Being involved with All-Star Weekend was a dream experience for several members of G League Ignite, writes Tania Ganguli of The New York Times. Jaden Hardy, Scoot Henderson, MarJon Beauchamp and Dyson Daniels were all selected to participate alongside first- and second-year NBA players in the Rising Stars games. Fanbo Zeng and Michael Foster Jr. were chosen for a shooting competition, but Zeng had to withdraw because of an injury.
“I was nervous before the game before I even got out there, but when I got out there it was kind of relieving,” said Beauchamp, who is projected to be a mid first-round selection in this year’s draft. Beauchamp added that he always watches the All-Star events, “so just seeing myself on the screen is pretty amazing.”
The Ignite team, which serves as an alternative to college for NBA prospects, is only in its second season but is proving to be successful. Two Ignite players, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, were lottery picks last year and the team continues to attract elite young talent, paying up to $500K per season. The chance to be part of the All-Star experience was a bonus that the NBA offered this year.
“It was just fun to be able to be out there on the court with those young stars really and just being able to go out there and just laugh and compete,” Hardy said.
Here’s more from around the basketball world:
- Veteran guard J.J. Barea will return to Cangrejeros de Santurce in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 37-year-old, who spent 14 seasons in the NBA, also played for the team last season.
- Although Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will miss an extended stretch due to plantar fasciitis, he’s among a handful of viable candidates to receive contract extensions before the regular season ends, writes Yossi Gozlan of Hoops Hype. Nurkic is on track to be a free agent this summer, but he’s also eligible to extend his current deal for up to $64.5MM over four years. Another option, Gozlan notes, is to extend for two years at $25.8MM if Nurkic wants to keep his trade eligibility this offseason. Gozlan identifies Robert Covington, Thaddeus Young, Gary Harris and Tyus Jones as other players who are eligible for in-season extensions and could be realistic candidates.
- The attacks on Ukraine are having an effect on basketball in the region, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Roughly 40 American players have played in the country this year and several are still under contract. An agent told Smith that there’s an effort to bring those players home to protect their safety, even though it would be a breach of contract. Familiar names on the Budivelnik Kiev roster include Michael Stockton, son of Hall-of-Famer John Stockton, along with former NBA players Gian Clavell, Drew Gordon and Alec Brown, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link).