Wayne Ellington

Injury Notes: Diakite, P. Williams, C. White, Zion, Lakers

Thunder forward Mamadi Diakite has been diagnosed with a left hip fracture and has been ruled out indefinitely, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter links). Diakite sustained the injury during Sunday’s preseason game against Milwaukee, Mussatto adds.

It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Diakite, who was claimed off waivers by the Thunder last month and was trying to prove he deserved a spot on the regular season roster. Only $100K of Diakite’s minimum-salary contract is guaranteed, making him a potential casualty of a roster crunch.

Although the Thunder haven’t revealed their plans for their 15-man regular season roster, they’re carrying 13 players on guaranteed contracts, and Kenrich Williams is a lock for the roster despite his non-guaranteed salary. That leaves just one available 15-man spot — if Diakite’s injury takes him out of the running, Gabriel Deck and D.J. Wilson would likely be the top contenders for it.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams appears to be nearing a return. He participated fully in Wednesday’s practice and said his injured ankle “feels good,” per Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Bulls guard Coby White, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, still isn’t close to being cleared for contact. Head coach Billy Donovan said on Wednesday the team is about three or four weeks away from determining the next step in White’s rehab process (Twitter link via Cody Westerlund of 670TheScore.com).
  • Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin said last month he thought Zion Williamson, who underwent offseason foot surgery, would be ready for opening night. However, head coach Willie Green confirmed on Monday that Williamson still isn’t running or participating in team activities, according to William Guillory of The Athletic, who says Zion’s uncertain status leaves New Orleans in limbo with the regular season around the corner.
  • Lakers head coach Frank Vogel is hopeful that Malik Monk (groin) and Kendrick Nunn (ankle) will be ready to go by opening night, per Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group (Twitter links). However, veteran guard Wayne Ellington is dealing with a hamstring strain that makes him more of a question mark for the start of the season.

Lakers Notes: Centers, Monk, Two-Ways, Brown, Queen

With Anthony Davis expected to see more action at the center spot this season, it remains to be seen how much playing time former All-NBA big men Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan will get at the five for the Lakers. However, as Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes, Jordan isn’t overly concerned about how many minutes he’ll play.

“That’s the blessing of it, having a lot of different lineups that you can use. And I think each game is gonna have a say on what we do,” Jordan said on Saturday. “We can be rolling with a huge lineup. And, you know, we’ll win with that. And some games may need us to go small. And I think that at this point of my career, of all of our careers, you know, at the end of the day, ultimately, we just want to be able to win and be able to achieve something as a collective.”

Howard, who played a career-low 17.3 minutes per contest last season in Philadelphia, shares Jordan’s philosophy.

“Leave the ego at the door, leave it at home when you wake up,” Howard said of his role. “There’s no need to have it. We all represent this emblem that’s behind me, this Laker logo. We understand that, and it’s whatever the team needs to win.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Malik Monk‘s impressive preseason debut on Sunday further complicates an already-crowded battle for playing time at shooting guard, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who observes that the Lakers will have to find time at the two for Monk, Wayne Ellington, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kent Bazemore, and Kendrick Nunn. Nunn has generally played point guard, but may not see much action there if Russell Westbrook plays big minutes and Rajon Rondo has a regular role, Buha notes.
  • Cameron Oliver, Mac McClung, Chaundee Brown, and Trevelin Queen are the camp invitees currently in the mix for the Lakers’ second two-way contract slot, but the team could end up going outside of the organization to fill that spot, as Buta writes in the same story. “We’re gonna see how the preseason plays out,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “See who all is available, both the guys that are here, or who are around the league, guys that might get cut, and we’ll make a decision closer to opening night.”
  • If the Lakers do convert one of their current camp invitees to a two-way contract, Brown and Queen may be the frontrunners, says Buha. Both of those players are wings, which might be the Lakers’ biggest need.

Pacific Notes: Green, Ariza, Ellington, Booker, Kings Guards

Draymond Green is skeptical that the current Warriors roster can produce championship results, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. He doesn’t see how incorporating second-year centers James Wiseman and two first-round rookies into the mix with veterans who have won won multiple championship can deliver another title.

“Historically, we have not seen that work, where you have a mix of old … well, I wouldn’t say any of us are old. … But a mixture of experience and hardly any experience, historically, in just being a fan of the NBA,” he said. “I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen someone have success with that.”

