AJ Griffin

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:



G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.

And-Ones: Campazzo, Vildoza, Two-Ways, Rookies

Serbian team Crvena Zvezda has been sanctioned by the EuroLeague for overdue payments to players and will be prohibited from registering new players until February 28, per BasketNews.com.

That means that former Nuggets and Mavericks point guard Facundo Campazzo, who reached a contract agreement with the team after being waived by Dallas, may not be able to suit up in EuroLeague games until March.

Crvena Zvezda issued a statement calling the sanctions “extremely severe” and announcing that they intend to fight them (link via BasketNews).

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Argentinian guard Luca Vildoza, currently a member of Crvena Zvezda, spent time with the Knicks and Bucks from 2021-22, but injuries and timing prevented him from ever getting a real chance to earn a rotation spot. While Vildoza has some good memories from his time in the NBA, including practicing with Giannis Antetokounmpo, he’s disappointed that things didn’t work out for him stateside. “It’s painful that I didn’t have the right chance,” Vildoza said (link via Eurohoops). “But I’m here now, and I try not to think about it.”
  • NBA teams seem more inclined this season to use their two-way contract slots to churn through back-of-the-roster players, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link), who notes that the Heat have signed five different players to seven total two-way deals since July. That trend may continue even when the 10-day contract signing period opens on Thursday, since two-way players don’t count against the cap or tax, Marks writes.
  • In the latest update to his rookie rankings for 2022/23, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has moved Thunder guard Jalen Williams and Hawks forward AJ Griffin into third and fourth place, respectively. Both players are providing relatively steady and efficient production as starting wings, Vecenie says, adding that Griffin’s floor spacing, in particular, has been crucial in Atlanta.

New York Notes: Knicks, Griffin, Simmons, Warren

One league source who spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com referred to the Knicks‘ situation as a “depressing” one, arguing that their roster “just doesn’t work” and suggesting that even a positive addition like Jalen Brunson hasn’t helped all the pieces mesh.

“They’ve got some good players, but there’s no fit,” the source said to Bulpett. “The talent they have doesn’t help each other enough.”

The source identified forward Julius Randle as a player the Knicks should be looking to trade, contending that he’s too ball-dominant.

“They have to do something to shake it up there, because the mix they have isn’t working now and it’s not going to work,” he said. “They don’t guard like you’d expect with that coach (Tom Thibodeau). He’s a defensive guy, and their (defensive) rating is in, like, the bottom third or bottom quarter.”

The Knicks’ 112.9 defensive rating currently ranks 23rd in the NBA and 13th in the East.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • The Knicks will get a good look on Wednesday at Hawks forward AJ Griffin, who was under consideration for New York at No. 13 in this year’s draft before the team traded that pick, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Griffin ultimately went 16th to Atlanta, while the Knicks’ trade helped them clear cap room to sign Brunson. “I think AJ Griffin has added a lot to their team. He’s an elite shooter. (He) has really played well for them,” Thibodeau said. “You know, he was on the (Knicks’ draft) board. I think we looked at a number of players that we felt were good. You look at all the possibilities. I thought we were very thorough in our approach, and we decided on the path we went down and felt good about it.”
  • When he returns from his current injury absence, Ben Simmons may receive a lighter workload, according to Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post, who notes that the Nets swingman suffered his calf strain while playing a fifth game in seven days. “I think we’re definitely going to look at (the workload) a lot differently,” Simmons said on Tuesday. “Maybe not (playing) back-to-backs or whatever it is. I think that’s going to be a joint thing with the training staff and with myself.”
  • The Nets are also managing the playing time of forward T.J. Warren, who isn’t expected to be on the court for both games of the team’s back-to-back set this Friday and Saturday, so soon after returning from a two-year absence. “(The) goal is to (have him) playing for us at the end of the year in the playoffs,” Vaughn said, per Sanchez. “So we’ll probably … (be) more conservative this weekend with him.”
  • In case you missed it, we published stories earlier today on the Knicks’ trade talks and their efforts to move Cam Reddish.

Hawks’ Bogdanovic Makes Season Debut Friday; Young Out

Hawks wing Bogdan Bogdanovic made his 2022/23 season debut Friday against Denver, and received a standing ovation from the home crowd when he entered the game off the bench (Twitter video link via Caleb Johnson of 92.9 The Game). He had been recovering for several months after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

Bogdanovic has been a key member of Atlanta’s rotation over the past two seasons, averaging 15.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals on .448/.398/.862 shooting in 107 total games (54 starts, 29.5 minutes per contest). His long-distance shooting and complementary play-making will definitely be helpful for the 12-10 Hawks, since they currently rank 29th in the league in three-point attempts, 27th in three-point percentage (32.5%), and 21st in assists per game.

The 30-year-old holds an $18MM player option for ’23/24. He’s extension-eligible and could hit free agency next summer if he declines his option.

Unfortunately, star point guard Trae Young was ruled out with right shoulder soreness prior to the game, tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Third-year guard Trent Forrest (concussion evaluation), who’s on a two-way contract with Atlanta, was also ruled out.

