Justin Patton

International Notes: Patton, Sarr, Zagars, Canada

Former NBA center Justin Patton has signed with the Shanxi Loongs of the Chinese Basketball Association, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

The 16th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Patton only ended up playing in 22 NBA games for the Timberwolves, Sixers, Thunder, and Rockets between 2017-21 before heading overseas. A series of foot injuries derailed the early part of his professional career, but the 26-year-old has been able to stay on the court more frequently in Israel and France over the past two seasons. This will be Patton’s first stint in China.

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

  • While he’s not as tantalizing a prospect as Victor Wembanyama, another French center – Alexandre Sarr – is certainly earning fans ahead of the 2024 NBA draft, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape. The 18-year-old, playing for the Perth Wildcats, averaged 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.0 blocks in the team’s two games vs. the G League Ignite last week. “Very intriguing prospect,” one NBA general manager said to Spears. “Top-five pick. In the conversation for the No. 1 pick.”
  • Turkish club Fenerbahce is believed to be nearing a deal with World Cup standout Arturs Zagars, according to Aris Barkas and Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net. Zagars, whose strong play for Latvia during the World Cup reportedly attracted NBA interest, is expected to be loaned to BC Wolves to start the 2023/24 season if he finalizes an agreement with Fenerbahce, per Eurohoops.
  • Zagars’ showcase of his NBA potential is one of six takeaways Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports wrote about in his World Cup round-up.
  • Veteran forward Melvin Ejim has never played in the NBA since going pro in 2014, but he has represented Canada in several international competitions, earning bronze medals at the 2015 AmeriCup and 2023 World Cup. As Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops.net relays, Ejim spoke this week about what it means for the Canadian program to knock off the U.S. and to claim a spot in the 2024 Olympics. “Bronze is amazing, but we have the talent, the people, and the organization to go for gold,” he said. “In the Olympics, we can show that.”

International Notes: Patton, Holman, Dekker, Krejci

Veteran NBA center Justin Patton, who spent last season in Israel, is off to France for the 2022/23 campaign, having finalized a one-year deal with Cholet Basket, the team announced today in a press release.

The 16th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Patton only ended up playing in 22 NBA games for the Timberwolves, Sixers, Thunder, and Rockets between 2017-21 before heading overseas. A series of foot injuries derailed the early part of Patton’s professional career, but the 25-year-old was able to suit up for 21 games in 2021/22 for Hapoel Eilat, averaging 11.7 PPG, 6.1 RPG, and 1.9 BPG in 27.5 minutes per contest.

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

  • Former Mississipi State big man Aric Holman has signed with Tezenis Verona, the Italian club announced today in a press release. While Holman is a G League veteran and inked a 10-day hardship contract with the Heat last December, he has yet to make his NBA regular season debut.
  • The London Lions of the British Basketball League are in talks with veteran NBA forward Sam Dekker, according to Dario Skerletic and Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. A former first-round pick, Dekker began last season with the Raptors, but appeared in just one regular season contest and was waived early in the season, before his full salary became guaranteed.
  • Although Vit Krejci of the Thunder is the only current NBA player on the Czech Republic’s initial 15-man roster for EuroBasket 2022, there are other notable names on the list, including Tomas Satoransky and Jan Vesely, as Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops details.

Justin Patton Agrees To Sign With Hapoel Eilat

Another NBA big man is headed to Israel, as Justin Patton has agreed to sign with Hapoel Eilat, according to a report from Yakov Meir of Israel Hayom (via Twitter). A source confirmed the news to our JD Shaw (Twitter link).

Word of Patton’s agreement comes on the heels of former No. 10 overall pick Thon Maker signing a deal with Israeli club Hapoel Jerusalem.

Patton, 24, was selected with the 16th overall pick in the 2017 draft and began his career with the Timberwolves, having been included in the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. However, a series of foot injuries limited the center’s availability in his first few years in the NBA as he bounced around from Minnesota to Philadelphia to Oklahoma City to Houston.

In four total seasons, Patton has appeared in just 22 NBA games. Thirteen of those appearances came in 2020/21, as he spent several weeks on a two-way contract with the Rockets, averaging 5.4 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 1.1 BPG in 19.0 minutes per contest. He was released in April, then suited up for the Jazz and Knicks in Summer Leagues in Utah and Las Vegas earlier this month.

Justin Patton, Others Commit To Summer League

Former Rockets center Justin Patton will play with the Jazz during the Salt Lake City Summer League and Knicks during the Las Vegas Summer League next month, a source told Hoops Rumors.

Throughout his career, Patton, 24, has made stops with the Wolves, Sixers, Thunder, and Rockets. He was selected No. 16 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft by Chicago, but his rights were immediately traded to Minnesota as part of the Jimmy ButlerZach LaVine deal.

Patton joined the Bucks for training camp last year and was waived before the season started. He was drafted by the Westchester Knicks in the January G League draft, later earning a two-way deal with Houston due to his impressive play.

The Salt Lake City Summer League (four teams) will be held on August 3, 4 and 6, while the Las Vegas Summer League (all 30 teams) will take place from August 8-17.

Here are some other noteworthy commitments to report:

  • Former Michigan point guard Zavier Simpson has committed to play summer league with the Lakers in Las Vegas, a source told Hoops Rumors. Simpson signed with the Lakers as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He averaged 9.8 points, 6.1 assists and 28.5 minutes with Oklahoma City’s G League affiliate this past season.
  • Tahjere McCall has accepted a summer league invitation with the Magic, Hoops Rumors has learned. McCall was part of the team’s G League championship roster last season, averaging 11.9 points per game. The 26-year-old guard was also named to the G League All-Defensive Team and finished second in G League Defensive Player of the Year voting.
  • Free agent big man Dewan Hernandez has agreed to play summer league with the Wizards, according to a source. Hernandez, a Miami product, was drafted No. 59 overall by the Raptors back in 2019. He played six games with Toronto in 2019-20.
  • Another commitment for the Salt Lake City Summer League, Hoops Rumors has learned: Jarell Martin with the Jazz. Martin holds 184 games of NBA experience and most recently spent time in Australia. He was selected 25th in the 2015 draft.

Heat Notes: Dedmon, Stephenson, Iguodala, Portis

When the Heat make the anticipated Dewayne Dedmon signing official, his contract will cover the rest of the season rather than just 10 days, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami opted for a longer deal, according to Jackson, because it doesn’t expect anyone better to become available on the buyout market. Players who have appeared in at least one NBA game this season must be waived by Friday to be eligible for the postseason with their new team.

The Heat were looking for a big man who would accept not playing every game, which ruled out DeMarcus Cousins, who has since joined the Clippers on a 10-day deal. Jackson lists Ian Mahinmi, Thon Maker, Dewan Hernandez, Skal Labissiere, Tyler ZellerKyle Alexander, Trey Mourning, Kyle O’Quinn, Justin Patton and Anthony Tolliver as some of the names Miami considered before reaching an agreement with Dedmon.

In 2019, Dedmon signed a three-year, $40MM contract with the Kings, but he quickly lost his job as starting center. Poor three-point shooting is a major reason that Sacramento soured on him, Jackson adds, and he was eventually traded to the Hawks and then the Pistons, who released him in November.

The Heat face a deadline to add a 14th player to their roster by Thursday. If Dedmon signs then, his contract will carry a cap hit in the neighborhood of $433K. Miami would be about $314K below the tax line and could add a 15th player later this season without going into luxury tax territory.

There’s more on the Heat, all from Jackson:

  • As Miami considered roster additions, the organization was made aware that Lance Stephenson and Greg Monroe are both hoping to return to the NBA. The Heat got good reports on Stephenson, but they don’t need another wing player and they were looking for more immediate help than Monroe was likely to provide.
  • Some Grizzlies players are still upset about Andre Iguodala‘s decision to remain inactive until Memphis found somewhere to trade him last season. Jackson notes that several Grizzlies felt they had something to prove when they faced Iguodala Monday night.
  • Jackson proposes Bucks forward Bobby Portis as a potential free agent target for Miami this summer. Portis has a $3.8MM player option for next season that he’s expected to decline, and Jackson suggests he could get a $10MM mid-level exception offer as the start of a multiyear deal.

Rockets Sign Armoni Brooks To Two-Way Deal, Waive Justin Patton

APRIL 4: Both moves are official, the Rockets announced on Twitter.

APRIL 3: The Rockets will sign free agent guard Armoni Brooks to a two-way contract, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Houston will make room by waiving center Justin Patton, who is currently on a two-way deal, sources tell Iko (Twitter link).

Brooks, 22, played for the Rockets’ G League affiliate this season, averaging 16.8 PPG in 15 games in the Orlando bubble. He also played in the NBAGL last season after going undrafted out of the University of Houston. There was an announcement last week that Brooks was headed to France to join Orléans Loiret Basket, but those plans fell through.

“It’s just exciting,” Brooks told Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston. “It’s a dream come true to finally be able to play in the NBA and being able to do it in the city that I went to college in is just great” (Twitter link).

Patton, 23, appeared in 13 games with the Rockets after signing in mid-February. He averaged 5.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game, but fell out of the rotation when Christian Wood returned from an ankle injury. Houston was the fourth team in four years for Patton, who has struggled through injuries since being selected with the 16th pick in the 2017 draft.

The moves continue a roster overhaul for the rebuilding Rockets, who are also planning to waive Ben McLemore. The team doesn’t have any immediate plans to replace McLemore, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Rockets Notes: Wood, Patton, Starting Lineups, Mini-Camp

Rockets starting center Christian Wood is striving to return from his right ankle injury to the court before the All-Star Game, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “I want to come back before All-Star break,” Wood said. “If I had to give you a percentage of where my ankle is, I’d probably tell you 80 percent.”

Wood, in the midst of a career season during his first year with the Rockets, has been trying to think positively about the injury. “It was definitely hard to deal with at first,” Wood said of his ankle sprain. “But then when I found out the news wasn’t as bad as it seemed, I was grateful and thankful that it could have been worse.”

There’s more out of Houston:

  • Newly-added Rockets two-way center Justin Patton is hoping to stick with Houston, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston. “That’s the sole reason for what I’m doing,” Patton says. “Every single day I’m working with a chip on my shoulder, proving a point, just as everybody else on our team right now.” Numerous foot injuries have limited Patton to just nine NBA appearances since he was drafted with the No. 16 pick out of Creighton in the 2017 draft. He has exhibited flashes of promise, however, at the G League level.
  • The Rockets have struggled to build chemistry through a flurry of 16 different starting lineups, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “Perfect example today in practice, Eric (Gordon) and Tuck (P.J. Tucker) have this like language that they speak to each other that makes sense to them,” head coach Stephen Silas said. “We as a group don’t have any of that… You see teams that have been together a long time and have had steady lineups throughout the season are at the top of the league.”
  • Since the Rockets had their weekend slate of games postponed because of ongoing weather problems in Texas, the team was able to have a three-practice “mini-camp,” as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle details. Silas is hopeful that the new-look team will be able to parlay these intense workouts into chemistry. “It feels great to really get down to the bare knuckles of offense and defense,” Silas said. “We broke down today and did some live two-on-two which we haven’t been able to do all season.”

Latest On DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins‘ diminished mobility, brought on by back-to-back Achilles and ACL injuries, is behind the Rocketsdecision to cut ties with him in the next few days, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Cousins had been filling the role the team envisioned when it signed him, Iko adds, serving as a backup to starting center Christian Wood and spacing the offense while playing in short bursts. However, an ankle injury that has kept Wood off the court since February 4 pushed Cousins into a starting role that he wasn’t ready to handle.

Coach Stephen Silas is working to build a defensive identity in his first season in Houston, and Cousins’ inability to cover ground was getting in the way. With Cousins defending, opponents were shooting an incredible 63.4% on shots from six feet and closer.

Silas liked Cousins and the veteran presence he brought to the locker room, Iko writes. Several young players sought advice from him, especially rookie Jae’Sean Tate. But Cousins’ inability to handle more minutes convinced the team that it needs to go in a different direction at center.

There’s more on the Cousins situation:

  • The Rockets will be forced to re-run last year’s small-ball experiment until Wood is ready to return, Iko notes in the same story. Justin Patton, who signed a two-way deal on Friday, could see some playing time, and Houston will consider the free agent market, with Dewayne Dedmon and Ersan Ilyasova as possibilities.
  • The Lakers will be among the teams to pursue Cousins, sources tell Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer (Twitter link). He adds that sources expect the market for Cousins to be limited because of his struggles so far, but the 30-year-old offers significant upside for any team that needs depth in the frontcourt. Cousins signed with the Lakers last season, but wasn’t able to play because of an ACL injury.
  • Cousins would consider joining the Heat if he reaches free agency, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. A source confirms Cousins’ interest.
  • The Raptors could use help at center, but Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports doesn’t expect them to make a play for Cousins (Twitter link). He notes that Toronto opted to sign Aron Baynes and Alex Len during the offseason when Cousins was available.

Rockets Sign Justin Patton To Two-Way Deal

3:35pm: The Rockets have officially signed Patton to a two-way contract, the team announced in a press release.

7:15am: The Rockets will fill their open two-way contract slot by promoting a center from the G League, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who hears from agent Brian Jungreis that Justin Patton has agreed to a two-way deal with Houston.

Patton, 23, was the 16th overall pick in the 2016 draft, but was limited to just nine NBA games across his first three seasons in the NBA with the Timberwolves, Sixers, and Thunder due in large part to injuries, including broken bones in both feet.

The big man has seen more action at the G League level, appearing in 83 total NBAGL games since 2017/18. He was selected in the first round of this year’s G League draft by the Westchester Knicks and has played in four games for the club, averaging 10.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 1.8 BPG in 21.5 minutes per contest.

The Rockets opened up one of their two-way spots earlier this week when they waived Ray Spalding, who suffered an Achilles injury in just his second game with the club. That was the latest blow to a Houston frontcourt that has had some bad injury luck lately — Christian Wood has been on the shelf with an ankle sprain for two weeks, while a quad issue has sidelined P.J. Tucker for the last two games.

[RELATED: 2020/21 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

It’s possible Patton will see some action in the Rockets’ depleted frontcourt in the short term. Once he officially signs, we should get a better sense of whether Houston intends to keep him with the NBA squad for a little while or if he’ll report to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers before the G League season ends in March.

2020/21 NBA G League Draft Results

The NBA G League held its draft for the 2020/21 season on Monday afternoon.

In a typical year, the G League draft lasts four rounds and teams are only required to make two selections. However, this year’s draft was just three rounds and teams weren’t required to make any picks.

Because only 17 of 28 NBA G League affiliates (plus the G League Ignite) are participating in the revamped season at Walt Disney World in Florida, and because teams aren’t permitted to bring extra players to training camp for health and safety reasons, roster spots will be at a premium in the NBAGL this season, and the draft reflected that. Only 25 players were selected.

With the first overall pick, the Greensboro Swarm – the Hornets‘ affiliate – nabbed former Wizard Admiral Schofield. The 42nd overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, Schofield averaged 3.0 PPG and 1.4 RPG in 33 games (11.2 MPG) as a rookie before being traded to the Thunder during the offseason. Oklahoma City waived him last month.

With the second overall pick, which they acquired in a trade earlier in the day, the Memphis Hustle selected former Baylor standout Freddie Gillespie, who had been in camp with the Mavericks. Gillespie recently spoke to JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors about his desire to make it to the NBA and his plans to begin his professional career in the G League. He’s now in position to suit up for the Grizzlies‘ affiliate.

Here are the full 2020/21 G League draft results:

Round One:

  1. Greensboro Swarm (Hornets): Admiral Schofield (Tennessee)
  2. Memphis Hustle (Grizzlies): Freddie Gillespie (Baylor)
  3. Canton Charge (Cavaliers): Antonio Blakeney (LSU)
  4. Iowa Wolves (Timberwolves): Allonzo Trier (Arizona)
  5. Lakeland Magic (Magic):  Tahjere McCall (Tennessee State)
  6. Canton Charge: Anthony Lamb (Vermont)
  7. Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder): Zavier Simpson (Michigan)
  8. Lakeland Magic: DJ Hogg (Texas A&M)
  9. Westchester Knicks (Knicks): Justin Patton (Creighton)
  10. Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Rockets): Armoni Brooks (Houston)
  11. Raptors 905 (Raptors): Kevon Harris (Stephen F. Austin)
  12. Rio Grande Valley Vipers: Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
  13. Oklahoma City Blue: Vince Edwards (Purdue)
  14. Austin Spurs (Spurs): Jonathan Kasibabu (Fairfield)
  15. Raptors 905: Gary Payton II (Oregon State)
  16. Memphis Hustle: Anthony Cowan Jr. (Maryland)
  17. Iowa Wolves: Dakarai Tucker (Utah)
  18. Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz): No pick
  19. N/A

Round Two:

  1. Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers): Jemerrio Jones (New Mexico State)
  2. Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Pacers): Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Iowa Wolves: No pick
  5. Long Island Nets (Nets): No pick
  6. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  7. Fort Wayne Mad Ants: Quincy McKnight (Seton Hall)
  8. Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (Clippers): No pick
  9. Santa Cruz Warriors (Warriors): Selom Mawugbe (Azusa Pacific)
  10. Raptors 905: No pick
  11. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  12. Austin Spurs: Anthony Mathis (Oregon)
  13. Erie BayHawks (Pelicans): No pick
  14. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  15. Austin Spurs: Kaleb Johnson (Georgetown)
  16. Santa Cruz Warriors: No pick
  17. Memphis Hustle: No pick
  18. Oklahoma City Blue: Rob Edwards (Arizona State)
  19. Salt Lake City Stars: No pick

Round Three:

  1. Greensboro Swarm: No pick
  2. Erie BayHawks: No pick
  3. Westchester Knicks: No pick
  4. Delaware Blue Coats: Braxton Key (Virginia)
  5. No picks from 43-57

The teams that didn’t make any picks will fill their rosters with affiliate players and returning rights players, meaning they didn’t need to draft anyone and/or didn’t have the open spots to do so.

As Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Blake Murphy of The Athletic noted (via Twitter), NBAGL teams overwhelmingly opted for youth, passing on most of the notable veteran NBA players in the draft pool. That group included Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson, Emeka Okafor, and Shabazz Muhammad, among others.

Former Nets first-rounder Dzanan Musa removed his name from the draft pool before the event began, per Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).