NBA G League

Central Notes: Sumner, Jefferson, Grand Rapids

The Pacers drafted a pair of injured prospects earlier this month but it wasn’t an oversight, Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star writes. By taking a chance on the heralded but sidelined NCAA stars, president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard was able to get his hands on two quality projects at a bargain rate.

They don’t want me to rush back,” Edmond Sumner, the point guard out of Xavier said of his new club. “They just want me to get healthy. That’s the main priority right now, just getting healthy. I’m not going to rush.

Considering that the franchise is at the beginning of a rebuild, they stand to benefit from any young talent they can amass. Ike Anigbogu is the second of Indiana’s intriguing second-rounders.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • A former business manager of Richard Jefferson has been indicted of fraud, Billy Heyen of Cleveland.com writes. The manager stole $7MM from the Cavaliers veteran after forging Jefferson’s signature and illegally establishing power of attorney over his finances.
  • A Detroit city council proposal that would earmark the income tax of NBA players for a neighborhood fund has hit a speed bump, Ben Solis of MLive writes. The proposed fund is estimated to collect $1.3MM annually from Pistons players, their opponents and team personnel.
  • The Pistons and their G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, have agreed on a two-year extension, the team has announced in a press release. They’ve also named Rob Werdann their new head coach.

Wizards Will Add G League Affiliate

The Wizards will become the 27th NBA team to have their own G League franchise, starting play in 2018/19, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

The team name has not been chosen, but it will play in a not-yet-built facility in Southeast Washington, D.C., that will also house a practice court for the Wizards and serve as the home arena for the WNBA’s Mystics.

Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said the organization will benefit from having its own G League affiliate, especially one located so close to the parent team.

“The NBA G League has been a great resource for us over the years, both for calling up talent and for allowing young players on our roster to gain more on-court experience,” he said. “Having our own team, selecting the front office and coaching staff and being able to implement our system will allow us to further enhance our player and staff development program moving forward.”

This season, Washington primarily used the Delaware 87ers, an affiliate of the Sixers, for its G League moves Buckner notes that the Wizards have signed 17 players out of the minor league since its creation.

The Pelicans, Nuggets and Trail Blazers are now the only teams without a direct G League affiliate, although New Orleans has plans to add a team in 2018/19, tweets Adam Johnson of D-League Digest.

Formerly known as the D-League, the organization officially changed its named this week with its purchase by Gatorade.

NBA G League Affiliations For 2017/18 Season

The NBA Development League has officially rebranded itself as the NBA Gatorade League (NBA G League). While we knew the change was coming, it’s official now, with the league’s official website having been updated to reflect the new name and new logo(s).

Going forward, we’ll be referring to the league by its new name, and our page for D-League news has been updated to indicate that it’s now the G League.

The G League will have 26 franchises for the 2017/18 season, with all but four NBA teams now in a one-on-one relationship with an affiliate. Twenty-two of those 26 NBA teams with G League affiliates own and operate their squad.

Here’s the list of affiliates for the 2017/18 season:

Atlanta Hawks: Erie BayHawks (expansion)
Boston Celtics
: Maine Red Claws
Brooklyn Nets: Long Island Nets
Charlotte Hornets: Greensboro Swarm
Chicago Bulls: Windy City Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers: Canton Charge
Dallas Mavericks: Texas Legends
Detroit Pistons: Grand Rapids Drive
Golden State Warriors: Santa Cruz Warriors
Houston Rockets: Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Indiana Pacers: Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Los Angeles Clippers: Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (expansion)
Los Angeles Lakers: South Bay Lakers
Memphis Grizzlies: Memphis Hustle (expansion)
Miami Heat: Sioux Falls Skyforce
Milwaukee Bucks: Wisconsin Herd (expansion)
Minnesota Timberwolves: Iowa Wolves (new affiliation)
New York Knicks: Westchester Knicks
Oklahoma City Thunder: Oklahoma City Blue
Orlando Magic: Lakeland Magic (relocation)
Philadelphia 76ers: Delaware 87ers
Phoenix Suns: Northern Arizona Suns
Sacramento Kings: Reno Bighorns
San Antonio Spurs: Austin Spurs
Toronto Raptors: Raptors 905
Utah Jazz: Salt Lake City Stars

