Thon Maker

Central Notes: Dunn, Maker, Doumbouya, Osman

Guard Kris Dunn won’t participate in the Bulls’ mini-camp, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports. Dunn’s absence was expected, since he’s headed to free agency. The Bulls will have to extend him a qualifying offer of $7.1MM to make him a restricted free agent. Dunn didn’t play after January 31, when he suffered a sprained right MCL. His right knee is now healthy but he doesn’t want to take any chances of getting injured without a contract, Johnson adds.

We have more on the Central Division:

  • Some of the Pistons’ roster decisions could be sorted out during their mini-camp, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. Big men Thon Maker and Justin Patton may be competing for a roster spot, as Maker can either be a restricted or unrestricted free agent while Patton has a non-guaranteed deal. Swingman Khyri Thomas and two-way players Jordan Bone and Louis King might also need a strong showing for the club to retain them.
  • Pistons guard Bruce Brown believes forward Sekou Doumbouya will blossom in his second season, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Doumbouya saw significant playing time as a rookie due to Blake Griffin‘s knee injury, but his production was highly inconsistent. “He’s got something to prove this summer, coming in with a chip on his shoulder,” Brown said. “He’s working on his game hard; he’s working on big-man stuff and guard stuff. He’s definitely put in the work and it’s going to be a good year for him.”
  • Cedi Osman isn’t participating in the Cavaliers’ mini-camp. He’s not on the list of players that the club released, as Eric Woodyard of ESPN tweets. Osman, a Turkish citizen, is apparently still overseas. The Cavs will have 15 players come in, including four G League players — Sir’Dominic Pointer, Marques Bolden, Levi Randolph and Vincent Edwards.

And-Ones: Maker, Lawson, Mills, Zion

Makur Maker spurned traditional college powerhouses to attend Howard University, but he may not be there long, Adam Zagoria of Forbes.com relays. The 6’11” Maker, cousin of Pistons center Thon Maker, admitted on ESPN’s First Take talk show that he may only be there one season.

“We’ll see how the future goes but if you’re a one-and-done talent, why not leave? That’s how I look at,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to play in the NBA and if that’s going to take me a year, I’m definitely all for it. If it’s going to take me two years, I’m definitely all for it. I know I’m an NBA lottery talent.”

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Duke is closing in on Celtics assistant coach Kara Lawson as its new women’s basketball head coach, according to The News & Observer’s Steve Wiseman. Lawson, a former WNBA star and ESPN analyst, traveled with the Celtics to the Orlando campus this week. She would replace Joanne P. McCallie, who resigned this month after 13 years with the Blue Devils.
  • Spurs guard Patty Mills plans to donate his game checks during the league’s restart to social justice organizations, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “I’m playing in Orlando because I don’t want to leave any money on the table that could be going directly to Black communities,” Mills said.
  • According to a federal court filing, Zion Williamson‘s stepfather allegedly solicited and accepted a $400K payment from a marketing agent in October 2018 prior to his season at Duke, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach. If true, Williamson would have been ineligible to play for the Blue Devils. The court motion and sworn affidavit was filed by his former marketing representative’s attorneys. Prime Sports Marketing sued Williamson and Creative Artists Agency for $100MM in state court in Florida for Williamson’s alleged breaching of their marketing agreement and signing with CAA.

Potential 2020 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.”

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 2018/19 and 32 in 2019/20, 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.

In 2017, for instance, both players who signed their one-year QOs – centers Alex Len and 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 $4,642,800.

As the Nos. 9, 10, and 14 picks in the 2016 draft, Poeltl, Maker, and Valentine won’t be hit particularly hard by falling short of the starter criteria. Their projected qualifying offers would have ranged from approximately $5.09MM to $4.7MM, respectively, so a dip to $4.64MM shouldn’t have a major impact on their respective free agencies. Of the three players, only Poeltl looks like a lock to even receive a QO.

The top-14 pick whose situation remains unclear:

Because of the unusual circumstances surrounding this season, the usual definition of the starter criteria becomes a little more complicated. For instance, if a player started 40 games, but his team’s season ended after 65 games, should he be credited with having met the starter criteria based on the fact that he was “on pace” to do so over a full 82-game season?

There’s only one player who technically didn’t meet the starter criteria but was on pace to do so: Bulls guard Kris Dunn. After starting 44 games in 2018/19, Dunn started 32 of Chicago’s games this year, for a total of 76 over the last two seasons. If his starts this season were prorated over a full 82 games, he would have met the starter criteria.

