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NBA PM: Notable Players Returning from Overseas

Many notable free agents are looking to join an NBA team after returning from overseas. Here’s who’s available.

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Notable Players Returning from Overseas

While most of the rumors circulating around the NBA right now are related to the Feb. 19 trade deadline, there are a number of notable free agents who are generating a bit of buzz too.

That’s because many players have finished their season overseas and will be looking to join an NBA team in the coming weeks. The Chinese Basketball Association’s season is nearly over, which means the free agent pool will be considerably stronger very soon.

Hassan Whiteside is proof that sometimes a player who’s toiling overseas just needs an opportunity to play in the NBA to show what he can do. While Whiteside’s success will be hard to match, there are a number of players who could end up being a significant contributor for an NBA team:

Andray Blatche – The 28-year-old big man is receiving interest from quite a few teams, since he dominated during his stint in China. He averaged 31.1 points, 14.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.8 steals while shooting 62.9 percent from the field, which understandably impressed a lot of executives around the league. There have been questions about Blatche’s maturity and professionalism in the past, but on a short-term contract it seems like he would be a low-risk, high-reward signing. The Miami HEAT, Brooklyn Nets and Memphis Grizzlies have reportedly expressed interest in Blatche, and expect even more playoff teams to be linked to him in the coming weeks as well. Teams like the Dallas Mavericks, L.A. Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors have been in the market for a big man, so they could pursue him too. Blatche is a talented player who has shown that he can be a contributor in the NBA, averaging 11.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and one steal last season off of the Nets’ bench.

Will Bynum – It was somewhat surprising that Bynum didn’t get signed by an NBA team when the Boston Celtics acquired him and subsequently waived him in late October, as he has always been a productive reserve throughout his NBA career. A few teams reached out, but the veteran guard ultimately signed in China (replacing top 2015 NBA Draft prospect Emmanuel Mudiay on Guangdong once the young point guard got injured). While in the CBA, Bynum averaged 22.5 points, 7.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals while shooting 56.3 percent from the field. Now, Bynum is receiving interest from a few teams that are looking to bolster their backcourt, such as the Washington Wizards. Most of the teams in the mix for Bynum are waiting to see what unrestricted free agent Ray Allen does before making any kind of move, but the 32-year-old Bynum should receive a lot of interest once Allen is off the market.

Michael Beasley – Beasley had a very successful season in the CBA, averaging 28.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.9 steals while shooting 55.5 percent from the field. He also set a CBA record for most points in the league’s All-Star Game (59), an achievement that’s even more impressive when you consider that he was a late addition to the game and dropped those 59 points off of the bench. Beasley had met with a few NBA teams before taking the deal in China, and he should receive interest from teams once again. Beasley has always been talented, but maturity issues have scared some teams away in the past. With that said, some executives were impressed with how he carried himself during his stint with the Miami HEAT last year, accepting a smaller role with maturity and playing the most efficient basketball of his career. Beasley’s decision to go to China also was applauded by many people around the league, as it seemed he was humbled and willing to do whatever was necessary to get his career back on track. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a contender take a chance on Beasley just to see what he could bring to the table. Like Blatche, Beasley seems like a low-risk, high-reward move because he has the talent to really help a team and, if things go badly, they can just part ways with him. He could be a contributor if put in the right situation. Currently, Beasley is training in Miami as he waits for an NBA opportunity. Several teams have shown interest, but nothing is imminent and it seems that most teams want to wait until after the trade deadline to have serious talks with his camp.

Jordan Crawford – Crawford played just a handful games in China before he injured his eye and it swelled up to the point that he couldn’t see out of it. He returned to the U.S. to receive treatment and then tried to re-join his CBA team for the playoffs, but it didn’t work out. During his brief time in China, he averaged 29.4 points. It’s no secret that Crawford is an excellent scorer, and he could help a team that needs some scoring off of the bench. Cleveland, Miami, Portland, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and Memphis, for example, are currently ranked between near the bottom of the league in bench scoring, and adding someone like Crawford could help. Back in October, he told Basketball Insiders that the Sacramento Kings seriously pursued him over the summer, so they could look at him again (if they’re still interested). Crawford has played for four teams in four years during his NBA career, but he has still managed to be effective scoring the ball with a career average of 12.2 points per game in 24.7 minutes.

Earl Clark – It was just two seasons ago that Clark played very well for the Los Angeles Lakers, initially thriving as a reserve and then replacing Pau Gasol in Mike D’Antoni’s starting lineup for 36 games (in which he averaged 9 points, 6.8 rebounds and nearly a block and a steal). But after struggling with the Cleveland Cavaliers the following year, he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers and ultimately waived. He received a pair of 10-day contracts with the New York Knicks at the end of last season, but didn’t stick. He turned to China this past summer, signing with Shandong and averaging 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.1 blocks while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from three-point range this season. Now, he’s hoping to salvage his NBA career. As he showed in Los Angeles, he can hold his own at the NBA level and he’s a solid two-way, high-energy contributor.

Dominique Jones – Jones has bounced around a bit since being drafted 25th overall in the 2010 NBA Draft, with his only NBA experience coming during his three seasons on the Dallas Mavericks (during which he won a ring). He has always put up impressive numbers in Summer League, D-League play and overseas games, and this year was no different. He went to China and recorded jaw-dropping stats, averaging 36.8 points, 8.4 assists, 7.8 rebounds and 2.7 steals while shooting 57.4 percent from the field. He finished third in the league in points per game and first in assists per game. He was virtually unstoppable out there. The question is can that success translate to the NBA? A number of teams are intrigued and are curious to find out. It seems he may finally get a second stint in the NBA, as several teams have expressed interest in him (including the Washington Wizards). The 26-year-old is extremely talented, and could provide some backcourt depth for a team if given an opportunity.

Al Harrington – Harrington’s streak of 11 consecutive seasons of averaging double figures in points ended during the 2012-13 season with the Orlando Magic. It was a brutal year for Harrington, as he was limited to just 10 games due to knee injuries (and some tanking by Orlando). However, he bounced back last season with the Washington Wizards, averaging 6.6 points and 2.4 rebounds in 15 minutes while providing leadership to the young team. His numbers don’t jump off of the page, but he was productive for a 33-year-old coming off of serious injuries. This season, Harrington went to China and put up the excellent numbers we’ve all come to expect from him, as he averaged 32.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and a steal while shooting 59.9 percent from the field. However, he played in just 10 games before leaving the CBA. Harrington has made it clear that he wants to sign with an NBA team now that his stint in the CBA is over. Last August, he told CSN Washington that he really wants to re-join the Wizards. It remains to be seen if there’s mutual interest from Washington in the 34-year-old. Other teams looking for a reserve scorer and strong veteran presence could pursue him too.

Bobby Brown –Brown has had several stints in the NBA, playing briefly for the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Clippers. However, he has never managed to stick with a team, so he’s made a living playing overseas in countries like Germany, Poland, Greece, Italy and China. He’s coming off of a monster season in the CBA, in which he averaged 31.8 points, 6.4 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals. Brown is reportedly receiving interest from a number of teams, including the Washington Wizards, and he could definitely help a franchise that’s looking for some bench scoring. He had a 74-point game in China, which gives you an idea of how dangerous Brown can be offensively. Brown badly wants to play in the NBA, and he has been doing a web series about his journey back to the league. He’s 30 years old so he’s not going to be a long-term solution for a team, but it’s possible he could get a look from a team on a short-term deal.

Sebastian Telfair – Telfair began this season as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, signing a one-year deal over the summer. However, the team decided to part ways with the veteran point guard after he appeared in just 16 games (averaging 8.4 points and 2.8 assists in 20.4 minutes a night). The Thunder signed Ish Smith using a hardship exception that allowed them to add a 16th player, and surprisingly decided to keep Smith instead of Telfair when it came time to trim the roster back down to 15 players. Telfair signed a deal in China shortly after being cut, and he averaged 19.9 points, 4.5 assists and 1.4 steals in the CBA. Now, he’s hoping to join an NBA team for the remainder of the season, and he has reportedly received interest from the Los Angeles Clippers among other teams. Sources say that nothing is imminent between Telfair and the Clippers, but L.A. is a possible suitor. The 29-year-old is a 10-year NBA veteran with career averages of 7.4 points and 3.5 assists in 21.5 minutes per game.

Pooh Jeter – Jeter has just one year of NBA experience under his belt from when he played for the Sacramento Kings during the 2010-11 season. He appeared in 62 games, averaging 4.1 points in 13.8 minutes. However, he has had a lot of success playing abroad, starring in countries such as China, Ukraine, Spain and Israel. This season, he averaged 25.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and two steals in the CBA, while shooting 51.3 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from three-point range. He worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers before the season started, and he’s back in L.A. training now as he weighs his options and hopes for an NBA call.

Honorable Mention: Metta World Peace, Byron Mullens, Von Wafer, Jeremy Tyler, Kevin Murphy

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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Grizzlies trade Jonas Valanciunas to Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are shipping guard Eric Bledsoe, center Steven Adams, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks of this week’s upcoming draft. So, the Pelicans are giving up the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. Valanciunas, the 29-year-old veteran center, averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 62 games played throughout the 2020-21 season. He also shot 59 percent from the field. The seven-foot Lithuanian also ranks fourth overall in true shooting percentage (.616) among active players. On July 11, 2019, Valanciunas signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies. He is set to earn $4 million next season.

Additionally, in 71 games played last season, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The six-foot-one guard also shot 42.1 percent from the field in the 2020-21 season. On November 23, 2020, as part of a four-team trade, Bledsoe and Adams were traded to the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with two future first-round picks and the right to swap two additional first-round picks. Last season, in 71 games played, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His field goal percentage was 42.1 percent as well. The 11-year veteran is set to earn $18,125,000 in the 2021-22 season. Before he was traded to New Orleans, on March 4, 2019, the guard signed a four-year, $70 million extension. He earned his first All-Defensive second-team selection in the 2019-20 season.

Moreover, in 58 games played last season, Adams averaged 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The six-foot-eleven center ranks fifth among active players for effective field goal shooting percentage (.591). The eight-year veteran also ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, with an active statistic of 14 percent. On November 23, 2020, the same day Adams was traded to the Pelicans, he signed a two-year, $35 million extension. For next season, he is projected to earn $17,073,171. To add to this trade news, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are swapping second-round picks in this year’s draft, too. Referencing NBA.com’s “Consensus Mock Draft” article, with the No. 10 pick of the draft, the Pelicans were originally expected to draft either Josh Giddey or Davion Mitchell at this number. However, plans have now changed.

From ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade will not be finalized until August 6th, and this is because of the annual salaries of these said players. Free agency will begin on August 2, 6:00 p.m. (EST). Furthermore, per Spotrac’s 2021-22 NBA salary cap table, next season’s luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. The team’s current available luxury tax space is $22,555,195. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have a salary cap maximum of $112,414,000. Brandon Ingram, Bledsoe, and Adams had a combined cap percentage of 39.2 percent. Considering that Bledsoe and Adams are traded away, this will clear up $35,198,171 of dead cap space.

Yesterday, CBS Sports reported the news pertaining to Lonzo Ball’s desire to remain in New Orleans. With extra cap space, the team is expected to re-sign the 23-year-old guard. Likewise, for the Grizzlies, the teams has a luxury tax space of $37,019,952. Their current cap space is $8,321,229. As stated before, the transactions have not yet been finalized. The Grizzlies’ outgoing cap is now $14 million, but from the contracts of Adams and Bledsoe, they are bringing in $35,198,171.

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NBA Trade Rumors: Jazz considering trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

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Per one interesting announcement from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Utah Jazz are open to trading forward Bojan Bogdanovic, forward-guard Joe Ingles, small forward Royce O’Neale, and the No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. Fischer stated, “The Utah Jazz are known to be one of the few teams actually searching to move playoff-tested talent. Retaining Mike Conley is an offseason priority, sources said, and the Jazz have held numerous discussions with teams around the league about offloading salary to create for Conley in free agency.” Point guard Mike Conley is set to become a free agent this offseason. Though, general manager Justin Zanik will aim to re-sign the 33-year-old guard in the coming weeks. Conley earned $34.5 million in the 2020-21 season.

“League personnel most often mention Joe Ingles as the Jazz wing to watch, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale are also considered available for trade as Utah narrows its focus towards building a contender around Donovan Mitchel. The Jazz are also open to discuss trading their No. 30 pick, sources said.” In the 2020-21 season, in 72 games played, Bogdanovic averaged 17 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. On May 1, 2021, in the team’s 106-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the six-foot-seven Croatian scored a season-high 34 points, shooting 12-for-22, and he finished his performance with four rebounds and four assists as well. On July 7, 2019, he signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Jazz.

