Paul Garcia: Some players who have signed training camp deals with teams per Real GM recently: Matt Thomas – Bulls, Marquese Chriss – Blazers, George King – Clippers, Dennis Smith Jr.- Blazers
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Adrian Wojnarowski: Free agent guard Dennis Smith Jr., has signed a deal to attend training camp with the Portland Trail Blazers, sources tell ESPN. Smith played 23 games between Detroit and New York last season.
Last week, former Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. told DallasBasketball.com that he was interested in making a return to his old team. But the real question after that was, what would the Mavs’ interest level be in a Smith Jr. comeback? “We don’t have (any open) roster spots yet,” Cuban tells DallasBasketball.com when asked about potentially bringing Smith Jr. back. “But if that changes, it’s a conversation to have.”
Marc Berman: Source confirms PG Elfrid Payton return to Phoenix is strong possibility. Payton has 17 career triple doubles. Meanwhile, Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina, Knicks teammates to start 2020-21, still unsigned. Smith won’t be back in Detroit, per source.
The month-long G-League competition, which begins Feb. 10 at Disney World, also offers Smith Jr. exposure before the trade deadline and free agency. His rookie contract, which pays out $5.7 million this season, expires in the summer. The Knicks are expected to grant Smith Jr.’s G-League request, according to a league source.
Ntilikina and Smith both are in the final years of their rookie contracts and haven’t lit the league on fire yet. They have vastly different styles. Ntilikina is a playmaker and defender, while Smith is a scorer and penetrator. Smith has even changed his jersey number to No. 4 — which he wore at North Carolina State. “We’re three days in, so I’m getting to know both guys,’’ Thibodeau said after the third day of voluntary group practices that is part of the NBA’s in-market OTAs for the “Delete 8.’’
“I like what they’ve done so far. They got to continue to work. There’s often times ups and downs for young players. There’s a learning curve they have to go through. Some experiences will be better than others. “They both have had some good moments in the league. You want to build a consistency. And how do you get there? You have to do it through your work. You have to learn from the experiences. And you have to be disciplined. And so, hopefully we can get there this is a very important offseason for both players.”
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September 16, 2021 | 3:40 pm EDT Update
Popovich’s coaching staff in Tokyo included Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Indiana Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce and Villanova University men’s head basketball coach Jay Wright. Hill told The Undefeated that he hopes to hire a new coach for USA Basketball before the 2021-22 NBA season begins on Oct. 19. A source told The Undefeated a current NBA coach with previous USA Basketball experience would likely be hired as the next coach of the team. Other possible candidates with USA Basketball coaching experience include the Philadelphia 76ers’ Doc Rivers, Atlanta Hawks’ Nate McMillan, Phoenix Suns’ Monty Williams, New York Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau and Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra. Another potential candidate is former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy, who has coached USA Basketball in qualifying play in recent years.
When asked what type of coach he’d like to hire for USA Basketball, Hill said: “Someone who understands and has a healthy respect for the international game. The dynamics are a bit different in that environment than they are in the NBA regular season. You’re going to be dealing with some tough love of players, and being able to mentor them. That’ll check the boxes, if you will. “Someone who can manage a locker room, who understands the international play, obviously can coach, and understands this isn’t over. Spending the last year just really studying the international game, it’s different. It’s a different game than our game, and understanding that and respecting that is vitally important and not just for the staff but for the players as well.”
Hill said that USA Basketball will probably host a minicamp with its national team next summer. Despite the daunting pressures and challenges that come with USA Basketball keeping its power status, the new managing director says he is embracing the tough golden opportunity. “We’re all alone in terms of what those expectations are,” Hill said. “You don’t run from that. That’s something you welcome, you embrace, and you recognize that you’re supposed to win. There’s a tremendous amount that goes into the process, and the other teams have been together for years, they have continuity, it’s a different game, there’s a little bit more physicality …
The Los Angeles Clippers were casually linked to a Russell Westbrook trade in the past before he was eventually traded to the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers in each of the past two offseason. The interest in Westbrook has led some to speculate that they could trade for John Wall, who the Houston Rockets are attempting to move. “The Clippers were never interested in Russell Westbrook,” said Zach Lowe on his podcast. “They were a rumored Russell Westbrook trade in a few places whenever that happened. They were never interested. That was never a real thing. I think they value their optionality too much.”
September 16, 2021 | 1:03 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Free agent center Jahlil Okafor is signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Atlanta Hawks, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
The Cairns Taipans have announced that high-flying import Cameron Oliver will not be returning to the NBL this season, and instead accept an Exhibit 10 contract in California. The club originally signed Oliver with the intentions of providing him with a pathway to a higher level and are thrilled that he is one step closer to the NBA. After a stellar debut with the Taipans, Oliver committed to a new two-year deal in 2020. His second season with the club was cut short due to family reasons, which the club accepted and provided him with a release to return home to the US. He received a 10-day contract with the Houston Rockets towards the end of the 2020-21 NBA season and in August suited up for the Golden State Warriors at Summer League.
“This is such a positive outcome. Cam said that he has never felt this close to his NBA dream, and this is exactly what we want. It speaks volumes of the Taipans organisation because they took a chance on him and look where he is now,” said Coach Forde. “I came into this role knowing that Cam was on the fringe of the NBA – so we have been diligently planning for this possibility and it’s fortunate it’s at this time, during the pre-season. We’ve been prepared for all scenarios but now we can progress forward with certainty. “I’m so happy for him, the team are extremely proud of him and now we get to move forward, sign another talented player and focus on winning a Championship for Cairns.”