Wes Iwundu

Trail Blazers Sign Wes Iwundu To Camp Deal

The Trail Blazers have signed Wes Iwundu to a contract, the team announced today in a press release.

While the Blazers opted not to disclose the terms of the deal, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian (subscriber-only link) hears from a source that it’s a training camp contract. That’s a non-guaranteed one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum.

Iwundu, 27, has appeared in 226 regular season games for the Magic, Mavericks, Pelicans, and Hawks since being selected 33rd overall in the 2017 draft out of Kansas State. He’s considered a solid perimeter defender, but doesn’t produce much on the offensive end, with career averages of 4.4 PPG and 2.5 RPG on .408/.292/.798 shooting in 16.9 minutes per contest.

Iwundu played in just three games at the NBA level last season while on a 10-day contract with the Hawks. He spent much of the year with the Cleveland Charge in the G League.

The Blazers don’t have a G League team and Iwundu isn’t eligible for a two-way contract, so if he’s going to stick in the organization, he’ll have to earn a spot on Portland’s 15-man regular season roster. The team only has 14 players on guaranteed contracts, but seems likely to keep that 15th spot open at the start of the season to avoid going into the tax.

Jazz Notes: Far From Contending, Mini-Camp, Prospect Workouts

All four of the 2021/22 Conference Finalists — the Warriors, Mavericks, Celtics and Heat — proved how far the Jazz are from contending for a championship, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News opines.

Todd notes that head coach Quin Snyder, whose status remains uncertain for next season, said Utah was very close to competing at the highest level at his end-of-season press conference.

This year, I thought that our record didn’t necessarily reflect what we could do in the playoffs. I felt like we were this close to having a spark and kicking it in and finding that unity, that extra secret sauce, and taking off. And obviously that didn’t happen,” Snyder said, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Todd disagrees. Even assuming the Jazz had advanced past Dallas in the first round (they lost in six games), Todd is doubtful the Jazz would have been able to take the Suns to seven games in the second round, as Dallas was able to do.

She also doesn’t think the Jazz would have fared any better than the Mavs did against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, if they’d gotten past Phoenix.

Ultimately, the Todd believes the flawed roster was too much to overcome, and Utah’s front office will have a tough job improving it this summer.

Here’s more from Utah:

And-Ones: Beasley, Rising Stars, Graham, Iwundu, Draft

Veteran forward Michael Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, is training in Miami in the hopes of making an NBA comeback, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who says Beasley and his representatives have been in touch with multiple teams.

In a candid conversation with Scotto, Beasley spoke about his NBA career to date, revisiting some of the good stretches, including his season with the Knicks in 2017/18, and the bad, like his time with the Lakers in 2018/19.

“My mom died when I was playing for the Lakers,” Beasley said. “I fought through that, and I came back. My cousin died the game I forgot my shorts in Oklahoma. I was battling that day, trying to fight through it. I wanted to go to the funeral, but I was already gone when my mom died. I just wanted to be there for the team, and the whole world just laughed at me. … It hurt my feelings. I’m not going to lie.”

Beasley is now 33 years old and has been out of the league since 2019, but he tells Scotto he’s “better than I’ve ever been” and has spent the last three years “perfecting my craft on every level on both sides of the ball.”

Agent Charles Briscoe tells Scotto (Twitter link) that the NBA sent a memo to teams informing them Beasley will be eligible to return to play on February 14. It’s unclear whether the forward’s current ineligibility is related to his 2019 suspension (which he never got a chance to serve), delayed FIBA paperwork following a brief stint in Puerto Rico, or something else. In any case, it sounds like he’ll be an option for NBA teams in a few weeks.

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

  • The NBA has announced a new format for its Rising Stars event at All-Star weekend, which will take place on Friday, February 18. The event will feature four seven-player teams competing in a three-game tournament (two semifinals and a final). The player pool will be comprised of 12 NBA rookies, 12 sophomores, and four players from the G League Ignite, while the games will be played to a target score: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.
  • The four Ignite players in the Rising Stars event will likely be Jaden Hardy, Michael Foster, Dyson Daniels, and MarJon Beauchamp, tweets Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Those four players will be draft-eligible in 2022, unlike 17-year-old Scoot Henderson.
  • After signing NBA G League contracts, veteran wings Treveon Graham and Wes Iwundu have new teams, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link), who hears from league sources that Graham has been acquired by the Long Island Nets (Brooklyn’s affiliate), while Iwundu has joined the Cleveland Charge (the Cavaliers‘ affiliate).
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report provides a stock report on some of the top prospects of the 2022 NBA draft class, identifying Duke forward AJ Griffin, G League Ignite forward MarJon Beauchamp, and LSU Tari Eason as some players who are climbing up draft boards.

Wes Iwundu Signs G League Contract

Free agent swingman Wes Iwundu has signed a G League contract, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Iwundu played three games for the Hawks in late December on a 10-day contract under the hardship exception. He averaged 7.3 PPG and 4.3 RPG in 27.3 MPG in those contests.

Iwundu spent his first four professional seasons in the NBA after being selected 33rd overall in the 2017 draft by the Magic. He was in Orlando for three years, then played for the Mavericks and Pelicans in 2020/21.

In 226 total games (16.9 MPG), he has averaged 4.4 PPG and 2.5 RPG on .408/.292/.750 shooting.

The Hornets waived Iwundu in October  The Pelicans dealt Iwundu to Charlotte as part of the Devonte’ Graham sign-and-trade.

Eastern Notes: Rubio, Iwundu, Beal, Livers

Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio, who left Tuesday’s game after injuring his left knee, will get an MRI on that knee today to determine the severity of the injury, according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Rubio has played a key role in the Cavaliers’ resurgence this season — although he hasn’t been in the starting lineup for most of the year, the veteran point guard has logged 970 total minutes, the second-highest mark on the team.

Rubio, who wasn’t able to put any weight on his left leg as he left the court on Tuesday night, tore his left ACL back in 2012, Lopez notes. The Cavaliers are holding their breath and hoping that this injury isn’t as serious as that one.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Hawks wing Wes Iwundu has exited the health and safety protocols, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Woj, Iwundu will rejoin the team in Chicago on Wednesday ahead of its game vs. the Bulls.
  • Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who stated in September that he remained unvaccinated, has since received a COVID-19 vaccine, people familiar with the situation tell Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. Beal is currently in the health and safety protocols, but his updated vaccinated status was “welcome news to many in the organization,” says Wallace.
  • After growing up in Kalamazoo and playing his college ball at Michigan, Isaiah Livers appreciated the opportunity to stay close to home with the Pistons and tells James L. Edwards III of The Athletic that he had a sense entering this year’s draft that Detroit would try to land him. “(General manager) Troy (Weaver), we were talking. A lot of the pre-draft, he was very interested,” Livers said. “He told me straight-up that he was interested in me and talked about what I could bring to the table, to the team. Once he told me that, he was one of the few GMs to say that to me. I thought he was definitely going to grab me if he had the chance. I was ready.”

COVID-19 Updates: Hawks, Blazers, Celtics, Bucks, Nets

Wesley Iwundu, who just signed a 10-day contract with the Hawks on Thursday, has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Iwundu played 23 minutes in the Hawks’ 98-96 victory over the Sixers Thursday night, scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds. ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets that the Hawks will need to sign another replacement player to replace Iwundu — himself a replacement player.

Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu, who made his season debut last week, has entered the protocols as well, Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. In three games this season (22.3 MPG), Okongwu is averaging 10.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.0 BPG. The Hawks now have nine players in the protocols.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates:

  • Backup point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and two-way rookie Trendon Watford have entered the protocols for the Trail Blazers and the rest of the team will now be re-tested, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). DSJ and Watford are the only players currently in the protocols for the Blazers.
  • The Celtics have four new players entering the protocols: C.J. Miles, Justin Jackson, Aaron Nesmith, and Bruno Fernando, tweets Jared Weiss of The Athletic. However, Al Horford, Juan Hernangomez, Jabari Parker, and Brodric Thomas, who’ve all been in the protocols, are listed as questionable for Saturday’s game against Milwaukee, so they could be exiting the protocols soon. Until those four are cleared, the Celtics will have 12 players in the COVID-19 protocols — the largest outbreak in the NBA.
  • In addition to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis has exited the protocols for the Bucks, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. Like Horford and the other Celtics, Donte DiVincenzo, who’s also been in the protocols, is listed as questionable to make his season debut Saturday.
  • Meanwhile, Bruce Brown and James Johnson have exited the protocols for the Nets, but seven others, including star Kevin Durant, remain in the protocols for their game Saturday against the Lakers, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).
  • Warriors rookie Moses Moody has entered the protocols, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). Golden State now has four players in the protocols.

