Stanley Johnson

Southwest Notes: Johnson, Branham, Rockets, Green

Veteran forward Stanley Johnson has managed to grind his way to a major rotation role with the Spurs this season, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link). McDonald notes that Johnson’s committed practice regimen has endeared him to this young rebuilding San Antonio club. Johnson joined the Spurs following a brief stint with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the G League in December.

“I’m trying to put everything I have, all my focus and energy, into the games and practices,” Johnson said. “I’m very thankful to have any chance to play, even if it’s two minutes a game… I don’t take that lightly. To see a coaching staff that believes in me enough to put me out there on a nightly basis, I’m really grateful for it. It hasn’t happened for my whole career, and it could go away at some point.” 

Through 25 games with the Spurs, Johnson is averaging 5.7 PPG on .531/.444/.647 shooting. The 6’6″ vet is also chipping in 3.0 RPG and 2.3 APG.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs rookie shooting guard Malaki Branham is growing as a ball-handler, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link). Branham has gotten extended run due to injuries to several San Antonio wings ahead of him in Gregg Popovich‘s rotation. “It’s being thrown in the fire and being ready to play every night,” Branham said. “I feel like I have been doing a good job at that.”
  • The rebuilding Rockets have a significant supply of draft equity as well as the contracts of veterans Eric Gordon and Boban Marjanovic to play with as the trade deadline looms. Kelly Iko and John Hollinger of The Athletic examine Houston’s options and how any moves might impact the club’s long-term future.
  • Grizzlies swingman Danny Green made his season debut for his new team on Wednesday following a knee surgery last spring, writes Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Green scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting from the floor in 10 minutes against the Trail Blazers. “It was good to get out there and be with the guys,” Green said. “Trying to figure out some things offensively and defensively. Try to build the chemistry… It was fun. Obviously, would’ve been nice to win the game but for me it was good to get out and play a little bit.” Green, 35, is on an expiring $10MM contract this year.

Western Notes: Leonard, McCollum, Johnson, Paul

Perhaps the most encouraging news for the Clippers in recent weeks is that their biggest star, Kawhi Leonard, appears to be rounding into form, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times notes. Though his minutes are still somewhat limited, Leonard has averaged 23.2 points and 35.0 minutes in four games during the team’s current road trip.

“As far as explosiveness, I don’t think that’s all the way back yet or as far as trusting it all the way right now. But just his decision-making, his timing of getting to his spots and getting to his shot and I think his timing of making passes when teams are double-teaming, making the right read in the right play, that’s really good,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • CJ McCollum admitted he was literally shooting for the Pelicans’ 3-point record, Andrew Lopez of ESPN writes. McCollum knocked down 11 to set the single-game franchise record as New Orleans defeated Philadelphia on Friday. “I was just trying to shoot as many 3s as possible, to be honest with you,” McCollum said. McCollum, who is ineligible to be traded this season, is under contract with New Orleans through 2026 after signing an extension in September.
  • Veteran forward Stanley Johnson has only been on the Spurs roster for less than three weeks but he feels that being a vocal leader is part of his duty, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. “The thing that is consistent with good teams is that they are very vocal,” said Johnson, who was signed to a one-year deal on Dec. 13. “I’m trying to be vocal as much as I can, and hope it’s contagious.”
  • Suns guard Chris Paul expressed frustration with what he feels is inconsistent officiating around the league, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic relays. Paul was addressing a delay of game call against him in a loss to Toronto. “It’s tough in this league, especially when you play for so long and you get techs,” Paul said. “So much stuff is trivial and it’s so much control over what you can say, interpret the rules. I watch and play every night and I see guys get things called. I watch too much basketball and guys just drop the ball night after night and I don’t see a delay of game.”

Spurs Sign Stanley Johnson, Waive Alize Johnson

3:07pm: The Spurs have officially signed Stanley Johnson, the team announced in a press release.

11:04am: The Spurs have waived big man Alize Johnson, who was on a non-guaranteed contract, the team announced today in a press release.

Johnson initially signed with San Antonio two weeks ago when the club was seeking frontcourt depth following injuries to forward Jeremy Sochan and center Jakob Poeltl. During his brief tenure in San Antonio, he logged 30 minutes across four games, scoring seven points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Poeltl, who has a bone bruise in his knee, isn’t taking contact yet, so he’s probably still a ways off from playing, tweets Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. However, as Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News notes (via Twitter), Sochan returned to action on Monday, reducing the need for Johnson, who hadn’t appeared in the Spurs’ last two games.

