Devin Booker

International Notes: Ibaka, Satoransky, Parker, Sarr

Serge Ibaka hopes to prove he can still play at a high level as he joins FC Bayern Munich in Germany. In an interview posted on the team’s website, Ibaka expressed excitement about resuming his career overseas.

“For me, it is a privilege to be able to join this historic, globally renowned sports club so that the basketball team can rise to the top of Europe,” he said. “I had a long NBA career, but I approach this new chapter with a lot of enthusiasm – I still have a lot of fire in me and love the game.”

Ibaka played professionally in France and Spain before coming to the Thunder in 2009, so he’s familiar with European basketball. He was part of the foundation in Oklahoma City for several seasons and won a ring with Toronto in 2019, but his playing time has been declining for the past few seasons. Ibaka averaged just 11.6 minutes in 16 games with the Bucks last season before a trade at the February deadline sent him to the Pacers, who waived him two days later.

“I always give my all to the game, and I definitely plan to do the same here in Munich and hopefully help the younger players,” Ibaka said. “On the court, I want to assist the team with everything that is needed, starting from defense to my shooting range. I want to be a part of a team that collaborates and has a winning mentality.”

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Former NBA guard Tomas Satoransky hopes to help Jabari Parker make the transition to Europe with FC Barcelona, according to Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. Parker’s first major test will come against Real Madrid in the semifinals of Supercopa Endesa. “Jabari’s situation is a little more complicated because it is his first year in Europe and this is always difficult, especially if you come in a league as competitive as the ACB,” Satoransky said. “But I see him very well and he really wants to improve.”
  • Perth center Alexandre Sarr talks to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (video link) about his performance in the G League Fall Invitational and his potential to be the top pick in next year’s draft.
  • Kevin Durant, Ja Morant and Devin Booker are serving as coaches for Saturday’s finals of the Nike World Basketball Festival in New York, per Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.

Pacific Notes: Bradley, Warriors, Thompson, Suns

With the Warriors eyeing the free agent market for a possible frontcourt addition, Tony Bradley is an option to keep an eye on, reports The Athletic’s Shams Charania (Twitter link). Golden State is actively considering signing Bradley to a deal, according to Charania.

Bradley, 25, holds career averages of 4.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in 179 career appearances across six NBA seasons. After being drafted by the Lakers with the No. 28 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Bradley’s rights were immediately traded to the Jazz. He played three seasons in Utah and also had stints with Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Chicago.

This news comes off the heels of the Warriors scheduling to meet with free agent center Dwight Howard next week. As we noted in that story, Golden State is continuing to do its due diligence on available bigs. The team was interested in Harry Giles and JaVale McGee before each agreed to deals with other teams. Charania mentions Dewayne Dedmon as another player on the Warriors’ radar, while Derrick Favors is another option.

As we wrote on Friday, Golden State is at 13 players on standard contracts and needs to get to at least 14 by opening night.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Appearing on an episode of The Lowe Post with ESPN’s Zach Lowe, Ramona Shelburne said the Warriors have opened extension talks with guard Klay Thompson. According to Shelburne, Thompson, who’s due to hit unrestricted free agency in 2024, could end up with a deal similar in structure to the four-year, $100MM contract Draymond Green signed this summer. That would mean Thompson could be in line to receive a three-year extension. The report that the two sides are engaging in these discussions isn’t a major surprise, as owner Joe Lacob went on record stating his intentions to keep Thompson a Warrior for the “rest of his career” earlier this month.
  • The NBA’s new player participation policy is ultimately a good thing for fans, according to Dana Scott of the Arizona Republic (subscriber link), who takes a deeper look at what it means for the Suns. Phoenix is among 15 teams with multiple players who are affected by the policy, which includes any player named to an All-NBA Team or All-Star Game across the past three seasons. Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal are all impacted by the rule, and Scott explores how that will impact each player’s availability for the Suns’ upcoming season and slate of nationally televised games.
  • In case you missed it, the Clippers, Warriors and Suns are among teams who are over the NBA’s second tax apron and are limited to just minimum contracts for potential veteran signings.

