Thomas Bryant

Free Agent Stock Watch: Southeast Division

For the rest of the regular season and postseason, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this offseason. We consider whether their stock is rising or falling due to their performance and other factors. Today, we’re focusing on a handful of Southeast players.

P.J. Tucker, F, Heat

2021/22: $7MM
2022/23: $7.35MM player option
Stock: Up ⬆️

Tucker will turn 37 years old in May, and there aren’t many non-stars in the NBA who could realistically turn down a $7.35MM guarantee at that age. Tucker might be in position to do so though. He has been everything the Heat hoped for this season, starting 56 games, playing stellar defense, and knocking down a career-high 44.9% of his three-point attempts. If that performance carries over to the postseason and he plays a key role in a deep playoff run, Tucker could realistically command one more multiyear contract this summer.

Mohamed Bamba, C, Magic

2021/22: $7.57MM
2022/23: RFA
Stock: Up ⬆️

Entering 2021/22, Bamba was facing a make-or-break year. He had battled injuries and failed to take major steps forward in his first three seasons after being drafted sixth overall in 2018. If this season had resembled his first three, he would’ve been hard-pressed to find more than a minimum-salary deal during his upcoming free agency.

Bamba has responded to the challenge, starting 52 games so far for a rebuilding Magic team and establishing new career highs in PPG (10.2), RPG (7.9), BPG (1.8), and MPG (26.1), among other categories. While he hasn’t yet reached the level that some envisioned when he was drafted, his ability to protect the rim and hit the occasional three-pointer (34.5% on 3.6 attempts per game) should make him a popular target for teams in need of a center this offseason.

Bamba will be a restricted free agent if Orlando extends him a $10.1MM qualifying offer. I expect the Magic will do so unless they don’t see Bamba as part of their future.

Thomas Bryant, C, Wizards

2021/22: $8.67MM
2022/23: UFA
Stock: Down ⬇️

Bryant hasn’t been bad since returning to action following his recovery from a torn ACL, but he hasn’t been the same player he was prior to the injury in 2019-21, when he averaged 13.4 PPG and 7.0 RPG with a .411 3PT%.

The Wizards have a -11.7 net rating when Bryant plays this season, compared to a -1.2 mark when he doesn’t. And there’s no guarantee he’ll see consistent minutes the rest of the way if Kristaps Porzingis stays healthy — Bryant was a DNP-CD in Porzingis’ Wizards debut on Sunday.

Gorgui Dieng, F/C, Hawks

2021/22: $4MM
2022/23: UFA
Stock: Down ⬇️

The Hawks presumably envisioned Dieng being a regular part of the frontcourt rotation when they used part of their mid-level exception to sign him last summer. And for a while, he was.

Dieng played in 28 of Atlanta’s first 33 games, but following a stint in the health and safety protocols and the emergence of Onyeka Okongwu, his role has all but disappeared. Dieng has only appeared in 12 of the team’s last 30 games, logging more than eight minutes just three times during that stretch. At this point, it’s hard to imagine the 32-year-old getting another offer above the minimum this summer.

Cody Martin, G/F, Hornets

2021/22: $1.78MM
2022/23: RFA
Stock: Up ⬆️

Cody’s twin brother Caleb Martin has gotten more press for his breakout year in Miami, but Cody has also taken his game to another level this season. He has averaged career highs virtually across the board, putting up 8.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG and a .465/.406/.692 shooting line while playing an important role in Charlotte’s rotation.

While he’s probably not in line for a massive payday, Cody has assured himself of a qualifying offer (it’ll likely be worth $2.23MM) and should have some leverage to negotiate a multiyear deal with the Hornets, who won’t want to lose him in unrestricted free agency in 2023.

Wizards Notes: Porzingis, Bryant, Neto, Dinwiddie

Playing on Sunday for the first time since January 29, Kristaps Porzingis was on a minutes restriction in his Wizards debut upon returning from a right knee injury. However, he still managed to rack up 25 points in just over 21 minutes of action, playing a key role in the club’s victory over Indiana.

After the game, Porzingis was wearing a “perma-grin” when he spoke to reporters, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. The big man said his move from Dallas to Washington has been “a smooth transition all the way around,” and drew praise from his new teammates who were playing alongside him for the first time.