With their newly opened 15th roster spot, the Spurs intend to sign free agent swingman Stanley Johnson to a one-year contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Stanley Johnson recently signed a G League contract and joined the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s affiliate. He has appeared in three games since then and was off to a slow start, averaging 2.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 3.0 APG in 19.2 minutes per game. The 26-year-old has converted just 2-of-16 field goal attempts, including 1-of-11 three-pointers.

Stanley Johnson appeared in 48 games for the Lakers last season, starting 27 of them and averaging 6.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.7 APG on .466/.314/.716 shooting in 22.8 minutes per contest. He’s primarily known for his defensive versatility and the energy he brings to the court, having never made much of an impact on the offensive end.

The last two players the Spurs have signed to fill their 15th roster spot – Jordan Hall and Alize Johnson – have been on non-guaranteed deals, so it seems likely that Stanley Johnson’s contract will also be non-guaranteed. However, Charania’s report doesn’t confirm that.

Stanley Johnson Joins Heat’s G League Affiliate

Free agent forward Stanley Johnson has signed a contract to return to the G League and has officially joined a new team. The Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s affiliate, announced in a press release that they’ve acquired Johnson from the NBAGL’s available player pool, waiving former South Dakota standout Tyler Hagedorn to complete the transaction.

The eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Johnson appeared in 48 games for the Lakers last season, starting 27 of them. He averaged 6.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.7 APG on .466/.314/.716 shooting in 22.8 minutes per contest.

Johnson’s contract included a minimum-salary team option for 2022/23, which the Lakers picked up, but he was flipped to Utah along with Talen Horton-Tucker later in the offseason in the trade that sent Patrick Beverley to Los Angeles. Johnson then became a victim of a roster crunch in Utah — the Jazz waived him at the end of the preseason when they had to reduce their roster to 15 players on standard contracts.

With no NBA opportunities presenting themselves since Johnson became an unrestricted free agent in October, he’ll head back to the G League to try to prove that he deserves another shot at the NBA level.

The 26-year-old began last season with the South Bay Lakers before earning a call-up. This time around, he’ll play for the Heat‘s G League affiliate. Although Sioux Falls now holds Johnson’s NBAGL rights, he remains an NBA free agent with the ability to sign with any team at any time.

Central Notes: S. Johnson, Pistons, Pacers, Lopez, LaVine

The eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Stanley Johnson spent his first three-and-half NBA seasons in Detroit, but didn’t blossom into the player the Pistons hoped he would and has bounced around the league since then. Now a free agent, Johnson said during a Twitter Q&A that he’d welcome the opportunity to return to his first NBA team, as Mike Curtis of The Detroit News relays.

“I think the group is amazing,” Johnson wrote when asked about the current iteration of the Pistons. “(Head coach Dwane) Casey is amazing. Everything over there is great, we just didn’t figure it out. I’m 26. I’d love to right the wrong. Detroit loved on me crazy. The organization did too. I had a lot of growing up and trauma to deal with at 18, 19 (years old).”

A solid, versatile defender, Johnson has a decent chance to catch on with an NBA team at some point this season, but a return to Detroit seems unlikely to happen in 2022/23. The Pistons currently have a full 17-man roster and a 3-15 record, making them a long shot to be seeking veteran role players on the free agent market.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Pacers, who have won five in a row and nine of their last 11, look like they’re joining the Jazz as presumed lottery teams who are a little too talented to be major players in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, writes Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required).
  • George Hill and Jrue Holiday are among the Bucks veterans who believe center Brook Lopez should be the leading candidate for this season’s Defensive Player of the Year award, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “You want my honest opinion?” Hill said. “He should have been Defensive Player of the Year for many years now.”
  • Referring to Friday’s disaster as a “career-worst night,” Bulls star Zach LaVine said after a Monday win over Boston that a conversation with his father helped him move on from his 1-of-14 showing and a late-game benching, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He gave it to me straight,” LaVine said. “‘You played like s–t. Go play better next game. It’s as simple as that. It’s one game. You’ve played 500 games in your career. You’re going to have another bad night. Just hopefully it’s not as bad as that one. Go play better next game.'”

Jazz Waive Stanley Johnson

The Jazz have waived forward Stanley Johnson, according to Sarah Todd of The Deseret News (Twitter link).

The Jazz are facing a roster crunch with 17 players on guaranteed standard contracts, and with the regular season limit set at 15, they’ll need to release at least one more player by October 17. Utah will be on the hook for Johnson’s fully guaranteed $2,351,521 salary in 2022/23 if he goes unclaimed on the waiver wire.

Johnson was acquired by the Jazz as a salary-matching piece in the trade that saw Talen Horton-Tucker head to Utah, with Patrick Beverley sent to the Lakers. As Danny Leroux of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), the Lakers cannot sign Johnson for the rest of the league year due to a rule in the collective bargaining agreement.

