NBA training camp is a couple of months away, but there are some happenings around the league. Some NBA players are preparing for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, while others are still looking for teams or during individual workouts. Today’s NBA rumor round-up features news about potential up-and-comers Kira Lewis Jr, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Aleksej Pokusevski.
NBA Rumors: Kira Lewis, Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Aleksej Pokusevski
Kira Lewis Jr. Remains Trade Candidate
“Kira Lewis is a name to keep an eye on for the Pelicans, who could trade Lewis and add a player on the veteran minimum for the upcoming season while avoiding the luxury tax. The team waived Garrett Temple, and they’d be among the teams expected to have interest in forward Rudy Gay.”
The New Orleans Pelicans have 14 players under contract and are nearly $3 million over the NBA luxury tax. The Pelicans are in flux, with no one knowing about Zion Williamson‘s desire to come to camp in shape or whether he and Brandon Ingram mesh well. As a result, the Pelicans’ management may not want to pay the tax.
Lewis will make $5.7 million this year and is slated to become a restricted free agent next summer. The 2020 No. 13 draft pick was a rotational player for the Pels in his rookie season and looked like he would be a contributor in 2021-22. But he tore his ACL in December and didn’t return to the floor until January.
Lewis was a high-flyer and competent finisher at the rim, but the ACL injury has affected his explosiveness. The 22-year-old didn’t dunk once in 25 appearances and only converted 54.5% of his attempts at the rim last year. However, he did record career-high shooting percentages from the perimeter, including making 44.1% of his 3-pointers.
Lewis is a good scorer who has tight handles. He is improving as a playmaker, shooter, and defender. Lewis averaged 4.5 points and 1.3 rebounds in 10 minutes of action. He produced a shooting slash line of .445/.441/.864.
The biggest problem for Lewis remaining a member of the Pels is that they have a logjam at point guard. CJ McCollum is the starter, Dyson Daniels is the unquestioned backup, and Jose Alvarado is likely ahead of him on the depth chart. Alvarado won’t play for Puerto Rico in the 2023 FIBA World Cup as he is still recovering from a stress fracture in his right tibia sustained in February.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo Re-Signs With Bucks
As expected, Thanasis Antetokounmpo will return to the Milwaukee Bucks for another season. Antetokounmpo, an unrestricted free agent, chose Milwaukee over several other teams, including the New York Knicks, per the Athletic’s Shams Charania. Details of Antetokoumpo’s contract are unknown.
Antetokounmpo chose return to the Bucks over multiple options, including Knicks, sources said. Brothers Giannis and Thanasis, Brook and Robin Lopez all reunited in Milwaukee for next season. https://t.co/f0YcRcmvkE
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 28, 2023
Antetokoumpo began his NBA journey as a second-round pick of the Knicks in 2014, but he has only appeared in 164 NBA games over five seasons. In 37 games last season, the 31-year-old forward averaged 1.4 points and 1.2 rebounds over six minutes of playing time.
Antetokounmpo becomes the 16th player on a standard contract with the Bucks. So, the Bucks must make at least one move before opening night.
Aleksei Pokusevski’s Injury
Pokusevski won’t be able to play for his native Serbia in the FIBA World Cup next month. The 21-year-old was limited to 34 games with the Oklahoma City Thunder due to three injuries, with the last being a broken hand at the beginning of May. However, Pokusevski has not been cleared to return to basketball activities and won’t be until the end of August, according to Eurohoops.net. World Cup games start on August 25, 2023.
Pokusevski averaged 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 21 minutes over 34 games for OKC last season. He shot a career-best 43.4% from the field and 36.5% from the 3-point line. Pokusevski also scored in double-figures 15 times and produced three double-doubles.