BIG3

And-Ones: Smith, BIG3, Ujiri, BAL, Mexico

Longtime NBA guard J.R. Smith believes he was blackballed from the league, as Pierce Simpson of Complex relays. According to Simpson, it seems like Smith is mostly remembered for the mistake he made at the end of a 2018 NBA Finals game, choosing to dribble away from the rim without knowing the score.

“Yeah, 100 percent,” Smith said on whether he was blackballed after that. “Anybody can sit here and tell you that that’s a fact.”

Smith played 11 games with Cleveland the following season and briefly played with LeBron James on the Lakers in 2019/20. Since then, he hasn’t played in the NBA. Smith will turn 37 years old next week and never formally announced his retirement, but a return to the league seems highly unlikely at this point.

Here are some other notes from around the basketball world:

  • The BIG3 has relieved CEO Chris Hannan of his duties, according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears (Twitter link). Ice Cube, the co-founder of the league, has been named CEO in his place. Jeff Kwatinetz (another co-founder) will serve as the league’s president.
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri believes the Basketball Africa League (BAL) can produce NBA-level talent, but it’ll need time to grow, Leonard Solms writes for ESPN. Ujiri has remained active with the NBA’s work in Africa. As Solms notes, former BAL players Anas Mahmoud and Evans Ganapamo earned invites to play in the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League — Mahmoud in 2021 with Toronto and Ganapamo in 2022 with Milwaukee — but neither player has earned a roster spot in the NBA.
  • Mexico surprised Team USA in their AmeriCup opening game, winning the contest 73-67, as detailed by The Associated Press. Mexico was led by Paul Stoll, who finished with 15 points and nine assists. Stoll went undrafted in 2008 and has played his entire career internationally.

And-Ones: BIG3, Canada, Hezonja, Coaches

Ty Lawson, Corey Brewer, Jordan Crawford, Jonathon Simmons, Norris Cole, Festus Ezeli, and Jordan Hill are among the many former NBA players whose names are in the BIG3 draft pool for the 2022 season, per the league’s official website.

The BIG3 will hold its draft on Wednesday evening in Los Angeles as it gears up for the coming season. As we previously relayed, the first games of 2022 are scheduled for June 18 and this will be the first year in which the BIG3 holds an All-Star Game.

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

And-Ones: Riller, Offseason, Micic, Thunder, BIG3

Former Sixers guard Grant Riller has fully recovered from shoulder surgery and plans to work out for teams ahead of free agency this summer, a league source told Hoops Rumors. Riller spent time on two-way contracts with Philadelphia this season and Charlotte last season.

The 25-year-old started the 2021/22 season with Philadelphia, but he was waived upon needing surgery. The operation cost Riller over four months of action and ultimately ended his campaign. He averaged 13.1 points and 3.5 assists in 11 G League games, shooting an efficient 49% from the floor and 46% from deep.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider-only link) examines the offseason for all 30 teams, identifying every club’s biggest questions and priorities. The NBA draft will be held on June 23, while free agency is set to commence in early July. Some of the biggest free agents will include Bulls guard Zach LaVine, Suns center Deandre Ayton (restricted) and Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson. Nets star Kyrie Irving, Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Sixers guard James Harden also hold player options that could be declined.
  • Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com examines how Serbian star Vasilije Micic appears ready to make a jump to the NBA. Micic, whose NBA draft rights are held by the Thunder, played for Anadolu Efes in Turkey this season and could soon join the NBA if Oklahoma City pushes to make it happen. “I’m in a situation where I have two more years of the contract no matter what happens. But of course, I like to look at all kinds of challenges. If this option comes out, I would be ready to risk (it),” he said.
  • Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports shares the schedule for this year’s BIG3, which will tip off on June 18 in Chicago. The season will last 12 weeks and feature the league’s first-ever All-Star Game, according to Haynes. The draft will be held on May 25.

And-Ones: Beasley, Delaney, Bolmaro, Duarte, EuroLeague, Ticket Prices

Michael Beasley has officially committed to play in the BIG3 league with 3’s Company this summer, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. ESPN’s Marc J. Spears recently reported Beasley was expected to play in the league. The former No. 2 pick, who last played in the NBA with the Lakers during the 2018/19 season, has hired agent Andre Buck and will continue pursuing an NBA comeback. 

