Darion Atkins

NBA Teams Designate Affiliate Players

NBA teams cut as much as 25% of their rosters at the end of the preseason, but franchises that have D-League affiliates have a way to maintain ties to many of the players they release from the NBA roster. An NBA team can claim the D-League rights to up to four of the players it waives, as long as the players clear waivers, consent to join the D-League, and don’t already have their D-League rights owned by another team. These are known as affiliate players, as our Hoops Rumors Glossary entry details.

NBA teams allocated 46 affiliate players to the D-League at the beginning of the season last year, and this year, that number has risen to 56, according to the list the D-League announced today. These players are going directly to the D-League affiliate of the NBA team that cut them and weren’t eligible for the D-League draft that took place Saturday. Teams that designated fewer than the maximum four affiliate players retain the ability to snag the D-League rights of players they waive during the regular season, but for now, this is the complete list:

Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws)

Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge)

Dallas Mavericks (Texas Legends)

Detroit Pistons (Grand Rapids Drive)

Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors)

Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)

Indiana Pacers (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)

Los Angeles Lakers (Los Angeles D-Fenders)

Memphis Grizzlies (Iowa Energy)

Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce)

New York Knicks (Westchester Knicks)

Oklahoma City Thunder (Oklahoma City Blue)

Orlando Magic (Erie BayHawks)

Philadelphia 76ers (Delaware 87ers)

Phoenix Suns (Bakersfield Jam)

Sacramento Kings (Reno Bighorns)

San Antonio Spurs (Austin Spurs)

Toronto Raptors (Raptors 905)

Utah Jazz (Idaho Stampede)

Also, several players who were on NBA preseason rosters are on D-League rosters through means other than the affiliate player rule. Most of them played under D-League contracts at some point within the last two years, meaning their D-League teams have returning player rights to them. Others entered through last weekend’s D-League draft, while others saw their D-League rights conveyed via trade. Most of these players aren’t with the D-League affiliate of the NBA team they were with last month, with a few exceptions.

Roster information from Adam Johnson of D-League Digest, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor and freelancer and Hoops Rumors contributor Mark Porcaro was used in the creation of this post.

Eastern Notes: Sixers, Knicks, Pistons

The Sixers‘ reputation among several agents around the league likely won’t do the franchise any favors when the team expects to be a player in free agency in the future, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes in an interesting story after speaking with several sources and agents. One agent told Pompey that he doesn’t want his max-level players in Philadelphia, but he is open to his midlevel players signing with the Sixers only if they overpay. Agents also told Pompey that Sixers GM Sam Hinkie is hard to deal with, saying he doesn’t make it a priority to return calls.

Here’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

Knicks Cut Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Four Others

The Knicks have waived Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Darion Atkins and DaJuan Summers, Travis Trice and Wesley Saunders, the team announced (Twitter link). The moves take the Knicks to 14 players, one below the regular season roster limit. All had $75K partial guarantees except for Trice, who was assured of $50K, and Summers, whose salary is non-guaranteed. The release of Antetokounmpo, a brother of Bucks utilityman Giannis Antetokounmpo, means New York forfeits its draft rights to the player it took 51st overall last season.

Antetokounmpo, 23, doesn’t appear interested in rejoining the Knicks D-League affiliate, the team he played for last season. He averaged 13.9 points in 33.0 minutes per game in the D-League last year but went scoreless in about 13 minutes of preseason action spread over three games this month.

Atkins also failed to register a point over seven total minutes of preseason playing time. The 23-year-old went undrafted out of Virginia this year.

Summers, 27, was the 35th overall pick in 2009 but hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular season game since the 2012/13 season. The power forward averaged 2.5 PPG in 5.8 MPG across four preseason contests with the Knicks this month.

Trice went undrafted out of Michigan State this year. The 22-year-old point guard had four points, two assists and a turnover in about 14 total minutes of playing time over the course of two preseason games.

Saunders, from Harvard, was yet another prospect passed over in this year’s draft who landed with the Knicks. The 22-year-old small forward managed two points in about seven minutes of preseason action spread across a pair of games.

The Knicks have 13 fully guaranteed deals, but Langston Galloway, with his sizable $440K partial guarantee, seems safely ensconced in the 14th spot. New York is reportedly one of a handful of teams with interest in the recently waived Jimmer Fredette.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Sullinger, Sixers

Knicks president Phil Jackson‘s statement that he’d be more involved with coach Derek Fisher and the team this season could potentially send a confusing message to the locker room, Frank Isola of The New York Daily News writes. “I really don’t know what standpoint he’s coming from,” Carmelo Anthony said of Jackson’s increased role. “If I think I know Phil the way I know him, I think it’s more of being involved with coaching staff, being in with them, watching film with them, kind of opening up dialogue a little bit more, him sitting in the film room with us, after the games, going over the games, watching more tape, talking to the coaching staff.

Here’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The minimum salary deal that the Knicks signed DaJuan Summers to is non-guaranteed, Darion Atkinspact includes a partial guarantee of $75K, Travis Trice‘s arrangement includes $50K in guaranteed money, and Wesley Saundersdeal includes a partial guarantee of $75K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter).
  • Celtics big man Jared Sullinger believes that his improved conditioning will elevate his game to the next level this season, CSNNE.com relays. “A lot of shots that I’ve missed is due to conditioning. A lot of rebounds I missed is due to conditioning. The defensive plays that I’ve missed – conditioning,” said Sullinger. “Now that my conditioning is at a level where I’m comfortable at but can still improve, I think I have a chance [to be an All-Star].
  • Even though Joe Johnson knew that the Nets were going to make some offseason changes, he was still caught by surprise by Deron Williamsbuyout arrangement, Tim Bontemps of The New York Post writes. “I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Johnson. “But I didn’t see [the buyout] coming. I don’t think [being here] was that bad. It’s not that bad here. To want to get bought out … I couldn’t really put my finger around that one. But I hear that he’s happy and that’s the most important thing. He’s back home, so good for him.
  • The contracts that the Nets signed Justin Harper and Chris Daniels to are both one-year, minimum salary arrangements that include no guaranteed money, Pincus tweets.
  • The success of Sixers big men Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel this season will depend on how effective the outside shooting of Nik Stauskas, Robert Covington and Hollis Thompson is, Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Daily News writes. “You hear me say this all the time: My offensive world, how I see it, is pace, space and pass,” coach Brett Brown said. “Post spacing really comes with shooters. Maybe the best play that Jahlil has is Covington and Stauskas. He’s got space to do stuff. We experienced it [in San Antonio] all the time. So, these shooters will most definitely complement Nerlens, and especially Jahlil.
  • T.J. McConnell‘s four-year, minimum salary arrangement with the Sixers includes a partial guarantee of $100K for the 2015/16 season, Pincus tweets. The final three seasons are non-guaranteed, and the fourth year is both non-guaranteed and a team option.

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Summers, Atkins

Knicks president Phil Jackson is focused on 2015/16, and he isn’t dwelling on next offseason’s potential crop of free agents, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com writes. “It’s too much between then and now — or now and then — that goes along,” Jackson said. “There’s just a whole season to go through. Teams develop rapidly. I’ve seen multiple teams in the NBA over the years [that] had this chemistry that just brings it together. That’s what we’re looking for, to find guys that have the chemistry that activates them as players and their team effort together.

So we’re not going to hold anything out about this year, next year,” Jackson continued. “We’re going to continue to try to bring the best talent here to Madison Square Garden and the New York Knicks. So that kind of goes unstated.

Here’s more from New York:

  • Coach Derek Fisher doesn’t believe that Carmelo Anthony is disgruntled with the current state of the Knicks, Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com relays (via Twitter). Fisher told Begley regarding ‘Melo’s feelings, “I think he actually enjoys and likes working with these guys.
  • Anthony, who underwent surgery on his left knee back in February, will enter training camp without any medical restrictions, Begley writes in a separate piece. “Medically, he will be fine,” Fisher said. “I think we will still gauge how much we want to put him under in terms of workload and stress in training camp and in the preseason. But we don’t have to artificially hold him back from working hard. We just have to kind of gauge how it is responding to how hard we plan to work in training camp, and let’s be smart along the way.
  • DaJuan Summers‘ one-year deal with the team is non-guaranteed and for the league minimum, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • The minimum salary deals that Darion Atkins and Wesley Saunders signed are partially guaranteed for $75K, while Travis Trice‘s minimum salary pact includes a partial guarantee of $50K, Pincus confirms (Twitter link).
  • You can view the Knicks’ full preseason roster here.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Zeller, McCullough, Atkins

Nets GM Billy King said Tuesday that he’s comfortable with Jarrett Jack as the starting point guard, though he admitted he’s unsure if the team is better off without Deron Williams, whom the team waived in a buyout deal. Andy Vasquez of The Record has that and other details from King’s session with reporters Tuesday.

“It’s going to depend on how quickly it jells,” King said. “But I think with the core of guys, proven scorers, proven guys that can win, we have a chance to make the playoffs. And the goal for us going into this is just to try to get better.”

