NBA G League

Central Notes: LeVert, Allen, Pistons, White

Caris LeVert won’t be taking the court for the Pacers anytime soon, but the team’s newly-acquired guard was in attendance at Tuesday’s practice and spoke to reporters for the first time since being traded from Brooklyn to Indiana.

As Eric Woodyard of ESPN details, LeVert said on Tuesday that he’d been feeling “100% healthy” this season and was surprised when an MRI conducted as part of his physical revealed a small mass on his left kidney.

“In a way, this trade definitely showed and revealed what was going on in my body,” LeVert said. “So I’m definitely looking at it from that side and definitely humbled to know that this trade could’ve possibly saved me in the long run.”

According to LeVert, he and the Pacers are still waiting on some testing results and don’t know yet if the mass is cancerous. The 26-year-old added that while he wants to return to action as soon as possible, he understands it’s important to prioritize his health and to “make sure I live a long life,” so he isn’t yet thinking about when he might be able to play again.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • While Jarrett Allen admitted he was “disappointed” by not getting the chance to continue his career in Brooklyn, he’s excited to be part of the Cavaliers, as Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com relays. “It’s good that they want to invest in me, invest in my improvement and have me be a part of their organization,” Allen said. “I love what the front office is doing. I love how the coaches are teaching us. I can’t wait to play with them.”
  • The Pistons won’t have a G League affiliate of their own participating in the revamped 2020/21 season, but they’ll consider using the flexible assignment option to get some of their young players some regular playing time at a lower level, head coach Dwane Casey said on Tuesday, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. “Right now they’re playing (NBA) games when they should be learning the G League, making mistakes and learning from them in the G League instead of our games,” Casey said of the team’s inexperienced youngsters.
  • The jury’s still out on whether Coby White can be the Bulls‘ long-term answer at point guard, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times.

Northwest Notes: Porter Jr., Horford, Jerome, Krejci, Saunders

Michael Porter Jr. missed his 10th consecutive game on Tuesday due to the league’s health and safety protocols but he could join the Nuggets on their five-game road trip that begins Friday in Phoenix, according to an Associated Press report. Porter hasn’t played since he racked up 30 points and 10 rebounds against Sacramento on December 29. “He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do here,”  coach Michael Malone said. “When we do get him back, he will be a welcome sight.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Al Horford and Ty Jerome did not travel with the Thunder at the start of their road trip this week, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. Horford’s wife just gave birth to their fourth child and it’s uncertain if Horford will rejoin the team during the trip. Jerome, who was acquired from Phoenix as a throw-in to the Chris Paul deal, has yet to make his Oklahoma City debut. He’s rehabbing from a left ankle sprain.
  • The Thunder’s second-round pick, Vit Krejci, will be stashed on the roster of their G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, Mussatto tweets. Krejci is rehabbing from an ACL injury that he suffered in September.
  • Ryan Saunders deserves more time to get the Timberwolves righted, Jim Souhan of The Minneapolis Star Tribune opines. The current roster doesn’t seem capable of competing without a healthy Karl-Anthony Towns and the young coach should be given a chance to show what he can do when Towns returns after testing positive for COVID-19. Towns had a wrist injury earlier in the season and has only appeared in four games.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Celtics, Nets, McCaw, Knicks

The Celtics and Sixers have, at times this season, found themselves shorthanded due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, which have required a number of players on both teams to quarantine for positive COVID-19 tests or contact tracing. Heading into their games on Wednesday and Friday of this week, both teams should be a little closer to whole.

As Tim Bontemps of ESPN details, Sixers center Joel Embiid, who missed Saturday’s game due to a sore right knee, is expected to be good to go on Wednesday, per head coach Doc Rivers. And while Seth Curry didn’t practice today, he’s in the final stages of the health and safety protocols and hasn’t yet been ruled out for Wednesday’s game, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said today that Kemba Walker‘s knee responded “great” after his season debut on Monday, and he practiced in full today (Twitter link via Bontemps). Robert Williams, who has been cleared following a positive COVID-19 test earlier this month, also practiced today, per Stevens, and will be available on Wednesday.

Still, the Celtics aren’t at full strength yet. Jayson Tatum and Carsen Edwards both remain in the health and safety protocols and won’t play on Wednesday, though Stevens left the door open for Tatum to return as soon as Friday (Twitter link via Bontemps).

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic expects the Nets to take their time filling their open roster spots so as not to unnecessarily increase their projected luxury tax bill, which is already substantial. Hollinger also suggests that promoting Reggie Perry from his two-way contract would be a good way to fill one of those slots, since Perry – a 2020 second-round pick – would only count for the prorated rookie minimum for cap and tax purposes.
  • Raptors guard Patrick McCaw hasn’t played at all this season as he continues to recover from knee surgery, and it doesn’t sound like he’s close to returning. Head coach Nick Nurse said on Monday that he hoped McCaw would be much further along by this point, but the recovery progress has been slow (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).
  • The Westchester Knicks – New York’s G League affiliate – issued a press release confirming the previously-reported hiring of Jaren Jackson Sr. as an assistant coach and announcing that Ryan Borges has been promoted to assistant general manager.

Western Notes: Valanciunas, Lee, Porter Jr., Huestis, Spalding

Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas missed Monday’s game against the Suns due to the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. It’s uncertain how long Valanciunas will be sidelined. He was instructed to leave the bench area 10 days ago due to COVID-19 contact tracing but it turned out to be a “false alarm,” as Valanciunas described it. Rookie Xavier Tillman started in his place.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors might take a longer look at Damion Lee with Kelly Oubre Jr. off to a slow start, Ethan Strauss of The Athletic writes. Lee’s skills mesh more seamlessly with Stephen Curry, so Golden State could even try Lee in a starting role. He had a pair of double-digit scoring outings last week and has shot the ball well from deep (44.7%) with a low turnover rate. Oubre has shot an icy 19.7% on his 3-point tries but the Warriors dipped deeper into the luxury tax by acquiring him, so they’ll likely exercise plenty of patience and hope he returns to last season’s form.
  • Michael Porter Jr.‘s starting spot is safe, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said on Monday, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Porter hasn’t played since December 29 after being placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list. “Bottom line is, he’s the starting small forward at 6’10”, averaging close to 20 points a game and seven rebounds,” Malone said. “Not only are you whole, but you have a really talented player who’s a big part of your current team and also your future.”
  • NBA veterans Josh Huestis and Ray Spalding are among the players on the Rockets’ G League roster, according to a tweet from the Rio Grande Vipers. Huestis played in Germany last season after appearing in 76 career games with the Thunder, including 69 during the 2017/18 season. Spalding was waived by the Hornets in November. He played 13 games with the Suns in 2018/19.

And-Ones: Franchise Valuations, G League, Two-Way Deals

We’re likely still a few weeks away from Forbes’ publication of its annual NBA franchise valuations, which are typically revealed during the first half of February. However, new sports-business website Sportico has gotten the jump on Forbes in 2021, trying its hand at projecting the values of all 30 NBA teams.

According to Peter J. Schwartz of Sportico, the average NBA franchise is worth nearly $2.4 billion. That projection dipped slightly as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, since teams around the league have missed out on anticipated revenues as a result of playing without fans. However, the fact that the NBA’s national revenues have remained relatively stable means Sportico’s projected valuations have only dipped about two percent.

In Sportico’s view, the Knicks ($5.42 billion), Warriors ($5.21 billion), and Lakers ($5.14 billion) are far and away the most valuable NBA franchises, followed by the Nets ($3.4 billion) at No. 4. The Pelicans ($1.35 billion), Grizzlies ($1.36 billion), and Timberwolves ($1.43 billion) are at the other end of the spectrum.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA G League announced in December of 2019 that it would be expanding to Mexico City for 2020/21, but given the circumstances surrounding this season, the Capitanes franchise won’t be debuting now after all. While the league has been quiet about its plans for that Mexico-based franchise, the club is now expected to begin playing in the NBAGL in 2021/22, says Marc Stein of The New York Times.
  • Although most coaches and general managers around the NBA support the idea of giving teams a third two-way contract slot – an idea being discussed by the league and the players’ union – some would have liked to see a different tweak made to the two-way rules, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. “We are in support of (the proposal),” a Western Conference GM said. “But (we) might prefer to have current two-ways with unlimited game-day restrictions.” Players on two-way contracts are limited to being active for 50 of 72 games this season.
  • In an interesting article for HoopsHype, Michael Scotto explores the “art of the smokescreen,” speaking to agents and team executives about why they might be motivated to leak information to reporters.

Wizards Notes: G League, Bell, Beal, Center

Having agreed to share some of the Erie BayHawks’ operating costs with the Pelicans this season, the Wizards will also get the opportunity to embed one of their coaches with the G League squad, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, who tweets that player development assistant Mike Williams will be part of Erie’s staff.

Additionally, four preseason Exhibit 10 contract recipients who would have become the Wizards’ affiliate players if the Capital City Go-Go had been part of the revamped G League season will now join the BayHawks instead. As Ava Wallace of The Washington Post tweets, those four players are Jordan Bell, Yoeli Childs, Caleb Homesley, and Marlon Taylor.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated makes a case for why the Wizards should seriously consider trading Bradley Beal sooner rather than later. Pina wrote his column before James Harden was moved, but that deal should only make Beal a more attractive trade target for the teams that missed out on Harden.
  • Could the Wizards turn to free agency in an effort to fortify their center position following Thomas Bryant‘s season-ending ACL tear? Frank Urbina of HoopsHype identifies six available players the team should consider if it wants to sign a big man.
  • The Wizards’ 3-8 record puts them near the very bottom of the NBA standings, but the unusual nature of this season makes it too early to rush to judgement, argues Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.
  • In case you missed it, five Wizards players have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19, potentially jeopardizing the team’s Sunday and Monday games against Cleveland. The Wizards have already had two games (Wednesday’s and Friday’s) postponed this week due to the coronavirus.

Jarrett Jack, Donta Hall Sign With G League Ignite

Veteran guard Jarrett Jack is the latest addition to the G League Ignite, the league announced in a press release. He will join the team for training camp in California later this month, and the season is tentatively set to begin February 8 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Jack, 37, played for eight teams in 13 NBA seasons, but hasn’t been in the league since 2017/18, when he appeared in 62 games for the Knicks. He posted career averages of 10.8 points and 4.6 assists in 867 games.

After being waived by the Pelicans prior to the start of the 2018/19 season, Jack joined the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the G League, but played just one game before suffering ACL and MCL injuries. He rejoined the team last season and averaged 15.6 points and 5.0 assists in 25 games. He also participated in The Basketball Tournament last summer.

G League Ignite also confirmed the signing of Donta Hall, who was named to the NBAGL’s All-Rookie Team last season with Grand Rapids. Hall signed a 10-day contract with the Pistons last February and appeared in four games. He signed with the Nets for the NBA’s restart and averaged 6.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in five games.

Central Notes: Dellavedova, Bey, Oladipo, Hankins

Matthew Dellavedova’s return from a concussion has taken longer than expected because of his concussion history, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cavaliers guard, who has yet to make his season debut, is progressing slowly and there’s no definitive timetable for his return. Dellavedova was re-signed on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal in November.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pistons didn’t line up a pre-draft workout and interview with forward Saddiq Bey because they figured he wouldn’t slide out of the lottery, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Bey dropped to the No. 19 pick and was acquired in a draft-night trade. “We were shocked,” coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s one player we did not meet with because we didn’t think he was going to be there later where we were trying to get the pick. Luckily he was and we jumped on it. “
  • Victor Oladipo becomes a free agent after the season but the Pacers aren’t in a hurry to resolve that situation, Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated reports. According to Pacers GM Chad Buchanan, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but in the meantime we want to try and help this team hit its fullest potential this season.” Oladipo is averaging 19.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 4.2 APG this season.
  • Tom Hankins has been hired as the head coach of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the G League affiliate of the Pacers, according to a team press release. The 54-year-old Hankins was the head coach at the University of Central Oklahoma from 2015-19. He was then hired by the Pacers as assistant player development coach. The Mad Ants are one of the 18 teams participating in the league’s “bubble season” in Orlando.

2020/21 NBA G League Draft Results

The NBA G League held its draft for the 2020/21 season on Monday afternoon.

In a typical year, the G League draft lasts four rounds and teams are only required to make two selections. However, this year’s draft was just three rounds and teams weren’t required to make any picks.

Because only 17 of 28 NBA G League affiliates (plus the G League Ignite) are participating in the revamped season at Walt Disney World in Florida, and because teams aren’t permitted to bring extra players to training camp for health and safety reasons, roster spots will be at a premium in the NBAGL this season, and the draft reflected that. Only 25 players were selected.

With the first overall pick, the Greensboro Swarm – the Hornets‘ affiliate – nabbed former Wizard Admiral Schofield. The 42nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Schofield averaged 3.0 PPG and 1.4 RPG in 33 games (11.2 MPG) as a rookie before being traded to the Thunder during the offseason. Oklahoma City waived him last month.

With the second overall pick, which they acquired in a trade earlier in the day, the Memphis Hustle selected former Baylor standout Freddie Gillespie, who had been in camp with the Mavericks. Gillespie recently spoke to JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors about his desire to make it to the NBA and his plans to begin his professional career in the G League. He’s now in position to suit up for the Grizzlies‘ affiliate.

Here are the full 2020/21 G League draft results:

Round One:

  1. Greensboro Swarm (Hornets): Admiral Schofield (Tennessee)
  2. Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): Freddie Gillespie (Baylor)
  3. Canton Charge (Cavaliers): Antonio Blakeney (LSU)
  4. Iowa Wolves (Timberwolves): Allonzo Trier (Arizona)
  5. Lakeland Magic (Magic):  Tahjere McCall (Tennessee State)
  6. Canton Charge: Anthony Lamb (Vermont)
  7. Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder): Zavier Simpson (Michigan)
  8. Lakeland Magic: DJ Hogg (Texas A&M)
  9. Westchester Knicks (Knicks): Justin Patton (Creighton)
  10. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets): Armoni Brooks (Houston)
  11. Raptors 905 (Raptors): Kevon Harris (Stephen F. Austin)
  12. Rio Grande Valley Vipers: Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
  13. Oklahoma City Blue: Vince Edwards (Purdue)
  14. Austin Spurs (Spurs): Jonathan Kasibabu (Fairfield)
  15. Raptors 905: Gary Payton II (Oregon State)
  16. Memphis Hustle: Anthony Cowan Jr. (Maryland)
  17. Iowa Wolves: Dakarai Tucker (Utah)
  18. Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz): No pick
  19. N/A

Round Two:

  1. Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers): Jemerrio Jones (New Mexico State)
  2. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Iowa Wolves: No pick
  5. Long Island Nets (Nets): No pick
  6. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  7. Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Quincy McKnight (Seton Hall)
  8. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  9. Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors): Selom Mawugbe (Azusa Pacific)
  10. Raptors 905: No pick
  11. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  12. Austin Spurs: Anthony Mathis (Oregon)
  13. Erie BayHawks (Pelicans): No pick
  14. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  15. Austin Spurs: Kaleb Johnson (Georgetown)
  16. Santa Cruz Warriors: No pick
  17. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  18. Oklahoma City Blue: Rob Edwards (Arizona State)
  19. Salt Lake City Stars: No pick

Round Three:

  1. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  2. Erie BayHawks: No pick
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Delaware Blue Coats: Braxton Key (Virginia)
  5. No picks from 43-57

The teams that didn’t make any picks will fill their rosters with affiliate players and returning rights players, meaning they didn’t need to draft anyone and/or didn’t have the open spots to do so.

As Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Blake Murphy of The Athletic noted (via Twitter), NBAGL teams overwhelmingly opted for youth, passing on most of the notable veteran NBA players in the draft pool. That group included Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson, Emeka Okafor, and Shabazz Muhammad, among others.

Former Nets first-rounder Dzanan Musa removed his name from the draft pool before the event began, per Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

And-Ones: G League, Allen, Harden, Icons

The G League draft will be held on Monday at 1 PM ET, Adam Zagoria of The New York Times tweetsMichael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Shabazz Muhammad, Quincy Pondexter, Lance Stephenson and Allonzo Trier are among the NBA veterans who will be eligible for the draft, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. The full list of draft eligible players can be found here. The G League season will begin in Orlando next month.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Former Knicks player Kadeem Allen has departed JL Bourg, according to the French club’s Twitter feed. Allen agreed to join the French team over the summer. The 53rd overall pick of the 2017 draft, Allen had been on a two-way contract with New York before being cut earlier in the summer. In two seasons with the Knicks, Allen saw limited action, averaging 8.2 PPG and 3.3 APG in 29 total games (18.4 MPG).
  • What are the pros and cons for each Eastern Conference contender to acquire James Harden? ESPN’s Insiders take a closer look at what each of those teams might have to surrender in order to trade for the former Most Valuable Player and whether Harden would be a good fit.
  • Which current players are the biggest icons for their franchise? Eric Koreen of The Athletic uses a numerical system to rank those players, with Stephen Curry of the Warriors coming out on top.