International

And-Ones: Super Teams, LeBron, Draft Sleepers, Foster

The super-team model for winning an NBA championship is becoming less effective, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. The Nets and Sixers are two of the latest examples to fail with that strategy, both by acquiring James Harden. The Big Three in Brooklyn captured just one playoff series before Harden was shipped to Philadelphia, where his pairing with Joel Embiid resulted in a second-round exit.

In the Western Conference, injuries have prevented Kawhi Leonard and Paul George from reaching their full potential with the Clippers, Bondy notes, and the Lakers’ decision to team Russell Westbrook with LeBron James and Anthony Davis was a complete disaster. Bondy adds that the teams remaining in the playoffs were all built mainly through the draft, with later additions focusing mainly on defense.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • James tops the list of the world’s 100 highest-paid male athletes released this week by Sportico. James made $36.9MM in salary over the past year and $90MM in endorsements, putting him $4.6MM ahead of soccer star Lionel Messi. Three other NBA players finished in the top 10: Stephen Curry at No. 6 with total earnings of $86.2MM, Kevin Durant at No. 7 with $85.9MM and Harden at No. 9 with $76MM. It’s the most James has ever earned over a 12-month stretch, according to Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico.
  • Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated lists five unheralded players to keep an eye on in this year’s draft. On his list are North Carolina State freshman guard Terquavion Smith, Alabama senior guard Keon Ellis, Connecticut senior forward Tyrese Martin, Loyola Chicago senior guard Lucas Williamson and Texas Tech senior forward Bryson Williams. Woo doesn’t expect them all to be drafted, but he does believe they’ll exceed expectations and carve out a spot in the NBA.
  • Marcus Foster, who played for the Rockets’ G League affiliate in Rio Grande Valley this season, has signed with Promitheas Patras for the Greek League playoffs, according to Sportando. The 26-year-old guard, who was in Houston’s training camp prior to the start of the season, has an option to sign with an NBA or EuroLeague team this summer.

And-Ones: Beasley, Delaney, Bolmaro, Duarte, EuroLeague, Ticket Prices

Michael Beasley has officially committed to play in the BIG3 league with 3’s Company this summer, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. ESPN’s Marc J. Spears recently reported Beasley was expected to play in the league. The former No. 2 pick, who last played in the NBA with the Lakers during the 2018/19 season, has hired agent Andre Buck and will continue pursuing an NBA comeback. 

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA player Malcolm Delaney will miss the remainder of Olimpio Milano’s season due to an abdominal injury, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets. Delaney won’t return to Milan next season. “Two special years, in which I played in two of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of, but with a lot of bad luck,” Delaney said. “I enjoyed my experience in Milan, on and off the court.”
  • Timberwolves rookie Leandro Bolmaro and Pacers rookie Chris Duarte will be among the coaches at the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Americas camp next week, according to an NBA press release. The camp will be held from Monday to Thursday in San Luis Potosí, Mexico and will bring together the top high-school age boys and girls from Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean.
  • This year’s EuroLeague First Team selections have a distinct NBA flavor. NBA veterans Mike James, Shane Larkin and Nikola Mirotic were all selected to the First Team along with Walter Tavares and Sasha Vezenkov, Eurohoops.net tweets.
  • Ticket prices around the NBA continue to rise as attendance drops, Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis of the New York Post report. According to the Post, fans are now paying an average of $109 per ticket, an 18.6% increase since 2018/19. However, the number of paid fans at arenas has dropped 7.1% to 13,603 per game. Those numbers could impact the league’s negotiations with its broadcast partners.

Bucks, Hawks To Play Preseason Games In Abu Dhabi

The NBA will head to the Middle East later this year, announcing today in a press release that the Bucks and Hawks will play a pair of preseason games in Abu Dhabi on October 6 and October 8, 2022.

The games will be the league’s first in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in the Arabian Gulf.

The NBA’s foray into international markets for preseason games has been on hold during the last couple years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it appears it will resume this fall.

In 2019, the league played preseason games in India, Japan, and China. Since ’19, regular season games have also been played in England, France, and Mexico. The Spurs reportedly hope to play more regular season home games in Mexico during the next couple seasons.

As Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details, commissioner Adam Silver was asked last month about playing in the UAE despite the country’s human rights record, and acknowledged it was a “fair question.”

“We look at many different factors in terms of how we travel, bring our games,” Silver said. “But our ultimate goal is to bring our games to everywhere around the world. There are lines we draw, but we’re an American company and usually we allow those lines to be drawn by our government. Whoever happens to be our administration gives us direction on where they think it’s appropriate for us to operate and not operate.”

And-Ones: Coaching Candidates, Kirkwood, Garuba, Embiid

Suns assistant Kevin Young, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, Celtics assistant Will Hardy, Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic, Heat assistants Chris Quinn and Malik Allen, and Warriors assistants Mike Brown and Kenny Atkinson are among the assistants around the NBA who are viewed as potential head coaching candidates by league insiders, according to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz (Insider-only link).

A number of the names on Arnovitz’s list have been linked to one or more of the NBA’s three current head coaching openings. Ham and Brown, for instance, all believed to be under consideration by all three of the Hornets, Lakers, and Kings.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Harvard senior guard Noah Kirkwood, who declared for the 2022 NBA draft as an early entrant, has decided to remain in the draft and go pro rather than using his final year of college eligibility, according to agent Ronnie Zeidel (Twitter link via Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports).
  • Rockets forward/center Usman Garuba said in an interview with Spanish outlet AS.com that he’s committed to representing Spain at this year’s EuroBasket competition, as Eurohoops relays.
  • In an intriguing bit of international basketball news, an RMC Sport report indicates that Sixers center Joel Embiid is exploring the possibility of obtaining French citizenship and representing France in future international events. Embiid was born in Cameroon, but has family from France and has never suited up for the Cameroonian national team.

And-Ones: Cotton, 2021 Re-Draft, Pro Days, G League Camp

Veteran guard Bryce Cotton, the top player in Australia’s National Basketball League, isn’t planning a return to the NBA. The Perth Wildcats have reached a contract extension agreement with the three-time NBL MVP, Sportando’s Dario Skerletic reports. Cotton, 29, averaged 22.7 PPG and 4.8 APG last season. He played a total of 23 games for Utah, Phoenix and Memphis from 2014-16.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • How would last year’s draft look if it were held now? The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie explores that topic, ranking those players on how they performed this year, whether they can improve upon their weaknesses and how they figure to grow and mature. The top five, in order, would be Cade Cunningham, Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Franz Wagner, Vecenie says.
  • The NBA has sent memo to teams informing them that agency Pro Days will only be permitted during two windows — the week of the NBA Combine from May 16-21 and in Southern California from May 25-27, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets.
  • The NBA G League Elite Camp will have workouts May 16-17 in Chicago and the Combine will run workouts from May 18-20, Adam Zagoria tweets.

Tomas Satoransky Eyes Return To Spain

Tomas Satoransky is negotiating with FC Barcelona regarding a possible reunion with the Spanish team, according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando.

Satoransky will be an unrestricted NBA free agent this summer but apparently is looking toward overseas options. He played for three NBA teams this season — 32 games with the Pelicans, one with the Spurs and 22 more with the Wizards. In the latter stop, he appeared in 22 games (10 starts) and averaged 4.9 PPG, 4.9 APG and 2.8 RPG.

Satoransky, who was in the final season of a expiring three-year, $30MM contract, was traded twice in 2021/22 and was bought out by the Spurs. He signed with Washington after clearing waivers.

The combo guard played for Barcelona from 2014-16 before embarking on his NBA career. He has appeared in 388 NBA games, averaging 6.9 PPG and 4.1 APG in 22.2 MPG.

NBA Announces Initial Early Entrant List For 2022 Draft

The NBA has officially released the initial list of early entrants for the 2022 NBA draft, announcing in a press release that 283 players have filed as early entry candidates. Of those prospects, 247 are from colleges, while 36 are international early entrants.

Those are big numbers, but they fall well short of the 353 early entrants who initially declared for the draft a year ago. Beginning in 2021, the NCAA granted players an extra year of eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in seniors having to decide between staying at college for one more season or declaring for the draft as an “early” entrant.

That tweak to the NCAA’s eligibility rules has increased the number of total early entrants due to the influx of seniors into the pool. However, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN observes (via Twitter), the number of college non-seniors (123) on the initial early entry list this year is actually the lowest since 2016, while the number of international prospects (36) is the lowest since 2014.

