Aaron Brooks

And-Ones: LaMelo Ball, Brooks, De Colo, Black

Like fellow 2020 prospect R.J. Hampton, LaMelo Ball will play in Australia’s NBL next season. After announcing his decision on ESPN’s The Jump on Monday (link via ESPN’s Jonathan Givony), Ball made it official, signing with the Illawarra Hawks for the 2019/20 season. According to Givony, Ball signed a two-year contract, but it has NBA out clauses.

Having spent a year playing in Lithuania, Ball was unlikely to be cleared to play for an NCAA program anyway, but he’s still the second potential 2020 first-round pick to join the NBL for the coming season. LaMelo, who is Lonzo Ball‘s younger brother, is ranked by ESPN as the No. 21 prospect in next year’s draft class.

“My agents did a ton of research on the options I had to play this coming season, and Australia really made sense for me,” Ball told ESPN. “They have a really strong league, with excellent coaches and great players, including former and future NBA players, and great strength and conditioning programs. My goal is to be the top pick in next year’s draft, and I feel they can help me reach that goal. Also, the timing of the season works well with the timing of next year’s draft.”

Meanwhile, the Illawarra Hawks also appear poised to add a former NBA guard to their roster, as Lachy Reid of Channel Ten and Olgun Uluc of FOX Sports Australia (Twitter links) report that Aaron Brooks is set to join the Australian club (hat tip to Sportando). Brooks, a longtime NBA point guard, last played in the league in 2017/18 when he appeared in 32 games for the Timberwolves.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

Wolves Notes: Vanterpool, C. White, Doumbouya, Terrell

The Timberwolves hired David Vanterpool as associate coach to improve the defense and motivate Andrew Wiggins, which might be the toughest jobs in the organization, suggests Michael Rand of The Star-Tribune. Team president Gersson Rosas interviewed Vanterpool for the head coaching slot before deciding to stick with Ryan Saunders, so the former Trail Blazers assistant obviously made a good impression.

However, Rand points out that Vanterpool will be taking over a defense that has ranked in the bottom third of the league for the past five seasons and that even defensive specialist Tom Thibodeau couldn’t fix. Vanterpool has a solid relationship with Wiggins from coaching him with Team Canada in 2015, but raising his level of play has been a concern even before the club signed him to an extension two years ago.

There’s more news out of Minnesota:

  • North Carolina guard Coby White held an individual workout for the Wolves Friday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. White is listed at No. 8 in the list of top 100 prospects compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, and Minnesota doesn’t pick until No. 11, so the Wolves may be thinking about trading up. The team held a separate six-player workout yesterday that included Rayjon Tucker (Arkansas-Little Rock), Amir Coffey (Minnesota), Dedric Lawson (Kansas) and Kris Wilkes (UCLA) (Twitter link).
  • French standout Sekou Doumbouya held a pro day today and will pay a visit to Minnesota for a workout early next week, according to Wolfson (Twitter link). The 6’9″ forward comes in ninth on Givony’s list .
  • Aaron Brooks, who ended his playing career with the Wolves during the 2017/18 season, attended a free agent camp with the team this week as a coach, Wolfson adds. At age 34, Brooks is hoping to make the transition into coaching. He played for seven teams in an 11-year career.
  • Two-way player Jared Terrell did well in the G League, but didn’t get much of a chance to showcase his skills at the NBA level in his rookie season, writes Kyle Ratke of NBA.com. Terrell, who averaged 7.9 minutes in 14 games with the Wolves, will now wait for an invitation to be part of Minnesota’s Summer League team.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2018: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves landed back in the NBA playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons this spring. That comes as no surprise, given that the club has finally paired its stockpile of young stars with a formidable, winning coach and a green light to spend.

The Wolves need not fret that they barely put a dent in the Rockets this postseason as they’ll be back in contention next season and for as long as Jimmy Butler is capable of leading the club’s offense, flanked by Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.

It’ll get mighty difficult to afford all three eventually but they won’t need to seriously contemplate how to make all the numbers work until the summer after this one.

