Tyler Zeller

Tyler Zeller Signs 10-Day Deal With Hawks

MARCH 8: The signing is official, the Hawks announced in an email.

MARCH 7: The Hawks have reached an agreement with Tyler Zeller and will sign the free agent center to a 10-day contract, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, the deal is expected to be finalized on Friday.

Zeller, 29, spent six seasons in the NBA after being drafted 17th overall in 2012, but was waived by the Bucks in October and had yet to catch on with a new team. In 66 total games last season for Brooklyn and Milwaukee, the veteran seven-footer recorded 6.7 PPG and 4.6 RPG with a career-high .560 FG% in 16.8 minutes per contest.

Zeller will provide the Hawks with some added frontcourt depth at a time when the team is dealing with a handful of injuries to its big men. Omari Spellman has been ruled out for most or all of March with an ankle injury, Miles Plumlee hasn’t played since December due to a knee issue, and Dewayne Dedmon (knee) and Alex Poythress (ankle) are also dealing with nagging health problems.

The Hawks have been using their last two roster spots recently to audition players on 10-day deals. Jordan Sibert was signed to a single 10-day contract and hasn’t been brought back, while B.J. Johnson is currently on a 10-day pact of his own that runs through Sunday. With Zeller and Johnson under contract, Atlanta will have a full roster, but the team could open up two spots when those deals expire.

Zeller’s 10-day contract will carry a cap hit of approximately $85K for the Hawks.

And-Ones: Team USA, Jefferson, Jennings, Bass

With another round of World Cup qualifiers scheduled to begin next week, USA Basketball has officially announced its latest 12-man roster for games against Argentina (November 29) and Uruguay (December 2). The roster is made up primarily of G League players, though NBA free agents Tyler Zeller, Jarnell Stokes, and Eric Moreland are also on the squad. Other former NBA players on the roster include Chasson Randle, DeAndre Liggins, and John Jenkins.

With one more qualifying window scheduled for February after next week’s set of games, Team USA is in prime position to secure a spot in the 2019 World Cup. Team USA currently has a 7-1 record in qualifying contests, which puts the club in a tie with Argentina for first place in Group E. Puerto Rico and Uruguay are tied for third at 5-3. The top three teams in the group will earn spots in the World Cup, and the fourth-place team will have a chance to qualify as well.

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • With some help from ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, longtime NBA forward Richard Jefferson published a piece on ESPN.com this week, sharing some of his memories from his NBA career and discussing his move into broadcasting.
  • After becoming a free agent this week, veteran guard Brandon Jennings may take the G League route as he tries to work his way back into the NBA, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. However, Smith notes that nothing’s official yet.
  • Smith also checks in a pair of former NBA forward playing in China, reporting (via Twitter) that Brandon Bass is hoping to return to the NBA later in 2018/19, once the Chinese Basketball Association season ends. Jared Sullinger is also putting up huge numbers in China and is in good shape, according to Smith, who tweets that the former Celtic may be ready for another shot in the NBA.
  • Former Trail Blazers guard Tim Quarterman signed this week with Israeli team Ironi Naharyia, per his agency Prostep Sports (Twitter link). Quarterman was waived by the Rockets this past April.

Bucks Waive Tyler Zeller

The Bucks have waived veteran center Tyler Zeller, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). The move leaves Milwaukee one cut shy of reaching the regular season roster limit.

Zeller, the 27th overall pick in the 2012 draft, began his career with two years in Cleveland before spending three seasons in Boston. In 2017/18, he appeared in 66 games for the Nets and Bucks, recording overall averages of 6.7 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 16.8 minutes per contest.

The contract Zeller signed in the summer of 2017 was a two-year deal, but the second year was non-guaranteed, so his hold on a roster spot in Milwaukee was always precarious. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent if he clears waivers on Monday.

With one more cut still to come, Tim Frazier and Christian Wood appear to be vying for the Bucks’ final roster spot.

Bucks Notes: Wood, Muhammad, Budenholzer, New Arena

Christian Wood appears to have the advantage in the battle for the Bucks’ final roster spot based on his performance in today’s intrasquad scrimmage, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The team entered training camp with 14 guaranteed contracts and four players competing for one position: Wood, Shabazz Muhammad, Tim Frazier and Tyler Zeller.

Wood, who signed with the Bucks last week, stood out today with several offensive rebounds, a few 3-pointers and a steady performance on defense. He has been trying to earn an NBA job since leaving Nevada-Las Vegas in 2015, but has played in just 30 combined games with the Sixers and Hornets.

Muhammad, who came to Milwaukee in March after being waived by the Timberwolves, was also impressive enough to get noticed by Khris Middleton.

“C-Wood and Bazz, they’re competing for a roster spot and you could tell by the way they played,” Middleton said. “They were everywhere.”

There’s more Bucks news to pass along, all courtesy of Velazquez:

  • New coach Mike Budenholzer’s philosophy was on display in the scrimmage as even the centers were taking a healthy number of 3-pointers. Brook Lopez made three from long distance in a 4 1/2-minute stretch and Wood impressed with his outside marksmanship as well. Even John Henson, who has taken just 13 shots from 3-point range in his career, was experimenting with them. “We’re encouraging a lot of spacing, guys having a lot of confidence,” Budenholzer said. “It felt like we shot a ton of them.”
  • The Bucks are hoping to use their bench more than in past seasons, and today’s action suggests there are a lot of players who can contribute. Ersan Ilyasova and Pat Connaughton, who both signed as free agents over the summer, provide two more outside shooting threats. Rookie Donte DiVincenzo looked promising and holdovers Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker seemed more comfortable in Budenholzer’s new system.
  • The scrimmage was the first event at the Bucks’ new Fiserv Forum, and the noise level was noticeable, even though the building was only partially filled. Players are hoping the new arena will provide a greater homecourt advantage than the old Bradley Center.

Bucks Notes: Ilyasova, Parker, Lopez, Zeller

The Bucks are thrilled to have Ersan Ilyasova back on the squad after three seasons without the former second-round pick.

“Ersan is a high IQ player, he can shoot the ball so he gives Giannis and the rest of the team space,” GM Jon Horst said (via the Behind the Buck Pass’ Twitter feed). “He’s competitive, he’s tough, and he knows our system, he knows our community, he knows our players. He was a guy we focused on in free agency, and we’ll be excited to add him.”

Milwaukee agreed to terms on a three-year, $21MM deal as free agency began last weekend. Here’s more from Milwaukee:

  • Horst discussed the Jabari Parker‘s pending restricted free agency during an appearance on NBATV (h/t Adam McGee of Behind the Buck Pass). “We’ve had great conversations [with Parker and his agent], we’re in contact every day. I think the market will dictate some of it, but we’ll continue to work on it and we’ll see how it turns out,” Horst said.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines why Brook Lopez didn’t fetch a more lucrative deal than the one-year, $3.4MM contract he agreed to with the Bucks. While Lopez will provide Milwaukee with a proven scorer in the paint, his lack of foot speed will make it difficult for him to have a defensive impact. Pelton notes that the big man’s ability to shoot from behind the arc will help the team space the floor on offense.
  • The arrival of Lopez likely means Tyler Zeller‘s time in Milwaukee will come to an end, Pelton speculates in the same piece. Zeller’s $1.9MM salary is non-guaranteed and the Bucks will have to be careful in the margins if they plan on making an offer to Parker without going into the luxury tax. If the Bucks waive both Zeller and Brandon Jennings, whose $2.2MM salary does not become guaranteed until August 1, they’d have approximately $11.5MM of financial wiggle room below the luxury tax line.