According to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link), the Jazz tried to deal Johnson this week and were unable to find any takers despite playing decently for Los Angeles last season and having some good moments for Utah during preseason.

He averaged 6.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.7 APG and 0.9 SPG on .466/.314/.716 shooting in 48 games (27 starts, 22.8 MPG) for the Lakers in ’21/22.

The eighth overall pick of the 2015 draft, Johnson has played for the Pistons, Pelicans and Raptors in addition to the Lakers. His relative lack of an offensive game is the main reason why he struggled to find an NBA contract last season before landing a 10-day hardship deal with Chicago last December (he never played for the Bulls), then multiple 10-day deals and later a two-year contract with the Lakers.

Northwest Notes: S. Johnson, Jazz, Murray, Blazers, Thunder

The Jazz are currently carrying 18 players on guaranteed contracts, with non-guaranteed camp invitee Cody Zeller also vying for a spot on the regular season roster, so Stanley Johnson – acquired from the Lakers in August’s Patrick Beverley trade – isn’t a lock to make the 15-man squad. However, head coach Will Hardy liked what Johnson provided to the team during its second preseason game on Tuesday, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.

“Stanley really brought a lot of energy and toughness in particular on the defensive end tonight,” Hardy said after the game. “That’s his identity as a player, that’s how he can help our team, is by being somebody who has a massive impact on the defensive end… He’s really handled himself well, all throughout camp, not only with how he’s played, but how he’s interacted with his teammates, and I was really happy for him tonight.”

Assuming they don’t make any more trades before opening night, the Jazz will have to cut four players currently on standard contracts. Besides Johnson and Zeller, Saben Lee, Udoka Azubuike, and Leandro Bolmaro are among the other players whose roster spots may not be assured.

Here are a few more notes from around the Northwest:

  • Given that even the NBA’s worst team only has a 14% shot at the No. 1 overall pick, Tony Jones of The Athletic argues that the Jazz shouldn’t deliberately tank for Victor Wembanyama and suggests that establishing “winning habits” will be a priority in Utah. Given the lack of elite talent on the roster, the Jazz should still finish in the lottery and will be in position to draft a solid prospect even if they don’t land Wembanyama.
  • Speaking to Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report (video link), Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said he and the team had hoped he could return from his torn ACL in time for last season’s playoff series vs. Golden State, but he realized as he was ramping up to return that he still wasn’t mentally ready to play. “Six months later, I’m in a completely different space than I was before,” said Murray, who added that he’s glad he didn’t attempt to return last season.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic takes a closer look at Mike Schmitz‘s decision to leave his job as an ESPN draft analyst for an assistant GM role with the Trail Blazers. According to Vorkunov, Schmitz’s responsibilities in Portland cover more than just the draft, as he’s also getting involved in work related to the salary cap, analytics, and more.
  • The Trail Blazers and Thunder both finished in the lottery last season, and John Hollinger of The Athletic expects that to happen again in 2022/23, despite the moves Portland made to upgrade its roster. Hollinger projects the Blazers to finish at 36-46 and 11th in the Western Conference, while picking the Thunder to be the West’s worst team at 20-62.

Lakers/Jazz Trade Notes: Beverley, Next Steps, Trade Grades, THT

Veteran point guard Patrick Beverley has had quite the jet-setting summer. He was involved in a second offseason trade today when the Lakers acquired him from the Jazz, who had landed him as part of their return package for Rudy Gobert. Los Angeles sent Utah swingman Talen Horton-Tucker and forward Stanley Johnson in the exchange.

Due to his involvement in that Gobert trade, Beverley couldn’t have be been aggregated with the contract of another player prior to September 6 this year, when his aggregate restriction expires. However, as Bobby Marks of ESPN (YouTube video link) notes, the Jazz didn’t have to wait until September to move Beverley because he was traded on his own in the deal with the Lakers.

Marks opines that the 6’4″ Horton-Tucker – whom Marks considers essentially a small forward more than a shooting guard – and the 6’6″ Johnson, who played mostly at power forward with L.A., are the better players in the deal and says their athletic upside is worth the risk for the Jazz. However, Marks believes that, as long as he is able to stay healthy, Beverley will be a better fit with Los Angeles than Horton-Tucker or Johnson proved to be.