Teams without G League affiliates:

Denver Nuggets
New Orleans Pelicans (affiliate planned for 2018/19)
Portland Trail Blazers
Washington Wizards (affiliate planned for 2018/19)

Bucks Notes: GM Search, Workouts, MECCA, D-League

Whoever is hired as the next Bucks’ GM isn’t expected to bring significant changes to the organization, writes Gery Woelfel of WoelfelsPressBox.com. After the departure of John Hammond to become GM in Orlando, the only person from Milwaukee’s front office likely to join him is Jon Horst, who served as director of basketball operations. The Bucks originally opposed letting Horst leave, but now the move is considered a formality. Billy McKinney, who serves as vice president of scouting, was rumored to join Hammond but now is expected to stay in Milwaukee. The rest of the front office remains intact, including assistant GM Justin Zanik, who was one of three finalists announced this week.

There’s more today out of Milwaukee:

  • Holding the 17th pick, the Bucks haven’t been able to secure workouts with potential targets Luke Kennard and Harry Giles of Duke, Woelfel notes in the same piece. Kennard worked out today for the Pistons, who have the 12th pick, and has upcoming sessions with the Magic (6), Knicks (8), Mavericks (9) and Hornets (11). Giles’ workout schedule includes the Pistons, Heat (14), Bulls (16) and Pacers, who will pick after the Bucks at No. 18.
  • Hawks advisor and former GM Wes Wilcox made a strong impression in his interview Friday and may be the front-runner for the Bucks’ GM job, according to Woelfel (Twitter link). Along with Zanik, Nuggets assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas is the other finalist for the position.
  • As part of their 50th anniversary celebration, the Bucks will play a regular season game at the MECCA, the team announced today on its website. Now called UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, the building served as the Bucks’ home from their creation in 1968 until 1988. “It’s going to be such a unique and special occasion for our current players to take the court at the MECCA and for our fans to experience the early era of the Bucks,” said team president Peter Feigin.
  • The Bucks’ new D-League team will be called the Wisconsin Herd, according to a release from the team. The Herd will debut in November and will be based in Oshkosh.

Heat Purchase Controlling Interest In NBADL Affiliate

The Heat have officially purchased a controlling interest in their NBA D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the team announced today in a press release. The two teams had already shared a single-affiliate relationship for the last four years, but the Heat will now have more freedom to own and operate the franchise.

“We are so proud to enter into this partnership with the Miami Heat,” said Mike Heineman, the president and owner of the Skyforce. “They have been so good for the Skyforce and for the city of Sioux Falls. To be able to expand our partnership with Miami while keeping the team in Sioux Falls were our two biggest goals throughout this process.”

Heineman’s reference to keeping the Skyforce in Sioux Falls is an interesting one. With more and more NBA teams securing geographically-adjacent D-League clubs, the Heat/Skyforce pairing is an aberration. The distance between the NBADL arena in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami is 1,825 miles — a 26-hour drive, per Google Maps.

Buying a controlling interest in the D-League organization gives the Heat the opportunity to relocate the club to a more logical spot, perhaps a city in South Florida. However, Heineman’s statement suggests the deal may include an agreement not to move the Skyforce out of Sioux Falls — at least not in the short-term future. The Heat’s press release notes that Heineman and his family will continue to run the Skyforce’s off-the-court business operations and community initiatives.

