Jaron Blossomgame

Rockets Notes: House, D’Antoni, Blossomgame, Shabazz

Danuel House credits Rockets assistant coach John Lucas for helping him to stay focused when it appeared his NBA dream may not work out, writes Sean Deveney for Forbes. House reached out to Lucas after being waived by the Wizards in March of 2017. A broken wrist had sidelined him for more than two months and he had gotten into just one game – less than a minute of playing time – with his first NBA team.

“Shut your mouth,” said Lucas, who first met House at age 13 at a Houston basketball camp. “Shut your mouth and get ready for your next opportunity.”

That came the following year with the Suns, but House found a more permanent home last season with the Rockets. He spent most of the year as a two-way player, but started 13 NBA games and eventually earned a three-year contract.

“I also told him he would be an NBA player,” Lucas recalled. “You could see he was good enough for that. I just never imagined we’d be together with the same team.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Mike D’Antoni was among the first coaches to successfully challenge a call, but he doesn’t believe teams should keep their right to challenge if they’re correct, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Under the newly adopted rule, coaches get to use the challenge once per game, whether they’re right or wrong. “Then you could have 20 or 30 challenges a game,” D’Antoni said. “I could see why they don’t do it.”
  • The Rockets’ G League affiliate has traded for Jaron Blossomgame, who was with Houston during the preseason. Blossomgame’s returning player rights were held by the Canton Charge, who agreed to give him up in exchange for Gary Payton II. Blossomgame impressed Rockets coaches during camp, and he was considered as a candidate for one of the team’s two-way slots.
  • The Rockets weren’t able to hold onto Ronshad Shabazz after signing and waiving him last weekend. Shabazz was selected by College Park, the Hawks‘ affiliate, with the 13th pick in Saturday’s G League draft.

Rockets Make Three More Moves

OCTOBER 18: The Rockets have officially announced the signing of Maker.

OCTOBER 17: The Rockets converted Chris Clemons Exhibit 10 deal to a two-way contract earlier today and they are not done making moves. The club is signing Matur Maker to an Exhibit 10 deal, Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic reports (Twitter link).

The team has also waived Jaron Blossomgame and Michael Frazier, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Frazier, who was the G League’s Most Improved Player last season, hurt his right ankle during training camp and hasn’t played since, Feigen notes. The Rockets own the guard’s G League rights, but do not hold Blossomgame’s G League rights. The defensive-minded forward played 13.0 minutes per game for the Rockets this preseason.

Maker, meanwhile, is the brother of Pistons big man Thon Maker. He went undrafted in June after playing for Zlatorog Lasko in Slovenia.

Southwest Notes: J. Jackson, Blossomgame, Curry

The Grizzliesdecision to have Josh Jackson skip training camp and start the season in the G League could be viewed as an ominous sign for his future in Memphis. However, executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman praised the former No. 4 overall pick for his willingness to embrace the unconventional plan, as David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal notes.

“I would give him a lot of credit,” Kleiman said. “I think Josh recognized that this could be a great opportunity for him. When I sat down with him, he was open and candid and he said, ‘whatever you want me to do, I’m going to do.”

Meanwhile, new Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins conveyed a similar sentiment when discussing Jackson, who has underachieved on the court and has run into trouble off of it since being drafted in 2017.

“He’s willing to come into this situation and really grow, both on the court and off the court,” Jenkins said. “With the support we’re going to provide him, I know he’s excited about it. I’ve got high hopes for him to just take it one day at a time and focus on being the best version of Josh Jackson that he can be. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

As we wait to see whether Jackson can get his career on track in Memphis, let’s round up a few more notes from out of the Southwest…

  • Former second-round pick Jaron Blossomgame has impressed the Rockets so far in training camp, according to Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic, who says that multiple coaches have raved about the young forward. Blossomgame looks like a strong candidate for one of Houston’s open two-way contract slots, per Bijani.
  • Seth Curry, who played for the Mavericks in 2016/17 and spent the 2017/18 season with the team while he rehabbed a broken leg, cited familiarity with the organization as a key reason why he signed in Dallas this summer, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com.
  • The Spurs‘ offseason free agent and trade acquisitions – DeMarre Carroll and Trey Lyles – were modest, but the most significant addition of the team’s summer might be a healthy Dejounte Murray, says Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Murray appeared to be a breakout candidate a year ago before he torn his ACL.

