D.J. Mbenga

Knicks Waive D.J. Mbenga, Orlando Sanchez

The Knicks are have waived center Didier Ilunga-Mbenga and power forward Orlando Sanchez, the team announced (Twitter link). Peter Botte of the New York Daily News and Newsday’s Al Iannazzone reported the team would make the moves minutes before the announcement (Twitter link). The news is no surprise, even though Sanchez has a partially guaranteed deal. Sanchez’s partial guarantee is only $15K, and that amount will stick on New York’s cap figure for the rest of the season unless another team claims him off waivers. Mbenga’s deal is non-guaranteed.

Mbenga was making his first foray back into the NBA since the 2010/11 season, save for a brief preseason stint with the Mavs in 2012. The 33-year-old reunited with Knicks team president Phil Jackson, who coached him on back-to-back Lakers championship teams in 2009 and 2010. The seven-year NBA veteran scored two points in less than five minutes of action in his lone preseason appearance this month. Sanchez saw just a single minute in his only preseason game. The 26-year-old went undrafted out of St. John’s this summer before competing for the Dominican Republican in FIBA World Cup action. Sanchez will sign to play for the Knicks D-League affiliate, agent B.J. Bass tells Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link).

The Knicks still have 18 players on their roster, though they probably won’t have much trouble deciding whom to cut to winnow down to 15 players in time for Monday’s opening-night roster deadline. They have 14 guaranteed contracts plus a partial guarantee for Samuel Dalembert, who’s expected to play a significant role. Langston Galloway and Travis Wear are long shots to make the club in spite of their nominal partial guarantees, as is new signee Jordan Vandenberg.

And-Ones: Butler, Caven, Jefferson, Macklin

Jimmy Butler is focusing on basketball rather than becoming a restricted free agent next summer, writes Nick Friedell of ESPNChicago.com. Friedell adds that Butler may seek more than the $9.7MM annual salary that former Bulls teammate Luol Deng received this offseason from the Heat. When the topic of the new TV deal was broached, Butler deflected the question, saying, “I don’t know nothing about a TV deal. I just know that it’s my contract year, and I got to play well and I want to help us win. That’s all that I know.” Butler will be one of the first players to sign a deal in the new cap era, Friedell notes.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The contracts of D.J. Mbenga (Knicks), Jason Kapono (Warriors), and Yuki Togashi (Mavs) are all non-guaranteed, minimum salary camp deals, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). Kapono’s deal is for one season, Pincus notes on Golden State’s salary page.
  • One of Europe’s top prospects, Joonas Caven, a 6’11” big man from Finland, will enter the NBA D-League Draft this year, according to his agent K.C. Callero, Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reports (Twitter link). Caven is targeting the 2015 NBA Draft and the D-League will act as a showcase for his talents, notes Carchia.
  • The Pelicans waived Vernon Macklin so that he could pursue an opportunity to play in Europe, John Reid of The Times-Picayune reports (Twitter link).
  • One of the newest members of the Mavs, Richard Jefferson, accepted a veteran’s minimum deal this offseason, but that doesn’t mean he is willing to settle for a minimal role, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. MacMahon adds that Jefferson understands that he won’t be a starter but he is determined to find his niche on the team. “I like to believe myself to be an everyday contributor,” said Jefferson. “Whether it works out that way remains to be seen, but my job is just to stay ready.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Eastern Notes: Mbenga, Pacers, Pistons

Knicks head coach Derek Fisher had good things to say about D.J. Mbenga, his former teammate with the Lakers who was signed by New York earlier today, Marc Berman of The New York Post reports (Twitter link). Fisher said that Mbenga was a solid teammate who has a good knowledge of the triangle offense, and also added that Mbenga could help the “vibe” out in training camp this month, notes Berman. Berman’s wording of “this month” seemingly doubles down on his earlier report that Mbenga was signed purely for preseason purposes.

Here’s more from the east:

  • Chris Bosh hasn’t spoken with his former teammate LeBron James since James left the Heat to sign with the Cavs, ESPN.com reports. When asked by reporters if he had talked to James, Bosh said, “No. I’m in the mode where I’m trying to lead my team, help these guys out around here. If guys aren’t in this locker room, I don’t have much time for them — if any.” Miami’s first regular season game against LeBron and Cleveland is scheduled for Christmas day.
  • With all of the offseason turmoil the Pacers organization has gone through, Frank Vogel‘s contract extension will provide some needed stability, Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star writes.
  • Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, in a video report with CineSport’s Brian Clark, discusses the uncertainties surrounding the Pacers and speculates that while Vogel is sticking around, some of his key players might not be.
  • With Indiana expected to to take a step back this season, it leaves the door open for the Pistons to improve their standing in the Central Division, Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio writes in his season preview for Detroit. Amico believes the talent is there for the Pistons to take the next step toward being a playoff team.

Knicks Sign D.J. Mbenga

The Knicks have signed seven-year NBA veteran center D.J. Mbenga, the team announced (Twitter link). The team is limited to giving out only the minimum salary, but it’s unclear if any of it will be guaranteed for the 33-year-old who played under Knicks president Phil Jackson when he was coaching the Lakers. New York doesn’t have to let anyone go to make room, since the team had been carrying 18 players, two shy of the preseason roster limit of 20.

Mbenga hasn’t played an NBA regular season game since the 2010/11 season, but he was with the Mavs for the 2012/13 preseason. He spent the regular season that year playing in China and in the Philippines. The 7-footer’s greatest success came when he was with Jackson and averaged a career-high 2.7 points in 7.9 minutes per game for the title-winning 2008/09 Lakers. Mbenga has never seen more than 8.1 MPG in any NBA season.

The team made the signing with only training camp in mind, though it had been in the works for a while, tweets Marc Berman of the New York Post. There’s little opportunity for Mbenga or any of New York’s camp invitees to crack the 15-man regular season roster, since the team has 14 fully guaranteed deals and a partial guarantee with Samuel Dalembert, as I outlined Tuesday. Still, if the Knicks let him go and he’d like to play in the D-League, New York can retain his rights for its D-League affiliate.

International Notes: Mbenga, Pruitt, Karasev

The only official NBA roster move so far today saw Jannero Pargo ink a rest-of-season deal with the Bobcats. However, a handful of teams overseas have been active, so let's check in on a few transactions of note….

  • D.J. Mbenga, who was in camp with the Mavericks this fall and spent some time in China earlier in the season, has signed with Barako Bull Energy in the Philippines, the team announced on its Twitter account (hat tip to Sportando).
  • Former Celtic Gabe Pruitt has spent most of the season in the D-League, but is heading overseas to join Greek team AGOR Rethymno, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando writes.
  • Italian club Dinamo Sassari announced the signing of Drew Gordon, who went undrafted last summer (link via Sportando). The New Mexico product played with the Mavs in last July's Summer League, and started the 2012/13 season with Serbia's Partizan Belgrade.
  • Russian journalist Vladimir Spivak reports (via Twitter) that 19-year-old forward Sergey Karasev is expected to officially announce soon that he'll enter the 2013 NBA draft. Karasev, who is ranked as this year's 27th-best prospect by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com, was said last month to be leaning toward not entering the draft, so we'll have to wait for official word from his camp.

International Moves: Daniels, Mbenga, Emmett

It's a fairly quiet time of year for NBA transactions, but many former NBA players are still involved in the roster carousel with teams overseas. Here's the latest on a few of them:

  • According to Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype (Sulia link), it will be Chris Daniels, rather than Alabi, who replaces Mbenga for Qingdao. Daniels had been playing for Golden State's D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, averaging 7.0 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.3 BPG in three contests.

Earlier updates:

  • The Qingdao Double Star Eagles, Tracy McGrady's team in China, have waived NBA veteran D.J. Mbenga, according to a Sports.QQ.com report (English link via Sportando). Mbenga, who has played for the Mavericks, Lakers, Warriors, and Hornets, was replaced by Solomon Alabi, who spent the last two season with the Raptors and was in camp with the Hornets this fall.
  • Former Texas Tech standout Andre Emmett has signed in Lebanon with Amchit, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Emmett, 30, was drafted by the SuperSonics 35th overall in 2004, but has only played 14 career regular season games with the Grizzlies and Nets.

International Moves: Johnson, Tskitishvili, Jones

While the majority of NBA executives are holding off on movement until December 15th, when most of the free agents signed this summer can be traded, there's plenty going on overseas. We'll round up the latest here.

Earlier updates:

  • Nikoloz Tskitishvili, whom the Nuggets selected with the fifth overall pick in 2002, has signed to play for Champville in Lebanon, Sportando's Emiliano Carchia reports. He'll replace Dwayne Jones, who played parts of five NBA seasons (Twitter link). Tskitishvili, who hasn't appeared in the NBA since 2005/06, began the season with an Iranian team. 
  • Jermareo Davidson has inked with the Turkish club Antalya, according to Carchia. Davidson, a second-round pick of the Warriors in 2007, last played in the NBA in 2008/09.
  • Jon Pastuszek of NiuBBall.com chronicles the struggles of Tracy McGrady in China, who's straining under the pressure of having to carry the winless Qingdao Double Star Eagles. Pastuszek notes the team is trying to unload fellow American import D.J. Mbenga, according to SinaSports (Chinese link). Mbenga signed with the team after the Mavericks cut him right before training camp.

Mbenga To Play For McGrady’s Chinese Team

D.J. Mbenga has agreed to sign with the Qingdao Double Star Eagles, the same Chinese team that Tracy McGrady plays for, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Mbenga was waived by the Mavericks on the eve of camp last month, despite an agreement that he would join the Mavs' D-League affiliate after going through training camp with Dallas.

Mbenga reportedly turned down offers from teams in China and Greece to sign with the Mavs, though it's unclear whether that Chinese offer was from Qingdao. The 31-year-old Mbenga played seven seasons in the NBA, though he hasn't seen action in the league since 2010/11, despite drawing interest from the Bucks at midseason last year. He has career NBA averages of 1.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in 6.7 minutes per game.

Since the Chinese season ends before the NBA regular season does, there's a chance Mbenga, as well as McGrady, could latch on in the Association if he impresses overseas.

Mavericks Waive D.J. Mbenga, Tu Holloway

Just a few days after officially signing them, the Mavericks have waived D.J. Mbenga and Tu Holloway, the team announced today in a press release. With Mbenga and Holloway no longer on the training camp roster, the team now has 16 players under contract.

With the preseason still a few days from getting underway, the timing of the moves seems a little unusual. Dallas was under no pressure to reduce its roster size yet, and I would've assumed the club would at least take a look at Mbenga and Holloway in camp this week. Perhaps the pair of players is being given the chance to explore other opportunities, though that's just my speculation.

Mbenga, 31, has appeared in 234 career games for the Mavericks, Warriors, Lakers, and Hornets, and was reportedly prepared to join Dallas' D-League affiliate if he didn't earn a spot on the team. Holloway, 23, was ranked as this year's 68th-best prospect by ESPN.com's Chad Ford but went undrafted. The 6'0" point guard averaged 17.5 PPG and 4.9 APG in his senior year at Xavier before playing for the Mavs' summer league squad in July.

Mavericks Notes: Carlisle, Starters, Mbenga, D-Will

The Mavericks are one of a handful of teams that get to open training camp early today, since they're headed overseas for part of the preseason. It brings to a close an offseason that was all about Plan B after they were spurned by Deron Williams. GM Donnie Nelson instead went about acquiring players on short-term deals that will allow the team to go after marquee free agents again in the future. The team took a step back last year after winning the championship in 2011, but not everyone believes that will be the case again this season.

  • The additions of O.J. MayoDarren CollisonChris Kaman and Elton Brand might not be splashy, but coach Rick Carlisle thinks they're still enough to allow Dallas to compete for another championship, as Jan Hubbard of SheridanHoops.com writes. Carlisle notes that the Mavs were an underdog when they won the title in 2011, and draws parallels to wild card teams going on playoff runs in other sports. Whether there's any truth to that, or it's just a coach's motivational ploy, remains to be seen.
  • Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that "by all accounts," newcomers Collison, Mayo and Kaman will join Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion in the starting lineup. Price also says Elton Brand, Dahntay Jones and D.J. Mbenga could also find a way into the rotation. In Mbenga's case, that's a bit surprising, considering he has a non-guaranteed deal and the team would have to let go of a guaranteed contract to keep him for the regular season.
  • Marion isn't bitter that Williams isn't coming to Dallas, and believes his Nets will challenge the Heat atop the Eastern Conference this year, as Price notes. "It is what it is and I wish him the best," Marion said of his would-be teammate. "They’ve got a hell of a team this year in Brooklyn."