Spain Leads World With Eight NBA Exports

When it comes to overseas breeding grounds for NBA players, there’s Spain and there’s everywhere else. At least that’s the way it would appear from the evidence of this summer, when more than twice as many players jumped to the NBA from professional leagues in Spain than from pro ball in any other country. Top-five draft picks Kristaps Porzingis and Mario Hezonja headline a pack of eight NBA newcomers who last played professional basketball with a Spanish team. Their ranks swelled just this week, when Marcelo Huertas and the Lakers struck a deal. Turkey is next on the list, sending three players to the NBA.

We’ve listed each offseason NBA addition who played his last professional game with an overseas team below, categorized by country. That means players who saw time overseas last season but jumped to the NBA or the D-League before season’s end aren’t represented. We’ve also omitted players who sat out last season.















Which new NBA player from overseas will have the greatest impact this season? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

How Teams Fared In Re-Signing Own Free Agents

No one entered the summer with fewer free agents on their roster than the Bucks, who had just one. And they weren’t about to let Khris Middleton get away, re-signing him to a new five-year, $70MM deal. The Thunder were in a similar position, with only two free agents, both of whom they wanted to retain. Oklahoma City did just that, re-signing Kyle Singler and matching the max offer sheet the Blazers tendered to Enes Kanter. They and Milwaukee thus became the only NBA teams to retain each of their own free agents this offseason, though it helped that Middleton, Singler and Kanter were restricted, meaning their incumbent teams could match.

The Lakers, Trail Blazers, Sixers and Raptors represent the antithesis of that. Few could blame the Lakers and Sixers for overhauling rosters that finished near the bottom of the league, but the Trail Blazers surely would have preferred to retain at least one of their eight free agents. When LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the Spurs instead, the Blazers sought to position their roster around Damian Lillard, and they allowed much of Aldridge’s old supporting cast to sign elsewhere. The Raptors didn’t have a free agent nearly as sought-after as Aldridge, with new Laker and reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams the most prominent departure. Toronto replaced him with a four-year, $58MM deal for DeMarre Carroll, among other free agent moves.

We ranked all 30 teams by the percentage of their own free agents they signed. The players who stayed are listed by the name of each franchise:

  1. Thunder 1.000 (2 for 2) — Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler
  2. Bucks 1.000 (1 for 1) — Khris Middleton
  3. Rockets .800 (4 for 5) — Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer, K.J. McDaniels, Jason Terry
  4. Bulls .750 (3 for 4) —  Aaron Brooks, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy
  5. Nuggets .750 (3 for 4) — Darrell Arthur, Will Barton, Jameer Nelson
  6. Cavaliers .667 (6 for 9) — Matthew Dellavedova, LeBron James, James Jones, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith
  7. Heat .667 (2 for 3) — Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade
  8. Warriors .600 (3 for 5) — Leandro Barbosa, Draymond Green, Marreese Speights
  9. Spurs .556 (5 for 9) — Matt Bonner, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard
  10. Celtics .500 (2 for 4) — Jae Crowder, Jonas Jerebko
  11. Jazz .500 (1 for 2) — Joe Ingles
  12. Pelicans .500 (4 for 8) — Alexis Ajinca, Omer Asik, Luke Babbitt, Dante Cunningham
  13. Nets .400 (2 for 5) — Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young
  14. Pistons .400 (2 for 5) — Joel Anthony, Reggie Jackson
  15. Pacers .375 (3 for 8) — Lavoy Allen, Rodney Stuckey, Shayne Whittington
  16. Clippers .333 (2 for 6) — DeAndre Jordan, Austin Rivers
  17. Grizzlies .333 (1 for 3) — Marc Gasol
  18. Magic .333 (1 for 3) — Tobias Harris
  19. Knicks .222 (2 for 9) — Lou Amundson, Lance Thomas
  20. Hawks .200 (1 for 5) — Paul Millsap
  21. Kings .200 (1 for 5) — Omri Casspi
  22. Suns .200 (1 for 5) — Brandon Knight
  23. Mavericks .200 (2 for 10) — J.J. Barea, Charlie Villanueva
  24. Timberwolves .200 (1 for 5) — Kevin Garnett
  25. Wizards .200 (1 for 5) — Drew Gooden
  26. Hornets .000 (0 for 5)
  27. Raptors (0 for 6)
  28. Sixers (0 for 6)
  29. Trail Blazers (0 for 7)
  30. Lakers .000 (0 for 8)

Which team made the best moves with its own free agents, re-signing the right guys and letting the rest go? Leave a comment to tell us.

