Ismael Kamagate

Pacific Notes: LeBron, Paul, Lakers, Beal Trade, Kamagate

Lakers superstar LeBron James holds a $51.4MM player option for ’24/25. If he declines the option, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

Appearing on TNT Sports’ altcast on truTV (Twitter video link), James’ agent Rich Paul stated that his client was a free agent this summer. When Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT pointed out what Paul said and followed up by asking if James plans to decline the option, Paul attempted to walk back the comment.

Chris, you know I don’t do my business over the airwaves, man,” Paul said. “I don’t know what he’s gonna do. We’re gonna do what we do every year. We’re gonna evaluate the situation and we’re gonna make the best decision.”

If James does opt out, it would come as no surprise. The oldest player in the league remained incredibly productive, extending his own NBA record by making his 20th consecutive All-NBA team in 2023/24. The 39-year-old also had an excellent playoff series despite losing to the defending-champion Nuggets in five games, averaging 27.8 PPG, 8.8 APG, 6.8 RPG, 2.4 SPG and 1.0 BPG on .566/.385/.739 shooting in 40.8 MPG.

For what it’s worth, a recent report stated there’s been no indication James plans to leave L.A. even if he does decline the option. Becoming a free agent would give him the option of negotiating a no-trade clause on a new deal with the Lakers.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • In a fresh piece, Keith Smith of Spotrac previews the Lakers‘ offseason. After finishing with a 47-35 record and snagging the West’s No. 7 seed thanks to a play-in game victory, Los Angeles fell in five games to the Nuggets. The club quickly responded by firing head coach Darvin Ham after just two seasons. In addition to finding a replacement for Ham, the team will await the decisions of starters D’Angelo Russell and James with regard to their player options for 2024/25.
  • Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports lists five reasons why it’s too early to label the SunsBradley Beal trade a mistake. The capped-out club finished as the sixth seed in the West this season and was swept out of the first round of the playoffs. Beal, a three-time All-Star, appeared in just 53 regular season contests this season, averaging 18.2 PPG on .513/.430/.813 shooting splits, along with 5.0 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.0 SPG and 0.5 BPG.
  • French center Ismael Kamagate, whose NBA rights are controlled by the Clippers, will stay on loan with Tortona in 2024/25, according to Sportando.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this report.

Clippers Acquire Draft Rights To Ismael Kamagate For Cash

9:16pm: The trade is official, per an announcement from the Clippers.

2:30pm: The Clippers completed a minor deal before the trade deadline, sending cash to the Nuggets in exchange for the draft rights to Ismael Kamagate, tweets Law Murray of The Athletic.

Denver will receive $2.68MM in the deal, according to Bennett Durando of The Denver Post (Twitter link).

Because L.A. is over the second apron, the team won’t be able to send out cash in trades beginning this offseason, so it has made an effort to acquire the rights to some draft-and-stash players for future trade purposes.

The 6’11” Kamagate, a 23-year-old French center, was the 46th pick in the 2022 draft. Originally selected by Detroit, his draft rights were moved to Portland and then to Denver. He is currently playing for Bertram Derthona Tortona in Italy’s LBA league, on loan from Olimpia Milano.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Camara, Fontecchio, Kessler, Kamagate

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, like Klay Thompson and Jaden McDaniels, was fined $25K for his role in an altercation early in a game between Minnesota and Golden State that ended with Draymond Green ejected and later suspended. However, according to The Star Tribune’s Chris Hine, Gobert wasn’t satisfied with the league’s ruling and said this week that he planned to appeal his fine.

You know every situation is different, but to me that was more than just a reaction,” Gobert said. “That was a personal attack. Me being fined when I chose to, when I was being a peacemaker and I chose to keep my hands up while I was being assaulted, is shameful. Shameful. And I’m gonna appeal that fine.

Immediately following Tuesday’s fracas, Gobert called Green out.

