Rade Zagorac

Rade Zagorac To Play In Spain

Former Grizzlies forward Rade Zagorac will continue his career in Spain, having signed a contract with ACB club Real Betis, according to agent Misko Raznatovic (Twitter link). Zagorac previously appeared poised to return to his home country of Serbia for the 2017/18 season, but will head elsewhere in Europe after that deal fell through.

As international basketball reporter David Pick explains (via Twitter), Zagorac had reached a verbal agreement on a deal with KK Partizan Belgrade that would have kept him under contract with the Serbian team through 2019. However, Partizan Belgrade had been hit with a FIBA sanction that prevented them from adding new players, meaning Zagorac’s deal couldn’t be finalized.

Zagorac, 22, was the 35th overall pick in the 2016 draft, and after spending one final season overseas, he joined the Grizzlies earlier this year. However, despite signing a contract that was fully guaranteed for two seasons, the 6’9″ forward was unable to earn a spot on Memphis’ regular season roster. The club waived him along with fellow 2016 draftee Wade Baldwin at the end of the preseason.

With Zagorac headed to Spain, the Grizzlies continue to carry $950K in dead money on their 2017/18 cap for the former second-rounder, plus about $1.38MM for 2018/19. However, the club hasn’t given up on the idea of eventually trying to bring the young forward back to Memphis, as Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal noted last month.

Rade Zagorac Expected To Sign With Serbian Team

Former NBA second-round pick Rade Zagorac is expected to continue his career in his home country of Serbia, according to international basketball journalist David Pick, who reports (via Twitter) that Zagorac is committing to a new deal with KK Partizan Belgrade.

Zagorac, 22, was the 35th overall pick in the 2016 draft, and after spending one final season overseas, he appeared poised to join the Grizzlies this year. However, despite signing a contract that was fully guaranteed for two seasons, the 6’9″ forward was unable to earn a spot on Memphis’ regular season roster. The club waived him along with fellow 2016 draftee Wade Baldwin at the end of the preseason.

Assuming Zagorac finalizes an agreement with KK Partizan Belgrade, it will represent a homecoming for the Serbian, who spent several seasons playing for Mega Leks before making the leap to the NBA. Zagorac is on track to team up with Jazz draft-and-stash prospect Nigel Williams-Goss, who struck a deal with Partizan Belgrade earlier this year.

As for the Grizzlies, they’ll carry $950K in dead money on their 2017/18 cap for Zagorac, plus about $1.38MM for 2018/19. However, the club hasn’t given up on the idea of eventually trying to bring the young forward back to Memphis, as Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal noted last month.

Southwest Notes: Aldridge, CP3, Grizzlies, Parsons

LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs haven’t always seen eye to eye over the last two years, but in the wake of a contract agreement that extended Aldridge’s deal by an additional two years, the big man sounds as happy as he’s ever been in San Antonio. As Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News details, Aldridge says “everything is great” between him and the Spurs, and that both sides are pleased with the extension.

“I feel like the talks this summer (between Aldridge and the Spurs) were very constructive and were kind of needed, having a heart to heart where you just say how you feel,” Aldridge said. “And I feel like Pop (Gregg Popovich) has been great about the things that I said or kind of needed or wanted, and so far it’s been great.”

Asked by Jabari Young of The Express-News (Twitter link) if he hopes to finish his career with the Spurs, Aldridge said that would most likely be his preference. Still, his new deal doesn’t add a ton of new years to his contract. As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets, the extension adds one guaranteed year worth $26MM, then one additional season that’s partially guaranteed ($7MM of $24MM). The pact also features a 15% trade kicker, Woj adds.

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Troy Williams (Rockets) and Dorian Finney-Smith (Mavericks) saw the guarantees on their respective contracts increase this week, as our salary guarantee calendar shows. Williams’ salary for the season is now fully guaranteed.
  • In an in-depth feature for ESPN The Magazine, Jackie MacMullan provides an inside look at Chris Paul‘s decision to join the Rockets over the summer. Within the piece, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers admits that the relationship between him and Paul suffered toward the end.
  • After waiving Wade Baldwin and Rade Zagorac to set the regular season roster this week, Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said those decisions were “extremely difficult,” per Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “If this was a normal year when we didn’t have extra players who were viable then Wade and Rade wouldn’t be released,” Wallace said. Zagorac isn’t eligible to head to the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate, but the team thinks there’s a good chance they’ll bring him back down the road, tweets Tillery.
  • The Grizzlies‘ major free agent signing of 2016, Chandler Parsons, won’t be in the starting lineup to open the season, making him one of the NBA’s highest-paid bench players. Tillery has the details in another article for The Commercial Appeal.

