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Wizards, Justin Anderson Working Toward Camp Deal

The Wizards are working toward finalizing a training camp deal with free agent swingman Justin Anderson, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Anderson, 25, reached the open market this summer following the expiration of his rookie scale contract. He initially signed that four-year deal with Dallas after being selected 21st overall in the 2015 draft, but was traded to Philadelphia at the 2017 trade deadline and then to Atlanta during the 2018 offseason.

In 48 games last season for the Hawks, Anderson recorded 3.7 PPG and 1.8 RPG on .408/.312/.743 shooting in just 9.6 minutes per contest. If he joins the Wizards, it would be a homecoming of sorts — he attended high school in Maryland and played his college ball at Virginia.

Assuming he does complete a deal with Washington, Anderson may have the opportunity to compete for a regular season roster spot. The Wizards are currently carrying 13 players on fully guaranteed salaries, with Phil Booth, Jemerrio Jones, Jordan McRae, and Justin Robinson on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts.

Ian Clark Signs With Xinjiang

AUGUST 19: Clark has officially joined the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, according to Carchia.

JULY 30: Veteran NBA guard Ian Clark is set to sign with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Clark, 28, has spent the last six seasons in the NBA, playing for the Jazz, Nuggets, Warriors, and Pelicans during that time. His best performance may have come in 2016/17, when he averaged 6.8 PPG on .487/.374/.759 shooting in 77 games for Golden State in one of the club’s title years.

In 2018/19, Clark appeared in 60 games for New Orleans, recording 6.7 PPG on .394/.327/.892 shooting in 16.2 minutes per contest.

Assuming Clark finalizes his reported deal with Xinjiang, he’ll be one of a small handful of players who spent time in the NBA last season and are headed to the CBA for 2019/20. Ekpe Udoh is said to be joining the Beijing Ducks, while James Nunnally is considered likely to sign with the Shanghai Sharks.

Jerryd Bayless To Play In China

AUGUST 19: The Sichuan Blue Whales have officially announced the signing of Bayless, relays Carchia. The club has also signed former NBA center Maciej Lampe, who appeared in 64 NBA games between 2004-06.

AUGUST 15: Jerryd Bayless will become the latest NBA veteran to head to China for the 2019/20 season, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who reports that Bayless has agreed to a deal with the Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Bayless, who will turn 31 next Tuesday, has appeared in a total of 586 regular season games for eight NBA teams over 11 years since being selected in the second round of the 2008 draft. He opened the 2018/19 season with the Sixers, but was sent to Minnesota along with Robert Covington and Dario Saric in the blockbuster trade that landed Jimmy Butler in Philadelphia.

In 34 games with the Timberwolves, Bayless averaged 6.1 PPG and 3.5 APG in 19.3 minutes per game. His shooting line was a subpar .357/.296/.571, which likely contributed to the relative lack of NBA interest in him this summer.

Bayless is one of several former NBA players who has either signed with a Chinese team this offseason or is expected to do so. He joins Lance Stephenson, Ian Clark, Jerian Grant, Angel Delgado, Wayne Selden, Chasson Randle, Ekpe Udoh, and Donatas Motiejunas on that growing list.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Waiters, Heat, Leonsis

The Wizards are eyeing their own version of load management with a new commitment to sports science this season, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes.

Washington hired the likes of Dr. Daniel Medina and Mark Simpson in preparation, Buckner notes, with the team also creating the Monumental Basketball Athlete Care and Performance department to help monitor the workloads of each active player on the year.

“I think we did a good job in the past,” GM Tommy Sheppard said of managing players’ minutes. “I just think there are opportunities to add to that and certainly that’s what Danny’s expertise and Mark’s expertise will blend very well. It’s really trying to individualize a lot more.”

The Wizards have worked hard to protect superstar Bradley Beal in recent seasons, with the 26-year-old not missing a single game over the past two years. Beal led the league in minutes per game with 36.9 last season, however, leaving Sheppard and others to take all factors into consideration.

“The fact that he was able to perform at the level that he did, I think proves that [he was healthy]. Now, can we bring his minutes down? Sure. But is it the right thing to do? Is that the best thing for Bradley? Is it the best thing for the Wizards?” Sheppard said. “What I think is exciting about the staff we have assembled and the people that we’re blending in, that’s for everybody, the collective, to come up with. That’s where we are right now. We haven’t made any conclusions yet.” 

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Heat could greatly benefit from having the old Dion Waiters back to form this season, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Waiters, who averaged 15.8 points in 46 games with Miami during the 2016/17 season, received a career-low 25.9 minutes in his 44 contests last season. He’s mostly dealt with injuries in recent years, causing him to miss over half of his games in a Heat uniform.
  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman ponders whether the Heat will continue scanning the market for a leading man after acquiring Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia this offseason. Miami has long been linked to Bradley Beal, though the Wizards have maintained he’s off limits in trade conversations.
  • Wizards owner Ted Leonsis called a number of people for advice before organizing the team’s new basketball operations department, Candace Buckner details for the Washington Post. Leonsis spoke with the likes of Gregg Popovich, Adam Silver, Barack Obama and 75 others involved in business and professional sports, Buckner notes.

And-Ones: Bazley, Superstars, Austin, Nike Academy

Thunder rookie Darius Bazley is ready for the challenges he’ll face in the NBA after taking a unique path to the league, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes.

Bazley, 19, was selected with the No. 23 pick in June’s draft by Utah and traded to Oklahoma City that night. Before getting drafted, he opted to skip college and pursue a potential path to the NBA by way of the G League, later skipping this route and focusing on improving his business knowledge and skills.

He would sign an endorsement deal with New Balance, which included a one-year internship with the company.

“You get some people here and there they’ll just ask you about it, ‘Yo, like how was it not going to college?'” Bazley said, as relayed by Friedell. “I know when I was going through the whole pre-draft process traveling from team to team before we’d go out and work out, [the other players would] all be talking about college. And someone would pop up and say, ‘Well, how was it, just sitting out?'”

Bazley immersed himself in the business side of New Balance, Friedell wrote, working diligently with the company when he wasn’t practicing at the facility to prepare for an eventual move to the draft.

“The main thing I really took away from that is just learning how to be professional,” he said. “That was my first job ever so having to go into work and being in an office space with a lot of middle-aged people — you got to learn to be professional. You got to learn to communicate with different people.”

For Bazley, a two-way forward with great potential on a Thunder team that currently lacks wing depth, his sights are now set on bringing values learned over the past year to his first NBA season this fall.

“His ability to handle the ball at his size is really, really unique, and defensively he’s got great range for a young player at that size, as well,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said. “It’s going to be a process with him. We’ll have to be patient. We understand that. But at that range of the draft, to be able to get a player that has those ballhandling skills at 6-foot-9 is pretty unique.”

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world tonight:

  • Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated explores the seven NBA stars with the most to prove during the 2019/20 season. Nadkarni’s list includes both LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the top three, with both players eager to prove they can win in Los Angeles.
  • Former Baylor center Isaiah Austin has signed in Lebanon with Beirut Club, the team announced on social media. Austin, who was projected as a first-round pick in 2014, was forced to spend two years away from the game after being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome. The 25-year-old has since held separate stints in Serbia, China and Lebanon.
  • Jonathon Givony of ESPN.com lists his takeaways from the Nike Basketball Academy, which included nearly 60 future NBA prospects (24 from college, 32 from high school). NBA players such as DeMar DeRozan, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker also joined in on drills and scrimmages throughout the process, according to Givony.

Grizzlies Grant Lakers Permission To Meet With Dwight Howard

The Grizzlies are granting the Lakers permission to meet with eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Both Howard and the Lakers have mutual interest on a deal, as Charania reported earlier on Sunday, with the team scanning the free-agent market for veteran centers in the wake of DeMarcus Cousins ACL tear. Howard is currently under contract with Memphis, who traded for his services in a deal with the Wizards back in July for swingman C.J. Miles.

“I want to be whatever a team needs me to be,” Howard told Charania in an interview last month. “I’ve played in every situation so far. I used to really hate how Draymond (Green) plays, but what I noticed watching him during these playoffs was that he does everything for the team.

“He’s everywhere. He’ll get a tech, he’ll take a charge, he’ll be everywhere on defense. He’s talking. He does everything. It doesn’t show up in the stat sheet, but it shows up in the mind of everyone watching. I want to be that person.”

The Lakers requesting a meeting with Howard is only being described as “due diligence”, a team source told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

Howard, 33, appeared in 75 games during a tumultuous season with the team back in 2012/13, averaging 17.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per contest. He only saw action in nine games with Washington last season, missing most of the campaign with various back, glute and hamstring injuries.

Nets Notes: Irving, Prokhorov, Tsai, Levy

Kyrie Irving is already making his presence felt as the leader of the Nets, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Irving has helped lead informal team workouts that includes the likes of DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Caris LeVert, Theo Pinson, David Nwaba and free agent Carmelo Anthony in Los Angeles over the past few weeks, with training camp set to start in less than two months.

“It was basically player-driven,” Pinson said of the workouts, as relayed by Lewis. “Kyrie was out there, and we wanted to get with him, so we just all went out there and just worked out together.”

Brooklyn revamped its roster this offseason, bringing in several new players and moving on from star guard D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade with the Warriors for Kevin Durant. The team’s sudden roster overhaul makes it imperative that players get acclimated to each other before camp begins, with Irving helping lead the way for the franchise this month.

“It’s good. It gives us a little head start going into camp. Just getting not just on the court and [basketball-wise], but off the court also: playing ‘[NBA] 2K’, going to dinner and stuff like that. It’s been fun,” Pinson said.

There’s more out of Brooklyn today:

  • Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated examines the complicated legacy left behind by Mikhail Prokhorov, who’s set to officially offload the rest of his ownership in the team to Joe Tsai at the end of August. Prokhorov acquired the Nets for $223 million in 2009, selling the team for $2.35 billion this summer.
  • Like Prokhorov, Tsai is confident his purchase in the Nets will prove to be a profitable decision down the road, Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis write for the New York Post. Tsai is banking on the NBA’s international growth — particularly in China — along with the superstar additions of Irving and Durant to help lead the way.
  • Former Turner Sports executive David Levy is a serious candidate to replace Brett Yormark as CEO of the franchise, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Yormark recently announced his departure after spending 14 years with the team, leaving alongside Prokhorov.

Tyler Dorsey Signs With Maccabi Tel Aviv

As first reported by Israeli basketball reporter Roi Cohen a few days ago (Twitter link), shooting guard Tyler Dorsey has signed a contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Premier League and EuroLeague, per a release from the team’s official Twitter account.

Dorsey, 23, was originally drafted by the Hawks out of Oregon back in 2017, where he played for Atlanta during the 2017/18 season and part of last season. On the day of the trade deadline, February 7, he was shipped to Memphis in exchange for veteran point guard Shelvin Mack.

Dorsey, who also saw time with the Memphis Hustle after the trade, performed well for the Grizzlies, averaging 9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game in 21 contests (11 starts). However, the Grizzlies opted not to extend Dorsey a qualifying offer this summer, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Dorsey will join fellow ex-NBA players Omri Casspi, Quincy Acy, and Tarik Black on what should now be a relatively strong 2019/20 roster for Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Pacific Notes: Cousins, Kuzma, Fox, Suns

NBA players and coaches sent messages of sympathy to Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins after news broke that he suffered an ACL tear that may sideline him for the entire season, relays Sam Amick of The Athletic. Team USA was working out in the Lakers’ practice facility when the news broke on Thursday.

“I’m devastated for DeMarcus,” said Steve Kerr, who coached Cousins with the Warriors last season. “It’s been a couple years of hell for DeMarcus with the injuries, first the Achilles and then last year in the playoffs with the quad. I was really hoping that this would be a year for him upcoming with the Lakers where he could get healthy, get his rhythm, get his conditioning and really start his comeback. We’re all crushed for him, everybody in this gym, all these fellow players and coaches.”

Along with the physical toll, the injuries have impacted Cousins financially as he appeared to be in line for a max contract last summer that would have paid $207MM him over five years if he had stayed healthy. Now he may be looking at another veteran’s minimum deal in 2020.

“It hurt, man, breaks my heart,” Rockets forward P.J. Tucker said. “DeMarcus is such a good guy. He’s one of the best bigs I’ve ever played against — ever. He’s amazing. And to see somebody like that get hurt, fight to come back, get in shape, lose weight, do all this stuff, and then get hurt again, man, it’s heartbreaking, honestly.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Cousins’ injury may force Lakers teammate Kyle Kuzma into significant minutes at center, and he tells Amick that he’s using his time with Team USA to get ready for that possibility. “One thing that’s going to prepare me well playing with USA Basketball is they really like my versatility and how I can play the three, four and put me at the five a little bit,” Kuzma said. “Last year, I didn’t really have experience with that, but now USA Basketball is allowing me to work on those things. And if (Lakers coach Frank) Vogel wants me to do that, that’s what I gotta do.”
  • The combination of a tough travel schedule and no guarantee of playing time may have convinced De’Aaron Fox to leave Team USA, suggests James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. The Americans will spend 12 days in Australia and maybe 17 days in China, then the Kings have a preseason trip to India. Ham notes that amounts to about 40,000 air miles before the season begins.
  • The Suns are poised to make the biggest improvement this season, according to projections from Kevin Pelton of ESPN. His formula has Phoenix doubling its win total from 19 to 38.

World Cup Notes: Bolden, Wagner, Luwawu-Cabarrot, Popovich

Team USA isn’t the only FIBA World Cup nation dealing with last-minute withdrawals. Sixers forward Jonah Bolden has informed the Australian squad that he won’t be participating in the tournament, which starts in 13 days, according to Olgun Uluc of Fox Sports Australia. He cited “personal reasons” for the decision.

Bolden looked good in exhibition play, posting 12 points and five rebounds in Saturday’s win over Canada. His place could be taken by Deng Adel, who signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Nets last month, or Brock Motum, according to Uluc. The Australians are already playing without Ben Simmons, Thon Maker, Ryan Broekhoff and Dante Exum.

“My first thought is always with the player in these situations — having to withdraw from the national team is tough for anyone,” Boomers head coach Andrej Lemanis said. “From a team perspective, the timing is sub-optimal, but again, we are very fortunate to have the depth of talent we have in this country available to take up this opportunity. Whilst it can feel like we need to make a quick decision, the most important thing is to bring in the player that best complements the other skill sets we have on the team.”

There’s more World Cup news to pass along:

  • Germany has cut Wizards center Moritz Wagner, relays Dario Skerletic of Sportando. The Germans, whose preliminary roster includes Maxi KleberDennis SchroderDaniel Theis and Isaac Bonga, still have to get rid of one more player before the tournament begins. Wagner was sent to Washington last month as part of the Anthony Davis trade.
  • France trimmed Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot from its World Cup squad, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The free agent forward played for the Thunder and Bulls last season.
  • Gregg Popovich only has one cut to make from Team USA, but he expects it to be very difficult, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. The Americans headed to Australia yesterday for a pair of exhibition games with 13 players still on their roster. The final decision is expected to come around August 27. “When you cut people from your regular NBA team, it’s difficult,” Popovich said. “We’re going to have to do that. And it’s going to be even more so. I’m dreading having to do that. But it’s got to get done.”
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