Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Team USA Notes: Hart, Ingram, Naturalized Players, Banchero

Team USA coach Steve Kerr plans to stick with the lineup change he made against Jordan, keeping Josh Hart in the starting five in place of Brandon Ingram, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Kerr wants to maximize his starters’ rebounding as the Americans prepare to face two NBA centers — Montenegro’s Nikola Vucevic on Friday and Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas on Sunday. Hart is shorter than Ingram, but he has made a greater impact on the boards, picking up 12 rebounds Wednesday.

“Josh has a strength and a tenacity to him that sometimes overcomes a height disadvantage. He’s used to guarding bigger guys with all the switching that happens in the NBA,” Kerr said. “I really liked the lineup shift for (Ingram). The game was much smoother. … I know he enjoyed it.”

Kerr has used the same starting lineup since training camp, but Hart’s performance and Ingram’s inability to find scoring opportunities with the starting unit led to the change. Ingram is on board with the move as he got to handle the ball more often Wednesday, picking up five assists in 15 minutes.

“I felt good out there. It was different coming off the bench. I hadn’t done that since my rookie season,” Ingram said. “I was able to get prepared for it. It was just a different lineup, and I was excited for the opportunity.”

There’s more on the World Cup:

  • With pool play over, the U.S. can significantly help its positioning with two wins in the second round, Windhorst adds. Victories over Montenegro and Lithuania would make Team USA the equivalent of the number one seed in the medal round, providing more rest between the quarterfinals and semifinals. “We went over the format today with the team in the film session,” Kerr said. “And yeah, we want to win both games to put us in great position. The guys are aware.”
  • Kerr and his team are supportive of American players who get the opportunity to represent other countries, per Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. Team USA has already squared off against U.S. natives Thomas Walkup with Greece and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson with Jordan, and it will face Kendrick Perry when it meets Montenegro. “I think that’s cool because those are guys that you’d probably not see making the U.S. team,” Tyrese Haliburton said. “… It’s cool when Americans get this kind of opportunity and figure out how to show their talents internationally.”
  • Paolo Banchero is wearing a wrap on his right thumb after spraining it in a recent game, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Banchero said the injury is minor and won’t keep him out of action.

World Cup Notes: Edwards, RHJ, Hart, Ingram, Thanasis, Canada

Even though Team USA’s 48-point win over Jordan on Wednesday wasn’t exactly a tightly contested affair, former Timberwolves teammates Anthony Edwards and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson enjoyed going back and forth at each other in the third and final first-round game at the World Cup, writes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Edwards had a game-high 22 points, edging out Hollis-Jefferson, who scored 20. The two were on Minnesota’s roster together for a brief period during the 2020 preseason, when RHJ served as a veteran mentor ahead of Edwards’ rookie year. Hollis-Jefferson didn’t end up making the Wolves’ regular season roster.

“We haven’t seen each other since then, so it was fun,” Edwards said. “And yeah, we was talking with smack out there for sure.”

U.S. head coach Steve Kerr made one lineup change ahead of the game vs. Jordan, replacing Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram in the starting five with Knicks forward Josh Hart. As Windhorst observes, Ingram had struggled as spot-up shooter with the first unit and was able to have the ball in his hands more as a reserve. It sounds like the change could stick.

“We just felt like it was important to take a look at Josh with the starting group and Brandon with the next group to see if the combinations fit,” Kerr said after the victory. “I liked what I saw. The game wasn’t competitive, but there was good flow with both groups.”

“They thought it was a better fit for me playing with Tyrese [Haliburton] and playing with some guys that are a little less ball dominant than Jalen [Brunson] and Ant,” Ingram told Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. “They just talked about it being a better fit, and I agreed with them.”

Here are a few more World Cup notes:

  • Hollis-Jefferson is one of nine non-U.S. players identified by Alberto De Roa of HoopsHype as breakout performers through three World Cup games. Bulls guard Carlik Jones (South Sudan), Wizards forward Xavier Cooks (Australia), and Heat forward Nikola Jovic (Serbia) are among the NBAers who have impressed, as De Roa details.
  • Bucks forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, who injured his left adductor in Monday’s loss to the U.S., returned to action for Greece on Wednesday. However, Antetokounmpo played a limited role in the win over New Zealand that clinched the Greeks a spot in the second round, recording more fouls (4) than points (2) in his 14 minutes.
  • The Canadian national team – which had the best point differential (+111) of any club in the first round – is finally realizing its potential on the international stage, says Michael Grange of Canada has had no shortage of players in the NBA over the last decade, but those players haven’t always participated in international competitions and have struggled to quickly establish chemistry in the events they’ve played.

International Notes: World Cup, France, Embiid, RHJ, More

Half of the 32 teams in the 2023 World Cup have completed their full slate of three first-round games. Of those clubs, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Lithuania, Montenegro, Germany, Australia, Canada, and Latvia will advance to round two.

Spain and the U.S. have also secured spots in the second round based on their groups’ results through two games. Serbia and Slovenia, who are both 2-0, are well positioned to join them in the round of 16. Assuming they both make it through, that would leave four spots up for grabs on Wednesday.

[RELATED: World Cup Notes: Australia, Antetokounmpo, Gobert, Dort]

As we wait to see what the full second-round field looks like, here are a few notes from around the international basketball world:

  • Asked after France’s elimination from World Cup competition whether he’s hoping Joel Embiid commits to playing for the French team in next year’s Olympics, forward Nicolas Batum rhetorically replied with a smile, “Would you say no to the MVP?” (story via Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops). Embiid, a citizen of both France and the U.S. in addition to Cameroon, has been cagey about who he’ll represent in the Olympics, if he suits up at all.
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst takes a look at how NBA journeyman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has reinvented himself as a left-handed version of Kobe Bryant, emulating “everything from Bryant’s footwork to his free throw routine to his poses after big shots.” As Windhorst writes, Hollis-Jefferson has modified his game since last playing in the NBA and is hoping his strong play for Jordan at the World Cup will help generate interest among NBA teams. “I’m trying to show that I can compete with the best of the best and bring energy to every game,” he said. “I always admired Kobe’s killer mindset and competitive spirit and I’m trying to learn from it.” As we noted earlier today, Hollis-Jefferson has a deal in place with Philippine team Tropang Giga for 2023/24, but it includes an NBA out.
  • Following his team’s loss to Karl-Anthony Towns and the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, Angola head coach Pep Claros Canals expressed his displeasure with FIBA’s eligibility rules, including one that allows each team to carry one naturalized player, per Sid Ventura of ESPN. “Each country needs to develop their own players. This is what I think,” Canals said. “There are players that don’t even speak the language of the country that they represent. There are countries which have seven, eight players that were born outside that country.” As Ventura writes, the Dominican Republic didn’t technically have a naturalized player on its roster, but six of its 12 players – including Towns – were born outside of the country.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson To Play In Philippines

Veteran forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who is currently representing Jordan at the 2023 World Cup, confirmed to Donatas Urbonas of (Twitter link) that he’ll re-sign with Tropang Giga of the Philippine Basketball Association for the 2023/24 season.

“The season ends in February, so I’m open to anyone who wants to call,” Hollis-Jefferson said, adding that his agreement with the Philippine team includes an NBA out clause.

Hollis-Jefferson spent six seasons in the NBA with Brooklyn, Toronto, and Portland after being drafted 23rd overall in 2015. However, has hasn’t played in the league since the 2020/21 season, having competed in Turkey, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and the Philippines since then. He initially joined Tropang Giga in February.

While an NBA return at this point may be a long shot for the 28-year-old, he has certainly been making a case with his play at the World Cup in the last few days. Although Jordan has lost its first two games and won’t advance to the second round of the tournament, Hollis-Jefferson has averaged 31.5 points on 54.3% shooting in those two losses. Only Luka Doncic of Slovenia has a higher scoring average so far at the World Cup.

Hollis-Jefferson and Jordan will face the U.S. in the final game of the group-play first round on Wednesday.

International Notes: Towns, Hollis-Jefferson, Cleveland, Holland

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns announced on Instagram that he will compete for the Dominican Republic in next month’s FIBA World Cup, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune relays.

As Hine notes, Towns’ late mother was from the Caribbean country. The national team’s preliminary roster, which includes Towns, features a handful of other players with varying levels of NBA experience, including Al Horford, Chris Duarte, Lester Quinones and Justin Minaya.

Towns last competed for the senior national team in 2013 during the AmeriCup tournament, according to FIBA. The president of the Dominican basketball federation previously expressed optimism that Towns would suit up for the World Cup, which begins August 25.

Here are some more international notes:

  • Former NBA forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is in the process of obtaining Jordanian citizenship in order to play for Jordan’s national team at the World Cup, according to Cesare Milanti of Hollis-Jefferson, 28, played for the Nets, Raptors and Trail Blazers over the course of his six NBA seasons, holding career averages of 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game.
  • Antonius Cleveland has inked a two-year deal with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, per a team press release (hat tip to Sportando). Cleveland split last season playing for teams in Australia and Israel. The 29-year-old holds 28 games of NBA experience over two seasons with the Mavericks and Hawks.
  • John Holland, who spent 14 months and played 25 games with the Cavaliers from 2017-18, has signed with Israel’s Hapoel Tel Aviv, the team announced in a press release. The 34-year-old swingman is a well-traveled veteran, having played for teams in France, Spain, Turkey, Russia and most recently Serbia (Crvena Zvedza) over the course of his career.

Warriors Working Out Ben McLemore, Elfrid Payton, Others

The Warriors are bringing in a number of veteran free agents this week for workouts, league sources tell Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

According to Charania and Slater, some of the free agents taking part in the workouts are Ben McLemore, Elfrid Payton, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kenneth Faried, Miye Oni, Ty-Shon Alexander, Wesley Saunders, and Jon Axel Gudmundsson.

Golden State also held similar free agent workouts in August, according to Charania and Slater, who say that Shabazz Muhammad, Solomon Hill, Tyler Cook, and Kelan Martin were among the players who participated in those sessions about two weeks ago.