With Young and forwards De’Andre Hunter and John Collins sidelined, the Hawks started rookie AJ Griffin, former lottery pick and current two-way player Jarrett Culver, and second-year forward Jalen Johnson. It’s a huge opportunity for all three players to possibly earn bigger roles going forward.

And-Ones: Henderson, Top Offseason Adds, 2022 Re-Draft

G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, the consensus No. 2 prospect in the 2023 draft class, has been diagnosed with a nose fracture after entering the concussion protocols and missing the team’s last four games, writes Cody Taylor of Rookie Wire.

Although Henderson has already been sidelined since November 18, the injury isn’t considered a long-term one and he’s being listed as day-to-day for the time being. According to Taylor, there’s a chance Henderson will be cleared to return on Sunday when the Ignite host the South Bay Lakers.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Southeast Notes: McDaniels, Porzingis, Hampton, Griffin

It has been a rough season so far for the Hornets, who have battled the injury bug and rank 13th in the East with a 6-15 record. However, the emergence of forward Jalen McDaniels as reliable rotation piece has been a bright spot, writes Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

The No. 52 overall pick in the 2019 draft, McDaniels appeared in 118 games in his first three seasons, averaging 17.7 minutes per contest. This season, that number has jumped to 25.8 MPG and he has played in all 21 of Charlotte’s games to date, averaging new career highs in PPG (9.7), RPG (3.6), and APG (2.2), among several other categories.

“It feels great because I really know I’m not supposed to be here,” McDaniels said. “Statistics for the second-round, 52nd pick, 54th pick or whatever it was is like, ‘Not supposed to be here, out (of) the league second year.’ That’s what the statistics say. So it’s just me being an underdog. Even in high school I wasn’t recruited like that until my last year. I just know how this goes, I feel like I’ve always got to take the long route every time I do something.”

Having signed a four-year contract as a rookie in 2019, McDaniels will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in 2023 if he doesn’t sign an extension before then.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Kristaps Porzingis may be the primary factor in determining how far the Wizards can go this season, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, who says the big man being healthy and productive at both ends of the court is crucial to the team’s success. Porzingis’ effectiveness as a rim protector this season has helped improve a Washington defense that ranked 25th in defensive rating in 2021/22, Aldridge notes.
  • After having his 2023/24 team option declined last month, Magic wing R.J. Hampton doesn’t have a defined role in Orlando in the short- or the long-term, but he’s not letting that bother him, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. “It really (doesn’t) change anything,” Hampton said when asked about his fluctuating minutes. “The coaches give me confidence every game whether I’m playing or not. My teammates give me confidence every game, so whether I don’t play for two games or 10 minutes (in) one game, I feel like I’ve been prepared by them.”
  • Hawks rookie AJ Griffin tells Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com that he has felt at home in Atlanta, which has made the adjustment from college to the NBA smoother. “Just the love from the veterans here, I appreciate it. I just really enjoy being here and being able to play with everyone and being able to play on the court with each other. It’s special so far,” Griffin said, singling out guards Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. “It’s fun to watch, just to be able to play with those guys. It’s still early in the season, and I feel like something special is brewing.” Griffin only played double-digit minutes once in Atlanta’s first nine games, but has done so in all 12 games since then, averaging 21.4 MPG during that stretch.

Hawks Rumors: Collins, Hunter, Injuries, Murray

The Hawks kicked off the NBA’s Media Day season this morning, with general manager Landry Fields telling reporters that John Collins is “still here for a reason” after a summer of trade speculation, tweets Atlanta reporter Brad Rowland.

Trade talk is nothing new for Collins, who has seemingly been on the block since signing a five-year, $125MM deal last offseason. There were numerous rumors involving Collins leading up to this year’s draft, and he was reportedly part of the package the Hawks offered to Brooklyn in an attempt to acquire Kevin Durant.

Fields said Collins understands the situation and has remained professional (Twitter link). The GM added that Collins has expressed his opinion on the constant trade talks, but he understands what the team is doing (Twitter link).

There’s more from the team’s media session:

  • Fields said negotiations are continuing with De’Andre Hunter and the team hopes to have an rookie scale extension in place before the October 17 deadline, tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to head coach Nate McMillan, Hunter has been able to go through normal workouts this summer, which he couldn’t do last offseason because of a medical procedure (Twitter link).
  • Fields also provided health updates on a few players, saying Bogdan Bogdanovic is “not going to be 100% for training camp” after having surgery on his right knee in May (Twitter link). The team is focused on getting Bogdanovic back to full health at some point during the season, Fields added. He also said first-round pick AJ Griffin has been “full go” for a few weeks following a foot injury that prevented him from playing in Summer League (Twitter link), and second-year power forward Jalen Johnson will also be ready for camp after a non-surgical procedure on his left knee (Twitter link).
  • McMillan was in constant contact with Trae Young as the Hawks worked out a trade with the Spurs for Dejounte Murray, Williams tweets. The coach added that Young is looking forward to having a chance to play off the ball this season. Fields admitted having two traditional ball-handlers in the backcourt might be “a little clunky at first,” but he expressed confidence that Young and Murray will figure out their roles (Twitter link).
  • Fields plans to keep the 15th roster spot open due to luxury tax concerns, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. The Hawks are about $1MM over the tax line, and Fields indicated the team’s performance will determine whether he tries to get back under the threshold. “It’s going to be a day-to-day thing,” he said.

