Grant Riller

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Walker, Kanter, Riller

Ahead of the Knicks‘ eventual 112-110 loss to their cross-town rival Nets on Tuesday night, New York All-Star forward Julius Randle praised Brooklyn All-Star forward Kevin Durant, per Peter Botte of the New York Post.

“He’s the best player in the league, for sure,” Randle raved on Monday. “[I’ve] never seen a 7-footer that skilled… [He can] do anything, everything, on the court. No weakness. That’s him. He’s tough. Great player, but I love competing against him.”

In an MVP-level season for the Nets, Durant is averaging 28.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 5.6 APG in 35.8 MPG, with a shooting line of .539/.389/.863.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The demotion of Kemba Walker from starting Knicks point guard to a DNP-CD serves as clear evidence of head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s zeal to win, per Ian O’Connor of the New York Post. Though the move for the 31-year-old hometown hero may not be a popular one, Thibodeau knows it will help the club’s defense significantly. “I just don’t like the way we’ve been trending, the inconsistency of our team,” Thibodeau said. “I want to get bigger. I want our defense to get bigger at the point of the attack.” The six-foot Walker, never a good defender, has seen his efficacy on both sides of the ball decline following knee injuries while with the Celtics. Fred Katz of The Athletic notes that the disparity in points per possession when Walker plays as opposed to when he sits represents the difference between what would be the best defensive efficiency in the NBA (when he sits) and what would be the worst (when he plays).
  • Upon becoming a US citizen on Monday, Celtics reserve center Enes Kanter has officially changed his name to Enes Kanter Freedom, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). “It was really important to me” to acknowledge the freedom that the Turkish native gets to enjoy as an American citizen, the freshly-anointed Kanter Freedom said.
  • Sixers two-way player Grant Riller injured his right shoulder during a contest for Philadelphia’s NBA G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, this past Sunday, tweets Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Bodner adds that Riller’s health status will be reassessed in a week. The No. 56 pick in 2020 out of the College of Charleston, Riller has yet to appear in a game for the Sixers this season. The 6’2″ point guard is averaging 5.5 PPG, 2.3 APG and 1.5 RPG across four games for Delaware.

Atlantic Notes: Curry, Bassey, Riller, Fournier

Seth Curry has been one of the bright spots in the early portion of the season for the Sixers, averaging a career-high 15.7 PPG with an outstanding shooting line of .515/.443/.935. Curry recently spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about a number of topics, including the early portion of his career, his breakout season, the Ben Simmons situation, career goals, and more.

Scotto asked Curry what has led him to the breakout season he’s having. Curry says he’s a well-rounded offensive player, no matter who’s in the lineup.

I think I’m a pretty versatile player. I can catch and shoot, stretch the floor, play off guys who draw a lot of attention like Joel [Embiid] and Ben [Simmons]. When those guys are out, I feel like I can play in the pick-and-roll. My mid-range game is pretty good. I think I can put the ball on the floor and score. I just pride myself on being able to do a lot of different things offensively and taking good shots,” Curry said.

The interview is worth checking out in full.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Sixers rookie center Charles Bassey, the last 2021 draft pick to sign a contract, recently flashed significant potential in Embiid’s absence, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Sixers two-way player Grant Riller has recovered from meniscus surgery and is now playing in the G League, tweets Gina Mizell of the Inquirer.
  • Knicks guard Evan Fournier knows he needs to bring more to the table earlier in the game in light of his recent fourth-quarter benchings, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “I think the situation right now is I don’t know how many minutes I’m going to play, so I have to have the mindset of if I’m going to play 20 minutes, then just come out the gate with extreme energy,” Fournier said. “Being very alert. Being ultra-aggressive. And trying to have an impact.”

Sixers Notes: Simmons, Brogdon, Riller, Defense

Recent reports have indicated that Sixers star Ben Simmons and his representatives fully understand the financial ramifications of the 25-year-old’s holdout and are prepared to ride it out, but Kyle Neubeck of hears that those financial ramifications are starting to hit home for Simmons’ camp.

According to Neubeck, after Simmons was fined approximately $360K for missing Philadelphia’s first preseason game on Monday, his reps had another conversation with the players’ union. Sources tell that it was reiterated during that discussion that Simmons wouldn’t be able to recoup the money he loses in fines.

As Neubeck writes, Simmons would have the ability to attempt to recoup his lost salary through the arbitration process, but the general belief is that he’d be unsuccessful going that route. The only real path to getting that money back would be reaching a settlement with the 76ers, but the team will have little incentive to negotiate such a deal.

