Mathias Lessort

Sixers’ Mathias Lessort To Play In Serbia

Another of the Sixers’ 2017 draftees has found a home for the coming season, as Serbian team KK Crvena Zvezda – also known as Red Star Belgrade – announced today (via Twitter) that it has signed second-rounder Mathias Lessort to a three-year contract.

Lessort, who was ranked as 2017’s 32nd-best prospect by DraftExpress, was viewed as a borderline first-round pick entering the draft, but ultimately slipped to Philadelphia at No. 50. The 6’9″ forward/center played for Nanterre 92 in France last season, averaging 10.2 PPG and 7.2 RPG in 36 French League contests.

The Sixers had four picks in this year’s draft, but after selecting Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 pick, the club focused on draft-and-stash prospects. Philadelphia used its second first-rounder – No. 25 overall – on Anzejs Pasecniks, who will spend the 2017/18 campaign with CB Gran Canaria in Spain. The team also had the No. 36 pick, and drafted Jonah Bolden, who will play in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

While Lessort’s deal with Red Star Belgrade was announced as a three-year pact, I’d be surprised if it doesn’t include NBA outs that will give the 21-year-old an opportunity to make the leap to the Sixers a year or two from now.

International Notes: Lessort, McRae, Garino, Cook

One of the Sixers‘ second-round picks in 2017, French forward Mathias Lessort, has bought himself out of his deal with Bamberg and is negotiating with Red Star Belgrade, tweets international basketball reporter David Pick. Lessort is expected to play at least one more season – and perhaps more – overseas before heading to Philadelphia.

Here are a few more international items of interest:

  • As we noted earlier today, Spanish team Baskonia was pursuing C.J. Wilcox before he agreed to a two-way contract with Portland. According to Chema de Lucas of Gigantes.com (Twitter link; translation via Sportando), Baskonia is also eyeing Jordan McRae, who played 37 games last season for the Cavaliers.
  • Recently waived by the Magic, Argentinian swingman Patricio Garino is drawing interest from Italian team Pallacanestro Reggiana, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who passes along a report out of Italy.
  • Former NBA shooting guard Daequan Cook, who appeared in 328 games for the Heat, Thunder, Bulls, and Rockets, has a new deal with Ironi Nes Ziona in Israel, the team has confirmed (via Twitter). The 30-year-old has spent the last several years overseas, having last played in the NBA during the 2012/13 season.
  • All-EuroLeague guard Brad Wanamaker is nearing an agreement with Turkish club Fenerbahce, according to team president Aziz Yildirim, who says his club will land Wanamaker if the former Pitt standout doesn’t sign an NBA deal. Sportando has the details.

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:

Atlantic Notes: Colangelo, Smith, Ibeh, Hartenstein

Sixers advisor Jerry Colangelo believes the team has a sharper plan for the future than it did under former GM Sam Hinkie, relays Andrew Porter of CBS Philly. In an interview on The Carlin & Reese Show, Colangelo gave Hinkie credit for thinking “outside the box” and building the team using analytics, but he believes the organization is in better hands now that his son Bryan is in charge. “Since the change in management there’s much more of a defined game plan, in terms of going forward, and that’s very positive in my opinion for the franchise,” he said. “Sam left some good stuff in place, no question about that. Along the line there was a lot of pain in terms of incredible losing and that could only be sustained for a period of time. And I think in Philly’s case, I think he probably ran out of time.”

