Svi Mykhailiuk

COVID Updates: Gobert, Holiday, Jackson, Moon, Mykhailiuk

Rudy Gobert has entered the league’s health and safety protocols. The Jazz center returned two rapid negative tests on Thursday but his PCR test overnight came back positive, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter links). Of course, Gobert’s COVID-19 positive in March 2020 led to postponements and cancellations across the sports world. The big man is having another fine season, averaging 15.5 PPG and 15.1 RPG.

We have more on players entering or exiting the health and safety protocols:

  • Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday has entered the protocols, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Holiday, who was also in protocols last season, joins teammates George Hill, Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton.
  • After eight teammates exited protocols this week, Pistons guard Frank Jackson entered the protocols, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Jackson is currently sidelined with an ankle injury.
  • Clippers guard Xavier Moon has entered the protocols, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Moon signed a second 10-day contract under the hardship exception on Tuesday.
  • Raptors swingman Svi Mykhailiuk has cleared the protocols and is available for Friday’s game against Utah, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets.

COVID-19 Updates: Raptors, Thunder, Stewart, Freedom, Strus

After briefly having no players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the first time in weeks, the Raptors placed Svi Mykhailiuk and Yuta Watanabe in the protocols today, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (via Twitter), only three players on the Raptors’ roster have avoided entering the protocols in the last month. Two of those players – David Johnson (injury) and Goran Dragic (personal) – have been away from the team, leaving Chris Boucher as the lone active player not to be affected.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates:

  • Thunder guard Tre Mann and big man Darius Bazley have cleared the health and safety protocols, acting head coach Mike Wilks said today (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). That leaves rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl as the only Oklahoma City player still in the protocols.
  • Celtics center Enes Freedom returned to practice today, having exited the COVID-19 protocols, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Aaron Nesmith is the only Celtic who remains in the protocols.
  • Isaiah Stewart has cleared the protocols and met the Pistons in Charlotte, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic. It’s unclear if the big man will be available on Wednesday vs. the Hornets or if he’ll need more time to get back into game condition.
  • Heat guard Max Strus is no longer in the protocols, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Miami now has four players in the protocols, with six hardship additions on 10-day deals, so not all of those players will be able to be active going forward.
  • The full list of players in the COVID-19 protocols can be found right here.

Raptors Notes: Roster Battle, Siakam, Boucher, Anunoby

The fight to make the Raptors‘ 15-man regular season squad has been one of the NBA’s more competitive preseason roster battles, with Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright, and Isaac Bonga vying to earn two spots (or just one, if Toronto opens the season with 14 players). Addressing the competition today, Dekker said he’ll be happy for Wainright and/or Bonga if they beat him out for a roster spot.

“These are guys I’ll stay in touch with for a long time no matter what and I’m always going to cheer for them, because it’s the weakness of a man to root for someone to fail,” Dekker said, adding that his current teammates are some of the “kindest human beings” he knows (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).

Wainright also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to make his case for a regular season roster spot, regardless of what the Raptors decide.

“No matter how it goes, I’m not going to hang my head,” Wainright said (Twitter link via Lewenberg). “My family always told me when one door closes, another opens. I’m coming out of this a better man, a better basketball player, a better person, period… Whatever happens, I gave it my all from start to finish.”

All three players have had strong camps, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link). While many teams will set their rosters by Saturday, the Raptors could wait until Monday if they want, since Dekker, Wainright, and Bonga all have partial guarantees. That means their cap hits would remain unchanged if they don’t clear waivers until after the regular season begins, unlike a player on a non-guaranteed deal, who must be waived by Saturday for a team to avoid incurring a small cap charge.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Tuesday, head coach Nick Nurse said that Pascal Siakam (shoulder) is starting contact work this week and may only be a few weeks away from returning, while big man Chris Boucher (finger) is about 10 days away (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca).
  • With Siakam sidelined to start the season and Kyle Lowry no longer a Raptor, the team is grooming OG Anunoby to be a centerpiece of its offense, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “He’s our number one option right now,” Fred VanVleet said of his teammate. “He’s been great, he’s been assertive finding his spots, I think me and him are finding a little bit of rhythm together, so it’s good to see.”
  • Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca takes a look at the battle between Goran Dragic and Gary Trent Jr. for the second starting spot in the backcourt alongside VanVleet, suggesting Dragic appears to have the upper hand.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic didn’t love the terms of the Raptors’ free agent contracts with Trent and Khem Birch, but praised the team for getting Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk on a minimum-salary deal. Hollinger projects the team to finish with a 40-42 record, good for ninth in the East.

Atlantic Notes: Nash, Irving, Sixers, Raptors

Kyrie Irving is back with the Nets, but he won’t be traveling with the team for tomorrow’s preseason game at Philadelphia, and coach Steve Nash seems resigned to the fact that Irving is going to start missing home games unless he gets vaccinated, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

I think we recognize he’s not playing home games,” said Nash. “We’re going to have to for sure play without him this year; so it just depends on when, where and how much.”

However, Nash also noted that things can change quickly in this unprecedented situation, per Lewis.

Right now we assume he’s not going to be available for home games,” Nash said. “Anything can change. Who’s to say, the city’s ordinance could change? Anything could change.”

Right now we’re just trying to remain flexible, open-minded and figure it out as we go, because information is coming in by the half-day here, whether it’s Paul [Millsap’s health and safety protocol] situation, Kyrie’s situation or the laws. We found out Friday he could come in the building, so things are shifting. No one’s been through this before, and we’re just trying to figure it out as we go.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton of the Sixers appear locked in a battle over the starting point guard spot with Ben Simmons still away from the team, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. The players have taken turns starting the team’s first two preseason games, with mixed results for both. However, Bodner thinks Maxey has much higher upside and should be given the opportunity to start, given Milton’s physical limitations.
  • In the same article, Bodner notes that second-year guard Isaiah Joe has been outstanding thus far in the preseason and is making a strong case for a spot in the Sixers‘ rotation. Joe is averaging 16.5 PPG while shooting 7-12 (58.3%) from three, and he’s also shown growth as a shot-creator and defender. Coach Doc Rivers has taken notice, per Bodner. “He’s starting to put the ball on the floor. That’s something he couldn’t do (last year),” Rivers said. “He made plays tonight getting into the paint there’s no way he could have done that last year. Good for him because he’s putting all the work in.”
  • The Raptors have been impressed with free agent acquisition Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk thus far, writes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.
  • Khem Birch is out of health and safety protocols and could be available for the Raptors tomorrow against Houston, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports.

Raptors Notes: Roster Battles, Mykhailiuk, Bjorkgren, Banton, Achiuwa

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse cited COVID-19 and injuries as reasons why the battles for the last two or three spots on the team’s regular season roster are more important than ever, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. As Nurse pointed out, even if a player makes the team as a 13th or 14th man, he may end up being thrust into a rotation role if others ahead of him are sidelined.

Ishmail Wainright, Yuta Watanabe, Freddie Gillespie, Sam Dekker, and Isaac Bonga are the five players believed to be fighting for spots on the 15-man squad. Toronto has 12 players with fully guaranteed salaries — assuming none of those players are traded or cut, there would be room on the roster for up to three players from that five-player group.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk said on Friday that he received interest in free agency from the Trail Blazers and Lakers before deciding to sign with the Raptors, per Eric Koreen of The Athletic (Twitter link). Mykhailiuk likes the opportunity he has to earn playing time and develop his game in Toronto.
  • Former Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren is at the Raptors’ training camp as a consultant, tweets Koreen. Bjorkgren was an assistant on Nurse’s staff before being hired by Indiana.
  • Raptors rookie Dalano Banton has been able to recognize two dreams this year — being selected in the NBA draft and joining his hometown team in Toronto. Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press (via The Toronto Star) has the story on the first Torontonian to be drafted by the Raptors.
  • Doug Smith of The Toronto Star and Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca lay out what newly-acquired big man Precious Achiuwa can bring to the Raptors. The franchise is hoping that Achiuwa – who was the centerpiece of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade – can become a long-term cornerstone.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk Signs With Raptors

SEPTEMBER 1: The Raptors finalized the signing of Mykhailiuk on Tuesday, according to NBA.com’s official transactions log. As Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets, the two-year deal is worth the minimum salary.


AUGUST 28: The Raptors have reached a two-year agreement with free agent Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The deal was confirmed by his agency, Sports International Group.

The contract will include a player option for the second season, according to Charania (Twitter link), who states that several contenders were interested in signing the 24-year-old swingman.

Mykhailiuk finished last season with the Thunder after being acquired from the Pistons in March. He averaged career-best numbers with 10.3 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 30 games with Oklahoma City while shooting 43.8% from the field and 33.6% from three-point range. He was originally a restricted free agent, but became unrestricted when OKC pulled his qualifying offer.

Mykhailiuk was selected by the Lakers with the 47th pick in the 2018 draft and was traded to Detroit midway through his rookie season.

Once the signing becomes official, Toronto will be up to 19 players, one short of the roster limit heading into camp. The Raptors now have 12 players with guaranteed contracts and both two-way slots filled.

Implications Of Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk Deal For Raptors

With the signing of Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, the battles for the Raptors’ final roster spots are coming into focus, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets.

Murphy writes that the player option included in Mykhailiuk’s deal makes it very likely he gets one of the team’s final roster spots, especially given Toronto’s lack of guaranteed depth at the shooting guard spot. Second-round pick David Johnson and partially-guaranteed Ishmail Wainright are the only shooting guards on the roster beyond Gary Trent Jr. Fred VanVleet has seen plenty of time at the position in recent years, but is almost certainly going to start games as the team’s point guard.

