Quincy Pondexter

Lance Stephenson Among NBA Vets Eligible For G League Draft

As previously reported, the NBA G League’s 2020/21 draft will take place on Monday, January 11. And according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter links), there will be some interesting names on the list of players eligible to be selected in that draft.

Veteran swingman Lance Stephenson, former No. 2 overall pick Emeka Okafor, and other recent NBA players like Justin Patton, Jacob Evans, Dzanan Musa, and Admiral Schofield will be part of the draft pool, per Givony. Former first-round picks Terrence Jones and Shabazz Muhammad will be draft-eligible as well.

According to Givony, the following players who have been on NBA rosters in the past are also among the G League’s other draft-eligible veterans: Kenny Wooten, Antonio Blakeney, Tyler Ulis, Quincy Pondexter, Diamond Stone, Hollis Thompson, Cat Barber, Isaiah Briscoe, Phil Booth, Dusty Hannahs, Jemerrio Jones, Cory Jefferson, and Freddie Gillespie.

These, presumably, are players who have signed G League contracts but whose rights aren’t currently held by any teams. A player whose returning rights are controlled by a club participating in the G League’s bubble season wouldn’t be eligible to be drafted.

For instance, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that LiAngelo Ball has signed a contract to play in the bubble. Since the Oklahoma City Blue hold his returning rights and are playing in the bubble, Ball shouldn’t be in the general draft pool.

The Blue are one of 18 teams set to participate in the shortened bubble season, which is expected to take place at Walt Disney World. That list of teams can be found right here.

Givony previously reported that the G League is adjusting its roster rules for this season to make it easier for NBA teams to recruit and sign veterans with five or more years of NBA experience. Each NBAGL team will be able to designate an “NBA Vet Selection” who fits that bill and can sign that player directly without navigating the league’s complicated waiver process. My understanding is that those designated won’t be in the draft pool.

Quincy Pondexter Excited For Future In Coaching

In a conversation with Jabari Young of The Athletic, former Spurs swingman and NBA veteran Quincy Pondexter reveals his post-playing career goal of becoming a head coach in the NBA, an aspiration that the 31-year-old is already working toward every day.

“One day,” Pondexter said, “I want to be the man on the sideline that not only has a positive influence but a helluva coach. And someone that gets wins.”

According to Young, Pondexter’s urge to become a head coach started a few years ago, in 2015, when he started an AAU program known as California United. He struggled to find a coach to enact his vision, so he decided to take on the responsibility of coaching the team himself.

“I wanted to make sure it was done the right way,” Pondexter recalled. “I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to do it because I don’t trust other people.'”

Pondexter gathered a group of close friends to assist with the team but ended up funding all travel, boarding, and food himself. The money he had, but the time he needed to put in and the issues he needed to overcome in order to be successful was something that he learned throughout the process.

“There is so much you have to deal with,” Pondexter said, “and that is a lot of kids that you’re responsible for, but it’s a great honor to be trusted with that.”

Pondexter remains an unrestricted free agent, though he still hopes to land a deal with a team that would give him the opportunity to play “meaningful minutes.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southwest Division:

DeAndre Jordan, Mavericks, 30, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $24.1MM deal in 2018
Jordan has pretty much done his usual thing in his first season with Dallas, ranking second in the league in rebounding and anchoring the defense. One troubling development is his penchant for turnovers — he’s averaging a career-worst 2.4 per game. The one other surprising development is a plus — the career 45.9% free throw shooter has drained 70.3% of his attempts. The always durable Jordan has also answered the bell every game. Early concerns about about “selfish” play have somewhat dissipated. Dallas may not re-sign him but someone will give him another big contract this summer.

Austin Rivers, Rockets, 26, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1.15MM deal in 2018
The above salary number doesn’t reflect what Rivers is actually making this season, as the Suns bought out his contract after he was traded from the Wizards. He had a $12.6MM salary in the final year of a four-season contract and only gave back $650K. The decision to hook on with the Rockets after he cleared waivers has been good for both parties. With Chris Paul sidelined, Rivers has averaged 12.3 PPG and 3.1 APG in 38.5 MPG in his first eight outings with a championship contender. Still in his prime, Rivers should be able to land a multi-year deal this summer.

Ivan Rabb, Grizzlies, 21, PF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $2.3MM deal in 2017
An early second-rounder in 2017, Rabb has been a force in a handful of G League games, averaging 23.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG. That hasn’t translated into NBA playing time. He hasn’t played meaningful minutes in 14 games with the Grizzlies. Interior defensive issues and the lack of 3-point shot are the main reason why the athletic big man hasn’t carved out a role. Unless they’re convinced he can improve those areas, the Grizzlies will likely cut ties with him after the season.

Darius Miller, Pelicans, 28, SF (Down) — Signed to a two-year, $4.3MM deal in 2017
Miller receives lots of playing time but his offensive contributions boil down to an occasional 3-point attempt. To be fair, Miller is the No. 5 option when he’s on the floor and he’s an above-average long-range shooter (38.7 percent). His defensive metrics are subpar, which partially explains his paltry 8.42 PER, so the 3-and-D tag doesn’t necessarily fit. Miller’s 3-point shooting could be enough to land him a veteran’s minimum deal or something slightly higher next summer but there’s no big payday ahead.

Quincy Pondexter, Spurs, 30, SF (Down)– Signed to a one-year, $2.16MM deal in 2018
Pondexter remained on the roster past January 10th, fully guaranteeing his salary for this season. Pondexter, whose career has been sidetracked by knee injuries, has been praised as a positive locker room influence but he hasn’t contributed much on the court. He’s appeared in 31 games but averaged just 5.9 MPG with a majority of his playing time coming in blowouts. Pondexter will likely struggle to find another veteran’s minimum deal in the summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texas Notes: Doncic, Pondexter, Spurs, Bzdelik

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, the early-season favorite for Rookie of the Year, hasn’t needed time to adjust to the NBA game, writes Martin Rogers of USA Today. Unlike past European stars who have struggled with the faster pace, Doncic has made an impact right away, averaging 19.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in his first three weeks in the NBA.

Teammate Dirk Nowitzki, who made the same transition 20 years ago, believes Doncic has benefited from rules changes that limit the amount of contact by defenses.

“The game is easier to adjust to now than it was 10 years ago,” Nowitzki said. “It is less physical and more free flowing, so everything is set up for him to succeed and do well.”

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Veteran swingman Quincy Pondexter has a “50-50” shot at staying on the Spurs‘ roster for the entire season, according to Jabari Young of The Athletic. Pondexter, who signed with San Antonio in August, is the only player on the team without a guaranteed contract. He has appeared in six games and is only playing 7.5 minutes per night, but has been a positive influence in the locker room. Young believes his fate will depend on whether the Spurs decide they want to sign someone who has been bought out.
  • The Spurs plan to scout several players before filling their second two-way slot, Young adds in the same story. San Antonio gave one spot to Drew Eubanks shortly before camp opened, but has been keeping the other one vacant. Young doesn’t believe its being held for injured forward Josh Huestis, formerly of the Thunder, who is now with the Spurs’ G League affiliate in Austin.
  • The Rockets opted to keep the same defensive philosophy as last season despite a change in personnel and are bringing back associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik to try to make it work, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Bzdelik, who installed the switching-heavy approach that took Houston to within a game of the NBA Finals, announced his retirement shortly before the start of training camp. However, team officials convinced him to return and he plans to rejoin the Rockets at the end of this month.

Southwest Notes: Gentile, Pondexter, Jordan, Mavs

Last week, we noted that an entry in the NBA’s transactions log indicated that the Rockets had waived draft-and-stash prospect Alessandro Gentile. The move came as a surprise, considering we heard last month that he wasn’t attending camp with Houston, and the team never announced his signing.

Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle provides some clarity on the situation, tweeting that Gentile signed his required non-guaranteed tender offer with the Rockets, who immediately (and quietly) waived him. Gentile isn’t in the club’s plans, Feigen adds. Based on the pair of transactions, the Italian swingman, who was the 53rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, is free to sign with any NBA team in the future, though he’ll likely continue to play overseas for now.

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • After battling a life-threatening infection following a series of knee surgeries, Quincy Pondexter isn’t stressing his precarious hold on a Spurs roster spot, recognizing that it’s not exactly a life-and-death situation. Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News has the story, along with the quotes from Pondexter. The veteran is the only player on San Antonio’s 15-man roster without a guaranteed contract, so he may be the odd man out if the club decides to add point guard depth.
  • The Mavericks haven’t had a reliable and productive starting center since Tyson Chandler manned the middle for the 2011 championship squad, so the club is understandable excited about seeing DeAndre Jordan in action this season, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com. Still, there’s no guarantee that Jordan will remain in Dallas for longer than one year. A handful of Dallas Morning News scribes, including Eddie Sefko and Brad Townsend, provide their thoughts on Jordan’s potential future with the Mavs.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. is just 20 years old and is entering his second NBA season, but he has already showed leadership qualities, as Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle details. “When he talks, people listen,” Carlisle said of Smith, per Sefko. “He’s not a guy that’s going to give you a lot of unnecessary constant chatter. But he understands when to step forward and be strong as a leader verbally.”

Spurs’ Lonnie Walker IV To Undergo Knee Surgery

Spurs first-round pick Lonnie Walker IV will undergo surgery on Monday to repair a right medial meniscus tear, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The injury was suffered during the fourth quarter of San Antonio’s preseason victory over the Pistons on Friday.

The early timeframe for Walker’s recovery is 6-to-8 weeks, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Walker was expected to play a key bench role at small forward behind Rudy Gay. His injury, at least in the short run, opens up playing time for veterans  Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter.

Walker was the 18th overall pick in the draft.

Spurs Sign Quincy Pondexter

AUGUST 29: The Spurs have officially signed Pondexter, the team announced today in a press release.

AUGUST 27: Free agent wing Quincy Pondexter has agreed to a one-year contract with the Spurs, ESPN’s Chris Haynes tweets. It’s a partially-guaranteed deal, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets.

Pondexter will essentially take the roster spot, and perhaps the role, of Manu Ginobili after the long-time Spur announced his retirement on Monday. He’ll likely compete for minutes at small forward with rookie Lonnie Walker and Dante Cunningham behind Rudy Gay.

The 6’7” Pondexter, 30, played 23 games with the Bulls last season, including a start. He averaged 2.0 PPG in 8.5 MPG and was waived at the beginning of February after the Nikola Mirotic deal with the Pelicans.

Pondexter started his career with the New Orleans franchise in 2010, then played for the Grizzlies the next 3 1/2 seasons before returning to the Pelicans for half a season.

For his career, Pondexter has averaged 5.0 PPG in 17.3 MPG over 302 appearances. He’s a career 35.7% shooter from long range, though he shot an icy 13.6% in limited action last season.

Pelicans Acquire Nikola Mirotic From Bulls

The Pelicans and Bulls have finalized a trade that sends forward Nikola Mirotic to New Orleans, with both clubs confirming via press releases that the deal is official. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) first reported that the Pelicans and Bulls had reached an agreement in principle.Mirotic vertical

The two teams appeared to be on the verge of a trade earlier this week, but hit a roadblock in the form of Mirotic’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19. The veteran forward, who had veto rights unless that option was exercised, wanted New Orleans to pick it up, but the Pelicans were initially unwilling to do so due to concerns about their ability to retain Mirotic and re-sign DeMarcus Cousins without going into luxury tax territory.

The Pelicans have now guaranteed Mirotic’s $12.5MM salary for next season, which clinched the deal, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Omer Asik and a future first-round pick are headed to Chicago, as was the case in the initial agreement.

New Orleans needed to include at least one more salary to stay under a hard cap, so Tony Allen heads to Chicago too, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Allen will likely be waived by the Bulls, Woj tweets.

