Former Kansas standout Frank Mason is getting another shot in the NBA.
This time it comes with a veritable all-star team of legends in Los Angeles.
According to a tweet from NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Mason has signed a training camp deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now in his fifth season as a pro, Mason, if he sticks, will be playing with his fourth team in that time. After being drafted by Sacramento and spending two seasons in the California capital, Mason spent the 2019-20 season splitting his time between the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee’s G League team. He followed that up with a short stint in Orlando in 2020-21.
The former college national player of the year appeared in 103 games during those four seasons, making three starts and averaging 6.7 points in 15.7 minutes per game.
In 2020, Mason was named the G League MVP after a stellar stint with the Wisconsin Herd.
He played for the Philadelphia 76ers Summer League squad this summer before being released. Upon his release, Mason tweeted: “I want to give a big thanks to the @sixers organization for giving me an opportunity to join their summer league team. What a great staff and first-class organization. Thank you guys.”
It remains to be seen if there’s an opportunity for Mason on the Lakers’ NBA bench. But if one presents itself, he would be joining a roster that not only features LeBron James and Anthony Davis — two of the top 10 players in the game today — but also includes Laker newcomers Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook.
Also on this year’s Lakers roster are former NBA all-stars Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan.
While Westbrook and Rondo are clearly pencilled in as the Lakers' top two options at the point, the only other player on the current Lakers roster listed as a point guard is Joel Ayayi, a rookie from Gonzaga who is signed a two-way deal with the franchise after going undrafted.
Former Oklahoma standout Austin Reaves, along with former Texas Tech gunner Mac McClung also are on the Lakers' revamped roster heading into the season. Both are candidates for roster spots with the Lakers' G League club, the South Bay Lakers.
After creating the kind of defensive havoc during the NBA’s Summer League that he did for four years at Kansas, former KU guard Marcus Garrett received his first reward this week.
According to a tweet from NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, Garrett has signed a two-way contract with the Miami Heat.
Wojnarowski got the info from Garrett’s new agent, Mike George of One Legacy Sports, which also represents NBA star Jamal Murray along with former Big 12 players Naz Mitrou-Long and Tariq Owens.
After going undrafted in July, Garrett quickly signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Miami Heat. The contract, which guaranteed very little, simply gave Garrett an opportunity. He did the rest.
From the opening game of the NBA’s Summer League on, Garrett showcased the kind of defense he became known for during his days as a Jayhawk.
He hounded ball handlers and picked their pockets clean. He also played the passing lanes and picked up easy baskets off of his defensive anticipation.
That led to pretty good offensive numbers, as well.
Garrett appeared in four Summer League games with the Heat, averaging 11 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 1.5 assists per game.
He also carried a +9.3 plus/minus number and shot 65.4% (17-of-26) from the floor and 43% (3-of-7) from 3-point range while helping the Heat record a 4-0 record.
The former Naismith Award national defensive player of the year scored in double figures in each of the four games and recorded 10 steals in two contests at the California Classic in Sacramento.
The two-way contract keeps Garrett’s rights with Miami and the Heat G League franchise in Sioux Falls, S.D., for the 2021-22 season.
He’ll be able to freely jump up and down between the two levels as the front office and coaching staff see fit, and he will not count against Miami’s 15-man roster limit.
In the games he plays with the Heat, Garrett will make NBA money and in the games he plays with the Sioux Falls Skyforce, he’ll make G League money.
That typically amounts to a salary of roughly $125,000 per year for standard players on two-way contracts.
Garrett’s goal now, of course, will be to make an NBA roster full-time. But, for an undrafted player, the opportunity to show what you can do on a two-way contract in Year 1 is about as good as you can ask for.
A handful of former Jayhawks still hoping to catch on in the NBA will get their chance to shine at the upcoming NBA summer leagues in Sacramento, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.
While making an NBA roster through a strong showing in Summer League play is uncommon, it has happened in the past with a handful of players. And many others played their way into a two-way contract that led to good money and an even better opportunity.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Jayhawks we know are planning to suit up for their respective Summer League squads during the next couple of weeks, starting with Udoka Azubuike and Marcus Garrett on Tuesday.
Marcus Garrett – Miami Heat
The most recent former Jayhawk to jump to the pro level, Garrett signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Heat in the hours after last Thursday’s draft.
That guarantees him nothing more than an opportunity to show what he can do.
Garrett will be on a Heat Summer League roster that is packed with young guards, and while many of them likely will be looking to wow people with their scoring ability and offensive punch, you can be sure that Garrett will continue to lead with his best asset — defense.
