Cheick Diallo

Cheick Diallo To Sign With Russian Team

Former Pelicans and Suns big man Cheick Diallo is signing with Avtodor Saratov in Russia’s top league, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets

Diallo is still hopeful of signing with an NBA team by the end of the season, Guillory adds.

Diallo became an unrestricted free agent in November when Phoenix declined the $1.824MM option on his contract for this season.

After spending his first three seasons with the Pelicans, Diallo agreed to a two-year veteran’s minimum deal with the Suns in 2019. He was drafted with the No. 33 pick in 2016.

The 24-year-old Diallo averaged 4.7 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 10.2 MPG in 47 games last season. He’s appeared in 180 NBA games, averaging 5.3 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 12.0 MPG.

Suns Turn Down Team Option On Cheick Diallo

Big man Cheick Diallo is now an unrestricted free agent heading into his fifth season, after the Suns decided to not pick up his $1,824,003 team option, per Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype (Twitter link).

After spending his first three seasons with the Pelicans, Diallo agreed to a two-year veteran’s minimum deal with the Suns last summer. Diallo was drafted with the No. 33 pick in 2016. Scotto notes that the 6’8″ forward/center out of Kansas is reputable around the league as having a “high motor.”

A little-used reserve in 2019/20, the 24-year-old Diallo averaged 4.7 PPG and 2.8 RPG. Across 47 games, he logged an average of 10.2 MPG.

Western Notes: Baynes, Saric, Wolves, Nuggets

Multiple playoff teams are hoping to sign Aron Baynes in free agency, league sources tell Zach Harper of The Athletic. The big man is coming off perhaps his best season as a pro, despite being limited by health issues in the bubble and not getting a chance to contribute to the Suns‘ 8-0 summer run.

While Harper hears that the Suns have plenty of interest in bringing back Baynes, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) predicts that the club will ultimately let Baynes, Frank Kaminsky, and Cheick Diallo walk. Gambadoro’s expectation is that Phoenix will be focusing on re-signing RFA forward Dario Saric to a multiyear deal.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • The Timberwolves will officially be on the clock to make the No. 1 pick later tonight, assuming they don’t trade it. Chris Hine of The Star Tribune examines the importance of the pick for the franchise, while Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune makes the case for Minnesota drafting Anthony Edwards rather than LaMelo Ball.
  • The Nuggets won’t be drafting for need tonight, according to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, who says the club will target the best player available at No. 22. He added that there may not be any minutes available right away for that player. “If you’re a rookie in Denver next year, you’re probably not going to play,” Connelly said, per Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com. “When you do play, every minute, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on those minutes.”
  • Western Union has renewed its multiyear jersey sponsorship ad agreement with the Nuggets, the team announced today in a press release.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Jones, Ayton, Bogdanovic

Rajon Rondo could be available tonight against the Jazz if his sore calf doesn’t flare up again, Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet tweets. The veteran Lakers point guard participated in a scrimmage during Thursday’s practice. Rondo, who missed Tuesday’s opener, will start “a lot” at point guard, according to coach Frank Vogel, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Rondo will play 25-30 minutes on a regular basis whether or not he starts, McMenamin writes in a separate post.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns GM James Jones is “disappointed in the actions” of center Deandre Ayton, who was suspended for 25 games by the league on Thursday for using a banned substance, Gina Mizell of The Athletic tweets. Jones added that the franchise remains “committed to his growth and development on and off the court.” Aron Baynes is expected to move into the starting lineup while Frank Kaminsky could see more action at center, Mizell writes in a separate story. Cheick Diallo, who was not part of Wednesday’s opening-night rotation,  could also be in the mix, Mizell adds.
  • The Suns will likely add a center once they’re able to move Ayton to the suspended list, John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Phoenix tweets. Phoenix will be permitted to add a 16th player to their roster after their game against Memphis on November 2.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic isn’t thrilled about the prospect of being a sixth man with the Kings, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Brian Windhorst (hat tip to NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman). There’s no spot for him in the lineup with Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes at the wings and locked into long-term contracts. Bogdanovic, who scored just two points points in 22 minutes during the Kings’ opener, will be a restricted free agent after the season.

Pacific Notes: Smailagic, Adams, Diallo, Shamet

Warriors rookie big man Alen Smailagic has a severe ankle sprain, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Coach Steve Kerr said Smailagic, a second-round pick, will be out for the “foreseeable future” due to the injury.

The 18-year-old Serbian played in the G League for Santa Cruz – the Warriors’ affiliate – in 2018/19 but wasn’t draft-eligible until this year. He was shut down early in the pre-draft process and was “hidden” in Serbia from the rest of the NBA. He signed a four-year, minimum salary contract with two years guaranteed.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings never seriously considered trading for Thunder center Steven Adams, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee reports.  The Thunder are reportedly seeking a significant return for their top big man and were hoping to pry away Buddy Hield or Bogdan Bogdanovic in talks with Sacramento.
  • The Suns have numerous options at the power forward and center spots but Cheick Diallo could be in the mix, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Diallo was signed to a two-year contract after spending three seasons with the Pelicans. “He’s a really active player,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “He can score around the basket. He’s trying to defend. … He just plays hard. Gives you a different edge at that four-five spot.”
  • Landry Shamet and rookie Terance Mann are the main backup options to Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley despite having backgrounds at the wing positions, Mirjan Swanson of the Orange County Register relays. Coach Doc Rivers believes Shamet will emerge in that role. “Landry will play point a lot this year,” Rivers said. “There’s no doubt about that. Because he can do a lot of things that very few guys can do, (Stephen) Curry-like. He can push it up, throw it and run and still score.”

Southwest Notes: Diallo, Morris, Iguodala, Favors

Cheick Diallo was squeezed out of New Orleans due to a numbers crunch, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM tweets. The Pelicans didn’t want to lose the young power forward but they essentially had to choose between him and Jahlil Okafor, according to Gambadoro. New Orleans got three players back in the Anthony Davis deal, added three first-rounders including top pick Zion Williamson, and signed free agent guard J.J. Redick. New Orleans did not make a qualifying offer to Diallo, which made him an unrestricted free agent. He signed a two-year contract with the Suns.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Marcus Morris said he meant no disrespect when backed out of a verbal two-year agreement with the Spurs to sign a one-year contract with the Knicks, as he told Shams Charania of The Athletic“The first thing that I did when I knew I would be going another direction, I called and made sure they knew. There was no shade. There’s no disrespect,” Morris said. “I had great conversations afterward, and as long as I feel that I’m clear with them and gave them my truth, I feel good about moving forward. … I thought at the time that the Spurs deal was all that I had. The process wasn’t what I expected and it didn’t go the right way.” The way Morris’ free agent journey played out contributed to bad blood between the two organizations.
  • Andre Iguodala remains in limbo after getting traded to the Grizzlies, Charania reports in a video post. The Rockets, Clippers, Mavericks and Nuggets have all shown interest in the veteran forward. Houston and the Clippers are the top contenders but the Rockets have major luxury tax concerns while the only thing that would make sense for the Clippers salary-wise would be to move Maurice Harkless, whom they acquired from the Trail Blazers. However, the Clippers don’t want to ship out Harkless, Charania adds.
  • The Pelicans believe they can turn big man Derrick Favors into a bigger offensive threat than he was with the Jazz, William Guillory of The Athletic writes. Favors was acquired for two second-rounders in a salary dump by Utah. The opportunity to play alongside Jrue Holiday, Zion Williamson and Redick will facilitate the process. Favors will be utilized more often as a passer and be encouraged to develop his 3-point game, Guillory adds.

Cheick Diallo To Sign With Suns

The Suns have reached a two-year deal with Cheick Diallo, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Phoenix holds a team option on the second season, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The 22-year-old power forward spent the past three seasons in New Orleans. He has been a steady rotation player during the last two years and averaged 6.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 64 games this season.

Phoenix could only offer Diallo a veteran’s minimum deal, which will pay about $1.7MM and $1.8MM over the next two years, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The Suns now have 15 players under contract, not counting their two-way deals.

