Nando De Colo

Yves Pons Signs With French Team ASVEL

After spending his rookie year with the Grizzlies, free agent forward Yves Pons is headed to Europe for the 2022/23 season. Pons has signed a two-year deal with ASVEL Villeurbanne, the French team announced today in a press release (hat tip to Eurohoops).

Pons was born in Haiti and grew up in France, so while this will be his first professional season spent overseas, it won’t be an entirely new experience for him. He played in France’s amateur third-tier division before moving to the U.S., where he played his college ball at Tennessee.

Undrafted in 2021, Pons caught on quickly with the Grizzlies as a free agent and signed a two-way contract with the team last offseason. The 23-year-old only played 71 total minutes in 12 games at the NBA level, but saw a little more action at the G League level, starting 14 of the 15 contests he played for the Memphis Hustle.

Pons averaged 10.1 PPG and 6.2 RPG for the Grizzlies’ NBAGL affiliate, making 47.6% of his shots from the floor, including 33.3% of his threes. When his two-way deal with Memphis expired at season’s end, the club didn’t issue him a qualifying offer, so he became an unrestricted free agent.

Pons’ new team, which competes in France’s top league and the EuroLeague, is owned by former NBA star Tony Parker. ASVEL also recently signed former NBA guard Nando De Colo.

Miles Bridges, Collin Sexton Among Players Receiving QOs

The Hornets have issued qualifying offers to a pair of forwards, officially making Miles Bridges and Cody Martin restricted free agents, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Bridges’ qualifying offer is worth $7,921,300 as a result of him meeting the starter criteria in 2021/22. That one-year offer is essentially a placeholder, giving the Hornets the ability to match any offer sheet Bridges signs as a free agent. He could accept the QO, but will likely receive a far more lucrative long-term contract — perhaps even a max deal.

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak expressed confidence in the team’s ability to re-sign Bridges today, telling reporters that “we’re going to bring him back.”

As for Martin, his qualifying offer is worth a more modest $2,228,276. He’s coming off a strong season as a rotation player in Charlotte and has earned a raise himself, albeit not one as substantial as the one Bridges will receive.

Bridges and Martin rank sixth and 29th, respectively, on our list of the top 50 free agents of 2022, and will each move up a spot when we officially remove Kyrie Irving.

Here are a few more qualifying offer updates from around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers have extended qualifying offers to Collin Sexton and RJ Nembhard, making both players restricted free agents, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter links). Sexton’s QO will be worth $7,228,448 instead of $8,559,357 because his torn meniscus prevented him from meeting the starter criteria. Nembard’s QO is for a two-way deal with a small partial guarantee.
  • The Raptors made qualifying offers to both of their two-way free agents, Justin Champagnie and David Johnson, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto has reportedly agreed to a two-way deal with Ron Harper Jr., which would leave only one two-way slot for Champagnie or Johnson, so perhaps the team plans to promote one of them to a standard contract.
  • The Raptors also continued their annual tradition of submitting a qualifying offer to French guard Nando De Colo, who has been out of the NBA since 2014 and continues to play for Fenerbahçe in Turkey, Murphy notes. There’s no indication De Colo will ever return to the NBA, but if he does, the 35-year-old’s RFA rights would be controlled by Toronto. The qualifying offer projects to be worth $2,011,516, based on a $122MM cap.

Raptors Extend QOs To Gary Trent Jr., Nando De Colo

The Raptors have given qualifying offers to guards Gary Trent Jr. and Nando De Colo, the team announced today in a press release. As a result, both players will be restricted free agents.

The Raptors acquired Trent – along with Rodney Hood – in the deadline deal that sent Norman Powell to the Blazers. In 58 total games (31.1 MPG) with Portland and Toronto in 2020/21, the 22-year-old averaged 15.3 PPG on .408/.385/.783 shooting.

