Photo Credits: Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images
With a little over two weeks until the onset of the NBA’s training camps, teams are flipping the page from last year, and making their final few acquisitions heading into the upcoming season. This sentiment held firm with the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday evening as the franchise opted to waive Josh Hall while bringing on Paul Watson Jr. for the team’s open two-way position.
Prior to Sunday, the Oklahoma City Thunder were empty handed in terms of roster spots. Following the signing of guard Vit Krejci, the franchise had assembled a lineup of 15 standard NBA contracts, and 2 two-way deals, both of which being the league maximum. That made the initial of Sunday’s news a tad perplexing to those watching on the outside, but as the dominoes have set in place — the picture becomes a lot clearer.
As first reported by Kelsea O’ Brien of BasketballNews, the Oklahoma City Thunder have signed Paul Watson Jr. to a two-way deal. Though the deal has yet to be confirmed by the team, multiple sources have confirmed the news.
The news of Watson Jr.’s addition had permeated a sense of skepticism for those following the team’s roster closely as word of the Thunder dropping Josh Hall were yet to be reported upon immediate release, but further clarification has pillaged the way for Watson Jr. to join the roster.
Watson Jr., age 26, clawed his way up European ranks after going undrafted in 2017, but has since made a heap of impressions at the NBA level. The forward had last played for the Toronto Raptors last season going from a two-way add-on to a multi-year signee by the year’s conclusion.
The 6-foot-6 wing boasted averages of 4.1 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.6 assists in 27 games with the Raptors last year while going an astounding 46.9 percent from distance on 2.4 tries per game. In one of Watson Jr.’s two stars last season, the Fresno State product recorded a career-high 30 points and 4 rebounds while splicing in eight threes.
Watson Jr.’s addition brings another seasoned wing to an already impressive backcourt, however, it came with a cost — the waiving of Josh Hall.
Hall, age 20, was one month removed from receiving a $1.5 million qualifying offer from Oklahoma City, and two weeks fresh off of signing a two-way contract with the roster prior to his waiving, making his timeline an enigma.
Heading into his sophomore campaign, Hall fits the bill of a moldable, uber-athletic forward who has yet to give a full sample of his game. Hall signed a two-way contract with the Thunder last season, but due to nagging injuries and health-and-safety protocols, the 6-foot-9 forward placed 21 games with averages of 4.1 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. He posted one game on the Oklahoma City Blue.
Hall saved his best for last with the Thunder exploding for 25 points and 11 rebounds in the team’s season-final against the Clippers. In the Vegas Summer League, Hall did much of the same recording 17 points and 7 rebounds in the season-capper.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are expected to offer Hall an exhibit-10 offer which, if accepted, would allow the forward to compete in both training camp and preseason play with the Thunder, in addition to a roster spot for the Thunder’s G-League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue.
It should be noted, however, Hall is an unrestricted free agent, meaning he’ll get first say on where he’d like to suit up. Current reports suggest the Durham native has already received interest from multiple teams across the league, which in turn could make him a hot commodity.
Regardless of Hall’s next jersey, it is expected both Watson Jr. and Hall will participate in NBA training camps at the end of the month.