Hawks Sign Wesley Iwundu To 10-Day Contract

DECEMBER 23: Iwundu’s 10-day contract with the Hawks is now official, according to a press release from the team. The deal will run through January 1.


DECEMBER 22: The Hawks have reached an agreement to sign free agent forward Wesley Iwundu to a 10-day contract using a hardship exception, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

According to Wojnarowski, Iwundu will officially sign on Thursday before Atlanta’s game in Philadelphia, which means he won’t be available for Wednesday’s home game vs. Orlando.

Iwundu, who turned 27 on Monday, spent his first four professional seasons in the NBA after being selected 33rd overall in the 2017 draft by the Magic. He was in Orlando for three years, then played for the Mavericks and Pelicans in 2020/21. In 223 total games (16.8 MPG), he has averaged 4.3 PPG and 2.4 RPG on .407/.286/.799 shooting.

The Pelicans sent Iwundu to Charlotte in August as part of their Devonte’ Graham sign-and-trade and he was subsequently waived in October by the Hornets, despite having a fully guaranteed salary for 2021/22. Iwundu has been a free agent since then.

The Hawks have three players – Trae Young, Clint Capela, and Danilo Gallinari – in the health and safety protocols and have reached deals with three replacement players this week. Lance Stephenson and Malcolm Hill are also reportedly signing 10-day deals with Atlanta.

Hornets Release Wesley Iwundu

2:44pm: The Hornets have officially waived Iwundu, according to a press release from the team.


1:11pm: The Hornets will finalize their regular season roster by waiving swingman Wesley Iwundu, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Iwundu, who will turn 27 in December, has been in the NBA for four seasons after being selected 33rd overall in the 2017 draft by the Magic. He spent his first three years in Orlando, then played for the Mavericks and Pelicans in 2020/21. In 223 total games (16.8 MPG), he has averaged 4.3 PPG and 2.4 RPG on .407/.286/.799 shooting.

The Pelicans sent Iwundu to Charlotte this summer as part of the Devonte’ Graham sign-and-trade. Iwundu was a late addition to the deal for salary purposes, as his inclusion allowed New Orleans to create a significant trade exception. With the Hornets carrying 16 players on guaranteed contracts this fall, Iwundu always seemed to be the likeliest victim of the club’s roster crunch.

Charlotte will take on a $1,824,003 cap hit for Iwundu, assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers on Wednesday. The Hornets now have 15 players on standard contracts and a pair on two-way deals.

Pelicans Officially Acquire Valanciunas, Graham In Three-Team Trade

The Pelicans have officially announced a pair of previouslyreported trades, having combined their acquisitions of center Jonas Valanciunas and point guard Devonte’ Graham into a single transaction involving both the Grizzlies and Hornets. Memphis and Charlotte have put out press releases as well.

The details of the three-team deal are as follows:

  • To Pelicans:
    • Valanciunas (from Grizzlies)
    • Graham (sign-and-trade; from Hornets)
    • The draft rights to Trey Murphy (No. 17 pick; from Grizzlies)
    • The draft rights to Brandon Boston (No. 51 pick; from Grizzlies)
      • Note: Boston will be rerouted to the Clippers in a subsequent trade.
  • To Grizzlies:
    • Eric Bledsoe (from Pelicans)
    • Steven Adams (from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Ziaire Williams (No. 10 pick; from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Jared Butler (No. 40 pick; from Pelicans)
      • Note: Butler will be rerouted to the Jazz in a subsequent trade.
    • The Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick (top-10 protected; from Pelicans)
  • To Hornets:
    • Wesley Iwundu (from Pelicans)
    • The Pelicans’ 2022 first-round pick (top-14 protected; from Pelicans)
      • Note: If the Pelicans’ 2022 first-rounder falls in the top 14, the Hornets will instead receive New Orleans’ 2022 and 2024 second-round picks, per Rod Boone of SI.com.
    • Cash (from Pelicans)
    • The draft rights to Tyler Harvey (from Grizzlies)

The details of the three-team trade essentially line up with what was previously reported, with two new pieces added — Iwundu going from New Orleans to Charlotte and Harvey’s draft rights going from Memphis to Charlotte. Harvey was presumably only included to ensure that the Grizzlies and Hornets were “touching,” since otherwise Memphis would only have been exchanging assets with the Pelicans.

Looping their sign-and-trade acquisition of Graham into the trade suggests the Pelicans will operate over the cap, using Bledsoe’s and Adams’ outgoing salaries in order to match both Valanciunas and Graham instead of signing Graham into cap space.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), it also allows New Orleans to generate a $17MM+ trade exception in the deal. Only Bledsoe’s and Iwundu’s outgoing salaries are needed for matching purposes to take on Valanciunas and Graham, meaning the Pelicans’ new TPE is worth Adams’ salary ($17,073,171).

Graham reportedly signed a four-year, $47MM contract with the Pelicans as part of the trade. He and Tomas Satoransky appear set to play the majority of the minutes at point guard in New Orleans, barring further roster changes. The team is sending Lonzo Ball to Chicago in a separate sign-and-trade deal.

Graham made just 37.7% of his field goal attempts in 2020/21, but his three-point mark was a very respectable 37.5%. In addition to his ability to make threes, Graham is an above-average play-maker (6.5 APG over the last two seasons) and a respectable defender.

Swapping out Adams for Valanciunas should allow the Pelicans to improve their frontcourt spacing. Valanciunas isn’t exactly a long-distance marksman, but has a solid mid-range game and will shoot the occasional three-pointer, which should create more room for Zion Williamson to operate. The former No. 5 overall pick averaged an impressive 17.1 PPG and 12.5 RPG with a .592/.368/.773 shooting line in 62 games (28.3 MPG) this past season.

From the Grizzlies’ perspective, the deal was a way to improve their draft assets in both 2021 and 2022 as a result of their willingness to take on Adams’ and Bledsoe’s pricey contracts. The team moved up from No. 17 to No. 10 to snag Williams, and later flipped the No. 40 pick (Butler) to Utah in a separate trade to move up to No. 30 for Santi Aldama.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Offseason Trades]

The Hornets, meanwhile, decided to move on from Graham and got a protected first-round pick from New Orleans in exchange for waiving their right to match an offer sheet for the restricted free agent. Iwundu’s guaranteed $1.82MM salary for 2021/22 will eat up a small amount of Charlotte’s cap room, but the team will still have enough flexibility to complete its signing of Kelly Oubre to a two-year deal in the range of $12-13MM per year.

Pelicans Trade Redick, Melli To Mavs; Lonzo Ball Stays Put

MARCH 26: The trade is now official, according to announcement from thes Mavericks (Twitter link) and Pelicans.


MARCH 25: The Pelicans won’t be trading point guard Lonzo Ball at today’s deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). However, New Orleans has agreed to a deal that will send J.J. Redick to the Mavericks, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The Pelicans will receive James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu, and a 2021 second-round pick in exchange for Redick and Nicolo Melli, a source tells Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter links). New Orleans also received cash from the Mavericks in the deal, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Charania initially reported that the Redick deal would be a three-team trade that also sent Trey Lyles from the Spurs to Dallas, but has since clarified that it will just be a direct trade between the Pelicans and Mavs.

Redick, who was averaging 8.7 PPG in 31 appearances off the bench, had expressed a desire to be dealt to a team in the Northeast, where his family resides. He’ll have to wait until the offseason to make that happen but he’ll provide the Mavericks with another 3-point threat off the bench. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Melli reportedly wanted out after seeing his playing time decline in his second NBA season. He’s only appeared in 22 games this season. He can be a restricted free agent if Dallas decides to extend a $4.87MM qualifying offer. The Mavs will keep Melli at least through the end of this season, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

Johnson has an expiring $16MM contract. He’s averaging 5.7 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 29 games this season and gives the Pelicans another frontcourt option. Iwundu has seen action in 23 games this season but has only averaged 2.1 PPG in 12.5 MPG during those outings. He has another year left on his contract but his 2021/22 salary is just $1.82MM.

As for Ball, the Bulls, Knicks, Clippers, Nuggets and Sixers had all been linked to the former No. 2 pick to varying degrees in recent weeks, but New Orleans didn’t find a package attractive enough to deal its current floor leader.

The Pelicans will have to decide after the season whether to extend Ball a $14.36MM qualifying offer and make him a restricted free agent, or let him enter the market unrestricted. Assuming they extend that QO, as is expected, they’ll then have to weigh how aggressive they’re willing to be when it comes to a long-term contract offer.

Ball is averaging 14.2 PPG and 5.6 APG for the Pelicans, who are a disappointing five games below .500.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.