Thon Maker

Thon Maker Signs With Hapoel Jerusalem

Former NBA lottery pick Thon Maker has signed with Hapoel Jerusalem for the 2021/22 season, the Israeli team announced in a press release.

Maker, who was selected with the No. 10 pick in the 2016 draft, spent his first two-and-a-half NBA seasons with the Bucks before being traded to the Pistons. The seven-footer finished his rookie contract in Detroit, then joined the Cavaliers to start the 2020/21 season before being waived in January. The Heat and Knicks reportedly considered signing the 24-year-old later in the season, but opted against it.

In 263 total regular season games in the NBA, Maker averaged a modest 4.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG, and 0.7 BPG on .435/.327/.680 shooting in 13.8 minutes per contest.

Besides playing in the Israeli Basketball Premier League, Hapoel Jerusalem also competes in the Israeli State Cup and the Basketball Champions League.

Heat Notes: Dedmon, Stephenson, Iguodala, Portis

When the Heat make the anticipated Dewayne Dedmon signing official, his contract will cover the rest of the season rather than just 10 days, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami opted for a longer deal, according to Jackson, because it doesn’t expect anyone better to become available on the buyout market. Players who have appeared in at least one NBA game this season must be waived by Friday to be eligible for the postseason with their new team.

The Heat were looking for a big man who would accept not playing every game, which ruled out DeMarcus Cousins, who has since joined the Clippers on a 10-day deal. Jackson lists Ian Mahinmi, Thon Maker, Dewan Hernandez, Skal Labissiere, Tyler ZellerKyle Alexander, Trey Mourning, Kyle O’Quinn, Justin Patton and Anthony Tolliver as some of the names Miami considered before reaching an agreement with Dedmon.

In 2019, Dedmon signed a three-year, $40MM contract with the Kings, but he quickly lost his job as starting center. Poor three-point shooting is a major reason that Sacramento soured on him, Jackson adds, and he was eventually traded to the Hawks and then the Pistons, who released him in November.

The Heat face a deadline to add a 14th player to their roster by Thursday. If Dedmon signs then, his contract will carry a cap hit in the neighborhood of $433K. Miami would be about $314K below the tax line and could add a 15th player later this season without going into luxury tax territory.

There’s more on the Heat, all from Jackson:

  • As Miami considered roster additions, the organization was made aware that Lance Stephenson and Greg Monroe are both hoping to return to the NBA. The Heat got good reports on Stephenson, but they don’t need another wing player and they were looking for more immediate help than Monroe was likely to provide.
  • Some Grizzlies players are still upset about Andre Iguodala‘s decision to remain inactive until Memphis found somewhere to trade him last season. Jackson notes that several Grizzlies felt they had something to prove when they faced Iguodala Monday night.
  • Jackson proposes Bucks forward Bobby Portis as a potential free agent target for Miami this summer. Portis has a $3.8MM player option for next season that he’s expected to decline, and Jackson suggests he could get a $10MM mid-level exception offer as the start of a multiyear deal.

Knicks Rumors: Robinson, Bell, Maker, Cousins, Whiteside

The Knicks‘ contract with Mitchell Robinson allows the team to retain the young center in 2021/22 for just $1.8MM, assuming his option is exercised. But in that scenario, he’d become an unrestricted free agent in ’22. New York could assert more control over Robinson’s free agency by turning down the team option and issuing a qualifying offer to make him restricted this summer.

Now that a broken foot is likely to sideline Robinson for the rest of the 2020/21 season, Marc Berman of The New York Post cites league sources who believe the Knicks’ decision has become simpler — the club doesn’t have enough information yet on Robinson to send him to free agency so soon, those sources say, arguing that picking up his option for ’21/22 is the right move.

Exercising Robinson’s team option would still allow the Knicks to negotiate a possible extension during his contract year. In that scenario, they could go as high as about $54MM over four years with a straight extension offer, or even higher with a renegotiation-and-extension. However, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tells Berman that he’d be surprised if New York is that aggressive in extension talks.

“Coming off a serious injury, I’m not paying him what Christian Wood got in Houston,” Marks said, referring to Wood’s three-year, $41MM contract with the Rockets. Marks suggests something in the three-year, $30MM range would be more realistic.

