Christian Koloko

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Harden, Anunoby, Koloko, Celtics

As rumors swirl that Kyrie Irving is entertaining an exit out of Brooklyn that could impact Kevin Durant‘s future with the Nets, Durant himself said on the ETCs podcast that he doesn’t plan to get involved in Irving’s free agency decision.

“This is this man’s livelihood. This is much bigger than me,” Durant said, according to NetsDaily. “Being a free agent, it’s one of the most important times in your career. That can’t be swayed by anybody else. I just do me and wait for the time.

“There’s nothing that can happen right now. I don’t think he can even make a decision on opting out until the 29th, I think. I just let things play out and see what happens, but keep the regular contact up with Kai and see what happens. It’s something that’s so much out of my control that I don’t want to be a part of it. We’ll see what happens though.”

Asked about this week’s reports about him and Irving, Durant downplayed them without dismissing them entirely.

“It’s just reports. You know, that go around this time, the draft, the Finals just ended. You just got to keep that dialogue going, keep that engagement going. So, obviously, it’s an interesting topic,” Durant said. “There’s a lot going on with our team. Uncertainty with Ben (Simmons) not playing with us, us being swept in the playoffs, Kyrie’s situation being a free agent. So there’s a lot of certainty with our team. I understand why there’s so much noise around us, but as individuals, you control what you can. If the time’s right, everything will work out for itself.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Asked about James Harden‘s contract situation on Thursday, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey didn’t offer up any specifics, but expressed optimism about the relationship going forward, writes Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “As you guys have heard, it’s a mutual lovefest, so we feel like we’ll work it out,” Morey said.
  • The Trail Blazers engaged in a “full-court press” this week in an effort to acquire OG Anunoby from the Raptors, but Toronto was unmoved, reports Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. While that doesn’t rule out the possibility of Anunoby being traded later in the offseason, head coach Nick Nurse said on Thursday that “guys like him are hard to find in this league.”
  • Within the same story, Grange writes that the Raptors‘ No. 33 pick – Christian Koloko – brings the sort of height and rim-protecting ability that the team had been lacking. “It’s something we don’t have,” general manager Bobby Webster said of Koloko’s skill set.
  • The Celtics have done their homework on the players that fit into their $17MM+ trade exception and have considered various scenarios, but haven’t found one they like yet, president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said during his post-draft media session on Thursday. “If that thing vanishes because we don’t find the right deal, we still have two other (trade exceptions) that don’t expire until the trade deadline,” Stevens said, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter links). As our tracker shows, Boston’s $17MM exception will expire on July 18, at which point the team will still have TPEs worth about $7MM and $6MM.

Southeast Draft Notes: Wizards, Magic, Hawks, Hornets

The Wizards have six draft prospects visiting on Tuesday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. They’ll evaluate Jules Bernard (UCLA), Theo John (Duke), Davion Mintz (Kentucky), Alex O’Connell (Creighton), Nate Roberts (Washington) and Au’Diese Toney (Arkansas).

We have more draft-related news involving Southeast Division clubs:

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Hunter, Jovic, Griffin, Maker

The Hawks have been identified in previous reports as a possible Rudy Gobert suitor, and multiple league sources have indicated the Jazz are interested in De’Andre Hunter, according to Matt Moore of ActionNetwork.com. Hunter is extension-eligible this offseason. However, according to Moore, the Hawks have tried to steer any teams inquiring on Hunter to players like Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter instead.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

Full List Of 2022 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed its list of 76 players who have been invited – and who are expected to attend – next week’s draft combine in Chicago. The combine workouts will take place from May 18-20.

Over the course of the week, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft likely won’t participate in scrimmages, those top prospects are still expected to attend. That group includes Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey.

A handful of standout players from the G League Elite Camp could be invited to participate in the combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 76 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link):

