2024 NBA Draft

Southwest Notes: Grant, Doncic, Pelicans Draft, Williams

The Mavericks are among the teams who are monitoring the availability of Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. Grant is entering the second season of a five-year, $160MM contract, so the Mavericks would have to figure out a way to match salaries and add draft compensation and/or young players to entice Portland to move the veteran forward. He averaged 21.0 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this past season and made over 40% of his three-point attempts for the second straight year.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Luka Doncic‘s status for the Olympic qualifying tournament next month will hinge on a medical evaluation from his national team’s medical staff, Sports Illustrated’s Grant Afseth relays. Slovenian medical experts will examine the Mavericks’ superstar’s right knee, which he injured during the first round of the playoffs. Doncic also played through a left ankle injury and thoracic contusion during the postseason. Slovenia’s tournament opener in Greece will be held July 2 against Croatia.
  • The Pelicans hold the No. 21 pick in the draft and the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s Christian Clark provides a closer look at three prospects they might select at that spot — USC guard Isaiah Collier, Purdue center Zach Edey and Baylor center Yves Missi.
  • The Spurs have the No. 4 selection in the draft and a dark-horse candidate could be Colorado forward Cody Williams. The San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald explores the pros and cons of drafting Williams at that spot.

Community Shootaround: Steal Of The Draft

Victor Wembanyama and Brandon Miller were easy first-team choices for the All-Rookie team, but other top picks in last year’s draft didn’t fare as well. No. 4 selection Amen Thompson had a strong finish to the season to earn second-team honors, but Scoot Henderson (No. 3) and Ausar Thompson (No. 5) were left off entirely. Also omitted were Anthony Black (No. 6), Bilal Coulibaly (No. 7), Jarace Walker (No. 8) and Taylor Hendricks (No. 9).

Eighteenth pick Jaime Jaquez and 19th selection Brandin Podziemski joined Wembanyama and Miller on the first team, along with Chet Holmgren, the second choice in 2022.

These results provide a reminder that the draft can be unpredictable, even with a highly touted group of prospects at the top. Without a clear hierarchy this year, it’s even harder to figure out who’s going to succeed.

With the draft just four days away, the No. 1 pick is still unsettled, with the Hawks rumored to still be deciding among French big man Alexandre Sarr, French forward Zaccharie Risacher and UConn center Donovan Clingan. The Wizards are believed to be ready to pounce on Sarr if he’s still on the board, but Clingan or Risacher could face a bit of a slide if they don’t go in the top two.

The Rockets, Spurs and Pistons reportedly have interest in Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard, UConn guard Stephon Castle and G League Ignite forward Matas Buzelis with the next three picks, but that order is far from set in stone. A late trade or surprise selection could upend the whole process and send teams scrambling to their phones on draft night.

It took a long time for Sarr, Risacher and Clingan to emerge as the top prospects, and it’s still easy to find one or more mock drafts that suggest at least one of them is being vastly overrated. USC point guard Isaiah Collier, G League Ignite guard Ron Holland and Colorado forward Cody Williams were among the names floated as potential top picks over the past 12 months, but they’ve all dropped to varying degrees.

As we’ve seen repeatedly, a lot more than talent goes into determining whether NBA rookies are successful. There’s also playing time, fit, belief from the coaching staff and the chance to be part of a successful team. Jaquez and Podziemski were both rewarded because they played rotation minutes for teams that stayed in the playoff race all season long.

Our mission tonight is to try to identify players expected to be taken outside the top five — or even the top 10 — who have the chance to make an impact right away. Scouts love Devin Carter‘s defense and tenacity, Dalton Knecht‘s shooting touch and Rob Dillingham‘s explosiveness, even if other parts of their game might be lacking. Zach Edey, Ja’Kobe Walter, Jared McCain, Kel’el Ware and Carlton Carrington are a few others who may be able to contribute immediately if they land in the right situation.

