Wizards Rumors

John Wall On Torn Achilles Recovery: ‘Taking Baby Steps’

Wizards point guard John Wall, in the midst of recovering from a torn Achilles, is making some strides in his recovery.

“I’m great, man. Just rehabbing, working out and lifting weights. I’m shooting some jumpshots, doing some ball-handling and stuff like that,” Wall said to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller.

Wall, 29, suffered the injury this past January during a fall at his home as he was recovering from a heel injury. Given Washington’s lofty financial commitment to the five-time All-Star, it’s uncertain how much he will be able to contribute when he’s healthy.

At his peak, Wall has shown himself as one of the premier point guards in the NBA. Just last season, he averaged 20.7 PPG and 8.1 APG in 32 contests before the injuries set in.

However, at this point, Wall is taking a conservative approach in his recovery so he does not end up re-injuring himself more.

“I understand because I’ve played through injuries before that if I try to come back too soon or too fast, I could be hurt and have to start all over again. I’m not trying to go through that process again, so I’m finally taking my baby steps,” he said.

14 NBA Teams Have Open 20-Man Roster Spots

With NBA training camps right around the corner, several more teams filled their 20-man offseason rosters this week. The Hornets did so on Monday, with the Mavericks, Pistons, Raptors, and Hawks following suit over the next few days. Those clubs join a list of 16 total teams that don’t have any openings on their offseason rosters.

Of course, every NBA team with a full 20-man roster is carrying multiple players who have non-guaranteed contracts, so it’s not as if any of them would be hamstrung if they really want to sign another player. But for now at least, it appears as if those 16 teams have their 20-man squads set for when camps get underway at the end of the month.

That leaves 14 clubs that still have open roster spots, as our tracker shows. Here’s a breakdown of those teams, along with my speculation on whether we can expect them to make moves within the next week or two:

19 players under contract:

  • Golden State Warriors
  • Philadelphia 76ers
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Washington Wizards

None of these teams are carrying 15 players on fully guaranteed contracts, so it’s possible they’ll still add a veteran player who could earn a regular season roster spot. But it’s more likely that they’ll each sign another young player who could end up in the G League, since all four teams have their own NBAGL affiliates. The Wizards, who need to add some point guard depth, are said to be eyeing Chris Chiozza for their final spot.

18 players under contract:

  • Boston Celtics
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Houston Rockets
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Orlando Magic
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Portland Trail Blazers

While it’s not official yet, the Celtics essentially have a full roster. Kaiser Gates and Yante Maten have both reportedly agreed to Exhibit 10 contracts with the Celtics, but have yet to finalize them. Once they’re under contract, Boston’s 20-man roster will be full.

The Magic could also have a full 20-man roster if and when they complete their reported agreement with Isaac Humphries and sign first-round pick Chuma Okeke. The Pelicans, meanwhile, reportedly reached deals with undrafted rookies Jalen Adams, Javon Bess, and Aubrey Dawkins, but there’s only room for two of them on the roster, so unless New Orleans plans to waive a player, the team won’t be signing all three.

The Rockets are signing Thabo Sefolosha and would have room for one more camp invitee, while I’d expect the Suns to invite two more young players to camp with them.

The Nuggets and Trail Blazers don’t have their own G League affiliates, so they may not fill out their rosters unless they just need healthy bodies for camp.

17 players under contract:

  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Oklahoma City Thunder

All three of these teams have their own G League affiliates and should fill out their camp rosters with young players who can play for the Long Island Nets, Windy City Bulls, or OKC Blue. Of course, rumors continue to swirl that the Nets are eyeing Carmelo Anthony, but I wouldn’t expect the Bulls or Thunder to be seeking any veteran help.

Nuggets Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Bol, Cancar

Possible extensions for Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez are the last pieces of business the Nuggets may address before the opening of training camp, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Denver’s front office acted quickly to give Jamal Murray a max extension, but the others aren’t clear-cut decisions, and Singer examines the positives and negatives of reaching deals with both players before the October 21 deadline.

