Wizards Sign Makur Maker To Exhibit 10 Contract

The Wizards have signed center Makur Maker to an Exhibit 10 deal, according to Josh Robbins and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Athletic’s report followed up on a tweet from Edward Smith that showed Maker putting pen to paper.

Maker, the cousin of former NBA lottery pick Thon Maker, attended Howard University during the 2020/21 season, then played for the Sydney Kings in ’21/22, winning an NBL title with the Australian club. He averaged 7.8 PPG and 6.0 RPG on .429/.361/.769 shooting in 16 games (16.8 MPG) for the Kings.

Maker also suited up for the Bulls in last month’s Las Vegas Summer League, registering 7.2 PPG and 3.4 RPG in five contests (12.0 MPG).

Robbins’ report suggests that Maker will likely end up playing for the Capital City Go-Go, the Wizards’ G League team. Maker’s Exhibit 10 contract puts him in line for a bonus worth up to $50K if he’s waived during the preseason and then spends at least 60 days as an affiliate player for the Go-Go.

Washington has also reportedly agreed to Exhibit 10 deals with undrafted rookie free agents Quenton Jackson and Davion Mintz.

Justin Robinson Signs With Illawarra Hawks

Veteran NBA point guard Justin Robinson is headed down under, having struck a deal to join the Illawara Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League, according to the team.

A former Virginia Tech star, Robinson has played for the Wizards, Thunder, Bucks, Kings, and Pistons since making his NBA debut in 2019, averaging 2.6 PPG and 1.1 APG in 43 career appearances (10.3 MPG). He began last season on a two-way deal with Milwaukee before being waived in November and signing 10-day contracts with Sacramento and Detroit in December.

Robinson is also a G League veteran, having played in a total of 46 regular season NBAGL games for the Capital City Go-Go and Delaware Blue Coats.

Illawara head coach Jacob Jackomas expressed excitement about the team’s addition of Robinson, referring to the 24-year-old as a “great ball defender” and “key facilitator” as well as a talented scorer. Robinson reciprocated that excitement.

“I feel the NBL is a great league and is now becoming more global,” Robinson said. “The league itself will allow me to continue to showcase who I am on and off the court. Illawarra has been right on the doorstep of winning an NBL Championship the last couple of years and my goal is to add to the winning culture. Coach Jackomas has something special brewing and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

The Hawks, who finished second in the NBL standings last season, also recently signed former NBA wing George King

Grizzlies, Dakota Mathias Agree To Exhibit 10 Deal

The Grizzlies have reached an agreement to sign free agent shooting guard Dakota Mathias to an Exhibit 10 contract, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Mathias, who went undrafted out of Purdue in 2018, spent a season in Spain and then played in the G League for a year before getting his first shot in the NBA in 2020/21. He appeared in eight games with the Sixers while on a two-way contract that season, then saw action in six contests while on a pair of 10-day deals with the Grizzlies in 2021/22.

Mathias is a talented outside shooter, having made 41.9% of his three-point attempts in four college seasons with the Boilermakers and 39.4% of his tries in 46 G League games with the Texas Legends.

The Grizzlies likely view Mathias as someone who can play a regular role for their G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, though his Exhibit 10 contract could technically be converted into a two-way deal before the season begins. Currently, Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Vince Williams are the Grizzlies’ two-way players.

While it’s possible that Mathias could receive consideration for a spot on Memphis’ 15-man regular season roster with a strong training camp and preseason, it seems unlikely, given that the team already has 16 players on fully or partially guaranteed standard contracts.

Mavericks To Add Marko Milic To Coaching Staff

The Mavericks intend to hire former NBA wing Marko Milic to their coaching staff in a player development role, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link). Martin Pavcnik of SportKlub first reported that the move was expected to happen.

Milic, the 33rd overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft, became the first Slovenian to play in the league, appearing in 44 games for the Suns from 1997-99 before spending the rest of his playing career overseas. He was a four-time Slovenian League champion and also won a Spanish League title before eventually retiring in 2015.

The Mavericks obviously already have an important existing connection to Slovenia, in All-NBA guard Luka Doncic, who knows Milic well, according to Stein.

Additionally, Milic played alongside current Mavs head coach Jason Kidd in Phoenix.

Lakers Rumors: LeBron, Ham, Davis, Westbrook

When LeBron James and agent Rich Paul met last week with Lakers head of basketball operations Rob Pelinka and coach Darvin Ham, a possible contract extension for James was only one of many topics of conversation, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

As Haynes details, most of the hour-long meeting was spent discussing strategies and expressing opinions about how to ensure that the 2022/23 season won’t be a repeat of the Lakers’ disappointing ’21/22 campaign.

