Cheick Diallo

And-Ones: Diallo, T. Cook, J. Green, Expansion, More

Former NBA big man Cheick Diallo, who opened this season playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s G League affiliate, intends to return to Kyoto Hannaryz, the Japanese team he played for in 2022/23, according to Donatas Urbonas of (Twitter link).

Diallo appeared in 180 NBA games from 2016-20, but has bounced around since then, playing in the G League and multiple international leagues, returning to the NBA for just three contests in 2021/22.

In other international basketball news, former NBA forward Tyler Cook has signed with Spanish club Joventut Badalona, per a press release from the team. Cook played in a total of 65 games for five different NBA teams between 2019-22, but wasn’t in the league at all last season. He played in the G League in 2022/23 and had a brief stint in Australia this fall.

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

  • Former NBA forward Johnny Green, who made four All-Star appearances between 1959-71, including three for the Knicks, has passed away at age 89, according to Richard Goldstein of The New York Times. Known as Jumpin’ Johnny, Green was a college star at Michigan State before recording over 12,000 points and 9,000 rebounds in the NBA.
  • Asked during an appearance on Sportsnet’s The Raptors Show (Twitter video link) about comments he made recently referencing the idea of expansion to a Canadian city like Montreal or Vancouver, commissioner Adam Silver stressed that the NBA has received interest from those markets but isn’t prepared to seriously explore the possibility yet. “It’s not an active discussion right now,” Silver said.
  • The early returns for the NBA’s first ever in-season tournament “have been pretty positive,” Silver said during that same radio appearance (Twitter video link). In addition to seeing a significant jump in television ratings for tournament games, Silver is encouraged by the buy-in from people around the NBA. “The players are really into it, and the coaches and teams have been very engaged and excited about it,” Silver said. “That’s what’s most important and what will ultimately translate into the most interest from the fans.”
  • Sam Amick, Josh Robbins, and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic take stock of the best and worst of the NBA’s first few weeks, identifying the Mavericks, Rockets, and Timberwolves as the teams that have most outperformed expectations and the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks as a few that have underwhelmed.

Heat Promote Dru Smith To Standard Contract, Convert Cole Swider To Two-Way

The Heat have signed guard Dru Smith to a multi-year standard NBA contract and converted sharpshooting forward Cole Swider to a two-way deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

In a subsequent move, the team waived both forward Cheick Diallo and wing Justin Champagnie, who were both on Exhibit 10 contracts.

Smith, 25, has been in the Heat’s developmental system since signing a training camp deal in 2021. He spent that year playing with Miami’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, before once again signing a camp deal with the Heat in 2022. At the conclusion of 2022’s training camp, Smith signed a two-way contract with the team.

At the beginning of the 2022/23 season, the Heat alternated between Orlando Robinson and Smith on two-way deals, with Jamal Cain on the other, swapping the pair out a handful of times. Smith then wound up signing with the Nets on a two-way before rejoining Miami this free agency period. He holds career averages of 2.9 points and 1.5 assists in 15 career NBA games.

Now, Smith is rewarded with a multi-year standard contract which has a $425K opening-night guarantee, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). It’s a similar structure to the contract Robinson wound up getting from Miami, with a July trigger date in its second year, tweets HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto. The Heat were only able to sign Smith to a minimum-salary deal due to their proximity to the tax aprons.

Smith had a solid preseason, averaging 6.5 points and 5.3 assists in four games. Head coach Erik Spoelstra praised his during training camp and the Heat appreciated his ability to run the floor, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Smith and Kyle Lowry are the only true point guards on Miami’s roster.

It’s interesting to see Miami opt for Smith over Cain for the 14th roster spot, which he had been hoping to get, according to Jackson. Cain averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in four preseason games. However, as Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) observes, keeping Cain on a two-way may make it easier for the Heat to keep him in their system going forward because they may opt to switch out the 14th roster spot during the season.

Swider is another player who earned plenty of buzz during training camp and the preseason. He opened the preseason with a 17-point performance while knocking down five three-pointers. Swider, who spent last season on a two-way deal with the Lakers before being waived this summer, averaged 11.2 points and knocked down 37.1% of his three-pointers (7.0 attempts) across five appearances in the preseason. The 6’9″ forward shot 43.6% from deep in 27 regular season G League games last year.

Swider is hoping to follow in Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson‘s footsteps by being frontcourt shooter who enjoys a successful career with Miami. The Syracuse product joins Cain and R.J. Hampton as the team’s two-way players.

As for the Heat’s camp players, Diallo played sparingly in the preseason, averaging 2.7 rebounds in 6.9 minutes. Champagnie played much more, averaging 7.5 points in 22.1 minutes, positioning himself well in the camp battle. Even though both players are being waived, the Heat likely hope to funnel both to the Skyforce, where they’d be eligible for a bonus worth up to $75K if they are there for 60 or more days. Champagnie played with the Skyforce last season and Miami could revisit him in the future, like they did with Smith.

With the series of moves, the Heat’s opening night roster appears set, though there’s still time for them to cycle through moree Exhibit 10 signings. Miami has 14 players on standard deals and three players on two-way contracts. The club will keep the 15th spot on the roster open for now due to its proximity to the tax.

Heat Make Roster Moves, Add RJ Hampton On Two-Way Deal

The Heat have waived Jamaree Bouyea and Caleb Daniels in order to sign Jon Elmore and Cheick Diallo, the team announced in a press release. Elmore was immediately released to make room for RJ Hampton, who will take Bouyea’s two-way slot.

It’s probably not a coincidence that Miami had all these moves lined up to be finalized after the team didn’t trade for Damian Lillard. The longtime Trail Blazers star is surprisingly being sent to the Bucks in a three-team blockbuster.

A former first-round pick (24th overall in 2020), Hampton was sent to Orlando from Denver during his rookie season as part of the Aaron Gordon trade. Last fall, the Magic declined their fourth-year team option on the young guard, and his playing time was subsequently reduced.

Orlando wound up waiving Hampton after the February trade deadline and he caught on with the Pistons, but his two-year contract was only guaranteed for the remainder of 2022/23. Detroit released him in late June before his salary for ’23/24 became guaranteed, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Overall, Hampton averaged 6.4 PPG and 1.9 RPG on .430/.353/.750 shooting in 47 games (16.0 MPG) last season. He has appeared in a total of 162 games with the Nuggets, Magic and Pistons over his three NBA seasons.

Still just 22 years old, the Heat will take a flier on Hampton and see if they can turn him into a more consistent player. 2023/24 will be his final season of eligibility for a two-way contract. Hampton’s two-way deal will pay him $559,782 and will make him eligible to appear in up to 50 regular season contest.

As for Diallo, he signed an Exhibit 10 contract and will compete for a roster spot in training camp, reports Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (via Twitter). A native of Mali, Diallo holds five years of NBA experience with the Pelicans, Suns and Pistons, appearing in 183 regular season games with career averages of 5.2 PPG and 4.1 RPG from 2016-22.

Last season, Diallo played in Japan and Puerto Rico. The 27-year-old big man was the 33rd overall pick back in 2016.

As previously mentioned, Bouyea was on a two-way deal. It’s possible that he received a $75K partial guarantee as part of his contract — that’s the maximum protection a two-way player can have in ’23/24. Either way, that figure won’t count against the Heat’s salary cap. The 6’2″ point guard appeared in five NBA games as a rookie last season with Miami and Washington, both on 10-day deals.

Daniels and Elmore also received Exhibit 10 contracts, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald confirms, which will make them each eligible for a bonus worth up to $75K if they spend at least 60 days with Miami’s NBA G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Elmore, who holds some international experience, was a rotation regular for the Skyforce last season. Daniels, meanwhile, went undrafted out of Villanova in June.

As our tracker shows, Miami’s roster remains at the offseason maximum of 21 players under contract, with 12 players on guaranteed standard deals and all three two-way slots filled.

And-Ones: Players With Most To Prove, Trade Market, GL Trades

The Athletic’s staff released an article this week focused of one player with the most to prove for each of the NBA’s 30 teams in 2022/23. Interestingly, several players mentioned are current or former All-Stars, including a trio who missed all of last season: Ben Simmons of the Nets, Kawhi Leonard of the Clippers, and Zion Williamson of the Pelicans.

Simmons’ head coach, Steve Nash, also made the list, as Alex Schiffer wonders whether or not Nash can finally show he’s a solid coach if the roster stays healthy.

In addition to more established veterans, eight former first-round picks who are still on their rookie contracts made the cut, including De’Andre Hunter of the Hawks, Killian Hayes of the Pistons, and James Wiseman of the Warriors, amongst others.

