NBA G League

And-Ones: Moneke, Harrell, Offseason, Sarkar, TNT, G League

Former Kings forward Chima Moneke drew NBA interest this offseason, but his pricey contract buyout was a major obstacle, so he’ll be remaining with Spanish team Baskonia for the 2024/25 season, reports Donatas Urbonas of Moneke is expected to be a sought-after free agent in Europe when his contract expires in 2025 and could consider an NBA return again at that point, Urbonas notes.

Moneke appeared in just two NBA regular season games for Sacramento during the first half of the 2022/23 season before being waived in January 2023. However, the former UC Davis star has thrived overseas in recent years, earning All-Liga ACB (Spanish League) honors in 2022 and 2024 and winning an LNB Elite (French League) championship in 2023.

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

  • Former Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell published a story on The Players’ Tribune this week detailing what he has gone through off the court in recent years – including the death of his grandmother, a marijuana-related arrest, and a torn ACL and meniscus – and expressing a desire to get back into the NBA. Harrell was waived last October by the Sixers following his offseason knee injury.
  • What roster moves are still on tap for NBA teams now that only a few notable free agents are still on the board? John Hollinger of The Athletic explores that question, naming some possible trade candidates – including Brandon Ingram and Lauri Markkanen – and potential contract extension recipients to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
  • Somak Sarkar, the former Timberwolves employee who was fired for stealing thousands of files, will avoid jail time after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized computer access, per Baxter Holmes of ESPN. A Minnesota judge ruled that Sarkar will serve probation for up to two years and pay a fine of $200.
  • With TNT Sports seemingly on the verge of losing its NBA broadcast rights, Michael McCann of Sportico considers whether Warner Bros. Discovery (TNT’s parent company) has any legal recourse to contest the league’s agreements with new partners NBC and Amazon.
  • The G League Ignite is no more, but the G League Fall Invitational will still take place this September, according to an announcement from the league. The G League United – a select team made up of top NBAGL prospects – will face Serbian team Mega Basket on September 4 and 6 at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz.

Atlantic Notes: Whitehead, Bridges, MacDonald, Embiid

With Mikal Bridges joining the other New York City team, Nets forward Dariq Whitehead knows he could be in line for more playing time next season, Adam Zagoria of writes. Whitehead has undergone foot and shin surgeries that limited him to two NBA appearances in his rookie year after getting selected with the No. 22 pick.

“I look at it as an opportunity for me to get on the court and a bunch of other young guys to grow our games and develop into who we want to be in the NBA,” Whitehead said. “And eventually be on their level, if not higher than where they were….and look it as an opportunity for us young guys.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Speaking of Bridges, he’s not worried about fitting in with his new Knicks teammates, some of whom played with him collegiately at Villanova, Zach Braziller of the New York Post relays. “I think it’s not going to be that hard honestly,” Bridges said. “I think it’s just knowing the brand we play here, and playing the right way is who I am. It’s like a natural thing. It’s kind of like going to [Team] USA, kind of the same thing where obviously, going to USA last year, the role’s going to change.”
  • The Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s NBA G League affiliate, have named Matt MacDonald their general manager, according to a press release. “We are excited to have Matt step into this role and lead our G League program with the Long Island Nets,” Brooklyn Nets GM Sean Marks said. “Since starting out in our front office, Matt has continually been elevated into a variety of positions spanning both player personnel and administration and has proven to have the acumen and diverse skillset required to thrive with each opportunity.” MacDonald was Long Island’s assistant GM for the last two seasons.
  • Sixers superstar Joel Embiid says any concern about him getting injured during Team USA’s Olympic run is overshadowed by his quest for a gold medal, according to Shaun Powell of “For me, being part of the Olympics was always the goal. It was an opportunity and a chance I couldn’t pass up. And I don’t think there is a big risk,” he said.

And-Ones: Porter, Pate, Adams, 2025 Mock, Ownership Changes

Former Raptors forward Jontay Porter is being charged with a federal felony in connection to the sports betting scandal that caused him to be banned from the NBA in April, according to a report from The Associated Press.

While a specific court date and charges haven’t been specified, the case is known to be related to an existing charge of four men who schemed with a player to cash in on tips from said player (Porter) regarding his plans to exit two games early. The four men appeared in court in June, but haven’t yet entered pleas. They were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, according to the AP.

The NBA’s investigation into Porter found that he tipped off those four men about his health and then exited one game with illness, causing anyone who bet his unders to cash in. He also gambled on games he didn’t play in, including against his own team.

Porter appeared in 26 games with the Raptors last season on a two-way contract. He is not permitted to sign another NBA contract, as per his ban.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • With the G League Ignite shut down, projected 2025 first-round pick Dink Pate is signing with the G League’s Mexico City Capitanes for next season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Pate became the youngest professional basketball player last season at age 17 — he was not eligible for the 2024 draft because he doesn’t turn 19 until the 2025 calendar year. In 31 games with the Ignite last season, Pate averaged 8.0 points, 3.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds per contest. The G League formally announced the move in a press release (Twitter link).
  • Alabama’s men’s basketball program is hiring Pistons assistant coach Brian Adams as an assistant under head coach Nate Oats, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Adams had NBA experience with both the Sixers and Clippers before joining Detroit midway through last season. He’s served as a collegiate assistant at Harvard and Marist as well.
  • Duke’s Cooper Flagg is ESPN’s top prospect for 2025, but a pair of Rutgers guards aren’t far behind in a mock draft from Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo (ESPN+ link). Ace Bailey and Dylan Harper sit at No. 2 and 3, respectively, in the mock, and are each currently viewed by some teams as the top prospect in the class. Givony and Woo name Pate, Duke’s Tyrese Proctor, South Carolina’s Collin Murray-Boyles and UConn’s Alex Karaban as some of the top returning players to watch.
  • The NBA has made a change to its ownership rules, according to The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov. Ownership groups are no longer allowed to have governors rotate control. The Bucks did this with Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, with Lasry serving as governor until he sold his share with Edens taking over in 2028. The Hornets are doing the same with Rick Schnall and Gabe Plotkin. Those two franchises will be grandfathered in, according to Vorkunov, meaning they aren’t impacted by this rule change.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, Cap Situation, Jones, Khoury, Draft

Now that the Raptors have agreed to a five-year max extension with Scottie Barnes, he must embrace the team’s rebuild and improve his game, Eric Koreen of The Athletic opines.

Among the things the Raptors need to see from Barnes, Koreen writes, is becoming a better finisher at the rim, a better on-ball defender and a more consistent outside shooter. Moreover, Barnes must be able to handle the responsibility of being the face of the franchise.

We have more on the Raptors:

  • Also weighing on the Barnes extension, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports said the clock has now truly started on the rebuild in Toronto. The Raptors might need to take another step back before getting back into playoff contention. Blake Murphy of Sportsnet takes a slightly different approach regarding Barnes’ payday, breaking down how the forward’s contract could impact their cap sheet over the coming years.
  • Drew Jones has been named the franchise’s new NBA G League coach with Raptors 905, according to a press release. Jones, 37, joined the Raptors organization last season as an assistant coach on Darko Rajaković’s staff. His coaching experience also includes two seasons as an assistant coach with the  Pistons and two seasons with the 76ers, specializing in player development. Former 905 head coach Eric Khoury will rejoin Rajaković’s coaching staff.
  • The Raptors hold the No. 19 and No. 31 picks in this week’s draft. Assistant GM Dan Tolzman admits there’s plenty of uncertainty regarding who will rise and fall in the draft, as relayed by Lewenberg (Twitter links here). “This year, probably more than any year, it’s wide open,” he said. “The range of players is about as wide as I can ever remember so that really makes things difficult to project… There’s an added level of uncertainty that isnt common for this close to the draft.” 
  • With the first pick in the second round, which will be held on Thursday after Wednesday night’s first round, Tolzman anticipates the phones being busier than usual leading up to that selection, though at this time they’re leaning towards keeping it. Tolzman also addressed a comment from agent Rich Paul, who said the Raptors might be interested in Bronny James. He offered a vague response. “He’s in the mix… Every player on the board we’re looking long and hard at and I wouldn’t say we’ve ruled anybody out,” Tolzman said.
  • If the Raptors decide to take a big man with one of those picks, who might available? Koreen looks at six prospects who could fit the bill, including Purdue’s Zach Edey and Duke’s Kyle Filipowski.

Suns’ G League Team Selects 14 Players In Expansion Draft

The Valley Suns, Phoenix’s new G League affiliate, were awarded the returning rights to 14 players as part of the 2024 expansion draft, the league announced in a press release.

Each existing G League team was permitted to protect up to 12 players and had until June 5 to provide that list of protected players to the league. The Valley Suns received the full list of unprotected players on June 6 and had until June 13 at 3:00 pm Eastern time to select up to 14 of those players, drafting no more than two per team.

Crucially, while Phoenix’s affiliate now controls these players NBAGL returning rights, that does not mean all of them – or any of them, for that matter – will suit up for the Valley Suns in 2024/25, since they’re not obligated to play in the G League.

Many could end up playing for teams in non-NBA leagues around the world or even getting another shot in the NBA, in which case the Suns’ rights wouldn’t amount to much. But if any of these players sign G League contracts for next season, the Valley Suns will get first dibs at bringing them to training camp.

Here are the 14 players selected by the Valley Suns in the expansion draft:

Of those names, Mudiay, Okafor, and Valentine are the most notable. All three are former NBA lottery picks who spent several seasons in the league and are still no older than 30 years old. Brown, Clark, Louzada, Maledon, Mulder, Weatherspoon, and Wigginton have also seen NBA regular season action in recent years.

