Darius Bazley

And-Ones: NBAGL Showcase, Raptors, Spurs, Bazley

The NBA G League will hold its Winter Showcase in Las Vegas from December 19-22 this year, according to a press release issued today by the league. The event has historically taken place in the new year, but will happen in December this time around to give NBA teams the opportunity to scout G League talent before the 10-day signing period begins and the two-way guarantee deadline arrives.

As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes (via Twitter), the event will also incorporate more than 20 players from the NBA Academies, a network of elite basketball training centers from around the world. That should make the event more appealing for scouts and executives, and Givony wonders (via Twitter) if the league may eventually have players who sign the G League’s new “select contracts” participate in the showcase as well, adding even more intrigue to the event.

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

  • Based on the first week of the 2018/19 NBA regular season, it looks like both the Raptors and Spurs may be able to claim victory in the biggest trade of the offseason, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.
  • In the view of Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, the G League’s new “select contracts” are a step in the right direction, but aren’t necessarily the answer, especially over the long term. Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports also spoke to Michele Roberts, the director of the National Basketball Players Association, about the G League’s new offerings.
  • Kevin Durant supports Darius Bazley‘s plan to earn some money while waiting to become draft-eligible, as Logan Murdock of The San Jose Mercury News writes. “I wonder what he’s going to do on the basketball court,” Durant said of Bazley, who opted to skip college for an internship and endorsement deal with New Balance. “But it’s good that he’s going to make some money while not playing.”
  • In an extremely informative breakdown for ESPN+, Bobby Marks examines the salary cap and roster situations for all 30 NBA teams.

Latest On Darius Bazley’s 2018/19 Plans

Potential 2019 first-rounder Darius Bazley figures to be draft-eligible next spring, but he’s not spending the 2018/19 season in college or playing in a professional league. As Marc Stein of The New York Times reports, Bazley has secured a three-month internship with New Balance as part of a shoe and endorsement deal with the company.

According to Stein and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Bazley’s agreement with New Balance will pay him a guaranteed $1MM, and can be worth up to $14MM if he reaches various performance incentives after going pro.

Bazley, who initially planned to play with Syracuse in 2018/19, decommitted from the college program in March and announced his intentions to spend a season in the G League. However, he changed course in August on that plan too, deciding not to play in the NBAGL after all. Instead, he’ll work for New Balance from January to March, spending time in marketing, footwear and apparel design, and other departments while he continues to train and stay in shape in advance of next June’s draft.

“There will be some things he misses out on, but I’m not worried at all — not with the talent and skill set he has,” agent Rich Paul told Stein. “No matter what we do this year, he still has to be developed in the NBA. You see it even with the highest draft picks — it’s not like you come into the league as a rookie and set the league on fire.”

Paul, who suggests that there would have been “no upside” to Bazley playing in the G League, remains optimistic about his client’s draft stock, as does Bazley himself. In ESPN’s latest 2019 mock draft, the young forward is projected to be the No. 26 overall pick, but he’s no lock to be a first-round selection after spending a year off the court, as Stein observes. Bazley feels comfortable taking that chance.

“This is my risk,” Bazley said. “I’m going to go ahead and do it this way, and I’m still going to succeed, even when others say I won’t. This will also be fun. It’s not like I’m going to be doing something I don’t want to do.”

And-Ones: Bazley, Garnett, Two-Way Players, Munford

Darius Bazley’s curious summer decisions have hurt his draft stock, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. The 6’9” Bazley backed out of a commitment with Syracuse in order to play in the G League. He then announced he would simply train on his own until next year’s draft. Other than Bazley’s length and defensive effort, there are a lot of question marks about his game, Woo continues. He’s unpolished with a thin build and needs plenty of work on his offensive game, so he would be better off playing competitively for the next nine months. He now has the look of a second-round flier, Woo adds. Woo takes a closer look at several risers and droppers among 2019 draft prospects.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Kevin Garnett is filing a federal malpractice lawsuit against accountant Michael Wertheim and his firm, alleging they helped a wealth manager steal $77MM from him, according to Associated Press report. The suit claims the accountant and his firm enabled Charles Banks IV of Atlanta to defraud Garnett through businesses in which Garnett and Banks shared an interest. Banks, who was sentenced last year to four years in federal prison for defrauding retired Spurs star Tim Duncan, was not named in Garnett’s suit.
  • The maximum amount a two-way player can earn in training camp with an NBA team is $50K. The G League salary of a two-way player is $77,250, a mild increase from $75K last season. Those are some of the nuggets offered by Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days in an examination of maximum earning power for players on two-way contracts during the upcoming season.
  • Free-agent guard Xavier Munford is mulling a move to the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Amico Hoops. The 6’4” Munford played on a two-way contract with the Bucks last season and appeared in six NBA contests. Munford, who also played 14 games with the Grizzlies during the 2015/16 season, is a restricted free agent within the NBA after receiving a qualifying offer from Milwaukee early this summer.

Darius Bazley Won’t Play In G League After All

Top 2019 draft prospect Darius Bazley has opted not to play in the G League during the 2018/19 season after all, he tells Shams Charania of The Athletic. Instead of playing professionally, Bazley will take the year to train and prepare for the next stage of his career.

Bazley, a 6’9″ forward who had originally planned to play with Syracuse in 2018/19, decommitted from the college program in March and announced his intentions to spend a season in the G League before becoming draft-eligible in 2019. However, he no longer considers it necessary to play in the NBAGL after having talked it over with his “group.”

“It’s mainly me talking to [agent] Rich [Paul], he knows so much, and whenever he speaks my ears perk up,” Bazley told Charania. “When Miles [Bridges] was in Cleveland for his predraft workouts, whenever he got a chance to work out in front of NBA teams, I was working out in the gym, too. So that played a part in it, me playing well in those workouts for us to say there’s no upside in the G League. If you play well, it’s expected. If you don’t play well, you’re not NBA-ready. That’s what they’ll say. For me, working out and preparing is the best route.”

If he had signed a G League contract, Bazley would have been eligible for the league’s 2018 draft, and likely would’ve been the first overall pick, meaning he would have had little control over whether or not he landed with one of the NBAGL’s better developmental programs. The 18-year-old touched on that issue – and explained his concerns about the G League in general – when he spoke to Charania about his decision.

“The G League is the only league where winning might not be everything,” Bazley said. “Development is the most important aspect, but guys are playing for the team and at the same time trying to play for themselves. That’s not the type of guy I am. For me in those settings to just get mine, I’ve never been brought up that way. I feel basketball is a team sport and everybody is supposed to eat. In the G League, that’s not the way it is. Everyone is trying to get an opportunity to go to the NBA.”

Bazley projects as a first-round pick – and potentially a lottery selection – in next year’s NBA draft. However, his decision to pass on the G League comes after an appearance at the Nike Basketball Academy earlier this month that was described by some experts and scouts as underwhelming.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony suggested at the time that there was speculation among scouts at the event that Bazley could back out of his G League plans and take the Mitchell Robinson route — the Knicks big man, a second-round pick in June, sat out the 2017/18 season before becoming draft-eligible this spring.

Meanwhile, Bazley’s decision shows that the G League still has some work to do in order to be viewed as a genuinely appealing alternative for top prospects who are looking for other options outside of the NCAA.

“This shows the impact of the rules now that have taken away the flexibility for a five-star prospect to enter the league,” one NBA executive said to Charania. “Each team in the G League is not the same in terms of resources and development.”

And-Ones: Carmelo, Bazley, Seattle, Rookies

Carmelo Anthony, the newest member of the Rockets, published a letter earlier this week thanking his old team, along with the Thunder fans. As Erik Horne of The Oklahoman details, Anthony said that he wanted to bring a championship to OKC and was “sorry it didn’t work out” while he was there. However, despite only being with the Thunder for one year, Carmelo said he’ll never forget the experience and the support he received from the “incredible” fans in OKC.