The NBA and NBPA have agreed to prorate the criteria for performance bonuses and incentives in player contracts — it would make sense for the same rules to apply to Dunn. However, as we discussed last week, the fourth-year guard had a knee injury that was expected to sideline him for the rest of the season before COVID-19 threw the schedule into disarray. The Bulls, who had control over Dunn’s ability to make the last six starts he needed, may push back against the idea that proration should allow him to surpass the starter-criteria threshold.

ESPN’s Bobby Marks tells Hoops Rumors that Dunn will likely be deemed to have met the starter criteria, in which case his qualifying offer will be worth $7,091,457. If that changes, the value of his QO would dip to $4,642,800.

First-round picks between 10-30 who met starter criteria:

Only one player falls into this group this season.

Because Saric was a 12th overall pick and met the starter criteria with 50 starts this season, he’s eligible for a qualifying offer worth $5,087,871 instead of $4,791,213. No other players fit the bill this year — many of the best players drafted between Nos. 10 and 30 in 2016 have already been extended, while the others didn’t have major roles or are no longer on their rookie contracts.

Entering the season, Malik Beasley – who logged nearly 1,900 minutes in 2018/19 – looked like the strongest candidate to join Saric in this group. However, Beasley had an inconsistent role in the Nuggets’ rotation before being traded to the Timberwolves, and ended up making just 14 starts (all with Minnesota), with 1,209 total minutes played.

Second-round picks and UDFAs who met starter criteria:

No second-round picks or undrafted free agents eligible for restricted free agency met the starter criteria this season, which would have put them in line for a qualifying offer worth $3,126,948.

Actually, Bogdan Bogdanovic (Kings) technically qualified for this group, but because his initial NBA contract was more lucrative than most, his qualifying offer will be worth $10,661,733 based on other criteria, rendering the starter criteria irrelevant for him.

De’Anthony Melton, Kenrich Williams, Torrey Craig, and Jevon Carter were some of the other top candidates to meet the starter criteria among second-rounders and UDFAs, but none ultimately recorded more than 1,011 minutes (Melton) or 18 starts (Williams).

As a result, those players – and the rest of this year’s restricted free agents – won’t have their projected qualifying offers impacted by the starter criteria.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Salary information from Basketball Insiders used in the creation of this post.

And-Ones: Maker, Wade, CBA, Thompson, Robinson

Makur Maker, ranked No. 10 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony in the 2020 high school class, is exploring his eligibility for next June’s draft, according to Givony. The NBA Players Association is assisting Makur and believes he’ll be declared eligible due to the fact he’ll turn 19 in November, Givony adds. He’s also in his fifth year of high school at Pacific Academy in Irvine, California, as the 6’11’ Maker was two credits short of receiving a high school diploma from his previous school. He’s the cousin of Pistons big man Thon Maker.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Italy’s Olimpia Milano was interested in signing Dwyane Wade, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Team president Leo Dell’Orco revealed that the franchise considered making a run at the retired NBA star before settling on another former NBA veteran, Luis Scola. “This summer we wanted to sign an important NBA player,” he said. “We were interested in Dwyane Wade but we took some time (and chose Scola).”
  • The Chinese Basketball Association has increased its restrictions on foreign players, Carchia relays in a separate story. Among the changes is a rule that only two foreign players can be on the roster for each game and they can’t be on the court at the same time. The CBA has also imposed a salary cap but it only applies to Chinese players, according to another note from Carchia.
  • Former NBA forward Jason Thompson is returning to the Chinese league and will replace Angel Delgado on the Beijing Royal Fighters, according to a Sportando report. Thompson spent last season with Fenerbahce D Istanbul. In 36 games with Fenerbahce, Thompson averaged 5.0 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 16.0 MPG. Thompson played in China during the 2016/17 season after averaging 8.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 588 career NBA games. Delgado had to leave China for personal matters.
  • Another former NBA forward, Thomas Robinson, reached an agreement with the CBA’s Sichuan Blue Whales, Sportando relays.  Robinson spent last season with Beijing, averaging 21.9 PPG and 13.6 RPG. The 2012 lottery pick last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in 48 games with the Lakers.

Central Notes: Maker, Evans, Pistons, Osman

Thon Maker has given the Pistons an energetic boost since he was acquired from the Bucks in a three-team swap at the trade deadline, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes.

The 7-footer fell out of Milwaukee’s rotation, but has proven to be a solid backup for Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin. The Pistons outscored Phoenix by 20 points when Maker was on the court Thursday, as he scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots in 28 minutes.

“He’s been great,” Griffin said of his Pistons teammate. “Just his energy, man. He’s just always everywhere. And if he’s not blocking shots, he’s swinging for the fences. It’s making people think and it’s making people be aware of where he is.”

Maker will make a guaranteed $3.57MM next season and will be eligible for a rookie scale extension with the Pistons prior to opening night.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Pacers swingman Tyreke Evans admits it’s been a roller-coaster season for him, Scott Agness of The Athletic reports. Evans has battled injuries, a bout with food poisoning and the tragic death of a nephew during the course of the season. Evans’ playing time has dropped dramatically from last season, when he averaged 19.4 PPG for Memphis in 52 games. He’ll return to the free agent market after signing a one-year, $12.4MM contract from Indiana. “Yeah, it’s tough,” he told Agness. “Everybody knows what type of player I am. (Since) I got drafted, I’m better with the ball in my hands. I’m a team player and just want to win this late in my career.”
  • D’Angelo Russell‘s breakthrough season with the Nets after the Lakers gave up on him illustrates why the Pistons explored trades for young point guards Dennis Smith Jr. and Markelle Fultz prior to the trade deadline, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. The Pistons will likely continue to pursue a young point guard during the offseason, since starter Reggie Jackson has one more season left on his contract and reserves Ish Smith and Jose Calderon will be unrestricted free agents, Ellis adds.
  • Forward Cedi Osman is considered part of the Cavaliers’ future core, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports in his latest mailbag. The team could sign Osman to an extension this summer but there hasn’t been any talk of doing that yet, Fedor continues. However, he’s a front-office favorite and has made positive strides in recent months. He’s shown signs of being more than just a bench rotation player and his 3-point shooting has improved, Fedor adds.

Eastern Notes: Kaminsky, Maker, Giannis, Cavs

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak said Thursday that no decisions have been made about pursuing a contract buyout with young forward Frank Kaminsky, with the 25-year-old still on the Hornets’ roster after the trade deadline.

“He wants to play,” Kupchak said of Kaminsky, as relayed by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. “He’s under contract. Short of that, no decisions have been made addressing that situation.”

Bonnell also relayed that Kupchak, hired by the Hornets last April, is sympathetic to a remedy if Kaminsky is looking to play elsewhere.

The Hornets explored moving Kaminsky in the hours leading up to the trade deadline Thursday, but failed to find a suitable deal for the fourth-year player. Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported (via Twitter) that Kaminsky would likely become a buyout candidate in the near future, but it’s unclear where the possibility stands right now.

Charlotte also held strong trade discussions with the Grizzlies on a deal centered around Marc Gasol, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), but talks eventually broke off. The Hornets ended up not making a single trade on deadline day.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference today:

  • The Bucks traded Thon Maker to the Pistons for Stanley Johnson this week, sending away one of Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s closest teammates in an effort to upgrade the roster. “Thon is like my little brother, this one hurts more than any trade that happened that I’ve been a part of but this is the business we work in,” Antetokounmpo said, according to Cassidy Hubbarth of ESPN (Twitter link). The Bucks eventually flipped Johnson, Jason Smith and two second-round picks to acquire sharpshooting forward Nikola Mirotic.
  • For Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo could be the next star involved in rumors as the 2019/20 season draws closer, Dan Feldman of NBC Sports notes. Antetokounmpo is eligible to receive a super-max extension in the summer of 2020, but could become a free agent in 2021 if he chooses not to sign the extension. Antetokounmpo has cemented himself as one of the league’s top stars, leading the Bucks to a 40-13 record through 53 games this season. “He has been incredibly loyal,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think that’s something that’s important to him. So, he’s a gift, for sure.”
  • The Cavaliers renounced the free agent rights to Deron Williams and Dahntay Jones today, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets. Cleveland made multiple trades in the past week, acquiring Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss and a 2019 first-round pick in a multi-team deal on Wednesday.

Bucks, Pistons Agree To Stanley Johnson, Thon Maker Trade

Update: This trade agreement has been rolled into a second deal between the Bucks and Pelicans to make it a three-team trade. You can read the full story here.

The Bucks and Pistons are in the process of finalizing a trade that will send forward Stanley Johnson to Milwaukee and big man Thon Maker to Detroit, a league source tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the deal has been agreed to in principle.

The move will see two Central Division teams swap a pair of former lottery picks that had fallen out of their clubs’ long-term plans. It’s a straight-up, one-for-one trade with no additional players or draft assets, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic.

Johnson, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, seemed set to assume a larger role for the Pistons in 2018/19 after starting 50 games last season. However, the 22-year-old has taken a step back, averaging 20.0 minutes per game after playing 27.4 MPG in 2017/18. His shooting numbers have also failed to improve over the course of his career. His .381 FG% and .282 3PT% this season are about in line with his career rates.

Because he’s in his fourth NBA season, Johnson will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but he was unlikely to receive a qualifying offer from the Pistons, as Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press notes (via Twitter). The Bucks will get the opportunity to audition him as a three-and-D wing down the stretch in 2018/19 before deciding this summer whether they want to try to keep him around for a little longer.

As for Maker, the 10th overall pick from 2016’s draft has also seen his role reduced this season. The 7’1″ center, who will turn 22 later this month, appeared in 35 games for Milwaukee, averaging 4.7 PPG and 2.7 RPG in just 11.7 minutes per game. Given Maker’s limited playing time, his agent asked the Bucks to trade him to a team that would give him a greater opportunity.

Maker will get that opportunity in Detroit, where he’ll reunite with former Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps observes (via Twitter). The Pistons aren’t exactly stacked with a deep and talented frontcourt behind Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, so Maker should get the chance to battle the likes of Zaza Pachulia and Jon Leuer for minutes in Dwane Casey‘s rotation. He also remains under contract for one more year before reaching restricted free agency in 2020.

Maker is earning a salary of about $2.8MM in 2018/19, while Johnson’s cap hit is $3.94MM. Trade rules allow for that modest difference in salaries, which will benefit the Pistons — as a result of this deal and their trade sending Reggie Bullock to the Lakers, they’ve created an extra $2MM+ in breathing room below the luxury tax line, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes.

The Pistons will also generate a small trade exception worth the difference in the two players’ salaries ($1,140,682).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Thon Maker Asks Bucks To Trade Him

The Bucks have the NBA’s best record at 35-12, but not everyone is happy with how things are going in Milwaukee. Backup center Thon Maker, frustrated by his reduced role, is requesting a trade, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

A lottery pick in 2016, Maker has seen his minutes fall from 16.7 per game a year ago to 11.7 this season. Second-year forward D.J. Wilson has surpassed Maker in the rotation in recent weeks, leaving him with little chance to contribute.

Maker’s agent, Mike George, has told the Bucks his client would prefer a situation with greater opportunity. George and Milwaukee GM Jon Horst has been examining possible trades that would benefit both Maker and the team. Sources tell Wojnarowski that the Bucks have discussed deals with a few teams, but the organization hasn’t lost confidence that Maker will develop into a productive player.

The Bucks already picked up Maker’s $3,569,643 option for next season, so he’s under contract for another year. He will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer, but under the circumstances it’s very unlikely that Milwaukee would offer such a deal.

The 21-year-old is averaging 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds through 35 games in his third NBA season. He has been in and out of the rotation and had a spot with the second unit while Ersan Ilyasova was injured, but his playing time has fallen since Ilyasova’s return, including three DNPs this month.

Central Notes: Cavs, Boylan, Bulls, Bucks

As if there wasn’t enough drama in Cleveland already this season, the Cavaliers are now the subject of another unusual story. As Dan Feldman of NBC Sports relays, former Cavs assistant Jim Boylan has sued the team, along with owner Dan Gilbert and Koby Altman, for age discrimination.

Boylan’s lawsuit claims that Tyronn Lue left Boylan a voicemail informing him that Altman and the Cavaliers wouldn’t be picking up his option for 2018/19 since they wanted to “go younger.” Boylan subsequently had a conversation with Altman during which the GM confirmed that the Cavs wanted a younger coach, suggesting that the decision to move on from Boylan had nothing to do with his performance, per the suit.

The Cavaliers responded to the lawsuit today, calling it “frivolous” and referring to it as a “shameless cash grab.” Pointing out that Boylan simply had an option declined and wasn’t fired, the Cavs’ statement accused the assistant coach’s lawyers of attempting to shame the franchise into a settlement by releasing Lue’s voicemail.

As we wait to see what tomorrow brings in Cleveland, let’s round up a few more Central notes…

Bucks Exercise 2019/20 Options On Maker, Wilson

The Bucks have picked up the 2019/20 rookie scale options for former first-round picks Thon Maker and D.J. Wilson, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (via Twitter). Velazquez suggests that the Bucks “love” both players and consider them important parts of the club’s present and future.

Maker, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 draft, had a promising rookie season, but didn’t take a noticeable step forward in 2017/18 and has seen inconsistent minutes so far this season. Still, the 21-year-old big man has plenty of upside and his fourth-year option isn’t expensive, with a cap hit of $3,569,643, making the decision a fairly easy one for the Bucks.

The decision to pick up Wilson’s $2,961,120 third-year option is a little more surprising. The second-year forward played just 71 total minutes in his rookie season and hasn’t seen any action so far this season.

Wilson, the 17th pick in the 2017 draft, has been slowed by a hamstring issue this year, but it’s not clear if he’ll be part of the rotation even when he gets healthy, as there were rumblings during the preseason that he wasn’t even a lock for the regular season roster. However, the Bucks are apparently still high enough on him to guarantee his 2019/20 salary.

NBA teams must make their final decisions on rookie scale options for 2019/20 by Wednesday.