Timberwolves coach/executive Flip Saunders likes Jahlil Okafor better than Karl-Anthony Towns, but most of the rest of the team’s staff prefers Towns, as Chad Ford of ESPN.com hears for his latest Insider-only mock draft. Ford believes those those pro-Towns staffers will ultimately win Saunders over and lists Towns atop his mock, also passing along word from sources that the Magic are zeroing in on Kristaps Porzingis at No. 5. There’s plenty more on the draft and other NBA issues amid the latest from around the league:
- Zach Links of Hoops Rumors adds the Hawks, Clippers, Bulls, Magic, Bucks and Knicks to the list of teams working out Harvard point guard Wesley Saunders (Twitter link).
- The Mavericks were willing to bring Chris Smith, the brother of J.R. Smith, onto their summer league team as part of their effort to woo Carmelo Anthony, a former teammate of the brothers, this past summer, a source told Bleacher Report’s Jared Zwerling. Anthony instead re-signed with the Knicks and Chris didn’t end up with the summer Mavs, but Chris is aiming for a return to the league after a period in which he was hospitalized with anxiety attacks. Those episodes stemmed in part from his exasperation with the notion that the Knicks signed him only because his brother was on the team, and the criticism he endured because of it, as Zwerling explains.
- College coaches who jumped directly into NBA head coaching jobs haven’t had much success in the NBA of late, aside from Brad Stevens, but NBA GMs are open to them, and with Billy Donovan and Fred Hoiberg on winning teams, there’s ground for a new trend, as Dana O’Neil of ESPN.com examines. Still, that depends on how well Donovan’s Thunder and Hoiberg’s Bulls fare, O’Neil cautions.
- Longtime NBA front office executive Joel Litvin is stepping down from his post as the NBA’s president of league operations and will assume a role as a consultant, effective September 1st, as the league announced and as a source originally told Grantland’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link). Litvin, whose wide-ranging duties included work on the collective bargaining agreement, was an innovative force in his 27 years with the NBA, Lowe tweets.