Stanley Johnson

Stanley Johnson Out Two Weeks With Groin Injury

Raptors bench swingman Stanley Johnson has been ruled out of commission for tonight’s bout against the Hornets due to a stress reaction in his groin, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The Johnson injury has cleared a path for the team to recall 6’7″ two-way rookie wing Oshae Brissett from Toronto’s G-League affiliate, Raptors 905, for tonight’s contest. Murphy indicates that the team anticipates Johnson to sit for two weeks as he recovers.

The No. 8 pick in 2015, Johnson was signed to a two-year, $7.5MM deal with Toronto in July after wings Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green vacated the premises in free agency. Johnson played his first 3 1/2 seasons on the Pistons before being dealt to the Bucks and then the Pelicans just ahead of the 2018/19 season’s trade deadline.

Johnson has been unable to crack the Raptors’ forward rotation. He has appeared in just five games with Toronto, averaging 3.8 minutes. In a follow-up tweet, The Sports Network’s Josh Lewenberg reports being told that Johnson has not been “100%” healthy this entire season. For his career, Johnson has averaged 6.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.5 APG.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Anunoby, Bench

Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes how the Raptors locking up Pascal Siakam to a long-term extension may be a byproduct of how the Spurs ended up losing Kawhi Leonard, the player that helped the Raptors win the franchise’s first ever championship last season.

Like Leonard when he was in San Antonio, Siakam was destined for a maximum contract after the Raptors won last season’s title. Like San Antonio had then, Toronto has plenty of cap space this upcoming summer.

Unlike the Spurs, the Raptors didn’t wait to lock up Siakam. As Koreen writes, they want him around and they want him happy. The long-term benefits outweigh the short term repercussion of less cap space.

There’s more this afternoon from Toronto:

  • Per Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, forward OG Anunoby, in a rare podium session, says that he lost 15 pounds following the rupture of his appendix just as last season’s magical postseason run got underway.
  • Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet provides some more details on the incentives in the rookie-scale contract extension signed by Siakam, writing that the 25-year-old forward will receive a starting salary worth up to 30% of the cap (not the typical 25%) if he earns First or Second Team All-NBA or is named the MVP this season. That would make Siakam’s four-year extension worth as much as a projected $155.9MM instead of $129.9MM.
  • Head coach Nick Nurse still appears to be rather displeased with some of his newly-signed bench players, reports William Lou of Yahoo Sports Canada. Nurse lauded Stanley Johnson for his defense and effort and Matt Thomas for his offense, but seemed less than enthusiastic about the other side of the ball for both players.

Nick Nurse Calls Out Raptors’ New Additions

In the wake of the departures of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Los Angeles, the Raptors signed free agents Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson, hoping the veteran forwards would provide the team with above-average defense — even if they don’t score like Leonard and Green.

However, asked today if the presence of Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson is helping to solidify Toronto’s defense this fall, head coach Nick Nurse didn’t hold back in disputing that notion, as Eric Koreen of The Athletic and Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca relay.

“Nope. Nope. Nope. Those guys have not understood, a.) how hard we play, b.), our schemes, that defense is a priority for them, etc.,” Nurse said. “We’ve got some work to do with all that crew.

“I tell them there (are) a couple spots, come Tuesday night, there (are) a couple spots that are open if somebody wants them. ‘I keep telling you, show me you’re going to play defense. Show me you’re going to play hard. Show me you understand our coverages. Show me. And then, whatever you do at the other end, you’re going to get opportunities just because of who you’re on the floor with.'”

As Lewenberg notes (via Twitter), the eight players who are viewed as locks to open the regular season in the Raptors’ rotation were all on last year’s roster. Since Toronto will likely play a 10-man rotation, that leaves a couple spots up for grabs.

Returning youngsters like Malcolm Miller and Chris Boucher may be candidates for those spots if Nurse doesn’t trust Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson, as Lewenberg points out (Twitter link). We’ll see how the veterans respond to Nurse’s criticism in Toronto’s final game of the preseason on Friday vs. Brooklyn.

