Zach Lofton

Raptors Hosting Free Agent Mini-Camp

As the Raptors‘ players and coaches focus on preparing for a potential NBA Finals close-out game in Oakland on Thursday night, the team’s front office will take a closer look at a number of veteran free agents over the next two days in Toronto.

According to a press release, the Raptors will host a free agent mini-camp at its practice facility on Wednesday and Thursday, with 23 players scheduled to attend.

Those players are as follows:

McLemore, Patton, and Payne – all former first-round picks – are perhaps the most well-known players on the list of participants, but they aren’t the only ones with some NBA experience. Artis, Brussino, Costello, Lofton, Thomas, and Weber have each appeared in at least one regular season game as well.

NBA Announces 80 Players For G League Elite Camp

The NBA has announced in a press release that 80 players are set to participate in its G League Elite Camp next week in Chicago from May 12-14. The event will include 40 prospects who are eligible for this year’s draft, as well as 40 standout prospects from the 2018/19 G League season.

Heading into this spring, the NBA revamped its G League Elite Camp, which in past years has simply showcased some of the NBAGL’s top performers.  That aspect of the event will still exist, but G League players will only participate in the first two days of the event.

The second half of the event will feature 40 draft-eligible prospects who aren’t among the 60 prospects invited to the actual draft combine. The list of participants was determined by an NBA team vote, and those prospects will work out and scrimmage during the final two days of the event — there will be no overlap with the G League portion of the event.

As this week’s announcement confirms, a select number of draft-eligible prospects participating l in the G League Elite Camp will also be invited to attend the combine itself, which takes place from May 15-19 in Chicago.

Here are the list of draft-eligible prospects who are expected to participate in the 2019 G League Elite Mini Camp, per the NBA:

  1. Tyus Battle (Syracuse)
  2. Bennie Boatwright (USC)
  3. Phil Booth (Villanova)
  4. Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)
  5. Bryce Brown (Auburn)
  6. Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State)
  7. Chris Clemons (Campbell)
  8. Amir Coffey (Minnesota)
  9. Tyler Cook (Iowa)
  10. Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
  11. Aubrey Dawkins (Central Florida)
  12. Javin DeLaurier (Duke)
  13. Mamadi Diakite (Virginia)
  14. CJ Elleby (Washington State)
  15. Tacko Fall (UCF)
  16. Robert Franks (Washington State)
  17. Jared Harper (Auburn)
  18. Ethan Happ (Wisconsin)
  19. Dewan Hernandez (Miami)
  20. Amir Hinton (Shaw (NC))
  21. DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa)
  22. Sagaba Konate (West Virginia)
  23. Matur Maker (Mississauga Prep (Canada))
  24. Terance Mann (Florida State)
  25. Caleb Martin (Nevada)
  26. Cody Martin (Nevada)
  27. Luke Maye (North Carolina)
  28. Trey Mourning (Georgetown)
  29. Andrew Nembhard (Florida)
  30. James Palmer Jr. (Nebraska)
  31. Josh Perkins (Gonzaga)
  32. Reggie Perry (Mississippi State)
  33. Jalen Pickett (Siena)
  34. Myles Powell (Seton Hall)
  35. Justin Robinson (Virginia Tech)
  36. Marial Shayok (Iowa State)
  37. Max Strus (DePaul)
  38. Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State)
  39. Kenny Wooten (Oregon)
  40. Justin Wright-Foreman (Hofstra)

Here are the 40 G League players set to participate in the G League Elite Camp:

