Melvin Ejim

International Notes: All-Star Game, Embiid, Wembanyama, Canada

In an appearance with Gayle King and Charles Barkley on CNN (video link), Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA will consider a U.S. vs. international format to revamp the All-Star Game. It’s one of several ideas that were brought up after last month’s All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, which concluded with the East defeating the West 211-186 in a contest that was low on competitiveness and defensive effort.

Silver called it “a great weekend, but it was not a basketball game,” and said changes to the format are being studied.

“I think maybe as opposed to trying to create a super competitive basketball game, which I am not sure the teams or the players really want, we should do different things and make it a celebration of basketball,” Silver said. “… “We are going to look at U.S. vs. international. I just think maybe we are past that point where we are going to play a truly competitive game.” 

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Joel Embiid opted to join Team USA in the Summer Olympics, assuming he’s healthy enough, but French basketball officials say they had serious discussions with the Sixers center before the decision was made, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Jean-Pierre Siutat, president of French basketball, and former NBA player Boris Diaw, general manager of the French men’s team, contend they had two meetings with Embiid regarding the possibility that he might play for France. “He said, yes, I want to (play), make the (passport),” Siutat said. “So I make the job, with the help of the government, to get a passport for him and for his son. And all the time, he said, ‘I want to play for the national team of France.’” Embiid disputes that version of events through a spokesman, claiming he never asked for a passport, Vardon adds.
  • Victor Wembanyama is setting the bar high as he tries to win a gold medal while playing at home in Paris, according to a Eurohoops story.  “Any other result than the first place would be a failure since we could have done better,” the Spurs rookie said. “You shouldn’t have any regrets, but it’s a very achievable goal”.
  • Canadian coach Jordi Fernandez is looking to fill out his Olympic roster around a core group consisting of Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderLuguentz DortRJ BarrettKelly OlynykNickeil Alexander-WalkerDwight Powell and Dillon Brooks, notes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Jamal Murray is expected to join them if health permits, and international star Melvin Ejim could get a spot as well. Koreen expects Canada to search around the NBA for the remainder of its 12-man roster.

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 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 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.”

14 NBA Players On Canada’s Preliminary Olympic Qualifying Roster

Team Canada has yet to secure a place in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics, but the club should have a loaded roster as it looks to lock up a spot in a qualifying tournament next month.

Canada Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 21-player preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifier, and the group includes 14 players who finished the season on NBA contracts. Here’s the full list:

Of the seven players who didn’t play in the NBA this season, one (Bennett) is a former first overall pick, another (Nicholson) was also a first-round selection, and a third (Alexander) has NBA experience. Bell-Haynes has played in the G League, while Doornekamp, Ejim, and Nembhard all have extensive experience representing Canada in past international competitions.

Still, a few noteworthy names are missing from the list. Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is recovering from a torn ACL and won’t be able to participate. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also dealing with an injury, announcing on Instagram that rehabbing the plantar fasciitis in his right foot will prevent him from representing Team Canada.

Raptors big man Chris Boucher is a third notable omission. According to Michael Grange of (Twitter link), Boucher is focused on rehabbing a knee sprain and wants to make sure he’s 100% healthy heading into 2021/22. He also has a somewhat uncertain contract situation — his $7MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed, though I’d be shocked if he’s not retained.

Even without Murray, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Boucher, Canada Basketball is in position to run out a roster stacked with NBA talent and led by former NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse.

While the final roster will depend in part on which players are available, none of the 21 players on the preliminary are on teams expected to still be alive for the conference finals. However, a club like Powell’s Mavericks or Barrett’s Knicks could surprise.

Team Canada will compete against Greece, China, Uruguay, Turkey, and the Czech Republic in a qualifying tournament in Victoria, British Columbia between June 29 and July 4. If the club wins that six-team qualifier, it will be part of the 12-team field in Tokyo and would be a legit contender for a medal.

Canada Basketball Unveils 18 Training Camp Invites

Canada Basketball has announced its preliminary 18-man roster of players who have been invited to participate in training camp and exhibition play ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers next month, reports Josh Lewenberg of The Sports Network.

Among the 18 named individuals, eight played in the NBA last season – Khem Birch (Magic), Chris Boucher (Warriors), Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies), Cory Joseph (Pacers), Jamal Murray (Nuggets), Kelly Olynyk (Heat), Dwight Powell (Mavericks), and Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers).

The preliminary roster also includes former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, as well as three other G League players – Aaron BestOlivier Hanlan, and Kaza Kajami-Keane.

The remaining six players are former first-round pick of the Magic, Andrew Nicholsonformer college standouts’ Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim, Baylor’s Brady Heslip, and Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos, as well as brothers Phil Scrubb and Tommy Scrubb.

As also highlighted by Lewenberg, notable absences include Trey Lyles (Nuggets), Nik Stauskas (Nets), and most glaringly, Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves). Per Lewenberg, multiple sources indicated that one factor in Wiggins’ decision to decline Canada Basketball’s invitation is his strained relationship with national team head coach Jay Triano, who left Wiggins on the bench during the final moments of a qualifying game for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Eastern Notes: Lue, Kilpatrick, Biyombo

The Raptors are hoping that Bismack Biyombo will exercise his player option for 2016/17 and remain in Toronto for another season, Steve Simmons of The National Post writes. “I’m going to make it very hard for him,” said GM Masai Ujiri. “I’m going to try and do whatever I can to get it done. There are going to be other people who want this player. My job is to try and get it done.” The center noted that he was happy with the Raptors but added that he hasn’t made a decision regarding his option, Simmons relays. “To be here right now is amazing and it’s a blessing. To tell you the truth, I haven’t thought about [free agency],” said Biyombo. “I love Toronto. I love the fans. I love everything about it. But the focus for me right now is for us to go as far as we can. I don’t see why [I wouldn’t sign here]. But really, I haven’t thought about it.” Biyombo inked a two-year, $5.755MM contract with the team last summer and Toronto only holds his Non-Bird rights, which could make re-signing the 23-year-old difficult if he opts out of his pact.

Here’s more from the East:

  • After two months on the job as coach of the Cavaliers, Tyronn Lue hasn’t cured the team of its pre-existing inconsistencies on the court, which makes judging his performance difficult, Brian Windhorst of writes. The ESPN scribe does note that the team’s defense has taken a hit since Lue took over the reigns, with Cleveland ranked 14th in defensive rating and a woeful 20th in defensive field goal percentage under the new coach. Cleveland was ranked fifth in defensive rating and ninth in field goal defense before David Blatt was fired. Lue is still adjusting to being a head coach, a move that is more challenging than he believed previously, Windhorst adds. “When I was a player for Doc [Rivers], I never used to understand why he got mad at the little things,” Lue said. “Now I see why coaches get mad about little, small things. It happens a lot. Things I want to do, things I want [to] implement, it’s been tough to do it midway through the season.”
  • Sean Kilpatrick‘s multiyear deal with the Nets includes a fully guaranteed salary of $980K for 2016/17 and a non-guaranteed salary of $1.05MM for 2017/18, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). The three-year length means the team used a prorated portion of its mid-level exception to sign him.
  • Melvin Ejim, who was in training camp with the Magic earlier this season, has signed with the Italian club Reyer Venezia, the team announced (translation courtesy of Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Orlando’s D-League affiliate waived Ejim to allow him to sign overseas.

And-Ones: Roberts, Lin, Ejim

Executive Director of the NBPA Michele Roberts is working to shift the perception that players make too much money, something that will likely be expressed once negotiations begin with team owners over their respective stakes in the league’s basketball related income, as she tells Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports on his podcast (h/t RealGM Wiretap). Roberts believes the amount of money owners make is not being discussed enough.

“We read just recently that the value of these teams, thank you Donald Sterling, we know what a team can make on the open market,” Roberts said. ” If the reality is that as the game is growing financial, owners are holding onto those teams for a reason. There is a great deal of value. And there’s a long line of folks that would love to buy a basketball team.”

Here’s more from around the league:

NBA Teams Designate Affiliate Players

NBA teams cut as much as 25% of their rosters at the end of the preseason, but franchises that have D-League affiliates have a way to maintain ties to many of the players they release from the NBA roster. An NBA team can claim the D-League rights to up to four of the players it waives, as long as the players clear waivers, consent to join the D-League, and don’t already have their D-League rights owned by another team. These are known as affiliate players, as our Hoops Rumors Glossary entry details.

NBA teams allocated 46 affiliate players to the D-League at the beginning of the season last year, and this year, that number has risen to 56, according to the list the D-League announced today. These players are going directly to the D-League affiliate of the NBA team that cut them and weren’t eligible for the D-League draft that took place Saturday. Teams that designated fewer than the maximum four affiliate players retain the ability to snag the D-League rights of players they waive during the regular season, but for now, this is the complete list:

Boston Celtics (Maine Red Claws)

Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge)

Dallas Mavericks (Texas Legends)

Detroit Pistons (Grand Rapids Drive)

Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors)

Houston Rockets (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)

Indiana Pacers (Fort Wayne Mad Ants)

Los Angeles Lakers (Los Angeles D-Fenders)

Memphis Grizzlies (Iowa Energy)

Miami Heat (Sioux Falls Skyforce)

New York Knicks (Westchester Knicks)

Oklahoma City Thunder (Oklahoma City Blue)

Orlando Magic (Erie BayHawks)

Philadelphia 76ers (Delaware 87ers)

Phoenix Suns (Bakersfield Jam)

Sacramento Kings (Reno Bighorns)

San Antonio Spurs (Austin Spurs)

Toronto Raptors (Raptors 905)

Utah Jazz (Idaho Stampede)

Also, several players who were on NBA preseason rosters are on D-League rosters through means other than the affiliate player rule. Most of them played under D-League contracts at some point within the last two years, meaning their D-League teams have returning player rights to them. Others entered through last weekend’s D-League draft, while others saw their D-League rights conveyed via trade. Most of these players aren’t with the D-League affiliate of the NBA team they were with last month, with a few exceptions.

Roster information from Adam Johnson of D-League Digest, Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor and freelancer and Hoops Rumors contributor Mark Porcaro was used in the creation of this post.

Magic Waive Melvin Ejim

The Magic have waived small forward Melvin Ejim, the team announced via a press release. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel was the first to report the news (via Twitter). Ejim’s minimum salary deal includes a partial guarantee of $150K for the 2015/16 season, which Orlando will still be on the hook for, providing he clears waivers.

Ejim put up 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game for the Magic’s summer league team this year after spending this past season with Virtus Roma in Italy. He made four preseason appearances for the Magic this summer, averaging just 3.5 points in 8.0 minutes of action per contest. The 6’7″ small forward went undrafted in 2014 in spite of a solid senior season in 2013/14, when he averaged 17.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG in 32.1 MPG for the Cyclones.

Orlando’s preseason roster count now sits at 16 players, including 13 with fully guaranteed pacts. The Magic will still need to pare down their roster by at least one more player prior to the October 26th deadline.

Magic Sign Melvin Ejim For Camp

7:42: The signing is official, the team announced via a press release.

11:43am: Ejim still must free himself from a contract he signed earlier this summer with Medi Bayreuth of Germany before he can join Orlando, writes Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel.

8:31am: The Magic have invited summer-leaguer and former Iowa State standout Melvin Ejim to training camp, a source tells David Pick of (Twitter link), adding that some guaranteed money is involved. Pick confirmed to Hoops Rumors that Ejim has accepted the invitation.

Ejim put up 9.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 30.1 minutes per game for the Magic’s summer league team last month after spending this past season with Virtus Roma in Italy. The 6’7″ small forward went undrafted in 2014 in spite of a breakout senior year in 2013/14, when he averaged 17.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG in 32.1 MPG for the Cyclones.

Orlando has already been carrying 15 deals, including a partially guaranteed arrangement with Keith Appling and Devyn Marble‘s non-guaranteed pact. The other 13 players have guaranteed salaries, and the Magic have yet to strike a deal with Tyler Harvey, whom they drafted 51st overall this year. Thus, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Magic view Ejim with the D-League chiefly in mind. Orlando can retain the D-League rights to as many as four players it cuts at the end of the preseason.

Do you think Ejim has what it takes to stick on an NBA roster? Leave a comment to tell us.

And-Ones: Frye, Thomas, Love, Lue

There’s mutual respect between Channing Frye and Warriors coach Steve Kerr, as TNT’s David Aldridge notes in his latest Morning Tip column for The Warriors are reportedly eyeing the sharpshooting big man who’ll almost certainly opt out of his deal with the Suns.

  • It would “mean a lot” to Kings restricted free agent Isaiah Thomas to receive an offer sheet from the Lakers, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.  The guard grew up as a diehard Lakers fan and has idolized Kobe Bryant since he was a child, but he still spoke highly of the Kings and would like to return.
  • There have been mixed reports on this aspect of the Kevin Love talks, but Sam Amick of USA Today hears that the Warriors are very wary about taking on Kevin Martin‘s contract as a part of a deal.  Meanwhile, despite the hangups in talks and the buzz that a deal with the Warriors is dead, Amick believes that things could pick up again between Golden State and the Wolves.
  • Sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports that Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue has agreed to become the associate head coach of the Cavaliers.  Lue was considered a head coaching candidate for Cleveland but the Cavs opted to hire David Blatt instead.
  • Marquette forward Jamil Wilson worked out for the Mavericks today, according to Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times (on Twitter).  Wilson has auditioned for about a dozen teams in total.
  • The Cavs will bring in Oregon’s Mike Moser and Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim for a workout on Tuesday, tweets Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops.
  • The Suns worked out center Walter Tavares earlier today, Scotto tweets.  The 7’3″ center is rising up draft boards around the league.  DraftExpress currently has Tavares going to the Bucks with the No. 31 pick in their mock draft.
  • The Pistons will bring in DeAndre Daniels and Mike Moser for a workout on Wednesday, tweets Scotto.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.