And-Ones: BIG3, Gortat, Mack, Chalmers

The BIG3 has announced some changes in advance of its 2020 season, as Eric Woodyard of details. Most notably, Ice Cube‘s 3-on-3 league will lower the minimum age from 27 to 22 in order to try to eliminate the perception that the BIG3 is only for retired NBA players.

“I think lowering the age does erase the stigma,” Ice Cube told Woodyard. “It might’ve kept people from playing in the BIG3 because they don’t want to seem like they’re done.”

The BIG3 will also hold open tryouts this spring and will welcome two-sport athletes, as Woodyard details.

The most entertaining change to the league’s on-court rules is the introduction of a team’s once-per-half ability to challenge a foul call. Rather than having a replay official make a ruling, a challenge will result in an in-game, one-on-one possession, with the victor winning the call. The full list of changes can be found here.

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

  • Longtime NBA center Marcin Gortat was recently approached by Polish team Anwil Wloclawek, but rebuffed the club’s interest for health reasons, he told (hat tip to Sportando). Gortat suggested in the same interview that he will likely announce his retirement from the NBA at some point this year.
  • Veteran point guard Shelvin Mack, who had been playing for Olimpia Milano, has left the Italian team and is expected to join Hapoel Jerusalem in the Israeli League, according to Alessandro Maggi and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Mack, who has played more than 450 regular season NBA games, spent last season with Memphis and Charlotte.
  • Another former NBA point guard, Mario Chalmers, has had his contract with AEK Athens extended through the end of the 2019/20 season, according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. Chalmers signed with the Greek club in November.
  • For a long time, the head of basketball operations for an NBA team was given the title of general manager, or perhaps president of basketball operations. In recent years though, those titles have become more varied, with minor distinctions helping to establish a hierarchy in front offices. Jake Fischer of The Washington Post takes a deep dive into NBA management titles and explores how Silicon Valley’s influence has changed things.

NBA/China Notes: Shanghai Game, Irving, More

Although the Lakers/Nets exhibition game in Shanghai took place as planned this morning, it was hardly a typical preseason affair. Scheduled pregame and postgame press conferences for commissioner Adam Silver and players on both rosters were cancelled at the behest of the Chinese government, sources tell Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

As McMenamin writes, China also had a hand in cancelling two NBA Cares events involving Lakers and Nets players earlier this week as tension between the league and its top international market continues to simmer.

Still, while the Chinese government has been on the attack over the last several days as it seeks an apology from the NBA over Daryl Morey‘s tweet supporting Hong Kong protestors, Keith Bradsher and Javier C. Hernandez of The New York Times report that the government attempted on Thursday to tamp down on public anger toward the league.

According to the Times duo, the Chinese government seems to be reevaluating its all-out campaign against the NBA due to concerns in Beijing that the situation is hurting China’s image and interests globally. Editors at state-run news outlets have now been told to avoid fanning the flames on the NBA controversy “for fear that it might become overheated,” per Bradsher and Hernandez, who cited three journalists.

As we wait to see how the situation plays out going forward with a second Lakers/Nets exhibition schedule for Saturday in Shenzhen, here are a few more items of interest:

  • During a press conference following the Rockets/Raptors exhibition game in Tokyo today, a Rockets official stopped Russell Westbrook and James Harden from answering a question related to the China controversy, insisting that reporters only ask questions about basketball. Per an ESPN report, the NBA issued a statement indicating it doesn’t condone that approach. “A team representative inappropriately interjected to prevent CNN’s Christina Macfarlane from receiving an answer to her question,” the league said. “We’ve apologized to Ms. Macfarlane as this was inconsistent with how the NBA conducts media events.”
  • NBA player agents are advising their clients to avoid addressing the China situation if they can, writes Jabari Young of CNBC. “What I told my guys is, ‘Don’t even talk about it,'” one agent told Young. “I think it’s a fine line, and when you’re walking that fine line, it’s best to not even play around with it.”
  • The NBA’s chilly relationship with China is apparently impacting another basketball league — according to an announcement on their website, the BIG3 is postponing a visit to China that was scheduled for the month of November. Rashard Lewis, Mike Bibby, Glen Davis, and Cuttino Mobley were among the former NBA players expected to participate.
  • While the game itself between the Lakers and Nets today was practically an afterthought, it’s worth noting that Kyrie Irving was knocked out of the game just one minute into the first quarter after he took a shot to the face. According to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link), Irving – who was already recovering from a facial fracture – was diagnosed with a facial contusion. The team doesn’t seem worried that it’s serious, Lewis adds.