Beasley emerged as a valuable bench player last season after injuries to Gary Harris and Will Barton. He averaged 15.9 PPG and shot 55% from the field as a starter, including 50% on 3-pointers. He enters this season as Harris’ primary backup, but still needs to improve on defense before coach Michael Malone will be comfortable playing him late in games. Singer speculates that based on last year’s performance, Beasley may want to skip an extension and try his luck as a restricted free agent next summer.

Hernangomez is coming off an injury-plagued season that saw him fall out of the rotation by the second half of the season. He had core surgery after the season ended and is coming off a strong performance with Spain’s gold medal-winning World Cup team. Hernangomez doesn’t have an established role and figures to compete for playing time with Barton, Torrey Craig, Michael Porter Jr. and Jerami Grant.

There’s more today from Denver:

  • It may be time for the Nuggets to move some of their depth in exchange for an established star, suggests Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. If the Wizards decide to part with Bradley Beal, for example, Kosmider believes Denver could put together a competitive offer involving Harris, Porter and a future first-rounder or possibly Hernangomez, Monte Morris, Beasley and a future pick. Other possible targets could include Kevin Love, Jeff Teague or one of the Raptors‘ veterans.
  • Bol Bol may spend his entire rookie season in the G League, Kosmider states in a mailbag column. Bol was a highly touted college prospect before injuries cut his season short, and the Nuggets view him as a project that will take time to develop, Kosmider adds, which is why he was signed to a two-way contract. Bol’s progress may be complicated because Denver doesn’t have a direct G League affiliate, which means much of the work will be done by another organization.
  • Vlatko Cancar may be in the same position, but his standard contract gives him a better chance to win a role in training camp, Kosmider notes in the same piece.

Isaiah Thomas Undergoes Thumb Surgery, Out 6-8 Weeks

Isaiah Thomas, who has only appeared in 44 games over the last two seasons due to injuries, will have to recover from at least one more health issue before making his debut with the Wizards.

According to a press release from the team, Thomas underwent surgery today to repair a rupture of the radial collateral ligament of his left thumb. The Wizards say that Thomas will be sidelined for six to eight weeks while he recovers, meaning he won’t be ready for training camp or the start of the regular season.

“This was an unfortunate setback for Isaiah, but with his resolve and the top care he will receive from our medical team, we expect him to make a full recovery,” Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “In the meantime, he will continue to mentor our young guards and have a positive impact on the team as we start training camp.”

Hip injuries limited Thomas to 32 games in 2017/18 with the Cavaliers and Lakers and just 12 contests last season in Denver. The veteran point guard signed with the Wizards as a free agent this summer in the hopes of playing a major role in the backcourt for the club with John Wall sidelined due to an Achilles tear and Tomas Satoransky no longer in the mix.

Assuming Thomas is able to return to the court within six to eight weeks, he’d be on track to make his regular season debut in early November and could still end up being a major part of Washington’s rotation. However, fellow free agent signee Ish Smith figures to secure the starting point guard role in Thomas’ absence.

The Wizards have no real veteran point guards on the roster behind Smith and Thomas, with second-year guard Isaac Bonga or undrafted rookie Justin Robinson next in line on the depth chart. So we’ll see if the team adds another player before the season begins to address its lack of depth at the position.

Wizards Sign Justin Anderson To Non-Guaranteed Contract

Free agent swingman Justin Anderson has officially signed a one-year contract with the Wizards, per RealGM’s NBA transactions log. Fred Katz of The Athletic, who reported in August that the two sides were working toward an agreement, confirmed that a non-guaranteed deal has been finalized (Twitter link).

Anderson, who will turn 26 in November, reached the open market this summer following the expiration of his rookie scale contract. He initially signed that four-year deal with Dallas after being selected 21st overall in the 2015 draft, but was traded to Philadelphia at the 2017 trade deadline and then to Atlanta during the 2018 offseason.

In 48 games last season for the Hawks, Anderson recorded 3.7 PPG and 1.8 RPG on .408/.312/.743 shooting in just 9.6 minutes per contest. His union with the Wizards represents a homecoming of sorts, as he attended high school in Maryland and played his college ball at Virginia.

With Anderson locked up, the Wizards now have 19 players under contract. Of those 19 players, 13 have fully guaranteed salaries for 2019/20, five are on non-guaranteed deals, and one has a two-way contract.

It’s not clear what Washington’s plans are for the 14th spot on its roster or if the club plans to carry a 15th man to start the season. Assuming Anderson gets a chance to compete for one of those spots, he’d be up against the likes of Jordan McRae, Justin Robinson, Jemerrio Jones, and Phil Booth.

Rod Thorn Expected To Join Wizards As Advisor

Hall-of-Fame NBA executive Rod Thorn is expected to join the Wizards soon in an advisory role, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

A former NBA player, Thorn began his post-playing career as a coach before shifting to management positions. He spent time as the Bulls’ general manager, the Nets’ GM, the Sixers’ president, and the league’s executive vice president (and later president) of basketball operations. Since 2015, Thorn has served as a special consultant to Bucks ownership.

It’s not clear how extensive Thorn’s responsibilities would be in his new position with the Wizards. The franchise has spent the last couple months reshaping its front office, with Tommy Sheppard taking over for Ernie Grunfeld as the club’s new head of basketball operations.

Former NFL executive Sashi Brown, ex-Clippers executive Johnny Rogers, and longtime NBA player Antawn Jamison are among Washington’s other recent front office additions.

Wizards GM Reiterates Desire To Keep Bradley Beal

After a wild NBA offseason in which several All-Stars changed teams, there are few intriguing trade candidates left on the market. While league observers have speculated that Bradley Beal could be the next star to be shopped, new Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard reiterated to Brad Botkin of CBS Sports that trading Beal isn’t an idea the club is considering.

“The way that I look at this is pretty simple,” Sheppard said. “If you were looking to build a team, Brad would be the type of player anyone would want to start with. You look at the character, the talent, the age, just the whole package … Brad is without a doubt a core player in this league. Every team would love to have him, and we do.

“So we’ve never considered anything other than a situation where Brad is with us and leading us forward. We made that clear to him on the first day we could offer him an extension, and we’ll continue to make that clear.”

As Sheppard notes, Beal became eligible to sign a contract extension earlier this offseason, and the Wizards reportedly put the most lucrative possible offer on the table as soon as they were allowed to do so. However, if the All-Star shooting guard wants to maximize his potential earnings, it’s in his best interest to wait until at least next summer to sign a new deal, even if he’d like to stay in D.C.

It remains to be seen just how serious Beal is about sticking with the Wizards. He talked earlier this summer about wanting to see what sort of direction the team went in with its front office and its roster, so he has certainly been monitoring Sheppard’s first offseason as the club’s head of basketball operations. Obviously, if Beal were to request a trade, the Wizards may be forced to reconsider their stance on keeping him long-term, but there’s no indication that he plans to make such a request.

With the Wizards expected to be a lottery team in 2019/20 and Beal’s contract set to expire after the 2020/21 season, this will be a situation worth watching, but for now Sheppard remains steadfast in his desire to build around the 26-year-old.

Southeast Notes: Thomas, Heat, Augustin

Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas has a prime opportunity to prove himself with the franchise this season, joining a roster lacking depth at point guard due to the lengthy recovery time for John Wall.

Thomas, 30, appeared in just 12 games with the Nuggets last season and 32 games with the Cavs and Lakers back in 2017/18. During his last healthy season, the 2016/17 campaign with Boston, he held per-game averages of 28.9 points and 5.9 assists in 76 contests.

“The NBA is about ‘what have you done for me lately?’ I understood that at a younger age and I get it,” Thomas said, as relayed by Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“These last two years have been tough. But I always say that it can’t storm forever. So, at some point things gotta open up. Hopefully with this big opportunity with the Wizards, I can show people that I can still play at a high level.”

Thomas has found new motivation coming off a quiet season with Denver, working out with on-court trainer Andre Brown during the offseason with hopes of regaining his old footing in the league.

