Bennedict Mathurin

Pacers Sign Bennedict Mathurin

Bennedict Mathurin, the sixth pick in this year’s draft, has signed with the Pacers, the team announced in a press release.

If Mathurin receives 120% of the rookie scale, which is standard, he will be paid approximately $6.59MM during his first season and $29.9MM over the four-year contract.

Mathurin, 20, rose up draft boards after a strong sophomore season at Arizona, averaging 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists and earning Pac 12 Player of the Year honors. He was a second-team All-American and was named Most Outstanding Player in the conference tournament.

The 6’6″ swingman also has international experience, helping Canada capture a bronze medal last year in the FIBA Under-19 World Cup.

Central Notes: Pacers Rookies, Stephenson, Cavs’ Targets, Sexton, Garland

The Pacers wound up with three players in the draft — lottery pick Bennedict Mathurin and second-rounders Andrew Nembhard and Kendall Brown. Team president Kevin Pritchard has high hopes for the trio, Bob Kravitz of The Athletic writes.

“One of the things I’m absolutely convinced of, these three young men will be a part of this organization for a long time,” Pritchard said. “We wanted to get more athletic, more dynamic and bring some intelligence. All three demonstrated that athleticism and drive to win. The one common denominator is, they all love to play.”

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Pacers Notes: Nembhard, Mathurin, Summer League, Trades

The Pacers selected Andrew Nembhard with the No. 31 pick in Thursday’s draft, adding to a young core that also includes Tyrese Haliburton, No. 6 pick Bennedict Mathurin and others. As Gabby Hajduk of the Indianapolis Star explores, Nembhard is older than most draft picks at 22, so he’s expected to bring intelligence and maturity to the club.

“The word that stands out for me is feel,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “(Nembhard) has just got an amazing feel for the game. I love point guards. I’ve had the real privilege of working with some great, great point guards.

“I mean, Jason Kidd, we won a championship with Jason Kidd, we had J.J. Barea on that team. Jason Terry was a point guard that converted to a scoring guard. I see some of all those qualities in Andrew. Love his size, love playmakers that can control the game, not only with their skill but with their mind.”

Nembhard receiving strong praise from his new championship coach is justified. He averaged 11.8 points, 5.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game last season, shooting an efficient 45% from the field and 38% from behind the arc.

There’s more out of Indiana tonight:

  • As the Pacers continues to push toward a full rebuild, Mathurin should be viewed as a quality piece to the puzzle, Evan Sidery of opines. Mathurin, 20, is a 6’7″ guard who held per-game averages of 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds at Arizona last season. His confidence certainly isn’t lacking, as apparent by his recent comments regarding Lakers superstar LeBron James (hat tip to Yahoo Sports). “A lot of people say he’s great,” Mathurin said of James. “I want to see how great he is. I don’t think anybody is better than me. He’s going to have to show me he’s better than me.”
  • Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files examines the team’s summer league roster, which still isn’t fully completed. In addition to Mathurin and Nembhard, the Pacers are expected to have Chris Duarte, Terry Taylor and others when the team plays in Las Vegas next month.
  • While Mathurin may be a good draft pick, the Pacers struck out on making major draft-day trades last week, Bob Kravitz of The Athletic writes. Indiana still has Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner under contract. Both players are known to be available on the trade market.

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 (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.

Pistons Expected To Pursue Deandre Ayton

After agreeing to send Jerami Grant to the Trail Blazers, the Pistons will target Suns center Deandre Ayton in free agency, sources tell James L. Edwards III of The Athletic.

Ayton will be a restricted free agent, so Phoenix can match any offer he receives, but there’s speculation that he might be on the move because of his desire for a max contract and a reported confrontation with coach Monty Williams in the playoffs.

Detroit will head into the free agent market with roughly $43MM in cap space once the Grant trade is finalized. Edwards says the Pistons may use it to explore trade opportunities if Ayton either re-signs with the Suns or is traded elsewhere. He adds that general manager Troy Weaver won’t feel pressured to go through it all during the offseason. The organization may save some room to take on unwanted contracts and acquire draft assets.

With their obligations to Blake Griffin finally over, the Pistons have significant cap flexibility for the first time in several years, Edwards notes. They want to build an exciting, competitive team around Cade Cunningham and they hope Ayton will be part of that group.

There’s more on the Grant trade:

  • The deal with Portland is the best offer the Pistons received for Grant, according to Edwards’ sources. He adds that potential trades were discussed with other teams, dating back to the deadline in February, but no formal offers provided a better return than the package of draft picks from the Blazers.
  • Trading their starting power forward may indicate that the Pistons are focused on Keegan Murray with the fifth pick in Thursday’s draft, but Edwards cautions that it’s not a foregone conclusion. Jaden Ivey will also be considered if he’s available, along with Bennedict Mathurin. Edwards also points out that Isaiah Stewart or Saddiq Bey could replace Grant, allowing the team to concentrate on other positions in the draft. Edwards suggests that, with the help of their newfound cap space, the Pistons might try to acquire a pick late in the lottery if a big man like Jalen Duren is still available.
  • Damian Lillard‘s agent, Aaron Goodwin, endorsed the trade, tweets Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. He said it shows “the Blazers are competing.”
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic gives the Trail Blazers a B and the Pistons a C-plus in his grades for the deal. He notes that Grant was extremely productive during his two seasons in Detroit and provides Portland with a path toward quickly returning to contender status. Harper adds that the trade makes sense for the Pistons’ rebuilding effort, although it’s a long time to wait for Milwaukee’s first-round pick in 2025.

Southwest Notes: Kleber, Wiltjer, Elmore, Pelicans’ Draft, Fertitta

Maxi Kleber remains a big part of the Mavericks’ plans despite the impending acquisition of Houston’s Christian Wood, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Kleber’s $9MM salary isn’t guaranteed until July 4, but that is considered a formality, according to MacMahon. Kleber, who has been a rotation player for Dallas for the past five seasons, projects as Wood’s backup if Dwight Powell is moved this offseason.

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  • Kyle Wiltjer and Lydell Elmore are among the free agents participating in the Mavericks’ mini-camp, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Dallas is hosting more than 30 players this week, many of whom have some NBA experience. Wiltjer was previously with the Rockets, while Elmore played for the G League’s Westchester Knicks this past season.
  • Should the Pelicans draft Bennedict Mathurin or Dyson Daniels if both prospects are available with the No. 8 pick? The Athletic’s Will Guillory ponders that question. However, if Shaedon Sharpe falls to that spot, New Orleans shouldn’t pass up on his potential, in Guillory’s estimation.
  • The Rockets come into the draft with the No. 3 and 17 picks and will wind up with another at 26 when the Wood deal with Dallas is completed. Owner Tilman Fertitta anticipates there are more trades on the horizon on draft night. “In talking about the draft, look at the maneuvering that basketball ops did last year to pick up Al-P (Alperen Sengun) by moving things around,” Fertitta said. “I can promise you one thing: The way it looks on paper, it will not be exactly like that come Thursday. Stuff just happens. People call you. You’re calling people.”

Draft Rumors: Banchero, Magic, Smith, Kings, Murray, Pelicans, More

As Matt Moore of Action Network details, several oddsmakers have significantly moved their betting lines on Paolo Banchero in recent days, signaling that he’s no longer considered as much of a long shot to be this year’s No. 1 overall pick. However, executives around the NBA still widely expect Jabari Smith to be the first player off the board, reports Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

According to Fischer, Banchero was scheduled to meet with the Magic on Monday, but sources close to the Duke forward remain skeptical that he’s receiving serious consideration at No. 1. Fischer suggests that Smith and his representatives have been the most enthusiastic about landing in Orlando, while Chet Holmgren and his reps are thought to prefer the Thunder, since they believe there’s a stronger infrastructure in Oklahoma City to support the big man’s development.

As for Banchero, sources tell Fischer that he’d be happy to end up with the Rockets. The Seattle native has connections with general manager Rafael Stone, who is also from Seattle, and likes the idea of forming a dynamic offensive duo with Jalen Green.

At No. 4, the Kings remain a wild card, according to Fischer, who adds the Spurs to the list of teams interested in moving up in the lottery. The Spurs and Pacers are believed to be eyeing Keegan Murray, while the Wizards and Knicks are targeting Jaden Ivey, Fischer notes.

The Pistons were previously identified as a team exploring a trade up to No. 4, but Fischer suggests Detroit has “projected a strong confidence” that Ivey will be available at No. 5 if Sacramento keeps its pick, since teams drafting behind the Kings are preparing for them to select Murray.

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

  • Teams drafting behind the Pelicans (No. 8) believe they’re a candidate to trade down, according to Fischer, who identifies the Thunder (No. 12) as a potential trade partner for New Orleans. Fischer says rivals suspect the Pelicans like Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin, so if at least one of them is still on the board at No. 8, they may be more inclined to hang onto the pick.
  • There’s a “strong possibility” the Rockets will look to further expand their Christian Wood trade with the Mavericks, which isn’t yet official. Dallas’ side of the deal would presumably remain unchanged, but Houston could tweak the structure of the trade by including another team and additional pieces. Fischer suggests a move related to the No. 17 pick could be folded into the transaction.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic has heard from agents that many teams drafting in the second round – even in the 30s – are calling to see if certain prospects will agree to two-way contracts. That could result in some players who project as second-rounders ultimately going undrafted if they don’t want to accept a two-way offer.
  • Vecenie adds that many of the picks in the 30s are candidates to be traded, since teams without picks are pursuing those selections. The Lakers are among the clubs said to be very much in the market for a second-rounder.

Draft Notes: Holmgren, J. Smith, NBA Academy, Hornets

Chet Holmgren may not wind up joining Jalen Suggs with the Magic, but he’s been getting draft advice from his long-time friend and high school teammate, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Before both players headed to Gonzaga for one-year stays, they teamed up at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis.

“He said try to slow things down as fast as you can because everyone at that level plays slow, even when there’s seven seconds on the shot clock, nobody rushes,” Holmgren said. “Everyone knows seven seconds is a lot of time — in the NBA, you can get almost two more actions in that [time]. Other pointers, tips like that, about the NBA style of play.”

Holmgren met with Orlando’s front office this week and will be under consideration for the No. 1 pick, although most draft experts expect Auburn’s Jabari Smith to be taken first.

There’s more on the draft:

  • Ryan Blake, who has been helping to direct NBA scouting services since 1996, views Smith as worthy of the No. 1 selection, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Blake believes Smith will display skills that were inhibited by the more restricted college atmosphere. “His offensive game is going to be so much better in the NBA,” Blake said. “He had the confidence and maturity to play within the system at Auburn. You have a prototypical forward who can play two spots that can really almost be a Jayson Tatum-type of player. He has a great shooting stroke — the release [and] the soft touch. He’s a versatile defender. He’s intense. He’s moving his feet. He’s always looking around. He’s also a leader, too. He’s always in the mix.”
  • Josh Giddey was the first NBA Academy graduate to be drafted and three more players are expected to join him this year, Maurice Brooks writes for Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin will likely be lottery picks, while Hyunjung Lee is projected to be taken in the second round. The NBA Academy was created in 2016 to provide more opportunities for international players.
  • Six players will attend a workout for the Hornets today, the team announced on Twitter. They are Jules Bernard of UCLA, Nysier Brooks of Mississippi, Terrell Brown Jr. of Washington, Josh Carlton of Houston, Dereon Seabron of North Carolina State and Ben Shungu of Vermont.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Grizzlies, St. Jean, Mathurin

The Pelicans continue to reap the benefits from the trade that sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers three years ago, writes Christian Clark of The next piece will be L.A.’s first-round draft pick for this year, which landed in the middle of Thursday’s lottery at No. 8.

New Orleans will also have the option to swap first-rounders with the Lakers next summer, with one more first-round pick coming in either 2024 or 2025, whichever the Pelicans choose. The turmoil that surrounded L.A. this season, along with Davis’ injury history and LeBron James‘ age, could make both those future picks extremely valuable.

Clark also examines the other pieces of the deal, including Brandon Ingram, who has developed into a franchise cornerstone in New Orleans. Ingram averaged 22.7 PPG this season and improved his passing numbers under new coach Willie Green, handing out a career-best 5.6 assists per night.

The other two players in the Davis trade are no longer with the Pelicans, but Josh Hart was used in a package for CJ McCollum, who led a late-season charge into the playoffs. McCollum took over the lead role in the backcourt and was New Orleans’ top scorer over the 26 games he played.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Grizzlies, who hold two picks in the draft at No. 22 and 29, are “trying hard” to trade up, according to Marc Stein in his latest column for Substack. Memphis already has 13 players under contract for next season and won’t have much playing time to offer a pair of rookies.
  • Assistant coach Greg St. Jean is expected to move to the front of the Mavericks‘ bench next season, Stein tweets. He will likely take the spot vacated by Igor Kokoskov, who is headed to Brooklyn.
  • Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin said he can envision the Spurs drafting him if he’s still on the board at No. 9, per Jeff Garcia of KENS5 in San Antonio. Mathurin met with team officials at last month’s draft combine in Chicago. “It went pretty good. I was able to meet a lot of the staff,” he said. “It was great, to be honest. I was able to see myself going there with all the players they have on their roster. They have great talent. They have a young core. That is for sure one thing that really caught my eye.”

And-Ones: Wembanyama, Russia, Draft’s Top 75, East Asia League

Victor Wembanyama, the potential No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft, may be leaving Asvel of the EuroLeague, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. The 7’3” big man has an opt-out clause that must be exercised before June 26. He signed a three-year deal with Asvel last summer but only averaged 6.5 PPG and 3.8 RPG in 13 games last season. Paris Basketball, which will be competing in EuroCup next season, is pursuing him, according to L’Equipe.

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