Thomas Bryant

Wizards Re-Sign Thomas Bryant

JULY 7: The Wizards have formally announced Bryant’s new three-year deal, issuing a press release to confirm the signing.

“Re-signing Thomas was our top priority this offseason and we’re extremely excited to have him with us as he takes the next step in his development,” Wizards interim head of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “His overall attitude, work ethic and team-first mentality embody the type of environment that we are working to create and sustain within the Wizards organization.”

JUNE 30: The Wizards have agreed to a three-year, $25MM contract with center Thomas Bryant, his agent, Todd Ramasar, tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Bryant is coming off an impressive season with the team, holding per-game averages of 10.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 20.8 minutes. At just 21 years old, he remains one of the league’s most intriguing prospects at the center position, set to enter his third NBA season in the fall.

Washington also has the free-agent situations of Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Tomas Satoransky to worry about in the coming days, with Portis and Parker currently operating as though they won’t return with the team, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link).

The Wizards dealt with several injuries to core players this season, finishing with a 32-50 record and failing to make the playoffs.

Wizards Extend Qualifying Offer To Thomas Bryant

According to Fred Katz of The Athletic, the Wizards have extended a qualifying offer to big man Thomas Bryant, thereby setting him up to be a restricted free agent this summer.

Bryant, still just 21, had a breakout campaign in Washington last season after being waived by the Lakers last summer. Largely capitalizing on injuries to Dwight Howard and other front court veterans for the Wizards, Bryant appeared in 72 games (53 starts) in 2018/19 while recording 10.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.3 APG, and a .685/.333/.781 shooting line in 20.8 minutes per contest.

Because he reached starter criteria last season, Bryant’s qualifying offer will be worth just over $3MM, equal to the amount of the qualifying offer the 21st overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft (Hawks swingman Justin Anderson) would have been eligible to receive had he signed for 100% of the rookie scale instead of 120%.

Re-signing Bryant is a priority for the Wizards this summer, as we touched upon when we passed along the news of Jabari Parker‘s team option being declined.

Wizards To Decline $20MM Option On Jabari Parker

The Wizards won’t exercise their $20MM team option on Jabari Parker, but they may try to re-sign him, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The move has been expected, dating back to when Washington traded for Parker in February, Haynes adds. But he cites “mutual interest” between Parker and the team in working out a longer arrangement once he becomes an unrestricted free agent next weekend. The Wizards view him as a player with potential whose development has been slowed by ACL tears in 2014 and 2017.

Parker’s asking price will start at $15MM per year, sources tell Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, and that number could rise or fall depending on the market. He adds that the Wizards will probably need Parker to relax that demand, especially after drafting Rui Hachimura, who has similar talents. Re-signing Thomas Bryant, Tomas Satoransky and possibly Bobby Portis will be higher priorites, according to Hughes.

Parker, 24, had a difficult time in Chicago after signing a two-year, $40MM deal last summer, especially once Jim Boylen replaced Fred Hoiberg as head coach. However, Parker was much better after the trade, averaging 15 points and 7.2 rebounds in 25 games with Washington.

Southeast Notes: Riley, Heat Outlook, Bryant, Hornets

Heat president Pat Riley felt it was time to invest in his own roster after he failed to sign top-level free agents in recent years, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. “Once we didn’t land Kevin Durant or didn’t land Gordon Hayward, then it was time to sort of move on from searching for room and at the same time holding your other players hostage,” Riley said. “To move into a two- or three-year window with young players that we drafted and others who we thought were on-the-brink-to-make-it veterans that hadn’t made it somewhere else. What we came up with and what we found out is that we have a very, very competitive team.”

