Ronshad Shabazz

Rockets Notes: House, D’Antoni, Blossomgame, Shabazz

Danuel House credits Rockets assistant coach John Lucas for helping him to stay focused when it appeared his NBA dream may not work out, writes Sean Deveney for Forbes. House reached out to Lucas after being waived by the Wizards in March of 2017. A broken wrist had sidelined him for more than two months and he had gotten into just one game – less than a minute of playing time – with his first NBA team.

“Shut your mouth,” said Lucas, who first met House at age 13 at a Houston basketball camp. “Shut your mouth and get ready for your next opportunity.”

That came the following year with the Suns, but House found a more permanent home last season with the Rockets. He spent most of the year as a two-way player, but started 13 NBA games and eventually earned a three-year contract.

“I also told him he would be an NBA player,” Lucas recalled. “You could see he was good enough for that. I just never imagined we’d be together with the same team.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Mike D’Antoni was among the first coaches to successfully challenge a call, but he doesn’t believe teams should keep their right to challenge if they’re correct, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Under the newly adopted rule, coaches get to use the challenge once per game, whether they’re right or wrong. “Then you could have 20 or 30 challenges a game,” D’Antoni said. “I could see why they don’t do it.”
  • The Rockets’ G League affiliate has traded for Jaron Blossomgame, who was with Houston during the preseason. Blossomgame’s returning player rights were held by the Canton Charge, who agreed to give him up in exchange for Gary Payton II. Blossomgame impressed Rockets coaches during camp, and he was considered as a candidate for one of the team’s two-way slots.
  • The Rockets weren’t able to hold onto Ronshad Shabazz after signing and waiving him last weekend. Shabazz was selected by College Park, the Hawks‘ affiliate, with the 13th pick in Saturday’s G League draft.

Rockets Signed, Waived Ronshad Shabazz

4:24pm: Agent Cam Brennick of RBA Sports confirms to JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link) that Shabazz will enter the G League draft, since the Rockets won’t hold his affiliate rights.

While Houston can’t designate Shabazz as an affiliate player, it’s probably safe to assume the Rio Grande Valley Vipers will target him in the NBAGL draft.

3:30pm: The Rockets were one of many NBA teams that signed and immediately waived a player before the regular season, doing so with undrafted rookie guard Ronshad Shabazz, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

In his senior season in 2018/19, Shabazz averaged 18.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 2.3 APG with a shooting line of .496/.376/.815 in 32 games (32.2 MPG).

These sign-and-waive transactions are always G League-related. They’re designed to either make a player eligible to be designated as a G League “affiliate player” or to ensure that a returning-rights G League player receives an Exhibit 10 bonus.

However, the Rockets’ deal with Shabazz was a little different than every other sign-and-waive maneuver completed this fall. Rather than signing the former Appalachian State standout to an Exhibit 10 contract, Houston inked him a two-way contract before releasing him. The moves occurred on Monday, before the club officially converted Chris Clemons‘ contract to a two-way deal.

On the surface, it looks as if the Rockets were trying to secure Shabazz’s G League rights without adding any dead money to their cap. If Shabazz had signed an Exhibit 10 contract on Monday and been cut right away, he wouldn’t have cleared waivers until the second day of the regular season, meaning the tax-conscious Rockets would have been on the hook for about $10K in dead money ($18K for tax purposes) — two days’ worth of his salary.

According to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & Days, however, NBA teams don’t retain affiliate rights for waived two-way players. That would seem to make Shabazz ineligible to be designated as an affiliate player.

General manager Daryl Morey and the Rockets are pretty savvy with their roster moves, so it’s possible they’ve found a loophole here, or perhaps there’s another motivation for the signing. The official list of 2019 affiliate players should be released next week when G League training camps open, so we’ll see at that point whether or not Shabazz shows up on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers’ roster.

Draft Workouts: Raptors, Lamb, Sixers, Hawks

The Raptors will bring in six players in their first pre-draft workout on Tuesday, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. They’ll take a look at center/power forward Josh Sharma (Stanford) and Tanor Ngom (Ryerson in Canada), forward Tres Tinkle (Oregon State), swingmen Jordan Davis (Northern Colorado) and DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa) and point guard Daishon Smith (Louisiana-Monroe).

We have more draft info:

Southeast Notes: Kemba, Beal, Heat, Hawks

Kemba Walker‘s free agency will be a fascinating situation to watch this offseason, since it’s hard to determine what the best-case scenario is for the Hornets, writes Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report. Re-signing Walker to a maximum salary contract would limit Charlotte’s ability to acquire help around him, but one scout thinks the Hornets would “be like an expansion team” without him, per Weitzman.