Atlantic Notes: Horford, Lowry, Raptors, Portis, Knicks

Sixers power forward Al Horford shot down an ESPN report that his new team was guilty of tampering prior to free agency. He addressed the issue on the Dan Patrick Show (hat tip to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg). Horford declined his team option with the Celtics and signed a four-year, $109MM contract with Philadelphia. “It’s ridiculous. … (Celtics GM) Danny [Ainge] was really good to me. I know he’s definitely frustrated that things didn’t work out with us,” Horford said.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Heading into unrestricted free agency next summer, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry has hired Priority Sports — headed by longtime agent Mark Bartelstein — to represent him, according to a Priority Sports tweet. Lowry signed a three-year deal worth up to $100MM in 2017. His previous reps were Gerard Darnes Soms, Andrew Miller and Juan Aisa, according to Spotrac.
  • The Raptors used their $3.623MM bi-annual exception to sign forward Stanley Johnson, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic. The $9.26MM mid-level was split up among Patrick McCaw, Matt Thomas, second-round pick Dewan Hernandez and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who received $2.5MM rather than the veteran’s minimum. McCaw signed a two-year, $8MM deal while Thomas and Hernandez received partially-guaranteed three-year contracts.
  • Power forward Bobby Portis believes the players the Knicks brought in are a hungry group ready to overachieve, as he told Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Portis joined the team on a two-year, $31MM deal, though only the first year is guaranteed. “I love being underrated, man. I’m an underdog,” he said. “I say that every day. We’re the team that’s being counted out right now. People are looking past us. They’re talking about stars going to new teams and this and that, and that’s okay. Everybody on this team has a huge chip on their shoulder.”
  • After striking out on the big free agents this summer, the Knicks will have to exercise patience and come up with a better plan to lure top talent, Steve Popper of Newsday opines.

Raptors Sign Stanley Johnson

JULY 11: The Raptors have officially signed Johnson, the team announced today in a press release. It’s not clear yet whether the team used its mid-level or bi-annual exception to complete the signing.

JULY 6: Small forward Stanley Johnson has agreed to a two-year, $7.5MM contract with the Raptors, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The second year will include a player option, Charania adds.

Johnson won’t make anyone in Toronto forget Kawhi Leonard but he’ll absorb some of the Finals’ MVP’s minutes with Leonard heading to the Clippers. Johnson has been a disappointment since the Pistons selected him in the lottery in 2015.

Johnson’s contract could fit into Toronto’s bi-annual exception of $3.623MM or it could use a portion of the $9.258MM mid-level exception.

He played 3 1/2 years with Detroit before he was dealt to Milwaukee, which quickly shipped him to New Orleans just before last season’s trade deadline. Johnson appeared in 18 games with the Pelicans, averaging 5.3 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 13.7 MPG. For his career, Johnson has averaged 7.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 1.5 APG in 21.6 MPG.

His strength is his defensive prowess with the ability to guard four positions. Outside shooting (29.3% on 3-point tries) has been a major issue for Johnson at the offensive end. At 23, Johnson still has time to establish himself as at least a solid rotation player.

Stanley Johnson Won’t Receive QO From Pelicans

Not long after it was reported that the Pelicans opted not to extend a qualifying offer to Cheick Diallo, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium is now reporting that New Orleans will also decline to tender a QO to swingman Stanley Johnson. As a result, Johnson will become an UFA when free agency begins on June 30.

As Charania notes, the Pelicans will now have somewhere in the vicinity of $28MM in cap space this summer after renouncing Johnson’s cap hold. Johnson, who failed to meet starter criteria this past season, only had a QO worth $4,485,665, but as a former first-round pick, his cap hold would have cost the Pelicans $11,821,206 (i.e. 300% of his 2018/19 salary) in valuable cap space.

Johnson, 23, was drafted 8th overall by Detroit back in 2015 but has largely under performed his draft position during his first four seasons in the league. Expected to come in and fill a role as a 3-and-D guy, Johnson has only converted on 29.3% of his career three-point attempts. The Pistons traded him to New Orleans last season, where he only averaged 13.7 minutes per contest in 18 games with the Pelicans.

Potential 2019 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s rookie scale, which determines how much first-round picks earn during their first four NBA seasons, also dictates how much the qualifying offers will be worth for those players when they reach restricted free agency after year four. However, the value of those qualifying offers can fluctuate depending on whether or not a player has met the “starter criteria.”

Here’s how the starter criteria works:

A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency.

A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2016/17 and 32 in 2017/18, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons is 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player eligible for restricted free agency officially makes that player an RFA, ensuring that his team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet with another club. It also gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO.

Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. There are exceptions though.

Two years ago, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – Suns center Alex Len and Mavericks center Nerlens Noel – failed to meet the starter criteria heading into restricted free agency, reducing the value of their QOs to approximately $4.2MM (from $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively). Had Len and Noel met the starter criteria and been eligible for those larger QOs, their free agencies could have played out differently.

Top-14 picks who failed to meet starter criteria:

With that in mind, let’s check in on how this year’s RFAs-to-be will be impacted by the starter criteria. Listed below are the former top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,485,665.

No player was hit harder by missing out on the starter criteria than Porzingis, who had no chance at meeting the playing-time requirements due to his torn ACL. If he’d stayed healthy, the former No. 4 overall pick would’ve been in line for a qualifying offer worth just over $7.5MM. Of course, it may not matter much, since Porzingis is expected to sign a long-term deal with the Mavericks anyway.

For Johnson, Kaminsky, and Lyles, falling short of the starter criteria was more about their roles than health issues.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this season.

Because Oubre was selected between No. 10 and No. 30 in the 2015 draft and met the starter criteria, he’s eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,915,726 instead of $4,485,665. No other players fit the bill this year, as many of the players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 in 2015 have either already been extended or are no longer on their rookie contracts.

Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the 23rd overall pick in 2015, was the strongest candidate to join Oubre in this group, but fell just short of meeting the criteria, having started 80 games over the last two seasons — he needed to get to 82. Wizards forward Bobby Portis, the 22nd overall pick, also would have had a shot if he stayed healthy, but injuries limited his minutes over the last two seasons.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

The players listed below signed as second-round picks or undrafted free agents, but have met the starter criteria and are now eligible for a qualifying offer worth $3,021,354.

Tomas Satoransky (Wizards) was another player who qualified for this group, but because his initial NBA contract was more lucrative than most, his qualifying offer will already be worth $3,911,484 based on other criteria.

There were a few second-round picks and UDFAs who just missed out on meeting the starter criteria, including Dorian Finney-Smith of the Mavericks (1,985 minutes played), Bulls guard Ryan Arcidiacono (1,961 minutes), and Clippers center Ivica Zubac (37 starts).

Those players, and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents, won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southwest Division:

Dorian Finney-Smith, Mavericks, 25, SF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
The Mavericks can make Finney-Smith a restricted free agent by extending $1.93MM qualifying offer. That’s small change by NBA standards but there’s no guarantee they’ll do it. Finney-Smith has been a rotation player throughout his third season in the NBA with trades and injuries opening up playing time. He’s averaging 7.4 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 24.4 MPG and still hasn’t developed a 3-point shot (31.9%), though his defensive ratings are on the plus side. Finney-Smith seems like a second-unit player going forward, whether it’s with the Mavs or elsewhere.

Jonas Valanciunas, Grizzlies, 26, C (Up) — Signed to a four-year, $64MM deal in 2016
Valanciunas was putting up silly numbers with Memphis before a Grade 2 ankle sprain sidelined him for the remainder of the season. He was averaging 19.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG and 1.6 BPG in just 27.7 MPG in 19 games since being traded by the Raptors. Of course, it’s easier to do that on a bad team, but it certainly added an element of mystery to Valanciunas’ offseason plans. It seemed a safe bet that Valanciunas would exercise his player option for a guaranteed $17.6MM. He might choose now to test the market and gain long-term security, even if he makes a few million less next season.

Iman Shumpert, Rockets, 28, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $40MM deal in 2015
Shumpert made his money with his current contract. He won’t be receiving any $11MM-per-year offers this summer. His 2017/18 season was a washout due to knee and foot injuries. He’s managed to stay on the court this season but his impact has been minimal. The Kings dealt him to Houston in a three-team trade in February and Shumpert has shot 29% from long range in 18 games with the Rockets. Shumpert’s 34% career average from deep is subpar and he’s never posted a PER above 12 in any season. He’ll likely be looking at veteran’s minimum offers this summer.

Stanley Johnson, Pelicans, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $12.85MM deal in 2015
Johnson was a colossal disappointment with the Pistons after a promising rookie campaign. A change of scenery, via a deadline trade, offered Johnson a fresh start. But he hasn’t been much better with New Orleans than he was in Detroit. Johnson’s strength is his perimeter defense and ability to guard a variety of positions, but he’s got to become more of an offensive threat for his career to blossom. The Pelicans can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $4.5MM qualify offer. One of the things their new GM must decide is whether to give the 22-year-old Johnson another year to improve his game.

Rudy Gay, Spurs, 32, PF (Up)– Signed to a one-year, $10.1MM deal in 2018
Quietly, Gay has delivered one of the best seasons of his career. His field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage are career highs. His rebounding average (6.8) is second only to his 7.4 mark in 2013/14, when he played 8.7 more minutes per game. His PER is a rock-solid 17.8. All the more impressive is that Gay tore his Achilles two seasons ago at age 30, an injury from which many players never fully recover. Gay may attract some interest from a contender seeking another veteran piece but the likely scenario is San Antonio rewarding him with a two- or three-year deal.

Pelicans Trade Nikola Mirotic To Bucks In Three-Team Deal

7:36pm: The three-team trade involving the Pelicans, Bucks, and Pistons is now official, according to press releases issued by New Orleans and Milwaukee. Milwaukee gets Mirotic, Detroit gets Maker, and New Orleans acquires two players and four draft picks, as detailed below.

