Wayne Ellington

Bulls Rumors: Ball, Ellington, I. Smith, Point Guards

The Bulls figure to cast a wide net as they seek out point guard help this summer, as it’s the position most in need of an upgrade on their roster. In fact, Chicago has already had at least one interesting discussion involving a point guard this year.

An NBA executive tells Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times that the Bulls and Lakers had “initial conversations” about Lonzo Ball after Ball’s camp leaked that Chicago would be on the point guard’s list of preferred destinations if he were traded.

It’s not clear whether those in-season discussions went anywhere or if either team plans on revisiting them this summer, but it’s a signal that the Bulls figure to explore plenty of options as they consider how to fortify their point guard position.

Here’s more out of Chicago:

  • According to one scout, the Bulls have “taken interest” in the Pistons’ roster, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, adding that the club likes Wayne Ellington‘s shooting and Ish Smith‘s ability to run a team. Both veterans will be free agents this offseason.
  • While he recognizes that the Bulls aren’t likely to be major players for top free agents this year, executive VP of basketball operations John Paxson believes Chicago is on the right track to eventually become an attractive destination again, as Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I do think that when you establish yourself, which we’re trying to do right now as a relevant team again, and as we get better positioning ourselves to have money when guys come up in the future, I think this will be a destination place,” Paxson said last week. “But we have to get better. That’s the thing. We have to get to a point where we are playing for important things. But our young guys have to develop into the type of players that other guys want to play with. And I think we have a couple guys right now on the roster and hopefully we’ll have more in the future.”
  • Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago takes a closer look at the Bulls’ roster by position, identifying which players are likely – or unlikely – to return, and reiterating that point guard tops the club’s list of offseason needs.

Eastern Notes: Ellington, Wizards, Cavs

Detroit remains in the playoff race in large part due to the addition of Wayne Ellington. The shooting guard has made 38.1% of his looks from behind the arc on 7.8 attempts per game since coming to the franchise. Coach Dwane Casey sees Ellington’s use of his speed as a major reason why he’s able to succeed from 3-point land.

“If he was slow coming off, teams would chase him over and get there. He really comes off with speed and he knows how to change speeds to get open. [Luke Kennard] could really learn from him as far as watching him work out. It’s not just for games. He does it every day in practice,” Casey said (via Keith Langlois of NBA.com).

The Pistons were in need of outside shooting after shipping Reggie Bullock to the Lakers at the trade deadline and the team is glad it was able to nab Ellington after the veteran agreed to a buyout with the Suns. The sharpshooter will again be a free agent at the end of the season.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Wizards are working with prominent sports executive Mike Forde as the team looks to reset its front office, a source tells Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Forde is the CEO of Sportsology and was previously the director of football operations for Chelsea in the Premier League.
  • Bradley Beal has been a mentor to Troy Brown Jr. and the All-NBA candidate sees a bright future for the Wizards‘ rookie, as Zach Rosen of NBA.com relays. “I told him in the beginning of the year, you are going to see a lot of stuff throughout this year, and one thing I always tell him is, it is easy to just get caught up in the negativity but the more positive you stay and the more ready you stay, your name will eventually be called and sure enough, it was called and he performed,” Beal said. “He did excellent. He has been constantly growing. It is just a matter of him just getting more minutes.”
  • The Cavaliers‘ home arena will see a name change from Quicken Loans Arena to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, according to Tom Withers of The Associated Press. The venue is also undergoing “major” renovations.

And-Ones: Calipari, Trice, Ochefu, Pistons

After receiving some interest from UCLA, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has elected to remain with the Wildcats, and the program made it worth his while to do so, reports Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com. According to Borzello, Calipari – who was already under contract through 2024 – has agreed to an extension that will run through his retirement, and will also feature a lifetime role as an ambassador to the university.

“Where else would I want to coach?” Calipari said on his radio show in confirming the news.