The Pelicans will open one extra roster spot by also adding Jameer Nelson to the trade, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Nelson may also be cut, but it probably won’t happen immediately, per Johnson, who tweets that the point guard’s future is unclear. Paxson said that there is a week left until the trade deadline so the Bulls still have time to decide on waiving players, Johnson tweets.

In order to complete a three-for-one deal, the Bulls will have to open up a roster spot, since they currently only have a single opening. Quincy Pondexter looks like the strongest candidate to be waived.

[RELATED: Bulls to waive Pondexter]

Speaking of Pondexter, according to Johnson (Twitter link), the Bulls will also be returning the Pelicans’ own 2018 second-round pick to New Orleans after initially acquiring it in a September trade that landed Pondexter in Chicago. That pick served as an incentive to convince the Pelicans to exercise Mirotic’s second-year team option, Johnson notes (via Twitter).

The first-round pick the Bulls are getting in the swap will be the Pelicans’ 2018 first-rounder, and it will have “minimal” protections, tweets Wojnarowski. TNT’s David Aldridge clarifies (via Twitter) that it’ll be top-five protected this year, while Johnson tweets that it’ll be top-eight protected in 2019. Finally, Woj adds that there will be a pick-swapping option in the 2021 draft, with the Bulls having the opportunity to swap their second-round pick for the Pelicans’ second-rounder.

“The draft asset we acquired was far and away the best thing we had got (in talks),” Bulls executive vice president John Paxson said to reporters, including Johnson. “It’s consistent with the direction and plan we talked about this summer.”

Mirotic, who has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the 2017/18 campaign, was sidelined with facial injuries to start the season after being punched by teammate Bobby Portis during an altercation in practice. Mirotic’s camp reportedly issued an ultimatum in the fall in an effort to get the Bulls to trade either Mirotic or Portis, but the power forwards were willing to bury the hatchet and coexist on the court when Mirotic got healthy.

Since returning to action, Mirotic has enjoyed the most productive year of his NBA career, averaging 16.8 PPG and 6.4 RPG to go along with a .474/.429/.823 shooting line. All of those numbers are career highs. Despite his solid play and the club’s improved record, Mirotic was still said to prefer a trade out of Chicago, and was pulled out of action this week as the Bulls attempted to finalize a deal.

As the Bulls explored the market for Mirotic, the Jazz and Pistons were cited most frequently as potential trade partners. However, Detroit landed a bigger fish on Monday, acquiring Blake Griffin from the Clippers, and Utah was reportedly unwilling to include a first-round pick in an offer for the stretch four.

The Bulls, who were said to be seeking a first-rounder for Mirotic all along, will get that pick from the Pelicans, though they’ll have to give up a second-rounder and take on an unwanted contract in the process. Asik, a former Bull, is earning about $10.6MM this season, with a guaranteed salary worth $11.29MM in 2018/19. The veteran center has one more year on his deal in 2019/20, but it’s only partially guaranteed for $3MM. Allen and Nelson are on expiring minimum salaries, so they won’t have any impact on the cap beyond this season.

As for the Pelicans, they’re set to fill the lineup hole created when Cousins went down on Friday with a season-ending Achilles injury, and they may not be done adding frontcourt help. New Orleans has been strongly linked to Greg Monroe, who is being bought out by the Suns, and Scott Kushner of The Advocate tweets that the acquisition of Mirotic won’t adversely affect the club’s pursuit of Monroe. In fact, by clearing a little salary and opening up a pair of roster spots in this deal, adding Monroe may be even more viable for the Pelicans, who have room to add two players on minimum salaries, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link) — still, the team may not be able to offer him as significant a role with Mirotic now in the mix.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Waive Quincy Pondexter

5:13pm: With the Nikola Mirotic trade now official, Pondexter has formally been waived.

12:57pm: The Bulls intend to waive veteran sharpshooter Quincy Pondexter, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The move will clear a second roster spot for Chicago, allowing the team to accommodate the incoming players in a three-for-one trade with the Pelicans.

[RELATED: Bulls to trade Nikola Mirotic to Pelicans]

Pondexter, who will turn 30 in March, missed the last two NBA seasons while dealing with health problems that were viewed as potentially life-threatening. However, he was able to get back on the court this season, playing for the Bulls after a September salary-dump trade sent him from New Orleans to Chicago.

Although Pondexter has been able to play again, he hasn’t been his old self — in 23 games (8.5 MPG) for the Bulls, he has averaged just 2.0 PPG with a dismal .286/.136/.824 shooting line. Coming into 2017/18, he owned a career .424 FG% and .365 3PT%.

Pondexter’s $3,853,931 salary will remain on the Bulls’ cap for this season, but that’s not of major concern to the franchise, since team salary remains below the minimum floor for 2017/18. Pondexter’s contract expires at season’s end, so Chicago won’t be on the hook for any future salary.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Chicago Bulls

After navigating the drama of last season and coming out in a solid position, the Bulls will need to do everything they can to keep the momentum of their rebuild rolling.

The club has shown glimpses of being a competent squad at times this season, with a number of intriguing assets already on the roster. However, nobody would bat an eye if the Bulls end up bottoming out with a solid pick in the lottery.

Much of Chicago’s long-term success will come down to the eventual growth of players like Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, but don’t think that the forthcoming free agency period won’t represent its own opportunities for progress.

Zach LaVine, SG, 23 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $9.6MM deal in 2014
It’s hard to believe that LaVine is still so young considering how long he’s been in the league. This summer he’ll hit the market as a restricted free agent following a torn ACL that sidelined him for parts of each of the past two seasons. That’s good news and bad news for Chicago. Like the rest of us, the Bulls are intrigued by LaVine’s ceiling and an abbreviated campaign isn’t enough to base such an important long-term decision on. That said, other teams will have even less to base a substantial offer on. Given the uncertainty around his health and even his ability to be a primary offensive weapon, it’s hard to imagine the Bulls offering a max contract but they’ve got enough cap flexibility to make him their highest-paid player in 2018/19 and beyond, assuming they like what they see out of him down the stretch.

Nikola Mirotic, PF, 27 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $25MM deal in 2017Nikola Mirotic vertical
It’s hard to imagine that Mirotic will still be in a Bulls uniform come next summer considering that earlier today it seemed all but certain he would be traded to the Pelicans. Nonetheless, Mirotic’s contract situation will be similar wherever he lands up — his $12.5MM team option for 2018/19 is a bargain. Mirotic has shown that he’s capable of having a major impact on his ball club and any team that brings him on ahead of the February 8 trade deadline would be wise to lock him in at the discount. The open-ended contract buffs his value as a trade chip for Chicago but at the end of the day he’s a stretch four with no major red flags. That’s worth $12.5MM.

David Nwaba, SG, 25 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $1.4MM deal in 2017
The Bulls are rebuilding their roster from the ground up, so players like Nwaba hold appeal even if they don’t necessarily scream team cornerstone. Nwaba is a respected perimeter defender that gels well with other, more offensively inclined weapons on the roster. There may be a few teams interested in poaching him for the intangibles that he brings to the court, just as Jonathon Simmons had suitors last summer, but a dearth of league-wide cap space may keep things in check. My guess is that the Bulls would be happy to cut Nwaba a check similar to Simmons’ (~$6MM per) so long as it’s on a short-term deal.

Quincy Pondexter, SF, 30 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $14MM deal in 2014
It’s impressive enough that Pondexter is back on the court after his years-long battle with injuries and illness. This year, his first with the Bulls after coming over in a salary clearing trade from the Pelicans, is the last of a four-year contract extension that’s basically felt like 12. It’s hard to envision Pondexter back in Chicago once the deal expires, but he could stick around the league if he can prove to other teams that he’s healthy enough to play the role of veteran gunner. He’s certainly earned the opportunity, at least.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.