Duje Dukan

And-Ones: Kobe, C. Randle, Seattle, Ball Family

Kobe Bryant retired from the Lakers two years ago, but his days of competitive basketball may not be over. BIG3 founder Ice Cube plans to make a strong push to get Bryant involved in his three-on-three league of former NBA players, relays Nina Mandell of USA Today.

“To me he’s the biggest name out there for us to get and he’s going to have to get a restraining order on me to leave him alone about this,” Ice Cube said.

BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz started the rumor mill earlier this week by indicating in a conference call that Bryant had interest in joining the league, but a spokesperson for Bryant later issued a denial. Bryant, who turned 40 today, suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and underwent knee surgery late in his career.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • In a G League trade, the expansion Capital City Go-Go acquired the rights to Chasson Randle from Westchester, according to a tweet from the Knicks. Randle agreed to a training camp deal last month with the Wizards, who are the parent team of the Go-Go. Randle, 25, had brief stints with the Sixers and Knicks during the 2016/17 season. In return, Westchester received the rights to center Stephen Zimmerman, who was selected in Wednesday’s expansion draft.
  • In a separate deal announced by the Knicks (Twitter link), Westchester acquired the G League rights to Duje Dukan from Capital City, Wisconsin received the rights to Travis Trice and the Go-Go got the rights to Josh Davis.
  • The NBA’s return to Seattle will be televised by ESPN, relays Jordan Ramirez of NBA.com. The Kings and the Warriors will square off October 5 in the first NBA game at Key Arena since the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City a decade ago.
  • The Ball family didn’t make a good impression during its four months in Lithuania, according to Steve Gardner of USA Today. LaVar Ball pulled his sons LiAngelo and LaMelo off their BC Prinai-Skycop team with two games remaining in the season and left a lot of animosity behind. In a press release issued today by the team, coach Virginijus Seskus claims the Ball brothers were “nowhere near the level of the LKL (Lithuanian league)” and “they had no inner drive to become better.” BC Prinai-Skycop also claims that LaVar Ball took back his financial support from the team, along with shooting machines that were presented as gifts.
  • In the latest installment of her five-part series on mental health issues in the NBA, Jackie MacMullan of ESPN talks to referees about the stress they face. Joey Crawford, one of the game’s legendary officials, discusses his experience with counseling after being suspended following a 2007 confrontation with Tim Duncan.

Atlantic Rumors: Fizdale, Leonard, Dukan, Kurucs

New Knicks coach David Fizdale has told Kristaps Porzingis to set lofty goals for himself and the franchise player appreciates getting pushed. In a WNBC TV interview that was relayed by Kurt Helin of NBC Sports, Fizdale said that he wants Porzingis, who is rehabbing from a torn ACL, to embrace the status that comes with being the team’s star. “He likes the challenge of me saying ‘I want him to be the MVP’ and ‘I want him to be the Defensive Player of the Year.’ That’s real competitors they want that and I’m going right at it with him. I want him to look at himself that way,” Fizdale said.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics made the right decision by holding onto Jayson Tatum rather than dealing him to the Spurs to Kawhi Leonard, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston opines. Boston would likely have needed to give up Tatum to land Leonard with no assurances that Leonard would stay beyond the upcoming season, Blakely continues. With Leonard’s questionable health and the Celtics already considered the Eastern Conference favorite, it didn’t make sense for Boston to roll the dice, Blakely adds.
  • New York’s G League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, has acquired former Kings forward Duje Dukan, Ian Begley of ESPN tweets. Dukan was chosen by the Wizards’ new G League team, the Capital City Go-Go, in the expansion draft on Wednesday. Dukan has also played for the G League affiliates of the Kings, Bulls and Pacers.
  • Buyout issues caused Nets forward Rodions Kurucs to slide in the draft, according to a NetsDaily.com post. Kurucs’ Euro team, FC Barcelona, reportedly priced his buyout at $5MM until late last season and NBA teams can’t pay more than $700K toward an international player’s buyout. Buyout talks also prevented Kurucs from playing in the summer league. Kurucs, the 40th overall pick, signed a four-year, $7MM contract with Brooklyn.

Go-Go Stock Roster in G League Expansion Draft

The Capital City Go-Go welcomed their first 14 players today in the G League expansion draft, tweets Adam Johnson of Two Ways and 10 Days. The Wizards’ new affiliate stocked its roster with a mixture of young players and veterans, including a few names familiar to NBA fans, including Lavoy Allen, Alonzo Gee and Luke Harangody.

