Hornets Rumors

Northwest Notes: Blazers’ Draft Options, Wolves’ Workouts, Adelman

With the draft just two weeks away, there’s no consensus on which players the Trail Blazers might land with the seventh and 14th picks, writes Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. He examines several mock drafts and notes they have varied widely on Portland’s selections since last month’s lottery.

With a talented backcourt already in place in Portland, Highkin believes the only certainty is that the Blazers won’t take a guard with their first choice. That would eliminate Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham, along with Serbia’s Nikola Topic. However, if a recent ACL injury causes Topic to slide down to the end of the lottery, Highkin thinks Portland might be interested.

UConn center Donovan Clingan is a popular projection to the Blazers in recent mock drafts, but there’s also a chance he could be taken in the top three. Highkin doesn’t expect Portland to trade up for Clingan or any other prospect because there’s a strong chance the team can get a player it likes by staying at No. 7.

Highkin observes that the Blazers’ front office typically focuses on potential upside rather than looking for a player with a high floor. He hears Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht had a strong showing when he worked out in Portland.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers are planning to upgrade and expand their practice facility, Highkin adds in a separate story. In February, the team advanced the project by spending $4.6MM to buy a plot of land next to the current facility. The move suggests that owner Jody Allen is in no hurry to sell the franchise, Highkin states.
  • The Timberwolves hosted Texas’ Dylan Disu, Stanford’s Spencer Jones, Serbia’s Bogoljub Markovic, Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves, UConn’s Cam Spencer, and Clemson’s PJ Hall for a pre-draft workout on Wednesday, the team announced (via Twitter). A Sunday workout brought in Utah’s Branden Carlson, Minnesota’s Cam Christie, Serbia’s Nikola Djurisic, Marquette’s Oso Ighodaro, Weber State’s Dillon Jones, and UConn’s Tristen Newton (Twitter link).
  • Bennett Durando of The Denver Post questions why Nuggets assistant David Adelman isn’t getting more consideration from teams that are looking for head coaches. Sources confirmed to Durando that Adelman interviewed this year with the Hornets, Cavaliers and Lakers, but he hasn’t been reported as among the frontrunners for any of those jobs. The Nuggets believe it’s just a matter of time before Adelman gets an opportunity, Durando adds.

Miles Bridges' Decision Will Affect The Rest Of The Offseason

  • Miles Bridges‘ decision in free agency will set the tone for the rest of the Hornets‘ summer, observes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The team would love to re-sign Bridges, but he figures to have plenty of options on the open market after posting a career season while playing on a $7.9MM qualifying offer. Boone notes that Bridges’ $15MM cap hold and the $7.5MM salary slotted for the No. 6 pick will take up most of Charlotte’s projected cap space, so the team is limited in the moves it can make until Bridges’ situation is resolved.
  • In a separate story, Boone examines the type of head coach the Hornets are getting in Boston assistant Charles Lee, who won’t be with the team full-time until after the end of the NBA Finals.

Celtics Notes: Lee, Porzingis, Tatum, Pagliuca

Celtics assistant Charles Lee is the only participant in the NBA Finals who’s working two jobs. Lee, who was hired more than a month ago as the Hornets‘ next head coach, is preparing to take over in Charlotte while fulfilling his commitment to his current team, writes Marc J. Spears of Andscape.

Lee said he sought advice from Kings head coach Mike Brown, who was in the same situation two years ago as an assistant with Golden State.

“The biggest thing is focusing on the right now, which I need to,” Lee said. “When my Celtics hat is on, I’m fully engaged. That is where my mind is at. When I leave the arena, all of the sudden you have to think about your staff and connecting with your players and what does the training camp and Summer League look like. I’ve been making pretty good progress.”

Once the Finals are done, Lee will only have a few days to spend with the Hornets before the draft and the start of free agency. He has already started to familiarize himself with the team, according to Spears, meeting LaMelo Ball for lunch, watching a pair of workouts in Charlotte, and holding Zoom calls with prospective members of his coaching staff. Lee told Spears that he plans to coach the Hornets’ Summer League team in July.

“I’m so excited for a number of reasons,” Lee said. “Nothing is ever given to you. And you have to work for it. And that’s what I’m all about and the mentality I want to bring to Charlotte, too. It’s not going to be easy. No one is going to give us anything. But we have to work every day. You have to be obsessed with daily improvement.”

