Wesley Johnson

Wesley Johnson Signs With Panathinaikos

Veteran NBA swingman Wesley Johnson will head overseas for the 2019/20 season. Greek club Panathinaikos issued a press release today announcing that it has signed Johnson to a one-year contract.

The fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, Johnson didn’t develop into the sort of impact player that his draft position may have portended, but he has been a reliable rotation piece over the course of his nine-year NBA career.

In 609 career games for the Timberwolves, Suns, Lakers, Clippers, Pelicans, and Wizards, Johnson has averaged 7.0 PPG and 3.2 RPG with a .404/.337/.741 shooting line.

The 32-year-old was traded twice during the 2018/19 league year, playing limited minutes in 26 games for New Orleans and 12 for Washington before the Wizards released him during the final week of the regular season.

In Greece, Johnson will team up with another former lottery pick — the 10th overall selection in the 2011 draft, Jimmer Fredette also signed with Panathinaikos last week.

Wizards Waive Wesley Johnson

The Wizards are waiving forward Wesley Johnson, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The team has issued a press release confirming the move is official.

Washington acquired him at the trade deadline from the Pelicans for Markieff Morris. Johnson was acquired by New Orleans in October from the Clippers.

Washington beat the Sunday deadline to waive a player with an expiring contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (Twitter link). Johnson’s cap hold for this offseason would have been $9.2MM.

Johnson, 31, appeared in just 12 games with the Wizards, averaging 2.8 PPG and 1.5 RPG in 13.1 MPG. He made 13 starts with the Pelicans.

Wizards Trade Markieff Morris To Pelicans

FEBRUARY 7, 12:36am: The trade is now official, the Wizards announced in a press release.

FEBRUARY 6, 10:19pm: Washington has agreed to trade veteran forward Markieff Morris to the Pelicans, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Wizards will get Wesley Johnson in return, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link).

Between this deal and one earlier tonight that shipped Otto Porter to Chicago for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker, the Wizards have dropped below the luxury tax and won’t be subject to the repeater tax, Hughes adds (Twitter link).

Morris makes $8.6MM, while Johnson is at $6.1MM, so Washington saves $2.5MM in salary just from that trade in addition to sneaking below the tax line. Both players have expiring contracts.

The Wizards also sent their 2023 second-round pick to New Orleans, tweets David Aldridge of The Athletic. Washington received a 2023 second-rounder from Chicago in the first deal, so the team didn’t mind parting with its own.

Clippers Trade Wesley Johnson To Pelicans, Cut Two Players

4:11pm: The Clippers have officially announced their trade with the Pelicans and confirmed that they’ve waived both Ajinca and Evans. L.A. is now in compliance with the regular season roster limit.

2:19pm: The Clippers and Pelicans have reached a trade agreement that will send Alexis Ajinca to Los Angeles and Wesley Johnson to New Orleans, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Marc Stein of The New York Times first reported (via Twitter) that the two teams were in advanced discussions on a swap involving Ajinca and Johnson.

From the Clippers’ perspective, the trade will simply be about saving a little money before they make their final roster cuts. Ajinca ($5.29MM) earns a more modest 2018/19 salary than Johnson ($6.13MM) and both players are on expiring deals.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Clippers will waive Ajinca after acquiring him. 2017 second-round pick Jawun Evans will be Los Angeles’ other cut, Wojnarowski adds. That means that non-guaranteed players Patrick Beverley and Tyrone Wallace will both open the regular season on the Clips’ roster.

There are some teams that like Evans, according to Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link), but those clubs opted not to trade for the second-year guard, who could draw interest on waivers or as a free agent if he goes unclaimed.

As for the Pelicans, they weren’t expecting to get much out of Ajinca, who missed the entire 2017/18 season with knee issues and still hadn’t been cleared for contact at the start of training camp. By swapping him for Johnson, New Orleans will add some veteran depth at a position of need, without sacrificing future cap flexibility.

Johnson, 31, was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, but has never been more than a role player at the NBA level. Last season, the 6’7″ wing averaged 5.4 PPG and 2.9 RPG with a .408/.339/.741 shooting line and solid defense in 74 games (40 starts) for the Clippers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Clippers Exploring Trades To Clear Roster Logjam

With the roster deadline for the 2018/19 season just a few days away, the Clippers are exploring the trade market in the hopes of finding a deal or two that will help them clear their roster logjam, reports Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link). According to Smith, the club had been hoping to address the issue in a potential Jimmy Butler trade, but that seems like a long shot at this point.

The Clippers have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, but likely won’t end up keeping those specific 15 players on their regular season squad. Patrick Beverley has a non-guaranteed deal and Tyrone Wallace has a partial guarantee worth $300K, and both guards are strong candidates to make the roster.

Of the players with guaranteed salaries, Wesley Johnson ($6.13MM) and Jawun Evans ($1.38MM) are among those who may not be locks for the 15-man squad. Neither player projects to have a major role in the Clippers’ 2018/19 rotation.

The Clippers already found a trade that allowed them to clear one guaranteed salary when they sent Sam Dekker to Cleveland in August. If the team can’t find similar deals in the coming days, two players will need to be waived in order to get the roster down to 15 (plus a pair of two-way players) for opening night.

Clippers’ Wesley Johnson Exercises Player Option

MAY 10, 8:22am: Johnson has officially opted in for next season, according to the Real GM Transactions Page.

MAY 2, 1:24pm: Clippers forward Wesley Johnson intends to play out the final year of his current contract, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, who reports (via Twitter) that Johnson will pick up his 2018/19 option.

An unrestricted free agent back in 2016, Johnson signed a three-year contract with the Clippers worth just shy of $18MM. The deal included a third-year player option for 2018/19, and by exercising that option Johnson will earn a guaranteed $6,134,520 salary next season.

Johnson’s option decision doesn’t come as a real surprise. Although he was a regular rotation piece for the Clippers, averaging 20.1 minutes per contest in 74 games (40 starts), his production was modest. For the season, the 30-year-old averaged 5.4 PPG and 2.9 RPG with a shooting line of .408/.339/.741.

Johnson is one of a handful of Clippers who have player option decisions to make this summer. While Johnson’s salary won’t have a major impact on the team’s cap situation, the Clips’ offseason outlook could vary significantly depending on whether DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025), Austin Rivers ($12,650,000), and Milos Teodosic ($6,300,000) also exercise their respective options.

As our tracker shows, Johnson is already the fourth veteran who has exercised – or will exercise – a player option for 2018/19, suggesting we’ll see an uptick in opt-ins this year. Last summer, only five player options were picked up; in 2016, only three were exercised.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: G League Mini Camp, Combine, Balls

A number of NBA players with recent big league experience have been named to the G League’s Elite Mini Camp roster. In mid-May, about 40 players from the developmental league will get the chance to strut their stuff in front of NBA personnel.

A total of 13 players from the initial roster have had at least some NBA experience, including the always intriguing likes of K.J. McDaniels and Archie Goodwin.

Other players, like Marcus Thornton and Naz Mitrou-Long who signed 10-day contracts in 2017/18 will look to prove that they deserve another crack at a rotation spot.

While it will be tough for a significant number of these players to make final rosters next season, there are plenty of opportunities between training camp and the regular season, especially now with the introduction of two-way contracts last season.

Jonathon Simmons, the G League is quick to mention, once participated in this event, prior to latching on with the Spurs and spinning that into a role with the Magic last summer.

There’s more from around the league this afternoon:

  • While it’s become commonplace for highly regarded draft prospects to skip out on the combine, a number of reputable players from last year’s class were in attendance, including Donovan Mitchell and Bam Adebayo. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype broke down some of the best players from this year’s rookie crop that are actually expected to participate in the pre-draft event later this month.
  • The dust has settled after LaVar Ball‘s decision to move his non-Lonzo sons to Lithuania. According to Donatas Urbonas of 15min.It, LiAngelo Ball may have been slightly underrated prior to arriving in Europe while LaMelo Ball isn’t prepared to perform at the pro level yet. Urbonas connected with USA Today’s Andrew Joseph to discuss the Ball family’s Lithuanian adventure.
  • The NBA offseason is a lot closer than you might think. In fact, players like Cory Joseph and Wesley Johnson have already made key decisions on contract options for the 2018/19 campaign. For a rundown of what we expect from each team’s pending free agents, check out your respective team’s recap in our Free Agent Stock Watch series. Similarly, Hoops Rumors writers have ranked who we think the top available 2018 NBA free agents are.

