Carlik Jones

World Cup Notes: F. Wagner, Schröder, Top Players, Banchi

Germany’s Franz Wagner was thrilled not only to win a gold medal at the World Cup, but to be able to accomplish the feat while playing alongside his brother, writes Cesare Milanti of EuroHoops. Franz and Moritz Wagner are also teammates on the Magic, but their undefeated run through the World Cup field is the highlight of their careers.

“It’s special,” Franz Wagner said after Sunday’s win over Serbia. “Special to have our parents here too. This is so surreal, it doesn’t make sense that we are both on this team and we can enjoy it.”

Wagner appears to be fully recovered from a sprained ankle he suffered in Germany’s opening game. Although he missed the rest of pool play, he was back for the knockout round, scoring 22 points and grabbing five rebounds in a semifinal win over Team USA, then posting 19 points and seven rebounds in the gold medal contest.

“There were so many moments this year in so many games that the other team made a run, this game, the game before against the States,” he added. “We never let it slip, we just kept playing and kept staying together. That made a huge difference in all these games.”

There’s more from the World Cup:

  • Tournament MVP Dennis Schröder hopes Germany’s success will lead to more exposure for basketball in his home country, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. The German team has become more successful in international competitions, but the games aren’t widely available to the public. “We first thought the tournament was going to be on the TV. Only the final was on the TV,” Schröder said. “Basketball is a great sport and I hope we can get our respect for what we are doing the last two years. I wish that every single game is on TV. Ten years ago when I started, we had Dirk Nowitzki but nobody knew who were the other guys on the team. Now we go to Japan and the Philippines and they know us. We hope to get this respect also in our country and get recognized.”
  • Schröder was a first-team selection by Brian Windhorst of ESPN on his list of the best players at the World Cup. Joining him on the first team are Team USA’s Anthony Edwards, Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Slovenina’s Luka Doncic and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic. Making up Windhorst’s second team are the USA’s Mikal Bridges, Australia’s Josh Giddey, South Sudan’s Carlik Jones, Serbia’s Nikola Milutinov and the Dominican Republic’s Karl-Anthony Towns.
  • Luca Banchi was honored as the tournament’s best coach after leading Latvia to a fifth-place finish in its first-ever World Cup.

Bulls’ Carlik Jones Leads South Sudan To First-Ever Olympic Berth

South Sudan’s national team is once again making history. After qualifying for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the first World Cup berth in the team’s history, South Sudan will also represent Africa in the upcoming Olympics for the first time ever following a 101-78 victory over Angola on Saturday.

Per a release from the Olympics website, the 23-point victory meant South Sudan’s direct competition for an automatic Olympic spot, Egypt, needed to defeat New Zealand by 23 or more points. Egypt, however, fell 88-86 and thus, South Sudan is on to the Olympics.

It’s a massive victory for the world’s youngest country (2011) — the country’s basketball federation has been around for less than a decade, according to the Olympics release. As NBC Sports notes, South Sudan entered the World Cup ranked 62nd in the world but still managed to qualify for the 12-team Olympic tournament in Paris next year. With the win, South Sudan became the lowest-ranked team to qualify for an Olympic men’s tournament since 2004, per NBC.

The Bright Stars, South Sudan’s team name, were the lone African team (of five) to win three of five games.

Bulls guard Carlik Jones concluded a stellar World Cup run in Saturday’s victory, lighting up the stat sheet with 26 points and a record-tying 15 assists. Jones, the 2022/23 G League Player of the Year, averaged 20.4 points and 10.4 assists in five games and, according to the official FIBA World Cup Twitter (link), he’s the first player to register 10 or more assists in three separate games in a single tournament.

On Thursday, the 6’1″ guard was one rebound shy of the first triple-double in FIBA World Cup history in a win over the Philippines. Jones is under contract through 2025 with the Bulls, though both seasons of his contract are fully non-guaranteed.

Even though Jones is the only active NBA player on the roster, South Sudan has a bevy of connections to the league, starting with the president of the country’s basketball federation, 15-year NBA veteran Luol Deng.

When Deng took over in 2019, the Bright Stars were in a much different place.

Three years ago, when Luol Deng took over, became the president of the South Sudan basketball federation, we were starting in Nairobi, literally playing on concrete floor,” team captain Kuany Kuany said to NBC Sports. “I never thought that we would be here.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently detailed South Sudan’s ascent, detailing how Deng personally funded the program and sought after players who had South Sudanese heritage. Deng’s own family fled South Sudan for Britain when he was a child, per Windhorst, and all these years later, the team is led by refugees and the children of refugees from a country that was subject to a series of civil wars.

It’s an unbelievable story. It’s an underdog story that not just for the South Sudanese, not just for Africa, but for the rest of the world,” Deng said, according to Windhorst. “It’s a feel good story that [a] majority of people can relate to. It’s such a unique achievement because it’s beyond basketball.

Deng tapped former NBA guard and current Rockets assistant Royal Ivey as head coach, and he led the team to an 11-1 record in the African qualifying tournament to reach the World Cup.

Jones’ record-tying performance in the win over Angola is just one of many impressive outings from members of the team. Forward Wenyen Gabriel, who played last season with the Lakers, put up a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double in the win. Former Sixers guard Marial Shayok scored 18 points while Nuni Omot, who spent last season’s training camp with the Knicks before playing in the G League, scored 17.

Additionally, 7’2″ 16-year-old Khaman Maluach – one of the top potential prospects in the 2025 NBA draft class, according to Windhorst – added five points and four rebounds.

World Cup Notes: Edwards, RHJ, Hart, Ingram, Thanasis, Canada

Even though Team USA’s 48-point win over Jordan on Wednesday wasn’t exactly a tightly contested affair, former Timberwolves teammates Anthony Edwards and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson enjoyed going back and forth at each other in the third and final first-round game at the World Cup, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Edwards had a game-high 22 points, edging out Hollis-Jefferson, who scored 20. The two were on Minnesota’s roster together for a brief period during the 2020 preseason, when RHJ served as a veteran mentor ahead of Edwards’ rookie year. Hollis-Jefferson didn’t end up making the Wolves’ regular season roster.

“We haven’t seen each other since then, so it was fun,” Edwards said. “And yeah, we was talking with smack out there for sure.”

U.S. head coach Steve Kerr made one lineup change ahead of the game vs. Jordan, replacing Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram in the starting five with Knicks forward Josh Hart. As Windhorst observes, Ingram had struggled as spot-up shooter with the first unit and was able to have the ball in his hands more as a reserve. It sounds like the change could stick.

“We just felt like it was important to take a look at Josh with the starting group and Brandon with the next group to see if the combinations fit,” Kerr said after the victory. “I liked what I saw. The game wasn’t competitive, but there was good flow with both groups.”

“They thought it was a better fit for me playing with Tyrese [Haliburton] and playing with some guys that are a little less ball dominant than Jalen [Brunson] and Ant,” Ingram told Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. “They just talked about it being a better fit, and I agreed with them.”

Here are a few more World Cup notes:

  • Hollis-Jefferson is one of nine non-U.S. players identified by Alberto De Roa of HoopsHype as breakout performers through three World Cup games. Bulls guard Carlik Jones (South Sudan), Wizards forward Xavier Cooks (Australia), and Heat forward Nikola Jovic (Serbia) are among the NBAers who have impressed, as De Roa details.
  • Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who injured his left adductor in Monday’s loss to the U.S., returned to action for Greece on Wednesday. However, Antetokounmpo played a limited role in the win over New Zealand that clinched the Greeks a spot in the second round, recording more fouls (4) than points (2) in his 14 minutes.
  • The Canadian national team – which had the best point differential (+111) of any club in the first round – is finally realizing its potential on the international stage, says Michael Grange of Canada has had no shortage of players in the NBA over the last decade, but those players haven’t always participated in international competitions and have struggled to quickly establish chemistry in the events they’ve played.

World Cup Notes: Neto, Jones, Doncic, Bogdanovic

Brazilian guard Raul Neto ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee during Brazil’s 2023 FIBA World Cup opener against Iran, reports. Neto will miss the rest of the World Cup.

It’s a brutal blow for Neto, who recently signed overseas with Turkish club Fenerbahce. In a recent interview with Eurohoops, the veteran spoke about his excitement for joining one of the top overseas clubs. Neto, who played in the NBA from 2015-23, didn’t rule out a return stateside, but said he was a bit disappointed not to receive a contract offer.

Neto averaged 8.7 points per game with the Wizards in 2020/21. After leaving Washington in 2022, he signed with the Cavaliers, where he spent all of last year, but he didn’t play much.

I just think that the NBA season… it’s very hard if you aren’t a role player,” Neto said. “It’s hard on you. You don’t play much.

Neto, 31, was hoping that his time with Fenerbahce would allow him to see the floor more and show that he’s still got his guard skills, according to his interview with Eurohoops. However, this recent injury puts his time with Fenerbahce in doubt. Patellar tendon ruptures typically take six-to-12 months to recover from, so it’s safe to say that Neto’s ’23/24 season is in jeopardy.

The Brazilian guard was poised to be a significant part of not only Brazil’s national team, but also Fenerbahce, as he was essentially signed to replace Nick Calathes.

We have more World Cup notes:

  • Bulls guard Carlik Jones, playing with South Sudan in the World Cup, put up a record-breaking performance in the team’s opening loss to Puerto Rico. Jones recorded 38 points, 11 assists, six rebounds and four steals in the defeat, hitting four of his nine attempts from downtown. According to HoopsHype, that is the best scoring mark for any African national team at the World Cup. He also recorded the first 30-point, 10-assist game in tournament history. This was South Sudan’s World Cup debut. Jones is signed to a non-guaranteed deal for the Bulls — it becomes partially guaranteed for $250K if he makes the opening-night roster.
  • Mavericks star guard Luka Doncic made a statement in Slovenia’s opening game of the World Cup, putting up 37 points in their matchup with Venezuela. Doncic’s 37 points were a tournament high briefly before Jones had his record-setting performance. Former NBA center Mike Tobey had a terrific game for Slovenia, putting up 21 points on 9 of 9 shooting.
  • Serbia’s World Cup experience has been a roller coaster so far. While the team blew out China 105-63, it also lost center Filip Petrusev due to injury. Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic is one of the leaders on Serbia’s team and spoke about its World Cup experience thus far in a recent interview with Eurohoops. “We expect the next two games to be much harder than the first against China. They’re both experienced teams, with a lot of good players,” he said of the schedule. Serbia takes on South Sudan and Puerto Rico next. In the interview, Bogdanovic talked about his main goal for the World Cup, which is to qualify for the Olympics and medal in the event.
  • In case you missed it, we had more World Cup notes on Friday.

World Cup Notes: Hart, Giannis, Giddey, Dellavedova

Several members of Team USA have new contracts to celebrate this summer as they prepare for the FIBA World Cup, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Josh Hart became the latest player with a new deal, signing a four-year, $81MM extension with the Knicks electronically Thursday morning while the Americans prepared for a pair of exhibition games in Spain.

“It was actually pretty cool, I was just laying down on the training table, getting some treatment, on FaceTime with (his wife Shannon) and signing the contract,” Hart said. “It meant a lot. I wasn’t highly touted coming out of high school, wasn’t highly regarded in the draft, went through free agency the first time and I was restricted, it was a terrible experience for me, so to be able to do this, it’s a dream come true – just being able to have something that can take care of my parents, my family, my kids.”

Other U.S. players also had productive offseasons. Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards both signed five-year, maximum-salary extensions. Cameron Johnson got $100MM over five seasons to stay with the Nets, and Austin Reaves re-signed with the Lakers for approximately $54MM over four years.

“Yeah, that’s my kids’ kids’ money, for sure,” Edwards said. “It don’t matter (which player’s contract we’re talking about), that’s a lot of money.”

There’s more on the World Cup:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo traveled to the United States for more testing on his knee before deciding whether to play for Greece, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. The Bucks‘ medical staff will reportedly work with doctors from the Greek team to determine the best course of action for Antetokounmpo.
  • Wenyen Gabriel is the most recognizable player for South Sudan, which is preparing for its first-ever World Cup appearance, Askounis adds in a separate story. Other team members with NBA ties include Marial Shayok, Mangok Mathiang and Carlik Jones.
  • Thunder guard Josh Giddey is ready to become the new on-court leader for Australia, per Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Coach Brian Goorjian plans entrust his offense to the 20-year-old, who is seen as the future of the Australian basketball. “Giddey sets the standard of, eventually you’re gonna be the guy for this program, and he’s an unselfish player, so that sets the standard straight out of the gates,” teammate Jock Landale said. “He’s already embodied the Boomers mentality, and our culture, just through how he plays. It’s gonna come naturally to him, and he’ll fit in really nicely.”
  • Veteran guard Matthew Dellavedova isn’t part of Australia’s 13-man roster for exhibition games prior to the start of the tournament, according to Eurohoops.

Bulls Notes: Luxury Tax, Rotation, Williams, Dosunmu

The Bulls will likely be close to the luxury tax threshold all season, but K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago doesn’t expect them to be willing to end the year in tax territory. Executive vice president Arturas Karnisovas said on draft night that he would lobby ownership to pay the tax for a contender, but Johnson states that it’s hard to see him getting approval for a team that finished 10th in the East last season.

Johnson estimates that the Bulls are about $2.4MM away from tax territory with two open roster spots. He expects the team to unload point guard Carlik Jones, whose non-guaranteed $1.9MM salary is roughly the same as a veteran’s minimum contract, and try to get frontcourt help instead.

Johnson adds that filling both roster openings with minimum contracts would put Chicago slightly over the tax line. He expects management to keep one spot open heading into the season and see what opportunities become available to add players. The Bulls have about half of their $12.4MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception remaining, along with a $4.5MM bi-annual exception and a $10.2MM disabled player exception that was granted for Lonzo Ball‘s injury.

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Billy Donovan‘s 10-man rotation appears set with training camp two months away, and the biggest questions seem to be who will start at point guard and power forward, Johnson adds in the same piece. If Donovan continues his emphasis on defense, Johnson expects newly acquired Torrey Craig to get the nod at power forward, with either Alex Caruso or free agent addition Jevon Carter running the point. The return of Derrick Jones Jr. or a free agent signing such as Rudy Gay could upend the current rotation, Johnson adds, possibly pushing out Andre Drummond.
  • Bulls officials want Patrick Williams to become more aggressive as he enters his fourth NBA season, according to Johnson. Williams returned from an injury to play all 82 games last season, and Johnson believes the organization should be patient with a player who won’t turn 22 until next month.
  • The Bulls may have slightly overpaid for Ayo Dosunmu, but keeping him on the roster was still a good move, contends Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. The restricted free agent received $21MM over three years and now has to make a case for consistent playing time in a crowded backcourt.

Central Notes: Dosunmu, Jones, I. Mobley, Pistons

Re-signing restricted free agent guard Ayo Dosunmu to a three-year, $21MM contract was a shrewd business decision by the Bulls, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

The Bulls like Dosunmu’s aggression, competitiveness and work ethic, according to Johnson, and bringing him back at $7MM per year could be valuable if Chicago decides to make moves in the future, as mid-sized deals can come in handy when negotiating trades. That isn’t to imply the team wants to deal away a player it is retaining — it’s just a reality of the business.

With Zach LaVine, Coby White, Alex Caruso, Jevon Carter, Dosunmu, Dalen Terry and the injured Lonzo Ball already in the backcourt, Johnson believes Carlik Jones will likely be released. Jones’ deal is currently non-guaranteed, but becomes partially guaranteed for $250K if he makes the Bulls’ opening night roster. The team’s next free agent addition will “almost certainly” be a frontcourt player, Johnson adds.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • He may not be as well-known as his younger brother, but Cavaliers big man Isaiah Mobley, who is on a two-way deal with Cleveland, made his mark during Las Vegas Summer League, per Chris Fedor of (subscriber link). Mobley hit an overtime game-winner in the team’s fifth game against Brooklyn, with the Cavs going on to finish 6-0 and leaving with a championship. He averaged 17.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.5 BPG and 1.0 SPG on 49.3% from the field in 28.3 MPG in Vegas. Mobley is the older brother of Evan Mobley, who finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting this past season.
  • James L. Edwards of The Athletic recently took a stab at projecting the Pistons‘ depth chart entering 2023/24, with a possible 10-man rotation of starters Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren, alongside reserves Monte Morris, Alec Burks, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Livers and Marvin Bagley III. Notably, that group does not include James Wiseman, with Edwards writing that Bagley is the superior screener and roller and better at creating his own shot. It also doesn’t include Killian Hayes or Joe Harris. That said, with the obvious caveat that it’s only July, I agree with Edwards.
  • In another article for The Athletic, Edwards evaluates trade proposals from readers. One fake trade was a complex four-team deal where the Pistons receive Tobias Harris; the Clippers receive James Harden and a 2029 first-round pick (from Philly); the Sixers receive Bogdanovic, Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, Danilo Gallinari and 2028 and ’29 first-rounders (from the Clips); and the Wizards receive Bagley and a 2024 second-rounder (from L.A.). Edwards thinks the Sixers would decline that proposal, and likely the Wizards too, though the latter might be more interested if another second-round pick or two were added.

NBAGL Announces 2022/23 All-League Awards

The NBA G League named the recipients of its All-League, All-Rookie, and All-Defensive teams on Thursday (all Twitter links found here). Many of the honorees are on standard NBA or two-way contracts.

Here’s the full list:

All-NBA G League First Team

All-NBA G League Second Team

All-NBA G League Third Team

NBAGL All-Defensive Team

NBAGL All-Rookie Team

  • Kenneth Lofton
  • Lester Quinones – Santa Cruz Warriors *
    • Note: Quinones placed second in ROY voting.
  • Darius Days
    • Note: Days placed third in ROY voting.
  • Jamaree Bouyea
  • Moussa Diabate

(^ denotes standard NBA contract)

(* denotes two-way contract)

(# Bouyea signed 10-day deals with the Heat and Wizards, but is now an NBA free agent)

Both Dunn and Samanic signed standard contracts with the Jazz, while Harrison signed with the Lakers at the very end of the season after playing with Portland on a 10-day deal. Duke and Lofton recently had their two-way contracts converted into standard deals.

Cooper, Chiozza and Anderson all hold NBA experience as well. Cooper spent 2021/22 — his rookie season — on a two-way deal with the Hawks; Chiozza has played for the Rockets, Nets and Warriors, and recently signed with a Spanish team; Anderson has appeared in 242 NBA games with six teams in as many seasons.

Bulls’ Carlik Jones Named 2022/23 G League MVP

Bulls guard Carlik Jones has been named the NBA G League’s Most Valuable Player for the 2022/23 season, the league announced today (via Twitter). Thirty NBAGL head coaches and GMs voted on the award.

Jones joined the Windy City Bulls in the fall after spending the preseason on Chicago’s roster. His strong play at the G League level earned him a two-way contract in December and then a promotion to the Bulls’ 15-man roster about a month ago.

Jones has only made four brief appearances at the NBA level this season, but he put up big numbers in the NBAGL.

In 19 Showcase Cup games in the fall, the 25-year-old averaged 20.3 PPG, 7.3 APG, and 5.4 RPG with a .494/.387/.683 shooting line in 35.9 minutes per night. He boosted his scoring average to 26.1 PPG on .483/.360/.789 shooting in 24 regular season contests (38.3 MPG) while also contributing 7.0 APG and 4.4 RPG.

Windy City made it to the finals of the Showcase Cup in December and then went 18-14 in the G League regular season, including 15-9 when Jones played.

Jones’ contract with Chicago includes non-guaranteed salaries for 2023/24 and ’24/25, so the Bulls will be able to keep him on their NBA roster at the veteran’s minimum for two seasons beyond this one, if they so choose.

The runners-up in MVP voting were Kings center Neemias Queta and Nets guard David Duke, who are both on two-way contracts. They finished second and third, respectively.

Central Notes: C. Jones, Dragic, Stevens, Pistons

When they promoted him to their 15-man roster, the Bulls used a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Carlik Jones to a contract that covers two seasons beyond this one, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Jones’ rest-of-season salary ($357,717) is his minimum, but if the Bulls had relied on the minimum salary exception to convert Jones to a standard contract, they would only have been able to tack on one extra year. The mid-level exception allowed them to complete a three-year deal that includes a non-guaranteed minimum salary for 2024/25 ($2,092,344) in addition to a non-guaranteed minimum salary for ’23/24 ($1,927,896).

Jones will receive a partial guarantee of $250K on his 2023/24 salary if he remains under contract through the first day of the regular season this fall. The Bulls guard would have his full salary for next season guaranteed if he’s not waived on or before January 7, 2024.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Veteran point guard Goran Dragic officially signed with the Bucks on Saturday, but will have his debut with his new team delayed a little due to left knee soreness, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (subscriber story). Once he’s cleared to play, Dragic won’t be expecting to get a certain amount of minutes per game. “I didn’t talk nothing about the role because I understand those guys are the main guys,” Dragic said, referring to his new teammates. “I’m here just to help. So, you know, I’m at that point of my career. I want to win, so I came here and whatever they want me to do I’m going to do it and hopefully we get that ring.”
  • Lamar Stevens‘ minutes haven’t been as consistent in recent weeks as they were when he was starting at small forward earlier in the season, but he played a critical role in the fourth quarter and overtime of the Cavaliers’ overtime win over Boston on Monday, per Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game that he “can’t say enough about how proud I am” of Stevens. The Cavs hold a minimum-salary team option on the 25-year-old for next season, which looks like a lock to be exercised.
  • Even though the Pistons have lost eight games in a row and 20 of their last 24, morale in the locker room remains high due to the team’s focus on development and growth, according to Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscription required). “I know our fans are probably frustrated — which I understand — but we’re in a growth mentality,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “Every day for us is a teaching (moment). Every film session, we hold guys accountable, but we’re positive. We’re teaching and I wish there was a magic wand that says, ‘These guys gotta grow up.’ It doesn’t happen in this league.”