Cory Jefferson

Lance Stephenson Among NBA Vets Eligible For G League Draft

As previously reported, the NBA G League’s 2020/21 draft will take place on Monday, January 11. And according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter links), there will be some interesting names on the list of players eligible to be selected in that draft.

Veteran swingman Lance Stephenson, former No. 2 overall pick Emeka Okafor, and other recent NBA players like Justin Patton, Jacob Evans, Dzanan Musa, and Admiral Schofield will be part of the draft pool, per Givony. Former first-round picks Terrence Jones and Shabazz Muhammad will be draft-eligible as well.

According to Givony, the following players who have been on NBA rosters in the past are also among the G League’s other draft-eligible veterans: Kenny Wooten, Antonio Blakeney, Tyler Ulis, Quincy Pondexter, Diamond Stone, Hollis Thompson, Cat Barber, Isaiah Briscoe, Phil Booth, Dusty Hannahs, Jemerrio Jones, Cory Jefferson, and Freddie Gillespie.

These, presumably, are players who have signed G League contracts but whose rights aren’t currently held by any teams. A player whose returning rights are controlled by a club participating in the G League’s bubble season wouldn’t be eligible to be drafted.

For instance, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that LiAngelo Ball has signed a contract to play in the bubble. Since the Oklahoma City Blue hold his returning rights and are playing in the bubble, Ball shouldn’t be in the general draft pool.

The Blue are one of 18 teams set to participate in the shortened bubble season, which is expected to take place at Walt Disney World. That list of teams can be found right here.

Givony previously reported that the G League is adjusting its roster rules for this season to make it easier for NBA teams to recruit and sign veterans with five or more years of NBA experience. Each NBAGL team will be able to designate an “NBA Vet Selection” who fits that bill and can sign that player directly without navigating the league’s complicated waiver process. My understanding is that those designated won’t be in the draft pool.

G League Notes: Moreland, Select Contracts, Harrison, Draft

Several NBA teams secured returning rights for players who were in camp with them but failed to make the 15-man roster. Raptors 905 acquired center Eric Moreland from the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s affiliate, for forward Kyle Wiltjer, according to a G League release. The Raptors waived Moreland a week ago. Raptors 905 pulled off a similar deal with the Texas Legends, the Mavericks’ affiliate, to acquire guard Kyle Collinsworth, who was waived at the same time as Moreland. Texas acquired the returning player rights to forwards C.J. Leslie and Kennedy Meeks, according to a G League release. The Delaware Blue Coats, the 76ers’ affiliate, gained the returning player rights of forward Cory Jefferson in a three-team swap with the Agua Caliente Clippers and the Legends, according to another G League post. The Sixers waived Jefferson on October 13th.

We have more from the G League:

  • The league is putting together a “working group” that will determine which players are eligible for select contracts, G League president Malcolm Turner said in a Q&A session posting on the league’s website. “That group will be charged with identifying appropriate, eligible, elite talent, not only in terms of on-court performance and potential, but also in terms overall readiness for the G League. In addition to identification, that working group will really help us monitor the rollout and execution of this professional path … that working group will be charged with developing its own framework and lens for eligible players.” Beginning next year, the G League will offer “select contracts” worth $125K to top prospects who are at least 18 years old but aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft.
  • Numerous NBA and G league executives, coaches, agents and players feel the select contract concept is intriguing, but there is widespread skepticism how much appeal the program will have to top-level prospects and how it will be implemented. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the topic in a lengthy analysis piece.
  • The Arizona Suns traded away the returning player rights of Shaquille Harrison to the Memphis Hustle in a deal involving four players and a draft pick, according to another G League release. Harrison was the odd man out in the Suns’ point guard competition, as he was waived early this week. It was still somewhat surprising they traded away his rights. The Grizzlies gave themselves a little extra depth at the G League level as protection against another Mike Conley injury.
  • NBA veterans such as Willie Reed, Hakim Warrick, DeJuan Blair, and Arnett Moultrie could be among the higher selections in the annual G League draft, which takes place on Saturday, Adam Johnson of reports. The Salt Lake City Stars own the top pick.

Sixers Waive Okafor, Jefferson, Johnson

Veteran center Emeka Okafor wasn’t able to earn a roster spot with the Sixers, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Okafor was waived today, along with Cory Jefferson and Darin Johnson.

Okafor, 36, signed a non-guaranteed deal for the veteran’s minimum shortly before training camp opened last month. He had been hoping to win a spot as a backup to Joel Embiid and a veteran leader on one of the NBA’s top teams.

Okafor completed a remarkable comeback story when he earned a roster spot with the Pelicans in February after signing a pair of 10-day contracts. It marked his return to the league after missing four seasons because of injury. He appeared in 26 games, starting 19, and averaged 4.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per night. However, he barely played in the postseason.

New Orleans waived Okafor last month and he signed with the Sixers two days later.

Jefferson and Johnson signed with Philadelphia yesterday and both appear headed for the G League.

Sixers Sign Cory Jefferson, Darin Johnson

The Sixers have added forward Cory Jefferson and guard Darin Johnson to their training camp roster and waived guard Matt Farrell and forward DJ Hogg, according to a team press release.
The 6’9” Jefferson has spent the last two seasons playing professionally in Italy and the Philippines. He was on the Spurs’ summer league team and also played for the NBL’s Melbourne United when Philadelphia hosted the Australian team in a preseason game.
Jefferson, a second-round pick in 2014, has appeared in 58 career NBA games with Brooklyn and Phoenix and posted averages of 3.5 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 10.0 MPG.
Johnson, a 6-foot-7 guard, played 44 games last season with the Sixers’ G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. In 17.2 MPG, he averaged 6.5 PPG.
Farrell and Hogg were signed earlier this week and could wind up with the Blue Coats once they clear waivers.
The moves keep Philadelphia’s camp roster at 20 players.

And-Ones: NCAA, G League, Porter, World Cup

If Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy feels strongly about something, he rarely holds back. He showed that on Sunday when he weighed in on NCAA basketball, which is currently the subject of an FBI investigation.

According to an ESPN report, Van Gundy called the NCAA “one of the worst organizations” in sports, suggesting that “they certainly don’t care about the athlete(s).” He also railed against the NBA’s and NCAA’s one-and-done rule, which he notes isn’t consistent with the way other sports leagues operate.

“People that were against [players] coming out [of high school] made a lot of excuses, but I think a lot of it was racist. I’ve never heard anybody go up in arms about [minor league baseball or hockey],” Van Gundy said to reporters. “They are not making big money, and they’re white kids primarily and nobody has a problem.

“But all of a sudden you’ve got a black kid that wants to come out of high school and make millions,” Van Gundy continued. “That’s a bad decision, but bypassing college to go play for $800 a month in minor league baseball? That’s a fine decision? What the hell is going on?”

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

  • It’s time for elite high school prospects to start consider playing in the NBA G League instead of heading to the NCAA, says Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. While playing in the G League isn’t as “glamorous” as playing for a program like Duke or Kentucky, and the standard $25K salary is modest, players would be able to legally accept money from agents and shoe companies before being drafted, Spears notes. Players would also get a chance to play in NBA systems with NBA rules, and would face a higher level of competition in the NBAGL than in an average NCAA game.
  • More than 10 high-ranking NBA executives told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that they’d advise top prospect Michael Porter Jr. to play for Missouri down the stretch, assuming he feels ready to return. Viewed as a probable lottery pick in the 2018 draft, Porter has been cleared for full contact after recovering from back surgery, but isn’t a lock to return to the court this season. “If he’s healthy, he’s not going to slide down too much even if he doesn’t play well,” one GM said. “Everyone’s seen him. And if he plays well, I think he could move all the way up to the second spot in the draft.”
  • Twelve international teams have already secured their spots in the second round of qualifying for the 2019 Basketball World Cup, per an AP report (via USA Today). The United States can assure itself of a spot in the second round by defeating Puerto Rico on Monday.
  • Former Nets and Suns forward Cory Jefferson, who was playing in Italy earlier this season, has returned stateside and caught on with the Texas Legends, the Mavericks‘ G League affiliate, as Nicola Lupo of Sportando details.

International Notes: Huertas, Hamilton, Langford

Veteran guard Marcelo Huertas, who appeared in 76 games for the Lakers over the last two seasons, appears to be headed back overseas. According to international basketball journalist David Pick (Twitter link), Huertas is joining Spanish team Unicaja Malaga, this year’s EuroCup winners.

Huertas averaged 16.4 MPG in 53 contests during his first year in L.A., but saw his role reduced in 2016/17, playing in just 23 games before he was traded to Houston. The Rockets immediately waived Huertas, giving him the opportunity to return to Europe.

Here are a few more updates on international transactions with NBA connections:

  • Having been traded by the Nets and waived by the Raptors already this month, center Justin Hamilton appears poised to land in China. Eurohoops passes along a report from Sport 24 that suggests Hamilton is on the verge of signing a lucrative contract with the Beijing Ducks.
  • Another notable player is making the move to China, according to David Pick, who reports (via Twitter) that Euroleague scoring leader Keith Langford has agreed to a $2.1MM deal with the Shenzhen Leopards. Langford, 33, has had a long and successful career overseas, appearing only briefly in the NBA with the Spurs in 2007/08.
  • Veteran forward Cory Jefferson has signed in Italy with EA7 Milano, a source tells David Pick (Twitter link). It’ll be the first stint in Europe for Jefferson, who played for the Nets and Suns between 2014 and 2016 and was in camp with the Cavaliers last year.

And-Ones: BIG3, Hairston, Jefferson, Extensions

A number of players who have been traded at the trade deadline or during the NBA season spoke to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype about the experience, with Cavaliers wing Iman Shumpert providing some of the more interesting quotes. As Shumpert explains, he was injured when he was sent to Cleveland by the Knicks, and had mixed feelings about the move.

“I just remember the feeling [sucked],” Shumpert said. “It was like, ‘Ah, I’m hurt, we’ve lost a bunch of games in a row and then I’m traded.’ Then, shortly after we walk in and we get to playing with the Cavs, we go on a long winning streak. I kept thinking back to my old teammates like, ‘Damn, I was hurt and we were losing. Now I come here and I’m playing well and the energy is great.’ I just felt like they kind of grabbed me out of hell. And every game was being showcased on TV and we’re winning. It was just crazy. I was happy, but I felt bad too.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the league:

  • As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (via Twitter), former NBA star Julius Erving has committed to coaching a team in the BIG3 this summer, the league confirmed in a press release. Erving will join Gary Payton, George Gervin, Clyde Drexler, and others as BIG3 coaches. Check out our comprehensive players/coaches list for the full breakdown.
  • Former NBA wing P.J. Hairston, who was in camp with the Rockets last fall, has been suspended for five NBADL games for violating the D-League’s anti-drug policy, according to a press release. Hairston is currently playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s affiliate.
  • In other D-League news, former NBA power forward Cory Jefferson has left the Austin Spurs to play in the Philippines, tweets Chris Reichert of The Step Back. International basketball journalist David Pick adds (via Twitter) that Jefferson, who is signing with the Alaska Aces, has multiple Euroleague offers for the 2017/18 season.
  • Keith Smith of RealGM takes an early look at the market for rookie-scale extensions this coming offseason, making his predictions on which players will get new deals before they reach restricted free agency. As I outlined last week, a few of this year’s key rookie-scale extension negotiations will be complicated by major injuries.

And-Ones: Fizdale, Jefferson, Thompson

New Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale has drawn rave reviews from a number of his former players, including Mike Miller, who says Memphis hit the jackpot by hiring the former Heat assistant this offseason, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. “He’ll do a great job because he can communicate,” Miller said. “At this level it’s becoming that, it’s communicating with your players and obviously being organized. He’s going to take that same culture that was in Miami. He’s from the Pat Riley [coaching] tree, you know he’s going to be organized and prepared. For him, the biggest challenge will be coaching the personnel and not the system. That’s going to be his challenge, but I think he’ll do a phenomenal job.”

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Cory Jefferson, who was in training camp with the Cavaliers this year, has signed a contract to join the D-League, Adam Johnson of D-League Digest reports (via Twitter). Jefferson’s rights are currently held by the Austin Spurs, San Antonio’s affiliate, Johnson adds.
  • Also signing a D-League contract is Mychel Thompson, whose rights are held by the Santa Cruz Warriors, Johnson relays (via Twitter). Thompson has played parts of the last three seasons with the Warriors’ affiliate. He also appeared in 14 games with Pallacanestro Varese of Italy last season before rejoining Santa Cruz.
  • Former Relativity Sports executives Happy Walters and Josh Swartz are launching a new venture, Catalyst Sports & Media, an agency that will focus on representing athletes who play basketball, soccer and esports, Ian Thomas and Liz Mullen of The Sports Business Journal report.

And-Ones: Prigioni, Teague, Evans, Hummel

Pablo Prigioni, who was waived by Houston on Monday, is drawing interest from a team in Spain, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. The 39-year-old point guard has an offer from Barcelona that he is reportedly considering. Prigioni played for the Knicks, Clippers and Rockets in four NBA seasons.

There’s more NBA-related news tonight:

  • Former NBA guard Marquis Teague has been released by his Israeli team, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. The younger brother of Pacers guard Jeff Teague, Marquis Teague played 88 games for the Bulls and Nets but has been out of the league for the past two seasons.
  • Ex-NBA players Jeremy Evans and Robbie Hummel have signed with Khimki Moscow, Pick reports (Twitter link). Evans, who was waived by the Pacers last week, had a guaranteed $1,227,286 contract. Hummel had a $150K guarantee from the Nuggets, who released  him last week.
  • Three recently waived players were part of a D-League trade today, reports Chris Reichert of The Step Back (Twitter link). The Northern Arizona Suns dealt Xavier Munford, Cory Jefferson and Alec Brown to the Greensboro Swarm in exchange for three draft picks. Munford, a 24-year-old shooting guard, was released by the Clippers, Jefferson was cut by the Cavaliers and Brown was waived by the Suns.

Cavs Waive Markel Brown, Cory Jefferson, Jonathan Holmes

The Cavaliers have cut down the numbers of players on their roster from 20 to 17, according to Dave McMenamin of, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has waived shooting guard Markel Brown, power forward Cory Jefferson, and power forward Jonathan Holmes. The Cavs confirmed the moves in a press release.

Brown, Jefferson, and Holmes each signed a one-year summer contract with the Cavaliers heading into training camp this year, with none of the three players receiving any guaranteed money from the team. Cleveland only has 13 guaranteed salaries on its books for 2016/17, so there’s a roster spot or two available for a player without a fully guaranteed deal, but it was always going to be an uphill battle for Brown, Jefferson, or Holmes to make the cut.

While Holmes has never appeared in a regular season NBA game, Brown and Jefferson have seen some action over the last two seasons, and were teammates in Brooklyn in 2014/15. Brown is the slightly more accomplished player of the pair, having appeared in 109 games to Jefferson’s 58. Brown averaged 5.9 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.5 APG in those games.

With at least two more cuts to make, the Cavs will be making decisions on players like John Holland, Jordan McRae, Dahntay Jones, and DeAndre Liggins within the next few days.

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • Within an interesting piece on Kevin Love, Lee Jenkins of writes that Cavs GM David Griffin told Love in February that he didn’t want to trade him, but would understand if the big man wanted to go somewhere where he could be the primary option again. According to Jenkins, Love replied, “I want to be a champion.”
  • James Jones, who re-signed with the Cavaliers this summer, tells Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders he’s focused on playing 15 years in the NBA, then retiring. Jones is currently entering his 14th season, so that plan would put him on track to call it a career in 2018.