Blake Francis

Southeast Notes: Crowder, Heat, Mosley, Wizards

The Heat made a key personnel decision that could have adversely impacted their 2020/21 season in letting Jae Crowder walk as a free agent during the 2020 offseason, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The club opted to not sign Crowder to a long-term deal so that it could keep its coffers open for the summer of 2021, when Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was scheduled to be a free agent. Of course, Antetokounmpo then signed a lucrative extension with Milwaukee, and the Bucks would go on to sweep the Heat 4-0 in the first round of the 2021 postseason.

Crowder, meanwhile, signed a three-year, $29.2MM deal with the Suns. Though Crowder’s statistical numbers may be modest, Winderman notes that his toughness and versatility would have significantly aided Miami’s 2020/21 season. Crowder is now bringing those same attributes to bear for the Suns in the NBA Finals. The club is up 2-0 against the Bucks.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Team Nigeria head coach Mike Brown sang the praises of Heat forwards Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala after they contributed to Team Nigeria’s 90-87 exhibition match upset over Team USA in an Olympics tuneup game, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Achiuwa and Okpala’s contributions went beyond their minor offensive output. Their Miami teammate Gabe Vincent, meanwhile, enjoyed a stellar offensive game for Nigeria, scoring a team-high 21 points on 66.7% field goal shooting.
  • Several current and former Magic players expressed their excitement when the news broke today that Orlando would be hiring Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley to be the club’s new head coach, writes Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel. “I’m happy for him,” Magic forward Jonathan Isaac told Hays. “He’s been faithful to the grind and the league for many years.” Former Magic guard J.J. Redick, who was coached by Mosley in Dallas this season, tweeted “Love this!!”
  • The Wizards, who have the No. 15 pick in the 2021 draft, will hold pre-draft workouts for six draft candidates on Monday, per a team press release. Richmond guard Blake Francis, Florida guard Tre Mann, Avtodor Saratov forward Nikita Mikhailovskii, Tennessee swingman Yves Pons, Stanford forward Oscar Da Silva, and Coppin State wing Koby Thomas will all get a look from Washington’s brain trust.

Southeast Workouts: Wizards, Magic, Hornets, Hawks

The Wizards worked out six draft prospects today, and there are four more scheduled for tomorrow, according to team announcements. Western Kentucky’s Charles Bassey, Texas’ Greg Brown III, and Isaiah Todd, of the G League Ignite, headlined today’s workouts, along with Jay Huff, Blake Francis, and Colbey Ross.

Tomorrow’s slate of workouts will include Troy Baxter Jr., Obadiah Noel, Jamorko Pickett, and Devontae Shuler.

We have more draft workout news from around the Southeast Division:

  • Corey Kispert, the sharp-shooting senior out of Gonzaga, worked out today for the Magic, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. The 6’6″ guard/forward would fill a much-needed role for a Magic team that is well-stocked at some positions but still low on shooters.
  • The Hornets worked out potential lottery pick Jalen Johnson today, according to a tweet from the team. Johnson had a turbulent year at Duke, and eventually withdrew from the program, but came in with a high pedigree and an intriguing point-forward skillset.
  • Ruot Monyyong, out of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will work out for the Hawks on Wednesday, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. The 6’10 big man was the 2019/20 All-Sun Defensive Player of the Year.

Draft Notes: Combine, Haliburton, Francis, Figueroa

If not for the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA’s draft combine would have taken place last week in Chicago, with dozens of this year’s top prospects congregating for workouts, scrimmages, interviews, and medical tests. Instead, that event has been indefinitely postponed, and it’s unclear what form it will eventually take — if it happens at all.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, league sources still believe there’s a good chance that a “downsized” combine that includes live interviews could take place in August or September. One report earlier in May suggested that such an event might be held within the NBA’s “bubble” location – possibly Walt Disney World – rather than Chicago, though that’s still speculative at this point.

Of course, before the NBA can even line up tentative plans for a combine, it will need to formally postpone the draft, which is still scheduled for June 25. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), some teams expect the draft to be delayed until September, with free agency potentially starting around October 1.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • Within his above-linked piece, Berman notes that Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm believes potential top-10 pick Tyrese Haliburton would benefit from being able to interview in person with NBA teams. “On Zoom, you can only impress so much,” Prohm said. “If he was in person, over dinner, or in the facility or ballroom at the combine, he’d knock it out of the park. His spirit and personality will wow people. He’ll move up on the charts on that alone. … His character and maturity is very high.”
  • Richmond guard Blake Francis, who tested the draft waters following his junior year, has decided to withdraw and return to school for one more season, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Francis is the third Richmond early entrant to withdraw from the draft pool, joining teammates Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden.
  • St. John’s guard LJ Figueroa has entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, a source tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports (Twitter link). Figueroa, who declared for the draft in the spring, will continue testing the waters as he explores his transfer options, tweets Rothstein.

Draft Decisions: S. Lewis, Armstrong, Camper, Santos-Silva, More

Florida freshman shooting guard Scottie Lewis had been considered a strong candidate to be drafted this spring, ranking 38th overall on ESPN’s big board. However, Lewis has opted not to declare for the draft, as he confirms to Jeff Goodman of Stadium.

“I was so stuck on going to the NBA when I got home, but then I thought long and hard about it and with all the uncertainty about the draft process, and if there will even be a combine and team workouts, I felt like it was the right move to go back to school,” Lewis told Stadium.

As Goodman details, Lewis got feedback from the NBA’s advisory committee, and while he was confident he’d be selected if he entered, he received a wide range of opinions on when exactly he might come off the board. With few opportunities during this year’s pre-draft process to boost his stock, Lewis has opted to play at least one more college season in the hopes of showing individual improvement and enjoying more team success.

“There’s so much more I think I can show, that we can show as a team,” Lewis said. “I want to leave a legacy at Florida. … I’m an optimistic person and no matter where I get drafted, I’m going to work my butt off. But with all this uncertainty, it was best for me to play it safe and put myself in a better position a year from now.”

Although Lewis isn’t entering his name in the 2020 NBA draft pool, several NCAA underclassmen are doing so. In addition to Kentucky guards Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans, whose decisions we covered earlier today, here are some of the recent prospects who will at least test the draft waters: