Elijah Bryant

Bucks Officially Sign Elijah Bryant

After waiving Rodions Kurucs on Wednesday to create an open spot on their 15-man roster, the Bucks have filled that opening by signing guard Elijah Bryant, the team confirmed today in a press release. Bryant’s agreement with Milwaukee was reported last week.

Bryant, who went undrafted out of BYU in 2018, began his professional career with Hapoel Eliat and has remained in Israel since then, spending the last two seasons with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He earned a spot on the All-Israeli League First Team in 2019 and won an Israeli League championship in 2020.

Bryant averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game in 34 EuroLeague contests (23.3 MPG) this season, shooting 44.0% from the field and 36.9% from deep. The 26-year-old, who played summer league ball with the Bucks in 2019, increased those averages to to 13.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 2.8 APG on .554/.420/.829 shooting in 18 Israeli League games (23.2 MPG).

The exact terms of Bryant’s new deal with the Bucks aren’t yet known, but a report last week indicated it would be a two-year contract. I wouldn’t expect next season’s salary to be fully guaranteed.

With the signing, the Bucks once again have a full 17-man roster (including two-way players). The regular season will end on Sunday, so this figures to be the group Milwaukee will take into the postseason.

Central Notes: Temple, Bryant, Pacers, Hayes

As his first year with the Bulls nears its end, veteran swingman Garrett Temple praised the job that president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley have done for the franchise so far, suggesting that the front office is one reason why Chicago will be an appealing destination for free agents.

“I think people that understand and are free agents and things of that nature, are probably looking at the Bulls front office as a place, a group of people that know what they’re doing for sure,” Temple said, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

Temple, whose one-year contract with the Bulls will expire at season’s end, added that he believes the club is capable of taking “great steps in the next year or two” and expressed interest in remaining in Chicago beyond 2020/21.

“Yeah, no question. I love what we’re doing here. I love the coaching staff. I’m enjoying the front office. I’m really enjoying being around the guys,” Temple said. “For example in Detroit (Saturday) night we were hanging out together in the lobby area, talking and playing cards. Those type of things. Not every team is like that. I enjoy being here. And I would love to see what we could do to progress this type of team.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Maccabi Tel Aviv issued a press release confirming that they’ve officially parted with Elijah Bryant, allowing him to pursue an NBA opportunity. Having left his team in Israel, Bryant is on track to sign with the Bucks.
  • After their very public altercation on the sidelines last week, Pacers center Goga Bitadze and assistant coach Greg Foster appear to have smoothed things over. Video from before Saturday’s game showed them embracing, laughing, and working together, as Nat Newell of The Indianapolis Star relays.
  • Pistons rookie Killian Hayes racked up a career-high 21 points against Chicago on Sunday and said after the game that he appreciated being able to play off the ball alongside fellow guard Saben Lee. This is the second time I played with Saben, I loved it,” Hayes said, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). “… When you always have the ball in your hands, the defense can read what you’re going to do.” As Sankofa observes (via Twitter), Hayes’ comfort level in that role could be important if the Pistons find themselves in position to select an on-ball guard such as Cade Cunningham near the top of this year’s draft.

Bucks To Sign Elijah Bryant, Waive Rodions Kurucs

MAY 8: Bryant is leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv and will sign a two-year contract with the Bucks, a source tells Sportando. According to Carchia and Cohen, the Israeli team will receive a buyout worth $500K.

As Carchia reports and as Shams Charania of The Athletic confirms (via Twitter), Kurucs is expected to be waived to make room on the roster for Bryant.


MAY 5: The Bucks are expected to sign guard Elijah Bryant once he leaves his current team in Israel, Maccabi Tel Aviv, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando and Roi Cohen of Sport5 (Twitter links).

Bryant, however, doesn’t have a buyout clause in his contract, which could complicate any agreement between the sides. As Stefan Djordjevic of EuroHoops relays, Maccabi Tel Aviv views Bryant as an important piece to its team and could request up to $750K for a buyout to be formally processed.

Should the agreement go through, Milwaukee could part ways with forward Rodions Kurucs to make room for Bryant, Carchia adds (Twitter link). Kurucs has only appeared in five contests since being acquired in a trade with Houston in March.