Nemanja Bjelica, PF, 30 (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $12MM deal in 2015
The Timberwolves are in a much different position now than they were when they inked Bjelica as an international free agent, but the veteran has hung around in large part due to his presence in the locker room. Given that the Wolves already have so much of their 2018/19 payroll tied up in other players, don’t expect them to offer Bjelica much more than the minimum.

Aaron Brooks, PG, 33 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2017
Brooks didn’t exactly take the league by storm in his tenth season but his role and value are clear; he’s a familiar insurance policy for former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Brooks isn’t likely to have a long list of suitors so it’s well within reason that he ends up back in Minnesota on another veteran’s minimum deal late this offseason.

Jamal Crawford, SG, 38 (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $9MM deal in 2017Jamal Crawford of the Minnesota Timberwolves
Having made over $100MM over the course of his career, including $11MM from a team he didn’t even play for in 2017/18, Crawford won’t accept his $4.5MM player option for next season if he’s not perfectly content playing for Minnesota. I wouldn’t rule out the 38-year-old passing on a second season with the Wolves in order to close out his career as a killer reserve on a team with more realistic short-term title aspirations.

Marcus Georges-Hunt, SG, 24 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1MM deal in 2017
There won’t be significant pressure for the Wolves to bring back Georges-Hunt after a solid but modest first year in Minnesota, but they’ll need to fill out their lineup eventually and he’s a tough, defensive-minded player. Expect the club to keep its options open over the course of the offseason but don’t be surprised if the Wolves bring the familiar 24-year-old back on the cheap.

Amile Jefferson, PF, 25 (Up) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
The Wolves converted Jefferson’s two-way contract into a standard deal last month despite the fact that he never even suited up for the big league roster. Still, the team had a spot to spare and had no reason not to add the extra layer of depth heading into the postseason. Jefferson is a stud in the G League so the organization may be intrigued by his eventual fit with the parent club, but he won’t earn more than the minimum.

Derrick Rose, PG, 29 (Up) – Signed to a one-year deal in 2018
Prior to signing on with his former head coach late in the regular season, Rose’s value was at a career low. Fast forward two months later, however, and the wayward guard may have actually stumbled into an opportunity to salvage his career. Rose averaged 14.2 points per game for the Wolves in the postseason and could be a valuable rotation piece in the right situation. We’ve seen Rose flame out in a couple of wrong situations, so the fact that he’s found any sort of momentum reunited with Thibodeau and the rest of the Timberbulls bodes well for all involved. Rose didn’t do enough during the first six months of the season to warrant any more than another speculative one-year, minimum deal, but the postseason resurgence may have earned him one last run at meaningful minutes on a competent team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Timberwolves Sign Aaron Brooks

8:44pm: The Wolves have signed Brooks, Zgoda confirms, citing a press release from the club.

4:43pm: Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press has tweeted that he believes the deal is done.

3:15pm: The Timberwolves are expected to sign Aaron Brooks before training camp opens on Saturday, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune tweets. The 32-year-old point guard played 65 games for the Pacers last season.

A Brooks deal would reunite the nine-year veteran with former head coach Tom Thibodeau. Brooks played 151 games for the Bulls from 2014-2016, averaging 9.6 points and 2.9 assists per game in the process.

The Wolves currently have 16 players on their roster, only 12 of whom have guaranteed deals, so there’s certainly room for Brooks to carve out a role for himself into the regular season although no details of what a potential contract might look like have been revealed.

Don’t expect the vet to siphon any time or opportunity away from incumbents Jeff Teague or Tyus Jones but he could fill a niche as an aggressive guard familiar with Thibodeau’s style.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Durant, Abrines, Leonard

Having missed out on free agent forward Dante Cunningham, the Timberwolves remain on the lookout for a couple more veterans to fill out their roster, and Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News suggests (via Twitter) that it’s worth keeping an eye on Aaron Brooks. While Minnesota wants to sign a wing player, the team also continue to seek a backup point guard, and Tom Thibodeau has a history with Brooks, a former Bull.

Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune also identifies Brooks as a potential target for the Timberwolves, suggesting that C.J. Watson and Kirk Hinrich – another player with a Thibodeau connection – may be options as well. As for possible fits at the forward spot, Zgoda indicates that Gerald Green and Thomas Robinson are among the veteran free agents who could be in play for Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Appearing at a tech conference in San Francisco this week, Kevin Durant expressed remorse for the tweets sent from his Twitter account earlier this week, calling them “idiotic” and “childish,” as Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group details. The messages, in which Durant was critical of his former Thunder teammates and head coach Billy Donovan, drew a response from Enes Kanter. According to Andrew Joseph of USA Today, Kanter said he wasn’t mad about the tweets, but said it was “really sad” to see Durant express those views about an organization that “gave everything to him.”
  • After injuring his knee this summer, Alex Abrines is pain-free and feels like he can do “everything” on the court, but he’s still waiting to receive full clearance from the Thunder, as Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman details.
  • After signing a lucrative new four-year deal with the Trail Blazers last summer, Meyers Leonard had a disappointing 2016/17 season, but there’s reason to believe better things are in store for Leonard going forward, writes Jason Quick of CSNNW.com.

Timberwolves Pursuing Backcourt Depth

The Timberwolves have arguably been the most active and become the most improved team this offseason. And the team appears far from done as Minnesota is pursuing depth at both the point and shooting guard positions, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (via Twitter).

Scotto mentions Aaron Brooks, Anthony Morrow, and Alan Anderson as players currently on the Timberwolves’ radar. None of those veterans played a huge role for their respective teams during the 2016/17 season, but all bring a track record of prior success.

To this point, the Timberwolves have added Jimmy Butler, Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson, and Jeff Teague to a core that already featured Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony TownsAt this juncture, the team’s focus will be to add depth and veteran leadership. Tyus Jones is the only other perimeter player on the Timberwolves’ roster, so the team figures to be active in this market.

With no real cap space left and the room exception ticketed for Crawford, Minnesota’s aforementioned targets can only sign for the veteran’s minimum.

Pacers Waive Rakeem Christmas

5:03pm: The Pacers have officially waived Christmas, per the NBA’s transactions log.

10:17am: In his full story on Christmas’ pending release, Agness clarifies that the forward’s salary would have become guaranteed if he remained under contract beyond July 6, which is why the team is making the move today.

10:03am: The Pacers plan to waive Rakeem Christmas before the end of the day on Thursday, league sources tell Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports (Twitter link).

Christmas, 25, made his NBA debut for the Pacers in 2015/16, then appeared in 29 regular season games for the team last season. Christmas saw limited minutes in those games, averaging 2.0 PPG and 1.9 RPG in 7.6 minutes per contest.

Christmas’ 2017/18 salary, worth the minimum, was reportedly only guaranteed for $50K, per Basketball Insiders, so the Pacers will clear most of it from their cap. The 6’9″ forward’s full salary was scheduled to become guaranteed on August 1.

The Pacers waived Monta Ellis on Wednesday, stretching his contract in order to create nearly $9MM in cap room for 2017/18. The team also renounced its free agent rights to Aaron Brooks, Lavoy Allen, and Jeff Teague, per RealGM’s transactions log.

Teague has a deal lined up with Minnesota, so that move isn’t a surprise, but there didn’t seem to be any pressing need to renounce Brooks or Allen. There also was no apparent rush to cut Christmas quite yet, so it’s possible the Pacers have a move or two up their sleeves with their newly-expanded cap room.

Central Notes: Middleton, Mirotic, Dunleavy, Pacers

The BucksKhris Middleton had successful surgery Wednesday on his ruptured left hamstring, the team announced on its website. Middleton is expected to be out of action for six months following the procedure, which was performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. The fifth-year swingman, who signed a five-year, $70MM deal last summer, had his best season in 2015/16, averaging a career-high 18.2 points, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals in 79 games.