Green, who also spoke of his relationships with coach Steve Kerr and GM Bob Myers, said he won’t urge teammate Andrew Wiggins to get vaccinated, feeling that it’s “none of my business” and “it’s not my place to tell what he should or shouldn’t do” in regard to medical decisions.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Who will start for the Lakers along with the Big Three of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook? It’s up for grabs and the speculation entering camp was that the two leading candidates would be Trevor Ariza and Kent Bazemore. Ariza still remains the favorite to claim the small forward spot but 3-point shooter Wayne Ellington is the current favorite to be Westbrook’s backcourt partner, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
  • Suns star guard Devin Booker recently tested positive for COVID-19, but returned to practice on Friday. He confirmed he’s been fully vaccinated and has passed the league protocols, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. Coach Monty Williams said it’s unlikely Booker will play in Monday’s preseason opener at Sacramento.
  • The Kings are expected to show a lot of three-guard lineups this season. De’Aaron Fox said it’s up to those players to make it work, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. “We’ve talked about playing three guards and, at the end of the day, what you give up is size, so that comes from rebounding and defense, but we have to buckle down and do that,” Fox said. “If we can’t, then obviously the three of us won’t be able to play together and coach (Luke Walton) is going to have to figure something else out, but we all want to play together.”

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Paul, Ariza, Lakers, Howard

The two-year, $21.6MM commitment the Clippers made to Reggie Jackson, including a $10.38MM cap hit next season, will have major tax implications for the team, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. After accounting for new contracts for Jackson and Kawhi Leonard, who is expected to sign for the maximum, the Clippers’ tax bill is projected to be $95MM. Taking into account both salaries and tax penalties, the cost of the roster will be $265MM, says Marks.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • In a separate tweet, Marks provides the specific details on Chris Paul‘s new four-year, $120MM contract with the Suns, confirming a report that the deal includes $75MM in guaranteed money. It will start at $30MM before dipping in year two and increasing again in the third year, which is partially guaranteed for $15.8MM. The structure will allow Phoenix to stay out of the tax in 2021/22 and ensures the deal’s cap hit will be lowest in ’22/23, when potential new contracts for Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges go into effect.
  • Trevor Ariza, who has signed a one-year deal with the Lakers, said that Russell Westbrook recruited him, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. Westbrook called Ariza approximately 20 minutes after Westbrook was traded to the Lakers, the veteran forward said. He also said his children urged him to sign with the Lakers.
  • The Lakers may be stockpiling aging veterans like Ariza, Carmelo Anthony, Wayne Ellington and Dwight Howard to help LeBron James and Anthony Davis win another title, but Howard said there won’t be a lack of energy or enthusiasm, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. “I think we have new life, all of us coming together and playing,” he said of the Lakers’ vets. “I think it’s going to provide new life being able to see who we have on our roster, who’s going to be playing alongside of us each and every day. I think we’ll have so much energy it will be hard to contain.”

And-Ones: Smith, Biyombo, Spurs, Hall, Almansa, Trade Market

The Pistons officially renounced their rights to Wayne Ellington, who has signed with the Lakers, and Dennis Smith Jr., according to the RealGM transactions log. The Hornets renounced four players, including Bismack Biyombo, while the Spurs renounced their rights to a whopping 13 players. San Antonio’s list includes Donatas Motiejunas and David Lee, who haven’t appeared in an NBA game for years. Renouncing those rights allows teams to maximize their cap room in free agency.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Donta Hall has signed with France’s Betclic Elite side AS Monaco, Sportando relays. Hall, who turns 24 on Saturday, played 13 games with the Magic this past season on two 10-day contracts and an end-of-the-season deal via the hardship exception. The power forward also played a total of nine games for the Pistons and Nets in 2019/20.
  • Overtime Elite has added another top European prospect. Izan Almansa has signed with the league, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. The 6’9” Almansa, a 16-year old Spanish power forward, is the second player OTE has signed from Real Madrid’s youth program and seventh international prospect.
  • While free agency is winding down, the trade market could continue to percolate in the coming weeks, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes. Ben Simmons and Damian Lillard top the list of stars who could be on the move, while the Raptors and Magic are teams to watch, with the latter possibly taking on an onerous contract in order to acquire future assets.
  • The ESPN duo of Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks also take a look at unresolved storylines this month involving free agency, the trade market and potential extensions.

Lakers Sign Dwight Howard, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza

AUGUST 6: The Lakers have officially completed their deal with Howard, the team announced today (via Twitter). The club also confirmed the signings of Ellington and Ariza (Twitter links).


AUGUST 2: 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.