Yakhouba Diawara

Western Notes: Ezeli, Miller, Lillard, Diawara

Festus Ezeli‘s favorable perception of the Warriors hasn’t changed in the wake of the end of extension talks between agent Bill Duffy and the team, as Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group relays. The center is headed into restricted free agency in July with the extension window officially set to close at 11pm Central tonight.

“Obviously [Duffy] didn’t come up to an agreement with the team, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I want to be here for the rest of my career, and I love these guys,” Ezeli said. “I love the team. We discussed it a little bit with my family, and [Duffy] kind of told us what he thought was best moving forward, and we went with that.”

See more from the Western Conference:

  • Part of the reason the Timberwolves wanted to sign Andre Miller is because Flip Saunders wanted to shore up the team’s troubles with simply inbounding the ball at the end of games, as TNT’s David Aldridge notes within his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Of course, Miller’s leadership was key, too, and Saunders told Miller ahead of time that the team would be signing fellow veteran Tayshaun Prince, as Miller said to Aldridge for a piece that further shows the respect the Wolves have for the late coach/executive.
  • Damian Lillard‘s play has been surprisingly underwhelming so far this season, but it’s chiefly a product of his willingness to experiment with his game so that he can tailor it to the needs of the Blazersoverhauled roster, as Jason Quick of CSNNW.com examines. “It’s easy for me to go out there and get 35 and have seven assists and the game not be played as well,’’ Lillard said. “But if we are going to play the game the right way and if our team is going to grow and keep getting better, then I have to make sure we are doing things the right way.’’
  • Four-year NBA veteran and Grizzlies camp cut Yakhouba Diawara has signed with CSP Limoges of France, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). Freelance journalist Guido Guida first reported the news (Twitter link).

Grizzlies Waive Diawara, Carter, Jones, Stepheson

The Grizzlies have waived Yakhouba Diawara, Sampson Carter, Lazeric Jones and Alex Stepheson, the team announced. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reported the moves minutes earlier (Twitter link). The Memphis roster drops to 16, which means one more cut has to take place no later than Monday. JaMychal Green, who has a $150K partial guarantee, and Ryan Hollins, who’s on a non-guaranteed deal, are the only remaining Grizzlies without full guarantees. The four players Memphis is letting go have no guaranteed money.

Diawara, 33, was attempting an NBA comeback after having played overseas since his last NBA appearance in 2009/10. The swingman averaged 2.3 points in 16.0 minutes per game across six preseason contests this month.

Carter was a 25-year-old combo forward who went undrafted out of UMass in 2014. Last season he hopped from BC Prievidza in Slovakia to CAB Madeira in Portugal and finally to Club Virgilio Castillo, also known as Chola, of the Dominican Republic. Pincus reported that his contract was a one-year, minimum-salary arrangement without a guarantee. He averaged 1.0 point and 6.0 minutes per game in six preseason appearances.

Jones’ contract was the first NBA deal for the former UCLA point guard who spent three years playing overseas. The 25-year-old put up 5.8 points in 14.3 minutes per game over six preseason contests for the Grizzlies.

Stepheson followed a similar path, playing overseas after going undrafted in 2011 out of USC and finally landing his first NBA deal with the Grizzlies earlier this month, when the team cut camp invitee Michael Holyfield. Stepheson’s deal was a one-year, minimum-salary arrangement without a guarantee, as Pincus reported. He averaged 2.3 points in 9.2 minutes per game over three preseason appearances.

Grizzlies Sign Five For Camp

The Grizzlies have formally signed Yakhouba Diawara, Ryan Hollins, Michael Holyfield, Lazeric Jones and Daniel Nwaelele, the team announced via press release. All five moves were expected, based on previous reports. The moves give Memphis a full 20-man roster for the preseason, as our roster count shows. All are making the minimum salary, since the Grizzlies don’t have the capacity to give more after signing Brandan Wright for the mid-level exception earlier in the offseason, and all are reportedly non-guaranteed

Diawara, 33, returns to the NBA after an absence of more than five years. The native of France played last season in Italy. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports first reported the deal between Memphis and the swingman.

Hollins, who turns 31 next month, gives the Grizzlies depth on the interior. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports first reported the deal, and he and Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal had details about the arrangement, which covers one season.

Holyfield went undrafted this year out of Sam Houston State but joined the Grizzlies for summer league this year before formally signing with the team. Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders first reported the deal for the center who turns 23 in November, revealing that it’s a one-year pact.

Jones is a 25-year-old point guard who went undrafted out of UCLA in 2012 and has spent time overseas since then, playing in Israel, Greece and Hungary. Charania first reported the deal, and Pincus reports that it’s a one-year contract.

Nwaelele is a 31-year-old Air Force veteran who’s spent much of his time since going undrafted in 2007 serving out his military commitment. Marc Stein of ESPN.com first reported the deal, which is a one-year arrangement, according to Pincus.

Grizzlies, Yakhouba Diawara Agree To Camp Deal

The Grizzlies have agreed to a non-guaranteed deal with four-year NBA veteran Yakhouba Diawara, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). It’ll be his first NBA contract since 2010. The signing will ostensibly round out the camp roster for Memphis, which already had signed contracts or verbal agreements with 19 players.

Diawara, a native of France, has been playing overseas since he last appeared in the NBA with the Heat. He averaged 13.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game with OpenJobMetis Varese of Italy this past season, though he shot only 28.3% from behind the arc. Outside shooting has never been his strength, however, as he connected on just 30.1% of his three-point attempts during his NBA career with Miami and the Nuggets.

Memphis is no stranger to taking chances with veterans during the preseason, having signed Michael Beasley and Earl Clark to camp deals last year. Neither made it to opening night with the team, and Diawara faces an uphill battle if he’s to stick for the regular season this year. The Grizzlies also have reportedly agreed to sign center Ryan Hollins, and 14 other players have fully guaranteed contracts. Memphis has started each of the past three seasons with fewer than the maximum 15 players for opening night.

And-Ones: Clippers, Diawara, Mavs, Cavs

Interim Clippers CEO Dick Parsons will step down in a few weeks, as he tells the Fox Business Network, according to Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter link). The move is no surprise now that Steve Ballmer has officially taken over the franchise, since Parsons said in May shortly after the league installed him as a caretaker for the team that he had no plans of remaining with the club after its ownership situation was resolved. Parsons has been acting as a “proxy owner,” as he put it, with final authority over any decisions president of basketball operations Doc Rivers made. Here’s more from around the league:

  • Multiple NBA teams had interest in bringing Yakhouba Diawara back to the league this summer, but he indicated on his Twitter account late Tuesday that he’s signing with Pallacanestro Varese of Italy (hat tip to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). David Pick of Eurobasket.com confirms the news with a tweet of his own. Diawara worked out for the Raptors, Bucks and Nets over the past few months.
  • This season’s minimum salary in Ivan Johnson‘s two-year contract with the Mavs is guaranteed for only $25K, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link).
  • It appears as though the Cavs guaranteed $65K of the minimum salary for Alex Kirk this season, Pincus also tweets.

Eastern Notes: LeBron, Monroe, Magic, Bulls

LeBron James is scheduled to meet Wednesday with Heat president Pat Riley in Las Vegas, league sources told ESPN’s Chris Broussard. A few days ago, we passed along that the free agent superstar was planning to have a sitdown with Riley at some point this week. Here’s what else has been buzzing in the Eastern Conference this evening:

  • Pistons president/head coach Stan Van Gundy reiterated that restricted free agent Greg Monroe is still part of the team’s future plans, reports David Mayo of MLive. Mayo also explains how Detroit could potentially create an additional $4.5MM in cap space this summer by making other moves in free agency first before signing Monroe to a new contract.
  • In their final move of this summer’s free agency, the Magic aim to land a third point guard to back up Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
  • The Bulls’ pursuit of Pau Gasol is dependent on what Carmelo Anthony decides to do in free agency, reports Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, who hears that the wait has become “frustrating” for Chicago’s front office.
  • When Knicks head coach Derek Fisher spoke with Carmelo last week, he guaranteed that the team would be better next season with the new system, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post. Fisher, who hasn’t spoken with Anthony since Thursday’s meeting, wouldn’t say whether he felt good or not about New York’s chances of retaining the star forward.
  • In another piece, Berman writes that Anthony has held out faint hope that Knicks president Phil Jackson can clear the necessary cap space this summer to bring LeBron James to New York. Doing so would at the least require New York to find takers for Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani in salary dump deals.
  • Having completed his workout for the Raptors, former NBA swingman Yakhouba Diawara will be auditioning for the Bucks next, a source tells David Pick of Eurobasket (Twitter link).
  • Celtics guard Rajon Rondo recently spoke with Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe and brushed off speculation that the arrival of rookie point guard Marcus Smart could affect his future in Boston. “I don’t think (anything) of it… I can be here today, gone tomorrow. You never know. For me to get bent out of shape, or to feel threatened by the Celtics drafting a point guard, it means nothing.”

And-Ones: Union, Celtics, Blatche, Diawara

The players union is worried that teams like the Heat are trying to strong-arm players into making financial sacrifices by triggering hard caps with the use of the non-taxpayer’s mid-level and bi-annual exceptions, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe explains. Clubs can’t exceed the tax apron, the line $4MM above the tax threshold, if they use either the larger mid-level or the bi-annual. Ron Klempner, the interim executive director for the union, argues that such teams can eschew those exceptions and find ways that don’t trigger a hard cap to accommodate contracts for the players they want.

