Christian Vital

Grizzlies Sign Shaq Buchanan, Waive Two Players

2:38pm: The Grizzlies have now officially signed Buchanan and cut Vital, according to a second press release from the team. Buchanan currently occupies the 20th spot on Memphis’ roster, while Vital and Smith are both on waivers.


1:48pm: The Grizzlies continue to shuffle players in and out of the spots at the back of their roster, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed free agent guard Christian Vital, waiving guard Zhaire Smith to create room on the 20-man squad.

Vital, who spent his college career at UConn, averaging 16.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 2.5 SPG in 31 games (32.2 MPG) as a senior in 2019/20. He went undrafted last month, and now looks like a strong candidate to end up with the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate. The same is true of Smith, who had just signed with the Grizzlies on Tuesday.

It’s not uncommon to see players being released a day or two after they’re signed at this time of year. Signing a player to an Exhibit 10 contract and then cutting him allows an NBA team to secure the player’s G League affiliate rights if they don’t already belong to another NBAGL club, or to line up a $50K bonus for returning-rights players.

It appears that 6’3″ guard Shaq Buchanan will be one of the Hustle’s returning-rights players. After spending his rookie season with Memphis’ G League team last season, averaging 11.1 PPG and 4.8 RPG in 33 games (22.4 MPG), Buchanan has signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Grizzlies again this year, agent Josh Goodwin tells JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link).

After swapping out Smith for Vital, the Grizzlies have a full 20-man roster, so they’ll need to waive another player in order to officially announce the Buchanan signing. Ahmad Caver and Bennie Boatwright are the most obvious candidates to be cut, but we’ll await official word from the club.

Draft Notes: Bowen, Vital, Shabazz, Ona Embo

After being linked to a scandal at Louisville, 6’7″ wing Brian Bowen II transferred to South Carolina, but has still not been cleared by the NCAA or played in a single college game. As Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes, it has been a frustrating journey for Bowen, who calls it “the biggest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”

The NCAA’s deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA draft and retain their college eligibility is May 30, meaning Bowen only has about another week to make up his mind. As of now, the NCAA has offered little clarity on whether or not he can expect to be cleared for the 2018/19 season, complicating his decision. Still, as Reynolds details, Bowen is trying to stay positive.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Bowen said. “Somebody’s situation is always going to be worse than mine. Other people in my family have worse situations than I have. I just have to learn, use it as a learning experience, use it as motivation and have a chip on my shoulder.”

Here’s more on the 2018 NBA draft:

  • UConn guard Christian Vital has officially withdrawn his name from the 2018 draft pool, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. Vital, who averaged 14.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG in his sophomore year with the Huskies, had announced his decision with a tweet that suggested he has “unfinished business” at UConn.
  • Appalachian State junior guard Ronshad Shabazz confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link) that he’ll be removing his name from the 2018 NBA draft. Shabazz, who wasn’t considered likely to be drafted, was facing a May 30 deadline for his decision to withdraw.
  • Tulane guard Ray Ona Embo, who had been testing the draft waters without an agent, is expected to head back to school for his junior season, tweets Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports. Embo averaged 10.1 PPG, 3.3 APG, and 3.2 RPG with a .432/.365/.719 shooting line in 2017/18.
  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post rounds up several of his observations from last week’s draft combine, writing that Kevin Huerter (Maryland), Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova), and Grayson Allen (Duke) were among the big winners in Chicago.

Draft Updates: Matthews, Shine, Huerter, Vital

Junior guard Charles Matthews, a key contributor during Michigan’s Final Four run in this year’s NCAA tournament, announced today (via Twitter) that he’ll test the draft waters, entering his name in the pool without hiring an agent.

Although he’s not viewed as a first-round prospect, Matthews enjoyed a successful March Madness run for the Wolverines, averaging 16.6 PPG and 6.8 RPG with a .532 FG% in Michigan’s five wins. He posted just six points and three boards in the championship game before fouling out.

We have a few more draft updates to pass along, so let’s dive in…

  • Oklahoma State guard Tavarius Shine, who is forgoing his final year of NCAA eligibility and going pro, has signed with JCK Sports Group for representation, the agency announced today (via Twitter). Shine is one of two redshirt juniors leaving Oklahoma State a year early, joining teammate Yankuba Sima, as Nathan Ruiz of The Oklahoman detailed last month.
  • Maryland sophomore Kevin Huerter will enter the draft without hiring an agent, the school announced today in a press release. The 6’7″ shooting guard had a nice year for the Terrapins in 2017/18, averaging 14.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.4 APG with an efficient .503/.417/.758 shooting line.
  • UConn sophomore guard Christian Vital is testing the NBA draft waters, as Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports tweets. Vital is considered unlikely to be drafted, so he could withdraw his name before the May 30 deadline and return to school for his junior year.
  • According to Rothstein (via Twitter), invitations for this year’s NBA draft combine will be sent out next Friday, April 27. The event is scheduled to take place from May 16-20 in Chicago, right after the league conducts the draft lottery on May 15.