Clown behavior, and I’m proud of myself for being the bigger man again and again,” Gobert said after the altercation. “And yeah, [Green] doesn’t even deserve me putting my hands on him. My team needed me tonight. I did whatever I could to keep my cool and then show that I wasn’t making the situation worse, and I do hope that the league is going to do what needs to be done, because that’s just clown behavior. Not much to say. It’s clown behavior.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The 3-9 Trail Blazers have been searching for more physicality, size and rebounding in their starting lineup and may have found it in second-round rookie Toumani Camara, according to OregonLive’s Aaron Fentress. Camara has started the past three games for Portland, replacing Matisse Thybulle. While Portland lost all three games, Camara’s impressive rookie season is continuing. In his three starts, he’s averaging 6.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks. “Tou is going to be who he is going to be no matter if he’s starting or not,” head coach Chauncey Billups said. “He’s going to be the same guy. He’s going to scrap, he’s going to claw, he’s going to rebound. He’s going to protect the rim a little. He’s going to always be who he is.
  • Simone Fontecchio feels more comfortable with the Jazz in his second season with the team, even if the minutes haven’t come yet, according to The Deseret News’ Sarah Todd. Fontecchio had been bouncing around international rosters, along with playing for the Italian national team, before joining the Jazz. The fact that Utah had other international players that Fontecchio could relate to was huge for his acclimation. “He has an ability to really stay ready,” coach Will Hardy said. “Whether he plays a ton of minutes or whether he plays zero. Obviously his threat of shooting is is great for us. But I’m more excited about all the the other things that he does — crashing the glass, changing things on the floor, he is a great cutter, and he really has a toughness about him that I think our team needs.
  • Jazz center Walker Kessler is out for around two weeks with a UCL injury that usually requires Tommy John surgery. UCL injuries in basketball are a bit rare, but it’s a positive sign Kessler was diagnosed with a sprain and not a tear, according to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Eric Walden. Walden broke down the injury with a doctor, concluding that ligament isn’t used often in basketball, and the injury shouldn’t be worrisome.
  • The Nuggets selected Ismael Kamagate with the 46th overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft. He’s currently playing his first EuroLeague season with Milan and got to play with the Nuggets in Summer League this past season, averaging 6.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks across four starts. Though he admitted to that playing in the NBA is his dream, he’s willing to be patient. “We just have to not rush the process, because that’s how to can lose yourself. Take your time, do what you can do. In the team, everybody can do everything. You have to master what you do better, and that’s what I learned this summer,” Kamagate said.

Northwest Notes: Wallace, Yurtseven, Kamagate, Jones

Thunder rookie shooting guard Cason Wallace learned a lot about basketball from his years playing football, as he told Sam Yip of HoopsHype.

“…I was like, playing safety, linebacker,” Wallace said. “You read the quarterback… you’re reading what the offense is going to do. So just being able to pick up on stuff like that and just see it before it happens.”

Wallace was selected with the No. 10 overall pick out of Kentucky by the Mavericks, and was subsequently dealt, on draft night, to Oklahoma City. The 6’4″ swingman also spoke about how he could fit in on his new club heading into the regular season.

“[If] I need to play on the wing, I’m capable,” Wallace said. “So just letting the ball flow, just playing basketball.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • New Jazz reserve center Omer Yurtseven feels that his years of seasoning with the Heat will benefit him in his new NBA home, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Yurtseven inked a new two-year deal with Utah earlier in the offseason, though it’s only partially guaranteed. “[The Heat] had a really competitive environment, which allowed competitive players to thrive and I really appreciated that,” Yurtseven said. “I kind of took that with me in terms of applying that to everything — every drill, every day, every game. But I think more so I’m looking forward to what I’ll be able to learn and grow more into here.”
  • Center Ismael Kamagate, whose draft rights the Nuggets acquired after he was selected with the No. 46 pick in 2022, has officially inked a new contract with Italian EuroLeague club Olimpia Milano, the team announced in a press release. The 6’11” big man remains under Denver control should he eventually attempt to play in the NBA.
  • After more than 30 years of NBA experience as a player and coach, Nuggets assistant Popeye Jones is reveling in his first-ever league championship, writes Steve Bulpett of Jones has worked as a coach for five different clubs across his 17 seasons on the bench. “Once it was over, I think you just reflect back on your whole career — not just your coaching career but your playing career, everything that you’ve been through, from a little kid all the way through middle school to high school to college,” Jones said. “It was just a great feeling.”

