Elie Okobo

And-Ones: NBPA, V. Baker, Hervey, Okobo, NBA Parity

In an interview with Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts spoke about why she considers this season a success, what role she plays in the union’s decision-making process, and the criticisms some players, including LeBron James, have vocalized about the shortened offseason heading into this year.

The recommendation to start in December came from the league,” Roberts said. “So the big ask was, could we start the games in December? And the answer was not yes from Michele. The decision to play or not to play comes from the players.”

As far as the criticisms from James, and others who may agree with him, Roberts’ reinforced her support for players voicing dissenting opinions. “I don’t have a problem with players that articulate their opposition to decisions that were made,” she said. “That’s their absolute right. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

We have more news from around the basketball community:

  • Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes about Bucks‘ assistant coach Vin Baker‘s rise as an NBA star, his battles with alcoholism – which included him drinking Bacardi Limón from a water bottle during games – and his eventual recovery and progression back to the world of the NBA. “This was an opportunity that was afforded to me not to screw up,” Baker said. “It’s not about me. Like it’s not about ‘I made it. I’m a coach of the Bucks.’ It’s about there’s somebody watching.”
  • Virtus Bologna has signed Kevin Hervey to a two-year deal, tweets Donatas Urbonas, a Lithuania-based reporter. The deal for the former Thunder second-round pick had been reported to be in the works in recent weeks.
  • Elie Okobo, the 31st pick in the 2018 draft, has signed with ASVEL Basket in France, reports Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Okobo will join former NBA players Norris Cole and Guerschon Yabusele, as well as top 2023 prospect Victor Wembanyama.
  • The “Parity Era” in the NBA may be here, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “I see this as, hopefully, the end of a transition for the league,” Reynolds quotes commissioner Adam Silver as saying. “Not just post-COVID, but just by virtue of the teams that we saw in the conference finals, a real transition in terms of the league of the up-and-coming new stars, up-and-coming franchises, more parity throughout the league.” Whether that’s the case or whether injuries played more of a role in the playoffs shaping up the way they did remains to be seen.

Nets Waive Three Players, Convert Perry To Two-Way Contract

The Nets have waived guards Chris Chiozza and Elie Okobo, along with forward Paul Eboua, the team announced in an email. The team will keep rookie forward Reggie Perry, converting his Exhibit 10 contract to a two-way deal.

Chiozza came to Brooklyn on a two-way contract in January and re-signed with the team in December. He got into 18 games and averaged 6.4 points and 3.1 assists in about 15 minutes per night. He also played 10 games for the Wizards last season.

Okobo and Eboua both joined the Nets this week, so they may be headed to the G League. Okobo was the 31st pick in the 2018 draft and spent the past two seasons with the Suns. Eboua was claimed Friday after being waived by the Heat.

Perry was taken with the 57th pick in this year’s draft. The Nets acquired him in a three-way trade that involved the Clippers and Pistons.

With the moves, Brooklyn’s roster is now complete with all 15 spots filled, along with a pair of two-way players.

Nets Sign Elie Okobo, Kaiser Gates To Exhibit 10 Deals

The Nets have filled the two open spots on their 20-man training camp roster, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed free agent guard Elie Okobo and forward Kaiser Gates. Both players received Exhibit 10 deals, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link).

Okobo’s agreement with Brooklyn was previously reported. The 31st overall pick in the 2018 draft, he spent two years in Phoenix, appearing in a total of 108 games. He averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.2 APG in 15.5 minutes per contest during those two seasons, but became expendable this offseason. The Suns released him last month before his 2020/21 salary became guaranteed.

Gates, meanwhile, has spent most of the last two seasons in the G League, first with the Windy City Bulls, then last season with the Maine Red Claws. He recorded 12.2 PPG and 7.2 RPG on .403/.331/.694 shooting in 36 games (32.6 MPG) for Boston’s NBAGL affiliate in 2019/20. If the Nets want him to play for their G League team this season, Long Island will need to acquire his rights.

Brooklyn’s 20-man roster now consists of 14 players on guaranteed contracts, plus two-way player Jeremiah Martin and five players without guarantees (Okobo, Gates, Chris Chiozza, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Reggie Perry). Okobo and Gates will likely be among the players cut when the Nets set their roster for the regular season in the coming days.

Nets Announce 20-Man Training Camp Roster

The Nets have finalized their training camp roster, announcing the 20-man squad today in a press release, as Malika Andrew of ESPN relays (via Twitter).

In addition to the 18 players already known to be under contract with Brooklyn, the list includes former Tennessee guard Jordan Bowden, who agreed to an Exhibit 10 contract with the team, and former Kentucky forward Nate Sestina, whose Exhibit 10 deal was first reported by Jon Chepkevich (Twitter link).

Absent from the Nets’ roster is point guard Elie Okobo, who reportedly agreed to a deal with the club on Monday. However, the fact that he hasn’t signed yet with Brooklyn doesn’t mean he won’t. I’d expect the team to cut a player at some point in the coming days to make room for Okobo, though he’d still have an uphill battle to earn a spot on the regular season roster.

Fourteen of the Nets’ 20 players are known to have guaranteed salaries for the 2020/21 season. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot has a partial guarantee, Jeremiah Martin has a two-way deal, and Bowden, Sestina, and Reggie Perry are on non-guaranteed contracts. The details on Chris Chiozza‘s new contract aren’t yet known.

Nets To Sign Elie Okobo

After being waived by the Suns a week ago, Elie Okobo has lined up a new deal, according to Alex Schiffer and Shams Charania of The Athletic, who report (via Twitter) that the free agent point guard is signing with the Nets.

While details of Okobo’s deal haven’t been reported, I’d expect a minimum-salary contract and I’d be surprised if it includes much – if any – guaranteed money.

The 31st overall pick in the 2018 draft, Okobo spent two years in Phoenix, appearing in a total of 108 games. He averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.2 APG in 15.5 minutes per contest during those two seasons, but became expendable this offseason. The Suns released him before his 2020/21 salary became guaranteed last Thursday.

The Nets currently have 17 players under contract, but that doesn’t count Okobo, Jordan Bowden – who reportedly agreed to an Exhibit 10 deal, or Chris Chiozza, who is still a restricted free agent. Brooklyn may continue making minor tweaks to the back of its roster, but the team’s offseason looks just about done.

Suns Waive Elie Okobo

The Suns have waived backup guard Elie Okobo, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The 31st overall pick in the 2018 draft, Okobo spent two years in Phoenix, appearing in a total of 108 games. He averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.2 APG in 15.5 minutes per contest during those two seasons.

Okobo became expendable as a result of Cameron Payne‘s strong play during the summer restart and the Suns’ offseason backcourt overhaul. Chris Paul, E’Twaun Moore, and Langston Galloway are joining Devin Booker and Payne.

Okobo’s $1.66MM salary for the 2020/21 season would have become guaranteed if he remained under contract through this Thursday. By waiving him, the Suns won’t be on the hook for any of that money. Okobo, meanwhile, will become an unrestricted free agent if he goes unclaimed.

Pacific Notes: Zubac, Okobo, Len, Barnes, Holmes

Center Ivica Zubac, who has recovered from COVID-19, played 13 minutes in the Clippers’ third Orlando scrimmage on Monday and appears ready for the league restart, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes. Zubac, who signed a four-year, $28.5MM contract last summer, contributed two points and six rebounds during his short stint.

“I don’t care how much you work out, a basketball game, an NBA basketball game is different and so you get winded,” Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said. “But I thought he did what Zub does, he clogged up the paint, he rolled for us, he did a lot of good things.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns guard Elie Okobo participated in practice on Monday, Gina Mizell tweets. Okobo’s arrival in Orlando was delayed due to undisclosed reasons. He has extra incentive to perform well in the restart, as his $1.66MM salary for next season is not guaranteed.
  • Kings center Alex Len‘s status for the team’s opening game at the Orlando campus remains uncertain, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Len rejoined the club approximately 10 days ago after he recovered from his own bout with COVID-19. He has yet to go through a full contact session, Ham adds.
  • Big man Richaun Holmes and forward Harrison Barnes participated in the Kings’ final scrimmage on Monday, Ham notes. Holmes, who had to serve a 10-day quarantine after violating league protocols, had six points and five rebounds in 18 minutes. Barnes, who overcame a battle with the coronavirus, finished with 12 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Barnes, Waiters, Okobo

The NBA’s four-month hiatus may have helped Kyle Kuzma rediscover his jumpshot at a much-needed time, Bill Oram of The Athletic writes. Kuzma poured in 25 points off the bench in the Lakers’ scrimmage win against Orlando on Saturday, shooting 10-of-13 from the field and 5-of-7 from deep.

Since arriving in Orlando, much of the talk surrounding the Lakers has been about Kuzma’s impressive play, Oram notes. This includes both scrimmages and team practices.

“What he did today,” coach Frank Vogel said, “he did all through our ‘restart training camp’ so to speak. I’m just really excited about what the restart is going to look like for him.”

Kuzma’s role has been cut back with several veterans joining the team over the past year. He’s averaging a career-low 12.5 points in 24.6 minutes per game, with his shooting marks also declining (43% from the field and 30% from behind-the-arc on the campaign).

The Lakers will rely on Kuzma’s production off the bench despite his reduced role, needing all hands on deck to successfully compete against deep Western Conference teams such as the Clippers, Rockets and Nuggets in the postseason.

Here are some other notes out of the Pacific Division today:

  • Kings forward Harrison Barnes never experienced any symptoms while dealing with COVID-19, head coach Luke Walton said, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Barnes could play in the team’s scrimmage against the Clippers on Monday, Walton added. He’s averaging 14.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 34.9 minutes this season for Sacramento.
  • Veteran guard Dion Waiters has mostly had a soft landing with the Lakers in Orlando, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes. Waiters scored 12 points off the bench in the team’s scrimmage on Saturday, shooting 5-of-9 from the field. “Here, it’s like it’s different, man,” Waiters said. “It’s a vibe. Everybody’s just positive. We got our own slang and things like that going on. … It makes you feel good though. You’re excited.”
  • Suns guard Elie Okobo has arrived in Orlando but wasn’t available for the team’s scrimmage against Boston on Sunday, Gina Mizell of The Athletic tweets. Phoenix is slated to play one more scrimmage on Tuesday before re-opening its regular season against Washington on Friday. It’s unclear whether Okobo, who likely must go through quarantine, will be available for those contests.

Western Notes: Fox, Schröder, Suns, Cauley-Stein

On Wednesday, the Kings gave us an update on De’Aaron Fox, who suffered a left ankle sprain last week. The Kings said that the former first-round pick has returned to the court and is doing non-contact basketball activities.

That being said, Fox is not available for the team’s first scrimmage against the Heat. However, head coach Luke Walton told reporters that they are optimistic will be available for the team’s opener on Jul. 31 against the Spurs (Twitter link via James Ham of NBC Sports California).

This season, the former Kentucky Wildcat standout is averaging 20.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 6.8 APG, and 1.4 SPG in 31.7 MPG.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Thunder general manager Sam Presti explained why he believes Dennis Schröder is worthy of winning Sixth Man of the Year. “I think he’s playing the best basketball of his career,” Presti said (via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). “He’s all about trying to do what’s right for the team right now, and he’s just an elite competitor. I’m happy that he’s playing so well, and I hope he does get recognized for it.” This season, the veteran guard is averaging 19 PPG while shooting 38.1% from three-point range.
  • The Suns announced on Wednesday that point guards Elie Okobo and Jalen Lecque are not in Orlando due to personal reasons, per Gina Mizell (Twitter link). However, both players are expected to arrive at a later date. With Ricky Rubio clearing quarantine, both Okobo and Lecque will not see major minutes for Phoenix.
  • According to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, Willie Cauley-Stein signed with Young Money APAA Sports, an agency based in Dallas, Texas. The 26-year-old is not with the Mavericks in Orlando due to the birth of his daughter this month. Dallas acquired the young center in February from the Warriors.

Pacific Notes: Morris Twins, Barnes, Suns, Noah, More

There are a few players who showed up on the list of official rosters released on Monday by the NBA who still haven’t reported to the Walt Disney World campus. However, more players continue to arrive by the day.

According to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register (Twitter link), Clippers forward Marcus Morris is at the team’s Tuesday morning practice today, having reported to the campus and cleared his quarantine period. His twin brother Markieff Morris will be joining the Lakers soon, Marcus tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets that Markieff is expected to arrive at the campus today and will begin his initial quarantine.

Meanwhile, Kings forward Harrison Barnes, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, could depart for Orlando as soon as today if he returns one more negative coronavirus test, Spears reports (via Twitter).

Finally, Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes, Elie Okobo, and Jalen Lecque didn’t make the initial trip to Orlando two weeks ago with the Suns and still hadn’t practiced with the club as of Sunday, sources tell Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. A pair of Suns players tested positive for the coronavirus nearly a month ago, but it’s not clear if any or all of the delayed arrivals are related to COVID-19.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Kings forward Jabari Parker and center Alex Len spoke to reporters on Monday about their experiences with COVID-19, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee details. Len, who said he temporarily lost his sense of smell and taste while dealing with the virus, tested positive for 24 consecutive days before eventually returning multiple negative tests and being cleared.
  • Clippers big man Joakim Noah has benefited from the NBA’s hiatus, which gave him more time to get fully healthy after suffering an Achilles injury, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Noah’s new teammates are impressed by what they’ve seen so far from the veteran center. “He’s just bringing that energy every day,” guard Rodney McGruder said. “That’s something that I’m learning from him, and it’s just the intensity and just the persistence that he plays with on the defensive end, how you always hear his voice. He’s always yelling, he’s always talking.”
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic identifies the wings in this year’s draft class that he thinks would fit best with the Warriors, including Isaac Okoro, Aaron Nesmith, and Saddiq Bey.