Complicating matters further? Walker will become eligible for a super-max contract, worth an extra $30MM+ over five years, if he earns a spot on this year’s All-NBA teams, which is a distinct possibility. Only the Hornets could offer him that super-max, but doing so would mean paying the point guard an average of $44MM annually through 2023/24.

“It’d be like the John Wall deal,” one front office source told Weitzman. “They should have traded him last year, when his value was high. They could have just reset.”

With lucrative deals for Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist all set to come off the Hornets’ books in 2020, the team wouldn’t necessarily be mired in salary-cap hell for years if it re-signs Walker. Still, there’d be no obvious way to add a capable No. 2 option behind the point guard anytime soon.

“The surrounding pieces aren’t so bad,” another front office source said to Weitzman. “They just need another guy in there so they can all slide down a role.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

Draft Notes: Bowen, Vital, Shabazz, Ona Embo

After being linked to a scandal at Louisville, 6’7″ wing Brian Bowen II transferred to South Carolina, but has still not been cleared by the NCAA or played in a single college game. As Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes, it has been a frustrating journey for Bowen, who calls it “the biggest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”

The NCAA’s deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the NBA draft and retain their college eligibility is May 30, meaning Bowen only has about another week to make up his mind. As of now, the NCAA has offered little clarity on whether or not he can expect to be cleared for the 2018/19 season, complicating his decision. Still, as Reynolds details, Bowen is trying to stay positive.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Bowen said. “Somebody’s situation is always going to be worse than mine. Other people in my family have worse situations than I have. I just have to learn, use it as a learning experience, use it as motivation and have a chip on my shoulder.”

Here’s more on the 2018 NBA draft:

  • UConn guard Christian Vital has officially withdrawn his name from the 2018 draft pool, tweets Adam Zagoria of Vital, who averaged 14.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG in his sophomore year with the Huskies, had announced his decision with a tweet that suggested he has “unfinished business” at UConn.
  • Appalachian State junior guard Ronshad Shabazz confirmed to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link) that he’ll be removing his name from the 2018 NBA draft. Shabazz, who wasn’t considered likely to be drafted, was facing a May 30 deadline for his decision to withdraw.
  • Tulane guard Ray Ona Embo, who had been testing the draft waters without an agent, is expected to head back to school for his junior season, tweets Jon Rothstein of FanRag Sports. Embo averaged 10.1 PPG, 3.3 APG, and 3.2 RPG with a .432/.365/.719 shooting line in 2017/18.
  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post rounds up several of his observations from last week’s draft combine, writing that Kevin Huerter (Maryland), Donte DiVincenzo (Villanova), and Grayson Allen (Duke) were among the big winners in Chicago.

236 Early Entrants Declare For 2018 NBA Draft

The NBA has released the official list of early entrants for the 2018 NBA draft, announcing in a press release that 236 players have filed as early entry candidates. Of those prospects, 181 are from colleges, while 55 are international early entrants.

That number blows away the previous record for early entrants, established in 2017. Last year, 182 early entrants declared for the draft, though ultimately only 73 of those prospects remained in the draft by the final deadline.

This year’s total of 236 early entrants also figures to shrink significantly by May 30 and again by June 11, the two key deadlines for players to withdraw their names from the draft pool. But it still looks like that pool will remain crowded, with the eventual number of early entrants likely exceeding 60, the number of picks in the draft.

Our list of early entrants is now up to date and can be found right here. Here are today’s updates:

College underclassmen:

The following players were listed on the NBA’s official breakdown today, but weren’t yet noted on our own list. For now, we’re assuming they haven’t yet hired agents.

The following players reportedly declared for the draft or planned to, but weren’t named in the NBA’s official announcement today. As such, we’ve removed them from our list.

International players:

The following players were listed on the NBA’s official breakdown today, but weren’t yet noted on our list.

  • Berke Atar, C, Turkey (born 1999)
  • Laurynas Beliauskas, G, Lithuania (born 1997)
  • Rihards Berzins, F/C, Latvia (born 1997)
  • Etienne Ca, F, France (born 1997)
  • Sigfredo Casero-Ortiz, G, France (born 1997)
  • Berkan Durmaz, F, Turkey (born 1997)
  • Aleksander Dziewa, C, Poland (born 1997)
  • Stephane Gombauld, F, France (born 1997)
  • Yoan Granvorka, F, Switzerland (born 1997)
  • Michal Kolenda, F, Poland (born 1997)
  • Antonios Koniaris, G, Greece (born 1997)
  • Leon Kratzer, C, Germany (born 1997)
  • Shekinah Munanga, F, France (born 1997)
  • Williams Narace, F, France (born 1997)
  • Marcel Ponitka, G, Poland (born 1997)
  • Leonardo Tote, F, Italy (born 1997)
  • Martynas Varnas, G, Lithuania (born 1997)
  • Filip Zagrajski, G, Croatia (born 1997)