Sharife Cooper

Five G League Players Making Bids For NBA Call-Ups

The NBA G League’s regular season won’t begin for another month, but all 30 NBAGL teams are currently competing in the Showcase Cup, a round-robin event that culminates in a single-elimination tournament at the G League’s Winter Showcase from December 19-22.

We’re only midway through the 16-game Showcase Cup, with each NBAGL team having played between seven and 10 games so far, but a number of standout performers are making their mark.

Some of those top players, like Luka Garza of the Iowa Wolves or Jaden Hardy of the Texas Legends, are already under contract with NBA teams and aren’t free agents. But many of the G League players turning heads are free to sign with any NBA club at any time.

Listed below are five early G League standouts who are making strong cases to be considered for NBA call-ups at some point this season. This is hardly a comprehensive list of the NBAGL’s top performers — it’s a safe bet that many more will receive NBA consideration in the coming days, weeks, or months, especially when the 10-day signing period begins in January. But these five players are worth singling out for their early-season play.

Let’s dive in…


Sharife Cooper, G, Cleveland Charge

A two-way player with the Hawks last season, Cooper accepted a two-way qualifying offer from Atlanta in July, but was waived shortly thereafter and spent training camp with the Cavaliers, becoming an affiliate player for Cleveland.

In 10 games so far for the Charge, Cooper has been one of the G League’s most dynamic offensive players, pouring in 25.3 points per game on .489/.433/.811 shooting while also chipping in 6.2 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per night.

Cooper isn’t a consistent defender, but his offensive ability will intrigue NBA evaluators. He’s the G League’s reigning Performer of the Week after posting back-to-back 40-point games on November 15 and 17 and has helped lead the Charge to a 6-4 record.

Carlik Jones, G, Windy City Bulls

Jones, 25 next month, got a brief taste of NBA action last winter as a 10-day hardship signee for the Mavericks and the Nuggets, appearing in five total games for the two teams. After spending training camp with the Bulls, he’s back in the G League this season for the Windy City Bulls, whose 6-2 record places them atop the Central.

Jones has been a major reason for Windy City’s early success, leading the team with 17.5 PPG and 8.1 APG. After struggling to consistently make his three-pointers in his first pro season in 2021/22, the former Louisville standout is hitting 41.9% of his treys so far this season and making 1.6 per game.

Jay Huff, F/C, South Bay Lakers

Huff began the 2021/22 season on a two-way contract with the Lakers and made brief appearances in four NBA games before being waived in January. The 24-year-old is still in the organization at South Bay and has emerged as one of the G League’s most fearsome rim protectors — he has blocked 35 shots in his first eight games this season and comfortably leads the league with 4.4 BPG.

Huff’s impact has gone beyond his shot-blocking ability. He’s also one of South Bay’s go-to scorers, averaging 17.9 PPG on 68.1% shooting; he leads the club with 8.9 RPG; and he has even shown off some play-making ability, averaging 3.1 APG.

If Huff can boost his three-point rate a few points (currently 29.4%), he’ll become an even more appealing target for NBA teams looking to develop a frontcourt prospect.

James Akinjo, G, Westchester Knicks

Although Akinjo earned a spot on the All-Big 12 First Team during his final college season in 2021/22, the Baylor guard struggled mightily with his shot, making just 38.3% attempts from the field and 29.5% from beyond the arc. So it has been encouraging to see him boost those averages to 46.4% and 46.7% in his first seven G League games.

The Westchester Knicks are just 1-6 so far, but Akinjo has been a bright spot, pouring in 19.9 points per night and tying for the G League lead with an impressive 11.1 assists per game.

Jontay Porter, F/C, Wisconsin Herd

The younger brother of Michael Porter Jr., Jontay Porter is a former five-star recruit whose college career was derailed by a pair of ACL tears. He’s still just 23 years old though and has been healthy through the Herd’s first 10 games.

Despite playing just 26.2 minutes per game and primarily coming off the bench, Porter has filled up the box score in Wisconsin, averaging 16.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, and 1.8 BPG while making 3.1 three-pointers per game at a 46.3% rate.

The Grizzlies took a flier on Porter during the 2020/21 season and played him in 11 games — it may be just a matter of time before he earns another shot at the NBA level.

Cavs Exercise Options On E. Mobley, Okoro; Waive Five Players

The Cavaliers are exercising their 2023/24 rookie scale options on Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro, sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). The team has officially confirmed the moves (Twitter link).

The news was expected, as both 21-year-olds are key members of a young Cleveland squad. Mobley will earn $8,882,640 in his third season, while Okoro will make $8,920,795 in his fourth. Exercising Okoro’s fourth-year option also makes him eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer.

Mobley was the Rookie of the Year runner-up in ’21/22 after averaging 15 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.5 APG and 1.7 BPG in 69 games (33.8 MPG). The 7’0″ big man was the third overall pick in 2021.

Okoro was the fifth overall pick in 2020. The 6’5″ wing is an impressive athlete and strong defender, but needs to develop his offensive game. He’s averaged 9.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.9 APG and 0.9 SPG over his first two seasons (134 games, 31 MPG).

In unrelated news, the Cavs have waived Mamadi Diakite, Sharife Cooper, Nate Hinton, Jamorko Pickett and RJ Nembhard, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. The team officially confirmed the roster cuts (via Twitter). The Cavs now have 14 players on standard contracts and one two-way spot open after waiving Nembhard.

The Cavaliers plan to keep their 15th standard roster spot open to start the season, according to Fedor (Twitter link), who adds that Cooper, Hinton and Pickett are expected to join the Cleveland Charge, the Cavs’ G League affiliate. If they spend at least 60 days with the Charge, they could each receive a bonus worth up to $50K due to their Exhibit 10 contracts.

Diakite had a strong preseason showing for the Cavs, and Fedor wondered last night if they might keep him around. Obviously he won’t receive the final standard roster spot right now, but there’s a chance they could re-sign him to a two-way contract if he clears waivers. He was on an Exhibit 9 training camp deal, which cannot be converted into a two-way deal.

Sharife Cooper Signs Camp Deal With Cavs

SEPTEMBER 20: The Cavaliers have officially signed Cooper, according to RealGM’s NBA transaction log. The team waived Chandler Vaudrin to open up a spot on the 20-man roster for Cooper.


SEPTEMBER 19: Free agent guard Sharife Cooper will sign a training camp contract with the Cavaliers, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Cooper has been looking for another NBA opportunity since the Hawks waived him in late July. He recently worked out for the Lakers.

Cooper, 21, was the 48th overall pick in the 2021 draft. The 6’1” point guard appeared in only 13 games at the NBA level, logging 39 total minutes and making just 3-of-14 shots from the field.

The former Auburn standout played regularly in the G League, averaging 17.1 PPG and 6.9 APG on .431/.361/.907 shooting in 22 regular season appearances (30.2 MPG) for the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s NBAGL affiliate.

Since the Cavaliers only have 12 players on fully guaranteed deals, Cooper could earn his way onto the roster with a strong showing. Otherwise, on an Exhibit 10 contract, he’ll be eligible for a $50K bonus if he’s waived and then spends at least 60 days with the Cleveland Charge, the team’s G League affiliate.

Lakers Work Out Several Veteran Free Agents

SEPTEMBER 18: Thomas disputed the claim that he participated in the Lakers’ workout, posting a tweet stating that he didn’t work out for the club.


SEPTEMBER 17: Isaiah Thomas was among several free agents who worked out recently for the Lakers, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The 33-year-old guard is looking for his next team after finishing last season with the Hornets.

If Thomas earns a roster spot, it would mark his third stint with the organization. He signed a 10-day contract with L.A. under the hardship provision last December, appearing in four games and averaging 9.3 PPG in 25.3 minutes per night. Thomas also played 17 games with the Lakers during the 2017/18 season.

A report in July indicated that the Hornets still had some interest in bringing back Thomas, who signed a rest-of-the-season contract after joining the team on a pair of 10-day deals in March. Charlotte currently has two openings on its offseason roster.

Armoni Brooks, Sharife Cooper and Mychal Mulder took part in the workout as well, according to Scotto. He also identifies Shabazz Muhammad, Jeremy Lamb, Dwayne Bacon and Miye Oni as participants (Twitter link).

L.A. currently has one opening on its 20-man roster, but it’s a long shot for any of these players to be with the team once the season begins. Luxury tax penalties would cost the Lakers about $7MM to fill their final roster spot, so they will likely operate with 14 players for most of the season. Friday’s signing of Dennis Schröder gives them 12 fully guaranteed contracts, while Austin Reaves and Wenyen Gabriel are on non-guaranteed deals.

Hawks Waive Sharife Cooper

The Hawks have requested waivers on guard Sharife Cooper, the team announced today (via Twitter).

The move comes just days after Atlanta technically re-signed Cooper to a two-way contract. Cooper, who was on a two-way deal last season, accepted his qualifying offer in that instance.

However, the Hawks apparently have another player in mind for that two-way slot. Chaundee Brown holds the club’s other two-way contract.

Cooper, 21, was the 48th overall pick in the 2021 draft. He appeared in only 13 games at the NBA level, logging 39 total minutes and making just 3-of-14 shots from the field.

The former Auburn standout saw much more action at the G League level, averaging 17.1 PPG and 6.9 APG on .431/.361/.907 shooting in 22 regular season appearances (30.2 MPG) for the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s NBAGL affiliate.

Hawks Re-Sign Sharife Cooper To Two-Way Deal

Free agent guard Sharife Cooper is back under contract with the Hawks on a new two-way deal, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

Cooper, 21, was the 48th overall pick in the 2021 draft. He spent his rookie season on a two-way contract with the Hawks and appeared in only 13 games at the NBA level, logging 39 total minutes and making just 3-of-14 shots from the field.

The former Auburn standout saw much more action at the G League level, averaging 17.1 PPG and 6.9 APG on .431/.361/.907 shooting in 22 regular season appearances (30.2 MPG) for the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s NBAGL affiliate.

The Hawks issued Cooper a one-year, two-way qualifying offer in June to make him a restricted free agent, so he simply accepted that QO, as Michael Scotto of HoopsHype confirms (via Twitter). Atlanta has now filled both its two-way slots, with Chaundee Brown holding the other two-way contract.

In addition to having a pair of players on two-way deals, the Hawks are currently carrying 14 players on standard contracts — 13 of those are on fully guaranteed deals, while Tyrese Martin has a partial guarantee.

QO Decisions: M. Brown, Coffey, Pinson, Two-Way FAs

The Cavaliers won’t be issuing a qualifying offer to free agent big man Moses Brown, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). A qualifying offer for Brown would have been worth $2,076,674, but Cleveland will instead let him become an unrestricted free agent.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors Glossary: Qualifying Offers]

Brown has bounced around the league since debuting in 2019, appearing in games for Portland, Oklahoma City, Dallas, and Cleveland. He has flashed some potential, averaging 6.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG in just 14.1 MPG in 92 career appearances, and could catch on with a new team this summer.

Here are a few more updates on qualifying offer decisions from around the NBA:

  • Clippers wing Amir Coffey has received a qualifying offer after earning a promotion to the team’s standard roster in 2021/22, per RealGM’s official NBA transactions log. Coffey’s QO projects to be worth $2,076,674 based on a $122MM salary cap and makes him a restricted free agent.
  • The Mavericks have issued two-way player Theo Pinson a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent, according to RealGM’s transactions log. Because Pinson is ineligible to sign another two-way contract, his QO will be worth his minimum salary (projected to be $1,941,833), including a small partial guarantee of $86,946. Dallas reportedly wants to have him on its 15-man roster this season.
  • The following players coming off two-way contracts have received qualifying offers and are now restricted free agents, according to RealGM’s transactions log: Hawks guard Sharife Cooper, Bulls forward Malcolm Hill, and Kings big man Neemias Queta. Those QOs would all be for new two-way deals, with partial guarantees worth $50K.
  • The Warriors extended a qualifying offer to former guard Nico Mannion, per RealGM. Mannion played for Virtus Bologna in Italy in 2021/22 after leaving the NBA last summer, but Golden State continues to hold his rights in the event that he returns stateside. He received a two-way qualifying offer with a $50K partial guarantee.