The NBA Development League, which will be renamed as the NBA Gatorade League in 2017/18, is expected to feature 26 teams next season, with only a handful of NBA teams still lacking an affiliate. The Nuggets, Blazers, and Wizards have yet to announce D-League plans, while the Pelicans’ affiliate is expected to begin play in 2018/19.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Kanter, Wolves, Nuggets

In previewing the Jazz‘s offseason, Bobby Marks of The Vertical points out that three of the team’s starters are free agents: Gordon Hayward, George Hill, and Joe Ingles. Marks also observes that the Jazz possess the 24th and 30th overall picks in the draft, and two of the team’s key players, Rudy Gobert and Rodney Hood, were drafted by Utah in the 20s. The Jazz have cast a wide net in the draft in recent years, often bringing in more than 100 players for workouts, and they figure to do the same this year.

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • The “can’t play [Enes] Kanter” narrative is not entirely true, writes Erik Horne of NewsOK.com. Kanter provides value for the Thunder, particularly during the regular season, according to Horne, who notes that the big man can thrive in specific matchups and roles.
  • The Timberwolves announced on Tuesday that their new NBA D-League affiliate in Des Moines will be known as the Iowa Wolves, per the team’s official website. The T-Wolves finalized the purchase of the NBADL organization, formerly known as the Iowa Energy, on May 3.
  • Michael Rand of the Star Tribune examines the Timberwolves‘ options at point guard in light of recent reports from Ian Begley centering on Ricky Rubio and Derrick Rose.
  • The Nuggets are well positioned for both the present and the future, Keith Smith of RealGM argues in his offseason preview for the franchise. While Denver may lose Danilo Gallinari and could use another point guard, the club has avoided bad contracts and has the cap flexibility necessary to continue improving its roster.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Northwest Notes: Kanter, Favors, D-League

Thunder center Enes Kanter endured a scary situation over the weekend as he was detained in a Romanian airport after his passport was canceled by Turkey. Kanter has been outspoken against Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has resulted in his family disowning him and swarms of death threats.

Speaking to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN at the National Basketball Players Association headquarters in Manhattan, Kanter recalled his troubling weekend experience. At this point, Kanter states that securing American citizenship is top priority.

“Right now I am country-less,” Kanter said. “I am open to adoption definitely. I am going to try to become an American citizen. I have a green card. We will see if they can speed up the process a little bit. It would definitely be nice. Right now my next move is becoming an American citizen.”

Youngmisuk detailed that Kanter’s journey from detainment in Romania to return to the United States required efforts from Homeland Security, Thunder lawyers, Kanter’s lawyers, the NBA and the NBAPA, and Oklahoma Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford. Now, Kanter’s sights are set on the 2017/18 NBA season, speeding up the process for his citizenship, and staying out of harms way under the Erdogan regime.

Here are additional notes from the Northwest division:

  • The Iowa Energy, an NBA D-League team, have scheduled a press conference for next Tuesday to announce itself as the official NBADL affiliate of the Timberwolves, according to D-League Digest (link via Twitter).
  • Jazz forward Derrick Favors has been a fixture in Utah since joining the team in the Deron Williams trade in 2011. Favors, 28, explained to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune that he wants to stay with the Jazz but it may not be possible. The team will be invested in re-signing Gordon Hayward to a longterm contract, which could eat up most of the team’s salary.”Everyone knows I love Utah, and I love playing for the Jazz,” Favors said. “But I have to prepare myself this offseason to have a great year, whatever city I’m in.”

Pacific Rumors: Iguodala, Kings, Lakers, Tomjanovich

Warriors forward Andre Iguodala is listed as questionable for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, the team’s PR department tweets. He underwent an MRI on his left knee Monday, according to ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes, and obviously the results were satisfactory even though the team has yet to provide details. Iguodala could still be rested as a precautionary measure, a source told Haynes. He did not practice on Monday. Iguodala was a non-factor in Game 1, playing just 10 minutes and scoring two points. Stephen Curry also sat out practice but will play in Game 2, acting coach Mike Brown told Haynes and other reporters.