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Riley made moves during the trade deadline to get rid of the glut of guards and wing players on the roster. He also waived Rodney McGruder right before the end of the regular season to dodge the luxury tax. He feels the roster is much more balanced now heading into the summer. “I think we have built a base. … We have our draft choices,” he said. “The possibilities of room are right around the road. Don’t be making any kind of conclusions about next year in that we’re stuck with certain contracts or whatever it is you think we can’t get out of. That would be foolish thinking on your part.”
  • Center Thomas Bryant will be a restricted free agent if the Wizards extend a qualifying offer of $3MM and he intends to re-sign, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “They gave me an opportunity to play,” said Bryant, who inherited the starting job with Dwight Howard playing only nine games. “Why would I want to leave?” Retaining Bryant is high on the current front office’s priority list but the GM who replaces fired Ernie Grunfeld might not feel the same way, Hughes points out. League provisions could also come into play if Bryant signs an offer sheet. The Wizards hold his Early Bird rights but salary-cap concerns would grow if Bryant signs a back-loaded contract.
  • If the Hornets move up in the lottery and snag a top-three pick, GM Mitch Kupchak would likely listen to trade offers, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines in his latest mailbag. However, that would only make sense if Kupchak was confident that bringing in an impact veteran would secure a commitment from Kemba Walker. Otherwise, the Hornets would be in a rebuild mode, and a rookie with star potential would be more valuable to them.

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.

Southeast Notes: Bryant, Carter-Williams, Graham

The Wizards have long been eliminated from playoff contention, but second-year big man Thomas Bryant is taking every late-season opportunity to establish himself as a long-term rotation piece for the club, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes.

Bryant recently impressed for the Wizards as the team closed out a tight contest against Phoenix. Bryant’s game-winning bucket, his second of the year, capped off a night in which he racked up 18 points and 19 rebounds, outplaying 2018 first-overall pick Deandre Ayton.

My teammates believe in me. It’s a real big thing,” the Wizards big man told Buckner. “I give it all to my teammates, they believe in me to make that shot, time and time after I missed so many shots this month, this year. To have that confidence is great.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • While his stats don’t jump off the page, Michael Carter-Williams has made an impact during his brief stay thus far with the Magic, John Denton of the Magic’s official site writes. Carter-Williams’ length and versatility have contributed to several late-season wins but his future with the franchise is up in the air.
  • Veteran Tony Parker will cede playing time to Devonte’ Graham, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Hornets coach James Borrego would like to give the 24-year-old additional experience and Parker is on board.
  • If Kelly Olynyk logs 89 minutes over the final eight games of the regular season, he’ll earn a $1MM bonus built into his contract with the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes. That’s likely but not necessarily guaranteed. “It’s like one of those things that if you want it too much, you’re not going to get it,” Olynyk said. “You’ve just got to focus on the team and winning and the rest will fall into place where it may.

Southeast Notes: Walker, Dragic, Fultz, Bryant

It’s not a guarantee that he’ll stay with the Hornets, but Kemba Walker is serving as Charlotte’s unofficial host for All-Star Weekend, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. “Welcome everyone to my city!” Walker tweeted today as a greeting to the thousands of visitors headed to Charlotte for three days of festivities.

“This city has embraced me so much over the years,” Walker said. “Allowed me to be who I am. Allowed me to play through my mistakes early in my career, to become the player I am today. The fans have just been top notch, and I respect that because we haven’t been a top organization, haven’t gone to the playoffs every year. … Through that, they still embrace us, still embrace me. You have to respect that.”

Walker, who holds nearly every franchise scoring record, will be one of the hottest names on this year’s free agent market. A three-time All-Star, he is in the middle of his most productive season, averaging career highs with 25.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.7 assists per night. Despite Walker’s affection for Charlotte, Bonnell states that it’s hard to predict what will happen this summer.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat guard Goran Dragic is “making a lot of progress” after having knee surgery in December, but coach Erik Spoelstra tells Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald there’s still no timetable for his return. Miami has been expecting him to be ready soon after the All-Star break. In the same story, Spoelstra says Ryan Anderson, who has only played two minutes since being acquired from the Suns, is ready for a larger role if needed.
  • Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, both top six selections in the 2017 draft, have a chance to prove themselves with the Magic after battling injuries early in their careers, notes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando’s front office believes Fultz, who was acquired from the Sixers last week, can become a standout point guard because of his strength, explosiveness, court vision and playmaking.
  • Wizards center Thomas Bryant reached starter criteria this week by starting his 41st game of the season, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The qualifying offer for the upcoming free agent has been increased to $3MM and Washington’s cap hold has been raised as well. Dwight Howard was supposed to be the starting center after signing with the Wizards last summer, but Bryant seized the opportunity when Howard was injured.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/15/18

Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Wizards Notes: Leonsis, Beal, Satoransky, Brown

A couple of recent comments by Wizards owner Ted Leonsis suggest he is running short on patience with the team’s 1-7 start, relays Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Leonsis, who attended Saturday’s debut game for the G League’s Capital City Go-Go, responded to a comment from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about increased scoring around the league. “They just have to play us,” Leonsis said about teams wanting to score more points.

