Overtime Elite

And-Ones: 2022 Cap Room, Stephenson, G League, More

Only four NBA teams currently project to have significant cap room in the 2022 offseason, writes Danny Leroux of The Athletic. Not only is that number lower than usual, but none of those four teams appear likely to have enough space for a maximum-salary player worth 30% of the cap, Leroux adds.

The Pistons currently project to have the most space, with Blake Griffin‘s dead money coming off their books. According to Leroux, the Magic, Spurs, and Grizzlies join them as the other clubs likely to have at least $15MM in room. Teams like the Wizards and Bulls could have room too, but that would be a worst-case scenario for those clubs, since it would mean losing Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine, respectively, in free agency.

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

  • Veteran NBA swingman Lance Stephenson spoke to Jack Green of Betway about his decision to play in the G League and the role he expects to have with the Grand Rapids Gold, the Nuggets‘ new affiliate. Stephenson, who worked out for several NBA teams during the offseason, hopes to show in the NBAGL that he still has plenty left in the tank. “My body feels amazing,” he said. “I don’t feel like an older guy, I still feel like a young guy. So I think I’ve got a couple more years left.”
  • The original plan for the Mexico City Capitanes was to join the NBA G League for the 2020/21 season. However, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed their debut back by a year, and the team has now been uprooted from its home in Mexico due to pandemic-related travel concerns. Eric Gomez of ESPN takes an in-depth at the new G League franchise and the adjustments it has had to make over the last couple years.
  • Former CAA agent Michael Tellem has joined Excel Sports, the agency announced (via Twitter). Danilo Gallinari, Jakob Poeltl, and Daniel Theis are among the most notable NBA clients for Tellem, whose father is Pistons vice chairman and former agent Arn Tellem.
  • It’s not just NBA scouts and executives who have been impressed so far by the new Overtime Elite league — the program’s level of professionalism and credibility has also made an impact on its players, writes Kyle Tucker of The Athletic. “It’s even more than I thought it would be,” said 2022 draft-eligible forward Kok Yat. “If I didn’t come here, no NBA scouts would know who I am. You want to be seen, so this feels like a huge step.”

And-Ones: M. Gasol, Leunen, B. Ferry, Overtime Elite

After big man Ekpe Udoh suffered a serious knee injury last month, Virtus Bologna head coach Sergio Scariolo reached out to Marc Gasol to gauge his interest in joining the Italian club, Scariolo confirmed this week on Italian Twitch channel Area 52 (video link). As Marc Stein of Substack relays (via Twitter), Scariolo said Gasol turned him down in an “elegant way.”

Scariolo coached Gasol on the Spanish national team and as an assistant in Toronto, so he has an existing relationship with the veteran center. However, Gasol – who was traded to Memphis and then waived in September – appears content to spend time with his family in Spain rather than joining another NBA or EuroLeague team anytime soon. There were rumors last month that Gasol would be playing for Girona, the Spanish club he owns, but that hasn’t come to fruition yet.

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

  • Former Oregon forward Maarty Leunen, who spent the last 13 seasons playing overseas in various European leagues, has announced his retirement, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Leunen was the 54th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft and has had his rights traded four times since then – most recently to the Pacers in 2019 – but never signed an NBA contract.
  • Former Washington Bullets general manager Bob Ferry, who ran the front office from 1973 to 1990, died at age 84 on Wednesday, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. The father of Danny Ferry, Bob Ferry won two Executive of the Year awards and helped Washington win the only title in franchise history in 1978.
  • Jeremy Woo of SI.com shares his impressions of the Overtime Elite’s Pro Day, including his thoughts on the program’s three most notable 2022 draft-eligible players: guard Jean Montero, wing Kok Yat, and forward Dominick Barlow.

And-Ones: USA Basketball, Scariolo, OTE, 2022 Draft

Martin E. Dempsey has been reelected as the USA Basketball chairperson for 2021-24, the program announced on Monday in a press release. Dempsey, a retired U.S. General, was first named to the role in 2016.

USA Basketball also expanded its Board of Directors from 11 individuals to 15. Kevin Durant, Harrison Barnes, Sue Bird, and NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum are among the most notable members of the board. The board of directors is responsible for overseeing the program and making major USA Basketball decisions, such as naming Grant Hill the managing director of the national men’s team.

We’re still waiting on Hill to announce who will replace Gregg Popovich as the Team USA men’s coach for the next four-year cycle, which will include the 2023 FIBA World Cup and the 2024 Olympics. Steve Kerr is rumored to be the frontrunner.

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

  • In an interesting interview with Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com, former Raptors assistant and current Virtus Bologna head coach Sergio Scariolo spoke about the challenges that European coaches face when trying to get high-level opportunities in the NBA. “I don’t recall many European coaches being there, which is something to think over,” Scariolo said. “‘We want you here, we want you to help, but we’re extremely cautious in giving front-of-the-bench responsibilities to European coaches.'”
  • Scouts came away from Overtime Elite’s Pro Day impressed by how the new developmental program is operating, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who says it’s clearly being run professionally and the level of investment is “substantial.” Among OTE’s prospects, 2022 draft-eligible forward Kok Yat was a standout during the Pro Day scrimmages and figures to show up on more experts’ top-100 lists going forward, Hollinger says.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report recently released updated versions of their NBA mock drafts for 2022. Vecenie has Duke freshman Paolo Banchero as his No. 1 pick, while Gonzaga freshman Chet Holmgren is atop Wasserman’s mock.

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.