There’s more on the Celtics:

  • The leg injury that Kristaps Porzingis suffered in Game 2 has the potential to change the direction of the series, observe Jared Weiss and Jay King of The Athletic. Weiss notes that Boston hasn’t been nearly as good defensively in the playoffs with backup big men Luke Kornet and Neemias Queta on the court, while King suggests Jayson Tatum may see time at center in small-ball lineups if Porzingis is unavailable.
  • Tatum tells Khari Thompson of The Boston Globe that he’s reached a point in his career where he can help the Celtics even when his shot isn’t falling. Tatum is just 12-of-38 from the field in the past two games, but he’s contributing by rebounding, passing and playing defense. “I think being in the Finals two years ago has helped me in this moment,” he said. “I understand that I do need to be more efficient. I do need to shoot the ball better, I would not disagree with anybody on that. But I’m not letting it bother me. I’m still trying to find ways to impact the game and dominate the game in other areas.”
  • Celtics minority owner Stephen Pagliuca spoke to Brian Lewis and Josh Kosman of The New York Post about how close he came to joining Joe Tsai in his purchase of the Nets in 2017.

Draft Notes: Fit Vs. Value, International Prospects, Top PGs, More

In their latest mock draft for ESPN.com (Insider link), Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo provide two paths — Givony makes each pick based on the team’s biggest need, while Woo chooses the player who would be the best value at that spot.

For example, at No. 1, Givony has the Hawks taking Donovan Clingan, arguing that one of the league’s worst defenses would benefit from adding the draft’s best rim protector, while Woo views Zaccharie Risacher as the choice for Atlanta, since both he and Givony have the French forward ranked as the best prospect in this year’s draft class.

There are several spots where the best fit and best value overlap, including at No. 2 (Alexandre Sarr to the Wizards), No. 4 (Reed Sheppard to the Spurs), No. 5 (Matas Buzelis to the Pistons), No. 6 (Stephon Castle to the Hornets), and No. 12 (Nikola Topic to the Thunder).

Here’s more on the 2024 NBA draft:

  • In another Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Givony and Woo highlight 20 draft prospects who excel in specific areas. For instance, while Givony and Woo consider Kentucky’s Sheppard to be the best spot-up shooter in the 2024 draft class, ESPN’s duo names UConn’s Cam Spencer as the best pull-up shooter and Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht as the best movement shooter. On the other side of the ball, Virginia’s Ryan Dunn is viewed as the best defensive play-maker, UConn’s Castle is recognized as the best on-ball defender, and Risacher is identified as the best off-ball defender.
  • While top prospects Risacher and Sarr and potential lottery picks Tidjane Salaun and Topic have gotten plenty of attention leading up to the draft, there are several other international prospects worth getting familiar with, according to Givony, who provides a primer on a handful of others who could hear their names called on June 26 or 27, including French wing Pacome Dadiet, Spanish point guard Juan Nunez, and Serbian forward Nikola Djurisic.
  • In an interview with Cyro Asseo de Choch of HoopsHype, Djurisic said he has been told his game is similar to that of seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson and likened himself to a “less athletic, taller Anthony Edwards.”
  • Referring to UConn’s Castle as one of the biggest risers in the pre-draft process, Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports ranks the reigning national champion No. 1 among point guards in this year’s draft class, followed by Topic at No. 2. Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, Providence’s Devin Carter, and Pitt’s Carlton Carrington round out Peek’s top five point guard prospects.

Nikola Jokic Included On Serbia’s Preliminary Olympic Roster

The Serbian national team has officially unveiled its preliminary roster for the 2024 Olympics, and that group is headlined by a noteworthy name. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is one of the 16 players on Serbia’s preliminary roster, which will be cut down to 12 players for this summer’s games in Paris.

Jokic was noncommittal when asked last month at the end of Denver’s season whether he intended to play for Serbia in the Olympics. Svetislav Pesic, the head coach of the national team, recently stated that the Nuggets star remained undecided. Jokic’s inclusion on the 16-man preliminary roster doesn’t guarantee he’ll be in Paris, but it’s a signal that he’s planning to participate.

Even without Jokic, the Serbians claimed a silver medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, falling to Germany in the final but qualifying for the Olympics based on that deep World Cup run. Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and Heat forward Nikola Jovic were among the key players on that team.