He’ll have to show more than strong defensive skills to get a real shot to catch on, but Garrett knows that. He said in early July that he had been working hard on his jump shot and offensive game throughout the offseason.
Devon Dotson – Chicago Bulls
All signs out of Chicago have indicated that Dotson will be with the Bulls’ Summer League squad in Las Vegas next week.
If he’s there, it will mark the first time Dotson will be able to participate in the famed Vegas summer circuit. Last season, after signing with the Bulls as an undrafted free agent following the draft, there was no Summer League and Dotson was tossed right into training camp and a shortened exhibition season.
Just two days ago there appeared to be an opening for a third point guard on the Bulls’ NBA roster, and some who cover the team believed that Dotson, with a good showing this summer, could position himself as the leading candidate to snag that spot.
That was before Chicago landed Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso via free agency, and their presence, along with that of former lottery pick Coby White, could make it tougher.
Even if Dotson doesn’t stick with the Bulls, the opportunity to showcase his skills for another squad or solidify his two-way status could mean big things for the former All-American.
Dotson, like former Jayhawks Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, recently received a qualifying offer from the Bulls worth roughly $1.5 million, making him a restricted free agent.
Dotson appeared in just 11 games with the Bulls last season, spending most of his time during his rookie season with the team’s G League affiliate.
Udoka Azubuike – Utah Jazz
Azubuike is expected to play for the Jazz summer league teams in both Salt Lake and Vegas. And it could be a big summer for the former KU big man.
Utah just traded away back-up big Derrick Favors and they no doubt want to see what they have in Azubuike, whom they used a late first-round pick on in the 2020 draft.
A severe ankle injury early in his first season as a pro derailed Azubuike’s hopes of contributing right away. And a lot of his success this summer figures to be tied to just how well his rehab of the bum ankle went throughout the season.
Azubuike played in 15 games for the Jazz last season, including spot minutes in their final three regular season games and one appearance in the playoffs. He is slated to make roughly $2 million for the 2021-22 season per his rookie contract.
Dedric & KJ Lawson – Boston Celtics
Their list of teams they’ve played for together grows by one this summer, with the former Jayhawks and Memphis natives joining the Celtics’ Summer League squad.
Word from the Lawson camp is that Dedric has slimmed down a little and leaned up in an effort to become a little faster and more explosive.
His skills were never the issue, as he was a double-double machine throughout his college career, particularly at Kansas. Look for him to try to showcase his new physique and his outside shooting ability during his stint with the Celtics.
Always the overlooked of the two, KJ will try to show that he, too, has a versatile game that includes the ability to score, shoot, pass, rebound and defend.
He showed all of those traits in spurts at KU, and he’ll need to have all of them clicking to get a prolonged opportunity with any NBA franchise.
Malik Newman – Utah Jazz
Azubuike will see a familiar face sitting next to him on the Jazz bench — and perhaps out there with him on the floor, too — in KU’s 2018 postseason hero Malik Newman.
A two-year veteran of the NBA G League, with Canton, Ohio and Sioux Falls, S.D., Newman spent most of the 2020-21 season with Ironi Nahariva of the Israeli Premier League, where he averaged 14.5 points, 3.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 19 games.
Newman started the season with a team in Turkey, playing 14 games for Frutti Extra Bursaspor and averaging nearly identical numbers as what he put up in Israel.
Joining Newman on the Jazz Summer League roster will be former Baylor Bears and 2021 national champions Jared Butler and MaCio Teague. Both should push Newman and bring extreme competition to the roster.
Frank Mason III – Philadelphia 76ers
The former college player of the year was a late addition to the Sixers’ summer roster.
While landing a roster spot with Philly, therein rejoining former KU teammate Joel Embiid, would be the dream, this opportunity really opens the door for Mason to join a number of teams.
Past Summer League success stories are full of players who played for one team in the summer but got picked up by another after the session was over because the other team had open roster spots or greater need at a specific position.
So while Mason will be trying to catch on with the Sixers, he’ll also be essentially auditioning for the rest of the league, as well.
The 27-year-old former G League MVP has played for three different teams during his first four years in the league — two seasons with Sacramento and one each with Milwaukee and Orlando. His last two stops featured him on two-way contracts and he spent most of his time either injured or in the G League.
Tarik Black - Denver Nuggets
Another late add to a Summer League roster, Black, who played at KU for one season back in 2013-14, actually has more NBA experience than most of the players on this list.
His stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets — including a front-row seat for Kobe Bryant's final game — gave him a good look at what it takes to succeed in the league. And his 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame, with good athleticism and toughness, make him an interesting option to consider for teams needing to fill out the end of their bench.
Beyond his size and experience, Black's best attribute is the way he carries himself. He's always been viewed as a first-class teammate and he's not the type of player who needs to get his to be happy. He'll be content helping the team however he can. That could make it hard for him to standout in a Summer League setting. But if he does, there might still be a little left in the old veteran.
Quentin Grimes – NY Knicks
Drafted 25th overall in last week’s draft, the one-time Jayhawk will get his first taste of pro ball with the Knicks’ Summer League squad.
After an up-and-down first season in college at Kansas, Grimes was a star at Houston. In addition to scoring at a high clip and racking up several individual honors during his two years at UH, Grimes also helped lead the Cougars to the 2021 Final Four.
That run and his performance at the pre-draft combine landed him in the first round of the draft, and he now gets the opportunity to show what he’s made of while making guaranteed money for the next three seasons.
Former Kansas point guard Frank Mason’s journey through the NBA has landed him an opportunity with the Philadelphia 76ers Summer League squad.
Mason, the former college basketball national player of the year and 2020 G League MVP with the Milwaukee Bucks organization, is getting another crack with Philadelphia.
There remains a long way to go before Mason is elevated into the conversation about joining the Sixers NBA roster on a full-time basis. But even a two-way contract with one of the top teams in the East would qualify as a major step for the fifth-year point guard.
Mason has played for three teams in his first four professional seasons — two with Sacramento, which drafted him No. 34 overall in the 2017 NBA draft, and one each with Milwaukee and Orlando.
Mason earned just over $2.5 million for his first two seasons in Sacramento before signing two-way contracts with the Bucks and Magic in the years since.
With the Bucks, Mason appeared in just nine games while starring in the G League for the Wisconsin Herd.
With the Magic, Mason played in just four games before an injury derailed what appeared to be a path toward more playing time with the NBA club.
So now it’s an opportunity with the Sixers. If successful, Mason could be reunited with 76ers star Joel Embiid, with whom he played one season at Kansas as a freshman.
Even if this latest Summer League opportunity does not lead to a contract with the Sixers, Mason essentially is auditioning for the 29 other teams in the league. His blend of poise, toughness and intelligence make him an interesting option for just about any team looking for point guard depth.
In 90 games with the Kings, Mason averaged 7 points, 3 assists and 2 rebounds in 15.8 minutes per game. While those numbers did not lead to a long-term stay in the California capital, Mason often showed that, when healthy, he had what it took to compete at that level.
At age 27, the former Jayhawk great still has a little time to prove that he can stick in the league. Shining with Phily’s Summer League squad in Las Vegas would be a good first step to getting the chance to do just that.
Philadelphia opens Summer League play on Aug. 9 against Dallas.
*Updated at 9:03 p.m. Monday night*
Three days after Charlotte drafted UConn guard James Bouknight, crowding the Hornets’ backcourt even further than it already was, team GM Mitch Kupchak announced the Hornets had made a qualifying offer to free agent guard Devonte’ Graham.
One day after that, Graham was traded to New Orleans as part of a sign-and-trade deal that will send Graham to the Pelicans and a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick to Charlotte.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojarnowski was the first to report Monday's trade.
As part of the deal, Graham, 26, agreed to a new four-year, $47 million contract.
The Pelicans were in need of backcourt help after 2020-21 starter Lonzo Ball agreed to a massive contract with Chicago earlier in the day.
In New Orleans, Graham will join a young core that features star forwards Zion Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, and Brandon Ingram, the No. 2 pick in 2016. The Pelicans finished 31-41 last season, just missing out on a spot in the postseason play-in tournament.
Regardless of where he's playing, Graham's approach to the game has not changed from his days at Kansas.
“At the end of the day, everybody has a role and you just have to go out, maximize it and bring what you bring to the table,” he said during exit interviews following the season, according to Charlotte's team website. “Whatever role it is that I have to play, I can play that role. People who know me know that I’m not a big ego guy, that I have to be starting or this and that. I feel like I’m going to be on the court playing meaningful minutes regardless and helping the team. I don’t let my ego or pride get in the way. It’s all about winning.”
Graham just wrapped up his third season with Charlotte, averaging 14.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 30.2 minutes per game while appearing in 55 games.
Graham ranked 14th in the NBA last season in total 3-pointers made, knocking down 179 shots from 3-point range, making him just the second player in franchise history with 175+ 3-point field goals in consecutive seasons.