In other developments around the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings plan to move their D-League affiliate out of Reno after next season, according to Scott Howard Cooper of NBA.com. The Kings want their affiliate to be closer to Sacramento and playing games at multiple locations is a consideration, he adds. (Twitter links).
  • The Lakers should try to trade for Pacers star Paul George this offseason rather than waiting to pursue him as an unrestricted free agent after next season, according to a panel of ESPN basketball experts. All but one of the five members on the panel believe that acquiring George now is worth the risk of losing him after just one season. Baxter Holmes opines that the Pacers would want a package of young players, including Brandon Ingram, and a draft pick in return.
  • Rudy Tomjanovich is no longer with the Lakers’ organization, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Tomjanovich has served as a consultant in various capacities for over a decade and was also a scout for the team’s analytics department last season. Tomjanovich’s son, Trey, has also lost his job as a consultant and statistical analyst.

Clippers Announce D-League Team For 2017/18

MAY 15: In a press conference today, the Clippers formally announced the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, unveiling the logo for the new D-League squad (Twitter link). Here’s the full press release from the club.

MAY 9: The Clippers are closing in on unveiling an NBA Developmental League team that will be called the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, league sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort, which Stein notes is a prominent NBA sponsor for the Clippers, is finalizing the agreement to join the NBA’s minor league affiliate. Due to the proximity of Ontario, California (approximately 50 miles away from Los Angeles), the Clippers will have the luxury of assigning and recalling players at an accelerated pace.

After the Clippers were eliminated by the Jazz in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs last week, head coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers confirmed the team’s D-League aspirations.

“We will have a team, I can tell you that‎,” he said. “We are committed to it‎. The work is in.”

Once this is finalized, the NBA D-League — which will be renamed to the NBA Gatorade League next season — will soon boast 26 teams, four affiliates shy of every NBA team having a developmental team. The only team’s without an NBA D-League team — once the Clippers finalize the Agua Caliente Casino Resort deal —  would be the Nuggets, Wizards, Trail Blazers, and Pelicans.

And-Ones: Free Agents, D-League, Bennett, Oden

Several under-the-radar players who will be free agents this summer are improving their bargaining position with their performance in the playoffs, writes Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. He identifies six players, starting with Golden State big man JaVale McGee, who is averaging 8.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks through five games despite playing just 11.8 minutes per night. McGee signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Warriors for the veteran’s minimum and could be in line for a huge pay raise in July. The others that Kennedy singles out are Serge Ibaka of the Raptors, Joe Ingles of the Jazz, Nene of the Rockets, Andre Roberson of the Thunder and Deron Williams of the Cavaliers.

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • The Texas Legends, the Mavericks‘ affiliate in the D-League, have given coach Bob MacKinnon a two-year extension, tweets D-League Digest. The D-League veteran is in his first season with the Legends.
  • Invitations have been issued for the D-League’s Elite Mini Camp, which will be held May 8-9 in Chicago, relays Chris Reichert of FanSided. Many players have used this showcase to earn spots on summer league rosters, with alumni such as Jonathon Simmons, Hollis Thompson and DeAndre Liggins. Among the best-known names at this year’s camp will be Russ Smith, JaKarr Sampson, Ray McCallum and Cliff Alexander.
  • Former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett, who played 23 games for the Nets this season, has been replaced on his Fenerbahce team in Turkey, according to Bugra Uzar of Eurohoops. Taking his spot on the roster is Pero Antic, who played for the Hawks from 2013 to 2015. Bennett will remain with the club and is expected to be part of the upcoming EuroLeague Final Four.
  • Greg Oden, another former No. 1 pick, is hoping to be part of The Basketball Tournament this summer on ESPN, relays Alysha Tsuji of USA Today. Oden’s team is called Scarlet and Gray and is made up of Ohio State alumni. “We think we’re a team that can win it,” he said. “We look at the talent we’ve had here in the last 10 years or so, and we can match up with anybody. We want the state of Ohio supporting us. We’re called Scarlet and Gray, but this team is a representation of the whole state.”
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