Celtics Notes: Stevens, Olynyk, Zeller

A strong majority among ESPN’s Summer Forecast panel believes this season’s Celtics have no greater reason for optimism than the presence of Brad Stevens, notes Chris Forsberg of That doesn’t suggest much confidence in the team’s offseason acquisitions of David Lee, Amir Johnson and others, but it’s nonetheless more affirmation of the team’s decision to sign Stevens, untested beyond his experience with college mid-major Butler, to a six-year, $22MM deal in 2013. See more from Boston here:

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of tabs four Celtics he believes to be the most likely candidates to go before opening night, and while Kelly Olynyk seems a curious inclusion, he’s available via trade for the right price, just like all of his teammates, Blakely hears. Still, the C’s aren’t aggressively shopping him, Blakely cautions.
  • The Celtics plan to use training camp to help themselves evaluate how to sort out the regular season roster, and no trades are imminent, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. That would suggest the C’s will continue to carry 16 fully guaranteed contracts when camps start at the end of the month.
  • Estimates from ESPN’s Summer Forecast panel voters suggest $10.6MM salaries in an extension for Tyler Zeller would be the going rate, as Forsberg writes in a separate piece. The panel predicts that it’s just as likely that Zeller signs an extension as it is that none of the three Celtics eligible for a rookie scale extension wind up with one.

The Beat: Chris Haynes On The Cavs


Chris Haynes

Nobody knows NBA teams better than beat writers, save for those who draw paychecks with an NBA owner’s signature on them. The reporters who are with the teams they cover every day gain an intimate knowledge of the players, coaches and executives they write about and develop sources who help them break news and stay on top of rumors.

We at Hoops Rumors will be chatting with beat writers from around the league and sharing their responses to give you a better perspective on how and why teams make some of their most significant moves. Last time, we spoke with Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic about the Suns. Click here to see all of the previous editions of this series.

Today, we gain insight on the Cavaliers from Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. You can follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisBHaynes, and click here to check out his stories on

Hoops Rumors: Just about everyone around the league seems to be wondering how Tristan Thompson‘s free agency ultimately gets resolved. What do you think Thompson’s ideal outcome is, and what do you think is the ideal outcome for the Cavs?

Chris Haynes: I’m not really sure what the outcome will be, but all I know is Rich Paul is asking for five years and $94MM and the Cavaliers are $14MM short of that figure. That’s Randy Moss-type separation. There’s limited to zero communication because of that tremendous gap. If Tristan takes the qualifying offer, according to Paul, his client is gone after the 2015/16 season. And if he takes a hike, the Cavaliers won’t have the resources to replace him. The Cavaliers believe they’ve presented a more-than-generous offer for a player who figures to be a backup for them. I suspect a long-term deal is reached closer to camp. Paul has shown he’s more than willing to play the waiting game.

Hoops Rumors: How much longer do you think LeBron James will carry on merely with year-to-year commitments to the Cavs before he finally signs another long-term deal?

Chris Haynes: LeBron is the only player capable of continuing the year-to-year deals due to his durability and lucrative off-the-court ventures. Flexibility is extremely important to him. The structure of his deal ensures the Cavaliers continue to place quality players around him to compete for championships year after year. He could go the long-term route next summer, but he’ll likely shoot for the summer of 2017 when the cap rises to well over $100MM. Again, no other player can go down this path.

Hoops Rumors: Do you think it’s more likely that the Cavs wait until next summer to use the $10,522,500 Brendan Haywood trade exception, when they might not be facing such a steep tax bill? Or do you think the Cavs feel a need to add as much talent as possible for this season and use the exception before the trade deadline in February?

