Alexis Ajinca

And-Ones: G League, T. Robinson, Hawes, Ajinca

More G League players than ever are either leaving their teams for personal reasons or being “removed from a team,” writes Adam Johnson of 2 Ways and 10 Days. Terrence Jones, who recently completed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Rockets, is the latest example, as Johnson tweets that he has been removed from the active roster of the Erie BayHawks.

Jeff Ledbetter, Lavoy Allen, Jarnell Stokes, Raphiael Putney, Quincy Acy, DeAndre Liggins and Chris McCullough have also left their G League teams this season for various reasons. Some ultimately returned, but Johnson sees the pattern as an issue for the league. He notes the stress involved in being so close to the big leagues can make players react poorly if they have a bad game in front of NBA scouts.

Johnson urges new G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim to expand the availability of mental health services available to players and encourage more discussion on the topic, just like the NBA did after revelations from Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • Former NBA forward Thomas Robinson, who signed a G League contract this week, has been claimed on waivers by the Celtics‘ affiliate in Maine, Johnson tweets. The league mistakenly awarded Robinson to the Red Claws a day early, as players must spend at least 48 hours on waivers unless they are claimed by the team with the top waiver spot. Robinson prefers to go to Maine, and Johnson states that still appears to be his destination (Twitter link). The fifth player selected in the 2012 draft, Robinson played for six NBA teams in five seasons.
  • Spencer Hawes has been impressive in the G League and is “on the radar” for an NBA call-up, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Playing for the Lakers‘ affiliate, Hawes had a 29-point game last night and is shooting 59% from 3-point range.
  • A few unlikely teams appear to have done very well at the trade deadline, according to Matt John of Basketball Insiders. Many observers thought the Clippers were giving up on this season when they traded away leading scorer Tobias Harris, but they got a nice collection of young talent and future assets in return and acquired Ivica Zubac from the Lakers in a separate deal. The Clippers have solidified a playoff spot at 40-30 and appear in stronger position to make an offseason run at Kawhi Leonard. The Pistons only made minor moves, John adds, but trading away Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock created more playing time for Luke Kennard and Wayne Ellington, who have helped Detroit to a 10-4 record since the deadline. The Grizzlies have been playing better since unloading Marc GasolJaMychal Green and Garrett Temple. Avery Bradley and Jonas Valanciunas have been standouts in Memphis and have increased the chances that the Grizzlies will convey their first-round pick to the Celtics this year rather than having to worry about it in the future.
  • Italian club Grison Bon Reggio Emilia has expressed interest in former NBA center Alexis Ajinca, who left his French team last week, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Alexis Ajinca Leaves French Team

NBA veteran Alexis Ajinca has parted ways with his ASVEL Basket team in France, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The team released a statement calling it “an amicable separation that is in everyone’s best interests and will allow Alexis to pursue other jobs.”

The 30-year-old center returned to France in December after spending eight years in the NBA, including the past five with the Pelicans. Ajinca sat out the entire 2017/18 season because of a knee injury, then was traded in October to the Clippers, who waived him on the same day.

Ajinca averaged 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 293 NBA games, playing mostly as a reserve. There’s no word on what his next move might be, but he would be playoff-eligible if he returns to the NBA before the end of the season.

Alexis Ajinca To Play In France

Veteran NBA big man Alexis Ajinca is headed overseas, with French team ASVEL Basket announcing today in a press release that it has reached an agreement to sign Ajinca (hat tip to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando).

Ajinca, the 20th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, has appeared in 293 total regular season games, averaging 5.3 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 13.3 minutes per contest.

Frequently slowed by health problems throughout his career, Ajinca spent the last several years with the Pelicans, but missed the entire 2017/18 season with a knee injury. He was subsequently traded to the Clippers in an offseason deal for Wesley Johnson, then was waived by Los Angeles, making him a free agent.

Ajinca’s new deal with ASVEL – the French team run by veteran NBA point guard Tony Parker – represents a homecoming for the 30-year-old. Ajinca was born in France and spent the early years of his professional career playing there. He also had a stint in his home country from 2011 to 2013, when he played for Strasbourg.

