International

Derrick Walton To Play In Lithuania

After being waived by the Bulls over the weekend, guard Derrick Walton has lined up his next opportunity, with Lithuanian team Zalgiris Kaunas announcing today (via Twitter) that it has officially added Walton to its backcourt (hat tip to Sportando).

Walton, 23, signed a two-way contract with the Heat last year and appeared in 16 games for the NBA squad, playing limited minutes. He saw more extensive action for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s G League affiliate, recording 16.1 PPG, 7.0 APG, and 4.0 RPG with a .442/.377/.902 shooting line in 27 games for the club.

Although the Heat initially tendered Walton a two-way qualifying offer, they withdrew that QO in July, clearing the way for the former Michigan point guard to sign a camp deal with the Bulls. However, he didn’t make the team’s regular season roster.

Walton joins a lengthy list of veterans who will play overseas in 2018/19 after seeing NBA action last season.

And-Ones: Jefferson, Diaw, Magic, Blazers, Rockets

As expected, after announcing his retirement as a player over the weekend, Richard Jefferson has quickly secured a new job. The longtime NBA forward has officially joined the YES Network and will work as a Nets game and studio analyst this season, according to a press release.

Speaking of post-retirement jobs, Boris Diaw – who called it a career last month – has joined France’s national team as the program’s deputy general manager, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays.

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

  • A pair of longtime NBA owners – Richard DeVos of the Magic and Paul Allen of the Trail Blazers – have passed way in the last month and a half. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders explores what that means for the future of those two franchises.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN.com passes along some interesting data on the NBA’s opening-night rosters, tweeting that the Nuggets, Knicks, and Trail Blazers have the youngest rosters, while the Rockets, Heat, and Mavericks are on the other end of the spectrum. Meanwhile, the NBA announces that the opening-night rosters feature a total of 108 international players from 42 different countries and territories.
  • The Rockets have agreed to a partnership with a new jersey sponsor, announcing today that the ROKiT Phones logo will appear in the top-left corner of their uniforms during the 2018/19 season. Twenty-seven NBA teams now have ad patches on their jerseys — Indiana, Oklahoma City, and Washington are the lone holdouts.

And-Ones: Barkley, J. Smith, D. Johnson, L. Brown

TNT analyst Charles Barkley has been outspoken about his desire to run an NBA team and he said in a recent interview that he thought the Magic were going to give him a chance last year, relays Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. Barkley told radio station 98.7 FM Arizona that he was hoping for an interview in Orlando before the organization decided on Jeff Weltman as president of basketball operations and John Hammond as GM.

“They hired another one of those analytical idiots instead of just getting the best players,” Barkley said.

Barkley expressed interest in taking over the Sixers‘ front office in 2012 and the Suns‘ in both 2010 and 2013. Barkley didn’t indicate whether he wants to be a candidate to replace Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough, who was fired earlier this week.

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

  • At age 32, Josh Smith hasn’t give up hope of an NBA comeback, tweets Ben Stinar of AmicoHoops. Smith played three games for the Pelicans last year, but otherwise hasn’t been in the league since the end of the 2015/16 season. However, a source tells Stinar that Smith is working out and waiting for an opportunity.
  • Most teams made their final roster cuts before yesterday’s waiver deadline at 5pm Eastern, but a few still have decisions to make, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Players with non-guaranteed salaries have begun to receive daily payments that will count against their teams’ salary caps. The Suns, for instance, will owe Isaiah Canaan $19,858 if they wait until Monday to waive him.
  • The NBA has changed the way it will count days of service for two-way players, tweets ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Travel days to and from the G League will no longer count against the 45-day limit.
  • Former Thunder center Dakari Johnson has opted to remain with Qingdao in China, contrary to a report earlier this week that he planned to leave, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The team’s GM confirmed Johnson’s decision.
  • Former NBA and NCAA coach Larry Brown recently traveled to the United States for minor surgery, Carchia tweets. Brown currently coaches Fiat Torino and will be re-evaluated by doctors next week to determine when he can return to Italy.

Shabazz Muhammad Expected To Play In China

Recently waived veteran swingman Shabazz Muhammad is expected to sign a deal with the Shanxi Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association, per Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops. We relayed yesterday that Muhammad would likely sign with a Chinese team barring another NBA opportunity.

Soon to be 26 years old, Muhammad was waived by the Bucks on Thursday as Milwaukee cut down its roster. He appeared in two preseason games, but his most significant action with the Bucks came in 11 games last season when he averaged 8.5 PPG.

Muhammad was originally selected 14th overall by the Jazz in 2013, but the Timberwolves acquired him on draft night. The forward spent four-and-a-half seasons in Minnesota, averaging 9.0 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 267 games.

The UCLA product has never averaged more than 10.5 PPG in a season where he played in more than 38 games.

Muhammad’s new deal cannot be finalized until he clears NBA waivers. That will happen later today, assuming he goes unclaimed.

And-Ones: New NBAGL Rules, Muhammad, Draft

The NBA G League often serves as a testing ground for new and experimental rules that the NBA may eventually consider implementing. For the 2018/19 season, the G League will introduce two more of those new rules, the league announced today in a press release.

One of those rules will require the shot clock to be set to 14 seconds – instead of 24 – when a team advances the ball to the frontcourt following a reset or team timeout. The second rule involves a “transition take foul,” when a defender fouls an offensive player during a transition opportunity without attempting to make a play on the ball, as seen here. In that scenario, the offensive team can select any player in the game to shoot one free throw and then gets the ball back.

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

  • Shabazz Muhammad, waived by the Bucks on Thursday, may end up heading to China for the 2018/19 season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. A source tells Carchia that Muhammad is leaning toward signing a deal with a Chinese team – possibly Jiangsu – if he doesn’t quickly find a new NBA home.
  • While some fans may argue that it’s far too early to start talking about the 2019 NBA draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) is already looking ahead to 2020. Givony’s first mock draft for ’20 features center James Wiseman at No. 1, point guard Cole Anthony at No. 2, and power forward Jaden McDaniels rounding out the top three. All three remain undecided on their respective colleges.
  • Luka Doncic has received more hype than any other international NBA prospect in recent years, but there are plenty of other players overseas worth keeping an eye on going forward. Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press identifies five foreign-born prospects who are on NBA teams’ radars.

Trevor Booker Hopes To Join NBA Team Later In Season

Trevor Booker joined China’s Shanxi Brave Dragons back in August, but recently left the team. Now we know why. According to Booker’s agency, Tandem Sports and Entertainment, the veteran power forward is returning to America to undergo a surgical procedure on a foot injury he suffered in China.

“Trevor is extremely disappointed to miss this season with Shanxi,” Booker’s agent Jim Tanner said in a statement. “He is determined to devote all of the rehab and recovery time necessary in order to be in the best shape possible.”

While the announcement doesn’t offer many specifics on Booker’s injury, his agency suggests he’s expected to make a full recovery in time to join an NBA team in the new year. As such, Booker likely won’t be on teams’ radars for the first couple months of the season, but it’s possible we’ll see him on the roster by around the All-Star break. When the veteran first signed with Shanxi, he vowed that he’d be “back on a NBA floor terrorizing people again soon enough.”

Booker, who will turn 31 next month, began the 2017/18 campaign with the Nets but was traded to Philadelphia in the deal that send Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas to Brooklyn. When the Sixers signed Ersan Ilyasova later in the season, Booker became expendable and was released. After clearing waivers, he signed with Indiana and finished the season with the Pacers. For the year, he averaged 6.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.2 APG in 68 total games (17.0 MPG) for three teams.

And-Ones: Bennett, D. Johnson, G. Davis, Montreal

Former first overall pick Anthony Bennett appears set to continue his comeback attempt in the G League. According to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link), Bennett has signed an NBAGL contract for the coming season.

Bennett, who was drafted first overall by the Cavaliers in 2013, appeared in 35 G League games last season for the Northern Arizona Suns and Maine Red Claws, averaging 14.3 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 26.9 minutes per contest. As Johnson notes, the Red Claws still hold his G League rights, so they’ll have the option of bringing him back if they want to.

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

  • A pair of former NBA big men are leaving their international teams, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Carchia reports that Dakari Johnson is parting ways with Chinese team Qingdao, while Glen Davis is no longer playing for Croatian club KK Zadar (Twitter link).
  • In advance of the Raptors‘ preseason game in Montreal, a group of Quebec business people announced that they’ve begun the process of convincing the NBA that the city is a viable location for expansion or relocation, reports Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun (Twitter links). The group believes the league will expand eventually, and would like to at least be considered as a “Plan B,” according to Wolstat, who says the plan would be to have the team play at Montreal’s Bell Centre (Twitter links).
  • Veteran NBA agent Calvin Andrews, who represents players like Aaron Gordon (Magic) and Josh Okogie (Timberwolves) has left BDA Sports to form his own agency called Serving Athletes with Integrity, tweets Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal.
  • The NBA will play additional preseason games overseas next year, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com, who tweets that the league is adding trips to Japan and Dubai/India to its preseason schedule.

