- The Hawks are “very high” on Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link). Sources tell Givony that Atlanta is the only team Hunter has worked out for, though if the Hawks want to secure him, they may have to trade up from No. 8. The Hawks are also said to like Jarrett Culver.
While Ja Morant and R.J. Barrett are viewed as virtual locks to follow Zion Williamson off the board on draft night, point guard Darius Garland is still receiving serious consideration at No. 3, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link). A source tells Givony that Garland will be conducting a last-minute workout with the Knicks tomorrow.
According to Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link), there are people around the NBA who believe it’s a mistake to view this as a three-player draft, since that view discounts Garland. There are even some evaluators who consider Garland 2019’s second-best prospect, Smith adds. ESPN’s Jordan Schultz (Twitter link) has also heard rave reviews for Garland from various league sources.
A source tells Givony (Twitter link) that Garland is 100% healthy again after undergoing knee surgery in November, and should be fine to participate in Summer League play. Garland’s private pre-draft workouts have been impressive, per Givony, who names the Lakers, Cavaliers, and Bulls that have worked out the 19-year-old.
Despite his rising stock, Garland is still unlikely to crack the top three ahead of Morant or Barrett. Marc Berman of The New York Post tweets that the Knicks are doing their due diligence on the former Vanderbilt point guard.
However, Garland is also receiving plenty of interest at No. 4, Givony notes. According to Givony, the Timberwolves, Celtics, and Bulls are among the teams that have considered the possibility of trading up to No. 4, with Garland in mind. The Pelicans currently hold the fourth overall pick as a result of the Anthony Davis blockbuster with the Lakers.
The Hawks are also among the teams that have aggressively explored trading up, using the Nos. 8 and 10 overall picks, a source tells Givony (Twitter link). Givony writes that the Knicks rebuffed that package for No. 3, but the Pelicans may be considering it for No. 4. It’s not clear which player the Hawks, who have promising young point guard Trae Young under contract long-term, would be targeting.
Kevin Porter Jr. could go higher in Thursday’s draft than most observers expect, as Shams Charania of The Athletic passes along. Several executives on teams picking near the top of the draft told Charania that Porter Jr. is high on their board. “He has the gifts to be a top-five pick — easily,” one executive said.
Porter Jr. was expected to work out for the Wizards on Monday, though he pulled out of the appearance over the weekend. Washington owns the No. 9 overall pick. Porter Jr. previously worked out for the Hawks, owners of the No. 8 and No. 10 overall picks.
The USC prospect only played in 21 games while in college, as he dealt with quad and ankle injuries in addition to a suspension. Jonathan Givony has Porter Jr. going to the Nets at No. 27 in his latest mock draft for ESPN.
Here’s more on the upcoming draft:
- The range for Nassir Little (UNC) likely begins with the Hawks at No. 8, though the Bulls are trying to get him into the building for a last-minute workout this week, sources tell Charania (same piece). During a media session in Washington, Little told Hoops Rumors that the Wizards would be his last workout.
- The Pelicans have explored moving from No. 4 to No. 2 in order to select R.J. Barrett, sources tell Marc Berman of the New York Post. Barrett and Zion Williamson are best friends and former teammates at Duke. Berman notes that the Pelicans have also explored moving down from No. 4.
- The Knicks have Ja Morant higher on their board than Barrett, Berman hears (same piece). New York had initial interest in moving back following the draft lottery but the organization is now content standing pat. “The Knicks have a good problem to have — pick three in a three-man draft,” an NBA executive tells Berman. “They just have to wait and see.”
The Cavaliers were well represented at Darius Garland‘s private workout Friday night in Los Angeles, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Cleveland officials had been hoping for a close-up look at the Vanderbilt point guard, whose Klutch Sports representatives limited his availability early in the pre-draft process.
There’s no guarantee Garland will still be on the board when the Cavs pick at No. 5, as the Pelicans now hold the fourth pick and are reportedly receiving strong interest from teams looking to move up. There are questions surrounding Garland’s durability after he played just four games in college before suffering a meniscus injury, but many teams view him as a potential All-Star because of his exceptional shooting and ball-handling, along with the ability to take charge of an offense.
The No. 4 pick may be more unpredictable now that the Lakers are sending it to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade, Fedor adds. The Suns and Bulls might trade up for Garland if they believe he’s significantly better than Coby White, while the Hawks, who own the eighth and 10th picks, may decide to move up for Jarrett Culver.
The Cavs wouldn’t be afraid to team Garland with last year’s No. 1 pick, Collin Sexton, even though that would be an undersized backcourt with a pair of 6’2″ guards. Fedor notes that the organization is early enough in the rebuilding process that draft decisions will be based more on talent than fit.
There’s more from Cleveland, all courtesy of Fedor:
- Cleveland also likes Culver, but Fedor believes the chance to get him decreases if the Pelicans keep their pick. If another team trades up for Garland, then Culver becomes a strong possibility at No. 5. He had a private workout and dinner with several Cavaliers representatives last week, and the team has scouted him several times. New coach John Beilein faced Culver in the NCAA Tournament, where he scored 22 points in Texas Tech’s win over Michigan.
- Even though the Cavaliers were hoping for a top three pick, they’re confident they can add a contributor at No. 5. De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are on their radar as well as Garland and Culver.
- The Cavaliers have less than two weeks to work out a trade involving J.R. Smith before his $15.6MM contract becomes guaranteed for next season. It carries just a $3.8MM guarantee until then and could be an enticing trade chip for a team looking to unload salary. Fedor sees the Heat as a prime contender for Smith, but lists the Hornets, Bucks, Thunder and Trail Blazers as other teams that could use some cap relief.
Vucevic is in line for a huge raise after posting his best NBA season and his first All-Star appearance. The 28-year-old averaged 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 blocks in 80 games this year. Despite reports that Sacramento might be one of his free agent suitors, Ham states that he doesn’t fit the up-tempo approach that the Kings prefer.
Ham suggests the Kings might opt for a short-term solution, seeking a one- or two-year contract with the Knicks’ DeAndre Jordan or the Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon. Jordan will turn 31 this summer and Dedmon is almost 30, so neither is viewed as a long-range option.
Sacramento also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of keeping Willie Cauley-Stein, as Ham notes the team is expected to make him a restricted free agent by issuing a qualifying offer before June 30. GM Vlade Divac said the front office still sees potential in the former No. 6 pick, but has been frustrated by his up-and-down performance.
“We would like to keep Willie in terms of his talent potential,” Divac said, “but he still needs to show us the consistency that we are looking for. We are talking.”
Despite the notion that there is a drop-off after the first three picks, there are a number of teams that see value in the No. 4 selection, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic hears. Venecie writes that Darius Garland is the player most frequently mentioned around the league as the fourth-best player in the draft.
The Bulls may be looking to move up into that No. 4 spot or at least that’s the chatter behind the scenes. A previous report implied that Chicago would be open to dealing any player or pick on the roster outside of Lauri Markkanen or Wendell Carter Jr.
Here’s more from Venecie on the upcoming draft:
- There’s no sense of who the Pelicans will pick at No. 4 should they keep the selection. If Venecie were making the pick, he’d take a hard look at De’Andre Hunter or Jarrett Culver, though the scribe notes that many around the NBA are not as high on Hunter as he is.
- Had the Lakers held onto the No. 4 overall pick, many within the league believed Garland would be the selection, with Venecie citing the prospect’s connection to Klutch Sports.
- New Cavaliers head coach John Beilein is a fan of Hunter, a source tells Venecie. It’s unclear what kind of influence the coach will have on the team’s draft decisions. It’s worth noting that Cleveland doesn’t need a point guard, having Collin Sexton installed as franchise’s future at the position.
- If Garland remains on the board at No. 5, Cleveland may have a more attractive trade asset on their hands. Phoenix at No. 6 is said to be in the market for a point guard and that could create urgency for another team to trade up to No. 5.
- The Hawks appear to favor Hunter, though they may need to trade up to take the Virginia product. Atlanta has the No. 8 and No. 10 overall in addition to four other selections in the top 44. The franchise has had talks with teams about moving up in the draft but they’ve also spoken with clubs about moving down.
Yale wing Miye Oni returned to the Bucks’ practice facility for a second workout on Saturday, ESPN’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Oni averaged 17.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.6 APG during his junior season. The 6’6” Oni is hoping to become the first Ivy Leaguer drafted since 1995, Schultz adds.
We have more draft info:
- Indiana freshman swingman Romeo Langford is meeting with the Heat this weekend, Schultz reports in another tweet. Miami possesses the No. 13 pick and Langford is ranked No. 14 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
- International prospect Goga Bitadze is visiting the Celtics, Pistons and Hornets in the days leading up to Thursday’s draft. according to a tweet from Hawks website writer Kevin Chouinard. The 6’11” Bitadze, 19, led the EuroLeague and Adriatic League in blocks on both a per-game and per-minute basis. He is ranked No. 17 overall by Givony.
- The Wizards worked out Tennessee guard Jordan Bone on Saturday, according to a team press release. The point guard is No. 56 on Givony’s list.
- Forward Terry Harris worked out for the Knicks on Thursday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. He also visited the Nets this week and will work out for the Mavericks and Jazz, Bondy adds in another tweet. He played for North Carolina A&T in his senior year, averaging 8.1 PPG. He is the younger brother of Sixers free agent forward Tobias Harris.
- The Hawks met with Cam Reddish yesterday, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Reddish, having recently undergone core muscle surgery, did not work out with the club. There’s a decent chance Reddish is available when the Hawks pick at No. 8.
Oregon center Bol Bol has received the last of 20 invites to the draft’s Green Room, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. Bol Bol is ranked No. 15 overall by Givony. The 7’2” freshman appeared in only nine games with the Ducks due to a foot injury but averaged 21.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG and 2.7 BPG.
We have more draft notes:
- Projected top pick Zion Williamson has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to terminate an agreement he signed with a Florida marketing company, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Williamson signed a marketing deal, which included a clause that it couldn’t be terminated for five years, with Gina Ford and Prime Sports in April. Williamson’s family told the agency two weeks ago that it was terminating the agreement and the agency responded that it would sue for damages in excess of $100MM, Wojnarowski continues. According to Williamson’s suit, the agreement was unlawful under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act because Prime Sports is not certified by the Players Association or a registered athlete agent in North Carolina or Florida.
- The Knicks’ workout on Friday included St. John guard Justin Simon and Kansas power forward Dedric Lawson, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. Virginia Tech swingman Ahmed Hill and St. Louis guard Javon Bess also participated in the workout, Zagoria adds.
- The Pistons, Magic and Hornets are the teams most likely to take first-round prospect and former Indiana swingman Romeo Langford, Dustic Dopirak of The Athletic writes.
- The Hawks will look at six big men on Saturday according to a team press release. That group includes center Nicolas Claxton (Georgia), Aric Holman (Mississippi State), Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State) and Naz Reid (LSU) along with Europeans Sekou Doumbouya and Luka Samanic. Langford will also visit with the Hawks on Saturday but will not workout.
Melvin Frazier underwent successful surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right tibia, the Magic announced on their Twitter feed. The No. 35 overall pick from the 2018 draft played in just 10 games for Orlando during his rookie season.
Here’s more from the Southeast Division:
- The Hawks will meet with PJ Washington on Friday, per Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). The Kentucky product will not be working out for the club.
- The Heat are bringing in Romeo Langford in for a visit, Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald report. Langford is expected to be selected in the middle of the first round and Miami owns the No. 13 overall pick.
- Jared Harper (Auburn), Amir Hinton (Shaw University), Louis King (Oregon), James Palmer Jr. (Nebraska), Trey Phills (Yale) and Rayjon Tucker (Arkansas-Little Rock) will work out for the Hornets on Friday, per the team’s website. As Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports notes (Twitter link), Phills is the son of the late Bobby Phills, whose No. 13 has been retired by Charlotte.