  1. Ochai Agbaji, G/F, Kansas (senior)
  2. Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, Milwaukee (freshman)
  3. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke (freshman)
  4. Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  5. MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  6. Hugo Besson, G, Australia (born 2001)
  7. Malaki Branham, G/F, Ohio State (freshman)
  8. Christian Braun, G, Kansas (junior)
  9. Kendall Brown, F, Baylor (freshman)
  10. John Butler Jr., F/C, Florida State (freshman)
  11. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (junior)
  12. Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  13. Max Christie, G, Michigan State (freshman)
  14. Kofi Cockburn, C, Illinois (junior)
  15. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  16. Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin (sophomore)
  17. JD Davison, G, Alabama (freshman)
  18. Moussa Diabate, F, Michigan (freshman)
  19. Ousmane Dieng, F, Australia (born 2003)
  20. Khalifa Diop, C, Spain (born 2002)
  21. Jalen Duren, C, Memphis (freshman)
  22. Tari Eason, F, LSU (sophomore)
  23. Keon Ellis, G, Alabama (senior)
  24. Michael Foster, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  25. Collin Gillespie, G, Villanova (super-senior)
  26. AJ Griffin, F, Duke (freshman)
  27. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  28. Ron Harper Jr., F, Rutgers (senior)
  29. Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga (freshman)
  30. Harrison Ingram, F, Stanford (freshman)
  31. Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue (sophomore)
  32. Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana (junior)
  33. Nikola Jovic, F, Serbia (born 2003)
  34. Johnny Juzang, G, UCLA (junior)
  35. Ismael Kamagate, C, France (born 2001)
  36. Trevor Keels, G, Duke (freshman)
  37. Walker Kessler, F/C, Auburn (sophomore)
  38. Christian Koloko, C, Arizona (junior)
  39. Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest (junior)
  40. Justin Lewis, F, Marquette (sophomore)
  41. E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State (junior)
  42. Bennedict Mathurin, G/F, Arizona (sophomore)
  43. Matthew Mayer, F, Baylor (senior)
  44. Bryce McGowens, G, Nebraska (freshman)
  45. Leonard Miller, F, Canada (born 2003)
  46. Josh Minott, F, Memphis (freshman)
  47. Aminu Mohammed, G/F, Georgetown (freshman)
  48. Iverson Molinar, G, Mississippi State (junior)
  49. Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  50. Wendell Moore, F, Duke (junior)
  51. Keegan Murray, F, Iowa (sophomore)
  52. Andrew Nembhard, G, Gonzaga
  53. Scotty Pippen Jr., G, Vanderbilt (junior)
  54. Gabriele Procida, G/F, Italy (born 2002)
  55. Orlando Robinson, F/C, Fresno State (junior)
  56. David Roddy, F, Colorado State (junior)
  57. Ryan Rollins, G, Toledo (sophomore)
  58. Dereon Seabron, G, NC State (sophomore)
  59. Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  60. Jabari Smith, F, Auburn (freshman)
  61. Terquavion Smith, G, NC State (freshman)
  62. Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor (freshman)
  63. Matteo Spagnolo, G, Italy (born 2003)
  64. Julian Strawther, G/F, Gonzaga (sophomore)
  65. Dalen Terry, G, Arizona (sophomore)
  66. Drew Timme, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  67. Jabari Walker, F, Colorado (sophomore)
  68. TyTy Washington Jr., G, Kentucky (freshman)
  69. Peyton Watson, G/F, UCLA (freshman)
  70. Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame (freshman)
  71. Alondes Williams, G, Wake Forest (super-senior)
  72. Jalen Williams, G, Santa Clara (junior)
  73. Jaylin Williams, F/C, Arkansas (sophomore)
  74. Mark Williams, C, Duke (sophomore)
  75. Trevion Williams, F/C, Purdue (senior)
  76. Fanbo Zeng, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)

Draft Notes: Koloko, E. Williams, Welch, Mock

Arizona junior big man Christian Koloko has decided to enter the 2022 NBA draft, he tells Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic (video link).

Koloko doesn’t specify whether he plans to leave school or simply test the draft waters, but he doesn’t mention anything about maintaining his college eligibility, and Charania’s tweet indicates the young center intends to go pro.

Koloko enjoyed a breakout season for the Wildcats in 2021/22, averaging 12.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and 2.8 BPG in 37 games (25.4 MPG). He was named both the Most Improved Player and the Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac-12, earning All Pac-12 First Team honors.

Jeff Goodman of Stadium, referring to Koloko as an “elite” defender, projects him to go in the 20-35 range of this year’s draft (Twitter link). Jonathan Givony places Koloko at No. 36 on ESPN’s big board, praising his mobility, quickness, and improved offensive game, but noting that some scouts may have concerns about his thin frame and “lack of physicality.”

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Oregon senior swingman Eric Williams Jr. will forgo his final year of NCAA eligibility and hire an agent as he enters the draft, he announced on Twitter. Williams spent his first two college seasons as Duquesne before transferring to the Ducks. He put up 8.4 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 33 games (26.8 MPG) in 2021/22.
  • St. Bonaventure senior guard Dominick Welch will test the draft waters by putting his name in the 2022 pool while maintaining his final year of eligibility, he announced on Twitter. Welch, who has started 105 of his 110 games for the Bonnies across four seasons, averaged 12.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG with a .374 3PT% in 2021/22.
  • With the odds for the draft lottery set, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has updated his 2022 mock draft, projecting all 58 picks (two second-rounders have been forfeited), from Jabari Smith at No. 1 to Dereon Seabron at No. 60.