NBA G League

Southeast Notes: Hachimura, Magic, Huerter, Walker

Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura has returned to D.C. after a weeks-long excused absence due to personal reasons, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). Hachimura, 23, averaged 13.8 PPG and 5.5 RPG in 57 games for Washington during the 2021/22 season.

Hughes notes that the 6’8″ third-year player, a 2019 lottery selection out of Gonzaga, will now have to wait to clear COVID-19 protocols. He missed several weeks with the Wizards during the club’s 2021/22 training camp/preseason. The team expects him to return within a few days.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic have announced several promotions within their front office, per a team press release. Matt Lloyd and Anthony Parker have been promoted to prominent roles for the club, with Lloyd upgraded to the title of vice president of basketball operations and Parker to assistant GM.
  • Hawks shooting guard Kevin Huerter appears to be confident he’ll receive a rookie contract extension before the October 18 deadline, following a terrific showing in the Eastern Conference playoffs with Atlanta, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Kirschner notes that, during the 2021 offseason, Huerter had a left ankle procedure to treat long-term soreness that had afflicted him throughout the 2020/21 season. “I think both sides are saying the right things and want to get something done,” Huerter said. “I’m as confident as I’ve ever been. I think both sides want to get something done. It’s obviously just coming up with the right value.” The 23-year-old, drafted with the No. 19 pick out of Maryland in 2018, averaged 11.9 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.3 RPG and 1.2 SPG in 69 games for Atlanta last year. He posted a shooting line of .432/.363/.781.
  • The Capital City Go-Go, NBA G League affiliate of the Wizards, will add rookie small forward Kyree Walkertweets Jordan Schultz of Boardroom. Schultz mentions that Walker could be considered for the Wizards’ open two-way player slot. The Wizards previously had been preparing to add Walker to their training camp roster and may still sign him to an Exhibit 10 contract to secure his NBAGL rights.

Western Notes: Wade, Jazz, Kings, Winslow, Suns, Thunder

Dwyane Wade‘s son Zaire Wade is signing an NBA G League contract and is expected to land with the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s NBAGL affiliate, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Dwyane is, of course, a part-owner of the Jazz.

The Jazz could secure Zaire’s G League rights for Salt Lake City by signing him to an Exhibit 10 contract and making him an affiliate player. But if the team doesn’t go that route and the younger Wade signs a general G League contract, the Stars would likely select him in the NBAGL draft on October 23.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic liked the Kings‘ offseason on the whole, but questioned the team’s decision to trade Delon Wright for Tristan Thompson, then sign Alex Len and retain Damian Jones. All three big men figure to be backups, with Richaun Holmes starting at the five.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, who said on Monday that he has been impressed by Justise Winslow‘s passing ability, confirmed that he views the former lottery pick as an option at point guard, per Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. “I know he played a little point guard in Miami and with our point guard situation, with Jason (Preston) going down, he’ll be playing a little backup point,” Lue said. “He been playing the four, he’s been playing the five. … so we just gotta keep learning the plays, different positions and I think he’s gonna be really good for us.”
  • While it may be a matter of semantics, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link) stresses that extension discussions between the Suns and Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges are ongoing, not stalled. In other words, one or both of Ayton and Bridges could still end up signing a new contract before the October 18 deadline, even if no agreement is imminent yet.
  • The Thunder continue to experiment with different lineups, according to Nick Gallo of OKCThunder.com, who notes that the team used 35 different five-man units in its first two preseason games. “With the lineups, the way that we try to look at it is that every player has their own individual style of play, and the lineups are just a merging of those things,” head coach Mark Daigneault said.

And-Ones: Li. Ball, Restricted Free Agency, 2022 Draft, Floyd

LiAngelo Ball, the brother of NBA guards LaMelo Ball and Lonzo Ball, is signing a G League contract and will enter the October 23 NBAGL draft, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

LiAngelo played for the Hornets in the Las Vegas Summer League, and Charania suggests he’s a candidate to be selected by the Greensboro Swarm – Charlotte’s G League affiliate – in the NBAGL draft. However, if the Hornets were prioritizing Ball for a spot on their G League squad, they’d likely sign him to an Exhibit 10 contract in order to make him an affiliate player.

