Wayne Ellington

Lakers To Sign Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard

The Lakers are set to add three old friends as they prepare to mount another hoped-for deep postseason run for the 2021/22 season.

The team appears to be adding some much-needed perimeter shooting and big man depth after trading away wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, big men Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma and its No. 22 pick in the 2021 draft to the Wizards in a deal for the max salary of future Hall of Fame point guard Russell Westbrook last week.

The club will add free agent shooting guard Wayne Ellington on a one-year contract, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

The oft-traveled Ellington, 33, was most recently knocking down jumpers for the bottom-dwelling Pistons during the 2020/21 season. Ellington averaged 9.6 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 1.5 APG on .441/.422/.800 shooting. He was last with the Lakers during the 2014/15 season.

Los Angeles will also bring back a pair of prior Lakers champions. 2009 champ Trevor Ariza, a two-way forward, is set to re-join L.A. on a one-year deal, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Ariza, 36, was most recently with the Heat following a mid-season trade from Portland during the 2020/21 season. He played in 30 games with Miami, starting in 27, and averaged 9.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.0 SPG and 0.6 BPG across 28.0 MPG. He posted a solid shooting line of .411/.350/.773, and is a career 35.2% shooter from deep on an average of 4.1 attempts.

Ellington and Ariza should add reliable bench shooting behind the Lakers’ big three of Westbrook and All-Star forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Ariza remains still a solid defender, though he is no longer at the same level of his prior Lakers days.

2020 champ Dwight Howard will return to the Lakers as well, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The Lakers opted not to retain Howard after he and JaVale McGee helped proved rim-rolling and defensive moxie in the post during the team’s 2020 title run, and Howard signed on with the Sixers as All-Star Joel Embiid‘s prime backup for the 2020/21 season.

Howard, 35, has proven he can still be a sneakily-effective reserve center even in his NBA dotage, especially during the regular season. Howard averaged 7.0 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 0.9 BPG (plus a less-great 2.9 FPG) for Philadelphia in just 17.3 MPG.

Ellington, Ariza, and Howard will all be signing one-year, minimum-salary contracts, according to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Stein’s Latest: Lakers, Thomas, Holmes, Portis, More

Dwight Howard appears to be a strong candidate to rejoin the Lakers, who are also interested in veteran shooters Patty Mills and Wayne Ellington, according to Marc Stein of Substack. L.A. is looking for low-cost options to fill out its roster after the trade that brought Russell Westbrook from the Wizards, and Howard, Mills and Ellington may be willing to accept minimal deals for the chance to play for a title contender.

Given their financial position, the Lakers could have trouble holding onto Alex Caruso, Stein adds. The fourth-year guard has been effective in a bench role during his time in Los Angeles, and many teams are expected to pursue him.

There’s more from Stein:

  • The Celtics are interested in bringing back Isaiah Thomas, who was an All-Star in Boston before being sent out in the Kyrie Irving trade. New president of basketball operations Brad Stevens is a strong supporter of Thomas, who played three games for the Pelicans last season.
  • The Kings are expected to give center Richaun Holmes an offer in the four-year, $50MM range. However, he may do better on the open market after back-to-back strong seasons in Sacramento.
  • Several teams would like to add Bobby Portis, but there’s a belief around the league that he will stay with the Bucks despite their limited resources to re-sign him.
  • The Mavericks are virtually certain to keep center Boban Marjanović, who is a close friend of Luka Doncic.
  • There were some pre-draft trade rumors involving Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but the Thunder still see him as a franchise cornerstone and plan to use their draft capital to build around him. Gilgeous-Alexander is expected to receive a maximum extension on his rookie contract this summer, which would pay him $168MM over five years.
  • John Collins was the top target for the Spurs, who will have about $40MM to spend, but now that he’s expected to stay in Atlanta, San Antonio may shift to restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen.

Free Agency Rumors: Lowry, Dragic, Ball, Lakers, DeRozan, McGee

Miami is a legitimate option for Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in free agency, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. A source tells Reynolds that the Heat “have his attention and have had it for a while.”

Lowry will be among the top point guards on the market when free agency begins Monday, with the Pelicans, Mavericks and Sixers all likely to be heavily involved. Toronto may also make a strong bid to hang onto Lowry, who has been with the organization since 2012.

There are plenty of rumors on the eve of free agency:

  • Many teams are expected to be interested in veteran guard Goran Dragic if the Heat turn down their $19.4MM team option and make him a free agent, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Charania doesn’t identify any of the potential suitors, but says they include “several NBA title and postseason contenders.” Miami has a deadline of 5:00pm Eastern Time today to reach a decision on Dragic, along with a $15MM option on Andre Iguodala.
  • William Guillory and John Hollinger of The Athletic break down sign-and-trade possibilities for the Pelicans involving Lonzo Ball. The Bulls, Pacers, Clippers, Celtics and Wizards are all mentioned as potential sign-and-trade partners.
  • Dwight Howard could return to the Lakers to provide help at center, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times suggests in a free agent roundtable on both L.A. teams. Howard helped the Lakers win a title in 2020 before signing with the Sixers last offseason. Turner names Patty Mills, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Carmelo Anthony, Jeff Green, Iguodala, and Dragic as other possible targets. The Clippers may pursue DeMar DeRozan if he’s willing to take a pay cut, Andrew Greif states in the same piece.
  • JaVale McGee would “definitely” consider returning to the Nuggets, stating that a chance to win will be his priority in free agency, as Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post details.

Central Notes: Vucevic, Bulls, Joseph, Ellington, Warren

Nikola Vucevic didn’t shoot three-pointers when he entered the league in 2011, but it’s become a big part of his offensive game in recent years, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes. The All-Star center has drained 44.1% of his long-range shots since joining the Bulls. “I think it’s also the way the NBA has been going, and I had to adjust,” he said. “I used to shoot a lot of mid-ranges. That’s not as much a part of the way teams play, so I had to make an adjustment and evolve.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Lauri Markkanen, Daniel Theis, Denzel Valentine and Tomas Satoransky are among the players who likely won’t remain with the Bulls next season, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic speculates. Mayberry takes a look at each player and predicts whether they’ll be part of the front office’s plans.
  • The Pistons snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating Memphis on Thursday. It’s no coincidence that veterans guards Cory Joseph and Wayne Ellington suited up, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes. That duo scored 18 points apiece and Joseph added 11 assists. “Guys were kind of hanging their head and losing confidence a little bit,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “We understand – we’re rebuilding. But you’ve got to compete to win each night.” Ellington will be a free agent after the season, while Joseph’s $12.6MM contract is only partially guaranteed.
  • There were conflicting reports this week about whether T.J. Warren asked for a trade and his feelings toward Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren. J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link) cites a new source who says that Warren is happy in Indiana, noting that Warren has been featured offensively and will be paid like a main cog. Warren also likes playing in a smaller market and the franchise’s plans for him, regardless of who’s coaching the team, Michael’s source adds.

Buyout Rumors: Drummond, Porter, Wall, Ellington, Nuggets

The buyout market for Andre Drummond is expected to center around the Lakers and Knicks, says Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Reports earlier this week indicated that executives around the NBA widely view the Lakers as the favorites to land Drummond, given the team’s ability to offer him an immediate role and an opportunity to compete for a title.

However, the Knicks are an interesting wild card, since their leftover cap room would allow them to offer Drummond a multiyear contract worth eight figures annually without having to wait until the summer.

Drummond’s buyout agreement with Cleveland is in the works, while LaMarcus Aldridge‘s with the Spurs is already a done deal. Here are a few more notes and rumors on the buyout market:

  • Multiple teams are keeping an eye on Otto Porter as a potential buyout candidate following the trade that will send him from Chicago to Orlando, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). However, the Magic‘s plan for now is to hang onto Porter, a source tells Haynes.
  • The Rockets and John Wall aren’t discussing a buyout, league sources tell Haynes (Twitter link). Wall has two years and $91.6MM left on his contract after this season, so it would’ve been a shock if the two sides were already looking at a possible buyout.
  • After retaining Wayne Ellington through the trade deadline, the Pistons have no plans to buy out the veteran sharpshooter, says Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).
  • Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link) expects the Nuggets to take a long look at the buyout market, especially if an appealing shooting guard becomes available.

Central Rumors: Turner, Pistons, Plumlee, Diallo, Bulls

The Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, Hornets, and Pelicans are among the teams to explore whether the Pacers are willing to trade big man Myles Turner, league sources tell J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

The Pacers were willing to discuss Turner in trade talks during the 2020 offseason and have lost 17 of their last 26 games after an 8-4 start this season, so it’s no surprise that teams are inquiring on the NBA’s leading shot-blocker.

However, Michael says that if Indiana does look to make a move at the trade deadline, it’s unlikely to involve Turner, who has developed into a crucial part of the team’s success. The Pacers have been better both offensively and defensively when he’s on the court.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Within his look at some hypothetical trades for the Pistons, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic reports that the team is seriously discussing trades involving Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, and Mason Plumlee, adding that there have been some “whispers” about the Nets potentially being interested in Plumlee.
  • Hamidou Diallo‘s Pistons debut will be delayed a little longer due to his groin strain, head coach Dwane Casey said on Monday (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press). Diallo missed his last several games with Oklahoma City as a result of the injury, which he suffered on February 24.
  • The Bulls‘ new-look rotation got off to a good start on Sunday, as the team comfortably defeated Toronto with Tomas Satoransky and Thaddeus Young replacing Coby White and Wendell Carter in the starting lineup. Head coach Billy Donovan cautioned after the game that the new starting five isn’t “set in stone” (Twitter link via Eric Woodyard of ESPN). However, the affected players sounded fully on board with the changes, with Carter stating that he would’ve benched himself too, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes.
  • Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores what the lineup changes might say about the Bulls‘ approach to the trade deadline, suggesting that the team seems unlikely to be a seller.

Trade Rumors: Hill, Ariza, Tucker, Hawks, Collins, Celtics, More

Multiple playoff contenders have interest in Thunder veterans George Hill and Trevor Ariza, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. According to Charania, the Clippers are among the teams eyeing Hill.

Neither Hill nor Ariza is active right now for the Thunder. Hill hasn’t played since January 24 due to a right thumb injury, while Ariza has been away from the team all season, having been acquired in an offseason trade as a salary throw-in. Hill shouldn’t be out too much longer though, and there’s no indication that Ariza isn’t healthy.

The Thunder have been focusing on developing their young players, so Hill and Ariza are expendable. However, Charania notes that the team would be fine with retaining Hill, who is under contract for 2021/22 at a reasonable price ($10MM).

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from Charania:

  • The Rockets continue to discuss possible P.J. Tucker trades with teams like the Bucks, Heat, and Lakers, but the Nets are no longer believed to be actively involved, writes Charania. A Brooklyn deal for Tucker likely would’ve involved injured guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
  • The Hawks have made trade inquiries in recent weeks about wing players, per Charania. The team is currently missing two of its top young forwards, De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, due to injuries.
  • Hawks big man John Collins is among the potential trade targets being eyed by the Celtics, but Atlanta’s asking price is high, according to Charania, who says the team is seeking a high first-round pick and/or a talented young player. Collins is eligible for restricted free agency this summer.
  • The Pistons are after a second-round pick in exchange for veteran shooting guard Wayne Ellington, says Charania. Ellington is having a nice year in Detroit, with 10.6 PPG and a .422 3PT%.
  • Heat guard Avery Bradley and Grizzlies forward Gorgui Dieng are receiving interest from several teams, sources tell The Athletic.

Cavaliers, Pistons Among Definite Deadline Sellers

Because there’s now a potential path to the postseason for the top 10 teams in each NBA conference (via the new play-in tournament), it’s taking longer this season for clear sellers to emerge on the trade market, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Most teams are still in the playoff chase, which makes everyone bunched together and the trade market less active,” a high-ranking team official told The Athletic.

However, as Charania reports, at least two teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings look like definite sellers, according to rival teams. The 13th-seeded Cavaliers and the 15th-seeded Pistons appear to be open for business.

Cleveland’s most obvious trade candidate is Andre Drummond, who has been pulled from the rotation as the team looks to find a taker for him. According to Charania, there have been some exploratory calls on Drummond, with the Bulls among the teams to express some interest, but there’s still skepticism that the Cavs will find an appealing deal for the big man, who has an unwieldy $28.75MM cap hit.

Drummond isn’t the only Cavalier on the trade block. The club has also been open to discussing JaVale McGee, Cedi Osman, and Taurean Prince, according to Charania, who hears that multiple teams have inquired on the Cavs’ wing players. Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Isaac Okoro are viewed as the club’s core pieces and are presumably off-limits.

Like the Cavs, the Pistons have an expensive big man who is sitting out as the team attempts to move him. However, Blake Griffin, who is making more than Drummond ($36.8MM) and has another guaranteed year left on his contract, will be even harder to trade. Sources tell Charania and James Edwards III of The Athletic that Detroit will likely work toward a buyout with Griffin.

Veteran shooting guard Wayne Ellington is expected to draw interest from contenders on the trade market and should be a far more valuable trade chip than Griffin, given his affordable minimum salary and his strong production in 2020/21 (10.6 PPG, .435 3PT%).

According to Edwards, combo guard Delon Wright and big man Mason Plumlee have also registered interest from rival teams, but both players are under contract beyond this season, so the Pistons won’t necessarily feel compelled to move them. As Edwards explains, while Detroit will be a deadline seller, the sense around the league is that GM Troy Weaver won’t be as aggressive this month as he was during his first offseason on the job, when he remade nearly the entire roster.

Pistons Notes: Griffin, Youth Movement, Ellington, Wright

It’s hard to imagine a trade scenario for Blake Griffin, according to a number of staff members on The Athletic. Griffin’s max salary and declining play make it nearly impossible to deal him. Griffin, who will reportedly sit until the Pistons can find a trade partner or buy him out, is a shell of his former All-Star self after multiple knee surgeries, as the story points out his inability to dunk and block shots any longer. The Celtics, Trail Blazers, Nets, Warriors, Lakers, Bucks, Kings and Spurs are all mentioned as possible destinations if Griffin is bought out.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • If Griffin is able to pick his next destination, the situation will be a win-win for both him and the Pistons, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press writes. GM Troy Weaver can continue to chart his own course with his multi-year rebuilding plan and the team’s younger players, like Eastern Conference Player of the Week Saddiq Bey, can get extended playing time.
  • Griffin deserves to be remembered fondly by Detroit fans, James Edwards of The Athletic opines. Griffin led the team to the playoffs two seasons ago and continually played through injuries and pain. He showed the city’s trademark grit, diving for loose balls, barking at opponents and taking charges. Griffin gave everything he could to the team until his body betrayed him, Edwards adds.
  • Given his age and early-season production, Wayne Ellington is the most logical player to be traded, Edwards writes in a separate piece. The Pistons might be able to flip the veteran shooting guard for a second-round pick. Delon Wright‘s versatility to play both guard positions could also make him an attractive trade target. The Sixers are one of the teams reportedly interested in Wright.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Central Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Central Division:

Wayne Ellington, Pistons, 33, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

What has gotten into Ellington? Signed to add some depth at the shooting guard spot, Ellington has emerged as a starter and is on the hottest 3-point roll of his career. He’s knocked down at least four long balls and scored at least 16 points in each of the last seven games. Overall, he’s averaging a career-best 13.4 PPG in 24.2 MPG while making 53.2% of his 3-point attempts. Obviously, he’s not going to sustain this pace but at the least, Ellington has shown he can still help a team with his perimeter shooting.

Andre Drummond, Cavaliers, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $127.2MM deal in 2016

Sometimes people tend to dwell on a player’s shortcomings and forget about the positives. The Pistons basically gave away Drummond to a division rival last February to clear cap space. Yes, he can’t shoot from outside and he’s brutal at the foul line but what’s so bad about having the best rebounder on the planet on your side? Drummond is averaging a career-high 18.9 PPG with the aid of two young guards breaking down defenses. With the addition of Jarrett Allen, he’s probably not in the Cavs’ long-term plans. He’s not a max player but Drummond is still one of the league’s top big men and he’ll get a strong multi-year contract despite his flaws.

Tomas Satoransky, Bulls, 29, PG/SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $30MM deal in 2019

Chicago has an interesting dilemma with Satoransky following the season if it’s unable to move him in a trade. His $10MM salary for next season is 50% guaranteed. The Bulls would have to eat $5MM in dead money to cut him loose but Satoransky’s status with the organization has fallen. He was once viewed as its potential solution at point guard. Right now, he’s struggling just to stay in the rotation. If he winds up in the free agent market, Satornasky won’t be viewed as more than a second-unit option.

Bobby Portis, Bucks, 25, PF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $7.4MM deal in 2020

Portis has a $3.8MM player option on his contract for next season. The way he’s playing, he’ll certainly decline it and take his chances on the free agent market. Portis has been a solid addition for a title contender, establishing himself as the team’s sixth man. He’s averaging 10.9 PPG and is second on the team in rebounding (7.7 RPG), while his PER ranks third on the team. Portis’ offensive production has dipped some in the last two weeks but he still had a 21-point outing against Atlanta on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.