Hawks Notes: Bogdanovic, J. Johnson, Gallinari, Cooper

Bogdan Bogdanovic had surgery to address inflammation in his right patella tendon, according to a tweet from the Hawks. That confirms a report late last week that the veteran guard had to undergo the procedure because of persistent discomfort in the knee, which bothered him late in the season and forced him to miss the team’s final playoff game.

Bogdanovic is expected to be fully ready in time for the start of the season, the team adds. He will make $18MM next season with an $18MM player option for 2023/24 and could be a trade chip this summer as Atlanta tries to revamp its roster.

The Hawks also issued a medical update on Jalen Johnson, who had a non-surgical procedure on his left knee because of tendinitis (Twitter link). Johnson, who appeared in just 22 games as a rookie, should be available by the start of training camp, according to the team.

There’s more from Atlanta:

  • Danilo Gallinari cited a “special bond” with Milan while attending the Italian League finals over the weekend, but said he’s not ready to leave the NBA, according to a BasketNews article. Gallinari, 34, indicated that he might play in Italy eventually, but said he wants to accomplish more in the NBA. He’s entering the final year of his contract with Atlanta at $21.45MM (only $5MM is guaranteed). “The NBA is still in my plans. I want to achieve goals, and when I do, we will see if there is a possibility for me to return to Milan,” he said.
  • The Hawks are a wild card in next week’s draft, with opportunities to trade up from No. 16 or trade out of the draft entirely, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Kirschner identifies his favorite targets for the team regardless of the scenario, including Ochai Agbaji, Kendall Brown, Dyson Daniels, Tari Eason, Jaden Hardy and Jeremy Sochan.
  • Sharife Cooper, who spent part of his rookie season in the G League and only played 13 games for the Hawks, offers some advice for this year’s draft class in an interview with Rashad Milligan of Rolling Out. “Stay grounded. A lot of things that have never happened in life are going to be thrown at you,” Cooper said. “It’s a different world, a different environment, a place that I can honestly say throws a lot of things at you. You have to be strong, mentally strong, and able to deal with a lot of ups and downs.”

COVID-19 Updates: Doncic, SGA, Robinson, Hawks, Nuggets, More

Mavericks star Luka Doncic has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols, sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). Doncic, who hasn’t played since December 10, missed a combined 10 games due to a left ankle injury and his time in the protocols. He’s expected to meet his teammates in Oklahoma City and may return to the court on Sunday.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber may also be able to exit the protocols in time for Sunday’s game, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Dallas, which has five other players still in protocols, managed to go 5-5 without Doncic and is holding onto eighth place in the Western Conference.

Here are more updates on players entering and exiting the protocols:

COVID-19 Updates: Marshall, Cooper, Hampton, Towns, Brown

The Pelicans’ Naji Marshall has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Earlier in the day, Nickeil Alexander-Walker became the first New Orleans player to enter protocols this season. Marshall, a second-year forward, has appeared in 19 games off the bench this season.

We have more COVID-19 related updates:

  • Hawks rookie point guard Sharife Cooper has entered the health and safety protocols, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Cooper joins six other Atlanta players currently on the list. The second-round pick has appeared in eight games off the bench this season.
  • Magic guard R.J. Hampton exited the protocols on Thursday, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. He didn’t play on Thursday in order to work on his conditioning. Hampton was placed in the protocols on December 17, which means he produced two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns is asymptomatic, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). “He is in the best spirits possible,” Finch said, adding Towns was very disappointed he couldn’t play on Thursday. Towns was placed in the protocols on Thursday, joining six other Minnesota players.
  • Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown has entered the protocols, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.