NBA G League

And-Ones: Ignite, Key Dates, Two-Way Rules, NBA Africa

With Brian Shaw poised to join the Clippers as an assistant coach on Tyronn Lue‘s staff, the G League Ignite have a head coaching vacancy. And according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the program has identified a candidate to fill that vacancy.

USC associate head coach Jason Hart will be the new head coach of the G League Ignite, sources tell Wojnarowski.

Hart has been a member of the Trojans’ staff since 2013 and has been the club’s associate head coach for the last four seasons, having worked in recent years with players like Onyeka Okongwu and De’Anthony Melton. Hart is a former NBA player himself, appearing in 341 regular season games between 2000-10 for a total of nine teams.

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

  • As expected, the NBA is officially implementing new rules to reduce the use of non-basketball moves to draw fouls, as Shams Charania of The Athletic details in a series of tweets.
  • The NBA has announced a series of key dates for the 2021/22 league year, including a regular season that will run from October 19 through April 10. The 2022 NBA draft will be held on June 23, as the league’s annual calendar gets back to normal.
  • Although players on two-way contracts will have a 50-game limit for next season, teams carrying 14 (or fewer) players on their roster will be limited to 90 total games for their pair of two-way players, according to Ian Begley of (Twitter link). The rule, outlined in a memo from the NBA, sounds aimed at reducing the ability of teams to save money (and cap space) by leaning heavily on their two-way players while not carrying a 15th man.
  • Former U.S. president Barack Obama has joined NBA Africa as a strategic partner and a minority stakeholder. Marc J. Spears of ESPN has the story.
  • The NBA G League announced on Tuesday that the Santa Cruz Warriors have been named Franchise of the Year for 2020/21, while Erie BayHawks president Matt Bresee earned Team Executive of the Year honors.

Pelicans Unveil NBA G League Affiliate

The Pelicans, who will have their own newly-relocated G League affiliate for the 2021/22 season, announced today what the franchise will be called. As Christian Clark of details, the club will be known as the Birmingham Squadron. The Squadron’s logo can be viewed at the team’s website.

The nickname has ties to both the city of Birmingham and the club’s parent franchise — it’s an homage to Alabama’s military history, as well as the term for a flock of pelicans. The Squadron will play their home games at the Legacy Arena, which is currently undergoing a $123MM renovation. It’s expected to be ready to go by December.

The Pelicans have technically had a G League franchise since 2019/20, when they relaunched the Erie BayHawks as an NBAGL expansion team. However, the plan was always to move the club to Birmingham, far closer to the Pelicans’ home in New Orleans.

The two cities are separated by about a five-hour drive, which will make it easier to shuttle young players back and forth between the NBA and G League.

“We’ll be able to get guys in a car in the morning or the next day to be able to participate in a game or a practice,” Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon said, according to Clark. “It will get more reps for our younger players, which is incredibly important. If we are full strength in New Orleans, we can get a guy back to Birmingham for a game that night. It’s super exciting.”

With the Nuggets set to introduce the Grand Rapids Gold for the 2021/22 G League season, only two NBA teams – Portland and Phoenix – will be without their own affiliates. The Trail Blazers and Suns will be able to send players to another team’s G League affiliate during the season via the flexible assignment rule.

Nuggets Announce New G League Affiliate Name

The Nuggets have revealed a new name and logo for their G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, making the announcement on social media today.

Prior to this season, the affiliate was known as the Grand Rapids Drive and operated by the Pistons. The team will enter the 2021/22 season associated with the Nuggets for the first time.

“This new affiliation and corresponding name change is one of the biggest moves we’ve made as a franchise,” Grand Rapids Gold president Steve Jbara acknowledged in a press release.

“Aligning ourselves further with the Denver Nuggets, a team that recently advanced past the first round of the NBA playoffs for the third consecutive season, further elevates the professional basketball experience here in Grand Rapids, and we couldn’t be more excited to get back on the court this fall.”

