Thomas Bryant

Wizards Rumors: Westbrook, Beal, Dinwiddie, Neto, Kispert, Bryant

After spending the 2020/21 season with the Wizards, Russell Westbrook contemplated his future and found he had a growing desire to join the Lakers, according to Shams Charania and Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Westbrook’s desire to play for his hometown team intensified after he spent time with LeBron James and Anthony Davis at LeBron’s home about two weeks ago and the trio discussed the idea of teaming up, according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Turner says James and Davis spoke in that conversation about changing positions if it’s best for the team, with LeBron willing to play more frequently at the four, with AD at the five.

Westbrook recently informed the Wizards that he’d like to be dealt to the Lakers if they could find a trade that worked, per Charania and Katz, and the two teams did just that on Thursday, reaching an agreement on a blockbuster deal that will send Westbrook and two future second-round picks to L.A. for Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and No. 22 pick Isaiah Jackson. Washington is flipping Jackson to Indiana in a deal that will involve Aaron Holiday and No. 31 pick Isaiah Todd.

One of the primary reasons Westbrook originally wanted to play in D.C. was the presence of head coach Scott Brooks, according to Charania and Katz, who note that the star point guard lobbied for the Wizards to retain Brooks. After the team decided to part ways with Brooks, Westbrook preferred an established coach, sources tell The Athletic, but Washington opted for a first-timer in Wes Unseld Jr.

Here’s more on the Wizards and how the Westbrook trade affects their offseason:

  • Bradley Beal had no issues with the Westbrook deal and hasn’t expressed a desire to leave Washignton, sources tell Charania and Katz. For now, the Wizards remain confident they can keep the All-NBA guard long-term.
  • The Athletic’s duo reiterates that Spencer Dinwiddie is a potential Wizards target worth keeping an eye on, though a source tells Charania and Katz that the Nets wouldn’t be inclined to sign off on a sign-and-trade of Dinwiddie for Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma alone. Dinwiddie is also expected to receive interest from the Nets, Heat, Knicks, and Raptors, among others, per The Athletic.
  • Elsewhere on the point guard front, a reunion with Raul Neto is a possibility for the Wizards, sources tell Charania and Katz. The team also agreed to acquire Aaron Holiday, having grown “enamored” with him prior to the 2018 draft. Washington tried to trade for Holiday a year ago, according to The Athletic.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, one of Beal’s closest friends in the NBA, is the type of three-and-D player the Wizards have long sought, Charania and Katz observe.
  • Corey Kispert was 10th on the Wizards’ draft board entering Thursday night, and the team considered the possibility of trying to trade up for him before landing him at No. 15, write Charania and Katz.
  • The Wizards are preparing for Thomas Bryant to miss the start of the season as he continues to recover from an ACL tear. A source tells The Athletic the club is hoping Bryant will be able to return by December.

Wizards Notes: Westbrook, Bryant, Neto, Mathews

Improved play from Russell Westbrook has sparked the Wizards‘ move up the Eastern Conference standings, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. The former MVP says the difference involves recovering from a left quad injury that had been bothering him since he was acquired from the Rockets in December.

“Well, I can move and jump now,” Westbrook said. “So, there ya go.”

Westbrook’s quickness has returned, Katz adds, and he has become more aggressive in attacking the basket. He took 55% of his shots at the rim during the team’s recent four-game road trip after shooting just 26% of them from there earlier in the season.

“He just does a great job of staying in attack mode. We’re better when he does that,” Bradley Beal said. “He’s just being able to put pressure on the rim, getting to the basket, letting our bigs be able to follow up for offensive tip-backs if that’s the case. So, we just need him always in that mode. He never stops.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Thomas Bryant joined his teammates on the bench Saturday for the first time since suffering a season-ending ACL tear in January, Katz tweets“That was definitely the best part about the first half, just seeing him in the locker room,” coach Scott Brooks said. “… He’s definitely missed, loved by all of us.”
  • Backup point guard Raul Neto had to leave Saturday’s game with a left knee contusion, but Brooks doesn’t believe it’s serious, Katz adds (via Twitter). The team will check on Neto’s condition today.
  • The Wizards have won seven of their eight games since Brooks inserted Garrison Mathews and Moritz Wagner into the starting lineup, notes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. Both are among the top 10 in the league in drawing charges, and they have raised the team’s energy level. Brooks is particularly impressed with Mathews, who earned a two-way contract last year after going undrafted. “He’s a fighter,” Brooks said. “I remember the pre-draft workout. We did this running drill and he has our record. I thought his lungs were going to explode he was running so hard. You could tell that he wanted to slow down, but he was determined. That got my attention right there.”

Wizards Granted Disabled Player Exception For Bryant

The NBA has awarded the Wizards a $4.16MM disabled player exception to account for the loss of starting center Thomas Bryant, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bryant will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn left ACL last month. Charania adds that the disabled player exception expires on April 19.

The disabled player exception can be applied toward adding a player via free agency, on the waiver wire, or in a trade. The Wizards’ new $4.16MM DPE is half of Bryant’s $8,333,333 salary for the 2020/21. Any new player added through the DPE cannot be making more than that $4.16MM amount, plus $100K.

[RELATED: 2020/21 NBA Disabled Player Exceptions]

There are a few more stipulations for the Wizards to take into account. The DPE can only be used on one player, and only for the length of a one-year deal. A free agent can only be added for the single year of the exception. Any player gained through a trade or waivers has to be in the last season of his contract.

Journeyman center Alex Len has already been added to help make up for the positional loss of Bryant, and is currently starting in Bryant’s stead. Backup Robin Lopez is sharing the center minutes burden.  The 6-16 Wizards may use the new exception to address one of their other needs across their underperforming roster.

Southeast Notes: Bryant, Leonard, Okeke, Hawks

Wizards center Thomas Bryant underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a partially torn ACL in his left knee, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post tweets. Bryant suffered the season-ending injury more than three weeks ago. Bryant, 23, was averaging a career-best 14.3 PPG, along with 6.1 RPG in the team’s first 10 games. He is expected to be sidelined 9-12 months. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after next season.

We have more on the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat are expected to apply for a disabled player exception in the aftermath of Meyers Leonard‘s season-ending shoulder surgery, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets. The DPE would be worth $4.7MM. A DPE gives a team the opportunity to add an injury replacement by either signing a player to a one-year contract, trading for a player in the final year of his contract, or placing a waiver claim on a player in the final year of his contract.
  • Magic rookie Chuma Okeke returned to action after being out since New Year’s Eve due to a bone bruise in his left knee, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. Okeke tore his left ACL in March 2019 while a sophomore at Auburn but Orlando still chose him with the No. 16 pick in that summer’s draft. He missed last season recovering from that injury.
  • The Hawks invested heavily in the free agent market but they’ve relied on their young players so far with many of those offseason pickups sidelined by injuries, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic notes. Their bench has scored the third-fewest amount of points due to those injuries but they’ve still been able to hover around the .500 mark. “It shows that the hard work we’ve been putting in behind closed doors is paying off,” big man John Collins said. “I feel like just as a team and organization, you’re always going to put a lot of stock into your young players.”

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Hunter, Len, Magic

The Magic‘s performance as of late without point guard Markelle Fultz has highlighted his importance to the club, writes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The Magic are 1-6 since Fultz was lost for the season with an ACL tear. Fultz’s savvy court vision had been a key component of the Magic’s offense.

“We’ve got to figure something out to try to get us going into offense smoother and understand how we’ve got to play,” shooting guard Terrence Ross noted. “With no Markelle we’re trying to figure it out, but it’s tough. So we’ve got to keep going at it.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks wing De’Andre Hunter has grown into the club’s most reliable player, with an improved offensive attack, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines. Hunter’s development can be a boon to the franchise in both the short and long term. “He has a chance to be really, really special,” Hawks center Clint Capela said. “To be able to guard the star on the opposite team every night, (it) has been amazing to see that.”
  • With the Wizards losing starting center Thomas Bryant for the year due to a torn left ACL, the club may need to shore up the position with some additional help. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington posits that recently-waived big man Alex Len could be an intriguing defensive fit for the team.
  • Given the season-long absences of recently-extended young starters Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, Josh Robbins of The Athletic explores whether or not it makes sense for the Magic to tank for a high draft pick this season.

Southeast Notes: Lopez, Pasecniks, Crowder, Hawks Crowds, Bogdanovic

Veteran Robin Lopez has moved into the Wizards’ starting lineup due to the season-ending loss of center Thomas Bryant but the rotation will be flexible, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Moritz Wagner will get some opportunities and power forward Rui Hachimura could man the middle in small-ball sets. The Wizards also have Anzejs Pasecniks on the roster.

“It’s going to definitely be by committee,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s a good reason why the Wizards should take a closer look at Pasecniks, Hughes writes in a separate story. His $1,517,981 contract becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on the roster past January 31. A 2017 first-round pick, the 7’2” Pasecniks could help a defense that has been lacking in the early portion of the season, Hughes adds.
  • It has become more perplexing that the Heat didn’t make a strong push to re-sign Jae Crowder, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. They made Crowder a large, one-year offer in order to protect their cap space this summer but the forward chose more long-term security by inking a three-year, $29.2MM contract with the Suns. The Heat have cycled through Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk in the power forward rotation and could have enjoyed more stability with Crowder, Winderman adds.
  • The Hawks have pushed back the targeted return of ticketed fans at State Farm Arena to January 26 due to COVID-19 concerns, according to a team press release. The Hawks will open at 10% capacity (approximately 1,700 tickets) before gradually increasing throughout the season, pending adequate conditions.
  • A medical expert interviewed by The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner estimates that Bogdan Bogdanovic will miss 4-6 weeks due to the avulsion fracture in his right knee, assuming surgery isn’t required. In Bogdanovic’s absence, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish will assume bigger roles, Kirscher adds.