Rockets Notes: Westbrook, Harden, D’Antoni, More

Speaking today to reporters at the Rockets‘ Media Day, Russell Westbrook and James Harden expressed enthusiasm about teaming up in Houston this season. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com details, Westbrook said the pairing will be “scary” for the rest of the NBA, while Harden suggested the two former MVPs will have no problem sharing the ball on offense.

“If Russ got it going and Russ is having one of those games that we’ve all seen before, guess what I’m going to do: sit back and watch the show, and vice versa,” Harden said. “It’s just a part of basketball. So you can’t sit up here and say, ‘Oh, Russ is going to have the ball for the first half and I’m going to have the ball the second half.’ No, things happen through the course of the game that you just flow with and go with.

“All of us in this locker room and this front office has one goal, and that’s to win it. However that happens, it’s going to happen, and we’re just going to figure it out.”

Westbrook agreed with Harden that the two stars won’t have any trouble co-existing in the Rockets’ backcourt and will focus on what’s best for the team.

“I don’t have to have the ball to impact the game,” Westbrook said, per MacMahon. “I don’t have to score, I don’t have to do anything. I can defend, I can rebound, I can pass, I can lead. Our main goal, main focus, is to win. I can go be scoreless, and if we win, that’s the best thing that ever happened. That’s all I cared about, and that’s all I ever cared about.”

Westbrook, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after the Thunder were eliminated from the postseason in the spring, was only recently cleared for five-on-five work, writes MacMahon. So the Rockets will proceed cautiously with the star point guard, who isn’t expected to participate in all of the club’s practices and preseason games.

Here’s more out of Houston:

  • Harden and Westbrook both indicated today that they have interest in representing Team USA in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo (Twitter links via MacMahon and Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston).
  • Head coach Mike D’Antoni, GM Daryl Morey, and owner Tilman Fertitta all downplayed concerns about D’Antoni entering the final year of his contract without an extension and expressed confidence that he’ll stick with the Rockets beyond 2019/20, MacMahon notes in a pair of tweets. Everybody tells me that Mike is the right guy for this team. Mike appears to me to be the right guy for this team,” Fertitta said. “I think he’s a great coach. He’s one of the great offensive minds out there. I truly do not see Mike going anywhere.”
  • Ryan Anderson‘s new contract with the Rockets features a $250K partial guarantee, sources tell Alykhan Bijani and Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Anderson would receive another $250K, increasing the partial guarantee to $500K, if he makes the opening-night roster.
  • Jaron Blossomgame‘s non-guaranteed deal with Houston doesn’t feature an Exhibit 10 clause, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com hears. That may be a hint that the Rockets don’t expect Blossomgame to play for their G League team. His NBAGL rights are still held by the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers‘ affiliate.

Rockets Sign Jaron Blossomgame To Camp Deal

SEPTEMBER 27: The Rockets have officially signed Blossomgame, the team announced in a press release. Houston’s 20-man camp roster is now set.

SEPTEMBER 24: The Rockets have reached an agreement on a training camp deal for Jaron Blossomgame, agent Andy Shiffman informs Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). It’ll likely be an Exhibit 10 contract.

Blossomgame, the 59th overall pick in the 2017 draft, spent his rookie season with the Spurs’ G League affiliate, then signed an NBA contract with San Antonio last fall. However, the Spurs opted not to carry him on their regular season roster and he caught on with the Cavaliers, spending most of the 2018/19 season on a two-way deal with Cleveland.

