Hollis Thompson

Lance Stephenson Among NBA Vets Eligible For G League Draft

As previously reported, the NBA G League’s 2020/21 draft will take place on Monday, January 11. And according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter links), there will be some interesting names on the list of players eligible to be selected in that draft.

Veteran swingman Lance Stephenson, former No. 2 overall pick Emeka Okafor, and other recent NBA players like Justin Patton, Jacob Evans, Dzanan Musa, and Admiral Schofield will be part of the draft pool, per Givony. Former first-round picks Terrence Jones and Shabazz Muhammad will be draft-eligible as well.

According to Givony, the following players who have been on NBA rosters in the past are also among the G League’s other draft-eligible veterans: Kenny Wooten, Antonio Blakeney, Tyler Ulis, Quincy Pondexter, Diamond Stone, Hollis Thompson, Cat Barber, Isaiah Briscoe, Phil Booth, Dusty Hannahs, Jemerrio Jones, Cory Jefferson, and Freddie Gillespie.

These, presumably, are players who have signed G League contracts but whose rights aren’t currently held by any teams. A player whose returning rights are controlled by a club participating in the G League’s bubble season wouldn’t be eligible to be drafted.

For instance, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that LiAngelo Ball has signed a contract to play in the bubble. Since the Oklahoma City Blue hold his returning rights and are playing in the bubble, Ball shouldn’t be in the general draft pool.

The Blue are one of 18 teams set to participate in the shortened bubble season, which is expected to take place at Walt Disney World. That list of teams can be found right here.

Givony previously reported that the G League is adjusting its roster rules for this season to make it easier for NBA teams to recruit and sign veterans with five or more years of NBA experience. Each NBAGL team will be able to designate an “NBA Vet Selection” who fits that bill and can sign that player directly without navigating the league’s complicated waiver process. My understanding is that those designated won’t be in the draft pool.

Kings Waive Hollis Thompson, Tyler Ulis

The Kings have waived guards Hollis Thompson and Tyler Ulis, the team announced in a press release. This likely finalizes their regular-season roster ahead of Monday’s deadline.

Thompson, a veteran who went undrafted back in 2012, has made previous stops with Philadelphia, New Orleans, and various clubs overseas. He’s coming off summer league stints with the team that saw him average 12.7 points per game in Sacramento and 10.8 points per game in Las Vegas.

Ulis, a 5-foot-9 point guard drafted at No. 34 in 2016, holds career experiences with Phoenix and Chicago. He averaged 23.3 points and 8.8 assists in four G League games with the Windy City Bulls last season.

Both players signed deals with modest partial guarantees and are expected to play for the team’s G League affiliate, the Stockton Kings, provided they go unclaimed on waivers.

Power forward Tyler Lydon will likely be awarded with Sacramento’s final roster spot as a result of the transactions.

Kings Waive Mika, Pineiro; Sign Hollis Thompson

5:08pm: Thompson’s signing is official, according to a team press release.

11:20am: The Kings are making a series of changes to their 20-man roster, announcing today in a press release that they’ve waived camp invitees Eric Mika and Isaiah Pineiro. Sources tell Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link) that Sacramento has agreed to a partially guaranteed deal with Hollis Thompson, who will fill one of those newly-opened roster spots.

Mika, a former BYU center who went undrafted in 2017 and has played overseas in recent years, joined the Kings for Summer League play in July, then signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the club in August. He racked up four points and six rebounds in just four minutes of action in his lone preseason appearance for Sacramento

Pineiro, an Auburn, California native, also signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Kings after playing for the team in Summer League. Like Mika, the forward appeared in one preseason game for Sacramento.

Both players look like candidates to ultimately join the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate. They’d be eligible for Exhibit 10 bonuses worth up to $50K if they spend at least 60 days in Stockton.

As for Thompson, the former Sixers and Pelicans swingman last played in the NBA during the 2016/17 season. The Georgetown alum averaged 7.7 PPG and 3.1 RPG with a .386 3PT% in 265 NBA contests, and has played in Greece, Germany, and the G League since then.

It’s not clear if Thompson will get a chance to compete for the 15th and final spot on the Kings’ regular season roster. Tyler Lydon and Tyler Ulis are currently vying to fill that opening.

Western Notes: Dumars, Thompson, Horford, Morris, Zion

The Kings have named former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars as a special advisor to GM Vlade Divac, according to a team press release. Dumars, who build Detroit’s 2004 championship team, stepped down from his post with the Pistons in April 2014. “Joe and I played together in the league and is a legend in our sport,” Divac said in a press release. “As an experienced and talented basketball executive, I’m excited to have him serve as a special advisor and expert resource for our incredible front office team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Former Sixers forward Hollis Thompson will join the Kings’ summer league team, J.D. Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Thompson hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular-season game since the 2016/17 season, when he played a combined 40 games for Philadelphia and New Orleans.
  • While numerous teams and agents believe Celtics big man Al Horford will receive a four-year, $112MM offer in free agency, it won’t be coming from the Mavericks, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option and has broken off negotiations with Boston.
  • Veteran NBA guard Darius Morris will play for the Spurs’ summer league squad, Shaw reports in another tweet. Morris hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season. He had stints with the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Nets.
  • The Pelicans’ top executive, David Griffin, is trying his best to keep the pressure off top pick Zion Williamson. He said on Friday to ESPN”s Malika Andrews and other media members that Williamson doesn’t have the burden of “saving this franchise.” Griffin added that Williamson is not yet the face of the franchise. “This is Jrue Holiday‘s team,” Griffin said. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now.”

And-Ones: Age Limit, Watson, Loyd, Overseas Signings

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is calling on the NCAA to develop a plan in response to the NBA’s expected rule change that would lower the draft eligibility age from 19 to 18, relays Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The NBA has submitted a proposal to its players union that would make the change effective in 2022.

“The NCAA is not prepared right now,” Krzyzewski said. “They need to be in concert with the NBA in developing a plan that is specific for men’s college basketball. And that should include what an athlete gets, how he’s been taken care of, whether or not there’s a re-entry if something – really, it’s deep. And if we only look at it shallow, then we’re doing a disservice to the kids. And that’s why I would hope that the NCAA has someone leading this to figure it all out.”

Krzyzewski asked whether the G League would start attracting blue-chip players and providing more competition for college basketball and how the NCAA will adapt once the one-and-done rule is gone. Michigan State’s Tom Izzo shared some of the same concerns and worried that too many players will be pressured to turn pro before they’re ready.

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

  • Former Suns coach Earl Watson has interviewed for the head coaching position at UCLA, tweets Jordan Schultz of ESPN. A former Bruins player, Watson was fired by Phoenix three games into last season. Schultz reports that longtime college and NBA coach Larry Brown would join Watson as a top assistant.
  • Jordan Loyd is this year’s 2 Ways & 10 Days pick for NBA G League MVP, writes Adam Johnson. He’s the second straight player from the Raptors 905 to claim the honor, following Lorenzo Brown‘s MVP season in 2017/18. Loyd is playing on a two-way contract and has appeared in 10 games at the NBA level.
  • Three players with NBA ties have signed contracts overseas. Hollis Thompson, who played four NBA seasons and was with the Pelicans two years ago, is joining Crailsheim Merlins in Germany, according to Emiliano Carchia of SportandoXavier Rathan-Mayes, who appeared in five games for the Grizzlies late last season, has signed with Bnei Herzelia in Israel, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. Brad Newly, whose rights are owned by the Lakers, has signed with Sydney in Australia, Smith adds (Twitter link). Newly was drafted in 2007, but has never played in the NBA.

Western Notes: Clippers, Nuggets, Bjelica, Musa

The Clippers will bring in some first-round candidates for a pre-draft group workout on Wednesday, league sources tell Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Scotto, Miles Bridges (Michigan State), Kevin Knox (Kentucky), Aaron Holiday (UCLA), and Mitchell Robinson will participate in the session.

The Clippers currently hold the 12th and 13th overall picks in the draft, presenting a number of potential opportunities and directions for the club. Bridges and Knox are viewed as two potential lottery picks who may still be on the board at No. 12, while Holiday and Robinson are ranked slightly lower on most big boards.

Let’s round up a few more Western Conference notes…

  • Speaking last week to reporters, Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said the team will target a strong defensive player with two-way versatility with the No. 14 pick, and didn’t rule out the possibility of trading or waiving highly-paid players to maintain cap flexibility. Matt L. Stephens of The Denver Post has the story and the quotes.
  • The Jazz and Suns are among the teams that could show interest in power forward Nemanja Bjelica this summer, a source tells Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Bjelica is eligible for restricted free agency, so the Timberwolves have the chance to match any offer he receives, assuming they extend a qualifying offer.
  • Bosnian wing Dzanan Musa, a potential first-round pick who will be keeping his name in the 2018 NBA draft, has workouts on tap with the Trail Blazers, Nuggets, Spurs, and Jazz, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports.
  • Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News passes along word of a few more of the players who participated in the Timberwolvesveteran mini-camp on the weekend, tweeting that that Hollis Thompson, Dorell Wright, and Jordan McRae took part, among others.
  • Veteran guard Rodney Stuckey is participating in a free agent mini-camp with the Trail Blazers, a league source tells Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Hollis Thompson To Play In Greece

Free agent swingman Hollis Thompson is headed overseas, having formally signed with Greek team Olympiacos, per the Euroleague’s official site. Details of Thompson’s new deal aren’t yet known.

Thompson, 26, spent the first three and a half seasons of his NBA career in Philadelphia, appearing in 256 games for the Sixers and posting respectable numbers, including 7.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and a .386 3PT%. However, the 76ers opted to waive Thompson in January before his 2016/17 salary became fully guaranteed.

After reaching the free agent market, Thompson spent some time in the G League and with the Pelicans, inking a pair of 10-day contracts with New Orleans. The former Georgetown standout struggled in his short run with the Pelicans, compiling a shooting line of .268/.250/.667 in nine games with the franchise.