Murphy adds that if Mykhailiuk is guaranteed a spot on the 15-man roster, that means that Wainright, Freddie Gillespie, Sam Dekker, Isaac Bonga, and Yuta Watanabe will vie for the final three openings. Gillespie and Watanabe both showed promise for the Raptors in limited time last season, while Bonga has at times proved an interesting, potential-filled player as a 6’9″ playmaker with decent defensive instincts and some shooting ability.

Murphy added in a response to his initial tweet that Watanabe is considered a heavy favorite for a spot after his strong play last season, but given his non-guaranteed contract, he’s not quite a lock. Murphy also says that Egyptian big man Anas Mahmoud is likely to receive an Exhibit 10 deal.

In a final tweet, Murphy adds that the Raptors are operating like a team that knows that it’ll be able to move Goran Dragic by the deadline to avoid a tax bill.

Thunder Rescind Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk’s Qualifying Offer

The Thunder have pulled their qualifying offer for Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The third-year swingman will now be an unrestricted free agent. 

The offer was valued at about $2.08MM and it covered just the upcoming season. By rescinding it, Oklahoma City no longer has the opportunity to match any offer that Mykhailiuk might receive in free agency.

The Thunder acquired Mykhailiuk in a March trade with the Pistons. He appeared in 30 games for OKC, starting nine, and averaged 10.3 points and 3.0 rebounds per night.

Thunder Tender Qualifying Offer To Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

The Thunder have tendered a qualifying offer to swingman Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, a league source tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). As a result of the move, Mykhailiuk will be a restricted free agent.

Mykhailiuk, a second-round pick in 2018, began his career with the Lakers before being traded to Detroit. After two years with the Pistons, he was flipped to the Thunder along with a second-round pick for Hamidou Diallo in a pre-deadline deal this March.

Playing a career-high 23.0 minutes per game in 30 appearances for the Thunder, Mykhailiuk averaged 10.3 PPG and 3.0 RPG on .438/.336/.700 shooting.

The 24-year-old’s qualifying offer will be worth about $2.08MM. If he accepts that offer, he’d reach unrestricted free agency next summer, but he may try to work out a more lucrative – and possibly multiyear – deal with the Thunder or another team. Oklahoma City will have the ability to match any offer sheet Mykhailiuk signs with a rival club as long as that QO remains on the table.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Northwest Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Northwest Division:

Norman Powell, Trail Blazers, 27, SG/SF (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $42MM deal in 2018

Powell was a popular name at the trade deadline as numerous teams pursued the high-scoring wing. Portland won the sweepstakes by giving up a solid young player in Gary Trent Jr., as well as Rodney Hood. Powell has an $11.6MM option on his contract for next season but he’s widely expected to decline it. He’ll be popular once again after the season, this time as an unrestricted free agent. He has struggled somewhat with his 3-point shooting since Toronto traded him but he’s still averaging 17.2 PPG with the Trail Blazers. His price tag will rise even more if he excels in the postseason.

Georges Niang, Jazz, 27, SF/PF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $5MM deal in 2018

The Jazz don’t ask Niang to score a whole lot – he’s mainly limited to a few 3-point opportunities per game – but he does all the little things necessary to retain a rotation spot on a team with the league’s best record. He’s appeared in every game this season, averaging 15.9 MPG. With several key teammates sidelined lately, Niang has stepped up his offensive production, scoring in the double-digits in eight of the last 12 games. An unrestricted free agent, Niang seems like a nice fit in Utah, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he stays put. If not, he’ll be valued as a reliable second-unit player.

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Thunder, 23, SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4.6MM deal in 2018

Mykhailiuk had a golden opportunity to post some big numbers on a tanking team when the Pistons traded him to the Thunder. It would be unfair to say Mykhailiuk has flopped but he hasn’t really built up his value. He’s continued to struggle with his 3-point shot (32.2%), though he’s shown more willingness to drive to the basket and collected some steals on the defensive end. His qualifying offer is only $2MM, so there’s incentive for Oklahoma City to make him a restricted free agent. But Mykhailiuk probably won’t get an offer sheet, so he’ll either have to sign the QO or work out a contract with the Thunder.

Austin Rivers, Nuggets, 28, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $270K deal in 2021

Rivers basically found himself in exile in New York this season. Unable to crack Tom Thibodeau’s rotation, Rivers wound up being a throw-in at the trade deadline, then was promptly waived by Oklahoma City. Jamal Murray’s season-ending injury led to Denver offering him a 10-day contract and Rivers soon earned a rest-of-the-season deal. With Will Barton also sidelined by a hamstring injury, Rivers not only finds himself in the rotation but also in the starting lineup. He’s averaging 15.2 PPG over the last five games while draining 19 of 36 3-pointers. The postseason will give Rivers even more chances to attract interest in the free agent market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.