Kenny Wooten

Lance Stephenson Among NBA Vets Eligible For G League Draft

As previously reported, the NBA G League’s 2020/21 draft will take place on Monday, January 11. And according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter links), there will be some interesting names on the list of players eligible to be selected in that draft.

Veteran swingman Lance Stephenson, former No. 2 overall pick Emeka Okafor, and other recent NBA players like Justin Patton, Jacob Evans, Dzanan Musa, and Admiral Schofield will be part of the draft pool, per Givony. Former first-round picks Terrence Jones and Shabazz Muhammad will be draft-eligible as well.

According to Givony, the following players who have been on NBA rosters in the past are also among the G League’s other draft-eligible veterans: Kenny Wooten, Antonio Blakeney, Tyler Ulis, Quincy Pondexter, Diamond Stone, Hollis Thompson, Cat Barber, Isaiah Briscoe, Phil Booth, Dusty Hannahs, Jemerrio Jones, Cory Jefferson, and Freddie Gillespie.

These, presumably, are players who have signed G League contracts but whose rights aren’t currently held by any teams. A player whose returning rights are controlled by a club participating in the G League’s bubble season wouldn’t be eligible to be drafted.

For instance, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that LiAngelo Ball has signed a contract to play in the bubble. Since the Oklahoma City Blue hold his returning rights and are playing in the bubble, Ball shouldn’t be in the general draft pool.

The Blue are one of 18 teams set to participate in the shortened bubble season, which is expected to take place at Walt Disney World. That list of teams can be found right here.

Givony previously reported that the G League is adjusting its roster rules for this season to make it easier for NBA teams to recruit and sign veterans with five or more years of NBA experience. Each NBAGL team will be able to designate an “NBA Vet Selection” who fits that bill and can sign that player directly without navigating the league’s complicated waiver process. My understanding is that those designated won’t be in the draft pool.

Rockets Cut Jerian Grant, Kenny Wooten, Trevelin Queen

The Rockets have released three players, announcing today that guard Jerian Grant, forward Kenny Wooten, and forward Trevelin Queen have been placed on waivers (Twitter link via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle).

Houston had a full 20-man roster and had to make cuts in advance of the regular season, but a couple of these moves are still noteworthy.

Grant, for instance, looked like a candidate to make the regular season roster following Chris Clemons‘ season-ending Achilles tear. With Clemons injured and Grant no longer on the roster, the Rockets lack an obvious backup for starting point guard John Wall. Houston will carry a $50K cap hit after waiving Grant, since he had a small partial guarantee.

Wooten, meanwhile, was on a two-way contract, so waiving him will open up one of the Rockets’ two-way slots, alongside rookie Mason Jones. My guess is that Houston intends to sign a point guard using that newly-created two-way opening, but we’ll have to wait to see what the team has in mind.

Queen, meanwhile, was a training camp invitee whose release was anticipated. He’ll be a candidate to join Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, if the team participates in the revamped 2020/21 NBAGL season.

The Rockets are now carrying 17 players, including one on a two-way contract. The team has very little wiggle room below the hard cap and will likely start the season with 14 players on standard contracts along with a pair of two-way players, so additional roster moves are around the corner.

Rockets Claim Kenny Wooten Off Waivers

Kenny Wooten has been claimed off waivers by the Rockets, two days after being let go by the Knicks, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The 22-year-old forward had a two-way contract in New York running through the 2020-21 season that Houston will inherit, although the Rockets can change it to a standard NBA deal or negotiate a longer agreement. Houston filled one of its two-way slots earlier this week by signing Mason Jones.

Wooten signed with the Knicks last fall after going undrafted out of Oregon, but didn’t get into any NBA games. A shot-blocking specialist, he averaged 3.6 rejections per game, along with 7.7 points and 6.1 rebounds, for the Westchester Knicks in the G League.

Wooten could be a cheap source of talent for the Rockets, who are hard-capped after a sign-and-trade deal for Christian Wood and will rely mostly on minimum-salaried players to fill out their roster.

Knicks Waive Four Players, Decline Options For Portis, Pinson

12:40pm: The Knicks have confirmed all the roster moves detailed below and added that they’ve turned down their team option on Theo Pinson, whom they claimed off waivers in June. Pinson’s option had been worth $1.7MM, but he’ll become an unrestricted free agent instead of remaining with New York.

The team projects to enter free agency with upwards of $38-40MM in cap room.


12:06pm: The Knicks will waive Elfrid Payton and Kenny Wooten and have decided not to pick up Bobby Portis‘ option for next season, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday. In addition, the team won’t make a qualifying offer to Damyean Dotson, who becomes an unrestricted free agent.

New York will also waive veteran forward Taj Gibson, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), and Wayne Ellington, tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post.

The decisions are designed to create cap flexibility, Popper adds (Twitter link). He notes that the team could opt to re-sign some of the players, but at lesser salaries than what they were scheduled to make (Twitter link).

Payton had a $1MM guarantee on his $8MM deal for next season. He started 36 of the 45 games he played last season, but the Knicks have indicated they want to find a new starting point guard. Gibson also had a $1MM guarantee on his $9.45MM contract, while Ellington receives $1MM of his $8MM deal. Wooten was on a two-way contract and didn’t appear in any NBA games.

The Knicks held a $15.75MM option for Portis, who averaged 10.1 points and 5.1 rebounds in 66 games last season, mostly as a reserve. Dotson, who got into 48 games off the bench and averaged 6.7 PPG, would have required a $2,023,150 QO.

NBA G League Announces 2019/20 All-NBAGL Teams

After being named the G League’s Most Valuable Player on Thursday, Wisconsin Herd guard Frank Mason III – who is on a two-way contract with the Bucks – headlines the All-NBA G League First Team, as the league announced today in a press release.

Mason was joined on the All-NBAGL first team by teammate Jaylen Adams, as well as Salt Lake City Stars forward Jarrell Brantley, South Bay Lakers big man Devontae Cacok, and Memphis Hustle forward Jarrod Uthoff. Mason, Brantley, and Cacok are currently on two-way contracts with NBA teams.

That’s a common theme for this year’s All-NBAGL teams. The majority of the 15 players named to the three squads are either currently on two-way contracts or have had NBA experience in the past.

The complete list of the 2019/20 All-NBA G League teams, along with the All-Rookie and All-Defensive squads, is below. Players currently on two-way contracts are noted with a caret (^).

All-NBAGL First Team:

  • Jaylen Adams (Wisconsin Herd)
  • Jarrell Brantley (Salt Lake City Stars) ^
  • Devontae Cacok (South Bay Lakers) ^
  • Frank Mason III (Wisconsin Herd) ^
  • Jarrod Uthoff (Memphis Hustle)

All-NBAGL Second Team:

All-NBAGL Third Team:

NBAGL All-Rookie Team:

  • Jarrell Brantley (Salt Lake City Stars) ^
  • Devontae Cacok (South Bay Lakers) ^
  • Donta Hall (Grand Rapids Drive)
  • Marial Shayok (Delaware Blue Coats) ^
  • Tremont Waters (Maine Red Claws) ^

NBAGL All-Defensive Team:

Of the 20 players who earned a spot on one of the G League’s All-NBAGL or All-Defensive teams this year, only four – Adams, Jones, Koumadje, and Hollins – haven’t been on some form of standard, two-way, or 10-day NBA contract since the ’19/20 season began.

Adams and Jones have previous NBA experience, while Koumadje and Hollins have yet to make their regular-season NBA debuts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Christ Koumadje Named NBAGL Defensive Player Of The Year

Now that the remainder of the NBA G League’s 2019/20 season has been officially canceled, the league is moving forward with its end-of-season awards, announcing today that Delaware Blue Coats big man Christ Koumadje has been named the NBAGL Defensive Player of the Year.

