Zeke Upshaw

Eastern Notes: Kanter, Pistons, Tyndall

Veteran big man Enes Kanter decided to sign with the Celtics with hopes of competing for an NBA championship next season, he explained to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.

Kanter, 27, opted to leave the Blazers after spending the second half of last season with the organization, joining a Boston team that has the likes of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward on the active roster.

“The reason I went [to Boston] is for a championship,” Kanter told Kennedy. “I feel like the team is really young and willing to learn and we have an amazing group of guys. I feel like we can beat any team on any floor. All we have to do is just be good friends and stay together. Let’s just go have fun! It’s definitely going to be a very, very exciting season.”

Kanter registered major interest from a handful of teams at the start of free agency, but he and agent Mark Bartelstein worked quickly to reach an agreement with the Celtics. He’ll likely be named the team’s starting center for the 2019/20 season.

“It’s my ninth year in the league and I understand that, for many people, the money is important. For me, the most important thing is being with a team that you’re really happy on and playing with a team that’s competing for a championship,” Kanter said. “That’s was the big thing for me. For everybody else, the money matters [more]. For me, the No. 1 thing was winning.

“After I got released by the New York Knicks, I would always hear, ‘Boston Celtics, Boston Celtics, Boston Celtics,’ but I never really got a chance to talk to them. When free agency started and the clock hit 6 pm ET, I actually talked to Danny Ainge. He told me about his plans and everything. Then, the second time he called me, I answered the phone and it wasn’t him. It was Kemba Walker and he was on Danny’s phone. Kemba said, ‘Hey, my man, are we doing this or not?’ Then, he talked to me about the team and everything. That showed me what kind of leader he is, and that made me very happy. That was one of the biggest reasons [I signed with Boston].”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • The mother of former Grand Rapids Drive forward Zeke Upshaw has reached a private settlement in her federal lawsuit with the NBA and Pistons franchise, according to T.J. Quinn of ESPN.com. Upshaw tragically passed away after collapsing near the end of a G League game in 2018, with his mother Jewel filing a wrongful death lawsuit in the months that followed. NBA officials released the following statement on the matter: “Jewel Upshaw, the National Basketball Association, and the Detroit Pistons announced today that they have resolved their prior dispute and the litigation claims against the National Basketball Association and the Detroit Pistons pending in federal district court have been dismissed. The NBA and Pistons express their sympathies to Jewel Upshaw and the rest of Zeke’s family on his tragic passing.”
  • The Pistons are expected to name Donnie Tyndall as new head coach of the Grand Rapids Drive, according to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days. Tyndall has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Raptors 905, helping win a league championship under Jerry Stackhouse in 2017.

And-Ones: NBA Africa Game, Global Camp, Upshaw

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Sixers center Joel Embiid will headline the rosters in this summer’s NBA Africa Game, the league announced today. The event, which will take place on Saturday, August 4 in Pretoria, South Africa, will feature a Team Africa vs. Team World format, with Cameroon native Embiid heading Team Africa and DeRozan representing Team World.

Joining Embiid on Team Africa will be fellow NBAers Al-Farouq Aminu, Bismack Biyombo, Cheick Diallo, Evan Fournier, Serge Ibaka, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Pascal Siakam. DeRozan’s teamates on Team World will include Harrison Barnes, Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Gay, Khris Middleton, and Hassan Whiteside.

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

  • A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects from outside the United States will take part in the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy from June 2-5, the NBA announced on Wednesday. While Luka Doncic won’t attend the pre-draft showcase, there will be plenty of prospects worth watching, including Cedevita forward Dzanan Musa, who is the No. 19 prospect on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.
  • The mother of Zeke Upshaw, the G League player who passed away earlier this year after collapsing during a Grand Rapids Drive game, has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the NBA and the Pistons of negligence. The suit alleges that the defendants failed to provide the Drive with the “the resources, policies, and procedures reasonably necessary” to prevent or handle Upshaw’s collapse. Noah Trister of The Associated Press has the full story and more details.
  • Now that two-way contracts have been in effect for nearly a full year, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days explores what sort of changes we may see to the rules surrounding those contracts in the future.

And-Ones: Upshaw, Pitino, NCAA Tournament, Players’ Health

Grand Rapids Drive player Zeke Upshaw passed away this past Monday after he collapsed during the final minute of a weekend game against the Long Island Nets. It was a tragic and unexpected event for a 26-year-old professional player who displayed no signs of health issues.

Per a report from USA Today, Upshaw suffered a “sudden cardiac death.” The medical examiner who was assigned Upshaw’s case said he discovered ” cardiac abnormalities” but an in-depth investigation into his depth will take several weeks.

Upshaw had played internationally before spending the past two seasons with the Piston’s G League affiliate. The Pistons honored Upshaw with a posthumous call-up to honor his contributions to the organization.

Check out more news and notes out of the basketball world:

  • The New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League reportedly offered former Louisville coach Rick Pitino their head coaching position, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. There has been virtually no NBA interest in his services with the lone conversation between his reps and an NBA team (the Bucks) initiated by Pitino’s side, Stein noted.
  • Shaun Powell of NBA.com examines which injuries will have the biggest impact as the postseason nears. The list includes injured All-Stars the likes of Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant. Powell also looks at players out for the rest of the year (DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Roberson) and Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN looks at a diverse pool of 11 players who could impact the NBA’s future. All of Pelton’s choices are 28 years old or younger, and some are expected to be lottery picks in the 2018 NBA draft.
  • Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago looks at which NBA prospects benefited from a further look during the NCAA tournament.

NBAGL Player Zeke Upshaw Passes Away After On-Court Collapse

Two days after collapsing on the court during a G League game, Zeke Upshaw of the Grand Rapids Drive has passed away, the team announced today (Twitter link). He was 26 years old.

“After continued efforts from the medical team at Spectrum Health, Zeke made his transition at 11:16 am,” Jewel Upshaw, Zeke’s mother, said in a statement. “To family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans & confidants, thank you for your prayers and support during this most difficult time.”

With about 50 seconds remaining in the Drive’s game against the Long Island Nets on Saturday night, Upshaw collapsed onto the court. He lay motionless on his stomach for several minutes before being taken off the floor on a stretcher. Upshaw was immediately transported to nearby Spectrum Hospital and was placed under doctors’ care, but passed away on Monday morning.

Although he never played in an NBA game, Upshaw was a key player for the Pistons’ G League affiliate in Grand Rapids, having appeared in 75 contests for the club over the last two seasons. The 6’6″ swingman had scored 11 points in Saturday’s win to help the Drive secure a playoff spot. Upshaw, who began his professional career in 2014, previously played college ball at Illinois State and Hofstra.

We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to Upshaw’s family and friends, as well as to the Pistons organization.

And-Ones: Young, Cavs, Pistons, Turner

Kentucky freshman James Young hasn’t made a decision on if he’s entering the NBA Draft yet, reports The Kentucky Advocate Messenger. Young’s godfather, Sean Mahone said, “I am not even certain what the deadline is for deciding. That shows how we are not fixated on the draft. That is just an innocent admission of where we are and what we have been thinking about. It’s just been chaos the last few weeks during this incredible run with a lot of late night worries and anxiety and then some great, great moments. That was our focus, not next year.”

More from around the league:

  • The Heat were offered Evan Turner in a trade by the Sixers before the trade deadline with Udonis Haslem being the only significant piece they would have had to send in return, writes Dan Le Batard of The Miami Herald. The Heat didn’t make the trade, at least in part because they didn’t like how it would look to deal one of the club’s longest tenured players, reports Le Batard.
  • According to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Twitter link), whoever takes over as GM of the Pistons needs to clear out the logjam at power forward. Greg Monroe is looking for a big pay raise and Josh Smith doesn’t mesh well with Brandon Jennings and Monroe, opines Wolstat.
  • The Cavaliers are going to have to figure out if Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving can play together, writes Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer. It’s not the players personalities that are the problem, but rather that their ball-dominant games are too alike, opines Pluto.
  • The Lakers Pau Gasol is officially done for the season, reports Mike Trudell of Lakers.com (Twitter link). Team doctors had told Gasol that he was still a few weeks away from returning to action.
  • Hofstra senior guard Zeke Upshaw has signed with agent Brian J. Bass, reports Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com (Twitter link).