Thon Maker

And-Ones: Offseason Questions, Maker, Offseason Grades

Kevin Pelton, Nick Friedell, Kendra Andrews, Ohm Youngmisuk and Jamal Collier of ESPN all expect Kevin Durant to be on the Nets’ roster to start next season, but four of the five think Donovan Mitchell will begin the 2022/23 season with the Knicks.

The ESPN colleagues, who discussed a handful of lingering offseason questions, unanimously agreed that Carmelo Anthony will be on an NBA roster at some point next season, though it might not be by training camp.

Pelton believes that the Warriors signing free agent Donte DiVincenzo to a two-year, $9.3MM deal with a player option might be the “steal of the summer” if the 25-year-old is healthy and regains his prior form. DiVincenzo struggled a bit last season after a major ankle injury required surgery during the 2021 playoffs, but he could be a bounce-back candidate for the defending champions.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Thon Maker has signed with China’s Fujian Sturgeons, according to Sportando. Maker appeared in 263 NBA games from 2016-21 with the Bucks, Pistons and Cavaliers, holding career averages of 4.6 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 13.8 MPG. He spent last season with Israeli club Hapoel Jerusalem, but only appeared in six games.
  • The Athletic’s staff handed out grades to all 30 NBA teams for their offseason work so far. The Nets, Hornets, Lakers, Knicks and Jazz all received an “incomplete” for various reasons, mostly roster uncertainty. Only one team, the Heat, received a grade below a B-minus, with John Hollinger giving them a “C” for losing P.J. Tucker and not finding a suitable replacement at power forward. The two teams with the highest grades? The Nuggets and Thunder, who both received an “A” for their offseason work. The Nuggets gave back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic a super-max extension, traded for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and signed Bruce Brown in free agency, a couple of two-way wings who should complement Jokic’s game nicely, per Dave DuFour. As for the Thunder, Andrew Schlecht says the primary reason they deserve an “A” is for drafting Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 overall pick last month.

And-Ones: LeBron, 2022 Cap Room, Maker, Rookies

Lakers superstar LeBron James has been the face of the NBA for the better part of the last two decades and is happy to continue in that unofficial role until he retires, as Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports writes.

“I’ve held that title of ambassador,” James said. “Nobody told me to do it, but I felt like if I wasn’t gonna do it, who was gonna do it? So I took that responsibility, and I’ll continue to do it till I’m done playing the game.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver tells Goodwill that he’s “not prepared to talk about the post-LeBron era” yet, since James is still playing at an All-NBA level and presumably has multiple strong seasons left in him. However, he’s not worried about having to prepare for a leadership void among the game’s superstars.

“At some point, a new player or players will emerge, I think, [to] take that leadership mantle in the league. It seems they always do,” Silver said. “I’m just not prepared, even in the slightest, to start thinking about the league without LeBron, because he continues to be as committed as ever to the competition, to the league overall.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes a look ahead at the 2022 offseason, identifying the teams that project to have the most cap flexibility. As Leroux outlines, the Pistons and Magic remain the best bets to create significant cap room, while teams like the Spurs, Trail Blazers, Pacers, and Grizzlies could potentially join them, but have more variance.
  • Veteran big man Thon Maker spoke to Alec Strum of NetsDaily about his role with the Long Island Nets – Brooklyn’s G League affiliate – and his efforts to make it back to the NBA. Maker has played a limited role in Long Island so far, averaging 5.8 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 15 games (17.4 MPG), with a dismal .360 FG% (.133 3PT%).
  • Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) updated his NBA rookie power rankings over the All-Star break, providing best-case comps for Evan Mobley (Anthony Davis), Cade Cunningham (Luka Doncic), Scottie Barnes (Scottie Pippen), and other standout rookies.

And-Ones: Anigbogu, Crabbe, Trade Deadline, Maker

Former Pacers center Ike Anigbogu has signed a contract in the NBA G League, he told Hoops Rumors. Anigbogu will join the Birmingham Squadron, the Pelicans‘ affiliate.

Anigbogu, 23, was drafted No. 47 overall in 2017. He spent parts of the 2017/18 and ’18/19 seasons with Indiana and its G League affiliate, appearing in 14 NBA games.

