Aaron Henry

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Blazers, Hernangomez, Nuggets

While it doesn’t look at this point like the Trail Blazers will seriously explore Damian Lillard trades this offseason, that doesn’t mean they’re not getting calls about their All-NBA point guard. Front office sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that the Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have been the most aggressive suitors for Lillard as of late.

With no Lillard trade request imminent, the Blazers are more likely to pursue upgrades around the star guard, though O’Connor notes that the team’s trade assets are somewhat limited. Portland doesn’t have any draft picks this year and rival teams aren’t particularly high on young players like Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little, according to O’Connor. The club’s best bet for a deal that reshapes the roster and increases its ceiling might involve CJ McCollum and Ben Simmons, O’Connor adds.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

Raptors Notes: Ujiri, Nurse, Second-Round Picks

There are positive signs that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri plans to sign an extension, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca reports. He’s conducting business as usual, focusing on the draft and free agency. A player agent told Grange “he’s coming back” and another source at the recent combine said Ujiri was acting as if he’s “on a mission to win another title.”

Ujiri is technically a free agent this summer and there are still some concerns another franchise, such as the Clippers, could swoop in at the last minute and try to woo him away. But for now a return to the Raptors is expected.

We have more on the Raptors:

  • Coach Nick Nurse’s former agent has filed a civil lawsuit against him, claiming breach of contract, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Warren LeGarie is seeking financial relief, claiming he had a contract with Nurse through the 2023/24 season. Nurse, who is now represented by Andy Miller, agreed to a contract extension in September. According to the suit, Nurse’s salary for this season was readjusted to the $6-8MM range and the four-year extension was worth $32MM. LeGarie is seeking a commission for the portion of the contract he claims he negotiated.
  • The team owns the No. 46 and 47 overall picks in this month’s draft and Blake Murphy of The Athletic examines six wing players it could take with those second-round selections. The group includes Michigan State’s Aaron Henry and Florida’s Scottie Lewis.
  • In case you missed it, Murphy examined the logistics this week of a potential trade with the Warriors involving Pascal Siakam.

Draft Notes: Early Entrant Decisions, Grimes, Henry, Pacers, More

Justin Bean (Utah State), Eric Ayala (Maryland), Jeenathan Williams (Buffalo), Latrell Jones (Portland), Quentin Scott (Texas State), and De’Vion Harmon (Oklahoma) are all withdrawing from the 2021 NBA draft after testing the waters as early entrants, according to a series of reports from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and Jeff Goodman of Stadium (all six links go to Twitter).

Of those six players, three will transfer, with Jones heading to Nicholls State, Scott making the move to Tulane, and Harmon going to Oregon.

Meanwhile, Texas big man Jericho Sims, who boosted his stock with a strong showing at last week’s combine, will remain in the draft. Klutch Sports published a tweet today welcoming Sims to the agency. UCLA’s Chris Smith is also expected to go pro, per Goodman (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the draft:

Full List Of 2021 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed via press release its list of 69 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from June 21-17.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft will opt to skip the event – most notably, presumed number one pick Cade Cunningham and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs – there are several high-profile prospects set to attend. Evan Mobley, widely considered a likely choice for the No. 2 pick as well as potential top-five picks Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green headline the class of participants this year, along with potential lottery picks Moses Moody, Corey Kispert and Scottie Barnes.

According to the press release, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills throughout the week-long event. It’s likely that the more high-profile names will focus more on the interviews than the drills.

The press release also confirms that a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp will be invited to participate in the Combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 69 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts (sophomore)
  2. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas (junior)
  3. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State (freshman)
  4. Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State (freshman)
  5. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (junior)
  6. Brandon Boston Jr., G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. James Bouknight, G, UConn (sophomore)
  8. Greg Brown, F, Texas (freshman)
  9. Jared Butler, G, Baylor (junior)
  10. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (sophomore)
  11. Justin Champagnie, G/F, Pittsburgh (sophomore)
  12. Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  13. Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn (freshman)
  14. Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois (junior)
  15. David Duke, G, Providence (junior)
  16. Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  17. Luka Garza, C, Iowa (senior)
  18. RaiQuan Gray, F, Florida State (junior)
  19. Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Houston (junior)
  21. Sam Hauser, F, Virginia (senior)
  22. Aaron Henry, G/F, Michigan State (junior)
  23. Ariel Hukporti, C, Lithuania (born 2002)
  24. Matthew Hurt, F, Duke (sophomore)
  25. Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU (sophomore)
  26. Isaiah Jackson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  27. David Johnson, G, Louisville (sophomore)
  28. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke (freshman)
  29. Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  30. Herb Jones, F, Alabama (senior)
  31. Kai Jones, F, Texas (sophomore)
  32. Johnny Juzang, G/F, UCLA (sophomore)
  33. Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga (senior)
  34. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  35. Scottie Lewis, G, Florida (sophomore)
  36. Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan (senior)
  37. Makur Maker, C, Howard (freshman)
  38. Sandro Mamukelashvili, F/C, Seton Hall (senior)
  39. Tre Mann, G, Florida (sophomore)
  40. Matthew Mayer, G/F, Baylor (junior)
  41. Miles McBride, G, West Virginia (sophomore)
  42. Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor (junior)
  43. Evan Mobley, F/C, USC (freshman)
  44. Isaiah Mobley, F, USC (sophomore)
  45. Moses Moody, G, Arkansas (freshman)
  46. Trey Murphy III, G, Virginia (junior)
  47. Daishen Nix, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  48. John Petty Jr., G, Alabama (senior)
  49. Yves Pons, G/F, Tennessee (senior)
  50. Jason Preston, G, Ohio (junior)
  51. Joshua Primo, G, Alabama (freshman)
  52. Roko Prkacin, F, Croatia (born 2002)
  53. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (junior)
  54. Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma (senior)
  55. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova (sophomore)
  56. Terrence Shannon Jr., G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  57. Day’Ron Sharpe, F/C, North Carolina (freshman)
  58. Jericho Sims, F/C, Texas (senior)
  59. Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  60. DJ Steward, G, Duke (freshman)
  61. Cameron Thomas, G, LSU (freshman)
  62. JT Thor, F, Auburn (freshman)
  63. Isaiah Todd, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  64. Trendon Watford, F, LSU (sophomore)
  65. Joe Wieskamp, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  66. Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford (freshman)
  67. McKinley Wright IV, G, Colorado (senior)
  68. Moses Wright, F, Georgia Tech (senior)
  69. Marcus Zegarowski, G, Creighton (junior)

Draft Notes: Giddey, Pro Days, Combine, G League Elite Camp

Potential lottery pick Josh Giddey isn’t expected to attend the NBA draft combine in Chicago or any pre-draft workouts, tweets Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Instead, scouts will get a look at Giddey later this month when his Australian team travels to Las Vegas for exhibition games with Team USA, Spain, Nigeria and Argentina.

The 6’8″ shooting guard has been moving up draft boards and ranks No. 13 on ESPN’s latest list of prospects. Giddey, 18, played this season with the Adelaide 36ers and averaged 10.9 points, 7.1 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

Aaron Henry Among Prospects Entering 2021 NBA Draft

Michigan State junior swingman Aaron Henry is entering the 2021 NBA draft, as the school confirmed today (via Twitter). While Henry could test the waters while retaining his college eligibility, he stated in his announcement that he intends to hire an agent, and it sounds like he’s prepared to go pro.

A 6’6″ guard/forward, Henry had his best college season in 2020/21, averaging 15.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 3.6 APG in 28 games (32.5 MPG) for the Spartans. His three-point shooting dipped to 29.6%, but he showed the ability to make those shots with more regularity in his first two college seasons, knocking down 35.7% of his attempts.

Henry is currently the No. 32 prospect on ESPN’s big board for the 2021 draft, making him a good candidate to have his name called on draft night in July.

Houston junior guard Quentin Grimes (No. 64) and Kansas junior guard Ochai Agbaji (No. 66) are among the other early entrants who have recently announced their intentions to declare for the 2021 draft, as detailed in press releases from Houston and Kansas. Grimes intends to go pro, while Agbaji will just be testing the waters for now.

Here are a few more updates on early entrants joining the draft pool:

  • Jalen Wilson, F, Kansas (freshman): Like his teammate Agbaji, Wilson will retain his NCAA eligibility while he goes through the pre-draft process, the Jayhawks announced in a press release.
  • Mac McClung, G, Texas Tech (junior): After transferring from Georgetown to Texas Tech in 2020, McClung has once again entered the transfer portal, he announced on Sunday (via Twitter). As he did a year ago, McClung will go through the draft process.
  • Scotty Pippen Jr., G, Vanderbilt (sophomore): Pippen, the son of former NBA star Scottie Pippen, announced on Twitter that he’s testing the draft waters.
  • Duane Washington, G, Ohio State (junior): Washington announced on Twitter that he’s entering the draft, and the wording of his statement suggests he expects to keep his name in rather than returning to school.

Jared Butler, Aaron Henry Among Prospects Withdrawing From Draft

A pair of early-entry prospects who were ranked within the top 60 on ESPN’s big board have pulled out of the draft in advance of Monday’s withdrawal deadline.

Baylor guard Jared Butler was one of those two players, announcing in a Twitter video on Monday morning that he has decided to return to the Bears for his junior year. Butler explained his decision in a conversation with ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

“After going through this process, making an important decision for the rest of my life, I truly felt like I couldn’t go wrong with either decision,” Butler said. “It came down to making the most out of my development as a player and as an adult. In the end I felt like coming back to school would set me up in both aspects in a way that I couldn’t deny. Even though the opportunity to reach my dream of playing in the NBA was readily at hand, I think next year it will still be there, possibly even with greater opportunities.”

Butler emerged as Baylor’s leading scorer in 2019/20 as a sophomore, averaging 16.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.6 SPG in 30 games (30.4 MPG). He also showed improvement on his outside shot, making 38.1% of 6.7 three-point attempts per contest. He came in at No. 46 on Givony’s top-100 list at ESPN.com, making him a strong candidate to be drafted had he decided to go pro.

Meanwhile, Michigan State swingman Aaron Henry has also decided to withdraw from the draft after testing the waters, as Givony writes in a separate story. Henry had been the No. 55 prospect on ESPN’s big board.

Henry’s numbers as a sophomore in 2019/20 were somewhat modest — 10.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 30 games (29.1 MPG). However, Givony describes him as a “long, athletic wing with strong two-way potential” and points out that he’s in position to take on a larger role for a Spartans team that won’t have Cassius Winston back next season.

“Cassius leaves big shoes to fill. He was asked to do everything for Michigan State,” Henry told ESPN. “I’m hoping to step into a bigger role with the ball in my hands. Things will definitely look different. Everyone is going to need to step up and be a piece to the puzzle. NBA teams want to see me in a bigger role. They want to see me be the man on a team. I’m not afraid of that. Let’s get to it.”

Here are a few more early entrants who tested the waters and have now pulled out of the draft ahead of Monday’s withdrawal deadline:

Draft Notes: McClung, Henry, Big Boards

Despite a claim from Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing that he’ll be back with the program this season, Mac McClung continues to test the draft waters and hasn’t informed the school of any official decision yet, agent Daniel Hazan tells Ben Standig of The Athletic.

As Standig details, McClung’s energy and athleticism make him an intriguing prospect worth monitoring, but he’s not considered likely to be drafted if he goes pro this year. One general manager said he’s still not clear on what position or role McClung would play at the NBA level.

Still, NBA teams are doing their homework on the sophomore guard. Hazan said on Tuesday that McClung has had virtual meetings with 11 teams, with more to come — a source informs Standig that the Rockets, Bulls, and Nets are among those 11 clubs.

Here are a few more draft-related items:

Early Entry Deadline For 2020 NBA Draft Has Passed

The deadline for potential early entrants to declare for the 2020 NBA draft fell on April 26 at 11:59pm ET, which means prospects who aren’t automatically draft-eligible can no longer enter this year’s pool.

Players who have entered the draft don’t necessarily have to stay in, as long as they haven’t hired an agent — or as long as they’re working with one of 23 agents certified by the NCAA. Currently, the deadline for NCAA players to withdraw from the draft and maintain their college eligibility is June 3, though it’s possible that date will be adjusted if the NBA draft is postponed.

The NBA has a separate withdrawal deadline from the NCAA’s, allowing prospects to pull out as late as 10 days before the draft. With the draft scheduled for June 25, the NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 15 — that date is generally the one to watch for international prospects, who don’t have to worry about maintaining NCAA eligibility.

Our full list of early entrants can be found right here. While we did our best to make our list as accurate as possible, some players who declared in recent weeks may have slipped through the cracks, while others reported to have entered the draft may have had a change of heart.

The NBA should formally release its initial early entrant list for 2020 within the next two or three days, so we’ll update our list at that point to reflect the league’s official data.

Here are the latest additions we’ve made to our list:

And here are a couple players who had previously planned to enter the draft who ended up opting to return to school instead. They’ve been removed from our list:

It appears there are approximately 190-ish early entrants in this year’s draft pool, which would be a significant step down from the last couple years, when that total has been in the neighborhood of 235.

Of course, as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes (via Twitter), the real question will be how many of these initial early entrants end up staying in the draft. That number landed at 98 last year, and 91 in 2018. It will likely end up lower this year, not just because the early total is lower, but due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Givony observes, many prospects who entered the draft may not have much more info about where they stand by the June 3 withdrawal deadline than they have now.