Wizards Rumors

Wizards Sign Jules Bernard To Two-Way Contract

10:08am: The Wizards have officially signed Bernard to a two-way deal, the team announced today in a press release.

8:30am: The Wizards, who are opening up a two-way contract slot by waiving big man John Butler Jr., intend to use that open spot to sign guard Jules Bernard to a two-way deal, reports Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

An undrafted rookie out of UCLA in 2022, Bernard played for the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s G League affiliate, in his first professional season. In 49 games for the Go-Go in 2022/23, he averaged 13.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 26.1 minutes per night, posting a shooting line of .425/.324/.805.

The 6’7″ shooting guard, who signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Wizards prior to training camp and then returned to the Go-Go to open the ’23/24 season, has taken a significant step forward in the early going. Through eight Showcase Cup contests in the NBAGL this fall, Bernard has raised his averages to 21.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 4.3 APG on .475/.422/.914 shooting, earning a call-up to Washington’s 18-man NBA roster.

A player on a full-season two-way deal in 2023/24 is eligible to appear in up to 50 regular season games and earn a salary of $559,782. However, because Bernard is signing during the season, those amounts will be prorated.

Assuming he officially finalizes a deal with Washington on Friday, Bernard will be eligible to play in up to 37 NBA games. He’ll make $415,011 if he remains under contract through the NBA’s league-wide salary guarantee date in January.

Eugene Omoruyi and Jared Butler are the other two Wizards players on two-way deals.

Wizards Waive John Butler Jr.

DECEMBER 8: Butler has officially been waived, the Wizards confirmed today. As we outlined in a separate story, Jules Bernard has filled the two-way opening created by Butler’s release.

DECEMBER 7: The Wizards are waiving forward/center John Butler Jr., a league source tells Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Butler is on a two-way deal with Washington.

According to Robbins, if Butler clears waivers, the plan is for him to sign a NBA G League contract with the Wizards’ affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. He would remain an unrestricted free agent if that comes to fruition, as NBA deals take precedence over G League contracts.

Butler went undrafted last year after one college season at Florida State. He signed a two-way deal with New Orleans, but was waived after 10 days, and caught on with Portland shortly thereafter. He spent all of 2022/23 — his rookie season — on a two-way contract with the Trail Blazers, appearing in 19 games while averaging 2.4 points in 11.6 minutes per contest.

The 21-year-old re-signed with Portland on a two-way deal in July, but was waived on October 20, just before the ’23/24 season began. He caught on with Washington a few days later, but didn’t appear in any NBA games for the Wizards this fall.

Butler has appeared in nine Showcase Cup games with the Go-Go this season, averaging 7.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 22.7 minutes.

The Wizards have 15 players on standard contracts, but they’ll have a two-way opening once the move is official.

Lakers Notes: Trade Market, Reaves, Vanderbilt, Hachimura, Vincent

The Lakers will be patient about assessing potential trades, team sources tell Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Numerous injuries have made it difficult to evaluate the current roster, so the front office will continue to study the type of moves that need to be made and wait to see what opportunities might develop if teams such as the Raptors, Wizards, Jazz, Nets or Hornets decide to have a “fire sale” before the February deadline, according to Buha.

December 15 marks the unofficial start of trade season as most of the free agents who signed this summer will become eligible to be moved. For L.A., that list includes D’Angelo Russell, Gabe Vincent, Taurean Prince, Cam Reddish, Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes. Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves will become trade-eligible a month later.

Buha notes that the Lakers have already been linked to Zach LaVine in trade rumors, along with fellow Bulls DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso. But it appears any deal may be a couple of months away.

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • Finding the best role for Reaves should be one of coach Darvin Ham‘s priorities for the rest of the season, Buha states in the same story. Reaves began the season as a starter, but he has put up better stats since being moved to a sixth-man role. Buha says the early-season slump could have been caused by fatigue from playing for Team USA in the World Cup or it could have been a result of adapting to more minutes at point guard. Regardless, Ham will eventually have to settle on a fifth starter from a group that includes Reaves, Prince, Reddish and Max Christie.
  • Meeting with reporters before tonight’s game, Ham confirmed that Jarred Vanderbilt will make his season debut after missing 20 games with bursitis in his left heel, Buha tweets. Hachimura has been medically cleared after missing the past four games following surgery for a nasal fracture, but Ham said “it’s more of a touch-and-feel thing with Rui” regarding how much he will play.
  • Vincent has only appeared in four games because of a left knee effusion, but he’s getting closer to a return, Ham added, saying that he’s lifting weights, shooting and running on an anti-gravity treadmill (Twitter link). “He’s progressing along,” Ham said. “Not as of yet, but he’s progressing really, really good.”

Southeast Notes: Adebayo, Heat, Magic, Wizards, McGowens, Smith

Heat center Bam Adebayo went to the locker room in the second quarter of Miami’s Thursday victory over the Pacers after re-aggravating a hip injury, then was later ruled out for the rest of the game.

He came in those last four minutes of the second quarter and he was just getting some treatment at halftime with the intention to come back,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “I basically talked to him in my office and just said, ‘Look, you’re laboring like the fourth quarter of the New York game and it’s November right now. I’m not putting you back in in the second half. I’m taking this decision out of your hands.’ I didn’t even talk to the trainers at that point.

This lingering hip issue has caused Adebayo to miss three games this season already. While it hasn’t yet kept him out of action long-term, it’s still worth monitoring Miami’s leading scorer and rebounder.

It’s not, thankfully, something serious,” Spoelstra said. “It’s just you play competitive NBA basketball, you get hit, you’re jumping and you’re twisting, all that stuff. He heals fast, so we’ll continue to treat him and see where we are.

With Adebayo out of action, the Heat turned to Thomas Bryant, who had previously been out of the rotation, but he only logged six minutes to start the second half. Orlando Robinson also saw some action, but Kevin Love took on the brunt of the workload at the position.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Spoelstra made headlines this offseason when he said he felt the Heat were deeper this year than last. At the time, the Heat had just missed out on trading for Damian Lillard and lost Gabe Vincent and Max Strus to free agency. But Spoelstra appears to have been proven right, with Miami’s depth propelling the team in the early parts of the season, Chiang writes in a separate piece. Even with Tyler Herro unavailable, the Heat’s reserves outscored Indiana’s bench 66-23 on Thursday. Love, Josh Richardson, Caleb Martin and Jaime Jaquez are among the bench players currently flourishing. “That’s scary, man,” Martin said. “Shoot, Duncan is coming off a hand injury, you got Tyler who’s not even back in the mix. We got a lot of guys we can turn to and that’s the scary thing about it. … We just got a lot of talented dudes who are ready whenever their name is going to be called.
  • The Magic, whose 13-5 record is the second-best in the NBA, are one of the league’s top teams. Josh Robbins of The Athletic analyzes how Orlando set the standard for what a rebuild should look like, and compares it to how the Wizards have started theirs. As Robbins observes, the Magic sold high on their core at the right time, primarily by turning Nikola Vucevic into Franz Wagner, a baton handoff for franchise cornerstone, by way of trade. Robbins opines that for the Wizards, the best time to trade Bradley Beal, their centerpiece at the time, was from 2019-21. Then, when former decision-makers gave Beal a no-trade clause, it forced newly hired president Michael Winger and general manager Will Dawkins to sell low on the three-time All-Star, failing to kick-start a rebuild in the way the Magic did when they traded Vucevic.
  • Hornets guards Bryce McGowens and Nick Smith are both getting increased opportunities in Charlotte, with each scoring season highs in Thursday’s win over the Nets. “Bryce is just putting a lot of work in and it’s showing,” Charlotte guard Terry Rozier said, per The Charlotte Observer’s Roderick Boone. “That’s all it is. We are all happy for him and hopefully he can keep it going.” Smith said he’s enjoying the chance to contribute as a young rookie.

NBA Waiver Order Now Based On 2023/24 Records

As of December 1, the NBA’s waiver priority order is determined by teams’ current-year records, rather than the previous season’s results.

That means, starting today, the waiver order for this season is based on teams’ 2023/24 records, with the worst teams getting the highest priority. In other words, if two teams place a claim on the same player, the team lower in this season’s NBA standings will be awarded that player.

Up until today, the waiver claim order was based on which teams had the worst records in 2022/23.

Waiver claims are relatively rare in the NBA, but it’s still worth noting which teams will have the first crack at intriguing players who may be cut over the next few weeks or months.

[RELATED: 2023/24 NBA Waiver Claims]

Here’s what the teams at the top of the NBA’s waiver order look like as of today:

  1. Detroit Pistons (2-17)
  2. San Antonio Spurs (3-15) (tie)
    Washington Wizards (3-15) (tie)
  3. Memphis Grizzlies (4-13)
  4. Chicago Bulls (6-14)
  5. Utah Jazz (6-13)
  6. Portland Trail Blazers (6-12)
  7. Charlotte Hornets (6-11)
  8. Los Angeles Clippers (8-10)
  9. Golden State Warriors (9-10) (tie)
    Toronto Raptors (9-10) (tie)

In instances where multiple teams have identical records, head-to-head record for the current season is used to break ties — the team with the worst winning percentage in head-to-head games gets the higher priority.

If the tied teams have yet to face one another or if they’ve split their head-to-head matchups, a coin flip determines priority for those teams. That would be the case for both the Spurs and Wizards and Warriors and Raptors right now, since those two pairs have yet to go up against each other this season.

If a waived player can’t be claimed using the minimum salary exception, a team must use a trade exception, a disabled player exception, or cap room to absorb his salary. So a club with a top priority won’t be in position to nab just anyone who reaches waivers.

The Pistons, for example, have no cap space or exceptions available to place a waiver claim on any player earning more than the minimum, so despite their spot at the top of the waiver order, their ability to claim players is somewhat limited.