And-Ones: India, Johnson, Robinson, Ball

Commissioner Adam Silver would like to start a professional basketball league in India, perhaps in the next five years, Marc Spears of ESPN reports. India would have to build state-of-the-art arenas to make that happen. The NBA had to make numerous additions — including seats, big video screens and lights — to stage a preseason game there between the Kings and Pacers on Friday.

“I think it’s inevitable that there will be state-of-the-art arenas in major cities in India, in part because these are multi-use facilities and live entertainment is increasingly important here as well. … We do need to see those arenas over time in order to play more games,” Silver said.

There’s growing interest in the league in India and its youngsters are harboring NBA dreams, Reid Forgrave of the New York Times reports.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Joe Johnson is fighting for a roster spot with the Pistons and the veteran forward hopes other players can use the BIG3 as a springboard to relaunch their careers, Eric Woodyard of ESPN writes. “That was another reason why I thought it was very important for me to take this opportunity, because those guys in the BIG3, a lot of them anyway, have hopes to at some point to be able to get back in the league,” said Johnson, who signed a partially guaranteed contract with Detroit. “So I just wanted to let everyone know that it’s possible just to get to this point.” Johnson was the BIG3 MVP this year.
  • Former NBA forward Thomas Robinson has drawn major interest from two Chinese teams, Zhejiang Guangsha and Liaoning, according to a report from Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. The 2012 lottery pick last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season, when he saw action in 48 games with the Lakers.
  • Big Baller Brand co-founder Alan Foster has countersued Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and his father, LaVar Ball, for alleged fraudulent concealment and breach of contract, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Foster alleges that LaVar Ball embezzled more than $2.6MM from Big Baller Brand and other companies associated with the family to fund an extravagant lifestyle. The Balls sued Foster in April for more than $2MM for alleged embezzlement.

Former NBA Player Andre Emmett Dies At Age 37

Former NBA swingman Andre Emmett has died at age 37, according to multiple reports.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter links), Emmett was shot and killed this morning in Dallas. The Dallas Police have issued a statement with more details on the circumstances of Emmett’s death (Twitter link via Eric Kelly of KAMC).

A standout at Texas Tech from 2000-04, Emmett was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics with the 35th overall pick in the 2004 draft and was traded to Memphis on draft night. He only ended up playing 14 total regular season games in the NBA – eight for the Grizzlies and six for the Nets – but Emmett had a long professional career in the D-League and in international leagues.

Emmett’s career included stops in Lithuania, Belgium, France, Venezuela, China, Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Mexico, Korea, and the Philippines. The Dallas native also earned D-League All-Star honors twice in 2012 and 2015 as he attempted to make it back into the NBA.

Emmett suited up for Puerto Rican club Capitanes de Arecibo earlier this year and has spent the last two years playing in the BIG3, emerging as one of the leading scorers in Ice Cube‘s 3-on-3 league. Only Joe Johnson scored more points during the 2019 BIG3 season than Emmett.

We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to Emmett’s friends and family.

Joe Johnson Talks BIG3, Possible NBA Future

Joe Johnson, a 17-year NBA veteran, last suited up in the league for the Rockets during the 2017/18 campaign. Since then, the 38-year-old has grieved the passing of his mother, which cast doubt on his future as a professional basketball player.

In an exclusive interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, this year’s BIG3 Most Valuable Player opened up about his decision to join the league and how it’s helped him cope. Johnson, who is reportedly set to work out with several NBA teams, could become the second BIG3 player ever to land an NBA deal.

Check out some highlights below:

On why he chose to join the BIG3:

“I use it as therapy. My mom passed away in February, and being an only child, it was tough on me, so I just needed something to do to keep me busy. And the BIG3 was it.”

How Ice Cube helped facilitate his BIG3 jump:

“Cube knew my whole situation before I committed to it. I was telling him, ‘Man, I don’t know if I am going to do it, Cube, because I am going through this with my mom’s [death]. And he gave me as much time as I needed.”