Free Agent Rumors: Durant, I. Smith, Diallo, Mavs, More

While rumors of Kevin Durant‘s possible departure continue to persist, the Warriors have recently expressed some private optimism about their chances of re-signing the former MVP, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. As Amick explains, that hope stems from the fact that Golden State is the only team with the ability to make Durant a five-year, $221MM offer. That extra year and money could be a more significant factor with KD recovering from an Achilles tear.

Earlier this week, Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers indicated that the team has formal plans to talk to both Durant and Klay Thompson about new deals, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com relays (via Twitter). Myers also said that Thompson is expected to undergo his ACL surgery later this week.

Here’s more from around the NBA on free agency:

  • Ish Smith is among the free agent point guards who are on the Timberwolves‘ radar, tweets Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. Wolfson previously identified T.J. McConnell as a target of interest to Minnesota.
  • Cheick Diallo, who shares an agent with Mavericks star Luka Doncic and Mavs free agent target Patrick Beverley, is a potential fit for Dallas, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Diallo reportedly won’t receive a qualifying offer from New Orleans, so he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.
  • Speaking of the Mavericks, team owner Mark Cuban downplayed the importance of face-to-face meetings for free agents, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News writes. “There’s some players that want a presentation and they want the dog-and-pony show,” Cuban said. “And there’s some players, they don’t care. They have a feel and they just want to ask some questions and you don’t really have to have a meeting to do that. … It really depends on the players. I can give you a long list of players we didn’t have meetings with that we signed, and a lot of teams that didn’t have meetings and they signed people. There’s not a lot of secrets. It’s not like all of a sudden you’re going to say something they didn’t know.”
  • Although Willie Cauley-Stein‘s agent doesn’t want the Kings to give his client a qualifying offer, it wouldn’t make sense for the club to forgo that QO, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

Pelicans Won’t Make Qualifying Offer To Cheick Diallo

The Pelicans will not make a qualifying offer to forward Cheick Diallo, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. As a result, the 22-year-old Malian will become an unrestricted free agent on June 30.

While Diallo projects as a promising young player, the move is not entirely surprising, as the Pelicans have the opportunity to be active in free agency after trading away Anthony Davis. Even though it’s a relatively modest amount, clearing Diallo’s $1.93MM cap hold from their books creates more cap room for the team to pursue top free agents.

Additionally, the Pelicans just drafted Zion Williamson with the No. 1 overall pick and he projects to play the same position as Diallo.

Diallo, a former McDonald’s All-American, was drafted 33rd overall in 2016 by the Clippers, but was acquired by New Orleans on draft night. In three seasons, he’s averaged 12.6 minutes, 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest while appearing in 133 games.

And-Ones: NBA Africa Game, Global Camp, Upshaw

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Sixers center Joel Embiid will headline the rosters in this summer’s NBA Africa Game, the league announced today. The event, which will take place on Saturday, August 4 in Pretoria, South Africa, will feature a Team Africa vs. Team World format, with Cameroon native Embiid heading Team Africa and DeRozan representing Team World.

Joining Embiid on Team Africa will be fellow NBAers Al-Farouq Aminu, Bismack Biyombo, Cheick Diallo, Evan Fournier, Serge Ibaka, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Pascal Siakam. DeRozan’s teamates on Team World will include Harrison Barnes, Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Gay, Khris Middleton, and Hassan Whiteside.

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

  • A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects from outside the United States will take part in the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy from June 2-5, the NBA announced on Wednesday. While Luka Doncic won’t attend the pre-draft showcase, there will be plenty of prospects worth watching, including Cedevita forward Dzanan Musa, who is the No. 19 prospect on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.
  • The mother of Zeke Upshaw, the G League player who passed away earlier this year after collapsing during a Grand Rapids Drive game, has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the NBA and the Pistons of negligence. The suit alleges that the defendants failed to provide the Drive with the “the resources, policies, and procedures reasonably necessary” to prevent or handle Upshaw’s collapse. Noah Trister of The Associated Press has the full story and more details.
  • Now that two-way contracts have been in effect for nearly a full year, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days explores what sort of changes we may see to the rules surrounding those contracts in the future.