Sources tell Yahoo Sports that LeBron “drilled home the importance of consistent competitiveness and cohesion.” James wants to be sure that this season’s team competes and gives itself a chance to win every night, which wasn’t the case last year.

According to Haynes, Ham agreed with James’ assessment and vowed to hold players accountable and “foster an atmosphere of selflessness.” The Lakers’ new head coach wants to see the team recommit to playing strong defense and suggested that any players who are hesitant to play the roles asked of them will run the risk of being removed from the game, sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Here’s more on the Lakers from Haynes:

  • Ham wants to run Los Angeles’ offense through Anthony Davis, and James is on board with that plan. The club likes what it has seen from Davis this summer and believes he’s well positioned to take on a significant workload and stay healthy in 2022/23, Haynes notes.
  • Pelinka plans to exercise patience when it comes to roster moves, preferring to assess how the current group performs before doing anything drastic, Haynes says. Of course, I suspect the club would still be willing to move Russell Westbrook before the season if a favorable deal arises.
  • Speaking of Westbrook, Haynes indicates the Lakers are hopeful that he’ll be able to increase his three-point percentage from the corners in 2022/23.
  • In an effort to build rapport with his teammates, James will decide on a destination to hold the Lakers’ annual mini-camp prior to training camp, with San Diego emerging as the most likely landing spot, according to Haynes.
  • During last week’s meeting, Pelinka made it clear he wants to see LeBron retire as a Laker and vowed he’ll provide the resources necessary for James to compete for titles for as long as the future Hall of Famer remains in L.A., per Haynes.

NBA Teams Keeping Eye On Nico Mannion

NBA personnel are keeping an eye on guard Nico Mannion, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com, who says there’s a good chance the former second-round pick will end up returning to the league at some point within the next year — if not this season, then perhaps next summer.

Mannion, 21, was a second-round pick in the 2020 draft and spent his rookie season with the Warriors in 2020/21, averaging 4.1 PPG and 2.3 APG in 30 games (12.1 MPG). Last summer, he returned to his home country of Italy, signing a two-year deal with Virtus Bologna that includes an NBA out.

A severe illness sidelined Mannion at the start of the 2021/22 season, but he eventually made his debut for Virtus Bologna and averaged 9.4 points, 4.6 assists, and 2.3 rebounds per game in 17 appearances (17.6 MPG) in Italy’s top league (Lega Serie A).

As Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays, a report from Italian outlet Il Resto del Carlino indicated that Virtus Bologna wants to extended Mannion’s contract, and Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com has heard that the two sides are making progress on a deal that would keep the 21-year-old under contract until 2025. However, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Deveney that an extension isn’t happening for the time being.

If Mannion does sign a new deal in Italy at some point, it would likely include another out clause that allows him to explore NBA opportunities, even though his ability to sign with a team stateside is somewhat limited. The Warriors issued qualifying offers to the former Arizona Wildcat last year and this year, meaning they retain the right of first refusal if another NBA team wants to sign him, and could match any offer sheet he receives.

While Golden State controls Mannion’s NBA free agency, it’s unclear whether he’s part of the team’s future plans.

“He will get another chance in the league but it is not going to be with Golden State, or it’s unlikely that happens soon,” a rival GM told Deveney, noting that the Warriors drafted guard Ryan Rollins in June and have interest in developing training camp invitee Mac McClung.

Since Mannion was on a two-way contract in 2020/21, his qualifying offer would just be another two-way deal, so simply accepting it next year or further down the road may not be an appealing option.

Irving’s Agent: Kyrie Doesn’t “Hate” Marks, Nash

Responding to a New York Post report in which a source claimed that Kyrie Irving “hates” Nets general manager Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, Irving’s agent and stepmother Shetallia Riley Irving told Brian Lewis and Josh Kosman of The New York Post that’s not the case.

“I am not sure where this narrative is coming from but Kyrie does not hate Steve nor Sean,” Shetallia Riley Irving said. “That’s not a part of his being nor how he represents himself in the world. He’s about peace, love and acceptance.”

While Kyrie and agent may dispute the notion that he “hates” Marks or Nash, that doesn’t necessarily mean he loves the job they’ve been doing in Brooklyn.

Irving and the Nets have been at odds in multiple instances over the past year. The club’s front office and ownership group opted not to allow Irving to be a part-time player at the start of last season when he was ineligible to play in Brooklyn due to New York City’s vaccine mandate. The Nets were then unwilling to offer him a lucrative long-term contract this summer, prompting him to explore a move to another team before he eventually decided to pick up his 2022/23 player option.

According to Lewis and Kosman, Shetallia Riley Irving declined to comment on whether Irving agrees with Kevin Durant, who reportedly told Nets owner Joe Tsai that he must decide between trading Durant or firing Marks and Nash.