A.J. Griffin Signs With Hawks

The Hawks have officially signed first-round pick AJ Griffin, the team announced in a press release.

The Duke forward, who was taken with the 16th selection in last week’s draft, will receive about $3.5MM during his first NBA season and roughly $17.1MM over the four-year deal.

Griffin, 18, averaged 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds during his lone season with the Blue Devils while connecting at 54.7% from the field and 44.7% from three-point range. He was named to the ACC All-Freshman team and earned honorable mention All-ACC honors.

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Mathurin, Duren, Eason, J. Smith, More

People around the NBA have been “gossiping” about an incredible workout Bennedict Mathurin had with the Pistons, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says there’s chatter that members of Detroit’s front office are “infatuated” with the Arizona guard.

Jaden Ivey and Keegan Murray have long been considered the favorites to join Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero in the top five, but perhaps the Pistons will upend that expectation by targeting Mathurin. For what it’s worth, however, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) still believes Murray is the favorite over Mathurin at No. 5 if Ivey is off the board.

Within his latest mock draft, Givony also reports that Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is one of Jalen Duren‘s biggest fans in the NBA. While Duren likely won’t be under serious consideration at No. 5, the Pistons could consider trading back into the first round if he slips at all, according to Givony, who points to the Hornets (No. 13 and No. 15) as a possible trade partner for Detroit in a deal involving Gordon Hayward.

Elsewhere in his mock draft, O’Connor writes that the Nuggets (No. 21 and No. 30) and Grizzlies (No. 22 and No. 29) have both made attempts to package their picks in an effort to move up in the first round.

O’Connor suggests Denver’s picks probably aren’t enough to move into the middle of the first round unless the team is willing to include a young player or another future pick. However, he writes that the Grizzlies have been exploring picks as high as the Knicks‘ selection at No. 11. In order to get that high, Memphis would presumably have to take on some unwanted salary or include another asset beyond the team’s two 2022 first-rounders.

Here’s more on the 2022 NBA draft, which is now just hours away:

  • Executives around the league keep connecting LSU forward Tari Eason to the Rockets at No. 17, according to O’Connor. Meanwhile, Zach Harper of The Athletic has heard from sources that the Celtics are also high on Eason and could try to trade into the first round using a young rotation player to draft him. An earlier report indicated Boston was open to discussing Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard, and Harper adds Aaron Nesmith to that list.
  • Auburn’s Jabari Smith tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’ll be surprised if he’s not drafted first overall tonight. Virtually every major sportsbook made Paolo Banchero the favorite to go No. 1 late last night, but those odds have since swung back in the other direction. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report speculates (via Twitter) that the Banchero buzz may have been related to contact he and his camp had with the Magic on Wednesday after a Monday visit was canceled, but Fischer — like ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — reiterates that Smith remains the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.
  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv (video link) views Duke’s AJ Griffin as the most likely pick for the Knicks if they remain at No. 11.
  • The Raptors, who moved down from No. 20 to No. 33 in the draft as a result of their Thaddeus Young trade in February, don’t view the gap between those two selections as significant, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Koreen observes, there’s less of a consensus on prospects further down draft boards than there is at the very top, so several of the players drafted between Nos. 20 and 32 may not be at or near the top of Toronto’s board.

Draft Notes: Ivey, Griffin, Eason, Holmgren

Amid rumors that Sacramento isn’t his preferred landing spot, Purdue guard Jaden Ivey was asked directly during a Monday media session about the prospect of joining the Kings and confirmed that he hasn’t worked out for the team or had any contact with them. Although he didn’t say outright that he doesn’t want to play for the Kings, Ivey wasn’t exactly brimming with enthusiasm when discussing the possibility.

“If I got drafted there, it wouldn’t be the worst option,” he said, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

As James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star tweets, Ivey said the only teams he has worked out for are the Magic and the Pistons, who hold the first and fifth overall picks, respectively. The Kings draft fourth overall.

Interestingly, while Ivey is expected to come off the board long before the Knicks are on the clock at No. 11, the Purdue standout said unprompted that he believes there “could be situations where I can land in New York,” as Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. The Knicks would likely have to trade up to No. 4 to make that happen.

Here are a few more of Monday’s draft-related notes:

  • Speaking to reporters on Monday, Duke forward AJ Griffin confirmed his previously announced workouts with Indiana and Portland and said he also auditioned for the Pelicans, Spurs, and Knicks, per Jason Sacramento Bee of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). The teams Griffin worked out for range from No. 6 to No. 11 in Thursday’s draft.
  • The Hawks, Rockets, and Timberwolves are among the teams LSU forward Tari Eason has worked out for during the pre-draft process, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Those three clubs pick between Nos. 16 and 19.
  • In an in-depth profile, Tim Keown of ESPN takes a look at how Chet Holmgren became one of the nation’s top basketball prospects and explores what’s next for the seven-foot “unicorn.”