On the BIG3 being a potential way to get back to the NBA:

“I am hopeful to get back, but I did not get in the BIG3 to get back to the ‘league.’ I had a great career. I enjoyed the process. The only thing that keeps the NBA fire in the belly is how it ended in Houston. That just does not sit well with me. So if an opportunity comes along and I feel that it is worth it, yeah, I take that chance.”

Community Shootaround: The BIG3

Joe Johnson may be about to change the way the NBA looks at the BIG3 League.

Since its inception in 2017, the summertime three-on-three competition has been seen as a way for former NBA players to keep their names in the spotlight once they’re past their prime. The games are played in a half-court format and feature two-, three- and four-point shots along with other unique rules.

The league has never been considered a pathway back to the NBA, but Johnson may be about to break that barrier. It was reported earlier tonight that he will work out for the Sixers tomorrow in Philadelphia. The Clippers, Bucks, Nuggets and Pelicans are also interested in seeing if the 38-year-old has anything left in the tank.

This is and will be big for @thebig3, giving players the platform to perform and make it back to the league,” former Heat star Dwyane Wade tweeted.

Although it didn’t affect Johnson, one reason for the league’s new status is a rules change adopted this year that lowers the minimum age for players from 30 to 27. That allowed a fresh infusion of talent, including many players who are still in the prime of their careers.

One of the top proponents of the BIG3 is Celtics TV analyst Brian Scalabrine, who serves as team captain of the Ball Hogs. He told Frank Isola of The Athletic that Carmelo Anthony would be in a better position to land a training camp invitation if he had played in the league.

“Joe Johnson would not be in the conversation if he didn’t play in the BIG3,” Scalabrine said. “I want Carmelo Anthony to realize that hanging out with his trainer and playing in these bogus pick-up games is not better than playing in the BIG3. If Carmelo was killing the BIG3 it can help him, (but) I think these guys believe it can only hurt them. I think agents think it can only hurt them. But I’m telling you if you’re dominating the BIG3, you’ll get back in the league.”

We want to get your opinion. Will Johnson’s experience help the BIG3 turn into a summertime showcase for players who want to return to the NBA? Please leave your responses in the space below.

And-Ones: Howard, Summer League, Spain, BIG3

Having been sent from Washington to Memphis in a trade for C.J. Miles, veteran center Dwight Howard is a member of the Grizzlies for now. However, the club is expected to waive or trade him at some point. After he was limited to just nine games in 2018/19 for health reasons, it’s not clear what the next step will be for Howard, but the eight-time All-Star tells Shams Charania of The Athletic that he has adjusted his mindset and is prepared to do whatever it takes to help his next team win.

“I don’t have an ego — it’s dead,” Howard said. “It had to die for me to be who I am. Sometimes when you want to become who you want to be, you have to die within yourself. Once you learn that you have to give up yourself for the team, that’s when things flourish.”

According to Charania, several NBA teams have said that they’re intrigued by Howard, who says he has been fully cleared after last year’s injury issues. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year claims he has lost 25 pounds since the end of the season, and one executive who saw him recently said he appears to be in his best shape in years, per Charania.

It remains to be seen whether Howard will get an opportunity to choose his next team on the free agent market, but if he does, he has one clear priority, he tells Charania: “Winning. Winning. Winning. I want to win. Nothing else. Just win.”

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

  • According to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link), there has been talk in Las Vegas about the possibility of moving back the start of Summer League in future years. Postponing the start date until after the end of the July moratorium would help address the problem of having traded 2019 draftees tied up in deals that can’t be made official until after Summer League is underway.
  • Spain announced its preliminary roster for the 2019 FIBA World Cup this week, as Sportando relays, and the group includes a number of familiar names. The 16-man list, which will be cut down to 12 for the competition, features Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Willy Hernangomez, Juan Hernangomez, and former NBA players like Rudy Fernandez and Victor Claver.
  • The BIG3 announced on Wednesday that Baron Davis, Bonzi Wells, Lamar Odom, and Jermaine O’Neal are being “deactivated” for the 2019 season. The league cited the need to “maximize competition, protect the health of players, and to raise the level of the professionalism of the BIG3.”

Greg Oden, Royce White, Others Selected In BIG3 Draft

The BIG3, Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league, completed its draft for the 2019 season on Wednesday night, and a number of noteworthy former NBA players were among the players selected.