“Teams are being exposed for what they are doing,” Klempner told Lowe. “It has been laid bare. They are hiding behind the rules. Teams like the Heat have the ability to bring back all their players, and give them raises, but they are choosing to go in another direction.”

Here’s more from around the league:

Nets To Work Out Ivan Johnson, Others

SUNDAY, 10:12am: According to his agent, French SF Yakhouba Diawara has been invited to the Nets mini-camp this Tuesday, reports David Pick of Eurobasket (Twitter link). Also attending will be Michael Snaer, reports Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. In 27 games with the Italian team Enel Brindisi, Snaer averaged 8.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, and 1.1 APG.

3:28pm: NBA vets Ivan Johnson, Malcolm Lee, Kim English, Kevin Murphy and DaJuan Summers will join Liggins, Greene, Machado, Kennedy and others in working out for the club on Tuesday, the Nets announced. Lance Thomas will also participate, as Adam Zagoria of SNY reported earlier this week.

THURSDAY, 9:56am: Four free agents with NBA experience will visit with the Nets next week, according to Lenn Robbins of Nets.com, who says the team will see DeAndre Liggins, Donte GreeneScott Machado and D.J. Kennedy (Twitter links; hat tip to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv). The Nets are holding a mini-camp soon, so it seems like the foursome will be among those working out for the club.

Liggins has the most recent NBA experience among that group, having played in the NBA this past season on a pair of 10-day contracts with the Heat. The 26-year-old only appeared in one game for a single minute for Miami, but he made 39 appearances for the Thunder in 2012/13 and also saw playing time for the Magic the year before. He’s averaged 1.6 points in 7.1 minutes per game in the NBA since Orlando drafted him 53rd overall in 2011.

Greene, a former 28th overall pick, has the most extensive NBA experience, appearing in 253 games and making 82 starts for the Kings over four seasons, but he’s been out of the NBA since 2011/12, save for a late-season signing with the Grizzlies in 2012/13. He failed to get in a game during his time with Memphis. Machado, an undrafted former Iona standout, split this past season between France and the D-League after stints with the Rockets and Warriors in 2012/13. Kennedy, from St. John’s, has just two games with the Cavs in 2012/13 on his NBA resume, and he spent this past season playing in Israel and France.

Mini-camps at this time of year usually only help teams fill summer league rosters, but these four probably stand a chance at joining the Nets for preseason this fall, given their experience. The Nets, with a bloated payroll and limited flexibility, will have to do most of their free agent shopping with the minimum-salary exception.

And-Ones: LeBron, Embiid, Diawara, Johnson

There has been some chatter that former GM Chris Grant could have been the key to bringing LeBron James back to the Cavs but that is nothing more than a tall tale, writes
Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio. If Grant had a grand plan to bring LeBron back to Cleveland, Amico surmises, then he probably would have made that known to owner Dan Gilbert . Here’s tonight’s look around the Association..

  • Top draft prospect Joel Embiid will miss the Big 12 Tournament thanks to a back injury and at least one GM believes that it’s now a three-horse race for the No. 1 pick, tweets Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.
  • Yakhouba Diawara officially parted ways with French team Gravelines-Dunkerque, writes Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.  The French forward was averaging 11.9 PPG and 3.5 RPG in Pro A and 12.9 PPG in Eurocup.  The four-year NBA veteran last appeared in the league with the Heat in 2010.
  • Undrafted forward Karron Johnson has signed a contract in the NBA D-League, a source tells Shams Charania of RealGM (on Twitter).  Johnson, a product of Shaw University (Division II), left his Polish team last week.
  • Thanks to the tremendous play of Al Jefferson, the extraordinary coaching of Steve Clifford, and the impressive development of Kemba Walker, the Bobcats have positioned themselves in the playoff hunt, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.

Heat Express Interest In Von Wafer, Others

According to Hoopsworld.com's Alex Kennedy, the Heat have recently expressed interest in several free agents, including Von WaferJulyan Stone, Justin Holiday, Yakhouba Diawara, and Larry Drew II.

The 28-year-old Wafer last played in the NBA during the 2011/12 season as a member of the Magic. He averaged 5.9 PPG in 33 appearances. Only 24 years old and with two seasons under his belt with the Nuggets, Stone appeared in four games last year, but has reportedly agreed to a training camp deal with the Raptors.

The Heat have 13 players on guaranteed contracts, not including the recently signed Michael Beasley, who is on a non-guaranteed deal.