Returning rights players are just one group of the many that make up a G League team, so if only a small handful of the players listed above sign NBAGL contracts, the Suns will have plenty of other paths to fill out their roster. Those paths are as follows:

  • Affiliate players: Players who are signed (generally to Exhibit 10 contracts) and then cut by the parent NBA club, as detailed here.
  • G League draft rights: Players who are selected in the G League draft in the fall.
  • NBA draft rights: Players who are drafted by an NBA team and sign a G League contract instead of an NBA contract.
  • Local tryout: Players who earn a shot via a local tryout.
  • G League player pool: Players who sign G League contracts and go undrafted (or sign their contracts after the draft). Newly signed players go through a waiver process and enter the league’s free agent pool if they go unclaimed.
  • Two-way contract: Players who are on a two-way contract with an NBA team and are transferred to the G League.
  • NBA assignment: Players who are on a standard contract with an NBA team and are assigned to the G League.

And-Ones: TNT Sports, Trades, Santa Cruz, Award Votes

With TNT Sports seemingly on the verge of losing its NBA broadcast rights to NBC during the current round of media rights negotiations, it’s possible the 2024/25 season will be the last one that features TNT’s iconic Inside the NBA studio show, featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal. Appearing on The Dan Patrick Show (Twitter video link), Barkley admitted it has been discouraging to watch the process play out.

“Morale sucks, plain and simple,” Barkley said (hat tip to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic). “I just feel so bad for the people I work with. These people have families and I just really feel bad for them right now. You know these people I work with (management), they screwed this thing up, clearly. We have zero idea what’s going to happen. I don’t feel good. I’m not going to lie. Especially when they came out and said we bought college football. I was like, well, damn, they could have used that money to buy the NBA.

“… We’ve never had college football, never been involved with college football. I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, shouldn’t we be spending every dime we got to keep the NBA?’ So morale sucks, to be honest with you.”

Asked how TNT Sports got to this point, Barkley suggested that the comments made in 2022 by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav – who said his company “didn’t have to have the NBA” – didn’t help matters.

“They came out and said we didn’t need the NBA. I think that probably pissed (NBA commissioner) Adam (Silver) off,” Barkley said. “I don’t know that, but when (Warner Bros. and Discovery) merged, that’s the first thing our boss said. ‘We don’t need the NBA.’ Well, he don’t need it, but the rest of the people — me, Kenny, Shaq and Ernie and the people who work there, we need it. So, it just sucks right now.”

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

  • They were overshadowed by bigger deals at their respective trade deadlines, but the Celtics‘ 2022 acquisition of Derrick White and the Knicks‘ 2023 addition of Josh Hart are examples of non-blockbuster trades that helped turn good teams into contenders, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link). Lowe provides some interesting tidbits on those deals, citing sources who say the Jazz were also interested in White when Boston was pursuing him and that the Trail Blazers didn’t open Hart talks to the rest of the league because New York was his preferred destination.
  • The Santa Cruz Warriors – Golden State’s affiliate – have been named the G League Franchise of the Year for the third time in the past four years (Twitter link). The team went 31-19 during the NBAGL’s Showcase Cup and regular season and ranked first in the league in both ticket sales and partnership revenue, according to the press release.
  • The NBA has officially released the full ballots from all the media members who voted on the major awards for 2023/24, including the All-NBA, All-Defensive, and All-Rookie teams. You can view those ballots – and find out which voters made this year’s most surprising selections – right here.
  • The Ringer’s staff ranked the NBA’s top 25 players who are 25 years old or under, with Victor Wembanyama, Anthony Edwards, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander topping the list.

Valley Suns Announced As Phoenix’s G League Affiliate

Phoenix’s new NBA G League affiliate will be known as the Valley Suns, the team announced today in a press release. In addition to revealing the team name, the franchise revealed the Valley Suns’ colors and logo, which can be viewed here.

The Suns ran an online contest that gave fans the opportunity to submit ideas for the G League team’s name. According to today’s announcement, more than 12,000 fans submitted ideas, with “dozens” of those respondents suggesting the Valley Suns.

“The Valley Suns is the community’s team and will provide fans an energetic and family-friendly atmosphere while developing aspiring talent on and off the court,” Suns CEO Josh Bartelstein said in a statement. “We’re excited to launch the new G League team with a name and identity chosen by our fans and inspired by the unique desert landscape that we call home.”

The team will play its home games at Mullett Arena at Arizona State University. The facility is about an 11-mile drive from the Footprint Center, where Phoenix plays its home games, so the NBA and G League Suns will have no problem shuttling players back and forth frequently during the season.

The Suns had been the last NBA franchise without a G League affiliate. They announced in February that they’d acquired the right to own and operate an NBAGL team and that it would debut in 2024/25, which will be the first season in which all 30 NBA teams have G League affiliates of their own. The league will have 31 teams in total, including the unaffiliated Mexico City Capitanes.

Phoenix actually had a G League affiliate known as the Northern Arizona Suns from 2016-21, but former team owner Robert Sarver sold the franchise to the Pistons, who relocated it to Michigan and rebranded it as the Motor City Cruise. Current owner Mat Ishbia stated shortly after officially assuming majority control of the Suns in 2023 that reestablishing a G League team was a priority.

Eastern Notes: Thibodeau, DeRozan, Carter, Nets, Bucks

The Knicks and head coach Tom Thibodeau will discuss an extension this offseason ahead of his contract year in 2024/25, confirms Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter video link).

In an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show, Charania said the Knicks “very much want to lock (him) in long-term,” adding that Thibodeau is expected to get a raise on his current deal, which is worth about $7MM per year. Both Charania and Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports suggest that an eight-figure annual salary for Thibodeau is a realistic outcome in those negotiations.

Thibodeau has compiled a 175-143 (.550) regular season record since taking over as the Knicks’ head coach in 2020. The team won a playoff series last spring and is on the brink of a conference finals appearance this year, with a 3-2 lead over the Pacers in the Eastern semifinals.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Asked during another Run it Back segment this week whether he can envision himself playing in the NBA for five more seasons, 15-year veteran DeMar DeRozan admitted that sticking around that long isn’t a priority for him. “I don’t want play 20 years, I’ll be honest,” DeRozan said (Twitter video link). “Just from the standpoint of missing my kids, and I kind of love being normal at times. Twenty years is a lot.” The Bulls forward also reiterated (Twitter video link) that he hopes to re-sign with Chicago this summer, a stance that he made clear at season’s end.
  • The Nets announced this week that they intend to retire Vince Carter‘s No. 15 jersey next season (Twitter link). Carter, who began his career in Toronto, was traded to New Jersey in 2004 and averaged 23.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game with the Nets across 374 regular season contests in four-and-a-half seasons, earning a pair of All-Star berths with the franchise.
  • Could the Bucks‘ G League team be looking for a new home sometime soon? Justin Marville of The Oshkosh Northwestern details how a dispute between the Wisconsin Herd and Oshkosh Arena owner Fox Valley Pro Basketball Inc. over their lease agreement could result in the Herd leaving Oshkosh. As Marville notes, the Oshkosh Arena is currently for sale, so a new owner could help smooth things over with the Herd, though it’s unclear how long the sale process might take.

44 Prospects Invited To G League Elite Camp

Forty-four prospects for the 2024 NBA draft were invited to the NBA’s G League Elite Camp, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link).

The list of players is as follows:

The field of draft prospects scrimmage for two days in Chicago starting on May 11 ahead of the NBA’s annual draft combine. If players perform well enough, they’re often promoted to the larger combine immediately following the G League Elite Camp. Typically, at least a half dozen players move on.

While the combine usually focuses on the top-ranked players in each draft class, the G League Elite Camp offers opportunity to prospects further down boards who are more likely to go undrafted. Of the 44 names invited to the G League Elite Camp, only 16 rank among ESPN’s top 100 prospects. No prospect ranks higher than No. 48 (Onyenso) on ESPN’s board.

Nine of ESPN’s top 100 prospects have not been invited to Chicago for either event: Armel Traore (France), Zacharie Perrin (France), Andrija Jelavic (Croatia), Yannick Kraag (Netherlands), Tre Mitchell (Kentucky), Ilias Kamardine (France), Dylan Disu (Texas), Riley Minix (Morehead State) and Jonas Aidoo (Tennessee). According to Givony (Twitter link), the NBA might not announce the official list until Monday, so there’s a chance it’s amended.

The G League Elite Camp will give invitees who declared for the draft as early entrants an opportunity to see where they stand ahead of the draft withdrawal deadline on May 29. Not all of the players who participate in this event will remain in the draft pool.

Last year, future NBA players like Hornets forward Leaky Black, Pistons forward Tosan Evbuomwan, Mavericks forward Alex Fudge, Celtics guard Drew Peterson and Nets guard Jaylen Martin all participated in the event. Other recent notable alums of the event include Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado and Clippers guard Terance Mann.

NBAGL All-League, Defensive, Rookie Teams Announced

The NBA announced all of the major All-NBA G League teams on Thursday (All Twitter links found here), including the First Team, Second Team, Third Team, All-Defensive Team, and All-Rookie team.

Several current and former NBA players are among the honorees. Here is the full list of winners for the 2023/24 season.

All-NBA G League First Team:

All-NBA G League Second Team:

All-NBA G League Third Team:

G League All-Defensive Team:

G League All-Rookie Team:

* Denotes two-way contract

^ Denotes standard contract