D.J. Stephens

Xavier Cooks Reportedly Joining Japanese Team

After being waived last month by the Wizards, forward Xavier Cooks has agreed to join the Chiba Jets in Japan’s top basketball league (B.League), reports Olgun Uluc of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Cooks, who was born in Australia, has spent most of his professional career playing for the Sydney Kings after going undrafted out of Winthrop in 2018. After helping lead the Kings to a National Basketball League title earlier this year, the 28-year-old signed a four-year contract with the Wizards in March that included two guaranteed seasons — 2022/23 and ’23/24.

Cooks appeared in 10 games down the stretch last season with Washington, averaging 3.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per night. However, the team overhauled its front office in the offseason, replacing the decision-makers who initially brought him aboard.

When the Wizards faced a roster crunch this fall, with 17 players on guaranteed contracts battling for 15 standard roster spots, Cooks was one of the odd men out despite his guaranteed $1,719,864 salary, which he’ll still receive from Washington.

Cooks is set to join a Chiba Jets team that plays its home games in Funabashi, just east of Tokyo. The club – which features one other former NBA player, D.J. Stephens – is off to an 8-6 start this season in B.League play and has won all three of its games in the East Asia Super League.

Grizzlies Sign Jarnell Stokes, Waive D.J. Stephens

JANUARY 1: Stokes has officially signed, according to a tweet from the Grizzlies.

DECEMBER 30: The Grizzlies plan to sign forward Jarnell Stokes to a two-way deal, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Memphis created an open two-way roster spot by waiving D.J. Stephens on Sunday, reaching the agreement to sign Stokes beforehand.

Stokes had worked out for the Grizzlies in early November before the team signed Joakim Noah, a league source told Hoops Rumors.

Stokes has spent the first part of the season playing in Sioux Falls, G League affiliate of the Heat, and appeared in 19 games with Memphis during the 2014/15 season. He’s improved vastly on defense in his time away from the team, transitioning into a solid two-way player that fits the Grizzlies’ grit-and-grind mentality.

Stephens, 28, signed a two-way deal with Memphis on Oct. 8 and played just one game with the team this season. He appeared in 10 contests with the club’s G League team, averaging 7.9 points and five rebounds per outing.

The Grizzlies have upcoming games scheduled against the Rockets (Dec. 31), Pistons (Jan. 2) and Nets (Jan. 4), holding a 18-17 record through the season’s first 35 games.

Grizzlies Waive Forward Ismaila Kane

The Grizzlies have waived forward Ismaila Kane, according to a team press release.

The 6’9” Kane made one preseason appearance, logging two minutes. The Senegal native went undrafted after playing 13 games last season for Atlanta Metropolitan of the National Junior College Athletic Association. He could wind up with the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G League team, once he clears waivers.

Memphis needed to make a roster move after signing swingman D.J. Stephens to a two-way contract.

Grizzlies Sign D.J. Stephens To Two-Way Deal

7:27pm: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

9:36 am: Former Bucks swingman D.J. Stephens is returning to the NBA, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies are signing Stephens to a two-way contract.

The Grizzlies currently only have one of their two-way slots filled, but they’re carrying a full 20-man preseason roster, so a corresponding move will be required to finalize the signing. Memphis will likely cut one of its players on non-guaranteed contracts, clearing the way for Stephens to join Japanese wing Yuta Watanabe as the two-way players on the roster.

Stephens, who played his college ball at the University of Memphis, went undrafted in 2013. After spending most of his rookie season in Greece, the 6’5″ guard/forward joined the Bucks briefly, appearing in three games with the team over the course of a 10-day contract.

Although Stephens later signed training camp deals with the Pelicans, Cavaliers, and Grizzlies, he hasn’t played in another NBA regular season game since that short stint with Milwaukee in 2014. His résumé since then includes stops in Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Puerto Rico, France, and the G League. The 27-year-old won a championship in France last season playing for Le Mans.

2017 NBA G League Expansion Draft Results

The NBA G League conducted its expansion draft today, allowing the league’s four new franchises to add the returning rights to 11 players apiece. The league’s previously-existing 22 teams had been permitted to retain the rights to nine players each, leaving the rest of their players unprotected and free to be drafted, though no team can lose more than two players. Adam Johnson recently outlined the full details of the expansion draft process in a piece for 2 Ways & 10 Days.

The G League’s four new teams this year are affiliates for the Hawks (Erie BayHawks), Grizzlies (Memphis Hustle), Bucks (Wisconsin Herd), and Clippers (Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario). The Erie BayHawks have been in the G League for years but are technically an expansion team since the old iteration of the BayHawks was purchased by the Magic and moved to Lakeland, Florida — the Lakeland Magic will retain returning rights for former BayHawks players.

The players added today by the G League’s four expansion teams won’t necessarily play for them this season — in fact, it’s not all that common for expansion draftees to suit up for their new clubs. Many of those players will try to catch on with an NBA team or will end up playing overseas, if they’re not already on an NBA or international roster. Still, the expansion draft gives the G League’s new teams some assets as they start to build their rosters for the coming season.

Listed below are the results of today’s expansion draft, per the G League’s official announcement. The player’s former G League team is noted in parentheses, and picks are ordered by round. The teams will hold their players’ rights for the next two seasons:

Erie BayHawks (Hawks)

  1. DeAndre Daniels (Raptors 905)
  2. Sean Kilpatrick (Delaware 87ers)*
  3. Ronald Roberts (Reno Bighorns)
  4. Terran Petteway (Maine Red Claws)
  5. Casey Prather (Windy City Bulls)
  6. Jordan Crawford (Grand Rapids Drive)*
  7. Jordan Sibert (Iowa Energy)
  8. Beau Beech (Long Island Nets)
  9. Raphiael Putney (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)
  10. Luke Harangody (Lakeland Magic)
  11. Will Bynum (Windy City Bulls)

Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies)

  1. Marquis Teague (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)
  2. Okaro White (Sioux Falls Skyforce)*
  3. D.J. Stephens (Iowa Energy)
  4. Omari Johnson (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)
  5. Jamaal Franklin (Long Island Nets)
  6. Adonis Thomas (Grand Rapids Drive)
  7. Manny Harris (Texas Legends)
  8. Mark Tyndale (Reno Bighorns)
  9. Jordon Crawford (Canton Charge)
  10. Jimmer Fredette (Westchester Knicks)
  11. Terrence Drisdom (Santa Cruz Warriors)

Wisconsin Herd (Bucks)

  1. Vince Hunter (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  2. Gracin Bakumanya (Northern Arizona Suns)
  3. Perry Ellis (Greensboro Swarm)
  4. Corey Walden (Maine Red Claws)
  5. Josh Davis (Greensboro Swarm)
  6. Michael Dunigan (Canton Charge)
  7. Jarvis Summers (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)
  8. James Siakam (Raptors 905)
  9. Kyle Casey (Northern Arizona Suns)
  10. Cady Lalanne (Austin Spurs)
  11. Tyler Harvey (Lakeland Magic)

Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers)

  1. Andre Dawkins (Texas Legends)
  2. Bryce Cotton (Oklahoma City Blue)
  3. Corey Hawkins (Delaware 87ers)
  4. Will Cummings (Delaware 87ers)
  5. J.J. O’Brien (Salt Lake City Stars)
  6. Jamil Wilson (South Bay Lakers)
  7. Keith Steffeck (Santa Cruz Warriors)
  8. Julian Jacobs (South Bay Lakers)
  9. Aaron Craft (Salt Lake City Stars)
  10. Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Westchester Knicks)
  11. Youssou Ndoye (Austin Spurs)

Players marked with an asterisk (*) are currently on an NBA roster. If they remain under contract and are assigned to the G League, they would join their current NBA team’s affiliate.

D.J. Stephens To Play In Ukraine

Former Memphis shooting guard D.J. Stephens is heading overseas, according to international basketball journalist David Pick, who reports (via Twitter) that Stephens will join a Ukranian club. While the exact terms of Stephens’ deal are unclear, he’ll earn in the “high teens” per month, says Pick.

Stephens, who turns 26 next month, has spent time with a few NBA teams, though his only regular-season action came in 2013/14, when he played three games for the Bucks. Since then, Stephens has been a camp invitee for the Pelicans (2014), the Cavs (2015), and – most recently – the Grizzlies. He was cut by the Grizzlies last month when the team cut its roster down to 15 players.

Shortly after Stephens became a free agent again, a report surfaced indicating that he had been arrested and charged with domestic aggravated assault. According to the report from The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Stephens was accused of attacking his child’s mother. As I noted at the time, the alleged incident likely reduced the guard’s chances of getting another shot with an NBA team anytime soon.

And-Ones: Stephens, Seattle, Childress, NBPA

Former University of Memphis standout D.J. Stephens has been arrested and charged with domestic aggravated assault, writes Yolanda Jones of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Stephens, who was in camp with the Grizzlies this month before being waived last weekend, is accused of attacking his child’s mother. The alleged incident reduces Stephens’ chances of getting another shot with an NBA team, but if he does sign with a club at some point, he could be facing a suspension, depending on the outcome of the case.

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the NBA…

  • One NBA team owner tells Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net that getting a franchise back in Seattle is “a big priority” for the league. A new arena proposal from Chris Hansen‘s investment group has created renewed optimism about getting the NBA back to the city, though it doesn’t sound as if the league has gone too far down the road on planning potential expansion or relocation. “I don’t think it’s been thought out that far along yet,” a source tells Amico.
  • A Wednesday report from Chris Reichert of The Step Back suggested that former Hawks forward Josh Childress, who last played in the NBA during the 2013/14 season, had signed a D-League contract. However, Reichert has since removed his tweet, and Childress’ agent – Daniel Moldovan of Entersport – denied the report (Twitter link).
  • Jon Wertheim of SI.com spoke to NBPA executive director Michele Roberts about the optimism surrounding the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, and what she and the players’ union hope to get out of a new deal.

Southwest Notes: Holiday, Demps, Beverley

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday remains on a leave of absence to care for his wife and newborn daughter, and his representatives have provided an update on the family. In a statement posted on the team’s website, Glushon Management says Lauren Holiday had surgery to remove a brain tumor earlier this month at Duke University Hospital. The couple’s daughter, who was born in September, is “healthy and at home with her family.” The Pelicans have given Holiday permission to remain away from the team for as long as necessary to take care of his family.

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans GM Dell Demps will probably get some time to see if his 11 offseason roster additions can be successful, writes Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune. Demps kept his job after the 2014/15 season when the organization fired Monty Williams as head coach, and Duncan doesn’t see this as a make-or-break year. The only exceptions could be if the Pelicans get off to a disastrous start like they did in 2015/16 or if Demps’ contract, the details of which haven’t been made public, expires at the end of the season. New Orleans hired former Hawks GM Danny Ferry as a special advisor over the summer.
  • The Rockets are preparing to start the season without point guard Patrick Beverley and power forward Donatas Motiejunas, posts Calvin Watkins on ESPN Now. Beverley will have surgery Tuesday on his injured left knee and is expected to be out of action four to six weeks. Motiejunas is a restricted free agent and remains unsigned three days before the team’s opener. “Taking two guys who can play 60 minutes, 30 each, who aren’t here, it’s going to have an impact,” said Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.
  • Small forward Troy Williams appears on the verge of earning a roster spot with the Grizzlies, writes Michael Wallace of NBA.com. After going undrafted out of Indiana, Williams signed a two-year deal with Memphis in late July with a $150K guarantee. He was the top preseason scorer among rookies at 13.2 points per game and led the Grizzlies in scoring three times.
  • D.J. Stephens, who was waived by the Grizzlies Saturday, may opt to play overseas instead of playing for the team’s D-League affiliate, Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal reports (Twitter link).

Grizzlies Waive Three, Will Also Cut Jordan Adams

5:32pm: The Grizzlies have waived Stephens, according to a team press release. The team has also waived Wayne Selden Jr. and JaKarr Sampson.

SATURDAY, 2:53pm: The Grizzlies have pared down their roster in advance of the regular season, waiving Jordan Adams and D.J. Stephens, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports (on Twitter). Memphis will be on the hook for Adams’ fully guaranteed salary of  $1,465,080 and Stephens’ partial guarantee of $35K, provided they are not claimed off waivers by another club.

Adams, 22, appeared in 32 NBA games since being selected with the No. 22 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. His numbers during that stretch are 3.2 points, 0.9 rebounds and 0.6 assists in 8.2 minutes per contest. His career slash line is .402/.385/.607.

The 25-year-old Stephens has three games of NBA experience with Milwaukee in 2014. The Cavs signed Stephens to a training camp deal last September, but then waived him shortly before the season started. The previous fall, Stephens had inked minimum-salary camp deal with the Pelicans and was among the team’s final cuts about a week before Halloween in 2014.

Grizzlies Re-Sign Tony Wroten

A roller coaster of an offseason for Tony Wroten continued today, as the former first-round point guard formally signed a new contract with the Grizzlies, according to a press release from the team. The club’s official announcement also confirmed previously reported deals for D.J. Stephens, Troy Williams, and Wayne Selden.

[RELATED: Grizzlies’ 2016 free agent signings, via our Free Agent Tracker]

Wroten, the 25th overall pick in the 2012 draft, appeared in just eight games for the Sixers last season before Philadelphia waived him in December. The Knicks later signed Wroten to a two-year deal, minimum-salary deal that contained no guaranteed money for the 2016/17 campaign, but removed him from their roster in June when they acquired Derrick Rose from the Bulls. The Grizzlies claimed him off waivers at that point, but cut him in July.

One recent report from international basketball journalist David Pick indicated that Wroten could end up re-signing with Memphis, so it’s possible the Grizzlies simply wanted to rework the terms of the 23-year-old’s contract before bringing him back. Of course, based on the team’s cap limitations, neither Wroten nor any of the other three signees whose deals were confirmed today will receive more than the minimum salary.

A Washington product, Wroten began his NBA career in Memphis in 2012, before later joining the Sixers. In 145 total games in the NBA, he has averaged 11.1 points and 3.0 assists per contest, but has shot just 41.3% from the floor, including a paltry 23.1% from downtown. When Wroten was waived by the Knicks, a report from Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola of The New York Daily News suggested that the team made the decision due to an undisclosed disciplinary issue, but it appears that issue didn’t scare off the Grizzlies.