Because he met the starter criteria, Trent will receive a qualifying offer of $4.7MM+, which will also be his cap hold. If he accepts that one-year, $4.7MM offer, he’d be an unrestricted free agent in 2022, but he’s more likely to work out a longer-term deal with the Raptors or another team. Should he sign an offer sheet with a rival suitor, Toronto will be able to match it.

As for De Colo, he hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014, but the Raptors have now issued him a qualifying offer for eight straight years in order to retain matching rights in the event that he does return stateside.

There’s no indication that will happen anytime soon, or at all – he remains under contract with Fenerbahce in Turkey – but there’s no harm in Toronto making the procedural move. De Colo’s qualifying offer is worth $1.8MM.

Atlantic Notes: Udoka, Smart, Raptors, De Colo, Simmons

New Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was intrigued by the chance to work under Brad Stevens, a president of basketball operations uniquely positioned to understand Udoka’s role as well as anyone, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

The Celtics, in turn, were drawn to Udoka due to his work ethic, his pedigree – including his experience working under Gregg Popovich – and his ability to connect with a young team. According to Himmelsbach, during Udoka’s previous stints as an assistant, he’d often go out for dinner with players to learn more about them.

Udoka’s final interview with the Celtics took place on Sunday, with Stevens, team owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, and VP of player development Allison Feaster all present. While that group ultimately made the decision to hire Udoka, the C’s also sought input from former president of basketball ops Danny Ainge and multiple players, including Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Himmelsbach notes.

As Udoka takes the reins in Boston, he’ll be tasked with rebuilding the Celtics’ defensive identity and developing the club’s young talent, Kevin Pelton of ESPN writes in an Insider-only story. Pelton suggests that Udoka may also prioritize increasing the team’s ball movement and putting players in positions to create shots for teammates — Boston’s rate of assisted field goals ranked 27th in the NBA in 2020/21.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Marcus Smart isn’t a traditional point guard, but he’s a “criminally underrated” passer, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, who outlines why Smart could be the Celtics‘ starter at the point in 2021/22 with Kemba Walker gone.
  • The Raptors secured the fourth overall pick in a draft that is viewed as having at least four top-tier prospects, but that doesn’t mean they’re content with simply staying put and taking whichever player drops to them, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. General manager Bobby Webster suggested the club will be open to a variety of scenarios with that selection. “All of our options are open,” Webster said. “As much as we would love the pick, we’re going to see what it yields outside of the draft.”
  • Veteran guard Nando De Colo, who technically remains a Raptors restricted free agent despite not having played in the NBA since 2014, will return to Fenerbahce in Turkey for at least one more season, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Toronto has issued De Colo a qualifying offer for seven straight years to retain his RFA rights and will likely do so again this summer.
  • While there’s no guarantee that the Ben Simmons era in Philadelphia will come to an end this offseason, Chris Mannix of SI.com believes that it should, arguing that Simmons and the Sixers would both benefit from a fresh start.

Suns’ Saric, Spurs’ Poeltl Among Players Receiving QOs

A series of players have received qualifying offers from their respective teams, making them restricted free agents this fall, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). Those players include Suns forward Dario Saric, Suns guard Jevon Carter, Grizzlies two-way guard John Konchar, Spurs big man Jakob Poeltl, and Spurs two-way players Quinndary Weatherspoon and Drew Eubanks.

Saric and Poeltl are the most notable names in the group and were also the most likely to receive qualifying offers, since Phoenix and San Antonio will want to retain the ability to match offer sheets on those players. Saric’s QO is worth about $5.1MM, while Poeltl’s is for approximately $4.6MM.

Saric, Poeltl, and the other players who received qualifying offers could accept those one-year contract offers, but will likely try to negotiate new, longer-term deals, either with their own teams or with rival suitors.

The Pistons won’t be extending a qualifying offer to two-way player Jordan Bone, so he’ll become an unrestricted free agent, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster confirmed this week that the club will be making its annual qualifying offer to EuroLeague guard Nando De Colo, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). Currently a member of Fenerbahce in Turkey, De Colo hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014, but would be a Raptors RFA if he wants to return, since Toronto has issued a QO each year since then.