The 26-year-old appeared in 27 games for the Cavs but played a more regular role for the Canton Charge. In 29 games (32.7 MPG) with the Cavs’ G League team, Blossomgame averaged 17.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 2.0 APG.

Houston will have a full 20-man offseason roster once the club makes it official with Blossomgame. The former Clemson standout may get an opportunity to earn one of the team’s open two-way contract slots, assuming he doesn’t make the 15-man regular season roster. If the Rockets intend to eventually have him join the Rio Grande Valley Vipers as an affiliate player, they’ll have to acquire his G League returning rights.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Smith, Sexton

Ben Simmons‘ near-$170MM extension with the Sixers may sound like an exorbitant amount for the 22-year-old, but Derek Bodner of The Athletic argue that the deal could turn into a bargain.

Simmons’ 2020/21 salary (estimated to start at $29.25MM) currently places him 30th among his NBA peers that season. Surely other players will sign top-end deals next summer, dropping him lower in the rankings.

The point guard still needs to further develop his jumper to become great, Bodner cautions. However, Simmons has all the tools to easily become a top-10 talent for the Sixers and should that happen, he would be severely underpaid.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • If J.R. Smith signs with another team, the Cavaliers will recoup the $500K they agreed to give him for extending his guaranteed date via setoff, ESPN Bobby Marks notes on Twitter. Cleveland waived Smith on Monday.
  • The Cavaliers didn’t play Collin Sexton in Summer League because the point guard didn’t have much to gain from the experience, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com explains. The level of competition in Las Vegas and Utah isn’t very high and it was much more prudent to allow Sexton to join the team in those locations but not risk injury during live action.
  • The Cavaliers are fans of Jaron Blossomgame, who played for their Summer League team, Fedor relays in the same piece. Blossomgame spent time with the club under a two-way deal in 2018/19 and is a candidate for a roster spot this upcoming season.

Cavaliers Notes: Garland, Love, Blossomgame, Mitrou-Long

Darius Garland won over Cavaliers management with an impressive shooting performance in a workout last week, relays Joe Vardon of The Athletic. The Cavs sent a sizable contingent to Los Angeles to watch Garland in his first pre-draft session. He didn’t disappoint, sinking shots from all over the court and reportedly going five or six minutes without missing.

“We saw him take 30-footers and flick them like it was nothing,” general manager Koby Altman said.

The Cavaliers had been hoping to draft De’Andre Hunter, but didn’t have the resources to trade up to No. 4. They also liked Jarrett Culver, but Garland changed their minds with his shooting display. Vardon reports that new coach John Beilein was seen cheering on the Vanderbilt guard as he hit one shot after another.

“It was like, ‘OK, how could this work out?’” Altman said. “We started to get fascinated with the idea.”

There’s more Cavaliers news to pass along:

  • Cleveland is talking to teams interested in Kevin Love, but hasn’t made any progress toward a trade, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said during an appearance this week on WKNR in Cleveland (hat tip to Joseph Zucker of Bleacher Report). “It’s hard to find the right deal for him,” said Windhorst, who put the odds of a trade at 50-50. He noted it would be easy to find a taker for Love if the Cavs just wanted to unload the four years and $120MM left on his contract, but because he’s one of their few tradable assets they want to get something of value in return.
  • The Cavaliers won’t extend a qualifying offer to two-way player Jaron Blossomgame, tweets Cleveland-based basketball writer Chris Manning. The 25-year-old small forward signed with the Cavs in December and played 27 games at the NBA level, averaging 4.2 PPG. He posted an 18.5/7.5/2.2 line in 35 G League contests. He will be an unrestricted free agent.
  • Naz Mitrou-Long, who had a two-way contract with the Jazz this season, will join the Cavaliers for Summer League, a source tells Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News (Twitter link). The 25-year-old shooting guard got into 14 games for Utah, averaging 6 minutes per night.

Cavaliers Waive Preston, Harrison, Sign Blossomgame, Jones

The Cavaliers have replaced both of their players on two-way contracts, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Cleveland waived Billy Preston and Andrew Harrison and signed Jaron Blossomgame and Jalen Jones.

Blossomgame, a second-round pick by the Spurs in 2017, was recently acquired in a trade by Cleveland’s G League affiliate in Canton. The 25-year-old averaged 17.2 PPG in five games with the Charge while shooting 49% from the floor and 38% on 3-pointers.

Jones, also 25, played 16 games last season with the Pelicans and Mavericks. He started the year as a two-way player in New Orleans, then was claimed off waivers by Dallas in January. Fedor speculates that he may remain with the Cavs for a few games, rather than being sent to the G League right away, because David Nwaba is sidelined with a sore knee.

Preston signed a two-way deal with Cleveland in July, but hasn’t advanced above the G League. Fedor states that the Cavaliers talked about calling him up as insurance with the recent rash of injuries, but management decided he wasn’t ready to contribute at the NBA level.

The Cavs signed Harrison on November 9 to provide an extra ball-handler with George Hill hurt. Hill returned to the lineup last night and Alec Burks, acquired in a trade with the Jazz this week, will help run the offense, which eliminates the need to keep Harrison. He had played in 10 of the team’s past 11 games and was averaging 4.3 PPG.

And-Ones: All-Star Game, White, Holland, Carmelo

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he would discuss holding a future All-Star Game in the city of Detroit with Arn Tellem, the vice-chairman of the Pistons, Gregg Krupa of the Detroit News reports. The Pistons are playing their second season at Little Caesars Arena, which is also the home of the NHL’s Red Wings. “I’m sure we’ll be talking about it,” Silver said during a business trip to the city. The state of Michigan hasn’t seen an All-Star Game since 1979, when it was held in the Pontiac Silverdome. The Pistons’ former home, The Palace of Auburn Hills, never hosted the event.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Former Heat and Cavaliers big man Okaro White is close to signing with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, according to a Eurobasket.com report which was relayed by Sam Amico. White appeared in six games with Miami last season after seeing action in 35 games with the Heat the previous season. The Cavaliers signed him to 10-day contracts last season but he didn’t play. He was waived by Cleveland in August and then by the Spurs in October after joining them for training camp.
  • The G League’s Austin Spurs acquired the returning rights to guard John Holland and a 2019 second-round pick from the Canton Charge, the Cavs’ affiliate, in exchange for small forward Jaron Blossomgame, according to a press release from the G League club. Holland had a two-way contract with the Cavaliers last season and played 24 games, posting an average of 2.3 PPG in 7.3 MPG. Holland appeared in one game this season with the Cavaliers before being waived on November 9th. Blossomgame, the Spurs’ second-round pick in 2017, spent the last two seasons with Austin but has yet to make his NBA debut.
  • The Warriors, Sixers, Lakers and Pelicans are the most likely landing spots for Carmelo Anthony once he’s waived by the Rockets, Matt Eppers of USA Today opines. Anthony could help each of those teams to varying degrees, mainly as a second-unit player.

Spurs Waive Jaron Blossomgame

The Spurs have waived former second-round pick Jaron Blossomgame, according to Jabari Young of The Athletic (Twitter link). The move opens up a spot on San Antonio’s 20-man preseason roster.

Blossomgame, who played his college ball at Clemson, was drafted by the Spurs with the 59th overall pick in 2017. He signed a G League contract for his rookie season, becoming a starting forward for an Austin Spurs squad that won the NBAGL championship this past spring.

In 50 games (48 starts) last season, Blossomgame averaged 16.5 PPG and 8.1 RPG. He also played for San Antonio’s Summer League team this July, posting 13.0 PPG and 7.6 RPG in five contests in Las Vegas.

Those performances earned Blossomgame a camp invite, but now that he has been waived by the Spurs, San Antonio will no longer hold his NBA rights. The 25-year-old could still end up playing for Austin in the G League, but he’ll be free to sign with any other NBA team if he clears waivers later this week.