NBA Rumor: Two-Way Contracts

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According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the NBA is now discussing adding a third two-way roster spot with the NBPA. This would bring the total roster size to 18, adding on one more player who can have a maximum of three years of NBA service and is limited to playing in 50 regular-season games. Speaking with coaches and GMs across the league, The Athletic found a mix of strong support and ambivalence over the measure after the league had to postpone 12 games in the past week. “Me personally, I think that’s a great idea,” said Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford. “I think that playing with the condensed schedule as we are, I think the more bodies we have, the better. If you look at the games where teams are having to play with eight guys, the number of minutes is adding up, and I just think it’s difficult. It’s difficult to manage games, and it’s difficult to manage teams over a prolonged period of time.”

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Raptors sign Paul Watson to standard contract

The Toronto Raptors announced Sunday they have signed forward Paul Watson to a standard NBA contract and forward Yuta Watanabe to a two-way player contract. Watson originally signed a two-way player contract with the club Jan. 15, 2020. Per team policy, financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. Watson, 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, averaged 3.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 8.7 minutes in 10 games with Atlanta and Toronto last season. He set career highs with 22 points (8-13 FG, 4-6 3PT, 2-3 FT) and six rebounds in 27 minutes in the regular season finale Aug. 14 vs. Denver. Watson also appeared in 30 games with Raptors 905 in the NBA G League where he averaged 19.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 35.3 minutes. For his efforts Watson was named to All-NBA G League Midseason Eastern Conference Team.

Heat converts Max Strus to two-way deal

The Miami Heat’s roster was pretty much set entering training camp, with the regular-season maximum of 15 players already under standard contracts. But there was one Heat roster spot that remained unfilled: a two-way contract opportunity. The Heat awarded that open roster spot to wing Max Strus (6-5, 215), announcing Saturday that it converted his Exhibit 10 deal to a two-way contract. Strus joins guard Gabe Vincent as the Heat’s two two-way contract players entering Wednesday’s regular-season opener against the Magic in Orlando.

The Denver Nuggets have signed guard Markus Howard to a two-way contract, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today. Howard, 5-11, 180, went undrafted in the 2020 NBA draft after a prolific four-year career at Marquette University. In 29 games (all starts) as a senior in 2019-20, Howard led the nation in scoring, averaging 27.8 points per game, adding 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists, shooting 44.4% from the field and 41.2% from three in 33.2 minutes. He was unanimously named to the 2019-20 All-America First Team.

In the last move of the night for Detroit, the franchise took Vanderbilt guard Saben Lee at No. 38. Per sources, the Pistons had a first-round grade on Lee. He’ll be on a two-way contract to start the year, sources said. Lee was described me to as the “new Jordan Bone,” who Detroit let go earlier this week. Lee, at 6-2, is considered one of the best athletes of the small guards in this class. When Aaron Nesmith got injured during the 2019-20 season, Lee blossomed, averaging nearly 22 points in his final 15 games and jumping onto the NBA radar. He declared for the draft after his junior year.

Second, the class is actually seen as relatively deep, with potentially strong role players having a real chance to sit around until midway through the second round. Why is that a problem? Because of the pandemic and the new economic reality for NBA teams, sources around the league think it’s likely that teams will try to utilize two-way contracts and stashes earlier in this draft than in recent years. Will players who think they are good enough to make teams out of training camp — and I do believe that there are a lot of them who should feel that way in this class — be willing to take two-ways? Or will some players choose to go undrafted — like Lu Dort and Terence Davis last season — in order to get to choose their spot and try to set themselves up for a bigger payday sooner?

There are new rules now saying players on two-way contracts are eligible to come to the bubble and also for postseason play. You fall in that category. Does it matter if you’re on a two-way or standard contract at this moment? Michael Frazier: Man, (I’m) just trying to play. I don’t really get caught up in that stuff because I feel like it’ll take care of itself. As long as I’m coming in every day, working hard and doing what the coaching staff and front office ask me to do, I think all that stuff will take care of itself. So I’m not really too caught up into that. I just want to make sure I’m ready to play when my number’s called and I can go out there and contribute and help the team win.

