Several NBA executives told Chris Mannix of SI.com they wouldn’t dare draft Robert Upshaw in the first-round, leading Mannix to conclude that it’s unlikely that any team guarantees the troubled center any salary. Two seasons of guaranteed salary come with the rookie scale contracts that go to first-round picks. People from three different teams with lottery picks told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com that Upshaw would be a certain lottery pick if not for his troubles in the past, which have involved drugs, but none of those teams are willing to draft him that highly, Blakely adds. Upshaw, who tells Blakely that he’s working with Bill Walton, among other mentors, is 29th in Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress rankings but 38th with Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Here’s more on the draft, which takes place just a week and a month from tonight:
- Multiple executives told Mannix for the same piece that they think D’Angelo Russell plans to accept workout invitations only from the teams that hold the top three picks. Mannix also cites multiple execs who told him that they believe former Kentucky sharpshooter Devin Booker will go within the top 10 picks.
- Cameron Payne, who spoke with Zach Links of Hoops Rumors, is quickly lifting his stock, having become a strong candidate for the lottery, according to Mannix. Rakeem Christmas, J.P. Tokoto and Jordan Mickey were standouts in the five-on-five drills at last week’s combine, Mannix adds.
- Jabari Young of CSNNW.com adds the Blazers to the list of the teams that have interviewed Oregon shooting guard Joseph Young, and he’ll also be working out with Portland, as the CSNNW.com scribe has reported. Still, Young the writer suggests it’s nonetheless unlikely that the Blazers will end up drafting Young the player.