Wesley Iwundu

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.

Texas Notes: Iwundu, Wall, White, Hammon

The Mavericksquarantine issues could give Wesley Iwundu his first real opportunity since joining the team as a free agent last month, writes Eddie Sefko of NBA.com. Dallas is playing without Josh RichardsonDorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson, who are all out of action for at least a week.

Iwundu has gotten into four games so far, but is averaging just 5.0 minutes per night. He spent his first three seasons with the Magic before getting an offer from the Mavericks.

“Coming to Dallas, the focus on winning is higher,” Iwundu said. “You have a better team, better players and it’s just something you got to come in with that mindset that you want to get better each and every day.”

There’s more from the Lone Star State:

  • John Wall believes the Rockets‘ bench can be among the best in the league, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Wall often plays alongside the reserves, who are shooting 50% from the field, which is the best among NBA bench units. “I know I can score the ball,” Wall said. “At the same time, I can put pressure on the defense pushing the pace, running pick-and-rolls. And I can find my shooters, guys like Eric Gordon, Ben McLemore, DeMarcus (Cousins) out there, Jae’Sean Tate, Sterling Brown, (David) Nwaba. I have guys that can make shots.”
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich expects guard Derrick White to miss four to six weeks with a fractured toe, tweets Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. White had surgery on the toe in August and was sidelined through the first four games of the regular season. He reinjured it on New Year’s Day.
  • Popovich confirmed that assistant coach Becky Hammon is one of the Spurs‘ staff members not with the team because of health and safety protocols (Twitter link from Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News). Two staffers and reserve big man Drew Eubanks have been required to quarantine.

Pacific Notes: Harrell, Zubac, Oubre, Kings

Montrezl Harrell decided to sign with the Lakers because he wasn’t convinced the Clippers wanted to keep him, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Speaking to the media for the first time since accepting a two-year, $19MM offer to change teams, Harrell indicated that he would have remained with the Clippers if he believed they were interested.

“I feel that if you spend your career in any place long enough, you’re going to want to still keep playing there and keep growing there,” he said. “So, of course I still have great respect for those guys and for that organization. But like I said, as far as they wanted me back, obviously it doesn’t seem that way, does it?”

The new deal for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year contains a player option for 2021/22 that could have him back on the market in July. Some observers have suggested his connection to Klutch Sports prompted him to join fellow clients LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but Harrell said that wasn’t a factor.

“As far as my decision, it didn’t have any effect, because at the end of the day, my decision doesn’t affect neither one of those guys’ lives as far as their living conditions,” he said. “I have a family I have to provide for, so my decision was my decision.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Any further roster upgrades for the Clippers may have to come through trades, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times, who identifies Ivica Zubac, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams as their best assets. A rival executive tells Greif that Zubac would likely bring the greatest return because he’s only 23 and can still develop his game. Zubac is under contract for three more seasons at a total of $21MM. Williams, who is in the final year of his deal at $8MM, may have limited trade value because of his age and defensive liabilities. Executives who Greif spoke to believe it would be difficult to unload Beverley’s contract, which pays him $27MM over the next two seasons, and the Clippers would likely have to attach draft picks to move him.
  • After being traded from Phoenix to the Warriors, Kelly Oubre appeared to take a shot at Suns owner Robert Sarver, notes Nick Friedell of ESPN“I can play for an owner — somebody who actually cares about the organization and not just the perception of the organization on the media end of it,” Oubre said in a radio interview.
  • New Kings general manager Monte McNair looked for versatile players in the draft and tried to alter the roster to better fit De’Aaron Fox‘s timeline, writes Greg Wissinger of The Sacramento Bee. That’s why he pursued 25-year-old Wesley Iwundu and 26-year-old Willy Hernangomez, although both signed with other teams.

Free Agency Rumors: Ibaka, Iwundu, Hernangomez, Bazemore

Big man Serge Ibaka was not bereft of contending suitors in free agency, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Scotto notes that the Raptors, the team with whom Ibaka spent most of the last four seasons, apparently offered a one-year, $12MM deal to Ibaka for an encore appearance in 2020/21. Toronto was believed to be unwilling to offer multiple years, which would have cut into the team’s projected 2021 cap space.

The Nets also wanted Ibaka, but could only afford a taxpayer mid-level exception, which would have started at $5.7MM this season. Ibaka ultimately inked a two-year, $19MM contract with the Clippers.

Here are more free agency rumors:

  • Though swingman Wesley Iwundu ultimately opted to sign a two-year, veteran’s minimum contract with the Mavericks, the Hawks, Pelicans and Kings were also in the running for Iwundu’s services this offseason, Scotto reports in the same piece.
  • The Mavericks and Kings also considered adding reserve center Willy Hernangomez before he agreed to terms with the Pelicans on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal, per Scotto. Hernangomez’s 2019/20 club, the Hornets, also apparently wanted to re-sign the 26-year-old big man.
  • Scotto reports that former Kings wing Kent Bazemore also found himself in high demand this offseason before agreeing to a one-year veteran’s minimum deal with the Warriors. The LakersClippersBucksCeltics, Suns, Knicks, Nets, and Hornets were all interested in adding the three-and-D vet this offseason.

Mavericks Sign Wesley Iwundu To Two-Year Deal

DECEMBER 1: The Mavericks have officially added Iwundu to their roster, the team announced today (via Twitter).


NOVEMBER 21: Free agent swingman Wesley Iwundu is nearing a new deal with the Mavericks, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN reports (via Twitter) that Iwundu is headed to Dallas on a two-year deal, while Zach Lowe of ESPN tweets that it’ll be worth the veteran’s minimum.

Iwundu’s contract will be fully guaranteed, a source tells Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). That source confirms that J.J. Barea will be brought back and says the team still has an open roster spot to fill.

Iwundu, 25, spent the past three seasons in Orlando, where he was a valuable rotation piece and a part-time starter. He averaged 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds last season in about 18 minutes per night.

Magic To Give Clark Qualifying Offer, Let Iwundu, Frazier Walk

The Magic will extend a $1.82MM qualifying offer to forward Gary Clark, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets.

They will not extend a $2MM qualifying offer to swingman Wesley Iwundu and they’ll also decline their $1.66MM option on guard Melvin Frazier Jr. Both players will head into unrestricted free agency, while Clark will be restricted.

Orlando signed Clark after the Rockets waived him in early January. Clark, 25, appeared in 24 games for Orlando, averaging 3.6 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 14.8 MPG.

The decision on Iwundu, a second-round pick in 2017, is somewhat surprising. He started 21 of 52 games last season, averaging 5.8 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 18.3 MPG. It signals that Orlando felt it could get a rotation upgrade elsewhere.

Orlando’s decision on Frazier didn’t raise eyebrows. A 2018 second-round pick, Frazier never cracked the rotation, appearing in just 29 games over two seasons.

Central Notes: Harris, Crowder, Pistons, Avdija, Bulls

Forwards Joe Harris and Jae Crowder are free agents the Bucks might pursue with their mid-level exception, Eric Nehm of The Athletic speculates. Harris would provide another offensive threat, while Crowder is a defensive stalwart. If the Bucks pursue cheaper options, Josh JacksonWesley Iwundu, Gary Clark and Glenn Robinson are considerations with their biannual exception or minimum deals.

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • The Pistons are putting a premium on conditioning and weight training but they’ll look to balance that with offensive improvements, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Coach Dwane Casey looks at the Heat as a model of a team with toughness and shooting. “You’ve got to have a good mixture of hard-hat guys and shooters – guys who can put the ball in the hole,” he said. “The game is leaning that way. We all have to evolve from that standpoint.”
  • Israeli forward Deni Avdija could be an ideal complement to last year’s first-round pick, Sekou Doumbouya, Langlois writes in a separate story. Avdija has similar size and positional flexibility as Doumbouya, which could allow the Pistons to exploit mismatches. His offensive skills would add another playmaker at Casey’s disposal. However, Avdija would have to slide to the Pistons’ pick at No. 7 or they’d have to trade up to land him.
  • The Bulls won’t be making major roster changes this offseason but they could pursue a wing in free agency, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago opines. They would be wise not to hand out a long-term contract, as future cap space should be preserved until they show real improvement, Schaefer adds.

Eastern Notes: Embiid, Williams, Iwundu, Magic

Sixers center Joel Embiid said he’d like to play with Ben Simmons for his entire career, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype relays. Embiid made that comment during the Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast.

“I love him and I want to be with him for the rest of my career because I think he still has a lot of potential and we can get so much better than we are by now,” Embiid said of his Sixers teammate. “I don’t see the point of ever playing with somebody else. That’s someone that we love to be playing with for the rest of my career.”

Both stars are locked into long-term deals with the Sixers. Embiid’s contract runs through the 2022/23 season, while Simmons can’t become a free agent until the summer of 2024.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Bucks veteran forward Marvin Williams did not play in the team’s restart opener on Friday but it’s a minor injury issue, Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Williams is dealing with a moderate left groin strain and his absence is expected to be short-term.
  • Wesley Iwundu cleared the league’s concussion protocol but didn’t play in the Magic’s first seeding game due to injury, the team’s PR department tweets. The swingman is dealing with neck stiffness and soreness, an issue that cropped up during a scrimmage on Saturday.
  • The Magic built a big lead against the depleted Nets and held on for a 128-118 victory on Friday. They’re eager to prove that they’re a playoff team during the eight seeding games at the Orlando campus, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. “We’re going to play meaningful games here, which is what this is all about,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.

Magic’s Wesley Iwundu In Concussion Protocol

Magic forward Wesley Iwundu has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol, according to a tweet from the team. He was injured in Saturday’s scrimmage against the Lakers, suffering a cut above his left eye that required four stitches.

“I feel like we’re fortunate,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said (Twitter link from Josh Robbins of The Athletic). “That was right in front of us and it was scary. He really went down hard. And the way he fell, he didn’t have an ability to stop his fall. So I talked to him after the game, and I feel fortunate, like I said, that he wasn’t hurt more significantly.”

There is no set timetable for players to pass through the protocol. They must complete a series of tests to prove they no longer have concussion symptoms. Orlando, which enters the restart is in eighth place in the East, will have its first seeding game Friday against the seventh-place Nets.

Iwundu has been a valuable member of the Magic’s rotation throughout his three NBA seasons. He has appeared in 45 games this year, starting 18, and averages 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per night.