Kennedy Meeks

International Notes: Mayo, Robinson, Early, Meeks

O.J. Mayo is in Taiwan for the next step of his basketball career, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 31-year-old signed with the Dacin Tigers and has already played a few games, Carchia adds.

Mayo recently became eligible for reinstatement into the NBA after serving a two-year ban for a second violation of the league’s Anti-Drug Program. He was hoping for an invitation to training camp, but no team made an offer. Mayo last played in Puerto Rico over the summer.

Mayo spent eight NBA seasons with the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Bucks, but hasn’t been in the league since fracturing his right ankle in March of 2016.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • China may be the next stop for former lottery pick Thomas Robinson, according to Carchia. The Beikong Fly Dragons are negotiating with Robinson, who spent last season with Khimki Moscow Region in Russia. The fifth pick in the 2012 draft, Robinson played 313 games for the Kings, Rockets, Trail Blazers, Sixers, Nets and Lakers. He was in training camp this year with the Hawks, but was waived last month before the start of the season.
  • Cleanthony Early, who spent two seasons with the Knicks, has joined the Tokyo Hachioji Trains of the Japanese second division, relays Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The team officially announced the signing of Early, who averaged 4.3 PPG in 56 games with New York in 2014/15 and 2015/16.
  • Kennedy Meeks, who was in training camp with the Raptors last season and played for the organization’s G League affiliate, is also playing in Japan, Lupo adds in a separate story. The former North Carolina center is with SeaHorses Mikawa in the first division.

G League Notes: Moreland, Select Contracts, Harrison, Draft

Several NBA teams secured returning rights for players who were in camp with them but failed to make the 15-man roster. Raptors 905 acquired center Eric Moreland from the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s affiliate, for forward Kyle Wiltjer, according to a G League release. The Raptors waived Moreland a week ago. Raptors 905 pulled off a similar deal with the Texas Legends, the Mavericks’ affiliate, to acquire guard Kyle Collinsworth, who was waived at the same time as Moreland. Texas acquired the returning player rights to forwards C.J. Leslie and Kennedy Meeks, according to a G League release. The Delaware Blue Coats, the 76ers’ affiliate, gained the returning player rights of forward Cory Jefferson in a three-team swap with the Agua Caliente Clippers and the Legends, according to another G League post. The Sixers waived Jefferson on October 13th.

We have more from the G League:

  • The league is putting together a “working group” that will determine which players are eligible for select contracts, G League president Malcolm Turner said in a Q&A session posting on the league’s website. “That group will be charged with identifying appropriate, eligible, elite talent, not only in terms of on-court performance and potential, but also in terms overall readiness for the G League. In addition to identification, that working group will really help us monitor the rollout and execution of this professional path … that working group will be charged with developing its own framework and lens for eligible players.” Beginning next year, the G League will offer “select contracts” worth $125K to top prospects who are at least 18 years old but aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft.
  • Numerous NBA and G league executives, coaches, agents and players feel the select contract concept is intriguing, but there is widespread skepticism how much appeal the program will have to top-level prospects and how it will be implemented. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the topic in a lengthy analysis piece.
  • The Arizona Suns traded away the returning player rights of Shaquille Harrison to the Memphis Hustle in a deal involving four players and a draft pick, according to another G League release. Harrison was the odd man out in the Suns’ point guard competition, as he was waived early this week. It was still somewhat surprising they traded away his rights. The Grizzlies gave themselves a little extra depth at the G League level as protection against another Mike Conley injury.
  • NBA veterans such as Willie Reed, Hakim Warrick, DeJuan Blair, and Arnett Moultrie could be among the higher selections in the annual G League draft, which takes place on Saturday, Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days.com reports. The Salt Lake City Stars own the top pick.

Jazz Host 32 Free Agents At Veteran Mini-Camp

The Jazz are hosting a veteran mini-camp on Friday and Saturday, with 32 players set to participate in the event, the team announced in a press release.

While the list of participants isn’t exactly star-studded, there are a handful of intriguing names, including several players who have spent time in NBA training camps and some who have played in regular season games. Lavoy Allen, K.J. McDaniels, Diamond Stone, Jarrod Uthoff, and Mike Tobey are among the free agents at Utah’s mini-camp who have logged NBA minutes.

While many of the participants in this weekend’s mini-camp won’t ever play in an NBA game, the event has paid dividends for the Jazz in the past. As Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News writes, Royce O’Neale made a strong impression on the franchise during a free agent mini-camp in 2016, which eventually led to O’Neale signing a contract with Utah last summer and becoming a key part of the rotation in 2017/18.

“We tried to get him that summer (2016), tried to sign him but he decided to go to Spain and made the right choice for him because he got better over there and it ended up working out in the long run for him,” Jazz director of scouting Bart Taylor said. “Royce is a great story and we like to say it puts pressure on us to find another one.”

Taylor is optimistic about identifying another future contributor among this year’s group.

“There’s some good talent out here,” Taylor said. “I like to joke with all our guys and say there’s three or four guys out here that’ll play in the NBA, but you’ve got to find them. So there’s definitely a few guys out here that we like, a lot of guys actually that we really like but we’re just trying to see how they do over the course of the three practices and hopefully one of them does turn into Royce.”

Here’s the full list of participants for Utah’s free agent mini-camp:

USA Basketball Announces Roster For First World Cup Qualifiers

USA Basketball has announced its 12-man roster for the first round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers, bringing back four members of the squad that won gold earlier this year in FIBA’s AmeriCup tournament.

Here’s Team USA’s full 12-man roster:

The squad, which will be coached once again by Jeff Van Gundy, is comprised almost entirely of G League players, since most of the qualifying tournaments take place during the NBA season, preventing NBA players from participating. Team USA’s goal is for Van Gundy’s squad of G Leaguers to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, which will take place in August and September, when NBA players will be free to participate.

The new-look USA Basketball program is off to a good start, having gone 5-0 this summer to win a gold medal at the AmeriCup tournament. Drew, Hearn, Munford, and Warney were all part of that team.

This time around, Team USA will face Puerto Rico on November 23 and then Mexico on November 26. After those contests, the first round of World Cup qualifiers will resume in February before concluding in July. The top three teams in each first-round group will advance to the second round, which begins in September 2018 and concludes in February 2019, so the qualifying process will take some time to play out.

Meanwhile, the G League teams temporarily losing players to Team USA will be permitted one free move per lost player from the available player pool, tweets Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days.

Raptors Make Roster Cuts

The Raptors have waived Kennedy Meeks, Andy Rautins, and Kyle Wiltjer, according to a team press release. Toronto’s roster now sits at 17.

Meeks went undrafted out of the University of North Carolina and signed a partially guaranteed deal with the franchise this summer. He was only able to make one preseason appearance for the club before the team waived him.

Rautins and Wiltjer each made three preseason appearances for the Raptors. Rautins was never expected to make the opening night roster, while Wiltjer was in a better position to earn a spot.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Simmons, Carroll

The Raptors have four players on non-guaranteed deals effectively auditioning for the final two guaranteed slots on their roster, Josh Lewenberg of TSN writes. Given the number of veterans the team lost over the offseason, the individuals who end up in the 14th and 15th spots on the squad could actually see meaningful minutes in 2017/18.

Among those battling for one of the final openings on the lone Canadian team’s roster is Canadian national team forward Kyle Wiltjer. Wiltjer didn’t make much of an impact on the playoff-bound Rockets last season but serves as a potent deep ball threat, not unlike outgoing Raptors forward Patrick Patterson.

Wiltjer will face stiff competition making the Raptors, especially from the versatile K.J. McDaniels who failed to stick with the Nets last season but has otherwise shown promise as an incredibly versatile, Swiss army knife of a forward.

Also vying for the final two spots will be Kennedy Meeks and Alfonzo McKinnie, the latter of whom Lewenberg mentions along with McDaniels to be the ones to watch as training camp begins and the Raptors inch closer to finalizing their roster.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Raptors Sign Kennedy Meeks

JULY 18: The Raptors have officially signed Meeks, the team announced today in a press release.

JUNE 23: The Raptors have struck a deal with undrafted rookie Kennedy Meeks, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). According to Charania, Meeks will sign a partially guaranteed contract with Toronto. The deal can’t become official until after the 2017/18 league year begins.

Meeks, 22, averaged 12.3 PPG and 9.4 RPG during his senior year at North Carolina. The 6’9″ center was viewed as a top-100 prospect by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress, who had Meeks at No. 92 on his big board.

Although he wasn’t drafted on Thursday night, Meeks will have a chance to attend training camp with the Raptors, making him the third UNC player to find a new NBA home this week. Meeks’ former Tar Heels teammates Justin Jackson and Tony Bradley were both first-round picks, going to the Kings and Jazz, respectively.

The Raptors came away from Thursday night’s draft with OG Anunoby, who isn’t expected to be fully healthy to start the 2017/18 season.

Southeast Notes: Millsap, White, Vasquez, NBA Draft

The Hawks are planning on using their 19th overall pick in the NBA Draft on the best player available and Paul Millsap‘s contract situation will not change that, per Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (links via Twitter).

Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk told Vivlamore for a separate story that Millsap “might get better offers than we can make him.” Despite Atlanta’s desire to retain the four-time All-Star, the team is focused on assembling the best roster possible and worry about Millsap — or replacing him — afterward.

“You draft the best talent available regardless who is on your roster. … I think that’s when you get in trouble, when you draft off need not off talent,” Schlenk said. “Especially the way the league is going where guys are interchangeable and guys are multi-positional, you just take the best player.”

The Hawks went 43-39 last season, making the postseason as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. However, last year’s prized offseason acquisition Dwight Howard struggled in the postseason and expressed his issues with his lack of playing time; the team is also facing several potential departures in unrestricted free agency, such as Ersan Ilyasova, Kris Humphries and Mike Muscala. While those decisions will shape the 2017/18 Hawks, the club will look to attain the strongest asset in the NBA draft before worrying about anything else.

Below are notes from around the Southeast Division:

Nets Notes: Birch, Workouts, Meeks, Obradovic

Khem Birch, a Quebec-born big man who went undrafted in 2014 and currently plays for Olympiacos in Greece, has been linked to the Nets. Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops cites sources who say that Brooklyn is “seriously considering” offering Birch a two-year contract for the upcoming season. However, NetsDaily (Twitter link) has been told that the Birch rumor is “completely false.”

Birch was solid last season as a part-time player for Olympiacos, and was a D-League All-Star back in 2015, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the UNLV alum get a shot at an NBA roster. But according to Eurohoops’ report, his buyout is worth upwards of $300K, so an NBA team with interest may be reluctant to pay that buyout for a camp invitee.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • The Nets conducted a group workout today, according to Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders, who tweets that Dillon Brooks, Jawun Evans, Jimmy Hall, Amile Jefferson, Erik McCree, and Derrick White were in attendance.
  • UNC’s Kennedy Meeks worked out for the Nets last week, and according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com, some sources familiar with the workout said that Meeks “excelled.” The former Tar heels center isn’t one of DraftExpress’ top 100 prospects, but Begley suggests Meeks is viewed as a possible late-second-round pick, so he could be an option for Brooklyn at No. 57.
  • The Nets are adding Sasa Obradovic to their Summer League coaching staff, tweets international basketball reporter David Pick. Obradovic, a former international point guard, is currently the haed coach of Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia.

Atlantic Draft Notes: Dorsey, Dozier, Meeks, Dotson

Oregon shooting guard Tyler Dorsey will work out for the Sixers on Wednesday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Dorsey is considered second-round material by both DraftExpress, which currently rates him 46th overall, and ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, who pegs him at No. 47. Philadelphia owns four second-round picks.

In other draft-related news around the Atlantic Division:

  • South Carolina shooting guard P.J. Dozier was among the prospects worked out by the Raptors on Monday, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Dozier is ranked No. 51 by DraftExpress and No. 56 by Ford. North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks was also present at the workout. Meeks isn’t ranked among DraftExpress’ Top 100 prospects but Ford has him at No. 67. The Raptors have the No. 23 overall pick but don’t own a second-rounder, so this would be a case of doing due diligence or perhaps an indication they’re interested in trading for a second-round pick.
  • Georgia point guard J.J. Frazier will be among the prospects the Raptors will work out on Tuesday, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • Damyean Dotson will work out for the Knicks on Tuesday and the Nets on Wednesday, Scotto reports in another tweet. DraftExpress ranks the Houston swingman at No. 64, while Ford has him slightly higher at 58.
  • The Knicks will bring in Meeks on Wednesday, according to Scotto (Twitter link).