  1. Josh Adams (Raptors 905)
  2. Jaylen Barford (Greensboro Swarm)
  3. Amida Brimah (Austin Spurs)
  4. Jared Brownridge (Delaware Blue Coats)
  5. Antonius Cleveland (Santa Cruz Warriors)
  6. Charles Cooke (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  7. Cody Demps (Stockton Kings)
  8. Aaron Epps (Northern Arizona Suns)
  9. Abdul Gaddy (Oklahoma City Blue)
  10. John Gillon (Greensboro Swarm)
  11. Kaiser Gates (Windy City Bulls)
  12. Isaac Haas (Salt Lake City Stars)
  13. Johnny Hamilton (Grand Rapids Drive)
  14. Dusty Hannahs (Memphis Hustle)
  15. Zak Irvin (Westchester Knicks)
  16. Peter Jok (Northern Arizona Suns)
  17. Matt Jones (Stockton Kings)
  18. Marcus Lee (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  19. Zach Lofton (Grand Rapids Drive)
  20. Tahjere McCall (Long Island Nets)
  21. Brandon McCoy (Wisconsin Herd)
  22. MiKyle McIntosh (Raptors 905)
  23. Jordan McLaughlin (Long Island Nets)
  24. Jaylen Morris (Erie BayHawks)
  25. Mychal Mulder (Windy City Bulls)
  26. Malik Newman (Canton Charge)
  27. Retin Obasohan (Northern Arizona Suns)
  28. Chinanu Onuaku (Greensboro Swarm)
  29. Norvel Pelle (Delaware Blue Coats)
  30. Darel Poirier (Capital City Go-Go)
  31. Billy Preston (Texas Legends)
  32. Desi Rodriguez (Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario)
  33. Kenneth Smith (Grand Rapids Drive)
  34. Richard Solomon (Oklahoma City Blue)
  35. Emanuel Terry (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  36. Juan Toscano-Anderson (Santa Cruz Warriors)
  37. Dakarai Tucker (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)
  38. Andrew White III (Maine Red Claws)
  39. Thomas Wimbush (Long Island Nets)
  40. Todd Withers (Grand Rapids Drive)

Pistons Add Kalin Lucas On Two-Way Deal, Waive Zach Lofton

The Pistons have signed Kalin Lucas to a two-way contract, waiving Zach Lofton in the process, Rod Beard of The Detroit News relays (Twitter feed). The now team has a bounty of guards after adding Isaiah Whitehead on a separate two-way deal earlier today.

Behind Reggie Jackson, the team has veterans Ish Smith, Langston Galloway, and Jose Calderon on the payroll. The Pistons also have rookie Khyri Thomas, who has seen court time in each of the last three games after playing sparsely in just seven of the franchise’s previous 39 contests.

After the Lucas signing, seven of the team’s 17 players man the point guard position. It’s possible that the club is preparing to make a trade and while that’s merely my speculation, the calculated roster imbalance suggests the Pistons are strategically planning something. It could be more lineups with two point guards or it could be a more drastic measure like shipping Jackson to a new team.

Detroit entered the day 10th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 18-24, just a game-and-a-half behind the eighth-place Hornets. Adding Lucas, who has appeared in just one NBA game since leaving Michigan State, won’t likely impact the team’s win total. However, with Lucas and Whitehead in the fold, the team has great depth at the position and it can now more easily swap a floor general for some needed wing support.

Central Notes: Kennard, Dunn, Asik, Evans

Pistons coach Dwane Casey will use a variety of players to replace reserve guard Luke Kennard, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports. Kennard suffered a separated shoulder against Cleveland on Thursday and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. Rookies Bruce Brown, Khyri Thomas and Zach Lofton along with Glenn Robinson III and Jose Calderon will take turns filling up Kennard’s rotation minutes until he returns.

“It’ll be matchup driven,” Casey said of the Pistons’ plans to fill Kennard’s minutes. “Glenn does a good job of chasing guys. Some guys have trouble against length. That will be Glenn. But Bruce, he’s capable of really guarding a lot of different people. Khyri Thomas, too. Luke going down is an opportunity for Khyri, Jose to be ready. … That’s why we have 15 on the roster. We’ll have to make a decision whether we want to bring up (two-way player) Zach Lofton. This is why you stay ready for your opportunity.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Bulls point guard Kris Dunn had no idea how badly he injured his knee until he returned home from Dallas, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago. Dunn will be out 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain in his left knee. He originally thought it was just a bruise but the pain increased on the flight home on Monday and the knee locked up on him when he returned home. An MRI the next morning revealed the severity of the injury. “I think it’s unlucky. It comes with the game,” Dunn said. “I can either cry about it or try to work my way around it. I’m going to stay positive, be a man about it.”
  • The Bulls decided not to use the stretch provision on the $3MM guarantee for Omer Asik‘s 2019 salary, ESPN’s Bobby Marks confirms (Twitter link). Chicago ate the approximately $11.3MM owed to Asik this season and waived him over the weekend. The team could have chosen to stretch out the $3MM guarantee for next season over a three-year period. However, the $3MM cap hit could be erased entirely if the 32-year-old Asik is deemed medically ineligible to play. Asik is out indefinitely with inflammatory arthritis.
  • Tyreke Evans will sit out Saturday’s game against Cleveland for violating team rules, the Pacers announced in a press release. Evans, who signed a one-year, $12MM contract as a free agent this summer, said that he was late for practice and expressed remorse. “This is the most professional and team-oriented organization I have been with in my career,” he said. “They deserve my best every day and I am disappointed in myself for causing a distraction that prevents me from being able to help my team tomorrow. I will do better.”

