Here are today's D-League assignments and recalls, with the latest moves at the top of the page:
We'll keep track of today's D-League news right here..
Here are Friday's D-League assignments and recalls:
Comcast's Ric Bucher tweets that the Lakers are expected to keep their coaching staff intact, as many of the players have personal favorites among the current assistants. A few days ago, head coach Mike D'Antoni spoke favorably of the coaches that had carried over after Mike Brown's firing, telling ESPN LA: "They're good coaches. I know almost all of them anyway. They work extremely hard. We are in a lot. I just felt like, 'They're here, they're good, why change it?" The list includes former interim-head coach Bernie Bickerstaff, Steve Clifford, Chuck Person, and most notably Eddie Jordan, who had been originally hired by Brown to install the Princeton offense. Here's the rest of what we're hearing out of the Western Conference tonight:
The Rockets recalled seven-footer Donatas Motiejunas from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers this morning, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The Lithuanian rookie was sent down earlier this month along with Scott Machado, who remains with the Vipers. It appeared at the time of their assignments that Royce White would be joining them as well, but that turned out not to be the case, as Rockets GM Daryl Morey later said the team never intended to demote the troubled White.
Motiejunas started games on back-to-back nights for the Vipers, who tipped off their season Friday. He averaged 24.0 points and 9.5 rebounds in 37.0 minutes per contest. He has also appeared in one game for the Rockets this season, logging five minutes. Motiejunas was the 20th overall pick in the 2011 draft by the Timberwolves, who immediately traded him to the Rockets. He spent last season playing for Asseco Prokom Gdynia in Poland.
The recall opens up a spot for the Rockets to send down White or another player, if they choose, since NBA teams can only send down two players at a time. Morey recently spoke about the development of Motiejunas and Machado, and how he wants to use the D-League to facilitate that. For a complete list of D-League comings and goings this season, check out our updated list.
Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey attended a Rio Grande Vipers game this week to scout the talent on his team's D-League squad, and talked to Yannis Kotroupis of HoopsWorld.com. Among the topics he discussed was the importance of the D-League to the Rockets' player-development system:
“We consider it one of our key assets,” Morey said to HOOPSWORLD. “We have a great partnership. I think overtime people are going to see minor league basketball like Triple A baseball. It’s not much different than Major League Baseball where most players are one step away from the pros. The first three or four guys on every D-League bench are really not different from guys 11-15 on NBA benches. The quality of basketball is super high, way higher than college basketball. Pretty much every D-League team would have a chance to challenge for a NCAA title. These are really great teams playing every night and I think over time people are going to see how high the quality is.”
Among the players on the Vipers who impressed Morey the most was Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas:
“[Motiejuans] a very skilled offensive player so we’re hoping shows that and I think he really did show that in the first half here,” Morey said. “We’re focused on him a getting a lot of minutes so he can get his game shape up cause we want to see him impact in transition at our level and this level. We want to see him as he gets tired continue to impact the game defensively, rebounding wise and be solid on defense without fouling. And, it’s overtime. It’s not overnight. We want him to get stronger, deal with stronger guys in the NBA. There’s quite a few bigs down here like a Jeff Adrien on his own team, but on other teams where he can get a real good sense going against these bigger, stronger guys than he’s faced in the past.”
Morey was also happy with what he saw from undrafted rookie point guard Scott Machado, and touched on the team's plans for him:
“Scott is a guy we really believe in,” Morey said. “The highest assist guy I think in 20 years in college basketball. Really skilled passer. Obviously he has has, we look for a guy with an elite skill in one area and then see if they can round it out in other areas. I think his time with the Vipers were really going to see can he take that passing an elite skill and add to it defense, rebounding and getting his own offense, things like that. Overtime we’ll see that but we really think he’s a great prospect for us going forward.”
Morey also denied reports that the team had intended to send embattled rookie forward Royce White to the D-League, saying he's optimistic the two parties can sort out their issues.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey told Yannis Koutroupis of HoopsWorld that the team never intended to send Royce White to the D-League, despite earlier indications to the contrary, and said he's optimistic about White's situation (Twitter link). The rookie has been away from the team for two weeks, and there's still no timetable for his return, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
When the report that the team would send White down surfaced, it came along with the news that the Rockets were also farming out Scott Machado and Donatas Motiejunas. That seemed to run counter to the CBA rule that an NBA team can only assign two players to the D-League at once. White went on his current leave of absence before the team could officially demote him, and now it appears such a move wasn't in the works, after all.
Feigen notes the team is expected to recall Motiejunas this weekend. That would allow the the Rockets to send White down, but it's unclear whether that would happen. White reportedly has misgivings about how playing in the D-League would jibe with his illness, and the fact that White addressed the specter of a D-League assignment suggests the team at least broached the subject with him.
WEDNESDAY, 10:02am: The Rockets have assigned Motiejunas and Machado to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, according to RealGM.com's transactions log. Given White's uncertain status, it appears he hasn't been officially signed to Houston's D-League affiliate at this point. As Hoops Rumors' Chuck Myron pointed out last night, NBA teams were previously limited to assigning two players at a time to D-League affiliates, so it's not clear whether that affects White's situation or if the rule has changed.
MONDAY, 10:47pm: The Rockets are sending Royce White, Donatas Motiejunas, and Scott Machado to their NBA D-League affiliate, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 (via Twitter). Of the three players, Motiejunas is the only one to have logged NBA minutes with five minutes of play last night against the Pistons.
White, the 16th overall pick in the 2012 draft, picked up national attention for his unexpected absence from Rockets training camp over the summer. It turns out that the forward was struggling with anxiety issues, including a fear of flying. Later in the week, the two sides worked out an agreement in which White could travel to a portion of road games via bus rather than fly with the team.
The Rockets officially announced today in a team release that they have signed 2011 first-round pick Donatas Motiejunas to a rookie scale contract. The 21-year-old was the 20th overall pick a year ago, so he figures to receive a rookie contract equivalent to what this year's 20th overall pick (Evan Fournier) would be eligible for -- if he signed for the maximum 120%, Motiejunas will make $1,361,400 in his rookie season.
The Rockets acquired the rights to Motiejunas last June in a trade with the Timberwolves. The Lithuanian big man spent the 2011/12 season overseas, playing for Prokom Gdynia in Poland.