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA player Malcolm Delaney will miss the remainder of Olimpio Milano’s season due to an abdominal injury, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Delaney won’t return to Milan next season. “Two special years, in which I played in two of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of, but with a lot of bad luck,” Delaney said. “I enjoyed my experience in Milan, on and off the court.”
  • Timberwolves rookie Leandro Bolmaro and Pacers rookie Chris Duarte will be among the coaches at the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Americas camp next week, according to an NBA press release. The camp will be held from Monday to Thursday in San Luis Potosí, Mexico and will bring together the top high-school age boys and girls from Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean.
  • This year’s EuroLeague First Team selections have a distinct NBA flavor. NBA veterans Mike James, Shane Larkin and Nikola Mirotic were all selected to the First Team along with Walter Tavares and Sasha Vezenkov, Eurohoops.net tweets.
  • Ticket prices around the NBA continue to rise as attendance drops, Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of the New York Post report. According to the Post, fans are now paying an average of $109 per ticket, an 18.6% increase since 2018/19. However, the number of paid fans at arenas has dropped 7.1% to 13,603 per game. Those numbers could impact the league’s negotiations with its broadcast partners.

And-Ones: Pangos, West, Wright, Emmert

Former Cavaliers guard Kevin Pangos will sign with Italian club Olimpia Milano for the 2022/23 season, sources tell Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Pangos played six seasons in Europe before earning a roster spot with Cleveland in training camp.

Pangos saw spot duty in 24 games for the Cavs, averaging 1.6 points and 1.3 assists in 6.9 minutes per night. He was waived in February. The 29-year-old reportedly inked a deal with CSKA Moscow after his stint with the Cavs, but hadn’t traveled to Russia as of March 1 due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.

In 2020/21, Pangos averaged 13.5 PPG and 6.6 APG on .449/.390/.845 shooting in 39 EuroLeague contests (28.9 MPG) for Zenit Saint Petersburg, earning a spot on the All-EuroLeague First Team.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Delonte West, who played eight seasons in the NBA from 2004-2012, has joined the BIG3 draft pool, the league announced (via Twitter). The 38-year-old appeared in 432 career games, averaging 9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals in 27.4 minutes per contest.
  • Former Villanova coach Jay Wright is leaving the door open to a potential move to the NBA, according to a report from ESPN. “That was something I always thought about,” Wright said of his NBA ambitions. “My experience with the Olympics kind of scratched that itch. … I kind of feel like I did it a little bit. And I loved coaching those guys.” Wright was part of Gregg Popovich‘s staff for the 2020 men’s team, who won the gold medal last summer. “Right now I definitely need a break,” Wright said on Tuesday. “Right now I’m looking forward to this [special assistant] position at Villanova. But honestly, down the road, I’d be lying — I don’t know what I’m going to feel like.” A previous report indicated Wright wasn’t expected to have interest in an NBA role.
  • NCAA president Mark Emmert has agreed to step down from his post by June 2023, per Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico. The move came as a surprise to many in the college sports world. Emmert has served as president since 2010.

And-Ones: Japan Games, Hardy, Prospect Matchups, West

The Warriors and Wizards will play two preseason games in Japan, the NBA announced in a press release. The NBA Japan Games 2022 will be played on September 30 and October 2. “We are excited to once again bring preseason games to our fans in Japan,” commissioner Adam Silver said. The NBA last played games in Japan in 2019, when Houston and Toronto squared off in a pair of preseason contests.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Shooting guard Jaden Hardy shouldn’t be discounted as a potential lottery pick, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer opines. Hardy got off to a slow start with the G League’s Ignite but has averaged 22.5 PPG and 4.1 APG over the last eight games. Hardy made some progress as a pick-and-roll playmaker and is taking better shots, O’Connor adds. Hardy is currently ranked No. 24 on ESPN’s Best Available list after once being considered the draft’s second-best prospect.
  • The NCAA Tournament provides an opportunity for draft prospects to match their talents against one another. The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie takes a look at nine first-round matchups among this year’s class, including the University of Michigan big man duo of Hunter Dickinson and Moussa Diabate squaring off against Colorado State’s top scorer, David Roddy.
  • Former NBA player Delonte West participated in a BIG3 tryout in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, according to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports. West, who has struggled with drug addiction and bipolar disorder, was one of a handful of players from the tryout to get an invite to the BIG3 pre-draft combine on May 14 in Las Vegas.

And-Ones: Big3, Giannis, Overtime Elite, GM Candidates

Jarrett Jack has joined the Suns’ coaching staff, but his playing career isn’t completely over. Jack hit the game-winning shot Saturday as the Trilogy defended its Big3 title, writes Jack Maloney of CBS Sports. Jack, who was named Co-Rookie of the Year in the summer three-on-three league, had 29 points in the championship game.

“Got a little emotional,” he said. “To be honest, man, this was crazy. This was my first time hitting a game-winner in front of my son. I’m happy for him to be a part of it. Our coach stuck with us through and through every week. We had a hell of a group man. I just want to shout out these guys, my teammates.”

Former NBA All-Star Joe Johnson was named league MVP for the second straight season (Twitter link). Other award winners were Kevin Murphy joining Jack as Co-Rookie of the Year, Isaiah Briscoe as Fourth Man of the Year and Larry Sanders as Defensive Player of the Year.

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

  • Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is considering a return to international basketball in the 2022 EuroBasket tournament, according to EuroHoops. He had to miss this year’s Olympic qualifying tournament because of the playoffs, and Greece failed to earn a spot in Tokyo. “Taking it day by day. But I can’t wait,” Antetokounmpo wrote in response to a tweet by FIBA previewing EuroBasket.
  • In a press release, Overtime Elite announced the signing of three more players — Jahzare Jackson, Jaylen Martin and TJ Clark. The league, made up of top high school prospects, now has 24 players for its inaugural season. OTE is also hoping to sign Kamari Lands, who recently decommitted from Syracuse, tweets Adam Zagoria.
  • The Bucks’ championship makes assistant general manager Milt Newton one of the top GM candidates in the league, per Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Newton has experience running a team in Minnesota and he helped build a title-winning roster in Milwaukee. Fischer also examines several other candidates who may be considered for the next GM openings.

And-Ones: Overtime Elite, Two-Way Rules, Barbosa, Lottery

The Overtime Elite league for top high school prospects has secured its first two commitments, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that Matt Bewley and Ryan Bewley, a pair of 6’9″ twin brothers from Florida, are signing with Overtime Elite.

Matt and Ryan, high school juniors who are ranked third and 12th overall by ESPN among recruits in the class of 2023, are expected to earn in the seven figures over the course of their respective two-year contracts, sources tell Wojnarowski.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who tweets that Overtime Elite has been “extremely active” in attempting to recruit top high school prospects this spring, notes (via Twitter) that the league is aiming to end up with about 30 players by the time it starts up in September. The league has been approaching 2021 high school grads with offers of two-year contracts and reclassification to 2022, according to Givony.

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

  • In an Insider-only article for ESPN.com, Brian Windhorst and Kevin Arnovitz explore which new rules and other innovations implemented for the NBA’s 2020/21 season may stick around beyond this season. According to the ESPN duo, the baseball-style two-game series that became common this season are unlikely to be as frequent going forward now that fans are being allowed back into arenas, but the league has been gauging teams’ interest in keeping the rules related to expanded eligibility for two-way players.
  • Former NBA guard Leandro Barbosa, who currently works as a player mentor coach on the Warriors‘ staff, will play in the BIG3 this summer, a source tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic takes a look at what’s next for this year’s lottery-bound NBA teams, while Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report identifies the Cavaliers, Kings, and Warriors as some teams that should consider either trading their lottery picks or trading down if they don’t land a top-four pick.

Nick Young To Play In BIG3

12-year NBA veteran shooting guard Nick Young is returning to the hardwood. He has inked a contract with the Enemies for the 2021 BIG3 season, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

Young will serve as the new team captain for the Enemies, per a BIG3 league press release. The club will be coached by Young’s former Wizards teammate, Gilbert Arenas.

Just last week, the BIG3 formally announced it would officially resume operations for its fourth season this summer, after canceling what would have been its fourth season in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 12-team league, founded by Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz in 2017, has generally served as a platform for longtime NBA veterans. The 2021 season will be broadcast by CBS and its affiliate platform Paramount+, and is set to kick off on July 10 at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Scheduled to last for eight weeks, the BIG3 season will also log time at Xavier University of Louisiana. A two-week playoff will culminate in a September 4 title game.

Young was drafted by Washington with the No. 16 pick in 2007 out of USC. The 6’7″ swingman enjoyed eventful stops on the Wizards, Clippers, Sixers, and Lakers. He became a bench contributor for a 2017/8 title-winning Warriors team. His last NBA appearance was a four-game cameo for the Nuggets during the 2018/19 season.

The 35-year-old holds career averages of 11.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.0 RPG, along with a shooting line of .418/.376/.836.

BIG3 Announces Return This Summer

The BIG3, a summer league that features many former NBA players, will return for its fourth season, the league announced on its website. The 2020 season had to be canceled because of COVID-19 concerns.

“After a challenging year, we can’t wait to have our players back on the court for the best BIG3 season yet – where the world’s top competitors come together on one court and provide fans with an unmatched entertainment experience,” league co-founders Ice Cube and Jeff Kwatinetz stated on the website. “We are excited to bring the BIG3 to two basketball rich cities and we know our players will put on a show.” 

The season will begin July 10 with games at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. There will be an eight-week schedule with games also being played at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, followed by two weeks of playoffs. The championship game is slated for September 4.

“We are happy to have two great host cities in Las Vegas and New Orleans for our fourth season, bringing our fast paced and one-of-a-kind game back to fans across the country,” said BIG3 CEO Chris Hannan.

Attendance policies and arena capacities will be set in accordance with protocols established by the host sites. All games will be broadcast live, either on CBS or Paramount+.

During its first three seasons, the BIG3 has served as a showcase for players such as Joe JohnsonRashard LewisAmar’e Stoudemire, and Josh Smith.