Cason Wallace

NBA Announces Player Pool For 2024 Rising Stars Event

The NBA has officially revealed the 11 rookies, 10 sophomores, and seven G League players who will take part in the Rising Stars event at All-Star weekend in Indianapolis next month.

The following players, as voted on by NBA coaching staffs, made the cut:



G League Players

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by former NBA forward Detlef Schrempf. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA and WNBA stars Pau Gasol, Jalen Rose, and Tamika Catchings.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 16 as part of All-Star weekend’s opening night.

Northwest Notes: Dunn, George, Wallace, Wolves

The Jazz are 12-3 in their past 15 games, establishing themselves as one of the hottest teams in the league. Since mid-December, they rank top 15 in offensive and defensive rating, and a huge part of their recent surge is the point guard play of Kris Dunn, writes John Coon of the Associated Press.

Utah is 13-4 on the season with Dunn starting, and he’s averaging 4.8 points, 6.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks in 21.8 minutes during this recent stretch.

Kris Dunn’s voice is more prominent now because his role is different,” head coach coach Will Hardy said. “Kris has always talked a lot. He’s always been a great presence in our locker room and a great presence at practice with our team. But now that he’s starting, his voice is heard in a different way and at different times.

After being selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft by the Timberwolves, he was part of the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. Dunn struggled with injuries in Chicago and then later Atlanta before he was waived and out of the league. The Jazz signed him to a pair of 10-day deals last season and he impressed. However, he wasn’t immediately given the reins to the point guard position over the offseason and his role fluctuated to begin the year. Now, it’s clear his patience is paying off for both him and the team.

I’ll be doing myself a disservice and the team a disservice if I try to go out there and try to go get 20,” Dunn said. “I got to play my role and I understand my role and I have no problem playing it. Go out there and guard and distribute the ball. The main thing is keeping that energy alive.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz rookie Keyonte George is another major factor in Utah’s recent success, averaging 11.1 points and 4.4 assists on the season. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor catches up with George, writing that while his flashes have been impressive, the former Baylor guard recognizes he has room to improve, particularly with his finishing. “I’m already adjusted to the speed of the game. The reads are slowing down for me,” George said. “So it’s just about now just getting stronger and continuing to learn, continuing to slow the game down for me. So when I’m in between those lines, it is patterns.
  • Thunder wing Luguentz Dort missed Oklahoma City’s Thursday matchup with Utah due to an illness, and rookie guard Cason Wallace started in his place (Twitter link via Bally Sports Oklahoma’s Nick Gallo). Wallace finished that game with a career-high 16 points, making six of his seven shot attempts in his seventh career start. “He’s not flinching. He’s really been like that from the getgo,” head coach Mark Daigneault said (Twitter link via Oklahoman Sports’ Joel Lorenzi).
  • After Thursday’s victory over the Grizzlies, the Timberwolves are 30-11, atop the Western Conference standings and on pace for what would be the organization’s first-ever 60-win season. The Wolves have the best defensive rating in the league and they’ll need to keep up that tempo if they want to crack the 60-win club, writes Star Tribune’s Chris Hine. Hine explains Minnesota also needs to continue to improve on offense in order to help their chances of emerging as a true contender.

Northwest Notes: Kessler, Brogdon, Henderson, Wallace, Timberwolves

Jazz second-year center Walker Kessler, who is recovering from a left elbow ulnar collateral ligament sprain, continues to make progress and has been cleared to begin basketball contact this week, according to a team press release. Kesseler sustained the injury during Utah’s season-opening game against Sacramento on Oct. 25 but continued to play through it for seven games. He will be reevaluated in one week.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon should return to action very soon and rookie Scoot Henderson could also be in uniform sometime this week, according to coach Chauncey Billups, Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report tweets. Brogdon has been sidelined since Nov. 8 with a hamstring injury, while Henderson — the third pick in the draft — hasn’t played since Nov. 1 due to an ankle sprain.
  • Cason Wallace, the 10th pick of the draft, made his second start for the Thunder on Sunday in place of injured Jalen Williams, sideline reporter Nick Gallo tweets. Wallace played 21 minutes but only took two shots and scored two points. He’s averaging 7.3 points in 22.9 minutes through 14 games.
  • Timberwolves owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore will have tough decisions to make regarding the team’s luxury tax issues if Minnesota has a strong season, The Athletic’s Sam Amick notes. If the Wolves don’t prove to be an elite team with their current core group, significant changes will be very likely. However, Timberwolves officials insist the incoming ownership group would not be averse to paying the tax going forward if the roster proves worthy of that kind of commitment.

Northwest Notes: Wallace, Yurtseven, Kamagate, Jones

Thunder rookie shooting guard Cason Wallace learned a lot about basketball from his years playing football, as he told Sam Yip of HoopsHype.

“…I was like, playing safety, linebacker,” Wallace said. “You read the quarterback… you’re reading what the offense is going to do. So just being able to pick up on stuff like that and just see it before it happens.”

Wallace was selected with the No. 10 overall pick out of Kentucky by the Mavericks, and was subsequently dealt, on draft night, to Oklahoma City. The 6’4″ swingman also spoke about how he could fit in on his new club heading into the regular season.

“[If] I need to play on the wing, I’m capable,” Wallace said. “So just letting the ball flow, just playing basketball.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • New Jazz reserve center Omer Yurtseven feels that his years of seasoning with the Heat will benefit him in his new NBA home, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Yurtseven inked a new two-year deal with Utah earlier in the offseason, though it’s only partially guaranteed. “[The Heat] had a really competitive environment, which allowed competitive players to thrive and I really appreciated that,” Yurtseven said. “I kind of took that with me in terms of applying that to everything — every drill, every day, every game. But I think more so I’m looking forward to what I’ll be able to learn and grow more into here.”
  • Center Ismael Kamagate, whose draft rights the Nuggets acquired after he was selected with the No. 46 pick in 2022, has officially inked a new contract with Italian EuroLeague club Olimpia Milano, the team announced in a press release. The 6’11” big man remains under Denver control should he eventually attempt to play in the NBA.
  • After more than 30 years of NBA experience as a player and coach, Nuggets assistant Popeye Jones is reveling in his first-ever league championship, writes Steve Bulpett of Jones has worked as a coach for five different clubs across his 17 seasons on the bench. “Once it was over, I think you just reflect back on your whole career — not just your coaching career but your playing career, everything that you’ve been through, from a little kid all the way through middle school to high school to college,” Jones said. “It was just a great feeling.”

Northwest Notes: Henderson, Wallace, George, Juzang

After suffering a shoulder injury in his Summer League debut, Trail Blazers rookie Scoot Henderson will sit out Sunday’s game, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT. Although he will miss a marquee matchup with Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs, Henderson is listed as day-to-day and still may return before the end of Summer League.

The dynamic guard told Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian that he strained his shoulder on a dunk attempt in Friday’s game against the Rockets. Overall, he was satisfied with his first performance against NBA players, which included 15 points, six assists and five rebounds in 21 minutes.

“I think I played pretty smooth,” Henderson said. “I know there are areas I definitely need to improve on. Just little things in my game where I think I can really perfect and master.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder got to see their two draft picks in action for the first time on Saturday, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Cason Wallace wasn’t able to play in the Salt Lake City Summer League because his draft-night trade from the Mavericks hadn’t been processed, and Keyontae Johnson was sidelined with a strained hamstring. Both played well in a win over Dallas, and Wallace particularly impressed his teammates with a 20-point outing. “Great defender, great all-around player,” Chet Holmgren said. “I think he’s gonna fit in well with the other guys we have on this team. Great character, great kid, too. I’m glad we drafted him. It’s a good spot for him.” 
  • Jazz guard Keyonte George is one of the early stars in Las Vegas with 33 points and 10 assists in his debut, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. The rookie out of Baylor has a lock screen on his phone with a graphic listing the concerns that scouts had about him as an NBA prospect. “I wake up every morning with this on my phone,” he said. “Each time I’m going into a game or I’m going into workout, that’s my main focus, each and every day, each and every game. Let’s take care of all this — take good shots, even if they’re not falling, just make sure we take great shots, play with the basketball … and that’s what I feel like I did tonight.”
  • The Jazz have withdrawn their qualifying offer to Johnny Juzang, making him an unrestricted free agent, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

Thunder Sign Cason Wallace, Keyontae Johnson

The Thunder have signed Cason Wallace to his rookie scale contract, the team announced in a press release.

Wallace, who was the 10th overall pick in last month’s draft, was acquired via trade from Dallas. Oklahoma City took on Davis Bertans‘ contract in order to move up two spots and select the former Kentucky guard (the Thunder sent the Mavs the 12th pick to complete the deal).

Wallace, 19, has a reputation as a strong defensive player. He averaged 11.7 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.7 RPG and 2.0 SPG on .446/.346/.757 shooting in 32 games (32.2 MPG) as a freshman last season for the Wildcats.

As our list of rookie scale salaries shows, Wallace will earn about $5.3MM as a rookie in 2023/24. That’s assuming he received 120% of his draft slot, which virtually every first-rounder does. Like all first-round picks, Wallace’s first two years are guaranteed, with team options in years three and four.

The Thunder have also signed second-round pick Keyontae Johnson to a two-way contract, per the team. Johnson, selected 50th overall, averaged 17.4 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.1 APG and 1.0 SPG on .516/.405/.715 shooting in 36 games (34.1 MPG) for Kansas State in ’22/23. Head of basketball operations Sam Presti previously said the plan was for Johnson to ink a two-way deal.

Mavericks Trade Davis Bertans, Cason Wallace To Thunder

JULY 6: The Mavericks have officially acquired Lively’s rights in exchange for Bertans and the rights to Wallace, the team announced today (via Twitter).

JUNE 22: The Mavericks and Thunder have agreed to a trade, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Davis Bertans and the No. 10 pick are headed to Oklahoma City in exchange for the No. 12 pick.

The Thunder selected Kentucky guard Cason Wallace at No. 10, Charania adds, while Dallas will get off Bertans’ pricey multiyear contract. The No. 12 pick that Dallas acquired was used on Duke big man Dereck Lively II, Shams Charania of The Stadium tweets.

The Mavericks will generate a $17MM trade exception with this trade, according to Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype (Twitter link). They’ll now be approximately $74MM under to projected luxury tax line, which will help them make other moves, such as re-signing Kyrie Irving.

[UPDATE: Mavs to use trade exception to acquire Richaun Holmes]

The Mavs were looking to move down in the lottery, get off a bad contract and acquire a veteran starter, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). They accomplished the first two goals with this deal. They also add a promising young rim protector in Lively, who will fill a hole in the Dallas frontcourt with the team considered unlikely to re-sign big man Christian Wood.

Bertans had a career year in 2019/20 with the Wizards and cashed in with a five-year, $80MM deal. Dallas acquired Bertans as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade with Washington.

The Thunder now pick up the two remaining years left on his deal — $17MM next season and $16MM in 2024/25 with an early termination option. The final year is only partially guaranteed for $5MM.

Oklahoma City’s desire to move up was motivated by the concern that another team might jump the Thunder by making a trade with Orlando, which held the No. 11 pick, Jeremy Woo of ESPN tweets. The Raptors, who held the No. 13 selection, were a potential trade-up suitor for Wallace.

Northwest Notes: Reid, Lillard, Wallace, Holmgren

The Timberwolvesdecision to re-sign Naz Reid before the start of free agency stemmed from an edict by owner Glen Taylor, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “Get it done,” Taylor reportedly told his front office after meeting with partners and eventual owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez. They also talked to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and head coach Chris Finch, who agreed there was too much risk in letting Reid reach the open market.

The 23-year-old center is one of the team’s best developmental projects and has become a valuable member of the reserve unit. Krawczynski notes that Reid was given a player option in the third year of his $42MM contract in case he becomes dissatisfied with his progress and playing time with Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert on the roster. Krawczynski adds that the Spurs and Kings could have been threats to sign Reid because of their available cap space and their ability to offer him a larger role.

Negotiations with Reid began shortly after Connelly joined the front office last summer, Krawczynski states. Reid worked out in Minnesota during the offseason and reported to camp with an improved perimeter game that enabled him to be effective alongside either Towns or Gobert.

The Wolves agreed to pay Reid more than they had originally expected, which Krawczynski notes will lead to difficult decisions in the future. Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels are both likely to receive extensions this summer, which will make it tough to keep three high-salaried centers on the roster for the long term.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • If the Heat acquire Damian Lillard, it will probably be the last significant move the team can make for a while, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer writes in an examination of the trade market for the Trail Blazers star. A deal with Portland would likely require Miami to give up most of its remaining assets, which include first-round picks in 2028 and 2030 and pick swaps in 2027 and 2029, along with Tyler Herro, Nikola Jovic and Jaime Jaquez. Either Kyle Lowry or Duncan Robinson will have to be involved if a trade happens after July 1, O’Connor adds. O’Connor also looks at a potential deal with the Nets, but states that there aren’t many other teams in need of a point guard who have the assets to make a serious offer for Lillard.
  • The Thunder were attracted to Cason Wallace because of his unselfish approach to the game, according to Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman. General manager Sam Presti said he noticed that quality even when Wallace was playing in all-star contests. “He plays no-agenda basketball,” Presti said. “… All players have stories, and I think his story is a great one because in today’s world in, basketball, there’s so many people saying, ‘You’ve got to get more shots, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to be more out in front, you’ve got to draw more attention to yourself.’ This guy got drafted in the top 10 by just being an incredible team player.”
  • Presti said Chet Holmgren continues to make progress in his recovery from foot surgery and there’s hope that he’ll be able to play for the Thunder during Summer League, according to Cody Taylor of The Rookie Wire.

Draft Notes: Bufkin, Wizards, Nets, Jazz, Hornets, Hawks, More

The Wizards recently hosted Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin for a private workout, Michael Scotto reports in his latest aggregate mock draft for HoopsHype.

