International

Bulls In Mix For Milos Teodosic?

If Milos Teodosic decides to leave Europe for the NBA, the Bulls appear to be a possible landing spot, according to Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops. The Bulls are reportedly willing to offer Teodosic a multiyear contract worth more than CSKA Moscow’s reported offer of 12 million euros over three seasons.

After a weekend report claimed CSKA upped its initial offer to Teodosic, a separate report suggested that the Russian team’s offer has not been changed and is considered “final.”

Varlas quotes several NBA general managers who claim that Teodosic is the best player not signed to an NBA squad. The 30-year-old Serbian guard has been a productive player in Europe, averaging exactly 16.1 PPG the last two seasons while averaging 6.5 APG over the last three.

The Netsacquisition of D’Angelo Russell earlier today may have eliminated a notable suitor for Teodosic’s services, as NetsDaily points out. Brooklyn has been mentioned all year as a possible landing spot for the Euroleague star, but with Russell and Jeremy Lin at the point guard spot, it no longer appears to be a position of need for the Nets.

Still, it seems that Teodosic will have no shortage of suitors no matter where he decides to play next season. Various reports have named the Jazz, Kings, Heat, and Nuggets as other NBA clubs that could be in the mix for the point guard’s services.

Latest On Milos Teodosic, CSKA Moscow

JUNE 19, 7:49am: A CKSA Moscow source tells international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link) that CSKA hasn’t upped its offer to Teodosic since the team made its initial proposal following the Euroleague finale. That offer is viewed as “final,” per Pick.

JUNE 18, 10:11am: CSKA Moscow has made a substantially higher offer to free agent guard Milos Teodosic, who is expected to be pursued by several NBA teams this summer, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

The latest offer from the Russian powerhouse is five years at 30 million euros — about the equivalent of $33.9MM — with an “important role as a leader” when his playing days are finished. It represents a significant increase from the three-year, $13.5MM package that CSKA offered when the season ended.

The Nets are expected to aggressively pursue Teodosic, who is one of the top players outside the NBA and who made a splash at the 2016 Olympics. International writer David Pick has relayed that the 30-year-old guard will be seeking a three-year deal worth $25MM to $30MM. The Heat, Kings, Nuggets and Jazz have also expressed interest in Teodosic.

Coming off a third-place finish in this year’s Euroleague, Teodosic plans to take time to contemplate his next move.

“We had a great season, which was very difficult given the new Euroleague format. Unfortunately, we did not win there, but had better success in the VTB United League,” Teodosic told the Russian news agency TASS this week. “Now I want to have a good rest and decide where to continue my career. At the moment I’m lost in thought.”

Celtics Notes: Ainge, Fultz, Tatum, Theis

Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, has risked his legacy by trading the top pick in this year’s draft, writes Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Mannix points out that Ainge gave up Markelle Fultz, a player who scouts seem unanimously sold on, for a chance at Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum, who play the same position as Boston’s first pick from last year, Jaylen Brown. Ainge may be preparing for a larger deal, but the Pelicans seem to have no desire to move Anthony Davis, and the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler or the Pacers’ Paul George would probably be just a brief rental. Mannix believes Philadelphia now has a team that can contend for the playoffs next season and possibly grow into the East’s next power. If that happens, Ainge’s reputation will take a major hit.

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • The Celtics get an A-minus for the deal and the Sixers get an A-plus from Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated. He writes that Fultz’s skills don’t fit with Boston’s immediate needs and his presence would have complicated Isaiah Thomas‘ free agency in 2018. Ainge, who owns Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder next season, may have two lottery picks to work with if the Lakers’ choice falls between No. 2 and 5. If not, he will have the Kings’ first-rounder in 2019.
  • Despite reports that they are pursuing another deal, the Celtics are telling agents they plan to use the No. 3 pick, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.
  • Tatum is a strong possibility for the Celtics if the Lakers opt for Jackson at No. 2, according to Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald (Twitter link). Boston ranks Fultz, Jackson, Tatum and Lonzo Ball as its top four prospects.
  • The trade slightly raises Boston’s cap space to $19.8MM, tweets Keith Smith of Real GM, who adds that it can still be increased with other moves. The Sixers now have $40.2MM available, second only to the Kings.
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation examines the Celtics’ possible motives for the deal, including a desire to take Jackson, to avoid conflict with Thomas, to set up a bigger deal involving Butler or George or to build a team capable of taking over the East when LeBron James retires.
  • The Celtics have “serious interest” in German forward Daniel Theis, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 25-year-old is a free agent after his contract with Brose Bamberg expired.

And-Ones: World Peace, Lillard, Blatt, Calathes

Veteran NBA forward Metta World Peace, who said at season’s end that he doesn’t expect to be back with the Lakers in 2017/18, has an uncertain basketball future and intends to put off a decision on his next move until August. As Emiliano Carchia of Sportando details, World Peace told Italy’s La Gazzetta Dello Sport that he’s leaving the door open to the possibility of playing in China or Europe if no NBA opportunities arise for him.