International Notes: Lawson, Barbosa, Neal, Ajinca

Veteran NBA guard Ty Lawson, who spent last season in China before signing with the Wizards for their brief playoff run, is headed back overseas to his old team, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. As Carchia relays, Lawson has re-signed with the Shandong Golden Stars of the Chinese Basketball Association, replacing another former NBA guard, Andrew Goudelock. Goudelock is out for the season with a knee injury.

In 46 contests in China last season, Lawson averaged 25.5 PPG, 6.5 APG, and 2.2 SPG, shooting 40.1% on three-point attempts. Although he parlayed that performance into a spot on a playoff roster upon returning to the NBA, the 31-year-old didn’t end up on a regular season roster for the 2018/19 NBA season. China’s season ends before the NBA league year does, so we’ll see if Lawson can once again find an NBA home once his overseas deal expires.

Here are a few more notes on former NBA players joining new teams or drawing interest internationally:

  • Brazilian guard Leandro Barbosa is continuing his playing career in his home country, with Minas Tenis Clube recently announcing the signing of Barbosa. The 36-year-old spent most of his lengthy NBA career with Phoenix.
  • Former Spurs guard Gary Neal, who also spent time with five other NBA clubs, has officially signed with Turkish club Banvit, the team announced in a press release (hat tip to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Neal last appeared in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he played two games for Atlanta.
  • Former NBA guard Manny Harris is also playing in Turkey, as Carchia notes. Harris, who appeared in 93 NBA games for the Cavaliers, Lakers, and Mavericks, has officially joined Turkish club Bahcesehir (Twitter link).
  • Veteran NBA big man Alexis Ajinca, who was cut in October after being traded to the Clippers, is a candidate to play for ASVEL in France in the new year. Carchia hears that Ajinca has been telling people he’ll join ASVEL and relays a report from Le Progress that also links Ajinca to the French team.

Clippers Trade Wesley Johnson To Pelicans, Cut Two Players

4:11pm: The Clippers have officially announced their trade with the Pelicans and confirmed that they’ve waived both Ajinca and Evans. L.A. is now in compliance with the regular season roster limit.

2:19pm: The Clippers and Pelicans have reached a trade agreement that will send Alexis Ajinca to Los Angeles and Wesley Johnson to New Orleans, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Marc Stein of The New York Times first reported (via Twitter) that the two teams were in advanced discussions on a swap involving Ajinca and Johnson.

From the Clippers’ perspective, the trade will simply be about saving a little money before they make their final roster cuts. Ajinca ($5.29MM) earns a more modest 2018/19 salary than Johnson ($6.13MM) and both players are on expiring deals.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Clippers will waive Ajinca after acquiring him. 2017 second-round pick Jawun Evans will be Los Angeles’ other cut, Wojnarowski adds. That means that non-guaranteed players Patrick Beverley and Tyrone Wallace will both open the regular season on the Clips’ roster.

There are some teams that like Evans, according to Keith Smith of RealGM.com (Twitter link), but those clubs opted not to trade for the second-year guard, who could draw interest on waivers or as a free agent if he goes unclaimed.

As for the Pelicans, they weren’t expecting to get much out of Ajinca, who missed the entire 2017/18 season with knee issues and still hadn’t been cleared for contact at the start of training camp. By swapping him for Johnson, New Orleans will add some veteran depth at a position of need, without sacrificing future cap flexibility.

Johnson, 31, was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft, but has never been more than a role player at the NBA level. Last season, the 6’7″ wing averaged 5.4 PPG and 2.9 RPG with a .408/.339/.741 shooting line and solid defense in 74 games (40 starts) for the Clippers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pelicans Notes: Jackson, Bluiett, Payton, Trades

Pelicans guard Frank Jackson sprained his left ankle during summer-league action and will be out 2-4 weeks, according to Scott Kushner of the Baton Rouge Advocate. It’s another injury setback for Jackson, an early second-round pick last June. He has yet to appear in an NBA game after undergoing three right foot surgeries. Jackson will make a guaranteed $1.38MM next season.

In other developments involving the Pelicans:

  • Rookie swingman Trevon Bluiett has shown a good shooting stroke in summer-league play, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Bluiett scored a combined 50 points on the team’s first two games while making 67% of his 3-point attempts (12-for-18). The Xavier product went undrafted and is trying to earn a roster spot. “He can really shoot, and I like all the shots he’s taking,” assistant coach Kevin Hanson told Guillory. “That’s the biggest thing: he’s got to be concerned about his shot selection. But he’s been good.”
  • Playing for his hometown team was an easy decision for point guard Elfrid Payton, Guillory writes in a separate story. Payton, the former Magic and Suns point man, signed a modest one-year, $2.7MM free agent deal to join a playoff contender. “The losing he went through was something different for him,” his college coach Bob Marlin told Guillory. “It’s hard when you’re a competitor and you get to a situation where you lose 50 or 60 games in a year and you’re not used to that.”
  • The team is likely to make a trade in the coming weeks, according to Jeff Duncan of the Times-Picayune. The current roster is solid but not enough to concern the top teams in the West, Duncan continues. The Pelicans would like to rid themselves of a bad contract (Alexis Ajinca, Solomon Hill) and improve the rotation, something that will aid their desire to retain Anthony Davis beyond the next two seasons, Duncan adds.

Injury Notes: Ajinca, Neto, Ross, Morris, Williams

A lost season for Alexis Ajinca went from bad to worse this week, as the Pelicans big man underwent surgery on his left patellar tendon, according to the team (Twitter link). The procedure was successful and Ajinca is on track to recover in four to six months, which would allow him to return for the start of the 2018/19 season. However, it must have been a frustrating development for Ajinca, who underwent the same procedure on his right patellar tendon in December.

Here are a few more injury updates from across the NBA:

  • Jazz point guard Raul Neto remains sidelined with a left wrist fracture and will be re-evaluated one week from today, the Jazz announced in a press release. Dante Exum‘s return and solid play have allowed Utah to cope with Neto’s absence without any major trouble.
  • Injured Magic swingman Terrence Ross continues to recover from a bone bruise he suffered around the All-Star break, and may not make it back onto the court before season’s end. According to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link), head coach Frank Vogel said today that it’s probably unlikely that Ross plays another game this season.
  • Already hit hard by the injury bug, the Celtics saw Marcus Morris leave Monday’s game in the fourth quarter due to a sprained right ankle. As an ESPN report details, X-rays came back negative, so Morris may not be looking at an extended absence — that would be a relief for the C’s, who could use some good injury news.
  • After missing nearly the entire 2017/18 season with a knee injury, Suns big man Alan Williams returned to action on Monday night, putting up three points and five rebounds in 16 minutes. Williams has a non-guaranteed $5.52MM salary for 2018/19, so team management will want to take a close look at him down the stretch this season.

Trade Rumors: Mavs, Holiday, Lakers, Celtics

The Mavericks have received some trade offers, but those proposals haven’t featured great draft-pick incentives, a league source tells Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas is willing to use its leftover cap space to take on a contract or two, but the Mavs would require a draft pick valuable enough to make it worth their while.

According to Sefko, the Mavericks have also found that there’s a trade market for center Salah Mejri, who is facing restricted free agency this summer. However, teams haven’t been willing to offer more than a very low second-round pick.