Central Notes: Robinson, Pacers’ Plans, Thomas, Bucks Cap

The addition of swingman Glenn Robinson III filled the Pistons’ biggest need this offseason, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. The Pistons didn’t anticipate an early commitment but a phone call from new coach Dwane Casey as the start of free agency helped to seal the deal with the ex-Pacers wing. Robinson received a two-year, $8.3MM contract. “We didn’t expect we would get Glenn that quickly,” senior advisor Ed Stefanski said. “We felt getting the two-year commitment was huge to us. To find a young wing who can make a shot, they’re hard to find in the league. When the opportunity came up that quickly, we felt we had to make a move. If it wasn’t for him, we would still be out there looking for a guy.”

In other news involving Central Division teams:

  • Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard hopes to use a majority of next summer’s cap space on his own free agents, Mark Monteith of Pacers.com reports. Rotation players Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Tyreke Evans could all be free agents next summer, which would free up as much as $57MM in cap space, Monteith notes. But Pritchard would prefer to use most of the money to re-sign some of those players, as he told Monteith. “We have the season like we want to have, our free agents will be the priority,” he said. “I think this team has a chance to grow this year. … We already know these guys. They become our priority in free agency.”
  • Rookie second-round pick Khyri Thomas could get playing time with the Pistons through his defensive prowess, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. The swingman out of Creighton views himself as a defensive specialist. “When I was younger, I didn’t get the ball a lot playing with older people so I just stole the ball to get it,” he told Beard.
  • The addition of center Brook Lopez gives the Bucks 13 guaranteed contracts for next season but they’re still $15MM away from being hard-capped, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Lopez reportedly agreed to a one-year deal on Sunday. Milwaukee still has to deal with restricted free agent Jabari Parker‘s status, as he remains unsigned, but they could gain more flexibility since the contracts for Tyler Zeller and Brandon Jennings are not guaranteed, Marks adds.

Central Notes: Pistons, T. Young, Free Agents, Bucks

If the Pistons are going to make changes to their coaching staff or front office, they will probably happen in the next 10 days, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Preparation for the draft begins to intensify with the lottery on May 15, followed by the opening of the combine two days later. The Pistons will want to have their management issues resolved by then, even though their first-rounder is headed to the Clippers without some lottery luck.

GM Jeff Bower met with majority owner Tom Gores on Thursday, Ellis adds, amid reports that structural changes are being considered to the front office. Bower and coach/president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy, who also met with Gores this week, are both entering the final year of their contracts.

Ellis speculates that the longer the situation drags on, the less likely it is that Van Gundy returns for another season. He notes that Gores is unhappy about the way the team has managed its salary cap, particularly with generous contracts for role players Jon Leuer [four years, $42 million] and  Langston Galloway [three years, $21 million].

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Watching the Eastern semifinals has been a painful experience for Thaddeus Young and his Pacers teammates, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. The Indiana players are still reeling after dropping a tough seven-game series to the Cavaliers, and they believe they could be on their way to the conference finals if they had gotten by Cleveland. Young adds that he hasn’t decided whether to opt out of a $13,764,045 salary for next season, but he believes the Pacers are headed for even better things. “Man, I think the sky is the limit for us,” he said. “As a team, we’re already pretty good, but I think we’ll be so much better entering next season because we’ll all have another year of experience under our belt and we won’t be a new-look team that just got together anymore.”
  • The Pacers need to add a 3-point shooter in free agency, observes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, who examines potential targets for this summer. Indiana should have roughly $10MM to spend, even if Young opts in, which could be enough to land Wayne Ellington, Joe Harris or Marco Belinelli.
  • The Bucks are in position to trim some money from their roster heading into free agency, according to Fox Sports Wisconsin. Brandon Jennings [$2,222,803], Tyler Zeller [$1,933,941] and Malcolm Brogdon [$1,544,951] all have non-guaranteed contracts for next season, although Brogdon, a former Rookie of the Year, is expected to be brought back.

Bucks Acquire Zeller From Nets, Deal Vaughn

8:04pm: The deal is official, according to a Nets press release.

5:45pm: The Bucks will acquire center Tyler Zeller from the Nets in exchange for shooting guard Rashad Vaughn and a second-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links).

The Bucks will forward their second-round pick to Brooklyn in this summer’s draft if it falls between 31 and 47 overall, Wojnarowski adds in a separate tweet. Otherwise, the Suns will receive it as part of the Eric Bledsoe deal. Brooklyn was mainly interested in adding the draft pick, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter link).

Milwaukee will be Zeller’s fourth team. He played the last three seasons with the Celtics before signing a low-cost, two-year deal with Brooklyn. His $1.93MM contract for next season isn’t guaranteed. Zeller, 28, started 33 of 42 games with the Nets this season, averaging 7.1 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 16.7 MPG.

The 7-footer provides another big body in the middle. The Bucks have utilized John Henson and Thon Maker at center for the most part and also have Marshall Plumlee in reserve.

Vaughn, who has played all three of his seasons with the Bucks, has seen spot duty this season. He’s appeared in 22 games, averaging 2.7 PPG and 7.9 MPG. Vaughn, who is still just 21 years old, was the 17th overall pick of the 2015 draft. He’s making $1.9MM this season and becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Sixers, Thunder Interested in Dewayne Dedmon

The Bucks, Sixers and Thunder are among the teams who have expressed interest in Dewayne Dedmon, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reports. However, Milwaukee is no longer looking for a big man after acquiring Tyler Zeller from the Nets on Monday night, as Deveney points out (Twitter link).

The Sixers and Thunder are also searching for wing help but could trade for Dedmon to fortify their frontcourts.

Atlanta’s front office would like to move numerous players but Dedmon has attracted the most attention, Deveney adds. Dedmon, who played for the Spurs last season, missed over a month of action with a left leg injury but when healthy the 7-footer has been a rotation player. He’s started 21 of 34 games, averaging a career highs in scoring (10.0 PPG) and rebounding (7.7 RPG).

Dedmon has expanded his offensive game beyond the 3-point line this season and has made a healthy 38.3% of his attempts. He’s likely to re-enter the free agent market after the season. Dedmon, who is making $6MM this season, has a $6.3MM player option for next season and will likely exercise it, according to Deveney.

Since Dedmon would likely only be a rental, the Hawks won’t find a suitor willing to give up a first-round pick for him.

In terms of the teams reportedly interested in Dedmon, he’d serve as backup in Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid or Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Porzingis, Powell

The issue with the shooting shoulder of Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz has taken an interesting turn, reports Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Fultz, who has missed all but four games this season, was apparently upset with his head coach Brett Brown after it was reported that Brown classified Fultz’s injury as “psychosomatic”.

Fultz took to social media to air his frustrations, while Brown insisted that he was misquoted, that he has never wavered from the narrative that Fultz’s shot is being affected by a shoulder injury, and that Fultz’s shoulder still hurts sometimes when he rises to shoot a jump shot.

Brown understands Fultz’s frustration, but believes Fultz will ultimately accept the misunderstanding. “Last night’s erroneous reporting was disappointing,” Brown said, “(but Markelle) knows the organization. He knows me. It doesn’t require much more to be said than that.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Kristaps Porzingis is planning to use his first All-Star game appearance as a recruiting opportunity, reports Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. One of his first targets? Team LeBron teammate Kyrie Irving, who is from the New York area and listed the Knicks as a preferred destination before being traded to Boston.
  • After not playing in three of the team’s previous four games and having being relegated to mop-up duty lately, Raptors guard Norman Powell played well in a come-from-behind win against Minnesota last night, and his teammates weren’t surprised one bit, writes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, who reports that Powell is still a popular locker room figure.
  • The Nets have benched veteran center Tyler Zeller in favor of youngsters Jahlil Okafor and Jarrett Allen, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post. While head coach Kenny Atkinson wouldn’t confirm the move as permanent, Allen started in Zeller’s place in last night’s loss to the Knicks after Zeller had started 33 of the last 34 games.