International Notes: Lin, Germany, Turkey, Powell

Jeremy Lin posted a message to fans on Instagram as he returned to China for the resumption of the CBA season, relays Dario Skerletic of Sportando. Overseas players have come back to the nation and are undergoing a two-week quarantine before play resumes in the Chinese Basketball Association.

“Safely landed back in Beijing to finish out the CBA season,” Lin wrote. “Excited to hoop again, but leaving the bay worried and with a heavy heart for the sick, the jobless and all those fighting fear, anxiety and stress over the unknown future. Shoutout to our medical staff in the 50 states for working tirelessly and everyone keep doing your part in slowing the virus!

“It’s been an awesome 2 months camped out in the gym…basketball has never been more meaningful. The world needs basketball now more than ever. I still remember when I went through my toughest moments and worst injuries, you guys were there for me. I hope to return the favor. As all you beloved fans told me the day after my knee injury, keep fighting bc we’re #NeverDone.”

There’s more international news this morning:

  • Brose Bamberg in Germany is the latest team to permit its American players to return home, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Former NBA guard Jordan Crawford is the most recognizable name on the roster.
  • All players from the Fenerbahce team in Turkey, along with coaches and staff members, have been tested for the coronavirus and a team manager in under observation in the hospital, writes Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. The roster includes former NBA players James Nunnally, Nando De Colo, Derrick Williams, Malcolm Thomas, Jan Vesely, Luigi Datome and Joffrey Lauvergne.
  • New Iona coach Rick Pitino, who had been coaching Panathinaikos in Greece since 2018 before recently leaving the team, tells Lupo that Seton Hall’s Myles Powell could have a bright future in the EuroLeague. He compares Powell to former Suns and Pelicans guard Mike James, who has become a star in Europe. “Myles Powell reminds me of Mike a little bit,” Pitino said. “Do I think he’ll be in the NBA? I think he’ll try out with a team, but I think he’ll be a terrific player over in Europe and make a lot of money and be very successful. Could he play in the NBA? I’m sure he could, but I don’t think he’s somebody you’re gonna say he’s definitely gonna make it, but he’s a very talented young man and I think he’ll get a good shot at the NBA.”

World Cup Updates: Lithuania, Joseph, Nigeria, France

The Lithuanian national team has announced its roster for the 2019 World Cup, according to Donatas Urbonas, who tweets that the 12-man squad will include Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas and Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis in the frontcourt. Former Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas is also on the roster.

Lithuania is viewed as a contender to make a deep run in this year’s tournament, but it won’t have an easy path to even make it out of the first round. The Lithuanian national team is part of a group that also includes Australia, Canada, and Senegal — only two of those clubs will advance to the round of 16.

Here’s more on the 2019 World Cup, which will tip off in just four days in China:

Nando De Colo Signs With Fenerbahce

JULY 6: Fenerbahce has officially announced De Colo’s new deal in a press release.

JULY 5: Raptors restricted free agent guard Nando De Colo has reached an agreement with Turkish club Fenerbahce, sources tell Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops. According to a report from beIN Sports (as relayed by Sportando), De Colo is set to sign a two-year contract that features a third-year option.

De Colo, 32, was a second-round pick in the 2009 draft and eventually arrived in the NBA in 2012. However, he spent just two seasons in the league before heading back overseas. In 119 games for San Antonio and Toronto, he averaged 3.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 1.7 APG with a .429/.363/.835 shooting line in 11.9 minutes per contest.

Having played for CSKA Moscow for the last several seasons, winning EuroLeague titles in 2016 and 2019, De Colo parted ways with the team this year in the hopes of making a return to the NBA. However, it appears that won’t happen after all.

Because he only had two years of NBA experience and the Raptors have been issuing him qualifying offers every year since 2014, De Colo remains a restricted free agent, unable to sign outright with any NBA team, which perhaps suppressed his market.