Here are a few more trade rumors from across the NBA:

  • Sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that Bulls wing Justin Holiday has received serious interest. Holiday is one of several veterans Chicago will consider dealing, along with Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant.
  • The Lakers are using Larry Nance Jr. as a potential sweetener when they discuss Jordan Clarkson trade scenarios, tweets Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders initially suggested last month that Nance could be attached to another player to help L.A. clear salary. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN examines how Nance and his Lakers teammates are handling the ongoing trade rumors.
  • The Celtics seem to be “on the periphery” of the Tyreke Evans trade discussions, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald, who hears that the Grizzlies have better offers for Evans. However, one GM tells Bulpett that Boston appears to be “lying in wait” in the event that more active talks stall.
  • Dante Cunningham and Alexis Ajinca looks like the Pelicans‘ primary trade candidates today, sources tell Scott Kushner of The Advocate (Twitter link). Cunningham has the ability to veto trades and Ajinca is out for the season, so neither player has a ton of value.

Scotto’s Latest: Pelicans, Gordon, Carroll, Nuggets

Before sending Omer Asik to Chicago, the Pelicans explored trading the veteran center to a number of other teams, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. League sources tells Scotto that the Hawks and Pelicans recently talked about a deal that would have sent Asik and a first-round pick to Atlanta in exchange for Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova.

The Mavericks discussed a deal that would have seen them take on both Asik and Alexis Ajinca – along with a first-round pick – in exchange for Wesley Matthews, but Dallas was hesitant to take on two undesirable multiyear contracts, says Scotto.

Additionally, the Pelicans proposed a pair of trades to the Lakers, according to Scotto, who reports that one would have sent Asik and a first-round pick to L.A. for Jordan Clarkson, while the other would have sent Ajinca and a second-round pick to the Lakers for Julius Randle. That second deal could technically still happen, but I can’t imagine it would appeal to the Lakers.

Scotto’s piece for The Athletic is jam-packed with more noteworthy trade rumors, so let’s dive in and round up some highlights…

  • The Magic‘s front office has “left no stone unturned” as the team explores potential trades. Scotto hears that the club has even quietly gauged trade interest in Aaron Gordon, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. I imagine Orlando would require a pretty overwhelming offer to seriously consider moving Gordon.
  • Several teams have expressed interest in Nets forward DeMarre Carroll, according to Scotto, who identifies the Heat as one of those teams.
  • As we heard on Thursday, the Bulls are still very much open for business. Robin Lopez is a trade candidate, but Chicago wants a first-round pick in a deal for the veteran center, per Scotto.
  • Scotto names Malik Beasley, Kenneth Faried, and Emmanuel Mudiay as trade candidates for the Nuggets, noting that the team could be a suitor for Jazz guard Rodney Hood.
  • Hood isn’t the only Jazz guard who could be available at the deadline — Scotto hears that Utah has also explored the trade market for Ricky Rubio.
  • Several teams are monitoring Pistons forward Stanley Johnson. Scotto notes that Johnson was one player the Magic coveted when they discussed deals with Detroit earlier in the season, and adds that the Spurs have interest too.
  • Speaking of the Spurs, they’re one of the teams – as are the division-rival Mavericks – that has expressed interest in Knicks center Willy Hernangomez.
  • The Wizards are keeping an eye on the trade market and buyout market for a backup point guard, writes Scotto.
  • Fourth-year forward Noah Vonleh has been shopped by the Trail Blazers, according to Scotto. In addition to keeping tabs on DeAndre Jordan, Portland is also interested in acquiring a small forward.
  • Executives around the NBA believe that Raptors swingman Norman Powell could be a trade candidate during the offseason due to the emergence of rookie OG Anunoby.

DeAndre Liggins Gets Second 10-Day Deal With Pelicans

The Pelicans have signed guard DeAndre Liggins to a second 10-day contract, the team announced on its website.

Liggins appeared in just one game for New Orleans during the first 10-day deal, scoring four points in 11 minutes. The team needs roster depth with Alexis AjincaFrank JacksonTony Allen and Solomon Hill all sidelined by injuries. The Pelicans were granted a $2.75MM disabled player exception on Wednesday.

Liggins played 31 games for the Bucks, averaging 1.8 points per night, before being waived earlier this month. He has been with seven teams since entering the league in the 2011/12 season.

Once Liggins’ second 10-day contract expires, the Pelicans will either have to release him or sign him for the rest of the season.