Bufkin hasn’t worked out for many teams, and his draft status has been somewhat mysterious because of that, though many seem to believe his stock is on the rise. He’s currently ranked No. 18 on ESPN’s best available list, while the Wizards control the No. 8 pick.

Here are a few more notes ahead of the 2023 NBA draft, which kicks off in less than three hours:

  • The Nets recently hosted several potential first-round picks for workouts, including Ohio State’s Brice Sensabaugh, South Carolina’s G.G. Jackson, France’s Sidy Cissoko, and Marquette’s Olivier-Maxence Prosper, league sources tell Scotto. Brooklyn currently controls the 21st and 22nd picks in the first round, but the team has reportedly discussed moving up as well.
  • The Jazz have had trade discussions involving packaging two of their three first-rounders (Nos. 9 and 16), according to Scotto, but they’ve also discussed the latter pick on its own in separate deals.
  • Scotto hears from sources who say the Hornets plan to prioritize retaining restricted free agents Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington as well as unrestricted free agent Dennis Smith Jr. Bridges missed all of last season after pleading no contest to felony domestic violence charges.
  • The Hawks have been active in trade discussions, but they’ve also been busy working out prospects. On Tuesday, Atlanta hosted Cason Wallace (Kentucky), Rayan Rupert (New Zealand Breakers), Brandin Podziemski (Santa Clara), Mojave King (G League Ignite), Seth Lundy (Penn State) and Miles Norris (UC Santa Barbara), tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. The Hawks control the Nos. 15 and 46 picks. Incidentally, Wallace is the top-ranked prospect of the group according to ESPN, currently ranked No. 15 on their board.
  • Wichita State guard Craig Porter Jr. recently spoke to Alex Kennedy of about a number of topics ahead of the draft.

Draft Rumors: Pelicans, Blazers, Pistons, Jazz, Wizards, Bufkin, Raptors, More

The chatter about the possibility of the Pelicans moving into the top three of Thursday’s draft to select Scoot Henderson has “died down in recent days,” Jeremy Woo writes in ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link). While New Orleans could still look to make a deal involving the No. 14 pick, Woo says the team seems reluctant to move either Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram and the Hornets appear unlikely to move off of No. 2.

As for the Trail Blazers, they continue to talk to various teams about the No. 3 pick, but they also seem content to select whoever is available between Henderson and Brandon Miller, per ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Sources tell Givony that unless Portland gets an offer it can’t turn down, the club may just hang onto that pick.

Elsewhere in the top half of the lottery, the “intel has shifted” regarding the Pistons‘ pick at No. 5, according to Givony, who says Cam Whitmore no longer looks like a safe projection at that spot. A trade down seems increasingly viable, given that Detroit likes several players who would probably be a reach at No. 5, including Taylor Hendricks, Gradey Dick, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and Cason Wallace.

Givony identifies the Jazz – who hold the ninth, 16th, and 28th overall picks – as one possible trade partner for the Pistons, writing that Utah is exploring many trade scenarios and has been frequently linked to forward Jarace Walker. The Jazz would likely have to move ahead of the Pacers at No. 7 to have a shot at Walker, Givony adds.

Here’s more from ESPN’s draft experts:

  • Anthony Black returned to D.C. over the weekend for a second workout with the Wizards, Woo reports. Multiple recent reports have linked Black to the Wizards, who hold the No. 8 overall pick. Woo says he’s “strongly in the mix” but also names Ausar Thompson and “dark horse” Kobe Bufkin as targets to watch for Washington.
  • Bufkin is a hot name to watch in the back half of the lottery, according to Givony and Woo, who suggest there has been speculation that the Michigan guard received a promise from a team like the Raptors (No. 13). Speaking of Toronto, Givony has heard from sources that free agent center Jakob Poeltl prefers not to be on a rebuilding team next season. While the Raptors aren’t considered likely to blow up their roster this summer, that’s a factor to take into account as they weigh potential paths.
  • A “large swath” of the league has called the Mavericks about the No. 10 pick, according to Woo, who writes that Dallas is still weighing its options. The Mavs are fond of some prospects in that range and would like to stay in the draft but are also seeking win-now pieces, Woo notes.
  • The Hornets have “made overtures” to some wings projected to be picked before No. 27, which is an indication that they may be exploring a trade up from No. 27 using one or more of their second-round picks (Nos. 34, 39, 41), Givony writes. The franchise’s incoming owners aren’t expected to have a major impact on Charlotte’s draft selections, but Givony wonders if the new ownership group could influence Charlotte’s plan with restricted free agent Miles Bridges, who missed all of last season following domestic violence charges.