C.J. Watson

18 Former NBA Players Charged For Allegedly Defrauding League’s Benefit Plan

Eighteen former NBA players face charges in New York federal court over allegations that they defrauded the NBA’s health and welfare benefit plan, according to a report from Jonathan Dienst and Tom Winter of NBC. The players each face a count of conspiracy to commit health care and wire fraud.

As Dienst and Winter outline, the indictment alleges that these players engaged in a scheme from 2017-20 to defraud the NBA’s benefit plan by submitting false claims for dental and medical expenses that were never incurred. According to the indictment, the fraudulent claims totaled about $3.9MM, and the defendants received approximately $2.5MM in proceeds.

While none of the players who have been charged were household names, many won titles and/or had long NBA careers, and most will likely be recognizable to Hoops Rumors readers. They are as follows:

  1. Tony Allen
  2. Alan Anderson
  3. Shannon Brown
  4. Will Bynum
  5. Glen Davis
  6. Chris Douglas-Roberts
  7. Melvin Ely
  8. Darius Miles
  9. Jamario Moon
  10. Milt Palacio
  11. Ruben Patterson
  12. Eddie Robinson
  13. Greg Smith
  14. Sebastian Telfair
  15. C.J. Watson
  16. Terrence Williams
  17. Antoine Wright
  18. Tony Wroten

Williams was named in the indictment as the one who orchestrated the scheme, according to Dienst and Winter, who say the former lottery pick is accused of having recruited other participants by offering them fake invoices. He allegedly received payments totaling $230K in exchange for those fake documents, per NBC’s report.

Allen’s wife, Desiree Allen, was also charged in the indictment. As John Hollinger of The Athletic tweets, the Grizzlies had been planning to retire Allen’s number in January — they may decide to postpone their ceremony honoring the six-time All-Defensive swingman.

Greg Oden, Royce White, Others Selected In BIG3 Draft

The BIG3, Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league, completed its draft for the 2019 season on Wednesday night, and a number of noteworthy former NBA players were among the players selected.

Former NBA first overall pick Greg Oden wasn’t the first player picked in the BIG3 draft, but he did come off the board in the first round, going seventh overall to the Aliens, a team whose roster also includes Kendrick Perkins and Shannon Brown.

The No. 1 selection in the BIG3’s draft was former NBA first-rounder Royce White, whose NBA career was cut short after just three games due to battles with mental health and a fear of flying. White will join an Enemies squad led by captain Gilbert Arenas and co-captains Lamar Odom and Perry Jones III.

The following veterans who appeared in at least 100 games during their NBA careers were also selected in the 31-player draft on Wednesday:

  1. Larry Sanders (3 Headed Monsters)
  2. Josh Powell (Killer 3s)
  3. Shawne Williams (Bivouac)
  4. Jamario Moon (Ghost Ballers)
  5. Donte Greene (Killer 3s)
  6. Jason Richardson (Tri-State)
  7. Alan Anderson (Triplets)
  8. Sam Young (Trilogy)
  9. Brandon Rush (Aliens)
  10. Craig Smith (Enemies)
  11. Mario Chalmers (3 Headed Monsters)
  12. C.J. Watson (Killer 3s)
  13. Carlos Arroyo (Trilogy)
  14. Dion Glover (Bivouac)
  15. Bonzi Wells (Tri-State)

A full breakdown of the 2019 BIG3 draft results can be found right here, while the rosters for the 12 teams set to compete in the ’19 season are here.

Lamar Odom, More Former NBA Players Join BIG3

Longtime NBA forward Lamar Odom, who spent 14 seasons with the Clippers, Lakers, Heat, and Mavericks, has become the latest addition to the BIG3 player pool, the league announced on Thursday (via Twitter).

Odom hasn’t played in the NBA since 2012/13, when he wrapped up his career with the Clippers. He signed with a team in Spain in 2014, but lasted just two games before returning home with a back injury. The former NBA champion has battled addiction issues and survived a drug overdose several years ago, but is healthy now and indicated back in the fall that he intended to join Ice Cube’s three-on-three league.

Odom is one of a handful of former NBA players who have joined the BIG3 within the last week, as the league has slowly been revealing the new additions to its player pool for the upcoming 2019 season. Besides Odom, the following players are poised to play in the BIG3 for the first time this year:

White is a former first-round pick while the other four veterans all played in the NBA for at least seven seasons. Watson suited up for an NBA squad most recently, appearing in 62 games for Orlando in 2016/17.

As we previously relayed, the BIG3 is adding four new teams for the 2019 season and expanding its schedule. In 2018, a team featuring longtime NBA players Corey Maggette, Glen Davis, Cuttino Mobley, and Quentin Richardson – and coached by Hall-of-Famer Nancy Lieberman – won the league’s title.