Wizards Expected To Apply For DPE To Replace Bryant

The Wizards are planning to apply for a disabled player exception due to the season-ending injury to center Thomas Bryant, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

The DPE is a salary cap exception designed to allow teams to add a replacement for a player who suffers a season-ending injury. Bryant suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on Saturday. The DPE is worth either half the injured player’s salary or the value of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, whichever is lesser.

Bryant has an $8,333,333 salary, so the DPE in this case would be approximately $4.17MM.

The disabled player exception doesn’t give a team an extra roster spot, but it allows the club to add a player without impacting its salary cap space. It can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. However, it can only be used on one player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

The Wizards currently have a full roster and are a hard-capped team, so there’s no guarantee they’d make use of a disabled player exception. Still, if granted, it would give them a little more flexibility at the trade deadline.

Thomas Bryant Suffers Torn ACL

An MRI performed this morning on Wizards center Thomas Bryant confirmed that he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Thomas was injured during the first quarter of Saturday’s game with Miami and had to be helped off the court by trainers.

Bryant, 23, was averaging a career-best 14.3 PPG, along with 6.1 rebounds and 0.8 blocks through 10 games. He will probably need nine to 12 months to recover and will be heading into a contract year, notes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Bryant will make $8,666,667 in 2021/22 and will be a free agent following that season.

Veteran Robin Lopez will probably take over as the starting center, Hughes adds (Twitter link), and the injury creates an opportunity for Moritz Wagner, who was recently removed from the rotation. Wagner has gotten into just four games this season and is averaging 11.5 minutes per night.

Washington will likely apply for a disabled player exception to offset the loss, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. It would be valued at roughly $4.2MM, which is half of Bryant’s salary for this season. Marks notes that the Wizards are currently $842K below the luxury tax line and don’t have a roster spot open. The deadline to apply is March 3 and it can be used until April 19.

The DPE can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. However, it can only be used on one player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Bryant, Ball, Bamba

The Wizards didn’t find out that Bradley Beal wouldn’t be able to play Saturday night until an hour before game time, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic. Beal has been placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols because of contact tracing, which normally sidelines a player for seven days, assuming he continues to test negative for COVID-19. He landed there because of a post-game conversation Friday night with Boston’s Jayson Tatum, who subsequently tested positive for the virus.

A source tells Katz the league is still reviewing the Beal situation and hasn’t decided how long he will have to sit out. Washington has upcoming games that could be affected on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

“The NBA is really serious about this thing,” Rui Hachimura said. “We gotta (wear) masks on the bench and stuff, those kinds of stuff, and we gotta follow the rules. And we have to be ready. Any time — who knows? — someone (could) get injured or someone (could) get (ineligible). Brad just got called, and he can’t play right before the game. So, someone’s gotta step up and be ready every night.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards may have suffered a significant loss Saturday night when starting center Thomas Bryant had to leave the game after hurting his left knee in the first quarter, Katz adds in the same story. An MRI will be conducted today to determine the extent of the damage, and a source tells Katz there’s hope it’s an injury to the MCL rather than the ACL. “T.B. is a huge part of what we do on both ends of the floor, and he’s been playing big for us,” Robin Lopez said. “… I hope everything turns out OK. I’m not sure what the status is right now, but we love having him on the floor. I love playing with him. I hope he’s OK.”
  • Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball entered the NBA record book Saturday, becoming the youngest player ever to post a triple-double. Sam Amick of The Athletic expects Ball to eventually replace Devonte’ Graham as the starting point guard, but admits it’s a difficult decision for coach James Borrego because Gordon Hayward handles so much of the playmaking for the first unit.
  • Magic center Mohamed Bamba is still playing catchup after the effects of a summer coronavirus case extended into this season, writes Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel. Bamba wasn’t cleared for contact work until December 16, and limited practice opportunities because of the condensed schedule have slowed his attempt to get back into game condition.

Thomas Bryant To Have MRI On Left Knee

Wizards center Thomas Bryant will undergo an MRI on his left knee Sunday morning, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Sources tell Woj that he suffered an “initially painful” injury in tonight’s game.

Bryant hurt his knee during the first quarter against the Heat and had to be helped to the locker room by trainers, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. The Wizards later announced that he wouldn’t return (Twitter link).

Bryant is off to a strong start to the 2020/21 season, averaging a career-high 15.9 points per game, along with 6.8 rebounds. The 2-8 Wizards are already short handed, as they are avoiding playing Russell Westbrook in back-to-back games and will likely be without Bradley Beal for at least a week due to contact tracing.