Former NBA first overall pick Greg Oden wasn’t the first player picked in the BIG3 draft, but he did come off the board in the first round, going seventh overall to the Aliens, a team whose roster also includes Kendrick Perkins and Shannon Brown.

The No. 1 selection in the BIG3’s draft was former NBA first-rounder Royce White, whose NBA career was cut short after just three games due to battles with mental health and a fear of flying. White will join an Enemies squad led by captain Gilbert Arenas and co-captains Lamar Odom and Perry Jones III.

The following veterans who appeared in at least 100 games during their NBA careers were also selected in the 31-player draft on Wednesday:

  1. Larry Sanders (3 Headed Monsters)
  2. Josh Powell (Killer 3s)
  3. Shawne Williams (Bivouac)
  4. Jamario Moon (Ghost Ballers)
  5. Donte Greene (Killer 3s)
  6. Jason Richardson (Tri-State)
  7. Alan Anderson (Triplets)
  8. Sam Young (Trilogy)
  9. Brandon Rush (Aliens)
  10. Craig Smith (Enemies)
  11. Mario Chalmers (3 Headed Monsters)
  12. C.J. Watson (Killer 3s)
  13. Carlos Arroyo (Trilogy)
  14. Dion Glover (Bivouac)
  15. Bonzi Wells (Tri-State)

A full breakdown of the 2019 BIG3 draft results can be found right here, while the rosters for the 12 teams set to compete in the ’19 season are here.

Larry Sanders To Play In BIG3

Another notable NBA veteran has joined the BIG3’s draft pool, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, who tweets that big man Larry Sanders is looking to resume his basketball career by playing in the 3-on-3 league this summer. The BIG3 posted a photo of Sanders participating in its pre-draft combine on Tuesday.

Sanders, the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft, appeared in 238 regular season games over the course of six NBA seasons with the Bucks and Cavs. In 19.5 minutes per contest, he contributed 6.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and an impressive 1.8 BPG. He last appeared in an NBA game in April 2017.

A variety of off-court factors related to anxiety, depression, and marijuana use ultimately derailed Sanders’ career. However, as a result of being waived via the stretch provision, he’ll continue to be paid approximately $1.87MM per year by the Bucks through 2021/22.

While Sanders is still just 30 years old and his rim-protecting skills would certainly be a fit for the modern game, an NBA comeback appears to be a long shot for now. So far, Josh Childress is the only player to sign an NBA contract after playing in the BIG3, and he was waived by the Nuggets before the 2017/18 regular season begin.

Jason Terry, Joe Johnson, Al Jefferson, Lamar Odom, Gilbert Arenas, Kendrick Perkins, Josh Smith, and Mario Chalmers are among the other NBA veterans to commit to the BIG3 for the 2019 season.

And-Ones: Hoiberg, Morrow, Summer League, Hamilton

Former Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg is expected to be a frontrunner for Nebraska’s coaching job if and when the Huskers part ways with current coach Tim Miles, a source tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). There has been contact between Nebraska and Hoiberg, according to Chris Basnett of The Lincoln Journal Star, who confirms that the former Bulls coach would be a “strong candidate” for job if Miles is dismissed.

A source tell Adam Zagoria of Forbes (Twitter link) that Hoiberg would definitely “entertain” the Nebraska job if it’s offered to him, but it’s not entirely clear if he’d accept it. As Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets, Hoiberg’s top choice would be to coach in the NBA. However, there’s a sense that he’d likely prefer to coach in the NCAA rather than work in an NBA front office.

As we wait to see what’s next for Hoiberg, here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA sharpshooter Anthony Morrow has signed on to participate in the BIG3 this summer, the league announced on Tuesday (via Twitter). Morrow, a career 41.7% three-point shooter in 564 NBA games, last played in the league during the 2016/17 season, appearing in 49 games for the Thunder and Bulls.
  • All 30 NBA teams will be represented at this year’s Summer League in Las Vegas, and a pair of international teams will join them. According to an Associated Press report, the Chinese and Croatian national squads will participate in the event. China is expected to use the Vegas Summer League as a tune-up for the 2019 World Cup; Croatia didn’t qualify.
  • Former Thunder and Hawks guard Daniel Hamilton has signed an NBA G League contract, per Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). Hamilton is eligible to be claimed off waivers, with the NBAGL postseason right around the corner.