Frank Mason

Frank Mason III To Sign Two-Way Deal With Bucks

Point guard Frank Mason III has agreed to a two-way contract with the Bucks, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Mason was waived earlier this month by the Kings and went unclaimed.

Mason, 24, was selected by Sacramento with the 34th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He had a promising rookie season, averaging 7.9 PPG and 2.8 APG, but lost his place in the regular rotation last season.

He was supposed to play for the Kings in the California Summer League, but was held out of action due to a sore right hip. Mason had a $1.62MM salary for the upcoming season but it wasn’t guaranteed.

He’ll provide depth at the point behind Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and Donte DiVincenzo.

Forward Bonzie Colson holds the other two-way spot with Milwaukee, but the team also agreed to sign Cameron Reynolds to a two-way deal, so Colson may be the odd man out.

Pacific Notes: Jackson, Clippers, Ferrell

The Phoenix Suns unloaded 2017 fourth-overall pick Josh Jackson on the Memphis Grizzlies yesterday, after a tumultuous but oh-so-promising two-year stint with the franchise. Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic broke down exactly what went wrong for the once-prized prospect.

A plethora of red flags spoiled Jackson’s reputation off the court and eventually that proved to trump even his best performances on it. To Jackson’s credit, he managed to show high-ceiling talent despite playing for three different head coaches with three different playing styles, but the downside proved to much to bear for a young Suns organization that desperately needs to start moving forward.

Jackson averaged 17.0 points and 6.1 rebounds with over a block and a steal per games in games in which he played 30 or more minutes, but those flashes of excellence were few and far between as the Suns swingman struggled with his shot and controlling his emotions.

The Grizzlies, another team in the midst of a rebuild, will hope that a fresh start is enough to put the former Suns prospect back on the right track.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

 

Kings Waive Frank Mason III

The Kings have parted ways with a 2017 second-round pick, announcing today in a press release that guard Frank Mason III has been released. Mason will become an unrestricted free agent on Saturday if he goes unclaimed on waivers.

Mason, 24, was selected by the Kings with the 34th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He had a promising rookie season, averaging 7.9 PPG and 2.8 APG with a .360 3PT% in 52 games (18.9 MPG), but lost his place in the regular rotation last season.

As Jason Jones of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), Mason was supposed to play for the Kings in the California Summer League this week, but was held out of action due to a sore right hip. His $1.62MM salary isn’t scheduled to become fully guaranteed for 2019/20 until October 15, per Basketball Insiders, so Sacramento won’t be on the hook for that cap hit.

With De’Aaron Fox starting at the point in Sacramento and Cory Joseph being brought aboard to provide depth at the position, Mason became expendable for the Kings. However, the team plans to retain point guard Yogi Ferrell, according to Jones (Twitter link). Ferrell’s $3.15MM salary for 2019/20 will become fully guaranteed if he remains under contract through today, which appears to be a lock.

Kings Notes: McLemore, Mason, Giles, Bagley

Shooting guard Ben McLemore has been among the pleasant surprises in Kings‘ training camp, relays Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. The Kings made McLemore the seventh pick in the 2013 draft and he spent the first four years of his NBA career in Sacramento before signing with the Grizzlies last year. The Kings brought him back in a trade this summer.

“My confidence is on high and I want to continue to get better each and every day, help my teammates … and do whatever they want me to do,” McLemore said. “That’s defensive, offensive, whatever the case might be. I’ve prepared myself all summer for this moment, so I’m ready.”

A knee injury to Bogdan Bogdanovic that required arthroscopic surgery could provide an early-season opportunity for McLemore. Bogdanovic is projected to miss four to six weeks, opening up some minutes in the backcourt. McLemore believes he can claim them and likes the up-tempo approach the Kings have adopted.

“The style of play they want to play, it fits me perfect, the way I play, the things I do,” he said. “I shoot the ball well, I run the floor, play defense, all those kinds of things.”

There’s more today from Sacramento:

  • Frank Mason is counting on better judgment to help him win an expanded role this season, Anderson adds in the same story. A backup point guard, Mason excels at getting to the basket but his drives often resulted in turnovers or forced shots. “[Last] year, I got in there and made a couple of wrong decisions, and some games I made the right decisions,” Mason said. “It’s just watching film and making the right reads and the right plays.”
  • Harry Giles is happy that his long wait to play in an NBA game is almost over, Anderson relays in a separate story. The 20th player drafted in 2017, Giles sat out all of last season as the Kings tried to protect his knees after a series of surgical procedures. He showed promise during summer league play and will make his debut in a Kings’ uniform tomorrow night in the preseason opener. “I love Harry’s game,” said teammate Willie Cauley-Stein. “He’s going to be a beast. Like most of us, coming into the league, you’ve got to find that pace, and once you find that pace it’s going to be scary.”
  • Kings fans probably won’t see Giles and this year’s top pick, Marvin Bagley, in the lineup together for a while, Anderson writes in another piece.

Team USA Announces Camp Roster For September World Cup Qualifiers

Fourteen players will participate in a Las Vegas training camp beginning this Thursday, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. Of those 14 players, 12 will be named to Team USA’s roster for the club’s upcoming qualifying games for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

This set of games – the first window for the second round of qualifiers – will take place later this month. Team USA will face Uruguay on September 14, then play against Panama on September 17.

The following players will be vying for Team USA roster spots for these qualifying contests:

In the first round of qualifying games for the 2019 World Cup, Team USA was made up predominantly of G League players. That’s the case to some extent again this time, with guys like Hearn and Warney returning. However, many of the players this time around are currently under contract with NBA teams, including Bacon (Hornets), Ellenson (Pistons), Hicks (Knicks), Mason (Kings), Trice (Bucks), and White (Spurs).

“With our September second-round games marking the start of the most critical part of the World Cup Qualifying, I think it is imperative for us to look for players who possess mental fortitude, who are tough, and who have experience,” said Team USA head coach Jeff Van Gundy. “All of our second-round games are going to very, very difficult and competitive battles. Argentina, Panama and Uruguay are all really good and well coached.”

The second round of the World Cup qualifiers will take place over three windows of competition in September, November, and February. Team USA will play two games apiece vs. Argentina, Panama, and Uruguay during that stretch.

Having posted a 5-1 record during the first round of qualifiers, Team USA is tied for first with Argentina in Group E, which is made up of six teams. If Team USA remains in the top three of the Group E standings by the end of February’s games, the squad will qualify for the 2019 World Cup, which will take place in China next September.

Kings Notes: Shumpert, Cousins, Labissiere, Mason

Iman Shumpert was one of several Cavaliers to be traded at the trade deadline, leaving a championship contender to join the rebuilding Kings. The former NBA champion is currently out of action due to plantar fasciitis and his return date is unknown.

Shumpert spoke to reporters after his first practice with the Kings and expressed optimism about joining the franchise (via ABC10).

“I like it, they play an up and down speed, which is a speed I’m accustomed to,” Shumpert said. “It’s all equal opportunity and moving the ball; they move the ball side-to-side and play hard. We got a lot of athleticism and I think I could help a lot, really, and I think I fit in.”

Shumpert, 27, has only appeared in 14 games this season, averaging 4.4 PPG and 2.9 RPG — both career-lows. As an experienced player with NBA postseason experience, Shumpert said he is looking forward to helping the Kings’ young players.

“Just appreciating the opportunity and coming in here with a fresh mind,” he said. “The stuff that I’ve been doing over there [in Cleveland], and the things that I’ve learned playing in the playoffs every year, going to the [NBA] Finals the last three years. [I’m] just trying to bring it over here and help these guys apply it.

“Sometimes just bringing that voice can mean a lot with instilling confidence in young players. I know when I was young with the Knicks, having Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace and those other guys that have been there before come and instill that confidence.”

Check out other Kings notes down below:

  • Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee looks back at the one-year anniversary of the Kings trading DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans. Despite being in the postseason hunt at the time, the Kings decided to trade their best player, signaling the beginning of what team president Vlade Divac called a “culture change.” The Kings have struggled this season and third-year center Willie Cauley-Stein has noticed a change. “It was an instant culture shift,” Cauley-Stein said. “Just like from a personnel standpoint, it’s a lot more chill, a lot more relaxed, got more productive in practice. We were able to just teach each other stuff. Everybody had a role and everybody touched the ball and could get it going and play for each other.”
  • In a separate story, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee noted that forward Skal Labissiere (shoulder) and guard Frank Mason III (heel) would return Thursday. Both men were active and saw time in Thursday’s loss to the Thunder.

Pacific Rumors: Warriors Needs, Mason, Ball, Hill

The Warriors’ top need is a shooting wing off the bench, and their most likely targets are Marco Belinelli of the Hawks and Tyreke Evans of the Grizzlies, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic opines. Patrick McCaw is the player Golden State will most likely move in order to get a wing who also has size and passing ability, Kawakami continues. Belinelli is on an expiring deal and Atlanta would have to believe in McCaw’s long-term ability enough to also take back Nick Young, Kawakami speculates. Evans would also be a rental and Golden State would probably have to pair McCaw with a first-round pick to get him, Kawakami adds.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • Kings point guard Frank Mason will not play until after the All-Star break, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports. The rookie out of Kansas suffered a heel injury on December 31st. Mason, chosen with the 34th overall pick last June, has appeared in 29 games, averaging 7.6 PPG and 2.9 APG.
  • Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball was unable to ramp up his workouts last week without experiencing soreness in his sprained left knee, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register reports. His workouts never progressed to lateral movement or running close to full speed, Oram continues. Ball has missed the last 10 games.
  • The Kings were close to dealing point guard George Hill to the Cavaliers but they won’t mind if he’s still on the roster beyond the trade deadline, Jones writes in a separate piece. Sacramento would have received Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert, and perhaps Derrick Rose, in return. The Kings would have to clear roster space to make that deal but their primary goals must be collecting picks, acquiring young talent and retaining financial flexibility, Jones continues. Hill has also endeared himself to the front office and the team’s young core despite losing his starting job, Jones adds.
  • Trade rumors are weighing heavily on the minds of Clippers players, Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register relays. Coach Doc Rivers admits that trade talk has been a distraction. “Sometimes you go talk to a guy and the guy says, ‘Oh, I’m good,’ and that could mean he’s not good or good,” Rivers told Teaford. “You’ve got to read that. Sometimes it’s clear as day. I can tell you I’ve seen that over the last three or four days from a couple guys, and it’s obviously weighing on them.”

Kings’ Frank Mason To Miss Several Weeks

After initially being ruled out for at least a week last Tuesday due to a heel contusion, rookie Kings guard Frank Mason has been re-evaluated and received a new diagnosis, according to an announcement from the team. That MRI showed that Mason suffered a partial tear of the right plantar fascia.

According to the Kings, Mason will continue receiving treatment on his heel and will now be re-evaluated four to six weeks after the injury initially occurred. That timetable puts him on track to miss most or all of January, and perhaps a portion of February as well.

Mason, the 34th overall pick in the 2017 draft, was a regular part of the Kings’ rotation for the first half of the season when he was healthy, averaging 7.6 PPG, 2.9 APG, and 2.1 RPG in 29 contests (18.6 MPG). Although his .385 FG% may be a little lower than he’d like, he has been effective from three-point range (.419 3PT%).

The Kings are currently jockeying for lottery position rather than playoff position, so they’ll take their time with Mason’s rehab and ensure he’s 100% before he gets back on the court. When he does return, the 23-year-old figures to see plenty of minutes for a Sacramento team that will likely be prioritizing the development of its young players over playing time for its veterans.

Injury Notes: Sixers, Harden, Kings, Okafor

Joel Embiid is considered doubtful for Wednesday’s game, and Markelle Fultz isn’t quite ready to get back on the court yet, but the Sixers got some positive news on both players this week. As Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia details, there was some concern on Sunday night that Embiid had suffered a broken right hand, but x-rays were negative and he believes he’s dealing instead with a sprain.

Meanwhile, Fultz hasn’t played since October, but he appears to be inching toward a return. The club announced today that 2017’s first overall pick has been cleared to “begin the final stage of his return-to-play program.” The press release was light on specifics, but barring setbacks, it sounds like it shouldn’t be much longer before we see Fultz back in the Sixers’ lineup.

Here are a few more injury notes and updates from around the NBA:

  • We know James Harden will be out for at least two weeks with a hamstring strain, but his exact recovery timetable remains unclear. Speaking today to reporters, including Hunter Atkins of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link), Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni suggested that Harden could miss up to four weeks. In an Insider-only piece for ESPN, Kevin Pelton examines how Harden’s absence will affect the Rockets, the NBA, and the star guard’s MVP chances.
  • As one Kings guard gets healthy, another one goes on the shelf. According to a press release from the club, De’Aaron Fox will return on Tuesday after a two-week absence, but Frank Mason will miss at least the next week with a heel contusion.
  • Third-year center Jahlil Okafor is expected to make his home debut for the Nets on Wednesday, as head coach Kenny Atkinson confirmed to reporters on Monday (link via Alex Labidou of NBA.com). Okafor, acquired by Brooklyn nearly a month ago, wasn’t initially ready for regular minutes after having barely played for Philadelphia this season. However, the Nets are ready to get him back on the court and to start increasing his workload, says Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
  • After missing seven games due to a groin injury, Pistons guard Avery Bradley is set to return to action on Wednesday, writes Ansar Khan of MLive.com. “It was lingering over a few weeks, but now I feel better, I feel like I can go out there and give my all,” Bradley said.

Kings Notes: Jackson, Kuzma, Papagiannis, Mason

First-round pick Justin Jackson is falling out of the Kings’ rotation with DNPs in two straight games, and Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee explains why in a mailbag column. Sacramento has opted for a smaller starting lineup with two point guards, free agent addition George Hill and rookie De’Aaron FoxGarrett Temple has moved to small forward, where he shares time with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield.

That has cut into the minutes for Jackson, who started five games earlier in the season. Coach Dave Joerger has been using veteran Vince Carter off the bench ahead of Jackson, and the power forward minutes Jackson used to get are now going to Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein. Jackson hasn’t performed terribly, averaging 6.7 points in about 19 minutes per night, but it looks like his playing time is going to be limited as long as Joerger relies on his veterans.
There’s more out of Sacramento:
  • The Kings could have solved their small forward problems by taking rookie sensation Kyle Kuzma in the draft, Jones states in the same piece. Sacramento brought Kuzma in for a pre-draft workout and saw his performance at the combine, but opted for Jackson with the 15th pick and Harry Giles at No. 20. Jones says fans should watch Giles in action before criticizing the pick. Giles is being held out until at least January because of his injury history with both knees.
  • Second-year center Georgios Papagiannis can expect to spend most of this season in the G League, Jones adds. Joerger wants the 20-year-old to get plenty of playing time, which won’t happen with the NBA squad, where he is behind Kosta Koufos and Zach Randolph. Jones thinks Papagiannis will get a chance to show the Kings what he can do once the G League season ends. He was the 13th pick in the 2016 draft, but played just 22 games for Sacramento last season and four so far this year.
  • Before earning his way into the Kings’ rotation four games ago, rookie point guard Frank Mason endured a lot of slights in his basketball career, Jones writes in a separate story. A second-round pick out of Kansas, Mason provides a defensive tenacity the team has lacked. “Even if they didn’t need a tough guy to come off the bench, that’s still who I am,” Mason said. “That’s what I bring to the team and I’ll continue to be that way and play that way forever.”