Norris Cole

International Notes: Cole, Kuzminskas, Perrantes, Wiseman

Longtime NBA guard Norris Cole is continuing his career overseas, with AS Monaco announcing in a press release that it has signed the two-time NBA champion.

“I’m excited to be here in Monaco,” Cole said in a statement. “We discussed it with my family, my agent, we thought it was the best choice. I’m looking forward to seeing the new teammates, talking to the staff, and helping my team the best I can do.”

Cole, 31, played for the Heat from 2011-15 before spending time with the Pelicans and Thunder. He appeared in 360 regular season NBA games and another 68 playoff contests, but has played in international leagues since 2017, suiting up for teams in Israel, Italy, and Montenegro. His new club competes in France’s top league.

Let’s round up a few more international basketball notes…

  • After parting ways with Greek club Olympiacos, former NBA forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas has joined Russia’s Lokomotiv Kuban on a two-year deal, according to an announcement from the team. The 30-year-old Lithuanian appeared in 69 games for the Knicks from 2016-17 before heading back to Europe.
  • Turkish team Bahcesehir has signed 25-year-old point guard London Perrantes, the club announced today (via Twitter; hat tip to Sportando). Perrantes, who appeared in 14 NBA games with the Cavaliers during the 2017/18 season, was in camp with the Trail Blazers this fall before being waived last month.
  • Australia’s National Basketball League, which is already home to top 2020 draft prospects like LaMelo Ball and R.J. Hampton, would have interest in bringing over James Wiseman if he’s officially deemed ineligible to play for Memphis, writes Adam Zagoria of Forbes. However, Wiseman’s situation, which we previously discussed, may not be quickly or easily resolved, a source tells Zagoria. “He’s exceptionally talented and of course we’d be interested, but honestly we haven’t even had a conversation with him or his family,” NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger said of the potential No. 1 pick. “I have no idea yet as to whether or not it would suit his plans, his personality or his aspirations.”

And-Ones: Rockets, Olympics, Cole, B. Rush, Goodwin

An NBA rule that threw a wrench into the Rockets‘ plan on a holiday weekend last season has been altered, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Previously, the league required teams interested in completing a trade on a weekend or holiday to inform the NBA of its plans on the preceding business day. That practice will still be encouraged, but it will no longer be required, according to Feigen, who says the league will now look to approve and process trades on weekends or holidays even without prior notice.

On Martin Luther King Day last January, the Rockets needed to open up a roster spot to sign Kenneth Faried and had agreed to a trade sending Carmelo Anthony to Chicago. However, the NBA didn’t approve the trade on the holiday, and Houston instead waived James Nunnally to create room for Faried. If a similar situation arises in 2019/20, it shouldn’t be a problem.

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

  • The Rio Grande Valley Vipers have named a new general manager and head coach for the coming season, the club announced in a press release. Travis Stockbridge, who is just 25 years old, will be the GM of the Rockets‘ G League affiliate, while Mahmoud Abdelfattah will coach the team.
  • Despite the program’s disappointing World Cup turnout, there has been no shortage of NBA stars this fall expressing interest in playing for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. “The reality is the World Cup, although it’s very big around the world, it doesn’t have the same status in the States,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “Our focus is apparently on the Olympics, and I expected a different response.”
  • Veteran NBA free agents Norris Cole and Brandon Rush are joining Maccabi Haifa for the Israeli team’s upcoming exhibition contests against the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, and Timberwolves, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Those games will take place on October 6, 10, and 13, respectively.
  • Former first-round pick Archie Goodwin has signed a contract with Turkish team ITU Basket, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. The 29th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Goodwin appeared in 165 regular season games with three NBA teams, but hasn’t played in the league since 2017.

And-Ones: Van Gundy, G League, Cole

Former Knicks coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy discussed a variety of subjects with Justin Terranova of The New York Post, including his opinions on David Fizdale, his brother Stan, and whether he’d ever want to coach in the NBA again.

Van Gundy, who last coached in the NBA with the Rockets in 2007, didn’t rule out a possible return to the sidelines in the future. He currently coaches the USA Basketball men’s national team, a roster comprised of mostly G League and former NBA players, doing his best to stay active outside of his job at ESPN.

