Sidy Cissoko

And-Ones: Paris Games, Ntilikina, Porter Jr., Broadcast Rights

Victor Wembanyama will return home next winter as the Spurs and Pacers meet for a pair of games in Paris, the NBA announced (via Twitter). The contests, which are scheduled for January 23 and 25, will mark the league’s first time playing two regular season games in the city in the same season.

“Playing in Paris has been an incredible experience for our organization in the past and we are thrilled for the opportunity to be a part of The NBA Paris Games 2025,” Spurs CEO RC Buford said in a press release. “Thanks to our deep international history, we are fortunate to have Spurs fans in France, across Europe and around the world. We are excited to continue to honor that legacy by purposefully connecting and engaging with our fans in France on and off the court.”  

These will be the fourth and fifth games in France for the Spurs, who played in Paris in 2003 and 2006 and traveled to Lyon in 2006. In addition to Wembanyama, the team’s roster features 2023 draft pick Sidy Cissoko, a native of Saint-Maurice.

The games will mark the first trip to France for the Pacers, who also issued a press release about the event. They will be the second and third regular season games in Europe and the 10th and 11th international contests for Indiana.

“The Pacers enjoy tremendous support from fans globally, and we are excited about the opportunity to be a part of the NBA’s efforts to continue bringing the game to new generations of fans all around the world,” said Kevin Pritchard, the team’s president of basketball operations.

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Frank Ntilikina has resumed training with an eye on representing France in the Olympics, relays Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. Ntilikina, who only appeared in five games for Charlotte before being waived in February, talked about his plans in an interview with SKWEEK. “Everything is going in the right direction,” he said. “We are all very confident about my form, two months before the start of the training camp.”
  • If he doesn’t get an NBA opportunity this summer, Kevin Porter Jr. is interested in spending another season with PAOK in Greece, Askounis adds in a separate story. After sitting out most of the year while dealing with an assault charge, Porter joined PAOK early this month and helped the team reach the playoffs in Greece’s top-tier division. “I am very grateful,” he said. “It is very family-oriented here. That is what I needed to get out of the shell I was in. So, I can’t see myself playing for any club overseas besides PAOK, no matter the league. If it is not the NBA, I will probably be here again.”
  • Andrew Marchand and Richard Deitsch of The Athletic examine the NBA’s new arrangement with Amazon Prime Video and speculate on whether it means the end of the league’s long-running relationship with TNT.

Southwest Notes: Eason, Doncic, Cissoko, Rose

Dillon Brooks, who said last month that he thinks he’s the NBA’s best defensive player, isn’t the only Rockets player with a tremendous amount of confidence in his abilities on that end of the floor. Tari Eason, entering his second season in the league, has expressed some lofty goals of his own, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required).

“I want to be the best defender in the NBA at some point,” Eason said. “I truly believe I can be. I will be. I just got to work, and the rest will fall into place. As far as effort and taking pride on that end of the floor, that’s kind of my calling card. I want to be the best defender I can be.”

Improving a defense that ranked 29th in the NBA last season has been a priority for new head coach Ime Udoka and the Rockets this fall as they focus on communicating more effectively on that side of the floor. Eason has noticed a difference in training camp.

“There are still some things we got to fully hash out, but I think we’re getting there,” Eason said. “The strides were made as far as communication. Last year, a lot of our defensive deficiencies come from us not being able to communicate, which also comes from us being young. With the mix of veterans and I guess the mentality coming in this year — we’ve all bought into the system — defensively we took a lot of leaps in terms of communication, knowing where to be and a willingness to want to get better on that end of the floor.”

