Rob Gray

And-Ones: NBA Execs Poll, Mourning, Reid, Gray

Various NBA executives and coaches were polled this month by Tim Bontemps of ESPN, questioned on which sophomore player they’d rather have: Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum or De’Aaron Fox.

All four players are considered to be among the league’s best young talent, but ranking the players is tougher than what it seems. The polling from the ESPN article largely echoed the results of the 2018 Rookie of the Year Award race, with Simmons ranking first, Mitchell second, Tatum third, and Fox fourth. Simmons received as many first-place votes (nine) as the other three players did combined.

“Simmons is in his own class,” an Eastern Conference executive told Bontemps, “because of his size and passing ability, plus his defense. Having the ability to control the game at both ends is really valuable.”

Of the four players, Simmons is the only talent without a reliable jumpshot. The thought of him one day having a consistent jumper — in addition to his already mesmerizing passing, rebounding and driving abilities — could strike fear in teams around the league.

However, not all of those polled agreed with Simmons being one of the top choices of the four players.

“Simmons doesn’t shoot,” one West executive said. “If you’re a championship-caliber team, non-shooters can’t be on the floor.”

“He’s really f—ing good,” another said. “But where do you play him?”

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

  • NBA legend Alonzo Mourning is among 11 world class basketball personalities that make up FIBA Hall of Fame’s 2019 class of inductees, FIBA announced this week. Mourning joins Janeth Arcain (Brazil), Bogdan Tanjevic (Montenegro) and others to be inducted, having helped Team USA win the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 1994. He also went on to help win a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
  • LSU expects to lose 19-year-old forward Naz Reid for the NBA Draft this spring, Adam Zagoria of writes. “Yeah, we’re expecting to lose him,” LSU assistant Greg Heiar admitted last week. “If you’re a top-20 pick in the draft, you need to go. You need to go. It’s what his dream is so we want him to chase his dream. You never want to hold a young man back.” Along with Reid, another LSU player who could garner professional interest in the coming months is Tremont Waters, an improved 5’11” point guard with impressive handles and court vision.
  • Free agent Rob Gray has agreed to a deal in France with JL Bourg, according to Sportando. Gray started the 2018/19 season with Fort Wayne in the NBA G League, with their campaign officially coming to an end this past week. Gray played summer league and later joined the Rockets for training camp last fall, getting waived before the season began.

Rockets Waive Rob Gray

The Rockets have waived training camp invitee Rob Gray, the team announced today (Twitter link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston). The move reduces the club’s roster count to just 17 players.

Gray, a 6’1″ guard, played his college ball at the University of Houston, averaging 19.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, and 3.7 RPG with a .447/.359/.802 shooting line in 2017/18. He was especially impressive during the NCAA Tournament in the spring, pouring in 39 points in a first-round win over San Diego State, then recording a double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds) in a one-point loss to Michigan.

Despite receiving a camp invite from the Rockets, Gray was always a long shot to earn a regular season roster spot in Houston. However, he could end up on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the club’s G League affiliate.

The Rockets currently have 12 fully guaranteed contracts on its books, with Michael Carter-Williams and his partial guarantee penciled in for the 13th spot. Zhou Qi, Bruno Caboclo, Gary Clark, and Vince Edwards have non-guaranteed deals.

Rockets Sign Rookie Guard Rob Gray

The Rockets have signed undrafted rookie guard Rob Gray, according to a team press release.

The terms were not announced but Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets that it’s a training camp deal.

The 6’1” Gray averaged 18.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 3.0 APG and 1.2 SPG in his three college seasons with the University of Houston.  He’s the American Athletic Conference’s all-time leading scorer with 1,710 points.

Gray, who saw brief action with the team’s summer league squad in Las Vegas, scored a combined 62 points in two NCAA Tournament games in March, including 23-point, 10-rebound effort against national runner-up Michigan. Gray averaged 19.3 PPG, 4.4 APG and 3.7 RPG in his senior year.

Gray hinted right after the draft that he’d get a training-camp invite from the Rockets.

“I will be playing summer league/training camp with them trying to earn a roster spot for the upcoming season,” Gray said.

Cougars Guard Rob Gray Gets Invite From Rockets

University of Houston guard Rob Gray will play for the Rockets’ summer league team and apparently has a training-camp invite, according to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle.

Gray revealed the agreement in a text to Duarte.

“I will be playing summer league/training camp with them trying to earn a roster spot for the upcoming season,” Gray said.

Gray did not get drafted despite being a prolific scorer the past two seasons. He averaged 19.3 PPG, 4.4 APG and 3.7 RPG in his senior year while leading Houston to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, where it lost on a buzzer-beater to eventually national championship runner-up Michigan. Gray averaged 31.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG in those tournament games.

The 6’1” Gray shot 35.9% from long range last season after making 38.2% of his 3-point attempts as a junior, when he averaged 20.3 PPG.

Draft Workouts: Walker, Knicks, Kings, Lakers

Potential lottery pick Lonnie Walker IV has workouts on tap with the Bulls and Knicks, according to Adam Zagoria of Zagoria tweets that Walker’s audition for Chicago is scheduled for Wednesday, while his workout with New York will happen “down the road.” Walker previously worked out for Charlotte.

Both the Bulls and Knicks hold top-10 picks and could go in a number of different directions, depending on who’s available, so it’s no surprise that both clubs have been active in terms of pre-draft workouts. Trae Young, Kevin Knox, Mikal Bridges, and Wendell Carter Jr. are among the other prospects earning a look from both Eastern clubs.

Here are more updates on various pre-draft workouts from around the NBA:

Draft Notes: Ponds, Lakers, Grizzlies, Cavaliers

The NBA draft lottery is still a week away, but teams have already started bringing in prospects for pre-draft workouts. Those workouts are especially important for early entrants who are still testing the waters, since they’re a great opportunity for those players to find out where they stand with NBA teams.

One of those players is St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds, who entered the draft process this spring as a sophomore, and will have until May 30 to decide whether to withdraw and return to school for his junior year. According to Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link), Ponds has already worked out for the Celtics, and has auditions for the Nets and Cavaliers lined up this weekend.

Here are a few more draft-related updates, with a focus on workouts: