Ignas Brazdeikis

International Notes: Fournier, Lithuania, Canada, Nunn, Hayes-Davis

With the Pistons considered extremely unlikely to exercise their $19MM team option on Evan Fournier for the 2024/25 season, the French swingman is on track to become a free agent this summer. There has been some speculation that Fournier could return to Europe, where he began his professional career and where he could play a far more significant role than he has the past couple seasons.

It doesn’t sound like that’s Fournier’s Plan A, however. According to Dimitri Kucharczyk of BasketUSA (hat tip to RealGM), while Fournier’s representatives didn’t specifically address rumors linking him to French team ASVEL and Greek club Olympiacos, they indicated that the 31-year-old wants to continue playing in the NBA.

Before being traded to Detroit in February, Fournier had barely seen the court for over a year in New York, having been removed from the team’s rotation during the first half of the 2022/23 season. He saw regular playing time off the bench with the Pistons – 18.7 minutes per night across 29 appearances – but shot just 37.3% from the field and 27.0% from beyond the arc, well below his NBA career averages of 44.1% and 37.4%. That will hurt his stock as he seeks his next contract.

Here are a few more notes from around the international basketball world:

  • As Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops details, Lithuania’s preliminary roster for this summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament is headlined by a pair of NBA big men in Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas. However, there are some notable absences too, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com, who points out (via Twitter) that former NBA forward Ignas Brazdeikis and projected NBA lottery pick Matas Buzelis aren’t in the mix this summer.
  • It has been a good spring for Canadian guards, with Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker among those who won playoff series. The latest gift for the Canadians’ Olympic medal aspirations, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca, is guard Andrew Nembhard, who played some of the best basketball of his career to keep the Pacers competitive vs. Boston following Tyrese Haliburton‘s hamstring injury. Nembhard is a near-lock to be on Canada’s Olympic roster this summer, says Grange.
  • Greek team Panathinaikos won this year’s EuroLeague title, with former NBA guard Kendrick Nunn scoring 21 points in 24 minutes in the championship game. Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops takes a closer look at Nunn’s memorable year and considers whether the guard is more likely to continue on with Panathinaikos or exercise the NBA out in his contract to return stateside.
  • Former NBA forward Xavier Cooks, who spent the 2023/24 season in Japan after being waived by the Wizards in October, is returning to his home country of Australia, having signed a three-year contract with the Sydney Kings, per a press release.
  • Could a return to the NBA be in the cards for forward Nigel Hayes-Davis? The former Wisconsin standout, who appeared in nine NBA games back in 2017/18, is rumored to be seeking a return, with the Cavaliers among the teams who may have interest, tweets Soritis Vetakis of LiveSports and SDNA. Hayes-Davis has spent the last two seasons with Fenerbahce in Turkey and earned a spot on the All-EuroLeague First Team this spring.

And-Ones: Whitsitt, Seattle, Brazdeikis, Australia

Former SuperSonics and Trail Blazers executive Bob Whitsitt is among the many NBA figures who support having a team in Seattle again, writes Sam Yip of HoopsHype. In an upcoming book, Whitsitt looks back on his experiences in the city and contends that everything is already in place for a successful NBA franchise.

That includes Climate Pledge Arena, where the new team would be based. Whitsitt, who served as a consultant during remodeling work on the facility, said his job was to make sure it has everything the NBA would look for in a home arena. He says NBA executives have already made several trips to Climate Pledge, with another one coming at an October 10 preseason game, and the arena owners are willing make any modifications the league might request.

He also notes that the Sonics had strong support from their fans until the move to Oklahoma City, adding that Seattle residents are eager to get their team back.

“So all we need is the NBA to say they’re willing and wanting to expand, and I believe the Seattle market will be at the top of the list,” Whitsitt said. “It will be a phenomenal market. I believe the team will be super well-supported. Bringing the Sonics back is something that fans have wanted since 2008. I live in Seattle, I hear it every day, I’m asked the question every day. And all I can tell them is yes, I’m 100 percent all in and I’m gonna do everything I can, in a big way or even in a small way, whatever is required to help make that happen.”

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Ignas Brazdeikis has confirmed that he plans to join Greek powerhouse Olympiacos, according to a report from Eurohoops. He’s expected to sign a two-year deal, and Kaunas, where he played last season, will get a buyout worth 500K Euros. Brazdeikis, 24, had brief stops with the Knicks, Sixers and Magic during his time in the NBA.
  • Former Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe has signed with Maroussi BC in Greece after playing in Italy last season, tweets Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog. The 27-year-old appeared in 39 games with the Magic during the 2018/19 season.
  • Lachlan Olbrich of the Illawarra Hawks looked like the best NBA prospect during this week’s NBL Blitz in Australia, observes Olgun Uluc of ESPN. The 6’10” forward averaged 14.7 PPG and made 19 of his 22 shots from the field during the event. Uluc shares several highlights from the Blitz, including Matthew Dellavedova‘s return to Melbourne United, whom he played for in 2021/22.

International Notes: Neto, Edwards, Bone, Brazdeikis, Cornelie

After spending the past eight seasons in the NBA, free agent guard Raul Neto could be headed to an opportunity overseas. Turkish club Fenerbahce is reportedly working on a deal with the 31-year-old point guard, who averaged 3.3 points and 1.6 assists in 48 games with the Cavaliers last season, tweets Shot Vetakis of LiveSport and SDNA.

Neto signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract with Cleveland in the summer of 2022 after spending the previous two years with the Wizards. The Brazilian guard’s best statistical seasons came in Washington, where he averaged 8.1 points and 2.7 assists in 134 games across two seasons.

Before his successful stint with the Wizards, Neto also had stops with the Jazz and the 76ers. Neto didn’t end up playing big minutes for the Cavaliers last season as a third-string point guard and he entered unrestricted free agency this summer.

There’s more from the international scene.

  • Point guard Carsen Edwards officially signed with FC Bayern Munich of Basketball Bundesliga, the club announced. Edwards, the No. 33 overall pick in the 2019 draft, played two seasons with the Celtics. The Purdue product wound up making a stop in the G League with the Salt Lake City Stars before briefly joining the Pistons at the end of the 2021/22 season, his most recent NBA team. Edwards holds NBA career averages of 3.7 points and 1.1 rebounds in 72 NBA games. He spent last season with Fenerbahce.
  • Former Pistons and Magic guard Jordan Bone officially signed with Vanoli Cremona of Italy’s Lega Basket Serie A, the club announced (hat tip to Sportando). Bone hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2020/21 season, when he appeared on a two-way contract with the Magic. Before that, he was on a two-way deal with the Pistons after being selected with the 57th pick in the 2019 draft. Bone holds career averages of 2.8 points and 1.1 assists per game at the NBA level but played more extensively in the G League, where he averaged 15.6 points and 5.8 assists.
  • Zalgiris Kaunas of the EuroLeague announced that it has retained former Magic, Knicks and Sixers wing Ignas Brazdeikis. Brazdeikis spent last season with the Lithuanian club, averaging 11.6 points and 2.9 rebounds. The Knicks acquired Brazdeikis’s draft rights after he was selected with the 47th pick in the 2019 NBA draft, and he spent two seasons there before making stops with the 76ers and Magic. Brazdeikis has 64 games of NBA experience and holds career averages of 5.0 points and 1.9 rebounds. The club also retained guard Keenan Evans, who hasn’t appeared in an NBA game but was briefly on a two-way contract with the Pistons in 2018.
  • Petr Cornelie, the No. 53 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft, signed a three-year contract with AS Monaco Basket of the EuroLeague, according to a tweet from the club. Cornelie is fresh off winning the EuroLeague with Real Madrid last season, averaging 5.8 points and 3.1 rebounds during the Spanish team’s run. Cornelie was drafted by the Nuggets in 2016 but didn’t come stateside until the 2021/22 season, when he signed a two-way contract with Denver. The French big man only played in 13 games with the Nuggets, averaging 1.1 points and 1.1 rebounds, but he played a much bigger role with Denver’s G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, where he averaged 17.7 points and 12.8 rebounds.

Wolves Notes: Minott, Edwards, Free Agents

Josh Minott created excitement among Timberwolves fans with his G League highlights, but he knows he still has a lot to prove at the NBA level, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The second-year small forward understands that nothing will be given to him as he tries to make an NBA breakthrough, so he’s been approaching Summer League play the same way he did as a rookie.

“Last year, had no respect. This year, no respect,” Minott said. “I’m just trying to go out there and just show what I can do, show the coaching staff.”

The 45th pick in the 2022 draft, Minott impressed scouts with his athleticism, but he saw limited playing time in college and shot just 14% from three-point range. The Wolves took a chance on him because president of basketball operations Tim Connelly believed his energy, play-making and defense could help him develop into an NBA player.

Minnesota needs someone to replace Taurean Prince, who was lost to the Lakers in free agency, and Minott hopes to seize that opportunity. Krawczynski states that Minott has been working out regularly at the team facility, and the Wolves are giving him challenging defensive assignments during Summer League.

“They’re not trying to see me come down and jack five 3s,” Minott said. “They’re trying to see me come down and lock up their best player and stuff like that, cut, a lot of off-ball actions, screening, rolling, slipping, being able to knock down a corner 3 if need be. Overall, in terms of what I can do, it’s whatever a team’s missing.”

There’s more on the Timberwolves:

Rory Maher contributed to this post.

Atlantic Notes: Jackson, Brazdeikis, Rose, Rajakovic

Bobby Jackson is leaving the Kings to join Nick Nurse‘s staff with the Sixers, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack post. Jackson has been the head coach of the Kings’ G League affiliate in Stockton. Raptors developmental coach Rico Hines is another candidate to join Nurse’s staff in Philadelphia.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • After winning a championship in Lithuania with Zalgiris Kaunas, forward Ignas Brazdeikis will attend the Raptors’ mini-camp this week, Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com reports. The four-day mini-camp begins on Monday. Brazdeikis’ contract with Zalgiris includes a player option and an NBA exit clause, according to Urbonas. Brazdeikis averaged 11.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in his rookie EuroLeague season. Brazdeikis has appeared in 64 NBA games, most recently with Orlando during the 2021/22 season.
  • The Knicks have more incentive under the upcoming CBA rules to exercise their option on Derrick Rose, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic. Since more taxpaying teams may be looking to dump salary ahead of the 2024/25 season, the Knicks could use Rose’s $15.6MM expiring deal, plus Evan Fournier‘s $18.86MM salary (the team holds a ’24/25 option) to help acquire a high-level impact player with more than one year remaining on his deal.
  • Connecting with Scottie Barnes and getting more out of Precious Achiuwa are among the major challenges for new Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes.

Ignas Brazdeikis Signs With Lithuanian Team

Ignas Brazdeikis, who played for the Magic last season, has signed with Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania, according to Eurohoops. He received a one-year contract with an option for a second season, the team stated in an announcement confirming the move.

Brazdeikis was born in Lithuania, but his family moved to Canada while he was young. The 23-year-old small forward regained his Lithuanian citizenship last year and played for the national team in June.

“We have been following Ignas for a few years now and wanted to see him in a Zalgiris jersey,” said team CEO Paulius Motiejunas. “Ignas is from Kaunas, he has regained his Lithuanian citizenship and now we will see him wearing the Zalgiris jersey. Coach (Kazys) Maksvytis has already worked with him, so there are no doubts about his abilities anymore.”

Brazdeikis was on a two-way contract with Orlando, playing 42 games and averaging 5.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.8 minutes per night. He began his NBA career with the Knicks, who acquired him in a draft night trade in 2019, and he appeared in one game for the Sixers as well.

And-Ones: Brazdeikis, Hall, Harden, Johnson, Lofton Jr.

After finishing the 2021/22 season in Orlando, Ignas Brazdeikis remains on the free agent market and he’s drawing interest from two EuroLeague teams, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com.

Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and Zalgiris Kaunas are the teams pursuing Brazdeikis, though he’d prefer to stay in the NBA. Both Zalgiris and Baskonia are desperately looking for a perimeter player, according to Urbonas. Baskonia is trying to replace Simone Fontecchio, who is signing a two-year deal with the Jazz. Brazdeikis appeared in 42 games with the Magic last season.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward Donta Hall has signed a three-year extension with AS Monaco, the team announced in a press release. Hall’s last NBA action came during the 2020/21 campaign, when he played 13 games with Orlando.
  • James Harden is a bargain? If he takes a pay cut and signs a two-year contract worth approximately $68MM with the Sixers, he’d rank as the best free agent value this offseason, Keith Smith writes in a Spotrac article. Keldon Johnson‘s four-year, $80MM extension with the Spurs and Kevon Looney‘s three-year, $25.5MM deal with the Warriors are also among the summer’s most team-friendly deals, in Smith’s estimation.
  • There were some eye-popping performances and some clunkers in the final Summer League games played over the weekend. Ethan Fuller of Basketball News takes a look at the “Studs,” including Kenneth Lofton Jr.’s 27-point, 12-rebound performance for the Grizzlies, and “Duds” from those contests.

And-Ones: Hernangomez, Brazdeikis, Take Fouls, Mitrou-Long

Juancho Hernangomez told Daniel Arribas of El Pais (hat tip to HoopsHype) that he “can’t picture himself” returning to Europe next season, despite speculation about that possibility. “I have spoken to nobody or signed any offer,” he said.

While the Celtics are three wins away from the championship, Hernangomez said his 18-game stint with Boston wasn’t a pleasant experience. “I wasn’t happy there, it was very hard. There was no communication,” he said. “I didn’t know what was expected of me. There were many super selfish players, no team building. I lost my love for basketball a bit.”

Hernangomez finished the season with the Jazz and is technically under contract through 2022/23, but his $7.42MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed. Utah is expected to make him a free agent before the guarantee deadline at the end of the month.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Magic forward Ignas Brazdeikis will play for Lithuania in FIBA World Cup qualifiers this summer, according to BasketNews.com. “I want to play, and I will play for Lithuania,” Brazdeikis said. Brazdeikis was born in Lithuania but grew up in Canada, and has a Canadian passport. It took nearly two years for the Lithuanian Basketball Federation (LKF) to complete all the paperwork required to receive official FIBA confirmation he could play for their national team.
  • NBA coaches and players frustrated by transition take fouls will see a rules change next season, according to commissioner Adam Silver, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. The fouls, committed to prevent fast-break baskets, will include stiffer penalties next season. The G League rule awards teams one free throw and possession, while international rules have a penalty of two free throws plus possession.
  • Fenerbahce is currently leading the race for former NBA guard Naz Mitrou-Long, according to Italian newspaper La Prealpina (hat tip to Sportando). Mitrou-Long is also being pursued by Olimpia Milano after a strong season with Germani Brescia. He appeared in 20 NBA games, most recently with Indiana in 2019/20.

NBA, NBPA Agree To Adjust COVID-19 Protocols

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have reached an agreement to adjust the league’s COVID-19 protocols amidst a wave of positive tests among players and coaches, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. ESPN obtained a memo stating that the NBA will increase testing and face mask use for players and staff during the holiday season.

Beginning on December 26, players and staffers – besides those who received their booster shot at least 14 days ago or those who recently recovered from the virus – will be tested for COVID-19 on game days. For most of the season, vaccinated players haven’t been tested unless they showed symptoms or were a close contact of someone who contracted the virus.

Additionally, as Wojnarowski details, players and staffers will be required to wear face masks on the bench, in their team’s workout facility, and while traveling with the team.

With so many teams shorthanded and taking advantage of the hardship provision to sign extra players, sources tell Wojnarowski that there’s been some league-wide discussion about finding an easier way to expand rosters.

The Magic added forward Ignas Brazdeikis to their injury report on Thursday night due to the health and safety protocols, making Orlando the 12th team to have at least one player currently in the protocols. A 13th team – Indiana – has its head coach, Rick Carlisle, in the protocols.

Of course, that number seems very likely to change in one direction or the other by the end of the day, since players are entering and exiting the protocols with increasing frequency this month. Lakers guard Malik Monk was the latest player to test out of the protocols on Thursday, per Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link).

Magic Sign Ignas Brazdeikis To Two-Way Deal

AUGUST 11: The Magic have officially announced that they’ve inked Brazdeikis to a two-way contract, per a press release (Twitter link).

AUGUST 10: The Magic plan on signing Ignas Brazdeikis to a two-way contract, reports Josh Robbins of The Athletic.

The 6’6 lefty was originally drafted with the 47th pick by the Knicks during the 2019 draft, but failed to crack New York’s rotation before being traded in a three-team deal that sent George Hill to the Sixers and two second-round picks to the Knicks.

Despite his difficulty carving out a spot in either New York or Philadelphia, Brazdeikis has a versatile offensive game and a propensity for making big shots going back to his time at Michigan. The 22-year-old wing played eight games at the end of last season for the Magic after being waived by the Sixers, and averaged 11.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 2.0 APG while shooting 40.7% from three.

As per the rules on two-way contracts, Brazdeikis will be limited to a maximum of 50 games with Orlando, and will likely spend some time with the team’s G League affiliate, the Lakeland Magic. He should help shore up Orlando’s wing depth during his time in the NBA.

Brazdeikis is the first reported two-way signing for the Magic in 2021/22, so the team still has another slot to fill.