“This opportunity is going to be big for him, to shock the world,” Brown said of Thomas. “I just want everyone to pay attention and open [their] eyes and know that ‘it’s time.'”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Heat will likely try and trade out of the luxury tax if possible, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Miami has little to no additional flexibility outside of its 14 players under contract, with players set to report to training camp in less than one month.
  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Winderman ponders whether the Heat are sacrificing developmental opportunities. Miami signed veteran forward Udonis Haslem to its 14th roster spot this offseason, as Winderman notes, valuing the 39-year-old’s experience and locker room leadership for their current group of players.
  • Magic guard D.J. Augustin hopes the team’s offseason will lay a foundation for future success, Dan Savage of NBA.com writes. “They’re in here every day whether it’s on the court working out or in the weight room lifting weights, the fact that they’re here now and have been here all summer doing those things, it’s going to go a long way in their growth and their development as basketball players,” Augustin said of Orlando’s young core, which includes the likes of Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba and Markelle Fultz. “Every guy doesn’t work out the same, some guys hang out in the summer time and work out every now and then, but those guys are dedicated and they’re working hard every single day.”

Bulls Notes: Satoransky, Porter, Blakeney, Harrison

The Bulls believe they pulled off a steal by landing Tomas Satoransky in a sign-and-trade with the Wizards, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago gave up a pair of second-round picks for the fourth-year combo guard after reaching a three-year, $30MM agreement with him in free agency. Satoransky was a restricted free agent, but his price tag was too high for Washington to match in the face of salary cap concerns.

Satoranksy averaged 8.9 points and 5.0 assists in 80 games last season and took over as the Wizards’ starting point guard after an injury sidelined John Wall midway through the season. But Bulls coach Jim Boylen said the intangibles that Santoransky brings are just as important.

“In my conversation with (vice president of basketball operations John Paxson) and (general manager Gar Forman), it was about what kind of character we can bring in that can still play, that can help us win because what we’ve needed is durability and availability. We haven’t had that,” Boylen said. “In looking out over the free agents and the guys we felt we could get, just looking at where Washington was and what they were trying to do, having some (cap) issues, he was the guy we targeted for all those characteristics I believe in.’’

There’s more from Chicago:

  • The Bulls had a strong advocate for Satoransky in former teammate Otto Porter Jr., Crowley adds. Porter, who was acquired from Washington in a February trade, was also deemed expandable because the Wizards were looking to trim salary. “Otto loved him, and ‘Sato’ loved Otto,’’ Boylen said. “Otto is a big part of this team. His trade is not talked about enough. We were 7-5 in February because, first of all, we got rid of (Jabari Parker), and we added a guy who brings synergy and chemistry. Otto has that synergy and chemistry with ‘Sato.’’’
  • The impending release of Antonio Blakeney is good news for Shaquille Harrison, who is now ticketed for the 15th roster spot, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Harrison is entering his second season with the Bulls after putting together a 6.5/3.0/1.9 line in 73 games last year. He is scheduled to make $1,620,564 this season, but carries just a $175K guarantee until January 10, when all NBA contracts become fully guaranteed.
  • Once Blakeney hits waivers, he’ll be eligible to be claimed by any team except for the Warriors and Heat, who are both have hard cap restrictions, according to Marks (Twitter link). If he is claimed, Blakeney’s contract will carry a $1.6MM cap hit.

Rui Hachimura To Miss Rest Of World Cup

Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura won’t play in the final two games of the 2019 World Cup for Team Japan, according to a statement issued by the Wizards and Japan Basketball. After going 0-3 in round-one play, Japan has been eliminated from medal contention, but will continue playing in the classification round. They’ll do so without Hachimura, however.

“Rui experienced knee discomfort and general fatigue during the World Cup, which we have jointly monitored with the Wizards,” Japan Basketball said in a statement. “While everyone had hoped for Rui to finish the World Cup with Team Japan, the Wizards and Japan Basketball believe it is best for Rui to not play the final two games and have a short period of rest before he must start NBA training camp with the Wizards which begins only three weeks from now.”

Despite Japan’s lack of success in the 2019 World Cup, they’ve already secured a berth in the 2020 Olympics as the host nation. Hachimura is expected to suit up again for his home country in Tokyo next summer following his rookie season with the Wizards.