Bogdanovic and Jovic are also on the preliminary Olympic roster, and are joined by three more NBA players in Jokic, Hornets guard Vasilije Micic, and Hornets forward Aleksej Pokusevski. Filip Petrusev and Marko Guduric previously played in the NBA, while Nikola Milutinov, Ognjen Jaramaz, and Vanja Marinkovic were selected in past drafts but have never signed NBA contracts.

Serbia will be in Group C along with the United States at the Olympics and can secure a spot in the quarterfinals with a top-two finish in round-robin play. South Sudan and the winner of an Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico (Lithuania is the top-rated club in that six-team tournament) will be the other competition in Group C. Assuming Jokic plays, he could end up facing fellow Nuggets star Jamal Murray – who will suit up for Canada – at some point in the single-elimination portion of the event.

2024 NBA Draft Picks By Team

The Spurs and Trail Blazers were among the winners on last month’s draft lottery day, with the results on May 12 ensuring that both teams would have a pair of lottery picks in 2024. San Antonio received Toronto’s top-six protected first-rounder when it dropped to No. 8, while Portland was assured of receiving Golden State’s top-four protected first-rounder when it remained at No. 14. Both clubs’ own picks are in the top seven.

Besides being the only NBA teams to control two lottery picks this year, San Antonio and Portland have something else in common — they’re the only two clubs that own more than three total 2024 draft picks. In addition to No. 4 and No. 8, the Spurs have Nos. 35 and 48, while Portland has a pair of early second-rounders (Nos. 34 and 40) to go with its No. 7 and No. 14 picks.

Many of this year’s draft picks have changed hands at some point, with only 24 of 58 total selections held by their original owner, but they’re still a little more evenly distributed than usual. A year ago, 11 teams controlled three or more picks at this time, whereas this year only seven clubs hold more than two picks apiece.

In addition to those seven teams with three or more picks, 13 more clubs own a pair of draft selections, while another nine control one apiece. That leaves just a single NBA team without a draft pick this year: the Nets. Brooklyn traded both of its 2024 picks back in 2021, sending out its first-rounder in a package for James Harden and including its second-rounder later that year in a Sekou Doumbouya salary dump. The Nets could still trade into this draft, but for now they’re the only team on track to sit it out.

To present a clearer picture of which teams are most – and least – stocked with picks for the 2024 NBA draft, we’ve rounded up all 58 selections by team in the space below. Let’s dive in…

Teams with more than two picks:

  • San Antonio Spurs (4): 4, 8, 35, 48
  • Portland Trail Blazers (4): 7, 14, 34, 40
  • Washington Wizards (3): 2, 26, 51
  • Memphis Grizzlies (3): 9, 39, 57
  • Utah Jazz (3): 10, 29, 32
  • New York Knicks (3): 24, 25, 38
  • Indiana Pacers (3): 36, 49, 50

Teams with two picks:

  • Houston Rockets: 3, 44
  • Detroit Pistons: 5, 53
  • Charlotte Hornets: 6, 42
  • Sacramento Kings: 13, 45
  • Miami Heat: 15, 43
  • Philadelphia 76ers: 16, 41
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 17, 55
  • Orlando Magic: 18, 47
  • Toronto Raptors: 19, 31
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 23, 33
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: 27, 37
  • Denver Nuggets: 28, 56
  • Boston Celtics: 30, 54

Teams with one pick:

  • Atlanta Hawks: 1
  • Chicago Bulls: 11
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: 12
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 20
  • New Orleans Pelicans: 21
  • Phoenix Suns: 22
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 46
  • Golden State Warriors: 52
  • Dallas Mavericks: 58

Teams with no picks:

  • Brooklyn Nets

Draft Rumors: Buzelis, Clingan, Dillingham, Topic, More

Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN recently updated their top-100 list, with several new tidbits of information on prospects ranked in the top 25 (subscription required).

Sources tell Givony that G League Ignite forward Matas Buzelis “will work out for almost every team in the top five.” As Givony writes, teams are intrigued by Buzelis’ size, skills, versatility and long-term upside.

They don’t control a top-five pick, but sources tell Givony that Chicago — Buzelis’ hometown team — watched the 19-year-old in a private workout in Los Angeles “early in the pre-draft process.” The Bulls have explored the viability of moving up from No. 11 overall if the price is right, according to Givony, who adds that head of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas is very familiar with Buzelis and his game (they’re also both Lithuanian).