Eastern Notes: Pacers, Bucks, Sumner, Nets, De Colo

The first-round draft pick the Pacers will send the Bucks in their sign-and-trade deal for Malcolm Brogdon is lottery-protected in 2020, tweets ESPN’s Zach Lowe. And if it doesn’t convey in 2020, it’s lottery-protected for five more drafts after that before becoming unprotected in 2026, Lowe adds. In other words, barring a catastrophe in Indiana, Milwaukee will be getting a pick in the back half of the first round, likely next year.

Meanwhile, Edmond Sumner‘s new three-year deal with the Pacers will be worth $6.5MM, a league source tells Grant Afseth of The Kokomo Tribune (Twitter link). It’s not clear whether all three years will be fully guaranteed, but it sounds like Sumner will be getting more than the minimum.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • A source tells Marc Stein of The New York Times that Spencer Dinwiddie was “at the forefront” of a months-long push to convince Kyrie Irving to choose the Nets over the Knicks — and to push Kevin Durant in the same direction. While DeAndre Jordan spent the last two months of the season with the Knicks, he also came to view Brooklyn as a more favorable destination to team up with Irving and Durant, according to Stein, who says the veteran center “joined the chorus promoting the Nets” in recent days.
  • EuroLeague powerhouse Fenerbahce is in serious pursuit of Raptors RFA guard Nando De Colo, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. According to Carchia, De Colo – who last wore an NBA uniform in 2014 – remains focused on getting back into the NBA. But if he doesn’t get an offer he likes within the next couple weeks, it’s possible he’ll sign with the Turkish club, says Carchia.
  • Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype caught up with veteran center Nikola Vucevic to talk to him about his new $100MM contract agreement with the Magic. “I feel rewarded for what I’ve done – not just last season, but what I’ve done throughout all of my years in Orlando,” Vucevic said of his new deal. “It means a lot for the team to reward me with this nice contract. It was important for me to be able to continue [my career] there and I’m glad we were able to agree on a deal that keeps me in Orlando for four more years.”

Raptors Issue QOs To Patrick McCaw, Nando De Colo

The Raptors have tendered qualifying offers to guards Patrick McCaw and Nando De Colo, making them restricted free agents, tweets Keith Smith of RealGM.com. RealGM’s log of official transactions confirms that Toronto issued those QOs on Friday.

As we explain in our glossary entry on the subject, qualifying offers are essentially one-year contract offers worth a set amount that give a team the right of first refusal on a free agent. If McCaw or De Colo signs an offer sheet with another team, Toronto will now have the opportunity to match that offer.

McCaw, who had a lengthy restricted free agency standoff with the Warriors last summer, briefly joined the Cavaliers before eventually ending up with the Raptors. The 23-year-old played a modest role in Toronto, averaging 2.7 PPG and 1.7 RPG in 26 games (13.2 MPG). McCaw, who won his third consecutive NBA title in 2019, has a QO worth about $1.88MM.

As for De Colo, he hasn’t actually played in the NBA since 2014, but the Raptors have held his rights since then by issuing him a qualifying offer every year while he played overseas. The veteran guard recently left CSKA Moscow and is looking to return to the NBA, so it will be interesting to see whether Toronto makes it a priority to retain him. His QO is worth about $1.83MM.

In other Raptors news, the team agreed to a deal with undrafted rookie Sagaba Konate out of West Virginia, a league source tells Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link). Scotto’s report doesn’t include additional details, but Blake Murphy of The Athletic suggests (via Twitter) that Kobate will sign an Exhibit 10 contract, which would give him a spot on Toronto’s 20-man offseason roster.

A 6’8″ forward, Konate was limited to just eight games in 2018/19 due to a lingering knee injury, but opted to go pro as an early entrant anyway. In his last full college season in ’17/18, he averaged 10.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 3.2 BPG in 36 games as a sophomore.