NBA G League

Wizards Notes: Brown, Mahinmi, Meeks, Go-Go

Rookie swingman Troy Brown has multiple skills and can handle multiple positions, but he’ll have to battle for playing time at each one, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 15th player selected in this year’s draft, Brown excels at handling the ball, passing, rebounding and playing defense. The Wizards were happy with his performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, where he spent time at point guard as well as his more natural positions of shooting guard and small forward.

However, the 19-year-old won’t have an easy path toward getting minutes at any of those spots. All-stars John Wall and Bradley Beal are entrenched as the starting backcourt, and Austin Rivers was picked up in an offseason trade to provide depth. Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre will see most of the playing time at small forward, along with free agent addition Jeff Green.

Hughes suggests that Washington may see Brown as a long-term prospect and could use him at both the G League and NBA levels this season.

There’s more out of Washington:

  • The Wizards got to see more of backup center Ian Mahinmi last season, but not enough to justify his sizable contract, Hughes states in a separate piece. Injuries forced Mahinmi to miss 51 games in his first season after signing a four-year, $64MM deal, but he rebounded to play 77 games last year. He will remain the backup center after Washington signed Dwight Howard to replace Marcin Gortat, who was traded to the Clippers. Howard averages more minutes per game, which will limit Mahinmi’s role, as will the use of smaller lineups that could feature Markieff Morris or Green at center.
  • Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith will both be trying to improve after disappointing seasons, Hughes adds in another story. Meeks appeared in 77 games last year after two injury-filled seasons, but his numbers were down sharply in every category from his best years. He will start this season by serving the remaining 19 games of a 25-game suspension for a violation of the league’s drug program. Smith was healthy last year, but was only used in 33 games, and the addition of Green will continue to block his playing time. Both players will be free agents next summer.
  • Candace Buckner of The Washington Post chronicles today’s tryouts for the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s new G League affiliate. Ninety-three players showed up in hopes of winning one or two invitations to the new team’s training camp.

And-Ones: Bazley, Garnett, Two-Way Players, Munford

Darius Bazley’s curious summer decisions have hurt his draft stock, according to Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. The 6’9” Bazley backed out of a commitment with Syracuse in order to play in the G League. He then announced he would simply train on his own until next year’s draft. Other than Bazley’s length and defensive effort, there are a lot of question marks about his game, Woo continues. He’s unpolished with a thin build and needs plenty of work on his offensive game, so he would be better off playing competitively for the next nine months. He now has the look of a second-round flier, Woo adds. Woo takes a closer look at several risers and droppers among 2019 draft prospects.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Kevin Garnett is filing a federal malpractice lawsuit against accountant Michael Wertheim and his firm, alleging they helped a wealth manager steal $77MM from him, according to Associated Press report. The suit claims the accountant and his firm enabled Charles Banks IV of Atlanta to defraud Garnett through businesses in which Garnett and Banks shared an interest. Banks, who was sentenced last year to four years in federal prison for defrauding retired Spurs star Tim Duncan, was not named in Garnett’s suit.
  • The maximum amount a two-way player can earn in training camp with an NBA team is $50K. The G League salary of a two-way player is $77,250, a mild increase from $75K last season. Those are some of the nuggets offered by Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days in an examination of maximum earning power for players on two-way contracts during the upcoming season.
  • Free-agent guard Xavier Munford is mulling a move to the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Amico Hoops. The 6’4” Munford played on a two-way contract with the Bucks last season and appeared in six NBA contests. Munford, who also played 14 games with the Grizzlies during the 2015/16 season, is a restricted free agent within the NBA after receiving a qualifying offer from Milwaukee early this summer.

Atlantic Notes: Rozier, Knicks, Sixers, Kurucs

Terry Rozier is entering a contract year and is one of several productive point guards on a Celtics roster that also features Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and EuroLeague star Brad Wanamaker. As such, it makes sense that his name would pop up in trade rumors, as it did last week when a report indicated he may be on the Suns’ wish list. For his part though, Rozier is unfazed by those rumors, as A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston details.

“It’s only going to get crazier every year, I feel,” Rozier said. “You just have to try and control what you can control. Try to focus on getting better every summer. Getting wiser, thinking about the game. I’m ready to get it going, ready to start the season.”

Even if he remains in Boston through the 2018/19 season, the summer of 2019 will be a big one for Rozier. With Smart locked up to a lucrative new long-term contract, and Irving a candidate for a new maximum-salary deal, the Celtics may not be able to retain Rozier if he draws serious interest from other teams in restricted free agency. Again though, the fourth-year guard isn’t focused on his long-term future for now.

“I mean, I’ll see how it goes for myself,” Rozier said, per Blakely. “I’m not really going crazy. I got a season to worry about. I’m not worried about what’s next for me individually; I’m just worrying about how special this team can be.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • During an appearance on SiriusXM Radio, Enes Kanter said he’s “love to see” Kevin Durant on his team again, adding that he’ll “try to recruit” his former Thunder teammate to the Knicks in 2019 (link via Marc Berman of The New York Post). Of course, Kanter’s recruitment of LeBron James this offseason wasn’t particularly effective, and there’s no guarantee the center will even be a Knick a year from now — Kanter hopes to remain in New York for the long term, but will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
  • Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the only long-term certainties for the Sixers, so the team’s new general manager should be a creative thinker who isn’t afraid to shake up the rest of the roster if it moves the team closer to title contention, writes David Murphy of The 76ers are considering both external and internal candidates as they seek a new head of basketball operations.
  • Nets second-round pick Rodions Kurucs said during an interview with LTV Sport Studio in Latvia that he expects to spend some time with the Long Island Nets in the G League during his rookie season, as relayed by NetsDaily. Kurucs, the 40th overall pick in the draft, signed a four-year deal with Brooklyn, so the club figures to be patient with his development.

Northwest Notes: Singler, Towns, Williams, Trail Blazers

The Thunder’s decision to use the stretch provision on Kyle Singler will result in a savings of about $20MM for the upcoming season, according to Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The veteran forward was owed $4.996MM in the final season of an extension that was granted in 2015. That money that will now be paid out over the next five seasons, giving OKC a significant reduction in its 2018/19 luxury tax bill, which will drop from $93.1MM to $73.7MM.

Singler, 30, spent three and half seasons with the Thunder, but barely played last year. He dropped out of the rotation early and appeared in just 12 games, averaging 4.9 minutes per night. Oklahoma City tried to find a taker on the trade market, but had few first-round picks left to offer.

Cutting ties with Singler brings OKC down to 14 guaranteed contracts, along with two-way players Deonte Burton and Tyler Davis. The team payroll is set at $145.5MM, the highest in the league, well above the projected $101MM salary cap and the $123MM tax threshold.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • There hasn’t been any progress in extension talks between the Timberwolves and center Karl-Anthony Towns, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said in a recent appearance on “The Jump.” Towns has until October 15 to reach an extension that could pay him up to $158MM over five years. Windhorst speculates that Towns might be considering a shorter agreement rather than a full five-year deal.
  • C.J. Williams, who signed a two-way contract with the Timberwolves in July, is putting his new team ahead of his role with USA Basketball, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. The former Clipper played for Jeff Van Gundy and the U.S. team last September, but will be in Minnesota on Monday when the national team opens training camp in its quest to  qualify for the World Cup.
  • The Trail Blazers don’t seem to mind being among three NBA teams without direct G League affiliates, writes Marc Stein of The New York Times in his latest email notebook. Portland once had an affiliate in Idaho and isn’t convinced that it was a valuable investment, Stein adds. However, he notes that G League President Malcolm Turner said this year that he expects all 30 teams to have affiliates within 12 to 18 months, so the Blazers appear ready to give it another shot.

And-Ones: 2019 Draft, Age Minimum, Team USA

After attending a handful of summer events involving top prospects, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz (Insider link) have updated their 2019 NBA mock draft. While Duke freshman R.J. Barrett continues to be viewed as 2019’s top pick, he’s joined in the top three this time around by a fast-rising teammate — Givony and Schmitz have Duke forward Zion Williamson at No. 3 in their latest mock.

Other new names in ESPN’s top 10 include Kentucky freshman wing Keldon Johnson and Oregon freshman center Bol Bol. Johnson excelled in the Wildcats’ exhibition games in the Bahamas, though the ESPN duo was also impressed by Johnson’s teammate PJ Washington, who “looks to be in much better shape” than he was last season. As for Bol, he had a strong showing at the Nike Basketball Academy, as Givony detailed earlier in the month.

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

  • Although the NBA’s draft eligibility rule related to a player’s minimum age won’t change within the next couple years, it seems highly likely to be altered or eliminated at some point. Tom Ziller of explores a few possible alternatives to the current rule.
  • In a step toward the elimination of the one-and-done rule, the NBA, NCAA, and NBPA reached an agreement with USA Basketball, announcing today that Team USA will expand its Men’s Junior National Team program to include additional training camps and year-round player development programming. The program will include approximately 80 top high school prospects, or about 20 per high school class. Here’s the official announcement from USA Basketball, along with more details from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
  • Players on two-way contracts who spend the maximum allowable number of days with their NBA clubs in 2018/19 will be able to earn up to $385,612 this season, tweets cap expert Albert Nahmad. That’s still well short of the NBA rookie minimum ($838,464), but greatly exceeds the standard $35K G League salary.
  • Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders examines some potential surprise teams for the 2018/19 season, suggesting that the Bulls, Mavericks, Pistons, Clippers, and Suns are candidates to exceed expectations.

And-Ones: G League, 2019 Cap Room, Prkacin

The NBA G League announced its schedule for the 2018/19 season today, beginning with opening night on November 2. Like the NBA, the NBAGL has reduced its back-to-backs to an all-time low and eliminated stretches of four games in five nights entirely.

The G League also slightly tweaked its divisions for the coming season, with the Delaware Blue Coats – the Sixers‘ affiliate – shifting to the Atlantic. Delaware had previously been in the Southeast Division, but with Capital City Go-Go – the Wizards‘ new affiliate – joining the Southeast, it made sense to move the Blue Coats to the Atlantic to better reflect the actual NBA divisions.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Keith Smith of offers an early look at the 2019 cap projections for each NBA team, with clubs like the Nets, Bulls, Mavericks, Pacers, Clippers, and Kings expected to have the most spending power.
  • In a piece for Basketball Insiders, Lang Greene highlights five veteran NBA players who will be adjusting to new roles on new teams this season. There’s a pattern here, with vets like Carmelo Anthony, Dennis Schroder, and DeMarcus Cousins all being asked to play more modest roles for their new clubs than they did for their old teams.
  • After spending several years with a Suns squad that didn’t make the playoffs, P.J. Tucker saw his career path altered over the last two seasons when he joined the Raptors and then the Rockets, a pair of teams with title aspirations. Matt John of Basketball Insiders looks into which NBA player might be the “next” P.J. Tucker, making the move from a lottery club to a key role on a contender.
  • Croatian forward Roko Prkacin stood out as the top prospect at this year’s under-16 European Championships, according to Mike Schmitz of (Insider link). In Schmitz’s view, Prkacin – who led Croatia to the tournament title – has an “extremely high floor” and was “looking like a future lottery pick” during the competition.

Darius Bazley Won’t Play In G League After All

Top 2019 draft prospect Darius Bazley has opted not to play in the G League during the 2018/19 season after all, he tells Shams Charania of The Athletic. Instead of playing professionally, Bazley will take the year to train and prepare for the next stage of his career.

Bazley, a 6’9″ forward who had originally planned to play with Syracuse in 2018/19, decommitted from the college program in March and announced his intentions to spend a season in the G League before becoming draft-eligible in 2019. However, he no longer considers it necessary to play in the NBAGL after having talked it over with his “group.”

“It’s mainly me talking to [agent] Rich [Paul], he knows so much, and whenever he speaks my ears perk up,” Bazley told Charania. “When Miles [Bridges] was in Cleveland for his predraft workouts, whenever he got a chance to work out in front of NBA teams, I was working out in the gym, too. So that played a part in it, me playing well in those workouts for us to say there’s no upside in the G League. If you play well, it’s expected. If you don’t play well, you’re not NBA-ready. That’s what they’ll say. For me, working out and preparing is the best route.”

If he had signed a G League contract, Bazley would have been eligible for the league’s 2018 draft, and likely would’ve been the first overall pick, meaning he would have had little control over whether or not he landed with one of the NBAGL’s better developmental programs. The 18-year-old touched on that issue – and explained his concerns about the G League in general – when he spoke to Charania about his decision.

“The G League is the only league where winning might not be everything,” Bazley said. “Development is the most important aspect, but guys are playing for the team and at the same time trying to play for themselves. That’s not the type of guy I am. For me in those settings to just get mine, I’ve never been brought up that way. I feel basketball is a team sport and everybody is supposed to eat. In the G League, that’s not the way it is. Everyone is trying to get an opportunity to go to the NBA.”

Bazley projects as a first-round pick – and potentially a lottery selection – in next year’s NBA draft. However, his decision to pass on the G League comes after an appearance at the Nike Basketball Academy earlier this month that was described by some experts and scouts as underwhelming.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony suggested at the time that there was speculation among scouts at the event that Bazley could back out of his G League plans and take the Mitchell Robinson route — the Knicks big man, a second-round pick in June, sat out the 2017/18 season before becoming draft-eligible this spring.

Meanwhile, Bazley’s decision shows that the G League still has some work to do in order to be viewed as a genuinely appealing alternative for top prospects who are looking for other options outside of the NCAA.

“This shows the impact of the rules now that have taken away the flexibility for a five-star prospect to enter the league,” one NBA executive said to Charania. “Each team in the G League is not the same in terms of resources and development.”

Go-Go Stock Roster in G League Expansion Draft

The Capital City Go-Go welcomed their first 14 players today in the G League expansion draft, tweets Adam Johnson of Two Ways and 10 Days. The Wizards’ new affiliate stocked its roster with a mixture of young players and veterans, including a few names familiar to NBA fans, including Lavoy Allen, Alonzo Gee and Luke Harangody.

As we saw with last year’s expansion draft, being selected isn’t a guarantee that any of these 14 players will take the court for Capital City in its inaugural season. Many of the players chosen today are still seeking NBA opportunities and some will head overseas.

Allen, 29, played 388 games for the Sixers and Pacers, with his last NBA action coming in the 2016/17 season. Gee, 31, played for six teams in eight seasons and has also been out of the league since 2016/17. Harangody, 30, appeared in 70 total games with the Celtics and Cavaliers and hasn’t been in the NBA since 2011/12.

The other G League franchises were permitted to protect up to 12 players on their roster, and Capital City was limited to taking a maximum of two players from a single team. The Go-Go will begin play this fall, bringing the G League to 27 teams and leaving the Pelicans, Nuggets and Trail Blazers as the only NBA clubs without direct affiliates.

The other new members of the Go-Go, listed alphabetically, are:

Quinton Chievous

Michael Cobbins

Will Cummings

Alex Davis

Will Davis

Duje Dukan

Kellen Dunham

Tyler Harvey

Pe’Shon Howard

Vince Hunter

Stephen Zimmerman

Pacific Rumors: Ellis, Clippers Arena, Cousins, Lakers

The Kings have officially hired Ty Ellis as head coach of their G League affiliate, the Stockton Kings, according to a team press release.  Ellis was head coach of the Suns’ G League team in 2016 before being elevated to an assistant coaching position with Phoenix last season. Ellis replaces Darrick Martin, Sacramento’s G League coach the last two seasons.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • A new lawsuit targeting the proposed Clippers arena in Inglewood alleges that two city-linked boards violated state laws governing open meetings, Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times reports. The suit also claims those boards also violated the environmental impact of construction projects in June when they approved the disposal of land to clear space for the arena, Fenno continues. The Clippers signed an exclusive negotiating agreement with Inglewood last year for a new arena but the team’s lease at Staples Center runs through 2024, Fenno adds.
  • The Warriors were expecting to use their mid-level exception on a wing player until they got a call from DeMarcus Cousins agent during the second day of free agency, Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. GM Bob Myers revealed his summer plan during a 95.7 The Game interview. “We had been preserving our taxpayer mid-level exception for somebody that might fall through the cracks and not get paid in a very tight free agency market,” Myers said. “But mostly we were thinking wings. I figured if something like that were to happen it would happen July 8th, 9th, 10th.”
  • The Lakers won’t make the postseason, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports predicts. Mannix made the comment during a NBC Sports Boston podcast, believing that the players around LeBron James won’t mesh well. “You have to assume it’s 48 wins to get into the playoffs in the Western Conference,” Mannix said. “I don’t see that team making up that difference.”

And-Ones: NBAGL Showcase, MVP, Pick, Booker

The NBA G League’s annual showcase, which typically takes place in January, is expected to happen from December 19-22 in Las Vegas this year, sources tell Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days. As Johnson details, the event is typically hosted by a G League team, with the Raptors 905 serving as the host in Mississauga in recent years. However, the showcase will move to a neutral site this year, as the league has outgrown the facilities of most NBAGL cities.

Johnson also notes that G League president Malcolm Turner believes the NBAGL is on track to have 30 teams within the next 12 to 18 months. The league is prepared to enter the 2018/19 season with 27 franchises, as we outlined earlier today. The Pelicans, Nuggets, and Trail Blazers are the only NBA clubs without their own affiliates, but it sounds like Turner expects those teams to get involved in the G League soon.

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

  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post revisits one of the most impactful NBA decisions of the last few years, exploring the players’ rejection of salary-cap smoothing in 2015. While the lack of cap smoothing has been the subject of plenty of discussion in recent years, Bontemps provides some interesting new tidbits, including a note that the players’ union expected the NBA to counter when it first turned down the league’s cap-smoothing proposal — the league didn’t come back with a new offer of its own.
  • ESPN’s early forecast for the 2018/19 NBA MVP has LeBron James as the odds-on favorite, followed by Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and the reigning winner, James Harden.
  • In an interesting conversation with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, longtime international basketball reporter David Pick explains why he’s looking to make the transition from journalist to agent.
  • Alex Kennedy passes along a follow-up note on Trevor Booker‘s deal with China’s Shanxi Brave Dragons, tweeting that Booker received interest from the Cavaliers, Heat, and Timberwolves, and also turned down an offer from Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv before signing with Shanxi.