2020 NBA Draft

Nuggets Notes: Porter, Beal, Oladipo, Grant, Pokusevski

The Nuggets might have to do something bold to land a third star to join Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. But they won’t deal Michael Porter Jr. to make that happen, Brian Windhorst of ESPN said in a recent podcast. Denver has no interest in trading the young forward.

“In talking to teams around the league, the Nuggets have made it clear Michael Porter Jr. is not available,” Windhorst said.

Porter, who averaged 11.4 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 23.7 MPG during the postseason, can become a restricted free agent during the summer of 2022.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Without including Porter in a blockbuster, the Nuggets have no chance to acquire Bradley Beal if the Wizards make the All-Star guard available, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. A trade for Victor Oladipo is also unlikely, given Oladipo’s injury issues and his impending free agency next year, Singer continues. A deal for the Pacers guard would be more realistic at the trade deadline if he’s healthy and productive, Singer adds.
  • It’s a near lock that Jerami Grant will decline his player option but it would be mutually beneficial for both parties if he re-signs, according to Joel Rush of Forbes.com. Grant will essentially assure himself of a starting job if he stays put, Rush continues. Other contenders don’t have the financial means to outspend Denver for Grant’s services and lottery teams with cap space are less likely now to overspend for a role player like Grant, Rush adds.
  • Several mock drafts have projected 18-year-old international prospect Aleksej Pokusevski going to the Nuggets with the No. 22 pick, Eric Spyropoulos of Nuggets.com notes. Currently slotted as the 19th-best prospect by ESPN, Pokusevski played limited minutes in Greek’s second division last season due to an injury, but the seven-footer has intriguing offensive skills and length.

Pacific Notes: Chriss, Bogdanovic, Kings Draft, Lue

Warriors big man Marquese Chriss could see his role expand offensively as a passer, Anthony Slater of The Athletic speculates. Chriss showed off his versatility and vision during a recent intrasquad scrimmage. Alen Smailagić doesn’t seem ready to break into the team’s rotation and he’s destined to spend another season in the G League, Slater adds.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Hawks, Bucks, Suns and Heat are among the teams that could be interested in Kings free agent swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, in the view of James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. All but Milwaukee have the cap space to hand Bodganovic an attractive offer sheet. With the recent changes in the front office, it’s more uncertain whether Sacramento will match an offer sheet or whether it would rather pursue a sign-and-trade.
  • While the Kings have a quality young point guard in De’Aaron Fox, it’s not out of the question they’ll draft another one with their lottery pick, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes. RJ Hampton, Kira Lewis and Cole Anthony are some of the point guard prospects Sacramento might consider with the No. 12 overall pick.
  • Tyronn Lue has the right track record for a championship contender like the Clippers, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register opines. After winning a title in Cleveland, the new Clippers head coach has already established a track record of cultivating chemistry by holding stars accountable, maximizing role players and making smart strategic moves, Swanson adds.

Draft Notes: Haliburton, T. Jones, Flynn, Riller

Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton could be a perfect fit for the Warriors, especially if they trade down from the No. 2 slot, writes Mike Schmitz of ESPN. Scouts have been raving about Haliburton during the pre-draft process, and there’s a chance he comes off the board even earlier than expected. Schmitz notes that other teams have found success with three-guard lineups, and putting Haliburton alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson removes the the expectations of having to run a team right away.

“I think I’m a really good fit there,” Haliburton said when asked about the possibility of going to Golden State. “I think I can obviously come in and make shots as well and be in the first unit or lead the second unit.”

Schmitz believes the 6’5″ Haliburton could become one of the best players in this year’s draft class if he lands in the right situation. He’s a favorite in the analytics community because of his efficiency and his steal and block rates. He also shoots 43.5% from 3-point range, even though his shot is unconventional, and he posted a 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio with the Cyclones.

Schmitz has more observations on this year’s draft class:

  • Duke’s Tre Jones is finally at full strength after having surgery on both hips in the past two years. The reigning ACC Defensive Player of The Year appeared more explosive when Schmitz watched him in a 1-on-0 workout and he set a record in P3 Sports Science’s five-yard slide test. “I could tell (how limiting it was) in all areas really,” Jones said of his injury. “If it was on defense and I was shuffling, I could feel it there. Running straight forward I could feel it. Jumping, obviously, I could feel it. All movements I was doing I could feel some limitations there. Just being able to be 100%, being able to have my full range of motion, being able to work on everything without any pain day to day is just amazing.”
  • Malachi Flynn of San Diego State is becoming a popular sleeper pick. Schmitz observed that Flynn displayed great footwork and shooting range on pick-and-rolls during 3-on-3 scrimmages in Las Vegas. “Just the style of play in the NBA, it’s definitely different from college,” Flynn said. “I think there’s a lot more space. I feel like I’ll be able to do well in that with a lot more space. You look in the playoffs, Tyler Herro having great games just by shooting the ball. Duncan Robinson has been huge for the Heat. Just guys like that, it shows that it’s a skilled league.”
  • Grant Riller was a dynamic scorer at Charleston and may have an offensive game that transfers well to the NBA, Schmitz writes. He averaged more than 21 PPG as a senior and had the highest player efficiency rating among college guards. Riller said he has been studying Thunder guard Dennis Schroder. “I think we share a lot of qualities,” he said. “A quick guard that gets downhill, can score at all three levels, is good in the pick-and-roll. Pretty savvy defender. More importantly he plays both guard spots.”

Draft Notes: Pro Days, No. 1 Pick, Williams, Quickley

The NBA’s new pre-draft rules aren’t popular with several teams, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who states that at least half the league is considering not having executives attend workouts and may have just a “minimal presence” at pro days.

Givony says many front offices don’t believe it’s worth making a trip to watch a prospect work out by himself, and some of the teams are located in states that require a mandatory two-week quarantine for travelers. There’s also concern that an executive might contract COVID-19 and not be available on draft night. Also, some teams are reluctant to give away any secrets by providing the league with a list of the 10 players they would most like to scout.

The league office has received requests to alter its new rules, Givony adds, but complications will remain even if that happens. He notes that agents will have difficulty scheduling more than three or four teams each day for a workout, an in-person interview and then a 30-minute medical exam. Teams with high lottery picks are expected to be most active in trying to attend those sessions.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Givony talked to several teams that confirm Minnesota has been involved in trade talks regarding the No. 1 pick. Agents who represent players that are expected to be taken early say Timberwolves general manager Gersson Rosas has been “noncommittal” about what he plans to do and seems open to moving down. Givony adds that LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards are still the most likely candidates for the top pick, but the team’s uncertain ownership status may play a role in its draft plans.
  • In the same story, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz identifies Patrick Williams of Florida State as the player making the biggest jump on draft boards. The 19-year-old handles the ball well for his 6’8″ size and could wind up being selected in the top 10. Schmitz also sees potential in Washington’s Jaden McDaniels, while Givony names Kansas center Udoka Azubuike as a possible sleeper.
  • Kentucky guard Immanuel Quickley has met twice with the Knicks, Pistons and Thunder and has held one meeting with several other teams, including the Nets and Celtics, tweets Adam Zagoria of Forbes.

Timberwolves Notes: Saunders, Draft, Martin, Garnett

It has been nearly two months since the Timberwolves won the draft lottery, but no clear favorite has emerged for the No. 1 pick, coach Ryan Saunders tells Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune. The most commonly mentioned names are Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, Memphis center James Wiseman, Dayton power forward Obi Toppin and point guard LaMelo Ball, who most recently played in Australia.

“A lot of players are interesting to me, a lot of them,” Saunders said. “Like I said, we’re open. This draft has a number of very talented players and we’re a group that is very open-minded.”

Minnesota holds not only the top pick, but also Nos. 17 and 33. There’s a lot of evaluation to be done before the November 18 draft, but Saunders said it has been slowed by coronavirus-related restrictions that placed a ban on in-person workouts.

“Can’t do any of that. It has been a lot of Zoom meetings and interviews and then just evaluating,” Saunders said. “We do a lot of work, and we have a number of people in this organization, (assistant general manager) Gianluca Pascucci, he does a lot of work with our draft. These guys are putting together a great plan and a great step-by-step process to what we’ll do.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • As one of eight teams not invited to Orlando, the Wolves didn’t get the benefit of seeing how their roster would come together after a pair of significant trades at the February deadline, Hartman adds in the same story. Saunders said an offseason priority will be finding players who fit comfortably with D’Angelo Russell, who played just 12 games for Minnesota after being acquired from Golden State, and Karl-Anthony Towns“That was one of the things that was so disappointing about not playing late in the season because we felt we were going to be able to do more things with some of the other guys that we acquired around (Towns),” Saunders said.
  • After landing a two-way contract with the Wolves last season, Kelan Martin is working to expand his game, writes Ben Stinar of Forbes. Martin was a star at Butler, but had to play overseas and go through the G League to get an NBA opportunity.
  • Kevin Garnett was in Minneapolis this week, but refused to comment on a potential sale of the Timberwolves, according to Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. In July, Garnett expressed an interest in purchasing the team as part of a group of investors.

Atlantic Notes: Okoro, Dragic, Dunn, Theis, Celtics

Lottery prospect Isaac Okoro has received plenty of attention from the Knicks, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. Okoro’s college coach, Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, said New York’s front office has conducted a number of interviews regarding the 6’6” Okoro, who is ranked No. 7 overall by ESPN. The Knicks own the No. 8 pick.

“They’ve talked to strength coaches, trainers, assistant coaches – they’ve done their homework. And they’ve liked Isaac from the jump,” Pearl said of the Knicks.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Goran Dragic, D.J. Augustin and Jeff Teague are some of the veteran free agent options at point guard that the Raptors might pursue, Blake Murphy of The Athletic opines. Combo guard Kris Dunn could be an even more attractive option as a restricted free agent, and De’Anthony Melton could also be a consideration despite his RFA status, Murphy adds.
  • Daniel Theis was a big part of the Celtics’ rotation during the restart and Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston doesn’t anticipate that anything will change next season. Theis complemented Boston’s stars nicely since he’s solid at screening and defending, Forsberg adds. Boston must guarantee Theis’ $5MM salary prior to next season but that seems like a foregone conclusion.
  • The Celtics own three first-round picks in the November draft and they’ll be looking to deal, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Boston simply doesn’t have the roster space to absorb and develop three rookies and if the Celtics can’t trade one or more of those picks, they’ll look into draft-and-stash options.

Pacific Notes: Ball, Warriors, Suns, Lewis, Lakers

Possible No. 1 pick LaMelo Ball confirmed this week in an appearance on ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby (video link) that the Warriors are one of the teams he has met with so far.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes (via Twitter) that the Warriors’ interview with Ball actually happened over four months ago, well before the team secured the No. 2 pick. Still, Golden State is one of just two clubs known to have spoken to Ball, along with New York.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Addressing the possibility of the Timberwolves trading the No. 1 pick, Brian Witt of NBC Bay Area observes that such a move would have a major impact on the Warriors. Besides holding the No. 2 pick this year, Golden State controls Minnesota’s top-three protected pick for 2021, so a win-now move by the Wolves would affect where that pick lands.
  • The Suns had a second Zoom interview this week with former Alabama point guard Kira Lewis, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). Lewis is ranked No. 25 on ESPN’s big board, but it’s worth noting that GM James Jones hasn’t been shy about “reaching” for prospects — last year, he selected Cameron Johnson, a projected late first-rounder, at No. 11.
  • Some executives around the league believe that the Lakers make sense as a trade partner for the Thunder in a Chris Paul deal, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. While LeBron James and Paul likely wouldn’t mind teaming up, it would be tricky for the Lakers to pull off a deal — they’d have to package at least six players in order to match Paul’s salary, and there would be other roadblocks to consider, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports writes.

California Notes: Clippers, Kings, Klay, Lakers

The Clippers face several intriguing offseason roster-building questions, writes Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. Though the issue of who would become Los Angeles’s next head coach was answered today, the team still has multiple decisions to make in terms of its on-court personnel. Big men Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell are unrestricted free agents this season. Greif notes that the team would like to at least bring back Harrell if the price is right.

There’s more out of California:

  • Ahead of the 2020 NBA draft, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area analyzes seven point guards who might be intriguing fits for the Kings as backups to starting point guard De’Aaron Fox. Sacramento holds the Nos. 12, 35, 43 and 52 picks this season. Players considered include Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr., North Carolina’s Cole Anthony, and Duke’s Tre Jones.
  • Appearing on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game, Warriors GM Bob Myers said that All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson, who missed all of the 2019/20 season due to an ACL tear suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals, has been impressive in team practices, but will need live game play to return to his pre-injury form, per Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic unpacks some core offseason priorities for the 2020 NBA champion Lakers, including locking up Anthony Davis to a longer-term contract (he has a player option on the final year of his current deal), re-signing unrestricted free agent starter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and considering cost-effective free agent ball-handler, wing shooter and center additions.

Knicks Rumors: Westbrook, Draft, Okoro, Vassell

While Chris Paul‘s name has been connected most frequently to the Knicks in recent months, it’s worth keeping an eye on Russell Westbrook as well, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley reports that some agents who represent top free agent point guards think the Knicks will “poke around” on a possible Westbrook trade if the Rockets make him available.

It’s certainly not a sure thing that Houston considers moving Westbrook this offseason. And even in that scenario, “poking around” doesn’t mean that the Knicks would make a deal.

Still, the Knicks are well-positioned to take on a big contract like Westbrook’s, which has three years and more than $132MM left on it. Begley also cites sources who say that Westbrook viewed New York as a favorable landing spot when the Thunder were shopping him last July. So if the Rockets do mull a potential trade at some point, it’s a safe bet the Knicks will be linked to the star point guard.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Jazz, Nuggets, Wolves

The Thunder are one of the few teams still searching for a new head coach. Last month, Billy Donovan and Oklahoma City surprisingly parted ways after he reportedly rejected a two-year contract offer from the Thunder.

With Donovan having moved onto Chicago, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman explores the idea of Lakers assistant coach Phil Handy as a potential head-coaching candidate for the Thunder. Mussatto notes that the 49-year-old Handy has a championship pedigree, having gone to the NBA Finals six times. He also looked at Handy’s journey, which includes playing professional basketball and getting his start as a player development coach in 2011.

Along with Handy, Mussatto profiled Spurs assistant Will Hardy as a head coaching option for the Thunder.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune takes a look at who the Jazz might select with the 23rd overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. As Walden writes, Utah vice president Dennis Lindsey said last month that the team will be looking for a player who brings defensive intensity. Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, Josh Green, and Tyrell Terry are just some of the prospects who may be options for the Jazz at No. 23.
  • In her latest mailbag, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic discusses what the Nuggets might do in free agency. Andrews was asked frequently about Jerami Grant, who played a pivotal role in Denver’s playoff run, an said that re-signing Grant is a top priority for the Nuggets. He could command a deal in the four-year, $64M range.
  • Chris Kine of The Star Tribune examines the next steps for the Timberwolves with the offseason finally here. As things stand, Minnesota has the first overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, which could both the team a good player and fill a need. However, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas suggested it’s not realistic to address a need in the draft. “Needs have to be addressed in free agency and trades,” Rosas said. “With draft guys it’s a development process. You want it to be right away, but the reality is it’s a two, three, four-year process.” Rosas reiterated that Minnesota is establishing its culture. Meanwhile, Kine argues that the Timberwolves do not have time on their side with both Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell looking to win.