King also made it clear that the team won’t try to improve its record simply to try to keep from forking over draft picks that are too high, as Vasquez also notes. Brooklyn, which owes the Celtics unprotected first-round picks in 2016 and 2018, will rebuild at its own pace, King said. See more on the Nets and Celtics and other Atlantic Division news:

  • Tyler Zeller confirmed he and the Celtics have engaged in extension talks, as A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com details, but while the center acknowledged that he’d like to reach a deal before the November 2nd deadline, he doesn’t sound like he’s especially anxious for one. “It would be nice to have an extension, just a little more security,” Zeller said. “But at the same time, you have to approach the year and you can’t be heartbroken if you don’t get it. You have to make sure you’re fully prepared. Either way, I have to do my job this year. I have one more year on my contract. So I have to go out and do as much as I can to help our team this year.” Chris Crouse of Hoops Rumors examined Zeller’s extension candidacy earlier this month.
  • Nets first-round pick Chris McCullough seemed to make progress over the summer toward his target of a November return for full-contact practice, but he said Tuesday that he’s “nowhere near ready,” observes Tim Bontemps of the New York Post. This year’s No. 29 overall pick is unlikely to make his debut until the second half of the season, according to Bontemps. “We’ll give a timetable on exactly where we think he’ll be after [the first] preseason game,” King said. “We’ll sit down with him and his agent and everybody and really just walk through it. I have an idea in my mind of what we want to do with him, but I want to sit down with him and with his agent and explain it.”
  • The deal between the Knicks and Darion Atkins is partially guaranteed for $75K, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post. The team’s interest in the undrafted power forward from Virginia was late-developing, as the Knicks weren’t one of 16 teams to work him out prior to the draft and only turned to him when fellow undrafted rookie Maurice Ndour spurned them for the Mavs, Berman writes.

Knicks Sign Darion Atkins

SEPTEMBER 10TH, 4:08pm: The signing is official, the Knicks have announced.

AUGUST 7TH, 2:40pm: Atkins has signed the deal, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, though the team has yet to make an official announcement (Twitter link). That’s expected to happen next week, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com.

JULY 24TH, 5:57pm: The Knicks intend to sign undrafted forward Darion Atkins, Shlomo Sprung of SheridanHoops reports (via Twitter). The length and terms of the agreement are not yet known, but Sprung indicates the contract will include a partial guarantee.

The former Virginia Cavalier made 33 appearances during the 2014/15 campaign, averaging 7.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks. His slash line was .511/.000/.520. Atkins’ career numbers in four NCAA seasons were 4.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 0.8 BPG.

It is certainly a bit surprising to see team president Phil Jackson adding more depth at forward when the roster currently has only four backcourt players signed to deals. Atkins will join a crowded frontcourt in New York, and he’s likely a longshot to stick with the team when the regular season commences. The Knicks already have Kyle O’Quinn, Derrick Williams, Kristaps Porzingis, Louis Amundson, Cleanthony Early, and Lance Thomas available to play power forward, and Carmelo Anthony will likely see some minutes at the four as well.

Western Notes: Barton, Buycks, Blazers

The Nuggets have tendered Will Barton a qualifying offer worth $1,181,348, making the guard a restricted free agent this offseason, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). The move was expected since both sides have previously expressed a desire for the player to return to Denver next season. The 24-year-old saw sparse playing time with the Blazers over his first two and a half seasons in the league, but the deadline trade that sent him to Denver this February provided him with more opportunities to get on the court. He averaged 11.0 points in 24.4 minutes per game over 28 appearances for the Nuggets.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors are exploring options regarding trading up from the No. 30 overall pick in the draft, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com tweets. Which player the team could be targeting with such a move is unknown, Howard-Cooper adds.
  • The chances that the Lakers will select Duke big man Jahlil Okafor with the No. 2 overall pick have increased since last week, Chad Ford of ESPN.com relays (on Twitter). Ford pegged the odds at 70% last Friday, and now has them at 80% that Los Angeles nabs Okafor on Thursday night.
  • The Lakers have informed free agent guard Dwight Buycks that they are interested in re-signing him for next season, David Pick of Eurobasket.com tweets. Buycks, who inked a single 10-day deal with the team this past season, was reportedly set to be signed for the remainder of the 2014/15 campaign before a hand injury knocked him out for the remainder of the team’s contests.
  • The Blazers will work out UNLV shooting guard Rashad Vaughn on Wednesday, reports Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times.
  • Woelfel adds the Warriors to the list of teams that have worked out UNLV big man Christian Wood.
  • Working out for Portland today were Darion Atkins (Virginia), Javonte Green (Radford), Charles Jackson (Tennessee Tech), Jordan Railey (Washington State), Satnam Singh (India), and Gary Bell Jr. (Gonzaga), the Blazers announced.
  • Virginia swingman Justin Anderson is scheduled to work out for the Grizzlies on Wednesday, Chris Vernon of ESPN 92.9 FM relays (Twitter links). Vernon also dispels the notion that Memphis made a draft promise to LSU big man Jarell Martin, and says that Martin shut down scheduling any further workouts for other reasons.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Pacific Notes: Clarkson, Atkins, Lakers, Iguodala

The players at the Lakers‘ pre-draft workout Saturday were inspired by the rise of Jordan Clarkson, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. The session was for second-round hopefuls like D.J. Newbill of Penn State, Phil Greene of St. John’s and Darrun Hilliard of Villanova, but everyone present hopes to follow the path set by Clarkson, the 46th selection last year by the Wizards, who was sent to the Lakers for cash considerations and wound up as their starting point guard. “It gives you a lot of hope seeing how great he played last year and how good he is,” Greene said of Clarkson. “It just gives you a lot of hope of staying with the grind and knowing anything can happen.” The Lakers have more pre-draft workouts scheduled for Monday and Friday.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Virginia’s Darion Atkins, one of the players at Saturday’s Lakers workout, believes his ACC background will help him transition to the pros, Turner writes in a separate story. Atkins earned National Defensive Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors, but fears he has “dropped off” most NBA draft boards. “I think coming from the ACC has helped me a lot,” he said. “I think that’ll be a great transition over into the NBA because the physicality is going to be great in the NBA, but I think it’ll give me more of an advantage.”
  • Delaware State’s Kendall Gray was also among the participants at Saturday’s workout (Twitter link). Michael Qualls of Arkansas had to skip the event because of a knee injury, tweets Mike Trudell of Lakers.com.
  • The Lakers are debating whether a center or point guard is more valuable in today’s NBA as they face a likely draft choice between Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell, Turner writes in another story. “In years past and maybe even today, it makes sense to build around a big,” said GM Mitch Kupchak. “But you don’t want to take a big because it’s a big and then pass on the No. 3 pick, which turned out to be Michael Jordan [in 1984]. So we’re going to look at the bigs, then you want to look at the guards and see if there is a guard there that despite being just a guard, you don’t want to miss and pass on him because he’s not a big.”
  • The NBA Finals are giving the WarriorsAndre Iguodala a chance to showcase all his skills after spending the season as a reserve, according to Michael Lee of The Washington Post. Iguodala, who joined Golden State as a free agent in 2013, is signed through the 2016/17 season.

Atlantic Notes: Winslow, Celtics, Raptors

Duke small forward Justise Winslow is “definitely in play” for the Knicks, who pick fourth overall, league sources tell Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. The Knicks gave Winslow positive feedback after his workout with the team Monday, Begley hears. A more conventional candidate for the fourth pick, D’Angelo Russell, will work out for the Knicks soon, as Russell told reporters in Los Angeles, Begley notes. The team also has tentative plans to work out Wisconsin power forward Frank Kaminsky, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post (Twitter link), another possible sign the Knicks are thinking of trading down. Not surprisingly, many sources have indicated to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders that the Knicks remain torn over their multitude of options for the pick (Twitter link). While the Knicks mull just what to do come June 25th, there’s plenty more draft news from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Winslow will also work out for the Sixers, who hold pick No. 3, sources told Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv.
  • The Celtics would like to move into the lottery and are offering their pair of first-rounders, at Nos. 16 and 28, to make that happen, league sources tell Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times. Boston also has the 33rd and 45th picks and continues to audition non-lottery prospects. Kentucky center Dakari Johnson, Italian small forward Simone Fontecchio, Xavier center Matt Stainbrook, Villanova small forward Darrun Hilliard and Baylor small forward Royce O’Neale are working out for the Celtics today, as the team announced and as Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston relays (Twitter link). They join previously reported participant Pat Connaughton, a small forward from Notre Dame.
  • The Raptors today will audition UCLA shooting guard Norman Powell, Wisconsin forward Duje Dukan, and power forwards Christian Wood of UNLV, Michale Kyser of Louisiana Tech and Darion Atkins of Virginia, the team announced (on Twitter). They’ll join UNLV shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, a previously reported participant.