Brannen Greene

Central Notes: LeBron, Pistons, Bucks, Draft

After leading the Cavaliers to a historic NBA Finals comeback, and the first championship in franchise history, LeBron James likely won’t be attempting to lead Team USA to Olympic gold later this summer. According to Chris Mannix of The Vertical, the Finals MVP is leaning toward not participating in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. As Mannix details, James has yet to inform USA Basketball of his decision, one way or the other. However, team officials are operating under the expectation that the 31-year-old superstar is unlikely to play in Rio.

Here are a few more updates from out of the Central division:

  • The Pistons‘ pre-draft workout today, highlighted by Ivica Zubac, also featured five other players, according to David Mayo of MLive (Twitter link). The other participants were Nikola Jovanovic (USC), Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga), Stefan Jankovic (Hawaii), Elgin Cook (Oregon), and Brannen Greene (Kansas).
  • The Bucks also worked out several players today, conducting an individual workout for Michigan State’s Deyonta Davis and a group session for six other prospects. As announced in a press release, those six players were Matt Costello (Michigan State), Isaiah Cousins (Oklahoma), Demetrius Jackson (Notre Dame), Gary Payton II (Oregon State), Diamond Stone (Maryland), and Isaiah Whitehead (Seton Hall).
  • The Bucks formally broke ground on their new downtown Milwaukee arena over the weekend, according to a report from Genaro C. Armas of The Associated Press. The project is expected to cost approximately $524MM, and the club is expected to begin playing games in the new building at the start of the 2018/19 season.

Workouts Update: Suns, Hornets, Kings, Grizzlies

Two prominent power forward prospects had individual workouts with the Suns this weekend, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Croatian star Dragan Bender and Washington freshman Marquese Chriss both were in Phoenix for unannounced sessions that may influence the Suns’ thinking with the No. 4 pick. Coro adds that Bender worked out for Minnesota, which holds the fifth selection, on Thursday and will visit Boston, which has the No. 3 choice, early this week.

In addition, Phoenix held a workout Saturday for three players who may be options with the 13th pick: Michigan State power forward Deyonta Davis and shooting guard Denzel Valentine, along with small forward Timothe Luwawu of France. Also at the session were Louisville center Chinanu Onuaku and Arizona State center Eric Jabobsen.

There’s more workout news as draft day draws closer:

  • The Hornets, who have the 22nd pick, will welcome six players for a workout today, the team tweeted. The session will feature Virginia shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon, High Point combo forward John Brown, South Carolina small forward Michael Carrera, North Carolina power forward Joel James, UNLV shooting guard Patrick McCaw and Virginia center Mike Tobey.
  • The Kings are also planning to bring in six players today for a workout, the organization announced. Participants will be Arkansas-Little Rock point guard Josh Hagins, Arizona point guard Gabe York, Kansas small forward Brannen Greene, Oakland shooting guard Max Hooper, UC Santa Barbara combo guard Mike Bryson and Utah small forward Jordan Loveridge. The Kings hold pick No. 8.
  • The Grizzlies have a workout scheduled this afternoon with Texas A&M combo guard Alex Caruso, Oregon small forward Elgin Cook, Kansas center Cheick Diallo, Memphis power forward Shaq Goodwin, Baylor small forward Taurean Prince and LSU combo guard Tim Quarterman. Memphis has the 17th pick.
  • The Raptors, who own picks No. 9 and 27, will hold a workout today for Syracuse shooting guard Malachi Richardson, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv.
  • The Bulls held a workout Friday, tweets Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops. Attending were Maryland center Diamond Stone, UNLV center Stephen Zimmerman, Toledo power forward/center Nathan Boothe and Northern Iowa point guard Wes Washpun. The Bulls have the 14th pick.

Northwest Notes: Henderson, Jazz, Wolves

Earlier in his career, Gerald Henderson‘s top priority as a free agent might have been to find a team that would give him the opportunity to start. However, with his Trail Blazers contract set to expire, Henderson will prioritize contending teams this offseason, recognizing that being a starter isn’t as important to him as it once was.

“It’s great to start; starting the game is a special thing,” Henderson said, according to Cody Sharrett of Blazers.com. “To be a starter in the NBA is a cool thing, I’ve done it for a long time, but what’s really more important to me is playing significant minutes in times where a team needs you and more of your impact while you’re out on the floor – just being a part of what’s going on. You look at different teams, sometimes the best player comes off the bench, it all depends on what kind of team you have. I’d probably say three or four years ago, [starting] was much more important to me.”

Let’s check in on a few more items from out of the Northwest…

  • The Jazz are hosting six more players for pre-draft workouts today, the team announced (via Twitter). The list of participants: Josh Gray (LSU), Rosco Allen (Stanford), Tanner Plomb (West Point), Trey Lewis (Louisville), Brannen Greene (Kansas), and James Webb III (Boise State).
  • The Timberwolves worked out Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere individually on Tuesday, and also had Ryan Arcidiacono (Villanova), Tim Quarterman (LSU), Wes Washpun (Northern Iowa), Devin Thomas (Wake Forest), and Josh Scott (Colorado) in for a group workout, reports Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter links). Damion Lee (Louisville) had also been scheduled to participate, but pulled out due to an injury.
  • The Trail Blazers are hosting multiple free agent mini-camps and are saying they may end up signing multiple participants from those camps, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Russ Smith and Erick Green were among the free agents in attendance at Portland’s first veteran mini-camp.
  • As Erik Horne of The Oklahoman details, Andre Roberson enjoyed a breakout season in 2015/16, and is becoming a reliable two-way wing just in time for the opening of his contract extension window. If the Thunder don’t sign Roberson to an extension this year, he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency next summer.

Atlantic Notes: Kerr, Bender, Sixers, Biyombo

As the Warriors prepare for Monday’s Game 7 with the Thunder, Marc Berman of The New York Post offers a reminder that the results of Golden State’s last Game 7 prevented Steve Kerr from coaching the Knicks. After the Warriors lost to the Clippers in 2014, owner Joe Lacob decided to fire coach Mark Jackson. The team contacted the agent for Kerr, who had a verbal agreement with New York but nothing on paper. Kerr met with the Warriors and decided that was a better opportunity for him. With the expected hiring of Jeff Hornacek, the Knicks are now on their third coach since Kerr’s change of heart.

There’s more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • Danny Ainge, the Celtics‘ president of basketball operations, is in Israel this weekend to scout Dragan Bender, according to Mike Petraglia of WEEI. Ainge was accompanied by his son, Austin, who serves as director of player personnel. They planned to watch Bender practice Saturday and today, but will not see him in a game. The 18-year-old is considered a possibility with Boston’s No. 3 pick in next month’s draft.
  • The Sixers will hold a workout Monday for six players, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Potential second-rounders Joel Bolomboy of Weber State and James Webb III of Boise State will be the top players at the session, according to Pompey. They will be joined by Brannen Greene of Kansas, Daniel House of Texas A&M, Tim Quarterman of LSU and Isaiah Taylor of Texas.
  • Bismack Biyombo’s playoff performance virtually assures his future won’t be in Toronto, claims Scott Stinson of the National Post. Biyombo put up dazzling numbers after Jonas Valanciunas was sidelined by a sprained ankle and may have earned a maximum contract. Valanciunas has a four-year, $64MM extension that begins next season, and Stinson doesn’t think the Raptors want to give huge money to two centers.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Teletovic, Workouts

While the Kings would like to have Rajon Rondo return next season, the team is prepared to move on from the point guard rather quickly if the bidding for his services escalates, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com writes. The scribe doesn’t cite a specific dollar figure that would be the cut off point for Sacramento, but does note that it is lower than many might think. Rondo earned $9.5MM this season and is likely to command more than that in unrestricted free agency this summer given the amount of teams in need of help at the point guard position, though that is merely my speculation. The 30-year-old made 72 appearances in 2015/16, averaging 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 11.7 assists in 35.2 minutes per outing.

Here’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers may not have a choice in the matter, given that the Sixers select ahead of them in this June’s draft, but team officials prefer LSU forward Ben Simmons over Duke’s Brandon Ingram, Chad Ford of ESPN. com tweets. Ingram is a better fit for the team, but many in the front office are enamored with Simmons’ star potential, Ford adds.
  • The Suns held a workout on Wednesday for Nikola Jovanovic (USC), Codi Miller-McIntyre (Wake Forest), Adam Smith (Georgia Tech) and Caleb Swanigan (Purdue), the team announced.
  • Working out for the Kings today will be Josh Hagins (Arkansas Little Rock), Gabe York (Arizona), Brannen Greene (Kansas), Max Hooper (Oakland), Mike Bryson (UC Santa Barbara) and Jordan Loveridge (Utah), the team relayed.
  • Mirza Teletovic is expected to be in high demand this summer as an unrestricted free agent, but the power forward said that the hiring of Earl Watson as head coach significantly increases the chances that he will re-sign with the Suns, Matt Petersen of NBA.com relays.
  • The Lakers may entertain dealing away the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft, but doing so may compromise the team’s current plan build around its young core, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News writes. The scribe adds that Los Angeles will have ample opportunities to add veterans via free agency instead, given its ample cap flexibility this summer.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Suns, Kings, Warriors

A report this week from ESPN’s Chad Ford suggested that the Lakers are expected to make their lottery pick available in trade talks if it lands at No. 3, with the team seeking a “young veteran” in return. It remains to be seen how aggressive GM Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers will be in pursuing a potential trade, but Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider link) has looked into whether it would even be the best approach for the franchise, laying out the pros and cons for moving a top-three pick. In Pelton’s view, the Lakers “would be foolish to rule out” the possibility of trading that selection, but the club should be very careful about which veterans it targets — if the right player isn’t available, Los Angeles should simply hang onto the pick and use it.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Suns won’t necessarily approach next month’s draft looking to address a specific position, but the team could use some help at the four, and as Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic details, it might make sense for Phoenix to use one of its two potential lottery picks on a power forward.
  • In a separate Arizona Republic piece, Coro breaks down the prospects who interviewed with the Suns at last week’s combine in Chicago. Teams are permitted to talk to up to 20 players for 30 minutes apiece, and Coro has the full list of the 20 prospects who met with Phoenix.
  • As Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee writes, the debate over whether the Kings will use a first-round pick on a point guard takes place on an annual basis, and this year is no exception. Jones examines whether Sacramento might have a chance to nab Providence’s Kris Dunn, or whether it would make sense for the Kings to move down and pick a point guard later in the first round.
  • The Warriors are still alive in the postseason, but that doesn’t mean they’re not partially focused on the draft as well. According to Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link), Golden State is bringing in prospects Josh Adams, Nick Faust, Brannen Greene, Max Hooper, Fred VanVleet, and David Walker for a pre-draft workout.

Draft Rumors: Zizic, Baldwin, Greene, Wizards

Croatian center Ante Zizic, who is under contract with Cibona Zagreb, is open to going the draft-and-stash route, according to international journalist David Pick (Twitter links). The 19-year-old, 6’11” Zizic is considered a first-round talent. He’s ranked No. 26 by DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony and No. 22 on ESPN Insider Chad Ford’s Big Board. Several international scouts have told Ford that Zizic, the fourth-ranked center, could be a steal in this year’s draft because of his low-post game, rebounding and toughness. Zizic declared for the draft earlier this month, but with his contract tying him to Cibona for another year, it’s either become a draft-and-stash pick or pull out of the draft by June 13th, Pick notes.
In other developments regarding the June 23rd draft:
  • Forwards Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are the top two picks in ESPN Insider Chad Ford’s latest mock draft. Ford projects that the Sixers, who have the best odds of gaining the No. 1 selection, will grab Simmons because of the higher upside he has compared to Ingram, with the Lakers then taking the Duke freshman. Point guard Jamal Murray (Celtics) and power forwards Dragan Bender (Suns) and Henry Ellenson (Timberwolves) round out Ford’s top five.
  • Vanderbilt point guard Wade Baldwin has signed with Priority Sports, tweets ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. Baldwin was linked earlier this month to Priority Sports as his potential representative, according to a tweet from Pick. The 6’3” Baldwin is currently ranked No. 16 by Givony, while Ford pegs him at No. 23.
  • Kansas swingman Brannen Greene has signed with Sam Goldfeder of Excel, Goodman reports in a separate tweet. Greene barely cracks the Top 100 list by Givony at No. 99, while Ford doesn’t list him on his Big Board.
  • UNLV’s Derrick Jones is officially staying in the draft and has signed with Aaron Turner, Goodman reported in another tweet. The 6’6” small forward is not ranked in the Top 100 by either Givony or Ford.
  • The Wizards do not plan to trade into the draft despite the strong possibility they will lose their first-rounder, writes Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. Washington sent a top-nine protected pick to the Suns in the deadline deal for power forward Markieff Morris. Unless the Wizards get a top-three selection via the lottery, they’ll lose the pick. Team president Ernie Grunfeld told Castillo and other media members he’s not keen on making a draft-related deal. “We look at Markieff as being our draft pick, and I don’t think we’ll get a player where we’d be drafting that can do the kind of things that he can do, and be under contract for three years like that, and still be young but proven,” Grunfeld said.

Brannen Greene To Enter NBA Draft

Kansas swingman Brannen Greene intends to enter the 2016 NBA draft, Jon Rothstein of CBSSports.com reports (via Twitter). The junior intends to hire an agent, which would eliminate the opportunity for Greene to withdraw and return to school for his senior campaign, Rothstein adds.

Greene’s decision to hire an agent is a risky one, given that he is currently ranked No. 173 overall by Chad Ford of ESPN.com and is the No. 23 ranked junior by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress. The 6’7″ small forward entered college as the No. 33 prospect in the Recruiting Services Consensus Index.

The 21-year-old appeared in 29 games this season and averaged just 5.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists in 12.4 minutes per outing. His career NCAA numbers are 4.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.7 assists to accompany a shooting line of .446/.422/.872.

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