Tornike Shengelia

And-Ones: Ignite, Embiid, Team USA, Remaining FAs, Shengelia

The G League Ignite officially filled out its roster for the 2022/23 season this week, announcing in a press release that seven veteran players have joined the team and will complement the group of young prospects already under contract with the Ignite. Former NBA guard John Jenkins and big man Eric Mika are among the team’s vets.

The Ignite also announced that they have a new general manager, having named Anthony McClish to fill the role. McClish, who worked as a consultant for the Ignite for the last two seasons, was previously the general manager of the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate.

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

  • Joel Embiid revealed this week that he was sworn in as a U.S. citizen earlier this month, per Dan Gelston of The Associated Press. The Sixers star is a native of Cameroon who also has French citizenship, so he’ll have no shortage of options for which country he wants to represent if and when he competes in future international competitions.
  • Team USA is on the verge of losing its No. 1 international basketball ranking for the first time since FIBA created the rankings 20 years ago, observes Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Spain is poised to take over that top spot if the U.S. loses any of its next four World Cup qualifying games, says Vardon.
  • ESPN’s NBA analysts have weighed in on the best landing spots for some of the top remaining NBA free agents, including Jeremy Lamb, Hassan Whiteside, and Eric Bledsoe.
  • Tornike Shengelia, who appeared in 45 NBA games from 2012-14 for Brooklyn and Chicago, initially thought he might return to the league this offseason, but ended up signing a new contract with Virtus Bologna in Italy instead, as Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops writes. Shengelia has become a star in Europe, winning titles in 2020 (Liga ACB), 2021 (VTB United League), and 2022 (EuroCup).
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link) unveiled his stats-based win projections for the 2022/23 season, and they look quite different from the general consensus. Among Pelton’s most interesting projections: the Pelicans moving up to third in the West while the Warriors slip to eighth, and the Bulls falling to 12th in the East.

Tornike Shengelia Seeking Return To NBA

Veteran forward Tornike Shengelia, who last played in the NBA in 2014, is looking to return to the league, sources tell Donatas Urbonas of

Shengelia was drafted 54th overall in 2012 and spent most of his two NBA seasons with the Nets before being dealt to the Bulls prior to the 2014 deadline. In total, he appeared in 45 games with Brooklyn and Chicago from 2012-14, averaging 1.3 PPG and 0.9 RPG in just 5.5 minutes per contest.

Following his underwhelming stint in the NBA, the 6’9″ Georgian forward returned to Europe, playing for Baskonia in Spain from 2014-20, CSKA Moscow in Russia from 2020-22, and Virtus Bologna in Italy since March.

During that time, Shengelia made the All-EuroLeague First Team in 2018, was named the Spanish League’s Most Spectacular Player in 2019, and won a series of titles in the Spanish League (2020), VTB United League (2021), and EuroCup (2022). He was also the Spanish League’s MVP runner-up (to Luka Doncic) in 2018.

As Urbonas details, the 30-year-old is a free agent this summer and has been linked in recent months to FC Barcelona and Virtus Bologna. However, sources tell Urbonas that any talks with EuroLeague teams are on hold for the time being, since Shengelia’s primary goal is to make an NBA comeback.

It’s unclear at this point which NBA teams might have interest in Shengelia.

And-Ones: NBPA, Tremaglio, Sessions, Russia, EuroLeague

More than 120 candidates were considered and 40 were interviewed to become Michele Roberts‘ successor as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who takes an in-depth look at what the new union leader, Tamika Tremaglio, brings to the role.

As Vorkunov details, the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement will expire after the 2023/24 season, and the league and the union both have the ability to opt out in December of 2022. However, Tremaglio doesn’t anticipate a contentious negotiation with the NBA when the time comes to put a new CBA in place.

“There is no benefit for any of us to opt out,” she said, per Vorkunov. “There is always the opportunity for us to work together. I do think Michele has been able to build a really great relationship with the league and I cannot see that not continuing. I think [NBA commissioner] Adam [Silver] has been incredibly welcoming. Michele helped to set up a really great transition for me.

“I think I’m coming in at a time that is needed, for certain, but I also feel I am coming in at a time that we can continue the path that we have already been on. Which is the path certainly of least resistance and much more partnership in terms of what we can accomplish. We’re not back in the ’60s where we’re looking for ways to be adversarial to each other. We recognize that we can get more done together.”

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

  • Former NBA point guard Ramon Sessions has become a certified player agent, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who tweets that Sessions is launching On Time Agency, an independent firm. Sessions is currently advising Jordan Walsh, a five-star recruit who has committed to Arkansas, Charania notes.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown the EuroLeague into disarray. As EuroHoops relays in a pair of stories, a decision was made last week to move all games scheduled to be played in Russia to neutral venues, but the leaders of Lithuanian team Zalgiris Kaunas didn’t think stance went far enough. “We don’t want to play with clubs from a country that is using military aggression and we this is a position that we suggested to the EuroLeague and its clubs,” Zalgiris director Paulius Motiejunas said.
  • Meanwhile, a flurry of players are departing from the EuroLeague clubs based in Russia. Former NBAers Joel Bolomboy and Tornike Shengelia are among those leaving CSKA Moscow, per the team, while UNICS Kazan forward Jarrell Brantley is also expected to leave the country, according to Donatas Urbonas of An SDNA report relayed by Sportando suggests that Zenit St. Petersburg is allowing all its non-Russian players, coaches, and staffers to return to their respective home countries, while another SDNA report (via Sportando) says CSKA, UNICS Kazan, and Zenit have jointly asked the EuroLeague to postpone their games for a month.

Luka Doncic Named EuroLeague MVP, Rising Star

Luka Doncic picked up a pair of honors at today’s EuroLeague Awards Gala, relays Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The 19-year-old, who is expected to be taken early in next month’s NBA draft, was named both MVP and Rising Star. The MVP is determined by a vote of the media and fans, while the coaches choose the Rising Star.

Doncic, who became the youngest MVP in league history, put up a 14.5/5.2/4.7 line this year in helping Real Madrid reach the league final, which will be played tomorrow. He declared for the draft in March, but indicated this week that he might play another season or two in Europe, depending on the circumstances.

“It’s amazing. It’s like a dream come true,” Doncic said in a video tweeted by the EuroLeague. “Still we have one more game to go, which would make me so much happier. But thank you to all the media, all the fans and all the coaches. Especially to my coaches, my teammates and all my team. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible.”

The All-EuroLeague First Team is filled with names that are familiar to NBA fans, as Doncic is joined by Nick Calathes, Nando De Colo and Jan Vesely. Calathes spent two seasons with the Grizzlies, DeColo played for the Spurs and Raptors and Vesely played three NBA seasons after being drafted sixth overall by the Wizards in 2011.

The fifth member of the First Team is Tornike Shengelia, who was taken by the Sixers in the second round of the 2012 draft. His NBA career consisted of 36 games with the Nets and nine with the Bulls.

The Defensive Player of the Year is Kyle Hines, who played at North Carolina Greensboro and went undrafted in 2008.

And-Ones: Russell, Fultz, Chriss

Eleven-time NBA champion Bill Russell will be honored with the NBA’s first ever Lifetime Achievement Award, an Associated Press report states. The Hall of Fame center will be presented with the award during the NBA’s award show on June 26.

With five NBA MVPs to his name, the Celtics Hall of Famer is a living legend with an endless resume of historic achievements. Not only has Russell remained a visible representative of the Boston franchise and league in general’s sustained success, he lays claim to the title of being the first player to win an NBA title, an NCAA crown and an Olympic gold medal.

Per the Associated Press, Russell was also the first African American to coach a team in one of the major professional sports leagues.

Across 13 NBA seasons as a player, Russell averaged 15.1 points, 22.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

There’s more from around the NBA:

Tornike Shengelia Aiming To Return To NBA

Former NBA forward Tornike Shengelia, who is currently playing for Baskonia in Spain, will be a free agent this offseason, and he’s eyeing a potential return to the NBA. According to a Eurohoops report, Shengelia expressed a desire to return stateside if there’s interest, per Spanish news agency EFE.

“My goal is to try to return to the NBA,” Shengelia said. “If I stay in Europe it will be in a team that can win trophies and everyone knows that Baskonia is one of them.”

Shengelia, 25, is averaging 11.6 PPG and 3.7 RPG in Euroleague action, with 10.0 PPG and 4.9 RPG in Spanish League play. As a member of Baskonia, the former second-round pick plays alongside a handful of former NBA players, including Chase Budinger, Rodrigue Beaubois, Shane Larkin, and Andrea Bargnani — it will be interesting to see how many of Shengelia’s teammates join him this summer in pursuit of an NBA home.

During his initial NBA stint, Shengelia appeared in 45 total games, including 36 for the Nets. The 6’9″ forward, who also played for the Bulls, rarely saw the floor in his two NBA seasons, averaging 1.3 PPG and 0.9 RPG in 5.5 minutes per contest. Shengelia had just turned 21 when he made his debut for the Nets, so perhaps with a few more years of professional experience under his belt, he’ll be more equipped to contribute to an NBA rotation.

Tornike Shengelia To Play In Spain

Former Nets and Bulls forward Tornike Shengelia has agreed to a three-year deal with Baskonia of Spain, Lefteris Moutis of reports. Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia confirms the deal, having noted earlier that the sides were in talks. It’s for the equivalent of about $2.855MM, according to Moutis, although it’s not clear what, if any, NBA escape clauses will be a part of the contract.

The Guy Zucker client was the 54th overall pick in the 2012 draft and wound up with a guaranteed two-year deal for the minimum salary from Brooklyn that summer. He played sparingly for the Nets, appearing in just 36 games over a season and a half before they sent him to the Bulls in a January trade. He saw even less playing time in Chicago, which waived him shortly before the season to accommodate multiyear contracts for Ronnie Brewer, Mike James and Louis Amundson that will help the Bulls assemble trade packages this summer.

Shengelia, a native of the Republic of Georgia, averaged 1.3 points in 5.5 minutes per game across 45 NBA appearances. His talent was on greater display while on D-League assignment, as he racked up 21.1 PPG in 33.9 MPG over 14 contests the past two years for the affiliate of the Nets.

And-Ones: Kerr, Shengelia, Coaches

Tornike Shengelia is in talks to sign with a Spanish league team, per Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Shengalia has played in 45 games over the last two seasons for the Nets and Bulls, who waived the small forward in April. Here’s more from around the NBA:

  • Steve Kerr‘s agent tells Diamond Leung of Bay Area News Group that there is “nothing new” for his client this evening (Twitter link). The Knicks were expected to extend a written contract offer to Kerr by the end of the day.
  • Sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post that a decision from Kerr won’t happen until next week, due in part to formal details that need to be worked out on a contract.
  • In the same piece, Kerr tells Berman that he decided to finish out the playoffs as a commentator for TNT because he is under contract and it’s “the right thing to do.” Berman reports that the Knicks aren’t bothered by Kerr’s choice.
  • Tim Bontemps of The New York Post ranks the six head coaching vacancies in the NBA, and offers some under-the-radar candidates for each.

Bulls Waive Tornike Shengelia

The Bulls have waived Tornike Shengelia, the team announced via press release. The team hasn’t announced a corresponding move, making Shengelia’s dismissal a bit curious even though he hasn’t been a part of Chicago’s rotation since coming over from the Nets in a January trade. Shengelia is on an expiring contract that pays him the one-year veteran’s minimum salary of $788,872, but unless a team claims him off waivers, that money will remain on Chicago’s books. It seems less likely that Shengelia, on an expiring deal, would warrant a waiver claim like former Bull Erik Murphy did, as Murphy’s contract includes a non-guaranteed 2014/15.

Shengelia saw a total of just 17 minutes for the Bulls, who acquired him in a cost-cutting move for Marquis Teague, who makes $1,074,720 this season. The difference was not insignificant to Chicago, which has struggled to create room beneath the luxury tax threshold in case Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah trigger bonuses that force the team into the tax for the second year in a row. That would set the team up for the league’s steep repeat offender tax rates if the team made it three straight taxpaying seasons in 2014/15.

The 22-year-old saw slightly more playing time while with the Nets, who acquired him shortly after the Sixers drafted him 54th overall in 2012. He averaged 1.5 points in 8.1 minutes per game in 17 appearances for Brooklyn this season, and 1.6 PPG in 4.9 MPG in 19 contests for the Nets as a rookie.

Nets Swap Backup PGs With Pelicans, Bulls

The Nets have officially announced a pair of trades, acquiring Marquis Teague from the Bulls in a one-for-one swap for Tornike Shengelia, and sending Tyshawn Taylor and cash to the Pelicans in exchange for the draft rights to Edin Bavcic, a 29-year-old big man playing in Greece.

The moves won’t greatly impact any of the teams’ rotations, as none of the active players involved in the trade have averaged as much as 13 minutes per game this season, and each of them has seen multiple D-League assignments. Teague was a first-round pick in 2012, but he struggled to find minutes for Chicago. Shengelia doesn’t figure to be a critical piece for the Bulls, but he is a big body who can potentially provide frontcourt depth off the bench. Shams Charania of tweets the Bulls intend to give him a shot at some minutes. Bavcic was originally a second-round draft choice of the Raptors in 2006, but he’s never played in the NBA, so it appears he’s merely a throw-in.

Sending off Taylor will provide a bit of much-needed financial relief for Brooklyn, which is currently set to face about $80MM in luxury tax penalties in July. Shengelia and Taylor will both earn $788,872 this season, while Teague will make $1,074,720. The move will save the Nets from paying some extra tax dollars this season, but Teague’s contract runs through 2014/15, one year longer than the pacts Shengelia and Taylor are signed to.

Since the Pelicans had an open roster spot and Taylor is on a minimum-salary contract, they can absorb him without giving up a player. Brooklyn creates a vacancy on its roster with the moves, as the Nets had been carrying the maximum 15 players all season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was the first to report the trades, which were agreed upon Saturday (Twitter links). Originally, it appeared the Pelicans would send the Nets a heavily protected second-rounder, but it looks like the teams agreed on including Bavcic in the deal instead.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.