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The Key NBA Free Agents in 2019

The 2019 offseason may be two years away, but it’s never too early to start making long term plans.

Ben Nadeau

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By this point in this summer, most NBA franchises generally know their fate for the upcoming season. Either you’re a contender or a pretender — but thanks to the Golden State Warriors’ stacked, nearly unbeatable core, some teams are looking even further down the road. Free agency in 2019 is a full two seasons away and, obviously, much can change in the upcoming 20-plus months before then.

Still, if you’re one for forward-thinking and future planning, here’s a far, far too early look at which players could be the big-time free agent targets in 2019. Each potential free agent is denoted by their contract type and how old they’ll be by the time July rolls around two years from now.

But first, a few caveats:

On The Low, Low Odds They Don’t Opt Out in 2018

If any of these players decide to opt into their contracts in 2018, they’ll be unrestricted the following year. However, the top superstars often snag that player option to protect themselves in the case of a long-term injury. Kevin Durant, for example, seems settled into the life of 1 + 1 deals — a guaranteed one-year contract with that sweet player option in the second to make sure that he always holds the cards in free agency.

LeBron James — Cleveland Cavaliers — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds + 8.7 assists in 37.8 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 34

Until Kyrie Irving’s recent shock trade request, it would have been tough to believe that the Cleveland Cavaliers were headed toward a breakup. In 2018, James will almost certainly opt out, earning himself the freedom to go anywhere he pleases. Should he and Irving suddenly reconcile their differences, they’ll both be free agents in 2019, along with Kevin Love, in all likelihood.

Kevin Durant — Golden State Warriors — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 25.1 points, 8.3 rebounds on 53.7 percent in 33.4 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 30

Russell Westbrook — Oklahoma City Thunder — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds + 10.4 assists in 34.6 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 30

In 2016-17, Russell Westbrook averaged a triple-double and won MVP, thus setting the stage for an epic trip to free agency in 2018. However, that was before the Oklahoma City Thunder went out and traded for All-Star Paul George this summer. While Westbrook has mentioned his intentions to stay with the Thunder long-term, the allure of Los Angeles may be too much to handle. Note: Both Westbrook and George have player options in 2018 and then are unrestricted in 2019 — can you say package deal?

Paul George — Oklahoma City Thunder — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 23.7 points, 6.6 rebounds + 3.3 assists in 35.9 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 29

Carmelo Anthony — New York Knicks — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 22.4 points, 5.9 rebounds in 34.3 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 35

Carmelo Anthony will earn himself at least one more NBA payday in 2019 — that is, if he doesn’t opt out of his contract after next season, wherever it is that the future Hall of Famer ends up. After strong stints with both the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks over the last fourteen years, Anthony will surely look to target the ever-elusive NBA Championship — hence his desire to join up with Chris Paul in Houston.

DeAndre Jordan — Los Angeles Clippers — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 12.7 points, 13.8 rebounds on 71.4 percent in 31.7 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 30

LaMarcus Aldridge — San Antonio Spurs — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds + 1.2 blocks in 32.4 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 33

Surprisingly, it seems as if the San Antonio Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge are barrelling toward a split. After frustration surrounding his fit with the Spurs arose this summer, Aldridge is likely a lock to opt out in 2018 instead of waiting for it to naturally expire one year later. Aldridge had a tough postseason for San Antonio, but he’ll be sought after whenever he hits free agency.

Yeah, They’re Restricted Free Agents… But Don’t Get Any Ideas

Technically, this quartet will all hit the open market in 2019, but something drastic would need to happen in the next two years before their respective franchises balk at matching any offer sheet they receive. More or less, it’s fair to cross this daydream off your free agency wish list — these four won’t be going anywhere.

Karl-Anthony Towns — Minnesota Timberwolves — Restricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 25.1 points, 12.3 rebounds + 1.3 blocks in 37 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 23

What else is there to say about Karl-Anthony Towns? If head coach Tom Thibodeau can work on improving Towns’ raw defense, then the young center will quickly become one of the NBA’s most dominant forces. With Andrew Wiggins preparing for a max offer from Minnesota, the two could form an extremely potent duo for the next decade. Condolences to the other 29 teams, but Towns is destined to be the face of the franchise in Minnesota for a very, very long time.

