Scotty Pippen Jr.

NBA G League Announces 24 Players For Next Up Game

The NBA G League announced today that G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Timberwolves/Iowa Wolves forward Luka Garza have been named team captains for the NBAGL Next Up Game, which will take place in Salt Lake City during All-Star weekend.

While the exhibition match isn’t technically being called a G League All-Star Game, that’s essentially what it is. The 24-player pool was selected by a fan vote and by the league itself.

Henderson averaged 21.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 4.3 RPG in six Showcase Cup games (28.5 MPG) before missing time with an injury. The guard, widely projected to be the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, has registered 17.7 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 4.5 RPG in 11 regular season games (29.8 MPG) since returning.

Garza, meanwhile, has been dominant at the G League level while playing for the Timberwolves on a two-way contract. He averaged 29.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG on .628/.500/.794 shooting in nine Showcase Cup games (34.4 MPG) and has been boosted those averages in two regular season games (32.5 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 5.0 APG) for the Iowa Wolves.

Here’s the full list of players who will take part in the G League Next Up Game:

(* Players marked with an asterisk are on two-way contracts with NBA teams.)

As is the case with the NBA All-Star Game, the team captains – in this case, Henderson and Garza – will select their 12-man squads in a draft. The draft for the G League Next Up Game will take place on February 14.

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:

Rookies:

Sophomores:

G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.

Lakers Notes: Reaves, Pippen Jr., Buss, Impatience

Lakers guard Austin Reaves earned a spot on the 15-man roster prior to training camp and became a rotation regular as a rookie, accomplishing two of his goals last season. However, the team fell woefully short of his third goal, which was winning a championship.

“Individually, I think it went about as good as it could have gone for me,” Reaves told Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “Doing all those things was special. And as a team, I mean, to say the least, it sucked, to be honest. We had high expectations for ourselves and felt like we just couldn’t piece it together throughout the year.

“For me, the main goal is always to win, so it sucked in that aspect.”

After going undrafted out of Oklahoma, Reaves signed a two-way contract with the Lakers and was later promoted to a standard deal, although his salary for 2022/23 is non-guaranteed. As Buha details, Reaves has been diligent in his offseason approach, focused on improving his outside shot and getting stronger to avoid a second-year slump — he has bulked up to 209 pounds with weight training, up from 197 last season.

It’s my big focus,” Reaves said. “I go in there with a good attitude every day, and whatever they tell me to do, I do. Just putting my body in the best position so the rookie wall or whatever, it doesn’t hit you like that. And you can more push through it because you’re in better shape and better conditioning.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Undrafted rookie Scotty Pippen Jr., son of Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, is trying to forge his own path in the league, writes Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. The younger Pippen was signed to a two-way deal after the draft and his father recently came to watch him play in Summer League. “I think just having my dad supporting me is kinda just like a full-circle moment, I think especially for him seeing his son make it,” he said. “But I think it’s a dream come true. I’ve dreamt of this moment.”
  • In a lengthy Q&A with Mark Medina of NBA.com, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss was asked whether she expected a major deal to happen this offseason, to which she replied, “Nothing would surprise me. We’re not making change for the sake of change. It has to be good, basketball decisions that help us now and doesn’t compromise our ability to deal in the future.
  • On ESPN’s First Take on Friday (video link), Brian Windhorst interpreted Buss’ quote as meaning she might not have faith in the current roster, with the key aspect being the last line about not compromising the team’s ability to make future moves. As currently constructed, in an optimistic scenario, Windhorst thinks the team might win 45 games in ’22/23 and make the play-in tournament.
  • With LeBron James eligible for an extension at the beginning of next month, a rival executive thinks the Lakers are getting antsy to secure his long-term commitment to the franchise, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “They’re eager to do something,” the Western Conference executive said. “The team they have is just not good enough right now. Everyone there wants to see a resolution to the (Russell) Westbrook situation. They want to see about Kyrie (Irving). They want to get what they can from Indiana once they start selling off pieces, whether it is Buddy Hield or Myles Turner or both. So there is some major impatience, and they are looking at LeBron maybe getting an extension next month and they want to have everything in place. Well, nothing’s in place yet.”
  • In case you missed it, Westbrook parted ways with his longtime agent earlier today.

Lakers Sign Scotty Pippen Jr., Cole Swider Via Two-Way Deals

JULY 1: The Lakers have officially signed Pippen and Swider to two-way contracts, the team announced today (Twitter links).


JUNE 23: The Lakers are set to add undrafted former Vanderbilt point guard Scotty Pippen Jr. to a two-way contract, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link). Los Angeles will also sign undrafted Syracuse rookie forward Cole Swider into their second two-play player slot, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The 21-year-old Pippen, son of Hall of Fame Bulls small forward Scottie Pippen, played for three seasons with the Commodores. The 6’1″ guard was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2020, and was a two-time First-Team All-SEC selection in 2021 and 2022.

During his third NCAA season in 2021/22, the younger Pippen averaged 20.4 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.6 RPG and 1.9 SPG across 36 games, all starts. He posted a slash line of .416/.325/.749.

Swider spent his first three college seasons with Villanova before finishing his NCAA career with Syracuse. For the Orange in 2021/22, Swider averaged 13.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 APG and 1.0 SPG. The 6’9″ forward started all 33 games during his final NCAA season, with solid shooting splits of .473/.411/.866.

Pippen and Swider will log some time with L.A.’s NBAGL affiliate, the South Bay Lakers, but could also help contribute to the depth-challenged NBA club.

Southeast Notes: Beal, M. Williams, Ross, Atkinson, Hornets Workout

Bradley Beal didn’t provide any hints regarding free agency during a public appearance today, but he revealed that “a lot” of players have been encouraging him to join their teams, writes Noah Trister of The Associated Press. Beal is facing a decision on a $36.4MM player option for next season that will have a huge effect on the Wizards‘ future, but he didn’t give any indication on which way he’s leaning.

The star guard did provide an update on his injured left wrist, which required surgery in February that brought his season to an early end. He said the recovery process is going well and estimates that 80-90% of his range of motion has returned.

“The rest is going to be strengthening and stuff,” he said. “I’m cleared to do stuff on the court now, which is good.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After working out for the Wizards today, Mark Williams said it’s the last one on his schedule before Thursday’s draft, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Duke center also had sessions with the Hornets, Knicks, Spurs and Bulls.
  • The Magic are still trying to find a taker for Terrence Ross, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Prior to February’s deadline, Orlando was asking for a first-round pick in exchange for the 31-year-old swingman, but Scotto says teams are hoping the price will fall to multiple second-rounders, just as it did when the Magic traded Evan Fournier. Ross has an expiring $11.5MM contract for next season.
  • Before changing his mind about becoming the Hornets‘ next head coach, Kenny Atkinson called all the team’s current assistants and had planned to meet with every staff member before the draft, tweets Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
  • The Hornets hosted six players in a pre-draft workout today, the team tweeted. On hand were Keve Aluma of Virginia Tech, Jamaree Bouyea of San Francisco, Yoan Makoundou of Cholet Basket in France, Wendell Moore of Duke, Scotty Pippen Jr. of Vanderbilt and Jaden Shackelford of Alabama. Charlotte owns the 13th, 15th and 45th picks in the draft.

Draft Workout Notes: Kings, Wizards, Wolves, Jazz, More

The Kings hosted several prospects for pre-draft workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the team announced (Twitter links).

The Tuesday group featured Trey McGowens, Ziga Samar, Ron Harper Jr., Brady Manek and Dallas Walton. Wednesday’s group was Jacob Gilyard, Fatts Russell, Yoan Makoundou, Karlo Matkovic, Yannick Nzosa and Kai Sotto.

The Kings control the fourth, 37th and 49th picks in the 2022 draft, and a handful of those players could be targets with one of those second-round picks. Nzosa, Samar, Harper and Matkovic are ranked between 53rd and 58th on ESPN’s big board.

Here are more workout-related notes from around the NBA:

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Magic, Williams, Heat, Hawks

The Wizards are scheduled to work out six draft-eligible players on Monday, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Oklahoma’s Jordan Goldwire, Arkansas’ Chris Lykes, Kansas’ Remy Martin, Kansas State’s Mike McGuirl, Alabama’s Jaden Shackelford and Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley will attend the session.

As noted by Robbins, all six players are guards. The Wizards, who own the 10th and 54th overall picks in the draft, are coming off a season in which they finished with a 35-47 record, missing the playoffs.

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:

Nets Notes: Simmons, Irving, Durant, Workout

Nets guard Ben Simmons has made a significant step following back surgery in early May, reports Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Simmons has moved from the recovery phase to the rehab phase and remains on schedule to be ready well before the start of training camp in September, a source close to the player tells Lewis.

“Microdiscectomy is probably one of the best procedures we do. Most patients recover really fast,” said Dr. Neel Anand, director of spine trauma at Cedars-Sinai Spine Center. “Ten days to six weeks, rehabbing. Six weeks to three months, pretty much getting back to the field. And then three months I’d say most athletes will be back on the field, back doing everything.”

The Nets are hoping Simmons can become the versatile defender they were missing during a first-round sweep by the Celtics. He was the centerpiece of the James Harden trade in February, but wasn’t able to return to the court in time for the postseason.

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • In the same piece, Lewis shoots down a rumor that Nets guard Kyrie Irving has changed his representation. Irving, who faces an offseason decision on his player option for 2022/23, will continue to be represented by his stepmother, Shetellia Riley Irving. Lewis states that there was an erroneous report that Irving had signed with Donda Sports, which was founded by Kanye West.
  • TNT commentator Charles Barkley believes Kevin Durant‘s legacy has been tarnished somewhat by Brooklyn’s early exit and Golden State’s run to the finals, per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Durant has long been criticized for joining a championship-level Warriors team where he won his only two rings. “You know it has an effect on his legacy,” Barkley said during a public appearance Wednesday. “If you go back and look, and I talked about it on the [TNT] show, LeBron [James] has said it before — he said, ‘I had to win a championship without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.’ And Kobe’s said it before, Rest in Peace, ‘I’ve got to win a championship without Shaq.’ So Kevin and Kyrie, before we elevate them among the old guys, they’re not going to get the credit they deserve until they win a championship by themselves and be The Guy.”
  • The Nets currently don’t have a pick in this year’s draft, but they hosted six players for a workout today, tweets Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog. On hand were Vanderbilt’s Scotty Pippen Jr., Kentucky’s Davion Mintz, Michigan State’s Marcus Bingham Jr., Providence’s Justin Minaya, Texas Tech’s Davion Warren and Fordham’s Chuba Ohams.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Magic, Quinones, Wizards

After an exciting 53-29 season that saw them get to within one win of its second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons, the Heat appear set to make some adjustments during the summer to get over the hump. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes that the Heat rarely leave a stone unturned in the free agency and trade markets, and that the team could pursue adding All-Star talents like guards Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal if they become available.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic worked out Memphis guard Lester Quinones over the weekend, according to Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com (Twitter link). Quinones played for three seasons with the Tigers, averaging 10.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 APG and 0.9 SPG across 87 games, including 81 starts. The Magic possess the top pick in the 2022 draft, as well as the No. 32 and No. 35 selections in the second round.
  • The Wizards are set to work out several young hopefuls tomorrow ahead of the draft, per Ava Wallace of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Wallace notes that Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr., LSU forward Tari Eason, Baylor guard James Akinjo, and Connecticut guard R.J. Cole will be working out for Washington. The Wizards possess the No. 10 and No. 56 picks in the upcoming 2022 NBA draft. Eason is the highest-ranked prospect among these four, coming in at No. 18 on ESPN’s big board.
  • In case you missed it, we took a look at the Hawks‘ 2022 offseason, examining the personnel that could be on the move, both among players under contract for the 2022/23 season and free agents.

Lakers Notes: Ham, Westbrook, Prospect Workouts

At least three people involved in the NBA Finals believe Darvin Ham was the correct coaching choice for the Lakers, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times.

Warriors associate head coach Mike Brown, who will take over as head coach of the Kings once the season concludes, has known Ham since 1996, when Ham was a rookie for the Nuggets and Brown was a first-year staffer, Woike writes. Brown later gave Ham his first NBA coaching job as an assistant on his staff with the Lakers in 2011.

Everyone is like, ‘He’s a rookie head coach, going in there to work for the Lakers with all those veterans,’ but don’t get it twisted,” Brown said. “I would like to see who would be the first to challenge Darvin or roll his eyes because he will stand his ground. And he will make sure his point gets across and gets across within an authority a situation like that may need.”

Like Ham, Draymond Green is a native of Saginaw, Michigan, and he said Ham was an inspiration to him growing up, per Woike. Green also said Ham will bring much-needed toughness to Los Angeles.

I think he’s going to bring a toughness, a blue-collar mentality just because that’s how he’s built. That’s how he’s raised. You have to be that way from Saginaw,” Green told The Times. “I think it’ll be a different toughness that they haven’t seen. And he’s going to command and require a different respect level that they haven’t really have had. … And I think that will bode well for that team.”

Celtics big man Al Horford also praised Ham, who was on the Hawks’ coaching staff when Horford played in Atlanta, as Woike relays.

We really got after it,” Horford said of Ham. “He really challenged me to be better on the defensive end. Really challenged me to just be a better player in general. Darvin is about as good a guy as you’re going to see, a big competitor. Extreme competitor. The Lakers are really lucky to have a guy like him. He’s the kind of guy that you want.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Ham’s greatest challenge as head coach will be figuring out the best way to utilize Russell Westbrook, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. With that in mind, Buha explores three ways the new coach can optimize Westbrook’s minutes, assuming he’s still on the roster in 2022/23. Buha also notes that Ham isn’t expected to address the media until early next week.
  • L.A. is holding a workout with six draft prospects on Friday, tweets Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. The six are Lucas Williamson (Loyola Chicago), Hyunjung Lee (Davidson), Paul Atkinson Jr. (Notre Dame), Scotty Pippen Jr. (Vanderbilt), Jamal Cain (Oakland), and Gaige Prim (Missouri State). According to ESPN’s big board, Pippen is the highest-rated among the group at No. 69, which makes sense, since the Lakers don’t currently hold any draft picks.
  • In case you missed it, Ham was officially hired as head coach earlier today.