Bryant averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game in 34 EuroLeague contests (23.3 MPG) this season, shooting 44.0% from the field and 36.9% from deep. The 26-year-old went undrafted in 2018 after spending collegiate seasons at Elon and BYU. He also played summer league ball with the Bucks in 2019.

Milwaukee currently holds the third-best record in the Eastern Conference at 41-24 and officially clinched a playoff berth by defeating the Nets on Tuesday.

Southwest Notes: Brunson, Rivero, Poeltl, Pelicans

Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson tells Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News that the NBA’s hiatus convinced him to have surgery to fix a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Brunson underwent the operation March 13, two days after the league shut down over coronavirus concerns. He was hoping to wait until after the season to address the shoulder, but the break gave him a reason to get it done right away.

“I truly was trying to get back and trying to finish the season out,” Brunson said. “But also in the back of my mind, I wasn’t putting surgery off and saying it wasn’t a possibility. The morning of the day the NBA shut down, we were talking about when I could get it done if I wanted to get it done — just hypothetically — and then that night is when everything started happening, so we said ‘Hey, let’s get it done ASAP.’ We didn’t know how long this was going to be, how long it was going to take.”

Brunson was averaging 8.2 PPG in his second NBA season before the injury sidelined him in late February. He’s rehabbing at home, but doesn’t expect to return this season no matter what happens when the league resumes play.

“As of right now, I think it’s ruled out,” Brunson said. “I think we’re just planning on next year’s training camp. That’s if everything is going along schedule. But as of right now, I’m just focusing on rehab and getting back to full strength.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks are keeping an eye on Cuban prospect Jasiel Rivero, relays Dario Skerletic of Sportando from an original report by Chema de Lucas. The 27-year-old forward is averaging more than 9 points and 5 rebounds per game in the Champions League.
  • Spurs center Jakob Poeltl believes he has fully recovered from a right MCL strain that sidelined him for five days before the shutdown began, according to News4SanAntonio. Poeltl talked about his condition in an interview with Austria’s Die Presse, saying he believes he’ll be able to return whenever games resume. “Although I have no experience with knee injuries, I expect that I will have no problems if the season continues,” Poeltl said.
  • Executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin thinks the culture change he wanted to bring in his first season with the Pelicans has been successful, writes Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. “It’s fairly clear we’ve got really, really good, high-character humans here,” Griffin said. “The culture has changed a great deal for the better. I think players love being a part of what we’re building.”
  • The Pelicans have expressed interest in guard Elijah Bryant of Maccabi Tel Aviv, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Bryant, who turns 25 next week, played in Summer League the past two years with the Bucks and Sixers.

And-Ones: P. Jones, Marinkovic, E. Bryant, Pacquiao

A rules change in the BIG3 League has allowed Perry Jones to use that venue to pursue another shot at the NBA, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The 28th player picked in the 2012 draft, Jones spent three years with the Thunder before being traded to Boston in the summer of 2015. He never played for the Celtics before being waived that fall, then failed to make the Pelicans‘ roster after joining them for training camp in 2017.

Now 27, Jones took advantage of the new lower age limit in the BIG3, which dropped from 30 to 27 this year. He’s playing for the expansion Enemies, averaging 7.7 points per game, and hasn’t lost the confidence that he can succeed in the NBA.

“No disrespect to the Thunder, but I went to a team that didn’t have a need (for a player like me),” Jones said. “They had three superstars. They had everything set in stone that they needed. It’s just how the business goes. I think if I went somewhere else and had the opportunity to play in actual games, I think my career would have turned out differently for sure.”

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • Vanja Marinkovic, selected by the Kings with the final pick in this year’s draft, has until July 30 to decide where he will play this season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link). That’s when the buy-out clause expires on the final year of his contract with Partizan Belgrade in Serbia. It’s unlikely that he’ll come to the NBA, but Spain’s Unicaja Malaga and Valencia Basket have both expressed interest, Carchia states.
  • Coming off a strong performance with the Bucks‘ summer league team, Elijah Bryant is deciding among several NBA offers, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. The former BYU guard had a break-out performance July 8 with 31 points and seven rebounds against Minnesota.
  • Boxer Manny Pacquiao tells TMZ Sports he wants to fight for five more years and then purchase part of an NBA team. He already owns the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, a semi-pro outfit in the Philippines, and regularly uses basketball as part of his training. Pacquiao has an estimated net worth around $200MM.

Draft Workouts: T. Young, Cavs, Blazers, Warriors

Potential top-10 pick Trae Young conducted a “secret” workout for the Cavaliers on Saturday, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Givony, echoing what Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com wrote earlier today, suggests that Michael Porter Jr. may be Cleveland’s top target at No. 8.

However, if Porter is no longer available, the Cavaliers’ decision could come down to Young vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, according to Givony, who notes that he has the team taking Gilgeous-Alexander in his latest mock draft.

Here are a few more updates on pre-draft workouts from around the NBA:

Lakers Rumors: Ball, Workouts, Caldwell-Pope

Lakers guard Lonzo Ball is focused on gaining strength and stamina to become less injury-prone next season, teammate Kyle Kuzma told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk and other media members on Tuesday. Ball played in only 52 games during his rookie campaign due to a variety of ailments.

“He has been in there pretty much every day I have been in here around this time,” Kuzma said of Ball’s weight training. “You can tell he is taking the weight room a lot more serious and that is going to help him by allowing him to recover faster and hopefully next year be on the court more because of that weight room.”

In other news regarding the Lakers:

  • West Virginia guard Jevon Carter is among six prospects the Lakers will work out on Wednesday, the team announced on its website. Carter is ranked No. 44 on ESPN Jonathan Givony’s Top 100 list. Kostas Antetokounmpo (Dayton), Elijah Bryant (BYU), Trey Kell (San Diego State) and Omari Spellman (Villanova) will join Carter. Gary Trent Jr. of Duke will also be there, as previously reported.
  • The Spurs are a logical candidate to pursue free agent shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype speculates. San Antonio could lose Danny Green if he opts out of his contract. Caldwell-Pope could replace him and the Spurs have their mid-level exception to offer him, Urbina continues. The Clippers and Grizzlies may also be in the market for a starting shooting guard, though it’s possible KCP could get another one-year offer from the Lakers if they don’t land two top-level free agents, Urbina adds.
  • Kuzma was named to the league’s All-Rookie First Team while Ball earned Second Team honors. You can see the All-Rookie teams here.

236 Early Entrants Declare For 2018 NBA Draft

The NBA has released the official list of early entrants for the 2018 NBA draft, announcing in a press release that 236 players have filed as early entry candidates. Of those prospects, 181 are from colleges, while 55 are international early entrants.

That number blows away the previous record for early entrants, established in 2017. Last year, 182 early entrants declared for the draft, though ultimately only 73 of those prospects remained in the draft by the final deadline.

This year’s total of 236 early entrants also figures to shrink significantly by May 30 and again by June 11, the two key deadlines for players to withdraw their names from the draft pool. But it still looks like that pool will remain crowded, with the eventual number of early entrants likely exceeding 60, the number of picks in the draft.

Our list of early entrants is now up to date and can be found right here. Here are today’s updates:

College underclassmen:

The following players were listed on the NBA’s official breakdown today, but weren’t yet noted on our own list. For now, we’re assuming they haven’t yet hired agents.

The following players reportedly declared for the draft or planned to, but weren’t named in the NBA’s official announcement today. As such, we’ve removed them from our list.

International players:

The following players were listed on the NBA’s official breakdown today, but weren’t yet noted on our list.

  • Berke Atar, C, Turkey (born 1999)
  • Laurynas Beliauskas, G, Lithuania (born 1997)
  • Rihards Berzins, F/C, Latvia (born 1997)
  • Etienne Ca, F, France (born 1997)
  • Sigfredo Casero-Ortiz, G, France (born 1997)
  • Berkan Durmaz, F, Turkey (born 1997)
  • Aleksander Dziewa, C, Poland (born 1997)
  • Stephane Gombauld, F, France (born 1997)
  • Yoan Granvorka, F, Switzerland (born 1997)
  • Michal Kolenda, F, Poland (born 1997)
  • Antonios Koniaris, G, Greece (born 1997)
  • Leon Kratzer, C, Germany (born 1997)
  • Shekinah Munanga, F, France (born 1997)
  • Williams Narace, F, France (born 1997)
  • Marcel Ponitka, G, Poland (born 1997)
  • Leonardo Tote, F, Italy (born 1997)
  • Martynas Varnas, G, Lithuania (born 1997)
  • Filip Zagrajski, G, Croatia (born 1997)