Theo Maledon

More Than 30 NBA Players On Track To Suit Up For EuroBasket

The first EuroBasket tournament in five years will tip off in two weeks and there are currently 34 NBA players on track to participate in the event, representing 17 different countries, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net.

EuroBasket is a 24-team international basketball competition also known as the European Basketball Championship. It historically took place every two years, but that gap was recently adjusted to four years, emulating the FIBA World Cup schedule.

The last EuroBasket tournament was played in 2017 — the next one had been scheduled for 2021, but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. As a result, after being played every two years since 1947, it has now been five years since the last EuroBasket tournament, easily the longest layoff since World War II.

It’s possible that some NBA players will be cut from their teams’ rosters or will have to drop out due to injuries or personal reasons before the event begins on September 1, but in general enthusiasm to participate in the long-awaited event appears high.

Here’s the list of NBAers currently set to play in EuroBasket, per Eurohoops:

There are also multiple NBA free agents on EuroBasket rosters, including French swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and German guard Dennis Schröder.

A number of young NBA players, such as 2022 draftees Jeremy Sochan and Nikola Jovic, have dropped out to focus on getting ready for the 2022/23 season, while others, including Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia) and Frank Ntilikina (France), were ruled out due to injuries.

Round robin play will begin on September 1, with each team facing the other five clubs in its group once. The top four teams in each group will advance to a 16-team bracket that begins on September 10. The final will take place on September 18, just over a week before NBA training camps get underway.

Northwest Notes: Ingles, Thunder, Beasley, Hyland

If Joe Ingles‘ left knee injury sidelines him for an extended period, it won’t be easy for the Jazz to replace his presence on the court and in the locker room, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. While Ingles still has to undergo an MRI to confirm the severity of the injury, team doctors – who conducted an initial examination on Sunday – fear that it’s significant, according to Jones.

“It’s not even about the basketball at this point,” Jazz forward Rudy Gay said. “Just having him in the locker room is good for us. That’s our guy.”

“Seeing Joe at halftime, that took a lot out of guys,” Jazz point guard Mike Conley said. “Seeing him in pain. Seeing him in tears that was tough. We knew how much this meant to him. All we could do was tell him that we loved him and tell him to keep his head up.”

Ingles, who is on an expiring contract, was already considered a potential trade candidate for a Jazz team seeking a defensive upgrade on the wing. If the 34-year-old is ruled out for several months – or possibly the rest of the season – as a result of his knee injury, the Jazz will be under even more pressure to acquire another forward or wing if they want to have a chance to seriously contend for a title this season.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman considers what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s right ankle injury means for the Thunder in both the short- and long-term. The team will get an extended look at rookie Josh Giddey as the primary creator on offense, with Ty Jerome, Theo Maledon, and Tre Mann playing increased roles. Oklahoma City also could see its lottery odds increase, given how poorly the club has played without Gilgeous-Alexander this season.
  • Malik Beasley‘s last five games have been a microcosm of his season as a whole — the Timberwolves wing scored 26 points on 9-of-18 shooting in Phoenix on Friday, but put up a total of 17 points on 7-of-31 shooting in the other four contests. As Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes, Minnesota badly needs to see Friday’s version of Beasley more often. “It’s on him now,” head coach Chris Finch said. “He’s got to have the right approach. He’s got to stay confident and it’s on him. Opportunity is never going to be the issue. Never going to be the issue.”
  • The Nuggets have been impressed with the growth they’ve seen from rookie Bones Hyland, who has been given more ball-handling responsibilities on the team’s second unit, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I’m proud of Bones,” head coach Michael Malone said. “Going out there, playing with great pace, making plays for his teammates, taking the open shot, guarding, competing, and that’s what you want to see from a young player like that who’s got so much potential in front of him.” Hyland’s play has helped Denver remain in contention while Jamal Murray recovers from ACL surgery.

Northwest Notes: Nowell, Towns, Maledon, Rivers

Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell had a rough time coming back from a right tibia contusion suffered on April 3, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune details. He tried to come back 10 days later and shot 1-for-14 from the field in two games. After taking some time off, Nowell returned on Friday and saw 25 minutes of action on Sunday against Orlando.

“It affected my shot the most,” he said. “I was really shooting off one leg and trying to come back, I came back a little too early; I came back when I was still hurting.”

Nowell, the team’s 2019 second-round pick, has a non-guaranteed $1.78MM contract for next season.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Karl-Anthony Towns will remain with the Timberwolves long term if the franchise continues to add quality pieces, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic speculates in an interview with Hoops Hype’s Michael Scotto. ‘Ultimately, what it comes down to is will the Timberwolves put a winning team around Towns? If they don’t, eventually, he will go. If they do, I think he’ll stay for a long time,” Krawczynski said. “I don’t think that this summer is the be-all and end-all for it. I think he’s got one more year at least of seeing how this is all going to work out.”
  • Rookie Theo Maledon finds himself in a much different role with the Thunder than when he began the season, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman notes. With many players injured or sitting out, Maledon has become more of a scoring guard. “The injuries and the new guys on the roster forced me to be that kind of guy, be more aggressive and have more opportunity to create for me and my teammates,” he said. The early second-round pick has averaged 12.4 PPG since the All-Star break.
  • Austin Rivers has learned to become more of a team player, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Rivers, who signed a rest-of-the-season contract with the Nuggets late last month after completing a 10-day deal, has scored 55 points over the last three games while receiving extensive playing time. “When you have a fresh start like (in Denver) … and then you just stop trying to put so much emphasis on yourself,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest difference in my game right now and just my approach as a player. I’ve given myself to the team. Whether I play 35 minutes or five minutes, I’m going to be positive as hell.”

NBA Announces 2020/21 Rising Stars Rosters

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the pared-down nature of the NBA’s 2021 All-Star weekend, a Rising Stars Game showcasing the league’s top rookies and sophomores won’t be played this year.

However, the league has still announced the rosters for the event, via NBA Top Shot, naming the 20 players who would have been selected to participate if the game was taking place. Here are those rosters:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

The 20-man group includes eight rookies and 11 sophomores. The 20th player, Porter, made the cut as a sophomore since he missed his entire rookie season in 2018/19 due to an injury — this is technically his third year of NBA service.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Towns, Daigneault, Maledon

After James Harden added the Trail Blazers to his list of preferred destinations this week, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard made a powerful statement Saturday night for keeping the current backcourt together, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. McCollum especially stood out in the win over the Rockets with 44 points, eight assists, and a game-winning three-pointer in overtime.

“What am I supposed to think?” McCollum responded when asked about trade rumors. “I play the same position as James. If there is a trade for James, who is going to be in the trade?”

McCollum’s $29.3MM salary also makes him a logical candidate to be included if the Trail Blazers need to match salaries with Houston, Quick adds. The 29-year-old has been a 20+ PPG scorer for the past five years and would help replace some of the offense the Rockets will lose by dealing Harden. McCollum prefers to try to win a title with Lillard in Portland.

“I think besides Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson), we are probably the only backcourt that not only gets along, but like, empowers the other,” McCollum said. “There is no competition. I don’t force my way into the game if he is playing well; he doesn’t force his way into the game. I just let whatever is going to happen, happen. I’m comfortable not taking shots, I’m comfortable playing a role. I do what is necessary for the team.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves got a scare when Karl-Anthony Towns had to leave Saturday’s game after falling hard on his left wrist, notes Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Towns returned to help Minnesota win at Utah, but the team won’t know how much damage was done until he undergoes further testing. “I didn’t want to just quit the game and go get X-rays and stuff,” he said. “I wanted to be available in case my team needed me, and just be out there cheering them on. I did what I had to do.”
  • Mark Daigneault impressed Thunder players with his calm demeanor in his first NBA game as a head coach, according to Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Daigneault picked up his first win Saturday, but not before OKC let a big lead slip away at Charlotte. “We, myself, almost gave the game away,” said Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. “But (Daigneault was) super composed, kept our heads up, kept us confident. He was our leader down the stretch, even though things weren’t going the right way. And just in the right mind frame. Cool, calm, collected.”
  • Former NBA guard Tony Parker tells French outlet L’Equipe (hat tip to Stefan Djordjevic of EuroHoops) that Thunder rookie Theo Maledon should have been a first-round pick, but his stock fell because he wasn’t used properly in Europe by Zvezdan Mitrovic, the former head coach of Parker’s ASVEL franchise. OKC grabbed Maledon with the 34th selection.

Northwest Notes: Morris, Collins, Bogdanovic, Maledon

Nuggets reserve point guard Monte Morris agreed to a new, three-year extension with Denver this offseason. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets the full details of the agreement, which is fully guaranteed with no player or team options. It will pay Morris $8.4MM for the 2021/22 season, $9.1MM in 2022/23, and $9.8MM in 2023/24.

The No. 51 pick by the Nuggets out of Iowa State in the 2017 draft, Morris has carved out a core rotation role with the club during the last two seasons. In 2019/20, he averaged 9.0 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.9 RPG and 0.8 SPG. He sported a slash line of .459/.378/.843.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • After undergoing left ankle surgery in September, Trail Blazers power forward Zach Collins went through a light, half-speed workout this week, per Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com (Twitter link). Holdahl suggests that Portland hopes to have Collins back on the court in mid-to-late January.
  • Jazz starting small forward Bojan Bogdanović saw his first in-game action since May wrist surgery on Saturday in a preseason contest against the Suns. Bogdanovic exhibited the many ways he can contribute to the team’s offensive output, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News“It’s kind of kind of strange, this is my first time in my life that I didn’t play for this long,” Bogdanovic remarked after the game.
  • Thunder rookie guard Theo Maledon had a sparkling preseason debut for Oklahoma City, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 6’5″ guard, drafted with the No. 34 pick this year, scored 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and pulled down five rebounds in a 121-108 victory over the Spurs.

Northwest Notes: Harrison, Beasley, Maledon, Nuggets

The contract signed by new Jazz guard Shaquille Harrison is non-guaranteed, per John Hollinger of the Athletic. Jazz head coach Quin Snyder also told reporters today that Harrison is currently recovering from a broken hand, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. The newest member of the team is engaging in individual workouts with a single coach at present.

Snyder lauded Harrison’s potential as a defender for the Jazz. “When you watch him play, it jumps out at you that he can defend,” he said.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Newly re-signed Timberwolves shooting guard Malik Beasley is stressing connection and communication in training camp, per Chris Hine of the Star Tribune“Every day I ask [D’Angelo Russell] and Ricky [Rubio] what I can do to be a better playmaker,” Beasley said. He also noted that he and Minnesota star center Karl-Anthony Towns are similarly communicative. “We’ve built a relationship to be able to talk to each other and hold each other accountable. So I think this year is going to be a great year for KAT and the whole unit.”
  • Thunder second-round rookie selection Théo Maledon has signed a four-year, $7.8MM contract, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Maledon will earn a $2MM guaranteed salary in each of the first two years of his new deal, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Smith goes on to note that each of the final two seasons of Maledon’s deal – which comes out of OKC’s mid-level exception – are non-guaranteed, and that the Thunder will have a team option for the fourth year.
  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has deemed wing Will Barton “doubtful” for Saturday’s first preseason bout against the Warriors, Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports tweets. Malone also hailed guard PJ Dozier as the “MVP” of Denver’s training camp thus far.

Thunder Sign Theo Maledon

The Thunder have signed rookie guard Theo Maledon to his first NBA contract, the team announced today in a press release. Oklahoma City now has a full 20-man roster, at least for the time being.

Maledon, 19, was the 34th overall pick in November, having technically been selected by Philadelphia. The Sixers traded his rights to Oklahoma City as part of the Al Horford/Danny Green swap that was finally completed on Tuesday.

The French point guard spent last season with ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne, playing in France’s Pro A league as well as the EuroLeague. In 46 total games, Maledon averaged 7.3 PPG, 2.7 APG, and 1.9 RPG in 17.3 minutes per contest.

The details of Maledon’s contract aren’t yet known. The Thunder are still technically operating as an over-the-cap club, with their various trade exceptions pushing them over the cap despite a relatively inexpensive roster. As a result, they’ll be able to use their mid-level exception to give Maledon a contract longer than two years and worth more than just the minimum in year one.

Maledon was one of three international draft picks by the Thunder in 2020. First-rounder Aleksej Pokusevski signed his rookie contract last week, while No. 37 pick Vit Krejci appears likely to remain overseas as he recovers from an ACL injury — he’s still under contract with Zaragoza in Spain.

Assuming Krejci is a draft-and-stash prospect, Maledon figures to be the last 2020 draftee to sign a contract for the coming season.

Northwest Notes: Conley, Bogdanovic, Horford, Blazers, Morris

Jazz point guard Mike Conley cleared all COVID-19 protocols and practiced in full on Tuesday, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. Utah has one unnamed player who has yet to be cleared. Conley had close contact with a family member who tested positive, which forced him to the sidelines. He had to produce seven consecutive negative tests before he could exit quarantine.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz swingman Bojan Bogdanovic says he’ll be ready to play at the start of the season, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Bogdanovic, who underwent wrist surgery in May and missed the restart, has been practicing in full this week.
  • Al Horford and rookie Theo Maledon will join the Thunder once they complete coronavirus protocols, Brandon Rahbar of the Daily Thunder tweets. Horford and Maledon were officially acquired from the Sixers on Monday. “Theo, for a young player, he has a lot of experience and has a certain maturity about him,” new head coach Mark Daigneault said. “Al, we’re very fortunate that he’s here and to have a player of his caliber.”
  • Among the three members of the Trail Blazers organization to test positive for the virus was one player, coach Terry Stotts told Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link). Zach Collins (ankle) and Jusuf Nurkic, who just arrived Sunday, also missed the first practice on Tuesday.
  • The Nuggets are confident backup point guard Monte Morris and EuroLeague import Facundo Campazzo will be able to play together in the second unit, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic writes. Rookie draft pick RJ Hampton will need more seasoning before he’s ready for big minutes, Andrews said. Denver and Morris, one of the team’s top reserves the past two seasons, agreed on a three-year, $27MM extension on Monday.

Draft Notes: Anthony, Vassell, Maledon, Maxey

Southeast Division clubs have shown the most interest in North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony. He’s had individual workouts for the Wizards, Heat and Magic, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. The son of former NBA guard Greg Anthony is ranked 19th on ESPN’s Best Available list. The Wizards own the No. 9 pick, with Orlando holding the No. 15 selection and Miami sitting at No. 20.

We have more draft news:

  • Florida State guard Devin Vassell, ranked 11th by ESPN, has worked out for a handful of teams, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets. Vassell said he’s visited with the Knicks, Warriors, Celtics, Hawks and Magic. The presence of the Hawks (No. 6 pick) and Knicks (No. 8) suggest Vassell could go in the top 10. Golden State’s interest is intriguing, suggesting Vassell would be a target if the club trades down from the No. 2 pick.
  • French point guard Theo Maledon has worked out for three Atlantic Division clubs as well as the Spurs, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. The Nets (19th pick), Celtics (three first-rounders) and Raptors (No. 29) have also taken a look at Maledon, who is rated 24th overall by ESPN.
  • As of Thursday, the Pelicans were the only team to host Tyrese Maxey, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. The Kentucky shooting guard is 14th on ESPN’s list and New Orleans holds the 13th pick, so its interest late in the lottery makes sense.