As we saw with last year’s expansion draft, being selected isn’t a guarantee that any of these 14 players will take the court for Capital City in its inaugural season. Many of the players chosen today are still seeking NBA opportunities and some will head overseas.

Allen, 29, played 388 games for the Sixers and Pacers, with his last NBA action coming in the 2016/17 season. Gee, 31, played for six teams in eight seasons and has also been out of the league since 2016/17. Harangody, 30, appeared in 70 total games with the Celtics and Cavaliers and hasn’t been in the NBA since 2011/12.

The other G League franchises were permitted to protect up to 12 players on their roster, and Capital City was limited to taking a maximum of two players from a single team. The Go-Go will begin play this fall, bringing the G League to 27 teams and leaving the Pelicans, Nuggets and Trail Blazers as the only NBA clubs without direct affiliates.

The other new members of the Go-Go, listed alphabetically, are:

Quinton Chievous

Michael Cobbins

Will Cummings

Alex Davis

Will Davis

Duje Dukan

Kellen Dunham

Tyler Harvey

Pe’Shon Howard

Vince Hunter

Stephen Zimmerman

And-Ones: Sanders, Brown, All-Star Game

Former Bucks big man Larry Sanders caused a stir Thursday night when he tweeted that he was ready to return to the NBA. In 2015, the center walked away from the game at 26 years of age, ultimately citing personal struggles with mental health in a video essay for the Players Tribune.

Sanders last saw consistent action in 2012/13, before playing 23 games in an injury-compromised 2013/14 season and 27 games in a 2014/15 season beset by drug-related suspensions absences for personal reasons.

Sanders has reportedly worked out for the Celtics and, while reports that he’s had a meeting with the Wizards are said to be false, he has been training at the team’s facility.

Sanders averaged 9.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game for the Bucks during that 2012/13 campaign.

  • Former NBA head coach Larry Brown is open to coaching in EuroLeague, writes E. Carchia of Sportando via Italian newspaper La Gazetta. Brown had reportedly been in touch with Maccabi Tel Aviv but was scared off when they quickly cycled through three head coaches already this season.
  • The Windy City Bulls of the NBA D-League have acquired forward Duje Dukan in a trade for a 2017 fifth-round pick, tweets Chris Reichert of The Step Back. Dukan’s last taste of NBA action was with Kings at the start of the 2015/16 season. Earlier this year he had been under contract in Croatia, but the parties mutually split.
  • Journeyman point guard Bryce Cotton has reportedly received a 10-day contract offer from an NBA team, writes O. Cauchi of Sportando. The 24-year-old, however, has elected to stay with the Perth Wildcats for the time being. The report originated from Australian journalist Boti Nagy.
  • The NBA All-Star Game reserves have been announced. Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated looks at the biggest snubs that didn’t make the roster, including rookie Joel Embiid and injured Chris Paul.

And-Ones: D-League, BIG3, Greg Oden

A pair of former NBA players have signed D-League contracts, according to Chris Reichert of The Step Back, who reports (via Twitter) that Duje Dukan and Stephane Lasme are joining the league. Dukan played a single game last season for the Kings before returning to Croatia, while Lasme last saw NBA action way back in 2007/08 for the Warriors and Heat. Lasme has spent the last several years in Europe, though he received a suspension in 2016 for a failed doping test.

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

  • The new BIG3 league, which will debut this summer, has secured coaching commitments from Rick Barry, Clyde Drexler, and Rick Mahorn, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter). Previous reports have indicated that George Gervin and Gary Payton will also serve as coaches in the eight-team, three-on-three league.
  • While former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden has referred to himself in the past as the biggest bust in NBA history, he walked those comments back a little in a conversation with Dana O’Neil of Outside The Lines. “If you’re out there and you can’t do it, that makes you a bust,” Oden said. “Well, I was never really out there. I was never Greg Oden in the NBA.” Check out O’Neil’s piece for more from Oden, who hasn’t ruled out the possibility of pursuing a coaching or personnel job in the future.
  • In a piece for The Step Back, Reichert identifies several D-League players who made unexpectedly strong impressions as last week’s NBA D-League Showcase. It remains to be seen whether the players singled out by Reichert will be able to land 10-day contracts with NBA teams this season, but they could at least be in line for larger roles on their respective D-League clubs.

Kings Waive Caron Butler, Duje Dukan

The Kings have waived small forward Caron Butler and power forward Duje Dukan, sources told Shams Charania of The Vertical.

That frees up more roster space, though Butler had already exercised his player option worth $1,551,659 for next season. Deleting Dukan from the roster gives them a little more cap room, since Dukan’s $874,636 contract was not guaranteed.

Butler might have trouble finding a new team if he doesn’t retire, though Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical believes the Heat might have some interest. The Kings obviously would have moved his contract if they could have found a taker. The 36-year-old barely saw the floor during the 2015/16 season, playing a total of 176 minutes in 17 games for the Kings. Most of his absences were primarily the result of DNP-CDs.

Dukan signed with the Kings after going undrafted last June. The University of Wisconsin product spent most of the season with the Kings’ D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, before appearing in one April game with Sacramento. Dukan can still play on the Kings’ summer team even though he’s been waived, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee notes.

Western Notes: Knight, Harrell, Dukan

Point guard Brandon Knight underwent successful surgery to treat a sports hernia on Thursday, the Suns announced. Phoenix had already shut down Knight for the remainder of the season as he sought a second medical opinion after being limited to just 52 appearances on the campaign. No timetable was given for Knight’s return to action, but he is expected to begin his rehabilitation immediately, according to the press release. The 24-year-old finishes the 2015/16 season with averages of 19.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.2 steals in 36 minutes per outing. His slash line was .415/.342/.852.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Rockets rookie power forward Montrezl Harrell, who has been suspended for five games without pay by the D-League for shoving an official, contends that he was unaware in the heat of the moment that he was pushing a referee and has apologized for his actions, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today relays (via Twitter). The NBPA is reportedly challenging the suspension.
  • Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry noted that while no definitive decision has been made, it is highly unlikely that Ryan Anderson or Norris Cole will play again this season, Justin Verrier of ESPN.com relays (on Twitter). Jrue Holiday, Alonzo Gee, Anthony Davis, Quincy Pondexter, Eric Gordon, Bryce Dejean-Jones and Tyreke Evans are all already on the shelf for the year in what was a nightmarish season for New Orleans from an injury standpoint.
  • The Kings have recalled power forward Duje Dukan from their D-League affiliate, the team announced. Dukan has appeared in 27 contests for Reno this season and is averaging 14.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists to accompany a shooting line of .403/.371/.722.

Pacific Notes: Scott, Dukan, Chandler, Griffin

Discussing the Lakers‘ regression this season despite having a talented crop of young players, coach Byron Scott pointed to the roster’s overall NBA inexperience as a major contributing factor, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. “You take away some of the veterans we had last year and plug in these young guys that haven’t played at this level, it’s a different story,” Scott said. “They’re learning and it’s hard. When we had the veteran guys, they know how to compete every single night. They’ve been in the league for a while. These young guys don’t know how to do that every night. That’s what they’re learning how to do in bringing that intensity earlier today. You have to bring that intensity level every single night. For the young guys right now, their attention to detail that they don’t have on a night-to-night basis is tough. But they’re learning. They’re getting a hard lesson this year for learning what not to do.

Scott also admitted that he could have handled his younger players better this season, Medina notes. “With our young guys, could I probably have done a better job? Probably so,” Scott said. “I have to look at that this summer and how can I help them next year to get even better? You don’t have to give up who you are, which is not what I’m going to have to do. But you do have to adapt and understand now the communication level has to be much better. With these young guys, I’ve definitely done a better job of understanding this is a different generation.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns big man Tyson Chandler intends to host workouts over the summer to help him and his teammates develop better chemistry, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. “I feel like this season got way off on the wrong foot,” Chandler said. “Even though we won some games, I didn’t like it even early. Even when we were 7-5, I didn’t like it because it’s important that you win the right way. When you’re playing at a high level, and I’ve been there, you know when you’re a good team. You can just feel it. I felt we had spurts but we were always kind of rocking. It’s important all of us are on the same page and we all truly come in with the same goal.
  • The Clippers are facing a difficult dilemma with Blake Griffin as they try to work him back into the rotation while readying themselves for the playoffs, Dan Woike of The Orange County Register notes. Griffin, who has shown signs of rust since making his return, told reporters of his struggles, “I think it’s just rhythm. Being out three months, that’s a summer. That’s almost a full offseason,. It’s like coming into the first day of camp and everyone else has been playing at their peak for a long time. I’m just a step slow, a step behind, whatever you want to call it.
  • The Kings have assigned power forward Duje Dukan to their D-League affiliate, the team announced. This will be Dukan’s seventh trip to Reno on the season.

And-Ones: Porzingis, Smart, Terry, D-League

The KnicksKristaps Porzingis could be the rare young player who affects decisions in the free agent market, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski claims. In a video response to a reader’s question, Wojnarowski said Porzingis has a clear path toward becoming an All-Star. “Elite free agents generally aren’t as interested in young talent as they are veteran, winning talent in its prime,” Wojnarowski said. “But Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks is an exception. He’s far more and will be far more intriguing to free agents than say, the Lakers’ young core.” 

There’s more from around the world of basketball:

  • Heat assistant coach Keith Smart is trying to overcome a rare form of skin cancer and rejoin the team on the bench, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Chris Quinn has moved from behind the bench to take Smart’s place while he undergoes treatment, and Smart said he doesn’t want to disrupt the chemistry of the coaching staff when he returns. He credits the Heat for keeping him involved during his absence. “This team has been great,” Smart said. “The organization has been great. [Coach Erik Spoelstra] is incredible, managing this team and also communicating with me almost on a daily basis or every other day, just to make sure that I’m doing OK.”
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban believes Rockets guard Jason Terry has the personality to succeed as a college coach, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Terry interviewed Thursday to be the next head coach at Alabama-Birmingham. “I could see Jet being a coach,” Cuban said. “He knows the game, he’s intense, he communicates well. And guys would relate to him.” Cuban added that the former Maverick can have a job with Dallas whenever he wants one.
  • The addition of three new teams to the D-League next season will bring a few complications, writes Adam Johnson of D-League Digest. The Windy City Bulls, Greensboro Swarm and Long Island Nets will be launched for 2016/17 as more NBA teams decide to have direct D-League affiliates. Johnson notes that the extra teams will require an expansion draft and will complicate the way the league handles its draft picks.
  • The Thunder have recalled Mitch McGary from their Oklahoma City Blue affiliate in the D-League, the team announced. McGary is averaging 14.7 points and 8.8 rebounds in 26 games with the Blue.
  • The Kings have recalled Eric Moreland and Duje Dukan from Reno of the D-League (Twitter link).

Pacific Notes: Brown, Kings, Curry

The reputation of the Kings organization has suffered another blow in the wake of a flubbed D-League move. The D-League forced the affiliate of the Kings to forfeit a game because it played Duje Dukan, who was on assignment from Sacramento, during the All-Star break, report Marc J. Spears of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports and Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor (All five Twitter links here). The D-League upheld a protest that the Suns affiliate filed after losing to Sacramento’s D-League team on February 16th, a game in which Dukan took part, according to Spears. NBA players weren’t allowed to play for D-League teams from February 11th through February 16th because of the NBA All-Star break, Reichert notes. So, the Reno win became a Bakersfield win instead, as Spears points out. The Sacramento front office under GM Vlade Divac has drawn criticism for its lack of knowledge about the finer points of rules governing personnel movement, though the Kings reportedly interviewed cap expert Bobby Marks on Thursday.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers rookie small forward Anthony Brown is expected to miss at least a month due to a stress reaction in his right foot, the team announced (Twitter link). Brown, 23, was the No. 34 overall selection out of Stanford in the 2015 NBA draft. He has appeared in 29 contests for Los Angeles, including 11 starts, and is averaging 4.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 20.7 minutes per game. Brown’s shooting line on the season is .310/.286/.850.
  • Brown, prior to his injury, was struggling to adjust to the NBA on offense, which frustrated the Lakers coaching staff, though head coach Byron Scott has praised the rookie’s acumen as a defender, Bill Oram of The Orange County Register writes. “Defensively he has a world of confidence that he can guard most people he has to guard,” Scott said. “I want that to translate on the other end as well.” For his part, Brown seems to understand why his shot selection and accuracy has vexed his coaches, Oram adds. “Obviously, as a coach you want to be able to know what you’re going to get consistently from a guy offensively as well as defensively,” Brown said. “And that’s something I’ve got to continue to work on.
  • Seth Curry hasn’t seen much action for the Kings this season despite being a solid defender, an area the team is poor in, which has the combo guard mildly frustrated, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes. “It’s tough,” Curry said. “I think mentally the toughest part is trying to stay involved and try to keep that competitive edge. It’s pretty easy to work out and keep your skills right, but I think mentally and being in good shape is the hardest part.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.