C.J. Watson Signs In Turkey

Decade-long NBA veteran C.J. Watson has signed a deal overseas to join Usak Sportif, a low-seeded team in the Turkish Super League, basketball journalist David Pick tweets.

Watson, 33, last appeared in the NBA with the Magic during the 2016/17 campaign. He averaged 4.5 PPG and 1.8 APG in 62 games for Orlando and was waived in the offseason.

Watson’s NBA career includes stints with the Warriors, Bulls, Nets, Pacers, and Magic. He was the backup to Derrick Rose and filled in for the former MVP after he suffered a torn ACL in the 2012 playoffs.

In 600 career NBA games, the point guard sports averages of 7.2 PPG and 2.5 APG.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Durant, Abrines, Leonard

Having missed out on free agent forward Dante Cunningham, the Timberwolves remain on the lookout for a couple more veterans to fill out their roster, and Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News suggests (via Twitter) that it’s worth keeping an eye on Aaron Brooks. While Minnesota wants to sign a wing player, the team also continue to seek a backup point guard, and Tom Thibodeau has a history with Brooks, a former Bull.

Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune also identifies Brooks as a potential target for the Timberwolves, suggesting that C.J. Watson and Kirk Hinrich – another player with a Thibodeau connection – may be options as well. As for possible fits at the forward spot, Zgoda indicates that Gerald Green and Thomas Robinson are among the veteran free agents who could be in play for Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Appearing at a tech conference in San Francisco this week, Kevin Durant expressed remorse for the tweets sent from his Twitter account earlier this week, calling them “idiotic” and “childish,” as Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group details. The messages, in which Durant was critical of his former Thunder teammates and head coach Billy Donovan, drew a response from Enes Kanter. According to Andrew Joseph of USA Today, Kanter said he wasn’t mad about the tweets, but said it was “really sad” to see Durant express those views about an organization that “gave everything to him.”
  • After injuring his knee this summer, Alex Abrines is pain-free and feels like he can do “everything” on the court, but he’s still waiting to receive full clearance from the Thunder, as Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman details.
  • After signing a lucrative new four-year deal with the Trail Blazers last summer, Meyers Leonard had a disappointing 2016/17 season, but there’s reason to believe better things are in store for Leonard going forward, writes Jason Quick of CSNNW.com.

Magic Waive C.J. Watson

The Magic have waived C.J. Watson, the team confirmed today (Twitter link). Watson will become an unrestricted free agent later this week, assuming he clears waivers.

Per Basketball Insiders’ salary pages, Watson was set to earn $5MM in 2017/18, but only $1MM of that figure was guaranteed. The Magic would have been on the hook for the remaining $4MM if they’d kept the veteran point guard on their roster beyond today, but by cutting him, the team will only have to pay that $1MM — that amount could be stretched across three seasons, if the Magic so choose.

Watson, who has spent the last two seasons in Orlando, has seen his numbers drop off significantly since joining the franchise. In 95 total games with the Magic, the 33-year-old has recorded 4.5 PPG and 2.1 APG with a shooting line of .371/.301/.867. Prior to his time in Orlando, Watson was a .425/.383/.806 shooter for his career.

While Orlando didn’t announce the move until today, the writing was on the wall for Watson’s release when the team agreed to sign Shelvin Mack earlier in the free agent period.

The Magic currently have about $90.7MM in team salary on their books, which doesn’t account for cap holds and exceptions. If they’re operating as an under-the-cap team, the Magic would have about $8MM in space remaining.

Kyler’s Latest: Cavs, Sixers, Lopez, Kings, Magic

The Cavaliers have been “aggressively” exploring ways to clear the contract of Chris Andersen from their books, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Andersen, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, is on a minimum salary deal, but moving him would allow Cleveland to open up a roster spot and create additional savings on the team’s projected tax bill.

Although the Cavaliers have been mentioned in some intriguing trade rumors involving star players like Carmelo Anthony, Cleveland is more focused on bolstering its bench. According to Kyler, the Cavs are prioritizing adding a point guard and a big man for depth purposes.

Here are a few more items of interest from around the NBA, via Kyler’s report:

  • On Monday night, several reports indicated that the Sixers and Pelicans were discussing a possible swap of Jahlil Okafor for Alexis Ajinca and a 2018 first-round pick. However, a source tells Kyler that Philadelphia may not be on board with that specific framework, preferring to put Jrue Holiday in the deal rather than the future first-rounder. The two teams continue to talk, but both sides are exploring other options as well, writes Kyler.
  • We’ve heard in the past that the Nets are seeking two first-round picks in any Brook Lopez deal. Kyler says that the team is specifically seeking a lottery pick in 2017, plus an additional future first-rounder. It seems unlikely that any team will meet that asking price, but Brooklyn appears content to wait until at least the offseason to get serious about moving Lopez.
  • There’s a “growing sense” that the Kings might move Darren Collison, as well as Kosta Koufos, by the trade deadline, per Kyler.
  • Kyler identifies Nikola Vucevic, Serge Ibaka, Jeff Green, and C.J. Watson as Magic players that may be on the move this month, though he notes that Orlando’s asking prices remain high. Kyler’s sources suggest that Toronto would be a favorable long-term situation for Ibaka, but there’s no indication that the big man would be willing to sign with the Raptors long-term, or that the Raps would give up “meaningful assets” for Ibaka.

Magic Are Ready To Trade For Scorers

Ranked 29th in points per possession, the Magic will turn to the trade market for help on offense, reports Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel.

Robbins cites a league source with knowledge of the situation, but it’s obvious to anyone who has watched the Magic that they need to find some scoring. The offseason trade for Serge Ibaka and the signing of Bismack Biyombo have helped Orlando build the NBA’s third best defense in points per possession, but a lack of offense has limited the Magic in a 9-12 start.

Robbins isn’t sure who Orlando’s front office might want to part with, but he lists four players with expiring contracts, which are usually attractive to teams hoping to cut salary. They are Ibaka, Jeff Green, Jodie Meeks and C.J. Wilcox. In addition, C.J. Watson has just a $1MM guarantee on his 2017/18 contract.

The unofficial start of the trading season is December 15th, when most of the offseason free agent signees are eligible to be dealt.

Southeast Notes: Katz, Smart, White, Watson

Heat minority share owner Ranaan Katz refuted a report made earlier today by international journalist David Pick in which it was relayed that Katz indicated that LeBron James tried and failed to oust coach Erik Spoelstra when they were together in Miami, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald reports (Twitter links). According to Jackson, Katz maintains that he has no information relating to James attempting to have Spoelstra removed from his position. “That was my opinion. I am very careful with what I say,” Katz told Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “I have no knowledge of what happened. The only thing I said to the reporter was, ‘It’s up to you to figure it out yourself.’

Blatt‘s camp reportedly believes that James was the sole catalyst for the Cavs coaching change, and the belief is much more than simply a fringe theory among people around the league, according to TNT’s David Aldridge. Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Heat assistant coach Keith Smart will be taking a second leave of absence from the team for another round of treatment for skin cancer, Ethan J. Skolnick of The Miami Herald relays. Miami did not set a definitive date for Smart’s return, though his absence is likely to be measured in weeks, not days, Skolnick adds.
  • The Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv recently tried to acquire Wizards 2015 second round draft pick Aaron White, but the buyout attempt was declined by his German club, Telekom Baskets Bonn, J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes. White, the No. 49 overall pick last June, went to Europe to develop because he considered it a better option than the D-League, Michael notes.
  • Magic point guard C.J. Watson, who has missed 35 consecutive games with a calf injury, is nearing a return to basketball related activities, Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel relays. “It’s like night and day,” Watson said regarding his calf. “So, hopefully, pretty soon I’ll get to start practicing, do some conditioning and running on the court. But right now I’m [doing] just a little spot shooting, just taking it one day at a time and just seeing how I feel the next day.” Orlando inked Watson to a three-year, $15MM deal this past offseason.

Eastern Notes: Oubre, Watson, Sloan, Johnson

Kelly Oubre is off to a rough start in his first preseason action, but despite their status as an upper-tier Eastern Conference team, the Wizards view this year’s No. 15 overall pick as a long-term project, writes Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post.

“He’s a young kid, a rookie, first time out, and he’s learning,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “And I love his attitude. He hasn’t put his head down. He hasn’t, I’m sure, got off to the start that he would want to get off, in terms of numbers and how he’s playing. But he’s out there fighting. He hasn’t put his head down or anything like that so that’s a good thing. And he’s in here every day. He’ll be in here tomorrow ready to get better.”

See more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Magic had tried multiple times years ago to try to acquire C.J. Watson, and while new coach Scott Skiles wasn’t around for those attempts, recommendations from two of his assistants have him excited about the backup point guard who signed with Orlando this summer, as John Denton of Magic.com chronicles. “We just felt like his ability to shoot the three and play behind Elfrid [Payton] would be good for us because he’s always been a solid, heady player,’’ Skiles said. “A couple of our coaches – Adrian Griffin has had him before and Mario Elie has been around him and they swore by the kind of person that he was. We were able to go and get him and we’re glad to have him.’’
  • Judging by their relative performances and playing time so far, Donald Sloan appears to have the edge on Ryan Boatright for the third point guard job on the Nets, observes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. Sloan’s partial guarantee is $50K and Boatright’s is $75K.
  • Four of the five rookies among those Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders singles out as the most impressive so far in the preseason hail from the Eastern Conference, including Stanley Johnson of the Pistons, who leads all rookies in preseason scoring even though he was a surprise pick at No. 8 overall.