Georgios Printezis

And-Ones: LaMelo, Scouting, Pitino, Schedule Changes

LaMelo Ball is the top prospect for the 2020 draft, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. American fans haven’t seen much of the youngest Ball brother because he’s playing in Australia’s National Basketball League, but he’s making a strong impression on NBA scouts.

According to Givony, Ball’s assets include unusual size for a point guard at 6’7″, along with “impressive creativity, flair, poise and instincts operating off a live dribble.” He can pass with either hand and is especially skilled on the pick-and-roll. To improve his game, Givony believes Ball needs to become a more efficient scorer and show a stronger commitment to defense, but he still has the potential to become a franchise-altering player.

The rest of the top five includes Memphis center James Wiseman, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, North Carolina guard Cole Anthony and combo guard R.J. Hampton, who is also playing in the ABL.

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

  • This week normally marks the unofficial beginning of scouting season, but that’s changing because of the concept of “flight risk,” writes former league executive John Hollinger of The Athletic. Team officials who may be planning a trip to Australia to see Ball or Hampton in late December or January are taking the risk that they could shut down their seasons early to avoid injury if they believe their status as a high lottery pick is secure.
  • Some of the top players in Greece are refusing to play for the national team as long as Rick Pitino is the head coach of Panathinaikos, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Former NBA player Kostas Papanikolaou joined with Georgios Printezis and Antonis Koniaris to write a letter to the Greek federation, protesting Pitino’s recent return to their arch-rival and calling the situation “toxic.” Greece hasn’t earned a spot in the Olympics and will be part of a qualifying tournament in June.
  • Instead of making radical changes to the schedule and the playoffs, the NBA needs to do a better job of promoting its current product, contends Michael Lee of The Athletic. He observes that the league has large number of  “skilled, likable and marketable stars,” along with many international players to attract an overseas audience. Lee opposes a shortened schedule and an in-season tournament, and points out that reason behind declining ratings is that it’s easier than ever for fans to enjoy the league through highlights on social media without dedicating the time to watch a full game.

Hawks Acquire Tiago Splitter

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

11:11am: The deal is official, the Hawks and Spurs announced via press release. The rights to Georgios Printezis and a protected 2017 second-rounder go to San Antonio, according to the statements.

“We’re excited to bring Tiago to Atlanta. He’s played an important role in a winning environment, has a great understanding of our system and will add to our core character,” Hawks coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said as part of the statement. “Tiago also brings championship experience and we look forward to adding his interior presence to our team.”

JULY 9TH, 10:36am: The trade is expected to become final today, with the Hawks sending the rights to a draft-and-stash player and a heavily protected future second-round pick, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter).

JULY 1ST, 10:49am: The Spurs will trade Tiago Splitter to the Hawks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links). The move comes just after San Antonio agreed to re-sign Danny Green, so the Splitter move will presumably allow San Antonio to preserve the cap flexibility to compete for LaMarcus Aldridge and other marquee free agents, Wojnarowski adds. The deal can’t become official until July 9th, after the July Moratorium, and details of the swap are still in flux, tweets Brian Windhorst of, who suggests other components would allow the Hawks to retain Paul Millsap if they can keep him away from the Magic. Atlanta is expected to absorb Splitter into cap space, as Windhorst writes in a full story.

The arrival of Splitter, who was set to make $8.5MM this coming season and $8.25MM in 2016/17, has a 15% trade kicker in his deal, so he’ll see a bonus of about $2.5MM, notes Brian Windhorst of (Twitter link). Still, with DeMarre Carroll off to Toronto, the Hawks can afford that and still make a max bid for Paul Millsap.

The Spurs had made Splitter available, but it seemed as though there was a scenario in which San Antonio could sign Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili while still keeping Splitter, as Marc Stein of wrote. That probably didn’t involve the lucrative deal that San Antonio reached with Green, however.

Western Notes: Warriors, Thunder, Bledsoe, Jazz

The most intriguing game on tonight's schedule happens out west, where the Lakers are in Denver as they try to get back to .500 for the first time since they were 15-15 at the end of December. While we wait to see if the Nuggets can keep the Lakers below .500, let's check out a few Western Conference links….

  • If a big-name trade candidate becomes available this summer, the Warriors should be in the mix, says Matt Steinmetz of, pointing out that Golden State will have young talent, draft picks, and big, expiring contracts to offer.
  • As Derek Fisher prepares to join the Thunder for the rest of the season, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News points out (via Sulia) that even when it became clear Oklahoma City wouldn't be re-signing Fisher last summer, the team had nothing but praise for him.
  • When Thunder GM Sam Presti spoke on Friday about the trade that sent Eric Maynor to the Trail Blazers, he mentioned the trade exception acquired by Oklahoma City in the deal. But the Thunder also acquired the rights to Georgios Printezis, and Wendell Maxey of Ridiculous Upside thinks the club should strongly consider eventually bringing him stateside.
  • By keeping Eric Bledsoe through the deadline, the Clippers are now expected to have a backup plan this summer if Chris Paul unexpectedly decides to sign elsewhere. But assuming Paul re-signs, the team will have to decide what Bledsoe's long-term future holds, writes Jovan Buha of
  • In a lengthy piece on players and teams who are "on notice" after the trade deadline, Grantland's Zach Lowe explores the Jazz's decision to keep both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson last week.
  • Following up on Dirk Nowitzki's comments about wanting to play beyond his current contract, Tim MacMahon of wonders how much of a bargain Nowitzki would give the Mavericks in his next deal.

Odds & Ends: Deadline, Nets, Colangelo, Hibbert

The latest news and notes from around the NBA on Thursday evening:

Knicks Acquire Raymond Felton From Blazers

THURSDAY, 1:42pm: Mark Deeks of ShamSports clarifies that Felton's deal with the Knicks is for four years and about $14.86MM, with a fourth-year player option.

MONDAY, 4:13pm: The trade is official, according to a Blazers press release. The Knicks receive Felton and Thomas, while the Blazers get Jeffries, Gadzuric, Papanikolaou, Printezis, cash, and a 2016 second-round pick. As's John Hollinger points out (via Twitter), the Knicks can't be sending more than $1MM to Portland, since they already sent $2MM to Houston in the Marcus Camby deal.

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Atlantic Notes: Deron Williams, Printezis, Knicks

The two remaining Atlantic teams in the postseason continued their second-round battle last night, with the Celtics dominating the Sixers in Philadelphia to take a 2-1 series lead. While we wait for the series to resume on Friday night, here are a few items of interest from the Atlantic Division:

  • Deron Williams and his wife are currently on a vacation in Russia, home of Nets majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Fred Kerber of the New York Post writes that the trip could bode well for Brooklyn's chances of re-signing Williams. Andy Vasquez of the Bergen Record, on the other hand, says Nets fans should feel good about the team's chances, but not because of Williams' trip to Moscow.
  • In December's sign-and-trade with the Mavericks for Tyson Chandler, the Knicks gained the rights to Greek forward Georgios Printezis. Marc Berman of the New York Post examines New York's chances of bringing the Olympiacos star to the NBA next season, and concludes that it's a long-shot for a Knicks team that's already restricted by the salary cap.
  • Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld discusses those cap limitations, noting that the new CBA could make things for teams like the Knicks, who have a lot of money tied up in long-term contracts. The Bulls and Lakers are other clubs who could be affected.
  • Watching the Sixers this postseason, it's easy to see why they were frequently rumored to have interest in a scorer like Monta Ellis, says Matt Steinmetz of