Chris Haynes: It all depends on how they start the season. If they come out sputtering, regardless of tax implications, that exception will be shopped like crazy. There’s too much at stake. They can’t afford to be too patient with this roster. See answer to question No. 2 for one of the reasons. Ideally, the Cavaliers would love to just cruise through the regular season successfully and use that exception for the offseason. That Haywood chip is truly valuable, but it’s being viewed as merely an excellent insurance policy should things go south.

Hoops Rumors: You reported that Kyrie Irving will likely miss the start of the season, and that the distinct possibility exists that he’ll be out until January. Do you think the Cavs will make a move to bring in another point guard, or are they comfortable with the options they have?

Chris Haynes: I believe they’re just fine with who they have at the moment. The addition of Mo Williams was huge and Matthew Dellavedova is right back in his backup role. And now roster hopefuls in Jared Cunningham and undrafted rookie Quinn Cook have a shot to make the opening day roster as the team’s third point guard. To my knowledge the Cavaliers will work with what they have, believing they have enough to withstand Irving’s early absence.

Hoops Rumors: David Blatt had quite an introduction to the NBA last season. What do you think was the most significant lesson he learned over the course of the year?

Chris Haynes: Managing minutes. He admitted that he never had to focus on minute distribution too much overseas because those teams only played twice a week and three at the most. He improved in that area late in the season, but by then, it took its toll on the players. With a season under his belt, a revamped roster and an understanding of the regular season grind, I expect Blatt to be more cautious with his minute tally on his big guns.

Hoops Rumors: The same question probably applies to David Griffin, too, since he’s coming off his first full season as an NBA GM. What do you think was the most important lesson he gathered from that experience?

Chris Haynes: Probably patience. Not to say he had trouble with it, but when you start off a season struggling and LeBron James is on the roster, panic can set in and cause you to pursue changes prematurely. It seemed like everything went wrong the first couple of months and it was well-documented by several media outlets. His patience was tested as teams called to discuss numerous trade proposals, sensing the Cavaliers were in a vulnerable state. He listened, but ultimately stood pat until pulling off the blockbuster trades that acquired J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov in January. Griff learned on the fly of what it’s like to be the general manager of a LeBron James-team. It has its rewards, but it’s far from easy. It takes patience and he proved he has that.

Heat Notes: Dragic, Andersen, Chalmers, Wade

Some of the teams with interest in Goran Dragic retreated from the idea of trading for him at the deadline because they felt the Heat had him essentially wrapped up for a long-term deal, sources from across the league tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Still, no one registered a tampering complaint, and a Heat spokesperson said to Lowe that there was no prearranged deal for when he hit free agency in the summer. The Lakers seemed to hang around as a threat, but the Heat appeared to have the inside track to re-sign Dragic right from the time he got to Miami. The All-Star combo guard indeed re-signed on a five-year deal worth slightly more than $85MM last month.

The Heat’s latest move became public this morning, with Miami reportedly having agreed to a camp deal with former Georgetown small forward Greg Whittington. See more from South Beach here:

Extension Candidate: Festus Ezeli

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Usually, players who sign rookie scale extensions have averaged more than five points per game at least once in their first three NBA seasons. That’s not the case for Festus Ezeli, but the Warriors apparently want to buck the trend. It’s possible this is a simple case of buying low, since Ezeli clearly hasn’t shown the bona fides usually required for a team to make a long-term commitment but will ostensibly have a chance to do so this season. The repeated signals from Warriors GM Bob Myers that the team is willing to do an extension are also perhaps yet another manifestation of a drastically rising salary cap, since teams will have an unprecedented capacity to spend. Golden State just won its first championship in 40 years, and beyond the positive vibes from that accomplishment is the wisdom in using the cap boom to keep a title-winning team together.