Nuggets Notes: Potential Dynasty, Jackson, Reserves, Kamagate

The Nuggets are one victory away from their first NBA title, but they have the foundation in place to win several more, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Hollinger notes that the team’s core players are all in their prime with Nikola Jokic at 28, Aaron Gordon at 27, Jamal Murray at 26 and Michael Porter Jr. at 24. All four are signed for at least two more seasons, and Denver isn’t facing any significant tax issues despite having three max contracts.

The only expected loss from this year’s rotation is Bruce Brown, a free agent addition last summer, who’s expected to turn down his $6.8MM player option and test the market again. The Nuggets don’t own Brown’s Bird rights and won’t be able to compete with the offers he’s likely to receive.

They may be in the same position with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope next year, Hollinger adds. Denver worked out an extension with the veteran guard after acquiring him from Washington, but he has a $15.4MM player option for 2024/25 that he might decide to decline.

Hollinger points out that Nuggets have navigated the cap by amassing young talent on affordable contracts. Late first-round picks Christian Braun and Peyton Watson will make a combined $4.5MM next season, and they both appear ready to become consistent rotation pieces.

There’s more from Denver:

  • Reggie Jackson hasn’t played much since signing with the Nuggets after a trade and a buyout in February, but the 33-year-old guard is happy to still be in the league, per Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. Jackson thought about retiring when he was with the Pistons as persistent ankle injuries kept him off the court. “I can’t believe I’m here now,” he said. “Especially after Detroit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to play anymore and then being resurrected in L.A. (with the Clippers). The build-up there, the fun there. Then being traded, it’s coming full circle.”’
  • Denver’s bench players have contributed to the championship run by not making waves about their playing time, observes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Jackson, DeAndre Jordan, Thomas Bryant, Ish Smith and others have been content with limited minutes and sometimes none at all. Jones adds that the only Nuggets player who has been unhappy with his role this season was Bones Hyland, who was traded in February.
  • Ismael Kamagate, whom the Nuggets selected with the 46th pick last year, is finalizing an agreement to play for EA7 Emporio Armani Milan next season, tweets Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews. A recent report indicated that he likely wasn’t in Denver’s plans for 2023/24.

Nuggets Notes: Gordon, Brown, Murray, Braun, Kamagate

Nuggets stars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray looked relatively mortal in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday, combining for a series-low 38 points on 13-of-36 (36.1%) shooting as they faced increased attention from Heat defenders.

However, Denver still pulled out a victory thanks in large part to contributions from complementary players like Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown. Gordon scored a game-high 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting while also dishing six assists. Brown was 8-of-11 from the floor for 21 points. As Ramona Shelburne of ESPN details, Gordon has exceeded the expectations the Nuggets had when they acquired him from Orlando at the 2021 trade deadline.

“We didn’t realize how talented he was,” Nuggets GM Calvin Booth told Shelburne after Game 4. “We didn’t realize what a consummate teammate he was and how willing he was to sacrifice.”

As for Brown, he became the latest reserve guard to play a starring role for the Nuggets on the road in this series after Christian Braun had an outsized impact in Game 3, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. As with Gordon, the Nuggets knew they were getting a good player when they signed Brown in free agency last summer, but he has been even better than they hoped.

“Can I say that I envisioned him scoring 11 points (in the fourth quarter) on the road in Game 4 of the Finals?” head coach Michael Malone said on Friday. “I can’t say that. But I did envision him being a ball-handler, a play-maker.”

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • A floor burn suffered in the Nuggets’ Game 3 win didn’t have a major impact on Murray, whose increase in production from the regular season to the playoffs puts him in rare company, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. As Hollinger details, no player in NBA history has a bigger gap than Murray between his career regular PER (16.4) and his mark in the postseason (22.3).
  • Nick Kosmider of The Athletic explores why Braun is such an ideal fit in the backcourt next to Murray. The rookie is poised to take on a larger role in the Nuggets’ rotation next season and beyond, especially if the team is unable to re-sign Brown.
  • Having agreed to acquire a 2024 first-round pick from the Thunder, the Nuggets may use that selection – or their own 2024 first-rounder – in an effort to move up in this year’s draft, a source tells Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The Nuggets own the No. 40 pick in 2023 and are also acquiring No. 37 in the deal with Oklahoma City, so they should have more than enough ammo to move into the first round if they’re willing to move a 2024 first-round pick.
  • French big man Ismael Kamagate, the 46th overall pick in the 2022 draft, will likely remain in Europe for at least one more year, sources tell Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Kamagate was drafted by the Nuggets last June but remained with Paris Basketball for the 2022/23 season. Denver “really likes” the 22-year-old, according to Wind, but wants to be patient with his development.

Draft-And-Stash Prospect Ismael Kamagate Hopes To Play For Nuggets In 2023/24

French center Ismael Kamagate remained in his home country after being selected 46th overall in the 2022 NBA draft and is spending the season with Paris Basketball. However, Kamagate – whose NBA rights are held by the Nuggets – hopes to make the move stateside next summer, he told Julien Lesage of Le Parisien (hat tip to Dario Skerletic of Sportando).

According to Kamagate, he’s in frequent contact with the Nuggets’ scouts, coaches, and general manager Calvin Booth.

“They often come to Paris, they come to the games, we talk about my performance,” Kamagate said. “They tell me what I need to work on, so it’s going well, it’s constructive. I have to show that they can trust me.”

Competing in France’s top basketball league (LNB Pro A) and the EuroCup, Kamagate has been impressive so far this season, averaging 10.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, and 2.1 BPG in 13 total games, with an eye-popping .811 FG%. The 21-year-old told Le Parisien that he’s happy he chose to spend the year in Paris, but likes the idea of playing next season in Denver, which he referred to as a “very nice city.”

“It is inspiring to think that one day I will be able to train and play with Nikola Jokic,” Kamagate said.

As long as they have space on their standard roster, the Nuggets would be able to bring Kamagate over on a one- or two-year minimum-salary contract or a two-way deal at any time, including in the 2023 offseason. If they want to give him a three- or four-year commitment, the Nuggets would have to use cap room or some of their mid-level exception to sign him.

We’ll have to wait to see whether or not the big man is in Denver’s plans for 2023/24.

Nuggets Second-Rounder Ismael Kamagate To Remain In Paris

After being selected in the second round of the 2022 NBA draft, French center Ismael Kamagate will remain in his home country and will continue to play for Paris Basketball, the team announced today (via Twitter).

The No. 46 pick in June, Kamagate was technically drafted by the Pistons with a second-round selection they acquired from Brooklyn in last September’s DeAndre Jordan salary dump. Kamagate’s rights were then sent to Portland in the Jerami Grant trade and were subsequently flipped to the Nuggets in exchange for a future second-round pick.

[RELATED: 2022 NBA Draft Pick Signings]

Kamagate, who has played for Paris Basketball since 2019, received the Best Defender award in France’s top league (LNB Pro A) this past season. The 21-year-old averaged 11.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game in 34 appearances (27.1 MPG) for the club.

The Nuggets figure to keep a close eye on Kamagate’s development in Paris as they consider the possibility of bringing him stateside in a future season. The 6’11” big man suited up for Denver in Summer League play in Las Vegas last month, putting up 5.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 1.2 BPG in five contests (19.3 MPG).

Kamagate is the second draft-and-stash prospect confirmed this week to be sticking with Paris Basketball, joining 2021 Celtics second-rounder Juhann Begarin.

Nuggets Acquire Ismael Kamagate From Blazers

JULY 6: The trade between Denver and Portland is now official, the Blazers announced in a press release.

The Nuggets received the draft rights to Kamagate, while the Blazers will receive either the Timberwolves’ or Hornets’ second-round pick (whichever is more favorable).

JUNE 23: The Nuggets are acquiring French center Ismael Kamagate, the 46th pick of the 2022 NBA draft, from the Trail Blazers in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick, sources tell Mike Singer of The Denver Post (All Twitter links). Portland acquired the 46th pick from Detroit as part of the impending Jerami Grant trade.

In 34 appearances (27.1 MPG) for Paris Basketball of France’s LNB Pro A league (first division) this season, Kamagate averaged 11.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 1.6 BPG while shooting 64.3% from the floor and 65.4% from the free throw line.

According to Mike Schmitz, who used to work for ESPN but was recently hired as an assistant GM by the Blazers, the 6’11” big man has an impressive physical profile but is considered more of a long-term project than a player who’s ready for immediate action in the NBA. Kamagate is a strong inside finisher and a skilled offensive talent, per Schmitz, but he’s not a great rebounder and is a pretty poor defender at this point.

Based on Schmitz’ scouting report, Kamagate might be a draft-and-stash candidate for a Denver team that hopes to contend for a title next season.

Nuggets Notes: Braun, Free Agency, Booth, Campazzo

The Nuggets opted to draft champion Kansas shooting guard Christian Braun with the No. 21 selection due to his cumulative abilities, writes Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

“I comment to myself, ‘Man, that was a nice play, but what is he?’” Denver general manager Calvin Booth said of assessing Braun’s fit at the next level. The 6’7″ swingman, who played both forward spots with the Jayhawks, projects as a helpful contributor on both sides of the ball.

In an interesting wrinkle, Singer notes that Booth was concerned Braun might be selected by former Denver front office executives Arturas Karnisovas, selecting for the Bulls at No. 18, or Tim Connelly, who was slated to pick at No. 19 for the Timberwolves before trading down.

“CB playing with (Nikola) Jokic, what a good cutter CB is,” Braun’s college head coach Bill Self said. “You stop and think about, I don’t know if CB could play with a better big man than that dude because he’s such a good cutter and mover without the ball, and (Jokic is) such a great passer.”

During his final collegiate season, Braun was a key member of the team’s 2022 title-winning squad, being named to the NCAA All-Region Team and the All-Big 12 Second Team. Across 40 games, including 39 starts, he averaged 14.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.0 SPG and 0.8 BPG in 34.4 MPG. He posted solid shooting marks of .495/.386/.733.

There’s more out of Denver:

  • Booth indicated following the 2022 draft that while Denver is excited about its three draft picks (Braun, Peyton Watson and Ismael Kamagate), the team has more work to do this offseason. The Nuggets intend to sign quality defenders in free agency to bolster the roster on that end of the floor, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link).
  • When it comes to making additions to the club in free agency this week, Booth has been given the green light by Nuggets ownership to use the club’s taxpayer mid-level exception, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). That exception currently projects to be worth $6.4MM this summer.
  • Nuggets second-year reserve point guard Facundo Campazzo has indicated that he is open to moving on from the NBA as he enters free agency this summer, according to an interview with Pablo Brunetto of TN Sports (h/t to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops). That said, the 5’10” vet seems likely to take stock of his stateside options first. Personally, it would be naive to be obsessed with staying in the NBA,” Campazzo said. “Maybe I don’t get any offers. (Former team) Real Madrid has always been like a second home for me, but I must wait. That is my only choice right now.” During the 2021/22 season, the 31-year-old averaged 5.1 PPG on 36.1% field goal shooting, plus 3.4 APG, 1.8 RPG and 1.0 SPG in 65 contests.