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

  • Within an Insider article on his observations from the Nike Basketball Academy in Los Angeles, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes that there’s speculation among NBA scouts that prospect Darius Bazley may end up not playing in the G League, as was originally planned. Bagley didn’t look great at the event, so if he feels he’s not ready for the G League, he could take the Mitchell Robinson route and forgo competitive basketball for 2018/19, writes Givony.
  • Seattle is in “a class by itself” in terms of cities that are candidates for NBA expansion, Marc Stein of the New York Times writes in his latest newsletter. In Stein’s view, there are a handful of cities that could be options to join Seattle if the NBA decides it wants to expand to 32 teams at some point, but none of those cities are on Seattle’s level.
  • A handful of top NBA rookies spoke to ESPN about which fellow rookie they’re most looking forward to playing, their biggest purchase since signing their rookie contract, and – most interestingly – their pick for Rookie of the Year. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg has the details.
  • The NBA announced this week that the NBA 2K eLeague will introduce four expansion teams for the 2019 season, with the Hawks, Nets, Lakers, and Timberwolves adding affiliates.

Community Shootaround: Will Darius Bazley Create A Trend?

As we relayed back at the end of March, McDonald’s All-American Darius Bazley, projected to be a 2019 NBA lottery selection, will forgo his college eligibility and sign a G League contract when’s he eligible to do so this fall.

It’s been nearly 10 years since a player has entered the G League straight out of high school. In 2009, Latavious Williams entered the D-League at just 18 years of age, but as Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days writes, there were just 16 teams back then, of which a small few were even owned by NBA teams.

Next season, the G League is set to tip-off with a record 27 teams, most of which are owned and affiliated with an NBA franchise. Moreover, the league has been trending towards a youth movement for quite some time, with most G League teams filling their roster with undrafted rookies.

Given this infusion of youth, Johnson writes that Bazley’s decision is a watershed moment for the G League, opining that Bazley’s performance next season will determine whether or not other players choose to make a similar leap in future seasons.

Do you agree with Johnson? Do you believe that a successful stint in the G League by Bazley may encourage more high school stars to forgo college and enter the G League or will Bazley’s decision be an outlier regardless of how he handles next season? Could a poor performance hurt the G League’s reputation for developing players moving forward?

Please take to the comments section and let us know what you think.

Projected 2019 Lottery Pick Darius Bazley To Sign In G League

Projected 2019 lottery pick Darius Bazley has decommitted from Syracuse and will instead sign a G League contract when he’s eligible to do so next September, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports writes. The decision is unprecedented for a player of Bazley’s stature coming out of high school.

Since individuals are eligible to sign G League contracts one year sooner than they’re eligible to declare for the NBA Draft, the soon-to-be 18-year-old will be free to do so in September, months after finishing high school in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Those familiar with the 2019 NBA Draft landscape may already know that Bazley has established himself as an intriguing 6’9″ playmaker. The wing’s ball handling and ability to contribute defensively will make him a tantalizing prospect as he navigates the uncharted territory.

While highly regarded high school prospects have skipped the NCAA to play overseas prior to entering the NBA Draft previously, this is the first time a player as celebrated as Bazley, a 2018 McDonald’s All-American, will forego college for a year in the G League where player salaries are capped around $30K. In contrast, Emmanuel Mudiay signed a one-year deal in China worth $1.2MM following his final year of high school in 2014.

I’m aware that this might start a trend and that’s one of the reasons why I am doing this,” Bazley told Yahoo Sports. “I’m outspoken and I like to speak on things. This is me speaking through my actions, speaking through my character. This is going to happen down the road and become more common. But someone has to start the fire — and I believe I’m going to do that, and it’s very important to me.