Melvin Hunt

USA Basketball Announces February AmeriCup Qualifying Roster

USA Basketball has announced its 12-man roster for a pair of AmeriCup qualifying games that will be played later this month, according to a press release written by Michael Terry. The Americans will host Cuba in Kissimmee, Florida, on February 22, then will travel to Cuba for a second game on Feb. 25.

The roster is as follows:

Ten of the 12 players have at least some level of NBA experience, with Davis and Jayce Johnson the only exceptions. Carter-Williams, Stanley Johnson, and Payton are all former lottery picks. None of those 10 players are currently on NBA rosters, however, with Hurt being the most recent to play in the league (with Memphis on a 10-day hardship contract).

As previously reported, Jerome Allen will be the head coach for this round of qualifying games, with Melvin Hunt, Sydney Johnson and Bill Bayno serving as assistants. Bayno will also be a scout, per the release. Allen, Hunt and Bayno are all former NBA assistant coaches.

As Terry writes, the two qualifying games this month are the first of three qualifying windows ahead of the 2025 AmeriCup. In the other two qualifying windows, held Nov. 2024 and Feb. 2025, the U.S. will face Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, respectively.

Per the release, qualifying rounds consist of 16 teams distributed into four, four-team groups. Each team will play each opponent in their group twice, once at home and once away. The top three teams in each group (12 total) will advance to next year’s AmeriCup, which will occur Aug. 23-31, 2025, in Managua, Nicaragua.

Team USA has won the AmeriCup seven times, according to Terry, with the last victory coming in 2017. The Americans won bronze in 2022, which was the last time the tournament was held.

And-Ones: McClung, Comanche, Maluach, Draft, Team USA

Although he’s not currently under contract with an NBA team, Mac McClung has been invited by the NBA to take part in the 2024 Slam Dunk Contest and defend his title, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

McClung remains undecided, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link), though he says many people believe the G League guard will accept the invitation.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • C.C. McCandless of FOX5 in Las Vegas has obtained the arrest report for former Stockton Kings player Chance Comanche and shares several disturbing new details about the alleged plot to kidnap and kill Marayna Rodgers, who police believe was killed on the night of December 5, when the Kings‘ G League team was in town to face the G League Ignite. Comanche – one of two suspects facing an open murder charge – disclosed several details in an interview with investigators, including identifying on a map where Rodgers body was buried, which allowed detectives to locate her remains.
  • Standout prospect Khaman Maluach, a 7’2″ center from South Sudan, has elected to graduate high school in 2024 and will be eligible for the 2025 draft, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The 17-year-old is still weighing his options for the 2024/25 season, including attending a U.S. college or taking a professional route like the G League Ignite or Australia’s Next Stars program.
  • In the latest 2024 mock draft from Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports, Alexandre Sarr is the first player off the board, while USC’s Isaiah Collier – the top prospect on ESPN’s top 100 – drops to No. 8.
  • USA Basketball has announced its coaching staff for the AmeriCup qualifying team that will begin competing in February. Dave Joerger, previously reported to be the head coach for the U.S. squad, will be joined by veteran assistants Jerome Allen and Melvin Hunt, per a press release.
  • Australia’s national team is in advanced talks to play exhibition games against the U.S. and Serbia ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, reports Olgun Uluc of ESPN. Team USA already has a pair of exhibition contests against South Sudan and Germany on its July schedule.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Hunt, Hornets, Herro

Having concluded their first round of head coaching interviews, the Wizards are conducting follow-up meetings this week. According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link), the team’s second interview with Wes Unseld Jr. was scheduled to take place today, while Jamahl Mosley is on tap for Friday.