Pistons Waive Hearn; Lofton Gets Two-Way Deal

2:30pm: The Pistons have officially announced both moves in a press release.

1:25pm: The Pistons will reach the regular season roster limit by converting Zach Lofton‘s Exhibit 10 contract into a two-way deal and waiving two-way player Reggie Hearn, sources inform James Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter links). The moves will leave Detroit with 15 players on standard contracts and two on two-way pacts.

Lofton, who turns 26 in November, played college ball for four different schools, eventually finishing his college career at New Mexico State in 2017/18. The 6’4″ shooting guard averaged 20.1 PPG and 5.0 RPG with a .456/.380/.772 shooting line in his senior year, but went undrafted in June. After signing a camp deal with the Pistons, Lofton reportedly impressed the team this fall — we heard last week that he was making a strong case for a two-way contract.

As for Hearn, he was one of the Detroit’s two-way players last season, having inked a two-year deal with the club. Although he was solid in the G League, averaging 14.8 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .423/.370/.842 shooting, he appeared in just three games for the Pistons.

Given the positional overlap between Hearn and Lofton, it makes sense that Hearn would be the odd man out if the Pistons were determined to keep Lofton.

Central Notes: Evans, Hood, Cavs, Pistons

An unrestricted free agent over the summer, Tyreke Evans received interest from teams like the Hornets and Lakers, but elected to join the Pacers. As J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star relays, the fact that the Pacers won 48 games and gave the eventual Eastern champs all they could handle in the postseason played a significant role in Evans’ decision.

“I figured out with the run they had, watching how they played and how the chemistry was, I thought I would fit well,” Evans said of the Pacers. “Even though a lot of people think it was a Cinderella run for them, I watch basketball a lot and I could tell the heart they played with in that first round. Throughout the season they played hard every night. I saw the fight in them. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Evans also said that he has no problem playing for a smaller-market team, noting that he could’ve ended up in L.A. but felt like the Pacers were a better fit for him.

Here’s more from around the Central division:

  • Speaking to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Rodney Hood acknowledged that it was tough to watch many of his fellow restricted free agents receive big-money deals this offseason while those lucrative offers didn’t materialize for him. Jabari [Parker] is like a brother to me and I know Marcus [Smart] — we came in the league together,” Hood said. “So I’m happy for them getting money and stuff like that. But I had to understand restricted free agency. At first, it was hard because I really didn’t. And I was thinking, ‘Alright, he got paid and I was supposed to.'” As Hood prepares for the biggest year of his career, the Cavaliers still want him to be part of their future beyond 2019, writes Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com.
  • Joe Vardon of The Athletic takes a closer look at the camp invitees vying for a roster spot with the Cavaliers, a group that includes Kobi Simmons, John Holland, Isaiah Taylor, and others.
  • Pistons camp invitee Zach Lofton has impressed the team this fall, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details. Detroit has 15 players on guaranteed salaries and two on two-way deals, but Lofton may be making a case to take over one of those two-way contract slots, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.
  • In a piece for The Free Press, Ellis notes that the Pistons have been giving second-round pick Bruce Brown a look at point guard during the preseason, a move endorsed by Brown’s college coach Jim Larranaga. “The more I observed him and evaluated him, the more I realized his long-term potential is really as a point guard,” Larranaga said of the former Miami Hurricane. “I think he’s going to be a point guard in the NBA.”

