Chris Clemons

Rockets Sign Ponds, Clemons, McDowell-White To Exhibit 10 Deals

The Rockets have signed undrafted free agents Shamorie Ponds, Chris Clemons, and William McDowell-White to Exhibit 10 contracts, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The three agreements were reported shortly after last month’s draft.

A 6’1″ guard out of St. John’s, Ponds averaged 19.7 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.1 RPG, and an impressive 2.6 SPG in 33 games during his junior year before declaring for the draft as an early entrant.

Clemons, a 5’9″ Campbell guard, was the nation’s leading scorer in 2018/19, averaging 30.0 PPG on .448/.357/.869 shooting.

McDowell-White was also draft-eligible this season after spending the last several years playing for teams in Australia and Germany. Having began his career with the Sydney Kings, the Australian combo guard spent a season and a half with German club Brose Bamberg, leaving the team earlier this year to prepare for the 2019 draft.

All three players are on Houston’s Summer League roster and appear on track to join the team for training camp in the fall. Assuming they don’t make the Rockets’ regular season roster, they could end up playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s G League affiliate.

Rockets, William McDowell-White Agree To Deal

The Rockets have reached an agreement with William McDowell-White, according to Olgun Uluc of FOX Sports Australia, who reports (via Twitter) that the undrafted combo guard will sign an Exhibit 10 contract with Houston.

McDowell-White was draft-eligible this season after spending the last several years playing for teams in Australia and Germany. Having began his career with the Sydney Kings, he spent a season and a half with German club Brose Bamberg, leaving the team earlier this year to prepare for the 2019 draft.

Besides McDowell-White, the Rockets have also lined up deals with UCLA center Moses Brown and Campbell guard Chris Clemons to play for their Summer League squad, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

It’s possible that the club’s agreement with Clemons will be for more than the Summer League. Both Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic and Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter links) classify that deal as an undrafted free agent signing, which may include an invite to training camp.

The Rockets had a quiet night on Thursday, as they were one of the only teams that didn’t have a draft pick in either the first or second round.

Draft Rumors: Trades, Knicks, Celtics, Warriors

There’s an “ongoing flurry” of trade talks involving draft picks in the 20-23 range, league sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). According to Fischer, teams like the Warriors, Nets, Kings, Mavericks, and Spurs have expressed interest in moving up into that range of the draft.

The Celtics hold the 20th and 22nd overall picks, and are unlikely to use all three of their first-rounders (they also have No. 14), so it makes sense that they’d be listening to inquiries. The Thunder are picking at No. 21 and have reportedly explored moving their pick in an effort to reduce team salary. The Grizzlies are acquiring No. 23 overall in the Mike Conley trade and are said to be listening to offers for the selection, which is their second of the first round.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and rumors:

  • The Knicks are interested in buying another second-round pick, league sources tell Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link). New York, which currently holds the No. 55 overall pick to go along with No. 3, hasn’t sent out any cash in trades so far this season, so the team has flexibility to make a move.
  • League sources tell Fischer and Jeremy Woo of SI.com (Twitter links) that the Celtics brought in six players for last-minute workouts on Wednesday: Darius Bazley, Jalen Lecque, Tremont Waters, Jordan Bone, Chris Clemons, and Jared Harper. It was the second workout with Boston for all six prospects.
  • People around the NBA are wondering how early the Warriors would be willing to draft Serbian power forward Alen Smailagic, tweets Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. Smailagic played in the G League for Santa Cruz 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, according to Givony, who wonders if Golden State would use its newly-acquired No. 41 pick on Smailagic.
  • There are about 35 players whom various sources feel confident will be first-round picks, tweets Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. In other words, it’s tough to determine exactly which players will come off the board in the back half of the first round tonight.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Hawks, Jerome, Vucevic

The Heat probably don’t have enough to offer to trade into the top 10 of the draft, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald opines. Miami has the No. 13 pick and would likely have to get a third party involved in order to move up, Chiang continues, noting that the Heat can’t combine their first-rounder with their 2020 or 2022 first-round pick under current rules. Miami might be able to secure a future protected first-rounder if it trades down in the first round. If the club trades the pick without getting a first-rounder in return, the incentive would be to dump a big contract, Chiang adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • The Hawks worked out six prospects on Friday, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. The group included guards Jalek Felton (BC Nokia), Joshua Obiesie (Oliver Wurzburg) and Charles Matthews (Michigan), forwards Daulton Hommes (Point Loma) and Nikola Miskovic (Mega Bemax) and center Sagaba Konate (West Virginia).
  • Shooting guard Ty Jerome, a mid- to late first-round prospect, worked out for the Magic on Friday, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. Jerome is ranked No. 25 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. The Magic hold the No. 16 pick in the first round.
  • The Magic worked out Gonzaga forward Brandon Clarke on Wednesday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Clarke is ranked No. 13 overall by Givony. Forwards Paul Eboua (Italy), Miskovic and Grant Williams (Tennessee) visited on the same day as well as point guards Chris Clemons (Campbell) and Jeremiah Martin (Memphis).
  • Magic center Nikola Vucevic will be highly coveted on the free agent market but he’ll strongly consider staying put in Orlando, Stefan Djordjevic of Eurohoops.net relays. “I’m satisfied in Orlando. This was our best season since I arrived,” Vucevic said. “Everything clicked with the arrival of the new coach. We advanced to the playoffs surpassing all expectations and everything’s fine on that side. I’ve also been reading that many are interested but to be honest, I don’t know which teams want me. When I see all the offers, I’ll think and decide.”
  • Taking on a bad contract or two in order to add draft picks might be a prudent strategy for the Heat next summer, Winderman writes in a commentary.

Draft Workouts: Pistons, Sixers, Wolves, Kings

Centers Bruno Fernando (Maryland) and Daniel Gafford (Arkansas) were among the prospects the Pistons brought in on Tuesday, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. Fernando is ranked the fifth-best center prospect by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and No. 34 overall. Gafford is right behind him among centers and No. 38 overall. Detroit currently holds the No. 15 and No. 45 picks. Shooting guards Fletcher Magee (Wofford), SG Jaylin Walker (Kent State) and Ky Bowman (Boston College) and wing Cody Martin (Nevada) also visited the Pistons’ practice facility on Tuesday.

We have more draft workout info:

NBA Announces 80 Players For G League Elite Camp

The NBA has announced in a press release that 80 players are set to participate in its G League Elite Camp next week in Chicago from May 12-14. The event will include 40 prospects who are eligible for this year’s draft, as well as 40 standout prospects from the 2018/19 G League season.

Heading into this spring, the NBA revamped its G League Elite Camp, which in past years has simply showcased some of the NBAGL’s top performers.  That aspect of the event will still exist, but G League players will only participate in the first two days of the event.

The second half of the event will feature 40 draft-eligible prospects who aren’t among the 60 prospects invited to the actual draft combine. The list of participants was determined by an NBA team vote, and those prospects will work out and scrimmage during the final two days of the event — there will be no overlap with the G League portion of the event.

As this week’s announcement confirms, a select number of draft-eligible prospects participating l in the G League Elite Camp will also be invited to attend the combine itself, which takes place from May 15-19 in Chicago.

Here are the list of draft-eligible prospects who are expected to participate in the 2019 G League Elite Mini Camp, per the NBA:

  1. Tyus Battle (Syracuse)
  2. Bennie Boatwright (USC)
  3. Phil Booth (Villanova)
  4. Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)
  5. Bryce Brown (Auburn)
  6. Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State)
  7. Chris Clemons (Campbell)
  8. Amir Coffey (Minnesota)
  9. Tyler Cook (Iowa)
  10. Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
  11. Aubrey Dawkins (Central Florida)
  12. Javin DeLaurier (Duke)
  13. Mamadi Diakite (Virginia)
  14. CJ Elleby (Washington State)
  15. Tacko Fall (UCF)
  16. Robert Franks (Washington State)
  17. Jared Harper (Auburn)
  18. Ethan Happ (Wisconsin)
  19. Dewan Hernandez (Miami)
  20. Amir Hinton (Shaw (NC))
  21. DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa)
  22. Sagaba Konate (West Virginia)
  23. Matur Maker (Mississauga Prep (Canada))
  24. Terance Mann (Florida State)
  25. Caleb Martin (Nevada)
  26. Cody Martin (Nevada)
  27. Luke Maye (North Carolina)
  28. Trey Mourning (Georgetown)
  29. Andrew Nembhard (Florida)
  30. James Palmer Jr. (Nebraska)
  31. Josh Perkins (Gonzaga)
  32. Reggie Perry (Mississippi State)
  33. Jalen Pickett (Siena)
  34. Myles Powell (Seton Hall)
  35. Justin Robinson (Virginia Tech)
  36. Marial Shayok (Iowa State)
  37. Max Strus (DePaul)
  38. Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State)
  39. Kenny Wooten (Oregon)
  40. Justin Wright-Foreman (Hofstra)