The man formerly known as Ron Artest has maintained in recent months that he’d like to play 20 professional basketball seasons before he calls it a career. World Peace, who will turn 38 this fall, has spent 17 seasons in the NBA and also played in China and Italy in 2014/15, so he’ll need to play for two more years to meet that goal.

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

  • Damian Lillard created some speculation fodder during a Twitter Q&A with fans today when he answered a question about where he’d sign if he had to leave Portland. “If [the] Blazers said they didn’t want me… Utah Jazz or Lakers,” Lillard replied (via Twitter). Lillard is under contract through 2021, so Blazers fans should have nothing to worry about anytime soon.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer makes the case for why 2017’s NBA draft looks primed for more draft-pick trades than usual.
  • After coaching Darussafaka in Turkey this past season, David Blatt is meeting Darussafaka officials in Istanbul this week to resolve his release from the team and pave the way for his return to Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, per international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link). Blatt coached the Israeli club for several seasons before joining the Cavaliers in 2014.
  • Nick Calathes, a former second-round pick who spent two seasons with the Grizzlies, is content to continue his playing career in Greece, as he tells EBasket (English link via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). “The NBA is still on my mind. Obviously I want to play at the highest levels. But in this moment the Panathinaikos is my priority,” Calathes said. “I am not in a hurry to go to the NBA. I love Panathinaikos and I am doing well here. So I am not pushing for something else.”

Draft Notes: Early Entrants, Fultz, Ferguson

The deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA draft came and went on Monday evening, with several more international prospects pulling their names out of the 2017 draft pool. The NCAA’s deadline to withdraw from the draft and retain college eligibility passed in May, so NCAA underclassmen generally weren’t affected by this week’s deadline, but it was a key date for international early entrants.

As agent Misko Raznatovic tweets, a handful of his clients withdrew from the draft on Monday — Ege Arar and Aleksa Ilic will now be draft-eligible in 2018, while Borisa Simanic and Kostja Mushidi will have the option of declaring again next year. Israeli forward Leo Cizmic has also withdrawn from the draft, according to agent Gerard Darnes (Twitter link).

As we wait for official word from the NBA on this year’s list of early entrants, let’s round up a few more draft-related items…

  • Probable No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz has hired an agent, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, who reports (via Twitter) that Raymond Brothers will represent the former Washington point guard. The new client of IAM Sports & Entertainment is expected to meet with the Lakers this week.
  • Speaking to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer, first-round prospect Terrance Ferguson explained why he circumvented the usual path to the NBA, criticizing the NCAA system. “At college, the only people making money off you are the coaches,” said Ferguson, who claims he’s more prepared for the NBA after playing international pro ball out of high school. “You’re not making anything off your jersey sales, ticket sales. Not anything. So go overseas, the way I did, and get your money’s worth. Get paid for what you’re doing.”
  • Pittsburgh’s Jamel Artis will work out this week for the Hornets on Wednesday and the Nets on Thursday, a source tells Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • South Carolina prospect P.J. Dozier, who worked out for the Hornets today, will audition for the Pelicans and Hawks next, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link) adds the Pistons, Jazz and Clippers to the list of teams that Michigan’s Derrick Walton has worked out for.

Possible First-Rounder Kurucs Withdraws From Draft

Rodions Kurucs has withdrawn his name from the 2017 NBA draft, FIBA agent Alturs Kalnitis tweets.

This is a surprising development in that Kurucs was considered first-round material. The 19-year-old Latvian forward, who currently plays for Barcelona 2, was ranked No. 18 overall by DraftExpress, while ESPN.com’s Chad Ford ranked Kurucs at No. 33. Ford noted that Kurucs is a long, athletic shooter with good size for his position.

The Nets were reportedly high on Kurucs and perhaps even willing to move up in the first round to snare him.

Kurucs played 24 games for the Barcelona team this season, averaging 9.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 1.4 APG in 21.2 MPG. The 6’8” Kurucs shot 31.9% on 3-point attempts.

Nets Notes: Birch, Workouts, Meeks, Obradovic

Khem Birch, a Quebec-born big man who went undrafted in 2014 and currently plays for Olympiacos in Greece, has been linked to the Nets. Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops cites sources who say that Brooklyn is “seriously considering” offering Birch a two-year contract for the upcoming season. However, NetsDaily (Twitter link) has been told that the Birch rumor is “completely false.”

