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The Life of an NBA Player Manager

Randy Osei’s dream of playing in the NBA didn’t come to fruition, so he turned to player management.

Oliver Maroney

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The NBA is thriving and, as a business, is more lucrative than ever. While this means more money for the owners, players, executives and coaches within the league, it’s also excellent for individuals like Randy Osei.

Osei works in player branding and management, which is a booming industry these days since players possess a wide variety of ways to earn additional income beyond their NBA contract.

His company, Rozaay Management, counts Milwaukee Bucks forward Thon Maker and Brooklyn Nets forward Anthony Bennett as clients. Osei helps them with marketing, endorsement deals, public relations and much more.

Most player managers have an extremely broad set of skills and they must wear many hats. One night they could be negotiating an endorsement deal, the next they could be helping a player with a community event. Osei’s job is to help his players with whatever they need, which can vary greatly from client to client.

Managers like Osei are often extremely involved in a player’s life and are integral to their success, yet they are unknown to even the most diehard NBA fans. They aren’t visible like the player’s agent and they aren’t in the background like a hanger-on. Instead, they handle a certain set of off-court responsibilities and, in Osei’s case, are paid by the player.

So how does one end up working in player branding and management? A former basketball player with his own goal of playing in the NBA, Osei didn’t initially have this career in mind.

“I just love the game of basketball,” Osei told Basketball Insiders. “I had dreams of playing in the NBA or even overseas professionally. But due to many injuries, I decided that I wanted to impact the game off the court.”

However, that decision wasn’t made overnight. Osei was actually going to college and working toward a degree in Sociology and Psychology, which was taking up most of his time. It wasn’t until he spent a few weeks with Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson that he realized he wanted to take his life in a different direction. In a bold and risky move, he dropped out of school and decided he wanted a career that allowed him to remain around basketball.

“I made up my mind that I wanted to work with NBA players,” Osei said. “I didn’t graduate. Against my Mom’s wishes, I left school early.

“I came into this business as Anthony Bennett’s manager. I am a few years older, but Anthony and I were pretty close after playing on the same AAU team. I learned a lot in my first year with the former No. 1 overall pick. I found a lane where I thought I could excel, and I pursued it. I didn’t know how to get started, so I just took it upon myself to do the thing that many people fail to do: just start. I read everything and anything; Google became my best friend. I decided that I wanted to be more than just Anthony Bennett’s ‘guy.’ After three years, my passion became my full-time job and I haven’t turned back since.”

Since diversifying and working with players outside of Bennett, he’s become very successful. Many players look to him as their go-to guy for marketing, endorsements and event planning. In addition to his full-time work with Bennett and Maker, he has worked on various projects with Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Andrew Wiggins, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon and Indiana Pacers forward Georges Niang among others. With that said, he has also resumed taking online classes toward his degree because he understands how important his education was in getting him to this point.

“Rozaay Management has been great in connecting me with some really cool brands, and has put together some events for me and my brand,” Wiggins said. “Dating back to All-Star Weekend 2015, Randy put together two events to help push my brand at my first All-Star Weekend experience.”

“Randy is great; he has helped me understand that I am not just a basketball player, but I am also a brand myself,” Niang said. “I am very appreciative of the work he has done with me.”

Some of the biggest events involving players have come from Osei’s promotional planning and marketing expertise. He’s built relationships with many NBA agents and players, establishing connections that have yielded opportunities as well as lifelong friendships.

“I’m passionate and want to do the best for everyone,” Osei said. “I am a strong believer in myself and I look to grow a little more each day. Within that growth, I see the importance of growing relationships. My relationships with athletes, entertainers and brands are genuinely organic. This is something that I find very important. Every bridge I gap always works great for both parties. Within that, I am able to cross reference a lot of opportunities.”

Osei is quickly becoming a well-known commodity. He has proven his ability to use social media and word of mouth to plan and promote large NBA-related events. One recent event he hosted in Toronto during the All-Star break had such a huge crowd that he had to turn away some players and celebrities.

“I lived in Cleveland and Minnesota,” Osei said. “I was able to connect with a lot of players. But after moving back to Toronto, I realized I could add another service to my company as a player liaison. When guys came to town, I’d take them around to all the great places in Toronto. All-Star Weekend happened to be in Toronto last year and I said, ‘Why not throw an event on Thursday evening of All-Star Weekend?’ It turned out to be the best event of the entire weekend. The event reached capacity quickly and I ended up having to turn away the likes of Allen Iverson, who happens to be one of my favorite players of all-time. That crushed me.”

Utah Jazz point guard George Hill has used Osei’s liaison business and was satisfied.

“This past year while we took on the Raptors in the first round of the playoffs, Randy showed me all the great things to do in my downtime while in Toronto,” Hill said.

Osei, who is always looking to launch new endeavors, recently created a YouTube series called “Rozaay TV” that features NBA players. The series gives a behind-the-scenes look at each player’s life, including their workouts and off-court activities.

Houston Rockets point guard Tyler Ennis, who has known Osei since middle school, was recently featured on the series.

“I’ve known Randy since I was about 13,” Ennis told Basketball Insiders. “I’ve seen the growth from him just being around the game to creating a lane and a business for himself. He works extremely hard on every project that I’ve been involved in. He just gets things done.”

Osei has gone from college dropout to managing numerous off-court endeavors for NBA players. Now, Osei is hoping to use his skill set and relationships to help people who are less fortunate in Ghana, the country where his parents were born.

“In my 26 years of living, I had never gone back to where my parents were from,” Osei said. “The first day I arrived in Ghana, I teared up seeing the place my parents grew up. Driving through the towns and villages, you see the struggles that people have and it truly broke my heart. Every time you stop at a traffic light, kids will walk up to your car to sell you whatever they have.”

While the trip was to visit his parents’ country, he decided he would like to make a difference there and also help spread the game of basketball.

“I got to check out the local basketball talent,” Osei added. “It was awesome to see the sport being so global. Almost all the kids were long and athletic, but lacked the fundamentals of the game. Basketball is not offered in elementary schools or high school, so there is no real development. Nine million dollars a year is dedicated to sports development, but 92 percent of that is dedicated to soccer. My goal is to go back and help change that.”

This is why Osei has been so successful. Not only is he talented at his job, he genuinely cares about the people he comes in contact with, develops meaningful relationships and has a strong desire to help others – whether they’re childhood friends, potential NBA client or those less fortunate than him.

Oliver Maroney is an NBA writer for Basketball Insiders. He is based in Portland and covers the league as a whole.

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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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NBA Daily: Potential Trade Targets to Get the Sixers to the Playoffs

On the cusp of a playoff appearance for the first time in six years, the Philadelphia 76ers could cement their postseason status with a move at the trade deadline.

Dennis Chambers

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At times this season, the Philadelphia 76ers look like they’re capable of going toe-to-toe with some of the league’s best teams. With Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons at their disposal, along with capable three-point shooters, the Sixers have shown flashes of being a force to be reckoned with.

And at other times, well, they look like a discombobulated young team, with serious flaws in the construction of its roster.

Despite the lapses they display, the Sixers are still right in the thick of the playoff race. Currently, at 21-20, they hold a half-game advantage over the Detroit Pistons for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference.

While they await the return of top overall pick Markelle Fultz, who has still yet to hit the court after being shut down earlier this season with a shoulder injury, the Sixers will continue to miss depth on the wing and a particular skill set that holds them back from winning games they seem to have locked up with double-digit leads. For all the greatness that is Embiid, and all of the promise that is Simmons, when the former isn’t on the court, the latter struggles to shoulder the scoring load due to his inability to shoot jump shots.

Initially, that’s what Fultz was drafted for. A player that head coach Brett Brown has said many times before, has the talent to tie everything together with the Sixers’ roster. What he means by that is Fultz represents a scorer from multiple levels of the court who forces the defense to lock in on, potentially leaving the teams’ shooters open on the wing.

Without Fultz, and when Embiid is on the bench, the team lacks a player who can put the ball on the floor, create and knock down jumpers. Although long-term success is still very much the attention for Philadelphia, that doesn’t discount the fact that a team that finished with 10 wins just two seasons ago is on the verge of making a playoff appearance for the first time since 2011-12 with a core of young, promising players.

Because of that possibility, and because of the clear holes in team’s makeup that could prevent this from happening, the Sixers could become an interesting player at the trade deadline — especially considering the names that appear available, according to reports.

It’s no secret that Sixers’ president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo wants to keep financial flexibility heading into this summer, that’s the main reason players like J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson were signed to one-year deals last offseason. Before the team has to start signing their own players to big extensions, the Sixers are in a unique position where they not only have elite homegrown talent, but the money to complement those players the best they can. Because of that, any deal that would return a player with money on the books past this season seems unlikely.

That being said, it just so happens that two players potentially on the trading block right now fulfill the Sixers’ most crucial need, and also aren’t on the hook for money past this year. Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that Rodney Hood could be moved before the Feb. 8 trade deadline, and that multiple teams are expressing interest in his services.

Along with Hood, Stein also reported that Lou Williams, who’s been the center of many trade talks around the league given his career-year and impending free agent status, was involved in specific discussions that would send him to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

What should intrigue the Sixers about these two players is not only their ability on the court but also their flexibility off of it.

Let’s start with Hood. Before the rise of Donovan Mitchell this season, Hood looked to be in a position to assume the role as the dominant scorer on the Utah Jazz following Gordon Hayward’s departure. At just 25 years old and in the final year of his rookie contract, Hood may not be worth the price tag for Utah this summer considering their find with Mitchell.

Should the Jazz actually move on from Hood, it’s unclear what they would ask for in return at this point. Yes, Hood his an impending free agent, which could diminish his value. But the team trading for him would assume his Bird Rights, therefore giving them a better shot at retaining him this summer should they choose to do so.

The best part about his potential fit in Philadelphia is that he fits the timeline of the rebuild while also addressing a need in the present. Being just 25, Hood fits alongside the core of Embiid, Simmons, Fultz, Dario Saric and Robert Covington as a young player. If the Sixers were to miss out on whoever they were planning to target with their financial flexibility this summer, Hood would still be there to plug in for years with a contract extension.

Shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc this season, and displaying the track record of being able to fill up the score sheet, Hood could become the go-to-scorer for Philadelphia when Embiid isn’t on the court, or late in games when they need to stop an opposing team’s run.

While he appears to at least be on the table as of now, Hood is certainly worth checking in on from the Sixers’ standpoint.

Now, onto Williams. Drafted by Philadelphia all the back in 2005 with the 45th overall pick, Williams is enjoying the best season of his career for the Los Angeles Clippers. At 31, he doesn’t represent the long-term upside that Hood does, but for this season alone, bringing Williams on to this current Sixers’ roster could be that extra jolt to get them cleanly into the postseason.

Averaging 23 points per game and shooting 41 percent from downtown, Williams fits the role as an iso-scorer better than any player on the Sixers’ current roster. Alongside Simmons and Embiid, Williams could assume the role Fultz was supposed to this season.

Another interesting ripple to the potential Williams fit is that he was on the last Sixers’ roster to make the playoffs. Adding him to this roster would bring his career full circle. This summer, Williams is most likely going to test the market and given his age and potential price tag he may not fit so well into the Sixers’ plans moving forward. But with his history with the club and city, getting him on board for another playoff run with an exciting young team could arguably help in the negotiation process this offseason.

Neither of these potential trades are slam dunks, and it remains to be seen if either player will even be moved. But for where the Sixers stand currently, coupled with their growing postseason expectations, checking in around the league on trade targets that can fulfill obvious needs should be at the forefront of Colangelo’s agenda for the next few weeks.

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Payton Blocking Out Trade Talk, Believes Magic Will Turn It Around

Spencer Davies sits down with Elfrid Payton to discuss his fourth year, trade rumors and a trying season for Orlando in a Basketball Insiders exclusive.

Spencer Davies

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It’s hard for a team to look for positives when it’s living in the basement.

The Orlando Magic have had a rough go of it this year. They’re 13-32 at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they’ve have had a ton of setbacks, and they currently rank 29th in the NBA in defensive rating.

There is a bright spot hidden in there, though, and head coach Frank Vogel sees it growing as the season progresses.

“We’re frustrated with our record, but we’re encouraged with the development we’ve had with our young players,” Vogel said before Thursday’s game in Cleveland. “Aaron Gordon, Mario [Hezonja], and [Elfrid Payton] have all had strong individual seasons and continue to get better. All those guys are improving individually and at some point, it’s gonna lead to more Ws.”

While Gordon stands out more to some than the others because of his star appeal, Payton is right up there with him as far as making the next step goes.

“Elfrid’s shooting the ball better from the perimeter and at the rim,” Vogel said. “He’s worked on his left hand. He’s worked on his floaters. Shooting 52 percent from the field and that’s pretty darn good for a point guard, and the 39 percent from the three as well.”

Those are your more traditional statistics that don’t address the leap he’s taken in efficiency. Sure, Payton’s scoring the same amount of points per game, but it’s the way he’s been getting that’s been most noticeable.

According to Basketball-Reference and NBA.com, he’s making nearly 70 percent of his tries between 0-3 feet and ranks third among point guards in restricted field goal percentage (min. four attempts).

But Payton doesn’t like to evaluate himself using numbers, so he doesn’t know how to feel about how he’s played for Orlando this year.

“It’s tough to say because I like to measure my success by winning and we haven’t been doing that,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “So tough to say.”

He’s not kidding. Since starting out the season 8-4, the Magic have taken a hard fall, only winning five games since November 10. In this stretch, there have been three hefty losing streaks—two 9-game slides and most recently a 7-game skid.

“Not to make excuses—we had a lot of injuries,” Payton told Basketball Insiders of what happened. “Haven’t really been playing with the group of guys that we started the season with, so kinda derailed us a little bit.”

As the losses pile up, so does the chatter. Indicated by multiple recent reports, Orlando has made it clear that many players on the roster are available on the trade block. Evan Fournier, Mario Hezonja, and Payton were recently brought up as names who could possibly on the move if the right deal presents itself.

When asked about the rumblings, Vogel claimed he doesn’t have a message for his guys.

“They understand it’s part of the business,” he said. “Just focus on playing the game.”

Like his coach, Payton doesn’t have a reaction to the noise.

“I don’t get caught up into the things like that,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “Today I’m an Orlando Magic. I play for the Orlando Magic and I’m gonna give them 100 percent of me. I’m somebody that likes to finish what I started, so I definitely would like to see this through and try to turn this organization around.”

So who does he see on this team that can help jump-start the process in flipping the script?

“Everybody,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “I like Vuc. I like AG. Evan [Fournier] is somebody who can fill it up. T Ross is somebody who can fill it up when healthy. I think we have a lot of talent on this team. Even the rookies—Wes [Iwundu] plays well for us in stretches. Jon [Isaac] when he was playing he’d do well.

“You could see the potential there. So I think we have a lot of weapons on this team. I’m very confident in the group we have here. I think we have a lot of talent, we just have to do it.”

Saying you’re going to right the ship is one thing. Actually doing it is a whole other challenge. With where the Magic sit in the standings currently, their work is cut out for them. That being said, Payton isn’t giving up.

In fact, he’s still got his eyes on making it to the postseason, and it starts with him.

“Definitely trying to get a run going,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “Make a playoff push. It’s definitely not out of sight right now, especially with the way the East is. We win a few games and we right back in the thick of things.

“Do whatever I can to help us to get more wins, man. I think that’s what it all boils down to. I figure if I’m playing well, that means we’re winning for the most part.”

Defense matters the most, and it’s something Payton and his group know they need to get better at if they have a chance to play past mid-April.

“Just be tied in together a little bit more,” Payton told Basketball Insiders. “I think sometimes we have too many breakdowns on the backside. So just being more in-tune with each other.”

One thing is for sure—Orlando is going through this difficult time as a team, but refuses to fold. Payton says Vogel has constantly stayed in their ears with uplifting advice.

“Keep fighting,” Payton told Basketball Insiders of his words. “Don’t feel sorry for yourself. No one’s gonna feel sorry for you, so just keep fighting.”

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