Cassius Stanley

Pacers Notes: Warren, McConnell, Bjorkgren, Stanley

Pacers forward T.J. Warren, who missed all but four games this season due to a stress fracture in his left foot, discussed his lost 2020/21 season, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files details. “I just know it can’t storm forever and the sun has to come out,” Warren said of his extended rehab process. Warren has one year and $12.9MM remaining on his current contract after this season.

Warren also had harsh words in response to a report claiming that he was had requested a trade because he was at odds with embattled head coach Nate Bjorkgren.

“Seeing that report was really, really terrible,” Warren said, adding that Bjorkgren has been “nothing but a great guy” since becoming the Pacers’ head coach. “Not cool.”

There’s more out of Indianapolis:

  • Pacers reserve point guard T.J. McConnell appears hopeful about returning to Indiana as he reaches unrestricted free agency during the 2021 offseason, tweets J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star. “I would love to be back here,” McConnell said. “I absolutely love it here. … I don’t have a bad thing to say about anything or anyone.” McConnell signed a two-year, $7MM deal with Indiana in the summer of 2019.
  • The Pacers are not expected to make an immediate decision on the future of head coach Nate Bjorkgren, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. A report detailing locker room tensions surfaced earlier this month that appeared to put Bjorkgren’s long-term fate in doubt. “My focus is on the players right now,” Bjorkgren himself responded when asked about the situation earlier this week. “And I’m not thinking about myself, I’m really not. I want to do what’s best for these guys.” The Pacers lost Thursday’s play-in game to slide out of the postseason and into the lottery during Bjorkgren’s first season at the helm.
  • Following his rookie season, Pacers first-year shooting guard Cassius Stanley will play in the Summer League, scheduled for this August in Las Vegas, tweets Agness.

Central Notes: Giannis, Holiday, McDermott, Stanley, Cavs

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was already dealing with a minor right ankle sprain entering Thursday’s game against Houston, aggravated that injury early in the first quarter, stepping on Kelly Olynyk‘s foot and rolling the ankle (link via ESPN). He didn’t return to the game.

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said after the game that there’s hope Giannis’ sprain isn’t too serious, adding that the team will see how it responds to treatment and go from there. Milwaukee has played it relatively safe with the two-time MVP this season as the club focuses on getting fully healthy for the postseason, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Antetokounmpo misses a little time — even if it’s out of abundance of caution.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Within his weekly “10 Things” article for ESPN.com (Insider link), Zach Lowe highlights the play of Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, who recently signed a long-term extension, and Pacers forward Doug McDermott, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Holiday is having arguably the best season of his career, while McDermott has developed into a strong finisher at the rim and deserves Sixth Man of the Year consideration, Lowe writes.
  • Pacers rookie guard Cassius Stanley is on a two-way contract that expires at season’s end, prompting J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required) to wonder if the team should be giving him more playing time to determine whether he’s worth a longer-term investment. Stanley has logged just 54 total minutes in 19 games this season.
  • The Cavaliers have some promising young talent on their roster, but still lack a potential franchise player who can be the centerpiece of the rebuild, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who points out that the Cavs’ recent skid should put them in a better position to draft one of those players this summer.

Pacers Sign Amida Brimah, Waive Brian Bowen

11:57am: Brimah has officially signed his two-way deal with the Pacers, the team announced in a press release. He won’t have to go through a quarantine period and will be available for the team’s game on Saturday vs. Detroit, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic.

As first reported by J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (via Twitter) and confirmed by the Pacers, Bowen has been waived to open up a spot for Brimah. The 22-year-old forward, who has spent the last two seasons on a two-way deal with Indiana, logged a total of just 46 minutes in 12 games for the team since the start of 2019/20.


9:37am: Following a series of injuries to their frontcourt players, the Pacers are adding some depth. Free agent center Amida Brimah is signing a two-way contract with Indiana, agent Daniel Hazan tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Brimah, who went undrafted out of UConn in 2017, has never appeared in an NBA regular season game despite signing Exhibit 10 contracts with NBA teams for four consecutive years — two with the Spurs (2017 and 2018) and two with the Pacers (2019 and 2020).

The 27-year-old big man had a brief stint with a Serbian club in 2018 but has otherwise spent his professional career in the G League, most recently averaging 8.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 2.6 RPG in 10 games (23.5 MPG) for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in this season’s NBAGL bubble.

Brimah is known for his rim-protecting abilities — he was named the AAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and made the G League All-Defensive team in 2018. And despite never playing an NBA game, he has some championship experience, having won an NCAA title with UConn in ’14 and a G League title with the Austin Spurs in ’18.

The banged-up Pacers are currently missing Myles Turner (toe), Domantas Sabonis (back), and Goga Bitadze (ankle), so there could be a path to immediate minutes for Brimah, depending on when he officially signs and when Sabonis and Bitadze are ready to return.

Indiana will have to waive one of its current two-way players to make room for Brimah. Brian Bowen is probably a likelier release candidate than 2020 second-rounder Cassius Stanley, but we’ll have to see what the Pacers have in mind.

Simons, Stanley, Toppin To Compete In Dunk Contest

Anfernee Simons of the Trail Blazers, Cassius Stanley of the Pacers, and Obi Toppin of the Knicks will compete for the annual Slam Dunk title at halftime of the All-Star game on Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, the NBA announced in a press release.

Simons, a 6’3” guard, is averaging 8.2 PPG in his third NBA season. Stanley is a 6’5″ rookie guard on a two-way contract after being selected in the second round last fall. He recorded a maximum vertical leap of 44 inches in the 2020 draft combine. Toppin, a 6’9″ rookie forward and lottery pick, is averaging 4.6 PPG in 25 games off the bench.

The 3-Point Contest, which will be held prior to the game, has a lot more star power. Suns guard Devin Booker and Warriors guard Stephen Curry, former winners of the long-ball contest, head the list of participants. The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Bulls’ Zach LaVine and the Jazz‘s Donovan Mitchell round out the six-man field.

The Skills Challenge, which will also be held prior to the game, also has plenty of All-Star firepower. Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Suns guard Chris Paul head that six-man listKnicks forward Julius Randle, Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis, Magic center Nikola Vucevic and Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington round out the field.

Anfernee Simons, Cassius Stanley Expected To Join Dunk Contest

Blazers guard Anfernee Simons and Pacers two-way guard Cassius Stanley are expected to join Knicks forward Obi Toppin in the All-Star slam dunk contest on March 7, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

All three players would be first-time participants in the contest, which is set to take place at halftime of the All-Star Game next Sunday.

Simons, 21, has averaged 8.5 points, 1.2 assists and 17.5 minutes for Portland this season. Stanley would become the first player on a two-way contract to ever compete in a dunk contest — the 21-year-old has only appeared in eight games for the Pacers this year.

Along with the dunk contest, the three-point contest and skills competition will also be held on March 7 in Atlanta. The league’s traditional method of spreading the events over a weekend has been voided this season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Central Notes: Prince, Cavaliers, Pacers, Bulls

Cavaliers forward Taurean Prince is proving to be more than a simple throw-in player in the multi-team trade featuring Jarrett Allen, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes.

Prince, 26, was acquired by Cleveland alongside Allen earlier this month. The five-year veteran has been effective in his five games with the team, averaging 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game while shooting 41% from downtown.

“He fits the mold of what we’re looking for,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We’re looking for guys who can play multiple positions, guys who have the ability to knock down shots, who have athleticism, who can run the floor. And then on the defensive end, guys who take 1-on-1 challenges and compete.

“It’s how he’s willing to work, the toughness that he plays with, the scrap that he has. We’ve seen that from him in the past. But I’ve been even more pleased having him every single day with how he makes his teammates better, how unselfish he is. We’re definitely glad to have him.”

There’s more from the Central Division today:

Pacers Sign Guards Cassius Stanley, Naz Mitrou-Long

The Pacers have finalized agreements with two guards, signing rookie Cassius Stanley to a two-way contract and Naz Mitrou-Long to an Exhibit 10 deal, according to a press release on the team’s official site.
Indiana selected Stanley with the No. 54 pick in the 2020 draft out of Duke. The 6’6″ guard started all of his 29 games during his lone season with Duke in 2019/20, averaging 12.6 PPG and 4.9 RPG, while converting on 36% of his 3.0 long-range attempts a night. After two seasons with the Jazz, Mitrou-Long appeared in five games for the Pacers last season, averaging 9.4 MPG.
The announcement also confirmed several other previously-reported signings. Forward JaKarr Sampson will return for his second season with Indiana on a fully-guaranteed veteran’s minimum deal. Wing Kelan Martin, formerly with the Timberwolves, will join the Pacers on a two-year deal, though the speculation is that it will not be fully-guaranteed.
Forward Brian Bowen II, who suited up for six games with the Pacers last season, will occupy the club’s second two-way player contract slot alongside Stanley.
Mitrou-Long joins center Amida Brimah and forward Rayshaun Hammonds as the Pacers with Exhibit 10 contracts. All three will join the team for training camp, with an opportunity to make the club’s opening night roster. These are one-year, minimum salary deals that can carry an optional player bonus ranging from $5K to $50K.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.

Draft Rumors: Draft Date, Hawks, Suns, Toppin, Wolves

Most people around the NBA think this year’s draft will eventually be moved back from October 16 to sometime in the middle of November, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. We heard last month that there was momentum toward delaying the draft and the start of free agency.

As Bontemps explains, the idea would be to give the NBA and the players’ union some time after the season ends to get a handle on the league’s finances after what has been a very unusual 2019/20 season — and ahead of what figures to be another unusual year in 2020/21. Delaying the draft and free agency would give both sides plenty of time to establish a salary cap for next season and new projections going forward. It would also give teams time to reconsider their plans based on the new cap.

As we wait for official word from the NBA on a possible delay, here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • Among the league insiders polled by Bontemps, two teams – the Hawks at No. 6 and the Suns at No. 10 – were mentioned most frequently as candidates to be active in trade talks on (or leading up to) draft day. As Bontemps observes, both teams have cap flexibility and will face some pressure from ownership to make the playoffs in 2020/21.
  • Asked by Bontemps about this year’s most overrated prospects, executives and scouts most frequently pointed to Dayton forward Obi Toppin. “I think he’s a good player and I like him and he had an unbelievable year, but this consensus top-five status he’s obtained is weird to me,” one Eastern Conference scout said of Toppin. Cassius Stanley (Duke), Desmond Bane (TCU), and Jaden McDaniels (Washington) were among the players who received votes as 2020’s most underrated prospect.
  • Most league insiders expect the Timberwolves to draft Anthony Edwards first overall, according to Bontemps. However, in Sam Vecenie’s latest mock draft for The Athletic, he has changed the Wolves’ pick from Edwards to LaMelo Ball, operating under the belief that Gersson Rosas would favor Ball’s potential star power. Both Bontemps and Vecenie note that Minnesota seems like a good bet to gauge the value of the pick on the trade market. Vecenie points out that the Wolves could also draft a player and consider moving him down the road if he doesn’t fit in well with Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell.

Draft Updates: Petrusev, Livers, Verge, Stanley

Gonzaga big man Filip Petrusev won’t return to the Zags for his junior season. As first reported by Nova.rs – and later confirmed by Jeff Goodman of Stadium, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, and Jonathan Givony of ESPN (all Twitter links) – the native of Serbia is returning to his home country, having agreed to a multiyear deal with Mega Bemax.

Petrusev, who averaged 17.5 PPG and 7.9 RPG during a breakout sophomore season at Gonzaga, entered the 2020 NBA draft pool in the spring. For now, his plan is to keep his name in this year’s draft, according to Givony, who had the 20-year-old ranked 70th overall on ESPN’s big board.

Now that his NCAA eligibility is no longer a concern, Petrusev won’t have to finalize that decision by the NCAA’s early entrant withdrawal deadline of August 3. He can instead take until October 6 (the NBA’s withdrawal deadline) to make up his mind.

Here’s more on the 2020 draft:

  • After testing the draft waters, forward Isaiah Livers will head back to Michigan for his senior year, the school announced in a press release. “While it was a limited process due to COVID-19, I want to thank all the NBA teams who took the time to talk to me,” Livers said in a statement. “The information I gathered is going to be invaluable moving forward. But now, we have unfinished business in Ann Arbor.” Livers averaged 12.9 PPG and shot 40.2% from beyond the arc in 21 games (31.5 MPG) as a junior.
  • Arizona State guard Alonzo Verge Jr. is returning to school for his senior season, according to an announcement from the program (video link). Verge, who transferred to the Sun Devils after starting his college career at Moberly Area Community College in Missouri, averaged 14.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 2.3 APG in 28 games (26.8 MPG) in 2019/20.
  • Veteran player agent Jerome Stanley is joining Independent Sports & Entertainment, where he’ll co-represent his son, Duke prospect Cassius Stanley, per a SportsBusiness Journal report.
  • Arizona forward Zeke Nnaji, a Minneapolis native, is interviewing with his hometown Timberwolves this week, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.