Deni Avdija Finds Shooting Consistency

  • Wizards forward Deni Avdija has become more consistent after being a hot-and-cold shooter through his first three NBA seasons, notes Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports. Avdija is third on the team in scoring at 12.1 PPG while shooting a career-high 51.9% from the floor and 39.6% from three-point range. The 22-year-old is solidified as part of the future in Washington after signing a four-year extension prior to the season.

Warriors Notes: Moody, Thompson, Green, Paul, Payton

Moses Moody hit several big shots in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, but he wasn’t on the floor for the closing minutes as the Warriors fell to the Kings. That’s something coach Steve Kerr may have to change if the third-year guard remains productive, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.

Moody scored 11 points in the first seven minutes of the quarter, making all four of his shot attempts. However, Kerr opted to replace him with Andrew Wiggins with 4:26 remaining.

“Moses was awesome tonight,” Kerr said. “We needed (Wiggins) on the floor for defense against (De’Aaron) Fox, and we decided to go with Klay (Thompson) and our vets. We thought about keeping him out there. But we made the move that we made.”

Kerr’s loyalty to his veterans cost the Warriors an important division game and a possibly a chance to reach the in-season tournament quarterfinals, according to Marcus Thompson. With Moody and rookie Brandin Podziemski both playing well, Thompson believes Kerr will eventually have to trust them with a game on the line.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry remains as productive as ever, but Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are no longer playing at a championship level, contends Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. He notes that Thompson has been forcing shots and can’t stay in front of quicker players on defense, while Green’s intensity has been out of control lately, resulting in a five-game suspension for an incident with Rudy Gobert and a near ejection for mocking the officials in Tuesday’s game. O’Connor’s recommendation is for the Warriors to shake up their roster with a trade, using Chris Paul‘s salary and some of their young talent. He suggests targets such as the RaptorsPascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, the BullsAlex Caruso, the WizardsKyle Kuzma, or possibly Lauri Markkanen from the Jazz or Kawhi Leonard or Paul George from the Clippers if those teams continue to struggle.
  • Golden State could be heading toward a difficult place with Thompson if he can’t shake his early-season slump, observes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. Thompson has an expiring contract, and if he can’t prove that he’s worth the four-year, $220MM extension that he reportedly expects, his only choices next summer will be to either leave the Warriors or re-sign for significantly less.
  • A pair of injuries added to the team’s woes in Tuesday’s loss, notes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Paul was ruled out with lower left leg soreness shortly after halftime, and Gary Payton II hobbled to the locker room with a right calf injury late in the third quarter.

Schedule For NBA Tournament Non-Qualifiers Set

The NBA in-season tournament will reach the quarterfinal stage next week and the eight qualifiers and their seeds were finalized on Tuesday. The 22 teams that failed to advance had two holes in their schedules that needed to be filled.

Those matchups were determined late Tuesday evening, with each team receiving a home and away contest, NBA Communications tweets. The newly-scheduled games will take place next Wednesday (December 6) and Friday (Dec. 8).

The Cavaliers and Magic, who missed the quarterfinals despite their 3-1 tournament records, will face each other in Cleveland on Wednesday. Cleveland will then visit the Heat (2-2 tournament) on Friday.

The Nets, who also had a 3-1 tournament record, wound up with a road game against the Hawks (1-3) and home game against the Wizards (0-4)

The Sixers, who finished 2-2 in the tournament, drew a road game against the Wizards and a home game against the Hawks.

In the West, the Timberwolves were the only 3-1 tournament team that didn’t reach the quarterfinals. They’ll host the Spurs (0-4) and visit the Grizzlies (0-4).

The defending champion Nuggets will visit Los Angeles to face the Clippers (1-3), then head home to take on the Rockets (2-2). The Warriors, who were knocked out of contention by Sacramento on Tuesday, drew a home game against the Trail Blazers (1-3) and a road contest against the Thunder (1-3).

Here’s the full schedule for next Wednesday and Friday:

Wednesday, Dec. 6

  • Orlando at Cleveland
  • Memphis at Detroit
  • Miami at Toronto
  • Philadelphia at Washington
  • Brooklyn at Atlanta
  • San Antonio at Minnesota
  • Charlotte at Chicago
  • Oklahoma City at Houston
  • Utah at Dallas
  • Portland at Golden State
  • Denver at LA Clippers

Friday, Dec. 8

  • Toronto at Charlotte
  • Detroit at Orlando
  • Atlanta at Philadelphia
  • Washington at Brooklyn
  • Cleveland at Miami
  • Minnesota at Memphis
  • Golden State at Oklahoma City
  • Chicago at San Antonio
  • Houston at Denver
  • LA Clippers at Utah
  • Dallas at Portland

Two more regular season games will be added to the NBA’s schedule after the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament are complete, since the four teams that lose those matchups will require an 82nd game on their respective schedules.

Ryan Rollins To Be Evaluated Weekly For Knee Strain

  • Ryan Rollins will be evaluated weekly for a right knee strain, the Wizards announced via Twitter. The second-year guard has missed the past two games, and the team explained that it is opting to handle the injury conservatively. Rollins has appeared in eight games, averaging 4.0 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 6.1 minutes per night.