Amen Thompson

Southwest Notes: Hield, Thompson, Mamukelashvili, Marjanovic

With Buddy Hield reportedly on his way out of Indiana, he could be the outside shooter that the Grizzlies need, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Shams Charania broke the news Wednesday night that the Pacers have agreed to work with Hield’s representatives to find a trade after the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on an extension.

While there should be plenty of interest around the league in Hield, Iko sees him as a great fit in Memphis, considering the need for another wing player and someone outside of Desmond Bane and Ja Morant who can consistently score. Hield also contributes on defense, as Iko notes that Indiana was a plus-2.6 in that category with him on the court last season.

The Grizzlies lost Dillon Brooks to free agency this summer, and there’s not an obvious replacement currently on the roster. Iko adds that Ziaire Williams could have been in line for that role, but he was a huge disappointment in his second NBA season, shooting just 25.8% from three-point range and posting a 15% turnover rate.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Amen Thompson suffered an ankle injury in his first Summer League game, but he’s fully recovered and will be ready when the Rockets open training camp, Iko states in the same piece. The No. 4 overall pick is working with lead assistant Ben Sullivan to improve his jump shot and will focus in camp on how to break down NBA defenses. Thompson was at full speed during a recent scrimmage at the team facility, according to Iko.
  • Sandro Mamukelashvili is looking forward to his first full season with the Spurs after seeing limited playing time with the Bucks to start his NBA career, per Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio claimed Mamukelashvili off waivers in early March and he averaged 23.3 minutes per night in 19 games. “It was hard with Milwaukee to find my spot and to gel,” Mamukelashvili said. “We had a lot of older guys who took me under their wing like a little brother, but here (in San Antonio) everything is more my age. We’re all in the same situation.”
  • Boban Marjanovic‘s new $2.89MM (minimum-salary) contract with the Rockets includes a $1.3MM guarantee, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Marjanovic also waived his right to veto a trade this season, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Overtime Elite Building Off Success Of Thompson Twins

The success of the Thompson twins has brought a lot of exposure to Overtime Elite, commissioner Damien Wilkins tells Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

Amen Thompson, who was selected fourth in this year’s draft by the Rockets, and Ausar Thompson, who went fifth to the Pistons, were looking for an alternative route to the NBA when they joined the new league two years ago. Wilkins says the twins were “great for business” and generated increased interest in the league, but he doesn’t promise all his prospects that playing for Overtime Elite will get them drafted.

“A lot of what we do here is showing them and being honest with them and not just validating what they think they are but actually being honest with them,” he said. ” We don’t promise them a pro path. What we promise is we are going to help them be better every single day. If you lean into the program that we’re giving you, you’re going to leave here a successful person. Now what that looks like now for you, it may not involve professional basketball.”

Based in Atlanta, the league provides another option for players to develop their skills apart from college basketball. They have access to top-notch training facilities to work on their games, along with academic help.

Wilkins, who had a long pro career after going undrafted in 2004, played two years at North Carolina State and two more at Georgia. He considers the environment for young athletes to be much better than it was 20 years ago.

“The biggest difference is just options. We were limited when I was coming up. We didn’t have anything like this,” Wilkins said. “We certainly didn’t have NIL. We didn’t even have social media. It was one thing and no matter how good we were or how hard we played, we weren’t profiting off of that at all. We might get a couple of pairs of shoes here and there but for the most part, anything more than that was an extra benefit that could take away your eligibility, now you see guys driving cars that people dreamed of having, going places, making tons of money in this space legally, appearing on platforms that just weren’t around or didn’t exist.”

Since the draft, Wilkins has heard from a lot more parents who want to explore what Overtime Elite can offer their sons. He calls it a “gift and a curse,” noting that there are few prospects with the natural talent of Amen and Ausar. Expectations will continue to rise with an upcoming Amazon documentary on the Thompsons and how they developed through the OTE program.

Wilkins has also heard the doubters who wonder how much Overtime Elite really helped the Thompson twins, so he and his staff are “super competitive” about proving they can produce more high-level prospects.

“We had to lace up our boots after the draft,” Wilkins said. “Can we do this again? Do we have enough (players) in the (program) to keep people coming back to us? We believe now that we do and we believe we can. Twelve pros in two years, that’s not bad so far. We understand we have a lot of work to do ahead of us, but I love where we’re trending.”

And-Ones: D. Rivers, M. Jackson, Bahamas, Shooting Tech, Contracts

After letting go of Jeff Van Gundy last month, ESPN/ABC has also laid off fellow analyst Mark Jackson, sources tell Andrew Marchand of The New York Post. Jackson confirmed the news in an interview with Peter Vecsey, Marchand adds (via Twitter).

As Marchand writes, the new top NBA broadcast team at ESPN/ABC will be comprised of longtime play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, former Sixers head coach Doc Rivers, and Doris Burke, who is being promoted. The hiring of Rivers and promotion of Burke aren’t yet official, but they are “quickly moving in that direction,” according to Marchand.

Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald confirms Marchand’s reporting (via Twitter).

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The SunsDeandre Ayton and Eric Gordon, Pacers wing Buddy Hield, and Hornets big man Kai Jones are on the 2024 Olympic qualifying roster for the Bahamas, per Marc J. Spears of Andscape. The Bahamian national team will play its qualifying games in Argentina from August 14-20. “I’m excited to be back playing for Team Bahamas and to see how much the program has grown,” Ayton told Spears. “Can’t wait to play with my guys. It’s truly a special experience to compete with teammates – who are from where you’re from – with Bahamas on your chest.”
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPN details how Breakaway Data — a startup focused on the biomechanics of shooting — has partnered with Overtime Elite and Las Vegas Summer League to provide detailed breakdowns of each player’s shot. “I thought it was very informative,” Overtime Elite product Amen Thompson, drafted fourth overall by the Rockets, told ESPN. “Not everything works for everybody, but that [data] can’t really be a bad thing. It can only help to get as much information as possible. I felt like that’s what it gave us.”
  • Which players have inked the most lucrative contracts in NBA history? Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype provides the list. Jaylen Brown‘s new super-max extension with the Celtics is the current largest deal ever, Gozlan notes.

Rockets Notes: VanVleet, Free Agency, Brooks, Thompson

Fred VanVleet was one of the biggest winners in free agency, landing a max contract to join the Rockets as their new on-court leader, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. The veteran point guard said Houston officials have assured him that he won’t have to change anything about his game.

“They don’t want me to be anybody but myself,” VanVleet said. “And I know people are crazy about the number, but the league is growing every year and that number won’t be that number in a few years. So I know it’s a shock factor with the narrative that I have around me as an undrafted guy, but I’m going to work every day to make sure I prove every penny.”

VanVleet worked out this week with his new backcourt partner, Jalen Green, and he’s in Las Vegas to watch more of his young teammates in Summer League action. He’s looking forward to a fresh start after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Raptors.

“I owed my whole NBA career to them, but I think it was just time for a change of scenery,” VanVleet said. “I’m just really excited about being with a new group and trying to lead these guys the best I can.”

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • General manager Rafael Stone was looking for players with “an edge” when he went shopping with more than $60MM in cap space, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston was among the NBA’s worst defensive teams during its three years of rebuilding, so Stone was determined to find players who are willing to compete on that end of the court. In addition to VanVleet, he landed Jeff Green, Jock Landale and Aaron Holiday in free agency, along with Dillon Brooks in a five-team sign-and-trade deal that was finalized Saturday night. “First, they’re really good basketball players who have won a lot of games and not by accident,” Stone said. “We really wanted to add veteran players who still fit our timeline and knew how to win. And we think we accomplished that.”
  • In an interview with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Brooks said he’s looking forward to bringing his influence to a young team that needs to learn how to win. “I can’t wait to work with Tari (Eason),” Brooks said. “I feel like he can be a great player in this NBA — especially a great defender — and grow his game, his athleticism and everything.”
  • Amen Thompson‘s Summer League debut provided more evidence that the Rockets made the right pick at No. 4, Iko adds in a separate story. Before leaving with an ankle injury, the 6’7″ point guard produced 16 points, four rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals in 28 minutes and showed he knows how to attack a defense that’s daring him to shoot from the outside.

Rockets’ Amen Thompson Sprains Ankle In Debut

JULY 8, 2:46pm: An MRI on Thompson’s ankle revealed that he has a Grade 2 sprain and will be sidelined for three or four weeks, per Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link). While we won’t see Thompson again in Summer League, there’s no reason to think he won’t be ready for training camp in September.

JULY 8, 5:39am: Although Thompson’s injury isn’t viewed as serious, he’ll undergo an MRI on Saturday and is very likely to be held out of action for the rest of Summer League, per Kelly Iko and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

JULY 7: Scoot Henderson wasn’t the only top pick injured in his NBA Summer League debut. Unfortunately, Rockets guard Amen Thompson, who was selected directly after Henderson at fourth overall, appeared to suffer a lower left leg injury late in the same game (Twitter video link via ESPN).

Thompson was clearly in a lot of pain, but he was eventually able to gingerly walk off the court with assistance, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

A source tells ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that Thompson suffered a sprained ankle that isn’t considered serious (Twitter links). The 20-year-old said the team’s staff will determine whether or not he plays again in Summer League.

It’s pretty sore,” Thompson said, per MacMahon.

Thompson showed flashes of tantalizing upside in his marquee matchup with Henderson, finishing with 16 points (on 6-of-13 shooting), five assists, four rebounds, four blocks and three steals in 28 minutes against the Trail Blazers. The Rockets wound up winning the game on a Jabari Smith buzzer-beater.

Rockets Sign Amen Thompson, Cam Whitmore

Former Overtime Elite guard Amen Thompson and Villanova forward Cam Whitmore have officially signed their rookie scale contracts with the Rockets, per’s official transactions log.

Known as a top-tier athlete, Thompson averaged 16.4 points, 5.9 assists, 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals on .566/.250/.656 shooting last season for the City Reapers, who won the Overtime Elite championship. He was the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, one spot ahead of his twin brother Ausar Thompson.

Whitmore was viewed as a potential top-five pick early in the pre-draft process, but his stock was said to be falling in the days leading up to June 22, as rumors of medical concerns and poor workouts circulated. He ultimately slipped all the way to Houston at No. 20 after a freshman year in which he averaged 12.5 PPG and 5.3 RPG and earned Big East Rookie of the Year honors.

As our chart of rookie scale salaries for 2023 first-rounders shows, Thompson should have a cap hit around $8.8MM this season, while Whitmore’s figures to be $3.2MM. They’ll earn up to $40MM and $15.6MM, respectively, over the course of their four-year rookie deals.

We’re tracking all of this year’s draft pick signings right here.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Rockets Notes: Free Agency, Green, Lopez, Whitmore, Tate

The Rockets were the most active team on the free agent market this weekend — signing four players and jettisoning a significant amount of their young talent — but their future will still be built around the core they put together in the last three drafts, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

The big-money additions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks, along with smaller deals for Jock Landale and Jeff Green, are designed to complement Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith and Amen Thompson, according to Feigen. Kevin Porter Jr. should also be considered part of that group, Feigen adds, as he remains in the team’s long-term plans along with Tari Eason and Cam Whitmore.

All the new additions will have clear roles alongside those players, Feigen notes. VanVleet will run the offense for a team that often seemed disorganized during its three years of rebuilding. He also improves the defense with his ability to get steals and deflections and has shown that he can be effective while playing off the ball. Brooks will be the team’s best perimeter defender, while Landale and Green will back up Sengun and Smith.