Here are a few more items from around the Southwest:

  • Ahead of the Mavericks‘ exhibition game on Tuesday against Real Madrid, star guard Luka Doncic had nothing but praise for the Spanish club, citing the impact Real Madrid had on his career development, notes Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. Doncic played for the club from 2015-18, earning three Spanish League titles and a EuroLeague championship during that time. “I’ve got a lot of great memories and I’m happy to be back,” Doncic said. “If I return to Europe one day, I’m sure it will be to Real Madrid. That’s 100%.”
  • Spurs second-round pick Sidy Cissoko signed a standard contract this summer rather than a two-way deal, but the plan is for the French wing to spend the bulk of his rookie season in the G League, head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters on Monday (Twitter link via Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News).
  • Veteran point guard Derrick Rose was a standout on Sunday in the Grizzlies‘ preseason opener, racking up 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting in just 14 minutes as the club beat Indiana in overtime. Rose’s new teammates aren’t surprised that the former MVP is showing he still has something left in the tank, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “We’ve been seeing it,” Ziaire Williams said. “When I say he’s still so fast, bro, that burst is there. I’m sure it was probably faster 10 years ago, which is insane to think about. He’s a talented player and a better person.”

Contract Details: Cissoko, Temple, T. Antetokounmpo, More

The three-year contract that No. 44 overall pick Sidy Cissoko signed with the Spurs is guaranteed for the first two seasons, but not for the third, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. It’s worth the minimum in all three years, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Because the Spurs still had a little cap room available, they signed Cissoko using that room instead of the second-round pick exception, Smith notes, so the third year is simply non-guaranteed instead of being a team option.

That will give San Antonio more time to make its third-year decision on Cissoko — instead of having to exercise or decline an option by June 29, 2025, the team will pay him a $500K partial guarantee if he remains under contract through July 6 of that year, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tells Hoops Rumors. Cissoko would receive his full guarantee if he hasn’t been waived by the start of the 2025/26 regular season, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Here are a few more details on recently signed contracts:

  • Garrett Temple‘s one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Raptors is guaranteed, per Doug Smith of The Toronto Star (Twitter link). That means Toronto has 15 players on guaranteed standard contracts, with Jeff Dowtin and his non-guaranteed deal potentially on the outside looking in unless one of those 15 players is traded or waived.
  • The one-year, minimum-salary contracts signed by Thanasis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) and Sandro Mamukelashvili (Spurs) are also guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned. Milwaukee now has 15 players on guaranteed standard contracts, while San Antonio has 18 and will need to make some roster moves before opening night.
  • Duane Washington‘s training camp contract with the Knicks includes Exhibit 9 language but doesn’t feature an Exhibit 10 clause, Hoops Rumors has learned. That means Washington can’t have his contract converted into a two-way deal and wouldn’t receive a bonus worth up to $75K if he’s waived by New York and ends up playing for the Westchester Knicks.

Spurs Sign Sidy Cissoko To Three-Year Deal

Second-round pick Sidy Cissoko has agreed to a three-year contract with the Spurs, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. His signing is confirmed in the transactions log.

Although a source confirms to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News (Twitter link) that it’s a standard contract, no details are provided on how many years are guaranteed. The signing will add to a crowded roster, as the Spurs already have 17 players with standard deals.

The French forward was selected with the 44th pick in last month’s draft after playing one year with the G League Ignite. He was the first European player to sign with the G League team. Cissoko played for San Antonio during Summer League and impressed team officials with his aggressiveness on offense.

Southwest Notes: Capela, Mavericks, Cissoko, Grizzlies

The Mavericks are still in the market for a veteran center and would like to acquire Clint Capela from the Hawks as the third team in a potential Pascal Siakam deal, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column.

Atlanta has been pursuing the Toronto forward in trade talks, but an offer centered around De’Andre Hunter may not be enough. The Hawks could be willing to include Capela, who has two years left on his contract at a total of about $43MM, but the Raptors don’t need another high-priced center after re-signing Jakob Poeltl. Stein suggests that Dallas could either try to facilitate the deal or work out a separate trade with Toronto involving Capela.