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • Nikola Mirotic seems to have the edge over Taj Gibson to be the Bulls‘ starting power forward, writes Mark Schanowski of CSNChicago. With the rest of the starting lineup seemingly set, power forward is Chicago’s most interesting position battle of the preseason. Schanowski believes Mirotic’s ability to stretch the floor in an otherwise shaky shooting lineup gives him the edge. Bobby Portis may be squeezed out of minutes unless he can earn time as a backup center.
  • After being traded from the Bulls to the Cavaliers over the summer, Mike Dunleavy says his new Cleveland teammates have a work ethic far beyond what he saw in Chicago, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Dunleavy admired the humility the Cavs showed despite their success of the past two seasons and noted that the stars are willing to put in extra practice time. “I’ve been on a lot of teams where guys come and go, show up five minutes before practice and leave right after,” he said. “We have our best players here an hour and a half early and stay an hour and a half late. Quite honestly, that’s kind of new to me.”
  • New Pacers coach Nate McMillans nine-man rotation is virtually set, which leaves a lot of young players battling for very few minutes, according to Mark Montieth of NBA.comJeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Paul George, Thaddeus Young and Myles Turner will start, with Aaron Brooks, Rodney Stuckey, C.J. Miles and Al Jefferson as regular members of the rotation off the bench. McMillan said he will use 10 players per game if someone else shows they deserve to play, which may give hope to Glenn Robinson III, Joseph Young, Georges Niang, Kevin Seraphin, Lavoy Allen, Rakeem Christmas and Jeremy Evans.

Central Notes: J.R. Smith, Brooks, Pistons

The Cavaliers‘ mini-camp has gotten underway in California, with coaches and players in attendance, but one member of last year’s championship roster is noticeably absent, as Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com details. Head coach Tyronn Lue tells Vardon that the team misses J.R. Smith, who remains unsigned.

“I mean, you can feel it,” Lue said. “J.R., he’s the heart and soul of [the Cavaliers]. Usually when it’s anything involving the team, J.R. would be there and would be right in the middle of it. You’d hear him laughing or if it’s work, he’d be out there giving it his all. It’s hard.”

As we heard earlier this week, Smith isn’t in California with the rest of the Cavaliers, since contract talks between the two sides remain at an impasse. According to Vardon, it seems unlikely that Smith and the Cavs will reach a deal by the time the team meets the media on Monday for the start of training camp.

Here’s more from across the Central division:

  • Explaining why he chose to sign with the Pacers in free agency, Aaron Brooks suggests to Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star that he thinks the team’s roster is “loaded,” and that at this stage in his career he wants to play on “a team that’s winning games.” Brooks also knows his role in Indiana and believes he’ll be a an ideal fit off the bench behind starting point guard Jeff Teague.
  • As Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes, 14 of the Pistons‘ 15 regular-season roster spots appear set, with just one up for grabs. That last opening figures to come down to Ray McCallum vs. Lorenzo Brown for the No. 3 point guard job. Langlois speaks to both players about the possible opportunity ahead of them as they compete for that roster spot.
  • In a separate piece for Pistons.com, Langlois fields Pistons-related questions from readers, discussing a possible extension for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, why Detroit chose Ish Smith as its backup point guard, and how the team’s roster might change over the next 12 months.

Pacers Sign Aaron Brooks

JULY 21ST: The deal is official, the team announced via Twitter.

JULY 18TH: More than a week after reporting that the Pacers and Aaron Brooks were in “advanced discussions” on a one-year contract, Shams Charania of The Vertical tweets that the two sides have reached an agreement. According to Charania, it’ll be a one-year, $2.5MM deal for Brooks in Indiana.Aaron Brooks vertical

A well-traveled NBA veteran, Brooks will be joining his sixth team, having already spent time with the Rockets, Suns, Kings, Nuggets, and Bulls. Most recently, the 31-year-old played 69 games for Chicago last season, averaging 7.1 PPG and 2.6 APG in a backup role.

In Indiana, Brooks will be a part of a revamped point guard depth chart, with Jeff Teague expected to be the starter. The Pacers acquired Teague in a three-way trade earlier this month that sent George Hill to the Jazz, and they don’t appear anxious to re-sign last season’s backup, Ty Lawson.

[RELATED: Indiana Pacers’ depth chart at RosterResource.com]

Despite an active offseason that has seen the club acquire Thaddeus Young and sign Al Jefferson, the Pacers remain under the cap, so they should be able to finalize the signing of Brooks using cap room, rather than any sort of exception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.