Here’s more news and notes following the deal:

  • In the wake of the Beverley trade, HoopsHype’s Yassi Gozlan considers possible next steps for both the Lakers and Jazz. Gozlan views Russell Westbrook as the next potential trade domino to fall in L.A., and expects Utah to consider offloading other veterans on its roster.
  • Both the Jazz and the Lakers benefited from the deal, per Zach Harper of The Athletic, who grades both clubs on the transaction. He notes that, in Beverley, the Lakers are adding a proven veteran poised to reinvigorate the club with contributions that go beyond the box score. On the Utah side of the equation, Harper writes that the Jazz are essentially banking on the 21-year-old Horton-Tucker’s potential.
  • Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated also weighed in with his own trade-grade column, giving both clubs mediocre, passing scores.
  • Talen Horton-Tucker will get plenty of opportunities to play with the ball in his hands in Utah, which could be the best use of his unique skill set and physical gifts, opines Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Horton-Tucker was a clunky fit in Los Angeles as a below-average three-point shooter who failed to consistently defend at a high level. As an athletic creator, Horton-Tucker has shown flashes of intrigue with his drive-and-kick playmaking. The Jazz will be able to give him more time to develop and improve in his current areas of strength, away from the win-now pressures of L.A.

Jazz Trade Patrick Beverley To Lakers

2:10pm: The trade is now official, the Jazz announced in a press release.

5:39am: The Lakers and Jazz are finalizing a trade that will send guard Patrick Beverley to Los Angeles in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Sources tell Wojnarowski that the deal is on track to be completed on Thursday.

Beverley, 34, is a talented perimeter defender who can be a positive contributor on offense as well. He helped get the Timberwolves back to the playoffs last season, averaging 9.2 points, 4.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game in 58 appearances (25.4 MPG). He’s also a career 37.8% three-point shooter across 10 NBA seasons.

Beverley, who is on an expiring $13MM contract, was traded from Minnesota to Utah as part of the Rudy Gobert blockbuster last month. However, he was always viewed as a candidate to be flipped to a new team, given that the Jazz are in retooling mode.

According to Wojnarowski, Beverley – who was in Los Angeles as a Clipper from 2017-21 – was enthusiastic about the idea of joining the Lakers in a trade and was “thrilled” to learn of the agreement between L.A. and Utah.

The Lakers had long been viewed as a potential suitor for Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who was considered the team’s top trade target this offseason. However, once Kevin Durant withdrew his trade request and it became clear that Irving would likely remain in Brooklyn, Los Angeles pivoted to acquiring another point guard without having to include Russell Westbrook and draft compensation in the deal.

Johnson, who is on an expiring minimum-salary contract for 2022/23, is an NBA journeyman, so Horton-Tucker is the centerpiece of the package headed to Utah. The former second-round pick had an up-and-down 2021/22 season for the Lakers, averaging 10.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 2.7 APG in 60 games (25.2 MPG), but struggling to score efficiently, with a modest shooting line of .416/.269/.800.

Horton-Tucker is still only 21 years old, so the Jazz presumably view the athletic wing as a player with some untapped potential. He’s under contract for $10.26MM in 2022/23, with an $11.02MM player option for the ’23/24 season.

Both the Lakers and Jazz are candidates to make additional deals before the season begins.

L.A. still has Westbrook and its 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to dangle in trade discussions, and the idea of making a play for the Pacers duo of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner is even more intriguing now that the club has fortified its backcourt by agreeing to acquire Beverley. For now, the Lakers have $34MM in cap room for the summer of 2023, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), which will be a factor the team considers as its weighs additional trades.

In Utah, meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell remains a trade candidate, and the Jazz would likely be open to discussing deals involving veterans like Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gay as well.

Lakers Pick Up Options On Stanley Johnson, Wenyen Gabriel

The Lakers have exercised their team options for 2022/23 on forwards Stanley Johnson and Wenyen Gabriel, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac.

Johnson’s option will pay him a guaranteed salary of $2,351,521. Gabriel’s option is worth $1,878,720, but that salary will remain non-guaranteed until the NBA’s league-wide salary guarantee deadline in January, so the option pick-up doesn’t necessarily assure him of a spot on the regular season roster.

Johnson, 26, joined the Lakers on a minimum-salary contract in January after signing a series of 10-day deals with the team. He earned a spot in the regular rotation, averaging 6.7 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.7 APG on .466/.314/.716 shooting in 48 appearances (22.8 MPG). The former eighth overall pick has never been a major offensive weapon, but is a useful depth piece, given his athleticism, energy, and versatility.

Gabriel, meanwhile, signed a two-way contract with the Lakers in March, then was promoted to the standard roster in April. The 25-year-old averaged 6.7 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 19 contests (16.4 MPG) for the Lakers after spending time earlier in the season with the Nets, Clippers, and Pelicans as well.

With Johnson’s option exercised, the Lakers now have six players on guaranteed contracts for 2022/23. Gabriel and Austin Reaves are on non-guaranteed deals, leaving seven openings on the 15-man roster, one of which will likely go to second-round pick Max Christie.