“It was phenomenal,” forward Kyle Kuzma said. “Teams can’t just load up on me, having that extra guy out there that causes a lot of threat to defenses. With him, he’s so versatile. … There’s a reason why they call him ‘The Unicorn.'”

With Bradley Beal out for the rest of the season due to a wrist injury, Porzingis won’t have an opportunity to develop chemistry with the Wizards’ franchise player in the coming weeks. But he said on Sunday that he looks forward to getting that chance next season, assuming Beal – who can become a free agent this summer – remains in D.C.

[RELATED: Bradley Beal Leaning Toward Re-Signing With Wizards]

“I feel good here, honestly,” Porzingis said, per Wallace. “… Hopefully we’ll have Brad next season. I don’t know what the situation is, but I would love to play with him and Kuz and the rest of the guys. I think there are some exciting things to look forward to.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • There may not be enough frontcourt minutes to go around with Porzingis in the rotation, Wallace writes for The Washington Post, noting that Thomas Bryant was a DNP-CD on Sunday. Bryant had previously played in 11 straight games, averaging 19.4 MPG during that stretch.
  • Wizards point guard Raul Neto missed the second half of Sunday’s win due to a left ankle sprain, per Wallace. Head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said after the game that Neto was moving well and will be considered day-to-day going forward. Typically a backup, Neto has been Washington’s starting point guard since the trade deadline and was playing well, averaging 11.5 PPG and 5.1 APG on .500/.429/.773 shooting in his last 10 games.
  • Responding to Spencer Dinwiddie‘s comments about his time in Washington and his claim that he was “kicked out the door,” Unseld and Kuzma both expressed a desire to move forward, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I’m not going to get into the accuracy of (Dinwiddie’s comments). It’s one of those things where, organizationally, it worked and he was aggressive early. We won a lot of games,” Unseld said. “Bottom-line, we had to make a change [at the trade deadline] and to get something we had to give up something. He’s a really talented guy, he’s playing well and he’s healthy. We look forward to seeing the benefit of that trade. It is what it is. I think it’s one of those things where we just have to move on and get past it.”

Southeast Notes: Heat Buyout Approach, Gafford, Fultz, Porzingis

The Heat have been active in the buyout market in past years and they could fill their open roster spot will a veteran in the coming weeks, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Miami could look to add a power forward if Markieff Morris remains out or wait to see if another rotation player gets injured. Winderman doesn’t expect the Heat to fill the spot with a long-term prospect as they did with Kendrick Nunn three years ago or Omer Yurtseven last season, since they’re focused on winning a championship this season.

We have more info on the Southeast Division:

  • Daniel Gafford has long-term security after signing an extension that runs through the 2025/26 season. However, the Wizards big man had to be patient to regain a starting role, Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes. Following a bout with COVID, he replaced Thomas Bryant in the starting five on Friday and produced 17 points and six rebounds  in 29 minutes. “There was a lot of frustration, but at the end of the day, I wanted to be a good teammate. I didn’t want to wear my feelings on my sleeves,” Gafford said. “There was times where I did, but at the end of the day, I can’t bring that negative energy around the team. So I apologized to the team for that, the times that I did do it.”
  • Markelle Fultz made his season debut tonight. It’s the end of a long hard road of rehab for the Magic guard, who tore his ACL last season. “It’s been a long time coming,” Fultz told Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s been a long time of just all the hard work I put in. All those tough days, I did it for this moment right here, just to be able to go out there and be able to compete. Just happy. Not many words I can express it.”
  • Though Kristaps Porzingis doesn’t appear to be close to making his Wizards debut, coach Wes Unseld Jr. said they’re not thinking about shutting him down for the season, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. “You hope that at some point you don’t see the effects they are concerned with and we can kind of expedite the return. But until that point, we’re going to treat it day-to-day and hope that he responds well,” Unseld said. Porzingis has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s game against Detroit due to knee soreness.