Golden State appears ready to test that wisdom to its extreme. Of course, that depends on just how much the Warriors would be on board with giving the former 30th overall pick. If, say, they want to do an unusually cheap rookie scale extension and sign him for around the value of the mid-level, the shock factor wouldn’t be nearly as profound. Indeed, the Warriors would extend his contract for the right price, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders wrote this week, though Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group later speculated that market price for the Bill Duffy client would be $9-11MM a year.

Ezeli’s chronic failure to corral passes from teammates has helped deflate his offensive numbers, but he’s improved his hands, as Monte Poole of noted. Indeed, he got off nearly twice as many shots per 36 minutes this past season as he did in 2012/13, his rookie year. He also converted them at a much higher rate, lifting his field goal percentage from 43.8% to 54.7%. He lifted his PER from a dismal 9.3 to an above average 16.2, showing increased efficiency, and he posted impressive averages of 11.1 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes last season.

All of that is encouraging, but the sample size was small. Ezeli played only 504 total minutes last season, an average of 11.0 per game across his 46 appearances. Part of that had to do with the depth of the title-winning Warriors, who had Andrew Bogut and Marreese Speights, with David Lee and even Draymond Green capable of playing small ball center at times. Lee is the only one no longer on the roster, and Bogut, the starter, is signed through 2016/17. Still, the former No. 1 overall pick turns 31 this November and has a history of injuries, so chances are he’ll fade away long before Green, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes do. Golden State will eventually need a center who can complement its young core.

Still, Bogut has appeared in more regular season games during Ezeli’s career than Ezeli has. The 6’11” 25-year-old from Nigeria had surgery in June 2013 to reinforce the MCL and PCL in his right knee after he sprained that knee in the playoffs that spring. He missed all of the 2013/14 season, and a sprained left ankle kept him on the inactive list for more than a month this past season. The ankle injury was poorly timed, since he’d just come off a string of seven starts in place of Bogut. Ezeli didn’t start again last season, but he did eventually return to the rotation, and he appeared in every playoff game but one.

Starting isn’t altogether unfamiliar for Ezeli, who was on the floor for the tip of 41 regular season games and three playoff games as a rookie. That was the season Golden State made its first postseason appearance with its current group. Bogut’s defense has proven key to the team’s success over the past few years. Ezeli is also a plus defender, according to Basketball-Reference’s Defensive Box Plus Minus, though that’s not surprising for a center. He’s the 40th-best center in ESPN’s Real Plus Minus, fairly impressive for someone who saw only 11.0 minutes a night, finishing right behind vaunted defensive talent Gorgui Dieng in that metric. The Warriors were about as efficient on defense when Ezeli played as they were when he didn’t last season, according to, but, disconcertingly, they scored a whopping 6.5 points per possessions more when he sat as opposed to when he was on the floor. That reflects the drop-off from Golden State’s starters to its bench, but it also speaks to Ezeli’s offensive shortcomings.

Kosta Koufos paced the free agent market for backup centers this summer, scoring a deal that pays him a little more than $8MM a year from the Kings. Aron Baynes and Ed Davis, reserve centers with upside, each wound up with around $6.5MM in average annual value. It would be surprising to see Ezeli receive more than Koufos, a premier backup center, if the Warriors don’t envision him as a starter.

Perhaps the Warriors envision a four-year extension that begins with a salary of around $8MM with raises that lift it to around $10MM for the final two seasons. That would allow him to be compensated like a top-level backup while Bogut is still on the roster and like a fifth starter after Bogut’s contract expires. It would be a reasonably optimistic projection for Ezeli that seems to fall in line with the way Myers has made it seem that the Warriors view him.

Should the Warriors sign Ezeli to an extension, and if so, how much should they give him? Leave a comment to tell us.

Heat To Sign Greg Whittington For Camp

The Heat and undrafted small forward Greg Whittington have reached agreement on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, reports Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). The 22-year-old from Georgetown had three partially guaranteed offers from NBA teams last month, as Charania reported then, so it’s surprising to see him take one without a guarantee, even though he played for Miami’s summer league squad. Still, the Heat seem to offer him a decent shot at the regular season roster, since they have only 12 fully guaranteed deals, as our roster counts show, though they’ll almost certainly keep Hassan Whiteside‘s partially guaranteed pact.