Here’s more on Simmons and the Sixers:

  • A source tells Neubeck that Simmons’ camp believes the development of the former No. 1 pick has been evaluated on an “accelerated timeline,” since he missed his rookie season and then was expected to be a key part of a contending team almost instantly. Most other top picks join bad teams and don’t face such intense scrutiny early in their careers, Simmons’ camp has contended. While some members of the Sixers are sympathetic to that argument, they believe it “went out the window” after he signed a maximum-salary contract, writes Neubeck.
  • In addition to discussing Caris LeVert, the Sixers have also inquired about Malcolm Brogdon in their trade conversations with the Pacers, tweets Jordan Schultz of ESPN. Brogdon’s name surfaced in Simmons-related rumors early in the offseason as well.
  • Grant Riller, who is on a two-way contract with the 76ers, suffered a torn left meniscus on Monday, a team official said today (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of The Athletic). Riller is undergoing surgery and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.
  • Rich Hofmann of The Athletic examines the Sixers’ game plan without Simmons, particularly on defense, where last season’s Defensive Player of the Year runner-up will be missed most. “It’s a collective thing,” swingman Danny Green said. “We’re not going to leave each assignment that Ben has taken on to one person. We’re going to do it as a group.”

Sixers Sign Grant Riller To Two-Way Contract

AUGUST 30: The Sixers have made it official, announcing in a press release that Riller has signed a two-way deal with the team.

AUGUST 18: After opening a two-way slot by waiving Rayjon Tucker, the Sixers have reached an agreement on a two-way deal with Grant Riller, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Riller, 24, was a two-way player for the Hornets last season. He got into just seven games and averaged 2.6 PPG in 3.9 minutes per night. He played 11 games during the abbreviated G League season, posting 13.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists for the Greensboro Swarm.

Charlotte took Riller with the 56th pick in the 2020 draft, but didn’t make a qualifying offer before this year’s deadline, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Philadelphia’s other two-way contract is held by rookie wing Aaron Henry.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Clifford, Knicks, Riller

Injuries limited the Nets‘ Big Three from the time James Harden joined Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in January, but Harden is optimistic that things will be different this season, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post“At full strength, nobody can beat us,” Harden proclaimed.

The trio played just eight games together during the regular season, and the bad luck continued through the playoffs as Harden aggravated a strained hamstring in the second-round series with the Bucks and Irving missed the final three games after injuring his right ankle.

“So I want to make sure I’m completely healed and strong enough so I can go out there and completely be myself,” Harden said. “My rehab is going very, very well, and my getting my conditioning right is a big part of that.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Former Magic head coach Steve Clifford will be a consultant with the Nets this season, but his duties haven’t been fully defined, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Clifford said he will help coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks with whatever they need. “Steve and I have had a few discussions about the best way for it to be structured. But basically I’ll be working for Steve and maybe in some instances for Sean on any area that they view I could be helpful with,” Clifford explained. “On any staff, staff chemistry is just like team chemistry. Steve’s the head coach, he’s already proven to be terrific at that; they have a veteran staff, a talented roster.”
  • The Knicks emphasized flexibility in nearly all their free agency moves, notes Ian Begley of Contracts for Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel all have team options for the final season, while Taj Gibson‘s two-year deal is non-guaranteed for the second season. New York will have the chance to create some cap space in 2023, Begley adds.
  • Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice examines what new two-way player Grant Riller will bring to the Sixers.

Hornets Tender QO To Devonte’ Graham, Make Malik Monk UFA

The Hornets have made point guard Devonte’ Graham a restricted free agent by tendering him a qualifying offer, but won’t give shooting guard Malik Monk a QO, according to Rod Boone of (Twitter links).

Graham, the 34th overall pick in the 2018 draft, had a breakout season for Charlotte in 2019/20, when he averaged 18.2 PPG and 7.5 APG in 63 games. He saw his role dialed back a little this past season due to the emergence of fellow point guard LaMelo Ball, but was still a solid backcourt contributor for the Hornets, recording 14.8 PPG and 5.4 APG with a .375 3PT%.

Graham’s qualifying is worth approximately $4.7MM. While he could accept that one-year offer, it’s more likely that he’ll work out a more lucrative – and longer-term – agreement with the Hornets or another team. According to Boone, Charlotte considers Graham a part of the team’s core and is hopeful the two sides can work out a new deal.

The Hornets’ decision on Monk is the more interesting of the two. The former 11th overall pick struggled in his first three NBA seasons, making just 32.2% of his three-point attempts and serving a drug-related suspension in 2020. However, he emerged as a reliable role player in 2020/21, averaging 11.7 PPG on .434/.401/.819 shooting in 42 games (20.9 MPG).

With a crowded backcourt – one that now includes 11th overall pick James Bouknight – the Hornets opted against issuing Monk a $7MM+ qualifying offer, so he’ll be free to seek out a new home as an unrestricted free agent. Teams in need of shooting on the wing could give the former Kentucky standout a look this week.

The Hornets also didn’t tender a qualifying offer to two-way player Grant Riller, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who tweets that the team and player aren’t ruling out a new deal.

Kulboka Weighing Two-Way Option With Hornets?

A draft-and-stash prospect is reportedly considering a move to the NBA.

Lithuanian forward Arnoldas Kulboka is expected to leave his European team and one of his options is a two-way contract with the HornetsEnnio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando relays, via Chema de Lucas.

Kulboka officially re-signed with Spanish club Bilbao Basket for two more seasons last June, so he apparently had an opt-out clause. The 23-year-old Kulboka was selected by the Hornets with the No. 55 overall pick in the 2018 draft. His agent stated prior to that contract agreement with Bilbao that his client would have made the jump to the NBA this past season if not for the pandemic.

Kulboka, who stands 6’10”, averaged 9.2 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 22.8 MPG while appearing in 33 contests during the 2020/21 European season. He made 42.5% of his 3-point attempts, which increases his appeal. He was a member of the Hornets’ summer league teams in 2018 and 2o19.

The Hornets ended this season with guards Nate Darling and Grant Riller on two-way deals.

Southeast Notes: Vucevic, Iguodala, Heat, Hornets

Magic center Nikola Vucevic has given the team a feel-good story in the midst of an otherwise difficult campaign, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes.

Vucevic, who was named an All-Star for the second time of his career this season, is averaging an impressive 24.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He’s also shooting a career-high 41% from three-point range in his 36 contests.

“You get selected among 24 players out of 450 to make it and it’s a special feeling and a huge honor, something I’m very proud of,” Vucevic said. “It just shows that you’ve achieved a great level of respect from coaches around the league, other players around the league, and when you’re able to make it multiple times it kind of fortifies that.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald examines Andre Iguodala‘s veteran impact on the Heat. Iguodala, a former Finals MVP, is currently in his 18th NBA season. “He brings that stability on the floor and even off the floor,” teammate Goran Dragic said of Iguodala. “He has got a lot of experience. He has been in a lot of tough games. He won championships. So it’s always nice to have a guy next to you to ask for some advice. He’s like an open book. … Him, [Udonis Haslem], those two guys are tremendous for our team.”
  • Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel explores whether the Heat should trade for a star player now — even if it impacts the team’s long-term flexibility. Miami has expressed interest in several combo forwards ahead of the March 25 deadline, winning seven of its final 10 games before the All-Star break.
  • The Hornets have recalled centers Vernon Carey Jr. and Nick Richards from their G League affiliate in Greensboro, the team announced (Twitter link). The team also announced (via Twitter) that two-way players Grant Riller and Nate Darling were transferred from the NBAGL to Charlotte.

Hornets Sending McDaniels, Carey, Others To G League Bubble

The Hornets are sending several players from their 16-man roster to the Greensboro Swarm to participate in the NBA G League bubble, the team confirmed today.

According to a press release, second-year forward Jalen McDaniels has been assigned to the Swarm, along with rookies Vernon Carey Jr. and Nick Richards. Additionally, two-way players Grant Riller and Nate Darling have been transferred to the Hornets’ G League affiliate.

McDaniels, Carey, Richards, Riller, and Darling will join a Swarm roster that features Admiral Schofield, the No. 1 pick in this month’s NBAGL draft, and affiliate players Kahlil Whitney, Xavier Sneed, Keandre Cook, and Javin DeLaurier, among others.

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer earlier this week that Carey and Richards have looked somewhat “overwhelmed” during their first year in the NBA, and that the team welcomes the opportunity to get them regular playing time at the G League level — especially since the condensed NBA schedule has allowed for fewer practices than normal.

Since McDaniels and the two-way players have also been out of coach James Borrego‘s regular rotation in Charlotte, it makes sense that they’d also be sent to the G League bubble for developmental purposes, as Bonnell writes in a separate story.

While the Hornets will be able to recall any of those five players from the G League to rejoin the NBA roster at any time, those players are expected to spend some or all of the NBAGL season in the bubble, per Bonnell. Given all the protocols in place related to COVID-19, it won’t be as easy logistically for teams to constantly assign and recall players this season, so I imagine we’ll see less back-and-forth movement than usual between the two leagues.

Hornets Sign Riller, Darling To Two-Way Deals

The Hornets have signed guard Grant Riller, a late second-round pick, to a two-way contract, according to a team press release.

Riller had a stellar college career at the College of Charleston. The 56th overall pick of the draft averaged 18.7 PPG and 2.8 APG in 132 career contests.

As previously reported, undrafted guard Nate Darling is the team’s other two-way player and his signing is also official. At Delaware last season, Darling averaged 21.0 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 2.8 APG in 32 starts.

In a separate release, the Hornets also announced the signing of big man Nick Richards, the 42nd pick of the draft. As a junior at Kentucky last season, he was named to the All-SEC First Team and the SEC All-Defensive Team after averaging 14.0 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 2.1 BPG in 29.7 MPG over 31 games.

Richards received a three-year contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.