Wizards Rumors

Latest On Kawhi Leonard

The Spurs‘ asking price for Kawhi Leonard remains high, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne. In an article packed with Leonard-related tidbits, the ESPN duo suggests that – based on conversations with opposing teams – San Antonio appears to be seeking an All-Star caliber player, high-potential young players, and draft picks in exchange for Kawhi.

It’s not clear if the Spurs will be able to land that sort of return, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, who note that a three-way bidding war involving the Lakers, Celtics, and Sixers never really materialized. The Lakers are being patience and conveying confidence that Leonard will sign with them in 2019. As for the Celtics and Sixers, they’ve held their top players out of trade discussions and have offered pick-heavy packages, which haven’t enticed the Spurs.

Given the Spurs’ reported demands, a Raptors offer built around one of their All-Star guards (likely DeMar DeRozan), one or two of their young players, and draft picks could be the most logical package for San Antonio.

In an appearance on Zach Lowe’s ESPN podcast, Brian Windhorst said he thinks the Raptors are in the “driver’s seat” in the Leonard sweepstakes, since the Lakers and Sixers haven’t been aggressive in their pursuit of the star forward. Lowe didn’t go so far as to call the Raptors the favorites, but he cautioned not to underestimate the club or to view the rumors linking Leonard to Toronto as mere speculation.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on the NBA’s most noteworthy trade candidate:

  • In addition to the four teams noted above, the Clippers, Nuggets, Suns, Trail Blazers, and Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Leonard, league sources tell Wojnarowski and Shelburne. However, it’s unlikely that any of those teams has made a monster offer, given concerns that Kawhi would be a one-year rental. Portland hasn’t discussed Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum, for instance, per ESPN.
  • Leonard is “seriously considering” participating in Team USA’s mini-camp next week, league sources tell Wojnarowski and Shelburne. There’s a sense that the All-Star wants to show the Spurs‘ prospective trade partners that he’s healthy, but there may be a concern within Leonard’s camp that participating in the mini-camp would give San Antonio more leverage to push him to report to camp in the fall.
  • While there have been whispers that Leonard has no intention of showing up at the Spurs‘ facility if he’s not traded, rival teams generally view that as an “empty threat,” since they’re skeptical he’s willing to risk forfeiting his $20MM salary for 2018/19, according to Wojnarowski and Shelburne,
  • The Spurs haven’t allowed potential trade partners to talk directly with Leonard or his camp, or to see his medical information, per ESPN’s report. It’s unlikely that stance would change unless the Spurs agree to a trade in principle with a team, Woj and Shelburne add.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders addressed the Leonard situation in his latest article, suggesting that the start of training camp could be a key deadline to keep an eye on. One source close to Leonard also tells Kyler that the forward would ideally like to be the “focal point” of a team going forward. It’s not clear how that alleged desire to be a team’s focal point will impact Leonard’s preference to join the Lakers now that LeBron James is in L.A., Kyler writes.

Wall: Howard Will Have To Make Sacrifices With Wizards

  • In order to succeed with the Wizards, newly-signed center Dwight Howard will have to be willing to make some sacrifices for the team, John Wall told Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “He has to buy into that and not try to say it’s all about him or try to do this for himself,” Wall said. “Just do it for the whole team and group and I think we will be fine.”

Wizards Officially Sign Dwight Howard

A three-week saga that saw Dwight Howard traded by one team, bought out by a second team, and signed by a third team has come to an end. According to the NBA’s official transactions log, Howard formally signed his new contract with the Wizards on Wednesday.

Howard, who had initially been owed nearly $24MM as he entered a contract year, was traded from the Hornets to the Nets in a deal that saw Charlotte acquire Timofey Mozgov, a pair of second-round picks, and $5MM in cash. While that trade was agreed upon before June’s draft, it couldn’t be finalized until July for salary cap reasons.

The former No. 1 overall pick was subsequently bought out by the Nets, giving back a reported $5MM to the team in that agreement. After clearing waivers earlier this week, Howard was able to officially finalize his new contract agreement with the Wizards, a two-year deal that will use the taxpayer mid-level exception.

As our chart of this year’s mid-level values shows, the contract will pay him $5,337,000 in 2018/19, with a 2019/20 player option worth $5,603,850.