“It’s been about the same. I always missed it,” Van Gundy said when asked about NBA coaching. “With any job you take the good with the bad and it’s hard to find the right fit. I am really fortunate to have a really good job that I enjoy. So, there’s no angst about coaching. If it happens, great. That’s why I like the Team USA and I’ve really enjoyed it. … I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what’s next.”

Jeff’s brother, Stan Van Gundy, also joined ESPN this past summer to become an analyst. Stan was head coach and president of the Pistons last season, with both brothers working several different jobs with NBA teams across their respective careers. When asked about the possibility of the brothers calling an NBA game together for ESPN, Jeff gave an honest response.

“If we did, that’d be great. If we didn’t, that’d be fine, too,” Jeff said, according to Terranova. “I talk to [Stan] enough on the phone. It’s not like the only form of communication is if we do a game together. He’s doing his thing, and he’s doing really well. If we do a game it’d be a lot of fun.”

Here are a few other basketball odds and ends:

  • New G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim hopes that every NBA team will have a G League affiliate by 2022, according to Marc J. Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated. Abdur-Rahim is set to officially take over as G League president on Jan. 11, replacing Malcolm Turner. “I’ve seen the evolution of the league and the great work that Malcolm and has group has done,” Abdur-Rahim said. “To see where we are sitting now. … Going towards 30 teams, the professional path, the rebranding, it’s such a great situation with so many opportunities. You’re positioned really with a great team around it. There is so much opportunity to help craft with folks, craft a vision, craft ideas, move forward.”
  • Despite Abdur-Rahim’s goal, NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes the league can have 30 affiliates within “the next two years or so,” as we detailed in a recent story. Currently, 27 NBA franchises have a G League team.
  • Former NBA guard Norris Cole is leaving Sidigas Avellino in Italy, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Cole will join Buducnost Voli as a free agent, a team located in Montenegro, Carchia reports. He last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season.

Norris Cole To Play In Italy

Longtime NBA point guard Norris Cole will remain overseas for the coming season, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando, who confirms that Cole will play for Italian club Scandone Avellino in 2018/19. The deal was first reported by Sportchannel214 (Twitter link).

It will be the second consecutive season in Europe for Cole, who spent the 2017/18 campaign with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. In 28 EuroLeague games for Maccabi, Cole posted 12.6 PPG, 3.8 APG, and 2.5 RPG. He also averaged 11.8 PPG, 3.6 APG, and 2.2 RPG in 32 Israeli League contests.

Before he headed overseas last year, Cole had appeared in 360 total NBA regular season games for the Heat, Pelicans, and Thunder. He also played in 68 postseason contests, winning titles with Miami in 2012 and 2013. The 29-year-old’s last NBA action came during the 2016/17 season, when he appeared in 13 games for Oklahoma City.

Point Guard Norris Cole Headed To Israel

Point guard Norris Cole will sign a one-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Euroleague, international journalist David Pick tweets via a source.

Cole, 28, appeared in 13 games with the Thunder last season after finally landing an NBA job in March. He averaged 3.3 PPG and 1.1 APG in 9.6 MPG and shot just 30.8% from the field. The previous season, he started 23 of 45 games with the Pelicans and averaged a career-high 10.6 PPG and 3.7 APG in 26.6 MPG. He spent his first 3 1/2 seasons with the Heat.

According to earlier tweet from Pick, the contract is worth $700K.

Cole didn’t generate much buzz on the free agent market, though he did work out with the Hornets last month.

Norris Cole Receives Euroleague Offer

Free agent point guard Norris Cole has received a contract offer from Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv, according to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link). The deal, which Cole has not yet accepted, would be worth $700K and would bring the veteran guard to the Euroleague.

A former first-round pick, Cole spent the first three and a half years of his career with the Heat, winning a pair of titles with the franchise. He has since spent time with for the Pelicans and Thunder, though he appeared in just 13 games for Oklahoma City last season, playing limited minutes. For his career, the 28-year-old has averaged 7.0 PPG and 2.7 APG in 360 regular season contests.

While Cole has yet to find an NBA home, it makes sense that he’d continue to explore every avenue stateside before heading back overseas — as a six-year veteran, Cole’s minimum salary with an NBA team would be $1,841,849, more than double what his offer from Maccabi Tel Aviv is worth.

Still, Cole had trouble finding an NBA landing spot last season, having not signed with the Thunder until March. And even if he were able to secure an NBA contract, it wouldn’t necessarily be fully guaranteed. Cole also has some international experience, having played in China in 2016, so he may not be averse to returning overseas.

Cole is one of the more notable names among an increasingly sparse group of free agent NBA point guards. Aaron Brooks, Deron Williams, and C.J. Watson are a few of the others who remain unsigned.

Hornets Work Out Free Agent Guards

JULY 25, 11:03am: Michael Scotto (via Twitter) fills out the list of free agent guards who worked out today for the Hornets — Demetrius Jackson, Marcus Paige, Jared Cunningham, and Nick Johnson were also part of the group.

JULY 25, 8:16am: The Hornets will also work out free agent point guard Isaiah Canaan, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN, who tweets that the group session will take place on Tuesday.

JULY 24, 2:47pm: Former Georgia guard J.J. Frazier will also take part in the Hornets’ workout this week, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

JULY 24, 11:48am: The Hornets are bringing in free agent guard Donald Sloan for a workout, according to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link). Another free agent point guard, Norris Cole, will also work out for the club, per Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).

While Charlotte’s starting backcourt figures to look the same heading into the 2017/18 season, the team is making some changes on the bench. Backup point guards Ramon Sessions and Brian Roberts aren’t returning, and Marco Belinelli was traded to Atlanta. Belinelli’s roster spot has been claimed by lottery pick Malik Monk, and the Hornets signed Michael Carter-Williams as the probable backup for Kemba Walker at the point, but the club may add one more point guard to its roster for depth purposes.

Currently, Briante Weber holds that third point guard spot on the roster, but his deal is non-guaranteed. Per Basketball Insiders, Weber’s salary is believed to become fully guaranteed if he remains under contract through August 1, so the fact that the Hornets are taking a closer look at veteran point guards now may not bode well for Weber’s hold on a roster spot.

Sloan, 29, has more than 200 NBA regular season games under his belt, but spent the 2016/17 season in China with the Guangdong Southern Tigers. His team-high 23.6 PPG and 6.5 APG helped buoy the club to an appearance in the CBA Finals.

As for Cole, the 28-year-old played sparingly for the Thunder last season, but has extensive NBA experience with the Heat and Pelicans, having appeared in 360 total regular season contests since 2011.

Northwest Notes: Stephenson, Hayward, Ezeli, Cole

After appearing in four games with Minnesota earlier this season, Lance Stephenson appears likely to rejoin the team on a second 10-day contract. According to Jon Krawczynski‏ of The Associated Press, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said Stephenson is “coming along” in his recovery from an ankle sprain and should sign a new contract soon (Twitter link). Injuries have sidelined Stephenson’s 2016/17 campaign; “Born Ready” has played in a combined 10 games with the Pelicans and Wolves. 

More from around the Northwest…

  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes that Gordon Hayward is “one of the most coveted upcoming free agents” that no one is noticing. Hayward, who is expected to decline his 2017/18 player option, has averaged a career-high 22.1 points per game, helping the Jazz maintain a comfortable hold on the fourth seed in the Western Conference. Hayward doesn’t register on casual fans’ radars, O’Connor writes, but the seventh-year wing “might be the key to unlocking Utah’s title chances.
  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman answered some questions about the Thunder for his online chat. Tramel called Domantas Sabonis “one of the few bright spots” in a recent loss to the Suns, with the caveat that he will soon be moved to the bench. Similarly, Tramel forecasts a move to the bench for Alex Abrines once Victor Oladipo returns from injury. When it comes to the offseason, Tramel writes “OKC doesn’t have the flexibility to sign a big free agent. It would have to do some kind of sign-and-trade deal, and the Thunder doesn’t have the kind of assets (draft picks) to pull that off. Plus, you have to convince free agents to come. So the likelihood is not strong that the Thunder can change the roster via big-name free agent.”
  • Festus Ezeli‘s season-ending surgery will involve tissue from a cadaver donor, Tim Brown of The Oregonian writes. Per Brown, Ezeli received bone marrow injections in his left knee in August, with the intention of helping him play in 2016/17. It would be pretty surprising to see the Trail Blazers exercise Ezeli’s $7.733MM option for 2017/18.
  • Norris Cole, who has scored 13 points over three games with the Thunder, is “learning on the job,” Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes. “I think for him, being pressured and coming into a new system and a new style and having to be a point guard and run the team, it was a difficult task for him,” Billy Donovan said of Cole. “These are the moments I think that will probably help him get better. He’s a veteran guy. He’s smart, he’s bright and he’ll be able to get better from this.”

