Aleksej Pokusevski

Thunder Sign Aleksej Pokusevski To Rookie Contract

The Thunder have locked up their first-round pick, officially signing Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski to his rookie contract, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

Pokusevski, one of the top international prospects in the 2020 draft class, was frequently connected to Oklahoma City in the weeks leading up to November 18, in part because his agent Jason Ranne used to work in the Thunder’s front office. Sure enough, on draft night, the Thunder moved up from No. 25 to No. 17 in a trade with the Timberwolves to snag Pokusevski.

[RELATED: 2020 NBA Draft Pick Signings]

The 6’11” forward, who doesn’t turn 19 until later this month, had reportedly been under contract with Olympiacos Piraeus through 2024. He’ll have to pay a buyout to his old team in Greece, though the Thunder will be able to pick up a significant chunk of that buyout.

Assuming he signs for 120% of the rookie scale amount, as nearly every first-round pick does, Pokusevski will earn $2.96MM as a rookie. His four-year contract, which includes third- and fourth-year team options, will have an overall value of $14.35MM.

The Thunder still have two unsigned 2020 draft picks, though it’s not clear if either Theo Maledon (No. 34) or Vit Krejci (No. 37) will come stateside right away.

Timberwolves Trade For Ricky Rubio

NOVEMBER 20: The trade is now official, according to the Timberwolves, who announced it in a press release. As expected, Johnson was sent to the Thunder along with the rights to Pokusevski in exchange for Rubio, the No. 25 pick, and the No. 28 pick. Oklahoma City also received the Timberwolves’ 2024 second-round pick in the deal.

Minnesota subsequently flipped the No. 25 pick (Immanuel Quickley) to New York in a deal for Leandro Bolmaro (No. 23). The Wolves have also confirmed that trade.


NOVEMBER 19: Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) confirms that Johnson will be a part of this deal for salary-matching purposes. The veteran forward will still need to pick up his option before he can officially be traded.


NOVEMBER 18: The Timberwolves will acquire point guard Ricky Rubio from the Thunder, along with the 25th and 28th picks in this year’s draft, in exchange for the 17th selection, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Oklahoma City will receive Serbian 7-footer Aleksej Pokusevski, whom Minnesota selected at No. 17. The Thunder had expressed interest in Pokusevski throughout the past two weeks.

Although it hasn’t been reported yet, James Johnson will likely have to be included in the deal to match salaries. Rubio will earn $17MM during the upcoming season, while Johnson has a $16MM player option that he is virtually certain to pick up.

The deal represents a homecoming for Rubio, who spent six seasons with the Wolves at the start of his career. He began looking for a trade after being sent to OKC in the Chris Paul deal and was receptive to the idea of returning to Minnesota. Rubio wants to help the Wolves get back to the playoffs, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Rubio will share ball-handling duties in the Minnesota backcourt with D’Angelo Russell, who was acquired at the trade deadline, and will reunite with former teammate Karl-Anthony Towns.

In addition to the 25th and 28th picks, the Wolves also own the 33rd pick in tonight’s second round. The Thunder, who have been stockpiling picks, will select again at 34 and 53.

O’Connor’s Latest: Hornets, Knicks, Toppin, Spurs, Harris, More

League sources have long said that the Hornets‘ preference on draft night would be adding a big man, either by trading up for James Wiseman or by picking Onyeka Okongwu, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. However, according to O’Connor, there are some people in Charlotte’s front office who like the idea of drafting LaMelo Ball if he’s available.

As O’Connor notes, one potential avenue for the Hornets if Wiseman is off the board at No. 3 and Ball is available would be to trade down with a team like Chicago or Detroit that might be eyeing Ball. In that scenario, Charlotte could theoretically pick up an extra asset or two while still having the opportunity to select Okongwu.

Here are a few more of the most interesting tidbits from O’Connor’s latest mock draft at The Ringer:

  • O’Connor’s sources believe the Knicks will select Obi Toppin if he’s available at No. 8. If the Dayton forward makes it past Cleveland at No. 5, there’s a chance he’ll still be on the board for New York.
  • The Spurs “love” Villanova forward Saddiq Bey, according to O’Connor, who says San Antonio is also one of multiple teams with interest in trading up for Florida State’s Patrick Williams.
  • “Everyone around the league” thinks that the Thunder will look to trade up to land seven-footer Aleksej Pokusevski, who has been frequently linked to Oklahoma City in large part due to his agent’s connection to general manager Sam Presti. Agent Jason Ranne used to work in the Thunder’s front office.
  • Within his note on the Nets‘ potential pick at No. 19, O’Connor cites sources who say that Brooklyn is likely to re-sign free agent sharpshooter Joe Harris.
  • The Nuggets are thought to be targeting a frontcourt player at No. 22, league sources tell O’Connor, who identifies Isaiah Stewart and Zeke Nnaji as a couple possibilities.

Draft Rumors: Wolves, Edwards, Ball, P. Williams, Hawks, Knicks, More

With the 2020 NBA draft just two days away, several draft experts are publishing their final mocks of the year, nearly five months after the event was initially scheduled to take place. Jonathan Givony of ESPN, Jeremy Woo of SI.com, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report are among those who published new mock drafts today. Let’s round up a few of the key pieces of intel from those mocks…

  • Sources tell Vecenie that the Timberwolves still haven’t finalized a decision on what they’ll do with their No. 1 pick, as they expect “real” trade offers to start coming in during the next couple days. However, Givony and Woo have both heard that most teams around the NBA are operating as if the Wolves will select Anthony Edwards if they stay put.
  • LaMelo Ball‘s private workouts with teams last week were strong, according to Givony, who suggests that the Warriors were among the teams impressed by what they saw from Ball. Still, Givony and other draft experts view James Wiseman as Golden State’s most likely pick at No. 2.
  • There has been plenty of chatter about Florida State forward Patrick Williams, whose ceiling is as high as No. 4 to the Bulls, according to both Woo and Givony.
  • Opposing front offices say the Hawks (No. 6) have been the most active team in trade talks, according to Givony, who says Atlanta could push for an impact player (such as Jrue Holiday or Victor Oladipo) or trade down and pick up another young player.
  • Sources tell Wasserman that the Knicks (No. 8) appear to be “looking hardest” at Devin Vassell, Isaac Okoro, and Kira Lewis Jr. Sources have also linked Obi Toppin to New York for some time, per Woo, though the Dayton forward is less likely to be on the board at No. 8.
  • Assuming the Suns keep the No. 10 pick, sharpshooter Aaron Nesmith is thought to be high on their list, says Wasserman.
  • While the Celtics have looked into packaging their three first-rounders (Nos. 14, 26, and 30) for a mid-lottery pick, interest in that sort of deal appears to be lukewarm, according to Woo, who says Boston may be more likely to make smaller trades with their picks.
  • Sources tell Wasserman that the Trail Blazers (No. 16) have expressed interest in Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski, while Vecenie says Jay Scrubb‘s name is the one he has heard linked most frequently to Portland.
  • The Bucks‘ pick at No. 24 is one to watch in trade talks as Milwaukee tries to upgrade its roster, writes Vecenie. If they keep the pick, Josh Green is among the options the Bucks are eyeing, per Wasserman.

O’Connor’s Latest: Bucks, Mavs, LaVine, Gordon, More

The Bucks are active in trade discussions and have offered point guard Eric Bledsoe to multiple teams, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. As the Bucks look to upgrade their roster around reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and standout forward Khris Middleton, it sounds like they’re focusing on two-way forwards with defensive versatility — according to O’Connor, the club is pursuing Rockets veterans Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker.

O’Connor’s latest mock draft at The Ringer includes plenty of interesting tidbits, including a couple we’ve already passed along. Here are a few more highlights:

  • Multiple teams, including the Mavericks, have contacted the Bulls this offseason to inquire on Zach LaVine‘s availability, says O’Connor. It’s not clear if Chicago would have any interest in moving its leading scorer.
  • League sources tell The Ringer that the Magic have made efforts to move up into the lottery by attaching Aaron Gordon to their No. 15 selection.
  • O’Connor writes that the Suns are “hoping” to use their No. 10 pick in a trade for Chris Paul. That would seemingly contradict an earlier report that suggested Phoenix probably wouldn’t that pick in an offer for the Thunder point guard.
  • Executives around the NBA are fairly confident that Deni Avdija won’t fall past Cleveland at No. 5, according to O’Connor, who is the latest to report that the Cavaliers are high on the Israeli wing.
  • There has been increasing buzz surrounding Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski, with execs around the league increasingly believing that he’ll be a lottery pick, per O’Connor.
  • Oregon guard Payton Pritchard is receiving interest from multiple teams near the end of the first round, sources tell O’Connor. One of those sources thinks Pritchard may even have a promise.

Draft Rumors: Edwards, Haliburton, Pistons, Cavs, Suns, More

While John Hollinger of The Athletic believes Anthony Edwards will still come off the board very early in next Wednesday’s draft, he notes within his new mock draft that many teams don’t seem especially enthusiastic about the former Georgia guard. Those teams believe in Edwards’ talent, but a “blah” Pro Day workout and some “iffy” background reports have made them nervous, according to Hollinger.

Hollinger has also heard that LaMelo Ball and Nico Mannion are among the players who haven’t necessarily had great interviews with teams, though it remains to be seen how much it’ll affect where they’re drafted.

On the other end of the spectrum, everybody seems to be high on Tyrese Haliburton, according to Hollinger, who says the former Iowa State guard is benefiting from 1-on-0 workouts and the background on him is “impeccable.” Desmond Bane and Isaiah Stewart are among the other prospects who have received some positive buzz for the impressions they’ve made in interviews with teams, writes Hollinger.

Hollinger’s mock draft for The Athletic is full of interesting tidbits and is worth checking out in full if you’re a subscriber. Here are a few more highlights:

  • Hollinger confirms that the Pistons are very interested in Florida State’s Patrick Williams – as has been previously reported – and suggests there are whispers that Detroit has made Williams a promise.
  • Obi Toppin and Deni Avdija are the only two names Hollinger has heard regularly connected to the Cavaliers at No. 5.
  • Onyeka Okongwu looks like a lock to go to Washington at No. 9 if he makes it that far, according to Hollinger, who says the question isn’t whether the Wizards will take Okongwu — it’s who they’ll take if he’s not available.
  • “The word is pretty strong” that the Suns are eyeing a backcourt piece with the No. 10 pick, prompting Hollinger to point out that the team may be looking to address the power forward spot in free agency.
  • There are rumors that Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski received a promise from a team in the first round. As Hollinger observes, Pokusevski’s agent Jason Ranne used to work for the Thunder, who have been willing to make draft promises in the past. However, even if Oklahoma City did make Pokusevski a promise, Hollinger is skeptical that he’ll still be on the board at No. 25.

Draft Rumors: Lewis, Hayes, Nesmith, Okongwu, More

Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr. is generating some buzz among teams in the top half of the first round, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report, who hears that Lewis has worked out in person for the Magic, Knicks, Pistons, and Bulls within the last week. A previous report indicated that Lewis has had multiple virtual interviews with Phoenix as well.

Pre-draft workouts don’t necessarily count for much in a typical year, when teams bring in dozens of prospects for a closer look for the sake of due diligence. However, Wasserman contends that it’s fair to “read into” those workouts in 2020. Since teams are only permitted to conduct in-person visits with up to 10 players, they generally aren’t wasting their time by meeting with players who aren’t of legitimate interest.

Here’s more on the draft from Wasserman:

  • In addition to the Pistons and Knicks, point guard Killian Hayes is also receiving interest from the Hawks and Kings, per Wasserman.
  • Sources tell Wasserman that Vanderbilt sharpshooter Aaron Nesmith is drawing interest from late-lottery teams, including the Suns.
  • Florida State big man Patrick Williams is among the prospects in play for the Pistons at No. 7, Wasserman writes.
  • Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski has become a popular draft sleeper and could even come off the board before the 20s, league sources tell Wasserman.
  • The Lakers, Bucks, and Sixers are among the teams displaying interest in Stanford’s Tyrell Terry, according to Wasserman.
  • There are whispers that Oregon point guard Payton Pritchard has received a promise from a team. While Wasserman has been unable to confirm that promise, he says that Pritchard has many fans in NBA front offices and may be a first-round pick.
  • Wasserman’s latest update to his big board at Bleacher Report has Onyeka Okongwu in the top three. A source tells Wasserman that the Wizards are hoping Okongwu falls to them at No. 9 and may look to trade their pick if he’s not available.

Draft Rumors: Wiseman, Hornets, Warriors, Cavs, Pistons, OKC, More

Kevin O’Connor’s latest update to his 2020 NBA mock draft at the Ringer includes several intriguing tidbits about which way certain teams might be leaning and which players are generating interest at certain spots.

We’ve already passed on a couple of those notes, relaying word that the Hawks have made the No. 6 pick available and that the Bulls are believed to be eyeing play-makers at No. 4. Here are a few more of the highlights from The Ringer’s mock:

  • Rumblings around the NBA suggest that the Warriors (No. 2) and Hornets (No. 3) both “covet” former Memphis center James Wiseman, according to O’Connor. If Wiseman is atop each team’s draft board, that means Charlotte might have to trade up to No. 1 to have a shot at him.
  • There’s a belief in league circles that the Cavaliers (No. 5) are high on former Dayton forward Obi Toppin, says O’Connor. That lines up with what we’ve heard in recent weeks from Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reported on Monday that the Cavs will privately work out Toppin this week.
  • Sources tell O’Connor that the Pistons (No. 7) are interested in play-makers. Former Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton is one prospect who has been linked frequently to Detroit in mock drafts.
  • Serbian big man Aleksej Pokusevski has been linked to the Thunder (No. 25) by two separate sources whom O’Connor has spoken to in the past week. Pokusevski may not quite be NBA-ready, but his upside would make him a logical fit for an OKC team that may be entering a rebuild, O’Connor observes.
  • O’Connor also reiterates a point he has made in previous iterations of his mock draft, citing multiple sources who say that former Stanford guard Tyrell Terry is generating buzz as a potential mid-first-round pick.

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 that Denver has zero 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.

Potential First-Rounder Aleksej Pokusevski Enters Draft

Serbian forward Aleksej Pokusevski has entered the draft, according to announcements from agent Alexander Raskovic of Wasserman and from Pokusevski himself (Twitter links).

The 27th overall prospect on ESPN’s big board for 2020, Pokusevski spent most of the season playing in the Greek 2nd Division with Olympiacos’ B team. He was called up by Olympiacos to play for the EuroLeague squad, but appeared in just a single game before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pokusevski, who participated in the Jordan Brand Classic camp back in 2017, has also been part of Serbia’s junior national teams in recent years, playing in the 2018 FIBA U17 World Cup and in the 2019 FIBA European Championship.

Pokusevski won’t turn 19 years old until December, so NBA teams may view him as a candidate to be drafted-and-stashed, rather than as a prospect who will immediately sign a rookie contract.