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Nets sign Trendon Watford, 6’9” power forward, to non-guaranteed one-year deal

The Nets are now at 15 standard NBA deals — the max — after signing Trendon Watford, a 6’9” big with a 7’2” wingspan. Like Darius Bazley, his deal is non-guaranteed.

The Brooklyn Nets have signed Trendon Watford, a 6’9” power forward with deep shooting skills, to a non-guaranteed, standard NBA contract, giving them 15 standard deals, the maximum. They still have another two-way contract to offer as well as two Exhibit 10 training camp invites.

Mike Scotto was first with the news, beating the Nets official announcement by two minutes.

Four days ago, Watford hinted a signing was imminent...

Watford tweeted out his excitement after the announcement...

He will wear No. 9.

Watford, 22, was a five-star recruit coming out of high school in 2019. After two years at LSU, where he played with Cam Thomas, he went undrafted in 2021, although the Nets expressed interest in taking him at No. 59. Both Thomas and Watford were named All-SEC for 2020-21. (With Ben Simmons, the Nets now have three LSU Tigers on the roster.)

In two years with the Trail Blazers, 110 games, Watford averaged 7.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in 19.6 minutes per game. Last season, he played 62 games, 12 starts, in Portland and shot 39.1% (25-of-64) from deep.

From the beginning of March through the end of the 2022-23 regular season (17 games), Watford recorded averages of 12.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 25.6 minutes per game, scoring in double figures in 12 of his last 14 games played. However, his 3-point shooting dropped to 26.6% over the stretch.

Originally signed to a two-way contract, Watford played both the 4 and 5 for the Blazers. Here’s highlights from his best statistical game of 2022-23, 24 points on the next to last day of the season...

Like Darius Bazley, signed last month, Watford is non-guaranteed, raising speculation that the two similar-sized players may be in competition for a roster spot. No details have been made public about Watford’s deal, but Bazley will be guaranteed $200,000 if he is still on the Opening Night roster on October 24, then be guaranteed $700,000 on December 15. All partial and non-guaranteed deals become fully guaranteed on January 10.

At 22 and athletic, Watford fits the Nets pattern this off-season. After taking two 18-year-olds, Noah Clowney and Dariq Whitehead as well as a 22-year-old (Jalen Wilson) in the NBA draft, they have signed Dennis Smith (25), Lonnie Walker IV (24) and Bazley (23) to standard if minimum deals, signed Armoni Brooks (25) to a two-way contract and Patrick Gardner (24) to an Exhibit 10 training camp agreement.

Portland’s decision to cut Watford at the start of free agency on June 30 was a mystery to many NBA pundits considering his age and developing skills. Equally surprising to those same pundits was how long Watford has been on the open market.

Blazers’ Edge, our SB Nation sister site, reported that Watford was simply caught in a numbers game.

A 6’9” forward, Watford was known for his work ethic and consistency on the floor. He was sandwiched in the rotation by starter Jerami Grant, a proven veteran with three-point range and Jabari Walker, a second young hopeful looking to make a name for himself. Watford could not duplicate Grant’s agility or range on the floor. Walker’s presence caused the Trail Blazers to choose between two players at essentially the same position fitting the same archetype. Portland went with Walker, releasing Watford earlier in the summer. Watford now gets another chance in Brooklyn.

Watford will also be reunited with Dennis Smith Jr. who he played with in Portland two years ago.