Cole Aldrich Signs With Tianjin Gold Lions

Veteran NBA center Cole Aldrich has officially signed with China’s Tianjin Gold Lions, as Nicola Lupo of Sportando relays. Jeff Goodman of Stadium first reported last week that Aldrich was expected to head to China, but didn’t specify which team the big man would be joining.

[RELATED: NBA Players Who Are Headed Overseas For 2018/19]

Aldrich, who will turn 30 in three weeks, spent the last two seasons in Minnesota, playing a limited role for the Timberwolves. In 2017/18, he appeared in just 21 games and played only 49 total minutes.

While his contract with Minnesota covered the 2018/19 season, Aldrich’s salary for the coming year only featured a modest partial guarantee, so the Wolves waived him in June before the full guarantee kicked in, making him an unrestricted free agent. He subsequently received a camp invite from the Hawks, who released him last Tuesday.

For his career, Aldrich – the 11th overall pick in 2010 – has recorded 3.1 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 339 regular season games for the Thunder, Rockets, Kings, Knicks, Clippers, and Timberwolves.

Chris McCullough Expected To Replace Trevor Booker On Chinese Team

A day after being waived by the Pistons, former first-round pick Chris McCullough appears to have lined up a new professional opportunity.

According to a pair of reports from Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, McCullough is poised to sign with the Shanxi Brave Dragons in China, replacing veteran NBA forward Trevor Booker, who is said to be parting ways with the club.

Booker, who reached a one-year agreement with Shanxi two months ago, reportedly signed a one-year contract worth $2MM plus incentives. It’s not clear why the union between the two sides is coming to such an early end, but if Booker is officially released and receives FIBA clearance, he’ll be a candidate to join an NBA team at some point this season. He’s said to have received interest from the Cavaliers, Heat, and Timberwolves before signing with Shanxi.

As for McCullough, the former Nets and Wizards forward joined the Pistons for training camp, but was released by Detroit on Sunday. The 23-year-old, who was drafted 29th overall in 2015, has appeared in 59 total regular season games for Brooklyn and Washington, averaging 3.3 PPG and 1.9 RPG in 9.0 minutes per contest.

Assuming he finalizes a deal with Shanxi, McCullough will get an opportunity for more playing time in China. He’ll clear waivers on Tuesday if no NBA team places a claim.

And-Ones: Seattle, Two-Way Deals, Trade Candidates

With the Warriors and Kings set to play a preseason game in Seattle this Friday, Kevin Durant – who began his NBA career with the SuperSonics – suggested this week that he’d like to see the NBA bring a team back to the city, as Nick Friedell of ESPN.com writes.

“Most definitely,” Durant said. “It’s a basketball city. It’s a sports town. … They have a good representation of basketball in the NBA from Seattle-born players, Washington state-born players. And I feel like that whole brand deserves an NBA team. Just like the Golden State Warriors deserve a team or the Los Angeles Lakers deserve a team, Seattle is that same way.”

While the city of Seattle would almost certainly be next in line if the NBA decides to add a new team, the league has shown little desire to expand beyond 30 franchises, and none of those 30 clubs appears to be in any danger of being relocated in the near future. As such, it remains to be seen when we might see the SuperSonics return to the NBA.

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

  • The introduction of the two-way contract was one of the major changes in the NBA’s most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement, and so far it has been a relative success, creating job opportunities for 60 additional players, as Michael Scotto of The Athletic observes in a deep dive on the subject. However, some agents would like to see the system tweaked a little, suggesting that multiyear two-way deals shouldn’t be permitted and that there should be a limit to the number of two-way contracts a team can sign in a given league year.
  • Dan Feldman of NBC Sports identifies five top candidates to be traded during the 2018/19 league year, ranging from the obvious candidates (Jimmy Butler) to some under-the-radar ones (Dewayne Dedmon).
  • Former Celtics and Cavaliers power forward Luke Harangody continues to play professionally overseas, having signed this week with Spanish team Joventut Badalona, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The former second-round pick has now played overseas for several years, last appearing in the NBA in 2012.