This year’s total of 283 early entrants figures to shrink significantly by June 1 and again by June 13, the two deadlines for players to withdraw their names from the draft pool. But it still looks like the pool will remain extremely crowded, with the eventual number of early entrants certain to exceed 58, the number of picks in the draft.

Our tracker of early entrants for the 2022 draft is fully up to date and can be found right here.

Here are the changes we made to our tracker today:


Newly-added players:

College players:

These players either didn’t publicly announce that they were entering the draft or we simply missed it when they did.

International players:

These players weren’t previously mentioned on our list of international early entrants. The country listed here indicates where they last played, not necessarily where they were born.

Other notable draft-eligible early entrants:

The NBA sent its teams a list of 33 “also-eligible” names. That list isn’t public, but Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link) shared some of the most notable players on it, and we’ve added them to our early entrant tracker. They are as follows:

  1. Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite
  2. MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite
  3. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite
  4. Henri Drell, G/F, Windy City Bulls
  5. Michael Foster, F, G League Ignite
  6. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite
  7. Makur Maker, C, Sydney Kings (formerly Howard Bison)
  8. Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite
  9. Samson Ruzhentsev, G/F, Mega Basket (formerly Florida Gators)
  10. Kai Sotto, C, Adelaide 36ers (formerly G League Ignite)
  11. Zaire Wade, G, Salt Lake City Stars
  12. Kok Yat, F, Overtime Elite
  13. Fanbo Zeng, F, G League Ignite

Players removed:

Despite reports or announcements that the players below would declare for the draft, they didn’t show up on the NBA’s official list.

That could mean a number of things — they may have decided against entering the draft; they may have entered the draft, then withdrawn; they may have had no NCAA eligibility remaining, making them automatically draft-eligible; they may have incorrectly filed their paperwork; or the NBA may have accidentally omitted some names.

In any case, we’ve removed the following names from our early entrant list, at least for the time being.

Finally, Givony reports (via Twitter) that Canadian forward Leonard Miller, from the Fort Erie International Academy has been asked to fill out additional paperwork to finalize his entrance into the draft pool. According to Givony, there’s an expectation that Miller will be added to the list, so we’ve left him listed in our early entrant tracker among the international players.

Draft Notes: Braun, Wilson, Diop, Santos, Edey, Pack, Miller

After winning a national championship with the Jayhawks this season, Kansas junior shooting guard Christian Braun is entering his name in the 2022 NBA draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

Ranked as the No. 30 overall prospect on ESPN’s big board, Braun took a major step forward in his third college season, averaging 14.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.8 APG on .495/.386/.733 shooting in 40 games (34.4 MPG). He also played a big role in this month’s title game, scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to help Kansas secure the victory.

“It is hard to follow a season where you win every championship that’s in front of you, but I’m excited to explore the options in front of me and enjoy this process,” Braun told ESPN. “I’ve worked my whole life to show the NBA who I am and what I’m about, so I will continue to put my head down and work to achieve my dream of playing in the NBA.”

Meanwhile, Braun’s teammate Jalen Wilson will once again test the waters, according to Andrew Joseph of USA Today (Twitter link), who notes that the 6’8″ forward has signed with an NCAA-certified agency. A redshirt sophomore, Wilson first tested the draft waters in 2021.

Here are a few more draft-related updates as the early entrant deadline nears:

  • Senegalese center Khalifa Diop, who currently plays for Gran Canaria in Spain, is entering the draft, per Global Scouting (Twitter link). Diop is the No. 40 prospect on ESPN’s board.
  • Brazilian forward Gui Santos, the No. 84 prospect on ESPN’s top-100 list, has declared for the draft, according to a Super Esportes report. Santos has been playing for Minas in the Brazilian league.
  • Purdue big man Zach Edey, the No. 67 prospect on ESPN’s board, has announced (via Instagram) that he’ll remain with the Boilermakers for his junior year.
  • After entering the transfer portal while testing the draft waters, Kansas State’s Nijel Pack has committed to Miami, he announced on Saturday (Twitter link). Having secured a lucrative NIL deal, Pack appears committed to playing at least one more college season rather than keeping his name in the draft.
  • Canadian forward Leonard Miller, from the Fort Erie International Academy, is entering the draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Givony notes that Miller made an impression at the Nike Hoop Summit earlier this month.

Draft Decisions: Nembhard, Tshiebwe, Juzang, Etienne, Procida

Gonzaga senior point guard Andrew Nembhard is entering the 2022 NBA draft and forgoing his final year of college eligibility, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Nembhard is ranked No. 50 overall on ESPN’s top-100 prospect list and is considered a probable second-round pick.

As Givony details, Nembhard has good size (6’5″) for a point guard and improved his outside shot over the course of his four years with the Zags. The 22-year-old told ESPN that he’d love to be a first-round pick, but his top priority would be to land in a spot where he can have a role and make an impact.

“Initially I can bring backup point guard minutes to a team. A player like Tyus Jones — I can emulate his role, bring a high assist-to-turnover ratio, get guys open shots, hit open threes and understand the game,” Nembhard said. “I can see myself in a similar role. I can give a team a different look off the bench, pushing the pace in transition, getting guys open shots. With the way the NBA spacing is, that’s only going to help me.”

Here are more of the latest updates on this year’s draft pool:

  • Kentucky junior forward Oscar Tshiebwe, who has been the No. 44 prospect on ESPN’s top-100 list, has opted to stick with the Wildcats rather than entering the draft, he announced on Sportscenter on Wednesday (Twitter link via Givony). Tshiebwe, the consensus National Player of the Year and the NCAA’s leading rebounder (15.2 RPG), has been a major beneficiary of players’ NIL rights — a source tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link) that the 22-year-old will likely earn about $2MM this season through NIL.
  • UCLA junior guard Johnny Juzang, the No. 80 prospect on ESPN’s big board, has entered the draft and sounds prepared to go pro, announcing his decision on Instagram. After beginning his college career with Kentucky, Juzang transferred to UCLA in 2020 and averaged 15.8 PPG on .436/.356/.854 shooting in 57 games (32.1 MPG) across two seasons for the Bruins.
  • Wichita State junior guard Tyson Etienne is entering the draft and forgoing his remaining NCAA eligibility, he tells Givony (Twitter link). After being named the AAC Player of the Year in 2021, Etienne saw his production dip a little in 2021/22, as he averaged 14.9 PPG on .359/.326/.768 shooting in 27 games (34.3 MPG).
  • Italian wing Gabriele Procida has entered the 2022 draft, his agency Sigma Sports announced (via Twitter). The No. 53 prospect on ESPN’s board, Procida has averaged 7.1 PPG and 3.1 RPG on .533/.411/.800 shooting for Fortitudo Bologna in Italian League play this season at age 19.
  • Two more international prospects – French guard Matthew Strazel and Italian center Leonardo Okeke – have declared for the draft. Strazel’s decision was announced by agent Olivier Mazet (Twitter link), while Orazio Cauchi of BasketNews.com (Twitter link) relayed the news on Okeke.

Enes Freedom Interested In Playing In Greece

If Enes Freedom can’t hook on with another NBA team, he wants to play in Greece, Sportando relays.

Freedom would be interested in signing with Panathinaikos, partially for political reasons, he told Greek publications Ethnikos Kirikas.

“My first goal is to play in the NBA and I want to be there,” he said. “However, if this does not happen, I have grown up watching Panathinaikos, Olympiacos, and other teams, but first of all, I would like to meet with the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis. I would like to shake his hand and thank him for accepting the Turkish refugees. This is an important step of the friendship between Greece and Turkey.

“Then, I would like to talk to him about the possibility to come to a team like Panathinaikos and build a friendship between the two countries. If I play in a Greek team, it will not be just for basketball. I want to build a bridge between these people,” Freedom added. “We are not so far away: we eat the same food, while our cultures are very similar. Panathinaikos is the first choice in Europe. Let’s not forget that my friend Mario Hezonja played there as well.”

Freedom became a free agent shortly after he was traded from Boston to Houston on February 10. He was officially waived by the Rockets four days later and later asserted his outspoken views on China contributed to the lack of interest from other NBA teams.

He appeared in 35 games with Boston this season after seeing action in 72 games with Portland last season.