Prospect Profile: Demetrius Jackson (Part Two)

PROJECTED DRAFT RANGE: There’s an unusually wide gap between where Jackson lands on ESPN Insider Chad Ford’s Big Board and DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony’s Top 100 Prospect list. Ford currently ranks him as a mid- to late first-round prospect at No. 23 overall and No. 5 among point guards. Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn, Dejounte Murray and Tyler Ulis are slotted ahead of Jackson on Ford’s Big Board. Givony has a much more optimistic view, pegging Jackson at No. 11 overall and third among point guards behind only Dunn and Murray. According the updated point guard rankings by NBA.com’s David Aldridge, Jackson ranks sixth among point guards with Kay Felder also ahead of him.

RISE/FALL: As the disparity in his draft range suggests, Jackson could go in the lottery or drop all the way to the second round, depending upon what he shows in predraft workouts. Jamal Murray and Dunn are solidly in the Top 10 but teams are likely to bring in the next level of point guard prospects and see how they fare against each other. Jackson has to show he can overcome his lack of height defensively by using his strength and quick feet. He also has to prove to coaches and executives that he’s an above-average shooter from deep. His stock could simply be dictated by how much teams value a second-unit point guard, since few view him as a starter-quality player, at least for right now.

FIT: Several teams projected at the bottom half of the lottery could take a long look at Jackson. The Kings, who might lose soon-to-be free agent Rajon Rondo, would fit that group if Dunn and Jamal Murray are off the board. The Bulls might bring in a young point guard to back up Derrick Rose, especially with Rose entering his walk year. There’s also some uncertainty about the Bucks’ point guard situation. Outside the lottery, the Pistons are clearly in the market for a second-stringer behind Reggie Jackson. The Grizzlies may need to protect themselves from the possible free agency loss of Mike Conley and the Rockets need a complementary piece to starter Patrick Beverley.

FINAL TAKE: There seems to be little doubt that Jackson can carve out a career as an energetic second-unit point guard. He might be the most athletic point guard on the board. But a lack of upside could cause him to drop to the bottom third of the first round, or even slide to the second round. As Ford puts it in his most recent take on Jackson, he doesn’t have one skill that stands out, but he has very few weaknesses.

For Part One of our Demetrius Jackson Prospect Profile, click here.

Prospect Profile: Demetrius Jackson (Part One)

Anthony Gruppuso / USA Today Sports Images

Anthony Gruppuso / USA Today Sports Images

OVERVIEW: Demetrius Jackson took over as Notre Dame’s floor leader as a junior and emerged as a first-round prospect. Jackson led the Irish to the Elite Eight despite some struggles offensively during the latter stages of the season. He finished his college career with a 26-point performance against North Carolina and averaged 15.8 points, 4.7 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals for the season. Jackson played steady minutes as a sophomore, though current Knicks point guard Jerian Grant was the team’s primary ballhandler. Jackson was also a rotation player as a freshman after being a highly touted prep star, ranking No. 33 overall in his class, according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index. At 6’1”, the 21-year-old Jackson is smaller than the prototypical NBA point guard.

STRENGTHS: Like most smaller point guards, Jackson relies on his quickness and athleticism. He’s got superior explosion, allowing him to get into the paint and create havoc. That will serve him well in a pick-and-roll reliant NBA scheme. It also works well in the transition game, where he’s nearly impossible to catch as he converts layups or finds trailers for dunks. ESPN Insider Chad Ford credits Jackson for his pass-first mentality, decision-making and a knack for making his teammates better. DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony notes that while Jackson is small, he’s powerfully built and can finish through contact. His outstanding leaping ability allows him to be on the receiving end of lobs. He also moves well without the ball and is a solid shooter off the catch, with Givony pointing out that he made 41% of his shots with his feet set. Turnovers were not a big issue for Jackson, as he averaged 2.2 as a junior while playing 36 minutes per game. Jackson has also impressed talent evaluators with his competitiveness, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge.

WEAKNESSES: Jackson’s 3-point shooting dropped off dramatically when tasked with running Notre Dame’s methodical offense this season. He made 33.1% of his long-range shots as a junior, compared to 42.9% in his sophomore year. Jackson’s lack of height could obviously be an issue when he’s guarding tall point guards, and he’ll be an even bigger liability when he’s forced to switch. Jackson can also be over-reliant on his quickness, rather than playing at a more controlled pace. As one NBA executive told Aldridge, “He always tries to blow by you. It’s like a pitcher that keeps throwing 100 miles an hour.” In contrast to Ford’s evaluation, Givony believes that Jackson has displayed average court vision and misses some easy reads. That’s due to Jackson still searching for the right balance between running the offense and finding his own shot.

For Part 2 of our Demetrius Jackson Prospect Profile, click here.

And-Ones: Benson, Scott, Timberwolves

A judge’s ruling last year that Pelicans owner Tom Benson is mentally competent to run the team has been affirmed by the Louisiana Supreme Count, reports Katherine Sayre of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The higher court refused to hear an appeal Monday by his estranged family members to have the 88-year-old declared incompetent to run his affairs. Those family members have tried to convince the courts that Benson, who also owns the NFL’s Saints, has been unduly influenced by his third wife, Gayle, and a group of Saints executives.

In other news around the league:

  • Former Lakers coach Byron Scott admitted on Dan Patrick’s radio show that he was “a little blindsided” by their decision to let him go after the season (YouTube link). Scott was under the impression he would have “two or three years” to get the team headed in the right direction but added he didn’t have “any ill-will feelings towards the organization.”
  • The Timberwolves have never enjoyed more reason for optimism in the franchise’s history than now, opines Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. They have hired a top-level coach in Tom Thibodeau, possess a wealth of young talent and practice in a new, state-of-the-art facility, Souhan points out. All those factors provide real hope that the team will soon be a powerhouse in the Western Conference, Souhan concludes.
  • Power forward Trevor Booker, center Jeff Withey and small forward Chris Johnson have a cloudy future with the Jazz, writes Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News. None of those players has guaranteed contracts for next season and GM Dennis Lindsey strongly hinted that he expects Booker to sign with another team, Sorensen continues. Point guard Shelvin Mack is another player without a guaranteed deal, but the Jazz are expected to retain him on his salary of about $2.433MM.
  • Florida State combo guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes has opted to return to school, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Rathan-Mayes, who was not considered a Top 100 prospect by either ESPN Insider Chad Ford or DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony, decided to test the draft waters in early April.

Frank Vogel’s Status With Pacers Uncertain

5:34pm: Bird said he’ll speak with owner Herb Simon at an undetermined point to figure out whether to re-sign Vogel, as Bird told Doyel. Finding a way to generate more offense is the key, Bird insisted. “We need to score more points,” Bird said. “If Frank comes back, what can we do to get better offense? It’s on all of us. Frank’s a great guy. He’s going to be fine no matter what happens. If he’s back, he’ll be fine here. If he’s not, he’s not. We’ll see.”

8:45am: Pacers coach Frank Vogel‘s contract expires this summer, and he and the Pacers have yet to discuss an extension, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post heard that Vogel might have been coaching for his job Sunday, when the Pacers lost the deciding game of their first-round series to the Raptors (Twitter link). President of basketball operations Larry Bird declined to answer a question after Sunday’s game about whether Vogel would return for next season, saying, “Come on, man, the game just ended,” according to Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).

Bird spoke in January about a philosophical difference between himself and Vogel, saying that he preferred an up-tempo attack with Paul George at the power forward while Vogel favored a more conventional approach with two traditional big men. George put up resistance to playing the four at the beginning of the season and Indiana largely abandoned the idea.

That Vogel is on an expiring contract is a surprise, since the Pacers announced in October 2014 that the extension he signed then was for multiple seasons, notes Scott Agness of VigilantSports (Twitter link). Sean Deveney of The Sporting News reported shortly after the extension that indications were that it ran through the 2016/17 season. However, it appears in the wake of today’s news that the multiple years to which the team referred included the 2014/15 season, which had already been a part of Vogel’s pact.

The 42-year-old Vogel would become an intriguing candidate on the coaching market were he and the Pacers to part ways, as Wojnarowski points out (Twitter link). He’s 250-181 in parts of six seasons with Indiana, his only NBA head coaching stop. That doesn’t include a 31-30 record in the playoffs, where Vogel guided the Pacers to back-to-back appearances in the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 and 2014. The Kings, Rockets and Knicks are the NBA teams looking for head coaches at present.

Do you think Vogel will be coaching the Pacers next season? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

And-Ones: Bosh, Hill, Carroll, Draft Workouts

Chris Bosh and his family are trying to get the players union involved as he pushes the Heat to allow him back in the lineup, but the doctors the Heat have consulted fear he could die on the court if plays this season, as ESPN Radio’s Dan Le Batard said on his show today and as Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post transcribes (audio link). Bosh feels fine, unlike the way he felt when he suffered from a similar blood clot issue last year, according to Le Batard, and a doctor the big man independently commissioned reportedly said Bosh would be OK if he plays. The 32-year-old will still have three years and more than $75.868MM remaining on his contract at the conclusion of this season.

See more from around the NBA:

  • One NBA GM thinks Solomon Hill warrants between $7MM and $9MM a year on his next contract, reports Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com (ESPN Now link). That would be a problem for Indiana if it wants to keep him. The Pacers can’t re-sign the combo forward for a salary greater than $2,306,019 next season because they declined the team option for that amount on his rookie scale contract.
  • DeMarre Carroll indicated Sunday that his season was indeed in jeopardy a month ago as he recovered from right knee surgery. Carroll, Toronto’s prize free agent acquisition from this past summer, instead returned to play in three of the Raptors‘ final five games of the regular season and all seven games of the team’s first-round ouster of Indiana. “Words can’t even explain how big it is … ,” Carroll said after the victory Sunday, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). “A month ago I thought I wasn’t even going to be playing in the playoffs.”
  • Draft prospect Jaron Blossomgame will work out for the Jazz on Thursday, the Celtics on Saturday and the Grizzlies on May 16th, as the former Clemson small forward tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Former Iona combo guard A.J. English went through a predraft workout Saturday with the Jazz and has workouts scheduled for Tuesday with the Spurs and Wednesday with the Rockets, he told Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter link).

Kings Rumors: Blatt, Turner, Messina, Cousins

The Kings plan to speak with Spurs assistant Ettore Messina this week, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). It’s not entirely clear whether it’ll be a formal interview, as San Antonio has just begun its second-round series against the Thunder, though the series will be in hiatus between tonight’s Game 2 and Friday’s Game 3. Sacramento reportedly reached out to Messina weeks ago, suggesting that the Spurs have granted Sacramento permission to at least contact their assistant. San Antonio granted the Lakers permission for an interview, and one was scheduled for the gap between Games 2 and 3 of the Spurs-Thunder series before the Lakers called it off and hired Luke Walton instead, a league source told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. The European coaching legend apparently holds particular appeal to Kings GM Vlade Divac.

See more from the California capital:

4:06pm update:

  • David Blatt‘s interview with the Kings is today, as USA Today’s Sam Amick hears, advancing a Sunday report from Marc Stein of ESPN.com.
  • Elston Turner is a candidate for the job of lead assistant for the Kings, Amick tweets, which suggests that he isn’t in the running for the head coaching job. Turner, a Grizzlies assistant, emerged among the many in the mix for Sacramento last week, and Memphis has reportedly granted the Kings permission to interview him.

10:26am update:

  • DeMarcus Cousins indicated that he’d prefer to stay with the Kings as he spoke in an interview with Carmichael Dave of CBS Sacramento (audio link; scroll to 6:24 mark). People in the Kings organization reportedly believe Divac will test the trade market for Cousins this summer. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve grown an attachment to the city, like, the way these people treat me, the love they give out to me, and vice versa,” Cousins said to Dave. “I feel like I have an attachment, and it’s something that I do owe to this city. I want to be the person to bring this city back to the glory days. I want to grow myself and this city all together. I want to bring us back to those glory days. So, that’s where I’m at with it. This is like a personal vendetta for me.”
  • Seth Curry said he wants to return to the Kings next season and that it would be difficult to do otherwise, but he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of moving on as he spoke at a basketball camp in India to Akash Khanna of Follow Your Sport. Curry reportedly intends to turn down his player option and hit free agency this summer.
  • Curry also told Khanna that he doesn’t want to sign with the Warriors and play with brother Stephen Curry, preferring to compete against him instead. The Currys were teammates with Golden State during the 2013 preseason.

Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Memphis Grizzlies

The key for the Grizzlies this summer is re-signing Mike Conley, but if Memphis can quickly secure a verbal commitment from the point guard, the team can manipulate his relatively small cap hold to sign other free agents into cap space before circling back to formally sign him. It’s much the same strategy the Spurs employed when they used Kawhi Leonard‘s minuscule cap hold to create room to sign LaMarcus Aldridge last summer and the Pistons plan to execute with Andre Drummond‘s cap hold this summer. Conley isn’t a restricted free agent like Leonard was and Drummond will be, but because he’s on such a bargain contract, his cap hold is much cheaper than the estimated $26MM maximum salary he’s eligible to sign for. So, look for the Grizzlies to keep him unsigned as long as possible, thus maintaining a roughly $14MM cap hit instead of one nearly twice as large. See how the Grizzlies’ cap situation looks for 2016/17 as Hoops Rumors continues its offseason salary cap digest series.

Guaranteed salary

Player options

  • None

Team options

Non-guaranteed salary

Restricted Free Agents (Qualifying Offers/Cap Holds)

  • Bryce Cotton ($1,180,431/$1,180,431)
  • Xavier Munford ($1,074,636/$1,074,636) — Pending team option
  • Totals: ($2,255,067/$2,255,067)

Unrestricted Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Other Cap Holds

Projected Salary Cap: $92,000,000

Footnotes:

  1. The Grizzlies can’t re-sign Hairston to a contract with a starting salary worth more than the amount listed here because the Hornets declined their team option on his rookie scale contract before the start of the season. Charlotte subsequently traded Hairston to Memphis, which inherits the restriction.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Clippers Rumors: Griffin, Paul, Jordan, Crawford

Doc Rivers hinted before the season that he would consider breaking up the team’s core if it fell short in the playoffs again, and trade speculation has surrounded Griffin for much of the year, but Rivers seems to maintain belief in what Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan can do, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The coach/executive said today that he doesn’t think the team’s window for title contention is closed, Markazi tweets.

“I like our team,” Rivers said after Friday’s season-ending loss to Portland. “Our bench was fantastic this year. The problem is we have a lot of free agents on our team and I think a lot of them are going to be attractive, and so we have to fight to keep our own first and then try to build from that point. We’re going to have a difficult time. It’s going to be tough.”

See more on the Clippers:

  • Rivers can’t envision any player in the league picking up his player option for next season, given the sharp escalation of the salary cap that’s poised to create a player-friendly market this summer, notes Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Rivers confirmed that means he expects Cole Aldrich, Wesley Johnson and son Austin Rivers to opt out from the Clippers this summer, and the coach/executive also believes Paul and Griffin will opt out in the summer of 2017, Bolch relays (Twitter links).
  • Doc Rivers said today that he wants to re-sign as many of the team’s free soon-to-be free agents as possible this summer, according to Bolch (Twitter links). “They all want to come back, but they’ve all played well and so they’ve all made it more difficult,” Rivers said. Jeff Green, Jamal Crawford, Luc Mbah a Moute, Pablo Prigioni and Jeff Ayres are the Clippers on expiring contracts, and presumably the same sentiment applies to the trio with player options.
  • Crawford said after Friday’s game that he’d like to re-sign with the Clippers, tweets Jen Beyrle of The Oregonian. The 36-year-old Crawford and J.J. Redick, who turns 32 next month, both said on Redick’s podcast for The Vertical that they’d like to play five more years, and Redick would like to sign a four-year deal when his existing contract expires in the summer of 2017, as Markazi relays via Twitter.
  • Paul Pierce has one more year left in him, Rivers believes, according to Bolch (Twitter link). Pierce, 38, is signed through the 2017/18 season but is 50-50 on whether to retire this summer.
  • The creation of a Clippers D-League affiliate will be a matter of discussion this summer, Rivers said, cautioning that it remains uncertain whether a team will be in place in time for next season, tweets Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com. The Clips are reportedly exploring the idea of starting a D-League team in Bakersfield, California.

Hornets Rumors: Jefferson, Lin, Batum, Williams

Nicolas Batum isn’t entirely sure whether he’ll re-sign with the Hornets when he hits free agency this summer, but he feels he has unfinished business in Charlotte and the Hornets will be the first team he talks to when free agent negotiations are allowed to begin July 1st, as he said today to reporters, including Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Coach Steve Clifford confirmed Batum is the team’s top priority among its free agents, Bonnell notes.

“When I came here they let me know they wanted me to be one of the [top] two options with Kemba [Walker],” Batum said. “I liked that. I like that they trusted me. It was a pretty cool year. First time I got to play like I want to in eight years in the NBA.”

Clifford showered praise on Batum’s size, skill and basketball IQ, expressing belief that he’s an All-Star-caliber player in the right circumstances, according to the Hornets Twitter feed. See more from Charlotte, where only six players have guaranteed salaries for next season:
  • Al Jefferson gave perhaps the strongest endorsement of the Hornets among Charlotte’s soon-to-be free agents who spoke today following Sunday’s playoff ouster, telling the gathered media that he’d like to spend the rest of his career with the team and that money won’t be an issue, notes Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Jefferson recorded his lowest scoring and rebounding averages in 10 years amid a season marred by injury and a suspension for marijuana use, but Clifford believes the big man can still produce and thinks he looks healthier and more capable than he has in two years (Twitter link).
  • Jeremy Lin is enthusiastic about a return, too, saying he’d take a discount to remain in Charlotte and doesn’t care so much about money, Boone relays. Lin has a player option worth more than $2.235MM for next season, but he’d prefer to opt out and sign a long-term deal with the Hornets, having grown tired of moving, as Boone passes along (All five Twitter links here). “I’ve been paid on the lower end and had a blast, and I’ve been paid on the higher end and not enjoyed it at all,” Lin said.
  • Marvin Williams planted himself firmly among those who’d like to re-sign, as the Hornets relay (on Twitter). “There’s no question. I want to return,” Williams said. “I’ll let it be known right now this is the most fun I’ve had in a season.”

Dirk Nowitzki To Opt Out, Plans To Re-Sign

Dirk Nowitzki will opt out of his contract and become a free agent this summer, though he still plans to remain with the Mavericks, as he said today on the “Bob and Dan” show on KTCK-AM in Dallas, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link and ESPN Now link). That confirms an earlier report from Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram but runs counter to Nowitzki’s previous statements indicating that he would remain under contract.

Nowitzki spoke to the radio hosts about his desire to work with owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson to improve the team, though it’s uncertain what sort of salary Nowitzki will insist upon. The option is worth slightly more than $8.692MM, which would have been a major bargain for Dallas, particularly given the escalating salary cap. It’s conceivable that Nowitzki will take a further discount, given his loyalty to the team, though it remains to be seen.

The star power forward, who turns 38 this June, hinted subtly in March that remaining with the Mavericks beyond this season wasn’t a foregone conclusion, suggesting he would evaluate his options if Dallas were to pivot into full-scale rebuilding. Still, he’s otherwise given every indication he intends to remain with the Mavs, the only team he’s played for during his 18 NBA seasons.

Chandler Parsons has said that he intends to opt out, confirming what had been the general assumption, notes Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News, and Deron Williams plans to do so as well, as sources told MacMahon last week. Their options, plus Nowitzki’s, are collectively worth more than $30.3MM, so Dallas would have only about $29MM in guaranteed salary commitments against a projected $92MM cap if all three players decline their options as expected.

The Mavericks nonetheless want to re-sign all three, so their cap holds would occupy more than $38.9MM until they either sign new deals or Dallas renounces them. MacMahon reported that Parsons is in line to receive max offers, which will likely come close to $22MM for next season, exceeding the value of his $19,969,950 cap hold. Williams also appears due for a raise, so just how much cap space the Mavs will have is up in the air. Still, the opt-out from Nowitzki ultimately allows him and the Mavs greater flexibility, helping explain his choice to become a free agent. The deadline for all three Mavs to formally decide on their options is June 22nd.

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