Pistons Notes: Leuer, Griffin, R. Jackson, S. Johnson

Jon Leuer‘s knee surgery this week gives the Pistons a reason to worry about their frontcourt depth, suggests Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Leuer had a procedure done on his right knee Wednesday after suffering a medial meniscus injury. Although it’s considered minor, the team isn’t sure that he’ll be ready for camp, saying his condition will be re-evaluated in late September.

New coach Dwane Casey was counting on Leuer to be his primary reserve big man, backing up Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin. But if Leuer’s recovery takes longer than expected, that gives greater responsibility to Henry Ellenson and free agent addition Zaza Pachulia. Ellis notes that Johnny Hamilton, a rookie from Texas-Arlington who was with the Pistons for Summer League, could also be in the mix if he performs well in training camp.

Injury misfortune continues for Leuer, who missed 74 games last season with a left ankle issue that also required surgery. The 29-year-old will make slightly more than $10MM this season and $9.5MM in 2019/20.

There’s more today out of Detroit:

  • There’s reason for optimism about the health of Griffin and Reggie Jackson heading into the new season, Ellis writes in a mailbag column. Neither player had injury issues this summer and they were able to keep up a full workout schedule. The switch to Casey may also help as former coach Stan Van Gundy was known for long, often draining practices. Griffin appeared in 58 games last year between the Clippers and Pistons, missing time with knee and ankle injuries, and hasn’t played more than 67 in the past four seasons. Jackson had a platelet-rich plasma treatment before the start of last season and managed just 45 games.
  • The Pistons may have plans to use free agent addition Glenn Robinson III and Stanley Johnson in the lineup together, Ellis adds in the same piece. Power forward could turn out to be Johnson’s best position, and there will be an opening if Leuer’s injury is worse than expected.
  • Former New Mexico State guard Zach Lofton is excited about the opportunity to join the Pistons for training camp, relays Mark Rudi of The Las Cruces Sun-News. Lofton confirmed the agreement today on Instagram. “I want to thank the Detroit Pistons for the amazing opportunity to be a part of the organization,” he said in a news release. “I also want to thank the amazing support system I’ve had through the years. I’m excited to start this new chapter.”

Pistons Sign Zach Lofton To Training Camp Deal

AUGUST 11: The deal is official, Lofton announced on Instagram.

AUGUST 8: Former New Mexico State guard Zach Lofton will sign a G League contract and participate in training camp with the Pistons, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

After going undrafted in June, Lofton joined the Detroit’s summer league entry and impressed team officials with his performance in Las Vegas. As a senior with the Aggies, he averaged 20.1 points per game and was a first-team All-WAC selection.

Lofton will be the 18th player headed to camp with the Pistons, two short of the league maximum.

Draft Workouts: T. Young, Cavs, Blazers, Warriors

Potential top-10 pick Trae Young conducted a “secret” workout for the Cavaliers on Saturday, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Givony, echoing what Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com wrote earlier today, suggests that Michael Porter Jr. may be Cleveland’s top target at No. 8.

However, if Porter is no longer available, the Cavaliers’ decision could come down to Young vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, according to Givony, who notes that he has the team taking Gilgeous-Alexander in his latest mock draft.

Here are a few more updates on pre-draft workouts from around the NBA:

Draft Updates: Porter, Doncic, Bagley, Bamba

Teams that had planned to attend Michael Porter Jr.‘s workout tomorrow are being told it will be held at another time, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Porter’s representatives canceled the session late Wednesday night without providing an explanation.

The move has led to speculation that Porter’s surgically repaired back may be bothering him, but it’s also possible he has received a guarantee that would make a group workout unnecessary. Porter’s camp may be rethinking his status and devoting time just to teams at the top of the draft, according to Tom Ziller of SB Nation, who adds that they now believe he will be taken in the top four.

There’s “a very real chance” that the Kings will use their No. 2 pick on Porter, Amick adds, but it’s not certain at this point whether last night’s news will impact their decision. The organization may request more medical information and take another look at Porter in action before making a commitment.

There’s more draft-related news this morning: