International

Grizzlies Sign Yuta Watanabe To Two-Way Deal

The Grizzlies have signed rookie forward Yuta Watanabe to a two-way contract, according to a team press release.

The signing has international significance. Watanabe will likely become just the second player born in Japan to appear in an NBA game. Yuta Tabuse appeared in four games for the Suns during the 2004/05 season.

The Grizzlies opened up a two-way contract slot by waiving swingman Myke Henry earlier on Friday.

The 6’9” Watanabe played for the Nets’ summer league team after going undrafted and averaged 9.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 1.6 BPG in 24.0 MPG over five games.

Watanabe played four years of college ball at George Washington University. Watanabe, 23, was named the 2017/18 Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year while averaging 16.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 1.6 blocks in 36.6 MPG.

FA Rumors: Ferrell, Goodwin, Muhammad

After having seemingly reached a two-year contract agreement with the Mavericks, Yogi Ferrell elected this morning to re-enter free agency. However, he doesn’t intend to drag out the process. According to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), Ferrell plans to make a decision within the next day or so.

Ferrell has received some interest from a handful of teams, including the Cavaliers and Pelicans, Charania reports, though a source tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link) that Cleveland’s interest came early in free agency. The Cavs haven’t had contact with Ferrell’s agent during the last couple weeks, says MacMahon.

As for New Orleans, the Pelicans used their full mid-level exception on Julius Randle and spent most of their bi-annual exception on Elfrid Payton. As such, the club couldn’t offer Ferrell more than the minimum. An offer that modest seems unlikely to win out, though it’s worth noting that a fully guaranteed two-year minimum contract would feature more guaranteed money than the Mavs’ offer did.

As we wait to see where Ferrell lands, here are a few more notes and rumors on free agents:

  • Multiple NBA teams have expressed interest in former first-round pick Archie Goodwin, tweets Michael Scotto of The Athletic. However, Goodwin is seriously considering a lucrative contract offer from a Chinese team and is expected to head overseas unless an NBA team offers him a fully guaranteed salary for 2018/19, per Scotto.
  • In a conversation with Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype, free agent wing Shabazz Muhammad – another former first-round pick – says he’s in the best shape of his life. Muhammed, who remains on the lookout for a new NBA home, is also trying to improve his outside shooting, telling Kalbrosky that he’s shooting hundreds of corner threes every day.
  • Veteran NBA point guard Tyler Ennis, who was waived by the Lakers in June, has signed a two-year deal with Fenerbahce Istanbul, according to the EuroLeague’s official site. Before heading to Europe, Ennis appeared in 186 NBA games over the last four seasons, spending time with the Suns, Bucks, Rockets, and Lakers.

Georgios Papagiannis Signs Long-Term Deal With Panathinaikos

Georgios Papagiannis‘ time in the NBA is over, at least for now. After spending two seasons with the Kings and Trail Blazers, Papagiannis is heading back to Greece, having signed a five-year contract with Panathinaikos, the team announced today (Twitter link).

Papagiannis, 21, was selected with the 13th overall pick in the 2016 draft by the Kings, who had traded down from No. 8. It was a surprising pick at the time, and the 7’1″ center was unable to prove skeptics wrong during his brief NBA stint. He appeared in just 38 games for Sacramento before being waived in February as part of a series of trade-deadline moves.

Although Papagiannis caught on the with the Trail Blazers to end the 2017/18 campaign, the club waived him earlier this week, clearing a path for him to return to his old team in Greece. Papagiannis played for Panathinaikos from 2014 to 2016 before he made the leap to the NBA.

Central Notes: Love, Middleton, Perkins, Pistons

Earlier tonight, we heard talk of the Cavaliers sending Kyle Korver to Philadelphia in exchange for Jerryd Bayless. While we wait to see if anything materializes in Cleveland, let’s take a look at some notes from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers are not shopping Kevin Love, though he could be on the move if the right offer presents itself, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst mentions on the Lowe Post podcast. The scribe adds that Khris Middleton is in the same boat with the Bucks not deeming him untouchable nor looking to deal him.
  • Cleveland waived Kendrick Perkins to “do right” by the big man and allow him to pursue training camp deals, a source tells Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. The Cavaliers signed Perkins on the final day of the 2017/18 regular season back when LeBron James was still on the roster. The team had hoped to use Perkins’ contract as part of an offseason trade.
  • The Pistons have added Tim Grgurich and Micah Nori as assistant coaches to Dwane Casey‘s staff, Ansar Khan of Mlive.com relays.
  • Alex Boeder of NBA.com examines what Brook Lopez will bring to the Bucks. Lopez should be able to help the team stretch the floor with his three-point shot, as over 40% of his shots from the field last came from behind the arc.
  • FIBA has banned Bucks center Thon Maker for three games in international play for his part in a brawl during a game in the Philippines earlier this month, according to an ESPN report. Maker said he disagreed with the decision in a written statement that was released on his Twitter account.

And-Ones: Age Limit, Summer League, Hibbert, Toupane

As we’ve relayed previously, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced during an NBA Board of Governors meetings in Las Vegas last week that the NBA is ready to make changes to its age limit, thereby potentially allowing high school seniors the opportunity to jump straight to the NBA once again.

However, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, teams have been told privately by league officials not to expect a change to the age limit until the 2022 NBA Draft at the earliest.

Assuming the 2022 NBA Draft allows high school players to jump directly to the NBA, players entering their freshman year of high school this fall will be the first ones to benefit from this potential rule change.

As for any trades that could be affected by this, no team has as yet traded an unprotected 2022 first-rounder, and the only one that could potentially change hands at this point was sent by the Mavericks to the Hawks in order to move up in this year’s draft and select Luka Doncic.

It will be interesting to see whether teams will be wary of trading draft picks in 2022 and beyond before a final ruling is made on this issue.

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

  • In a Q&A piece for ESPN, several different writers spoke about who they believed to be the standouts and disappointments from this year’s NBA Summer League. Wendell Carter, Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Deandre Ayton were among the rookies recognized, while John Collins and Josh Hart were two players who were mentioned as probably too good to have even played in this year’s summer league.
  • In an interview with TMZ Sports, former NBA player Roy Hibbert says that he is done playing professional basketball, explaining that “It’s just time to move on.” Hibbert, 31, was named an All-Star as recently as 2014, but saw his impact dwindle over his last few years in the league as he got older and the game got smaller and quicker.
  • French forward Axel Toupane, who appeared in 25 total NBA regular season games in 2016 and 2017, has signed with EuroLeague club Olympiacos B.C. after helping lead Zalgiris Kaunas to the EuroLeague Final Four last season, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

And-Ones: Billups, LeBron, Free Agency, Budinger

ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups wants to run an NBA team in the near future, according to an Associated Press report. Billups turned down the Cavaliers’ GM job last summer, saying then it would tough to rebuild the team if LeBron James bolted. Rumors flew this summer that he’d be a candidate for a Pistons’ front-office post but he wasn’t seriously considered. “My desire is to one day run a team, be in a front office and try to build a champion,” Billups said. “I know that I will and I know I’m going to do a good job. When that opportunity presents itself, and it’s a good opportunity, I’ll be ready to go.”

In other news from around the league and overseas:

  • LeBron James will skip next week’s USA Basketball minicamp, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. It will be the first official session for USA Basketball with the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich as the head coach.
  • Dwyane Wade could be a bargain for the Heat or another team still shopping for a free agent guard, according to another AP story. Wade could probably be signed in the $5MM range. Vince Carter, Michael Beasley and restricted free agent Marcus Smart are three other veteran free agents who could offer value at a bargain rate, the story adds.
  • Former NBA forward Chase Budinger is pursuing a career in volleyball, Drew Ruiz of HoopsHype reports. Budinger is chasing an Olympic dream and has become a partner with two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal on the AVP Beach Volleyball circuit. “That’s been a goal of mine since I was in high school, to be on an Olympic team and playing for the USA,” Budinger told Ruiz. Budinger’s NBA career ended after he played 17 games for the Suns in the second half of the 20015/16 season.
  • Former NBA guard Mike James has signed a lucrative offer sheet with Italy’s Olimpia Milano through the 2021 season, international expert David Pick tweets. James started 10 games for the Suns last season and appeared in 32 games overall, averaging 10.4 PPG and. 3.8 APG. After getting waived, he played four games with the Pelicans before getting waived again. He then had a second stint with Greece’s Panathinaikos Athens and won a championship.

James Michael McAdoo Will Play In Italy

James Michael McAdoo, who won two NBA titles with the Warriors and played briefly for the Sixers last season, has signed with Fiat Torino in Italy, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando.

McAdoo signed a two-way contract with Philadelphia in August, but was waived in mid-January. He appeared in just three NBA games and played 18 total minutes. He finished the season with the Agua Caliente Clippers of the NBA G League.

Undrafted out of North Carolina, McAdoo signed a 10-day contract with the Warriors in January of 2015 as they were on their way to the first of four straight Finals appearances. He spent much of his time with Golden State in the G League, but got into 52 games during the 2016/17 season.

Georgios Papagiannis May Return To Europe

After two unproductive NBA seasons, Georgios Papagiannis is considering a return to the EuroLeague, according to Aharale Weisberg of Walla, an Israeli news site.

Papagiannis is still under contract with the Trail Blazers, but his $1,544,951 salary for next season doesn’t become guaranteed until July 19. He appeared in just one game for Portland after signing with the team in March.

The 21-year-old center was the 13th pick by the Kings in the 2016 draft, but was never able to establish himself in Sacramento. Papagiannis spent most of his time in the G League before being released in February. He appeared in 38 total games for the Kings, averaging 4.2 PPG and 3.2 RPG per night.

If Papagiannis does return to Europe, his former team, Panathinaikos is among the front-runners to sign him, along with Olympiacos.

Pelicans’ Draft Pick Tony Carr Headed To Italy

Pelicans second-round pick Tony Carr has agreed to a deal with Italy’s Fiat Torino, William Guillory of the New Orleans Times-Picayune relays. The news was first reported by Sportando.

Carr has been playing for the Pelicans’ summer-league team. He’ll be coached by longtime NBA and college coach Larry Brown, who took the job with the Italian club last month.

Brown is notoriously tough on point guards, so Carr will get plenty of guidance on how to be a floor leader for a professional team. He’s struggled in summer-league play, averaging 7.0 PPG and 3.8 APG.

The Pelicans will retain his rights and be able to sign him next summer, Guillory notes.

The 6’5” Penn State product, the 51st overall pick, averaged 19.6 PPG, 5.0 APG and 4.9 RPG as a sophomore last season before declaring for the draft.

New Orleans has three other point guards on the roster, Jrue Holiday, Elfrid Payton and Frank Jackson.

European Teams Interested In Luke Babbitt

Veteran forward Luke Babbitt is drawing interest from several EuroLeague teams, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Barcelona and Maccabi Tel Aviv are among the clubs that have checked on Babbitt, Cauchi adds.

Babbitt, 29, started this season with the Hawks before being traded to the Heat at the February deadline. He appeared in 50 total games and averaged 5.2 PPG, but his numbers declined after coming to Miami, where he averaged just 11.2 minutes per night. He was used for just three total minutes in the playoffs.

The 16th pick in the 2010 draft, Babbitt has spent his entire career in the NBA except for a brief overseas excursion during the 2013/14 season. He signed with Nizhny Novgorod in Russia, but left after a few months.