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

  • One league executive of tells Steve Bulpett of that he expects more transactional activity, like the recent Lakers/Jazz trade, to transpire now that the Kevin Durant saga is over — at least for now. “I think we’ll see some things,” the executive said. “I don’t think L.A. thought it had a chance at Durant, but they had to see how that played out. You had to be on the whole ‘Let’s keep hope alive for the possibility of being involved in this,’ thing. Teams have been like, ‘Something may fall to us if a deal for KD gets expanded to include other teams.’ But now I think teams return to sanity and say, ‘OK, what do we need to do?’
  • The Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s G League affiliate, recently made a couple of returning player rights trades, the team announced in a press release. The Skyforce acquired the G League rights to Jared Harper from the Birmingham Squad (Pelicans’ affiliate) for Javonte Smart. They also acquired Cheick Diallo from the Motor City Cruise (Pistons’ affiliate) for Micah Potter, with Potter subsequently signing an Exhibit 10 deal with Detroit. Both deals involved G League draft picks swapping hands. All four players have NBA experience, and Harper, Smart and Diallo remain NBA free agents, these moves only impact their G League rights.
  • The Motor City Cruise made a separate trade (Twitter link) with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s affiliate. The Cruise sent Cassius Stanley‘s returning player rights to the Vipers in exchange for the Vipers’ 2022 first-round pick. Like previously mentioned with the players above, Stanley remains an NBA free agent.

And-Ones: Wallace, Kalaitzakis, Vaccines, Diallo, Uthoff

Former NBA guard Tyrone Wallace has signed with Paris Basketball, according to a team press release. Wallace played six games with the Pelicans last season via a pair of 10-day deals. The 60th pick of the 2016 draft appeared in 92 games for the Clippers from 2017-19 and 14 more for the Hawks during the 2019/20 season.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Greek guard Georgios Kalaitzakis, a 2021 second-round pick who began last season in Milwaukee and ended it in Oklahoma City, is headed back overseas, having signed a two-year contract with Panathinaikos, the Greek club announced in a press release. Kalaitzakis saw major minutes for the Thunder in the season’s final week, averaging 17.5 PPG in four appearances (41.4 MPG) with the team.
  • The NBA will not have a vaccine mandate in place next season, according to a memo obtained by Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill (Twitter link). However, the league will “strongly suggest” that all personnel be up to date with vaccinations. Periodic testing of unvaccinated players could be allowed, pending discussions with the Players’ Association, Goodwill adds.
  • A number of prominent players didn’t see any action last season. What can be expected from them when they suit up next season? ESPN’s Insiders take a closer look at those players, including Kawhi Leonard, Zion Williamson, Jamal MurrayBen Simmons and John Wall.
  • Former NBA players Cheick Diallo and Jarrod Uthoff have agreed to join Kyoto Hannaryz in Japan next season, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Diallo has 183 NBA games under his belt, including three with the Pistons last season. Uthoff has played 16 NBA games, including a combined seven with the Wizards and Grizzlies in 2019/20.

Pistons Sign Cheick Diallo To 10-Day Deal

DECEMBER 23: Diallo’s 10-day contract with the Pistons is now official, per’s transactions log. It’ll run through January 1.

DECEMBER 22: The Pistons are signing big man Cheick Diallo to a 10-day contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Diallo had been playing for the Motor City Cruise, Detroit’s G League affiliate.

The fact that it’s a 10-day agreement means the Pistons will use a hardship exception to complete the signing. Entering the day, Detroit had been one of nine teams without a player in the health and safety protocols — this deal suggests that’s about to change, since the club doesn’t have enough injured players to qualify for a hardship signing.

The 33rd overall pick in the 2016 draft, Diallo has appeared in a total of 180 regular season NBA games for the Pelicans and Suns. He averaged 4.7 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 47 games (10.2 MPG) for Phoenix in 2019/20, then spent last season in Russia and Spain.

The 25-year-old returned stateside this season and has averaged 14.2 PPG and 8.5 RPG on 71.4% shooting in 13 games (21.7 MPG) at the G League level.

Diallo will earn $102,831 on his 10-day contract, but it won’t count toward the Pistons’ team salary for cap or tax purposes.

Eastern Notes: White, Bertans, Diallo, Pistons, Hornets

Bulls guard Coby White is likely nearing his return from shoulder surgery, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. White faced live contact after the team’s practice on Sunday, a strong sign that the 21-year-old is progressing well in his rehab.

“He’s moving closer and closer to getting to a point where he’s going to be cleared to practice,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “He’s getting a chance to do obviously more contact. I’d like to see him against our guys.”

White is coming off a season where he averaged 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game, shooting 42% from the floor and 36% from deep. Despite his absence, the Bulls have opened the season with a strong 6-3 start.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Wizards forward Davis Bertans remains week-to-week due to an ankle sprain, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bertans is in the second season of a five-year, $80MM deal he signed with the team roughly a year ago. Players such as Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija have seen increased playing time during his absence.
  • Free agent big man Cheick Diallo is joining the Pistons‘ G League affiliate, James Edwards III of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). Diallo, a four-year NBA veteran, last played in Spain. He’s played 180 NBA games since being drafted No. 33 overall in 2016.
  • The Hornets‘ poor defense is largely to blame for their recent slide, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer writes. The team has lost three straight games, allowing 113, 114 and 140 points, respectively. Charlotte currently holds the ninth-best record in the East at 5-5.

Southeast Notes: Bamba, Oubre, Gill, Wizards

Mohamed Bamba won’t play for the Magic when Summer League starts on Sunday, but he’s practicing with his teammates in Las Vegas, writes Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel. The third-year center got a path to regular minutes for the first time in his career when Orlando unloaded its veteran centers last spring and turned the position over to Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr.

“For me it was no-brainer,” Bamba said of his decision to come to Las Vegas. “We got a new coach, new system, new guys and I just wanted to get well acclimated way before training camp.”

Jamahl Mosley, who has taken over as head coach, said this week that it was encouraging to see Bamba join the team on his own. Bamba said he’s looking forward to playing under Mosley.

“He’s made it clear that my presence (on the floor) is needed, is wanted and it’s just all about getting out there and putting in the right amount of work,” Bamba said. “Practicing with the team only helps the chemistry of the team. Coming out here … I had a choice, either to stay in Orlando and work with the coaches that didn’t come to Summer League or come here and add in these good deposits from the team.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Free agent forward Kelly Oubre received offers from eight other teams before deciding to sign with the Hornets, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Oubre’s agent, Torrel Harris of Unique Sports International Management, says the Knicks, Lakers, Clippers, Bucks, Nuggets, Nets, Trail Blazers and Cavaliers all presented offers to Oubre.
  • Today marked the guarantee date for Wizards power forward Anthony Gill, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. Gill will make $1,517,981 in 2021/22, giving Washington 13 fully guaranteed contracts. That doesn’t include center Daniel Gafford, whose $1,782,621 won’t be guaranteed until the league-wide guarantee date of January 7.
  • Wizards Summer League players Cassius Winston, Issuf Sanon and Isaiah Todd have all been placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). Their replacements include former NBA players Cheick Diallo and Derrick Walton Jr. (Twitter link)

Cheick Diallo To Sign With Russian Team

Former Pelicans and Suns big man Cheick Diallo is signing with Avtodor Saratov in Russia’s top league, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets

Diallo is still hopeful of signing with an NBA team by the end of the season, Guillory adds.

Diallo became an unrestricted free agent in November when Phoenix declined the $1.824MM option on his contract for this season.

After spending his first three seasons with the Pelicans, Diallo agreed to a two-year veteran’s minimum deal with the Suns in 2019. He was drafted with the No. 33 pick in 2016.

The 24-year-old Diallo averaged 4.7 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 10.2 MPG in 47 games last season. He’s appeared in 180 NBA games, averaging 5.3 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 12.0 MPG.

Suns Turn Down Team Option On Cheick Diallo

Big man Cheick Diallo is now an unrestricted free agent heading into his fifth season, after the Suns decided to not pick up his $1,824,003 team option, per Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype (Twitter link).

After spending his first three seasons with the Pelicans, Diallo agreed to a two-year veteran’s minimum deal with the Suns last summer. Diallo was drafted with the No. 33 pick in 2016. Scotto notes that the 6’8″ forward/center out of Kansas is reputable around the league as having a “high motor.”

A little-used reserve in 2019/20, the 24-year-old Diallo averaged 4.7 PPG and 2.8 RPG. Across 47 games, he logged an average of 10.2 MPG.