USA Basketball

NBA, USAB Execs Caught Off Guard By NCAA Changes

Executives from the NBA and USA Basketball were blindsided by an NCAA announcement that revealed a series of planned reforms involving top prospects, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, the NBA, NCAA, and USA Basketball met to discuss potential changes, but the NBA and USAB didn’t believe they had come to any consensus on how to move forward on multiple issues.

One key aspect of Wednesday’s NCAA announcement was the introduction of a rule that will allow “elite” high school seniors to hire agents. That rule is expected to go into effect once the NBA’s one-and-done rule is abolished, but that’s not a lock to happen — even if it does, it likely won’t be until 2021 or 2022 at the earliest, raising questions about why the NCAA had to make such an early announcement.

Additionally, the NCAA indicated in its press release that USA Basketball would be responsible for determining whether or not a high school prospect is considered “elite.” That’s not a responsibility that USAB officials asked for or want, according to Wojnarowski, who says that USA Basketball believes the NBA is better equipped to make those sorts of decisions.

The NCAA’s rule changes, which include greater flexibility for early entrants to put their names in the draft and later decide to return to school, were initially viewed as a step in the right direction. However, as more details surface on the reforms, there’s skepticism from NBA observers and league insiders about how effective the new measures can be.

While the NCAA says it will allow early entrants to remain in the draft and return to school if they’re not selected on draft night, that rule will only apply to prospects who attended the draft combine. In 2018, just 69 prospects were invited to the combine and the majority of those players were drafted in June — in other words, the new rule will impact a very small group of prospects.

As detailed above, there’s also concern about how the “elite” designation for high school prospects will work, since it could overlook talented players and only benefit a select few.

Here are a couple more pieces reacting to the NCAA’s rule changes:

  • The NCAA’s reforms have been met with confusion and skepticism in many corners of the basketball world, according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com, who writes that the announcement “feels like a grab for positive press.”
  • Sports legal expert Michael McCann of SI.com presents six takeaways from the NCAA announcement, noting that limiting agent eligibility to “elite” male prospects could create antitrust, equal protection, and Title IX issues. McCann also observes that the NCAA appears to be relying on the NBA and NBPA to make rule changes of their own.

Jerry Colangelo’s Time With Sixers Coming To End

Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo resigned from his post last month after burner Twitter accounts that revealed private information about the team were uncovered and linked to Colangelo and his wife. Now, Bryan’s father Jerry Colangelo, a special advisor for the 76ers, is poised to leave the organization as well.

As Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post details, Colangelo refers to his tenure in Philadelphia as being over, later clarifying that it will technically conclude “at the end of the year.” A league source confirmed to Bontemps that Colangelo remains under contract through the end of the calendar year, and while the Sixers will be honoring that contract, it won’t be renewed.

Given the events that transpired in Philadelphia leading up to his son’s departure from the Sixers, the elder Colangelo was put in an uncomfortable position. As he tells Bontemps, Colangelo prefers not to publicly address Bryan’s situation.

“I haven’t made any public comments about what transpired,” Colangelo said. “I don’t think it would be appropriate. It’s a very difficult summer for him, and his family.”

While his time with the Sixers is set to come to an end, Colangelo remains involved with USA Basketball, and he and head coach Gregg Popovich will be responsible for picking which players represent Team USA at the next major international tournaments. Colangelo, who will turn 79 this fall, intends to continue his work with Team USA through 2020, but isn’t sure what his future holds beyond the next Olympics, he tells Bontemps.

And-Ones: Super-Max, Team USA, Evans, Bibby

As ESPN’s Zach Lowe writes in his latest column, the “super-max” extension, also known as the Designated Veteran Extension, was included in the NBA’s latest Collective Bargaining Agreement in part as a reaction to Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors in 2016. The thinking was that giving a team the opportunity to give its star player a larger contract (35% of the cap instead of 30%) earlier in his career would help clubs keep their very best players.

However, as Lowe writes, while offering the super-max to a top-five player is a no-brainer, it becomes a dicier proposition for a top-10, top-15, or top-20 player.

The Bulls decided to trade Jimmy Butler rather than having to decide on a super-max offer, and according to Lowe, some members of the Pacers‘ front office had “qualms” about making such an offer to Paul George. John Wall and Russell Westbrook both received super-max extensions, but those deals will run through 2023 and could very well become albatrosses before they expire.