And-Ones: Team USA, Prospects, Load Management, Porter

It was reported earlier this week that LeBron James was recruiting stars for the 2024 Olympics, with several players planning on joining the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in Paris.

Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) recently crafted a 12-man roster for Team USA next summer by following three criteria: An ideal team, not necessarily the best individuals; prior success with USA Basketball; and young players who can continue with the national team in the future.

Pelton’s starting five features Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, James, Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid, with Tyrese Haliburton, Anthony Edwards, Mikal Bridges, Jayson Tatum, Anthony Davis, Bam Adebayo and Evan Mobley coming off the bench. Donovan Mitchell was “perhaps the single toughest cut” from Pelton’s ideal roster.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic attended the G League Fall Invitational between G League Ignite and the Perth Wildcats to scout prospects for the 2024 NBA draft and beyond. While next year’s class isn’t considered particularly strong, Hollinger writes that several players stood out at the event, including Ron Holland, Alexandre Sarr and Izan Almansa. Ignite forward Tyler Smith was another standout who may have moved up draft boards, according to Hollinger, who notes that Perth guard Ben Henshall will be closely monitored going forward as well, perhaps for 2025 or 2026.
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver has a difficult balancing act when it comes to star players resting, with fans, revenue, and player health among the key factors to consider. But the new player participation policy is a step in the right direction, contends Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Having more stars on the court should make for a more compelling regular season, and Silver said at his press conference he had been weighing the advice of retired players, Goodwill notes. “You know, a lot of older players — by that I mean now, at this point, retired players — when I first came in the league, used to believe that they were more likely to get injured if they took nights off, that they would get out of rhythm,” he said. “In some cases, maybe (they) played fewer minutes, but they played. That’s something we want to look at as well.”
  • Kevin Porter Jr. was arrested this week on felony charges of assault and strangulation, but he’s far from the first NBA player to be accused of domestic violence. If the horrific allegations are proven true, Porter’s career in the league could be over, considering his history of off-court incidents. Chris Herring of Sports Illustrated believes the NBA should have a zero-tolerance policy for violence against women, though he concedes it would be a challenging rule to implement and would likely take several years. According to Herring, since salaries are rising across the board, players should be held to “extremely high behavioral standards.”

Pacific Notes: Booker, Wood, Hood-Schifino, Queta

Suns star Devin Booker appears ready to commit to the U.S. Olympic team no matter what role he’s asked to play, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Booker expressed his intentions this week in a Twitter exchange with Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma. “USA basketball better get some nba stars that know how to play a role,” Kuzma wrote. “Anybody can be nice with the ball in their hands but can you be cool with defending and going to the corner for a few possessions?”

Booker responded, “I’ll do it.”

Rankin notes that Booker accepted that responsibility two years ago when the U.S. won the gold medal in China. He only averaged 9.3 PPG during that Olympics, but he often guarded the opponent’s best scorer.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Christian Wood projects to play a significant role for the Lakers, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Wood will become the primary backup to Anthony Davis at center and can expect to see a lot of time at power forward as well. Buha adds that L.A. has a lot of interchangeable frontcourt players, with Wood, LeBron James, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt and Taurean Prince all capable of handling either forward spot, while Davis, Wood and Jaxson Hayes can play either the four or five.
  • Lakers rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino has been working to develop his three-point shot this summer, Buha adds in a separate story. The No. 17 pick connected at just 33% from beyond the arc at Indiana last season. “I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress,” he said. “Being in the gym every day, getting up a lot of reps, working on my footwork, my form, mechanics and everything. Getting everything sharp. That’s definitely been a strong point and something that I’ve been really attacking every day.”
  • Neemias Queta, who was waived by the Kings this week, could be an intriguing option for the Warriors, suggests Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Johnson notes the 24-year-old center is still eligible for a two-way contract and Golden State has two slots open. Queta was runner-up in the G League’s MVP voting after averaging 17.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game with the Stockton Kings. Johnson also points out that Seth Cooper and David Fatoki, who are now in charge of the Warriors’ player development system, got a close look at Queta last year while running Golden State’s G League team.