In Greece, Thompson will join an Olympiacos squad that finished as the runner-up in this year’s Euroleague Final Four, losing the championship game to Turkey’s Fenerbahce. Thompson is the second NBA free agent to sign with Olympiacos this offseason — the club added former Hornets point guard Brian Roberts last month.

And-Ones: Mexico City, Schedule, Llull, Thompson

The Nets will be involved in both games in Mexico City next season, the NBA announced today on its website. Brooklyn will face the Thunder on December 7th, followed by the Heat on December 9th at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico. The games will be the 25th and 26th in the country, more than other other nation besides the United States and Canada. “They will also mark the 25th anniversary of our first game in Mexico City, a milestone in our relationship with our Mexican fans and a further indication of our desire to strengthen our ties to Mexico and Latin America,” said commissioner Adam Silver.

There’s more news from around the league:

  • The NBA has sent a memo to all its teams explaining the changes in next season’s schedule, relays Brian Windhorst of ESPN. The season will start a week earlier, giving teams more days off with the goal of eliminating the practice of healthy players being rested. The new schedule also cuts out stretches of four games in five days and reduces the number of single-game road trips, among other improvements.
  • Spanish guard Sergio Llull, whose rights are owned by the Rockets, suffered an ACL injury today that will force him to miss EuroBasket and Euroleague for his Real Madrid team, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. Llull sent out a tweet thanking his fans and promising that he will return to action. Houston purchased Llull’s rights from Denver in 2009, but has been unable to convince the 29-year-old to leave Spain.
  • Hollis Thompson, who spent time with the Sixers and Pelicans last season, is in “advanced negotiations” with Olympiacos in Greece, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Thompson began the season with Philadelphia and played 31 games before being waived in early January. He signed a pair of 10-day contracts with New Orleans in February and March, appearing in nine games, but wasn’t retained when the second deal expired.

And-Ones: Ball, G. Allen, H. Thompson, Fultz

Sam Amick of USA Today raises concerns of LaVar Ball’s impact on Lonzo Ball‘s draft stock. A potential No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, Lonzo’s elite skill-set has overshadowed his father’s “controversial style” thus far.

“Passing on the kid because of the father may not hold up well over time,” one anonymous executive told Amick. “There are players who come from more challenging family situations who have (done) quite well in the NBA,” another executive added.

Most likely, Amick concludes, LaVar can continue making brash, boastful statements “without the slightest fear” of it hurting Lonzo’s NBA future.

More from around the game…

  • Grayson Allen doesn’t regret returning to Duke for his junior year, Jeff Goodman of ESPN writes. While Allen would have been a first-round pick after his sophomore season, his stock has dipped to mid-second-round value after this year. “I knew with the decision I made, once I made it, I was going to live with it,” Allen said. “Obviously, I haven’t had the season I’d like to have. A lot of things out of my control happened. I didn’t know I was going to get injured three games into the year, reinjured later and all stuff happen in the middle…I didn’t come back for personal goals, I came back to be in the spot I am right now and trying to make another run for a national championship, and I’m still able to do that.”
  • After spending the duration of two 10-day contracts with the Pelicans, Hollis Thompson has returned to the D-League with the Austin Spurs, Chris Reichert of The Step Back reports (Tweet). Thompson had scored just 11 points over his last five games with the Pelicans.
  • The HoopsHype staff produced their latest NBA mock draft, with Markelle Fultz taking the No. 1 spot (article link). Regarding Fultz, HoopsHype wrote “no prospect in this draft is perfect, and Fultz remains on top of most scouts boards as the premiere prospect available,” before comparing him to James Harden.

Hollis Thompson Back On Free Agent Market

Hollis Thompson‘s second 10-day contract with the Pelicans expired overnight, giving the team the option of either locking him up for the season or letting him go. According to Scott Kushner of The Advocate (via Twitter), New Orleans has decided against signing Thompson for the remainder of the season, meaning he’ll return to the free agent market.

Thompson, who turns 26 next month, appeared in nine games during his 20 days with the Pelicans, starting eight of those games. However, he struggled mightily with his shot, making just 11 of 41 attempts from the field. Thompson’s shooting percentages in New Orleans (.268 overall, .250 on threes) represented a significant step down from his career averages in Philadelphia (.417/.389).

Assuming Thompson doesn’t catch on with another NBA team right away, there’s a good chance he’ll rejoin the Austin Spurs, his team prior to his stint with the Pelicans. The 6’8″ swingman would remain an NBA free agent even if he headed back to San Antonio’s D-League affiliate.

Having paired DeMarcus Cousins with Anthony Davis in their frontcourt in a trade that cost them three guards, the Pelicans have been looking for ball-handlers and shooters to fill out their rotation, experimenting with a number of players on 10-day contracts. The club initially signed Jarrett Jack and Reggie Williams along with Thompson, but none of those players are on the roster anymore.

Currently, New Orleans is carrying Jordan Crawford and Wayne Selden on 10-day deals, with one newly-opened spot on the team’s 15-man roster.