Mike James (Lamar)

Olympic Notes: France, Australia, Germany, Brazil

Ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris, the host nation has announced its preliminary 19-man roster (Twitter link). As Eurohoops relays, the headliners on France’s squad are big men Victor Wembanyama and Rudy Gobert, the top two finishers in this year’s Defensive Player of the Year vote.

However, there are several more notable NBA names on the list, including Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier, Bilal Coulibaly, and Ousmane Dieng. Other recent NBAers who didn’t finish the 2023/24 season on a roster include Killian Hayes, Frank Ntilikina, and Theo Maledon.

One player not on France’s roster is veteran guard Mike James. The 2023/24 EuroLeague MVP is an American, but according to a report from L’Equipe (hat tip to BasketNews.com), the French Basketball Federation explored the possibility of getting a French passport for James, who has played for AS Monaco in France’s LNB Pro A since 2021. That effort didn’t make any real headway, however.

“We do not have the culture of other nations which use naturalized players in a systematic way,” an unnamed executive told L’Equipe. “But we have a duty to explore all possibilities. In this case, we were asked, we looked at it and quickly established that it was not a question.”

The French national team will have to make seven cuts and set a 12-man roster for this July’s event.

Here are a few more updates related to the 2024 Olympics:

  • The Australian national team has trimmed its preliminary Olympic roster from 22 players to 17, the Boomers announced in a press release. None of the NBA players on the roster – including Josh Giddey, Joe Ingles, Patty Mills, Dante Exum, Matisse Thybulle, and Dyson Daniels, among others – were among the cuts, but potential 2024 first-round pick Johnny Furphy was. The plan is for those 17 Australian players to attend training camp this summer before setting the final 12-man roster.
  • The German national team announced this week that head coach Gordon Herbert won’t continue on in that role after the conclusion of the Paris Olympics (hat tip to Sportando). The two sides are going their separate ways after a fruitful partnership that included a gold medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
  • The Brazilian national team has announced its preliminary roster for this summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Latvia. The notable names include veteran point guard Raul Neto, former first-round pick Bruno Caboclo, Warriors rookie Gui Santos, and former NBA guard Didi Louzada. The Brazilians will need to win the six-team qualifier to earn a spot in the Olympic men’s basketball tournament.

And-Ones: M. James, M. Howard, Tavares, Canada, Awards

Veteran guard Mike James, who played for Phoenix and New Orleans in 2017/18 and Brooklyn in 2020/21, has officially been named the EuroLeague’s Most Valuable Player for the 2023/24 season. James has thrived overseas with AS Monaco in recent years — he made the All-EuroLeague First Team in 2022 and the Second Team in 2023.

This season, the 33-year-old ranked second in the EuroLeague in scoring (17.9 points per game) and seventh in assists (5.1 per game). He chipped in a career-high 4.1 rebounds per night and made 37.2% of his three-pointers while also becoming the EuroLeague’s all-time leading career scorer.

James led AS Monaco to a 23-11 regular season record, tied for the second-best mark in the EuroLeague. However, his club was knocked out of the EuroLeague playoffs by Fenerbahce in a hard-fought best-of-five series that included a pair of overtime losses, including a one-point defeat in the deciding game.

James is just the second U.S.-born player to win a EuroLeague MVP award, joining Anthony Parker (2005 and 2006), according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com (Twitter link).

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

  • A pair of former NBA players have agreed to contract extensions with their teams in Spain. Ex-Nuggets guard Markus Howard has signed a new deal that extends his deal with Baskonia through 2028, per a press release from the club. Meanwhile, former Cavaliers and Hawks big man Edy Tavares has reportedly agreed to a three-year extension with Real Madrid, per Ramon Alvarez de Mon of La Galerna (Twitter link). There had been some speculation that Tavares might try to return stateside this summer, but unless his new deal with Madrid falls through, it seems that won’t happen after all.
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray could end up squaring off in the Western Conference Finals later this month. They may also be teammates this summer on the Canadian national team that will compete in the Paris Olympics. Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca takes a look at how the formidable play of the two Western Conference stars continues to raise expectations for Team Canada ahead of its first men’s basketball Olympic appearance since 2000.
  • The NBA will announce its Sportsmanship Award on Thursday before revealing its All-Rookie, All-Defensive, and All-NBA teams next Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, according to the league (Twitter link). While most of those announcements will happen during the day, the All-NBA teams will be unveiled on TNT on Wednesday evening’s broadcast.

International Notes: Landale, Jackson, Kaminsky, James, Loyd

Rockets center Jock Landale confirmed on Twitter that he won’t be part of the Australian national team that will compete in the World Cup beginning next week. As we detailed on Thursday, Landale suffered an ankle injury during an exhibition game against South Sudan this week.

“Sitting here this morning knowing the Boomers are about to take off to Japan and I’m absolutely kicking myself I’m not right there beside them,” Landale wrote. “All the build up and preparation we go through as athletes just to have it yanked away 12 hours beforehand sucks.

“… Focus turns to supporting them how I can and preparing for this season with the Rockets,” Landale added.

Landale was said to be undergoing an MRI on his injured ankle on Friday. The results of that MRI and a diagnosis have yet to be reported, but hopefully the big man will be back to full health by the time the NBA season begins in October.

Here’s more from around the international basketball world:

  • Former NBA first-round pick Justin Jackson is believed to be receiving some interest from Israeli team Hapoel Tel Aviv, per a Walla Sport report (hat tip to Sportando). The veteran forward, who has played for six teams since entering the NBA as a 15th overall pick in 2017, appeared in 23 games for Boston in 2022/23. He was traded to Oklahoma City and waived in February.
  • Having signed with the Belgrade-based team KK Partizan, veteran NBA big man Frank Kaminsky noted that he has Serbian roots on his mother’s side and said that he spoke to former Hawks teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic before he agreed to join Partizan. “I called him first when the possibility arose to move to Partizan,” Kaminsky said, per Eurohoops. “He said a lot of nice things about the club and the city, which helped me make the decision to sign the contract.”
  • Appearing on the URBONUS podcast with Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com, former NBA guard Mike James confirmed that the plan is for him to remain with AS Monaco alongside new addition Kemba Walker for the 2023/24 season. James – who was rumored to be a Suns target early in the offseason – has one more season left on his contract with Monaco and sounds like he’s looking forward to exploring his options in 2024. “I think for this season, I’m here,” James said. “Free agency is the next summer and we’ll see what happens.”
  • Another former NBA guard who is playing for AS Monaco, Jordan Loyd, is expected to miss at least the next two or three months after undergoing lumbar spine surgery, tweets Urbonas.

International Notes: Embiid, Mykhailiuk, M. James, Onuaku, A. Brown

Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter audio link), Team USA managing director Grant Hill confirmed that he’s talked to Joel Embiid about the possibility of playing for the U.S. at the 2024 Olympics and will continue to pursue the Sixers center.

Embiid is a citizen of both the U.S. and France, in addition to Cameroon, so he has plenty of options if he determines he wants to compete internationally next summer. If he were to decide to play for France alongside young phenom Victor Wembanyama, it would further upgrade a squad that Hill already expects to be one of Team USA’s top competitors.

“France is a team that’s probably been our toughest opponent, at least in the last (few years),” Hill said. “They beat us in the opening game in the Olympics in ’21, and then in a very close, hard-fought win, we beat them in the gold medal game. And then you think about Wembanyama and the potential of others (joining the team)… It’s not easy.”

Here’s more from around the international basketball world:

  • Free agent wing Svi Mykhailiuk is drawing interest from Greek club Panathinaikos, according to a report from SDNA.gr (hat tip to BasketNews.com). A 2018 second-round pick who has appeared in 252 regular season NBA games over the past five seasons, Mykhailiuk is reportedly focused on finding another NBA opportunity, but if none materializes, Panathinaikos figures to be among his top suitors in Europe.
  • Veteran guard Mike James decided not to exercise the NBA opt-out clause in his contract and will remain with AS Monaco, as Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com details. James was mentioned early in the offseason as a possible Suns target and there was speculation he may opt out after Kemba Walker joined AS Monaco, but it appears he’ll stick with the team for at least one more season.
  • Big man Chinanu Onuaku and forward Anthony Brown are among the former NBA players who recently signed new contract overseas. Onuaku completed a deal with Spanish club Joventut Badalona (press release), while Brown is rejoining Turkey’s Bursaspor Basketbol (Twitter link).

International Notes: James, Walker, Brown, Chealey

Despite the impending arrival of Kemba Walker, a four-time NBA All-Star, AS Monaco has no plans to move on from former NBA point guard Mike James, writes Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.

Language in James’ contract gives him an NBA exit clause until July 25, so there was speculation that Monaco reached a deal with Walker in order to account for James’ exit. However, Urbonas suggests that Walker’s history of knee problems – which ultimately ended his All-Star prime – may be the reason the team is looking to retain James, along with perhaps the rest of its current backcourt, guards Jordan Loyd, Elie Okobo, and Matthew Strazel.

There’s more from around the international basketball world:

  • With Walker ending his 12-year NBA run for now, Jay King and Jared Weiss of The Athletic examine Kemba’s decision and what it could mean for the rest of his playing career. King notes that, though Walker’s NBA run may have come to a close, his decision to continue his career abroad speaks to his love for the game. Weiss writes that the 33-year-old is joining a really solid club, which qualified for its first-ever EuroLeague Final Four earlier this year.
  • Former NBA and G League swingman Chaundee Brown Jr. has joined French club SIG Strasbourg, reports Dario Skerletic of Sportando. The 6’5″ wing out of Michigan appeared in a grand total of five NBA contests during the 2021/22 season on a brief two-way contract with the Lakers, plus a 10-day deal with the Hawks, averaging 6.2 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 0.8 APG in 20.8 MPG. He spent 2022/23 with the Spurs’ G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs.
  • NBA veteran Joe Chealey has linked up with Israeli team Hapoel Eilat, Skerletic writes in another piece. Chealey had played on a two-way contract and some 10-day deals with the Hornets from 2018-20. The 6’1″ point guard out of the College of Charleston subsequently played with Charlotte’s G League affiliate the Greensboro Swarm, Israeli club Hapoel Gilboa Galil, and Polish team MKS Dąbrowa Górnicza.

Western FA Rumors: D-Lo, Lakers, H. Jones, Suns, Warriors

There are “strong” indications that the Lakers are trending toward a new two-year deal with free agent point guard D’Angelo Russell, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. According to Fischer, that two-year contract could be worth in the neighborhood of $40MM in total, though the second season may be a team option or non-guaranteed.

While the Lakers have interest in re-signing both Dennis Schröder and Lonnie Walker, it’s unclear which one the club is prioritizing, Fischer writes. Schröder will likely require a raise that exceeds the Non-Bird exception, so if Los Angeles uses its mid-level exception on an outside free agent, the team may have to allot its bi-annual exception to him, Fischer explains. In that scenario, it’s unclear whether the team would have enough room to re-sign Walker to a market-value deal as well while remaining below a hard cap.

Another potential path would see L.A. splits its mid-level between Schröder and a frontcourt player such as Mason Plumlee, sources tell Yahoo Sports. If Schröder doesn’t end up back with the Lakers, a reunion with Bulls coach Billy Donovan in Chicago is possible, Fischer writes. Donovan previously coached the point guard in Oklahoma City.

Finally, Fischer is one of a handful of reporters who have linked free agent forward Cam Reddish to Los Angeles. The Lakers were said to have some trade interest in Reddish – a Klutch Sports client – during each of the past two seasons. He’d be a minimum-salary target, Fischer notes.

Here are a few more free agency rumors from around the Western Conference:

  • Two forwards who had their team options declined by the Pelicans on Thursday figure to take very different paths this summer. According to Fischer, Herbert Jones will likely end up back in New Orleans on a four-year deal worth a little more than $50MM, which would presumably be his Early Bird maximum. Willy Hernangomez, on the other hand, is considered a good bet to accept a lucrative offer from a EuroLeague team rather than seeking another minimum-salary NBA deal, Fischer reports.
  • The Suns intend to bring back several of their own free agents, including Torrey Craig, Damion Lee, Jock Landale, and Josh Okogie, according to Fischer, who says agent big man Drew Eubanks is another strong candidate to end up in Phoenix. Fischer is also the latest reporter to link Yuta Watanabe and Mike James to the Suns.
  • The Lakers and Warriors are among the teams eyeing free agent guard Shake Milton, per Fischer. Free agent forward Dario Saric has also received “strong” interest from Golden State, sources tell Yahoo Sports.

Stein’s Latest: Middleton, Lopez, Crowder, VanVleet, Harden, Poeltl, Suns, Morris

The Bucks appear to be in a good position to re-sign several of their key free agents, Marc Stein writes at Substack. Stein gets the sense that Khris Middleton‘s return to Milwaukee is “all but assured,” and says Brook Lopez seems to be leaning toward remaining with the Bucks too, despite the fact that he’ll draw interest from rival suitors like the Rockets.

Interestingly, Stein hears that Milwaukee is considered increasingly likely to re-sign forward Jae Crowder as well. A trade deadline acquisition, Crowder had a forgettable postseason, scoring just seven points and missing all six of his 3-point attempts in 41 total minutes of action. However, he was effective in 18 regular season appearances for the Bucks, who gave up several second-round picks to land him.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • After he wrote earlier this week about the Rockets‘ interest in Fred VanVleet, Stein has been told by a “flurry of informants” that Houston is believed to be looking to sign the point guard to a two-year, maximum-salary contract. Such a deal would be worth just shy of $84MM based on the NBA’s latest cap projections.
  • The latest rumblings Stein has heard suggest that James Harden will likely return to the Sixers on a two- or three- year deal and that Jakob Poeltl is expected to re-sign with the Raptors for about $20MM per year, whether or not VanVleet remains in Toronto.
  • Veteran forward Yuta Watanabe and former NBA guard Mike James have been mentioned as potential targets for the Suns as they look to fill out their roster around their stars, says Stein. James, who has spent the past two seasons with AS Monaco, last played in the NBA in Brooklyn in 2021 and is close with Durant.
  • Clippers forward Marcus Morris remains on the trade block after a proposed three-team deal that would have sent him to Washington fell through last week, Stein says.

And-Ones: Trade Market, Front Offices, Coaches, EuroLeague, More

Tonight’s NBA draft lottery is highly anticipated due to the hype surrounding projected No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama. However, some league executives are more focused on the trade implications for the team that lands the top selection, noting that quality centers could be dealt to free up playing time and address other parts of the roster.

I’m as interested in what comes after the lottery as the lottery itself,” one general manager told Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “This could be a tidal wave after it gets decided.”

For example, if the Pistons land the top pick — which they have a 14% chance to do — an Eastern Conference executive speculated that Detroit could get an impressive return for Jalen Duren, who was recently named to the All-Rookie Second Team. However, it’s worth noting that the Pistons have shown no desire to move Duren to this point after trading for him during last June’s draft.

They probably could get a top-10 pick for him this year,” the executive said. “He has a lot of Robert Williams qualities, and he is like Williams because it might take a little time to polish. You can’t really play him and Wemby together, so he’d have to go. It would be crazy to see the market on him, he is still mostly upside.”

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

  • Twenty-six clubs have been eliminated from title contention, but that doesn’t mean anyone is taking time off. In an interesting article for The Athletic, former league executives Seth Partnow and John Hollinger discuss the busiest time of the year for NBA front offices — the stretch that starts with the draft combine, which is currently ongoing, and runs through the first couple weeks of free agency.
  • Three of the past four championship-winning coaches are no longer with their former teams. The recent spate of dismissals — including Nick Nurse, Mike Budenholzer, Monty Williams and Doc Rivers — has left a negative imprint on some of the longest-tenured coaches, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. “It’s disturbing,” said Erik Spoelstra, who has been the Heat’s head coach since 2008. “Doc’s a Hall of Famer. … There’s only so many teams that can advance. It’s just a really hard thing to do. Yeah, it’s been a tough couple weeks, hearing the news of just some really surprising firings.”
  • The All-EuroLeague First and Second Teams were recently announced (Twitter links), and several former NBA players made the cut. The First Team features Walter Tavares, Mathias Lessort, Lorenzo Brown, Sasha Vezenkov and Dzanan Musa, while Darius Thompson, Kevin Punter, Nikola Mirotic, Wade Baldwin and Mike James comprise the Second Team. A recent rumor indicated that Vezenkov, whose NBA rights are controlled by the Kings, is seriously mulling the possibility of coming stateside and making his debut next season.
  • Leonard Solms at ESPN.com profiles Samkelo Cele, who is hoping to become the second South African-born player to reach the NBA (the first was Steve Nash). Cele is currently competing in the Basketball Africa League.

And-Ones: Muhammad, Musa, James, Grant

29-year-old former 2013 NBA lottery pick Shabazz Muhammad is hoping to return to the NBA after spending the past four seasons abroad, writes Dana O’Neil of The Athletic. Muhammad indicates that he has worked out for the Kings and has received interest from the Mavericks.

Muhammad was selected with the No. 14 pick out of UCLA in 2013 and spent the majority of his NBA tenure with the Timberwolves. After Minnesota waived him in the spring of 2018, he latched on with the Bucks. Since then, he has suited up for a pair of CBA clubs, the Shanxi Brave Dragons and the Shenzhen Aviators. During the 2021/22 season, Muhammad played briefly with the Nuggets’ NBAGL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold. He next joined the San Miguel Beermen of the Phillippine Basketball Association.

“It was a big adjustment,’’ Muhammad said of his time abroad. “The language barrier — I needed a translator to talk to my teammates — the food. I got down on myself.’’

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

  • Former Nets small forward Dzanan Musa has inked a deal with top EuroLeague power Real Madrid, according to Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. The 6’9″ wing, still just 23, was selected with the No. 29 pick by Brooklyn in 2018. From 2018-20, he appeared in a total of 49 games for the Nets, averaging 4.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG and 1.1 APG while shooting 37.6% from the floor. Musa spent the 2021/22 season with another Spanish team, Club Baloncesto Breogán, for whom he averaged 20.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 3.1 APG.
  • Another recent Net, point guard Mike James, has opted to re-sign with AS Monaco on a two-year deal, according to Eurohoops. James, 31, was named to the All-EuroLeague First Team during his 2021/22 season with AS Monaco, averaging 16.4 PPG, 5.7 APG and 3.4 RPG. The 6’1″ James last suited up in 13 games for the Nets during the 2020/21 season, averaging 7.7 PPG, 4.2 APG and 2.5 RPG across 18.2 MPG.
  • Former NBA reserve guard Jerian Grant has signed with the Turkish club Turk Telekom, per Eurohoops. Grant, now 29, was selected with the No. 19 pick out of Notre Dame in 2015, and logged time with the Knicks, Bulls, and Magic, before landing with the Wizards for his last NBA season, 2019/20. The 6’4″ vet holds career NBA averages of 6.1 PPG, 2.9 APG, 1.9 RPG and 0.7 SPG across 279 games. Grant spent the 2021/22 season with Italian EuroLeague club Olimpia Milano. During his games played within the Italian League, he averaged 7.4 PPG 2.7 APG and 1.9 RPG.

New York Notes: Nets, M. James, Knicks, Workouts

After playing with the Nets down the stretch in the 2020/21 season, veteran guard Mike James is interested in returning to Brooklyn, a league insider tells NetsDaily. James remains close with star forward Kevin Durant, who traveled to Europe to watch his former teammate play in the EuroLeague this spring.

With Kyrie Irving, Patty Mills, and Goran Dragic all eligible for free agency, the Nets’ backcourt could undergo some changes this offseason, so a reunion with James isn’t out of the question. The team still controls his Non-Bird rights and could offer him either a minimum-salary deal or something slightly above it.

Still, it’s unclear whether the Nets have interest in bringing back James, who threw some cold water on NetsDaily’s report himself in a reply on Twitter.

“(I don’t know) how to even take this rumor,” James wrote. “Would I like to play alongside my friend Kevin? Yes. But I’d also like to play alongside my 10 other of my close friends. Some play in the NBA, Europe and some don’t play professional.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two New York teams:

  • The Knicks worked out a handful of possible lottery targets on Monday. In addition to TyTy Washington, G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels and Ohio State wing Malaki Branham were also in town to audition for the team, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic and Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter links).
  • Memphis forward Josh Minott, viewed as a probable second-round pick, also worked out for the Knicks on Monday, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com.
  • Memphis shooting guard Lester Quinones is working out for the Knicks on Tuesday and the Nets on Thursday, a source tells Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com (Twitter link). Quinones has previously worked out for the Warriors and Lakers, among other teams.
  • Notre Dame forward Paul Atkinson, the 2020 Ivy League Player of the Year at Yale, will work out on Tuesday for the Nets, tweets Zagoria.
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic explores several hypothetical scenarios in which the Knicks trade up from No. 11, weighing how many assets they’d have to give up and whether their potential trade partners would have legitimate interest.