Pooh Jeter

Trail Blazers Notes: Henderson, Ayton, Camara, Simons

The Trail Blazers have put together a support staff designed to help Scoot Henderson get the most out of his unique talents, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape.

Head coach Chauncey Billups was an NBA point guard for 17 seasons and succeeded at the highest level, earning five All-Star appearances and being named NBA Finals MVP in 2004. His coaching staff includes Scott Brooks, who played point guard for 10 years and helped to develop Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, and Pooh Jeter, Henderson’s former G League Ignite teammate. Portland also traded for Malcolm Brogdon, who quickly became a mentor to the 19-year-old rookie.

“Support is everything, especially from the coaching staff,” Henderson said. “That is huge, knowing they have your back. Everyone in the Portland organization, the coaching staff, everybody behind the scenes, they are pitching a lot into the players. The doctors and medical staff are pitching in a certain way you may not think they would. But I’m watching, observing. … I’m going to take the pressure all on me. But knowing that I have the confidence from the coaching staff, I’m going to respect them a lot more.”

Spears notes that Billups can empathize with Henderson because that level of support wasn’t in place for him when he entered the NBA as the No. 3 overall pick in 1997. He was traded midway through his first season and was on his fifth team by the time he developed into a star in Detroit.

“One of the main things I told (Henderson) was, ‘I’m going to be for you what I needed at this age,’” Billups said. “I needed somebody that knew what I should be doing. I needed somebody that could help me learn the game. I didn’t have that. Somebody that was going to be patient with me, knowing that there’s going to be some nasty, ugly games. Someone that was going to be patient, that understood it. I didn’t have that.”

There’s more from Portland:

  • Deandre Ayton is hoping for a larger role in the offense after being acquired from Phoenix, and Billups seems willing to grant him the opportunity, tweets Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I’m going to give him the responsibility to do more,” Billups said, “but it’s all going to be based on his commitment level and what he wants to do.”
  • Toumani Camara, who was also part of the Suns trade, has been among the surprises of camp, according to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter link). The rookie power forward, who got a chance to start Monday, is averaging 6.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in four preseason games. “He’s been such a pleasant surprise for all of us,” Billups said. “He’s just my type of guy, man. He just competes on every play, he’s tough, he’s aggressive. … He has confidence out there. I just love everything about Toumani, man.”
  • Anfernee Simons told Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report that his goals for this season include making the All-Star team and getting rid of his “bad defender” label (Twitter link).

Northwest Notes: Timberwolves, Jazz, Nurkic, Trail Blazers

After mortgaging much of their future in the hopes of improving their present, the Timberwolves finished the 2022/23 season with a middling record and a first-round playoff exit. Now, the team faces questions about its roster ahead of an uncertain offseason, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune.

Rand wonders how Minnesota will deal with the NBA’s impending CBA, which will impose significant restrictions on big-spending teams. Paying three players on maximum salaries could severely limit the Wolves’ ability to build around those players, and it remains unclear just how well Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert and the extension-eligible Anthony Edwards fit together. Rand also wonders if Gobert can improve next season, how good the team as currently comprised can realistically be, and more.

Bobby Marks of ESPN spoke with Rand on The Star Tribune’s Daily Delivery podcast about Minnesota’s outlook.

“You have one of the top wings in the NBA on your roster [in Edwards], and there’s still a huge upside to him,” Marks said. “You have a very trade-able player in Karl if you ever wanted to pivot. You have one of the better defenders in the league in [Jaden] McDaniels… The downside is that you’ve boxed yourself into a corner a little bit.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz have a fascinating team with some intriguing young players, as well as a cadre of future draft picks. In a lengthy new piece, Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (subscriber link) breaks down several star trade options the team could consider to surround incumbent All-Star power forward Lauri Markkanen. Walden floats Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine, Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic, and Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr. as potential targets.
  • If the Trail Blazers ultimately opt to trade All-Star point guard Damian Lillard, executives believe Portland would also want to attach center Jusuf Nurkic in a deal, per Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Nurkic is currently in the second season of a four-year, $70MM contract with the club. “I would not say it would be a package deal or anything like that,” an Eastern Conference GM told Deveney. “But Portland is going to prefer where they can trade Dame and say, ‘Here’s Nurk, too.’ … Put (Nurkic) into a deal and you have some more flexibility in terms of what you’re getting back, and you can get yourself really set up for rebuilding.”
  • The Trail Blazers have made some new hires in the front office of their new, as-yet-unnamed G League affiliate club, the team has announced in a press statement. Longtime Portland executive Danny Connors is the club’s new GM, while former University of Portland standout Pooh Jeter will work under him as the assistant GM.

Western Notes: CP3, LeBron, Mavs, Jeter, Blazers

The Suns “would like to find a way to financially keep Chris Paul” on their roster, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on NBA Countdown (Twitter video link).

That said, if Phoenix is unable to find a better alternative and winds up releasing Paul, the longtime veteran would be “very coveted” on the open market, Wojnarowski says. Woj names the Lakers and Clippers as two teams that would be interested in Paul’s services, noting that the veteran point guard lives in Los Angeles in the offseason.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated speculates (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies, Celtics and Heat could be among the other teams calling Paul’s agents if he hits unrestricted free agency.

Here’s more from the Western Conference

  • LeBron James hinted at retirement after the Lakers were swept by the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals. NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whom James passed this season to become the league’s all-time leading scorer, recently touched on the possibility of James retiring, as Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes. “At the end of the year, after all that, LeBron and most of the guys looked like they’d been through two seasons, you know? But they still gave it an awesome effort,” Abdul-Jabbar said Monday. “I think it’s up to him. Certainly doesn’t have to prove anything. And it’s just what he wants to do at this point.”
  • Kyrie Irving reportedly wants the Mavericks to pursue James, but that’s certainly far-fetched. Even if they could pull it off, Tim Cato of The Athletic argues that adding James wouldn’t make the Mavs a title contender, as having three players on max (or near max) deals while trading away all their remaining assets would make it incredibly difficult to build out the rest of the roster. Cato also notes that James’ defensive effort comes and goes at this stage of his career and he isn’t a reliable spot-up shooter to complement Luka Doncic.
  • Former NBA guard Pooh Jeter is retiring as a player, reports Marc J. Spears of Andscape (via Twitter). Jeter played for the G League Ignite this past season and mentored Scoot Henderson. The 39-year-old has already found a new gig, reaching an agreement in principle to become an assistant GM for the Trail Blazers‘ new G League affiliate. Jeter will also serve as a player development coach for the Blazers, according to Spears.

Amir Johnson, Pooh Jeter Among G League Ignite Vets For 2021/22

Big men Amir Johnson and Jessie Govan are returning to the G League Ignite for a second season, and they’ll be joined by forward Malik Pope and guards Dakarai Allen, Amauri Hardy, and Pooh Jeter, our JD Shaw relays (via Twitter).

The Ignite is the G League’s developmental program for top prospects, but those young players are complemented by a handful of NBA and NBAGL vets who fill out the roster and serve as mentors.

Among this year’s group, Johnson is the only one with extensive NBA experience, having appeared in 870 total games for the Pistons, Raptors, Celtics, and Sixers from 2005-19. He averaged 8.5 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 15 games (13.3 MPG) for the Ignite last season.

Jeter, who will turn 38 in December, played in 62 games for Sacramento back in 2010/11, but has spent most of his professional career overseas.

Allen and Pope, who went undrafted out of San Diego State in 2017 and 2018, respectively, have multiple years of G League experience between them, and Pope has also played in Greece and Germany as well.

Hardy, meanwhile, went undrafted out of Oregon earlier this year and presumably earned a spot on the team in large part because his brother Jaden Hardy, a projected top-five pick in 2022, is the Ignite’s top recruit this year.

Besides Jaden Hardy, who is ESPN’s No. 3 ranked prospect for the 2022 draft, the Ignite roster features Dyson Daniels (No. 16), Michael Foster (No. 31), MarJon Beauchamp (No. 53), Chinese forward Fanbo Zeng (not in ESPN’s top 100), and 17-year-old Scoot Henderson (not draft-eligible until 2023). ESPN’s Mike Schmitz (Insider link) shared his thoughts on this year’s roster ahead of the Ignite’s preseason debut on Friday night vs. Iowa.

The Ignite won’t be part of the standard G League regular season that runs from December to April, but the club will compete in the NBAGL’s inaugural “Showcase Cup,” a tournament which tips off on November 5 and ends just before Christmas.

International Notes: Bogut, France, Slovenia, Jeter

Former NBA center Andrew Bogut says players in Australia’s NBL were “used like pawns” in the league finals, according to an Associated Press report. His team, the Sydney Kings refused to fly across the country for Game 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Their opponent, Perth, had a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series and was eventually awarded the title.  Travel restrictions were coming into effect across Australia when the Kings decided against taking the flight. “It’s something the NBL needs to learn from,” he said. “The disappointing thing is that it was left up to the players to decide.”

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The French LNB plans to complete its season when the pandemic subsides, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The LNB is evaluating several different formats if the season resumes, Lupo adds.
  • The Dutch Basketball League Eredivisie has decided to cancel the rest of the season and the Slovenian league has taken the same action. Neither league will crown a champion, according to the two posts from Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia.
  • Former NBA guard Pooh Jeter has returned to China and is eager to play again next month, he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated. Jeter has played there for eight years and is under quarantine there after flying back from the U.S. “It will definitely be exciting to play again,” he said. “I know China. And China definitely wanted to show it did things the right way.”

Xavier Munford, Bobby Brown Expected To Play In China

A pair of players who logged NBA minutes last season are expected to sign with teams in China, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. According to Carchia, former Bucks guard Xavier Munford is set to sign with Fujian to replace Eugene “Pooh” Jeter, while Bobby Brown will likely sign with Shanxi to replace Josh Adams.

Munford, 26, was a two-way player for Milwaukee last season, but only appeared in six games for the Bucks. He was impressive in the G League, averaging 24.4 PPG and 5.2 APG on .509/.444/.747 shooting in 34 games for the Wisconsin Herd. That performance earned him a two-way qualifying offer in June, but the Bucks withdrew that QO in September, making him an unrestricted free agent.

As for Brown, he signed a deal earlier this month with KK Mornar Bar to play in Montenegro. However, as Carchia notes, that agreement included an exit clause, which Brown is expected to take advantage of to make the move to China.

Brown, a former Cal State Fullerton standout, appeared in 25 games for the Rockets in 2016/17 and 20 more in 2017/18. The 34-year-old played a limited role for the club, averaging 2.5 PPG and 0.6 APG in just 5.3 minutes per contest. He finished last season playing for Olympiacos in Greece after being cut by Houston in February.

And-Ones: Rush, Jeter, Terry, Wizards

After a difficult 2013/14 season in which he was granted sporadic playing time while returning from knee surgery in Utah, Brandon Rush tells Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle that he’s feeling positive about his upcoming season with the Warriors. “This is a great situation for me to be able to come back and to be with a winning team,” said Rush. “I’m just going to try to help the team out with little things: rebounding, shooting and playing defense. I’m in a good mood. My head is in on straight. I’m happy with where I’m at…Coming back [to Golden State] was a no-brainer.” Here’s more from around the league:

  • Pooh Jeter has no intentions of leaving his Chinese team, despite having a workout lined up with the Lakers, as he tells Hupu (translation via Enea Trapani of Sportando).
  • Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders expects the deal in place between the Rockets and Kings, which will send Jason Terry to Houston and Alonzo Gee and Scotty Hopson to Sacramento, will finally transpire within the next 24 hours (Twitter link). Pincus does not expect the Kings to retain either Gee or Hopson, whose contracts are non-guaranteed. The teams initially struck an unofficial agreement on August 31.
  • The Wizards are still working out additional players to bring to camp, tweets J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Washington will have 16 of the maximum 20 contracts on the books for training camp after the new additions of Xavier Silas and Damion James.
  • Brett Koremenos of RealGM looks at the careers of Milos Teodosic, Ante Tomic, and Emir Preldzic, three players caught in the “limbo” between European starring roles and NBA backup spots. While these players shine in international play, their advanced age, on-court shortcomings, and comfort level overseas are barriers to their likehood of signing in the NBA.

Lakers Work Out Five Players

The Lakers held workouts this past Wednesday for five players, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports (Twitter link). Displaying their wares in Los Angeles were Pooh Jeter, Ronnie Price, Wayne Ellington, Jeremy Tyler, and James Nunnally, according to Carchia’s sources. The Lakers currently have 15 players on their pre-season roster, with 13 of those contracts being guaranteed.

The 5’11”, thirty year-old Jeter, played one season in the NBA with the Kings back in 2010/11, and he averaged 4.1 PPG and 2.6 APG. Jeter was reportedly drawing interest from some NBA teams back in March of this year for a possible 10-day contract. With Steve Nash‘s health a question, the team could be looking to add another body behind Jeremy Lin, Roscoe Smith, and Jordan Clarkson.

Price also falls into this possibility, and the 6’2″, thirty-one year-old would provide a bit more NBA experience than Jeter. Price has been in the league for nine seasons, and has career averages of 3.4 PPG, 1.1 RPG, and 1.5 APG. He spent last season with the Magic, and was waived by Orlando in July just prior to his salary becoming guaranteed.

Ellington would provide depth behind Kobe Bryant and compete with Xavier Henry for backup duties. The 6’4″, twenty-six year-old has career numbers of 6.4 PPG, 1.8 RPG, and 1.0 APG. Ellington has been involved in two trades this offseason, and was waived by the Kings last week. Ellington would provide more upside than Jeter or Price, but he hasn’t shown he is capable of handling primary ball-handling duties, which might be a more pressing need for the Lakers.

Tyler, who was also a part of one of the deals involving Ellington, and Nunnally would bolster the Lakers frontcourt. Tyler is more of a power forward than a center, which is already a crowded position with Carlos Boozer, Julius Randle, Ed Davis, and Ryan Kelly being on the roster. This would make Nunnally more of a fit backing up Nick Young and Wesley Johnson at small forward. Nunnally also can man the power forward position if needed, which might give him an edge, despite Tyler’s high upside.

And-Ones: Lottery, Jeter, Nash

With teams starting to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, more and more focus will be given to the talk about franchises “tanking” for a better lottery pick. Commissioner Adam Silver has denied that teams are losing on purpose, but that hasn’t quieted the chatter. There has been some talk of changing how the league determines draft order to combat this, but Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post doesn’t think the current system needs to be altered. Dempsey cites the fact that the team with the worst overall record rarely gets the top pick. In fact, since the lottery system began in 1985 only four teams have secured the first-overall pick, and none since 2004 when the Magic won the lottery and selected Dwight Howard. Dempsey also opines that losing now to try to secure a brighter future is a smart move, not one to be condemned.

More from around the league:

International Notes: Saric, Ajinca, Jeter

Earlier today, we learned that former No. 6 overall pick Yi Jianlian agreed to a new two-year deal in the Chinese Basketball Association that, somewhat surprisngly, does not include an NBA out clause.  Jianlian’s first go-round in the NBA was far from dazzling, but he looked rather strong last season in the CBA and had some wondering if he turned a corner in his professional career.  Here’s more from around the globe..

  • In a piece for ESPN.com, Mark Woods spoke with Dario Saric, who pulled out of this year’s draft despite being ticketed for a first-round selection.  Scouts who have watched him play over the last couple of seasons say that he is as close to a can’t-miss prospect as there is, but Saric says that he withdrew his name based on his own assessment of his readiness.
  • Big man Alexis Ajinca says his contract with Strasbourg of the French League still includes an NBA out clause and his agent is looking at options in the NBA, according to HoopsHype (via Twitter).  Ajinca, taken 20th overall by the Bobcats in the 2008 Draft, says that he wasn’t mentally or physicially ready for the challenge of the NBA but believes that he’ll return (Twitter links).  The 25-year-old is doing well at the Eurobasket, averaging 10.7 PPG and 6.9 RPG in less than 20 minutes per contest.
  • Guard Pooh Jeter, currently playing in Ukraine, still hopes to return to the NBA, writes Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype.  Jeter, 29, spent the 2010/11 season with the Kings, averaging 4.1 PPG and 2.6 RPG in less than 14 minutes per game.
  • If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Hoops Rumors’ International Player Movement Tracker.