As John Hollinger of The Athletic tweets, the G League draft isn’t expected to be packed with talent, so Ball has a good chance of coming off the board in the top 10 or 20 picks.

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

  • Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) have updated their top-100 list for the 2022 NBA draft. Within the article, Schmitz identifies French center Ismael Kamagate as the international prospect who is “making the most noise” early in the season. Kamagate is the No. 36 player on ESPN’s 2022 big board.
  • In an interesting piece for HoopsHype, Michael Scotto spoke with a handful of agents and team executives about how restricted free agency works behind the scenes. One agent suggested that restricted free agency is “not really free agency,” since rival teams are so reluctant to sign players to offer sheets that tie up cap space for several days at the start of the league year and may just end up being matched.
  • The Bucks (No. 2), Heat (No. 5), Suns (No. 6), Warriors (No. 7), and Hawks (No. 11) are among the biggest risers in ESPN’s latest installment of “future” power rankings from Kevin Pelton, Bobby Marks, Andre’ Snellings, and Tim Bontemps (Insider link). For a second consecutive year, the Nets rank first and the Cavaliers are dead-last on ESPN’s list, which is essentially designed to be power rankings that cover the next three seasons.
  • Free agent guard Jordan Floyd, who was on the Lakers’ Summer League roster, is signing with Kolossos H Hotels in Greece on a deal that includes an NBA out, a source told our JD Shaw (Twitter link).

Kosta Koufos To Play For G League Ignite

Veteran center Kosta Koufos is returning stateside, but he’ll be playing in the G League, rather than the NBA, reports Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link). According to Stein, Koufos is signing with the G League Ignite.

Koufos, 32, was a first-round pick in 2008 and has appeared in over 700 total games in the NBA (counting postseason contests) for Utah, Minnesota, Denver, Memphis, and Sacramento. However, he has been out of the league since playing for the Kings in 2018/19, having spent the last two seasons in the EuroLeague with CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos.

According to Stein, Koufos – who posted regular season averages of 5.7 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 11 NBA seasons – received multiple offers from European teams this offseason, but decided to sign with the Ignite instead.

The G League Ignite is the league’s developmental team for top prospects who are not yet draft-eligible. That group of prospects – which will include Jaden Hardy this year – is supplemented by a handful of experienced veterans who serve as mentors to their young teammates. In 2020/21, Amir Johnson and Jarrett Jack were among those veteran mentors. This year, Koufos will play that role.

Although the Ignite won’t take part in the standard G League regular season in 2021/22, the team will compete in the league-wide Showcase Cup tournament that will tip off in early November. Their full roster will be announced at some point before then.

Pistons Hire Ben Wallace In Advisory Role

The Pistons have given Ben Wallace a formal role within the organization, hiring him as a basketball operations and team engagement advisor, according to a press release.

Wallace’s new position will see him assist general manager Troy Weaver and the front office, as well as head coach Dwane Casey and the coaching staff. He’ll be a mentor and a “development asset” for players at both the NBA and G League level, according to the team.

“Ben is a Hall of Famer and a Pistons legend who has continued to come back home and support our team and our organization,” team owner Tom Gores said of Wallace, who won a title with the franchise in 2004. “He embodies everything we are building here and will be a real asset to Dwane, Troy and the rest of our staff. Ben helped set the standard for what it means to be a Piston and will be a tremendous influence for our young players.”

Although Wallace didn’t have an official position in Detroit’s front office until now, he has remained connected to the team in recent years. In 2018, he became a part-owner of the Grand Rapids Drive, a G League franchise that was the Pistons’ affiliate up until last season.

Grand Rapids has since rebranded as the Gold and is now affiliated with the Nuggets, so Wallace has divested himself of his stake in the NBAGL franchise in order to officially join the Pistons, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Detroit has a new G League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise.

And-Ones: Training Camps, Ignite, Incentives, Extensions

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers believes it would be good for the NBA to give teams more time in the fall to prepare for the regular season. While Rivers doesn’t think the preseason needs to be extended, he’d like to see the league give teams the opportunity to hold longer training camps.

“Five (preseason) games, four games, three games, I actually think that’s the right number‚” Rivers said, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’m not really sure what the right number is, because every year it really depends on who your team is. But the week of camp is absurd to me. I think you should have more time. Two weeks would be great.”

As Rivers explains, he believes giving players a longer ramp-up period leading up to the regular season would help reduce injuries during the season.

“I think health-wise it would be smarter if we had more time,” he said.

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

  • The NBA G League Ignite announced this week in a press release that they’ve added 10 games to their schedule for the 2021/22 season, beginning in January. The Ignite is taking part in the G League tournament that will open the season, but won’t participate in the subsequent NBAGL regular season. While these newly-added 10 games will be against G League opponents, they won’t count toward the league’s standings.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) takes an in-depth look at some of the most interesting – and potentially impactful – incentives included in player contracts around the NBA for the 2021/22 season.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic applied his player-valuation formula to this year’s remaining candidates for rookie scale extensions, attempting to determine what those deals should be worth and which players have a decent chance to get something done by the October 18 deadline.
  • In a deep dive for The Athletic, Jon Krawczysnki and Kelly Iko spoke to Timberwolves and Rockets sources about Jimmy Butler‘s and James Harden‘s trade demands to get a sense of what it’s like for an organization when a star player attempts to force his way out of town. While Butler’s and Harden’s efforts were successful, Sixers star Ben Simmons remains in limbo.

And-Ones: Faried, Injuries, Revenue Sharing, Ignite

Former NBA big man Kenneth Faried signed with Puerto Rican team Leones de Ponce last week, as our JD Shaw tweets.

Faried, who will turn 32 next month, hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2018/19 season, but hasn’t given up on getting back into the league. He reportedly received some consideration from the Knicks in the spring, then played for Portland’s Las Vegas Summer League team in August and worked out for the Lakers in September. For now though, Faried’s professional career will continue outside the NBA.

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

  • ESPN’s team of basketball writers took a league-wide look at the injuries that will (or could) compromise players’ availability for opening night, checking in on where in the recovery process those players are and when we might see them back on the court.
  • Within a larger story about the Pelicans‘ ownership situation and succession plan, team president Dennis Lauscha shared an interesting tidbit, telling Jeff Duncan and Lee Zurik of NOLA.com that commissioner Adam Silver has said the NBA’s next Collective Bargaining Agreement will include an “enhanced revenue sharing model” to further assist smaller-market teams. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports has more details.
  • Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer takes a deep dive into the G League Ignite, exploring where the NBA G League’s developmental team stands after its first season and how the league envisions the program growing in the coming years.

Bulls Notes: Ball, Karnisovas, Domercant, Bradley

New starting Bulls point guard Lonzo Ball anticipates that he will operate more as a “traditional” point guard within Chicago’s offense, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Ball suggested that with his prior team, the Pelicans, he served more as a wing who sought openings for jump shots and defended across a variety of positions than a true point guard.

“Just getting back to being more of a traditional point guard where I’m comfortable at,” Ball said during the Bulls’ Media Day. “Last year was different for me, but whatever coach asks me, I’m going to do to the best of my abilities. This year, it’s looking like I’m going to be playing point guard a lot, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Bulls team president Arturas Karnisovas spoke about hoping that Ball, 6’6″ and athletic could help speed up and diversify the Bulls’ offense. “He likes to play fast,” Karnisovas said. “He likes to advance the ball, to guard. He can be a primary ballhandler, or he can play as a secondary ballhandler.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Karnisovas opined that Chicago’s 2021 trade deadline moves, primarily the addition of All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, signaled that the team was serious about improving the talent around All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Karnisovas also noted that Chicago’s newfound commitment to creating a winning culture helped draw some of the team’s top free agent targets.
  • The Bulls’ NBA G League affiliate, the Windy City Bulls, have promoted Henry Domercant, an assistant coach on the club since 2018, to become the team’s fourth head coach, per a team press release. Domercant hails from Naperville, Illinois, a suburb about 30 miles away from Chicago — and roughly 30 miles away from the Windy City Bulls’ home arena in Hoffman Estates. “As a lifelong Chicagoland guy, the Chicago Bulls franchise has always been special to me and I’m grateful to the organization for the opportunity to lead the Windy City Bulls,” Domercant said. “Over the last five years, the Windy City Bulls have brought a high level of basketball to the Northwest Suburbs, and I am excited to build upon that success.”
  • New Bulls reserve center Tony Bradley appears to be fully aware of his role heading into his first year in Chicago, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago“I feel like I play to the best of my ability on defense, the pick-and-roll defense, to protect the rim,” Bradley, 23, said after the team’s first training camp session of the new NBA year. “I know I’m no high-flyer. But I do know how to get shots before they leave the hand instead of all the way up top. So I think I’m pretty good at it, pretty solid.”

And-Ones: Beauchamp, Hayward, Turner, Hands, Silver, Vaccinations

The G League Ignite team has signed MarJon Beauchamp, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Beauchamp, ranked No. 47 on ESPN’s prospect list for the Class of 2020, elected not to sign with a college due to questions about his amateur status. He attended four high schools and most recently a junior college.

“I thought this was the best route I could go,” Beauchamp said. “I’ve been off the radar for a while, but I’m glad to get an opportunity from [G League executives] Rod Strickland and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. … I’m confident that I can be a top pick next year with this platform. “

Beauchamp joins five-star high school recruits Jaden Hardy, Scoot Henderson and Michael Foster on Ignite’s roster, as well as Australian Dyson Daniels, a projected top-20 pick.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Gordon Hayward, Myles Turner and Joel Embiid are expected to fully participate in their training camps, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, who offers a number of updates on prominent players that headed into the offseason with injuries. Some others, including Victor Oladipo, have not yet been cleared for camp activities, while Nets stars Kyrie Irving and James Harden are expected to be ready for action when the regular season begins.
  • Jaylen Hands has signed to play in Germany with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Hands most recently played in the Las Vegas summer league with the Cavaliers. The former UCLA standout was a second-round pick in 2019.
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offers congratulations to Tamika Tremaglio, who has been named the incoming NBPA executive director, NBA Communications tweets. “We look forward to working with her, NBPA President CJ McCollum and all the players as we continue to build on our strong partnership and grow our game globally,” Silver added. “I also want to thank Michele Roberts for her leadership in navigating one of the most challenging stretches in the NBA’s history and wish her well as she begins a new chapter.”
  • Vaccination rates among players have reached 90 percent, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The numbers have been climbing with the opening of training camps approaching.

Western Notes: Bozic, Gordon, Ntilikina, Fox

The Spurs have a new G League coach in Petar Bozic, according to a press release from the Austin Spurs. Bozic spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach for the G League franchise. Before coming to Austin, he served as head coach of Partizan in his home country of Serbia from 2015-16.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The agreed-upon four-year, $92MM extension between the Nuggets and forward Aaron Gordon is a sign that the franchise is going all out win a title in the next three seasons, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post opines. It’s a declaration that Nikola Jokic and the core group is good enough to capture the championship, regardless of the moves made by the Lakers and other contenders.
  • The two-year contract that guard Frank Ntilikina has signed with the Mavericks includes a team option in the second season, Marc Stein of Substack tweets. It’s still unclear whether the former Knick received a full guarantee for the upcoming season.
  • Kings guard De’Aaron Fox explained why he’s faster than anyone else in the league in an interview with The Reel’s Kenny Beecham, relayed on the team’s website. “The way I move is so much different than everybody else,” Fox said. “Everybody’s not able to make the cuts and just stop and do what I do, especially going at full speed.”