Anigbogu also signed with the Pelicans for training camp in December of 2020. Along with Anigbogu, Birmingham’s roster currently features former NBA players Jared Harper and Joe Young.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the association:

  • Free agent Allen Crabbe has been acquired by the Knicks‘ G League affiliate in Westchester, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link). Crabbe holds seven years of NBA experience, last playing with Minnesota during the 2019/20 season. In 381 career games, he’s averaged 9.1 points per contest, shooting 42.5% from the floor and 39% from behind-the-arc.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype examines which players have increased their value ahead of the trade deadline. The deadline falls on Thursday, February 10 this season, which is now less than three weeks away.
  • The Nets‘ G League affiliate in Long Island has acquired former NBA center Thon Maker, a source confirmed to Hoops Rumors. Maker has made past stops with Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland, owning 263 games of experience. The former No. 10 pick last played in Israel.

Thon Maker Signs G League Deal

Thon Maker has signed an G League contract, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets.

Maker, still just 24, has been out of the NBA since the Cavaliers waived him last winter to clear roster space in the multi-team James Harden deal.

Maker signed with Hapoel Jarusalem in August. His stay in Israel was a short one, as he parted ways with that team in mid-December. Maker will now look to join a G League franchise with the aim of working his way back into the NBA.

Maker, who was selected with the No. 10 pick in the 2016 draft, spent his first two-and-a-half seasons with the Bucks before being traded to the Pistons. The seven-footer completed his rookie contract in Detroit, then signed with the Cavaliers prior to last season as a free agent.

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.

COVID-19 Notes: Trade Market, G League, Postponements

NBA teams have been so busy dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks and scrambling to find available replacement players that the trade talks which typically occur at this time of year have been put on the back burner, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Given how many teams are shorthanded, it has also been hard to get a clear sense of whether certain clubs will end up as buyers or sellers, a high-ranking Western Conference executive told Fischer.

“There have been so many injuries, so many players in health and safety protocols, and there are so many teams that are holding out hope they can make a run to that next goal, whether it be making the play-in, making the playoffs, or competing for a championship,” the executive said. “I don’t expect there to be any trade action anytime soon.”

Here are a few more COVID-related notes:

  • Within his look at the recent impact of the health and safety protocols, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report notes that the exodus of G League talent to the NBA has opened the door for more former NBA players to sign NBAGL contracts in the hopes of getting back into the league. Thon Maker, Marcus Thornton, and Jordan Crawford are among the players who have recently been offered G League deals, says Fischer.
  • Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) offers some additional details on why the Raptors‘ Wednesday game and the Nets‘ Thursday contest were postponed. As Grange explains, while the minimum number of players required for a team to play a game is eight, the NBA’s new rules say that at least five of those players must be from the club’s initial 17-man roster. It sounds as if Toronto and Brooklyn both may have dipped below five available players, not counting hardship signees.
  • Vaccinated players signed via hardship exceptions can play for their new teams immediately after testing negative for COVID-19, but must continue to return negative tests during each of their first five days with the club in order to enter facilities and remain active, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks (Twitter links).

And-Ones: Franchise Valuations, Maker, Ferrell, J. Smith

Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico has released his annual NBA franchise valuations, with the Knicks ($6.12 billion), Warriors ($6.03 billion), and Lakers ($5.63 billion) leading the way. Those three clubs are far and away the NBA’s most valuable, in Sportico’s view — no other team is valued above $3.61 billion, which is where the fourth-place Nets land, and the average league-wide valuation is about $2.6 billion.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA lottery pick Thon Maker and Hapoel Jerusalem have parted ways, the Israeli team announced earlier this week (via Twitter). Maker, who spent part of last season with the Cavaliers, is once again a free agent.
  • Veteran guard Yogi Ferrell recently signed with a team in Slovenia, but he remains focused on playing his way back to the NBA, he said this week on Eurohoops’ EurohooPOD podcast. “I definitely want to get back over there and still show I belong in the league,” Ferrell said.
  • While Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren have long been viewed as the consensus top two prospects in the 2022 draft class, John Hollinger of The Athletic says that Auburn’s Jabari Smith is making a legitimate case to be considered at No. 1.
  • The Bulls‘ organization is being impacted by COVID-19 at multiple levels. Like the NBA squad, the G League’s Windy City Bulls have had their schedule affected by the health and safety protocols and won’t take part in the upcoming NBAGL Winter Showcase, the league announced in a press release.

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.