The Mavs attempted to acquire Capela from the Hawks in June, according to Stein, but they refused to part with Josh Green along with the 10th pick in the draft.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Summer League coach Jared Dudley was impressed with both of the Mavericks‘ rookies, grading Dereck Lively II a “seven out of 10” and Olivier-Maxence Prosper a “nine out of 10,” per Eddie Sefko of “Lively will get there. He has potential. He’s going to be the starting center of the Mavericks one day,” Dudley said. “O-Max is right there. The three-and-D guys, it’s easier to transition. Offense, he’s a bull going at you. He has to work on his decision-making a little when he gets in the paint. But myself and the Dallas Mavericks are happy with what they did.”
  • Spurs rookie Sidy Cissoko‘s ability to attack the basket has stood out during Summer League, observes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The French forward prepared for the NBA by spending last season in the G League. “I didn’t change my game,” he said. “In my (pre-draft) workouts, I was doing the same thing almost every time. I have this in my game, so I just repeat it over and over. If it is still working, I will not change it.”
  • Jake LaRavia, David Roddy and Ziaire Williams are all possibilities to be the Grizzlies‘ starting small forward when the season begins, according to Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Memphis didn’t bring in anyone to replace Dillon Brooks after he signed with Houston, so there’s not an obvious choice for the position. Cole adds that once Ja Morant returns from his suspension, he may start alongside Marcus Smart in the backcourt with Desmond Bane sliding to small forward.

Eight 2023 Draft Picks Have Yet To Sign NBA Contracts

Of the 58 players who were selected in last month’s draft, 50 have signed their first NBA contracts during the first two weeks they’ve been permitted to do so.

As our tracker shows, the breakdown is as follows:

  • First-round picks signed using the rookie scale exception: 29
  • Second-round picks signed using the new second-round pick exception: 13
    • Note: Of these 13 players, 12 received four-year contracts, while one (Rayan Rupert) signed a three-year deal.
  • Second-round picks signed to two-way contracts: 8

That leaves eight players from the 2023 draft class who have yet to sign with their respective NBA teams. Those players are as follows:

  1. Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Mavericks
  2. James Nnaji, Hornets
  3. Tristan Vukcevic, Wizards
  4. Sidy Cissoko, Spurs
  5. G.G. Jackson, Grizzlies
  6. Mojave King, Pacers
  7. Jordan Miller, Clippers
  8. Tarik Biberovic, Grizzlies

Not all of these players will sign an NBA contract in 2023/24. King and Biberovic are each expected to spend at least one season playing overseas before coming stateside. Vukcevic is another candidate to become a draft-and-stash prospect.

It’s also unclear whether the Hornets plan to sign Nnaji right away or let the 18-year-old big man continue developing his game in Europe. For now, Charlotte only has 12 players on guaranteed contracts for 2023/24, but depending on which restricted free agents (P.J. Washington, Theo Maledon) and players on non-guaranteed deals (JT Thor, Kobi Simmons) return, there might not be a spot for Nnaji, who remains under contract with FC Barcelona and – as a No. 31 overall pick who would require an international buyout – wouldn’t be a candidate for a two-way deal.

Prosper is the only unsigned first-rounder in this year’s class, but the delay doesn’t seem like anything to worry about. The Mavericks, who continued this past week to explore the trade market and consider how to fill out their roster, have taken their time getting around to signing a handful of players, with deals for free agents like Seth Curry and Dante Exum only becoming official on Friday. I’d expect Prosper’s contract to be finalized soon.

That leaves Cissoko, Jackson, and Miller, each of whom look like candidates to receive two-way contracts. Some of the other players drafted in their range, including No. 41 pick Amari Bailey and No. 46 pick Seth Lundy, have received two-way deals, and the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Clippers all have roster logjams, meaning there may not be room on their 15-man rosters for their unsigned second-rounders.

The Spurs will have 17 players on standard contracts once they officially re-sign Tre Jones and Sandro Mamukelashvili. The Grizzlies also have 17 players under contract and would have a full 15-man roster even if they trade or waive Josh Christopher and Isaiah Todd. The Clippers have 16 players on standard contracts (15 guaranteed). However, all three teams have at least one two-way slot available.

Southwest Notes: Cissoko, Spurs, Zion, Griffin, Rockets

No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama has understandably drawn much of the attention in San Antonio, but fellow Spurs rookie Sidy Cissoko has been impressive in Summer League as well, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link).

The young French forward was the 44th overall pick of last month’s draft and isn’t known as a top scorer, but he knows he can still impact the game.