Kevin Durant Notes: Pelicans, Nets, Standoff, League Reaction

After reasserting his desire to be dealt away from the Nets in a meeting with principle owner Joe Tsai last weekend, All-Star forward Kevin Durant would consider holding out of Brooklyn’s training camp in September if he’s still on the roster, a source tells Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News.

Winfield reports that, among the Nets’ potential trade partners, the Pelicans remain interested in Durant. Winfield suggests that New Orleans could put together a “compelling” package that includes 2020 All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, still just 24, along with intriguing young role players like Herbert Jones and Jose Alvarado, plus significant draft equity.

Here’s the latest Durant chatter:

  • After looking like surefire title contenders thanks to their 2021-era core of Durant, All-Star guard James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, the Nets have fallen back to earth. The New York Post’s Ian O’Connor writes that the franchise has devolved back into the kind of laughingstock it often was when still based in New Jersey. The team appears to be in total disarray following Durant’s reiterated trade request.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic opines that the Nets still have a negotiating edge over Durant. Hollinger credits that to the fact that the 33-year-old’s four-year, maximum-salary extension is just beginning, and his advanced NBA age diminishes his trade value to some extent. Hollinger writes that, should Durant opt to not play for the start of the season, the Nets could try to miss the playoffs. The team owes a pick swap to the Rockets in 2023, but the Rockets still project to miss the postseason themselves, meaning Brooklyn could get a quality selection regardless.
  • Executives and coaches around the league are incensed at Durant’s request that Tsai either trade him or fire team president Sean Marks and head coach Steve Nash, per Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett. “Livid,” one team president told Bulpett in describing their emotional reaction to the news. “He and Kyrie basically told Sean they were coming [in 2019 free agency], and Sean did pretty much everything they wanted after that. Signing DeAndre Jordan for four years? That’s something Kyrie and KD wanted. Getting James Harden? Then getting a guy who should be a perfect complement to them [Ben Simmons] when Harden wanted out? Sean did all that… And now KD doesn’t like how it’s all worked out? There’s probably some other people he should talk to about that, maybe even a teammate.”

Western Notes: Clarkson, Huerter, Bertans, Brooks

With the future of the Jazz uncertain following the trade of Rudy Gobert and news that the team is open to moving its other 2022 All-Star (Donovan Mitchell), 2021 Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson is keeping an even keel, writes Sarah Todd of the Deseret News.

 “My vibe is always good,” Clarkson said of his attitude while dealing with the Jazz’s tenuous outlook. “This is my ninth year going into the league. I know how the business of basketball works… This is all part of what it is. But my preparation never changes and I’m going to wake up every morning and be me and do what I do. Everything is good.”

There’s more out of the West:

  • New Kings shooting guard Kevin Huerter is bringing his playoff pedigree to Sacramento and hopes to help Sacramento reach the postseason, writes Jarrod Castillo of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I feel like I’ve been through a lot there, having that playoff experience,” Huerter said. The 6’5″ wing added that he’s “hungry to win” with his new club.
  • In his first full season for the Mavericks, power forward Davis Bertans needs to return to the level of long-range shooting that earned him his current $80MM contract, writes Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. During the 2019/20 season, Bertans connected on 42.4% of his 8.7 three-pointers a night. Last season, in 22 games for Dallas, he connected on 36% of his 3.9 looks a game, a solid but not elite percentage.
  • Veteran swingman Dillon Brooks appears likely to earn a contract extension offer from the Grizzlies, writes Chris Herring of the Daily Memphian in a subscriber-exclusive story. However, Herring expects Brooks to reject such an offer. During the 2021/22 season, Brooks was limited to just 32 games. When he could suit up, he averaged 18.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.8 APG and 1.1 SPG.

Magic To Sign Simisola Shittu

The Magic are set to sign free agent power forward Simisola Shittu, his agent Daniel Hazan informs Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Given that Orlando has 15 players on guaranteed deals for its full roster and both its two-way slots are occupied, the agreement seems likely to be an Exhibit 10 training camp contract. The Magic has also reportedly reached Exhibit 10 agreements with Drake Jeffries and Zavier Simpson.

Shittu, still just 22, went undrafted out of Vanderbilt in 2019, then joined the Bulls’ NBAGL affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, for the 2019/20 season. He linked up with the Knicks’ G League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, during the team’s abbreviated ’20/21 season.

Shittu then set his sights internationally for the 2021/22 season, joining Israeli club Ironi Ness Ziona. During 15 contests for Ironi Ness Ziona, he sported averages of 7.1 PPG on 50.6% shooting, 4.9 RPG, 0.9 APG and 0.8 SPG across 17.5 MPG.

The 6’10” big man played with the Pacers during the 2022 Summer League in Las Vegas.