Southeast Notes: Hayward, Lowry, Bryant, Wizards

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward cleared the league’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday, according to the team’s PR department (Twitter link). He didn’t travel with the team to Boston on Wednesday due to reconditioning and is listed as questionable to play against Cleveland on Friday.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Kyle Lowry has rejoined the Heat, as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald noted on Wednesday. Lowry had missed the last nine games due to personal reasons. He returned to the starting lineup on Thursday against San Antonio but had a rough night. He had two points and six turnovers, though Miami prevailed by 17 points.
  • Wizards center Thomas Bryant sprained his right ankle against Milwaukee on Tuesday and didn’t play against Philadelphia on Wednesday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. His status for the team’s upcoming five-game homestand has yet to be determined.
  • In a story regarding the trade deadline, Hughes confirms the Wizards have shown interest in acquiring the Pacers’ Domantas Sabonis and Pistons’ Jerami Grant. Hughes explores how they might fit in the lineup with Bradley Beal. He also hears that Montrezl Harrell and Davis Bertans are the two Washington players most likely to be dealt.

Wizards Rumors: Beal, Simmons, Avdija, Hachimura, Bertans

We already published one collection of Wizards-related rumors today, examining the team’s interest in Domantas Sabonis and Spencer Dinwiddie‘s availability, among other topics. However, a deep dive into Washington’s deadline plans from David Aldridge and Josh Robbins of The Athletic covers a few additional bases, necessitating another roundup of notes and rumors from out of the nation’s capital.

Aldridge and Robbins, like other reporters, have heard no indications that the Wizards are considering trading star Bradley Beal, but the sources they spoke to were less certain about Beal’s intentions going forward.

Multiple league sources told The Athletic that the veteran guard remains conflicted about his future, torn between wanting to remain loyal to D.C. and being uncertain about whether the Wizards can surround him with championship-caliber talent.

Beal has been frustrated by the team’s gradual slide down the standings this season, and sources close to him suggest he wouldn’t automatically reject the idea of being traded, according to Aldridge and Robbins. However, he hasn’t asked to be dealt and his preference is still to remain with the Wizards, who want to continue building around him.

Here are a few more highlights from The Athletic’s story on the Wizards:

  • While Beal is among the Sixers‘ targets in a Ben Simmons trade, Philadelphia isn’t willing to include Tyrese Maxey or Matisse Thybulle along with Simmons in an offer for Beal, sources tell Aldridge and Robbins.
  • If the Wizards were to trade Beal, it would likely signal the beginning of a teardown and a restart for the franchise, which owner Ted Leonsis seems adamantly opposed to, per The Athletic’s duo. “I don’t see them doing that because I think the owner would prefer not to go through the pain,” one rival team executive said. “They’ve got the right people in place (in the front office), but (Leonsis) doesn’t have the stomach for it.”
  • The consensus around the NBA is that most of the veterans the Wizards have made available, including Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell, and Thomas Bryant, don’t have enough value on their own to net significant returns. At least one of Deni Avdija or Rui Hachimura would probably have to be included if Washington wants to take a bigger swing. One league executive who spoke to The Athletic described Avdija and Hachimura as potential “starting-caliber players,” but said talent evaluators generally don’t view them as future All-Stars.
  • In order to move Davis Bertans, who is under contract through 2025, the Wizards would likely have to either attach an asset or take back an equally bad contract, per Aldridge and Robbins. “It feels tough (without attaching a pick),” one executive said. “Maybe they can take back a similar contract that doesn’t have the player option year. But, yeah, hard to move.”

Wizards Rumors: Sabonis, Grant, Beal, Bryant, Harrell, Dinwiddie

A number of people around the NBA think the Wizards will go “big-game hunting” at the trade deadline in an effort to ensure Bradley Beal remains happy with the situation in D.C. ahead of his upcoming free agency, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype said on his latest podcast.

Scotto identified Pistons forward Jerami Grant and Pacers center Domantas Sabonis as two potential targets to watch for the Wizards. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report mentions the same two names in his look at Washington’s deadline options, referring to Sabonis as a player who has emerged as a “significant” target for the Wizards.

According to Fischer, there’s a belief Beal has signaled plans to re-sign with the Wizards in the offseason, and there has been no indication the team is willing to discuss him in trade talks on or before February 10. However, having slid down the standings since a 10-3 start, the club appears to be in the market for an impact player in order to help “solidify Beal’s standing” in Washington.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • One source with knowledge of the situation tell Bleacher Report that Beal hasn’t actively encouraged the Wizards to acquire Sabonis, but word around the league is that the Wizards star would welcome the opportunity to play with the big man, Fischer writes. The Kings and Pelicans are the other teams believed to have serious interest in Sabonis, per Fischer’s sources.
  • The Pacers‘ front office liked Rui Hachimura heading into the 2019 draft and considered Corey Kispert in the 2021 lottery, according to Fischer, who notes that at least two of Hachimura, Kispert, and Deni Avdija would probably have to be included in any package for Sabonis. The Wizards would also have to offer a player like Thomas Bryant or Montrezl Harrell for salary-matching purposes, plus possibly draft assets, and even that might not meet Indiana’s high asking price, says Fischer.
  • The Wizards have made outgoing calls to assess Harrell’s trade value, and rival executives believe they’re playing Bryant more lately in order to showcase him for a potential deal, writes Fischer.
  • Although the Wizards have made Spencer Dinwiddie available, his down year will make it more challenging to find a trade partner, per Fischer. “He needs the ball, he’s not good enough to have the ball, and he’s not a good shooter,” a Western Conference executive said to Bleacher Report.

Wizards Notes: Gafford, Bryant, Dinwiddie, Trade Deadline

Daniel Gafford was the odd man out Saturday night as Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. decided to cut his center rotation from three players to two, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Gafford, who signed a contract extension in October and started the first 45 games of the season, didn’t play at all in the loss to the Grizzlies.

Unseld indicated it might be a long-term plan, as he abandoned the substitution pattern he has been using since Thomas Bryant returned from an ACL injury. Bryant was the starter on Saturday, and all the back-up minutes went to Montrezl Harrell.

“Trying to play the three bigs, it became very choppy. I know the guys didn’t like it, I didn’t necessarily like it,” Unseld said.

The Wizards wanted to see how Bryant, who was their starting center before suffering the injury last season, would perform with the starting unit. Hughes adds that it’s unclear what this means for Gafford moving forward, whether he’ll be out of the rotation for a while or the decisions on playing time will be based on matchups.

There’s more from Washington:

  • There’s some speculation that the Wizards are trying to showcase Bryant ahead of a possible trade before the February 10 deadline, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Gafford can’t be traded this season because of the extension, but the team can move Bryant, who has an expiring $8.7MM contract, and Harrell, who has an expiring $9.72MM deal.
  • Free agent addition Spencer Dinwiddie indicated after Saturday’s game that his attempts to be a vocal leader weren’t received well in the Wizards’ locker room, Robbins adds in the same story. “You know, it’s an interesting situation. I spoke up a little bit early on (this season). It wasn’t necessarily welcomed,” Dinwiddie said. “And so, like I said, I try to do what’s asked of me. At the end of the day, everybody has a role to play. It’s about being accountable in your role to the best of your ability. That’s really all I’ve got.”
  • Unseld understands the perspective of Bradley Beal, who suggested this week that the trade deadline might be a distraction for the Wizards, who have several players with expiring contracts, Hughes writes in a separate story. “I think what he talked about, the trade deadline, all those things; those are coming up soon and I think that does weigh on guys’ minds at times,” the coach said. “We understand this is a business and the team has to do what’s best for the team and players sometimes, they’re concerned about extensions, they’re concerned about their future.”

Wizards’ Sheppard Talks Beal, Dinwiddie, Hachimura, Bryant, More

The maximum-salary contract extension the Wizards offered to Bradley Beal in October remains on the table and will stay there all season long, general manager Tommy Sheppard told Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Beal may end up opting for free agency – where he could earn a longer, more lucrative deal with Washington or explore other destinations – but Sheppard wants to make sure the All-Star guard knows the extension is still an option.

“There’s no reason to take it off. It stands all year. He can sign it all season,” Sheppard said. “I’ve never been anything but transparent. We delivered it the first day that it was available. That’s out of respect to him. He’s an All-NBA player, and we expect him to be an All-Star again this year, and I think he’ll be there at the end for All-NBA. That’s a matter of respect. I think for him he’s going to do what’s very best in his interest. And for the franchise, it’s the same.”

With no guarantee that Beal will eventually sign a new contract, Robbins wondered if the Wizards might have to at least consider the possibility of trading him by the February 10 deadline rather than risk losing him for nothing. However, that doesn’t appear to be a path Sheppard is exploring. The general manager told Robbins that the club remains focused on keeping and building around Beal and believes the 28-year-old remains committed to that plan too.

“I understand the question,” Sheppard said. “I can only keep coming back to the same things I say over and over again: We have constant dialogue. And I’ve been very transparent. He’s been very transparent. We want the same things. We want this to work, and I see every reason to believe we’ll keep moving forward.”

Here are a few more highlights from Sheppard’s conversation with Robbins:

  • Sheppard isn’t concerned about the fact that the Wizards have been outscored by 5.5 points per 100 possessions when Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie share the court. He preached patience and still believes the two guards complement each other well. “Last I checked, Spencer’s got a three-year deal, not a 40-game deal,” Sheppard said. “It takes time for things to kind of come together. They’ve still got to figure out each other. … Forty games isn’t enough to say this is working or not working. We’ve seen it when it can really work. We’ve seen that they can play well.”
  • Asked about Washington’s up-and-down performance so far this season, Sheppard pointed out that injuries and the COVID-19 protocols have created an “incomplete picture” of the team’s potential. The Wizards’ GM referred to Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant as two of “our probably top six guys or seven guys” and said he’s looking forward to seeing what they bring to the current group.
  • Sheppard, who has spoken in the past about the Wizards making steady improvements as they build around Beal, believes they’re still headed in the right direction. “I think that our roster has some balance,” Sheppard said, referring to the club’s mix of youngsters and veterans. “I think our contracts are balanced-out now. I think that gives you an opportunity, especially around the deadline, to look and see if there’s a way to improve your team. Certainly in the offseason, it gives us opportunities to do things. So I’m really excited with where we’re at.”

Thomas Bryant Set To Return On Wednesday

Wizards center Thomas Bryant appears likely to suit up for Washington on Wednesday against the Magic, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said today (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of the Washington Post).

This will be the first game back on the hardwood for Bryant in just over a year. The 6’10” big man tore the ACL in his left knee in a game against the Heat on January 9, 2021.

Unseld previously indicated that Bryant, still just 24, had cleared the league’s COVID-19 protocols and would take a bench role during his initial games back with the club.

Prior to the injury, Bryant averaged 14.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.5 APG and 0.8 BPG in ten games with the Wizards during the 2020/21 season, all starts. Bryant is in the final season of a three-year, $25MM contract extension he signed with the team in the 2019 offseason.

At 20-20, the Wizards currently occupy the No. 9 seed in the crowded Eastern Conference. A return for Bryant should help shore up their interior defense. For now, Bryant will play behind springy young starting center Daniel Gafford.

Southeast Notes: Schofield, Beal, Hachimura, Bryant, Collins

Admiral Schofield spent several months trying to earn a spot with the Magic, so he was thrilled to sign a two-way contract this week, writes Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. The 24-year-old forward signed with Orlando in September, but was waived after training camp. He spent time with the team’s G League affiliate in Lakeland and inked a pair of 10-day hardship contracts before earning a more permanent position on Thursday.

“In the summer I set out to be here in this organization,” Schofield said. “The opportunity didn’t present itself right away, but believing in the organization and what the organization believes in is a blessing. I love the direction this organization is going. Me being on this team, I can help add to that culture.”

Schofield was the 42nd pick in the 2019 draft and began his career in Washington. During the following offseason, he was traded to the Thunder, who released him before the season began. He continued his career in the G League and took advantage of the opportunity he got as a hardship replacement, averaging 4.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in his first nine games with Orlando.

“Lakeland Magic just gave me a lot of reps,” Schofield said. “A lot of opportunities to practice and see how I fit into the top team in the Orlando Magic. Being on a two-way contract, there’s a high possibility I’ll be back down there and I’ll be excited to step into that opportunity even more.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Bradley Beal‘s name isn’t being mentioned in trade rumors this year, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst states on his latest podcast (hat tip to RealGM). A popular trade target in past seasons, the Wizards guard is expected to opt out of his contract and test free agency this summer.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington looks at how the Wizards will incorporate Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant now that both players have cleared the health and safety protocols. Hachimura hasn’t played this season due to personal reasons, and Bryant is recovering from ACL surgery. Both will come off the bench initially as they compete for minutes in the team’s rotation.
  • John Collins is as frustrated as anyone by the Hawks‘ poor defensive efforts, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’ve banged my head on the wall a couple times trying to figure it out myself,” Collins said after Atlanta gave up 134 points in Friday’s loss to the Lakers. “There’s really no excuse.”