Birch was solid last season as a part-time player for Olympiacos, and was a D-League All-Star back in 2015, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the UNLV alum get a shot at an NBA roster. But according to Eurohoops’ report, his buyout is worth upwards of $300K, so an NBA team with interest may be reluctant to pay that buyout for a camp invitee.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • The Nets conducted a group workout today, according to Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders, who tweets that Dillon Brooks, Jawun Evans, Jimmy Hall, Amile Jefferson, Erik McCree, and Derrick White were in attendance.
  • UNC’s Kennedy Meeks worked out for the Nets last week, and according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, some sources familiar with the workout said that Meeks “excelled.” The former Tar heels center isn’t one of DraftExpress’ top 100 prospects, but Begley suggests Meeks is viewed as a possible late-second-round pick, so he could be an option for Brooklyn at No. 57.
  • The Nets are adding Sasa Obradovic to their Summer League coaching staff, tweets international basketball reporter David Pick. Obradovic, a former international point guard, is currently the haed coach of Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia.

Draft Rumors: Ball, Kohs, Hawks, Blossomgame

Although the Lakers are impressed with Lonzo Ball‘s passing, scoring, and leadership potential, some team observers of his workout with the team believe he came in out of shape, writes Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Ball is still viewed as the odds-on favorite to be the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, but if the Lakers do go in another direction, conditioning concerns could play a part in that decision.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • In advance of today’s deadline, Latvian prospect Verners Kohs has withdrawn his name from the 2017 NBA draft, per agent Arturs Kalnitis (via Twitter). The 6’8″ small forward is ranked 13th by DraftExpress among 1997-born international prospects.
  • The Hawks will likely be in the market for a big man when they pick at No. 19 in next week’s draft, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who identifies nine players Atlanta may be targeting with that selection.
  • Utah State’s Jalen Moore, who worked out for Philadelphia today, has auditions for the Celtics and Bulls coming up later this week, and has already worked out for the Bucks, Magic, and Thunder, per Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com (Twitter link).
  • Camerato also passes along some workout info for Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame, tweeting that he has sessions lined up with the Hornets, Hawks, Pacers, Bucks, and Nuggets.

Arnoldas Kulboka To Withdraw From NBA Draft

International prospect Arnoldas Kulboka will withdraw his name from the 2017 NBA draft pool, reports Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com (Twitter link). Kulboka will have the opportunity to re-renter his name in the 2018 draft.

A 19-year-old Lithuanian forward, Kulboka currently plays professional ball in Germany for Brose Bamberg. He made his debut for the team last month, scoring 13 points and grabbing five boards in his first game with the squad.

Kulboka currently ranks in the top 100 for both Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Givony places the 6’9″ forward at No. 55 on his big board, while Ford has him at No. 62. However, Kulboka is by no means a finished product. Withdrawing his name will give him the opportunity to develop his game, boost his stock, and move closer to becoming NBA-ready.

While the deadline for NCAA underclassmen to withdraw from the draft passed last month, international early entrants have until Monday afternoon to back out. The NBA figures to release an official list of draft-eligible early entrants later this week.

And-Ones: James, 2003 Draft, Wanamaker

Many have compared Kevin Durant‘s decision to join Golden State to LeBron James‘ move to Miami back in 2010, but LBJ doesn’t see it as the same situation, as Steven Ruiz of USA Today relays.

“I don’t think our careers are the same, as far as changing teams,” James said. “Their team was already kind of put together. And you just implement a guy who’s ready to sacrifice – a great talent, a guy who’s willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win. But that team, they already knew what they were all about, and he just had to come in and do what he had to do. And that’s what he’s been doing.

“For me, when I left [Cleveland] to go to Miami, we had to build something. We brought in eight or nine guys, and we had to build something. And when I came back [to Cleveland] we had to build something again.”

Ten players were already on the Warriors roster when Durant arrived in town compared to just two—Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem—on the Heat when James came to South Beach.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Former Cavaliers GM Jim Paxson admits that he made moves during the 2002/03 season with the 2003 draft in mind, as he tells Sam Smith of NBA.com. “That season before [in 2002] we traded Andre Miller to the Clippers because he was up for that rookie extension for Darius Miles and some parts,” Paxson recalled. “I told ownership even though there is no guarantee [for the top pick], we need to take one more step back because this [2003] draft is going to be special [Paxson said their draft order was LeBron, Carmelo and then Bosh]. Andre was good enough to keep us in the 27 to 31-win range, which would take you out of that top three to four picks. We tied with Denver [for the most lottery balls] when we won the last game of the season. Then we got lucky to get the No. 1.”
  • Paxson added that he knew right away he had to surround James with shooting, Smith passes along in the same piece. The Cavaliers took Jason Kapono in the second-round of the 2003 draft.
  • Dan Fegan denies any ties to the new Dynasty Sports Group agency that was founded by former ISE agent Aylton Tesch, according to Liz Mullen of Sports Business Daily. Tesch left ISE shortly after the company fired Fegan.
  • CSKA Moscow plans to pursue Brad Wanamaker, who played collegiate ball at the University of Pittsburgh before flourishing in Europe, in the event that Milos Teodosic leaves for the NBA, international journalist David Pick reports (Twitter link).
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