Overtime Elite

And-Ones: Vildoza, Las Vegas, Elite, Smart

Luca Vildoza announced on his Twitter feed that he underwent foot surgery and that he will continue to pursue his NBA dream (Twitter link).

The Knicks placed Vildoza on waivers on Oct. 3. New York signed the Argentinian guard to a four-year deal in May, but there was no guaranteed money beyond the 2020/21 season and he never played for the team.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Las Vegas is a possible destination if the NBA decides to expand, according to Mike Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (hat tip to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports). Commissioner Adam Silver made that statement at the CAA World Congress of Sports. “It’s on a list at the point that we do turn to expansion, which isn’t right now, but at some point, no doubt Vegas will be on the list,” Silver said.
  • Overtime Elite will begin its inaugural season on October 29, Jonathan Givony of ESPN writes. Overtime Elite – a developmental program comprised of 16-to-20-year-old prospects, many of whom were four- or five-star recruits – will be split into three teams. Those teams will also play each other as part of the OTE League Series.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been suspended for the team’s final preseason game on Friday, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Smart missed the team’s flight to Orlando for its preseason game on Wednesday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Smart signed a four-year, $77.1MM extension in August.

And-Ones: O’Quinn, Stone, Overtime Elite, 2022 Draft

Veteran NBA big man Kyle O’Quinn will continue his career in France, having signed a contract with Paris Basketball, according to the team (Twitter link).

An eight-year NBA veteran, O’Quinn began his career in 2012 after being selected 49th overall by Orlando. In 472 career regular season NBA contests for the Magic, Knicks, Pacers, and Sixers, O’Quinn averaged 5.4 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.0 BPG in 14.2 minutes per contest. He signed with Turkish team Fenerbahçe for the 2020/21 season and will now return to Europe for at least one more year.

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

  • Free agent big man Diamond Stone has agreed to sign with the Taiwan Beer of the Super Basketball League, sources tell our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Stone, 24, was the 40th overall pick in the 2016 draft, but appeared in just seven games for the Clippers. He spent several seasons in the G League and played in Puerto Rico earlier this year.
  • The Overtime Elite league for top high school prospects continues to fill out its ranks for its inaugural season. OTE announced the additions of Malik Bowman, Devontes Cobbs, and Kok Yat earlier this week, then finalized deals with Bryson Warren and Dominick Barlow today, as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony writes. Warren, a five-star recruit, ranked No. 14 in ESPN’s list of class of 2023 recruits.
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com has unveiled his early big board for the 2022 NBA draft, headed by the usual suspects, including Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jaden Hardy.
  • A handful of ESPN writers identified some under-the-radar concerns for some of the NBA’s best teams. The Suns‘ ability to repeat last season’s good health luck and Anthony Davis‘ willingness to play big minutes at center are among the topics highlighted by ESPN’s panel.

And-Ones: Overtime Elite, 2022 Draft, Worst Offseasons, Taxpayers

The new Overtime Elite league for teenage prospects has made another noteworthy addition, securing a commitment from five-star recruit Tyler Smith, writes ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. The 6’9″ Smith, who ranked No. 8 on ESPN’s list of 2023 recruits, said he signed a two-year “seven-figure” deal with Overtime Elite, per Givony.

“This is different and new,” he said. “I wanted to be a pro already, working on stuff that NBA players work on. In high school, you can’t work out as much as they do at OTE.”

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

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report highlights five prospects projected to be part of the 2022 draft class who have generated buzz at the U19 World Cup and other recent events, including Michigan forward Caleb Houstan and G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels.
  • In the first article in a three-part series, David Aldridge of The Athletic ranks the 10 teams that have – in his view – had the worst offseasons in 2021. The Trail Blazers (28th), Kings (29th), and Timberwolves (30th) occupy the bottom three spots on Aldridge’s list.
  • According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter links), teams that finished in the tax in 2020/21 had their taxable salary adjusted downward by 28.9% to account for lost revenue. For instance, the Warriors finished the season about $37MM above the tax line, but were treated like a team over the tax by approximately $26MM — Golden State paid about $69MM in tax penalties, says Pincus.

And-Ones: Draft Picks, Hammon, Luxury Tax, Gortman, Spurs

Executives around the NBA don’t love the idea of having teams forfeit second-round picks as a result of tampering investigations, like the Bucks did a year ago, writes ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link). As Givony explains, the thinking is that late second-rounders don’t have a ton of value to begin with, so taking away those picks hurts would-be draftees as much as it hurts teams.

“Why are we punishing players by reducing the number of picks that are made in the NBA draft?” one executive said to Givony. “Players work their entire careers to get to the point that they can hear their names called on draft night. It’s completely unfair to them to have fewer bestowed that honor because of backroom shenanigans that are entirely out of their control.”

Givony suggests some execs would like to see the NBA find a way to avoid having fewer than 60 picks in future drafts by redistributing any forfeited picks. For instance, a team that wins a midseason tournament could earn an extra second-round pick, or a forfeited pick could be awarded to the team that employs the winner of the league’s new Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Social Justice Champion award.

“How cool would it have been if (inaugural winner) Carmelo Anthony went up to the podium at the 60th pick and announced that the Portland Trail Blazers have drafted someone?” one Eastern Conference executive said to Givony. “That would have been a great moment at Barclays Center, shedding light on the work he’s done, and tying it to the start of a young player’s NBA career, who could maybe follow in his footsteps.”

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

  • Speaking to Doug Feinberg of The Associated Press, Spurs assistant Becky Hammon said she can’t wait for a time when it’s considered normal for NBA teams to interview and hire women for head coaching jobs. Hammon, one of the few women to receive head coaching consideration, added that she wants to be hired for the right reasons. “Please don’t hire me to check a box. That’s the worst thing you can do for me,” she said. “Hire me because of my skill sets and coaching, who am I as a person, hire me for those.”
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link) provides a breakdown of the projected tax penalties for the eight teams currently above the tax line. While some clubs may shed salary over the course of the season to reduce those bills, the current numbers are staggering, especially for the Warriors ($184MM), Nets ($131MM), and Clippers ($125MM).
  • Five-star prospect Jazian Gortman, a guard based in South Carolina whom ESPN ranks fifth in the 2022 recruiting class, has signed with Overtime Elite, the league announced on Wednesday in a press release.
  • RealGM has the details on the draft picks involved in a pair of Spurs trades – with the Pacers (Doug McDermott) and Bulls (DeMar DeRozan) – this week. Most notably, the first-round pick Chicago is sending San Antonio will be top-10 protected in 2025 and top-eight protected in two subsequent years. That pick would be pushed back by a year if the Bulls’ 2023 first-rounder falls within in its top-four protection and isn’t conveyed until 2024.

And-Ones: Smith, Biyombo, Spurs, Hall, Almansa, Trade Market

The Pistons officially renounced their rights to Wayne Ellington, who has signed with the Lakers, and Dennis Smith Jr., according to the RealGM transactions log. The Hornets renounced four players, including Bismack Biyombo, while the Spurs renounced their rights to a whopping 13 players. San Antonio’s list includes Donatas Motiejunas and David Lee, who haven’t appeared in an NBA game for years. Renouncing those rights allows teams to maximize their cap room in free agency.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Donta Hall has signed with France’s Betclic Elite side AS Monaco, Sportando relays. Hall, who turns 24 on Saturday, played 13 games with the Magic this past season on two 10-day contracts and an end-of-the-season deal via the hardship exception. The power forward also played a total of nine games for the Pistons and Nets in 2019/20.
  • Overtime Elite has added another top European prospect. Izan Almansa has signed with the league, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. The 6’9” Almansa, a 16-year old Spanish power forward, is the second player OTE has signed from Real Madrid’s youth program and seventh international prospect.
  • While free agency is winding down, the trade market could continue to percolate in the coming weeks, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes. Ben Simmons and Damian Lillard top the list of stars who could be on the move, while the Raptors and Magic are teams to watch, with the latter possibly taking on an onerous contract in order to acquire future assets.
  • The ESPN duo of Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks also take a look at unresolved storylines this month involving free agency, the trade market and potential extensions.

And-Ones: Jefferson, Somacescu, Musa, FAs By Position

Veteran power forward Amile Jefferson, who appeared in 30 games for the Magic between 2018-20 and was in camp with the Celtics last December, has returned to his alma mater and will be part of the Duke staff going forward. The Blue Devils announced today in a press release that Jefferson has been named the director of player development for the men’s basketball team.

“This is an honor to be back at Duke and I’m so grateful to Coach (Mike) Krzyzewski for considering me for this opportunity,” Jefferson said in a statement. “I’d also like to thank Coach (Jon) Scheyer for his help through the process and look forward to his leadership in the future. Duke has been a part of my story and my life and it’s a privilege to give back to the program and the University that has meant so much. I can’t wait to work with these guys — helping them develop, grow and learn — and be a small part of something bigger than myself.”

In addition to playing in the NBA and the G League since going pro in 2017, Jefferson – who won a title with Duke in ’15 – has spent some time overseas, playing for Turkish team Galatasaray in 2020/21. It’s unclear if the 28-year-old will look to resume his playing career at some point or if he’s prepared to transition to coaching full-time.

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

  • Up-and-coming Romanian-born point guard Tudor Somacescu, who turned 16 in June, became the 12th player to sign with the Overtime Elite league, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN writes. Somacescu is the youngest player to sign with Overtime Elite to date, per Givony.
  • Dzanan Musa, a first-round pick in 2018, has joined Spanish team CB Breogan, according to agent Misko Raznatovic. Musa appeared in 49 across two seasons with Brooklyn before being traded to Detroit last November. The Pistons waived him a month later and he spent most of the 2020/21 season with Anadolu Efes.
  • Point guard looks like the strongest position in this year’s free agent class, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who writes that as many as 10 starting-caliber players could be available on the open market. Based on Hollinger’s system, Dennis Schröder barely cracks the top-10 list of free agent point guards, while Derrick Rose comes in at No. 11.
  • In two more stories for The Athletic, Hollinger also previewed this year’s crop of free agent shooting guards and small forwards. There are no elite shooting guards available, but the class includes several reliable rotation options. At small forward, despite his injury, Kawhi Leonard easily headlines a group that doesn’t include a ton of surefire starters.

Top HS Junior Jalen Lewis Signing With Overtime Elite

High school junior Jalen Lewis, who had been considered one of the top prospects in the recruiting class of 2023, is signing with the new Overtime Elite league, according to reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

Lewis had been receiving interest from Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, and Michigan, among other top college programs, per Givony. However, the 16-year-old will instead become the youngest prospect ever to turn pro in America, according to Charania, who hears from sources that Lewis’ multiyear deal will be worth more than $1MM.

A 6’8″ center and a five-star recruit, Lewis ranked as the No. 2 prospect on ESPN’s big board for the recruiting class of 2023.

“I’d describe Jalen as an absolute difference maker, a rare talent, with a combination of size, athleticism, good hands and ball skills that impact plays on both ends of the court,” Overtime Elite head coach Kevin Ollie said, per Givony. “There are no limitations to what he’ll be able to do in his career and through Overtime Elite, he’ll have the resources in place to help him reach his dreams.”

Overtime Elite, which will begin its first season later this year, is aiming to become a viable option for top high school and international prospects. It has secured commitments from 10 players so far.

And-Ones: Australian Olympic Team, James, Missia-Dio, Spurs

Numerous current NBA players were named to the Australian national team’s final 12-man roster for the Olympics, ESPN’s Olgun Uluc tweets. The team is headlined by Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, Matisse Thybulle, Dante Exum and Josh Green.

Projected lottery pick Josh Giddey is not on the 12-man roster but has been named as one of three replacement players, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. Giddey will travel to Las Vegas for Australia’s exhibition games, Givony adds. He’s currently rated No. 9 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • LeBron James passed on the Olympics this year and it’s unlikely he’ll play for Team USA again, managing director Jerry Colangelo said on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin radio show (video link). “LeBron made choices these last couple of Olympics not to participate because he’s got a lot of things going on in his life,” Colangelo said. “So he put in his time, he made a contribution that is appreciated, but I think his time is over.” James’ last Olympic appearance came during the 2012 London Games.
  • Belgian forward Nathan Missia-Dio became the ninth player to sign with Overtime Elite, according to a league press release. The new development league will begin play in September. Missia-Dio, a 6’6” forward, played two seasons for Espoirs Limoges in France’s Elite U21 League. He is ranked 13th by Eurospects.com among international prospects born in 2004.
  • The Spurs are seeking a new naming-rights sponsor for their arena, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Longtime sponsor AT&T won’t renew its current deal, which expires in the fall of 2022. AT&T has also sold off its 7.23% share of the team. Front Office Sports first reported the news.

And-Ones: Hervey, College Alternatives, Stone, Grant

Forward Kevin Hervey, the Thunder’s second-round pick in 2018, is in advanced talks with Virtus Bologna, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets. Hervey appeared in 10 games with the Thunder during the 2019/20 season. He played for Lokomotiv Kuban in Russia last season.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • The creation of Overtime Elite, the G League’s Ignite and the Professional Collegiate League, along with international options, has expanded the choices of prospects beyond playing college ball. The New York Times’ David Gardner takes a closer look at the impact and complications those additional options are having on teenager basketball standouts.
  • Former NBA forward Diamond Stone has signed with Mets de Guaynabo in the Puerto Rican league, according to Sportando. Stone was selected in the second round of the 2016 draft but only appeared in seven games with the Clippers in his rookie campaign.
  • Former NBA guard Jerian Grant has officially signed a two-year deal with Italy’s Olimpia Milano, according to Sportando. Olimpia Milano’s interest in Grant was previously reported. Grant played in the Greek League this past season after being waived by the Rockets during training camp in December.

French Forward Sarr Joins Overtime Elite

Overtime Elite has signed its first European player, French forward Alexandre Sarr, according to a team press release.

The 16-year-old Sarr played for the Real Madrid franchise last season and is ranked No. 9 by Eurospects.com for international prospects born in 2005. His older brother, Olivier, played at Wake Forest and Kentucky.

The Overtime Elite league serves as an alternative pathway for players to turn pro.

“Alexandre is a skilled and versatile athlete, a natural shot blocker, and a rebounder on both ends of the floor,” said Kevin Ollie, Overtime Elite’s head coach. “We look forward to experiencing rapid development every day once we can work with Alexandre in the gym.”

The 6’10” Sarr is the eighth player to join the new league. Point guard Jean Montero from the Dominican Republic was the first international player to sign with the league. Amen Thompson, Ausar Thompson, Matt Bewle, Ryan Bewley, Emmanuel Maldonado and Jai Smith have also made commitments.

Every player will earn a six-figure salary, with a guaranteed minimum salary of $100K, plus bonuses and shares of equity in Overtime.