Nicolas Laprovittola

And-Ones: Conference Disparity, Summer League

For nearly two decades the Western Conference has been regarded as superior to the Eastern Conference and that hasn’t changed this offseason with players like Paul George and Jimmy Butler migrating to the left side of the map.

At what point, however, should the league take action to at least restore a semblance of fairness, if not balance? An excerpt from the latest Zach Lowe feature on ESPN details a few ideas that teams have had over the course of the last few seasons to address the issue.

Suns owner Robert Sarver has suggested that the league seed playoff teams 1-16, rather than 1-8 in each conference. Mavs owner Mark Cuban even went so far as to pitch a temporary realignment plan.

While no changes appear imminent, the concerns don’t seem to be going away. A concern of Cuban’s centers around the fact that the teams in the Western Conference already occupy smaller markets and can’t afford to field anything less than competitive rosters if they want to succeed as a business.

Some Eastern Conference teams in big markets, like Brooklyn, New York and Philadelphia, on the other hand, can get away with years of sub-optimal performance knowing that the end goal, a rebuild, will be ultimately worth it.

There’s more from the NBA world:

  • The revitilization of a beloved LakersCeltics rivalry has propelled summer league basketball to new heights. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes that Saturday’s session of the Las Vegas Summer League was sold out by noon on Friday. This marks the first time in 14 years that an entire day session of summer league basketball has sold out of tickets in advance.
  • Former Spurs guard Nicolas Laprovittola has left his EuroLeague team to sign with Zenit St. Petersburg, international basketball reporter David Pick tweets.
  • As the NBA offseason progresses, a succession of relevant contract deadlines will soon pass, dates that represent full or partial guarantees for players. By remaining with the Heat through today, for example, Wayne Ellington‘s 2017/18 contract will become officially guaranteed. To track all of these big days, follow along with our NBA Salary Guarantee Dates tracker.

International Notes: Bennett, Greene, Kelly

Anthony Bennett, who was recently waived by the Nets, may head overseas to pursue his next basketball opportunity, sources tell Sam Amico of Pro Basketball Digest. Amico adds that the former No.1 overall pick is also considering the D-League as an option with an eye on signing a few 10-day contracts with NBA clubs.

Bennett flashed promise at UNLV but struggled mightily during his three stops in the NBA. Amico notes that Bennett’s poor performance during his rookie season played a role in Cleveland’s decision to fire then-GM Chris Grant during the middle of the 2013/14 campaign.

Here are a few more international updates on players with NBA ties:

  • Former Kings big man Donte Greene, a 2008 first-rounder who last played in 2012, has joined Puerto Rican team Capitanes de Arecibo, according to an announcement from the club (hat tip to Sportando). Greene, who turns 29 next month, said back in August that he continues to hope for one more shot from an NBA team.
  • Maccabi Kiryat Gat of Israel has released former Nets guard Tyshawn Taylor, according to international journalist David Pick (Twitter links). The team will use the roster spot to bring Josh Selby aboard. Selby, who was the No. 49 pick in the 2011 draft, previously played in Israel for Bnei Herzliya.
  • Sasha Djordjevic, the coach of Bayern Munich, is recruiting Nicolas Laprovittola to play for his team, Pick reports (Twitter link). Laprovittola was waived by the Spurs last month.
  • Ryan Kelly has garnered interest from Reggio Emilia, a team in Italy, but it’s unlikely he joins the club as he prefers to pursue NBA opportunities, according to Emilio Carchia of Sportando. The Hawks waived Kelly last week.

Luke Adams contributed to this post

Laprovittola Clears Waivers, Eyes Europe

Nicolas Laprovittola has cleared waivers and will mull his options in Europe, international journalist David Pick tweets. The former Spurs point guard, who is now an unrestricted free agent, will pursue a 10-day contract with an NBA team if he doesn’t hook on to a European team, Pick adds.

Pick labels Laprovittola the best available point man in Europe and that could certainly be the case, given that he was good enough to start three games for San Antonio this season.

The Spurs waived him on Tuesday, dropping their current roster count to 14 players. San Antonio still has three point guards on the roster — Tony Parker, Patty Mills and rookie Dejounte Murray. That left no role for Laprovittola, who benefited earlier in the season from injuries to Parker, who has missed nine games.

Laprovittola, who will turn 27 next month, signed with the Spurs in September and appeared in 18 regular-season games. In 9.7 minutes per contest, the Argentinian averaged 3.3 PPG and 1.6 APG, shooting 37.0% on three-pointers.

Last season, Laprovittola averaged 10.3 PPG and a team-high 3.8 APG for Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania. He was also a member of the Argentinian national team in Rio this past summer, averaging 8.2 PPG, 2.7 APG, and 2.2 RPG in the Olympic tournament.

Laprovittola’s full $543K salary won’t count against the Spurs’ cap because he had a non-guaranteed contract. That salary would have become fully guaranteed if he had remained under contract through January 10.

Spurs Waive Nicolas Laprovittola

The Spurs have made a roster move, announcing today in a press release that they’ve waived rookie guard Nicolas Laprovittola. The move reduces the team’s roster to 14 players, creating an opening to add someone, though there’s no indication a signing is imminent. The Spurs released Laprovittola to maintain roster flexibility, according to Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News (via Twitter).

Laprovittola, who will turn 27 next month, signed with the Spurs in September and appeared in 18 regular season games with the club, making three starts. In 9.7 minutes per contest, the Argentenian averaged 3.3 PPG and 1.6 APG, shooting 37.0% on three-pointers.

Last season, Laprovittola averaged 10.3 PPG and a team-high 3.8 APG for Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania, posting an impressive .492/.444/.912 shooting line. He was also a member of the Argentinian national team in Rio this past summer, averaging 8.2 PPG, 2.7 APG, and 2.2 RPG in the Olympic tournament.

Because he was on a non-guaranteed contract, Laprovittola’s full $543K salary won’t count against the Spurs’ cap. That salary would have become fully guaranteed if he had remained under contract through January 10, so San Antonio made an early decision to cut him and avoid taking on that full guarantee.

Laprovittola will become an unrestricted free agent later this week, assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers. He’ll be a candidate to head back to Europe unless he finds another NBA job quickly.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 11/29/16

Here are Tuesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

10:35pm:

  • The Spurs have recalled Bryn Forbes, Nicolas Laprovittola and Dejounte Murray from their Austin affiliate, the team announced on its website.
  • The Nets have recalled forwards Anthony Bennett and Chris McCullough from their Long Island affiliate, the team announced in a press release. Both started Long Island’s game today and were available for Brooklyn’s game with the Clippers.
  • The Raptors have quickly recalled Caboclo and VanVleet, whose assignments to the D-League were noted below (Twitter link).

2:07pm:

  • After getting a rare shot at playing time for the Raptors on Monday night in the team’s blowout of the 76ers, Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet have been re-assigned to Raptors 905, according to Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic. As Murphy writes, the schedules for Toronto’s NBA and D-League teams overlap neatly this week, so Caboclo and VanVleet could be up and down a couple more times.
  • Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who received some playing time on the other side of that blowout in Toronto on Monday, has been assigned to the Delaware 87ers in advance of the team’s Tuesday night contest, according to a press release issued by the Sixers. The 2016 first-rounder has appeared in 11 games for Philadelphia so far, and one for Delaware.
  • Former first-round pick Josh Huestis has been re-assigned to the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder announced today in a press release. Huestis has appeared in a pair of games for the D-League squad so far, averaging a modest 9.0 PPG and 6.5 RPG.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 11/27/16

Here are Sunday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • Forwards Anthony Bennett and Chris McCullough were recalled by the Nets after being assigned to Long Island earlier today for the D-League team’s game against Grand Rapids, the team announced in an email. Bennett had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while McCullough put up 15 points and nine rebounds.
  • The Raptors have recalled Jakob Poeltl, Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet from Raptors 905, according to The Toronto Sun. All three had been sent down to participate in Satuday’s game against Maine.
  • The Spurs assigned rookie guards Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes and Nicolas Laprovittola to Austin, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio News-Express. They are expected to be recalled in time for San Antonio’s game on Tuesday.
  • The Pelicans have recalled rookie forward Cheick Diallo from Austin, the team announced in an email. He has played six games in the D-League and just one for New Orleans.
  • The Mavericks recalled rookie center A.J. Hammons from the Texas Legends, according to an email from the team. He was assigned Saturday for a game against Salt Lake in which he scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds.
  • The Bulls have recalled forward/center Cristiano Felicio and guards Jerian Grant and R.J. Hunter from their Windy City affiliate, the team announced in an email.

Southwest Notes: Gasol, D-League, Fizdale, Harrell

A consistent scorer since entering the NBA, Pau Gasol has faced a huge adjustment since signing with the Spurs this summer, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Gasol went scoreless Friday in Boston and he has put up a pair of two-point games during the early season. It’s a change for Gasol, who has averaged 18.1 points per game through his career, but apparently not an issue for coach Gregg Popovich. “I’m not really too concerned with who scores and who doesn’t,” Popovich said. “We just try to have more than the other guys.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The largest rookie class in Spurs history has gotten a lot of D-League training, McDonald notes in a separate piece. Bryn Forbes, Davis Bertans, Dejounte Murray and Nicolas Laprovittola all earned spots on San Antonio’s roster, but they have spent much of their first month in Austin. “It’s been real important to us, keeping guys in shape and getting guys minutes, learning the game, learning the NBA,” Popovich said. “We’ve been fortunate we have had guys who have had the character and humility to do that and not think it’s below them.”
  • Grizzlies coach David Fizdale defended his maintenance program after point guard Mike Conley was used as a reserve and played just 23 minutes in Friday’s loss, relays Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. Conley, who re-signed during the summer for $153MM over five years, said he is willing to trust Fizdale’s strategy, while the coach admitted it’s a work in progress. “Obviously you can tell the number of minutes that [Conley] played, what was happening,” Fizdale said. “I just tried to find a balance somewhere and just try to patch it up where we can, going after the win.”
  • Second-year Rockets big man Montrezl Harrell is finding his opportunities limited behind Clint Capela and Nene, notes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Circumstances have given Harrell more playing time than usual the past two games, but coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t expect him to become part of the rotation. “Not that I don’t have confidence in him,” D’Antoni said. “I have a lot of confidence in him. It’s just hard. I want to get Clint up to 30 minutes. Clint is playing as well as anybody on our team. If I get him up to 30, that leaves only 18. Now, you’re trying to split time. Is that nine minutes each, 12 minutes for one guy and six [for the other]? In special circumstances, I wouldn’t hesitate. If we’re a little sluggish, I wouldn’t hesitate … because I think he brings energy and something different. But it’s hard to play three guys in that role if one guy is taking up 30 minutes. It’s almost impossible. It’s not fair to the other two guys, actually.”

Contract Details: Brand, Rockets, Thunder, Pacers

With training camps underway, teams have now officially finalized the contract agreements with various camp invitees that had been reported over the past several weeks, meaning we have plenty of contract details to round up. As usual, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has been busy reporting those details, updating his salary pages for teams around the NBA.

Because we have so many updates to pass along from Pincus, we’ll divide them up by players who received some guaranteed money from their teams, and those who didn’t. All of the links below point to the Basketball Insiders team salary pages, so be sure to click through for additional information.

Here are the latest salary updates from across the league, via Pincus:

Players receiving guaranteed money:

These players aren’t necessarily assured of regular-season roster spots. In fact, many of them likely received guarantees as an incentive to accept a D-League assignment. Still, for some players, larger guarantees should increase their odds of making 15-man rosters.

  • Thomas Walkup (Bulls): One year, minimum salary. $69.5K guaranteed.
  • Keith Benson (Heat): Two years, minimum salary. $75K guaranteed.
  • Henry Sims (Jazz): One year, minimum salary. $75K guaranteed.
  • Alex Poythress (Pacers): One year, minimum salary. $35,381 guaranteed.
  • Kevin Seraphin (Pacers): Two years, $3.681MM. First year ($1.8MM) guaranteed.
  • Julyan Stone (Pacers): One year, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Gary Payton II (Rockets): Two years, minimum salary. First year ($543,471) guaranteed.
  • Isaiah Taylor (Rockets): Two years, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Kyle Wiltjer (Rockets): Two years, minimum salary. $275K guaranteed.
  • Cat Barber (Sixers): One year, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Elton Brand (Sixers): One year, minimum salary. $1MM guaranteed.
  • Derrick Jones (Suns): Three years, minimum salary. $42.5K guaranteed.
  • Alex Caruso (Thunder): One year, minimum salary. $50K guaranteed.
  • Kaleb Tarczewski (Thunder): One year, minimum salary. $75K guaranteed.
  • Chris Wright (Thunder): One year, minimum salary. $100K guaranteed.

Players receiving no guaranteed money:

The following players all signed one-year, minimum salary contracts with no guaranteed money. Many of these deals are “summer contracts,” which won’t count against a team’s cap unless the player earns a spot on the 15-man roster.

Spurs Sign Nicolas Laprovittola

SEPTEMBER 26: The Spurs’ signing of Laprovittola is now official, according to the team (via Twitter).

SEPTEMBER 3: Laprovittola’s deal is a non-guaranteed, one-year minimum salary arrangement, international journalist David Pick tweets.

SEPTEMBER 2: The Spurs have a deal in place with Laprovittola and will give him a shot to snag their 15th and final regular season roster spot, Stein tweets.

AUGUST 26: The Spurs already have two Argentinian players on their roster, in Manu Ginobili and Patricio Garino, and they’re working to add a third. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, San Antonio is making an effort to sign veteran guard Nicolas Laprovittola. Orazio Cauchi of Sportando suggests that the two sides already have a deal in place.

The Spurs have a long list of unsigned draft picks that they’ve stashed overseas over the years, but Laprovittola’s name isn’t on that list, since he went undrafted when he was eligible in 2012. The 26-year-old has played for a handful of international teams since 2007, spending time in Argentina, Brazil, and Lithuania before joining his current club, Spain’s Estudiantes.

Last season, Laprovittola averaged 10.3 PPG and a team-high 3.8 APG for Lietuvos Rytas in Lithuania, posting an impressive .492/.444/.912 shooting line. He was also a member of the Argentinian national team in Rio this month, averaging 8.2 PPG, 2.7 APG, and 2.2 RPG in the Olympic tournament.

Having already been active in free agency this summer, the Spurs used up all their cap space and their room exception, so the team would only be able to sign Laprovittola to a minimum-salary deal. Assuming the two sides make it official, I’d expect a two-year, minimum-salary pact with a partial guarantee in year one, which would give the Argentinian guard a chance to compete for a roster spot.

Southwest Notes: Davis, Pondexter, Bogut, Barnes

Pelicans GM Dell Demps told a group of fans tonight that Anthony Davis should start the upcoming season with no physical restrictions, the team tweeted. The three-time All-Star was limited to just 61 games last season and was shut down in March because of a sore left knee and a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder. Davis had surgery on the knee, but doctors determined no operation was needed on the shoulder. Davis, who was a first-team all-NBA selection in 2014/15, remained productive when he played last season, averaging 24.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per night.

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • Demps addressed several other players at tonight’s event, including Quincy Pondexter, who was sidelined all of last season and underwent cartilage replacement surgery on his left knee in January. Pondexter had his first full workout today and Demps said, “We are glad to get him back in the fold.” (Twitter link). Demps also said the Pelicans are keeping regular contact with Jrue Holiday as he cares for his ailing wife, and he has the full support of the organization (Twitter link). The GM added that first-round pick Buddy Hield is at the practice court every night (Twitter link) and predicted that second-rounder Cheick Diallo “will become a fan favorite” (Twitter link).
  • The Mavericks improved defensively at both center and small forward with the addition of Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes, writes ESPN’s Kevin Pelton. In his analysis of every player on the team, Pelton writes that Bogut remains one of the league’s best rim protectors, while Barnes, who is versatile enough to defend power forwards and small forwards, represents a clear upgrade from Chandler Parsons.
  • This summer’s signings of Nicolas Laprovittola and Patricio Garino show that the Spurs‘ Argentinian pipeline is still active, according to Trevor Magnotti of Upside and Motor. Magnotti says the 26-year-old Laprovittola, who at 6’4″ primarily plays point guard, is probably the better player right now, but adds that Garino has a better shot at making San Antonio’s roster out of training camp. A “power guard,” Garino is only 23 and the author thinks he may be in the Spurs’ D-League plans.