The Heat has rights to both Vincent and Alexander this summer. Miami can convert their two-way deals into regular contracts or offer them another two-way deal during the offseason or preseason. The hope is that each will join the long list of Heat development success stories, including Udonis Haslem, Ike Austin, Voshon Lenard, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn and others. Ideally, Okpala and Silva — and Vincent and Alexander if two-way players are eligible to play in Orlando — would be able to observe in postseason.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke of a possible return once there’s an “all clear” from public health officials, according to ESPN. If and when that happens, the Nets would likely want to use Chiozza in the playoffs, but to do so they’d have to convert him from a two-way player to a standard NBA deal. That would necessitate creating a roster spot for the 24-year-old, which would require waiving somebody. Pinson would be the most likely casualty, a tough one for the immensely popular second-year pro from North Carolina.
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January 22, 2021 | 1:06 pm EST Update

Gordon Hayward: 'Atlanta was a team that I was really interested in'

As far as the teams that it really came down to — and we mentioned the Atlanta situation — who all did it really come down to? Gordon Hayward: Yeah, Atlanta was a team that I was really interested in. I think they’re another group of guys who are obviously young but extremely talented and you saw the additions that they added in the offseason. I think they’re a great basketball team. Clearly, Trae Young is an extremely talented player and somebody they’re going to rely on. So being able to play with him, and play with some of their other young players was really enticing, so they were in the mix. New York was in the mix — the Knicks. Indiana was another team that was really interested, and we had mutual interest for a while. Boston was — like, let’s not forget about Boston. I really wanted to go back to Boston too. There were just a lot of options and a lot of potential teams that I could go to, but I’d say those were the main ones. Atlanta, New York, Boston, Indiana, and then Charlotte obviously.
Gordon Hayward: As far as the basketball is concerned, I think the opportunity to go somewhere, get a fresh start, be in a position to try to maximize my potential as a basketball player, I think, going somewhere where I’d have the ability to try and help a franchise get to that next level, it grew on me more and more after talking to the coaching staff, talking to the front office, obviously talking with my agent and my wife and family. That challenge kind of resonated with me. Talking with (Hornets) coach (James) Borrego, and more and more it was like, ‘Man, this is something I think I really want to do,’ so we just went with it.
A Hornets source said the team had been well aware of the procedure during free agency and was completely comfortable with Hayward’s medical status (per league rules, he had to pass a physical before signing). “Imagine just having a constant burning sensation in your foot,” Bartelstein said of the condition. “It’s like having a rock in your shoe all the time. (Morton’s Neuroma) is a simple procedure they’re able to do that removes that nerve so you’re not feeling that burning sensation. It’s made a world of difference.”
When did you start having confidence that — forget about the public narrative — that the league itself still valued you to this degree? Gordon Hayward: Well, you know that’s why you hire an agent. That’s why I think Mark (Bartelstein) is the best in the business, and I let him do his thing with going out and finding out what teams were interested, what was going to be available financially, where maybe the best basketball fit for me would be, where my family would be happiest. All of that stuff goes into it. So that’s when I’m talking with Mark every day about those types of things, and it was something that was unlike any other free agency just with the timing of it. Free agency starts, and it’s like, ‘Boom, all right, now let’s make a decision.’ There just wasn’t any time. It all happened super, super fast.
It’s still early in the year, but it’s been a successful start for Wood’s Rockets tenure, one that is more impressive given the wild and crazy start the team has had in 2020-21. He’s averaging All-Star numbers — 23.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game, shooting 36.2 percent from 3 on 4.8 attempts per. Wood is second in roll possession per game and leads all players in points, according to tracking data from NBA.com. At the beginning of the season, Silas acknowledged that Wood’s defense would be a process. There were some early moments when Wood failed to assert himself in the middle of the floor and his teammates discussed the importance of him becoming a more vocal leader and an enforcer in the paint.
Caruso is shooting a team-best 57.1%, second-best in the NBA, from three-point range, a major improvement from maybe the most glaring hole in his offensive repertoire. “I don’t know if the championship has given me more confidence or just the time I’ve spent in this system with this team, knowing where I’m going to get shots, knowing how we like to play. I’m just really comfortable with that,” he said. “We really haven’t changed too much from last year as far as our base offense and defense goes. I’m pretty comfortable with that. And I just work. I just continuously work and work and work.”
Entering Thursday’s games, Thybulle was second in the NBA in steals per 100 possessions with 4.4, according to basketball-reference.com. (Former Sixer T.J. McConnell, now with the Indiana Pacers, was first.) Thybulle was also 22nd in the NBA in blocked shots per 100 possessions with 2.5. Thybulle has contributed more than steals and blocks, though. Wednesday, Thybulle came off the bench to face what had been a hot Kemba Walker. According to NBA.com stats, Walker shot just 1-for-5 in the head-to-head matchup against Thybulle, including 1-for-3 from three-point range.