We want to get your opinion on this year’s potential draft steals. Which players do you expect to excel even if they slide down the draft board? Head to the comments section to give us your input.

Heat Notes: First-Round Pick, Hard Cap, Drafting Track Record

The Heat won’t let concerns about crossing over the second tax apron scare them into getting rid of their first-round draft pick, assistant general manager Adam Simon tells Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Whoever the team selects at No. 15 on Wednesday will receive a guaranteed contract valued at around $4.2MM. It’s a significant addition for a team that’s already projected to exceed the first apron with several holes on the roster left to fill.

Simon explains that the Heat like to emphasize roster balance, with a mixture of high-salaried stars, experienced complementary talents, and younger players. Draft picks can be cost-effective because they’re under team control at reasonable salaries for at least four years, and Chiang notes that Miami’s last two first-rounders, Jaime Jaquez ($3.7MM) and Nikola Jovic ($2.5MM) are the only current roster members with guaranteed contracts who will make less that this year’s first-round pick.

“You look at your roster, you look at the construction of your roster, you try to have a balanced roster of veterans, players who are in their prime and then young players,” Simon said. “You’re trying to develop young players, but we’re also trying to win every year. So I think it’s nice to add young players to your core every year. But sometimes it takes some time to integrate a 19- or 20-year-old player into a roster of experienced veterans.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement could result in a different second-round experience this year, Chiang adds. Any team that purchases a second-round pick will now be hard-capped at the second apron of $189MM for the entire season. That same restriction applies to any team that sends out cash in a trade. “If a team thinks they’re going to be hard-capped anyhow, then they might as well do it,” Simon said. “So I think it just depends on where your organization is aligned in their current state of their salary.” The Heat hold the 43rd pick in the second round.
  • Miami has found a rotation player with four of the last five first-round picks it has made, Chiang states in a separate story, citing Bam Adebayo in 2017, Tyler Herro in 2019, Jovic in 2022 and Jaquez last year. The only first-round selection during that stretch who’s no longer on the roster is Precious Achiuwa, who was taken at No. 20 in the 2020 draft and traded to Toronto a year later “These are not easy decisions,” Simon added. “After the fact, you can look back and think: ‘Hey, why didn’t we do this?’ I think this is a very challenging assignment to try to figure out how a player that played in one system is going to fit into your system.”
  • In another piece, Chiang talks to Simon about the conflict between filling team needs in the draft and selecting the best available player.

Draft Notes: Rockets, Wizards, Suns, France, Big Boards

The Rockets may be more interested in moving their pick than keeping it, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reports. Offers for the selection are expected to be entertained until Houston is on the clock at No. 3 in Wednesday’s draft. If Houston does stand pat at No. 3, Reed Sheppard appears to be the heavy favorite for that spot. The Trail Blazers are among the teams that have called the Rockets about moving up to No. 3 in the draft.

According to Fischer, the Wizards have the league convinced they’re honing in on Perth’s Alexandre Sarr. As reported, Sarr hasn’t conducted a private workout for the Hawks, holders of the No. 1 selection, and Fischer reports Sarr’s preferred destination is, in fact, Washington. Beyond their plans at No. 2, the Wizards are a “prime candidate” to move up from No. 26 and have also been seeking a third first-round pick, Says Fischer.

Further down the draft, the Suns are a strong candidate to trade down from No. 22. The goal for the Suns, Fischer writes, would be to accumulate future second-round picks to restock their draft capital for trade flexibility. Additionally, the idea of adding inexpensive rookie contracts onto an expensive roster appeals to Phoenix.

We have more from around the draft:

  • A flood of talent is following 2023 No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama from France, Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek writes. His former teammate Bilal Coulibaly was selected No. 7 overall in last year’s draft and another ex-teammate, Armel Traore, could be in play in the second round of this year’s draft. Additionally, Zaccharie Risacher and Sarr are seen as the favorites for the top two draft selections in this class, while Tidjane Salaun, Melvin Ajinca and Pacome Dadiet are all likely to be selected this year too. Down the line, Nolan Traore and Nathan Soliman are picking up steam in future draft classes.
  • Risacher, Sarr and UConn’s Donovan Clingan, in that order, round out ESPN’s top three players on Jonathan Givony’s final big board update before the draft. Givony and Jeremy Woo provide their picks for the top 100 players in the class, with Sheppard, G League Ignite’s Matas Buzelis, UConn’s Stephon Castle, Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht, Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, Salaun, and Serbia’s Nikola Topic filling in the rest of their top 10 (in that order).
  • Risacher is lower on Sam Vecenie’s draft board at The Athletic, with the French wing coming in at No. 5. Salaun, Buzelis, Dillingham and Topic all sit outside the top 10 of Vecenie’s annual draft guide, while he ranks Colorado’s Cody Williams (No. 6), Providence’s Devin Carter (No. 7), Pitt’s Carlton Carrington (No. 8) and Ron Holland of the G League Ignite (No. 10) among the top 10. I highly recommend both Givony’s and Vecenie’s draft guides if you have a subscription to either platform, as this is some of the top draft content to come out annually.
  • Clingan is the name most linked to the Hawks over the past week, Vecenie writes in a recent mock draft. While Atlanta has openly stated it is content with standing pat at No. 1, Vecenie hears there’s an impression the club is open to making a move if the right deal presents itself. However, Atlanta hasn’t finalized its decision yet and even if it wanted to trade down to select him later, Chicago and Memphis have expressed interest in taking Clingan themselves if they can trade up. Vecenie indeed has Washington landing Sarr and Houston getting Sheppard, but has Risacher falling to San Antonio at No. 4, Buzelis going No. 5 to Detroit and Castle landing in Charlotte at No. 6.

Draft Workouts: Spurs, Suns, Pacers, Blazers, Lakers, Wolves, Thomas

The Spurs, who are widely expected to draft at least one guard next Wednesday, recently worked out both Stephon Castle of UConn and Devin Carter of Providence, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

As we relayed on Wednesday, recent mock drafts from ESPN and Bleacher Report both have San Antonio drafting Castle at No. 4, and the team is said to be high on Carter as well. Iko confirms as much, writing that the Spurs have “strong interest” in Carter, Castle, and Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard, with Carter’s private workout “resonating” among the team’s decision-makers.

Here’s more pre-draft workout news from around the NBA:

Bulls Have Discussed LaVine With Kings, Jazz, Magic, Sixers

The Bulls have been active in trade discussions heading into the 2024 NBA draft and free agency, reports K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. In addition to exploring moving up and down from the 11th pick, Chicago has also discussed players already on the roster as well.

Sources tell Johnson that head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has “floated as many as 15” trade proposals involving Zach LaVine. The Kings, Jazz, Magic and Sixers are among the teams Chicago has called about LaVine, according to Johnson.

As Johnson observes, the Bulls will almost certainly need to trim salary to avoid the luxury tax in 2024/25 if they intend to re-sign DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams. DeRozan, who is extension-eligible through June 30, will be an unrestricted free agent, while Williams is restricted.

Johnson reported earlier this month that Chicago’s asking price for LaVine has significantly dropped compared to last year, when they were seeking real assets in return for the 29-year-old. It seems the Bulls are now more focused on finding a way to shed LaVine’s pricey salary — he’s owed $138MM over the next three seasons, including a $49MM player option in 2026/27.

A two-time All-Star, LaVine was limited to just 25 games this past season due to a nagging foot injury, which eventually required season-ending surgery.

To this point, the Bulls have been focused on offering DeRozan short-term deals, Johnson writes. While there’s been “widespread speculation” that the Thunder, Pistons and Hornets may put out offer sheets for Williams, Johnson hears the Bulls are comfortable with their position since they have the right to match any contract the former No. 4 overall pick might receive.

Johnson also mentions Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso as names to watch on the trade market. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski just reported that Caruso is being sent to Oklahoma City for Josh Giddey.

As for the lottery pick, Johnson cites Providence’s Devin Carter, Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, G League Ignite’s Ron Holland and Duke’s Kyle Filipowski as potential targets, though the Bulls have gotten a close look at a “wide range of prospects.”

Rockets Rumors: Clingan, Sheppard, No. 3 Pick, Smart, More

The Rockets have UConn center Donovan Clingan and Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard at the top of their board heading into next week’s draft, league sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Houston controls the No. 3 overall pick.

According to Iko, Clingan seems to have the edge over Sheppard, but it’s not a sure thing the 7’2″ big man will be available with the third pick. ESPN recently reported that while Zaccharie Risacher remains the favorite to go No. 1 to the Hawks, Atlanta is also high on Clingan, who may be Risacher’s top competition. Ken Seguira of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has also heard the Hawks are high on Clingan.

The Rockets already have Alperen Sengun at center and he shares an agent with Clingan, Iko writes. Those factors — plus the trade deadline addition of Steven Adams — would seemingly work against Houston selecting Clingan, and the team has been unable to get him in for a private workout to this point. Sheppard, meanwhile, will visit the Rockets this week, sources tell Iko.

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman recently suggested Houston might not have much leverage if they decide to trade the No. 3 selection due to a perception that there’s a minimal difference in value between that pick and those later in the lottery. However, Iko has heard differently, writing that there’s “rapidly growing interest” from rival teams in Clingan and Sheppard. Those teams may also be motivated to move up ahead of the Spurs, who control the Nos. 4 and 8 picks.

While several teams have shown interest in the third pick, team and league sources tell Iko the Hornets, Grizzlies and Trail Blazers have been “the most vocal” in their pursuit of the selection, with Memphis and Charlotte particularly “aggressive.”

Iko hears all three clubs are fans of both Clingan and Sheppard. The Hornets control the 6th and 42nd overall picks; the Grizzlies control Nos. 9, 39 and 57; and the Blazers control Nos. 7, 14, 34 and 40.

Here are some more Rockets rumors, all from Iko:

  • In an ideal situation, Houston would prefer to use the No. 3 pick as part of a package to acquire a star player like Donovan Mitchell, but there hasn’t been much league-wide “activity or movement” when it comes to stars this offseason, according to Iko. The Pelicans are rumored to have floated a proposal of Brandon Ingram for Sengun, but Houston has “no interest” in that deal, team sources tell Iko. Iko also hears New Orleans discussed Ingram with the Sixers.
  • If the Rockets can’t land a star and still decide to move the third pick, Iko wonders if a Grizzlies offer centered around Marcus Smart and the ninth pick could make sense for both sides. According to Iko’s sources, GM Rafael Stone and head coach Ime Udoka are fans of Smart, who played under Udoka in Boston. In a move-back scenario, Houston might be interested in selecting Tennesee forward Dalton Knecht, says Iko.
  • Houston also controls a second-round pick (No. 44) in the upcoming draft. San Francisco’s Jonathan Mogbo, Minnesota’s Cam Christie, Illinois’ Terrence Shannon, Colorado’s KJ Simpson, UCLA’s Adem Bona and Marquette’s Oso Ighodaro are among the prospects who have been discussed at that spot, though Iko acknowledges some of those players might get drafted before then. Clemson forward/center PJ Hall, Texas forward Dylan Disu, St. John’s guard Daniss Jenkins and Washington State forward Jaylen Wells are among the players who will work out for Houston this week, Iko reports.
  • For free agency, Iko hears the Rockets have placed a high priority on adding shooting, but the team is only interested in two-way contributors — Alec Burks, Gary Harris, Talen Horton-Tucker and Saddiq Bey are names to watch. Bey, however, will be a restricted free agent if he’s given a qualifying offer, which complicates matters (he’s also recovering from a torn ACL). A source close to Eric Gordon tells Iko that the veteran guard is “50-50” on exercising his player option to remain with the Suns, but the longtime former Rocket is also open to a reunion with Houston. The Rockets will have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception to dangle in free agency, Iko notes.

Atlantic Notes: Van Gundy, Brunson, Harden, George, Hartenstein, Raptors

Jeff Van Gundy and the Celtics’ brass mutually agreed it would be better for him to become the lead assistant with the Clippers rather than taking a similar job with Boston, according to Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.

Van Gundy was a candidate to replace former associate head coach Charles Lee, who is leaving to coach the Hornets. But the Celtics were somewhat uneasy about the prospect of Van Gundy, a senior consultant for the organization, leapfrogging members of the coaching staff and getting the job. The Celtics are expected to hire Lee’s replacement from an in-house candidate, Himmelsbach adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Jalen Brunson is eligible for an extension this summer for a max of four years and $156MM. If he waits until next summer, Brunson would be eligible for a five-year, $270MM contract. Yet Ian Begley of SNY TV believes Brunson will be willing to listen to an extension offer from the Knicks this summer, which would give the front office more cap flexibility in future seasons.
  • Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein will get a big raise in free agency, but how much is he worth in the open market? The Athletic’s Fred Katz polled 16 front-office officials, with their answers ranging from $15MM to $22.5MM per season. The Knicks, who hold his Early Bird rights, can offer a maximum of four years and $72.5MM.
  • James Harden ripped Sixers top executive Daryl Morey last offseason, calling him a “liar” among other things, until he was traded to the Clippers. Could Harden’s contentious relationship with his former boss influence teammate Paul George‘s decision whether to stay put or sign with the Sixers? Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer explores that topic.
  • The Raptors have picks No. 19 and 31 in this year’s draft. The Athletic’s Eric Koreen looks at eight wings who might make sense in that draft range, including Colorado’s Tristan da Silva and Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman.

Draft Notes: Green Room, Mock Drafts, Samuel

Four more players have received green room invites for the 2024 NBA draft. Dayton’s DaRon Holmes II, Indiana’s Kel’el Ware, Colorado’s Tristan Da Silva and Pittsburgh’s Carlton Carrington have all accepted invitations to attend the draft in person, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (all Twitter links here).

Holmes, the A-10 Player of the Year, averaged 20.4 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 blocks per game last season while shooting 54.4% from the field and 38.6% from three. He’s listed at No. 39 on ESPN’s big board and is the lowest-ranked prospect on that list to be invited.

Ware (No. 24 on ESPN’s list) averaged 15.9 points and 9.9 rebounds this season in 30 games with Indiana after transferring from Oregon. Da Silva (No. 17 on ESPN) is a toolsy forward who spent all four seasons of his college career at Colorado. He averaged 16.0 PPG this season while making 39.5% of his 4.8 three-point attempts per game. Carrington (No. 19) made the ACC’s All-Freshman Team this season after averaging 13.8 PPG and 4.1 APG, establishing himself as a premier pull-up mid-range shooter.

Holmes, Ware, Da Silva and Carrington join France’s Zaccharie Risacher, Alex Sarr and Tidjane Salaun, Serbia’s Nikola Topic, UConn’s Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle, Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham, Duke’s Jared McCain and Kyle Filipowski, Colorado’s Cody Williams, Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht, Providence’s Devin Carter, Baylor’s Yves Missi and Ja’Kobe Walter, Kansas’s Johnny Furphy, Miami’s Kyshawn George, USC’s Isaiah Collier and the G League Ignite’s Matas Buzelis and Ron Holland as the 24 players who accepted invitations to the green room. Purdue’s Zach Edey also received an invite, which he declined.

We have more draft-related notes:

  • There’s plenty of room for change in the next week leading up to the draft, but for now James L. Edwards of The Athletic sees Sarr as the best prospect in this class and believes he’s the player the Hawks should take at No. 1 if they don’t trade down. In a new mock draft that also involves Kelly Iko and Josh Robbins, The Athletic has Risacher going second to the Wizards and Castle going third to the Rockets. Carter going No. 8 to the Spurs and Holland falling to No. 11 to Chicago are among some of the more intriguing picks in the mock.
  • The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor doesn’t view Sarr or Risacher as the best players in this class, according to his latest big board, but still has Atlanta selecting Risacher in his latest mock. O’Connor lists Castle, Clingan and Buzelis as the best three players in the class, in that order. He has Holland as the 13th-best player and Bobi Klintman as the No. 18 prospect in the class. Terrence Shannon Jr., Nikola Djurisic and Trentyn Flowers are other prospects O’Connor has first-round grades on, deviating from the consensus. As for his mock, O’Connor has Sarr going second to Washington, Sheppard going third to Houston and Buzelis going fourth to San Antonio.
  • Former Florida and Seton Hall forward Tyrese Samuel has worked out for the Knicks, Spurs, Nets, Heat, Jazz, Bulls, Pelicans, Cavaliers, Raptors, Suns, Lakers and Pistons, NJ.com’s Adam Zagoria tweets. The 6-10 Samuel averaged 13.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks last season for Florida.

Rich Paul: Wolves, Mavs, Raptors Among Teams Interested In Bronny James

USC guard Bronny James has only worked for the Lakers and Suns during the pre-draft process and there are no plans to have him visit any additional clubs, agent Rich Paul tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. However, Paul spoke surprisingly openly about other clubs that he believes have interest in his client.

“There are other teams that love Bronny,” Paul said. “For example, Minnesota, Dallas, Toronto. If it’s not the Lakers, it will be someone else. (The Timberwolves) would love to get Bronny in, but I don’t know who their owner is going to be. (Mavericks general manager) Nico Harrison is like an uncle to Bronny. If the Lakers don’t take him at 55, Dallas would take him at 58 and give him a guaranteed deal. (Raptors president) Masai (Ujiri), loves him. They could take him without even seeing him at 31. Workouts aren’t everything for these teams.”

According to Givony, sources from several teams have told him that they’ve attempted to schedule a workout with James, but haven’t had any luck. Paul said that’s by design, pointing to his track record of steering his clients (such as Talen Horton-Tucker, Brandon Boston, and Chris Livingston) to preferred destinations in the second round and getting them guaranteed money and a spot on a team’s 15-man roster.

“This is nothing new,” Paul said. “The goal is to find a team that values your guy and try to push him to get there. It’s important to understand the context and realize that this has always been the strategy with many of my clients throughout the years, especially those in need of development like Bronny. My stuff is by design.

“… Bronny is the same as my previous clients. I got the word out early to teams that if you plan on bringing Bronny in, here’s what you need to know: If you won’t give him a real deal, there’s nothing to talk about. It’s hard to get real development on a two-way deal.”

Paul also revisited the idea that Bronny and his father (and fellow Klutch Sports client), LeBron James, will come as a package deal, reiterating that there’s no truth to it. In other words, Phoenix should use its No. 22 overall pick on Bronny in the hopes that LeBron will want to become a Sun.

“LeBron is off this idea of having to play with Bronny,” Paul told Givony. “If he does, he does. But if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. There’s no deal made that it’s guaranteed that if the Lakers draft Bronny at 55, he (LeBron) will re-sign. If that was the case, I would force them to take him at 17. We don’t need leverage. The Lakers can draft Bronny, and LeBron doesn’t re-sign. LeBron is also not going to Phoenix for a minimum deal. We can squash that now.”

LeBron still has a decision to make on his $51.4MM player option for the 2024/25 season. He’s widely expected to remain with the Lakers, whether he declines that option to sign a new contract or picks it up (possibly in tandem with an extension).