Vanja Marinkovic

And-Ones: Zion, World Cup, Schedule, Marinkovic

Zion Williamson, one of the top free agents on the shoe endorsement market, has reached a deal with Jordan Brand, he announced today on Instagram. Although terms of the multi-year arrangement were not released, Williamson received offers in excess of $10MM a year from some of Jordan’s competitors, relays Nick DePaula of ESPN.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league and having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had and continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to, and I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”

The company held an all-employees meeting this morning where the news was disclosed. Digital billboards featuring Williamson are scheduled to be unveiled soon.

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

  • FIBA’s decision to move the World Cup to the summer before the Olympics may be responsible for so many stars deciding to skip the event, tweets Michael Lee of The Athletic. He notes that it’s difficult to find elite players who are willing to commit two straight offseasons to international competition. Many of the players who withdrew are sincere about their desire to prepare for the upcoming season, observes Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). With no obvious favorite for the 2019/20 title, many stars are seeking any advantage they can get. Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan are the latest players to pull their names out of consideration for Team USA.
  • A summer filled with blockbuster trades and unprecedented free agent movement presents unique challenges for schedule makers, writes Jacob Feldman of Sports Illustrated. The scheduling process usually starts in mid-June, but the league came to an agreement with ESPN and TNT to push it back because of the expected flurry of transactions. The schedule release is still anticipated for its normal time of early to mid-August.
  • Kings second-round pick Vanja Marinkovic will leave his Partizan Belgrade team to sign with Valencia in Spain, tweets international basketball consultant Vedran Modric. It will be a two-year deal with an option for a third season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link).
  • Center Matt Costello, who played briefly for the Spurs during the 2017/18 season, has reached a deal with Spanish club Herbalife Gran Canaria, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando.

And-Ones: P. Jones, Marinkovic, E. Bryant, Pacquiao

A rules change in the BIG3 League has allowed Perry Jones to use that venue to pursue another shot at the NBA, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The 28th player picked in the 2012 draft, Jones spent three years with the Thunder before being traded to Boston in the summer of 2015. He never played for the Celtics before being waived that fall, then failed to make the Pelicans‘ roster after joining them for training camp in 2017.

Now 27, Jones took advantage of the new lower age limit in the BIG3, which dropped from 30 to 27 this year. He’s playing for the expansion Enemies, averaging 7.7 points per game, and hasn’t lost the confidence that he can succeed in the NBA.

“No disrespect to the Thunder, but I went to a team that didn’t have a need (for a player like me),” Jones said. “They had three superstars. They had everything set in stone that they needed. It’s just how the business goes. I think if I went somewhere else and had the opportunity to play in actual games, I think my career would have turned out differently for sure.”

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

  • Vanja Marinkovic, selected by the Kings with the final pick in this year’s draft, has until July 30 to decide where he will play this season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link). That’s when the buy-out clause expires on the final year of his contract with Partizan Belgrade in Serbia. It’s unlikely that he’ll come to the NBA, but Spain’s Unicaja Malaga and Valencia Basket have both expressed interest, Carchia states.
  • Coming off a strong performance with the Bucks‘ summer league team, Elijah Bryant is deciding among several NBA offers, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. The former BYU guard had a break-out performance July 8 with 31 points and seven rebounds against Minnesota.
  • Boxer Manny Pacquiao tells TMZ Sports he wants to fight for five more years and then purchase part of an NBA team. He already owns the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, a semi-pro outfit in the Philippines, and regularly uses basketball as part of his training. Pacquiao has an estimated net worth around $200MM.

NBA’s Early Entrant Withdrawal Deadline Looms

The NCAA’s deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the 2018 NBA draft and retain their college eligibility came and went last month, with underclassmen deciding by May 30 whether or not they wanted to keep their names in the draft.

However, while NCAA eligibility rules dictated that those prospects had to make decisions early, the NBA’s own withdrawal deadline for early entrants arrives today. Any early entrant who remains undecided on whether to keep his name in the 2018 draft will have to make a final call by 4:00pm central time on Monday.

[RELATED: Key 2018 NBA offseason dates, deadlines]

Since college prospects have already made their decisions, today’s deadline generally only applies to international early entrants. There’s no shortage of those this year, as 55 international prospects showed up on the NBA’s official list of early entrants in April, including Luka Doncic, Elie Okobo, and many others. We have all those names right here.

That list of 55 names figures to be trimmed significantly once today’s deadline passes. In 2017, for instance, 46 international early entrants initially declared for the draft, but only 10 remained in the draft pool through the NBA’s withdrawal deadline.

BeoBasket agent Misko Raznatovic provided an update on some of his clients today, tweeting that Dzanan Musa (Croatia) will remain in the 2018 draft, while Vanja Marinkovic (Serbia), Blaz Mesicek (Italy), and Goga Bitadze (Serbia) are withdrawing. Musa’s decision is particularly notable, as he currently ranks as the 20th overall prospect on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.

We’ll keep an eye out for any more noteworthy decisions from international early entrants today, and soon after Monday’s deadline passes, we’ll have an official list of 2018 early entrants straight from the NBA.

Draft Updates: Gabriel, Bowen, Mokoka, Marinkovic

Kentucky forward Wenyen Gabriel has decided to declare for the 2018 NBA draft, but won’t hire an agent for now in order to retain his NCAA eligibility, he announced today on Twitter.

“After talking with Coach Cal (John Calipari) and the staff, they believe it’s in my best interest to see where I stand in the eyes of the NBA,” Gabriel said in his statement. “I’m confident I can play at the next level, but I want to be absolutely certain that this is the right decision for me at this time.”

In his sophomore year for the Wildcats, Gabriel averaged a modest 6.8 PPG and 5.4 RPG, but showed the ability to protect the rim (1.1 BPG) and hit outside shots (.396 3PT%). He’s the fifth Kentucky underclassmen to declare for this year’s draft, joining teammates Hamidou Diallo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, and PJ Washington.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • South Carolina forward Brian Bowen, who enrolled at the school in January, is hoping to be granted eligibility for the 2018/19 season. However, he tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN (Twitter link) that he plans to declare for the NBA draft just in case he’s not reinstated by the NCAA.
  • A pair of international prospects, French shooting guard Adam Mokoka and Serbian shooting guard Vanja Marinkovic, have declared for the 2018 NBA draft, according to their agency BeoBasket (Twitter links via agents Pedja Materic and Misko Raznatovic). Mokoka, who was born in 1998, currently plays for Gravelines in France, while 1997-born Marinkovic is a member of Partizan Belgrade.
  • Spanish wing Xabier Lopez-Arostegui has declared for the draft, sources tell Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Lopez-Arostegui has spent the season with Joventut in Spain’s ACB, averaging 5.7 PPG and shooting 37% on three-pointers.