With David Stern putting all his weight behind the positive evolution of the D-League, it’s only natural for that avenue of player development to be contrasted with the more traditional one. Let’s take a look at Thursday night’s news and notes from the draft and the D-League here:
- The kickoff of the NBA season isn’t complete without our first wave of NBA mock drafts. Chad Ford provides ESPN insiders a look at what the first round might look like in June 2014. In what some pundits are dubbing the best draft since 2003, Ford predicts a top five of Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Joel Embiid and Dante Exum.
- Speaking of Oklahoma State’s Smart, the sophomore point guard is still unsure that he made the right decision to return to school last April, writes ESPN’s Myron Medcalf. Considering the shocking results of last June’s draft, it probably isn’t far fetched to say that Smart would have been the best player on the board when the Cavs went on the clock.
- The Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder‘s D-League affiliate, have acquired the number one pick in tomorrow night’s D-League draft along with Ben Uzoh in a three team deal with the Iowa Energy and Springfield Armor, writes Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside. Along with other picks tomorrow night, Diante Garrett and Lorenzo Brown were also involved in the deal.
- Polish forward Olek Czyz has signed a deal to join the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League, Sportando reports on Twitter. The Bucks, who use Fort Wayne as their D-League affiliate, cut Czyz on Saturday after he spent training camp with the team, indicating that they protected his D-League rights. Czyz played at Duke and Nevada before going undrafted in 2012. He played last season for Virtus Roma of the Italian League.
A year ago today, the NBA lockout had just officially ended and we were immersed in a compressed and frantic period of free agency. As fun a week as that was, I'll take this year's December 10th, which features an evening slate of six NBA contests, including a Southeast battle between the Hawks and Heat. As we await tonight's games, let's round up a few afternoon odds and ends:
- In addition to working out Ben Uzoh on Sunday, the Wizards also took a look at Blake Ahearn, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. However, Washington doesn't plan to sign either player to replace the injured A.J. Price.
- In the latest draft blog at ESPN.com (Insider link), Jay Bilas and Chad Ford discuss which college point guard is the top prospect at the position.
- John Hollinger also has an Insider-only piece up at ESPN.com, in which he examines Andrea Bargnani's disappointing performance so far this season for the Raptors. If Bargnani plays like this all season, the amnesty clause could be a real possibility next summer, says Hollinger. I still think the former first overall pick has some trade value, but that value is certainly not where it was even a few weeks ago.
- The Hawks are still figuring out when to bring back Mike Scott from the D-League, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
- Tony Parker sees a little of himself in Jeremy Lin, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports via Twitter that Ben Uzoh is working out today for the Wizards, who will be without point guard A.J. Price for four to six weeks because of a broken hand, as Michael Lee of The Washington Post reveals. Shaun Livingston is the only healthy point guard left for Washington, which is at the 15-man roster limit, meaning someone would have to be waived if Uzoh is to be signed. That would most likely be Earl Barron, who's on a non-guaranteed deal for the minimum salary.
Uzoh, who was in training camp with the Nuggets, is currently with the D-League's Springfield Armor. He's appeared in 60 games over the past two seasons with three NBA teams, including a 16-game stint with the Raptors last year in which he started eight contests and averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 assists in 22.3 minutes per game.
Lee, when he reported the news of Price's injury, didn't expect the team to sign another point guard, instead believing Washington would simply shift more ball-handling duties onto Jordan Crawford. The Wizards are already on the hook for the partial guarantee of $300K on the contract of Jannero Pargo, whom they waived to sign Livingston. They're paying the same amount to point guard Shelvin Mack after cutting him loose at the end of training camp. The team has had issues at point guard all season long in the absence of John Wall, who has no timetable for his return from a left patella injury.
The Wizards, who are over the cap, have $3.1MM of their mid-level exception and their full $1.957MM bi-annual exception at their disposal if they want to add someone for more than the minimum salary. Yet given the dearth of intriguing options on the list of available free agent point guards, it seems unlikely they'll have to dip into either exception.
The Nuggets have officially waived point guards Anthony Carter and Ben Uzoh, the team announced today in a press release. The cuts reduce Denver's roster to 15 players.
Both Carter and Uzoh were signed to the Nuggets' camp roster back on October 1st, the only two players the team brought in on summer contracts. Carter appeared in three preseason games for Denver, while Uzoh played in just one. Neither player was in a great position to earn a spot on the club's regular season roster, since there are 14 Nuggets on fully guaranteed contracts, plus Julyan Stone, whose deal has a partial guarantee.
Carter told HoopsWorld last week that Nuggets coach George Karl had offered him a job as an assistant, so it'll be interesting to see if the veteran guard transitions into coaching or attempts to continue his playing career with another team.
The Nuggets have signed Anthony Carter and Ben Uzoh to deals that will bring the pair of point guards to training camp, according to Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post (Twitter link). The additions bring Denver's roster count to 17 players.
Both Carter and Uzoh played for the Raptors in 2011/12, though their career trajectories don't have much in common besides that. Carter is 37 years old and averaged just 8.7 minutes per game in his 24 contests last season. Uzoh, meanwhile, made his NBA debut just two seasons ago and has split time between the NBA and the D-League since then. It appeared the 24-year-old was heading overseas for the year before he parted ways with French team Cholet last week.
Of the Nuggets' 17 players, 14 are on guaranteed contracts. Besides Uzoh and Carter, the only other player without a full guarantee is third-string point guard Julyan Stone, which seems to suggest that both Uzoh and Carter will receive the chance to outplay Stone this month and earn that final roster spot.
According to the team's official website, Lakers guard Steve Blake suffered a puncture wound after stepping on a spike strip in a parking lot. The statement says Blake will be restricted from team activities for at least three weeks. Despite not being one of the bigger names on Los Angeles' roster, Blake's role as the team's veteran backup point guard is quite important, especially considering incoming starter Steve Nash's inability to log major minutes.
Here are a few more Monday odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Later today, Seattle City Council is expected to formally approve Chris Hansen's plan to build a $490MM arena in downtown Seattle, according to an Associated Press report (via the Seattle Times). Hansen and city council reached an agreement two weeks ago on financing for the arena proposal, meaning today's vote is expected to be merely a formality. Hansen's plan will still require an okay from the King County Council, but the city's approval would allow him to start looking for a franchise to bring to Seattle.
- One NBA GM tells Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio that he expects veteran free agents like Derek Fisher and Michael Redd to sign deals late in training camp or even after the season begins.
- It appears agent Dan Fegan will join Happy Walters at a newly-created agency called Relativity Sports, according to Darren Heitner of Sports Agent Blog. Fegan, who represents Dwight Howard, Nene, and John Wall, among others, recently left Lagardère Unlimited.
- Paul Millsap hasn't really begun thinking about free agency yet, stressing that he's "still with the Utah Jazz" and he'll consider his options when the time comes, as Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune writes.
- Jonathan Tjarks of RealGM.com views Joe Johnson's and Manu Ginobili's career paths as two examples for James Harden to consider as the fourth-year guard weighs his contract options.
- Ben Uzoh has parted ways with French team Cholet, making him a free agent again, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Uzoh has appeared in 60 total games for the Nets, Cavs, and Raptors over the past two seasons.
- Many of the storylines that SI.com's Sam Amick will be watching this season involve players on new teams, including Raymond Felton in New York, Andre Iguodala in Denver, and Andrew Bynum in Philadelphia.
At various points during the offseason, Mehmet Okur has been linked to the Timberwolves and other clubs, but the reports usually point to the same roadblock: Okur is seeking more than the minimum salary. It's possible some NBA team makes Okur an offer worth more than the minimum, but it appears he may have a better chance at that kind of money overseas. TrendBasket.net passes along a Turkish report suggesting that Galatasaray Medical Park of Turkey is interested in Okur, and could potentially offer him $2-3MM per year. Here are a few more of the morning's international notes and rumors:
- Nikola Mirotic tells Enric Corbella of Marca.com (English link via HoopsWorld) that the Bulls know his situation with Real Madrid and respect his contract. Mirotic, the 23rd overall pick in 2011, has a number of years left on his contract in Spain, but will have the opportunity to opt out and join the Bulls before it ends.
- Two players that received 10-day contracts in 2011/12 may be on the verge of leaving their French teams. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando passes along French reports suggesting that Gravelines may part ways with Larry Owens, and that Ben Uzoh's time with Cholet may be nearly over.
- Unicaja Malaga coach Jasmin Repesa said that his team would love to add Bojan Bogdanovic, who is under contract for two more years with Fenerbahce (link via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Bogdanovic was drafted with the 31st overall pick in 2011's draft, with his NBA rights now held by the Nets.
As free agents continue to come off the board, not all of them are signing their new contracts with NBA teams. Here's the latest on a handful of notable names landing non-NBA deals:
- Ben Uzoh, who played for the Cavs and Raptors last season after spending 2010/11 with the Nets, has signed with Cholet Basket in France, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 24-year-old has averaged 4.0 points and 2.2 assists in 13.5 minutes per game in 60 career NBA contests.
- We heard a week ago that Australia's David Andersen hoped to receive a chance to play in the NBA this season, but it appears he'll remain overseas. Carchia passes along word that Andersen has signed a two-year deal with Turkey's Fenerbahce Ulker. The 32-year-old big man played 103 games for the Rockets, Raptors, and Hornets from 2009 to 2011.
- After spending a good chunk of last season with the Tulsa 66ers, Rhode Island product Delroy James has signed a one-year deal in Italy, FMC Ferentino announced (link via Sportando).
The Raptors have officially re-signed Ben Uzoh and Alan Anderson, according to a team press release. Both players saw their second 10-day contracts expire today, so their new deals will keep them with the team for the remainder of the season.
With a number of Raptors regulars missing time with injuries, both Uzoh and Anderson have entered the starting lineup, with Anderson starting the seven games and Uzoh starting the last two. Overall, Anderson, who I named one of the best 10-day signings of 2012, is averaging 8.4 points and 1.4 threes in 22.4 minutes per game. Uzoh has averages of 4.1 PPG, 2.8 APG, and 2.6 RPG in 11 contests with Toronto.
As our 10-day contract tracker shows, Justin Dentmon also had his deal with Toronto expire today, but the team chose not to bring him back. The series of moves leaves the Raptors with 14 players on their roster.
The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Thursday evening:
- Dallas radio hosts Barry Horn and Kevin Sherrington weighed in on a couple of Mavericks issues. Horn believes the Mavs are a better team without Lamar Odom, who was shut down earlier this week.
- Sherrington speculates that the Mavs are still interested in acquiring Dwight Howard, especially if they can't sign Deron Williams this summer.
- Michael Beasley told Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press that he wants to stay with the Timberwolves going forward. Beasley is set to become a restricted free agent this summer.
- Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel says the Bucks lack a clear direction for the future and will not contend with their current roster. Hunt believes the first step will be re-signing Ersan Ilyasova this summer.
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star doubts that Raptors 10-day contract signees Ben Uzoh and Justin Dentmon will be anything more than placeholders for the team.