NBA G League

G League Mulling Fall Tournament Featuring Select Team

The NBA G League is “seriously discussing” the possibility of putting on a tournament this fall that would include the Ignite, the league’s new select team, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

According to Charania, the situation remains fluid, but the tentative plan would be for the tournament to take place in a bubble environment at some point in November or December. The Ignite – the NBAGL’s select team that features top prospects such as Jalen Green, Daishen Nix, and Jonathan Kuminga – would be the event’s headliners.

It’s not clear which other teams would participate in such a tournament. Charania suggests that “undrafted players” may fill out other rosters, so it’s possible the event would represent a sort of Summer League alternative for young players auditioning for NBA training camp invites rather than a full-fledged G League event featuring teams made up of NBAGL veterans. That’s just my speculation though.

The uncertain fate of the G League’s 2020/21 season has been an underreported consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Unlike the NBA, the G League relies heavily on commercial travel, which likely won’t be as practical as it was pre-pandemic. And with far less revenue at stake, the league is less likely to pour significant resources into ensuring the ’20/21 NBAGL season can be played.

A series of smaller, bubble-environment events like the one described by Charania may be an alternative path for the G League if a full season can’t be played. We’ll probably have to wait for clarity on the NBA’s ’20/21 season before we get a more concrete update on the NBAGL’s campaign.

And-Ones: G League, Motiejunas, Ad Revenue, Australia

The NBA and G League are interested in pursuing top international players prior to their draft year, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. The G League is offering top domestic prospects as much as $500K to train in the G League for a season, rather than being a one-and-done in college or heading overseas. Several top prospects for next year’s draft, including Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, have accepted those offers.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward Donatas Motiejunas will play in China for a fourth season, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets. He’s expected to sign with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers. Motiejunas appeared in three games with the Spurs during the 2018/19 season after spending the bulk of his NBA career with the Rockets.
  • The NBA has approved an additional sponsorship asset on practice jerseys for use during team practices and shootarounds, Charania tweets. It’s another revenue source for a league that has been hit hard by the pandemic.
  • Australia’s NBL season won’t begin until early next year, according to a league press release. The season will be delayed, according to NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman, “with the hope of giving clubs the best opportunity to play in front of as many fans as possible.” The Australian League intends to play a full season.

And-Ones: Bubble, COVID-19, B. Williams, Singh

The NBA sent out a memo today informing teams that staffers will be permitted to bring guests into the Orlando bubble for the Conference Finals, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As Wojnarowski explains, those guests will have to quarantine for seven days before being cleared to move around within the NBA’s bubble. Additionally, each club will be allowed to host a maximum of 10 total staff guests.

The NBA is adjusting its protocols just days after Nuggets head coach Michael Malone vocally expressed his displeasure with the league’s decision not to allow coaches to bring family members onto the Disney World campus.

While Malone was the most outspoken about the policy, a number of other coaches have publicly and privately expressed a similar sentiment. Of course, with his Nuggets trailing 2-1 in the second round and at risk of being eliminated before the Conference Finals, Malone may not end up benefiting from the league’s updated protocols.

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

  • NBA teams also received a memo from the league this week alerting medical staffs to be aware of an increased risk of blood clotting associated with the coronavirus, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. While no players have tested positive for COVID-19 in the bubble, a number of players previously contracted the virus.
  • Arizona guard Brandon Williams, who averaged 11.4 PPG as a freshman in 2018/19 before missing his sophomore season due to a knee issue, will leave the program to pursue professional opportunities, the school confirmed in a press release. It’s too late for Williams to declare for this year’s draft, but he’ll forgo his remaining college eligibility.
  • Princepal Singh, a 6’10” forward from India and a graduate of the NBA Academy, spoke to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype about his decision to play for the NBA G League Ignite select team and his desire to “inspire the youth of India.”
  • In an Insider-only article for, Mike Schmitz identifies some NBA players who have had performed well during the summer restart and explores what impact those performances may have on prospects from the 2020 draft class. For instance, Schmitz suggests that Luguentz Dort‘s impressive defense on James Harden in the first round should make scouts feel more comfortable about a defense-first wing like Isaac Okoro.

G League Names Select Team “Ignite”

The NBA G League has named its new star-studded select team Ignite, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link).

The new one-year NBA G League development team will pay salaries topping out in the mid-six figures to high-level NBA prospects like guards Jalen Green and Daishen Nix, forwards Jonathan Kuminga and Isaiah Todd and center Kai Sotto. Green, Nix and Kuminga are all expected to be selected within the 2021 NBA draft lottery, per Jonathan Givony’s latest ESPN mock draft.

These Ignite players will bypass college ball in favor of the revamped professional farm system. The team roster will also include veterans tagged to mentor the prospects during the squad’s inaugural 2020/21 season.

Spears goes on to note that the Ignite have already starting training in Walnut Creek, California (in the East Bay region of northern California), under head coach Brian Shaw.

Shaw, a guard in the league for 14 seasons, served as a head coach for the Nuggets from 2013-15, as a lead assistant on the Pacers from 2011-13, and as an assistant on the Lakers under Phil Jackson from 2005-11 (a run that included two championships) and again from 2016-19 under Luke Walton.

Northwest Notes: Dort, Nuggets, Lillard, Jazz

Thunder wing Luguentz Dort, who suffered a right knee sprain this week, will miss Friday’s regular season finale against the Clippers, according to Royce Young of ESPN (Twitter link). Dort will be listed as day-to-day going forward, so his availability for the start of the postseason next week remains unknown. Oklahoma City’s first-round series vs. Houston gets underway on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, as Young adds, Thunder guard Chris Paul will also miss Friday’s seeding game due to a left hand sprain. That injury isn’t believed to be an issue that will compromise Paul’s postseason availability at all — he’s simply getting a rest before the playoffs get underway.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Will Barton (knee) and Gary Harris (hip) will remain sidelined for the Nuggets‘ final seeding game on Friday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. There had previously been some optimism that Barton and Harris – who haven’t played yet this summer – might be available for today’s contest. Their playoff availability remains up in the air.
  • In an appearance on TNT, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (video link) reported that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and Clippers forward Paul George touched base to clarify that there were no hard feelings on other side in the wake of their recent war of words.
  • Following the departure of G League Coach of the Year Martin Schiller, the Salt Lake City Stars – the Jazz’s G League affiliate – have promoted assistant Nathan Peavy to become their new head coach. Andy Larsen and Julie Jag of The Salt Lake Tribune have the story and the details on Peavy’s ascension.
  • As a result of the seeding games in Orlando, the 2020 first-round pick that the Timberwolves will receive from the Nets will land at No. 17 overall. Minnesota was assured of receiving that lottery-protected pick once Brooklyn clinched its playoff spot.

And-Ones: G League, Bubble, Landale, Munford

The NBA G League’s new Select Team will play in Walnut Creek, California, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). While the squad was always expected to be based out of California, previous reports suggested the Los Angeles area was most likely —  Walnut Creek is in the Bay Area.

The Select Team is expected to be made up of a combination of noteworthy prospects and veteran mentors. Five-star recruits Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Daishen Nix, and Isaiah Todd have signed on to be part of the team, as have intriguing international big men Kai Sotto and Princepal Singh.

It remains to be seen which vets might fill out the roster, but Brian Shaw will be the club’s head coach. The Select Team won’t be part of the NBAGL’s traditional regular season schedule, but is expected to play exhibition games against G League teams, as well as against foreign national teams and NBA academies, as the program focuses on helping top prospects prepare for the NBA.

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

  • It’s too early to declare it a complete success, but the NBA’s “bubble” experiment is off to a great start, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. “Seriously, it’s a great stage to play,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “There’s not a lot of distractions. It’s the same court every night, so you get your shooting depth perception and all of that. It’s pure basketball. So, you see some of the talents these guys have are coming out.”
  • Big man Jock Landale has officially parted ways with Zalgiris Launas, the Lithuanian team announced today in a press release. As the club noted in its announcement, Landale will be seeking an NBA job this fall when free agency opens.
  • Former Grizzlies and Bucks guard Xavier Munford has joined Turkish team Bursaspor Basketbol, according to the club (Twitter link; hat tip to Sportando). A former Rhode Island standout, Munford has appeared in just 20 NBA games, though he’s a G League veteran, having logged 209 NBAGL appearances, including 43 this past season with the Delaware Blue Coats.

Tom Thibodeau Notes: Butler, G League, Knicks

The Knicks officially named Tom Thibodeau the new head coach earlier this week, ending a long search for the next person to hopefully propel New York back into title contention. Thibodeau, a former assistant coach with the Knicks, brings a winning pedigree, evidenced by his strong run as Bulls head coach.

Now that the Knicks’ future is clearer, Thibodeau’s hiring has and will continue to draw analysis and reaction from around the league. Like every coach, Thibodeau has faced his share of criticism while at the head coaching helm with the Bulls and Timberwolves.

Below you can check out some more news and reaction on New York appointing Thibodeau as the one to lead the Knicks into the future.

  • Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler, who developed from a bench player into the NBA’s elite, is among those most familiar with Thibodeau. Butler, coached by Thibodeau in Chicago and Minnesota, believes his former coach will help the Knicks. “He’s going to do great. He’s going to turn those young guys into some real players; some superstars, some All-Stars,” Butler said to ESPN’s Nick Friedell (Twitter link). “I know he’s been itching for this. I know he’s been preparing for it. When you talk about Thibs and the big stage, I think they go hand in hand.”
  • One policy change under Thibodeau that could change is how the Knicks utilize the G League, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. During his introductory press conference, Thibodeau said the team would like to have players who are not getting sufficient minutes with the Knicks see more floor time in Westchester with the G League squad. Berman notes that giving underutilized players significant G League minutes was a contentious issue between the former vice president of player development/G-League operations Craig Robinson and GM Scott Perry.
  • In an earlier post this week, we relayed some other tidbits on Thibodeau’s hiring, particularly hinting at him being open to changing his coaching style to give ample rest.

Pistons To Purchase G League Team From Suns

The Pistons have reached an agreement to purchase the Northern Arizona G League franchise from the Suns, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Athletic. An announcement was made this morning by the Pistons, the Suns, and the G League.

The team will be given a new name and is expected to play in an arena currently under construction at Wayne State University, starting in the 2021/22 season. Grand Rapids will continue to serve as the Pistons’ G League affiliate next season, while the Suns will operate the Northern Arizona franchise for another year (Twitter link).

The Drive plan to stay in their current location and remain in the G League as an unaffiliated team, a source tells James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). The Trail Blazers and Nuggets are the only other NBA teams without a direct G League affiliate, so it’s possible they could emerge as eventual options for the Drive, Edwards adds (Twitter link).

“The Drive remain committed to the city of Grand Rapids and we look forward to our continued future here in West Michigan within the NBA G League,” the Drive stated in a press release (Twitter link from Rod Beard of The Detroit News). “We’ve begun discussions about the future of our affiliation; details of which we hope to have in the coming weeks. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, providing the people of West Michigan with a great professional basketball experience.”

The Pistons’ contract with the G League team expires after next season, and Grand Rapids officials had said they weren’t interested in moving the franchise to Detroit, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link).

Phoenix GM James Jones released a statement on the deal, saying ownership of the Northern Arizona team “does not align with the Phoenix Suns’ strategic plan for player development over the next three-to-five years,” tweets Adam Johnson of 2 Ways and 10 Days. Jones said the G League team will play in Phoenix next season at an undetermined venue before being sold to the Pistons.

Princepal Singh Opts For G League Professional Path

Princepal Singh, a 6’10” forward from India and a graduate of the NBA Academy, has signed a contract to play in the G League in 2020/21, the NBAGL announced today in a press release. Singh will “train and compete alongside” the new Select Team, according to today’s announcement.

Singh, who joined The NBA Academy India in 2017 and transitioned to the league’s Global Academy in Australia in 2018, will be the first graduate of the program to sign a professional contract and the first to sign with the G League.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer Princepal the opportunity to begin his professional basketball journey in the NBA G League,” NBAGL president Shareef Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “We’ve long hoped that our development pathway for elite high school players would include roster spots for emerging international talent, including players who have participated in the NBA Academy program, and we’re excited to have Princepal forge this new path and develop his skills in our league.”

[RELATED: NBA G League Development Program Revamped]

Singh, who has a 7’2″ wingspan, is a good athlete with solid offensive versatility, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who tweets that the youngster was receiving interest from major U.S. college programs. Givony isn’t convinced that Singh is an NBA-caliber player, but the Indian prospect remains focused on making it to the Association, as he told Anirudh Menon of ESPN earlier this year.

As a result of joining the NBAGL professional path, Singh will get the opportunity to train and play alongside top prospects such as Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, Daishen Nix, and Isaiah Todd, among others.

NBA G League Players Form Union

The NBA’s G League players have organized and formed a union, temporarily named the Basketball Players Union (BPU), the National Basketball Players Association announced in a press release. Shams Charania of The Athletic first reported the news (via Twitter).

According to today’s announcement, approximately 80% of players voted to unionize, and the NBA G League has agreed to voluntarily recognize the BPU as the players’ representative.

The newly-formed union will represent players on all NBA G League teams, including the Select Team that will be launched in 2020/21. However, players on two-way contracts or on NBAGL assignments from NBA rosters will continue to be repped by the NBPA.

“We are extremely pleased that our brothers in the G League elected to form their own union,” said Anthony Tolliver, a member of the NBPA’s executive committee. “The many NBA players with prior experience in the G League can personally attest to the value an organized union brings to players’ careers. We would like to especially thank Andre Ingram and John Holland who gave so much of their personal time to the organizing process.”

G League players earn $35K per season and don’t have anywhere near the same number of benefits enjoyed by NBA players. Now that they’re unionized, the BPU will have the opportunity to collective bargain salaries, benefits, and other working conditions with the NBAGL, so those negotiations will be worth keeping an eye on.