One source tells Berman that he believes the Mavericks will have interest in Robinson if and when he reaches free agency.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • With Robinson out, the Knicks will probably add a center for “insurance” purposes, per head coach Tom Thibodeau, Berman writes in the same story. Berman confirms a previous report that John Henson and Norvel Pelle are among the options being considered by the club and says New York has also had internal talks about Jordan Bell, Thon Maker, DeMarcus Cousins, and Hassan Whiteside.
  • Cousins appears likely to join the Clippers for at least 10 days, while Whiteside – a buyout candidate – remains a King for now. Berman notes that the Knicks’ brass likes the team’s chemistry and would want a player who fits “seamlessly” into the locker room, so Cousins and Whiteside may be lower on the wish list for that reason anyway.
  • While the Knicks seem likely to add a center, Nerlens Noel believes he and Taj Gibson are capable of handling the five in Robinson’s absence, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “I feel like we have it covered, but that’s not my department,” Noel said. “That’s (the front office’s choice). … If Coach, management wants to add another piece, that’s all up to them. I definitely feel we’re comfortable with what we have. “We have depth in Kevin (Knox) and Obi (Toppin) staying available at the four, five spots and that helps as well, so I like the versatility we have.”

And-Ones: Australia, Evans, Masks, Free Agency

Ben Simmons heads the list of players named by Basketball Australia to the country’s preliminary Olympic squad, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Among some of the other NBA notables on the 24-player list are Aron Baynes, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, Matisse Thybulle, Patty Mills, Josh Green, Thon Maker and Matthew Dellavedova. The squad will have to be pared to 12 players for the Olympic tournament in Tokyo this summer.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The Erie BayHawks waived guard Jacob Evans to make room for forward Jordan Bell, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Bell was released from his 10-day contract with the Wizards over the weekend. Evans played for the Warriors and Timberwolves the past two seasons.
  • The NBA will soon require players to wear KN95 or KF94 masks on the bench and all other areas where masks are necessary, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. The new rule will go into effect over the next week. Starting with games on Friday, the NBA will more strictly enforce current rules regarding the use of face masks, Bontemps adds.
  • The Athletic trio of James Edwards III (Pistons), Mike Vorkunov (Knicks) and Chris Kirschner (Hawks) take a closer look at their teams’ free agent moves during the offseason, how well those players have worked out so far, and what those franchises could have done differently.

Eastern Notes: Oladipo, Celtics, Heat, Beal, Cavs

Victor Oladipo turned down a contract extension offer from the Pacers that started at over $25MM, league sources tell former NBA executive Ryan McDonough of Radio.com (Twitter link). NBA rules would have allowed Indiana to go up to a starting salary of $25.2MM on an extension for Oladipo, and it sounds like the team was willing to go that high, based on McDonough’s report.

With Oladipo seeking a more lucrative contract in free agency, where he’ll be eligible for a starting salary worth up to $33.7MM, the Pacers realized they would likely lose him during the summer of 2021, McDonough explains. That’s why Indiana was willing to move him in a deal for Caris LeVert this week. That trade between the Rockets and Pacers – which was separated from the rest of the James Harden blockbuster – isn’t yet official, but should be soon.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • After dealing with a roster shortage for much of the week, the Celtics will have some reinforcements for Friday night’s contest vs. Orlando, their first game since last Friday. Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye, and Javonte Green are all out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols and are available tonight, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • With Harden off the market, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald revisits the Heat‘s potential trade options if they want to make a splash before the March 25 deadline. As Jackson has mentioned multiple times in the past, Miami would be very interested in Bradley Beal if the Wizards were to make him available.
  • The Cavaliers will carry approximately $309K in dead money for Thon Maker after waiving his non-guaranteed contract to accommodate their Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince acquisitions, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Maker was paid about $11.9K per day for 26 days of service.

Rockets Trade James Harden To Nets

JANUARY 16: The Pacers/Rockets part of the trade is now official and has been folded back into the initial deal, formally making it a four-team trade once again. Details can be found right here.


JANUARY 14: The trade is now official, the Nets announced in a press release.

“Adding an All-NBA player such as James to our roster better positions our team to compete against the league’s best,” Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks said. “James is one of the most prolific scorers and playmakers in our game, and we are thrilled to bring his special talents to Brooklyn.

“While we are excited to welcome James and his family to the Nets, we also want to thank the players who are departing. Caris, Jarrett, Rodions and Taurean were instrumental to the team’s success and have made an enormous impact on our organization. It has been a pleasure watching them grow both as players and as people and they will always be part of our Nets family. We wish each of them and their families all the best in the future.”

In their press release announcing the deal, the Cavs noted that they also acquired the draft rights to 2017 second-round pick Aleksandar Vezenkov from the Nets. Vezenkov has remained overseas since being drafted.

Interestingly, the Nets, Cavs, and Rockets opted to complete this trade as a three-team deal, meaning the trade sending LeVert and a second-round pick to Indiana for Oladipo will be a separate move.

Separating the two trades will allow the Rockets to generate a larger trade exception in this initial deal — that exception will be worth $15,451,216.


JANUARY 13: The Nets will acquire star guard James Harden in a trade with the Rockets, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne (Twitter link). Shams Charania of The Athletic confirms (via Twitter) that Harden will head to Brooklyn.

According to Wojnarowski and Shelburne (via Twitter) and Charania (Twitter link), it will be a multi-team trade that also involves the Cavaliers and Pacers, with the Rockets receiving Indiana guard Victor Oladipo in the deal.

The Rockets will acquire Oladipo from the Pacers; Rodions Kurucs, three first-round picks, and four pick swaps from the Nets; and Dante Exum and the Bucks’ unprotected 2022 first-round selection from the Cavs, per ESPN and The Athletic.

Cleveland will receive Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince from Brooklyn, while the Pacers acquire Caris LeVert.

Charania reports (via Twitter) that the Pacers will also receive a second-round pick in the trade. That second-rounder is a 2023 selection from the Rockets, tweets Wojnarowski.

In addition to Harden, the Nets will receive a 2024 second-round pick from Cleveland, says Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The Cavaliers have traded away the more favorable of their own second-rounder and the Jazz’s second-rounder, so Brooklyn will presumably get the less favorable of those two picks.

This is a massive trade with a ton of moving parts to break down. Let’s start with the Nets’ side of the deal.

Nets’ perspective:

The draft picks the Nets are sending to Houston are their unprotected first-rounders in 2022, 2024, and 2026, according to Wojnarowski, who tweets that the Rockets will have the ability to swap first-round picks with the Nets in 2021, 2023, 2025, and 2027 (without protections, tweets Zach Lowe of ESPN).

That means the Nets won’t control any of their own first-round picks through 2027, making this a massive bet on the star trio of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. Irving is currently away from the team on personal leave and is something of a question mark for the time being, but with Durant and Harden leading the offense, the Nets should have more than enough offensive firepower to get by until he returns.

The move, which makes Brooklyn an immediate championship contender, reunites Harden with his former Thunder teammate and fellow former MVP Durant. Harden will also team up once again with ex-Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, who is now a Nets assistant.

As a result of trading four players for one, the Nets will have three open roster spots to fill, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Minimum-salary signings seem likely, since Brooklyn’s projected luxury tax bill will further increase as a result of taking on Harden’s $41MM+ salary.

However, the team also still has its $5.72MM taxpayer mid-level exception available and will likely be granted a disabled player exception worth about the same amount following Spencer Dinwiddie‘s ACL tear. As such, Brooklyn has the flexibility to sign players to deals worth more than the minimum.

Harden had a 15% trade kicker in his contract, but it will be voided since he’s already making the maximum salary.

While this blockbuster trade is probably a safe bet to work out better than the last time the Nets mortgaged their future by surrendering a series of first-round selections and pick swaps (for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce), it’s worth noting that Harden is 31 years old and Durant is 32 — the Nets’ picks for the next couple years figure to fall near the end of the first round, but there’s no guarantee that will still be the case by 2025, 2026, or 2027.

Rockets’ perspective:

The Rockets are clearly betting that some of those draft assets will become valuable, opting for a package heavy on picks rather than pushing to complete a trade with the Sixers for Ben Simmons, as was rumored earlier today. Although Simmons was said to be on the table in talks with Philadelphia, it’s not clear what the rest of that deal might have looked like.

By choosing to trade with the Nets and Pacers, the Rockets landed a two-time All-Star (Oladipo) in addition to four draft picks and four draft swaps. Oladipo will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be a long-term Rocket. Houston will hold his Bird rights and could re-sign him in the offseason, but acquiring him this early in the season also gives the club the option of extracting further value by flipping him at the March 25 trade deadline.

Today’s trade agreement marks the end of a saga that began in November, when word first broke that Harden had turned down a two-year, $103MM extension offer and had requested a trade out of Houston. The Rockets didn’t move him in the offseason, prompting the superstar guard to express his displeasure by reporting late to training camp.

On Tuesday night, he accelerated his departure by telling reporters after a blowout loss that the Rockets were “just not good enough” and that he didn’t believe the situation could be fixed. Houston decided to keep Harden away from the team until a trade agreement could be reached, and ultimately took less than 24 hours to finalize a deal.

[RELATED: Rockets’ Players, Silas Discuss Harden Situation]

Barring any additional imminent changes, the Rockets will have a fascinating roster in the short term, headlined by a trio of former stars who are coming back from major injuries. Oladipo, who missed a year from 2019-20 with a quad issue, joins John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who have looked good this season after long-term injury absences of their own.

With Christian Wood and P.J. Tucker in the frontcourt, Houston should be a competitive team this season, albeit probably not a legit contender. Today’s trade is more about the future. Having previously traded away a handful of their own future first-round picks and given up a pair of pick swaps in 2021 and 2025, the Rockets have replenished their stash of draft picks in recent months, first by trading Robert Covington and Russell Westbrook and now by moving Harden.

Houston, which had one open roster spot entering the day, will have to waive a player to complete the trade. The club will also generate an eight-figure trade exception in the deal.

All three of the players acquired in today’s trade by the Rockets – Oladipo, Kurucs, and Exum – can become free agents at season’s end (Kurucs has a team option for 2021/22).

It also shouldn’t be overlooked that moving Harden for three less expensive players will take the Rockets $3.65MM below the luxury tax line and $9.95MM below their hard cap, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Entering the day, Houston was over the tax and only about $1MM from the hard cap — the club should now have added financial and cap flexibility for the rest of the season.

Pacers’ perspective:

Oladipo has been the subject of trade rumors for the last year, since he has at times seemed lukewarm about the idea of remaining in Indiana after his current contract expires in 2021. While the Pacers had insisted they were comfortable hanging onto him and addressing his contract situation when free agency arrived, moving him for LeVert makes sense for the franchise.

While Oladipo is a stronger defender, LeVert is a talented scorer who is two years younger than Oladipo and is on a more favorable contract. LeVert is earning $16.2MM this season and is under contract for two additional years beyond 2020/21, at an affordable rate of $18.1MM per year.

As Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report observes (via Twitter), re-signing Oladipo at the price he was seeking would’ve been a challenge for the Pacers, who are already on the hook for lucrative multiyear contracts for Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner. Locking in LeVert through 2022/23 should be much more financially manageable for Indiana.

In the short term, the Pacers will also slip under the luxury tax line as a result of swapping Oladipo ($21MM) for LeVert, tweets Marks.

Cavaliers’ perspective:

The Cavs are acquiring Prince and will send out Exum and a future second-round pick, but this trade is mostly about sending out the Bucks’ 2022 first-rounder in exchange for Allen, a promising young center who will be a restricted free agent during the coming offseason.

Cleveland already has a number of veteran options at the four and five, including Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., and JaVale McGee, so acquiring Allen will create more of a logjam in the short term.

In the long term though, you could make the case that none of the Cavs’ incumbent big men have more upside than Allen, who is averaging a double-double (11.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG) in a part-time role (26.7 MPG) so far this season.

If Allen starts at least five games for the Cavs during the rest of the 2020/21 season, he’ll meet the starter criteria and his qualifying offer in restricted free agency will be worth $7.7MM. He’d have the option of accepting that one-year offer, negotiating a longer-term deal with Cleveland, or signing an offer sheet with another team, which the Cavs could match.

In a pair of corresponding roster moves, the Cavs will waive Thon Maker and will end Yogi Ferrell‘s 10-day contract early, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Central Notes: Griffin, Rose, Antetokounmpo, Maker, Sirvydis

While the Pistons have shuffled their roster in recent weeks, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose remain their most recognizable players. Both of them are healthy in the early days of camp, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes.

Griffin and Rose have been full participants in drills and scrimmages, according to coach Dwane Casey. Griffin has the spring in his legs back after undergoing another knee surgery which kept him sidelined much of last season.

“He’s back to being the Blake of old. We’re excited about that,” Casey said. “We know he’s been putting in the work. All the naysayers, all of that stuff, he’s back to being the Blake of old.”

