Dante Exum

And-Ones: Durant, Suns, EuroLeague Brawl, World Cup

Suns star Kevin Durant has agreeed to a lifetime contract with Nike, writes David Brandt of The Associated Press. Michael Jordan and LeBron James are the only other NBA players to ever sign similar deals.

“It means a lot, man,” Durant said. “It’s a dream come true. It’s something that I’ve been working towards since I was a kid and having a partnership with Nike. To be in that company is a blessing. Looking forward to what we can do in the future.”

Durant’s relationship with the athletic wear company began in 2007, Brandt adds. He has released 15 signature shoes during that time, and a 16th is due out soon. The new contract will include shoes and other apparel, as well as “community and philanthropic collaboration focused on grassroots basketball.”

“I did think that if I stay focused and stay locked in to what I know I can do, I could do some big things and I can have a huge partner like Nike,” he said. “It’s just a matter of staying focused and having that endurance to keep getting up and doing this every day. So yeah, I had confidence that I can do so. But I had to put in a lot of work to get here.”

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury unveiled a new arrangement on Friday that will move their games off cable, per Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The teams won’t renew their contract with Bally Sports Arizona, which has expired. Instead, games will be broadcast on free TV and will be available online through the streaming firm Kiswe on a direct-to-consumer service. “We’re not focusing on money. We’re focusing on winning, success and taking care of fans, taking care of the community,” new owner Mat Ishbia said. “What happens is you always end up making money. It always works out. We’re going to have more fans than ever before. … And more people buying merchandise because they’re bigger fans.”
  • Former NBA player Guerschon Yabusele was suspended for five games following a wild EuroLeague brawl late in a playoff contest between Real Madrid and Partizan Belgrade, according to an ESPN report. Yabusele slammed ex-NBA player Dante Exum to the court, causing him to rupture a tendon in his toe.
  • FIBA has announced the results of Saturday’s draw for this year’s World Cup. Thirty-two teams are in the competition, which will be held from August 25 to September 10 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia. Qatar will host the World Cup in 2027, according to an AP story.

International Notes: Exum, Leaf, Motiejunas, Edwards

It doesn’t appear an NBA return is in the cards this offseason for former No. 5 overall pick Dante Exum. According to a report from Dorde Matic of MozzartSport.com (hat tip to Eurohoops.net), Exum is on track to sign a contract with KK Partizan, a EuroLeague team based in Belgrade, Serbia.

Exum, 26, battled injuries during his NBA career and was limited to just 245 regular season appearances across seven years (2014-21) in Utah and Cleveland. He spent last season in Barcelona after being cut by the Rockets last fall.

Exum indicated in March that he was open to an NBA return but also wouldn’t mind continuing his career in Europe. It appears that’s the plan for the time being.

Here are a few more updates from around the international basketball world:

  • Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link) hears that former UCLA standout T.J. Leaf will join the Beijing Ducks for the 2022/23 campaign after finishing last season with the Guangzhou Loong Lions. A previous report indicated that Leaf, the No. 18 overall pick in 2017, was on track to join Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, but a deal between the two sides was never officially completed. The veteran forward appeared in 146 games for Indiana and Portland from 2017-21.
  • Former NBA forward Donatas Motiejunas, a first-round pick in 2011, is finalizing a new two-year contract with AS Monaco after spending the 2021/22 season with the club, reports Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com. The 31-year-old appeared in a total of 251 NBA games for Houston, New Orleans, and San Antonio from 2012-19.
  • Vince Edwards, a 2018 second-round pick who spent the ’21/22 season with the Iowa Wolves in the G League, has signed with BCM Gravelines-Dunkerque, the French team announced in a press release. The 26-year-old forward appeared in just two games at the NBA level, but he has played in the NBAGL extensively since going pro four years ago. This will be his first stint in Europe.

Dante Exum Discusses Decision To Finish Season In Europe

After veteran guard Dante Exum signed a three-month contract with Barcelona in early December, reports indicated that his plan was to return to the NBA once that deal expired on February 28. However, the former NBA lottery pick eventually decided to stick with Barcelona for the rest of the 2021/22 season.

Appearing on the BasketNews Talks podcast with Donatas Urbonas, Exum explained why he signed an extension to remain in Europe rather than seeking out a new NBA opportunity.

“For me, it always goes back to just — I’m a basketball player, I want to play. Coming over here, I was given the opportunity to play. The fans showed a lot of love and wanted me to stay,” Exum said. “… If I went back to the NBA, it’s just so many unknowns. Is it a 10-day (contract)? Is it just going there and just sitting on the bench?

“Instead of going back and just trying to find a place or trying to find where the next home is, I just wanted to stay here, be comfortable. I started to get comfortable in Barcelona. I was starting to play well, so I think I wanted to finish out (the season).”

Exum, 26, was the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft and spent most of the next seven years in the NBA, first with the Jazz and then with the Cavaliers. However, he battled injuries during those seven seasons and was limited to just 245 total regular season appearances.

Known as a strong perimeter defender, Exum averaged 5.7 PPG and 2.1 APG with a .407/.305/.764 shooting line for Utah and Cleveland. This season in Barcelona, he has recorded 7.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 1.0 APG on .528/.556/.867 shooting in 13 EuroLeague contests (17.6 MPG).

According to Exum, one of his goals this year was to show he can stay healthy for a full season. If he avoids injuries for the rest of the season in Spain, he could revisit the NBA free agent market this summer, though he indicated he’d also be comfortable continuing his career overseas.

“I think the biggest jump is making that first step to come over to Europe and play,” Exum said. “If nothing works out (in the NBA), I know I can come back to Europe. I know the system. I know how everyone plays over here. So it will be an easier adjustment.”

Dante Exum To Remain With Barcelona For Rest Of Season

Former NBA lottery pick Dante Exum will be staying in Spain and completing the 2021/22 season with Barcelona, the team announced today in a press release.

After being waived by the Rockets in October, Exum signed a three-month contract with Barcelona in December. That deal ran through February 28 and there was some talk last month about the 26-year-old planning to return to the NBA once it expired. However, Exum and Barcelona reached an agreement to extend the contract through June 30, according to the club.

The fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Exum appeared in a total of 245 regular season NBA games for Utah and Cleveland, dealing with a handful of injuries after he played all 82 games as a rookie.

This season in Europe, Exum has been a productive rotation player for Barcelona, averaging 6.0 PPG and 2.7 RPG on .500/.538/.905 shooting in 11 EuroLeague contests (16.5 MPG). Barcelona currently sits atop the EuroLeague standings with a 20-5 record.

Exum’s next opportunity to return to the NBA will come during the 2022 offseason.

And-Ones: Exum, Thomas, Doncic, Tatum, Yabusele

Former NBA guard Dante Exum plans to return to the NBA when his three-month contract with Barcelona expires, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Exum is averaging just 4.4 PPG in the EuroLeague after signing with the Spanish team early last month.

Exum was waived by the Rockets during training camp. He signed a three-year deal with Houston in September but the contract was non-guaranteed and Houston had 15 other players with guaranteed deals.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Khyri Thomas has officially signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv, according to a team press release. A report surfaced over the weekend that Maccabi was interested in the former NBA guard. Thomas, a 2018 second-round pick, played in Spain last month before suffering an injury. He saw action in five games with Houston last season and came off the bench in 34 games for Detroit during the previous two seasons.
  • Luka Doncic and Jayson Tatum remain the two players under 25 years old that NBA talent evaluators would want to build their teams around, according to an annual poll conducted by Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype. Ja Morant, LaMelo Ball and Trae Young round out the top five.
  • Guerschon Yabusele has agreed to a contract extension with Real Madrid, according to a team press release. The three-year extension runs through June 2025. Yabusele, a first-round pick by the Celtics in 2016, last appeared in the NBA during the 2018/19 season when he saw action in 41 games for Boston.

Dante Exum Signs With Spanish Team

DECEMBER 7: Barcelona has completed its short-term deal with Exum, announcing today in a press release that the point guard will be on the roster through February 28.

DECEMBER 4: Former NBA guard Dante Exum is close to signing a three-month contract with Barcelona, Sportando relays via a Chema de Lucas tweet.

Exum was waived by the Rockets during training camp. Exum signed a three-year deal with Houston in September that had a base value of $8.1MM and included another $8MM+ in likely and unlikely incentives. But the contract was non-guaranteed and the Rockets had 15 other players with guaranteed deals.

Exum, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, finished last season with Houston after being acquired in the four-team James Harden trade, but he didn’t play any games for the franchise. He appeared in six games for Cleveland last season, when he had an expiring $9.6MM contract, before being sidelined with a calf injury.

Exum played a prominent role on Australia’s bronze medal-winning squad at the Tokyo Olympics, averaging 9.0 PPG and 2.8 APG.

Still just 26 years old, Exum has seen his NBA career sidetracked by injuries. He’s appeared in 245 career games, averaging 5.6 PPG and 2.1 APG in 18.6 MPG.

And-Ones: Boylen, Team USA, Stephenson, Exum, More

USA Basketball has announced that former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen will coach Team USA during November’s qualifying games for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which will take place in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. The U.S. team will face Cuba on November 28 and Mexico on November 29.

While NBA players make up Team USA’s roster in the World Cup itself, the qualifiers take place during the NBA season, so the roster is typically made up of G League veterans. After November’s games, the next round of qualifiers will take place in February.

Jeff Van Gundy coached the qualifying team leading up to the 2019 FIBA World Cup before handing things off to Gregg Popovich for the World Cup itself. USA Basketball has yet to announce Popovich’s successor, but Steve Kerr has been identified as a frontrunner. If Kerr gets the job, he’d coach the 2023 team in the World Cup, assuming Boylen’s group clinches a spot in the event.

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

  • NBA veteran Lance Stephenson, who last played in China, has signed an NBA G League contract and will be draft-eligible on October 23, our JD Shaw reports (via Twitter). Stephenson’s last stint in the NBA came during the 2019/20 season with the Lakers. He has appeared in more than 500 career regular season games.
  • The NBA announced on Tuesday that this season’s opening-night rosters feature a total of 109 international players from 39 countries. That includes a record number of players from Canada (18) Germany (seven), and the Bahamas (three). Appropriately, the Raptors lead the league with 10 international players.
  • Within his in-depth look at the players who did and didn’t sign extensions this offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) notes that Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Bulls guard Zach LaVine remain extension-eligible, but would be able to maximize their future earnings by waiting until free agency to sign new deals.
  • Dante Exum, who was waived on Saturday by the Rockets, owns a minority stake in the South East Melbourne Phoenix, and the NBL team’s general manager indicated it would love to him as a player. “If and when Dante decides that the NBL is the right move for him, we of course will do whatever we can do to make that as easy for him as possible,” GM Tommy Greer said (link via NBL.com.au).

Rockets Waive Dante Exum

The Rockets have placed guard Dante Exum on waivers in order to set their roster for the regular season, the team announced today in a press release.

Exum signed a three-year deal with the Rockets last month that had a base value of $8.1MM and included another $8MM+ in likely and unlikely incentives. There were conflicting reports on Exum’s salary details, but Hoops Rumors can confirm that his $2.5MM base salary for the 2021/22 salary was non-guaranteed, so Houston won’t be on the hook for any dead money.

The fact that Exum’s deal was fully non-guaranteed made it a fairly straightforward decision to release him in advance of the regular season, since the Rockets have 15 other players with guaranteed salaries. The team also has both its two-way contract slots filled.

Exum, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, finished last season with Houston after coming over in the four-team James Harden trade, but he didn’t play at all during his time with the Rockets. The former Jazz and Cavs guard will clear waivers and become an unrestricted free agent on Monday.

Southwest Notes: Zion, Exum, Grizzlies, Terry

Pelicans star Zion Williamson continued his effort to quell speculation that he’s unhappy in New Orleans during an interview Friday with SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link). Williamson expressed his fondness for the city and indicated that he sees a long-term future with the team.

“I love it here,” he said. “Anybody that knows me … they know that I love New Orleans. This is the city for me.”

The comments echoed a statement that Williamson made on media day in the wake of reports that some family members are urging him to seek a more successful team in a larger market and that he might have a shaky relationship with head of basketball operations David Griffin. Williamson will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer.

During the same interview, Williamson discussed improvements that he made to his game during the offseason, including an expanded use of floaters and midrange shots (hat tip to Oleh Kosel of TheBirdWrites.com). He also expressed a determination to reach the playoffs after missing them in his first two NBA seasons.

“It was a sickening feeling,” Williamson said. “We weren’t in the playoffs — and I’m watching the playoffs — I’m like, man, we can be there. Like I know we can be there this year. Man, something just took over me and I was like, yeah, it’s not happening again. It’s not happening no more. When I started training, everything, from every rep, everything just felt personal. Everything was like, nah, nothing this year is going to stop us from getting into the playoffs. Like, we’re going to do this. I’m going to make sure I do my part and more, to make sure my teammates see me working.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets guard Dante Exum had an impressive showing in the Olympics and wants to carry it over to the NBA, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Injuries have hampered Exum’s career over the past six years and he played only six games last season, all with Cleveland before being traded in January. However, Exum is only 26 and is determined to show the league what he can do. “I feel great,” he said. “I feel probably the best I felt since I’ve gotten into the league. I feel strong, healthy, ready to take on 82 games.”
  • The Grizzlies have made moves over the past two offseasons to upgrade at the wing, but Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian contends the position is already in good hands with Dillon Brooks and Kyle Anderson.
  • Mavericks guard Tyrell Terry is away from the team temporarily to attend to a family matter, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. There’s not a set time for Terry to return.

Contract Details: Pangos, Exum, Heat, Robinson

Although new Cavaliers guard Kevin Pangos has no years of NBA service under his belt, he’s not receiving the rookie minimum on his new two-year deal with the team. As Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets, Pangos’ guaranteed first-year salary is $1,669,178, while his non-guaranteed second-year salary is $1,752,637.

Interestingly, while they don’t align with the rookie minimum, those two figures do show up on our minimum-salary chart for this season. Pangos’ first-year salary is the equivalent of the minimum salary for a player with two years of NBA experience. His second-year salary is the equivalent of the second-year minimum salary for a player who currently has one year of NBA experience.

Here are a few more contract details from around the league:

  • Dante Exum‘s new three-year deal with the Rockets is even more complicated than initially reported. Exum’s base salaries increase by 8% annually ($2.5MM, $2.7MM, and $2.9MM), while his likely bonuses decrease by 8% per year ($2.5MM, $2.3MM, and $2.1MM). Exum also has some unlikely incentives which increase by 8% annually ($375K, $405K, and $435K). In total, his three-year deal could be worth as much as $16.215MM, but only his first-year base salary ($2.5MM) is guaranteed.
  • As Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald notes, several of the Heat‘s newly-signed contracts include up-front payments. For instance, Kyle Lowry can get $21.25MM of his $26.98MM salary for 2021/22 by opening night, rather than receiving it in equal installments all season. Jimmy Butler‘s extension also features a substantial advance payment, while Duncan Robinson and P.J. Tucker are entitled to more modest ones.
  • Speaking of Robinson, the final year of his new five-year contract with the Heat isn’t just an early termination option — it’s also only partially guaranteed. That means even if he opts into his fifth year, the Heat could save $10MM of his $19.888MM salary by waiving him. However, Robinson’s fifth-year salary would become fully guaranteed if Miami wins a title by that point and he meets certain minutes and games-played thresholds.