Devin Booker — Phoenix Suns — Restricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 22.1 points, 3.4 assists + 1.9 three-pointers in 35 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 22

Kristaps Porzingis — New York Knicks — Restricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds + 2 blocks in 32.8 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 24

Ditto goes for Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks’ Latvian unicorn. Since he was drafted in 2015, Porzingis has been absolute revelation — blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and hitting three-pointers, the budding superstar does it all. There was some worry the Knicks might move him around June’s draft, but fret no longer, Porzingis will terrorize opponents at Madison Square Garden until further notice.

Myles Turner — Indiana Pacers — Restricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds + 2.1 blocks in 31.4 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 23

Max ‘Em Out

Kawhi Leonard — San Antonio Spurs — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds + 3.5 assists in 33.4 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2018: 28

The Klaw quickly became one of the league’s greatest assets under the tutelage of head coach Gregg Popovich and the recently-retired Tim Duncan. Of course, Kawhi Leonard is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year winner and already has an NBA Finals MVP to his name as well. Oh, and given the way the Spurs typically take care of business, it’s fair to expect that Leonard won’t be leaving San Antonio for quite some time, if ever.

Kyrie Irving — Cleveland Cavaliers — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 25.2 points, 5.8 assists + 2.5 three-pointers in 35.1 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 27

Jimmy Butler — Minnesota Timberwolves — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, + 5.5 assists in 37 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 29

Superstar Jimmy Butler reunited with former head coach Tom Thibodeau in a stunning draft day trade back in June. Now in Minnesota, Butler will compete alongside Wiggins and Towns on a nightly basis in the crowded Western Conference. If the Timberwolves find quick success, Butler is a strong candidate to stick around past his player option in 2019.

Kevin Love — Cleveland Cavaliers — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 19 points, 11.1 rebounds + 2.4 three-pointers in 31.4 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 30

Klay Thompson — Golden State Warriors — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 22.3 points, 3.7 rebounds + 3.4 three-pointers in 34 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 29

Klay Thompson has made a living as one of the top contributors responsible for Golden State’s now three-year rampage through the league. Perhaps in two years, Thompson could be ready to follow his curiosity to a new franchise and, finally, taste professional basketball as the number one option on offense.  Or, of course, he could stay in the Bay Area forever and ruin the other 29 franchise’s plans indefinitely — that reality is still certainly in play.

Hassan Whiteside — Miami HEAT — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 17.0 points, 14.1 rebounds + 2.1 blocks in 32.6 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 30

Kemba Walker — Charlotte Hornets — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 23.2 points, 5.5 assists, + 3 three-pointers in 34.7 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 29

In this point guard-driven league, the Charlotte Hornets’ Kemba Walker is one of the NBA’s most underrated. It stands to reason that if Walker had a more prolific supporting cast, he’d be a shoo-in for All-Star festivities each year. During the fourth quarter, Walker becomes an entirely different animal — the type of player you’d want to take the last shot with the game on the line. If Charlotte doesn’t take the next step in development soon, it wouldn’t be surprising to find Walker looking toward greener pastures in 2019.

Eric Bledsoe — Phoenix Suns — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 21.1 points, 4.8 rebounds + 6.3 assists in 33 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 29

Veterans With Something Left In The Tank

Paul Millsap — Denver Nuggets — Team Option
2016-17 Line: 18.1 points, 7.7 points + 3.7 assists in 34 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 34

Paul Millsap’s arrival in Denver has made the Nuggets’ young squad a popular postseason pick and for good reason. If Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray continue their ascent alongside one of the game’s best veterans, there’s little chance that Denver will decline the opportunity to keep Millsap around in that third and final year of his deal.

Al Horford — Boston Celtics — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 14 points, 6.8 rebounds, + 5 assists in 32.3 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 33

Marc Gasol — Memphis Grizzlies — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 19.5 points, 6.3 rebounds + 1.3 blocks in 34.2 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 34

Marc Gasol has been a dynamic force for the Memphis Grizzlies since he broke through back in 2008-09. With Zach Randolph and Tony Allen (potentially) out the door, there are changes coming in Memphis sooner rather than later. Gasol has always been a strong defensive presence, but his growth as a three-point shooter (38.8 percent) last year could extend his career well into his 40s.

Tyson Chandler — Phoenix Suns — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 8.4 points, 11.5 rebounds + 1.4 blocks in 27.6 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 36

Dwight Howard — Charlotte Hornets — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 13.5 points, 12.7 rebounds on 63.3 percent in 29.7 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 33

As Basketball Insiders’ Joel Brigham pointed out on Monday, Dwight Howard is about to do some serious climbing on the NBA’s all-time leaders list. For Howard, who has had an overall rough go of things since he left Orlando in 2012, has still proven to be a very capable NBA center. His days as the franchise player are long gone, but he’s still averaged 10 or more rebounds in all 13 years of his Hall of Fame-worthy career.

Worthy Pieces On A Contender

D’Angelo Russell — Brooklyn Nets — Restricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 15.6 points, 4.8 assists + 2.1 three-pointers in 28.7 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 23

D’Angelo Russell could easily find himself in the same company as Towns and friends from up above if he turns in two improved seasons with the Nets. Russell will become an offensive focus for the retooling Brooklyn franchise and the team, who still owes one more first-round draft pick to the Boston Celtics in 2018, would have a hard time parting with the young guard no matter the price. With the pressure off in the Eastern Conference, Russell’s league-wide standing could be much different in just one year.

Khris Middleton — Milwaukee Bucks — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 14.7 points, 4.2 rebounds + 1.6 three-pointers in 30.7 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 27

Harrison Barnes — Dallas Mavericks — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 19.2 points, 5 rebounds + 1.5 assists in 35.5 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 27

In order for the Warriors to evolve from an impressively strong roster to its nearly unbeatable final form, Harrison Barnes was sacrificed to sign Durant. While Golden State steamrolled their way to another championship, Barnes performed fairly well in his top dog role with the Dallas Mavericks. Barnes still has a great distance to go before he reaches his ultimate potential, but he’ll be a wanted man should he opt out early in 2019 nonetheless.

George Hill — Sacramento Kings — Non-Guaranteed
2016-17 Line: 16.9 points, 4.2 assists + 1.9 three-pointers in 31.5 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 33

Ricky Rubio — Utah Jazz — Unrestricted Free Agent
2016-17 Line: 11.1 points, 9.1 assists + 1.7 steals in 32.9 minutes per game
Age on July 1st, 2019: 28

Almost overnight, Ricky Rubio became an afterthought on the Timberwolves’ perpetually underachieving roster. At this point, Rubio is a finished product and has the weathered playmaking chops to prove it. Although he never nailed down a sense of consistency from three-point range, Rubio still possesses the qualities of a very effective defender. For a playoff-bound team in Utah, Rubio can start rebuilding his brand ahead of unrestricted free agency in two years.

Jonas Valanciunas — Toronto Raptors — Player Option
2016-17 Line: 12 points, 9.5 rebounds on 55.7 percent in 25.8 minutes per game
Age on July 1st: 27

Other Intriguing Free Agents: Jeremy Lin (Unrestricted)Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Player Option), Jeff Teague (Player Option), J.R. Smith (Non-Guaranteed), Goran Dragic (Player Option), Nikola Vucevic (Unrestricted), Enes Kanter (Unrestricted), Frank Kaminsky (Restricted), Danny Green (Unrestricted), Thaddeus Young (Unrestricted).

Ultimately, 2019 is still a distant though for the casual NBA fan and half the players on this list may have their respective situations resolved by the time free agency opens in two years. However, front offices across the league are already planning out their next moves, all in hopes of finally thwarting those powerhouses out in the Western Conference. For front offices, it’s never too early to start preparing — where will your team be after another two seasons?

Ben Nadeau is a Boston-based writer in his first year with Basketball Insiders. For the last five seasons, he covered the Brooklyn Nets for The Brooklyn Game.

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NBA

NBA AM: Most Likely All-Star Snubs

Damian Lillard seems to top the All-Star snub list every season. It couldn’t happen again, could it?

Joel Brigham

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This year the NBA has famously decided to mix up the way the All-Star rosters work, while rather infamously deciding against televising the draft that will organize those players into teams, but even as some things change, some things remain the same.

Just like every year, there will be snubs when the All-Star reserves are announced on Tuesday night. Oh, there will be snubs.

The starters already have been selected, chosen by a combination of fan votes, media votes and player votes, the latter of which were taken so seriously that Summer League legend Jack Cooley even earned a single nomination from one especially ornery player voter.

For those that missed the starters, they include LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, and Joel Embiid from the Eastern Conference and Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, and James Harden from the Western Conference.

That leaves seven more reserves from each conference and way more deserving players than that from which to choose. These will be selected by the coaches, per tradition, but it’s anybody’s guess who ends up making the team. There absolutely are going to be some massive snubs this year, so let’s take a quick look at the most likely candidates to earn roster spots this winter, as well as who that might leave out of this year’s event in Los Angeles.

The Eastern Conference

Let’s start with the “sure things,” which almost certainly will include with Indian Pacers guard Victor Oladipo. Not only is he putting up a career-best 24/5/4 line, but he’s also averaging two steals per night for an Indiana team that currently lives in the playoff picture despite dismal expectations. That’s almost entirely because of Oladipo.

In the frontcourt, there was plenty of healthy debate when Embiid was voted the starter over Al Horford and Kristaps Porzingis, so there’s a very good chance that those two guys find their way to the roster, as well.

Kevin Love, who also is having a monster statistical season, seems like the most obvious third frontcourt guy, but his defense stinks and the Cavs haven’t exactly proven themselves worthy of two All-Stars. Detroit’s Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris both are having borderline All-Star seasons for a borderline playoff team, but they are the closest contenders to stealing away that third frontcourt reserve slot from Love.

Beyond that, Bradley Beal or John Wall likely will be the “other” guard reserve, but choosing which one is dicey. Wall’s the four-time All-Star, but Beal arguably is having the better year and has been snubbed for this event entirely too many times already. It doesn’t seem likely that both guys will make the team.

The wild cards could be that “other” Wizards guard among Beal and Wall, one of those two Pistons players, Miami’s Goran Dragic (they are fourth in the conference, rather surprisingly), Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, or Rookie of the Year candidate Ben Simmons.

What seems most probable is that Oladipo and Beal earn the Eastern Conference reserve slots, with Horford, Porzingis and Love earning the backup frontcourt positions. Lowry and Wall feel most likely as reserves.

That means the most likely Eastern Conference snubs will be: Goran Dragic, Ben Simmons, Andre Drummod, Tobias Harris and Khris Middleton.

The level of controversy with this group feels fairly low, though if Dragic or Drummond were to make the team over Wall or Love, the conversation would be a lot feistier.

The Western Conference

Choosing the reserve guards in the Western Conference is a no-brainer. It will be MVP candidates Jimmy Butler and Russell Westbrook, which immediately means that if Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul and Paul George are not named as Wild Card players, they will be left off of the team. That’s about as “yikes” as “yikes” gets.

The battle for the frontcourt spots are going to be no less brutal, even with Kawhi Leonard effectively out of consideration having missed so much time at the beginning of the season. The Spurs will have an All-Star anyway, though, which makes LaMarcus Aldridge all but a lock.

Towns, who is averaging a 20/12 with over two assists and 1.5 blocks per game on one of the West’s top teams, also feels likely to get in. That means Draymond Green and Nikola Jokic are the two guys expected to battle over that last frontcourt spot, and both deserve real consideration. Green’s importance is less obvious to this Warriors team with Durant on the roster, but he’s no less essential even if his offensive numbers are down. Jokic, meanwhile, has kept Denver in the playoff hunt even without Paul Millsap, and is the best passing big man in the game.

The most likely scenario in terms of Western Conference reserves has Butler and Westbrook getting voted in at guard, Aldridge, Towns and Green voted in as frontcourt players, and Thompson and Lillard voted in as the wild cards.

That means the most likely Western Conference snubs will be: Chris Paul, Paul George, and Nikola Jokic.

Paul has missed 17 games this season, which is just too many when there are so many other great guards from which to choose, and George’s usage has dropped massively in Oklahoma City. As for Jokic, somebody has to get snubbed, and the other reasonable possibility is that he be named a wild card player at the expense of Lillard, and no NBA fan should have to see that happen yet again.

The 2018 NBA All-Star Reserves will be announced at 7:00 p.m. EST on January 23 on TNT.

Tune in Tuesday night to see which players will make the team, and which will inevitably be snubbed.

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NBA DAILY

NBA Daily: Rockets Might Be Formidable Challenge For Warriors

If nothing else, the Rockets gave everyone, including the Warriors, something to think about by beating the champs.

Moke Hamilton

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For those that had any lingering doubt as to the authenticity of the Houston Rockets, Saturday afternoon’s win over the Golden State Warriors should serve as a bit of a wakeup call.

Sure, championships aren’t won in mid-January, but by virtue of the win, the Rockets won their season series against the Warriors, 2-1.

Since the beginning of the 2014-15 season—the year the Warriors won the first of three consecutive Western Conference Finals—they’ve lost a season series to just one other team: the San Antonio Spurs.

A review of the tape suggests that those that believe that Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard are truly the team that has the best shot of beating the Warriors is founded in some fact. In the last three seasons, the Warriors have lost a total of 39 games.

In total, during that span, seven teams have failed to beat the Warriors even once, while 12 teams have beaten them one time. Four teams have beaten the Warriors twice and only the Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies have beaten them thrice.

The Spurs, though, have managed to beat the Warriors five times, with Popovich leading his team to a 2-1 regular season series win over the Warriors during the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons.

It’s safe to say that they have been the only team worthy of calling themselves anything near a worthy adversary to Stephen Curry and company.

At least, that was the case until Saturday night.

* * * * * *

With all due respect to Michael Jordan, if the Warriors win the NBA Finals this season, they can legitimately claim to be the best team in NBA history.

Two titles in three years is nothing to sneeze at, but the claim holds no weight whatsoever without ever having won two in a row, especially when scores of other teams have been able to accomplish the feat.

Aside from the two championships, the Warriors can claim the best regular season record in the league’s history and the distinction of being the only team to ever win 67 or more games for three consecutive seasons.

It is true that the Warriors have been almost invincible since the 2014-15 season, but things have changed now that Chris Paul has joined forces with James Harden.

This season, the Mike D’Antoni coached team ranks 12th in points allowed per 100 possessions, a marked improvement over last season’s rank of 18th.

With Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela, Luc Mbah a Moute, they have four defensive stalwarts, one of whom (Ariza) who wasn’t able to suit up due to being suspended.

At the end of the day, beating a team in the regular season doesn’t really count for much, especially when you consider the greatest irony: in each of the seasons the Spurs beat the Warriors in their season series, the Warriors won the NBA Finals. The obvious asterisk there is that the Warriors didn’t play the Spurs in the 2015 NBA Playoffs and only managed to sweep them once the Spurs lost Kawhi Leonard in 2017.

Still, beating the defending champs in any game, much less a season series, has got to feel good. Whether they want to admit it or not, Saturday’s game against the Warriors was one that the Rockets wanted to get, that’s probably why Mike D’Antoni opted to reinsert James Harden into the game after he surpassed his 30-minute playing restriction.

In the end, Harden logged 35 minutes and ended up making what was the game’s clinching three-pointer.

Poetic, indeed.

* * * * * *

With the season a little more than halfway over, the Warriors still appear to be head and shoulders above those competing for their throne. Of the other contenders, the Rockets and Boston Celtics, at least for now, appear most formidable.

At the end of the day, what the Warriors have to fear more than anything is their own arrogance. As a unit, the team believes that it’s the best at playing small ball and that no other team can beat them as their own game. While that may be true, there have been a few instances over the past few years where that belief has ended up costing them.

What the Warriors seem to struggle with is understanding that not every possession can be played the same way, and as some possessions become more and more valuable, it would be wise for the team to play more conservatively and traditionally.

For example, when the Cavaliers beat the Warriors in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, Kyrie Irving made one of the most incredible shots we’ve ever seen, but it was Stephen Curry who helped leave the door open for the Cavs with a pitiful final five minutes of the game.

Among the worst atrocities he committed was an ill-advised turnover that came as a result of an off target behind the back pass to Klay Thompson. In such a situation, any second grader could have and would have known that a simple bounce pass to the flashing Thompson would have sufficed.

Steve Kerr’s message to his team, though, is to play like themselves and not overthink their execution.

While that’s fair, it does at least leave room to wonder if the Warriors will have the humility to play conservatively when the game is on the line.

Curry himself admitted to playing too aggressively and making poor reads and decisions down the stretch versus the Rockets. The team passed up wide-open two-point shots for three-pointers that didn’t fall, and those botched opportunities played a direct role in causing the loss.

Fortunately, for the Warriors, not much was at stake, but their performance and decision-making in those tight minutes leave us to wonder what will happen if and when they find themselves in another tight moment or two…

And by virtue of the Rockets becoming just the second team to take a season series from the Warriors since the beginning of the 2014-15 season, we can also fairly wonder whether they truly have what it takes to take down the Golden Goliath.

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NBA

G-League Watch: 10-Day Contracts

David Yapkowitz looks at five potential G-League callups for 10-day contracts.

David Yapkowitz

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Since Jan. 10, NBA teams have been able to sign players from the G-League to ten-day contracts. A few have already been signed, such as DeAndre Liggins with the Milwaukee Bucks and Kyle Collinsworth with the Dallas Mavericks.

Once a ten-day contract expires, teams have the option of signing that player to another ten-day contract. After the second ten-day, teams must either sign the player for the remainder of the season or release that player.

Some players have used ten-day contracts to essentially jump-start their careers. Bruce Bowen was once a ten-day contract player before becoming a key piece of multiple championship teams in San Antonio. Famed New York Knicks enforcer Anthony Mason also got his first chance in the league off a ten-day contract.

With a few guys already being called up via ten-day as well as the NBA’s new two-way contracts, here’s a look at some of the remaining names who might be next in line.

1. Christian Wood

Christian Wood was once a highly touted prospect coming out of high school. He played two college seasons at UNLV before declaring for the NBA draft in 2015. Despite being projected to be drafted late in the first round or early second round, he did not hear his name called on draft night. He’s spent some time in the NBA since then, with the Philadelphia 76ers and Charlotte Hornets, but he currently plays for the Delaware 87ers, the Sixers G-League affiliate.

His 22.0 points per game are tied with James Young for top scorer on the team. He’s shooting 53.9 percent from the field, and he’s also displayed a nice outside touch for a big man at 35.2 percent from three-point range. He leads the team in rebounds at 9.6, as well as in blocked shots with 2.0. He’s very mobile and could certainly help a team as a stretch big man who can play defense and crash the glass.

2. Jameel Warney

Jameel Warney has been a candidate for an NBA call-up for quite some time. The former Stony Brook standout had a big summer with Team USA basketball. He was the tournament MVP of the 2017 FIBA Americup and was named USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year for 2017. He got as far as training camp/preseason with the Dallas Mavericks in 2016, and he’s currently playing for their G-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.

With the Legends, he’s fourth on the team in scoring with 19.4 points per game. He’s second on the team in rebounding with 10.4, and he’s tied with Johnathan Motley leading the team in blocked shots with 1.5. He’s shooting 52.5 percent from the field. What could be hindering his NBA chances is his lack of an outside shot, especially with the way the game is being played today. Nonetheless, he’s still one of the G-League’s top players and he deserves a shot in the big leagues.

3. Melo Trimble

After a solid three years at the University of Maryland, Melo Trimble was one of the best players not selected in this past summer’s draft. He played well for the 76ers’ summer league team in Las Vegas, which in turn earned him an invite to training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He ended up being one of their final cuts at the end of preseason, and he went on to join their G-League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves.

He’s third on the Wolves in scoring with 18.5 points per game. He’s shooting 44 percent from the field, and a decent 34 percent from beyond the arc. He’s also leading the team in assists per game with 5.7. He’s got the potential to be a decent backup point guard, and if he can get his shooting numbers, especially from three-point range, up a little bit, there’s no question he’s NBA caliber.

4. Joel Bolomboy

Joel Bolomboy is a name that should be familiar to Utah Jazz fans. He was drafted by the Jazz in 2016, and although relegated to mostly end of the bench duty, he showed a bit of potential and flash here and there. The Jazz cut him after a year, and he ended up in Milwaukee before they too cut him to make room for Sean Kilpatrick. He’s currently playing for the Wisconsin Herd, the Bucks G-League affiliate.

At the recent G-League Showcase that took place from Jan. 10-13, Bolomboy had one of the best performances of the event. In the two games played, he averaged 25.5 points per game on 73 percent shooting from the field and 13.0 rebounds. He was named to the All-Showcase First Team. He’s had eight double-doubles so far in the G-League this season. He’s already gotten his feet wet in the NBA, and if he continues putting up similar production, it won’t be long before he finds himself back on an NBA roster.

5. Jeremy Evans

Jeremy Evans is a name that should be somewhat familiar to NBA fans. He’s spent six years in the league with the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks. He also participated in two dunk contests in 2012 and 2013. Unfortunately for him, dunking was probably the one thing he was known for. It might be why he found himself out of the league after only six years.

With the Erie Bay Hawks, the Atlanta Hawks G-League affiliate, his 15.9 points per game are good enough for fourth on the team. His 62.3 percent shooting from the field is a team-high, as is his 10.3 rebounds per game, and 1.4 blocks. Not known as a shooter during his time in the NBA, he’s only shooting 25.6 percent from three-point range in the G-League. If he can get his outside shooting percentages up, he has a shot at getting an NBA call-up and keeping that spot permanently.

Although there’s no guarantee that any of these guys get NBA call-ups on ten-day contracts, they have some of the best shots out of anyone in the G-League. Don’t be surprised if, by the end of the season, all of these guys finish it out on an NBA roster.

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