In 67 games played last season, Ingles averaged 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. The six-foot-eight forward is set to earn $14 million in the 2021-22 season. Plus, among the mentioned players, Royce O’Neale has contributed the least. In 71 games played last season, he averaged seven points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. On January 19, 2020, the forward signed a four-year, $36 million extension with the team. He will earn $8.6 million next season. According to The Athletic, in the team’s seventh workout for draft prospects, they viewed Quentin Grimes, David Duke, Matt Mitchell, and a few other players. In the first round, if the team chooses not to draft any of the players they are holding workouts for, the organization will trade the No. 30 pick.

Just for a reminder, retrieved from Spotrac, the 2021-22 NBA luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. Utah’s active roster cap is $133,284,695, the maximum cap is $112,414,000, and the current cap space is $72,990,215. Furthermore, center Rudy Gobert currently has the highest guaranteed contract on the team. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. Gobert is set to earn $35.3 million in the coming season, whereas Donovan Mitchell will earn $28.1 million. Gobert and Mitchell combined consume 47.6 percent of the team’s salary cap. For the upcoming 2021-22 season, the Jazz have a guaranteed total of $129,719,453. Based on the team’s future outlook, the Jazz will have to make a trade or two in order to retain their star players. This should go without saying.

NBA Analysis Network reported a few days ago that a potential Jazz-Knicks trade target is Bojan Bogdanovic. Greg Patuto proposed the Knicks receiving Bogdanovic, while the Jazz would receive Kevin Knox II, and the Nos. 19 and No. 32 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft. Now, this could still happen at some point during this draft week, but then again, sports bettors and fans alike understand that these news reports could be just rumors. The most intelligent, unforthcoming general managers know not to leave bread crumb trails for the media, especially leading into the offseason. They will do everything necessary to protect their foolproof plans.

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Raptors, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings, and Cavaliers among teams showing interest in Ben Simmons

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According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, five teams have shown interest in pursuing Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers. Fischer reported, “Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Toronto all showed interest in acquiring the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.” Furthermore, the teams are wanting Simmons to change position from point guard to forward. “Multiple executives from those teams, when contacted by Bleacher Report, mentioned their excitement at incorporating Simmons as a play-making forward—not at the point guard position he’s played in Philadelphia.” The six-foot-eleven guard averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season. This might sound fine for a young rookie, but as a five-year player, these aforementioned statistics were career lows.

However, the 25-year-old also earned his third NBA All-Star selection and second All-Defensive first-team selection last season. After a less than mediocre performance in his third postseason of his NBA career, the majority of 76ers’ fans would agree that it’s now time for Simmons to have a change in scenery. With a regular season record of 49-23 (.681), the No. 1 ranked 76ers in the Eastern Conference entered the conference semifinals as favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. Leading into this series, some NBA analysts were predicting Philadelphia to prevail four games to two. The 2016 first overall pick was expected to limit Trae Young in scoring and rally his team from point deficits, but none of this ever manifested.

Pertaining to postseason averages, Simmons had a playoff series-low of 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the conference semifinals against the Hawks. This lackluster showing proved to be a more significant downfall for the superstar, considering Simmons had only five points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 7 versus the Hawks. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged 2.1 steals per game, leading all other players in the league. Moreover, Simmons currently ranks sixth in the NBA for active player triple-doubles (32). With a total of 32 career triple-doubles, he ranks 13th on the all-time list, tied with Clippers’ guard Rajon Rondo.

On July 16, 2019, Simmons signed a five-year, $169.65 million contract extension with the 76ers. He is set to earn $30.5 million in the 2021-22 season. Among these teams interested in Simmons, Cavs’ Kevin Love has the fourth largest contract guarantee of $91.4 million. Love is due to earn $31.3 million next season, and the 13-year veteran’s contract consumes 26 percent of the team’s salary cap. He could be traded this offseason. Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns has a contract guarantee of $130.8 million. The 25-year-old Wolves center will earn $31.6 million in the upcoming season.

Plus, Kings’ 2017 first-round pick De’Aaron Fox has a guaranteed contract of $171.1 million. Fox will earn $28.1 million next season. To add to that, Raptors’ Pascal Siakim has a contract guarantee of $131.4 million. Not to mention, reported by Yahoo Sports via trade rumors yesterday, the Golden State Warriors are a potential trade partner for Toronto. The Warriors could make a move on Siakim, clearing up space on the Raptors for Simmons. Per Spotrac, the 2021-22 season cap maximum is $112,414,000. In the coming weeks, one of these said five teams might make a substantial trade offer to the 76ers’ organization that they cannot refuse.

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