Vasilije Micic

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Micic, Grant, Tillman

General manager Sam Presti said the Thunder came “pretty close” to signing Serbian star Vasilije Micic, writes Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. Micic has won back-to-back EuroLeague titles and Final Four MVPs with Turkish club Anadolu Efes.

“He’s really taken off since the time in which we acquired his rights,” Presti said, referring to the trade in 2020 that sent Micic’s rights to Oklahoma City from Philadelphia. “All I can tell you is I thought we were pretty close at one time. He is on a contract, and he’s committed over there. But I wouldn’t rule anything out. It’s probably a year-to-year thing.”

Micic’s representatives were rumored to be pushing the Thunder to trade his rights, with several teams said to be interested in his services. However, he was still under contract in Europe and ultimately decided to stay with Efes for another season.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • The Thunder recently announced some changes to their coaching staff for the 2022/23 season. In addition to formalizing an agreement with longtime Spurs assistant Chip Engelland, the Thunder have also named Grant Gibbs an assistant coach. Gibbs has been the head coach of the Oklahoma City Blue, the team’s G League affiliate, for the past three seasons, and will be replaced by Kameron Woods, who was an assistant with the Thunder last season.
  • The Trail Blazers need Jerami Grant to improve upon his Pistons play if they hope to contend this season, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian, who writes that Grant should see a bump in offensive efficiency playing on a more talented roster. The Blazers are interested in reaching a long-term extension with Grant, whose $20.96MM contract expires after ’22/23, Fentress adds.
  • Justin Tillman is not on the Nuggets‘ training camp roster but is still expected to play for their G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, our JD Shaw reports (via Twitter). Tillman, who is still signed to an Exhibit 10 deal, will likely be waived and replaced by another Exhibit 10 player within the next few days, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Tillman spent last season in the G League with the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s affiliate.

EuroBasket Notes: Brown, Vezenkov, Sengun, Micic, Fernandez

Mike Brown is among the NBA head coaches who fully endorse having their players take part in international competitions, writes Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops. Brown is attending the EuroBasket tournament to watch and support two Kings players, Domantas Sabonis of Lithuania and Alex Len of Ukraine.

“There’s nothing better in my opinion than getting yourself ready for an NBA season than playing and practicing at the level that these guys [in the EuroBasket] do,” Brown said. “You know you always worry about injury and that’s a concern of all of ours, but these guys are so passionate about playing for their country that it’s hard to not support them. You want them to do what they’re passionate about because that’s what life is about.”

Stroggylakis notes that the Kings had interest in signing another international player, Sasha Vezenkov, for the upcoming season after acquiring his rights from the Cavaliers on draft night. Brown said the organization invited Vezenkov to visit Sacramento this summer, but he declined due to his commitment to the Bulgarian national team. Vezenkov will play this season for Olympiacos Piraeus in Greece.

“We were hoping he could come out so we’d get to know him a little bit and take a look at him, but he had other commitments this summer, especially with the national team and all this stuff,” Brown said. “We have his rights, so we’ll circle back at him next summer. He’s big and versatile. He can shoot the ball, he’s a veteran, he’s smart. He just knows how to play the game.”

There’s more from EuroBasket:

  • Rockets center Alperen Sengun is turning Turkey into a medal contender, per Semih Tuna of Eurohoops. The Turkish team is off to a 2-0 start and appears ready to challenge Spain for the top spot in Group A. “In the NBA we play a lot of games against legendary players,” Sengun said after Saturday’s win over Bulgaria. “We are learning constantly everything. We are learning about that busy schedule too, which I am used to it. Here, we play two back-to-back games and then have a day of rest, so we are ready for this. In the next season, things will be even better for me.”
  • Vasilije Micic won’t be coming to the NBA this season, but he’s enjoying the chance to play alongside two-time MVP Nikola Jokic with Serbia, according to a Eurohoops story. The Thunder were willing to trade Micic’s draft rights this summer, but no one offered the first-round pick they were reportedly seeking.
  • Former Trail Blazers and Nuggets guard Rudy Fernandez is nearing the career record for games played for the Spanish national team, Eurohoops notes in another piece. The 37-year-old moved into second place Saturday and is now just 13 games behind Juan Carlos Navarro.

Western Notes: Merrill, J. Hall, Micic, Suns

Sam Merrill‘s new two-year contract with the Kings is, as expected, worth the veteran’s minimum. Merrill received a $150K partial guarantee for the 2022/23 season, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Merrill’s full minimum salary for ’22/23 would become guaranteed if he remains under contract through the league-wide guarantee deadline in January. If the Kings forward plays out the full first year of his deal, his second-year minimum salary would become guaranteed on June 29, 2023.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Jordan Hall‘s two-way contract with the Spurs covers two seasons, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Hall is one of four players this offseason to have signed a multiyear two-way deal.
  • While there was a sense the asking price could have been brought down, the Thunder were believed to be seeking a first-round pick for Vasilije Micic‘s NBA rights before he decided to remain with Anadolu Efes, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. “I think that was where it was a little too much for teams,” one Western Conference executive told Deveney. “No one wanted to give up a pick plus everything else it would take. The guy can play, I think he’d be good in the NBA. But no one wanted to give up picks and money for him.” Deveney suggests Micic would’ve sought a salary in the $6-7MM range and a sizable rotation role in order to make the move to the NBA.
  • Former Suns head of basketball operations Jerry Colangelo said he’d “love to see” Kevin Durant land in Phoenix, according to Doug Haller of The Athletic, who draws parallels between a possible Durant acquisition and Colangelo’s trade that brought Charles Barkley to the Suns back in 1992.

Eastern Notes: Durant, Bulls, Micic, Giannis

Nets superstar Kevin Durant has apologized for comments he made about disliking playing for former Thunder coach Billy Donovan, but the Bulls still probably don’t have the assets to trade for him, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Donovan coached Durant in Oklahoma City during the 2015/16 season.

The Bulls can offer DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Patrick Williams and draft capital for Durant, as Cowley notes, but the Nets likely wouldn’t be interested. Brooklyn is reportedly seeking a historic haul for Durant, an All-NBA forward who has four seasons left on his contract.

While Chicago probably won’t find a way to enter the Durant sweepstakes, the team did bolster its bench this offseason by signing veterans Goran Dragic and Andre Drummond, both of whom played for the Nets last season. The club dealt with several injuries and finished with the sixth-best record in the East at 46-36 last season.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Sean Deveney of Heavy.com examines Vasilije Micic‘s situation and why he may have decided against making the move to the NBA. Micic, whose draft rights are held by the Thunder, registered trade interest from multiple NBA teams, including the Bulls, as Deveney notes, but ultimately chose to stay in Turkey. The 28-year-old could still join the NBA down the road.
  • Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is still hungry to accomplish much more during his career, as Kurt Helin of NBC Sports writes. Antetokounmpo is entering his 10th NBA season, owning one championship ring, two MVP awards and many more accolades to date. “I’m an old soul,” Antetokounmpo said as part of a larger quote. “Like, in my mind I feel like I’ve been a vet five years now. But like my body… I have so much energy. I’m so hungry to accomplish more. I want to go out there and help you know my team in the best way possible. And a lot of people know that I’m a winner. I love to win. I love to go out there and leave everything on the court.”

And-Ones: Crawford, Micic, Dragic

Retired shooting guard Jamal Crawford reflected on his 20-year NBA run in a conversation with Bryan Kalbrosky of USA Today. Earlier this summer, the 6’5″ vet, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, showed off his still-lethal handle at his yearly Seattle-based Pro-Am league the CrawsOver.

“I would always stretch and ice even if nothing was hurting,” Crawford, now 42, said of one of the keys to his longevity in the league. “I heard an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of recovery. I was always taking care of myself… I was always trying to think about the long game so I could play at a high level for a long time… I would’ve played even longer if I knew the stuff I know now.”

Across 1,327 career games played with the Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Timberwolves, Suns and Nets, Crawford averaged 14.6 PPG, 3.4 APG and 2.2 RPG, while posting shooting splits of .410/.348/.862.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball globe:

  • After flirting with a move to the NBA this summer, star EuroLeague guard Vasilije Micic opted to remain with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. The Thunder continue to possess the draft rights to the two-time reigning EuroLeague Final Four MVP, who spoke to Rada Nikolić August of Sport Klub about his offseason decision . “I felt a slight mistrust from the direction of the strongest league in the world, which they have towards many, not only me,” Micic said, though he seemed open to keeping the door open to an eventual move stateside. “I really don’t think I’m going there to prove what and how much I can do. It’s nice like this for me, so if I go to America one day, it will happen…” Last year, the 28-year-old averaged 18.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.1 SPG across 28 contests with Anadolu Efes in EuroLeague play.
  • New Bulls reserve point guard Goran Dragic is set to return to competition for his native Slovenia in EuroBasket 2022 this September, as he announced via Twitter. “I’M BACK,” the 36-year-old posted, along with a variety of descriptive emojis. Dragic had previously retired from playing for Slovenia in 2017, after helping the national club win its first-ever FIBA European championship in EuroBasket play. Dragic won the EuroBasket MVP award for his efforts, averaging 22.6 PPG in nine games. Dragic joined Chicago this summer following turns with the Raptors and Nets in 2021/22.

Northwest Notes: Gillespie, Edwards, Thunder, Micic

The lower left leg fracture that Nuggets two-way guard Collin Gillespie underwent surgery on last week occurred while he was at his alma mater of Villanova helping out with a team practice, his father Jim Gillespie told Mike Jensen of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“He was dribbling up court on fast break and someone in a trail position dove to take the ball away but got his leg,” Jim said in a text message. “Surgery was (Friday) and all the doctors feel he will (make) a full recovery.”

It’s a tough setback for the younger Gillespie, who went undrafted in June but quickly caught on with the Nuggets on a two-way deal that would likely have seen him splitting his time between the NBA and the Grand Rapids Gold, Denver’s G League affiliate. Jim told Jensen that his son will “hopefully (be) back on the floor in five or six months.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • In an entertaining conversation with Zion Olojede of Complex.com, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards said that one of his goals for his third NBA season is to be an All-Star starter. Edwards also said he felt like the Wolves “handed” the Grizzlies their first-round playoff series this spring. “It was like taking candy from a baby and they took the candy,” Edwards said. “We had every game won, man, and I don’t know what happened.”
  • Unlike the Sixers, who recently announced their plans for a privately funded arena development project, the Thunder will likely be seeking public funds when they begin formally working on a new arena of their own, writes Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman (subscription required). As Carlson writes, the franchise can use the threat of relocation as leverage to seek money from the city, whereas that approach wouldn’t work in Philadelphia. Carlson estimates that we’re probably still eight to 10 years away from the Paycom Center being replaced.
  • In his latest mailbag for The Oklahoman, Joe Mussatto discusses Theo Maledon‘s tenuous future with the Thunder, whether Darius Bazley or Derrick Favors will still be on the team by season’s end, and Vasilije Micic‘s trade value. Mussatto believes Oklahoma City should be willing to trade Micic’s rights for a single second-round pick, since he gets the sense the EuroLeague star is using the threat of a move to the NBA to earn bigger contracts overseas.

Agent: Vasilije Micic To Remain With Anadolu Efes

After winning back-to-back EuroLeague titles with Anadolu Efes, Serbian guard Vasilije Micic will return to the Turkish team for the 2022/23 season, his agent Misko Raznatovic announced today on Twitter.

Micic, who was named the Final Four MVP in both 2021 and 2022 and was also the EuroLeague’s Most Valuable Player in ’21, has talked repeatedly this year about his desire to make the move to the NBA. However, his draft rights are held by the Thunder, so he wouldn’t be free to sign with any team if he comes stateside.

According to reports, Micic’s representatives had hoped the Thunder would traded the 28-year-old’s rights so that he could join a team closer to contention. The Nuggets, Bucks, Bulls, and Spurs were said to be among the clubs with some interest. However, Oklahoma City values Micic and didn’t want to just give him away — apparently, the team couldn’t find a deal it liked.

Micic already had a contract with Anadolu Efes for 2022/23, so no new agreement is necessary. If he had decided to sign an NBA contract this offseason, he could have been bought out of his deal with the Turkish club.

Although Raznatovic’s tweet doesn’t provide any clues about his client’s intentions beyond ’22/23, it’s probably safe to assume Micic will consider a move to the NBA again next summer — especially if the Thunder trade his rights between now and then.

Northwest Notes: Micic, Utah, Booth, Walker

28-year-old Vasilije Micic, the 2021 EuroLeague MVP whose draft rights are currently owned by the Thunder, is interested in joining the NBA if a trade is available, per Adrian Wojanarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Woj notes that, due to the team’s focus on rebuilding around a young roster, Oklahoma City might not make sense as a landing spot for the veteran guard. Micic was selected by the Sixers with the No. 52 pick in the 2014 draft. The Thunder acquired his draft rights during the 2020/21 season. Since 2018, Micic has played for Turkish club Anadolu Efes, winners of the past two EuroLeague titles.

During his 2021/22 EuroLeague stint with Anadolu Efes, Micic averaged 18.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.3 RPG and 1.1 SPG across 28 contests. He posted shooting splits of .467/.349/.886.

The 6’5″ guard recently reiterated his enthusiasm for taking the leap across the pond.

I’m still showing a desire to go to the NBA,” Micic told Achilleas Mavrodontis of Eurohoops. “I would like to try myself there, I would like to go there to see how is everything over there. Some things are not in my hands. I have some days left to make it happen, day by day. We will see. Otherwise, I will stay in Efes, but for now, it’s to go there.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • After trading All-Star center Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves for a handful of veterans and present and future draft picks, the Jazz will look very different during the 2022/23 season. Trent Wood of the Deseret News unpacks what Utah can expect from new ex-Minnesota acquisitions Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro and rookie Walker Kessler. GM Justin Zanik praised 34-year-old veteran point guard Beverley. “Patrick Beverley, longtime NBA antagonist, brings great defensive fire and that intensity is needed with our team,” Zanik said. Beyond Kessler, it sounds as if the more veteran players could either be on-court contributors or be made available via trade.
  • New Nuggets team president Calvin Booth is not taking his opportunity to win a title in Denver for granted, writes Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. “I never thought I’d be, you know, the steward of a team of this caliber in my very first job,” Booth said.
  • Details have emerged regarding the deal of new Trail Blazers second-round pick Jabari Walker. According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link), Walker, the No. 57 selection in the 2022 draft, has inked a three-season contract worth $4.76MM, with only the 2022/23 season fully guaranteed. During the ’23/24 season, the deal is partially guaranteed for $400K, per JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link). Walker’s deal will be non-guaranteed under the last year of the contract in ’24/25. Although it’s a minimum-salary contract, Portland used the mid-level exception to give the rookie a third year.

And-Ones: D. Smith, Micic, 2023 FAs, Contracts

Former ninth overall pick Dennis Smith Jr. is holding a private workout in Las Vegas on Monday, his agent Daniel Hazan tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Currently a free agent, Smith will attempt to show teams that he’s healthy and deserving a roster spot this fall after his 2021/22 season ended prematurely due to a partially torn UCL.

Smith, 24, earned a regular season roster spot in Portland after being invited to training camp last fall. He appeared in 37 games for the Blazers, averaging 5.6 PPG, 3.6 APG, 2.4 RPG, and 1.2 SPG in 17.2 minutes per contest. Before he injured his elbow, the 2017 lottery pick had become a regular part of the team’s rotation with Damian Lillard sidelined.

Approximately 10 teams are expected to attend Smith’s workout on Monday, Haynes says.

Here’s more from around the NBA:

  • After winning back-to-back EuroLeague titles with Anadolu Efes, 28-year-old guard Vasilije Micic feels like he’s ready to make the leap to the NBA. “I can say that this year, I’m ready to go to the NBA and that it’s time,” Micic said during a TV interview, per Eurohoops.net. “Last year I wasn’t mentally ready because I wanted another year in Europe, but we’ll see. I am also very happy in Efes and we will see what happens. I’m enjoying the moment.” The Thunder hold Micic’s NBA rights, but reports have suggested his reps would like Oklahoma City to trade him.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic takes an early look at the NBA’s 2023 free agent period, observing that it doesn’t look like a particularly star-studded class. LeBron James, Khris Middleton, Draymond Green, Kyrie Irving, and Andrew Wiggins are among the top players who could reach free agency next summer, though it’s probably safe to assume at least one or two of them will sign extensions before then.
  • Mike Vornukov of The Athletic wonders if we’ll ever see NBA teams publicly disclose contract terms when they announce free agent signings, as some clubs in other sports do.

Northwest Rumors: Wolves, Gobert, Murray, Beasley, Brown, Micic

Thursday’s agreement with Kyle Anderson will give the Timberwolves 15 players under contract, but they’re not done with offseason moves, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota remains in the market for another big man and has talked to the Jazz about Rudy Gobert, sources tell Krawczynski.

Although the Wolves used a first-round pick on Auburn’s Walker Kessler, they want to add a veteran center so there’s not too much pressure on Kessler to produce right away. They were interested in free agents JaVale McGee and Isaiah Hartenstein, but they both reached deals with other teams Thursday night.

Minnesota’s talks with Utah about Gobert began before the draft, but the Jazz are asking a lot in return for their perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate. If the Wolves can’t work out a trade for Gobert, Krawczynski cites the PacersMyles Turner and the HawksClint Capela as other options, although he adds that Minnesota’s talks with Atlanta haven’t gotten very far.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves talked to the Spurs about Dejounte Murray but weren’t willing to meet the asking price, Krawczynski confirms. There was also skepticism that Murray would re-sign with Minnesota once his contract expires in two years.
  • Teams have been making calls to gather background info on Timberwolves wing Malik Beasley, but no deal is imminent, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Beasley, who will make $15.45MM next season, carries a team option for his $16.52MM salary in 2023/24.
  • Bruce Brown possibly could have made more than the $13+ million he’ll receive from the Nuggets over the next two years, but he believes he’s entering a good situation in Denver, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). A source tells Reynolds that “fit” was more important to Brown than money.
  • Vasilije Micic‘s representatives are pressing the Thunder to trade him, but Oklahoma City isn’t willing to give the European star up cheaply, according to Aris Barkas of EuroHoops. The Nuggets, Bucks, Bulls and Spurs have all expressed interest in Micic, Barkas hears.