A pair of Milwaukee assistants – Charles Lee and Darvin Ham – were also identified as finalists for the Wizards’ head coaching job. It’s unclear whether they’ve already met a second time with Washington or if those meetings are still to come. Both Lee and Ham, of course, remain active in the NBA Finals, which presumably complicates the scheduling of interviews.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Melvin Hunt, who was the Hawks‘ lead assistant under Lloyd Pierce, won’t return to Atlanta next season as part of Nate McMillan‘s staff, according to a report from Chris Kirschner and David Aldridge of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • The Hornets brought in D.J. Funderburk, Justin Gorham, A.J. Lawson, Alonzo Verge Jr., Duane Washington Jr., and Bryce Wills for pre-draft workouts on Wednesday, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Heat guard Tyler Herro views this summer as a prime opportunity to continue growing his game and to develop a stronger relationship with head coach Erik Spoelstra, as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald details. Herro’s first NBA offseason following his rookie season a year ago lasted just over two months, as the Heat faced a quick turnaround following their trip to the NBA Finals.
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic spoke to a “well-respected” NBA scout about the pros and cons of eight of the prospects the Wizards may be evaluating as possible targets with the No. 15 pick.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wade, Simons

If the Hornets are going to turn the fate of their franchise around, they’ll have to improve how they handle lottery picks. Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes that only one of their seven different top-11 picks since 2011 has been an All-Star.

Bonnell breaks down ex-general manager Rich Cho‘s underwhelming draft portfolio noting that beyond Walker, only one of the remaining six players they’ve drafted in the top-11 has even gone on to be a consistent starter (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist).

To Cho’s credit, Cody Zeller, Frank Kaminsky and Malik Monk can all be valuable rotation pieces for the foreseeable future but it’s hard to justify the selections of Bismack Biyombo and Noah Vonleh.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Pending free agent Dwyane Wade has not decided if he’s going to retire or not. If he returns, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports tweets, he’d want to return with the Heat.
  • Not surprisingly, Anfernee Simons was particularly excited to work out for the Magic, the franchise with whom his namesake made his mark. John Denton of the team’s official site writes about the Florida native’s connection to the team and his decision to enter the draft directly out of prep school.
  • It’s official, the Hawks have made Melvin Hunt, Chris Jent, Greg Foster, Marlon Garnett and Matt Hill assistant coaches under new head coach Lloyd Pierce, the team announced on its website.

Coaching Notes: Hornets, Hawks, Bucks, Blatt

After reaching an agreement to hire former Suns head coach Jay Triano as a top assistant, the Hornets are adding another coach to James Borrego‘s new staff in Charlotte. According to Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link), former Magic assistant Jay Hernandez has agreed to a deal with the Hornets.

Hernandez, who had been working under Frank Vogel in Orlando, was let go at the same time Vogel was fired by the Magic last month. Hernandez’s name surfaced as one to watch in New York when David Fizdale was hired, but he’ll land in Charlotte instead, teaming up with Borrego and Triano on the Hornets’ new-look bench.

Here are a few more coaching-related updates from around the basketball world:

  • Lloyd Pierce has begun to fill out his coaching staff in Atlanta, with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated reporting that former Mavericks assistant Melvin Hunt will join the Hawks at Pierce’s lead assistant, while former Suns assistant Marlon Garnett will also be part of the team’s staff. Marc Stein of The New York Times first reported (via Twitter) that the Hawks were in advanced discussions with Hunt.
  • Many of the Hawks‘ former assistants are preparing to relocate to Milwaukee along with Mike Budenholzer, leaving the Bucks‘ old staff in the lurch. Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times looks at what’s next for those Bucks assistants.
  • Darussafaka head coach David Blatt is receiving some interest from EuroLeague powerhouse CSKA Moscow, according to a report from La Gazzetta dello Sport (via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Blatt, who interviewed for multiple NBA coaching jobs this spring, has an extensive international résumé that includes a stint as head coach of the Russian national team.
  • At Sportando, Carchia passes along another La Gazzetta dello Sport story, as the Italian outlet reports that Sergio Scariolo – the coach of Spain’s national team – is pursuing an opportunity to become an assistant in the NBA.

Jameer Nelson Contemplates Asking For Trade

Jameer Nelson would prefer to remain with the Nuggets, but if it appears he won’t see more playing time than he received down the stretch this season, he won’t hesitate to have agent Steve Mountain ask Denver to trade him, reports Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post. Nelson signed a three-year, $13.622MM contract with the Nuggets just this past summer and began the season as the primary backup to Emmanuel Mudiay, averaging 27.6 minutes per game through January 15th. Nelson appeared for only one seven-minute stint after January 30th, though that was initially because of a wrist injury that at one point threatened to prematurely end his season.

The 34-year-old Nelson returned to the active list after the wrist caused an eight-game absence in February, but while he was out, Denver traded for D.J. Augustin, who played well enough to convince coach Michael Malone to drop Nelson to third on the depth chart, as Dempsey details. Malone is clearly fond of Augustin, calling him the team’s “security blanket,” and Augustin has said he’d love to re-sign with the Nuggets when he hits free agency this summer.

“Like I said we’ll figure it out and see what’s going on,” Nelson said, according to Dempsey. “I would love to come back here. That’s the reason why I signed a three-year deal. But it’s just one of those things that, it’s a business. It’s a business, and we have to figure it out.”

Nelson had sincere doubts about Denver when the Nuggets acquired him via trade during the 2014/15 season, but he praised the organization this past fall, saying the team delivered on its promise that it had a role in mind for him, and he organized a summertime bonding session with teammates. He was a fan, like most Nuggets, of Melvin Hunt, the team’s interim coach for the spring of 2015, and while he opted out last summer and said the team’s choice of a new coach would be a determining factor as he thought about whether to re-sign, he followed through and signed his new contract with the Nuggets after they hired Malone.

Orlando, where Nelson spent the majority of his career, maintains a place in his heart, Nelson said this season, and Magic GM Rob Hennigan has spoken openly of his desire to have more veterans on the team. The Magic will have plenty of cap room available to absorb Nelson’s salary of close to $4.541MM for next season without sending salary in return, if necessary.

Western Notes: Warriors, Mudiay, Hunt

Now that the Warriors have secured the NBA title, the team enters the offseason with the goal of keeping its young core intact while still improving itself, Diamond Leung of The Bay Area News Group writes. When you have the success that we had, you like to keep it together as much as possible,” Golden State GM Bob Myers said. “It doesn’t mean you don’t open your eyes to see what else is out there, but if it’s a close call, you always want to retain the talent that got you a championship. I think if we’re going to lean in a direction, it’s the continuity, which is something we’ve tried to build here, and certainly at least it worked for this year.” One of the Warriors’ priorities this summer is to re-sign restricted free agent Draymond Green, who is in line for a hefty increase from his 2014/15 salary of $915,243.

Here’s what else is happening around the Western Conference:

  • The Kings have been unsuccessful thus far in getting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay to work out for the team, Sean Cunningham of News 10 Sacramento tweets. Mudiay’s representatives believe that he’ll be off the board prior to Sacramento selecting with the No. 6 overall pick, Cunningham adds.
  • Arizona defensive whiz Rondae Hollis-Jefferson‘s scheduled workout with the Jazz on Friday was cancelled due to travel issues, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News relays (Twitter link). It’s unclear if the showcase will be rescheduled prior to the draft. Hollis-Jefferson is already expected to work out for the Kings on Monday.
  • Mavs coach Rick Carslile has confirmed reports that former Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt will be joining his staff as an assistant, Marc Stein of relays (Twitter links). Hunt will replace assistant Monte Mathis, who has been offered the job as head coach of Mavs’ D-League affiliate if he does not obtain another position outside of the organization, Stein adds.

Southwest Notes: Green, Villanueva, Hunt

Jeff Green, who picked up his player option with the Grizzlies, will represent a cap hold of $9.45MM rather than $9.2MM for 2015/16 because he triggered a $250K bonus this season, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). The incentive clause kicked in when Memphis picked up its 55th win, and he was in line for an additional $200K if the Grizzlies, who finished 55-27, had won 56 games, Pincus explains. The cap hit applies for next season because the league now considers it likely that Memphis will again win 55 games, though he won’t get the money if they don’t again hit that threshold. Here’s more from around the Southwest Division.

  • Charlie Villanueva would like to re-sign with the Mavericks, and while the team would welcome that, Dallas isn’t willing to pay more than the minimum, writes Tim MacMahon of
  • The Mavs are close to a deal with former Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt that would make him the top assistant in Dallas to head coach Rick Carlisle, reports Marc Stein of The Pelicans have also been interested in Hunt as an assistant, Stein reported earlier.
  • Shooting guards Norman Powell of UCLA, Josh Richardson of Tennessee and Tyler Harvey of Eastern Washington are working out for the Mavs today, reports Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (on Twitter).
  • The Grizzlies will work out Southeast Missouri State forward Nino Johnson on Monday, sources tell Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia.

Western Notes: Lakers, Duncan, Ginobili, Wolves

Mitch Kupchak admits that finding someone who can make an immediate impact as Kobe Bryant nears retirement factors into his approach to the offseason, as the Lakers GM tells Chris Mannix of Climbing merely to mediocrity would be a dangerous proposition, Kupchak cautions.

“To some degree,” Kupchak said. “We feel we want to make significant progress from this year to next year. And if we can do that and not mortgage the future — in other words, with a player who is in free agency that’s a veteran — then yeah. It’s a factor because we do want and we need in this city to show progress. And we’ve not made the playoffs for two years running, I suppose you can do it a third year, but our fans are impatient, and they’re used to a good product, and that’s not what we want to do. And we know Kobe is not as happy when the town around him is not enough to win. But, we’ve got to be careful that we don’t do something that puts us in the middle of the pack for the next six or seven years. Because all that does is get you the eighth seed in the playoffs and a draft pick that’s not very good.”

There’s more on the Lakers amid the latest from the Western Conference:

  • Tony Parker is optimistic that both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will return to the Spurs for next season, though he admits that his hope that they indeed come back may cloud his ability to accurately predict what they’ll do, as Parker tells Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. Regardless, Duncan said to Scott Soshnick of that the loss of more than $20MM that he alleges that a former financial adviser swindled him out of won’t play a role in his decision whether to return.
  • Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor dismissed any lingering doubt Wednesday, declaring that president of basketball operations Flip Saunders will continue as coach of the team for next season, as Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities relays (on Twitter).
  • The Pelicans would like to add former Nuggets interim coach Melvin Hunt as an assistant coach, reports Marc Stein of (Twitter link).
  • The Lakers have interest in trading the No. 27 pick to clear the salary that goes with it, and talk has also centered on the team packaging the pick with other assets in an offer for another pick higher in the order, as Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes within his mock draft.
  • Notre Dame swingman Pat Connaughton, N.C. State shooting guard Trevor Lacey, Iowa State shooting guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, Tennessee Tech center Charles Jackson and UC Santa Barbara center Alan Williams were among those who worked out for the Wolves this week, Wolfson reports (Twitter link).

Nuggets Interview David Vanterpool

Trail Blazers assistant David Vanterpool has interviewed for the Nuggets head coaching job, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, who first identified Vanterpool as a candidate for the vacancy in April. Vanterpool is nonetheless not among the favorites for the position, Wojnarowski writes, pointing instead to the interview itself as a boon for the 42-year-old who has just three years of experience as an NBA assistant coach. Wojnarowski refers to interim coach Melvin Hunt, Michael Malone and Mike D’Antoni as strong candidates for the job, the same three names Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post identified as known candidates in a story from overnight.

Other names have nonetheless emerged as well, as the team has interviewed Wizards assistant Don Newman, according to Shams Charania of RealGM, while Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe heard that Mike Woodson might get an interview, too. The Nuggets are believed to want their next coach in place soon so that the new hire can help the team prepare for the draft, Dempsey writes, and an increasing number of coaches around the league foresee the team going with Hunt, as Marc Stein of reported. Hunt would seemingly have the advantage of incumbency, and it’s clear that the Nuggets players are behind him. Malone is so far the only candidate reported to have drawn a second interview, though the Nuggets are clearly familiar with Hunt’s credentials.

Vanterpool interviewed for the Sixers head coaching job in 2013 and seemingly became the front-runner for that position at one point. That came just one year after he joined the Blazers, a gig that Vanterpool landed after he served in the Thunder’s front office as director of player personnel, Wojnarowski notes. Before that, he was an assistant coach for CSKA Moscow under European coaching icon and current Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, as Wojnarowski also points out.