Leonsis was still frustrated after watching his team surrender 79 points in the first half — and 134 overall — in Friday’s loss to the Thunder. “When you score 125 points and you’re losing by 25, it usually says you need to play a little bit of defense,” he said afterward. “Right now, we really have to get a structure in place and especially defend the three-ball.”

Leonsis issued a “no-excuses” ultimatum to the organization before the start of the season, making it clear that he expected a title contender. Hughes notes that Leonsis has a right to want a return on his investment after giving the team a $133MM payroll, a highly paid head coach and a newly built, state-of-the-art practice facility.

There’s more today out of Washington:

  • The Wizards are paying the price for years of failing to make bold moves, writes Michael Lee of The Athletic. They traded away a lottery pick in 2009 and passed on the chance to get Stephen Curry; they let a team leader in Paul Pierce get away and replaced him with Jared Dudley; and they refused to admit that last year’s problems went beyond John Wall‘s extended absence with a knee injury. An unidentified scout predicts major changes in Washington once the season ends, saying, “April 9, “That’s it for these guys.”
  • All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal says the team has to ignore the negativity in order to turn the season around, Lee shares in the same piece. Beal is putting together his best season, posting a 23.1/4.0/3.8 line through eight games, but it hasn’t translated into victories. “I’m a leader of this team,” he said. “I’ve been here for seven years. I refuse to have any type of ship sinking. I can’t let it sink without fighting.”
  • Hughes offers several suggestions for coach Scott Brooks to shake things up in a separate story. His ideas include changing the starting lineup, giving more minutes to Tomas Satoransky or rookie Troy Brown and offering Jason Smith or Thomas Bryant a chance to crack the rotation.

Wizards Notes: Rivers, Howard, Green, Bryant

It was already common knowledge that the NBA’s Western Conference has long been stronger than the Eastern Conference. Critics continue to call for a conference realignment even when the odds of it happening are slim to none.

But now that the game’s best player has moved from the East to the West, the gap has widened even more, leaving many Eastern Conference players, including newly acquired Wizards’ guard Austin Rivers, more confident in their team’s chances to make a run at the NBA Finals, reports Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“This training camp, this season is just gonna be a different type of mindset,” Rivers said. “[Before] you would play and you know you’re going to run into Golden State. Here, in the East, it’s really like everybody can get there. You can go to the Finals or the conference finals if you’re a playoff-caliber team, which this team is. 

I think that puts a different confidence, focus and energy on a team. I think that will probably be a focal point in training camp, I’m sure the coaches and everyone will say this is something we need to take advantage of.” 

Per Hughes, Rivers did acknowledge that the Celtics are probably the favorites now, having been Eastern Conference runners-up the last two seasons despite missing two of their best players during the 2017/18 playoffs. But, Rivers is excited to see what he and his new teammates are capable of after falling short in the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.

There’s more out of the D.C. area tonight:

  • Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated takes a look at the Wizards’ reported free agent signings of veterans Jeff Green and Dwight Howard. Woo gives both signings a “B” grade, calling both moves thrifty and low-risk due in large part to the one-year length of both deals.
  • In another piece for NBC Sports Washington, Hughes gives his own analysis of the Howard signing, agreeing that the move is low-risk, high-reward. Hughes writes that Howard gives Washington an upgrade from last season at center and that he should be at his best surrounded by three-point shooters like Otto Porter and Bradley Beal.
  • In another, albeit more under-the-radar move we relayed earlier this week, the Wizards claimed promising young big man Thomas Bryant off waivers from the Lakers after he was cut to increase L.A.’s cap room.