The purpose of this week’s workouts is twofold — as Tim Kawakami of The Athletic tweets, the players currently on the Warriors’ roster are beginning their informal pre-camp work at the team’s facility this week, so the free agents who join them will help ensure there are enough bodies to play 5-on-5 scrimmages. Additionally, there’s an expectation that the Warriors could sign one or more of the auditioning veterans to their 20-man training camp roster, per Charania and Slater.

Golden State currently has 18 players under contract (13 on guaranteed standard deals), with Jerome Robinson expected to be the 19th. That leaves one spot available for now.

Andre Iguodala has yet to decide whether he’ll retire or return to the Warriors for another season, so it’s possible he could fill that 20th and final roster spot (and become the 14th man on the team’s projected regular season roster). Robinson, Mac McClung, Pat Spencer, and Trevion Williams are among the camp invitees who could compete for a place on the 15-man regular season roster, especially if Iguodala doesn’t return.

Charania and Slater also note that that, while Lester Quinones and Quinndary Weatherspoon are currently on two-way deals, those roster spots are flexible. According to The Athletic’s duo, the Warriors are high on Weatherspoon, who is a candidate to join the 15-man roster either this fall or later in the season

And-Ones: Monthly Awards, Hollis-Jefferson, Cooper

Rockets guard Jalen Green and Raptors forward Scottie Barnes were named the Rookies of the Month for March/April in the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively, the NBA announced on Monday (via Twitter).

Green got off to an up-and-down start this season but finished strong, averaging 22.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 3.2 APG on .484/.395/.763 shooting in 22 games in March and April. Barnes helped the Raptors secure the No. 5 seed in the East by putting up 16.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 4.0 APG on 50.5% shooting in his last 22 contests.

The NBA also announced its Coaches of the Month for March/April on Tuesday (Twitter link). Mavericks coach Jason Kidd won the Western award for a 16-5 run to the end of the season; Ime Udoka, whose Celtics finished with a 15-4 stretch, earned the honor in the East.

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

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Signs With Turkish Team

SEPTEMBER 27: Hollis-Jefferson has signed with Besiktas, agent Adie von Gontard confirmed to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Givony, Hollis-Jefferson’s contract with the Turkish club will include an NBA out clause.

SEPTEMBER 23: Veteran NBA free agent forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is expected to sign with Besiktas of Turkey, reports Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.

The 23rd overall pick in the 2015 draft, Hollis-Jefferson had a productive first four seasons with the Nets from 2015-19, showcasing athleticism, energy, defensive versatility, and strong rebounding for a player his size (6’6″). He put up 9.9 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 2.0 APG in 23.6 MPG over those seasons, with a .444/.223/.739 shooting line. The 22.3% on three sticks out, but it was on just 0.8 attempts per game.

Hollis-Jefferson also had a nice run off the bench for Toronto a couple of years ago, but struggled to catch on with NBA teams last season, playing in just 11 games for the Trail Blazers on a couple of 10-day contracts before finishing out the season with the team.

It’s a little surprising that a player who’s had a solid track record and is still just 26 years old couldn’t find another NBA home this summer. However, the league has trended away from players similar to Hollis-Jefferson in recent years, as his unique skill set isn’t as valued without a reliable outside shot or the size to match up against true centers.

Urbonas notes that Besiktas features several former NBA and G League players, and will be participating in the Basketball Champions League, which begins on October 4.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Signs With Blazers For Rest Of Season

APRIL 28: The Blazers have officially signed Hollis-Jefferson to a deal for the rest of the season, the team announced in a press release.

APRIL 27: With the second 10-day contract he signed with the Trail Blazers set to expire, defensive-oriented reserve forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will ink a deal that will keep him in Portland for the rest of the 2020/21 season, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Because a player is not permitted to sign a third 10-day deal with a team during the same season, it became decision time in a hurry for Portland.

Hollis-Jefferson was actually selected with the No. 23 pick by Portland out of Arizona in 2015, but the Trail Blazers traded him to the Nets before he ever suited up for them. He spent four seasons in Brooklyn before landing with the Raptors for the 2019/20 season.

The 26-year-old Jefferson has appeared in just five games (including one start) for the Trail Blazers this season, averaging a respectable 12.6 MPG, but the athletic forward could help shore up the club’s frontcourt with his ability to cover multiple positions on defense.

If Jefferson officially completes his new deal on Wednesday after his second 10-day expires tonight, he’ll make $245,031 over the course of the season’s final 19 days. Portland’s cap hit would be $210,895.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Signs Second 10-Day Deal With Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers have given Rondae Hollis-Jefferson a second 10-day contract, the team announced in a press release.

The 26-year-old forward got into two games during his first 10-day deal, scoring four points in 12 total minutes. He joined the team on April 8 as Portland faced a league deadline to fill one of its two roster openings.

A first-round draft pick in 2015, Hollis-Jefferson spent his first four seasons with the Nets before signing with the Raptors as a free agent last year. He was with the Timberwolves in training camp, but failed to win a roster spot.

Players can only sign two 10-day contracts with a team during the season, so the Blazers will have to either part with Hollis-Jefferson or sign him for the rest of the season when this deal expires April 27. He will earn $128,963 over the next 10 days.