We have more news from the Central Division:

  • The looming deadline for Giannis Antetokounmpo to sign an extension — December 21 — hasn’t affected his work ethic in camp, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters, including The Athletic’s Eric Nehm (Twitter link). “He wants to be coached hard,” Budenholzer said of Giannis. “He wants everybody to do everything they can every day to get better.”
  • Center Thon Maker is on the Cavaliers’ roster after signing a training-camp deal and he knows he’s fighting for a roster spot, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. “Nothing is ever given, period. Even being the top-10 pick it wasn’t given as well,” he said. “I’m not coming in thinking I’m a top-10 (pick) now. I’m coming in aggressive like I was when I was a first year. I’m approaching it as if I just came out of college.” Maker became an unrestricted free agent when the Pistons didn’t extend him a qualifying offer.
  • Deividas Sirvydis is scheduled to arrive in Detroit on Wednesday and will have to go through COVID protocols before he can start practicing, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. The Lithuanian swingman, who was drafted in the second round in 2019, signed a three-year contract with the Pistons at the beginning of the month.
  • The Bulls’ G League team, the Windy City Bulls, is unlikely to participate in the Atlanta “bubble” event,” Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets.

Thon Maker Signs With Cavaliers

NOVEMBER 29: The signing is official, according to the Real GM Transactions Page.


NOVEMBER 28: Center Thon Maker is signing with the Cavaliers, Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype tweets.

It’s a training camp deal, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter link). Maker became an unrestricted free agent when the Pistons failed to extend him a qualifying offer. He’ll look to make a strong enough impression to gain a spot on Cleveland’s 15-man roster.

The 23-year-old appeared in 60 game last season for Detroit, averaging 4.7 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 12.9 MPG. Maker began his career with the Bucks in 2016 after being selected with the 10th pick of the draft, but he never lived up to his lottery pick status. Detroit acquired him midway through the 2018/19 season.

Pistons Won’t Extend Qualifying Offer To Thon Maker

Center Thon Maker will enter unrestricted free agency after the Pistons opted not to make him a qualifying offer ahead of his fifth NBA season, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The decision means that Maker will bypass restricted free agency in the open market.

The 7′ Maker was drafted by the Bucks with the No. 10 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, one spot ahead of future All-Star center Domantas Sabonis, who was selected with the No. 11 pick by the Magic. Maker may struggle to match or exceed the $4,861,854 qualifying offer the Pistons declined on the open market.

The 23-year-old appeared in 60 games for Detroit, averaging 12.9 minutes a night. The Pistons’ free agent priority among their 2019/20 holdovers this offseason is expected to be starting big man Christian Wood.

Cavs Rumors: Thompson, Free Agents, Drummond, No. 5 Pick

The Cavaliers would like to re-sign Tristan Thompson at the right price, but so far, discussions between the two sides have “centered on a number lower than Thompson would want,” according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Thompson had an $18.5MM salary in 2019/20 and presumably won’t want to see that number decrease too significantly going forward. However, that may simply be the veteran’s reality now, Fedor writes.

As Fedor points out, John Hollinger of The Athletic and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst have both recently suggested that Thompson may be no more than a minimum-salary free agent. It sounds like the Cavs will offer him more than that, so the big man may have to decide whether he wants to stay in Cleveland at that higher number or compete for a title elsewhere on a more modest deal. He appears unlikely to get a sizeable offer from a contender, Fedor notes.

If Thompson doesn’t re-sign with the Cavaliers, the team will probably have to dedicate a portion of its mid-level exception to signing a center. Fedor identifies Harry Giles, Aron Baynes, Thon Maker, and Nerlens Noel as some free agents who could be possibilities for Cleveland.

Here’s more from Fedor on the Cavs:

  • Sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers were hoping to pursue Jerami Grant in free agency, but now expect him to be out of their price range. The team still aims to add athletic, defensive-minded players — Derrick Jones, Maurice Harkless, Kris Dunn, and Pat Connaughton are a few of the potential targets singled out by Fedor.
  • If and when Andre Drummond officially opts in for 2020/21, it’s possible the Cavaliers will view him and his expiring contract as a potential trade chip. However, Fedor’s sources believe Cleveland would have a better chance of moving Drummond at the trade deadline rather than in the offseason, so it sounds like the veteran center will spend at least part of the season in Cleveland.
  • Multiple members of Cleveland’s front office like Tyrese Haliburton, but after using their previous two lottery picks on guards, the Cavs seem unlikely to opt for Haliburton over an “equally-talented” prospect who fills a greater need. Fedor believes Deni Avdija, Onyeka Okongwu, Isaac Okoro, and Obi Toppin are – in no particular order – the best bets to be the Cavs’ pick at No. 5.