Howard projects to slot in as the Wizards’ starting center after the team traded former starter Marcin Gortat to the Clippers in a June deal. Based on Washington’s current roster, Howard would be backed up by Ian Mahinmi, Jason Smith, and Thomas Bryant at the center position.

While Howard has seemingly worn out his welcome at his last several NBA stops, the 32-year-old remains a productive NBA center and should provide the Wizards with a big man who can finish at the rim, grab double-digit rebounds, and block some shots. Last season in Charlotte, Howard averaged 16.6 PPG, 12.5 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 81 starts (30.4 MPG).

Having added Howard, Austin Rivers, Jeff Green, and rookie Troy Brown so far this offseason, the Wizards are up to 14 players with a team salary approaching $135MM. Barring cost-cutting moves, Washington figures to be a taxpayer again in 2018/19. If the team wants to fill out the last spot on its roster, it will only have the minimum salary exception available to do so.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wizards Have Interest In Luc Mbah A Moute

According to Iko, Mbah a Moute is seeking more money and long-term security than he received from the Rockets in 2017/18, but the club is offering him another minimum-salary deal. Iko’s source suggests that the Spurs, Lakers, Clippers, Wizards, and Sixers have all expressed some level of interest in Mbah a Moute as well.

Nets Notes: Howard, Lin, Cap Room, Davis

Dwight Howard would have happily played for the Nets if the team hadn’t insisted on a buyout, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Howard tried to force a trade to Brooklyn in 2012 before being shipped from the Magic to the Lakers, and he still likes the idea of living and playing in New York City, sources tell Lewis. However, Brooklyn’s front office had no interest in a long-term arrangement and was focused solely on creating cap space for next summer when it acquired Howard from the Hornets in exchange for Timofey Mozgov and two second-round picks.

“If you look at the way we’re trying to build a team and you look at going forward years out from now, this is something that helps us going forward for next year,” GM Sean Marks said. “Dwight’s a terrific player. He’s been a terrific player in this league for a long time. I think this is something that we mutually agreed on, to give him an opportunity elsewhere.”

There’s more tonight out of Brooklyn:

  • The Nets have a large group of point guards on their roster, but Marks says there’s no urgency to do anything to resolve it now, including a trade of Jeremy Lin, Lewis writes in the same story. Injuries limited Lin to one game last season and 37 in his two years with the organization. “There’s absolutely no need for us to rush and go out there to do any particular deals to solve the so-called glut,” Marks said. “You look at the team now, that’s what we’ve got and that’s what we’re planning on. We’re planning on going into the season with that team.”
  • Howard, who has already agreed to a two-year, $11MM deal in Washington once he clears waivers, gave back $5MM in his buyout with the Nets, tweets Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. That leaves Brooklyn with about $11.6MM in remaining cap room, according to Lewis (Twitter link).
  • Marks was ecstatic to add former Trail Blazers big man Ed Davis in free agency at the bargain price of $4.4MM, relays Tom Dowd of NBA.com. Brooklyn suffered from a lack of size on its roster last season and didn’t have an effective backup to starting center Jarrett Allen“We need an enforcer type,” Marks said. “We need toughness, and Ed brings a lot of that to our group. He’s been around winning organizations, so for him to come in and bring some of that expertise and experience will be great for our group and our younger guys.”

Dwight Howard Finalizes Buyout, Headed To Wizards

The Nets have finalized their buyout of Dwight Howard‘s contract, paving the way for the veteran center to join the Wizards, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Howard will sign a two-year, $11MM contract that will include a player option for the second year, Wojnarowski adds.

Howard had one year and $23,819,725 remaining on his contract when he was dealt by the Hornets to the Nets, who had no intention of keeping him. The trade was agreed to last month but wasn’t officially announced until Friday.

By adding Howard, the Wizards now have 14 players with guaranteed contracts. Their projected luxury tax bill has increased from $11.5MM to $18.3MM, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Howard will be worth any tax penalties if Washington can advance deeper in the postseason. The Wizards were bounced by the top-seeded Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this past season.

The Wizards will make Howard their starting center after dealing Marcin Gortat to the Clippers for guard Austin Rivers. Howard averaged 16.6 PPG and 12.5 RPG in his lone season with the Hornets.

The buyout gives the Nets a projected $9-$11MM in cap space, Marks adds.

Wizards Sign First-Rounder Troy Brown

JULY 5: The Wizards have officially signed Brown to his rookie deal, per the NBA’s transactions log. He’ll have a first-year salary of about $2.75MM.

JUNE 25: The Wizards have agreed to terms on a rookie contract for first-round pick Troy Brown, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link). The deal can be made official once the new NBA league year begins on July 1.

Brown, a 6’7″ wing, is coming off a freshman year at Oregon in which he averaged 11.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG. The youngster has strong upside as a versatile defender who is capable of guarding any position from one through four. He was drafted 15th overall by the Wizards last Thursday.

Brown will be subject to the NBA’s rookie scale, making negotiations with the Wizards a simple process. He’ll be in line for two guaranteed seasons, followed by third- and fourth-year team options.

Under the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the rookie scale is tied to the salary cap, so we won’t know the exact salary amounts for this year’s rookies until the cap is set for 2018/19. However, based on a $101MM cap projection, Brown should be in line for a first-year salary worth approximately $2.73MM.

Wizards Notes: Rivers, Howard, Green, Bryant

It was already common knowledge that the NBA’s Western Conference has long been stronger than the Eastern Conference. Critics continue to call for a conference realignment even when the odds of it happening are slim to none.

But now that the game’s best player has moved from the East to the West, the gap has widened even more, leaving many Eastern Conference players, including newly acquired Wizards’ guard Austin Rivers, more confident in their team’s chances to make a run at the NBA Finals, reports Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“This training camp, this season is just gonna be a different type of mindset,” Rivers said. “[Before] you would play and you know you’re going to run into Golden State. Here, in the East, it’s really like everybody can get there. You can go to the Finals or the conference finals if you’re a playoff-caliber team, which this team is. 

I think that puts a different confidence, focus and energy on a team. I think that will probably be a focal point in training camp, I’m sure the coaches and everyone will say this is something we need to take advantage of.” 

Per Hughes, Rivers did acknowledge that the Celtics are probably the favorites now, having been Eastern Conference runners-up the last two seasons despite missing two of their best players during the 2017/18 playoffs. But, Rivers is excited to see what he and his new teammates are capable of after falling short in the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.

There’s more out of the D.C. area tonight:

  • Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated takes a look at the Wizards’ reported free agent signings of veterans Jeff Green and Dwight Howard. Woo gives both signings a “B” grade, calling both moves thrifty and low-risk due in large part to the one-year length of both deals.
  • In another piece for NBC Sports Washington, Hughes gives his own analysis of the Howard signing, agreeing that the move is low-risk, high-reward. Hughes writes that Howard gives Washington an upgrade from last season at center and that he should be at his best surrounded by three-point shooters like Otto Porter and Bradley Beal.
  • In another, albeit more under-the-radar move we relayed earlier this week, the Wizards claimed promising young big man Thomas Bryant off waivers from the Lakers after he was cut to increase L.A.’s cap room.

Doc Rivers Predicts Son Will Do Well In Washington

  • During an impromptu interview with TMZ, Doc Rivers explained the decision to trade his son, Austin Rivers, to the Wizards. The Clippers coach called it “the right thing for all of us” and predicts that Austin will excel in Washington.

Dwight Howard Finalizes Buyout Agreement, Will Sign With Wizards

4:34pm: Howard has finalized his buyout with the Nets and will sign a one-year deal with the Wizards for the MLE after he clears waivers, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

4:11pm: The Wizards plan to offer a contract to Dwight Howard once his expected buyout with the Nets is complete, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

Howard is technically still a member of the Hornets, but that will change once the moratorium is lifted on Friday. He will be sent to Brooklyn under a deal agreed to two weeks ago, then will hit the open market if buyout negotiations go as planned.

Washington still has its $5.3MM mini mid-level exception to offer, along with a starting job. The Wizards need help in the middle after trading Marcin Gortat to the Clippers for Austin Rivers .

A three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Howard could provide a defensive anchor and a strong rebounding presence in Washington. Regardless of where he ends up, Howard will be with his fourth team in four years, but he remains productive at age 32. He averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds in 81 games for Charlotte this season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.