There’s more from Houston:

  • Green’s new $6MM contract is small enough to be absorbed with the team’s $7.7MM room exception before the Brooks trade is completed, Feigen adds. However, he says the more likely scenario is that the team will keep the exception open and use it, along with roughly $4.5MM in remaining cap space, to see if it can sign anyone else.
  • The Rockets are surveying the market to find guard depth with the money they have left, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Iko states that a veteran who can handle either backcourt position would be ideal for the current roster.
  • Iko cites “genuine internal disappointment” among Rockets officials when center Brook Lopez opted to remain in Milwaukee instead of taking their offer, which was reported to be around $40MM for two years. Having Landale and Green on the roster instead of Lopez makes Sengun the clear starting center and should help with his development, Iko notes.
  • The roster additions mean the Rockets can afford to be patient with rookie Cam Whitmore, with Iko suggesting that the 20th overall pick could see some time in the G League.
  • Teams have asked about swingman Jae’Sean Tate during the offseason, but the Rockets still appear to view him as an important part of their future, Iko tweets.

Rockets Rumors: Free Agents, Martin, Clarkson, Capela

Rockets officials hope to meet with several of their top targets in Los Angeles when free agency begins in a few hours, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Sources tell Iko that Houston has already set up meetings with Dillon Brooks and Brook Lopez and will try to arrange sessions with Fred VanVleet, Kyrie Irving, Bruce Brown, Dwight PowellJakob Poeltl and possibly Kyle Kuzma.

Brown is of particular interest because the Rockets would be willing to go above the $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign him, according to Iko’s sources. Head coach Ime Udoka was an assistant in Brooklyn when Brown played there and they have maintained a good relationship, Iko adds.

With more than $60MM in cap space, Houston officials are confident about signing their main targets, according to Iko, although some may prefer teams with more recent success. He confirms that the Rockets are hoping to avoid long-term contracts and will compensate by offering players more money up front than they’re likely to get elsewhere. Shooting, defense and rim protection will be the main focus, Iko states.

There’s more on the Rockets, all courtesy of Iko:

  • Houston is hoping to land a veteran point guard in free agency, but there’s a back-up plan if they can’t sign VanVleet, Irving or someone of that stature. Sources tell Iko that the Rockets would pursue someone like Brown, a strong perimeter defender who can handle the ball, and give Jalen Green and first-round pick Amen Thompson a greater share of the playmaking duties.
  • Iko hears that a Kenyon Martin Jr. trade is increasingly likely, as talks with other teams have increased throughout the week. Martin may not have a place on the revamped roster, and the team could add cap room by unloading his $1.93MM contract for next season.
  • Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson and Hawks center Clint Capela are two names to watch if the Rockets opt to use their cap space through trades rather than free agency. Iko notes that Utah executive Danny Ainge is reported to have interest in acquiring Martin and suggests that Houston might be willing to include second-year point guard TyTy Washington and maybe a second-round pick in a potential deal. Iko points out that Clarkson is eligible for an extension after picking up his $14.26MM option for next season and says the Rockets may offer something along the lines of $32MM over two years. Iko adds that Capela could be available straight up for Martin as Atlanta tries to shed salary.

Rockets Notes: Lopez, Whitmore, Draft Night, Splitter, Thompson

The Rockets are a “real threat” to the Bucks to sign veteran center Brook Lopez, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (hat tip to

Lopez is entering unrestricted free agency, as his four-year, $52MM contract expired after the season. Lopez, 35, remains one of the top players at his position. He started 78 games this past season and averaged 15.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG and a career-best 2.5 BPG. He also made 37.4% of his 3-point attempts.

Houston’s interest in Lopez has previously been noted. The Rockets have a 20-year-old center in Alperen Sengun, a 2021 first-rounder, but Lopez could also serve as a mentor to Houston’s youthful frontcourt bigs while stabilizing its defense and stretching the floor offensively.

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Villanova forward Cam Whitmore says he’s baffled by reports that he has a medical issue that contributed to his surprising slide in the first round, ESPN News Services relays. Projected to go as high as No. 4 in the draft, he dropped into Houston’s laps at the No. 20 slot. “I promise you there’s not (a medical problem),” he said. “I have no idea. I don’t know what happened. But I feel fine. It’s my body. If they think it’s something different, they have their own opinions. But at the end of the day, it’s my body.”
  • GM Rafael Stone tried in vain to trade up from the No. 20 spot and were stunned was Whitmore was still available, according to Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle. “We always intended to try and trade up in this draft,” Stone said. “But we also talked about, if that wasn’t successful, trading out if we didn’t like somebody at the pick. And we were talking to a number of teams about what that would look like, and some of those potential transactions were very attractive. But again, not nearly as attractive as picking Cam, which is what we did.” The Rockets reportedly made trade inquiries with the Lakers (No. 17), Heat (No. 18), and Warriors (No. 19). Stone added the medical staff had evaluated Whitmore and there were no concerns about his health.
  • The Rockets are close to adding Tiago Splitter to Ime Udoka’s staff, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets. Splitter worked with Udoka on the Nets’ staff before Udoka was hired as the Celtics’ head coach.
  • Lottery pick Amen Thompson came away from his pre-draft workout with the Rockets convinced that the franchise was ready to exit from the rebuilding stage, he told Iko. “Just that they were looking for a change,” Thompson said of last week’s visit. “They were looking to turn the franchise around and get some wins. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Draft/Trade Rumors: Am. Thompson, Blazers, Beal, Brogdon, More

Many view the 2023 NBA draft as having a “big three” of Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller, but league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that Amen Thompson, who is ranked No. 4 on ESPN’s big board, is expected to receive consideration from the Trail Blazers at No. 3 if Henderson goes No. 2 to Charlotte.

Still, O’Connor has Portland selecting Miller in his latest mock draft, with Thompson heading to Houston at No. 4. As O’Connor writes, Thompson could make sense for the Blazers if they decide to trade Damian Lillard, but there’s been no indication that’s in the plans as of yet.

Here are a few more draft and trade-related rumors:

  • Multiple sources tell O’Connor that the Raptors registered interest in Bradley Beal while he was still with the Wizards, but the three-time All-Star preferred to go to the Suns. O’Connor doesn’t specify what Toronto may have offered for Beal or if the talks advanced at all.
  • According to Adam Himmselsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link), the Clippers decided to pull out of their three-team trade talks with the Celtics and Wizards because they didn’t have time to complete a physical on Malcolm Brogdon. The three sides were facing time constraints, as Kristaps Porzingis had a midnight ET deadline to pick up his $36MM player option as part of the trade (he wound up being sent to Boston anyway in a separate deal). Brogdon reportedly suffered a torn tendon in his right elbow during the Eastern Conference Finals and recently said he hoped to avoid surgery. Sources tell Himmelsbach that even if the 30-year-old does need surgery, there’s a belief that he’d be ready to go by the start of 2023/24.
  • In addition to the Raptors and Mavericks, the Hawks have also discussed trades with the Celtics, reports O’Connor. It’s unclear which players or draft picks may have been discussed. For what it’s worth, there’s a “strong belief” around the league that the Celtics aren’t done making moves, writes Steve Bulpett of
  • O’Connor hears that Chris Livingston, who opted out of his remaining pre-draft workouts a couple weeks ago, impressed teams with his shooting ability prior to making that decision. O’Connor has the Kentucky wing going No. 43 to Portland.
  • Jordan Hawkins is a name worth monitoring for Lakers fans, according to Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link), who reports that Hawkins met with the team. The UConn wing is considered one of the best shooters in the draft and is currently No. 16 on ESPN’s board, while the Lakers control the Nos. 17 and 40 picks.