Semaj Christon

And-Ones: Trades, Antetokounmpo, World Cup

Jae Crowder would be a nice contingency plan for the Warriors should they lose Kevin Durant in free agency, Kevin Pelton contends in a piece for ESPN+. Pelton argues a deal that sends Crowder, who has one year left on his contract, to Golden State for Shaun Livingston and a future first-rounder makes sense for both sides.

Other ESPN insiders write about the trade they’d like to see this summer, with Bobby Marks breaking down a Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade that sends Eric Gordon to Philadelphia and Clint Capela to Sacramento. The whole piece is worth checking out.

As we brace for an offseason of change, let’s take a look at some notes from around the league:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo will play for Greece in the Basketball World Cup, according to Demetris Nellas of the Associated Press“Whether I play the 1 [point guard] or the 5 [center], I don’t care,” the NBA MVP said. “I’m a basketball player. I want to help the team any way I can.”
  • The NBA has announced that the Academy Games will be in the United States for the first time in history. Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com provides a detailed look at the games in Atlanta, relaying that the camp will feature eight teams and approximately 90 players from around the world.
  • Isaiah Whitehead will play for the Trail Blazers‘ Summer League team, The Athletic’s Michael Scotto relays (Twitter link).
  • The Mavericks have announced their Summer League roster and former first-rounder Cameron Payne is among the notable players. Kostas Antetokounmpo, the brother of Giannis, is also playing for the team in Las Vegas.
  • Semaj Christon will play for the Kings‘ Summer League team, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia tweets.
  • Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox has been invited to join Team USA’s Select Team, which will hold training camp in Las Vegas this summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports passes along (Twitter links). Nets center Jarrett Allen has also been invited.

[In case you missed it: Team USA Announces 20-Player Roster For World Cup]

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Wolves, Forcier, Vanterpool, Thunder

With Ricky Rubio set to become an unrestricted free agent on June 30, the Jazz could be in the market for a new starting point guard moving forward, Kincade Upstill of the Deseret News writes.

Rubio made a rather interesting comment this weekend, sharing that Utah won’t be aggressively trying to re-sign him when he reaches the open market. “Utah has already let me know I’m not a priority for them,” he said, according to Ernest Macia of Catalunya Radio.

The Jazz could pursue other available point guards in free agency such as Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Malcolm Brogdon, D’Angelo Russell or Derrick Rose if the franchise mutually agrees to part ways with Rubio, who has served as the team’s starting point guard over the last two seasons. However, Jazz vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey went on the record to state that Ricky could still re-sign on a new contract.

“He’s got a decision to make on his end and we’ve got a decision to make on our end, but there’s a lot of scenarios I can see Ricky back. … We really appreciate who he is and we think we can get him better from a health perspective and skill standpoint,” Lindsey said, according to Upstill. “We know who he is — he has Jazz DNA. So he’ll have options, we’ll have options and we’ll talk to him and his agent.”

Rubio’s name surfaced in rumors around this season’s February 7 trade deadline, likely causing some trust issues between him and the organization. He holds career-averages of 11.1 points, 7.7 assists and 30.9 minutes across his eight NBA seasons.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division tonight:

International Notes: Christon, Nogueira, Llull, Melli

Semaj Christon, who appeared in 64 games for the Thunder during the 2016/17 season, will play in Israel this season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Hapoel Be’er Sheva has announced the signing of the 25-year-old point guard, who split last season between China and Puerto Rico.

Christon was part of Oklahoma City’s rotation two seasons ago, averaging 2.9 points and 2.0 assists in about 15 minutes per game. The 55th pick in the 2014 draft, he was waived by the Thunder prior to the start of last season. A former star at Xavier, Christon played in the G League and Italy before coming to Oklahoma City.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Lucas Nogueira‘s contract with Fuenlabrada in Spain has been approved, tweets Varlas Nikos of Eurohoops.net. Nogueira’s former Estudiantes club in Madrid had objected to the signing, claiming it still owned his rights, but the team refused to send documentation to ACB. Nogueira spent four seasons with the Raptors, who paid a $650K buyout to Estudiantes to get his release. Nogueira was with Estudiantes from 2009 to 2014.
  • Sergio Llull has turned down numerous opportunities to join the Rockets and is now talking about staying with Real Madrid for the rest of his career, relays Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. “It is difficult to say to the NBA because it is an important League,” Llull said in a recent interview with Radio Marca. “But I have said several times that I am happy with Real Madrid. I want to remain here and win again. I would love to finish my career with Real Madrid. I have a contract for a lot of my year. But my goal now is to play a huge season.”
  • The Jazz, Hawks and Nets all have interest in signing Nicolo Melli for next season, tweets Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. Atlanta and Brooklyn both made contact with him this summer, Cauchi adds.

And-Ones: Sophomores, Future Rankings, Christon

The 2017 NBA Draft class has thus far turned out to be one of the most impressive crops in recent memory. In addition Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum, poised freshmen that played significant roles in the playoffs, there are also a handful of lottery picks with tremendous opportunity for future growth.

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz (Insider) recently profiled a few players from last year’s draft class who showed impressive glimpses during their first year in the pros. Schmitz writes that Lonzo Ball deviated from what made him great at UCLA. If he’s to thrive with the Lakers he’ll need to step up as a spot-up shooter. Last year, the guard spent too much time trying to create in pick-and-roll situations.

Schmitz also discusses Josh Jackson, Dennis Smith and De’Aaron Fox, opting to exclude Markelle Fultz due to the unique circumstances of his rookie year.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Sorry Hornets fans, the Charlotte franchise has been ranked as the team with the bleakest forecast over the next three seasons. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider) writes that turnover in the front office, coupled with limited financial flexibility, won’t bode well for the team heading forward.
  • At a time when journalists scrap to be the first media personalities to tweet about player movement in the NBA, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has broken the news for two recent sportswriter job changes. He, alongside CJ McCollum form the most journalistic backcourt the NBA has ever seen.
  • After playing one season in China and Puerto Rico, former Thunder guard Semaj Christon is open to playing in Europe, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets.

Nets Notes: FA Mini-Camp, RFA Market, LeVert

The Nets hosted a three-day mini-camp this week for veteran free agents, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link), who identifies former Thunder guard Semaj Christon and 2016 first-round pick Brice Johnson as a pair of the participants.

Per Kennedy (Twitter link), other players with previous NBA experience who took part in Brooklyn’s mini-camp include Xavier Silas, Josh Gray, Naz Mitrou-Long, Jarrod Uthoff, and Byron Mullens. Walt Lemon Jr., who saw a little action with the Pelicans this season, was also in attendance, tweets NetsDaily.

While the Nets may not end up adding any of those players to their roster for next season, the mini-camp gives the club a chance to get a closer look at some players who might have flown under-the-radar, and perhaps some candidates for two-way contracts next season.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • The Nets have been the NBA’s most active club in restricted free agency over the past two years, with little success. The club signed Allen Crabbe, Tyler Johnson, Donatas Motiejunas, and Otto Porter to offer sheets, but saw all four of those offers matched at the time (Crabbe was later traded to Brooklyn). With that recent history in mind, NetsDaily explores whether the club will foray into the RFA market again in 2018, with Aaron Gordon looming as a possible target.
  • The first draft pick of the Sean Marks era in Brooklyn, Caris LeVert showed impressive potential and versatility during his second NBA season in 2017/18, writes Michael Scotto of The Athletic. LeVert, who could become a long-term starter for the Nets, won’t be eligible for restricted free agency until 2020.
  • Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is on the wrong end of a lawsuit in New York State Court, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post details. Prokhorov is being counter-sued by Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistle-blower who exposed Russian cheating in the 2014 Olympics, for backing a libel lawsuit that Rodchenkov viewed as an intimidation tactic.

And-Ones: George, Lakers, Team USA, 2019 Draft

It was overshadowed last week by the excitement of the NBA trade deadline, but Thunder forward Paul George once again addressed his 2018 free agency, this time during a conversation with Sam Amick of USA Today. The last time George weighed in on his upcoming decision, he was telling ESPN that Russell Westbrook‘s advocacy for George’s spot on the All-Star team was making his free agency choice easier.

This time around, George continued to praise the Thunder – an organization he called “smart” and “savvy” – and laid out a strong case for why he might end up re-signing with Oklahoma City. However, he didn’t close the door on heading west to Los Angeles either.

“I’ve been really happy,” George told Amick. “(The Thunder are] a great organization to be a part of, but again, you know, I don’t want people looking at this and (saying) like, ‘Hey, because he said it’s his happiness at the end of the day (that he’s definitely re-signing).’ I don’t know whether I’m going to LA, or what I’m going to do this offseason. But I can say I am happy about being here. I’m happy with playing with Russ, happy with playing with Melo, and this organization. This front office has shown what they can do to go get pieces and how active they are about winning.”

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

  • RealGM has the unusual protection details on the first-round pick acquired by the Lakers in their deadline deal with the Cavaliers. The 2018 first-rounder is top-three protected, so it’s a virtual lock to change hands this year. But if the Cavs somehow fall out of the playoffs and jump into the top three in the lottery, the Lakers wouldn’t have another shot at the pick until 2023, when it’s top-10 protected.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer identifies several players who would be top candidates for a Most Improved Situation of the Year award, if such an award existed.
  • USA Basketball recently announced the 14 players who will participate in training camp for the next World Cup qualifying event. Former NBAers like Terrence Jones, Semaj Christon, and Alonzo Gee are among the players looking to represent Team USA.
  • Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) takes an early look at the 2019 draft class, which currently projected to be headed by a trio of Duke commits, R.J. Barrett, Cameron Reddish, and Zion Williamson.

USA Basketball Announces Roster For First World Cup Qualifiers

USA Basketball has announced its 12-man roster for the first round of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas Qualifiers, bringing back four members of the squad that won gold earlier this year in FIBA’s AmeriCup tournament.

Here’s Team USA’s full 12-man roster:

The squad, which will be coached once again by Jeff Van Gundy, is comprised almost entirely of G League players, since most of the qualifying tournaments take place during the NBA season, preventing NBA players from participating. Team USA’s goal is for Van Gundy’s squad of G Leaguers to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, which will take place in August and September, when NBA players will be free to participate.

The new-look USA Basketball program is off to a good start, having gone 5-0 this summer to win a gold medal at the AmeriCup tournament. Drew, Hearn, Munford, and Warney were all part of that team.

This time around, Team USA will face Puerto Rico on November 23 and then Mexico on November 26. After those contests, the first round of World Cup qualifiers will resume in February before concluding in July. The top three teams in each first-round group will advance to the second round, which begins in September 2018 and concludes in February 2019, so the qualifying process will take some time to play out.

Meanwhile, the G League teams temporarily losing players to Team USA will be permitted one free move per lost player from the available player pool, tweets Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days.

Thunder Cut Semaj Christon, Isaiah Canaan, Others

The Thunder have made their roster cuts in advance of the regular season, announcing in a press release that four players will hit the waiver wire. Oklahoma City has parted with points guards Semaj Christon and Isaiah Canaan, as well as center Yannis Morin and forward Chris Wright.

Morin and Wright were never considered likely to make the Thunder’s 15-man regular season roster. Both were signed earlier this week with the apparent intent of eventually having them join the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G League affiliate.

As for Christon and Canaan, it’s interesting that the Thunder chose to waive both players. The team’s four cuts bring the roster count down to 15 players, but one of those 15 is on a two-way contract, so OKC could have kept either Christon or Canaan. Instead, the franchise – which is well over the tax line – appears set to save some money and maintain some flexibility by starting the season with just 14 players.

Christon, Canaan, Morin, and Wright will become unrestricted free agents on Monday if and when they clears waivers.

Thunder Notes: Westbrook, Christon, Grant

Russell Westbrook, who finds himself playing alongside two perennial All-Stars after GM Sam Presti made a pair of offseason trades, doesn’t believe chemistry will be an issue, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman relays.

“I think one thing [that’s] key for everybody to know, especially you guys … you guys keep asking about the chemistry every damn day … we’re gonna get it together,” Westbrook said to the local media in OKC. “It’s a season-long thing. It’s not gonna happen overnight…We’re professionals. This is something we obviously want to see work and make it happen, so it’s gonna be a process.”

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • Semaj Christon, whose contract will become guaranteed on October 15, may be the favorite for the team’s final roster spot, as his energy and defensive ability makes him popular among the coaching staff, Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman writes. Isaiah Canaan could always steal that last spot, though it’s worth noting that the point guard didn’t play in the Thunder’s final two preseason games.
  • Coach Billy Donovan hasn’t yet had an opportunity to sit down with the front office to discuss the 15th roster spot, Dawson passes along in the same piece. “Sam [Presti] and the front office, they’re always trying to figure out and find ways to help improve our team, and I totally trust that,” Donovan said. “When we get a chance to sit down and talk about that and discuss that, we will. But right now, there hasn’t been time.”
  • The Thunder are thin at the center position with Steven Adams as the team’s only proven option, Dawson contends in a separate piece. OKC’s lack of depth likely means Jerami Grant will see time at five this season. Donovan has faith that Grant can protect the paint in a situational role. “Jerami is strong, he’s got length,” Donovan said. “He may not necessarily have the size or the height of a center, but he’s got the length to be able to alter and challenge shots. He’s a really good rim protector.”

Northwest Notes: Anthony, Georges-Hunt, Christon

While the Rockets remain Carmelo Anthony‘s supposed primary destination, the Trail Blazers have done well to establish themselves as a suitable alternative, Cody Sharrett of the team’s official site writes.

Sharrett cites comments made by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski  in a recent radio interview (~25:00 mark), suggesting the Trail Blazers could, theoretically at least, be a good landing spot for the veteran.

The [Trail Blazers] are an interesting team in this because C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard have done a really good of recruiting Carmelo,” Wojnarowkski said. “They’ve been on him.

The scribe notes that Anthony’s feelings about McCollum, Lillard or the Trail Blazers are ultimately inconsequential if the club can’t put together a package of assets that appeals to the Knicks.

But if they could, then the [Trail Blazers] are a sleeper team in this to get Carmelo to waive his no-trade because I’m told they’ve piqued Carmelo’s interest at the very least,” Wojnarowski added.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder are said to have had talks with undrafted free agent Brad Wanamaker, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports. The 28-year-old guard is currently under contract with David Blatt‘s Turkish league club.
  • Recently signed Timberwolves guard Marcus Georges-Hunt has the same contract as if he were claimed off of waivers, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets. Georges-Hunt was waived by the Magic on July 31. It’s a possibility that he sticks on the roster through to the regular season.
  • Sportswriters that cover the Thunder are torn as to whether or not Semaj Christon will remain with the team come opening day. Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman, who says ‘Nay’, thinks Christon will be the odd man out after the club re-committed to Nick Collison.