Not every player drafted in a given year signs an NBA contract right away. Each year, at least a handful of draftees are “stashed” either in the G League or in various professional leagues around the world. The NBA team that drafted the player retains his exclusive NBA rights as he continues to develop his skills elsewhere.
Some of these players never end up making it to the NBA, whether by choice or because they don’t turn into an NBA-caliber contributor. Their draft rights eventually become more useful as placeholders in minor trades than for the possibility of the player coming stateside.
But many draft-and-stash players do eventually turn into useful contributors. Bogdan Bogdanovic, Davis Bertans, Cedi Osman, Dario Saric, Willy Hernangomez, Raul Neto, and Furkan Korkmaz are among the current NBA veterans who were stashed for at least one year after being drafted before signing an NBA contract.
Another member of that group? Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, the 41st pick in the 2014 draft, who remained in Serbia for a year before signing with Denver in 2015.
None of the players currently being stashed overseas are likely to turn into a Jokic-esque superstar at the NBA level, but there are certainly a few who look capable of cracking a rotation sooner or later.
Here are five of the most noteworthy draft-and-stash played worth keeping an eye on at the moment:
- Current team: Anadolu Efes (EuroLeague)
- Drafted: 2014 (No. 52 overall)
- NBA rights held by: Oklahoma City Thunder
Long considered one of the best guards in Europe, Micic was the EuroLeague’s Most Valuable Player in 2021 and has been named the MVP of the league’s Final Four in each of the last two seasons.
It looked like there was a chance he’d make his way to the NBA for the 2022/23 season, but there were a number of hurdles to overcome. Micic was reportedly seeking a salary close to the full mid-level exception and wanted a real, defined role rather than just coming over to sit on the bench.
The biggest roadblock may have been the fact that his NBA rights are held by the Thunder — the Serbian would reportedly prefer to join a contender, and Oklahoma City remains very much in the rebuilding stage.
Despite some offseason trade rumors, the Thunder ultimately held onto Micic and he opted to re-sign with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. He’s once again thriving in EuroLeague play, ranking third in points per game (18.9) and second in assists per game (6.6) through nine appearances.
Micic will turn 29 in January, so if he wants to try to make his mark in the NBA, it probably has to happen soon.
- Current team: Olympiacos (EuroLeague)
- Drafted: 2017 (No. 57 overall)
- NBA rights held by: Sacramento Kings
Vezenkov is coming off his best season in 2021/22, having led the Greek Basket League in scoring en route to an MVP award and a championship. He also earned a spot on the All-EuroLeague First Team.
The 27-year-old forward has looked even better so far in the ’22/23 season. Through 10 EuroLeague games, he’s second in scoring (20.1 PPG) and first in rebounding (8.7 RPG), leading Olympiacos to a 7-3 record.
After acquiring Vezenkov’s rights from Cleveland in a draft-day trade, the Kings reportedly planned to meet with him during the Las Vegas Summer League to discuss his future. However, that meeting didn’t end up taking place and Sacramento ultimately didn’t sign Vezenkov for the 2022/23 season.
It’s unclear whether it was the Kings or Vezenkov who backed off a potential deal, but based on how this season has played out so far, there’s reason to believe both sides could be more interested in teaming up next summer. Sacramento is off to a 10-7 start and has one of the NBA’s most exciting offenses, while Vezenkov is making a legitimate case for a EuroLeague MVP consideration.
- Current team: Paris Basketball (EuroCup)
- Drafted: 2021 (No. 45 overall)
- NBA rights held by: Boston Celtics
Still only 20 years old, Begarin played a significant role for Paris Basketball last season during the team’s first year in France’s top league (LNB Pro A) and is doing so again in 2022/23. The French shooting guard is a long-distance threat who showed off his scoring ability in Las Vegas this July, averaging 18.2 PPG in five games for Boston’s Summer League team.
It makes sense that a team with title aspirations like the Celtics wasn’t necessarily eager to bring over a 20-year-old prospect right away, but it seems like it’ll be just a matter of time before he gets his shot.
Former NBA assistant Will Weaver, who is now Paris’ head coach, raved about Begarin last month, referring to him as an NBA-caliber player who “can make an impact in Boston.”
- Current team: Crvena zvezda (EuroLeague)
- Drafted: 2021 (No. 50 overall)
- NBA rights held by: Philadelphia 76ers
Still just 22 years old, Petrusev already has an impressive international résumé. He was named Most Valuable Player of the Adriatic League (ABA) in 2021 as a member of Mega Basket, then won a EuroLeague title with Micic and Anadolu Efes in 2022.
The forward/center is currently playing for Crvena zvezda in his home country of Serbia and has been an effective role player in 10 EuroLeague appearances, averaging 7.0 PPG and 4.7 RPG on .543/.455/.625 shooting in 18.4 MPG. In five ABA games, his shooting percentages have been even better (.609/.800/.824).
Petrusev was reportedly interested in joining the Sixers this past summer, but there wasn’t room for him on a veteran-heavy roster. He has since expressed confidence in Philadelphia’s “plan” for him and said he believes competing in the EuroLeague will be a boon for his development.
- Current team: Alba Berlin (EuroLeague)
- Drafted: 2022 (No. 36 overall)
- NBA rights held by: Detroit Pistons
Procida is one of eight prospects who are playing in international leagues this season after being selected in the 2022 draft. The Italian wing was the first of those eight players to come off the board in June and may be the most intriguing of the bunch at the moment.
Although he’s only 20 years old, Procida is playing a rotation role for Alba Berlin in EuroLeague competition, averaging 7.2 PPG with a .351 3PT% in 16.7 minutes per contest.
Procida’s contract with Alba Berlin is a three-year deal and details about possible NBA outs haven’t been reported, so it’s unclear if and when we might see him in the NBA. However, he told Orazio Cauchi of BasketNews that the Pistons are in frequent contact with him and visited him in Berlin, so it sounds like he’s in the club’s plans going forward.
Pistons center Isaiah Stewart was briefly assigned to Detroit’s NBA G League affiliate club, the Motor City Cruise, for a Wednesday practice while rehabilitating his sprained right big toe, per Mike Curtis of The Detroit News. Stewart has been unavailable since initially hurting the toe against the Raptors on November 14.
Curtis notes that the 6’8″ big man out of Washington is averaging career-highs of 12.0 PPG and 9.3 RPG in his third NBA season. Detroit has gone 2-3 without him.
There’s more out of Detroit:
- Pistons power forward Bojan Bogdanovic discussed his first game against his former team, the Jazz, ahead of Wednesday’s contest, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter video link). “I was really happy and honored to be part of this organization,” Bogdanovic said. “I saw a lot of guys being traded [over the summer] so I was just waiting to see what was going to happen to me.” In something of a surprise, Detroit won, 125-116.
- Pistons point guard Killian Hayes, starting in the stead of the indefinitely sidelined Cade Cunningham, left last night’s win with a calf injury in the third quarter and did not return, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).
- In case you missed it, Cunningham has suffered a possible left shin stress fracture. He may require surgery should the ailment not improve with rest.
Team personnel around the NBA are keeping an eye on Pistons forward Saddiq Bey, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who says Detroit has received some calls from clubs inquiring about the third-year pro.
Bey has been considered part of the Pistons’ core since being selected 19th overall in the 2020 draft. However, his production has dipped so far this season and he was recently moved to a reserve role for one game before an Isaiah Stewart injury reopened a spot for him in the starting five. That brief demotion represented the first time Bey had come off the bench since the first half of his rookie season.
Still, while the Pistons may be more amenable to listening to inquiries on Bey than they have been in the past, Fischer says the team still seems intent on further evaluating the former first-round pick before seriously considering the idea of making him available.
- The Suns‘ interest in Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr., first reported by Shams Charania last week, has resulted in Houston getting involved in some three-team Jae Crowder trade discussions, Fischer reports. Sources also confirm to Yahoo Sports that the Bucks have tried to use Grayson Allen to acquire Crowder, but Phoenix and Milwaukee have yet to find common ground on a straight-up deal.