Grizzlies Waive Wade Baldwin, Rade Zagorac

One year after using their first-round pick to draft Wade Baldwin, the Grizzlies have parted ways with the young point guard. The Grizzlies have waived Baldwin, according to a team release.  Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported earlier in the day that Memphis intended to waive or trade him (Twitter link). Wade Baldwin vertical

The Grizzlies also waived rookie forward Rade Zagorac to reach the 15-man regular season limit, the release adds. Wojnarowski had reported earlier (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies would be shedding Zagorac by waiving or trading him.

The Grizzlies’ decisions come as a bit of a surprise. At the start of camp, it appeared that forward Jarell Martin was on the chopping block for the club, and point guard Andrew Harrison was another player whose roster spot appeared to be in danger.

With Memphis waiving Baldwin and Zagorac, there will be room to carry both Martin and Harrison, along with veteran point guard Mario Chalmers, who has a small ($25K) partial guarantee on his contract. Wojnarowski has confirmed (via Twitter) that Chalmers and Harrison will remain on the roster as backups to starting point guard Mike Conley. Chalmers’ minimum salary deal will become fully guaranteed if he remains under contract through Wednesday.

The optics of the moves aren’t great for the Grizzlies, who drafted Baldwin a year ago using the 17th overall pick. He’s owed a guaranteed $1,874,400 salary this season, but the club won’t be on the hook for any future salary, since his $1,955,160 team option for 2018/19 hadn’t been picked up.

The Grizzlies will actually owe more guaranteed money to Zagorac, another 2016 draftee, who was stashed for one year and then signed a partially guaranteed three-year deal this offseason. The 35th overall pick in 2016, Zagorac will be owed $950K this season and $1,378,242 in 2018/19. His third-year team option for 2019/20 is non-guaranteed.

This marks the second straight preseason in which the Grizzlies have given up on a former first-round pick still on his rookie contract. A year ago, the team waived 2014 first-rounder Jordan Adams as part of its roster cutdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Zagorac, Noel, Smith Jr.

Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations Mickey Loomis says the team is “due” for success and Rajon Rondo will provide veteran leadership, as he told New Orleans Times-Picayune columnists Jeff Duncan and Larry Holder during a radio interview. Loomis affirmed that the team was at a crossroads in terms of its development after trading for DeMarcus Cousins last season, retaining free agent point guard Jrue Holiday and reaching an agreement with Rondo. “I think we’re due and it’s time to have some success,” he said in the interview. “I think we’re all expecting that.” Though Rondo has yet to officially signed with New Orleans, Loomis said Rondo’s experience made him a good fit. “We’re talking about a veteran player that has some leadership qualities that’s been on winning teams, that understands how to win in the NBA,” Loomis said.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Rade Zagorac‘s contract with the Grizzlies is a three-year, $3.9MM deal, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The first two years and $2.3MM is guaranteed, he adds. Zagorac, the 35th overall selection in the 2016 draft, played overseas last season. The swingman was the leading scorer for KK Mega Leks in Serbia in 2016/17.
  • The Mavs will continue to play hardball with restricted free agent Nerlens Noel now that his other options have fallen by the wayside, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News opines. Noel is one of the few high-level free agents who hasn’t already signed a contract this month. Sefko doubts that Noel will take the qualifying offer of $4,187,598 and become an unrestricted free agent next summer, speculating that the two parties will eventually come to an agreement.
  • Mavs first-rounder Dennis Smith Jr.has made a strong impression on some scouts with his summer-league performances, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. The point guard averaged 16.2 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.8 APG in his first five summer-league outings.  “(Smith Jr.) has a solid feel as a young point guard,” one scout told Wasserman. Wasserman quotes eight scouts, who break down the pros and cons of Smith Jr.’s game.

Grizzlies Sign Rade Zagorac

1:31pm: Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders clarifies the details on Zagorac’s contract, tweeting that it’s actually a three-year deal, with a third-year team option. The Grizzlies used part of their mid-level exception to give the Serbian swingman a $950K first-year salary.

12:25pm: Zagorac’s deal is a two-year contract with a team option on the second year, tweets Keith Smith of RealGM.

12:23pm: Draft-and-stash prospect Rade Zagorac has signed an NBA contract with the Grizzlies, according to the league’s official transactions page. While exact terms of the agreement aren’t known, RealGM’s transactions log lists Zagorac’s new deal as a multiyear pact.

Zagorac, whose rights were acquired by the Grizzlies in a 2016 draft-night trade that also sent No. 31 pick Deyonta Davis to Memphis, was the 35th overall selection in last year’s draft. He remained overseas for one more year and was the leading scorer for KK Mega Leks in Serbia in 2016/17. In 26 ABA League games, Zagorac has averaged 15.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.5 APG.

The 21-year-old swingman, who has been playing for the Grizzlies’ Summer League team this month, isn’t subject to the NBA’s rookie scale, as a former second-round pick. As such, Memphis would have had to use an exception to sign him — the team still has a portion of its mid-level available after inking Ben McLemore to a deal worth $5.2MM in 2017/18, so it’s possible Zagorac received a chunk of that MLE.

Meanwhile, RealGM’s transactions log notes that the Grizzlies have also signed Jeremy Morgan, another member of the club’s Summer League squad, to an NBA contract.

A 6’5″ guard out of Northern Iowa, Morgan appears to have received just a one-year contract, though we’ll have to wait on the exact terms of his deal. He’s probably more likely to end up on the roster for the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, than on the NBA team.

Rade Zagorac Likely To Join Grizzlies In 2017

Serbian forward Rade Zagorac didn’t join the Grizzlies right away when the team used the 35th overall pick in the 2016 draft to select him. However, agent Misko Raznatovic believes it’s very likely that his client will head to Memphis in the summer of 2017 to join his NBA team. Raznatovic said as much during a conversation with Sasa Ozmo of SportKlub.rs (translation via Sportando).

“It is almost certain that Rade Zagorac will sign with the Grizzlies next year,” Raznatovic said. “In the NBA it is called [a] ‘verbal commitment’ – unlike in Europe, where verbal agreements don’t mean much, in the USA they stick to what was agreed in regard to plan of development of a certain player. That is the main reason why Zagorac stayed in Mega, so that he could go to the NBA next season.”

Zagorac, whose rights were acquired by the Grizzlies in a draft-night trade that also sent No. 31 pick Deyonta Davis to Memphis, has been the leading scorer for KK Mega Leks in Serbia this season. In 14 ABA League games, he has averaged 15.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 2.8 APG.

Shortly after he was selected by the Grizzlies this summer, Zagorac told Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal that he felt like the “best solution” for his development was to play one more season in Europe before heading to the NBA in 2017, so he and his agent have been eyeing that possibility for some time. If Memphis does add Zagorac next year, the team will have to use cap room or an exception to sign him, since he’s not subject to the rookie scale.

Free Agent Notes: Rondo, Wolves, Gasol

The Pelicans could still make a push for signing Rajon Rondo even after securing an agreement with E’Twaun Moore, John Reid of The Times Picayune writes. Reid acknowledges that there are other teams in the mix for Rondo and New Orleans appears to be a long-shot. There were conflicting reports on Friday as to whether the team was interested in Rondo.

Reid confirms an earlier report that the Pelicans were interested in Jeremy Lin, but the point guard’s price was too steep for the team. Lin signed a three-year, $36MM deal with Brooklyn on Friday.

Here’s more from around the league during this crazy start to free agency:

Draft Updates: Zizic, Zubac, Korkmaz, Washpun

The deadline for prospects to withdraw from the 2016 NBA draft is today at 4:00pm central time, which means this year’s draft class will get a little smaller by tonight. The majority of the NCAA underclassmen who have decided not to remain in the draft made their decisions final several weeks ago, since the NCAA’s cut-off for retaining eligibility came earlier. Today’s deadline will have an impact on plenty of international players, however, as they decide whether it makes more sense to keep their names in the draft this year or try their luck down the road.

Here are some of Monday’s latest NBA draft updates, including a handful of notes on those international prospects…

  • Croatian big men Ante Zizic and Ivica Zubac will both remain in this year’s draft, and both players project to be selected in the 15-25 range, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford (Twitter links). Ford also provides an update on Serbian wing Rade Zagorac, who will keep his name in the draft. According to Ford (Twitter link), Zagorac figures to be picked in the 25-40 range.
  • Ford adds (via Twitter) that French wing Timothe Luwawu will remain draft-eligible as well, though his value is a little harder to pin down — Ford suggests that Luwawu could come off the board in the back half of the first round or early in the second.
  • Eighteen-year-old Turkish shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz will remain in the draft, reports ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla (Twitter link). Korkmaz will likely be one of the first international prospects to come off the board, perhaps even in the lottery.
  • Former Northern Iowa guard Wes Washpun is set to work out for the Timberwolves, Bucks, and Bulls this week, league sources tell Michael Scott of Sheridan Hoops (Twitter link). Washpun didn’t earn a spot in Jonathan Givony’s or Chad Ford’s top 100 lists, so he projects as a potential undrafted free agent.
  • Ben Leibowitz of Graphiq (link via The San Jose Mercury News) takes an in-depth look at which NBA franchises have had the best and worst luck in the draft lottery since its introduction.

Four Overseas First-Round Prospects Enter Draft

11:51am: Raznatovic client and first-round prospect Ante Zizic has also entered the draft, as the agent says and Eurohoops.net confirms (Twitter link). Zizic, a 6’11” center who plays for Croatia’s KK Cibona, is No. 22 on Ford‘s list and No. 26 on Givony‘s. The 19-year-old’s athleticism and frame offer promise, but his offensive skills need work, as Givony examined in February.

8:58am: Swingman Timothe Luwawu, shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz and center Ivica Zubac are the first-round prospects among a group of nine overseas players who’ve entered the draft, as their agent, Misko Raznatovic, revealed (Twitter links). Small forwards Marko Guduric and Rade Zagorac, point guard Ognjen Jaramaz, forward/center Alpha Kaba and centers Emircan Kosut and Jordan Shako are the others who’ve declared. All of them have until June 13th, 10 days before the draft, to withdraw.

Luwawu, a 6’7″ 20-year-old from France, has a decent shot to become a lottery pick as the No. 12 prospect in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings. Chad Ford of ESPN.com lists him 19th. His strengths include an emerging 3-point game, passing and intriguing defensive skill, while ball-handling and a lack of willingness to finish inside are his weaknesses, as Givony observed in February. Luwawu plays for Serbia’s KK Mega Vizura.

Korkmaz appears poised to be drafted in the same range. Ford ranks him 13th while Givony has him at No. 18. The 6’7″ 18-year-old combines a well-honed 3-point stroke with impressive athleticism, but his defense lags behind, as Givony also examined in February. Korkmaz is with Anadolu Efes of Turkey.

The analysts are split on Zubac, with Givony pegging him 25th while Ford has him all the way down at 71st. The physical tools of the 7’1″ 19-year-old, along with his offensive upside and productivity, are his strengths while his defensive fundamentals, lack of polish and history of injuries are the trouble spots, as Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress examines in a pair of videos. Zubac is a teammate of Luwawu’s on KK Mega Vizura.

The 6’8″, 20-year-old Zagorac, another KK Mega Vizura player, has the highest ranking among the other prospects, coming in 72nd in Givony‘s rankings, though Ford doesn’t list him. The 6’10”, 20-year-old Kaba is Ford‘s 83rd-ranked prospect and 49th in Givony‘s 2017 mock draft, though Givony doesn’t list him among the top 2016 hopefuls. He along with Jaramaz, who’s 6’4″ and 20 years old, also play for KK Mega Vizura. Guduric, a 6’6″ 21-year-old, plays for a rival Serbian team, KK Crvena Zvezda. Shako, a 6’10” 19-year-old, is with Torrelodones of Spain.

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