Alonzo Gee has been one of the few bright spots for the Washington Wizards over the past 20 days. I’m sure plenty of Wiz fans (y’know, the ones who haven’t been completely disenfranchised by the ongoing circus that is their team) didn’t quite know what to expect with Gee, but he’s shown himself to be a capable NBA player, averaging 7.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in a little more than 16 minutes per game. He’s not a star, and he may never be, but Gee works hard, produces, and will only get better.
So naturally, when his second 10-day contract expired, the depressing lump of a franchise that is the Washington Wizards cut him loose. There’s just no room for hard-working, low-salary young players on that team, despite the fact that Washington sorely needs just that. From Scott Schroeder of Ridiculous Upside:
…Gee was a member of
the Spurs organization with the Austin Toros from the time the D-League
club drafted him in November until he was called up to the Wizards for
his first 10-day contract on March 7th – and they’ve been interested in
him since he played for their Summer League team in Vegas.
This move, in my opinion, seems very similar to the move the Spurs made when they signed Gee’s Toros’ teammate Curtis Jerrells for the season last week. Toros coach Quin Snyder (and his staff) has spent nearly an entire season developing and
grooming Gee to fit the Spurs system, so now that the Spurs have the
chance to keep Gee in-house for an extended look over the Summer, it
seems almost like a no-brainer – he knows the system, is filled with
potential and the Spurs only have six players with guaranteed contracts for next season.
So Gee will waltz back to San Antonio — or Austin, most likely — and the Spurs, one of the more D-League savvy organizations in existence, have managed to keep another intriguing young player in-house by signing them to a guaranteed deal for the rest of the season and an unguaranteed deal for next. Ernie Grunfeld and the Wizards have managed to sever ties with a cheap, reasonable asset for seemingly no reason at all. Good show, chaps, good show.
The Raptors have major problems in the playoffs annually.
Is a coaching change enough to fix them?
Toronto already fired Dwane Casey and promoted assistant Nick Nurse after a highly successful regular season. Perhaps, major roster turnover could follow.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be a late lottery pick. The Raptors have no selections in this draft. So, acquiring one high enough to pick the Kentucky point guard would take plenty.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are stars. Toronto’s bench is stocked with solid young players. O.G. Anunoby is very promising.
So, the Raptors have pieces to move. The only question how much they’d package for a draft pick.
Toronto already has Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright at point guard. But Lowry is 32, and VanVleet will be a restricted free agent this summer. If they really believe in Gilgeous-Alexander, the Raptors should try to get him.
All that said, this is the time of year rumors – both credible and not – fly. So, it’s worth remaining skeptical while still considering the validity of what reputable reporters like Stein convey.
Of course DeAndre Ayton will attend Thursday’s NBA draft. The Suns will likely draft him No. 1 overall.
But what about more marginal first-round prospects?
The NBA’s draft invite list is an important tool in judging their stock. The league wants to avoid players sitting in agony until their names are called. So, the NBA works to invite only the prospects most likely to get picked high in the draft.
The full list of invited players (which the league notes is subject to change):
Luka Doncic will go high in the draft, and though how high is still uncertain, his inclusion on this list says nothing about his stock. It just speaks to whether we’ll see him Thursday night. His attendance will depend at least on when Real Madrid’s season ends, though the NBA is apparently confident enough to list him.
Jerome Robinson has climbed draft boards since the season ended. He must be impressing in workouts and interviews.
Donte DiVincenzo is a bit of a surprise selection, as he’s not widely viewed as a first-round lock. Perhaps, the league is looking to capitalize on his popularity stemming from a breakout NCAA tournament championship game.
This will only reinforce the idea Chandler Hutchinson received a promise. Otherwise, he’s a surprise invitee.
Among the top players not attending: Kevin Huerter (Maryland), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Troy Brown (Oregon) and Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech). Though they could go higher than players listed here, that says something about Huerter’s Evans’, Browns’ and Okogie’s stock, too.
Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants to leave the Spurs, but he’s at their whims.
This doesn’t mean Rudy Gay will depart San Antonio, but he’s taking control of his future.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Gay’s option-year salary was $8,826,300.
I doubt Gay, who turns 32 this summer, will draw such a high starting salary on his next contract – though I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. He could likely get a multi-year deal with a higher total value.
Or he could chase a ring elsewhere.
Remember, Gay gave up money to leave the Kings last summer. No matter how much the Leonard situation should make us rethink the Spurs’ culture, San Antonio probably isn’t “basketball hell.” Still, the Spurs clearly don’t look as appealing as they once did, and Gay has shown how much he values team quality.
Gay is coming off a nice season, and San Antonio might try to re-sign him. Danny Green has a $10 million player option for next season, which will swing whether the Spurs have the flexibility for a bigger move this summer.
In 2014, LeBron James tweeted his fondness for Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier. The Heat traded up to get Napier in the draft, but LeBron left for the Cavaliers that summer, anyway.
Could history repeat itself, this time in Cleveland?
LeBron has already talked up Oklahoma point guard Trae Young, but maybe LeBron and his camp want the Cavs to take a different point guard – Alabama’s Collin Sexton – with the No. 8 pick.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, via Jordan Zirm of ESPN Cleveland:
The Cavaliers should take the best prospect available. Worrying about what LeBron might want makes a mistake only more likely.
LeBron might stay in Cleveland, but as 2014 showed, it won’t be because of a draft pick. If he stays, it very well could be by opting into the final year of his contract. His player-option salary ($35,607,968) is slightly higher than his projected max salary as a free agent (about $35.35 million). If LeBron opts in, the best chance of keeping him long-term is building a better team around him.
That means taking the best prospect at No. 8 or trading the pick for someone who can help LeBron win now. If the top prospect is Sexton, that’s fine. But the Cavs are fare more likely to appease LeBron by getting the pick right in the long run rather than choosing the prospect he wants now.