Nikoloz Tskitishvili

Clippers Notes: Griffin, Rivers, Smith, Tskitishvili

Clippers forward Blake Griffin will be out of action for at least two weeks after suffering a partially torn left quadriceps, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. That means Griffin will miss at least six games before being re-evaluated two weeks from now. The team is hoping that rest and physical therapy will be enough to treat the injury, a source told Dan Woike of The Orange County Register (Twitter link). A source close to Griffin tells Ken Berger of CBS Sports that the Clippers are confident two to three weeks of that treatment will be sufficient for Griffin to recover (Twitter link). “Tough break,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers“Blake was playing so well. We just have to keep pushing forward until his return.” The five-time All-Star is averaging 23.2 points and 8.7 rebounds through 30 games.

There’s more Clipper-related news out of Los Angeles:

  • Rivers is taking a calm approach to the team’s 17-13 start, Woike writes in a separate story. The Clippers are fourth in the Western Conference standings but have been disappointing against the league’s best clubs, compiling just a 5-11 record against teams that currently hold playoff spots. Still, the coach said immediate changes aren’t needed. “I’ve had some teams where I would be panicked now,” Rivers said. “I’d have some teams where I’d go to sleep right now, they’ll be fine. So I think it depends on your team. This is a team that is just a team in motion. We made a lot of changes. It takes time.”
  • The Christmas Day win over the Lakers marked the second straight game in which Josh Smith was left out of the rotation, Woike notes in the same article. Smith signed a veteran’s minimum deal with the Clippers in July, but he’s struggled to find a role with the team. He is averaging just 5.9 points and 14.6 minutes of playing time this season. Rivers gave Smith’s normal minutes to Cole Aldrich Friday night.
  • Nikoloz Tskitishvili, who spent part of training camp with the Clippers, will soon be joining Champville in Lebanon, tweets international journalist David Pick. Tskitishvili has spent parts of this season in China and Japan after L.A. waived him in early October.

And-Ones: Rockets, Knicks, Robinson

The Rockets remain skeptical that they will be able to reach agreements on signing rookie scale extensions for forwards Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. The deadline for rookie scale extensions is Monday. It was recently reported that both players preferred to set themselves up for restricted free agency this coming summer. Both Motiejunas and Jones are considered “vitally important” to the team, according to Feigen.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

And-Ones: Carlisle, Cap, Rosters, Tskitishvili

A growing sentiment around the league held that Rick Carlisle might leave the Mavericks, given the team’s uncertain future as a playoff contender and the distinct possibility that several attractive coaching jobs will come open next summer, according to Chris Mannix of It nonetheless appears he’d like to stay put, as Carlisle and the Mavs are reportedly deep in negotiations toward an extension. Mavs owner Mark Cuban essentially confirmed in a radio appearance on ESPN Radio 103.3 in Dallas today that the sides are working toward a deal, as Tim MacMahon of relays (Twitter link).

“When you’ve got a great coach, you want to keep him around, so we’re working on making that happen,” Cuban said.

See more from around the NBA:

  • Many league executives and agents believe the salary cap will escalate to $95MM for 2016/17, a higher figure than the league’s last projection of $89MM, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. One GM who spoke to Deveney expressed worry that all the money on the line will lead to players looking out for themselves and pointed to this summer’s increase in long-term deals as evidence that teams were looking to avoid that.
  • NBA opening night rosters feature 100 players from outside the United States, one off last year’s record total of 101, the NBA announced. The University of Kentucky boasts more former players on the rosters than any other school, with 21, followed by Kansas, with 19, as Adam Zagoria of points out.
  • Nikoloz Tskitishvili, the former No. 5 overall pick who briefly attempted an NBA comeback with the Clippers this fall, is engaged in a dispute with his Chinese team and close to signing with Champville in Lebanon instead, as Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia details. Tskitishvili signed earlier this month with Fujian, international journalist David Pick reported.

And-Ones: Hood, Tskitishvili, Sterling, Rookies

Utah’s Rodney Hood impressed his coach with the way he reacted to a dose of NBA trash talking from the LakersKobe Bryant, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. In an exhibition game last week, Bryant reminded the second-year player that he was going up against one of the league’s all-time greats, listing a resume that includes 17 All-Star games and five NBA titles. Hood, on the other hand, is trying to carve out a role with the Jazz after averaging 8.7 points in 50 games during his rookie season, mostly as a backup. “I think Rodney just played like he was playing against another really, really good player,” said Quin Snyder. “The challenge that I like that I saw in that was that Kobe was really physical and that’s something that if you’ve haven’t (experienced), particularly in your second year, if you haven’t played against that toughness and that intensity, that it’s new.”

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Nikoloz Tskitishvili has signed a deal to play in China, tweets international journalist David Pick. Tskitishvili, who was waived by the Clippers last week, scored 13 points in his audition for the Fujian team. He signed a 48-hour deal, but both sides share an option to extend it (Twitter link). At age 32, Tskitishvili had been hoping to return to the NBA after being out of the league since 2006.
  • Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling has filed an appeal of the probate court decision that gave his wife, Shelly, control of the family trust as well as the authority to sell the team, tweets Ramona Shelburne of A hearing has been set for October 28th after Sterling’s legal team asked the court to expedite his appeal of the probate case (Twitter link).
  • This season should feature a wide-open race for the Rookie of the Year trophy, writes Scott Howard-Cooper of The columnist names the PistonsStanley Johnson, the NuggetsEmmanuel Mudiay and the SixersJahlil Okafor as the early favorites, but says several other contenders could emerge.

Clippers Waive Nikoloz Tskitishvili

3:24pm: The Clippers have officially announced the move.

2:08pm: The Clippers have waived center Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Marc Stein of reports (Twitter link). The 32-year-old did not make an appearance in Los Angeles’ first exhibition game of the preseason on Friday night, a 103-96 win over Denver.

Tskitishvili’s one-year, minimum salary deal was non-guaranteed, so the Clippers won’t be on the hook for any funds as a result of releasing the big man. This move reduces the team’s preseason roster count to 16 players, including 14 with full guarantees on their contracts.

This release likely ends the attempted NBA return of Tskitishvili, who had been out of the league since 2006. The 7-footer averaged just 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 7.2 minutes per game during his four-year NBA career, spent mostly with the Nuggets, though he did have brief stints with the Warriors, Timberwolves, Suns, and Trail Blazers before his NBA career came to halt after a camp deal with the Knicks in the fall of 2006 that didn’t result in a regular season roster spot.

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Bryant, Warriors

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins and coach George Karl called their relationship “solid” during the team’s annual media day on Monday, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reports. While Karl reportedly wanted to trade Cousins after he took over as the head coach late last season, they seem to have ironed out their differences, Jones continues. Cousins called Karl “my man” and said their offseason meeting in Las Vegas was vital to establishing a relationship. “When we met in Vegas, we came to a head and we talked our differences out like men,”€ Cousins said to Jones. “And at the end of the day, it’s about winning games. That’€™s one thing me and him can agree on –€“ we want to win and that’™s our goal and that’s all that really matters, winning.”€ Karl gave Cousins an A-plus for his offseason training and said Cousins has shown maturity, Jones adds. “€œI see a different player,”€ Karl said. “€œI see a different substance of character in this guy right now.”

In other news around the Pacific Division:

  • Kobe Bryant feels more uncertainty about this season than any other in his career with the Lakers, according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Bryant is unsure how the team will blend together after the franchise made a number of offseason moves and drafted D’Angelo Russell as their point guard, Medina continues. “It’€™s a big question mark,” Bryant said during the team’s media day. “We have a lot of young guys. It’s a good mix. We have some veterans as well. But guys have never played together before, so it remains to be seen.” Bryant is also unsure how he fits into that mix after enduring three season-ending injuries in as many seasons, Medina adds.
  • Small forward Harrison Barnes claims that extension talks with the Warriors are “going well,” Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Barnes reportedly turned down a four-year, $64MM offer but expressed confidence during the team’s media day that a contract can be finalized before the Nov. 2nd deadline, Simmons continues. GM Bob Myers said last week that he expects the negotiations to go down to the wire, Simmons adds.
  • Veteran power forward Nikoloz Tskitishvili, who is in training camp with the Clippers, feels he’s ready for the NBA again after playing in six countries over a nine-year span since leaving the United States, according to Rowan Kavner of “I’m just enjoying what I do,” he said to Kavner. “With this mentality, I got better. All of a sudden, I was like, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’ I think I’m ready for it.”

Clippers Sign Nikoloz Tskitishvili For Camp

SEPTEMBER 25TH, 7:50pm: The Clippers have officially announced the signing.

SEPTEMBER 14TH, 10:50am: The RealGM transactions log confirms the signing took place, but the Clippers still haven’t made an official announcement.

SEPTEMBER 10TH, 1:06pm: The Clippers have signed 2002 No. 5 overall pick Nikoloz Tskitishvili to a non-guaranteed deal that covers one season, reports international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). The team has yet to make a formal announcement. It’ll be for the minimum salary, since that’s all the Clippers have to offer. The deal nonetheless represents a comeback for a player considered one of the all-time draft busts. Tskitishvili, 32, has been eyeing another go at the NBA of late, having been out of the league since 2006, as Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post recently chronicled.

The 7-footer averaged just 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 7.2 minutes per game during his four-year NBA career, spent mostly with the Nuggets, who made that fateful draft pick, passing over Amar’e Stoudemire, among others. He also played for the Warriors, Timberwolves and Suns, passing briefly through the hands of the Trail Blazers before a camp deal with the Knicks in the fall of 2006 that was his last NBA contract.

Tskitishvili spent the past season with Champville of Lebanon, racking up 21.0 points and 11.6 rebounds in 37.6 minutes per game, as Pick notes (on Twitter). He told Dempsey that he hoped that the Nuggets would give him the chance to come back to the NBA and erase the memories of his earlier flameout in Denver, but instead it’s the Clippers who will give him an opportunity.

“You can blame me or you can find some reasons to blame,” Tskitishvili said to Dempsey. “When they draft you as a No. 5 pick, really I shouldn’t have taken it, and stayed in Europe a couple more years. But you can’t say no to the No. 5 pick. You might never come to the NBA. I was afraid for the future. This was my opportunity to be in the NBA. This was guaranteed. I had to take it. If I played overseas for a couple years or three years [though], I would be much better.”

The Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts plus a non-guaranteed deal with Chuck Hayes, and they’re also reportedly bringing undrafted center Yanick Moreira to camp. So, Tskitishvili has at least a somewhat reasonable chance to make the opening night roster nearly a decade after his last regular season game.

Do you think Tskitishvili will finally make an impact in the NBA, or will his comeback be short-lived? Comment to tell us.

Western Notes: Mavs, Cole, Tskitishvili

The competition for who will be the starting center for the Mavericks is one of the most important preseason battles to watch, writes Earl K. Sneed of The winner of the training camp battle may not be the player who is the most talented, according to coach Rick Carlisle, Sneed adds. “You know, ultimately, who’s better may not be the one that starts,” Carlisle has said in the past. “I mean, we’ve done things a little different way than some teams the last several years. … The thing that’s exciting is the possibility of having another roster full of capable players and guys that are good and guys that are experienced. And at this point in their careers, they’re aiming more towards winning and getting back into the conversation of getting a ring than just trying to get some stats and get their next deal.

Dallas currently has Zaza Pachulia as the projected starter at the pivot, with JaVale McGee, Samuel Dalembert, and Salah Mejri also competing for a shot to make the team and the rotation. McGee would appear to be Pachulia’s stiffest competitor for the starting slot, though there are some concerns regarding McGee’s health.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry acknowledged that the team hopes to have restricted free agent Norris Cole back, but he referred any questions regarding the status of the contract negotiations between the player and team to GM Dell Demps, John Reid of The Times Picayune writes. ”I don’t know, I’ll leave that one to Dell to answer,” Gentry said when asked about Cole’s potential return. ”Obviously we would like to have him back on our team. He’s an important part of our team, but that’s something that will have to get answered on the [front office] side of it. But you know as a coach, I would like to have him back and I’m sure Dell wants him back also.” The Lakers also expressed interest in Cole this Summer, according to Reid.
  • Nikoloz Tskitishvili‘s one-year deal with the Clippers is a non-guaranteed Summer pact that includes limited injury protection, meaning it is an Exhibit 9 contract, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter).
  • Despite the bizarre and unnecessary trade that the team made with the Sixers, the Kings enter the 2015/16 season with a solid collection of talent, though Sacramento will likely fall just short of securing a playoff berth, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post (Facebook link) opines in his season preview for the franchise.

International Moves: Johnson, Tskitishvili, Jones

While the majority of NBA executives are holding off on movement until December 15th, when most of the free agents signed this summer can be traded, there's plenty going on overseas. We'll round up the latest here.

Earlier updates:

  • Nikoloz Tskitishvili, whom the Nuggets selected with the fifth overall pick in 2002, has signed to play for Champville in Lebanon, Sportando's Emiliano Carchia reports. He'll replace Dwayne Jones, who played parts of five NBA seasons (Twitter link). Tskitishvili, who hasn't appeared in the NBA since 2005/06, began the season with an Iranian team. 
  • Jermareo Davidson has inked with the Turkish club Antalya, according to Carchia. Davidson, a second-round pick of the Warriors in 2007, last played in the NBA in 2008/09.
  • Jon Pastuszek of chronicles the struggles of Tracy McGrady in China, who's straining under the pressure of having to carry the winless Qingdao Double Star Eagles. Pastuszek notes the team is trying to unload fellow American import D.J. Mbenga, according to SinaSports (Chinese link). Mbenga signed with the team after the Mavericks cut him right before training camp.