I know I am a rookie and a second-round pick, so I know I won’t get 20 shots a game,” he said. “I am just trying to do my best with my defense and try to help the team in other ways. I know my role. I know what to do.”

At 6’7″ and 225 pounds, the 19-year-old can be a real deterrent defensively, according to Orsborn, and he’s also a creative play-maker. Cissoko averaged 12.8 points, 3.5 assists, 2.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.0 block on .457/.304/.645 shooting in 28 games last season with the G League Ignite (29.3 minutes).

I just try to help the team first with my defense,” Cissoko added. “You can get minutes playing defense. When you play defense, the offense will come along.”

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • The Spurs are contemplating building a new arena in downtown San Antonio in order to showcase Wembanyama, sources tell Greg Jefferson and Madison Iszler of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required). As the two writers detail, the Spurs’ lease on their current arena, the AT&T Center, expires in 2032. However, it needs renovations and there’s belief that a downtown arena would generate revenue for the county, though it would also leave the current arena vacant. The Holt family owns the Spurs, and it also owns a stake in the San Antonio Missions, a Double-A baseball team. The idea would be to put a potential new stadium for the Missions next to the Spurs’, with bars surrounding both, according to The Express-News.
  • Top Pelicans executive David Griffin is hopeful Zion Williamson is on the right track this summer after being plagued with injuries over his first four seasons, according to Steve Bulpett of “I think first of all he’s trying to do the right things,” Griffin said. “I think when you start from that place, that’s good. He’s got incredible potential to be sort of game-changing for even the league as a whole. But at the same time the volatility around the injury situation has been really severe. So at this point it’s going to be a function of how can we get him in the best place to succeed, and what’s he willing to do to ensure that happens? And I think right now his head’s in the right place, and we’ll just have to hope for the best.” Griffin also discussed the team’s offseason moves, among other topics.
  • The Clippers recently acquired Kenyon Martin Jr. in a trade with the Rockets, and he had nothing but good things to say about his time in Houston in a thank you message on Twitter.

Spurs Notes: Wembanyama, Cissoko, Draft-Night Trade, Popovich

Saturday’s “Meet the Rookies” news conference in San Antonio was more like a party than a routine press event, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Roughly a hundred Spurs staff members joined some current players and a few franchise legends to get a glimpse of Victor Wembanyama, who was making his first official public appearance in the city.

“We have never seen anything like him before,” Manu Ginoblili said, “but we have to see how it all translates.”

Wembanyama joined Ginobili, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Sean Elliott and coach Gregg Popovich for an exclusive dinner Friday night. That came a few hours after the French big man was welcomed at the airport by thousands of Spurs fans who are counting on him to lead the team back to title contention.

“The last 72 hours have been tiring, but I’m really enjoying the moment,” Wembanyama told reporters today. “I’ve been welcomed warmly. It’s just really comfortable.”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • Second-round pick Sidy Cissoko also spoke at the press conference and said he can help the Spurs no matter how they decide to use him, per Tom Orsborn of The Express-News. The 19-year-old Frenchman played against Wembanyama while growing up before spending this season with the G League Ignite. “I can do kind of everything on the court and be as versatile as I can to help the team win,” Cissoko said. “If they want me to play the four, I can play the four. If they want me to play the one, I can play the one. Each position comes to me. Just anything to help us win in the end.”
  • Before selecting Cissoko, the Spurs made a trade with the Timberwolves, moving down from the 33rd pick to No. 44, Orsborn notes in a separate story. San Antonio took Leonard Miller for Minnesota and picked up two future second-round picks. “When the deal came about where we could move 33 for two picks out in the future, we thought that was a good opportunity for us,” general manager Brian Wright said. “… We were ecstatic (Cissoko) was there. He was someone we were considering if we had stayed at 33, so to get him at 44, we thought that was great.”
  • In the same piece, Popovich reflects on the good fortune that has allowed him to coach another overall No. 1 pick after winning multiple titles with Robinson and Duncan. “Certainly there is enough that’s happened in this organization that makes one wonder why we’ve been the recipients of so much serendipity for sure,” he said. “Of course, there’s no answer to that. I would just relate to you that we’ve mentioned many times in the past couple of decades and a half, I guess, when things weren’t going well and somebody showed some sympathy and empathy. We would just laugh and go, ‘Why? Why do we deserve that?’”

Draft Notes: Bufkin, Wizards, Nets, Jazz, Hornets, Hawks, More

The Wizards recently hosted Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin for a private workout, Michael Scotto reports in his latest aggregate mock draft for HoopsHype.

Bufkin hasn’t worked out for many teams, and his draft status has been somewhat mysterious because of that, though many seem to believe his stock is on the rise. He’s currently ranked No. 18 on ESPN’s best available list, while the Wizards control the No. 8 pick.

Here are a few more notes ahead of the 2023 NBA draft, which kicks off in less than three hours:

  • The Nets recently hosted several potential first-round picks for workouts, including Ohio State’s Brice Sensabaugh, South Carolina’s G.G. Jackson, France’s Sidy Cissoko, and Marquette’s Olivier-Maxence Prosper, league sources tell Scotto. Brooklyn currently controls the 21st and 22nd picks in the first round, but the team has reportedly discussed moving up as well.
  • The Jazz have had trade discussions involving packaging two of their three first-rounders (Nos. 9 and 16), according to Scotto, but they’ve also discussed the latter pick on its own in separate deals.
  • Scotto hears from sources who say the Hornets plan to prioritize retaining restricted free agents Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington as well as unrestricted free agent Dennis Smith Jr. Bridges missed all of last season after pleading no contest to felony domestic violence charges.
  • The Hawks have been active in trade discussions, but they’ve also been busy working out prospects. On Tuesday, Atlanta hosted Cason Wallace (Kentucky), Rayan Rupert (New Zealand Breakers), Brandin Podziemski (Santa Clara), Mojave King (G League Ignite), Seth Lundy (Penn State) and Miles Norris (UC Santa Barbara), tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. The Hawks control the Nos. 15 and 46 picks. Incidentally, Wallace is the top-ranked prospect of the group according to ESPN, currently ranked No. 15 on their board.
  • Wichita State guard Craig Porter Jr. recently spoke to Alex Kennedy of about a number of topics ahead of the draft.

Western Notes: Zion, Lakers, Dunleavy, Livingston, Towns, Reid

It’s unlikely that Zion Williamson will be dealt by the Pelicans before the draft, according to The Athletic’s William Guillory. While the Pelicans are enamored with G League guard Scoot Henderson, they have not included Williamson in any formal offer to the teams holding the second and third picks (Hornets, Trail Blazers).

However, there is a disconnect between Williamson and the Pelicans organization. Some of that tension, according to Guillory, is due to a frayed relationship between Williamson’s camp and Aaron Nelson, who has been in charge of the medical/training staff. Nelson won’t be leading the medical staff next season.

The Pelicans have recently tried to smooth things over with Williamson. He met with top exec David Griffin and team governor Gayle Benson last week at team headquarters and it apparently went well, Guillory writes.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Lakers hosted a pre-draft workout for six prospects on Tuesday, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets. That group included Ben Sheppard (Belmont), Landers Nolley II (Cincinnati), Patrick Gardner (Marist), Omari Moore (San Jose State), Sidy Cissoko (G League Ignite) and K.J. Williams (LSU).
  • Mike Dunleavy Jr. was one of the most unpopular players in Warriors’ history, so there’s naturally skepticism from fans about him becoming the top decision-maker in the organization, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area writes.
  • Shaun Livingston has left the Warriors’ organization, Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Livingston spent the last three seasons in the front office as director of players affairs and engagement. He wants to spend more time with his family.
  • While Karl-Anthony Towns has been one of the prominent names on the rumor mill, the Timberwolves brass believes improved health from Towns and Rudy Gobert will solve some of the team’s offensive problems, according to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski. Owners Glen Taylor, Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez are on board with that approach. The owners are also hoping to re-sign backup big man Naz Reid, who will be an unrestricted free agent. Reid has been hanging around the team’s practice facility since the season ended, a positive sign that he’d like to stay with the club.