Whittington was a longshot for the draft, as Chad Ford of ranked him as only the 108th-best prospect. He nonetheless looked sharp during the Las Vegas summer league, averaging 13.0 points and 8.2 rebounds in 30.3 minutes per contest while nailing eight of 17 three-pointers in five appearances after a so-so four-game stint for the Heat in the Orlando summer league. He had seen limited action since an ACL injury to his left knee during the summer of 2013. Academic trouble clouded his time at Georgetown, and after his dismissal from the school, he joined the Westchester Knicks, though he never appeared in a game.

Tyler Johnson would appear to have the inside track on the 14th regular season roster spot for Miami, since he has a partial guarantee worth half of his minimum salary, but James Ennis, Keith Benson and Corey Hawkins all have non-guaranteed pacts. So, Whittington will ostensibly compete with that trio to make it to opening night.

Going into camp, who do you think is the favorite for the Heat’s last regular season roster spot? Leave a comment to let us know.

Column: Hawks Stay Course Despite Doubts

Sam Amico, the founder and editor of and a broadcast journalist for Fox Sports Ohio, will write a weekly feature for Hoops Rumors with news, rumors and insight from around the NBA. If you missed last week’s edition, click here. Here’s this week’s edition:
When the Hawks cruised to the best record in the Eastern Conference at the NBA All-Star break, few outside the organization believed.
When the Hawks finished 60-22 to earn the top seed in the East, no one really seemed to care.
And when the Hawks had to fight their way to playoff wins over the Nets and Wizards, the doubters stood proud.
Sure enough, the Hawks were swept by LeBron James and the Cavaliers in the conference finals.
Now? Well, the Hawks are down a valuable starter — as forward DeMarre Carroll bolted for the Raptors in free agency. They landed center Tiago Splitter in a trade with the Spurs, and fended off the Magic’s free agent offer for power forward Paul Millsap.
They also officially promoted head coach Mike Budenholzer to head of basketball operations after agreeing to buyout with former general manager Danny Ferry.
Other than that, everything is primarily the same.
Budenholzer actually held down his current dual role all of last season — Ferry having been gone on an “indefinite leave of absence” for repeating a controversial scouting report on free agent target Luol Deng, now with the Heat. That makes Budenholzer sort of the Gregg Popovich of the Hawks, and the Hawks sort of the Spurs of the East.
After all, the Hawks play a very Spurs-like brand of basketball, moving the ball, making the extra pass and confusing opponents who occasionally just wait for someone, anyone, to take a bad shot. Like the Spurs, the Hawks rarely do.
As Hawks swingman and three-point shooter extraordinaire Kyle Korver told Grantland’s Zach Lowe back in June, the Hawks are a system team. And sometimes, that can really take you places.
“I’ve been on teams where it’s all about one guy,” Korver told Lowe. “This is way more fun. I believe in this vision, and I think we’re eventually gonna get it done.”
Back to the Spurs comparison.
Unlike the five-time champions and their winning contingent of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, the Hawks have just two players with Finals experience. One is Splitter, who is expected to back up Al Horford in the pivot, and the other is swingman Thabo Sefolosha — who missed the last season’s playoff run after breaking his leg in a late-night incident.
So it’s safe to say regardless of how well the Hawks play in the regular season, the doubts will remain.
Star-less and soaring on
A lot of organizations would kill for the type of year the Hawks put together in 2014/15. It was a season full of accomplishment and fun, and for one of the few times in team history, a season that had the city buzzing about pro basketball.
Now, the Hawks are a little harder to peg.
No one seemed to believe they could win a title without — to use Korver’s words — that “one guy.” Everyone seemed to point out that the NBA is a superstar-driven league — and it was James and the Cavs (and not the Hawks) who possessed that shining star.
Well, guess what? The Hawks enter the season without a star. Granted, they have some really good ones in Horford, Millsap, Korver and perhaps best of all, point guard Jeff Teague.
But a LeBron or Kobe Bryant? Forget it.
And guess what else? To the Hawks, that still doesn’t really matter. It’s rare for teams to go from the No. 8 playoff seed (as the Hawks were in 2013/14) one year to winning a title the next. Often, you have to take your lumps in the postseason before getting all the way to the top.
And sometimes, it can be done without a top-five player. Especially if you have a top-five game plan.
“Everybody would like a superstar,” Budenholzer told Lowe, “but I definitely think you can win the way we are doing it.”
The Hawks have proven they can indeed win the way they are doing it through the grueling 82-game regular season. They proved they can do it through two rounds of the playoffs.
But is it enough to actually go all the way? Is it enough to continue the good thing they had going?
One thing’s for certain, the Hawks are determined to find out, and they’re determined to find out by doing it their own way.

Hoops Rumors Community Shootaround 8/31/15

There was plenty of drama and intrigue regarding this summer’s free agent class, highlighted by All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge signing with the Spurs and the DeAndre Jordan saga, which ultimately left the Mavs fuming and the Clippers rejoicing.

Next summer promises to be another fascinating chapter in the league’s annual player sweepstakes but no other situation bears more watching than Kevin Durant’s decision on his long-term future. Durant, who will make more than $20MM this season, becomes an unrestricted free agent in July. The prospect of one of the league’s true superstars going on the market will have executives and fans around the league salivating.  As Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding recently put it, Durant’s foray into the open market is shaping up as the “biggest non-LeBron free agency the NBA has ever seen.”

It’s no secret that the Wizards have been clearing salary-cap space to make a run at the Washington, D.C. native. The Mavs, Lakers, Heat, Knicks and Nets are other teams expected to make a spirited run at Durant. Several other suitors are likely to surface in the Durant sweepstakes by the time next summer rolls around.

Of course, it’s no lock that Durant will change uniforms. If he fully recovers from the foot injuries that plagued him last season, Durant could lead the Thunder to their second appearance in the NBA Finals. The dynamic duo of Durant and Russell Westbrook now has an interior scoring threat with the presence of Enes Kanter, and Serge Ibaka is still around to provide rebounding and defense in the middle. A deep playoff run, perhaps even a championship, could convince Durant to stay right where he is.

Thus, our question of the day is as follows: Will Kevin Durant re-sign with the Thunder or will he change uniforms next summer? If he leaves, which team has the best chance to land his services? 

Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on Durant’s future.

Note: Since these Shootarounds are meant to be guided by you the reader, we certainly welcome your input on the topics we present. If there is something you’d like to see pop up here for a discussion, shoot us a message at

And-Ones: Williams, Davis, Bucks

The Mavericks have seen encouraging signs from Deron Williams during informal workouts, Tim MacMahon of tweets. Williams, who appears lean and quick, feels he has a lot to prove, MacMahon adds. Williams signed with the Mavs in July to be their starting point guard after he secured his release from the Nets via a buyout agreement. He received a two-year deal worth $10MM that includes a player option.

In other news around the league:

  • Anthony Davis said there was little doubt that he would sign an extension with the Pelicans rather than test the free agent waters, he told SLAM’s Christopher Cason in a Q&A session. “I knew I was going back to New Orleans,” he said. “I love the city, love what the team is doing and I have faith in the coaching staff and my teammates. It was an easy decision for me.”
  • An overflow crowd packed a Milwaukee City Hall meeting as the public was given its first opportunity to formally comment on a funding plan to build a new Bucks arena, Greg Moore of the Associated Press reports. Milwaukee Development Commissioner Rocky Marcoux laid out how the city plans to generate its $47MM share of public funding for a new arena and entertainment district, primarily through special tax districts, Moore continues. While a majority of those who spoke favored the plan, a group called Common Ground questioned why the city would help pay for the project rather than invest in the neighborhood or school improvements, Moore adds.
  • The Celtics extended their exclusive affiliation with the D-League’s Maine Red Claws through the 2017/18 season, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe reports. The Celtics became Maine’s lone affiliate and took over its basketball operations in 2012. Last season, the Celtics assigned a total of six players to the Red Claws, Himmelsbach adds.

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