The former Kansas All-American also finished 15th among all NBA players in real plus-minus (3.88), an ESPN-generated metric that estimates “on-court impact on team performance, measured in net point differential per 100 offensive and defensive possession, [while taking] into account teammates, opponents and additional factors.”
Selected with the 34th overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, Charlotte acquired Graham via a draft night trade with the Atlanta Hawks on July 21, 2018.
Graham has played in 164 career games — with 100 starts — and holds career averages of 13.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 27.7 minutes per game.
In just three seasons with the Hornets, Graham has made 431 3-pointers, which already ranks sixth all-time in franchise history.
Graham's former KU teammate, Svi Mykhailiuk, also received a qualifying offer from the Oklahoma City Thunder, making him a restricted free agent, as well.
A former second-round pick of the Los Angeles Lakers, Mykhailiuk started the 2020-21 season in Detroit before being traded to OKC. With the Thunder, Mykhailiuk averaged 10.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game in 30 appearances.
Former Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, now in his rookie season with the NBA’s Utah Jazz, was taken off the court on a stretcher after injuring his right ankle in a G League game on Wednesday afternoon.
Reports and videos of the injury first surfaced on Twitter, showing Azubuike landing awkwardly on the ankle after shooting a short jump hook late in the game between Azubuike’s Salt Lake City Stars and the Eerie BayHawks.
The game was the first of Salt Lake City’s G League season, which is being played entirely in Orlando, Fla., in a bubble similar to the one the NBA used to complete its 2019-20 season.
According to the Deseret News, Azubuike, 21, played 28 minutes with 8 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in Wednesday’s game, which the BayHawks won, 117-98.
The Stars did not immediately announce the severity of Azubuike’s injury. The former Jayhawk has played in 12 games for the Jazz this season, averaging 1 point and 1.1 rebounds in 4.1 minutes per game.
The injured ankle was the same one Azubuike hurt against Wofford in December of 2018 that forced him to miss a few games during his second injury-plagued season as a Jayhawk.
Azubuike suffered a wrist/hand injury shortly thereafter, which forced him to miss the rest of the 2018-19 season. He responded by returning to school for his senior season and turning in an All-American season with the Jayhawks in 2019-20.
That led to him being drafted No. 27 overall by Utah in the 2020 NBA draft.
Add Markieff Morris’ name to the list of former Jayhawks who have won an NBA title.
His place as the 13th former Kansas basketball player to win a world championship became official Sunday night, when Morris and the Los Angeles Lakers knocked off the Miami Heat, 106-93, in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Orlando.
Morris, who scored three points and grabbed two rebounds in Sunday’s lopsided victory, played a much bigger role throughout the rest of the series, averaging 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 40% from 3-point range in 21 minutes per game during the Finals.
He becomes the fifth Kansas player from the Bill Self era to win a title — joining Mario Chalmers, Sasha Kaun, Brandon Rush and Wayne Simien — and is the first since Kaun helped Cleveland win it all in 2016.
Kaun's title, of course, was with LeBron James on the squad. As were the two that Chalmers won in Miami.
In addition to joining KU’s all-time list of NBA champions, Morris now becomes part of the fun fact that Kansas fans like to throw around about James, who has won four titles with former Jayhawks on his roster and none without a Jayhawk on his team.
“The type of leaders that we have on this team is unreal,” Morris said in his postgame meeting with the media, speaking specifically about James. “I knew this moment was going to come with leaders like that, and it’s a dream come true.”
As he sat at the podium taking questions from reporters, Morris had a cigar in his left hand and a gold-plated bottle of champagne in his right.
Between puffs and sips, Morris was asked if winning an NBA title was everything he ever thought it would be. His answer was simple: “Yes it was, man.”
“We had a goal, and we knew that we were going to accomplish this goal,” he said. “And we played extremely hard (and) just went and took it tonight.”
KU coach Bill Self told the Journal-World on Monday afternoon that he exchanged text messages with Morris after the Lakers' victory, adding, "He was excited."
The feeling was mutual.
"It means a ton for our guys to be a part of championship teams," Self said. "He was a great pick-up for the Lakers and that was a special team playing (Sunday) night."