Calipari reportedly received a six-year, $48MM offer from UCLA before electing to extend his agreement with Kentucky, per Seth Davis of The Athletic. The 60-year-old is the highest-paid head coach in the NCAA ranks, earning a reported $9.2MM salary this season.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Travis Trice, a veteran G League guard who has been in camp with the Knicks and Bucks in recent years, is headed to Turkey to continue his professional career. After averaging 16.9 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 4.3 RPG in 36 total NBAGL games this season for the Austin Spurs and Wisconsin Herd, Trice has officially signed with Tofas SK, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Former Wizards center Daniel Ochefu, who appeared in 19 games for Washington in 2016/17, has signed with Spanish team CB Breogan, according to an announcement from the club (via Twitter). Ochefu spent most of the 2018/19 season with the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate, posting 14.8 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 39 games (24.2 MPG).
  • The Pistons will enter the offseason looking to fortify their point guard and wing spots, but won’t have much financial flexibility to do so. As such, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press wonders if attempting to re-sign Ish Smith and Wayne Ellington might make the most sense for the club.

Lakers Rumors: Zubac, LeBron, Butler, PG13, Randle

The Lakers‘ decision to trade Ivica Zubac to the Clippers in a deal for Mike Muscala was one of the more questionable deadline moves last month. To make matter worse, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com writes that the Lakers actually instigated those trade discussions.

Sources tell McMenamin that the Clippers never inquired on Zubac, and that it was the Lakers who made the offer, which the Clips “gladly accepted.” Veteran Clippers executive Jerry West “couldn’t believe how Zubac fell into his lap,” McMenamin writes.

The Lakers had hoped the roster spot they opened up in that swap – which also included Michael Beasley – would clear the way for the team to sign a player like Wayne Ellington, DeAndre Jordan, or Enes Kanter on the buyout market, per McMenamin. However, those players either chose other teams or never became available.

McMenamin’s latest article for ESPN digs into the Lakers’ disappointing season in detail, and includes several more noteworthy tidbits. Here are the highlights from the piece:

  • One team source tells McMenamin that they felt as if LeBron James didn’t fully engage with his younger teammates prior to the trade deadline.
  • Rajon Rondo organized a players-only meeting about a month ago in the hopes that the team would find “a better understanding of one another,” a source tells McMenamin. Players spoke up about LeBron’s “inconsistent body language,” and James took the criticism to heart, making an effort to improve on that going forward. Of course, the meeting hasn’t led to improved on-court results. “Just because [the meeting] was positive doesn’t mean we’re going to win 25 games in a row,” a team source told McMenamin.
  • Anthony Davis‘ name didn’t come up last summer when James met with Magic Johnson on the eve of free agency and discussed future plans. However, it has been clear all year that the Lakers intend to pair LeBron with a second maximum-salary free agent. L.A. was one of several teams to inquire on Jimmy Butler before he was sent to Philadelphia last fall, McMenamin reports.
  • Paul George‘s decision to stay in Oklahoma City last offseason was more about what the Thunder did right than what the Lakers did wrong, sources tell McMenamin. Still, it’s worth noting that George was somewhat familiar with how the Lakers ran things, having spoken to his agent Aaron Mintz and former teammate Corey Brewer about their experiences with the organization.
  • Mintz represents Julius Randle, who never received an offer from the Lakers as a restricted free agency last July, per McMenamin. Randle ultimately signed with the Pelicans because he felt like they really wanted him, which wasn’t a feeling he got from the Lakers, despite the fact that head coach Luke Walton and his staff hoped he’d be back, McMenamin writes.

Central Notes: Ellington, Cavs, Middleton, Pistons

Wayne Ellington has seen significant minutes since joining the Pistons, a stark contrast from his previous situation with the Heat. Miami traded him to Phoenix on February 7, with both sides then reaching a buyout to allow him to enter free agency and sign with Detroit.

Ellington has averaged 28.5 minutes in his first four games with his new team, including a 33-minute contest against Boston before All-Star Weekend.

“Wayne showed in his minutes against Boston that he’s picked up things pretty quickly,” head coach Dwane Casey said, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Ellington has started in the last two games for the Pistons — including the team’s 119-96 victory over the Heat on Saturday — proving his worth as a valuable shooting guard capable of spreading the floor around Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and others.

Ellington spent much of the All-Star break studying plays and prepping for his ascension to the starting five, according to Beard. It’s possible that he remains in this role for an extended time, with the Pistons currently fighting for a playoff berth alongside Brooklyn, Charlotte, Orlando, Miami and Washington.

There’s more out of the Central Division today:

  • The Cavaliers are not interested in tanking and plan to play at a playoff pace the rest of the season, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes“With everybody coming back and guys really coming into their own — myself, Cedi (Osman), Collin (Sexton) has been playing great — I would like to see us, if you start the season today, I would like to see us in the playoffs,” Larry Nance Jr. said. “Look, I know we’re not going to make the playoffs. I know that. I’m talking about finishing top eight in the conference just over the final 23 games.” Despite his honesty, Nance Jr. recognized the importance of continuing to play with a competitive fire until the season ends.
  • Zach Lowe of ESPN.com details the game of Bucks guard Khris Middleton, a rare kind of second star who’s expected to reach free agency this July. Middleton, an NBA All-Star, has averaged 17.3 points on 38% shooting from 3-point range with the team this season. “It’s amazing how Khris has grown,” teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “As a team, we have clicked. It is something special.”
  • Pistons center Andre Drummond still has plenty of room to improve, Rod Beard writes in his mailbag for The Detroit News. Drummond, 25, makes up a talented Detroit frontcourt alongside Blake Griffin. Beard also discussed the role of Svi Mykhailiuk, whether the team can build a successful roster around Griffin, and more.

Heat Notes: Wade, Ellington, Dragic, Draft Age

Coach Erik Spoelstra cites “an instant and inherent built-in level of urgency” for the Heat to reach the playoffs in Dwyane Wade‘s final season, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami is stuck in ninth place at 26-31, a game behind the Pistons, whom they host tonight. Wade announced before the start of the season that this would be his final year in the NBA, and the organization wants to send him off with a playoff appearance.

Wade won’t be moved into the starting lineup, but Spoelstra plans to expand his role. Wade has remained productive in his 16th season, averaging 14.1 points per night in 47 games, all as a reserve.

“You can see what’s happening,” Spoelstra said. “He’s going to be starting to play starter’s minutes. We’ve made it through this far of the season and he’s feeling great. We’ve protected each other to this point — but now it’s go time. I’m going to keep the dynamics as much as I can the same. I don’t want too many moving parts this late in the season.”

There’s more Heat news to pass along:

  • Miami will see a couple of players in the next three days who were traded just before the deadline, Winderman adds in the same story. The Pistons feature Wayne Ellington, who wasn’t getting consistent playing time in Miami, and Spoelstra said the organization worked with Ellington’s representatives to find him a better situation. “He decided at this point of his career he wanted to go to a place where he could play going into free agency,” Spoelstra explained. Tyler Johnson and the Suns will face the Heat on Monday.
  • Goran Dragic will play tonight for the first time since having knee surgery in December, but his minutes will be limited, Winderman tweets.
  • Wade is a strong proponent of lowering the draft age so that players who believe they’re ready for the NBA won’t be forced into a year of college basketball, Winderman adds in a separate piece. The NBA submitted a proposal to the players union this week to lower the draft age from 19 to 18, but the change that won’t take effect until 2022 if it’s approved. “I just think the rule should be that if a guy, if he’s good enough to come out at 18, at 17, he should be able to,” Wade said. “Just like other sports and other things in the world, you’re able to go to the war early.”

Central Notes: Ellington, Stauskas, Oladipo

The Pistons used up the remainder of their mid-level exception to sign guard Wayne Ellington, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Detroit made a $2.4MM commitment to acquire Ellington, who was waived by the Suns after getting traded by the Heat last week. The team remains $252K under the luxury tax threshold and it has no player bonuses that would push it over the tax, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

The Pistons divvied up portions of the mid-level to sign free agent Glenn Robinson III and second-round picks Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown Jr. over the summer. Ellington got off to a slow start in his Pistons debut, shooting 1-for-8 from the field against Washington on Monday night.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The signing of free agent guard Nik Stauskas technically pushed the Cavaliers over the luxury tax line but they’ll drop below it due to an unrelated acquisition, Marks notes in another tweet. Cleveland will get a $750K credit based on John Henson‘s bonuses being deemed unlikely at the end of the season. That will put the Cavs $722K below the tax line. Henson was acquired as part of the George Hill deal with the Bucks in early December but has yet to make his Cavs debut after undergoing wrist surgery in late November.
  • Stauskas is happy he would up back with the Cavaliers, believing he’ll get a chance to showcase his skills, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Stauskas was traded by Portland to Cleveland last week. He was included in two other deals, then waived before re-signing with the rebuilding club. “This team is not in a playoff position right now so they’re in the stage of developing guys and obviously it’s not like you look at the roster and have a bunch of All-Star talent,” Stauskas said. “I’m coming from Portland where I was playing behind guys like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum — established guys. You look at the roster here and you don’t necessarily have that. I look at the opportunity coming in and help this team win some games and maybe help show what I can do as well.”
  • Victor Oladipo‘s season-ending quad injury occurred in the same area of his right knee that forced him to miss 11 games earlier this season, according to an ESPN report. However, the Pacers star guard is unsure if the earlier injury led to the more serious one. The soreness Oladipo felt in November and December was just above the right knee. “Sure, it might be connected, but who knows,” Oladipo said. “I’m not focused on the past because I have no control over that, just like I have no control over the future.”

Pistons Sign Wayne Ellington, Waive Henry Ellenson

6:09pm: The move is official, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

4:03pm: Wayne Ellington has cleared waivers and the Pistons will sign him to a contract, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link).

Ellington was sent to the Suns in the Tyler Johnson trade and the veteran was subsequently waived. It was reported on Friday that Detroit was nearing a deal with the 31-year-old after beating out “heavy competition” for his services.

While the Pistons don’t provide Ellington with a chance to compete for a title, they do provide him a path to court time on a potential playoff team. Detroit traded away Reggie Bullock, arguably the team’s best shooter, earlier in the week and Ellington, who’s a career 38.0% shooter from downtown, will have a chance to fill that void.

As we mentioned in our log of every team’s roster situation, the Pistons had a full roster and needed to make a corresponding move to add the shooting guard. The team will waive Henry Ellenson in order to make room for Ellington.

Pistons, Wayne Ellington Nearing Agreement

Wayne Ellington, who is currently on waivers and will become a free agent this weekend, is closing in on a contract agreement with the Pistons, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Ellington, who spent most of the season with the Heat, was sent from Miami to Phoenix in a trade this week. The veteran sharpshooter has a contract that gave him the right to veto a potential deal, but he signed off on the trade based on the knowledge that the Suns would release him, giving him the chance to join a contender.

While the 24-29 Pistons certainly aren’t the NBA’s most obvious “contender,” they’re currently just 1.5 games out of the playoff picture in the East. The Hornets and Heat hold the seventh and eighth seeds with 26-28 and 25-27 records, respectively, so Ellington could get the opportunity to help knock his old team out of the postseason.

Ellington, 31, has a career .380 3PT% and has made at least 2.3 threes per game in each of the last three seasons with the Heat, but saw his role cut back significantly in 2018/19. He struggled to crack a crowded rotation in Miami, appearing in just 25 games this season and suggesting that he wouldn’t mind a change of scenery if it gave him the opportunity to play more.

He’ll get that chance in Detroit, which may have been one of the reasons why he chose the Pistons over other suitors. According to Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (via Twitter), the Pistons beat out “heavy competition” for Ellington. After trading away Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson in a pair of deals this week, the club should have a clear role available on the wing for the former UNC standout.

The Pistons currently have a full 15-man roster, so they’ll have to waive someone to open up a spot for Ellington.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Suns Waive Guard Wayne Ellington

4:11pm: The move is official, according to a team press release.

4:06pm: The Suns will place newly-acquired Wayne Ellington on waivers today, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 Phoenix tweets.

Ellington and guard Tyler Johnson were dealt to Phoenix for forward Ryan Anderson but the Suns had no intention of retaining the veteran shooting guard. Ellington was caught in a logjam of wings with the Heat, bouncing in-and-out of the rotation. He’ll now be free to seek a team that can offer him more playing time.

Ellington had the ability to veto a trade, so he wouldn’t have agreed to it unless he would end up in a more favorable situation. The Pistons, who just traded starting shooting guard Reggie Bullock to the Lakers, are expected to pursue Ellington. The Thunder have also been mentioned as a potential suitor.

Ellington has an expiring $6.27MM contract. The 31-year-old guard, who appeared in 25 games with Miami this season, is a career 38% 3-point shooter.