International

And-Ones: Silver, Mock Draft, Players’ Poll, Belinelli

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is willing to consider shortening the regular season and even the length of games, he said in a press conference on Friday. Silver’s comments were relayed by the Associated Press’ Brian Mahoney“The format we have in place now — I’m a traditionalist on one hand, but on the other hand it’s 50 years old or so, presenting an 82-game season, and there’s nothing magical about it,” Silver said. He also tossed out the idea of reducing the length of games from 48 minutes to 40, the same as college and international games. Holding mid-season tournaments is something else he’s willing to consider. None of the potential changes are close to be implemented, Mahoney adds.

We have more from the basketball world:

And-Ones: Calipari, Trice, Ochefu, Pistons

After receiving some interest from UCLA, Kentucky head coach John Calipari has elected to remain with the Wildcats, and the program made it worth his while to do so, reports Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com. According to Borzello, Calipari – who was already under contract through 2024 – has agreed to an extension that will run through his retirement, and will also feature a lifetime role as an ambassador to the university.

“Where else would I want to coach?” Calipari said on his radio show in confirming the news.

Calipari reportedly received a six-year, $48MM offer from UCLA before electing to extend his agreement with Kentucky, per Seth Davis of The Athletic. The 60-year-old is the highest-paid head coach in the NCAA ranks, earning a reported $9.2MM salary this season.

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

  • Travis Trice, a veteran G League guard who has been in camp with the Knicks and Bucks in recent years, is headed to Turkey to continue his professional career. After averaging 16.9 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 4.3 RPG in 36 total NBAGL games this season for the Austin Spurs and Wisconsin Herd, Trice has officially signed with Tofas SK, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Former Wizards center Daniel Ochefu, who appeared in 19 games for Washington in 2016/17, has signed with Spanish team CB Breogan, according to an announcement from the club (via Twitter). Ochefu spent most of the 2018/19 season with the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate, posting 14.8 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 39 games (24.2 MPG).
  • The Pistons will enter the offseason looking to fortify their point guard and wing spots, but won’t have much financial flexibility to do so. As such, Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press wonders if attempting to re-sign Ish Smith and Wayne Ellington might make the most sense for the club.

Hornets, Bucks Will Play In Paris

The NBA will hold its first-ever regular-season game in France, with the Hornets and Bucks squaring off January 24, 2020, in Paris, the league announced this morning.

“Our NBA Paris Game will showcase the continued global growth of basketball in one of the world’s greatest cities,” Commissioner Adam Silver said. “With France leading a record number of players from Europe in the league, we look forward to bringing together basketball fans from across the continent for the NBA’s first regular-season game in Paris.”

This will be the first game in France for the Bucks and the second for the Hornets, who played there during the 1994 preseason. The league has staged 10 preseason games in France and has been televising games in the nation since 1984. The game could be a homecoming for veteran point guard Tony Parker if he remains on Charlotte’s roster, but his $5.25MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

Today’s announcement was made on the “NBA Extra” show on beIN SPORTS, the league’s official broadcast partner in France, and included an appearance from former Hornet Muggsy Bogues.

The game will take place at AccorHotels Arena, which has hosted nearly all of the NBA’s games in France. Tickets won’t be available until a later date. It will count as a home game for Charlotte, tweets Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

“The Charlotte Hornets are proud to have the opportunity to participate in the first NBA regular-season game in Paris,” team chairman Michael Jordan said. “Having played in the preseason in France during my career, I witnessed first-hand the passion the French fans have for NBA basketball. We are excited to bring our team to Paris for this history-making event.”

Southwest Notes: Spurs, Poeltl, Pelicans GM, Llull

Gregg Popovich has the Spurs on the verge of another playoff appearance in a season that could have been a disaster, writes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Early-season injuries forced Popovich to use a point guard committee until Derrick White was healthy, Bryn Forbes, Davis Bertans and Jakob Poeltl all had to step into important roles and the retirement of Manu Ginobili and the departure of Tony Parker cut the last ties to the Spurs’ glory days. Still, with a 43-31 record, the franchise is on the verge of its 22nd straight trip to the playoffs.

“For guys that have been elsewhere, they come in and they can sense it’s a different environment,” Patty Mills said. “They can notice the difference. It takes some time for players to adjust to how different it is. People have always said you needed to be a certain type of person to be in this environment and to be coached by Pop, and it’s true. The way he coaches his players is a certain way. You’ve seen the way he’s coached Tim (Duncan) and Manu. You see that interaction between coach and player, and everyone else falls in line after that. You know if he yells at you, you can’t say anything back. It’s those little things you have to get guys to understand.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Popovich would like to make Poeltl the Spurs‘ starting center for the rest of the season, but matchups may keep that from happening, notes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. With so many teams playing non-traditional lineups, it’s not always wise to put two big men on the floor. “We like to play big because we do a pretty good job of locking down the paint with myself and (LaMarcus Aldridge) on the court,” Poeltl said. “We’ve got to find the right matchups and the right situations where we can do that.”
  • Interim GM Danny Ferry will be among the candidates as the Pelicans conduct their GM search, according to Fletcher Mackel of WDSU in New Orleans (Twitter link). Owner Gayle Benson said Monday that the franchise will consider five or six candidates to become the replacement for Dell Demps, who was fired in February. Based on what he has heard, Mackel believes that Ferry will be on that list, along with former Cavaliers GM David Griffin, Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon and Rockets VP of basketball operations Gersson Rosas.
  • As the NBA marks its 13th annual Latin celebration, Rosas talks with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated about the need to get more Latin Americans involved in management.
  • Spanish guard Sergio Llull, whose rights have been held by the Rockets since 2009, hasn’t ruled out coming to the NBA someday, his agent, Ernest Berenguer, says in an interview with NBA Spain (translated by Sportando). Llull will be 34 when his contract with Real Madrid expires in 2021.

DeAndre Liggins Headed To Greece

After spending this season in the G League, DeAndre Liggins has signed with Kolossos Rhodes of the Greek A1 league, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando.

Liggins, 30, was in training camp with the Heat, but was waived before the start of the season in Ocotober. He went to Miami’s G League affiliate in Sioux Falls and averaged 10.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 25 games.

Liggins had brief stays with seven NBA teams dating back to the 2011/12 season, but was never able to turn any into a long-term arrangement. He played a combined 58 games last year for the Bucks and Pelicans. He has previous international experience in Russia and Germany.

Suns To Meet With Jimmer Fredette

Jimmer Fredette‘s next shot at the NBA might come in Phoenix. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports is reporting that Fredette will meet with the Suns tomorrow about the possibility of filling an open roster spot.

Fredette, 30, is available after his Shanghai Sharks were eliminated from the Chinese Basketball Association playoffs on Tuesday. He has been a star in China since leaving the NBA in 2016, and led the CBA in scoring this season at 36.9 points per game.

The 10th pick in the 2011 draft, Fredette played for four teams in five seasons and hasn’t been in the NBA since signing a 10-day deal with the Knicks three years ago. He was never more than a part-time player in the league, averaging 6.0 PPG in 235 games.

And-Ones: G League, T. Robinson, Hawes, Ajinca

More G League players than ever are either leaving their teams for personal reasons or being “removed from a team,” writes Adam Johnson of 2 Ways and 10 Days. Terrence Jones, who recently completed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Rockets, is the latest example, as Johnson tweets that he has been removed from the active roster of the Erie BayHawks.

Jeff Ledbetter, Lavoy Allen, Jarnell Stokes, Raphiael Putney, Quincy Acy, DeAndre Liggins and Chris McCullough have also left their G League teams this season for various reasons. Some ultimately returned, but Johnson sees the pattern as an issue for the league. He notes the stress involved in being so close to the big leagues can make players react poorly if they have a bad game in front of NBA scouts.

Johnson urges new G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim to expand the availability of mental health services available to players and encourage more discussion on the topic, just like the NBA did after revelations from Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan.

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

  • Former NBA forward Thomas Robinson, who signed a G League contract this week, has been claimed on waivers by the Celtics‘ affiliate in Maine, Johnson tweets. The league mistakenly awarded Robinson to the Red Claws a day early, as players must spend at least 48 hours on waivers unless they are claimed by the team with the top waiver spot. Robinson prefers to go to Maine, and Johnson states that still appears to be his destination (Twitter link). The fifth player selected in the 2012 draft, Robinson played for six NBA teams in five seasons.
  • Spencer Hawes has been impressive in the G League and is “on the radar” for an NBA call-up, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Playing for the Lakers‘ affiliate, Hawes had a 29-point game last night and is shooting 59% from 3-point range.
  • A few unlikely teams appear to have done very well at the trade deadline, according to Matt John of Basketball Insiders. Many observers thought the Clippers were giving up on this season when they traded away leading scorer Tobias Harris, but they got a nice collection of young talent and future assets in return and acquired Ivica Zubac from the Lakers in a separate deal. The Clippers have solidified a playoff spot at 40-30 and appear in stronger position to make an offseason run at Kawhi Leonard. The Pistons only made minor moves, John adds, but trading away Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock created more playing time for Luke Kennard and Wayne Ellington, who have helped Detroit to a 10-4 record since the deadline. The Grizzlies have been playing better since unloading Marc GasolJaMychal Green and Garrett Temple. Avery Bradley and Jonas Valanciunas have been standouts in Memphis and have increased the chances that the Grizzlies will convey their first-round pick to the Celtics this year rather than having to worry about it in the future.
  • Italian club Grison Bon Reggio Emilia has expressed interest in former NBA center Alexis Ajinca, who left his French team last week, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Quincy Acy To Play In China

Veteran NBA big man Quincy Acy will continue his career overseas, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who hears from a source that Acy has agreed to a deal with the Shenzhen Leopards in the Chinese Basketball Association.

Acy, 28, has logged 337 total NBA regular season games since 2012, suiting up for the Raptors, Kings, Knicks, Mavericks, Nets, and Suns during that stretch. Most recently, the former second-round pick inked a pair of 10-day contracts with Phoenix in January, averaging 1.7 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 10 games (12.3 MPG) for the Suns.

Having failed to catch on with another NBA team after his 20-day stint with the Suns, Acy headed to the G League, where he appeared in three games for the Texas Legends, Dallas’ affiliate. JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors reported several days ago that Acy had left the Legends, who wished him good luck in China (via Twitter).

Shenzhen ranked fourth in the CBA’s regular season standings, earning a first-round bye in the postseason, so Acy will have plenty of time to join the club in advance of the second round.

France Next Stop For DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell

Shooting guard DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell, who started the season on a two-way contract with the Nuggets, has signed with Le Portel in France, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports.

The 25-year-old got into seven games for Denver before being waived in mid-December and replaced by Brandon Goodwin. Akoon-Purcell also played in two G League contests, averaging 24.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

He signed with Hapoel Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League a few days later, but appeared in just eight games before parting ways with the team in February.

 

Alexis Ajinca Leaves French Team

NBA veteran Alexis Ajinca has parted ways with his ASVEL Basket team in France, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The team released a statement calling it “an amicable separation that is in everyone’s best interests and will allow Alexis to pursue other jobs.”

The 30-year-old center returned to France in December after spending eight years in the NBA, including the past five with the Pelicans. Ajinca sat out the entire 2017/18 season because of a knee injury, then was traded in October to the Clippers, who waived him on the same day.

Ajinca averaged 5.3 points and 3.9 rebounds in 293 NBA games, playing mostly as a reserve. There’s no word on what his next move might be, but he would be playoff-eligible if he returns to the NBA before the end of the season.