Jayhawks to win an NBA title
Clyde Lovellette – 1954 with Minneapolis and 1963 and 1964 with Boston
~ On Sunday, Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo joined Lovellette as the only two players in NBA history to win titles with Boston and Los Angeles ~
Maurice King – 1960 with Boston
Wilt Chamberlain – 1967 with Philadelphia and 1972 with the Los Angeles Lakers
Jo Jo White – 1974 and 1976 with Boston
Bill Bridges – 1975 with Golden State
Wayne Simien – 2006 with Miami
Jacque Vaughn – 2007 with San Antonio
Paul Pierce – 2008 with Boston
Scot Pollard – 2008 with Boston
Mario Chalmers – 2012 and 2013 with Miami
Brandon Rush – 2015 with Golden State
Sasha Kaun – 2016 with Cleveland
Markieff Morris – 2020 with the Los Angeles Lakers
For the second consecutive game in the NBA Finals, former Kansas forward Markieff Morris played a key role in the Los Angeles’ Lakers game plan.
Tuesday night, during the Lakers’ 102-96 win over Miami in Game 4 of the Finals, Morris topped the 20-minute mark for the second time in the series and also was on the floor for much of the fourth quarter and in crunch time.
As a result, Morris is now one win away from becoming the 13th former Jayhawk to win an NBA title.
Morris played a playoff-best 30 minutes off the bench in the win, scoring nine points on 2-of-8 shooting (2-of-7 from 3-point range) while knocking in three critical free throws on a heady play that drew a foul on an attempted 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter.
The Philadelphia native also added three rebounds and two assists in the victory.
For the second game in a row, Morris played far more minutes than starting big man Dwight Howard, who logged just eight minutes in Tuesday’s victory.
Morris was on the floor a lot of the time with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and his ability to live on the perimeter and spread the floor allowed the Lakers to have an additional offensive option without crowding the middle and taking room away from James and Davis to do what they do.
As a result, Morris and his teammates are now just one win shy of bringing home a world championship — the first for Morris, the fourth for James and the fourth with James teaming with a former Kansas star.
What a year it’s been for the Morris twins. In addition to Marcus Morris having his jersey retired at Allen Fieldhouse and joining the Los Angeles Clippers’ push for a playoff run midway through the season, Markieff Morris now sits one win away from bringing a ring to the family.
Not bad for a couple of NBA vets who started the 2019-20 season with the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons.
Game 5 is set for 8 p.m. Friday night in Orlando, Fla.
The Miami Heat cut the NBA Finals lead of the Los Angeles Lakers to 2 games to 1 with a 115-104 victory on Sunday night in Game 3.
But former Jayhawk Markieff Morris was not to blame for the Lakers failing to take control of the series.
In his best night in the NBA bubble, the 6-8 forward from Philadelphia delivered 19 points off the bench on 6-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range.
Morris’ 5-of-11 clip from behind the arc was a career best in the postseason, topping his previous high for 3-point makes in a game of four, which came twice in these playoffs during the Lakers’ 4-1 series victory over Houston.
Morris logged 25 minutes in Game 3 and also added 6 rebounds and 2 assists to his stat line, finishing as the second highest scoring Laker behind LeBron James.
Morris is now shooting 44.8% from 3-point range in the 2020 playoffs, including a ridiculous 47.4% from deep in the NBA Finals.
His minutes on Sunday were up from his postseason average of 16 largely because of the foul trouble that Lakers’ star Anthony Davis found himself in early in the game.
But Morris still logged more minutes than starting big man Dwight Howard (15) and played over fellow L.A. veteran Javale McGee entirely.
Morris’ ability to move on the perimeter and space the floor appears to be working better against the Heat’s lineup, and his ability to get hot from 3-point range has proven huge in helping the Lakers keep up with Miami’s 3-point attack.
The Lakers and Heat will play pivotal Game 4 on Tuesday night, with Morris’ team looking to go up 3-1 and Miami looking to even the series at two wins apiece.
Markieff Morris in the 2020 NBA Finals
Former Kansas forward Markieff Morris filled his typical playoff role on Friday night in helping the Los Angeles Lakers build a 2-0 lead over Miami in the NBA Finals in Orlando.
In 16 minutes off the bench, the 6-foot-8 forward from Philadelphia scored 6 points on 2-of-5 shooting and grabbed 5 rebounds to go along with 2 assists and 3 fouls in the Lakers’ 124-114 win.
Morris has now played in all 17 of the Lakers playoff games. He is averaging just over 17 minutes per game and is vying to become the 13th former Jayhawks to win an NBA title.
The former lottery pick who was signed by Los Angeles in February after starting the season and playing 44 games with Detroit is shooting 49.3% from the floor and 44.7% from 3-point range in the playoffs.
The Lakers and Heat will tip off Game 3 of this year’s Finals at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, when Miami will look to make it a series and the Lakers will attempt to take total control.
Sunday’s game will be on ABC.