Clippers Rumors: LeBron, Jordan, Gallinari

In the wake of Monday’s Blake Griffin trade agreement, word surfaced that the Clippers were trying to force their way into this summer’s LeBron James sweepstakes, with the Griffin move representing the first step necessary to clear salary from their 2018/19 books. However, Clippers fans shouldn’t get their hopes up about that scenario, says Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

As of now, James isn’t expected to seriously consider the Clippers in free agency, a source close to LeBron tells Spears. A source close to the Clippers also admits to Spears that the club doesn’t really expect to receive legit consideration from the four-time MVP. Still, the team has to make the phone call, Spears notes.

While the idea of acquiring LeBron is a long shot, the new voices in the Clippers’ front office, including Jerry West, were able to convince owner Steve Ballmer that the franchise has a real shot to enter the mix for the NBA’s top 2018 free agents, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. Multiple league insiders tell Stein that the Clips will continue to explore pre-deadline deals that help them create cap room for this summer, though using cap room in 2019 represents a solid fallback plan.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • The Clippers haven’t ruled out the possibility of extending DeAndre Jordan or Lou Williams, and have recently ramped up efforts to secure commitments from those players, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. If extensions can’t be reached, the odds of pre-deadline trades involving Jordan and/or Williams would increase. Still, the Clips haven’t closed the door on the idea of re-signing either player this offseason, per Spears.
  • Kyler and Stein both suggest that the Clippers will explore attaching multiyear contracts to Jordan and Williams in trades as they look to create more 2018 cap flexibility. Word is that any trade involving Jordan would need to include a contract like Wesley Johnson‘s or Austin Rivers‘, says Kyler.
  • It makes more sense for the Clippers to focus on 2019 free agency rather than frantically trying to ditch bad contracts now, argues Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
  • Danilo Gallinari is currently the only Clipper with a guaranteed salary for 2019/20. The veteran forward will return to action for the club tonight after missing the last 25 games with a glute injury, Doc Rivers confirmed today (Twitter link via Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times).

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers are in a precarious position, now teetering on the ledge of an existential crisis following Blake Griffin‘s latest significant injury. Suddenly, the team that seemed so valiantly intent on forging ahead without Chris Paul (and then Milos Teodosic and then Patrick Beverley) has been dramatically deflated, dealt a seemingly insurmountable blow that could very well change the franchise’s short-term plans.

Needless to say, the next few months will be of particular interest to various representatives of the team’s pending free agents, several of whom could stand to benefit from increased playing time in Griffin’s absence and/or a significantly expanded role if the team decides to lean into a full-fledged rebuild and trade away veterans.

On paper, the Clippers could end up with substantial cap space, but that’s far from guaranteed considering how many players have options heading into the summer.

Montrezl Harrell, C, 24 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $4MM deal in 2015
One of the biggest potential beneficiaries of the Clippers’ bad luck is Harrell, a 2015 second-round pick who showed glimpses of productivity throughout his first two seasons in the league with Houston. Harrell hasn’t done much to this point in the 2017/18 season but it seems inevitable that he’ll see his playing time and opportunities in general increase over the next two months.

Brice Johnson, PF, 24 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $3MM deal in 2016
While the absence of Griffin could open up opportunities for Johnson to see more of a role at the big league level, the team would have to fully accept a rebuild in order for the sparsely-used North Carolina product to start seeing consistent action. I’m not sure if the Clips are there yet. Simply put, Johnson hasn’t show much in Los Angeles and the team forfeited the chance to lock him up on the cheap last month when it turned down his rookie option.

Wesley Johnson, SF, 30 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $18MM deal in 2016
After eight underwhelming seasons in the NBA, it’s hard to imagine Johnson landing big money in a crowded free agent market next summer. However, the 30-year-old – who has career averages of 7.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game – has a player option worth over $6MM that he’ll presumably accept.

DeAndre Jordan, C, 29 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $88MM deal in 2015
Jordan is the closest thing to a marquee name among Los Angeles’ pending free agents. The 29-year-old will be coming off of seven straight seasons as a rain-or-shine starter (10 in total), with off-the-charts rebounding numbers and an All-Star Game under his belt. That being said, Jordan  – who holds a $24MM player option for next season – will need to be careful heading into the summer, considering the market for big men has changed since he signed his last contract. On top of that, any long-term deal would put a club at risk of having that contract turn into an albatross during its back half. Finally, it’s not inconceivable to suggest that the Jordan you could temporarily (kinda, maybe, possibly) justify maxing out was simply a product of CP3’s playmaking abilities. Jordan may very well end up turning down his player option, but there won’t likely be strong market pressure for L.A. or anybody else to offer a huge long-term deal.

