AJ Griffin

Hawks Rumors: Collins, Hunter, Injuries, Murray

The Hawks kicked off the NBA’s Media Day season this morning, with general manager Landry Fields telling reporters that John Collins is “still here for a reason” after a summer of trade speculation, tweets Atlanta reporter Brad Rowland.

Trade talk is nothing new for Collins, who has seemingly been on the block since signing a five-year, $125MM deal last offseason. There were numerous rumors involving Collins leading up to this year’s draft, and he was reportedly part of the package the Hawks offered to Brooklyn in an attempt to acquire Kevin Durant.

Fields said Collins understands the situation and has remained professional (Twitter link). The GM added that Collins has expressed his opinion on the constant trade talks, but he understands what the team is doing (Twitter link).

There’s more from the team’s media session:

  • Fields said negotiations are continuing with De’Andre Hunter and the team hopes to have an rookie scale extension in place before the October 17 deadline, tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to head coach Nate McMillan, Hunter has been able to go through normal workouts this summer, which he couldn’t do last offseason because of a medical procedure (Twitter link).
  • Fields also provided health updates on a few players, saying Bogdan Bogdanovic is “not going to be 100% for training camp” after having surgery on his right knee in May (Twitter link). The team is focused on getting Bogdanovic back to full health at some point during the season, Fields added. He also said first-round pick AJ Griffin has been “full go” for a few weeks following a foot injury that prevented him from playing in Summer League (Twitter link), and second-year power forward Jalen Johnson will also be ready for camp after a non-surgical procedure on his left knee (Twitter link).
  • McMillan was in constant contact with Trae Young as the Hawks worked out a trade with the Spurs for Dejounte Murray, Williams tweets. The coach added that Young is looking forward to having a chance to play off the ball this season. Fields admitted having two traditional ball-handlers in the backcourt might be “a little clunky at first,” but he expressed confidence that Young and Murray will figure out their roles (Twitter link).
  • Fields plans to keep the 15th roster spot open due to luxury tax concerns, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. The Hawks are about $1MM over the tax line, and Fields indicated the team’s performance will determine whether he tries to get back under the threshold. “It’s going to be a day-to-day thing,” he said.

A.J. Griffin Signs With Hawks

The Hawks have officially signed first-round pick AJ Griffin, the team announced in a press release.

The Duke forward, who was taken with the 16th selection in last week’s draft, will receive about $3.5MM during his first NBA season and roughly $17.1MM over the four-year deal.

Griffin, 18, averaged 10.4 points and 3.9 rebounds during his lone season with the Blue Devils while connecting at 54.7% from the field and 44.7% from three-point range. He was named to the ACC All-Freshman team and earned honorable mention All-ACC honors.

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Mathurin, Duren, Eason, J. Smith, More

People around the NBA have been “gossiping” about an incredible workout Bennedict Mathurin had with the Pistons, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says there’s chatter that members of Detroit’s front office are “infatuated” with the Arizona guard.

Jaden Ivey and Keegan Murray have long been considered the favorites to join Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero in the top five, but perhaps the Pistons will upend that expectation by targeting Mathurin. For what it’s worth, however, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) still believes Murray is the favorite over Mathurin at No. 5 if Ivey is off the board.

Within his latest mock draft, Givony also reports that Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is one of Jalen Duren‘s biggest fans in the NBA. While Duren likely won’t be under serious consideration at No. 5, the Pistons could consider trading back into the first round if he slips at all, according to Givony, who points to the Hornets (No. 13 and No. 15) as a possible trade partner for Detroit in a deal involving Gordon Hayward.

Elsewhere in his mock draft, O’Connor writes that the Nuggets (No. 21 and No. 30) and Grizzlies (No. 22 and No. 29) have both made attempts to package their picks in an effort to move up in the first round.

O’Connor suggests Denver’s picks probably aren’t enough to move into the middle of the first round unless the team is willing to include a young player or another future pick. However, he writes that the Grizzlies have been exploring picks as high as the Knicks‘ selection at No. 11. In order to get that high, Memphis would presumably have to take on some unwanted salary or include another asset beyond the team’s two 2022 first-rounders.

Here’s more on the 2022 NBA draft, which is now just hours away:

  • Executives around the league keep connecting LSU forward Tari Eason to the Rockets at No. 17, according to O’Connor. Meanwhile, Zach Harper of The Athletic has heard from sources that the Celtics are also high on Eason and could try to trade into the first round using a young rotation player to draft him. An earlier report indicated Boston was open to discussing Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard, and Harper adds Aaron Nesmith to that list.
  • Auburn’s Jabari Smith tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’ll be surprised if he’s not drafted first overall tonight. Virtually every major sportsbook made Paolo Banchero the favorite to go No. 1 late last night, but those odds have since swung back in the other direction. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report speculates (via Twitter) that the Banchero buzz may have been related to contact he and his camp had with the Magic on Wednesday after a Monday visit was canceled, but Fischer — like ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — reiterates that Smith remains the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.
  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv (video link) views Duke’s AJ Griffin as the most likely pick for the Knicks if they remain at No. 11.
  • The Raptors, who moved down from No. 20 to No. 33 in the draft as a result of their Thaddeus Young trade in February, don’t view the gap between those two selections as significant, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Koreen observes, there’s less of a consensus on prospects further down draft boards than there is at the very top, so several of the players drafted between Nos. 20 and 32 may not be at or near the top of Toronto’s board.

Draft Notes: Ivey, Griffin, Eason, Holmgren

Amid rumors that Sacramento isn’t his preferred landing spot, Purdue guard Jaden Ivey was asked directly during a Monday media session about the prospect of joining the Kings and confirmed that he hasn’t worked out for the team or had any contact with them. Although he didn’t say outright that he doesn’t want to play for the Kings, Ivey wasn’t exactly brimming with enthusiasm when discussing the possibility.

“If I got drafted there, it wouldn’t be the worst option,” he said, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

As James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star tweets, Ivey said the only teams he has worked out for are the Magic and the Pistons, who hold the first and fifth overall picks, respectively. The Kings draft fourth overall.

Interestingly, while Ivey is expected to come off the board long before the Knicks are on the clock at No. 11, the Purdue standout said unprompted that he believes there “could be situations where I can land in New York,” as Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. The Knicks would likely have to trade up to No. 4 to make that happen.

Here are a few more of Monday’s draft-related notes:

  • Speaking to reporters on Monday, Duke forward AJ Griffin confirmed his previously announced workouts with Indiana and Portland and said he also auditioned for the Pelicans, Spurs, and Knicks, per Jason Sacramento Bee of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). The teams Griffin worked out for range from No. 6 to No. 11 in Thursday’s draft.
  • The Hawks, Rockets, and Timberwolves are among the teams LSU forward Tari Eason has worked out for during the pre-draft process, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Those three clubs pick between Nos. 16 and 19.
  • In an in-depth profile, Tim Keown of ESPN takes a look at how Chet Holmgren became one of the nation’s top basketball prospects and explores what’s next for the seven-foot “unicorn.”

Northwest Notes: Morris, Hyland, Nuggets Draft, Minott, Wiggins

The impending trade of JaMychal Green to the Thunder portends a very busy summer for the Nuggets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes.

Denver is intent on maximizing Nikola Jokic‘s prime years, so the fact that the team now has two first-rounders in this year’s draft suggests more moves are coming. It’s unlikely two rookies would have an immediate impact on a team with championship aspirations.

With Jamal Murray returning this season, Monte Morris could be moved. He has an affordable contract and has generated significant interest around the league, a source told Singer. Alternatively, the Nuggets might consider moving Bones Hyland for a much-needed defensive wing player.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • If Denver holds onto the No. 21 pick or trades up in the draft, which wings might interest the front office as it looks to improve the team defensively? Singer lists a handful of wing prospects, including Duke’s AJ Griffin and Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell.
  • University of Memphis forward Josh Minott visited the Jazz and that’s significant, given where Minott is projected to go in the draft, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Most of the prospects the Jazz have worked out are projected as late second-round selections at best. In contrast, Minott is expected to go higher in the second round and could even sneak into the first round. He’s rated as the No. 46 prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list. Utah doesn’t currently have a draft pick.
  • Andrew Wiggins followed the footsteps of Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love by winning an NBA championship after being dealt by the Timberwolves in a high-profile trade, Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Reusse seeks out opinions from several sources as to why Wiggins has excelled with Golden State after underperforming with Minnesota.

Central Notes: Pistons Prospects, Griffin, Bucks Wings, Chandler

The Pistons could go in a variety of directions with the No. 5 pick in the upcoming draft, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. According to Edwards, while Purdue guard Jaden Ivey or Iowa forward Keegan Murray seem most likely to be selected, Arizona swingman Bennedict Mathurin enjoyed a good workout with the club and has impressed Detroit’s front office personnel.

Edwards considers the 6’4″ Ivey, a consensus All-American and a 2021/22 All-Big Ten selection, to have the highest ceiling among this trio. In 36 college contests, Ivey averaged 17.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.1 APG and 0.9 SPG with a shooting line of .460/.358/.744.

Edwards acknowledges that the versatile Murray seems more readily capable of contributing at the next level than Ivey. The 6’8″ forward, himself a consensus All-American and 2021/22 All-Big Ten honoree while with the Hawkeyes, averaged 23.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 1.5 APG and 1.3 SPG across 35 games.

Mathurin projects to be a solid long-range shooter and wing defender, Edwards writes. Mathurin was a consensus All-American and the 2021/22 Pac-12 Player of the Year during his second season with the Wildcats, averaging 17.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 2.5 APG. During his sophomore season, the 6’7″ guard boasted shooting averages of .450/.369/.764.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Former Duke small forward AJ Griffin believes he would be a good match for the Pacers, per James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. The Pacers possess the sixth pick in the 2022 draft. “I think I would fit perfectly,” Griffin said. “Just being able to play with guys who look for their open teammates and get your teammates going, I think I would fit perfectly… I love [guard Tyrese Haliburton]’s game.” Though Griffin averaged a fairly modest 10.4 PPG and 3.9 RPG as a one-and-done freshman for the Blue Devils, he proved to be a promising three-point shooter, connecting on 44.7% of his 4.1 long-range looks per night. The 18-year-old is currently listed as the ninth-best player on ESPN’s big board.
  • Though the Bucks did not defend their 2021 title in the 2022 postseason, the team’s rotation wings performed at a high level during the 2021/22 season, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Nehm grades the on-court play of All-Star small forward Khris Middleton, swingman Wesley Matthews, guard Pat Connaughton, guard Grayson Allen, and the rest of Milwaukee’s perimeter players.
  • The Cavaliers are set to work out Tennessee point guard Kennedy Chandler on Wednesday, according to Andrew Slater of Pro Insight (Twitter link). Cleveland possesses the No. 14 pick at the end of the 2022 draft lottery. Chandler was the MVP of the 2022 SEC Tournament. A 2022 All-SEC Second Team selection, the 6’0″ guard averaged 13.9 PPG, 4.7 APG and 3.2 RPG on .464/.383/.606 shooting for the Volunteers. Chandler is listed as the No. 19 prospect on the latest ESPN board.

Draft Notes: Green Room, Draft Targets, Comps, Mock, Minott

The list of prospects invited to the green room on draft night has expanded to 16, tweets ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. The list includes all of the top-16 ranked players on ESPN’s big boardChet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Dyson DanielsShaedon Sharpe, Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin, Jalen Duren, Johnny Davis, Ousmane DiengMalaki BranhamMark Williams, Jeremy Sochan and Ochai Agbaji.

A source tells Givony that the list could expand further, with four more invites still a possibility. The draft is nine days away.

Here are some more draft-related notes:

Draft Notes: Duren, Agbaji, Washington, Griffin, Davis

Longtime coach Larry Brown, now serving as an assistant at the University of Memphis, believes Tigers center Jalen Duren has a bright future in the NBA, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Brown talked to Knicks general manager Scott Perry recently about Duren and teammate Josh Minott, who is projected as a second-round pick. Brown says Duren has similar skills as Heat big man Bam Adebayo.

“A lot of people compare him to Bam,’’ Brown said. “I spent time with Cal [Kentucky coach John Calipari] when Bam was there. Bam doesn’t shoot 3s either. Jalen is 3 inches taller than Bam. … I always teased him: I wanted him to be like [former Pistons center] Ben Wallace because he can run with anybody. He really can run. And can move his feet defensively.’’

The Knicks could consider Duren with the 11th pick if they’re not sure about re-signing free agent center Mitchell Robinson. There are concerns that coach Tom Thibodeau may not want to take the time to develop an 18-year-old center prospect, but Brown is convinced the wait will be worth it.

“If someone’s taking him to be starter on a playoff team, I don’t think it’s completely fair,’’ Brown said. “He’s 18. If you’re looking at a kid to develop and really be a factor, he’s the one you got to consider. … He wants to be coached. That’s important, especially with Thibs. He’ll coach him and demand things, and he’ll respond to that.’”

There’s more draft-related news to pass along:

  • As a four-year college player, Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji is a rarity among potential lottery picks, notes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Agbaji said he’s been studying Desmond Bane, who followed the same path before succeeding with the Grizzlies. “That’s someone that I would say is similar to me game-wise. We’re both athletic, strong and can guard and make plays off the bounce, too,” Agbaji said after working out Friday for the Wizards. “He was a four-year guy, went under the radar and has his feet down in Memphis now. That’s really cool seeing that. He’s one of those guys who I saw his transition into the league.”
  • TyTy Washington sat out the end of his workout with the Wizards on Saturday after banging his knee in a collision, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. A team trainer checked Washington and said the knee will be OK. The Kentucky guard has also worked out for the Thunder, Knicks and Cavaliers and has upcoming sessions with the Spurs and Pelicans (Twitter link).
  • Duke forward AJ Griffin will work out for the Pacers Monday, tweets James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis moved his workout with Indiana to Tuesday because of scheduling issues.

Draft Notes: Green Room, Houstan, Nembhard, O’Neal, Gillespie

There were no surprises in the 11 green room invitations forwarded to the draft’s top prospects. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony confirmed that the list includes Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Shaedon Sharpe, Dyson Daniels, Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin, Jalen Duren and Johnny Davis. Approximately four more green room invites will be sent out next week, a source tells Givony.

We have more draft news:

  • Michigan’s Caleb Houstan and Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard, who both hail from Canada, will work out for the Raptors on Friday, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. They’re both considered late first-round or second-round prospects and Toronto has the No. 33 overall pick.
  • LSU forward Shareef O’Neal, son of Shaquille O’Neal, worked out for the Bucks on Thursday, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. The younger O’Neal will visit the Lakers, Cavaliers, Hawks and Wizards in the very near future.
  • Villanova guard Collin Gillespie also worked out for the Bucks on Thursday, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. He’ll soon visit the Suns, Nuggets, Jazz and Trail Blazers. Gillespie is ranked at No. 64 on ESPN’s Best Available list.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Hunter, Jovic, Griffin, Maker

The Hawks have been identified in previous reports as a possible Rudy Gobert suitor, and multiple league sources have indicated the Jazz are interested in De’Andre Hunter, according to Matt Moore of ActionNetwork.com. Hunter is extension-eligible this offseason. However, according to Moore, the Hawks have tried to steer any teams inquiring on Hunter to players like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter instead.

We have more from the Northwest Division: