Jermaine Samuels

NBA G League Announces Up Next Participants

A pool of 28 players has been selected for the NBA G League’s Up Next Game at All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, the NBAGL announced in a press release.

According to the release, the event features “four teams of seven players competing in two semifinal games. The winner of each semifinal will face off in a Championship game.

“The teams will be made up of 28 NBA G League players, including 10 selected by a fan vote. The remaining 18 players will be selected by the NBA G League and will include eight members of NBA G League Ignite and at least one member of the Indiana Mad Ants, the G League affiliate of the All-Star hosting Indiana Pacers. Each team will be coached by a head coach from the NBA G League.”

Players marked with an asterisk (*) are on two-way contracts.

Fan vote:

Former Kentucky guard Hagans received the most votes.

NBAGL selections:

G League Ignite:

They aren’t currently on NBA teams, but it’s worth noting that Labissiere and Bazley are ineligible for two-way deals because they each hold four years of NBA experience. Weatherspoon (three years), Hagans (one) and Williams (one) also hold at least some NBA experience.

Rockets Notes: Whitmore, Thompson, Sengun, Udoka

It was a big offseason for Cam Whitmore, who was named the Summer League MVP in Las Vegas, then was voted the biggest steal of the 2023 draft by NBA general managers. However, the rookie forward hasn’t been part of the Rockets‘ rotation this fall, logging just 32 total minutes in five appearances at the NBA level.

Whitmore has seen more action in the G League for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s G League affiliate. In six games as a Viper, the 19-year-old has put up 24.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per night with a shooting line of .486/.431/.786.

While the scoring numbers are impressive, the Rockets have been even more encouraged by Whitmore’s assist totals, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required), who notes that the youngster only had 19 assists in 26 college games at Villanova. Head coach Ime Udoka said the team liked what it saw from the rookie in several other areas too.

“He did well,” Udoka said of Whitmore’s G League play. “He had numbers, obviously. But it’s not really the scoring. It’s shot selection, improvement on defense, recognition. They do the same schemes that we do.

“One thing about the G League, people go down there to score; it doesn’t always translate to the NBA. You’re not always going to get those same looks or other things. It’s how you blend in with the team and the scheme. When you’re getting a lot of time as a young guy, I think it’s invaluable to go down there to … play. We’re looking at everything, from understanding game plans, coverages and everything we don’t get a chance to work on daily.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Whitmore was one of four Rockets sent to the Vipers on Tuesday, along with fellow first-rounder Amen Thompson and two-way players Jermaine Samuels and Nate Hinton. Thompson is recovering from an ankle injury and Feigen suggests (via Twitter) that playing with the Vipers may be the next step in his return for the NBA club. Rio Grande Valley has three games in four days beginning on Wednesday.
  • Rockets center Alperen Sengun has put up All-Star caliber numbers, averaging 21.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 5.5 APG through his first 17 games this season. However, he’ll face tough competition as a frontcourt player in the Western Conference, so his case would be strengthened if the Rockets – who have lost six of their last eight games – can reverse their recent slide and remain in the thick of the West’s playoff race, Feigen writes for The Houston Chronicle (subscription required).
  • The Rockets’ loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Saturday night wasn’t the team’s finest hour. As Kelly Iko of The Athletic details, Ime Udoka was ejected following a verbal altercation with LeBron James, while Dillon Brooks ripped the officiating after the game, referring to them as a “terrible group” of referees. Still, if the team emulates Udoka’s intensity and “don’t get punked” attitude going forward, the game could prove beneficial, according to Feigen (subscription required). “We’re trying to imitate our coach,” Jabari Smith Jr. said. “That’s who he is. That’s how he is. We’re trying to be like that.”

Rockets Sign Jermaine Samuels To Two-Way Contract

1:30pm: Samuels’ two-way contract is official, according to’s transaction log.

8:30am: The Rockets have reached a contract agreement with free agent forward Jermaine Samuels, according to Shams Charania and Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link), who report that Samuels is signing a two-way deal with the club.

Samuels, 24, went undrafted out of Villanova in 2022 and spent his first professional season with the Pacers’ G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. In 32 regular season NBAGL games, he averaged an impressive 18.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, making 66.6% of his shots from the floor.

Samuels’ strong G League play didn’t earn him an NBA call-up as a rookie, but he was invited to play for the Rockets’ Summer League team in Las Vegas last month and performed well, averaging 11.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.3 APG in six appearances (27.3 MPG).

Reporting at the start of the Vegas Summer League indicated that Samuels had impressed team officials in practices and had emerged as a candidate for a two-way deal for the Rockets.

Trevor Hudgins and Darius Days are currently on two-way contracts for Houston, so Samuels will fill the team’s third and final two-way slot. Since two-way deals only feature small partial guarantees and don’t count against the cap at all, the Rockets could still make changes before opening night, but for now the team will have no available two-way spots after officially signing Samuels.

Rockets Notes: Brooks, Whitmore, Smith, Samuels

The Rockets were facing competition for Dillon Brooks on the free agent market, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Houston raised its offer beyond what was originally projected, eventually signing the defensive-minded swingman to a four-year contract that could pay him up to $90MM if he meets incentives.

The Mavericks were “seriously in the mix” for Brooks, sources tell Iko, and the Bucks were watching him closely in case they weren’t able to re-sign Khris Middleton. Brooks had a meeting with the Lakers, Iko adds, but L.A. didn’t have enough cap space to give him the kind of offer he wanted and wasn’t willing to arrange a complex sign-and-trade like Houston did.

Iko understands that many Rockets fans are surprised by the money they gave to Brooks, who landed a yearly salary close to what Bruce Brown did in free agency and now has a contract similar to Jordan Clarkson, Terry Rozier and Malcolm Brogdon. However, Iko points out that Houston had to overpay to get any significant free agent considering its dismal record over the past three years, and there’s hope that Brooks can transform his approach, especially on offense, while playing for a demanding coach like Ime Udoka.

There’s more from Houston:

  • Summer League MVP Cam Whitmore played mostly at small forward, which Iko expects to be his primary position during the upcoming season. Iko has the 20th overall pick listed behind Tari Eason as the backup small forward on his projected depth chart and says it’s hard to predict how much he’ll play as a rookie. Iko states that Whitmore has the talent to create a steady role for himself right away, but the Rockets don’t have to rush him with their revamped roster so he may be sent to the G League to get consistent minutes.
  • In a separate story, Iko talked to some of the league’s best defenders throughout the season about what Jabari Smith has to do to become elite in that area of the game. The Rockets were happy to land Smith with the third pick in the 2022 draft because of his defensive potential, combining the size of a center with the quickness to stay in front of smaller players. “Watch a lot of film,” advised Nets forward Royce O’Neale. “Try to study guys as much as you can. This league has a lot of great scorers and different guys like doing different things. Learn and watch other guys. Don’t be afraid to ask guys who are defenders how they guard certain people and little tips like that.”
  • Jermaine Samuels appears to be the most likely unsigned member of the Rockets’ Summer League team to get a training camp invitation, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston has two roster slots and a two-way spot open, and Feigen lists Nate Hinton, Matthew Mayer and current two-way player Trevor Hudgins as others who helped themselves in Las Vegas.

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Smart, GG Jackson, Samuels

Victor Wembanyama was the biggest star in Las Vegas Friday night, but his performance didn’t match the hype leading up to his Summer League debut, writes Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. With NBA legends such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West watching as part of a sold-out arena, Wembanyama looked more like a 19-year-old adjusting to a new league than a future superstar.

The top pick in this year’s draft scored just nine points while shooting 2-of-13 from the field as the Spurs topped the Hornets. He blocked five shots, showing his potential dominance on defense, but Vorkunov notes that he also had trouble dealing with the physicality of NBA players and was posterized by Charlotte’s Kai Jones.

“Honestly, I didn’t really know what I was doing on the court tonight,” Wembanyama told reporters after the game. “But (I’m) getting ready for the next games. The important thing is to be ready for next season.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Marcus Smart admits being shocked upon learning that he had been traded to the Grizzlies, but he’s looking forward to becoming part of the team’s “Grind City” tradition, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Memphis general manager Zach Kleiman feels fortunate to be able to acquire Smart after the original version of a three-team deal sending Kristaps Porzingis to the Celtics fell apart. “We’re looking for someone who can be the lockdown defender, versatile across positions,” Kleiman said. “We’re looking for more playmaking. We’re looking for someone who’s battle-tested at the highest levels of the NBA. (We were able) to find someone — and I don’t think there’s many players in the NBA and I think Marcus is the very best of them — who kind of checks all those boxes. But much more importantly, somebody who also just passes the gut test. Marcus is someone that is just a flat-out winner.”
  • The Grizzlies plan to start GG Jackson on a two-way contract, but his Summer League performance suggests he might soon be headed for a standard deal, suggests Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. The second-round pick is averaging 13.7 PPG in his first three games and is coming off a 23-point, 10-rebound outing Thursday night.
  • Free agent forward Jermaine Samuels has impressed Rockets officials in practice and could be a candidate for a roster spot or a two-way deal, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Pacers Waive Eli Brooks, Tevin Brown, Jermaine Samuels

The Pacers have waived three undrafted rookies who were all signed to Exhibit 10 contracts, the team announced in a press release.

The three players are guards Eli Brooks and Tevin Brown and forward Jermaine Samuels, and they could each earn a $50K bonus if they spend at least 60 days with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pacers’ G League affiliate.

Brooks, 6’1″, appeared in 34 games (36 MPG) as a fifth-year senior for Michigan last season, averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.9 APG and 1.2 SPG on .444/.394/.877 shooting. He is the Wolverines’ all-time leader in wins and was team captain in his final two seasons.

Brown, 6’5″, was a three-time All-Ohio Valley Conference selection for Murray State. He averaged 16.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.1 APG and 1.4 SPG on .427/.384/.748 shooting for the Racers in 2021/22 as a redshirt senior last season.

Samuels, 6’7”, averaged 11.1 PPG and 6.5 RPG on .472/.276/.770 shooting as a fifth-year senior for Villanova in 2021/22. He played 153 games for the perennial Big East power, including a small role on the championship-winning club in 2018.

While there’s still time for the Pacers to make subsequent moves, Indiana now has a full 15-man standard roster, the regular season limit, and both two-way slots filled, so it appears as though 13-year veteran James Johnson might have made the team. The forward is on non-guaranteed deal.

Pacers Waive Langston Galloway, Deividas Sirvydis

The Pacers have cut a pair of veterans from their preseason roster, announcing in a press release that they’ve placed guard Langston Galloway and swingman Deividas Sirvydis on waivers.

In a series of corresponding moves, the team has completed its previously reported deals with forward Jermaine Samuels and guards Tevin Brown and Eli Brooks. All three players, who reached Exhibit 10 agreements with Indiana shortly after going undrafted in June and have now officially signed their contracts, will likely be waived on Saturday, clearing a path for them to join the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pacers’ G League affiliate.

Galloway has appeared in over 450 regular season NBA games, spending time with the Knicks, Pelicans, Kings, Pistons, Suns, Nets, and Bucks since entering the league in 2014. He has averaged 8.1 PPG on .397/.368/.816 shooting during that time, though he hasn’t played significant minutes since his last season in Detroit in 2019/20.

Sirvydis, 22, was the No. 37 pick in the 2019 draft. Born in Lithuania, he holds two years of NBA experience with the Pistons and played for the Pelicans’ Summer League team in July, averaging 15.5 PPG in just 22.5 minutes per game in four contests.

Galloway’s deal with the Pacers didn’t include an Exhibit 10 clause, but Sirvydis’ did, and the Mad Ants acquired his G League rights over the summer, so he’s a candidate to head to Fort Wayne as a returning-rights player.

Not counting their three new Exhibit 10 signees, the Pacers are carrying 17 players — 13 on guaranteed contracts, Oshae Brissett and James Johnson on non-guaranteed deals, and Kendall Brown and Trevelin Queen on two-way pacts.

Pacers To Sign Jermaine Samuels To Exhibit 10 Contract

The Pacers are signing Jermaine Samuels, Matt Norlander of CBS Sports tweets. The Villanova product is inking an Exhibit 10 contract, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star tweets.

Samuels, a 6’7” forward, averaged 11.1 PPG and 6.5 RPG in his senior season for the Wildcats. Samuels played 153 games over five seasons for the perennial Big East power, averaging 8.5 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 24.1 MPG.

College teammate Collin Gillespie is signing a two-way deal with the Nuggets after going undrafted.

An Exhibit 10 is a one-year, non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract that counts toward a team’s 20-man offseason roster limit, but doesn’t count against the cap unless the player makes the regular season roster.

A player on an Exhibit 10 contract can earn a bonus of up to $50K if he’s waived and then joins his team’s G League affiliate.

Central Notes: Allen, Pacers Draft, Sharpe, Bucks Draft

Bucks wing Grayson Allen underwent a surgical procedure on his left ring finger, according to The Associated Press.

“A lot of times, guys do maintenance-type stuff, routine stuff in the offseason to kind of get ready,” general manager Jon Horst said. “It was good for him to kind of approach it in the offseason. It’ll be fine. There’s no kind of lasting effects.”

Allen, whose two-year, $18.7MM extension kicks in next season, averaged 11.1 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 27.3 MPG during the regular season.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers will work out six more draft prospects on Monday, according to the team’s website writer Wheat Hotchkiss. As previously reported, that group includes projected lottery pick Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky). The other prospects who will visit include Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest), Alfonso Plummer (Illinois), Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), Aaron Thompson (Butler), and Vince Williams Jr. (VCU).
  • Speaking of Sharpe, he held a Zoom press conference on Friday and said he’d fit well with the Pacers if they use their lottery pick (No. 6 overall) on him. “I feel like I could really play with those guys just because they have good guys that can really handle the ball, play defense, switch on defense,” Sharpe said to The Indianapolis Star’s James Boyd and other media members. “I feel like I can score and really impact the game.” Sharpe is certainly not lacking in confidence. “I see myself being one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball,” he said.
  • The Bucks hold the No. 24 pick and could be in the market for a wing player. The Athletic’s Eric Nehm takes a look at nine prospects who could potentially be available at that spot, including LaRavia, MarJon Beauchamp and Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Workouts, Jokic, Wolves, Roddy

The Jazz hosted another free agent mini-camp this week, bringing in 20 players on Monday and Tuesday for a closer look, as our JD Shaw relays (Twitter links). While not all of the invitees have NBA experience, there are a handful of noteworthy names in the group, including former No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker. Big man Reggie Perry, swingman Denzel Valentine, forward Bruno Caboclo, and guards Langston Galloway, Sindarius Thornwell, and Grant Riller were among the other players to audition for Utah.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Jazz are working out six more draft-eligible prospects on Wednesday, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune, who tweets that Collin Gillespie (Villanova), Tommy Kuhse (Saint Mary’s), Josh Minott (Memphis), Darryl Morsell (Marquette), Henri Drell (G League), and Jermaine Samuels (Villanova) will be in town.
  • Nuggets star and two-time MVP Nikola Jokic has committed to playing for the Serbian national team this offseason, the Serbian Basketball Federation announced on Wednesday (hat tip to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops). Jokic likely won’t participate in the qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup that will take place in a couple weeks, but he’s expected to be available later in the summer for the 2022 EuroBasket tournament.
  • Colorado State forward David Roddy, who went to high school in Minnesota, is working out for his hometown Timberwolves on Wednesday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Roddy, the No. 30 prospect on ESPN’s big board, could be an option for the Wolves in the first round at No. 19 or in the second round if he slips — Minnesota holds the 40th, 48th, and 50th overall picks.