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • Point guard Dennis Smith Jr. of North Carolina State has a workout set for the Celtics on Wednesday, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Boston owns the No. 1 pick, so the team is probably just doing its homework in case it receives an attractive offer to trade down. Smith has already worked out for the Magic, who own the sixth pick, and has tentative sessions set up with the Lakers and Knicks.
  • The Nets continue to have interest in former Texas center Prince Ibeh, according to NetsDaily. The 23-year-old has been practicing with the team this summer and may have a future in Brooklyn. The Nets signed him to a D-League contract in February, promising him a 10-day deal later in the season. They weren’t able to fit him on the roster, but late in the season they gave him a 10-day contract before releasing him the next day. That move gives Ibeh a year of NBA service, which will qualify him as a second-year player rather than a rookie when he signs his next contract.
  • Brooklyn’s front office is looking closely at German power forward Isaiah Hartenstein, NetsDaily notes in the same piece. There’s already a strong connection, as Nets assistant Chris Fleming serves as coach of the German national team. The 7’1″ Hartenstein is projected as a late first-rounder, and Brooklyn holds picks No. 22 and 27. The Nets have also scouted center Anzejus Pasecniks and small forward Rodions Kurucs, both of Latvia, power forward Mathias Lessort of the French West Indies and center Viny Okuou of the Congo. International prospects younger than 21 have a June 12th deadline to withdraw from the draft.

Draft Rumors: Collins, Carroll, Brunson, Lessort

Gonzaga big man Zach Collins has signed with veteran agent Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. The 7-footer is ranked No. 12 by both DraftExpress and ESPN Insider Chad Ford. The freshman helped his draft status during the Zags’ run to the national title game. He declared for the draft last week.

In other news regarding the draft:

  • Euroleague prospect Vasilis Charalampopoulos will not enter the draft, international journalist David Pick tweets, citing a source. He wants more Euroleague exposure, Pick adds. The 20-year-old small forward, who plays for Panathinaikos, is listed at No. 10 in DraftExpress’ International 1997 rankings.
  • Oklahoma State forward Jeffrey Carroll has opted not to go through the draft process, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. Carroll decided to test the waters late last month after a breakout junior season with the Cowboys in which he averaged 17.5 PPG and 6.6 RPG.
  • Villanova guard Jalen Brunson is headed back to college for his junior season, Adam Zagoria of the 4 Quarters Podcast tweets. He averaged 14.7 PPG and 4.1 APG during his sophomore year. Brunson didn’t crack DraftExpress’ Top 100.
  • French draft prospect Mathias Lessort has signed with Wasserman and will be represented by Jason Ranne and former Pistons executive George David, HoopsHype tweets. The 6-9 forward is rated No. 34 by DraftExpress and No. 51 by Ford.

International Prospects Withdrawing From Draft

With the deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA draft just a few hours away (4:00pm central time), a number of international prospects have removed their names from consideration.

We’ll be updating this list today if and when more decisions are reported. For now though, nine international players whose intentions had been previously unreported have withdrawn from draft consideration, and won’t be eligible to be picked until at least 2017. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford (all Twitter links), the following prospects have removed their names from the 2016 NBA draft:

  • Diego Flaccadori, SG
  • Marko Guduric, SF
  • Ognjen Jaramaz, PG
  • Alpha Kaba, F/C
  • Emircan Kosut, C
  • Mathias Lessort, PF/C
  • Adam Pechacek, PF
  • Jordan Sakho, C
  • Kenan Sipahi, PG

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Vivant Arena, Nuggets

Tyrell Corbin, son of former Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, was among the participants in Utah’s free agent mini-camp this week, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. It’s the fourth year for the camp, which GM Dennis Lindsey brought to the Jazz after experiencing similar sessions when he worked for the Spurs and Rockets. Thirteen players from the last three free agent mini-camps have either landed spots on an NBA roster or earned invitations to training camp. “It’s a chance for them to play in front of an NBA coaching staff and for us to get a look at them,” said Jazz director of pro player personnel David Friedman. “Last year, we had a kid by the name of Jonathon Simmons [in camp] just to give you an idea. He didn’t end up with us, but he ended up with the Spurs.”

The camp has an extra dimension this year because Utah has its own D-League team and will be looking for players to fill the roster. Along with Corbin, other prominent names at this week’s event included Preston Medlin, Spencer ButterfieldDionte Christmas and Julian MavungaGreg Stiemsma, who has played for four NBA teams, was also in attendance, along with Argentinian prospect Nicolas Brussino.

There’s more news from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz hosted a workout this morning, Genessy notes in the same piece. Attending were LSU’s Tim Quarterman, California-Santa Barbara’s Michael Bryson, Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin, Texas’ Isaiah Taylor, Oral Roberts’ Obi Emegano and French prospect Mathias Lessort.
  • Utah is planning a $125MM renovation project at Vivant Arena, Genessy writes in a separate story. Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment will cover $102.3MM, and the franchise is hoping for $22.7MM from Salt Lake City’s Redevelopment Agency. The Jazz will submit their proposal to the agency this week.
  • Washington’s Dejounte Murray will have a private workout with the Nuggets Monday afternoon, the team announced in a press release. The 6’5″ point guard has been rising on draft boards and is listed ninth on the latest list of 100 best prospects compiled by ESPN’s Chad Ford. Denver will hold a Monday morning workout for Bryson, Joe De Ciman of Colorado State, Patrick McCaw of Nevada-Las Vegas, Egidijus Mockevicius of Evansville, Abdel Nader of Iowa State and Chinanu Onuaku of Louisville.
  • Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is joining the effort to keep Kevin Durant with the Thunder, according to The Tulsa World. She is willing to offer the free agent forward a government job to get him to stay with Oklahoma City. “Oklahoma loves Kevin Durant and Kevin Durant loves Oklahoma,” Fallin said. “But if he’ll stay, I’ll make him a Cabinet person for health and fitness.”

And-Ones: Salary Cap, Draft, Jersey Ads

Croatian power forward Marko Arapovic will enter this year’s NBA draft, as he announced on Twitter, and the same is true for Slovenian shooting guard Blaz Mesicek, as his agent, Benjamin Stevic, told Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress (Twitter link). Both hold a degree of intrigue, with Givony having slotted the 6’6″, 18-year-old Mesicek at No. 32 in his 2017 mock draft, though he’s not in Givony’s top 100 prospects for this year. The 6’9″, 19-year-old Arapovic is 96th among this year’s prospects, as Givony ranks them, and he’s No. 100 with Chad Ford of ESPN.com. International prospects aren’t bound to NCAA rules, so they can hire agents and withdraw from the draft as late as June 13th.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The latest official projection for next year’s salary cap is $92MM, according to a memo the NBA sent to executives around the league, notes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link). That’s an increase on the $90MM projection reported in February, though many had already estimated the cap would wind up in the $92MM to $95MM range.
  • Owners sense the league is prosperous and the collective bargaining agreement is working, commissioner Adam Silver said today about this week’s board of governors meetings, as Ken Berger of CBSSports.com relays (Twitter link). Silver remains optimistic about avoiding a work stoppage next year as negotiations with the players union progress toward a new labor deal, tweets Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.
  • The addition of jersey ads, which the board of governors have formally approved for the start of the 2017/18 season, are liable to raise the salary cap $2MM to $3MM annually based on projections circulating around the league, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Silver estimates the ads will generate $100MM in annual revenue, according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • French power forward/center Mathias Lessort intends to enter the 2016 NBA draft, YouFirstBasket.com announced (via Twitter). The 20-year-old is a long shot to be selected, not appearing among the top 100 players on either Ford’s or Givony’s rankings.
  • Vanderbilt junior center Damian Jones intends to enter the draft and will sign with Austin Brown of CAA, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com relays (Twitter links). Jones is ranked as the No. 21 overall prospect by Givony and comes in at No. 43 according to Ford. Jones has long planned to go into the draft this year, having said as much in October.
  • Former Pelicans big man Jarnell Stokes was named the MVP of the NBA D-League, the Sioux Falls Skyforce announced. In 28 D-League appearances, Stokes averaged 20.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in 30.7 minutes per contest.
  • Wichita State senior shooting guard Ron Baker has signed with agent Aaron Mintz of CAA, Goodman tweets. The 23-year-old is the No. 98 overall prospect in this year’s draft according to Givony.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

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