LeBron James Recruiting NBA Stars For 2024 Olympics

LeBron James wants to play in the 2024 Olympics and has started recruiting other veteran stars to join him, multiple sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic.

James reached out to Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum and Draymond Green, who are all planning to be part of the team next summer in Paris, Charania adds. Devin Booker, Damian Lillard, De’Aaron Fox and Kyrie Irving are also interested in participating, according to Charania’s sources.

Team USA is coming off a fourth-place finish at the World Cup, but Charania reports that James’ team-building efforts started well before that tournament and aren’t related to the disappointing result. Charania points out that although the U.S. has failed to medal in the last two World Cups, it has won four straight Olympic golds and James wants to see that streak continue.

James was part of gold medal teams in 2008 and 2012, but he hasn’t played in the Olympics since then. He will be 39 in December, and sources tell Charania that he and Durant, who will turn 35 later this month, are viewing the 2024 Games as their “last dance” with USA Basketball.

They have both talked to Curry, who will be 36 next summer, about forming the core of the U.S. team, Charania adds. Curry has never played in the Olympics, but he has two World Cup gold medals.

Charania states that USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill refused to comment on the reported interest from James and other stars, but he is aware of it.

Team USA Notes: Reaves, Haliburton, Anthony, Curry

Team USA will leave the World Cup without a gold medal, but it may have developed a few players who will be useful in future international competitions, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. This version of the American squad was built around young talent than established stars, and many of them could return for future World Cup or Olympic tournaments.

Vardon points to Lakers guard Austin Reaves as one of those players. The 25-year-old is third in scoring for the U.S. at 12.4 PPG and second in steals at 1.3 per game. He has also regularly been on the court late in close games.

“I think I’ve been able to learn a lot from a lot of really good players, a lot of really good coaches, and basically just see that I belong,” Reaves said.

International play has often been the springboard for players to assert themselves as future stars, such as Kevin Durant in the 2010 World Championship, Vardon notes. Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards appears ready to move into that role, and Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton may be as well.

“I think being the point guard with other great scorers, other great players and understand that they want to be on the court at the same time as me, they want me to be in there to get them involved,” Haliburton said.

There’s more on Team USA:

  • Friday’s loss to Germany was among the topics addressed by global ambassadors Pau Gasol, Luis Scola and Carmelo Anthony during an appearance on a talk show, relays Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. Anthony, one of the most accomplished international players in American history, considers the result an “upset,” but not a huge surprise. “You have to take your hat off to Germany, and for Serbia as well,” Anthony said. “That’s good for the sport, everybody has to think differently when approaching these competitions. The game has grown globally. Everybody has an opportunity to go there and win a gold medal.”
  • Lack of size was an issue for the U.S. not only against Germany but throughout the World Cup, observes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. He notes that in three games against larger European teams, the Americans gave up 53 offensive rebounds and 64 second-chance points.
  • Stephen Curry is Team USA’s “must-have guy” for the Paris Olympics, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Instead of turning to LeBron James and Durant again, Rankin would like to see the 2024 roster built around Curry with Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler, Devin Booker, De’Aaron Fox, Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, Bam Adebayo and Jarrett Allen all in prominent roles.

Drew Eubanks Talks Suns, Lillard, Beal, Durant, Booker

After drawing interest from several playoff hopefuls in free agency this summer, Suns center Drew Eubanks decided to ink a two-year, minimum-salary deal with Phoenix in the hopes of winning his first NBA title. The agreement features a player option for the 2024/25 season.

The 6’9″ big man recently sat down with Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic for an extensive interview.

“It was kind of a no-brainer to go with Phoenix when the time came,” Eubanks said. “They’ve been high on me really since I had a pre-draft workout with them back in the day and they’ve always kept in touch with my agent [James Dunleavy of Excel Sports Management] throughout my career.”

Across 78 contests with the Trail Blazers in 2022/23, Eubanks averaged 6.6 PPG (on .641/.389/.664 shooting), 5.4 RPG, 1.3 APG, and 0.5 SPG off the bench.

The conversation is well worth checking out in full, but here are some highlights:

On his free agency this past summer:

“I had interest from other teams along the same lines of what Phoenix was offering, but a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I had an offer from Phoenix right out the gate. They were very high on me. My agent was saying they had the most interest out of anybody. Being able to go play for a contender and to play with guys like [Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal], I just couldn’t turn that down. That’s kind of how I got there.

“I got a little taste of what it’s like playing with a superstar with [former Trail Blazers teammate Damian Lillard]. I feel like every step in my career so far has prepared me for the next. I’m looking forward to the challenge in Phoenix and bringing some of what I learned playing alongside Dame last year and doing that with KD, Book and Beal.”

On what he learned playing alongside Lillard:

“If I had business cards I had to hand out everybody of the one, two or three things I excel at that, it’d be hustling, blocking shots and setting screens – and finishing at the rim. With Dame, you’ve got to respect him as soon as he comes off a screen. My screens are so effective with Dame, he would come off and be able to shoot wide open 3s. When my guy would step up and try to take his 3 away, they might do a hard double team on Dame, I just flip out of it, get in the pocket. He’s a great passer. He’d hit me and then you just go play four on three on the back end. There was a lot of that last year where I never really played with such a dynamic guard coming off a screen where I just got rep and rep of attacking mismatches and having numbers downhill. I’m a great screen setter.”

On how he can help the three star perimeter players on Phoenix:

“I’ll be able to get Book wide open 3s, I’ll be able to get KD wide open 3s, Beal, all those guys and they want to double one of them, that’s fine. They can kick it to me, I’ll drive, I’ll find the shooter in the corner, find the shooter at the wing or I’ll go finish at the rim. There was a lot of that last year that [Portland center Jusuf Nurkic] did well. He was really good at that in years past and last year, too. So I got to learn a lot from him in that regard. Just being able to play off those guys and let them to do their thing and try to make their job as easy as possible.”

Pacific Notes: Lillard, Suns, Curry, Reaves

Damian Lillard, still awaiting a trade from the Trail Blazers, is impressed how the Suns have assembled an All-Star trio of Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal, he told Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

“That’s definitely a Big 3,” he said. “Brad Beal, Book, KD. I mean, that’s a monster three. I think it will be fun to watch. They’ll win a lot of games and the goal is to win. As players of their level, it just has to click. They’ve got to connect. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did click, but that’s the most important thing is being able to click out there and to be able to work together towards winning.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Stephen Curry isn’t being modest about his accomplishments. The Warriors point guard expressed to former NBA guard Gilbert Arenas on a podcast that he’s the best point guard in history. “I have to, yes. It’s me and Magic [Johnson] is that the conversation? Obviously, I have to answer that way,” Curry said, adding, “Magic’s resume is ridiculous. So the fact that we’re having that conversation, that’s the place I never thought I’d be in.” Arenas brought up that Johnson was more of a “point forward” due to his height and that Curry’s style has been more influential when it comes to young kids trying to emulate him, relays.
  • Austin Reaves has a brand new four-year, $54MM contract from the Lakers and has emerged as one of the key players on Team USA this summer. Yet, he believes he still has plenty of doubters, he told Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “I don’t think (my mentality) shifts at all,” the undrafted guard said. “I think there’s still a good majority of people that probably still don’t think I’m that good — or any good at all.”
  • The Kings are adding Skal Labissiere on an Exhibit 10 contract. Get the details here.

Suns Notes: Ayton, Gordon, Booker, Beal

Suns center Deandre Ayton led the Bahamian national team to a blowout victory over Cuba in a pre-Olympic qualifying tournament game on Monday, putting up 22 points and 10 rebounds in a game the Bahamas won by 41. Ayton, who said it felt “amazing” to represent his home country, was excited to team up with new Suns wing Eric Gordon, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes.

“Definitely lit,” Ayton said when asked about playing with Gordon. “Definitely something that you never thought would happen. He’s such a great player as well. Just having a feel for his game before we both hit training camp and start fighting each other to figure out some type of chemistry. I’m glad we’re handling that early. Just us trying to make some history now to make the Olympics is truly something special.”

Asked about the former No. 1 pick, Gordon said he believes he’s an ideal fit alongside Ayton both on the Bahamian squad and in Phoenix.

“He’s going to be a threat,” Gordon said. “So we needed to use him as much as possible. When he gets double-teamed, that’s when you got guys like me to space the floor.”

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Kevin Durant is a former MVP, a 13-time All-Star, and a future Hall of Famer, but former NBA star Kevin Garnett believes the Suns are Devin Booker‘s team, as he said during an episode of Showtime’s Ticket and The Truth (Twitter links). “So down the stretch, Booker’s getting the first look over KD?” Paul Pierce asked. “Abso-f–king-lutely, yeah,” Garnett replied.
  • Gerald Bourguet of outlines four ways that Bradley Beal can raise the Suns’ ceiling and make them legitimate championship contenders in 2023/24, noting that he’ll help carry the play-making load and can also be a spot-up threat when others are handling the ball.
  • In case you missed it, the NBA has announced the schedule for the league’s first ever in-season tournament. The Suns will face the Lakers on November 10, followed by Utah (Nov. 17), Portland (Nov. 21) and Memphis (Nov. 24).

Pacific Notes: Gordon, Ayton, Thompson, Booker, Paul, Watanabe

Eric Gordon, who joined the Suns as a free agent this summer, is playing alongside new teammate Deandre Ayton with the Bahamas national team this month, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic notes.

The new Suns guard scored 12 points as Bahamas defeated the Kansas Jayhawks, 87-81, Monday in an exhibition game in Puerto Rico, Rankin tweets. Ayton didn’t play in the exhibition. Gordon played for Team USA in 2010. Team Bahamas will play in the FIBA Americas Olympic pre-qualifying tournament August 14-20 in Argentina.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors guard Klay Thompson had a dust-up with the Suns’ Devin Booker early last season and was ejected for the first time in his career. However, Thompson now characterizes it as a moment of weakness. Appearing on Paul George‘s Podcast P, Thompson expressed his admiration toward Booker, Rankin relays. “He survived a tough regime in Phoenix where everyone is getting traded,” Thompson said. “He’s playing for a new coach every year. Now he’s franchise player who just kept working. I admire the guys who have work ethic like that.”
  • During the same podcast, Thompson said he’s thrilled the Warriors acquired Chris Paul and believes the veteran point guard will elevate his game. “That’s one of the greatest players ever,” Thompson said. “He’s top 75. He’s elevated every franchise he’s ran the point for and me as a shooter, I’m excited because I know CP is going to put it right here on the seams. He’s going to set me up nice. I’m going to get a couple of easy extra buckets every night. And he’s a winner. I’ve played against him so many times and seen how competitive he is. He’ll do anything to win and that’s the vibe you want, you know, with the Dubs.”
  • Yuta Watanabe was one of many free agent pickups for the Suns and Gerald Bourguet of takes an in-depth look at Watanabe’s strengths and weaknesses. Bourguet concludes that Watanabe will be an elite spot-up weapon who will fit in extremely well off the bench.