Koumadje, who went undrafted out of Florida State in 2019, signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Sixers last July. Philadelphia waived him before the season began and made him an affiliate player for the Blue Coats.

A G League rookie, Koumadje emerged as the league’s most fearsome rim protector almost immediately, averaging an NBAGL-best 4.0 blocks per game in 33 contests. The Chad native also averaged a double-double, recording 11.3 PPG and 10.9 RPG in just 26.4 minutes per contest. His most impressive outing came on February 1, when he logged a triple-double consisting of 18 points, 20 rebounds, and 12 blocks.

It’s not clear if or when Koumadje will get a shot at the NBA level with the 76ers or another team. Some recent NBAGL Defensive Player of the Year winners, including Chris Boucher (2019) and DeAndre Liggins (2014, 2016) have played rotation roles in the NBA.

Canton Charge swingman Sir’Dominic Pointer and Westchester Knicks forward Kenny Wooten were the top two runners-up in G League Defensive Player of the Year voting. Wooten is on a two-way contract with New York, while Pointer was in the midst of a 10-day with Cleveland when the NBA suspended its season in March.

Knicks Notes: Rose, Houston, Wooten, Robinson

Nearly three weeks after reportedly reaching an agreement to bring him aboard, the Knicks still haven’t made it official with incoming president of basketball operations Leon Rose. However, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that an official announcement confirming the hiring of the veteran agent is expected to happen next week.

The official arrival of Rose, who has been tying up loose ends at his longtime agency CAA, could bring about some changes, according to Berman, who notes that the new president of basketball operations may encourage interim head coach Mike Miller to increase Knicks youngsters’ playing time. As Berman notes, Miller said on Monday that he speaks frequently with interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry, but hasn’t yet had a conversation with Rose.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Following up on a recent report that executive Allan Houston is expected to receive a promotion, Berman says that Houston already received one unreported promotion late last season, having been named special assistant to the GM. A source tells Berman that Houston is tight with Rose and William Wesley (“World Wide Wes”), who figures to become an unofficial advisor.
  • A torn ligament in his left thumb is expected to sideline Knicks two-way player Kenny Wooten for at least six weeks, Berman writes in a separate New York Post story. As such, it remains to be seen whether the shot-blocking rookie will get an opportunity to make his NBA debut this season. If he doesn’t, that’s probably fine with the Knicks — sources tell Berman the club signed him to his two-way deal last month primarily to prevent another team from poaching him from New York’s G League affiliate.
  • Miller is happy with what he has seen from second-year center Mitchell Robinson, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “He’s very important,” Miller said of Robinson. “… He’s a high-energy guy. That’s a skill. He can play at high energy now. He’s matured and grown more, extended those minutes where he is impacting the game at a high level.”
  • In case you missed it on Monday, we passed along a report indicating that the Knicks aren’t planning on buying out any of their veteran players.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Rose, Wooten, Anderson

There are few players who are off the table in trade talks for the Knicks, as I recently wrote for SLAM Magazine. RJ Barrett, who injured his ankle earlier tonight, and Mitchell Robinson are both unlikely to be dealt. Everyone else on the roster seems available for the right price, including Marcus Morris, who returned from a five-game absence in the loss tonight.

As we wait to see which players from New York get traded before the deadline, let’s take a look around the Atlantic Division:

  • Should the Sixers trade for Derrick Rose? ESPN’s Tracy McGrady (video link) believes the point guard could be the right target for Philadelphia at this year’s trade deadline.
  • Kenny Wooten‘s two-way contract with the Knicks runs through two seasons, ESPN Bobby Mark tweets. Wooten’s deal is just one of seven like it in the NBA.
  • Javonte Green is getting a chance to live out his dream with the Celtics, as he tells NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg.“When I first got the offer from [Danny Ainge], it was a dream come true,” said Green. “I still don’t think it’s really hit me. But every day, a random day, I can just be going to the grocery store, and I’m like, ‘Yo, I’m really in the NBA.’”
  • Justin Anderson will re-join the Raptors‘ G League affiliate, per the team’s Twitter feed. Anderson was with the Raptors 905 before signing a 10-day deal with Brooklyn.