Here are some more rumors and updates from Givony and Woo:

  • ESPN previously reported that rival teams think the Bulls, Grizzlies and Trail Blazers could be interested in moving up to select UConn center Donovan Clingan, whom Givony describes as a “top-three prospect who might experience a minor drop on draft night because teams that are in the Nos. 3-6 range already have starting centers in place.” The Thunder and Jazz are also viewed as teams who could consider trading up for the 20-year-old. Clingan is still in the Hawks‘ conversation at No. 1, while Atlanta has also explored the possibility of trading down, Givony reports. The Blazers, who recently hosted Clingan for a private workout, are viewed as the big man’s floor at No. 7 overall.
  • Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham, the No. 7 prospect on ESPN’s board, is targeting a mid-June return following an ankle injury, sources tell Givony. That means the 19-year-old will likely only have time “for a handful of workouts” before the first round begins on June 26. Dillingham is on the radar of teams drafting in the top 10 who need a point guard, according to Givony, who suggests trades might need to transpire for him to go early.
  • Nikola Topic, long considered a probable lottery pick, was recently diagnosed with a partially torn ACL in his left knee, as ESPN reported on Wednesday. However, he has only dropped one spot — No. 9 to No. 10 — on ESPN’s latest update, with Givony pointing to Topic’s age (he turns 19 in August) and upside (he was once in consideration for No. 1) as reasons why the Serbian guard is unlikely to have a drastic fall. The Spurs (No. 8), Jazz (No. 10), Thunder (No. 12) and Trail Blazers (No. 14) are viewed as potential landing spots for Topic, depending on how his medicals are evaluated.
  • According to Woo and Givony, Tenneesee wing Dalton Knecht, who comes in at No. 8, has drawn “strong interest” from every team selecting in the 6-10 range (Hornets, Trail Blazers, Spurs, Grizzlies, Jazz). French forward Tidjane Salaun, the No. 9 prospect on ESPN’s board, is expected to draw suitors in the 4-14 range.
  • G League Ignite wing Ron Holland, who ranks No. 11, has either worked out for or will work out for the Heat (No. 15) and Lakers (No. 17), per ESPN. Providence guard Devin Carter recently worked out for the Lakers as well, and his range is expected to be anywhere from No. 8 to No. 15. According to Woo, “playoff-caliber teams” will likely have interest in Carter, 22, if they decide to trade up.
  • Back-to-back college Player of the Year Zach Edey, who ranks No. 16, has an upcoming workout with the Lakers, but it’s possible he could land quite a bit higher than No. 17. According to Givony, the Grizzlies, Jazz, Bulls, Thunder, Trail Blazers and Heat are viewed as viable landing spots for the Canadian big man, who recently worked out for his hometown Raptors as well. Toronto (picking at No. 19) is viewed as Edey’s floor.
  • The Grizzlies and Kings are among the lottery teams with interest in Colorado’s Tristan Da Silva, per Woo. An older prospect, the German combo forward is viewed as a player who can contribute right away but has a lower ceiling than younger players in the class, Woo adds.
  • Givony and Woo have more information on the possible ranges of several other potential first-round picks. The whole article is worth checking out for those who subscribe to ESPN+.

Micic Happy He Got Dealt To Hornets

  • Vasilije Micic embraced the challenge of an expanded role with the Hornets in his first NBA season after getting traded by the Thunder. Micic, the former EuroLeague star, is entering the second year of a three-year contract. “It was good for me,” he told HoopsHype’s Cyro Asseo de Choch. “I was very happy to get the chance, and to be honest, since I came there, I came up with an idea to face all the challenges that I could potentially face even though I was 29, even though I settled myself so well in Europe. I just wanted that challenge, and so far, it’s going OK.
  • A more harmonious franchise structure from top to bottom and better player development are some of the keys to turning around the Hornets, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer opines.

Draft Notes: Sarr, Risacher, Clingan, Withdrawals

Alexandre Sarr holds the top spot in the latest mock draft from Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, but he cautions that the Hawks are a long way from deciding what they’re going to do with the No. 1 pick. Atlanta faced long odds for landing the first selection before moving up nine spots in the lottery, so its scouts weren’t as informed about the top prospects as some rival teams. Sources tell Vecenie that the Hawks are still in “information-gathering” mode as they sort through their options.

He notes that several members of the front office recently traveled to France to watch Zaccharie Risacher in a playoff game. Sarr and Risacher are widely expected to be the first two players off the board, but Vecenie hears that UConn center Donovan Clingan is in the mix as well.

Risacher, who goes to the Wizards at No. 2 in Vecenie’s mock draft, helped to solidify his status with a strong performance in the French League playoffs, averaging 15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Risacher’s stock had been slipping due to a prolonged shooting slump, but Vecenie’s sources are now confident that he’ll be taken somewhere in the top four.

Clingan is a candidate to be selected anywhere from No. 1 to No. 3, but he could also slide if that doesn’t happen, Vecenie adds, because the next three teams — the Spurs, Pistons and Hornets — don’t have an immediate need for center help. That’s the scenario in Vecenie’s mock draft, with Clingan going to the Trail Blazers at No. 7. However, he notes that many teams would have interest in trading up for Clingan if he does start to fall.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • In the same piece, Vecenie speculates that one of the reasons 93 players withdrew from the draft is increased uncertainty at the top of the second round. With the draft broken up into two days, there could be a significant shakeup in the draft order throughout the 30s. Teams that might be willing to trade include the Trail Blazers, who have two of the first 10 picks in the second round as well as two lottery selections; the Spurs, who pick twice in the lottery and hold No. 35; the Knicks, who own picks No. 24, 25 and 38; and the Jazz, who have No. 32 after picking twice in the first round. Vecenie also points to the Bucks (33), Pacers (36), Timberwolves (37) and Grizzlies (39) as win-now teams who would likely prefer other assets instead of second-round selections. There’s also an expectation that the Raptors could receive significant offers for the first pick of the second night, Vecenie adds.
  • Iowa’s Payton Sandfort is the best player who pulled his name out of the draft, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Without a firm first-round commitment, the 6’7″ guard opted to return to the Hawkeyes for his senior season. Wake Forest guard Hunter Sallis, UConn forward Alex Karaban, Alabama guard Mark Sears and Arkansas forward Trevon Brazile round out Scotto’s top five.
  • Hofstra’s Tyler Thomas has workouts scheduled this week with the Lakers and Clippers, tweets Adam Zagoria.
  • Taran Armstrong, an All-Camp Team selection at the adidas Eurocamp, has completed workouts with the Kings and Lakers, according to Olgun Uluc of ESPN (Twitter link). Armstrong has upcoming sessions with the Magic, Pistons, Wizards, Nets, Mavericks, Clippers and Pacers, and more teams may be added to that list.
  • Latvian guard Roberts Blums has withdrawn from the draft and will play for Davidson this season, confirms Jon Chepkevich of Draft Express (Twitter link). June 16 is the deadline for international players to remove their names from the draft pool.

Southeast Notes: Bridges, Ball, Highsmith, Wizards

The Hornets shouldn’t expect any type of “hometown discount” in their negotiations with free agent forward Miles Bridges, Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer writes in a mailbag column. Even though Bridges has stated several times that he would like to re-sign with Charlotte, Boone expects him to take the best available offer regardless of which team it comes from.

Boone points out that Bridges is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, who encourages his clients to get the maximum possible value in contract talks. Paul advised Bridges to sign his qualifying offer from the Hornets last summer, which has made him unrestricted as he hits the open market after averaging career highs with 21.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season.

Boone points to the Pistons, who will have the most cap space of any team this summer, as a potential suitor for Bridges, meaning the Hornets will have to make a significant offer to bring him back.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets‘ new owners aren’t ready to explore trade opportunities involving LaMelo Ball, Boone adds in the same piece. Injuries have prevented Ball from playing a full NBA season, and the new regime wants to give him a chance to see if he can stay healthy. Boone also points out that Ball’s trade value is low because of his repeated ankle issues, so it’s unlikely that other teams would give up multiple first-rounders in return. Boone doesn’t expect Ball to be traded within the next year.
  • Free agent forward Haywood Highsmith prefers to remain in Miami, but he understands that the Heat’s finances might limit their offer, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Highsmith, who earned just $1.9MM this season, compared his situation to that of Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, who both signed elsewhere last summer after leading Miami to the NBA Finals. “I can’t make my decision based off of what I like and don’t like. I have to make the decision that’s best for me,” Highsmith said. “Gabe and Max loved it here; I love it here, too. They didn’t end up staying here, so I don’t know what’s to come for me. Nothing’s on the table, so we’ll see. Obviously, I would love to stay in Miami. That’s where my  daughter’s at, that’s where my family is at, so I would love to be here, too.”
  • The Wizards may have interest in adding Finnish coach Tuomas Iisalo to Brian Keefe’s staff, according to Eurohoops.