While there’s no indication that the league is considering any changes to the Designated Veteran Extension at this point, Lowe offers up some potential tweaks to the rule, along with thoughts from NBA executives. One idea, for example, would see super-max contracts become exempt from luxury-tax penalties — that proposal wouldn’t do much besides save owners money though, and would complicate potential trades. For more of Lowe’s ideas, be sure to check out his piece in full.

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

Western Rumors: George, Schroder, Butler, Harris

Paul George made up his mind to stay with the Thunder weeks before free agency, which is why he didn’t bother meeting with the Lakers, Marc Spears of ESPN relays. George, speaking after a Team USA practice on Thursday, acknowledged Oklahoma City took a gamble by trading for him last offseason after he previously made it known he wanted to play in L.A. That gamble paid off, even though it was “tempting” to meet with the Lakers, according to George.

“Honestly, I wanted to come back home. But again, I got traded to [the Thunder],” he said. “Loved the situation. Loved where I was at. I decided to stick around a little longer. … I just wanted my free agency to be over with.”

George inked a four-year, $137MM deal to stay put.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • George is thrilled with the acquisition of Dennis Schroder from the Hawks, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman passes along. Schroder was biggest piece OKC acquired from Atlanta in the Carmelo Anthony swap. “He’s not going to start, but hands down the best backup point guard in the league,” George said. “He’s that mid-tier star in our league, one of the best point guards in the league in general. … We’ve got another scorer, another playmaker and just another savvy guy in the locker room that can help us win ball games.”
  • Timberwolves shooting guard Jimmy Butler underwent a minor elective procedure on his right hand, the team’s PR department tweets. Butler has already returned to offseason activities.
  • Clippers forward Tobias Harris appreciated the team’s $80MM extension offer but ultimately decided he’d take his chances as an unrestricted free agent next summer, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports. “I think that as a player you never know, but just to get that offer was an amazing feeling,” Harris told Turner. “For me, I’m a kid who puts everything into the game and to have an organization come to me with that offer and to be able to present that was a really big accomplishment. It showed that the team valued me as a player.”
  • Warriors forward Draymond Green isn’t participating in the USA Basketball minicamp, Spears tweets. He joins many other stars, including LeBron James and Stephen Curry, who decided to skip it.

Southwest Rumors: Davis, Jordan, Conley, Hartenstein

Anthony Davis learned that DeMarcus Cousins was joining the Warriors while watching TV and didn’t see it coming, Scott Kushner of the Baton Rouge Advocate relays. Davis’ comments were made during a CBS-TV interview.

The Pelicans‘ superstar big man understood why Cousins decided to take a one-year deal with Golden State after entering free agency with hopes of a max contract offer.

“I was a little shocked. But I know DeMarcus, and I know he made the best decision for him and his career at that time and for his family,” Davis said. “Of course, I definitely would’ve loved for that to keep going. But at that point, I wasn’t sure what was going on with his situation or what was going through his head. It’s a lot, coming from being traded and then feeling like you deserve a max contract, and then you tear your Achilles. It was a tough situation; it’s tough on him.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan isn’t expected to show up at the USA Basketball minicamp this week, Dwain Price of Mavs.com tweets. Jordan wasn’t at the camp on Thursday and is likely to remain absent on Friday, Price adds.
  • Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is participating at the minicamp but will not compete in full scrimmages or contact drills, Michael Wallace of the Grizzlies’ website reports. Conley said his foot and heel are pain-free for the first time in two years after undergoing season-ending surgery in January.
  • Isaiah Hartenstein‘s three-year contract with the Rockets is fully guaranteed next season, has a partial guarantee the second year, and a non-guaranteed third year, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. The 7-footer, a 2017 second-round selection, signed the contract on Wednesday after playing in the G League last season. He posted averages of 10.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG, and 2.3 BPG in four summer league games with Houston earlier this month.
  • Dirk Nowitzki‘s one-year contract with the Mavericks does not contain a no-trade clause because he has automatic veto rights over any trade as a One-Year Bird, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Nowitzki signed the $5MM deal this week.

Pacific Notes: McLemore, Davis, Curry, Durant, Knight

Shooting guard Ben McLemore and power forward Deyonta Davis probably won’t stick around with the Kings, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area speculates. That duo was acquired, along with a future second-rounder, from the Grizzlies on Tuesday for veteran guard Garrett Temple. Adding a draft pick and clearing a little more cap space attracted Sacramento to the deal, Ham continues. McLemore joins a crowded backcourt and he could be waived or his $5.4MM contract could be bought out. Davis has a team-friendly $1.5MM salary but also doesn’t have an obvious role with the current roster.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Temple trade gives the Kings more than $20MM of cap room, making it a smarter move for them than the Grizzlies, in the eyes of Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Sacramento can use that additional wiggle room take on bad contracts or chase a restricted free agent, Pelton continues. The 2021 pick it acquired could very well wind up being at or near the top of the second round if Memphis goes into rebuild mode, Pelton adds.
  • Warriors guard Stephen Curry has decided to skip next week’s USA Basketball mini-camp, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports. Curry wants to spend more time with his family. Golden State forward Kevin Durant will take part in the mini-camp, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets.
  • The Suns will head into the season with Brandon Knight as the starting point guard unless they make a trade, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic declares in his latest mailbag. If Phoenix strikes a deal, the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley would be an obvious target because of Los Angeles’ backcourt logjam, Bordow adds.
  • The Clippers will promote their G League coach, Casey Hill, to Doc Rivers’ staff with coaching associate Brian Adams replacing Hill at Agua Caliente, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). Natalie Nakase will be promoted to Clippers player development staff, Wojnarowski adds.

And-Ones: Billups, LeBron, Free Agency, Budinger

ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups wants to run an NBA team in the near future, according to an Associated Press report. Billups turned down the Cavaliers’ GM job last summer, saying then it would tough to rebuild the team if LeBron James bolted. Rumors flew this summer that he’d be a candidate for a Pistons’ front-office post but he wasn’t seriously considered. “My desire is to one day run a team, be in a front office and try to build a champion,” Billups said. “I know that I will and I know I’m going to do a good job. When that opportunity presents itself, and it’s a good opportunity, I’ll be ready to go.”

In other news from around the league and overseas:

  • LeBron James will skip next week’s USA Basketball minicamp, Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes. It will be the first official session for USA Basketball with the Spurs’ Gregg Popovich as the head coach.
  • Dwyane Wade could be a bargain for the Heat or another team still shopping for a free agent guard, according to another AP story. Wade could probably be signed in the $5MM range. Vince Carter, Michael Beasley and restricted free agent Marcus Smart are three other veteran free agents who could offer value at a bargain rate, the story adds.
  • Former NBA forward Chase Budinger is pursuing a career in volleyball, Drew Ruiz of HoopsHype reports. Budinger is chasing an Olympic dream and has become a partner with two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal on the AVP Beach Volleyball circuit. “That’s been a goal of mine since I was in high school, to be on an Olympic team and playing for the USA,” Budinger told Ruiz. Budinger’s NBA career ended after he played 17 games for the Suns in the second half of the 20015/16 season.
  • Former NBA guard Mike James has signed a lucrative offer sheet with Italy’s Olimpia Milano through the 2021 season, international expert David Pick tweets. James started 10 games for the Suns last season and appeared in 32 games overall, averaging 10.4 PPG and. 3.8 APG. After getting waived, he played four games with the Pelicans before getting waived again. He then had a second stint with Greece’s Panathinaikos Athens and won a championship.

And-Ones: Brown, Motiejunas, Broekhoff, USA Basketball

Longtime NBA coach Larry Brown will sign his contract to become the head coach of the Euroleague’s Fiat Torino on Sunday, according to a Sportando report. Brown’s agent, Massimo Rizzo, said his client has already signed a letter of intent to coach the club but won’t ink the official contract until his press conference this weekend, the report adds. The 77-year-old will be taking his first head coaching position since resigning from Southern Methodist two years ago.

We have more international and domestic basketball news:

  • Forward Donatas Motiejunas will remain in China next season, Sportando relays. He re-signed with Shandong for approximately $3MM, the report adds. Motiejunas played 34 games with the Pelicans in 2016/17 after beginning his career with the Rockets, but long-terms concerns over the soundness of his back sidetracked his NBA career.
  • Australian swingman Ryan Broekhoff has visited several teams this week hoping to land an NBA contract, HoopsHype tweets. Broekhoff, who went undrafted out of Valparaiso in 2013, was scheduled to visit and work out for the Wizards, Timberwolves, Bucks and Nets, HoopsHype adds.
  • Reggie Hearn, Jonathan Holmes, Amile Jefferson, David Stockton and Xavier Munford are among the 14 players who will be on the training camp roster for the USA World Cup Qualifying Team, according a USA Basketball press release. Training camp begins on Wednesday and the final roster will be pared to 12 players.  In the FIBA World Cup Qualifying games, the U.S. will face Mexico on June 28th in Mexico City and Cuba on July 1st in Havana.
  • The Hornets and Raptors are interested in adding Sergio Scariolo, who is currently the head coach of the Spanish national team, to their staffs, according to another Sportando post.

And-Ones: 2018/19 Odds, Fredette, Hensley, USA Basketball

The Warriors have already been set as the favorites to win the 2018/19 title, relays Ben Fawkes of ESPN, but there’s a huge variable that hangs over the equation. The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook gives Golden State 5-4 odds to capture the championship, followed at 7-2 by the Rockets and Sixers, two teams believed to be in the running to sign LeBron James.

“When you have LeBron in free agency, you have to be careful,” oddsmaker John Murray said. “You’ve got Philadelphia, Miami, the Lakers and even Houston as potential destinations [outside of Cleveland]. We cut all of those teams’ odds down, and we’ll raise back up the teams he doesn’t sign with.”

Murray adds that the Rockets would take over as favorites if they are able to add James and keep Chris Paul and Clint Capela. The Celtics, who come in at 8-1, will be favored to win the East if James leaves Cleveland and goes anywhere but Philadelphia. The Lakers and Heat are tied for fifth place at 20-1, followed by the Spurs at 25-1 and the Cavaliers at 30-1.

There’s more basketball-related news to pass along:

  • Former lottery pick Jimmer Fredette hopes to use The Basketball Tournament this summer to get another shot at the NBA, writes Myron Medcalf of ESPN. The 10th selection in the 2011 draft, Fredette played for four teams in five years before heading overseas. “I would always love to get another chance in the NBA,” Fredette said. “I’ve gotten better in China and improved every year. … You hope somebody takes notice.” He has another year remaining on his Chinese Basketball Association contract.
  • J.R. Hensley, a prominent NBA agent, has been placed on 18 months’ probation, tweets Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal. The action came because Hensley refused to fully cooperate in an investigation of potential violations, according to a press release from the NBPA.
  • The USA Men’s Under 18 National Team made its first round of cuts this morning, trimming the squad from 33 players to 18. Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog has the complete list of players who advanced.

Southwest Notes: Leonard, Capela, Conley, Barnes

The Lakers might be the logical landing spot if the Spurs decide not to offer Kawhi Leonard a supermax deal or if he tells them he’ll walk after next season, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe speculates. Leonard can opt out of his deal next summer and the Spurs would want to acquire assets rather than wind up with nothing, as the Thunder experienced when Kevin Durant bolted, Washburn continues.  The Lakers have enough assets to make such a deal happen, but the Celtics would likely decline the Spurs’ advances if they were asked to give up Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and a first-rounder for him, Washburn adds.

In other news around the Southwest Division:

  • Clint Capela‘s value to the Rockets hasn’t gone unnoticed and should lead to a lucrative offseason for the impending restricted free agent, as Stefano Fusaro of The Undefeated notes. Houston went 42-3 this season when Capela, Chris Paul and James Harden were all in the lineup, and Paul told Fusaro it’s no coincidence. “Y’all know the record when we all play together, and I’ll tell you it’s not because of me and James,” Paul said. “Clint is really the X factor. He opens up so much for us.”
  • Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley anticipates playing a full season after his injury-marred 2017/18 campaign, the team’s PR department tweets. Conley opted for season-ending heel surgery in late January after appearing in just 12 games. “Thankfully I had the surgery early enough to where I have a full summer of work and getting my body ready for an 82-game season,” Conley told reporters.
  • Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes wants to play for the U.S. national team again, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports. Barnes, who had a limited role in the 2016 Olympics, is one of 35 players USA Basketball has named as candidates to play in the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Olympics. “Everybody would love to play in a World Cup and the Olympics,” Barnes told Sefko. “Those are bucket-list experiences. If I could be included in that group, it would be really special.”