Alpha Kaba

Hawks’ Alpha Kaba To Play In France

Hawks second-round center Alpha Kaba will spend the 2017/18 in France, having signed a three-year deal with ASVEL of the French Pro A League, writes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Kaba’s agent confirmed the contract agreement.

[RELATED: 2017 NBA Draft Pick Signings]

Kaba, 21, spent the last two seasons in Serbia playing for Mega Leks, and was the 60th overall pick in last month’s draft — Atlanta made him 2017’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” the last player drafted. New Hawks GM Travis Schlenk indicated earlier this month that he expected Kaba to return to Mega Leks or to play with another team overseas, so the big man’s deal with ASVEL doesn’t come as a surprise.

Spurs guard Tony Parker serves as president of ASVEL, and issued a statement announcing the team’s new deal with Kaba, as Vivlamore details. Parker’s translated statement reads as follows:

“It is a great satisfaction to have been able to sign Alpha, a young but already productive and promising interior that is part of a long-term project with us. The fact that he signed three years is a continuation of our desire to retain the players and to have a real identity to which our public and our partners can join. Alpha will be the last rookie of our offseason and will complete an ambitious and competitive workforce on our two major objectives: the French championship and the EuroCup.”

It’s not clear whether Kaba’s three-year deal includes NBA outs, but the Hawks don’t appear to be in any rush to bring the youngster stateside. Atlanta will retain his NBA rights going forward.

Hawks GM Talks Offseason, Millsap, Cordinier, Kaba

It has been an interesting offseason in Atlanta for new Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk, whose roster no longer features three of the team’s top four players in terms of minutes played. Paul Millsap departed in free agency, Dwight Howard was traded, and the Hawks opted not to match a pricey offer sheet for Tim Hardaway.

It’s clearly a retooling period for the Hawks, but Schlenk is averse to calling it a full-fledged rebuild. He touched on that topic and several other items of note during a conversation with Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, so let’s dive in and round up a few highlights from the Q&A…

On whether the Hawks are rebuilding and where they stand now:

“We don’t want to concede to losing. I think a lot of times that what the term rebuilding means, you are conceding to losing. We don’t want to do that. We want to be competitive every night. The term I like to use, we are investing in the future. We have young guys. We have probably five more first-round picks over the next two years to add to this group. We are investing in our future. The young guys we have, we want to keep developing them. We want to keep our flexibility, collect assets, build the guys we have. Investing in the future. The end goal is to be able a team able to compete for a championship. We didn’t feel like maintaining where we were – where you go 60, 48, 43 (wins). We have to start going up again.”

On Millsap’s departure and why the Hawks didn’t make a stronger effort to bring him back:

“We were in contact with his representation throughout the whole process. We knew he was going to get a very good deal. Where we are as a franchise and the path we are on, it just didn’t make sense for us at this time.

“Like I’ve maintained from the beginning, our goal is to maintain our flexibility. Get good guys on good contracts. Going into free agency, we weren’t going to be out of the gates early. We are going to take our time and let everything play out. That’s what we’ve done as we sit on [July] 10th and we’ve signed one guy.”

On what the Hawks still plan to add in free agency:

“We’ll sign a third point guard. We are deciding to we get a veteran guy or do we get a young guy that we think has upside. Do we bring in a couple guys and let them battle it out? We are going to sign a power forward for sure. We’ll sign a center for sure. Probably sign three more big guys so we end up with six.”

On the plans for 2016 second-round pick Isaia Cordinier and 2017 second-rounder Alpha Kaba:

“I think Alpha will go back to Mega Leks or another team in Europe. I haven’t really talked to his agent but I expect he’ll go back there. Cordinier has expressed a desire to play in Erie (with Atlanta’s G League team). We’ve talked to his agent a little bit. We aren’t really sure if he’ll go back but he’s expressed a desire to maybe do that. We’ll figure all that out in the next month.”

Southeast Notes: Richardson, White, Kaba

The Wizards are no closer to landing Paul George than they were a week ago but recent comments from John Wall have resurrected speculation that he could possibly end up in D.C. Per CSN Mid-Atlantic’s J. Michael, there are a number of things that would need to happen for the pipe dream to become a reality, here are just a few:

For starters, the Wizards will have to come to terms with something that all of George’s other suitors have already come to terms with: they would need to build an appealing enough package of young players and assets without any guarantee that they’ll get to re-sign him next summer.

The Wizards would also need Otto Porter to be up for a sign-and-trade, something that would require him to take less money than he’s eligible for, just to pack his bags and move to Indianapolis.

Even if the Wizards did manage to land George and played him alongside Wall and Bradley Beal, however, the organization would be extremely crunched financially for the foreseeable future.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Don’t expect the Magic to make a major splash in free agency, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel writes. The team would need to reel off a series of moves just to clear up space for a major signing and that’s not really their focus at this point in time.
  • Coming off a season in which he averaged career highs, Hawks center Mike Muscala is experiencing unrestricted free agency for the first time. He spoke with Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune about the process. “It’s crazy how basketball can change from high school to college to the NBA and what you work on, what you’re compensated for,” he said, referring to his coveted skill set as a three-point shooting big man. “I’ve found if you do things the right way — if you play the right way, if you work on your game, if you’re a good teammate — you’ll be rewarded for it.”
  • The Heat will retain Okaro White and Josh Richardson, thus guaranteeing their contracts (or in White’s case, partially guaranteeing the deal he signed last season). Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel writes about how Richardson’s $1.5MM for 2017/18 will be locked in after Friday and how White will clinch $226K on Saturday.
  • One of the major areas that the Wizards will need to improve upon next year is in their backcourt depth, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic says. They’ve already gotten a head start in doing so with their addition of Tim Frazier.
  • Second-round draft pick Alpha Kaba will play with the Hawks‘ summer league team before deciding where to play next season, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Hawks, Workouts

The Celtics and Sixers have been active this offseason and are poised to make significant moves both in this Thursday’s NBA Draft and free agency. However, those teams’ upgrades highlight the Wizards‘ potential lack of movement this offseason, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes.

Philadelphia acquired Boston’s first overall pick in exchange for its third overall pick and is poised to land Washington’s Markelle Fultz at No. 1. Meanwhile, the Celtics picked up another future first-rounder and are monitoring the free agent and trade market, with names like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and even Kristaps Porzingis at the forefront. The Sixers also still have last year’s first overall pick, Ben Simmons, who missed 2016/17 due to injury, ready to go.

“If you’re a Philly fan, you’ve got to be thrilled. These are the kinds of moves you want to see, and if you’re a Boston fan, you have to feel great as well,” one longtime Eastern Conference scout said to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. “How that affects [Washington]? It’s like you’re a bystander.”

Here are additional notes around the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks enter Thursday’s draft with the 19th overall pick and while the team may look to move up, general manager Travis Schlenk says it’s not a priority, Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.
  • Assistant coach Neven Spahija has been granted Mike Budenholzer’s blessing  to leave the Hawks and sign as head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv through 2020, according to David Pick (via Twitter).
  • The Wizards are set to host their final pre-draft workout and J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic tweets that the attendees will include international prospect Alpha Kaba, Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain, VCU’s JeQuan Lewis., Hartford’s Jalen Ross, Tennessee State’s Tahjere McCall, and East Tennessee State’s Hanner Mosquera-Perea.
  • Walt Disney and the Magic have agreed to a three-year agreement to have the Disney logo appear on jerseys starting in 2017/18, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel writes.  The Magic become the eight team to secure a sponsorship deal with players wearing logos on jerseys. Check out the full list here.
  • Kansas State’s Wesley Iwundu is scheduled to have a second workout with the Magic, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (via Twitter). The Magic have the 25th, 33rd, and 35th picks in the draft.

Atlantic Notes: James, Celtics, Pre-Draft Workouts

Rumors are swirling that LeBron James will look to leave Cleveland for a second time after next season and potentially head out west. If he is not on the Cavaliers after 2017/18, James’ departure would have a domino effect across the league. A. Sherrod Blakely joined Mike Felger and Gary Tanguay at CSN New England to discuss Celtics general manager Danny Ainge‘s potential moves if James heads out West and weakens the Eastern Conference.

Blakely believes that no matter James’ future, Ainge should not focus on what’s going around the league, focusing instead on his own team. The Celtics have the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft and are coming off a year where they were the first seed in the East. The Celtics have their own issues to address, including the impending free agency of Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, and others.

In any case, the Celtics are in the best position of any Eastern Conference team to unseat the Cavaliers as the class of division and a James departure after next season only strengthens that.

Here are other notes from around the Atlantic Division:

Four International Prospects Enter 2017 NBA Draft

Four international prospects have declared for the 2017 NBA draft, according to agent Misko Raznatovic. Kostja Mushidi, Vlatko Cancar, Alpha Kaba, and Borisa Simanic will enter the draft pool, as Raznatovic tweets.

All four players are on Serbian teams, with Mushidi, Cancar, and Kaba representing Mega Leks and Simanic playing for BC Red Star in Belgrade. They all also earn spots on Jonathan Givony’s top 100 list at DraftExpress.com.

The top-ranked player of the group, Mushidi comes in at No. 51 on DraftExpress’ big board, and ranks 10th among international players born in 1998. The 18-year-old shooting guard averaged 9.3 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 24 ABA games this season. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, who ranks Mushidi 38th on his big board, the Belgium native has a combination of strength, athletic ability, and aggressiveness on both ends of the floor that has intrigued scouts.

Mushidi’s Mega Leks teammates are slightly less highly regarded by draft experts, but are still solid prospects. Cancar, a 6’8″ small forward, comes in at No. 63 on the DraftExpress top 100, while Kaba, a big man with an outside shot, ranks 74th. Kaba entered the draft a year ago, but withdrew his name before June’s deadline.

As for Simanic, the 6’10” power forward comes in at No. 59 on DraftExpress’ big board, though he played very sparingly for Red Star this season.

Our full list of early entrants for this year’s draft can be found right here.

International Prospects Withdrawing From Draft

With the deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA draft just a few hours away (4:00pm central time), a number of international prospects have removed their names from consideration.

We’ll be updating this list today if and when more decisions are reported. For now though, nine international players whose intentions had been previously unreported have withdrawn from draft consideration, and won’t be eligible to be picked until at least 2017. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford (all Twitter links), the following prospects have removed their names from the 2016 NBA draft:

  • Diego Flaccadori, SG
  • Marko Guduric, SF
  • Ognjen Jaramaz, PG
  • Alpha Kaba, F/C
  • Emircan Kosut, C
  • Mathias Lessort, PF/C
  • Adam Pechacek, PF
  • Jordan Sakho, C
  • Kenan Sipahi, PG

Draft Notes: Selden, Onuaku, Richardson

Here’s the latest happenings regarding the upcoming NBA Draft, which will be held on June 23rd in Brooklyn, New York:

  • Former Kansas shooting guard Wayne Selden has worked out for the Lakers, Rockets, Spurs and Bulls in addition to previously reported sessions with the Knicks and Bucks, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders relays (via Twitter).
  • Former Louisville small forward Damion Lee has participated in workouts for the Clippers, Celtics, Suns, Spurs, Wizards, Jazz and Raptors, plus, he has upcoming visits scheduled with the Mavericks and Thunder, Kennedy tweets.
  • The Grizzlies have workouts scheduled on Sunday with Ben Bentil (Providence), Isaiah Cousins (Oklahoma), Brice Johnson (North Carolina), Gary Payton II (Oregon State), Malachi Richardson (Syracuse) and Selden, the team announced via press release.
  • Draft prospects Chinanu Onuaku (Louisville) and Joel James (North Carolina) have signed with Tandem Sports for representation, Kennedy reports (via Twitter).
  • Former Manhattan power forward Jermaine Lawrence will work out for the Warriors on Saturday, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv tweets.
  • The Jazz held workouts today for Julian Jacobs (USC), Payton, Kyle Collinsworth (BYU), Dakarai Tucker (Utah), Alpha Kaba (France) and Denzel Valentine (Michigan State), the team announced.

Draft Notes: Labissiere, Poeltl, Murray

Here are the latest news and notes regarding the 2016 NBA Draft, which will be held on June 23rd in Brooklyn, New York:

  • The Nuggets have workouts scheduled on Thursday for Josh Adams (Wyoming), Kay Felder (Oakland), Brice Johnson, (North Carolina),  Chris Obekpa, (UNLV), Malachi Richardson, (Syracuse) and Guershcon Yabusele (France), the team announced via press release.
  • The Suns held a group workout today for Johnson, Richardson, Alpha Kaba (France) and Maodo Lo (Columbia), the team announced in a series of tweets. Working out individually for Phoenix today was Skal Labissiere (Kentucky) and Jakob Poeltl (Utah).
  • Kentucky combo guard Jamal Murray said he intends to work out for just four teams: the Celtics, Suns, Timberwolves and Pelicans, Jay King of MassLive tweets. The teams on Murray’s list hold picks No. 3 to No. 6 in June’s draft, King notes.
  • The Wolves will bring in Damion Lee (Louisville) and Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova) as part of a group workout on June 14th, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN notes (Twitter links).

Draft Notes: Maker, Zimmerman, Richardson

Here’s the latest news and notes regarding the upcoming 2016 NBA Draft, which will be held on June 23rd in Brooklyn, New York:

  • The Wolves held a workout on Friday for Matt Costello (Michigan State), Ryan Spangler (Oklahoma) and  Mike Tobey (Virginia), Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN relays (via Twitter).
  • The Jazz have workouts scheduled for today with Michael Gbinije (Syracuse), Damion Lee (Louisville), James Robinson (Pittsburgh), Josh Scott (Colorado), Malachi Richardson (Syracuse) and Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga), the team announced.
  • Working out for the Grizzlies on Sunday will be Petr Cornelie (France), Julian Jacobs (USC), Alpha Kaba (Mega Leks), Abdel Nader (Iowa State), Josh Adams (Wyoming) and Jarrod Uthoff (Iowa), the team announced via press release.
  • The Pistons held workouts on Friday for Thon Maker (Australia), Cornelie, Stephen Zimmerman (UNLV), Pascal Siakam (New Mexico State), Isaiah Taylor (Texas) and Cat Barber (NC State), Keith Langlois of NBA.com relays (Twitter links).