Kai Sotto signs to play in G League

NBA G League President Shareef Abdur-Rahim today announced that Kai Sotto, a top prospect from the Philippines, has signed to play in the NBA G League next season. Sotto, ranked by ESPN as the No. 4 player in Georgia in the Class of 2020, spent this past season at Atlanta-based sports development organization The Skill Factory.

The NBA G League gives top young prospects a chance to begin their professional careers while receiving mentorship and life skills training. Sotto will have the opportunity to accelerate his on-court development as he learns NBA-style basketball.

Sotto joins consensus five-star high school recruits Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix in signing to play in the NBA G League for the 2020-21 season. Details of the new team Sotto, Green, Todd and Nix will play for, which will be unaffiliated with any existing NBA G League franchise or NBA team, are forthcoming.

A 7-2 center, Sotto excelled at Ateneo de Manila High School in Quezon City, the Philippines, before playing at The Skill Factory. In February, Sotto participated in the Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Global Camp during NBA All-Star 2020 in Chicago. He has represented the Philippines in several competitions, including the 2019 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup.

Knicks may be interested in RJ Hampton for 2020 NBA draft

The Knicks drafted RJ Barrett in the lottery last year. Will they take another RJ in the 2020 NBA draft? here’s the New York Post reporting:

According to a source, RJ Hampton, who skipped college to play in New Zealand, is another point-guard-type under consideration by the Knicks if they select between sixth and 10th in the draft currently slated for June 25.

NBA insiders believe the speedy 6-foot-5, 19-year-old combo guard has been under the radar as a top-10 player because the Dallas native played on the other side of the world and saw his season cut short by a hip injury.

Leon Rose strongly pursued Hampton as a client when Rose was a superagent for Creative Artists Agency before accepting the Knicks’ presidency. Now Rose could join forces with him in a different manner in pairing Hampton with shooting guard RJ Barrett.

The Knicks have nine players on guaranteed contracts signed through the 2020-21 season, but only one guaranteed contract for 2021-22.

Spencer Dinwiddie onto Team Nigeria?

Here’s some interesting international basketball news, via the New York Post:

Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is planning to acquire a Nigerian passport to play for Nigeria in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, according to The Athletic.

Dinwiddie, who was not among the 44 players who were announced as finalists for spots on Team USA, can be eligible to play for Nigeria if he is successful in his quest for a passport. He confirm The Athletic’s report with a simple reply on his Twitter page.

“Well now y’all know lol,” Dinwiddie tweeted.

Dinwiddie had a good season for the Nets in 2019-20, and for many weeks was considered a contender to make the All-Star team.

No flight back to France for Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina

Here’s the New York Post reporting on a Knicks guard who might like to return home to France during the coronavirus pandeic but can’t do that right now:

The coronavirus pandemic shutdown hasn’t stopped Knicks point guard Frank Ntilikina from attempting to stay in shape, but it required some purchases.

Ntilikina, unable to fly back to his home country of France under the NBA’s guidelines banning international travel, said some players have done group workouts via video apps. That is catching on around the NBA as gyms are shuttered and players are having difficulty getting up shots.

“It was tough the first days so I decided to get some weights,’’ Ntilikina said as he took fan questions on the Knicks website Tuesday night. “Get bands, get a bench, jump rope. All the tools you can really have and help you inside the house to stay in shape. We have a program with our teammates. We stay connected. We’re all trying to stay ready.’’

Ntilikina flew back to Dallas, where his new agent Bouna Ndiaye stays. He spent a lot of last summer in Dallas.

Ntilikina started 26 of the 56 games played in 2019-20, averaging 6.3 points and 3.0 assists per game. His shooting remains an issue: 39.3% FG and 32.1% from three-point range.

The NBA season is currently on hold due to the global coronavirus pandemic.

LaMelo Ball and manager reportedly buy Australian NBL team

LaMelo Ball is expected to be drafted high in the 2020 NBA draft. He prepared this season by playing pro basketball in Australia. And he went out in style, reportedly by buying the team he’d been playing for. Per ESPN.com:

Potential No. 1 NBA draft pick LaMelo Ball and his manager, Jermaine Jackson, have purchased his Australian NBL team, the Illawarra Hawks, Jackson told ESPN on Thursday.

“We own the team,” Jackson said. “It’s a done deal.”

No financial details were revealed, and the team has not commented on the sale.

Ball arrived in Australia in August as part of the league’s Next Stars program and established himself as a strong candidate to be the top pick in the draft. The 6-foot-7 point guard averaged 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists in 12 games with the Hawks, posting back-to-back triple-doubles before a foot injury ended his season.

Ball played for the team, put up big stats, his season ended, and then he bought the team. That’s a Big Baller move.

Of course, real big ballers then go on to do great things in the NBA. Which from the looks of it, LaMelo has the ability and potential to do.

OJ Mayo will reportedly sign with team in China

For those of you wondering what guard O.J. Mayo is up to lately, here’s ESPN.com with an update:

Former NBA guard O.J. Mayo is close to joining the Chinese Basketball Association to play for powerhouse Liaoning Flying Leopards, pending medical and other procedural clearances.

Mayo, 32, landed in the northern Chinese city of Shenyang — home to the No. 3-ranked Flying Leopards — from Taipei on Friday. He has since entered a 14-day quarantine, as mandated by government medical officials.

https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/28967006/ex-nba-guard-oj-mayo-poised-join-chinese-league-powerhouse

Mayo, who is now 32 years old, played in the NBA during the 2008-16 seasons, first four seasons with the Grizzlies, one season with the Mavs, then three seasons with the Bucks. His NBA career average is 13.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.

Nikola Mirotic named EuroLeague MVP for month of February, 2020

Here’s an overseas basketball update on a name familiar to NBA fans, from Euroleaguebasketball.net:

After a perfect month that he began and ended with game-winning shots on the road, forward Nikola Mirotic of FC Barcelona is Euroleague Basketball’s choice as MVP for February in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Few players have ever had a go-to month quite like Mirotic’s February, when his last-shot heroics ensured that Barca qualified early for this season’s playoffs. With four victories in February – three of them on the road, and all against teams positioned for the playoffs at tipoff time – Barca extended its current streak to seven wins total, the team’s longest in almost five years.

Mirotic played in the NBA between 2014-19, mostly for the Bulls, but also the Pelicans and Bucks, and averaged double-digit points each season. His NBA career average was 12.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists, shooting 42.3% FG and 35.9% from three-point range.

EuroLeague: James Nunnally signs in Turkey

Here’s Eurocupbasketball.com with an update on guard/forward James Nunnally:

Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul has brought back one of its most important players of recent years, forward James Nunnally, until the end of the season, the club announced Friday. Nunnally (2.01 meters, 29 years old) arrives from China, where he played with the Shanghai Sharks. In China, Nunnally averaged 22.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

Nunnally has played for teams in Greece, Spain, Turkey, Italy and China.

The Basketball Africa League (BAL) logo revealed

The Basketball Africa League (BAL), a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa and scheduled to begin play in March 2020, today unveiled the league’s official logo. The new logo, which features the silhouette of a basketball player taking a jump shot on a vibrant green, yellow, red and royal blue background, celebrates the Pan-African footprint of the league, Africa’s diversity and the continent’s rich basketball heritage.

The announcement was made today by BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall prior to the BAL qualifier game at the Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda in the presence of Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Rwanda Minister of Sport Aurore Mimosa Munyangaju, FIBA Africa and BAL Board President Anibal Manave, FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bilé, two-time NBA All-Star and South Sudan Basketball Federation President Luol Deng, and former NBA player Olumide Oyedeji (Nigeria).

The BAL logo is inspired by the NBA and FIBA’s commitment to establishing the BAL as a world-class professional league that champions inclusion and youth development, provides an entertaining product for fans of all ages, and drives economic growth across the continent.

Shane Larkin wins EuroLeague MVP for month of November, 2019

Guard Shane Larkin played four NBA seasons, averaging 5.5 points and 2.9 assists per game while playing first for the Mavericks, then the Knicks, Nets and Celtics. These days, he’s doing big things overaseas.

Euroleaguebasketball.net today reported the following: “His was a perfect month of basketball. And by the time that Shane Larkin capped it off with a new Turkish Airlines EuroLeague scoring record, there was no doubt that the 27-year-old Anadolu Efes Istanbul guard was the only choice for MVP of November. Larkin, a 1.83-meter force of nature, was unstoppable as Efes won all five games to finish November holding first place exclusively. His totals of 131 points and 154 in performance index rating were unprecedented for a single month, and his fireworks display to end November put him firmly in the record books.”