• On Monday, it was announced that Zion Williamson would be forgoing the opportunity to play with Team USA at August’s training camp. This comes in the middle of an avalanche of other NBA players withdrawing from the team in order to prepare for their respective NBA seasons. Of the many players who have withdrawn from the team this summer, the vast majority of them are citing NBA preparation as the reason.

    Zion’s absence from the USA squad is not a big deal in my eyes, just as it wasn’t a big deal that he sat out Summer League after a minor injury. He is the centerpiece of the Pelicans’ future, and the team is going to handle his career carefully. But although Zion skipping Team USA isn’t a big deal, I do think there are some things we should consider.

    As David Griffin pointed out, Zion is not in basketball shape right now and they were ultra-conservative with him in Summer League. The rampant speculation about Zion being “injury prone” that you can see on mainstream media is, well, stupid, but not because it’s unfair to question whether it’ll be a problem. It’s stupid because we don’t need to draw conclusions about something being a problem before a player even steps on an NBA court. If Zion shows up to Pelicans preseason with serious weight issues, then we can worry.

    The withdrawal from USA basketball will allow Williamson to focus exclusively on integrating with the NBA game and the Pelicans roster. The NBA game is so radically different from every level of basketball, including Summer League, and it is an adjustment for everyone, even for someone as talented as Zion.

    One of the things that we saw this summer is how much recruiting stars do behind the scenes. This is not anything new, but at this point, it is perfectly clear that the top players directly communicate with each other in order to figure out who wants to team up. The bottom line is this: to get a star to force his way to you or to sign one in free agency, you almost always either need a star on your roster already or have to be willing to trade what it takes to get one.

    The good news is that although it seems that Zion is missing a chance to team with other top players, almost all of the top talent on the USA roster has turned down the opportunity to play this year. Plus, it’s not as though Williamson will never get a call from Team USA again.

    Zion inked a shoe deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand on Tuesday and hopefully has a long, prosperous NBA career ahead of him; his withdrawal from Team USA this summer seems very much in line with what other top stars are doing and thus does not seem to be a reason for concern.

Fantasy News

  • Lonzo Ball
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    According to Andrew Lopez, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram have been full participants in voluntary team workouts.

    It's great news for the two former number two picks as they enter their age-22 seasons with a fresh start. Neither Ball nor Ingram has played in 60 games in either of the past two seasons due to injuries. Ingram has never cracked the top 110/170 (8-cat/9-cat), but he could easily beat that in New Orleans with a quick tempo and new role. Ball had a top 60/85 finish in his rookie season, so there's definitely upside here. Lonzo does have a very wide range of possible outcomes, so draft him only if you're feeling risky.

    Source: Andrew Lopez on Twitter

  • Yante Maten
    PF, Miami Heat

    The Celtics are signing F Yante Maten to an Exhibit 10 contract on Tuesday.

    Maten had a strong season with the Skyforce in the G-League last year averaging 23.5 points and 9.6 rebounds per game. He was also productive in Summer League action with the Heat this summer.

    Source: Adam Himmelsbach on Twitter

  • Paul Millsap
    PF, Denver Nuggets

    Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are all candidates for "load management" next season, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic

    This is pure speculation by Kosmider, but this does hold some weight after the Nuggets' playoff run last season and the league-wide popularity of resting players. Millsap would seem to be at the most significant risk to get rested due to his age and quality of depth behind him. Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee would be the biggest beneficiaries should Jokic or Millsap miss time.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Thabo Sefolosha
    SF, Utah Jazz

    Thabo Sefolosha is among the attendees at Rockets minicamp in Las Vegas with a host of other notable free agents this week.

    Sefolosha will be joined by the likes of Nick Young, Luc Mbah a Moute, Raymond Felton, Terrence Jones and Corey Brewer. The odds of someone making the Rockets' roster increased with Iman Shumpert declining an offer sheet from the team.

    Source: Kelly Iko on Twitter

  • Iman Shumpert
    SG, Free Agent

    Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Iman Shumpert has decided to decline the contract offer from the Rockets and will not attend team minicamp in Las Vegas this week.

    It'll be back to the drawing board for Shumpert. It's unsure exactly where he'll end up now, or if he and the Rockets will come to a new agreement in the future. Shump can get steals and threes, but otherwise isn't much of a fantasy asset, unless he finds himself in an ideal situation.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Anthony Davis
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    After an extraordinary summer of 2019, which saw a cavalcade of stars change teams, executives around the league expect that this year’s transaction wires will be dominated by the trade market.

    “We’ve been getting calls all summer,” one general manager said. “I think if you look at the market, there is going to be a very robust trade market this winter for a few reasons.” The big driver figures to be the open, empty crater that the 2020 free-agent class has become. Teams hoping to make significant changes in their direction won’t have free agency to lean on and trades will be the only way to go. If you enjoyed the twist and turns that came with the very busy NBA free-agency period this summer, then buckle up as the trade market means more could be on the way this season.

    Source: Sean Deveney on Twitter

  • Michael Beasley
    PF, Free Agent

    The Shanxi Loongs of the Chinese Basketball Association are trying to bring Michael Beasley back to China.

    Beasley agreed to terms with the Pistons last month but he never officially signed with them as the team opted to go with Joe Johnson instead. Beasley has already played in China with Shanghai, Shandong and last year with Guangdong averaging 22.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists.

    Source: Sportando

  • Justin Simon
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    Former St. John’s guard Justin Simon has signed an Exhibit-10 contract with the Bulls.

    Simon is 6’5” and went undrafted out of St. John’s, where he averaged 10.4 points and 5.1 rebounds last season, while also being named the Big East Defensive Player of the Year. The Bulls currently have 14 players on guaranteed contracts with guard Shaquille Harrison all but locked in to the 15th and final one, so that means Simon is likely headed to the Windy City Bulls of the G League.

    Source: Adam Zagora on Twitter

  • Mychal Mulder
    PG, Miami Heat

    The Heat have announced the signing of guard Mychal Mulder.

    Mulder played last season with the Windy City Bulls of the G-League and averaged 8.8 points in Summer League this year. He has good range but is unlikely to contribute much at the NBA level in 2019-20.

    Source: Miami Heat

  • Vincent Poirier
    C, Boston Celtics

    Nicolas Batum praised the play of Celtics center Vincent Poirier at the FIBA World Cup.

    According to Batum, Poirier "is a center that can block shots and control the paint." A native of France, Poirier has performed well over six seasons in Europe. Nevertheless, he should only be a depth option for the Celtics with Enes Kanter starting.

    Source: NBC Sports Boston