Willie Reed, C, 28 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Now with his third team in three NBA season, Reed will need to show that he’s more than just a journeyman spot starter with legal baggage. While Reed has been used less with the Clippers than he was in Miami last season, his opportunities could increase substantially with Griffin sidelined. I suspect, given the big man’s per-36 numbers, he’ll be able to procure more than the minimum and stick with that team for longer than a single season.
Austin Rivers vertical
Austin Rivers, G, 25 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $35MM deal in 2016
The Clippers took a gamble on Rivers in 2016, offering the largely unproven combo guard a major contract without much of a track record to show for it. Fast forward two seasons and Rivers remains more or less equally underwhelming. Rivers does little across the board and isn’t a particularly effective shooter. It wouldn’t make much sense for Rivers’ camp to turn down his $13MM player option for next season.

Milos Teodosic, PG, 31 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $12MM deal in 2017
It’s hard to gauge Teodosic’s NBA value, considering he only played two games before falling to a foot injury. As things stand, the romantic notion that Teodosic would drop in from overseas to fill the playmaking hole left by Paul is on the back burner. If the plan was for Teodosic to prove himself in his rookie season, turn down his player option for 2018/19 and then sign a larger contract, it’ll come down to how he fares during the second half of the season, since nobody has yet seen enough to warrant a big investment. It seems likely that the Serbian 31-year-old will be back in the lineup before the end of December, so there’s plenty of time for him to prove himself at the NBA level.

Lou Williams, SG, 32 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $21MM deal in 2015
Over course of the last half decade, Williams has fully embraced an identity as a wildly prolific scorer off the bench. Over the course of the last two seasons alone he’s thrived in systems that have had no reason but to let him loose on their second unit and the volume shooter has shown no signs of slowing down north of 30. It may be a bit much to expect Williams to yield anything in the realm of former Clipper J.J. Redick‘s offseason haul ($23MM for a one-year deal with Philly) but there should be plenty of suitors willing to give 2015’s Sixth Man of the Year a sizable raise over his current $7MM salary.

Player ages as of July 1, 2018. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

L.A. Notes: Beverley, W. Johnson, Kuzma, Free Agency

Patrick Beverley is expected to return to the Clippers’ lineup Monday after missing five games with soreness in his right knee, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The injury-riddled team needs to get healthy soon, as it has dropped eight straight games and fallen to 5-10 after a 4-0 start. L.A. has been without its opening-night starting backcourt of Beverley and Milos Teodosic, who remains out indefinitely with a left plantar fascia injury.

Beverley was part of the package the Clippers received from Houston in this summer’s trade for Chris Paul. He was off to a strong start, averaging 12.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists through 10 games, along with elite-level defense.

There’s more this morning from Los Angeles:

  • With Beverley, Teodosic and Danilo Gallinari all sidelined by injuries, the Clippers want more offensive production from Wesley Johnson, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Johnson, who has a player option for next season worth more than $6.1MM, is taking more than twice as many shots as last season at 5.5 per game, but is careful about not forcing things. “I just see how the game feels out and then just go like that,” he said. “But I think they want me to just go out there and just have an imprint on the game. Just go out there and junk it up, do whatever.”
  • After being ignored for most of his basketball life, Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has become one of the most celebrated rookies in the NBA, notes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Kuzma wasn’t invited to New York for the draft and he was a little-noticed part of the draft night trade that sent D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn. “I felt like I had to sell myself everywhere,” Kuzma said of the pre-draft process. “Coming out of college, they kind of pegged me as a second-round to undrafted kind of guy. I didn’t really have that many options. Everybody was telling me to go back to school. Literally, everybody did. But I knew I was a lot better than everyone projected me to be. So going through the draft process I was on a mission, super focused. I had to come in every interview, every workout, and pretty much smash it.”
  • Despite months of rumors and a plan to create enough cap room for two max offers, the Lakers shouldn’t be overly confident that LeBron James and Paul George will join them next summer, writes Mark Heisler of The Orange County Register.