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Cole, Nuggets

Acquired from the Nuggets in the days leading up to the trade deadline, Jusuf Nurkic is a valuable component already breathing new life into the Trail Blazers, writes Joe Freeman of the Oregonian. In five games with his new club, Nurkic has averaged 14.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in 29.8 minutes per game.

I think his energy is definitely good for our team,” Damian Lillard told Freeman of the big man, later adding that the fiery 22-year-old adds a valuable emotional boost. “I guess you would call him a tough guy — every play he’s saying something.”

This isn’t the first time Nurkic has shown impressive potential, he flashed signs of promise during his rookie campaign in 2014/15. Still, a 2015/16 injury coupled with the emergence of Nikola Jokic this year and last inhibited the Bosnian’s development in Denver.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • So long as the Trail Blazers are within reach of the playoffs, Damian Lillard will be competing at the highest level, writes Jason Quick of CSN Northwest. “We have an opportunity to make the playoffs and I’m going to play until that opportunity is gone, and then I’m still going to play. We have a whole summer until the next season, so I’m going to play.” The veteran understood the appeal of tanking during his rookie campaign when the postseason was never an option but has no desire to rely on the draft for immediate help.
  • The recent signing of Norris Cole gives the Thunder a reliable veteran to back up Russell Westbrook at the point, writes Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman. “[We] just need him to run our team when he’s in there, make good decisions, defend,” says head coach Billy Donovan, “All the things he’s done for most of his career.
  • The Timberwolves have experimented with both Tyus Jones and Kris Dunn in the lineup at the same time, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune. The pair of point guards has been deployed of late when starter Ricky Rubio takes a seat. “I like Tyus and Kris together; that’s a big plus,” head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They have good chemistry together. It gives you a second pick-and-roll player.”
  • Rookies have stepped up and made an impact for the Nuggets this season, writes Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. He speaks, of course, about the emergence of Jamal Murray and Juan Hernangomez as valuable contributors even as Denver competes for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Northwest Notes: Cole, Oladipo, Nurkic, Davis

Veteran point guard Norris Cole is thrilled to be back in the NBA after nearly a year away from the league, writes Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman. The Thunder signed Cole for the rest of the season on Wednesday, giving them a veteran point guard to back up Russell Westbrook. The job belonged to rookie Semaj Christon when the season started while Cameron Payne was rehabbing from a foot injury. Christon got it back again when Payne was traded to the Bulls last week. Now Oklahoma City has a more experienced option in Cole, who saw plenty of playoff action during his three and a half seasons in Miami. “I think he understands what he’s walking into and what he’s got to do,” said coach Billy Donovan. “And it will take some time. I think he understands that. Just need him to run our team when he’s in there, make good decisions, defend – all the things he’s done for most of his career.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Donovan isn’t worried that Victor Oladipo‘s back injury will become a long-term problem, Dawson tweets. Oladipo missed his fourth straight game with back spasms Thursday night, but the coach believes it’s just a muscular issue and the recovery time is normal.
  • Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic made a powerful impression Thursday in his first home game since being acquired in a trade with the Nuggets, notes Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. Nurkic put up  18 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and five steals, making him the first Portland player ever to reach all those numbers in a single game. “I feel great to be here, excited every day to spent with those guys in this city,” Nurkic said. “They give me a lot of opportunity when I came here, so I just try to play and have fun. I know who I am… I know I’m going to be on the court. I just go there and play.”
  • Blazers big man Ed Davis discusses his decision to have season-ending shoulder surgery with Joe Freeman of The Oregonian and says he will definitely be ready for the start of next season.