Kosta Koufos

And-Ones: Koufos, Mental Health, Analytics Awards, Match Fixing

The London Lions have parted ways with veteran center Kosta Koufos, the team announced in a press release (hat tip to Eurohoops.net).

“We would like to thank Kosta for his contributions to the Club, both on and off the court,” Lions GM Brett Burman said. “Aside from being a dominant interior presence, Kosta was a mentor and locker room connector. He came in and represented the Club and the BBL, and the City of London to the highest standard. He left a huge impression on the basketball footprint here, and we thank him for his impact… We wish him and his family all the best.”

The 23rd overall pick of the 2008 draft, Koufos played 11 NBA seasons with Utah, Minnesota, Denver, Memphis and Sacramento. His last season in the league was 2018/19 with the Kings.

The 34-year-old had a solid showing with the Lions, leading the British Basketball League in rebounds per game (9.1) during the regular season while chipping in 12.1 points and 1.1 blocks (sixth-best in the BBL). Koufos has also played for CSKA Moscow, Olympiacos and G League Ignite in recent years after his NBA departure.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Joe Vardon of The Athletic examines why the NBA got serious about mental health, noting that DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love were at the forefront of discussing their mental health struggles in 2018. According to Vardon, since 2019/20 the league has required teams to have a “formal relationship” with an in-market therapist or psychologist, a psychiatrist for medication, action plans for emergencies, and a “playbook” featuring health and wellness exercises. “People think (NBA players) can just pump fame, or pump money, or pump Twitter followers into their lives and it’s going to just fix everything,” Love told Vardon. “But unfortunately, brains and souls just don’t work like that. If you have a chemical imbalance, that’s not going to help it.”
  • Seth Partnow of The Athletic polled 17 members of the advanced analytics community — some who work for teams and some who don’t — to see who they would choose for the NBA’s annual regular season awards. Those polled tended to favor peak performance rather than durability, with stars like Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis making the informal All-NBA teams despite only playing between 47 and 58 regular season games.
  • The Chinese Basketball Association disqualified the Shanghai Sharks and Jiangsu Dragons from the postseason amid match-fixing allegations, according to ESPN.com. The Dragons were up four points with 1:36 remaining in the finale of their three-game series, but subsequently committed five straight questionable turnovers to help the Sharks build a 10-point lead, with Shanghai ultimately winning 108-104. The teams were fined $5MM apiece and their GMs and head coaches will be suspended for up to five years. The Sharks also allegedly lost Game 2 on purpose so former All-Defensive guard Eric Bledsoe could return for Game 3 — he had been suspended prior to the playoffs. Both Bledsoe and Michael Beasley — another former NBA player who was injured for most of the season and didn’t play in the games — denied being part of the match-fixing. Beasley said he mutually and amicably agreed to leave the team in part because it “failed to provide me with the necessary assistance and accommodations to properly address my injury,” per ESPN.

And-Ones: Koufos, Nunnally, Embiid, ABA

Veteran center Kosta Koufos, who played 11 years in the NBA from 2008-2019, is finalizing a contract to join the London Lions of the British Basketball League, sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Across 686 career games, including 229 starts, Koufos averaged 5.7 points and 5 rebounds in 16.4 minutes per night while playing solid defense. He played for Utah, Minnesota, Denver, Memphis and Sacramento during his time in the league.

The 33-year-old made a couple of international stops with CSKA Moscow in 2019/20 and Olympiacos in ’20/21, per Basketball-Reference. Both teams compete in the EuroLeague. Last season he was a veteran mentor for the G League Ignite.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA forward James Nunnally has signed with Serbian club Partizan Belgrade, according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. The 31-year-old played parts of three seasons in the league for five teams, most recently with the Pelicans in ’20/21. He only played in 37 career games with modest averages of 8.5 MPG and 2.6 PPG, but he has had a lengthy and productive career overseas, with career averages of 12.1 PPG and 3.1 RPG on an impressive shooting line of .471/.437/.896. He played in Israel last season for Maccabi Tel Aviv.
  • Joel Embiid has reportedly been granted French citizenship, clearing the way for him to join France’s national team in international competition, writes Antigoni Zachari of Eurohoops.net. The original report came from French outlet BeBasket.fr. The French team’s frontcourt could feature a staggering amount of size and talent in future competitions if Embiid participates, with the center potentially joining three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama, the projected first overall pick of the 2023 draft.
  • After reporting in February of last year that the NBA was in discussions with the Dropping Dimes Foundation about potentially assisting more than 100 remaining American Basketball Association players, many of whom are struggling financially and are in dire need of pensions, Dana Hunsinger Benbow of The Indianapolis Star writes that the NBA’s Board of Governors voted yesterday to pay the ABA players $24.5MM. According to Hunsinger Benbow, approximately 115 players are eligible for the payout, which the league is calling “recognition payments” instead of pensions. In order to be eligible, the players must have played at least three years in the ABA or at least three combined years in the ABA and NBA while never receiving a pension from the NBA. The players will receive $3,828 annually for each year they played in the league, for a minimum of $11,484 per year, Hunsinger Benbow reports. The funding for the payments will be split 50-50 between the NBA and the Players Association.

And-Ones: Referees, Protocols, Thornton, Koufos

The NBA has reached a season-high number of referees who are in health and safety protocols, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. As of Thursday afternoon, Wojnarowski reported that 25 of 70 officials (36%) were in quarantine.

As our health and safety protocols tracker shows, over 100 NBA players are currently out due to the virus. Eleven games have been postponed this season, including – most recently – Thursday’s Warriors-Nuggets game.

The NBA has called up G League officials to make up for various absences. Some games have been played with two referees instead of three, but Wojnarowski reports that the league is working to limit these instances.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA and NBPA have agreed to change the absence timeline for a player who enters protocols, Wojnarowski and Baxter Holmes write in a separate story for ESPN. The adjustment only impacts asymptomatic and vaccinated players. As the duo writes, players were allowed to return after seven days if their CT levels were above 35, but the change now allows players to return after five days if their CT levels are above 30.
  • Eight-year NBA veteran Marcus Thornton has signed a contract in the G League, sources told Hoops Rumors. Thornton has played 483 NBA games, making past stops with New Orleans, Sacramento, Brooklyn, Boston, Phoenix, Houston and Washington during his career. He last played with the Pistons’ G League affiliate during the 2018/19 season.
  • Free agent center Kosta Koufos will no longer sign with Italian club Reyer Venezia due to new guidelines and travel restrictions in the country, according to Marc Stein (Twitter link). Koufos, an 11-year NBA veteran, owns 686 games of experience since being drafted No. 23 overall in 2008.

Greg Monroe, Gary Clark, Carsen Edwards Join G League Teams

A handful of NBA veterans have joined G League teams in advance of the start of the NBAGL’s 2021/22 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As Charania reports, the Capital City Go-Go (Wizards) have added center Greg Monroe, the Mexico City Capitanes have added forward Gary Clark, and the Salt Lake City Stars (Jazz) have acquired swingman Carsen Edwards.

Monroe, 31, has nine years of NBA experience under his belt, but hasn’t played in the league since 2018/19, when he appeared in 43 total games for three teams. In 632 career NBA games, the former Georgetown star averaged 13.2 PPG and 8.3 RPG in 27.7 minutes per contest. He has spent time playing in Germany and Russia since 2019.

An undrafted free agent with three years of NBA experience from 2018-21, Clark appeared in 132 total games for four teams. He’s known more for his defense, having put up very modest offensive numbers (3.2 PPG on .346/.311/.889 shooting) in the NBA. Clark, who will turn 27 later this month, has previous G League experience with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Edwards was the 33th overall pick out of Purdue in 2019 and spent his first two professional seasons with the Celtics, but didn’t emerge as a reliable rotation player, posting just 3.6 PPG on .372/.302/.750 shooting in 68 games (9.2 MPG). He was traded to Memphis and subsequently waived during the 2021 offseason.

The G League Ignite have also announced two veteran additions, confirming that center Kosta Koufos and former Jazz guard Kevin Murphy have come aboard. Amir Johnson and Pooh Jeter are among the other veterans on the team.

And-Ones: Team USA, Koufos, Ignite, Noah

An announcement on Gregg Popovich’s replacement regarding Team USA’s head coaching vacancy probably won’t come until closer to the end of the calendar year, Marc Stein of Substack reports. Previously, the opening was expected to be filled by the start of the NBA season. The timeline for completing the search has been pushed back for procedural reasons, according to Stein, who previously reported that Steve Kerr is the most likely successor.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • In the same post from Stein, he notes that former NBA center Kosta Koufos will still play for the G League’s Ignite team but his arrival has been delayed due to the birth of his first child. Koufos is joining the Ignite after playing two seasons in the EuroLeague. Amir Johnson and Pooh Jeter are among the other veterans on the team, which allows top prospects to get a taste of professional basketball to prepare for next year’s draft.
  • The Ignite team – which trains in Walnut Creek, California – will play eight home games in Las Vegas, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. The first two of those games will be a back-to-back next month against the Clippers’ Agua Caliente squad.
  • The Bulls have named Joakim Noah as a team ambassador and the 36-yard-old Noah has no regrets about retiring, he told Sam Smith of the team’s website. “Obviously, I miss the competition and I miss the locker room,” Noah said. “But when your body tells you it’s time to go, it’s time to go. So you have to be honest with yourself. I shot every bullet in my gun and I have no regrets. I gave it everything I got.”

Kosta Koufos To Play For G League Ignite

Veteran center Kosta Koufos is returning stateside, but he’ll be playing in the G League, rather than the NBA, reports Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link). According to Stein, Koufos is signing with the G League Ignite.

Koufos, 32, was a first-round pick in 2008 and has appeared in over 700 total games in the NBA (counting postseason contests) for Utah, Minnesota, Denver, Memphis, and Sacramento. However, he has been out of the league since playing for the Kings in 2018/19, having spent the last two seasons in the EuroLeague with CSKA Moscow and Olympiacos.

According to Stein, Koufos – who posted regular season averages of 5.7 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 11 NBA seasons – received multiple offers from European teams this offseason, but decided to sign with the Ignite instead.

The G League Ignite is the league’s developmental team for top prospects who are not yet draft-eligible. That group of prospects – which will include Jaden Hardy this year – is supplemented by a handful of experienced veterans who serve as mentors to their young teammates. In 2020/21, Amir Johnson and Jarrett Jack were among those veteran mentors. This year, Koufos will play that role.

Although the Ignite won’t take part in the standard G League regular season in 2021/22, the team will compete in the league-wide Showcase Cup tournament that will tip off in early November. Their full roster will be announced at some point before then.

Kosta Koufos Signs In Greece

Veteran NBA center Kosta Koufos has signed a deal to suit up for Olympiacos B.C. in Greece, the team announced in a press release. Koufos spent last season with CSKA Moscow in Russia.

Koufos, soon to be 32, has spent 11 seasons in the NBA, last suiting up for the Kings during the 2018/19 campaign. In 42 games during that season, Koufos averaged 3.7 PPG and 4.2 RPG.

In 686 regular-season games, Koufos has posted career marks of 5.7 PPG and 5.0 RPG for the Jazz, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Kings.

In 17 games for CSKA Moscow last season, Koufos averaged 3.7 PPG and 2.8 RPG in 9.5 minutes per contest.

Kosta Koufos Working Toward NBA Comeback

Veteran center Kosta Koufos is hoping to return to the NBA, and the Cavaliers are a possible destination, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Sources tell Fedor that several teams have reached out to Koufos’ agent.

The 31-year-old played 11 NBA seasons before signing with CSKA Moscow in July of 2019. The deal included a team option for a second season that the Russian club didn’t exercise. Koufos was the highest-paid American player in Europe, but he didn’t see much playing time before COVID-19 interrupted the season. He averaged just 3.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 9.6 minutes per night.

Koufos has been working out in his home town of Canton, Ohio, and is reportedly interested in joining the nearby Cavs. Cleveland might need to find inexpensive front court depth, especially if free agent Tristan Thompson opts to sign with a contender. The team expects Andre Drummond to pick up his $28.7MM option for next season, but he may wind up being traded. Ante Zizic signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv after spending the last three seasons with Cleveland, and Fedor notes that Jordan Bell, who signed with the Cavs in June, is viewed as a small-ball center but not a traditional big man.

Fedor attended one of Koufos’ recent workouts and notes that he’s still in top shape and seems to have improved his perimeter shooting. Koufos also showed that he can run the floor, handle the ball and finish with either hand around the basket.

Koufos was a first-round pick by the Jazz in 2008 and spent a season and a half in Utah before being traded to the Timberwolves. He also played for the Nuggets, Grizzlies and Kings, but got into just 42 games for Sacramento in 2018/19 before leaving for Europe.

International Notes: James, Koufos, Kaba, Delaney, Clark

EuroLeague powerhouse CSKA Moscow has agreed to a two-year contract extension with former NBA guard Mike James, according to a report from Russian outlet Izvestia (hat tip to Sportando). James enjoyed a brief NBA stint in 2017/18 when he appeared in 36 games for Phoenix and New Orleans, but has otherwise spent his professional career overseas, playing for teams in Greece and Italy before joining CSKA.

Meanwhile, the same Izvestia report also indicates that CSKA Moscow isn’t expected to exercise its second-year option on veteran center Kosta Koufos, who signed a one-plus-one deal with the team in 2019. Koufos spent over a decade in the NBA, playing in 686 games from 2008-19, but it’s not clear if the 31-year-old would draw any stateside interest if and when he becomes a free agent.

Here are a few more NBA-adjacent updates on international basketball leagues:

  • Alpha Kaba, whose NBA rights are held by the Hawks, is joining French team Nanterre 92, according to a report from BeBasket (French link). A 24-year-old forward/center, Kaba was selected by Atlanta with the No. 60 pick in the 2017 draft, but has continued to play in France since then.
  • Spanish team FC Barcelona has parted ways with veteran guard Malcolm Delaney, per a team press release (h/t to Sportando). A standout EuroLeague contributor who spent two seasons with the Hawks from 2016-18, Delanyed is in talks with Italian club Olimpia Milano and has drawn interest from Olympiacos in Greece, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.
  • Veteran forward Earl Clark, who appeared in 261 NBA games from 2009-15, has parted ways with Spanish team San Pablo Burgos, according to the club (h/t to Sportando). Clark has spent time in China, Turkey, Montenegro, Spain, and the G League since last playing in the NBA.

Kosta Koufos Expected To Leave CSKA Moscow

Former NBA center Kosta Koufos will likely leave CSKA Moscow, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Koufos’ departure was hastened by the addition of Nikola Milutinov, whose rights are owned by the Spurs.

Koufos became the highest-paid American player in Europe when he signed with the Russian team last summer, making $6MM over two years. The contract included an escape clause in case he wanted to return to the NBA next season.

However, injuries have limited Koufos’ productivity. He averaged just 3.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in the EuroLeague and 8.4 PPG and 5.2 RPG in the VTB League.

Koufos, 31, played for five teams over 11 NBA seasons and spent the last four years with the Kings before leaving for Europe. He averaged 3.7 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 42 games as a reserve during the 2018/19 season.