guys get a lot of minutes and they can play. They get shorter minutes and sometimes they can’t. But he will be able to. Shake is just another guard. We know we can use him, so that’s really good.”

In his recent eight-game stint as a fill-in starter, the 26-year-old guard out of SMU has averaged 21.3 PPG on a .547/.455/.964 slash line. He is also notching 6.0 APG and 5.3 RPG.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors rebounded from a lackluster Friday loss to the Nets with a 121-108 Saturday victory over the Magic thanks in large part to a postgame team meeting in Brooklyn, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. The Brooklyn game was the second consecutive time the Raptors allowed an opponent to score 40 or more points on at least 70% shooing in the first quarter. “Nobody really likes to be harping, yelling, cussing or fussing around here so I think some things just go unsaid [sometimes],” Toronto starting point guard Fred VanVleet told Lewenberg. “And there are times when you need to say it out loud, let people know what our standards are around here and just tighten the ship a little bit. We’re not going to win all the games, we know that, but there’s certain ways that you want to [play] every night and those two games were just unacceptable.”
  • Celtics starting center Robert Williams III is inching toward a return from his offseason knee surgery. Jared Weiss of The Athletic recently took an in-depth look at the All-Defensive Teamer’s rehabilitation. “He’s getting his legs back under him,” reserve big man Noah Vonleh said. “He’s running the floor hard. He’s a presence at the rim… I’m pretty sure you’ve seen in previous years what he’s capable of, and he’s just getting back accustomed to that. So he should be ready whenever the medical staff clears him.”
  • Celtics starting point guard Marcus Smart will be sidelined this evening against the Nets due to a left hip contusion, incurred in Friday night’s 120-116 overtime loss to the Heat, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link).

Sixers Notes: Tucker, Harden, Milton, Reed

P.J. Tucker only has three combined points in his last seven games, but he’s not concerned about a lack of offense, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers won five of those games, even with their three best players missing time, and Tucker seems comfortable with his current role.

“As long as we’re winning, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Of course you want to get more shots. What player doesn’t? But with the way we play — Coach (Doc Rivers) talks about a lack of ball movement all the time — it’s one of those things. Sometimes you get shots, sometimes you don’t. You keep playing and figure it out.”

Philadelphia obviously didn’t sign Tucker over the summer because of his scoring. It was his defensive presence and other intangibles that convinced the team to give him a three-year, $33.2MM contract. Still, Pompey states that his lack of involvement in the offense can be concerning. Tucker spends many possessions spotting up in the corner, and he’s often out of rhythm when he does get a chance to shoot.

“Sometimes you get shots,” Tucker said. “Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the ball moves, sometimes it doesn’t. Without having (Joel Embiid), (the) ball’s got to pop. Ball’s got to move. Make easy shots for each other. It is what it is.”

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • James Harden, who has been out of action since November 2 with a strained tendon in his right foot, may be ready to return in a few days, Pompey adds. “It’s different with James because James kind of controls the game,” Tucker said. “He gets everybody the ball. Without James, it’s tough — that’s why the ball has to move even more.”
  • Shake Milton has made a strong case for rotation minutes once Harden and Tyrese Maxey are back on the court, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. Milton has averaged 22.8 points and 6.8 rebounds over the past four games, along with 7.8 assists and only 2.5 turnovers. He’s also shooting .589/.500/.938 during that span. Hofmann notes that Milton was playing well before the stars were injured and shouldn’t be considered the team’s 11th man anymore.
  • Paul Reed is learning to be more patient on offense and may be the choice for backup center minutes ahead of Montrezl Harrell once Embiid returns, Hofmann adds.

Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Milton, Niang, Toppin, Harris

Raptors star big man Pascal Siakam, who has been sidelined with a right adductor strain since November 4, was cleared for contact and fully participated in a team practice on Friday, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (via Twitter).

Lewenberg tweets that Siakam feels that he is improving daily, and remains deferential to Toronto’s medical staff when it comes to managing his ailment.

Toronto has upgraded Siakam’s status to questionable ahead of the team’s game against the Cavaliers on Monday night, reports Marc Stein (Twitter link). If Siakam is determined to be not quite ready for Monday’s game, he could return to the floor against the Pelicans on Wednesday, Lewenberg adds.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers reserves Shake Milton and Georges Niang, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents in 2023, have been playing well in the absence of injured Philadelphia stars James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. Neubeck notes that Milton, who hadn’t received much playing time of late, has exhibited an enticing display of scoring, ball-handling, and off-ball defense as a fill-in starter that could earn him more minutes long-term. Neubeck adds that Niang’s reliable three-point shot has opened up the team’s offense when he plays.
  • Knicks backup power forward Obi Toppin is hoping to return to his early-season long-range shooting form, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I feel like I’m still taking the right shots, it’s just not falling,” Toppin told Botte following a practice on Saturday. “I’m just in a little lull right now, and I’m gonna break out of that real soon. Have to start hitting shots again, and continue making the right plays. But I know I don’t have to shoot good to play good.” Toppin has shot just 16.7% from deep in his last five games. The 6’9″ big man had made 42.4% of his triples during New York’s first 14 contests.
  • Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris has seen his minutes reduced as his three-point shooting takes a dip, according to Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. Harris has shot just 2-of-16 from the floor across his last three Brooklyn games. “We really shortened the rotation,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said. Only eight Nets players logged for 10 minutes or more in a 128-117 Friday loss to the Pacers. At 12:02, Harris played the fewest minutes among that top eight.

Sixers Pick Up Shake Milton’s Team Option

JUNE 28: The Sixers have officially exercised Milton’s team option, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.


JUNE 15: The Sixers are expected to exercise their team option on Shake Milton for 2022/23, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). If and when it’s officially picked up, the option will lock in Milton’s $1,997,718 salary for next season.

The 54th overall pick in the 2018 draft, Milton has spent his first four NBA seasons in Philadelphia and has been a regular contributor for the last three years. After averaging 13.0 PPG and 3.1 APG on .450/.350/.830 shooting in 63 games (23.2 MPG) in 2020/21, Milton took a step backward this past season, as his numbers dipped to 8.2 PPG and 2.5 APG on .429/.323/.836 shooting.

Still, based on his NBA résumé to date, Milton is a relative bargain on what is essentially a minimum-salary contract. So it came as a bit of a surprise when Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote earlier today of a belief around the league that the 76ers would decline his ’22/23 option. Scotto’s report suggests that belief is misguided.

Pompey’s story was especially perplexing because declining Milton’s option would make him ineligible to be traded outside of a sign-and-trade structure, and Pompey’s sources indicated the team has been gauging the 25-year-old’s value on the trade market. Milton would be trade-eligible once his option is officially exercised.

Team option decisions for 2022/23 are due by June 29. Our tracker can be found right here.

Sixers Gauging Trade Interest In Harris, Thybulle, Others

The Sixers are exploring the trade market to gauge rival teams’ interest in forwards Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle, as well as guards Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton, multiple sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Pompey also previously confirmed that the 76ers are considering potential trade scenarios involving the No. 23 pick and Danny Green‘s expiring contract.

As Pompey writes, Philadelphia is committed to keeping Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, and there’s an expectation James Harden will be back as well. However, the front office realizes the rest of the roster isn’t championship-caliber and is weighing possible ways to upgrade it.

As we noted on Tuesday when we previewed the Sixers’ offseason, Harris’ contract – which will pay him $37.6MM in 2022/23 – would be the team’s most logical trade chip in any major deal involving multiple veteran players. However, Harris was the third or fourth option for the Sixers and his exorbitant cap hit will likely make potential trade partners view him as a negative – or, at best, neutral – asset.

Most of the other possible trade candidates mentioned by Pompey aren’t earning significantly more than the minimum, so their salary-matching value would be limited. Korkmaz will make $5MM next season, while Thybulle is on the books for $4.4MM.

The 76ers hold a $2MM team option on Milton for ’22/23, and Pompey suggests there’s a belief around the NBA that the Sixers won’t pick it up. However, it would need to be exercised in order to make Milton trade-eligible — if it’s declined, he’d become an unrestricted free agent. I’d be surprised if that option isn’t exercised, but the fact that there’s even a question about whether or not that will happen means Milton probably isn’t a very valuable trade asset.

Korkmaz, Thybulle, and Milton were all part of Philadelphia’s regular rotation this past season, but all come with some red flags. Kokmaz made a career-worst 28.9% of his three-pointers, Thybulle failed to take a step forward as an offensive player, and Milton also saw his three-point rate dip (to 32.3%).

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Milton, Reddish, Irving

The Sixers have been hounded by trade rumors all season due to the uncertain status of Ben Simmons. They’re also reportedly interested in moving Tobias Harris‘ contract in a Simmons deal.

However, the team’s biggest star Joel Embiid doesn’t see any urgency to make a big trade, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. He notes that the team is doing just fine without Simmons.

“When I look at where we are when we got most of the team in the lineup, especially me in the lineup, then we are 21-9. That’s not bad,” Embiid said. “That’s up there with the best records in the NBA. So, all that tells me is that we just got to stay healthy, keep doing what we’ve been doing. I feel pretty good, and I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball yet. We still got a long way to go. We’re missing guys here and there that could really help us. There’s really no urgency to change anything. I think we got everything we need.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • One of the “missing” players that Embiid was referring to, guard Shake Milton, won’t be back in the near future, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Coach Doc Rivers said that Milton is still in pain due to a back contusion. “He’s still really struggling. I don’t foresee him back anytime soon,” Rivers said. “The fact that I probably could beat him in a race today would tell me he’s a long way away.” Milton hasn’t played since January 3.
  • Cam Reddish won’t play for the Knicks right away. The forward, who was acquired from Atlanta this week, is dealing with an ankle sprain and will be out “for a while,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau told the New York Post’s Greg Joyce (Twitter link) and other media members. Thibodeau is eager to see what Reddish can do once he’s healthy. “It gives us an opportunity to look at Cam. … Size, athleticism, wing position,” he said. “Sometimes a change of scenery is good for people. So we’ll see how it unfolds.”
  • The Nets have played much better on the road than at home and they’ll have Kyrie Irving available for most of their upcoming games, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes. Brooklyn is entering a stretch where it plays nine of its next 11 on the road and Irving is eligible to participate in those games. Brooklyn is 15-4 on the road and 11-11 at home. “I think it’s going around the league a little bit where teams — good teams, in particular — are having less impressive records at home than on the road,” coach Steve Nash said. “I don’t really know why that is.”