- There was “true momentum” toward a trade this past offseason that would have sent Hawks big man John Collins to the Kings, and the Wizards showed real interest in Collins prior to last season’s trade deadline, writes Fischer. However, Sacramento was happy to make a deal with Atlanta for Kevin Huerter instead, while Washington ended up landing Kristaps Porzingis to fortify its frontcourt. Fischer doesn’t say it outright, but the implication is that neither team is still pursuing Collins at this time.
- Fischer echoes a John Gambadoro report stating that the Suns aren’t interested in acquiring Collins, largely due to the long-term money still left on his contract (he’s in the second season of a five-year, $125MM deal). And Phoenix may not be the only team that feels that way — Collins’ contract could complicate the Hawks‘ efforts to find a trade partner, according to Fischer, who suggests that the deal is “perceived to be above market value.”
- Hawks wing Justin Holiday is worth monitoring as a possible trade candidate, per Fischer, especially if AJ Griffin continues to solidify a role in Atlanta’s regular rotation.
The Pistons have the worst record in the NBA but it doesn’t seem as if owner Tom Gores is looking to make any changes to the coaching staff and front office.
Gores is happy with head coach Dwane Casey and GM Troy Weaver and believes the young core Weaver has built will eventually revitalize the franchise, as he told Mike Curtis of the Detroit News.
“We’re growing,” Gores said. “Right now, we have an amazing core group and a lot of confidence. We’re better than our record is. We’re much better than that and I like the way that this team has a lot of heart. I feel great about it. Dwane’s doing good work. Troy continues to think about growth and everything, so I feel great about it.”
Weaver has drafted six players in the first round in three years, including last year’s top overall selection, Cade Cunningham, who is sidelined with a shin injury that may require surgery. Both of the team’s lottery picks this June, point guard Jaden Ivey and center Jalen Duren, have displayed high promise in the first 18 games but the Pistons have only three wins to show for it.
The Pistons are also currently missing two other players, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, both of whom were selected during the first draft with Weaver in charge in 2020. Gores sees a silver lining, as other players get opportunities.
“What’s great is, it’s the next man up,” he said. “Everybody has to do their job. We’re a team, and injuries are a part of the game, so we have to know how to deal with that. Good luck, bad luck, we’ve got to make our luck.”
Gores is especially pleased with the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic, who recently signed a two-year extension. He leads the team in scoring (20.5 points per game) and gives the lineup a veteran presence.
“We’re lucky to have Bojan,” Gores told The News. “I’ll tell you what, he’s a tremendous veteran along with Alec Burks, as well. I think we’re very fortunate. We would be a different team without those veterans. The thing is, veterans bring a lot of experience, but both these guys can play, too. You can’t teach the young men unless you can play, also.”
The eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Stanley Johnson spent his first three-and-half NBA seasons in Detroit, but didn’t blossom into the player the Pistons hoped he would and has bounced around the league since then. Now a free agent, Johnson said during a Twitter Q&A that he’d welcome the opportunity to return to his first NBA team, as Mike Curtis of The Detroit News relays.
“I think the group is amazing,” Johnson wrote when asked about the current iteration of the Pistons. “(Head coach Dwane) Casey is amazing. Everything over there is great, we just didn’t figure it out. I’m 26. I’d love to right the wrong. Detroit loved on me crazy. The organization did too. I had a lot of growing up and trauma to deal with at 18, 19 (years old).”
A solid, versatile defender, Johnson has a decent chance to catch on with an NBA team at some point this season, but a return to Detroit seems unlikely to happen in 2022/23. The Pistons currently have a full 17-man roster and a 3-15 record, making them a long shot to be seeking veteran role players on the free agent market.
Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince said he’s relieved that a grand jury in Texas did not charge him with possession of a controlled substance stemming from a May 19 arrest, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“To me, I wasn’t in the wrong in the first place,” Prince said. “The situation that happened was very unfortunate. Things happen, for whatever reasons they happen. I’m past it now, though.”
Police in Arlington, Texas said after the arrest that they found guns and a vape pen with THC oil in Prince’s car when they stopped him for an expired registration. Possession of marijuana is illegal in Texas, and it also violates state law “to carry a gun while engaging in a criminal offense.”
Prosecutors also dropped the gun charges after the grand jury’s decision, according to a TMZ report.
We have more from the Northwest Division:
- The Nuggets will likely be without several key players again when they host Detroit on Tuesday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Jeff Green is out with a right knee contusion, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are doubtful due to health and safety protocols, while Aaron Gordon (non-COVID illness) and Ish Smith (right calf strain) are listed as questionable.
- Rookie Peyton Watson has appeared in just five Nuggets games and is currently playing for their G League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Watson, a late-first round pick, is trying to be patient while developing his skills, Singer writes in a separate story. “They know I want it right now and that I’m super, super motivated to take it,” Watson said. “You’ve got to wait your turn. We’re the No. 2 team in the West.”
- Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant learned during his first season with the Pistons what it was like being the top scorer for his team. He told current teammate Damian Lillard that he gained a greater appreciation for players with that status, Grant revealed on an interview with The Athletic’s Shams Charania (video link). “I told him I got a lot more respect for people who are the No. 1 option because it’s a lot more difficult than just putting up the numbers,” Grant said.
- The Pistons played without three injured starters — Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart — at Sacramento on Sunday and lost despite scoring a season-high 129 points. Coach Dwane Casey said the team needs to push through adversity, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. “It’s not ‘Woe is me’ right now in the locker room,” Casey said. “We’ve got to stay together, stay connected.”
Many around the NBA thought it was a foregone conclusion that John Collins would be moved ahead of the draft this past summer, and Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that the Hawks power forward was “very nearly” dealt to the Kings in June.
Sources tell Stein that there’s “momentum building on all sides” for Collins to be traded during the 2022/23 season, so his name should be “right at the top of the list” of players most likely to be dealt before the February 9 deadline.
Stein confirms that the Jazz have shown interest in Collins, and that’s a noteworthy pivot for a team that many believed would be tanking and a frontrunner for a top lottery pick after dealing away Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and other veterans.
Speaking of Utah, a rival executive tells Stein that he thinks the Jazz are more likely to extend Jordan Clarkson‘s contract than trade him. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype hears similarly, saying there’s “palpable buzz” about a potential Clarkson extension.
Here are a few more trade rumors from Scotto, who takes a look at the top trade candidates for each NBA team:
- The Knicks are reluctant to part with a first-round pick to move off Evan Fournier‘s contract, sources tell Scotto. Fournier has fallen out of New York’s rotation after a prolonged shooting slump and is owed $18MM this season and $18.9MM in 2023/24. In addition to Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley, rival executives also believe that second-year guard Miles McBride is available due to the team’s backcourt logjam, per Scotto.
- The Heat have made Duncan Robinson available in trade talks, sources tell Scotto. That’s hardly surprising since Robinson, like Fournier, has struggled and fallen out of the rotation at times in ’22/23. The problem is Miami would almost certainly have to attach assets to deal Robinson, who is owed $57.5MM over the next three seasons, and it remains to be seen whether the Heat are willing to do so.
- Echoing a previous report, Scotto writes that the Lakers were trying to offload Russell Westbrook to the Spurs for Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson before the season started. While LJ Ellis of SpursTalk.com stated that the Lakers were only willing to attach two second-round picks to Westbrook’s enormous expiring contract, Scotto hears the Lakers offered a lottery-protected first-rounder and the Spurs wanted that pick to be unprotected, which caused the talks to stall.
- Center Nerlens Noel is not expected to finish the ’22/23 season with the Pistons, according to Scotto. It’s unclear if Scotto means he’ll be bought out at some point or moved in a trade, since Noel’s $9.2MM contract doesn’t have positive value given how many injuries he’s dealt with the past couple seasons.
- Saddiq Bey has his streak of 152 consecutive games played — the second-longest in the league — snapped when the Pistons forward sat out against Sacramento on Sunday. Bey tried to push through his ankle sprain and keep the streak alive, Omari Sankofa of the Detroit Free Press tweets. However, he was ruled out during warmups.