Vanja Marinkovic

Atlantic Notes: Knicks Offseason, New York Targets, Celtics, Marinkovic

The Knicks have a busy offseason ahead of them, but have a solid foundation of returning players, led by Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, Spotrac’s Keith Smith writes in his offseason preview. Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart, Mitchell Robinson and Miles McBride are under contract, as is Bojan Bogdanovic, though his salary is only partially guaranteed for now and he may be used as a trade chip.

Still, New York has two key free agents to take care of: OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein. The Knicks may have an easier time signing Anunoby, who is expected to explore unrestricted free agency but whose full Bird rights are held by New York. A four-year, $160MM deal makes sense for Anunoby, Smith writes, given his production and what the team sent out to trade for him (Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett and draft capital).

However, the Knicks are limited to offering Hartenstein an average annual salary of about $18.1MM, which could be topped by teams with ample cap space like the Thunder and Magic, each of whom may have interest. Nonetheless, it’s not impossible Hartenstein opts to return. The difference in what he might earn from another team and from New York might not be sizable enough for him to want to make a drastic scenery change, given his current role. Smith writes the Knicks could look to agree to a two-year deal with Hartenstein that allows him to hit free agency again before he turns 28 and gives the club full Bird rights, when the cap is expected to increase.

If the Knicks re-sign both Anunoby and Hartenstein, Smith points out they’ll almost certainly be a second apron team, which would limit their ability to trade for a star player, something they’ve seemed poised to do for some time. What New York decides to do with its two biggest free agents will also likely impact the team’s willingness to bring back free agents such as Precious Achiuwa, Alec Burks and Jericho Sims.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In the second half of a two-part series, Fred Katz of The Athletic examines the names that might arise this offseason if the Knicks pursue a star, considering how realistic each player would be as a trade target. Devin Booker, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lauri Markkanen, Brandon Ingram, Joel Embiid and Zach LaVine are the names mentioned by Katz, but only a Markkanen deal feels like it might make sense for both sides.
  • The Celtics almost made a number of massive moves in the build-up to what led to their 2024 title team. They had trade talks over the years about Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard, and had a godfather offer out to the Hornets with an eye toward moving up to No. 9 in the 2015 draft to select Justise Winslow. Any of those moves could have drastically altered Boston’s timeline. In a piece exploring Boston’s process to building a championship team, ESPN’s Zach Lowe (ESPN+ link) reports that the Celtics tried to acquire a second lottery pick in 2017 in order to select Donovan Mitchell, and again attempted to trade for him after Utah selected him.
  • Vanja Marinkovic will return to Partizan Mozzart Bet, with whom he has played 119 career games, after signing a two-year deal with them on Monday, the team announced. Marinkovic’s draft rights are held by the Nets after Brooklyn acquired them in the three-team deal that sent Royce O’Neale to the Suns. Marinkovic was the No. 60 overall pick in 2019.

Nikola Jokic Included On Serbia’s Preliminary Olympic Roster

The Serbian national team has officially unveiled its preliminary roster for the 2024 Olympics, and that group is headlined by a noteworthy name. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is one of the 16 players on Serbia’s preliminary roster, which will be cut down to 12 players for this summer’s games in Paris.

Jokic was noncommittal when asked last month at the end of Denver’s season whether he intended to play for Serbia in the Olympics. Svetislav Pesic, the head coach of the national team, recently stated that the Nuggets star remained undecided. Jokic’s inclusion on the 16-man preliminary roster doesn’t guarantee he’ll be in Paris, but it’s a signal that he’s planning to participate.

Even without Jokic, the Serbians claimed a silver medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, falling to Germany in the final but qualifying for the Olympics based on that deep World Cup run. Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and Heat forward Nikola Jovic were among the key players on that team.

Bogdanovic and Jovic are also on the preliminary Olympic roster, and are joined by three more NBA players in Jokic, Hornets guard Vasilije Micic, and Hornets forward Aleksej Pokusevski. Filip Petrusev and Marko Guduric previously played in the NBA, while Nikola Milutinov, Ognjen Jaramaz, and Vanja Marinkovic were selected in past drafts but have never signed NBA contracts.

Serbia will be in Group C along with the United States at the Olympics and can secure a spot in the quarterfinals with a top-two finish in round-robin play. South Sudan and the winner of an Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico (Lithuania is the top-rated club in that six-team tournament) will be the other competition in Group C. Assuming Jokic plays, he could end up facing fellow Nuggets star Jamal Murray – who will suit up for Canada – at some point in the single-elimination portion of the event.

DiVincenzo To Kings, Bagley To Pistons In Four-Team Trade

7:14pm: The four-team deal is official, according to a Kings press release.

A press release from the Clippers notes that L.A. also received the draft rights to Vanja Marinkovic from Sacramento in the deal, sending the draft rights to David Michineau to the Kings. The cash going to Milwaukee in the trade comes from the Clippers.

As we previously relayed, the Kings waived Jahmi’us Ramsey and Robert Woodard to complete the move.


10:47am: The Kings are trading former No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley III to the Pistons, sources tell Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link), that move will be part of a four-team trade that sends Bucks wing Donte DiVincenzo to Sacramento.

The Clippers will be the fourth club involved in the deal, as Charania reports (via Twitter) that big man Serge Ibaka is headed to Milwaukee. Los Angeles is acquiring swingman Rodney Hood and forward Semi Ojeleye from the Bucks, tweets Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.

Sacramento is receiving Pistons forwards Josh Jackson and Trey Lyles along with DiVincenzo, per Charania (via Twitter), while Detroit is also sending out multiple second-round picks, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Woj (via Twitter) breaks the deal down as follows:

  • Kings acquire DiVincenzo, Jackson, and Lyles.
  • Pistons acquire Bagley.
  • Clippers acquire Hood and Ojeleye.
  • Bucks acquire Ibaka, two second-round picks, and cash.

The Kings continue to reshape their roster after acquiring Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, and Jeremy Lamb in a trade with the Pacers Tuesday. DiVincenzo ($4.7MM this season) is eligible for restricted free agency in 2022 if Sacramento chooses to give him a qualifying offer, while Jackson ($3MM) is on an expiring deal. Lyles, however, earns $2.5MM this season and has a club option for next season at $2.6MM, giving the Kings some added flexibility.

DiVincenzo has been a solid defender, rebounder, and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He’s had a slow start to this season after recovering from ankle surgery and then entering the health and safety protocols, but he’s a young, controllable asset who likely won’t be too expensive going forward. Sacramento tried to acquire him prior to last season in the botched sign-and-trade that would have sent Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Bucks, but the deal was nullified due to “gun-jumping.” The Bucks ended up forfeiting a second-rounder in the process.

The Kings had reportedly been shopping Bagley for well over a year, as he was drafted by the previous front office regime and was publicly unhappy with the franchise. As a three-for-one trade, the Kings will have to waive two players, unless they make subsequent moves prior to the deal becoming official.

The Pistons are taking a gamble on Bagley, a good athlete who failed to develop in his time in Sacramento. Still just 22, Bagley could have untapped upside and figures to see more minutes on a rebuilding Pistons team. Like DiVincenzo, Bagley will be a restricted free agent in 2022. He’s earning $11.3MM in the final year of his rookie contract this season.

James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link) reports that the Pistons will be sending Sacramento’s 2024 second-round pick and either Cleveland’s or Golden State’s 2023 second-rounder (whichever is less favorable) to the Bucks.

For the Clippers, it’s a cost-cutting move that will save them approximately $30MM in luxury tax payments, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter). In order for the deal to work, Ibaka will need to amend a portion of his 15% trade bonus, Marks tweets, which Los Angeles will be responsible for.

Greif reports (Twitter link) that the Clips have been interested in Hood and Ojeleye in the past. Both players are on veteran minimum deals that expire this summer. Moving Ibaka gives more clarity to a crowded center rotation featuring Ivica Zubac, Isaiah Hartenstein, and newly-acquired Robert Covington (in small-ball looks).

By adding Ibaka’s $9.7MM contract and sending out three players, the defending champion Bucks will have three open roster spots (not including Greg Monroe, who’s on a 10-day deal) and add $6MM towards the luxury tax, Marks tweets. The cash they’re receiving will help offset the additional luxury tax payment. The Bucks had been searching for a center for a few months due to Brook Lopez‘s back injury; their starting center has suited for just one game this season.

Ibaka is having a down year after undergoing back surgery himself last summer, but he’s a smart, proven veteran who can space the floor and protect the paint when healthy. The two-second round picks will be key assets for a Bucks team that could be facing the repeater tax for multiple seasons as they contend for more titles.

Rory Maher contributed to this story.

And-Ones: Zion, World Cup, Schedule, Marinkovic

Zion Williamson, one of the top free agents on the shoe endorsement market, has reached a deal with Jordan Brand, he announced today on Instagram. Although terms of the multi-year arrangement were not released, Williamson received offers in excess of $10MM a year from some of Jordan’s competitors, relays Nick DePaula of ESPN.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league and having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had and continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to, and I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”

The company held an all-employees meeting this morning where the news was disclosed. Digital billboards featuring Williamson are scheduled to be unveiled soon.

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • FIBA’s decision to move the World Cup to the summer before the Olympics may be responsible for so many stars deciding to skip the event, tweets Michael Lee of The Athletic. He notes that it’s difficult to find elite players who are willing to commit two straight offseasons to international competition. Many of the players who withdrew are sincere about their desire to prepare for the upcoming season, observes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). With no obvious favorite for the 2019/20 title, many stars are seeking any advantage they can get. Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan are the latest players to pull their names out of consideration for Team USA.
  • A summer filled with blockbuster trades and unprecedented free agent movement presents unique challenges for schedule makers, writes Jacob Feldman of Sports Illustrated. The scheduling process usually starts in mid-June, but the league came to an agreement with ESPN and TNT to push it back because of the expected flurry of transactions. The schedule release is still anticipated for its normal time of early to mid-August.
  • Kings second-round pick Vanja Marinkovic will leave his Partizan Belgrade team to sign with Valencia in Spain, tweets international basketball consultant Vedran Modric. It will be a two-year deal with an option for a third season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link).
  • Center Matt Costello, who played briefly for the Spurs during the 2017/18 season, has reached a deal with Spanish club Herbalife Gran Canaria, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando.

And-Ones: P. Jones, Marinkovic, E. Bryant, Pacquiao

A rules change in the BIG3 League has allowed Perry Jones to use that venue to pursue another shot at the NBA, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The 28th player picked in the 2012 draft, Jones spent three years with the Thunder before being traded to Boston in the summer of 2015. He never played for the Celtics before being waived that fall, then failed to make the Pelicans‘ roster after joining them for training camp in 2017.

Now 27, Jones took advantage of the new lower age limit in the BIG3, which dropped from 30 to 27 this year. He’s playing for the expansion Enemies, averaging 7.7 points per game, and hasn’t lost the confidence that he can succeed in the NBA.

“No disrespect to the Thunder, but I went to a team that didn’t have a need (for a player like me),” Jones said. “They had three superstars. They had everything set in stone that they needed. It’s just how the business goes. I think if I went somewhere else and had the opportunity to play in actual games, I think my career would have turned out differently for sure.”

There’s more NBA-related news to pass along:

  • Vanja Marinkovic, selected by the Kings with the final pick in this year’s draft, has until July 30 to decide where he will play this season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link). That’s when the buy-out clause expires on the final year of his contract with Partizan Belgrade in Serbia. It’s unlikely that he’ll come to the NBA, but Spain’s Unicaja Malaga and Valencia Basket have both expressed interest, Carchia states.
  • Coming off a strong performance with the Bucks‘ summer league team, Elijah Bryant is deciding among several NBA offers, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. The former BYU guard had a break-out performance July 8 with 31 points and seven rebounds against Minnesota.
  • Boxer Manny Pacquiao tells TMZ Sports he wants to fight for five more years and then purchase part of an NBA team. He already owns the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, a semi-pro outfit in the Philippines, and regularly uses basketball as part of his training. Pacquiao has an estimated net worth around $200MM.

NBA’s Early Entrant Withdrawal Deadline Looms

The NCAA’s deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the 2018 NBA draft and retain their college eligibility came and went last month, with underclassmen deciding by May 30 whether or not they wanted to keep their names in the draft.

However, while NCAA eligibility rules dictated that those prospects had to make decisions early, the NBA’s own withdrawal deadline for early entrants arrives today. Any early entrant who remains undecided on whether to keep his name in the 2018 draft will have to make a final call by 4:00pm central time on Monday.

[RELATED: Key 2018 NBA offseason dates, deadlines]

Since college prospects have already made their decisions, today’s deadline generally only applies to international early entrants. There’s no shortage of those this year, as 55 international prospects showed up on the NBA’s official list of early entrants in April, including Luka Doncic, Elie Okobo, and many others. We have all those names right here.

That list of 55 names figures to be trimmed significantly once today’s deadline passes. In 2017, for instance, 46 international early entrants initially declared for the draft, but only 10 remained in the draft pool through the NBA’s withdrawal deadline.

BeoBasket agent Misko Raznatovic provided an update on some of his clients today, tweeting that Dzanan Musa (Croatia) will remain in the 2018 draft, while Vanja Marinkovic (Serbia), Blaz Mesicek (Italy), and Goga Bitadze (Serbia) are withdrawing. Musa’s decision is particularly notable, as he currently ranks as the 20th overall prospect on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.

We’ll keep an eye out for any more noteworthy decisions from international early entrants today, and soon after Monday’s deadline passes, we’ll have an official list of 2018 early entrants straight from the NBA.

Draft Updates: Gabriel, Bowen, Mokoka, Marinkovic

Kentucky forward Wenyen Gabriel has decided to declare for the 2018 NBA draft, but won’t hire an agent for now in order to retain his NCAA eligibility, he announced today on Twitter.

“After talking with Coach Cal (John Calipari) and the staff, they believe it’s in my best interest to see where I stand in the eyes of the NBA,” Gabriel said in his statement. “I’m confident I can play at the next level, but I want to be absolutely certain that this is the right decision for me at this time.”

In his sophomore year for the Wildcats, Gabriel averaged a modest 6.8 PPG and 5.4 RPG, but showed the ability to protect the rim (1.1 BPG) and hit outside shots (.396 3PT%). He’s the fifth Kentucky underclassmen to declare for this year’s draft, joining teammates Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, and PJ Washington.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • South Carolina forward Brian Bowen, who enrolled at the school in January, is hoping to be granted eligibility for the 2018/19 season. However, he tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN (Twitter link) that he plans to declare for the NBA draft just in case he’s not reinstated by the NCAA.
  • A pair of international prospects, French shooting guard Adam Mokoka and Serbian shooting guard Vanja Marinkovic, have declared for the 2018 NBA draft, according to their agency BeoBasket (Twitter links via agents Pedja Materic and Misko Raznatovic). Mokoka, who was born in 1998, currently plays for Gravelines in France, while 1997-born Marinkovic is a member of Partizan Belgrade.
  • Spanish wing Xabier Lopez-Arostegui has declared for the draft, sources tell Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Lopez-Arostegui has spent the season with Joventut in Spain’s ACB, averaging 5.7 PPG and shooting 37% on three-pointers.