Knicks Waive Ivan Rabb, Add Kenny Wooten

JANUARY 14, 3:03pm: The Knicks have officially signed Wooten to a two-way contract, the team announced today (Twitter link).

JANUARY 13, 5:07pm: Rabb has officially been waived, according the team’s PR department (Twitter link).

JANUARY 13, 4:09pm: The Knicks will waive forward Ivan Rabb and add forward Kenny Wooten on a two-way contract, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Wooten has been playing for the Knicks’ G League affiliate in Westchester.

The move didn’t come as a surprise. Wednesday is the final day that two-way contracts can be offered this season, and several teams had been watching Wooten, who is among the G League leaders in blocks per game. Rabb and guard Kadeem Allen were on two-way deals with the Knicks and one of them had to go to make room for Wooten.

Rabb was signed to his two-way contract in late October. Rabb, 22, was the 35th overall pick in the 2017 draft and spent his first two professional seasons in Memphis, but didn’t develop into a reliable, consistent rotation player. In 2018/19, he averaged 5.8 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 49 games (14.7 MPG).  He was released by the Grizzlies during training camp.

Rabb was averaging a double-double with Westchester in 18 games — 13.1 PPG and 11.0 RPG. Wooten, 21, has appeared in 24 games with Westchester. He’s averaging 7.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 3.3 BPG in 24.0 MPG.

An undrafted rookie out of Oregon, Wooten was waived from the Knicks’ training camp roster after signing an Exhibit 10 contract during the summer. On his new two-way deal, he’ll be eligible to spend up to 24 days in the NBA before the end of the G League regular season.

Knicks Notes: Knox, Wooten, Drummond

The Knicks are wasting an opportunity to develop their young players as they string together losses with veteran journeymen, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. After whiffing on the big names in the free agent market last summer, New York signed seven players, with only Julius Randle having a fully guaranteed salary beyond this season. Those additions make up the core of a team that is 10-29 with five straight losses.

Affected most by not being on the court is Kevin Knox, a lottery pick from 2018, Popper adds. When Marcus Morris was hurt earlier this week, interim coach Mike Miller inserted Reggie Bullock into the starting lineup and continued to give limited minutes to Knox, who has regressed in his second NBA season.

“My Pops always just tells to go out there and just play every single possession as hard as I can, because you never know how long you’re going to be on the floor,” Knox said. “So just go out there and give it your all. So that’s the approach. The six minutes I had (January 5 against the Clippers), I thought I played really well; went out there and played hard. Unfortunately, I didn’t get back in the game. But like I said, you never know when your number is going to get called. So you always got to stay prepared, stay ready.”

There’s more from New York this morning:

  • The Knicks have an important decision to make this week on G League standout Kenny Wooten, notes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Wednesday is the final day that two-way contracts can be offered this season, and several teams are watching Wooten, who is among the G League leaders in blocks per game. New York doesn’t have a roster opening, so either Kadeem Allen or Ivan Rabb would have to be waived to create a two-way slot for Wooten.
  • Tommy Beer of Forbes examines why it would be a mistake for the Knicks to give up future assets in a trade for Andre Drummond. Not only would they be committing to re-signing Drummond to a massive contract once he opts out this summer, they already have a promising young center in Mitchell Robinson.
  • The Knicks would still be on shaky ground even if they had achieved their dream scenario of signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and drafting Zion Williamson, observes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Williamson’s knee issue, Irving’s shoulder problem and Durant’s uncertain future after a ruptured Achilles tendon would all be giving nightmares to Knicks fans if they were on the roster.