Denver is the second team to announce changes to its G League name and logo this year. The Maine Red Claws previously announced that they would become the Maine Celtics back in May.

“We are extremely excited about the new name and logo of the Grand Rapid Gold,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. “We feel the new look aligns well with both the Nuggets and Grand Rapids organizations and are excited to see it in action on the court next season.”

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Siakam, Love, Nets

The Celtics have had a tumultuous start to their offseason, and fans can expect even more changes as the off-season progresses. But their options are limited, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, and making large changes require creativity and precision. President of basketball operations Brad Stevens, for his part, seems to agree.

There are some things that we have to navigate from a financial perspective,” Stevens said. “With our limited ability to sign in free agency. We’re gonna have to be creative, we’re gonna have to continue to work, and we’re gonna have to continue to see what’s out there.”

Forsberg goes step-by-step through how the Celtics will likely approach their non-taxpayer mid-level exception, their trade exceptions, and the other tools they have available this offseason as they try to rebuild this team on the fly.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Following rumors of the Warriors potentially using one or both of their picks along with James Wiseman to add win-now talent, Blake Murphy of The Athletic addresses the notion that the Raptors could move Pascal Siakam in such a deal. It wouldn’t be as simple as it seems, Murphy writes, both from a financial standpoint and from the Raptors’ end, as they would rather not pursue a deal that feels like it’s selling low on their All-NBA talent.
  • With two years and $60MM left on his deal, the Cavaliers would surely rather trade Kevin Love than buy him out, but if no trade materializes and they do end up going the buyout rate, keep an eye on the Nets as a landing spot, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “I understand going into my 14th season that being that No. 1 guy, playing 35 minutes, getting 20 touches a game is probably in my rear view,” Love said after practicing with Team USA on Tuesday. “But how I can affect the team, and feeling how I’m feeling now, I know that I can do it at a very high level.”
  • The Long Island Nets have named Adam Caporn their head coach, according to a team press release. Caporn comes to Brooklyn’s G League affiliate after seven seasons as head coach of Basketball Australia’s Centre of Excellence, the country’s premier player development program. Caporn is also currently serving as an assistant coach for the Australian national team as they compete for a gold medal in Tokyo.

And-Ones: Hervey, College Alternatives, Stone, Grant

Forward Kevin Hervey, the Thunder’s second-round pick in 2018, is in advanced talks with Virtus Bologna, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets. Hervey appeared in 10 games with the Thunder during the 2019/20 season. He played for Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia last season.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • The creation of Overtime Elite, the G League’s Ignite and the Professional Collegiate League, along with international options, has expanded the choices of prospects beyond playing college ball. The New York Times’ David Gardner takes a closer look at the impact and complications those additional options are having on teenager basketball standouts.
  • Former NBA forward Diamond Stone has signed with Mets de Guaynabo in the Puerto Rican league, according to Sportando. Stone was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft but only appeared in seven games with the Clippers in his rookie campaign.
  • Former NBA guard Jerian Grant has officially signed a two-year deal with Italy’s Olimpia Milano, according to Sportando. Olimpia Milano’s interest in Grant was previously reported. Grant played in the Greek League this past season after being waived by the Rockets during training camp in December.

Central Notes: Cavs’ Lottery Pick, Buford, Diallo, Carlisle

The Cavaliers will not just limit their interview and workout list for the No. 3 pick to USC’s Evan Mobley, the G League Ignite’s Jalen Green and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, according to Chris Fedor of Those players are widely considered the next three prospects beyond Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham, who is only expected to visit Detroit

Duke’s Jalen Johnson, who is ranked No. 9 by ESPN, was scheduled to meet with the Cavaliers on Friday. The Cavs are also expected to look at the G League Ignite’s Jonathan Kuminga (rated No. 5) and Florida State’s Scottie Barnes (No. 6). The latter met with Cleveland’s brass on Thursday, Fedor adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Chase Buford is leaving his post as the Wisconsin Herd’s head coach in order to become the head coach of the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL, according to a team press release. “We are excited for Chase to pursue this opportunity with one of the best clubs in Australia,” said Herd GM Dave Dean. Buford, 32, led the Bucks’ G League team to a league-best 33-10 record before the 2019/20 season was suspended due to the pandemic.
  • Along with mulling what to do with the top pick, the Pistons must decide how high they’re willing to go on restricted free agent Hamidou Diallo, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) writes. Diallo is projected to command somewhere in the neighborhood of the mid-level exception, which the Pistons could easily match. Marks also explores the team’s other pending decisions and its cap situation.
  • With his long track record and a four-year contract, Rick Carlisle will command respect in the Pacers’ locker room, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star (subscription required) writes.

And-Ones: Ignite, Shaw, Coronavirus, Reaves, More

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the G League Ignite essentially just played a month’s worth of games during their first season in 2020/21, but the NBA considered the program a success, as Chris Mannix of writes. Still, the team’s long-term future is uncertain, according to Mannix.

Although the Ignite were able to recruit a handful of top prospects both last year and this year, it’s unclear if the G League club would still be able to attract top-tier talent if the NBA does away with its one-and-done rule for the draft in the coming years. And if top prospects aren’t committing to the Ignite, NBA owners may become less eager to foot the bill for the developmental program, writes Mannix.

With no set timeline for the abolishment of the one-and-one rule, however, the Ignite are here to stay for now. According to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link), the team has offered a contract extension to head coach Brian Shaw, who is expected to sign it soon.

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

  • Of the 149 players tested for COVID-19 between June 16-23, none returned a new positive test, the NBA and NBPA announced on Wednesday. So far, Chris Paul is the only player who has tested positive for the coronavirus since the postseason got underway.
  • Michael Pina of identifies several players whose strong showings in the playoffs are putting them in position for even bigger paydays on their next contracts, including extension-eligible players like Deandre Ayton and Kevin Huerter.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) takes a deep into the key offseason decisions facing all 30 NBA teams this summer.
  • As our JD Shaw confirms (via Twitter), former Mavericks forward Josh Reaves is in agreement with Turkish team Besiktas on a contract that will include an NBA escape clause. Emiliano Carchia of Sportando first reported the deal.

Dyson Daniels Signs With G League Ignite

Australian prospect Dyson Daniels has signed with the G League Ignite, he announced on social media (Instagram link). Daniels is eligible to be drafted in 2022.

“I feel that this is the best pathway for me to get to my ultimate goal; the NBA,” he told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. “It has every resource I need in really good development, a great coaching staff and great competition to go against every day.”

Many evaluators believe Daniels, a 6’6″ combo guard, has a strong chance at being drafted in the first round next year. The 18-year-old joins Michael Foster, Scoot Henderson, Jaden Hardy and Fanbo Zeng as players who have committed to the program for the 2021/22 season.

The Ignite is entering its second season after being guided by veteran coach Brian Shaw last year. The team serves as a development program — consisting of both veterans and young players — that gives younger players unique experiences both on the court and off as they start their professional careers.

“My aim is to be one and done,” Daniels said, as relayed by Givony. “I know that with my work ethic in getting in the gym extra hours is going to give me the best chance at getting drafted. I’m going to do everything I can to get drafted and get drafted early.” 

And-Ones: Wembanyama, CBA, NBA Ball, Cotton

Potential 2023 No. 1 draft pick Victor Wembanyama is leaving his French team Nanterre, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. The 7’2” Wembanyama has been recruited by the G League’s Ignite team and Overtime Elite, along with many pro teams around the globe, but the 17-year-old’s destination remains a mystery.

We have more news from the basketball world:

  • The Chinese Basketball Association could start its season without foreign players, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia relays. Part or all of the CBA season could be be played without foreigners, according to a Chinese journalist, as a cost-cutting measure.
  • The NBA and Wilson will unveil at the draft combine later this month the new ball that will be used next season in league games, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Wilson Sporting Goods Co. has entered a multi-year partnership with the NBA, which has used a Spalding ball for 37 seasons.
  • Former NBA player Bryce Cotton was chosen as the NBL Most Valuable Player for the third time, according to a press release from the Australian league.  Cotton averaged 23.5 PPG and 5.6 APG for the Perth Wildcats. Cotton played for Phoenix and Memphis during the 2015/16 season.

NBA G League Announces 40 Draft-Eligible Participants For Elite Camp

The NBA G League has announced in a press release that 40 draft-eligible prospects are set to participate in the NBAGL Elite Camp next week in Chicago from June 19-21.

The G League Elite Camp is back this year after being canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event, which takes place right before the draft combine, will give a few dozen draft-eligible players an opportunity to impress scouts, coaches, and executives through strength and agility drills and 5-on-5 games.

As today’s announcement confirms, a select number of draft-eligible prospects participating in the G League Elite Camp will also be invited to attend the combine itself, which is scheduled for June 21-27 in Chicago.

The list of draft-eligible players who took part in the most recent G League Elite Camp in 2019 included a handful of prospects who were eventually drafted, such as Terance Mann, Cody Martin, Justin Wright-Foreman, Reggie Perry, and Dewan Hernandez.

Many of the draft-eligible participants in the 2019 Elite Camp also made it to the NBA after going undrafted, including Oshae Brissett, Chris Clemons, Tyler Cook, Tacko Fall, DaQuan Jeffries, Caleb Martin, Justin Robinson, and Max Strus.

Two years ago, this event also featured 40 G League veterans, for a total of 80 players. Based on today’s press release, it sounds like this year’s Elite Camp may be pared down to only include draft-eligible prospects, though it’s possible the NBAGL will announce more names within the next few days.

Here are the 40 draft-eligible prospects participating in the 2021 G League Elite Camp:

  1. Derrick Alston Jr. (Boise State)
  2. Keve Aluma (Virginia Tech)
  3. Jose Alvarado (Georgia Tech)
  4. Juhann Begarin (France)
  5. Chaundee Brown (Michigan)
  6. Jordan Burns (Colgate)
  7. Marcus Carr (Minnesota)
  8. D.J. Carton (Marquette)
  9. Moussa Cisse (Memphis)
  10. Kofi Cockburn (Illinois)
  11. Oscar Da Silva (Stanford)
  12. Darius Days (LSU)
  13. Hunter Dickinson (Michigan)
  14. Dawson Garcia (Marquette)
  15. Marcus Garrett (Kansas)
  16. Haowen Guo (China)
  17. Jay Huff (Virginia)
  18. DeJon Jarreau (Houston)
  19. Carlik Jones (Louisville)
  20. DeVante’ Jones (Coastal Carolina)
  21. Balsa Koprivica (Florida State)
  22. A.J. Lawson (South Carolina)
  23. E.J. Liddell (Ohio State)
  24. Mac McClung (Texas Tech)
  25. JaQuori McLaughlin (UCSB)
  26. Matt Mitchell (San Diego State)
  27. RJ Nembhard (TCU)
  28. Eugene Omoruyi (Oregon)
  29. EJ Onu (Shawnee State)
  30. Scotty Pippen Jr. (Vanderbilt)
  31. Orlando Robinson (Fresno State)
  32. Aamir Simms (Clemson)
  33. Javonte Smart (LSU)
  34. Mike Smith (Michigan)
  35. D.J. Stewart (Mississippi State)
  36. MaCio Teague (Baylor)
  37. M.J. Walker (Florida State)
  38. Duane Washington (Ohio State)
  39. Aaron Wiggins (Maryland)
  40. Jalen Wilson (Kansas)