Here are the 40 G League players set to participate in the G League Elite Camp:

  1. Josh Adams (Raptors 905)
  2. Jaylen Barford (Greensboro Swarm)
  3. Amida Brimah (Austin Spurs)
  4. Jared Brownridge (Delaware Blue Coats)
  5. Antonius Cleveland (Santa Cruz Warriors)
  6. Charles Cooke (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  7. Cody Demps (Stockton Kings)
  8. Aaron Epps (Northern Arizona Suns)
  9. Abdul Gaddy (Oklahoma City Blue)
  10. John Gillon (Greensboro Swarm)
  11. Kaiser Gates (Windy City Bulls)
  12. Isaac Haas (Salt Lake City Stars)
  13. Johnny Hamilton (Grand Rapids Drive)
  14. Dusty Hannahs (Memphis Hustle)
  15. Zak Irvin (Westchester Knicks)
  16. Peter Jok (Northern Arizona Suns)
  17. Matt Jones (Stockton Kings)
  18. Marcus Lee (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  19. Zach Lofton (Grand Rapids Drive)
  20. Tahjere McCall (Long Island Nets)
  21. Brandon McCoy (Wisconsin Herd)
  22. MiKyle McIntosh (Raptors 905)
  23. Jordan McLaughlin (Long Island Nets)
  24. Jaylen Morris (Erie BayHawks)
  25. Mychal Mulder (Windy City Bulls)
  26. Malik Newman (Canton Charge)
  27. Retin Obasohan (Northern Arizona Suns)
  28. Chinanu Onuaku (Greensboro Swarm)
  29. Norvel Pelle (Delaware Blue Coats)
  30. Darel Poirier (Capital City Go-Go)
  31. Billy Preston (Texas Legends)
  32. Desi Rodriguez (Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario)
  33. Kenneth Smith (Grand Rapids Drive)
  34. Richard Solomon (Oklahoma City Blue)
  35. Emanuel Terry (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  36. Juan Toscano-Anderson (Santa Cruz Warriors)
  37. Dakarai Tucker (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)
  38. Andrew White III (Maine Red Claws)
  39. Thomas Wimbush (Long Island Nets)
  40. Todd Withers (Grand Rapids Drive)

Northwest Notes: Murray, Jazz Workouts, Thunder, Hood

Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray has been fighting through a right thigh injury, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reports.  Murray was limited to 15 points on 6-for-18 shooting, along with just one assist, in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal series against Portland. But Murray refused to admit the injury might have affected him, Singer adds.

“I always play through pain,” the Nuggets’ guard said. “It’s something I’ve always done. I always put myself through more and do more than I can. Playing through pain is just another challenge for me. I’m gonna do it regardless of the stakes. Just try to be smart about it, obviously. If it’s something I can play through, it’s what I’m gonna do.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz are bringing in six prospects for pre-draft workouts on Saturday, the team’s PR department tweets. Centers Kevin Samuel (TCU) and Nathan Knight (William & Mary), forwards Tres Tinkle (Oregon State) and Jalen Hudson (Florida) and guards Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State) and Chris Clemons (Campbell) are the players they’ll evaluate.
  • The Thunder should make everyone but Russell Westbrook and Paul George available in trade talks, Brett Dawson of The Athletic argues in his offseason outlook. Oklahoma City needs to acquire more shooters to complement their All-Star duo and find a backup center, Dawson continues. Westbrook must also adjust his game in order for the Thunder to end their cycle of first-round playoff exits, Dawson adds.
  • Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood has hired CAA Sports to represent him, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Hood will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He was previously represented by Travis King of Independent Sports and Entertainment.

Southeast Notes: Kemba, Beal, Heat, Hawks

Kemba Walker‘s free agency will be a fascinating situation to watch this offseason, since it’s hard to determine what the best-case scenario is for the Hornets, writes Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report. Re-signing Walker to a maximum salary contract would limit Charlotte’s ability to acquire help around him, but one scout thinks the Hornets would “be like an expansion team” without him, per Weitzman.

Complicating matters further? Walker will become eligible for a super-max contract, worth an extra $30MM+ over five years, if he earns a spot on this year’s All-NBA teams, which is a distinct possibility. Only the Hornets could offer him that super-max, but doing so would mean paying the point guard an average of $44MM annually through 2023/24.

“It’d be like the John Wall deal,” one front office source told Weitzman. “They should have traded him last year, when his value was high. They could have just reset.”

With lucrative deals for Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all set to come off the Hornets’ books in 2020, the team wouldn’t necessarily be mired in salary-cap hell for years if it re-signs Walker. Still, there’d be no obvious way to add a capable No. 2 option behind the point guard anytime soon.

“The surrounding pieces aren’t so bad,” another front office source said to Weitzman. “They just need another guy in there so they can all slide down a role.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

Western Notes: Morris, Fournier, Kanter, Booker

Celtics forward Marcus Morris believes Thunder coach Billy Donovan made a big mistake by using his brother Markieff Morris sparingly during their playoff series against Portland, Jay King of The Athletic reports.

Markieff Morris chose to play with Oklahoma City after reaching a buyout with New Orleans, which acquired him from the Wizards at the trade deadline. Markieff played just four minutes in Game 5 and between 13 and 15 minutes in the other games of the series won by the Trail Blazers, 4-1.

“I’m not a coach or anything like that, but I feel like they just didn’t utilize their bench enough. I feel like my brother went over there for no reason,” Marcus said. “He never got an opportunity to play. I thought that he would really help them in the playoffs, but from what I seen he should have went somewhere else just to be able to show that veteran leadership and that experience.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Trail Blazers made an offer for Magic swingman Evan Fournier that Orlando passed on prior to the trade deadline, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets. Portland was willing to ship a roster player and a protected first-rounder for Fournier, who will make $17MM next season and holds a player option on his $17MM salary for the 2020/21 season.
  • Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter played with a separated left shoulder in Game 5, Kevin Pelton of ESPN reports. Kanter suffered the injury during the opening quarter but managed to play 32 minutes. He received a pain-killing injection at halftime. Kanter averaged 13.2 PPG and 10.2 RPG in the series as the primary replacement for injured Jusuf Nurkic. Portland would have to rely more on Zach Collins and Meyers Leonard in the conference semifinals if Kanter is forced to miss any games.
  • Suns star guard Devin Booker had no input in the firing of coach Igor Kokoskov, GM James Jones told the Arizona Republic’s Katherine Fitzgerald and other media members. “I speak to Devin, I speak to all of our players, about our organization. But in these instances, this isn’t a decision for Devin to make. This is my decision,” Jones said. That’s curious, since Booker indicated after signing his five-year maximum salary extension that he’d have a say in all major moves going forward.  I think it’s a collective agreement. Moving forward, throwing in any advice I can, stay in the loop and watch what’s going on and know what’s going on,” Booker said last month.
  • The Rockets held a predraft workout on Wednesday that included Mississippi guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, Washington guard Jalyen Nowell and Campbell guard Chris Clemons, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.  Houston does not currently own a pick in this year’s draft. Nowell is the highest-ranked prospect among the trio, as he’s ranked No. 87 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Withdrawal Deadline Looms For NCAA Early Entrants

NCAA early entrants in the 2018 NBA draft have until the end of the day on Wednesday, May 30 to make a decision on whether or not to keep their names in this year’s draft pool.

While the NBA’s deadline for draft withdrawals is on June 11, the NCAA has its own deadline. A college player who withdraws from the draft between May 31 and June 11 would become draft-eligible in a future year, but would be ineligible to return to his NCAA team next season. As such, the NBA’s June 11 deadline is generally only worth watching for international early entrants.

A record-setting 236 early entrants declared for the 2018 NBA draft, but many of those prospects were simply testing the draft waters without an agent and have since announced their intent to return to college for at least one more year.

We’ve been making an effort to keep tabs on all the latest early entrants news right here. As our list shows, a number of notable prospects still have decisions to make today. Kevin Huerter (Maryland), Tyus Battle (Syracuse), Jontay Porter (Missouri), PJ Washington (Kentucky), Omari Spellman (Villanova), Jarred Vanderbilt (Kentucky), Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State), Caleb Martin (Nevada), and Cody Martin (Nevada) are among the highly-regarded prospects who have yet to announce their intent one way or the other.

A few of the latest early entrant draft withdrawals are noted below. These players won’t go pro yet, opting instead to continue their respective college careers: