Christian Braun

Northwest Notes: Green, Jazz, Wallace

Nuggets forward Jeff Green put together a voluntary minicamp for himself and some of his Denver teammates this week in Miami, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Davon Reed, Zeke Nnaji, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson and Jack White joined Green for the workouts. Wind adds that additional players hoped to join them but were unable to carve out the time in their schedules.

The Nuggets are preparing for an exciting 2022/23 NBA season, with reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic set to be rejoined by point guard Jamal Murray, who missed all of 2021/22 due to a left ACL tear, and small forward Michael Porter Jr., who appeared in just nine games before back surgery waylaid him for the rest of the year. The team’s starting lineup will be rounded out by power forward Aaron Gordon and newly-acquired 3-and-D specialist Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Nuggets role players like Green, Reed, and Nanji, plus the three rookies joining them in Miami this week, could prove to be important contributors during what Denver hopes will be an extended postseason run.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • After the Jazz appeared to signal the beginning of a rebuild with their trade of All-Star center Rudy Gobert for a package comprising young players, movable veterans and draft compensation, they seem set for a lackluster 2022/23 season. Brandon Judd of the Deseret News notes that Kendra Andrews, Andrew Lopez and Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) projects the club to finish with a 26-56 record next season.
  • Former Nuggets scouting coordinator Jon Wallace is departing his post in Denver to join the Timberwolves as both Minnesota’s director of player personnel and the general manager of the club’s NBAGL affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, reports Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Wallace tweets that Wallace was especially valued with the Nuggets for his impact on their guards. Wallace is joining a revamped Minnesota front office led by Tim Connelly, himself the former Denver team president.
  • In case you missed it, Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor recently sat for a long-ranging discussion about the new-look team’s personnel and expectations.

Nuggets’ Booth Talks Offseason Moves, Murray, MPJ, Jokic

Following Tim Connelly‘s departure for Minnesota, Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth was thrust into the lead role of Denver’s front office just weeks before the 2022 draft and wasn’t shy about immediately shaking up the roster this offseason.

Of the 17 players who currently have standard guaranteed contracts or two-way deals with the Nuggets for 2022/23, eight have joined the team since the ’21/22 season ended. That group includes wings Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown and rookies Christian Braun and Peyton Watson, among others.

Speaking to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, Booth said that last year’s team was “a little bit smaller” than the front office had envisioned, so it was a priority this summer to add some size, especially on the perimeter. Upgrading the defense was also a goal, according to Booth, who discussed a few specific roster moves in his conversation with Vorkunov.

Here are a few of the most noteworthy comments from the Nuggets’ new head of basketball operations:

On the motivation for the trade that sent JaMychal Green to Oklahoma City:

“It helped us open up another roster spot to get a more regarded or better defender on the perimeter. JaMychal brought a lot of toughness and explosion around the rim and he’s a great shooter, but (defending) in space wasn’t his strength. So, it allowed us to open up a roster spot where we can get somebody that could be more versatile and switch and do something like that.”

On whether Booth thinks the defense will be better in 2022/23, particularly on the perimeter:

“Yeah, definitely do. I think, again, with the injuries, and Jamal (Murray), I think, is an underrated defender. Obviously, it’s gonna take a while to get back into tip-top form for him coming back off the injury, but I fully expect him to be a two-way guy once he’s back feeling like himself.

“But Aaron Gordon had to cover a lot of holes last year; he had to go into the backcourt a lot more probably than Coach (Michael) Malone or himself would have liked to. So, hopefully with the addition of KCP and Bruce Brown and Christian Braun and some of the guys of this nature — Davon Reed, he’s back, he does some good things for us — Aaron won’t have to go into the backcourt quite as much.”

On the plan for Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. as they return from injuries this fall:

“I definitely think they’ll both be healthy (to start the season). Especially with the nature of Mike’s injury, and even Jamal, we’ll probably have to be wary about back-to-backs and things of that nature. As we get close to the season Coach Malone and I will sit down with performance staff and map out a plan for what that looks like during the regular season.”

On attempting to maximize Nikola Jokic‘s prime years:

“That’s just a priority. That’s the No. 1 focus. Maximize the timeline. Put personnel around him that allows him to play his best and get the most out of his teammates. So, that’s the No. 1 priority in our organization right now.”

Nuggets Notes: Murray, Porter, Caldwell-Pope, Braun

The Nuggets‘ Summer League practice on Tuesday was enlivened by the presence of Jamal Murray, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscriber link). Murray participated in several drills and took part in some scrimmages. Summer League coach Ryan Bowen said practicing was Murray’s decision and although he wanted to keep playing while the media was present, that idea was vetoed.

Murray, who missed the entire season due to a torn ACL, was involved in some non-contact drills on Monday that sparked his competitive instincts, Bowen explained. The reviews on Murray were positive, and coach Michael Malone called it “probably the most serious 5-on-5” that Murray has played since the injury, tweets Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports.

“He looked mobile, agile and hostile,” Malone said, citing a quote from “Remember the Titans.” “He looked confident. That’s the most important thing to me. I wasn’t charting his makes and misses. I was trying to see the confidence level. How was he moving, defensively … he looked good.” (Twitter link)

There’s more from Denver:

  • Jontay Porter, who’s on the Nuggets’ Summer League roster, offered a positive update on his brother, Michael Porter Jr., whose season was cut short by back surgery, Singer states in the same story. Jontay said Michael “looks great” and they’ve been playing 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 games to get themselves back into shape. Jontay played for the Grizzlies last year, but was limited to 11 games because of a knee injury.
  • In a press conference today welcoming veteranswingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Malone said he was the main player the Nuggets focused on acquiring, Singer adds in a separate story. Malone likes having a 6’5″ guard who can play defense, and the team hasn’t forgotten the way that Caldwell-Pope shut down Murray in the 2020 Western Conference Finals. “He’s seen what it takes to win a championship,” Malone said.
  • The Nuggets also introduced first-round pick Christian Braun, and Malone suggested that he might have a regular role as a rookie, Wind tweets“I love his maturity. I love his IQ,” Malone said. “The things I really love about him the most are his toughness and physicality. Some guys shy away from physicality, Christian embraces physicality.”

Nuggets Sign Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Collin Gillespie

The Nuggets have signed first-round draft picks Christian Braun and Peyton Watson to their rookie contracts, the team announced in a press release. Denver also officially signed undrafted Villanova guard Collin Gillespie to a two-way contract.

Braun, 6″7″, was drafted No. 21 overall last month. He helped Kansas win the NCAA championship this past season, averaging 14.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in 34.4 minutes per game. He also shot 49.5% from the floor and 39% from downtown during those outings. Assuming the usual 120% of the rookie scale, his deal will be for four years and $13.77MM.

Watson, 6’8″, was selected with the final pick of the first round. He played 32 games with UCLA as a freshman last season, ranking second on the team in blocked shots. He’s also only 19 years old. His deal is expected to be worth $11.27MM across four years.

Gillespie agreed to a two-way deal with Denver shortly after the draft. He averaged 15.6 points per game for Villanova last season, shooting 41.5% from three-point range. Gillespie, Braun and Watson are all set to play for the team during summer league this month.

Nuggets Notes: Braun, Free Agency, Booth, Campazzo

The Nuggets opted to draft champion Kansas shooting guard Christian Braun with the No. 21 selection due to his cumulative abilities, writes Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

“I comment to myself, ‘Man, that was a nice play, but what is he?’” Denver general manager Calvin Booth said of assessing Braun’s fit at the next level. The 6’7″ swingman, who played both forward spots with the Jayhawks, projects as a helpful contributor on both sides of the ball.

In an interesting wrinkle, Singer notes that Booth was concerned Braun might be selected by former Denver front office executives Arturas Karnisovas, selecting for the Bulls at No. 18, or Tim Connelly, who was slated to pick at No. 19 for the Timberwolves before trading down.

“CB playing with (Nikola) Jokic, what a good cutter CB is,” Braun’s college head coach Bill Self said. “You stop and think about, I don’t know if CB could play with a better big man than that dude because he’s such a good cutter and mover without the ball, and (Jokic is) such a great passer.”

During his final collegiate season, Braun was a key member of the team’s 2022 title-winning squad, being named to the NCAA All-Region Team and the All-Big 12 Second Team. Across 40 games, including 39 starts, he averaged 14.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.0 SPG and 0.8 BPG in 34.4 MPG. He posted solid shooting marks of .495/.386/.733.

There’s more out of Denver:

  • Booth indicated following the 2022 draft that while Denver is excited about its three draft picks (Braun, Peyton Watson and Ismael Kamagate), the team has more work to do this offseason. The Nuggets intend to sign quality defenders in free agency to bolster the roster on that end of the floor, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link).
  • When it comes to making additions to the club in free agency this week, Booth has been given the green light by Nuggets ownership to use the club’s taxpayer mid-level exception, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). That exception currently projects to be worth $6.4MM this summer.
  • Nuggets second-year reserve point guard Facundo Campazzo has indicated that he is open to moving on from the NBA as he enters free agency this summer, according to an interview with Pablo Brunetto of TN Sports (h/t to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops). That said, the 5’10” vet seems likely to take stock of his stateside options first. Personally, it would be naive to be obsessed with staying in the NBA,” Campazzo said. “Maybe I don’t get any offers. (Former team) Real Madrid has always been like a second home for me, but I must wait. That is my only choice right now.” During the 2021/22 season, the 31-year-old averaged 5.1 PPG on 36.1% field goal shooting, plus 3.4 APG, 1.8 RPG and 1.0 SPG in 65 contests.

Givony’s Latest: Sharpe, Magic, Kings, Duarte, Suns, Knicks, More

Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, perhaps the biggest enigma of the 2022 NBA draft, is the subject of several rumors in Jonathan Givony’s latest mock draft at ESPN.com (Insider link).

Givony has Sharpe coming off the board at No. 7 to Portland, writing that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is believed to be a fan of the young guard, despite the fact that Sharpe is 12 years younger than Lillard and is on a “completely different timetable.”

A pair of teams picking later in the lottery may also have their sights set on Sharpe. The Thunder, who hold the No. 12 pick, continue to pursue trade-up opportunities, according to Givony, who says Sharpe and Jaden Ivey are among the players Oklahoma City appears to be targeting.

Meanwhile, Sharpe is also said to intrigue the Hornets if they trade up from No. 13, Givony writes, noting that the Kentucky guard surprised other teams when he opted to work out for Charlotte.

Here are a few more of the most interesting tidbits from Givony’s newest mock:

  • Virtually every NBA team expects the Magic to select Jabari Smith first overall and would be surprised if they go in a different direction.
  • The Kings are considered more likely to stand pat than to trade the No. 4 pick, but they’ve had discussions with almost every team behind them in the lottery and even some outside of the lottery, per Givony. Pacers wing Chris Duarte is among the possible trade targets the Kings have done their homework on, Givony adds.
  • Surprisingly, Givony has heard the Suns are among the clubs exploring trade scenarios involving the Pelicans‘ No. 8 pick. Givony suggests Phoenix could potentially include a player like Cameron Johnson in its offer to help create more long-term cap flexibility to retain Deandre Ayton.
  • There’s a widespread belief that the Knicks won’t end up picking at No. 11, Givony reports. they’re “aggressively” exploring scenarios in which they trade back or trade out of the first round.
  • Rival teams believe the Cavaliers are high on Ousmane Dieng, though he could be off the board by No. 14, says Givony.
  • Echoing multiple recent reports, Givony identifies Hawks big man John Collins as a major draft-day trade candidate. Givony goes a step further, suggesting that Collins could even be packaged with Kevin Huerter in a deal involving the Kings‘ No. 4 overall pick.
  • The Bucks (No. 24) are eyeing older prospects who could help them win right away, such as Andrew Nembhard, Jake LaRavia, Christian Braun and Ismael Kamagate, according to Givony, who has heard from rival teams that Milwaukee has also conveyed some interest in trading up into the teens, possibly for a big man like Mark Williams and Walker Kessler.

Northwest Notes: Eason, Connelly, Wolves, Thunder, Terry

LSU forward Tari Eason, who headlined the Trail Blazers‘ six-player workout on Friday, already has some connections to the franchise, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. A Seattle native, Eason’s high school coach was one-time Portland star Brandon Roy, and the Blazers’ roster already includes another recent LSU standout, Trendon Watford.

Although Portland likes Eason enough to see him in person, he probably won’t be in the mix for the seventh pick, which is the Blazers’ only current selection in the first round. Fentress notes that Eason has a wide variety of projections in mock drafts and has worked out for other teams ranging from Washington at No. 10 to Minnesota at No. 19. Eason says he’s tried to avoid such predictions as he prepares for draft night.

“I don’t really have a preference or really look into that sort of thing,” he said. “I don’t really get caught up in that. I just control the things that I can control.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • New Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly is approaching the draft with an open mind, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota needs more size, but may not find any attractive options with the 19th pick. The team also has three second-rounders at 40, 48 and 50 that may be used to facilitate a trade. “We feel good about adding another valuable piece, a good player at 19,” Connelly said. “There will potentially be some pretty cool opportunities to use that as a trade asset as well. Anytime you have four draft picks, it’s exciting. It’s the one day of the year where you really control what you can do, largely.”
  • Six players worked out Friday for the Timberwolves, tweets Andrew Slater of Pro Insight. They are Christian Braun of Kansas, Jordan Hall of St. Joseph’s, Dereon Seabron of North Carolina State, Jalen Williams of Santa Clara, Bryce McGowens of Nebraska and Donovan Williams of UNLV.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) tries to build an ideal draft for the Thunder using their four picks. Givony’s simulation gives Oklahoma City Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren at No. 2, Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe at No. 12, Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia at No. 30 and Khalifa Diop of Gran Canaria at No. 34.
  • Jason Terry had his interview today as the Jazz search for their next head coach, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah assistants Alex Jensen and Lamar Skeeter also interviewed this week.

Draft Notes: Hardy, Braun, Roddy, Pistons, Ivey

Speaking to reporters after working out for Washington on Tuesday, G League Ignite guard Jaden Hardy said he has already worked out for the Warriors, Bucks, Timberwolves, and Thunder, and has auditions on tap with the Hawks, Hornets, Mavericks, and Pelicans (Twitter link via Josh Robbins of The Athletic). Viewed as a good bet to be a first-round pick, Hardy currently ranks 22nd overall on ESPN’s big board.

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Kansas shooting guard Christian Braun, the No. 30 prospect on ESPN’s board, has worked out for the Bucks, Clippers, and Magic, and had a visit scheduled with the Grizzlies this week, tweets Andrew Lind. Those four teams each have at least one pick between No. 22 and No. 43 in this year’s draft.
  • Colorado State forward David Roddy, ESPN’s No. 46 prospect, had a meet and greet with Nuggets staffers a month ago and was brought back for a workout with the team on Tuesday, tweets Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. Asked if he senses interest from the Nuggets, Roddy replied, “I would say so. Everybody’s a fan of my game here. They’ve told me that.” Roddy has also worked out for several other teams, including the Warriors and Raptors, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link).
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic spoke to a handful of coaches and executives at the college and NBA levels to get their thoughts on several of the top guards in the 2022 draft class, including Jaden Ivey, Shaedon Sharpe, Dyson Daniels, Johnny Davis, and several others. One Eastern Conference executive told Aldridge that he knows the Pistons – who hold the No. 5 overall pick – “love” Ivey.

Southeast Draft Notes: Murray, Hawks, Wizards, Hornets

The Magic hold the No. 1 pick and Iowa’s Keegan Murray isn’t expected to go higher than No. 4 in the lottery. That didn’t prevent Orlando from doing its due diligence on the high-scoring wing. Murray came in for a pre-draft workout on Thursday, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. The two sides also had a discussion during the draft combine in Chicago, Price adds.

We have more developments from the Southeast Division:

Central Notes: Grant, Weaver, Pacers, Sexton

Veteran Pistons forward Jerami Grant could be one of the NBA’s most intriguing trade candidates this summer. The 28-year-old Grant may not fit the timeline of the rebuilding Pistons, who will be looking to add another blue-chip prospect with the No. 5 pick in the 2022 draft alongside 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham.

Grant, who has one year remaining on his current contract, is extension-eligible this offseason, but figures to be a trade chip if the Pistons aren’t prepared to extend him. Sources inform James L. Edwards III and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic that the Hawks were interested in dealing for Grant during the 2021/22 season, and suggest that that remains the case, exploring what a deal between Detroit and Atlanta might look like.

The Hawks have a need for a defensive-oriented player who can guard along the perimeter and handle. Edwards and Kirschner believe Atlanta’s most viable offer for Grant would likely include Bogdan Bogdanovic and the team’s No. 16 pick.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • When it comes to the draft, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver prioritizes hard-working competitors, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Langlois views this year’s draft, which will be Weaver’s third in his lead role for the Detroit front office, as an interesting opportunity to gauge the level of risk Weaver is willing to take. Detroit possesses the fifth pick in the 2022 draft. Langlois notes that the club could draft a 22-year-old with several years of college experience in Iowa forward Keegan Murray, or, on the other end of the spectrum, a 19-year-old who never suited up for his college team in Shaedon Sharpe.
  • The Pacers, owners of the No. 6 pick in the 2022 draft, held a pre-draft workout on Tuesday for several guard prospects, per James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). Boyd notes that Oral Roberts guard Max Abmas, Kansas shooting guard Christian Braun, Arizona guard Dalen Terry, Purdue shooting guard Sasha Stefanovic, Belmont point guard Grayson Murphy, and Northern Iowa guard AJ Green worked out for Indiana.
  • Following an exciting 2021/22 season, the Cavaliers face an uncertain offseason. Cleveland went 44-38, but did not advance out of the play-in tournament. In a new mailbag, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscriber link) addresses the market for restricted free agent guard Collin Sexton, potential trade candidates that could help Cleveland take the next step in the East, and other topics. Fedor hears from sources that the Spurs, in particular, “have some Sexton fans in their front office.”