- The Wizards need to do a better job of communicating with each other to avoid locker room controversies, Chase Hughes of NBCSports.com writes. The team does not have any unresolvable issues, according to Hughes, but problems like the tension between John Wall and his teammates need to be addressed privately rather than through the media or social media channels, Hughes adds.
As we noted last week when we identified the clubs with open roster spots, NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads (not counting two-way players). However, teams are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks.
At this month’s trade deadline, four teams ended up with multiple open roster spots and are currently carrying 13 players on their NBA rosters. The Cavaliers have 13 players after their plethora of deadline deals; the Wizards went down to 13 after sending Sheldon Mac to Atlanta; and the Trail Blazers are carrying 13 after trading Noah Vonleh to Chicago. The Hawks, meanwhile, waived Mac and Marco Belinelli after the trade deadline passed to get to 13.
As a result of those roster moves, Cleveland, Washington, and Portland have until this Thursday – two weeks after the trade deadline – to get back up to 14 players by signing a player to a 10-day contract or a rest-of-season deal. Atlanta has until Friday to do the same.
While we don’t know with certainty which players will be signed by these four teams later this week, there have been some clues. Veteran big man Kendrick Perkins published a tweet on February 8 suggesting that he was joining the Cavs, but quickly deleted it — Cleveland may be ready to finalize an agreement with Perkins later this week.
The Wizards, meanwhile, have been linked to several free agent point guards with John Wall sidelined and Tim Frazier banged up too. Ty Lawson, Derrick Rose, and Ramon Sessions are among the players said to have drawn some interest from Washington, so perhaps the club will pull the trigger on a deal with one of those vets this week.
Temporarily carrying 13 players has had a noticeable financial impact for the Cavs, Wizards, and Blazers, as cap expert Albert Nahmad observes (via Twitter). Cleveland has saved $35K per day since the trade deadline in potential luxury-tax payments for that 14th roster spot, while Washington has saved $12K per day in taxes. As for the Blazers, the savings they’ve created by carrying 13 players will allow them to sign a 14th player, then eventually sign a 15th player – if they so choose – without going over the tax line.
Injured Wizards point guard John Wall is off his crutches and walking without a noticeable limp. However, the star point guard, who was pulled from the All-Star Game due to knee surgery, is reluctant to put a timetable on his return, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes.
“I really don’t know because I’m just doing everything the doctors are telling me,” Wall said. “I haven’t really tried to get back on the court yet so, just doing the little things. And I haven’t started running yet. So whenever I get to that point I can kind of start grasping stuff and understanding what level I’m at but right now it’s between six to eight weeks. It might be longer but I don’t know. I haven’t got to that point.”
Wall also addressed his recent public spat with teammate Marcin Gortat. A tweet from Gortat after a Wizards game referred to their performance as a great “team” win. Wall took his own shot at Gortat later on but he said both men have spoken and any personal issues will not be brought to the court.
There are more notes from the Southeast Division below:
- In his latest installment of Ask Ira, Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel addressed the possibility of Justise Winslow losing playing time once Kelly Olynyk and Rodney McGruder return from injury. While Winslow is a talented player, his role on the Heat will likely diminish now that Dwyane Wade has returned and other players are healthy, Winderman writes.
- Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald spoke to a veteran NBA scout who said that the Heat must blow up their roster this offseason. “Let’s put it this way,” the scout said. “Goran Dragic is their best player, but if you had a really good team that would contend for a championship, you would want him to be your fourth-best player, maybe [third if you had two superstars]. Jackson goes up and down the roster, with the veteran scout assessing each player’s value for next season.
- Faced with a slew of injuries at the point guard position, the Wizards had to get creative during one recent practice, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. John Wall, Tim Frazier, and Tomas Satoransky are all out with injuries, so Washington, armed with only seven healthy players, used Kamran Sufi, a player development manager, as a point guard during practice. Satoransky returned to the line-up tonight against New York, while Wall and Frazier remain out.
Wizards teammates John Wall and Marcin Gortat had a private in-person meeting last week to discuss where they stood with one another and clear the air, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN. The meeting came on the heels of apparent public friction between the two players.
The meeting, which was requested by both players, didn’t last long, according to Haynes. Sources tell ESPN that while Wall and Gortat aired their grievances, there’s still more work to be done before their relationship is fully repaired.
The tension between Wall and Gortat seemingly began shortly after the point guard went down with a knee injury. Following a win in which the Wizards racked up 30 assists without Wall, Marcin Gortat tweeted that it was a great “team” victory, a comment perceived by many as a passive-aggressive slight at his teammate.
According to Haynes, Wall reached out to Gortat soon after the big man published his tweet to essentially tell him that if he has a problem with Wall, he should direct it to him rather than cryptically addressing it on social media. Although Gortat insisted that he meant no offense by his comment, Wall also responded publicly during an appearance on ESPN’s Sportscenter.
“I know I’m a team player. I average almost 10 assists a game,” Wall said at the time. “I’m very prideful in finding my teammates and getting guys easy shots. Even more just shocking hearing it from [Gortat] and understand he gets the most assists from me and gets the most spoon-fed baskets ever.”
Gortat was involved in some trade rumors prior to the deadline, but ultimately stayed put, so he and Wall will have to be on the same page if the Wizards hope to make another run in the postseason this spring. According to Haynes, sources close to the Wizards suggest that this sort of altercation is natural due to the rigors of an emotional season, so it sounds like they’re not overly concerned about it. Still, the franchise may look into introducing a policy that would allow the club to fine a player for any social media posts deemed detrimental to the team, Haynes notes.
Now that the dust has settled on last Thursday’s trade-deadline deals and the first round of veteran buyouts and cuts has been completed, it’s worth taking stock of which NBA teams have the flexibility to add a player or two without waivers anyone else.
With the help of our roster counts page, which we update all season, here are the NBA teams with open spots on their 15-man rosters. Open two-way contract slots aren’t included here, since teams are ineligible to sign new two-way contracts at this point in the season.
Teams with a player on a 10-day contract filling their open spot:
- Phoenix Suns
- Utah Jazz
Both the Suns and Jazz have 14 players on fully guaranteed NBA contracts, leaving one potential opening. For now, Josh Gray is filling that 15th spot in Phoenix and Naz Mitrou-Long is doing the same in Utah. However, they’re only on 10-day contracts, so both of these teams could soon create an open spot if necessary.
Teams with one open spot:
- Charlotte Hornets
- Chicago Bulls
- Dallas Mavericks
- Indiana Pacers
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- New Orleans Pelicans
- New York Knicks
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Orlando Magic
- Sacramento Kings
- Toronto Raptors
The teams listed above represent a mix of playoff-bound squads and rebuilding non-contenders. Teams like the Bulls, Mavericks, and Knicks could use their open roster spots to take fliers on young players via 10-day contracts, while clubs like the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Raptors may be eyeing the buyout market for veterans who could fortify their respective benches.
Teams with two open spots:
- Atlanta Hawks
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Washington Wizards
NBA rules generally prohibit teams from carrying fewer than 14 players on their 15-man squads. However, clubs are permitted to dip to 13 – or even 12 – in special circumstances, as long as they get back up to 14 within two weeks. Roster moves made last week by the Hawks, Cavaliers, Trail Blazers, and Wizards left them below the limit, so they’ll each have to add at least one player by the end of the All-Star break.
Note: Roster info current as of Tuesday, February 13 at 2:00pm CT.
With just three more days of games scheduled before the NBA’s All-Star break begins, it’s increasingly possible that Derrick Rose‘s next move won’t be resolved until later this month, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).
[RELATED: Community Shootaround: Derrick Rose’s Future]
Traded by the Cavaliers to the Jazz in the three-team deadline-day deal that saw George Hill and Rodney Hood land in Cleveland, Rose wasn’t part of Utah’s plans and was subsequently released. The former MVP cleared waivers on Monday, making him an unrestricted free agent.
According to various reports, the Timberwolves and Wizards are among the teams with some interest in Rose. However, as Stein notes, the 29-year-old may not find a new NBA home until teams resume practicing following the All-Star break. That makes sense, particularly for clubs with luxury-tax concerns. For instance, signing Rose now instead of waiting until after the break would put the Wizards on the hook for nine extra days of salary and taxes, and they’d only get one extra game out of the veteran.
If the Wizards – who have also been linked to guards like Ty Lawson and Ramon Sessions – go in another direction and Tom Thibodeau opts to pass on a reunion with Rose in Minnesota, it’s not clear where the former No. 1 overall pick might land. League sources tell Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net that several teams have heard from Rose’s agent in recent days, but have opted to pass on signing him.
Lawson, 29, played in 69 games for the Kings last season. He spent the 2017/18 season in China with CBA’s Shandong Golden Stars. At one point, Lawson averaged at least 15.2 PPG with the Nuggets in each season from 2011-2015. However, several off-the-court issues, including a pair of DUIs, have hindered Lawson’s NBA career.
With John Wall still early in his rehab process, the Wizards have been looking for help outside the organization. The team has reportedly considered recently-waived Derrick Rose and talked with free agent Ramon Sessions. It was reported on Sunday that Washington will likely sign a point guard to a 10-day contract.
FEBRUARY 12, 3:34pm: Tomas Satoransky is scheduled to go through the concussion protocol on Tuesday, and if he passes, the Wizards will likely wait until after the All-Star Game to make a roster move, Aldridge tweets. The Wizards’ Wednesday game in New York is their last contest before the break.
FEBRUARY 11, 10:15am: The Wizards will probably use a 10-day contract to fill their vacancy at point guard through the All-Star break, tweets David Aldridge of TNT. He lists Ramon Sessions, Donald Sloan and Briante Weber as the top candidates. They may pursue Derrick Rose or other available players during the break.
Sessions, 31, played a season and a half in Washington from 2015 to 2016. He was waived last month by the Knicks after averaging 3.7 PPG and 2.1 APG in 13 games.
Sloan, 30, was in training camp with the Wizards, but was waived before the season began. He played for five teams in five seasons, with his last NBA experience coming in Brooklyn in 2015/16.
Weber, 25, was waived by the Rockets in mid-January after 13 games as a two-way player. He has bounced around the league since the 2015/16 season, having short stints with five organizations.
Rose, 29, will remain on waivers through tomorrow afternoon. Luxury tax concerns make it unlikely the Wizards will submit a claim on him, though they would be interested if he becomes a free agent.
Whoever Washington signs may get a limited chance to prove himself as the Wizards have just one game remaining before the break.