International

And-Ones: LaMelo Ball, Brooks, De Colo, Black

Like fellow 2020 prospect R.J. Hampton, LaMelo Ball will play in Australia’s NBL next season. After announcing his decision on ESPN’s The Jump on Monday (link via ESPN’s Jonathan Givony), Ball made it official, signing with the Illawarra Hawks for the 2019/20 season. According to Givony, Ball signed a two-year contract, but it has NBA out clauses.

Having spent a year playing in Lithuania, Ball was unlikely to be cleared to play for an NCAA program anyway, but he’s still the second potential 2020 first-round pick to join the NBL for the coming season. LaMelo, who is Lonzo Ball‘s younger brother, is ranked by ESPN as the No. 21 prospect in next year’s draft class.

“My agents did a ton of research on the options I had to play this coming season, and Australia really made sense for me,” Ball told ESPN. “They have a really strong league, with excellent coaches and great players, including former and future NBA players, and great strength and conditioning programs. My goal is to be the top pick in next year’s draft, and I feel they can help me reach that goal. Also, the timing of the season works well with the timing of next year’s draft.”

Meanwhile, the Illawarra Hawks also appear poised to add a former NBA guard to their roster, as Lachy Reid of Channel Ten and Olgun Uluc of FOX Sports Australia (Twitter links) report that Aaron Brooks is set to join the Australian club (hat tip to Sportando). Brooks, a longtime NBA point guard, last played in the league in 2017/18 when he appeared in 32 games for the Timberwolves.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

Draft Updates: Oni, Langford, Bitadze, Bone, Harris

Yale wing Miye Oni returned to the Bucks’ practice facility for a second workout on Saturday, ESPN’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Oni averaged 17.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.6 APG during his junior season. The 6’6” Oni is hoping to become the first Ivy Leaguer drafted since 1995, Schultz adds.

We have more draft info:

  • Indiana freshman swingman Romeo Langford is meeting with the Heat this weekend, Schultz reports in another tweet. Miami possesses the No. 13 pick and Langford is ranked No. 14 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
  • International prospect Goga Bitadze is visiting the Celtics, Pistons and Hornets in the days leading up to Thursday’s draft. according to a tweet from Hawks website writer Kevin Chouinard. The 6’11” Bitadze, 19, led the EuroLeague and Adriatic League in blocks on both a per-game and per-minute basis. He is ranked No. 17 overall by Givony.
  • The Wizards worked out Tennessee guard Jordan Bone on Saturday, according to a team press release. The point guard is No. 56 on Givony’s list.
  • Forward Terry Harris worked out for the Knicks on Thursday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. He also visited the Nets this week and will work out for the Mavericks and Jazz, Bondy adds in another tweet. He played for North Carolina A&T in his senior year, averaging 8.1 PPG. He is the younger brother of Sixers free agent forward Tobias Harris.

Draft Updates: Green Room, Culver, Samanic, More

The NBA continues to invite potential first-round picks to the Green Room for next Thursday’s draft, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who tweets that Nassir Little (UNC), Romeo Langford (Indiana), and Tyler Herro (Kentucky) were the next invitees after the initial nine-player group.

According to Givony (Twitter links), Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga), Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga), PJ Washington (Kentucky) also received Green Room invites, as did international prospect Sekou Doumbouya. That brings us to 16 prospects who are expected to be in the Green Room on draft night, with four others still expected to be invited, per Givony.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Within his latest mock draft, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cites league sources who say that both the Suns and Hawks are high on Texas Tech swingman Jarrett Culver. However, it’s possible that neither team will have a shot at him without trading up — Woo has Culver coming off the board at No. 5 to the Cavaliers in his mock.
  • Croatian forward Luka Samanic has a busy workout schedule, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link), who adds the Warriors and Spurs to the list of teams Samanic has auditioned for. He also has workouts lined up with the Hawks and Bucks.
  • UCF guard Aubrey Dawkins has worked out for the Celtics, Pelicans, Knicks, and Raptors, and still has the Mavericks, Rockets, and Hornets on his workout schedule, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic.
  • Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter links) provides a pair of updates on pre-draft workouts for prospects, reporting that Chris Silva (South Carolina) is working out for the Heat and Spurs, while Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s) worked out for the Cavaliers and Mavericks and has the Sixers and Rockets on tap.

Draft Notes: Zoosman, Obiesie, Eboua, Holman, Herro

Israeli Yovel Zoosman, a 6’6” small forward, will keep his name in the draft, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. Zoosman plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv, which just advanced to the Israeli league playoff finals. Zoosman is ranked No. 53 on Givony’s Top 100 prospects list.

We have more draft decisions and workouts:

  • German point guard Josh Obiesie will stay in the draft, according to another Givony tweet. Givony has Obiesie ranked No. 64 overall and No. 10 among point guard prospects.
  • Forward Paul Eboua, Cameroon native, has withdrawn his name from the draft, according to Givony (Twitter link). He joins 11 other international players — Gytis Masiulis, Abdoulaye N’Doye, Digue Diawara, Aleksandr Balcerowski, Aleix Font, Zoran Paunovic, Dalibor Ilic, Louis Olinde, Jonas Matisseck, Tadas Sedekerskis and Vrenz Bleijenbergh — who have also decided to pull out of the draft. Matas Jogela, a Lithuanian forward, and William McDowell-White, an Australian guard, will remain in the draft, according to Givony (Twitter links).
  • Mississippi State forward Aric Holman worked out for the Raptors on Monday, according to Ian Begley of SNY TV (Twitter link). He visited the Knicks last week and will work out for the Kings, Lakers and Cavaliers this week, Begley adds.
  • First round prospect Tyler Herro (Kentucky) has worked out for the Spurs and will also visit the Pacers and Timberwolves, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Herro is ranked No. 18 overall and No. 4 among shooting guards by Givony.

Spurs’ Messina Reportedly Interviews With Italian Team

Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina was in Italy this week with his agent for an interview, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. As Carchia details in a pair of reports, Italian club Olimpia Milano is interested in bringing Messina back to Europe.

The only Italian club that currently plays in the EuroLeague, Olimpia Milano is in the market for a new head of basketball operations and may name a new head coach as well, though Simone Pianigiani still holds the HC position for now. The team has interest in Messina for the dual role, per Carchia.

A longtime head coach overseas for CKSA Moscow, Real Madrid, and other clubs, Messina joined the Spurs in 2014 as an assistant. He has received interest from multiple NBA teams as a head coaching candidate since then, interviewing with the Hornets, Bucks, and Raptors in 2018.

Messina, who coached the Italian national team between 2015 and 2017, also served as the Spurs’ interim head coach for three games during the 2018 postseason following the death of Gregg Popovich‘s wife Erin.

According to Carchia, Messina is expected to make a decision this week on whether to join Milano or remain with the Spurs.

Draft Updates: Matthews, Bol, Porter, Withdrawals

Former Michigan guard Charles Matthews suffered some bad luck with the 2019 NBA draft right around the corner, as agent Adam Pensack tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com that his client has a torn ACL. The injury occurred during a workout with the Celtics, Givony adds.

Matthews, who had been ranked as the No. 60 prospect on ESPN’s big board and was receiving second-round interest, will head to his hometown of Chicago to undergo surgery to repair the ACL. He hasn’t given up hope of being selected in next week’s draft.

“Injuries are tough, but Charles is an extremely hard worker and will be back stronger than ever,” Pensack told Givony. “He had a series of outstanding workouts lately and has helped himself. Charles will continue that momentum when he returns to action. As of now, we have interest in the second round as Charles is OK signing a two-way contract like Edmond Sumner did with the Indiana Pacers in 2017.”

Let’s round up a few more draft-related items…

  • Bol Bol, who is recovering from a foot fracture, will hold an invite-only workout for select teams on Wednesday, according to Jeremy Woo and Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). Bol is one of the biggest wild cards in the draft for health-related reasons, so Wednesday’s session could have a major impact on where he’s selected.
  • Kevin Porter Jr., a probable first-round pick, has worked out for the Nets, Spurs, and Hornets, and has sessions lined up with the Magic and Hawks, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Porter’s previously-reported upcoming workouts with the Heat and Wizards will take place on June 13 and June 17, respectively (Twitter links via Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald and Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington).
  • With Monday’s withdrawal deadline looming, several international early entrants are pulling their names out of the 2019 draft pool. According to reports from Givony and Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (all four Twitter links), the following players are withdrawing: Nikita Mikhailovskii (Russia), Arturs Zagars (Latvia), Henri Drell (France), Tadas Sedekerskis (Lithuania), Gytis Masiulis (Lithuania), and Arnas Velicka (Lithuania).
  • Lithuanian early entrants Deividas Sirvydis and Matas Jogela intend to remain in the draft pool, sources tell Urbonas (Twitter link). According to Givony (all Twitter links), Sekou Doumbouya (France), Goga Bitadze (Georgia), Luka Samanic (Croatia), Adam Mokoka (France), and Marcos Louzada Silva (Brazil) will also stay in the draft.

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

Four NBA Teams Will Play In Mexico

Four NBA teams have been selected to participate in The NBA Mexico City Games 2019, the league announced today. The Mavericks, Pistons, Suns and Spurs will all play regular-season games at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico, located in Mexico City.

Dallas and Detroit will square off on December 12, with Phoenix and San Antonio meeting two days later. These will be the 29th and 30th games that Mexico will host since its partnership with the league began in 1992.

“NBA games in Mexico City are a core part of our efforts to reach and engage basketball fans throughout Mexico and Latin America,” commissioner Adam Silver said. “With a record four NBA teams visiting Mexico City next season, we expect an unprecedented level of interest and excitement around these games and our surrounding community events.”

ESPN Deportes, Televisa and NBA League Pass in Mexico will all show the games, which will be available in more than 200 countries and territories. Ticket information will be announced later. The games will be accompanied by NBA Cares community outreach projects.

“It’s an honor for the Spurs organization to be able to represent South Texas and the NBA by, once again, playing in Mexico City,” said team president R.C. Buford. “The relationship between our community and Mexico is important and impactful on many levels. We look forward to a wonderful experience and are excited to share Spurs basketball with all of our fans in Mexico.”

Wizards Interested In Signing Aaron White

Four years after selecting him, the Wizards may be in position to bring draft-and-stash prospect Aaron White stateside this summer, according to Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington, who hears from sources that the team has interest in signing White to an NBA contract.

White, a power forward who played his college ball at Iowa, was drafted 49th overall in 2015 by the Wizards, who have held his NBA rights since then. During his first four professional seasons, White has played in Germany, Russia, and – most recently – Lithuania, where he helped lead Zalgiris Kaunas to a EuroLeague Final Four appearance in 2018 and a EuroLeague playoff berth in 2019.

Although the Wizards are interested in bringing over White, there are potential roadblocks. For one, Washington doesn’t yet have a permanent general manager, so if someone from outside the organization is hired to run the front office, it may affect where the 26-year-old forward falls on the club’s list of priorities.

Additionally, White – who is a free agent this offseason – figures to have other options that may be more favorable when it comes to his salary and/or role. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relayed a La Gazzetta dello Sport report today indicating that the Wizards’ prospect is drawing interest from Italian club Olimpia Milano. Other European clubs may have him on their radar too.

For his part, White said during an appearance on Zalgiris TV that playing in the NBA would be a “dream,” but he wants to be “realistic in terms of what’s the most important for myself and my family” (Twitter link via Donatas Urbonas). He later tweeted that he’ll be patient in letting his free agency play out.

Ekpe Udoh Considering Return To EuroLeague

Jazz center Ekpe Udoh will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and there’s no guarantee he’ll remain in the NBA. According to Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News, Udoh is drawing significant interest from a handful of EuroLeague teams.

A source tells Woodyard that Udoh has “up to four or five multi-million-dollar offers” on the table from teams in Spain, Italy, and Turkey. Woodyard adds that if Udoh is interested in playing overseas, he could look to reach an agreement within the next week.

Udoh, who began his career with the Warriors in 2010 after being selected sixth overall in that year’s draft, remained in the NBA through the 2014/15 season, then joined Turkish team Fenerbahce for two years. He won a EuroLeague title with the club in 2017 and was named the EuroLeague Final Four MVP before heading back to the NBA with the Jazz.

Now that his contract with Utah is set to expire, the veteran big man could be intrigued by a return to Europe, where he’d have a more sizable role than the one he has had in the NBA. In 114 total games for the Jazz over the last two seasons, Udoh averaged 2.5 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 0.9 BPG in limited minutes (9.9 MPG). He’s open to staying in the NBA, depending on his role, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

If Udoh remains in the NBA, he and his representatives will be able to talk to and meet with potential suitors beginning at the end of June. There’s nothing stopped European teams from reaching out to his camp before then, since they’re not subject to the NBA’s anti-tampering rules.