11:57am: The Bucks are adding another shooter to their frontcourt, having reached an agreement to acquire Nikola Mirotic from the Pelicans, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

New Orleans will receive Jason Smith‘s expiring contract along with Stanley Johnson in exchange for Mirotic, Woj reports (via Twitter). According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter), the Pelicans will also receive four second-round picks as part of the deal.

A source tells Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link) that two of those selections will be the Wizards’ 2020 and 2021 second-rounders, while Tim Bontemps of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that Denver’s 2019 second-rounder and the Bucks’ 2020 second-rounder are also in the package.

Milwaukee just reached an agreement on Wednesday to acquire Johnson from the Pistons in exchange for Thon Maker, but that deal has yet to be completed. the Bucks wouldn’t be permitted to aggregate Johnson’s salary with another player’s contract for two months after acquiring him, so it looks the two deals will be turned into one three-team trade, which helps explain why Detroit and Milwaukee haven’t finalized their agreement yet.

For the Bucks, this deal represents an impressive response to the Sixers’ acquisition of Tobias Harris on Wednesday. While Mirotic isn’t as dynamic a player as Harris, he should fit in very nicely in Mike Budenholzer‘s system, which already features a pair of sharpshooting big men in Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova.

Mirotic, who will turn 28 next Monday, has been limited by injuries so far this season, but has been his usual productive self when he’s on the court, averaging 16.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG with a .447/.368/.842 shooting line in 28.9 MPG.

Mirotic is on an expiring contract, so the Bucks can add him to a list of free-agents-to-be that also includes Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez, and Malcolm Brogdon (restricted). Milwaukee will presumably attempt to retain as many of those players as possible in the offseason.

As for the Pelicans, their return for Mirotic won’t match the first-round pick they gave up for him a year ago, but they won’t take on any future salary, and one or two of those second-round picks could fall in the 30s.

They’ll also get a chance to take a look at Johnson, a former lottery pick who will be up for restricted free agency this summer. While the young wing never really blossomed into a reliable rotation player in Detroit, he still has some upside as a versatile defender, though he’d have to improve his shooting numbers to improve his value.

The Pelicans will have to open up a roster spot with another trade or cut in order to finalize the deal. The Bucks, on the other hand, will create an opening on their roster, though they’re now less than $1MM away from the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks, Pistons Agree To Stanley Johnson, Thon Maker Trade

Update: This trade agreement has been rolled into a second deal between the Bucks and Pelicans to make it a three-team trade. You can read the full story here.

The Bucks and Pistons are in the process of finalizing a trade that will send forward Stanley Johnson to Milwaukee and big man Thon Maker to Detroit, a league source tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the deal has been agreed to in principle.

The move will see two Central Division teams swap a pair of former lottery picks that had fallen out of their clubs’ long-term plans. It’s a straight-up, one-for-one trade with no additional players or draft assets, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic.

Johnson, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, seemed set to assume a larger role for the Pistons in 2018/19 after starting 50 games last season. However, the 22-year-old has taken a step back, averaging 20.0 minutes per game after playing 27.4 MPG in 2017/18. His shooting numbers have also failed to improve over the course of his career. His .381 FG% and .282 3PT% this season are about in line with his career rates.

Because he’s in his fourth NBA season, Johnson will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but he was unlikely to receive a qualifying offer from the Pistons, as Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press notes (via Twitter). The Bucks will get the opportunity to audition him as a three-and-D wing down the stretch in 2018/19 before deciding this summer whether they want to try to keep him around for a little longer.

As for Maker, the 10th overall pick from 2016’s draft has also seen his role reduced this season. The 7’1″ center, who will turn 22 later this month, appeared in 35 games for Milwaukee, averaging 4.7 PPG and 2.7 RPG in just 11.7 minutes per game. Given Maker’s limited playing time, his agent asked the Bucks to trade him to a team that would give him a greater opportunity.

Maker will get that opportunity in Detroit, where he’ll reunite with former Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps observes (via Twitter). The Pistons aren’t exactly stacked with a deep and talented frontcourt behind Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, so Maker should get the chance to battle the likes of Zaza Pachulia and Jon Leuer for minutes in Dwane Casey‘s rotation. He also remains under contract for one more year before reaching restricted free agency in 2020.

Maker is earning a salary of about $2.8MM in 2018/19, while Johnson’s cap hit is $3.94MM. Trade rules allow for that modest difference in salaries, which will benefit the Pistons — as a result of this deal and their trade sending Reggie Bullock to the Lakers, they’ve created an extra $2MM+ in breathing room below the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes.

The Pistons will also generate a small trade exception worth the difference in the two players’ salaries ($1,140,682).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.