Craig Porter

Central Notes: Giannis, Griffin, Bogdanovic, Hield, Cavs

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Adrian Griffin appeared to have a “heated” disagreement during the third quarter of Milwaukee’s loss to Boston on Wednesday, but the Bucks‘ head coach downplayed the incident after the game, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Antetokounmpo didn’t want to be subbed out midway through the period after being called for a carrying violation and sat on the scorer’s table talking to Griffin, eventually checking back in at the next dead ball.

He wanted to stay in, I wanted to give him a breather. That’s all it was,” Griffin said. “And then I told him to stay at the table for one possession, and he got right back out there.”

Antetokounmpo simply said “no” when he was asked what transpired.

As Bontemps writes, the matchup between the East’s top two seeds was lopsided for most of the contest, with Boston reeling off 10 straight points to open the game and never trailing. The Bucks made things interesting late, but the Celtics prevailed by a final score of 119-116.

Here’s more from the Central:

  • Sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic is nearing his 2023/24 season debut for the Pistons, writes Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscriber link). Bogdanovic, who has been battling a right calf strain, was recently cleared for contact work and was a full practice participant on Wednesday. Getting their top scorer from last season back in the near future is certainly welcome news for the injury-ravaged Pistons, who have lost a league-worst 12 straight games and once again hold the worst record in the NBA at 2-13.
  • Pacers wing Buddy Hield got his second straight start on Wednesday in place of Bennedict Mathurin, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Head coach Rick Carlisle was noncommittal when asked if the lineup change he implemented for Tuesday’s contest would be permanent or temporary. Aaron Nesmith, who replaced Obi Toppin at power forward on Tuesday, was sidelined with a sprained wrist, so Toppin was back in the starting lineup yesterday. Hield, who had been in a shooting slump, has been scorching hot the past two games, averaging 27.5 points while shooting 75.0% from the floor and 72.2% from three-point range.
  • Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell missed his fourth straight game on Wednesday due to a hamstring strain, notes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (via Twitter). While there weren’t many positives from the Cavs’ blowout loss to the Heat, rookie guard Craig Porter Jr. got his first career start and continued his streak of strong performances, per Chris Fedor of (subscriber link). Porter, who went undrafted in June and is on a two-way contract, recorded 16 points (on 6-of-12 shooting), five assists, two rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 35 minutes.

Central Notes: C. Porter, Giannis, Dame, Pacers, Pistons

Of the three players on two-way contracts with the Cavaliers, Evan Mobley‘s brother Isaiah Mobley and former five-star recruit Emoni Bates are the bigger names. However, it has been Cleveland’s third two-way player – point guard Craig Porter Jr. – who has been emerging as the one with the most important role in the short term.

As Chris Fedor of writes, Porter earned the game ball from Sunday’s upset win over the Nuggets by scoring 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting in 25 minutes of action. It was an impressive showing for an undrafted rookie who was expected to spend most of his first season in the G League getting acclimated to the pro game. Porter has received an opportunity to play because Ricky Rubio is absent for personal reasons and Ty Jerome is out with an ankle injury.

That’s just one of the things they told me early in the year after training camp and stuff like that. ‘Just be ready, you never know when your number’s gonna be called,'” Porter said. “I took that to heart and it’s been working for me. … As the games go on and as some guys fall down with injuries and stuff, I’m going to keep getting my opportunity. Each game, the confidence just builds and builds. The coaches believe in me, and the guys are just pushing me to be better. I’m ready for it.”

According to Fedor, the Cavaliers had a verbal two-way offer on the table for Porter in the event he went undrafted, but the team wanted him badly enough to try to acquire an additional second-round pick after drafting Bates at No. 49. Cleveland ultimately didn’t find a trade partner, so the front office was relieved when Porter went undrafted. He reached an agreement with the Cavs on a two-year, two-way deal shortly after the draft ended.

“He’s mature,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of the 23-year-old. “He’s an older rookie, so to speak. You just feel like you can trust him and you don’t feel like he gets rattled in the moment. It makes it easy to put him on the floor. You know what he’s going to do. … A lot of guys come into the league as young rookies and they’re still searching for their game. Craig knows what his game is. Never over his skis. That’s how Craig has been for us since he’s gotten here.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The chemistry between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard in Saturday’s win over Dallas looked like what the Bucks envisioned when they traded for Lillard, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. The star duo combined for 67 points, 19 assists, and 18 rebounds in the victory, with Antetokounmpo racking up 40 of those points. Lillard said after the game that he’s happy to cede center stage to his two-time MVP teammate. “I think tonight, he’s the horse,” Lillard said. “I wanna see him be four-time MVP or five-time MVP and have those type of games.”
  • Sunday’s blowout home loss to Orlando was Tyrese Haliburton‘s worst game of the season and a reminder of how dependent the Pacers‘ success is on their star point guard, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star, who suggests that the club will probably need a second star on its roster to establish itself as a consistent winner.
  • Due to a sprained left shoulder, Killian Hayes missed Sunday’s game for the Pistons, who started second-year guard Jaden Ivey for the first time this season. As Mike Curtis of The Detroit News (subscription required) writes, head coach Monty Williams said before the game that he has been considered bringing Hayes off the bench to add his play-making to the second unit, so Ivey may see more starts going forward. However, Detroit’s lineup remains in flux with so many players affected by injuries — it could continue to change in the coming days and weeks, Curtis notes.

And-Ones: Summer League, McClung, Motiejunas, NBAGL Showcase

The Hornets‘ poor play was one of the worst parts of Las Vegas Summer League, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Despite having eight players on the roster attending (and a ninth, James Nnaji, as one of a handful of remaining unsigned draft picks), Charlotte went 1-6 and was minus-55 overall. No one played particularly well, with Hollinger noting that the team may end up regretting not taking Scoot Henderson instead of Brandon Miller, if their brief Summer League performances were any indication.

Of more immediate concern for the Hornets are the fourth-year team option decisions on 2021 first-round picks James Bouknight and Kai Jones, which are due by late October. Neither looks like a sure bet to have his option picked up, as both players struggled in Vegas despite entering their third seasons, Hollinger adds. Bouknight’s option in 2024/25 is worth $6.1MM, while Jones’ is worth $4.7MM — not exactly team-friendly rates given they haven’t contributed much thus far.

Nnaji showed some defensive promise, but may be a draft-and-stash prospect while he develops his offensive game, says Hollinger.

Among the other players who struggled in Summer League were Pistons center James Wiseman (poor screening and defense), Nets first-rounder Noah Clowney (looked overmatched) and Lakers draft picks Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis, according to Hollinger.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • On the other end of the spectrum, Hollinger also revealed his under-the-radar Summer League standouts for The Athletic, including Javon Freeman-Liberty, who just agreed to a two-way deal with the Raptors, and Cavaliers guards Sam Merrill and Craig Porter Jr., the latter of whom went undrafted and signed a two-way contract with Cleveland. Hollinger says he would have given Merrill, whose contract for next season is non-guaranteed, the Summer League MVP award over Cam Whitmore.
  • Free agent guard Mac McClung, who finished last season on a two-way deal with the Sixers, tells Sean Deveney of he’s focused on making another NBA team, but he’s open to going to Europe if he can’t find a roster spot. “We’ll see,” McClung said. “I am in free agency right now, my agent is talking to some teams, back and forth. We’re just trying to evaluate what is the best situation for me. Hopefully, I will be in the NBA next year and finding my way.”
  • Former NBA big man Donatas Motiejunas has signed a two-year extension with AS Monaco Basket, the team announced (via Twitter). Donatas Urbonas of had the scoop on Motiejunas’ extension (Twitter link). The 32-year-old spent six seasons in the NBA, ending with a brief stint with San Antonio back in 2018/19. He was productive on a per-minute basis for Monaco, which won France’s LNB Pro A and finished third in the EuroLeague playoffs.
  • In 2023/24, the NBA G League’s Winter Showcase event will be held in Orlando instead of Las Vegas, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The Showcase has been held Vegas for several years, but will be moving due to the NBA’s new in-season tournament, as the semifinals and final will be held in early December in Vegas.

Contract/Cap Notes: Middleton, Lopez, C. Johnson, Watanabe, More

The three-year contract Khris Middleton signed with the Bucks only has a base value of about $93MM, well below the reported figure of $102MM, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

As Marks explains, the deal features approximately $9MM in total incentives — $2MM are currently considered likely to be earned, while the other $7MM are unlikely (meaning Middleton and/or the Bucks didn’t achieve the criteria last season). For now, the forward’s annual cap hits, which take into account his base salaries and likely incentives, will be $29.3MM, $31.7MM, and $34MM.

Meanwhile, Brook Lopez‘s two-year, $48MM contract with the Bucks has a declining structure, according to Marks. The veteran center will earn $25MM in 2023/24 and $23MM in ’24/25.

Here are a few more contract and cap details from around the NBA:

  • Marks also has the specifics (via Twitter) on Cameron Johnson‘s four-year contract with the Nets, which includes several incentives and declines in years two and three before rising again in year four. Johnson has base salaries of $24.5MM, $22.5MM, $20.5MM, and $22.5MM, with annual bonuses of $4.9MM, $4.5MM, $4.1MM, and $4.5MM. Currently, a total of $4.4MM of those incentives are considered likely, while the other $13.6MM are unlikely.
  • The Sunsdeal with Yuta Watanabe is a two-year, minimum-salary agreement with a second-year player option, confirms Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). That was the common structure on the contracts Phoenix offered to free agents — Eric Gordon, Keita Bates-Diop, and Drew Eubanks received similar deals.
  • A pair of two-way contracts that have been signed early in the 2023/24 league year will cover two seasons instead of just one. Craig Porter‘s deal with the Cavaliers and Jaylen Martin‘s agreement with the Knicks are each for two years, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter links).
  • A handful of teams using cap room this season have renounced their free agent rights to one or more players in order to maximize their space. According to RealGM’s transaction log, the Pacers (George Hill), Kings (Terence Davis, Jeremy Lamb, Corey Brewer), Pistons (Hamidou Diallo, Rodney McGruder, and Buddy Boeheim), and Thunder (eight players, including Dario Saric, Jared Butler, and Nick Collison) all renounced players. In some cases, those cap holds had been on teams’ books for multiple seasons — they won’t be there going forward.

Cavs Sign Isaiah Mobley, Craig Porter To Two-Way Deals

The Cavaliers have filled two of their three two-way slots for the 2023/24 season by signing forward Isaiah Mobley and guard Craig Porter to two-way contracts, per’s official transaction log.

Neither move comes as a surprise. Mobley was on a two-way deal last season and received a two-way qualifying offer last week that made him a restricted free agent. As for Porter, his agreement with Cleveland was reported shortly after he went undrafted on June 22.

Mobley, the older brother of rising Cavs star Evan Mobley, appeared in just 12 games and logged 84 total minutes at the NBA level last season after being drafted 49th overall out of USC. He played a much bigger role for the Cleveland Charge, the Cavs’ G League affiliate, averaging 21.0 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 4.0 assists with a .517/.353/.730 shooting line in 33.2 minutes per game across 22 regular season contests.

Porter, who went undrafted out of Wichita State, was a fifth-year senior who played three seasons with the Shockers after transferring from Vincennes. He had by far his best year in 2022/23, averaging 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 31 games (33.6 MPG) and earning third-team All-AAC honors.

The Cavs have one open two-way slot left and it’s not yet clear who will fill it. Last season’s other two-way player, Mamadi Diakite, didn’t receive a qualifying offer, so No. 49 pick Emoni Bates looks like the leading candidate, unless he earns a spot on the standard 15-man roster.

Craig Porter Jr. Joining Cavaliers On Two-Way Deal

Craig Porter Jr. has reached an agreement with the Cavaliers on a two-way contract, tweets Chris Fedor of

The Wichita State point guard conducted workouts with at least 10 teams and had been considered a possible late second-round pick. Instead, he will try to earn a roster spot with Cleveland through the two-way route.

Porter, 23, is a fifth-year senior who played three seasons with the Shockers after transferring from Vincennes. He had by far his best season in 2022/23, averaging 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 31 games and earning third-team All-AAC honors.

Mamadi Diakite and Isaiah Mobley finished this season as Cleveland’s two-way players. Mobley will likely return for another season on a two-way contract, and the Cavs may sign second-round pick Emoni Bates to a two-way deal with the intent of keeping him in the G League for most of his first season, Fedor adds in a full story.

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.

Southeast Draft Notes: Miller, Hornets, Council, Smith

The Hornets hold the No. 2 pick and Alabama forward Brandon Miller will work out for them on Tuesday, Ashley Stroehlein of WCNC tweets. Miller and G League guard Scoot Henderson are the top contenders to be chosen at the No. 2 spot. It was previously reported that Miller was scheduled to work out for Charlotte on Tuesday and the plans obviously didn’t change. In fact, he has already arrived in Charlotte.

We have more draft-related news from the Southeast Division:

Draft Notes: Black, Whitehead, Henderson, Hornets, Porter

In an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Arkansas guard Anthony Black describes himself as an unselfish player who’s willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win. Black displayed impressive passing skills during his freshman year with the Razorbacks, but he said he can defend, rebound and score as well.

Black, who grew up admiring Gilbert Arenas and Kobe Bryant, compares himself to Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey among current players. Like Giddey, Black is exceptionally tall for a point guard and he uses his 6’7″ height to his advantage.

“I think it helps in my reads,” Black said. “I watch a lot of film, so I’m watching some of the film from the season and some of my reads I’m making just looking straight. There’s a defender, but he’s not tall enough to block it. I can read the back line of the defense a lot easier, I feel like, than a smaller guard who could be guarded by someone with some length and disrupt the passing lane.”

There’s more on the draft:

  • The second surgery needed by Duke forward Dariq Whitehead wasn’t caused by a re-fracture of his right foot, tweets Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. A source tells Wasserman that Whitehead has met with several teams picking late in the lottery as well as teams with multiple first-round selections. He hasn’t been able to work out, but he’s gone through film sessions and met with head coaches, executives and medical personnel.
  • The Hornets haven’t set a date for their workout with Scoot Henderson, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The G League Ignite guard visited the Trail Blazers over the weekend and indicated that he will only work out for Portland and Charlotte. Boone notes that workout days usually aren’t publicized far in advance, and Henderson lives in Georgia so it wouldn’t take him long to get to the Hornets’ facility.
  • The Hornets are hosting a workout today with Texas’ Timmy Allen, Baylor’s Adam Flagler, Florida’s Alex Fudge, Michigan State’s Joey Hauser, Southern Utah’s Tevian Jones and North Carolina State’s Terquavion Smith (Twitter link).
  • Craig Porter Jr. has already conducted workouts with the Mavericks, Warriors, Celtics, Pistons, Magic and Cavaliers, and he has upcoming sessions with the Clippers, Wizards, Nuggets and Knicks, according to a tweet from Global Scouting. The Wichita State guard is a potential late second-round pick.

Draft Notes: Henderson, Sheppard, Wizards, Hornets, Magic, Warriors

With Scoot Henderson ranked second or third in nearly every mock draft, the G League Ignite star only plans two workouts during the pre-draft process, tweets Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report.

Henderson was in Portland on Saturday to show off the skills that have made him one of the most talked-about prospects in this year’s class. The Trail Blazers hold the third pick and appear to be the most likely destination for Henderson if speculation about Brandon Miller going to Charlotte at No. 2 is correct. There’s been plenty of conjecture that Portland may trade the pick for veteran help, but some sources believe the team would be comfortable adding another young player.

Henderson hasn’t scheduled a session with the Hornets yet, but he told Casey Holdahl of that he expects to work out for them at some point before the June 22 draft. He also talked about what he’ll bring to the team that selects him.

“You always want a guy like me, that dog mentality,” Henderson said. “Just my personality, the culture I bring to the locker room. I’m a great leader, I’ll tell what’s up and I can do everything on the floor. I can do everything on the floor. I’m going to go out there and give my 110 percent every day. And that’s the thing about me: I’m very consistent in effort. Even if it’s not there, I just try to even it out the next game, try to get right to it. Give it a 120 if I didn’t give it 110 the last game.”

There’s more draft news to pass along: