Cole Anthony

Isaac Okoro, Cole Anthony Sign Rookie Contracts

The Cavaliers and Magic have both signed their first-round picks, the teams announced today.

Cleveland came to terms with Auburn forward Isaac Okoro, who was the fifth overall selection. Orlando reached a deal with North Carolina guard Cole Anthony, who was taken with the 15th pick.

Neither team announced the terms of the deals, but both players are eligible to receive up to 120% of the rookie scale. That would be $6,400,920 for Okoro and $3,285,120 for Anthony.

Draft Rumors: Hayes, Nesmith, Anthony, Okongwu, Hawks, More

In his latest mock draft in advance of tonight’s event, Jeremy Woo of SI.com shares several interesting tidbits, writing that Killian Hayes is “strongly in play” for the Pistons at No. 7 and suggesting there’s some concern about Aaron Nesmith‘s injured foot, which ended his season at Vanderbilt.

Woo also hears from sources that Cole Anthony has interviewed in recent days with multiple teams outside the top 20 and that the Celtics and Spurs would be among the teams with interest in Onyeka Okongwu if he slides out of the top 10 due to his foot injury.

Woo reports that there’s “significant traction” for Devin Vassell within the Knicks‘ front office, making him a viable option at No. 8 if the team stays put. Finally, Woo says the Celtics have shown interest in Duke big man Vernon Carey Jr., who could be an option at No. 26 or No. 30.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • The Hawks are currently planning to keep and use the No. 6 pick tonight, a source tells Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). That could change if Atlanta gets a surprise last-minute offer, Wasserman cautions, but for the time being, it sounds as if the team is comfortable staying put.
  • We still don’t know with any certainty which player the Timberwolves will select with the No. 1 pick tonight, but Georgia guard Anthony Edwards has emerged as the betting favorite at Las Vegas sportsbooks, writes David Purdum of ESPN.com.
  • While USC big man Onyeka Okongwu may not be ready for training camp due to a foot injury, it sounds like the issue shouldn’t impact his draft stock too significantly. One source who spoke to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link) predicted that Okongwu will still likely come off the board before the Wizards pick at No. 9.

Draft Notes: Hayes, Anthony, Maxey, Zoom

The Knicks were hoping to work out Killian Hayes before Wednesday’s draft, but a COVID-19 outbreak may prevent that from happening, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The team had to close its training facility in Tarrytown after three staff members tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.

New York will consider the French point guard with its No. 8 pick and he may be an even stronger possibility if the Knicks trade down. The team has collected plenty of information on Hayes, such as his measurements and medical records, and interviewed him via Zoom.

“Everyone saw the progress and a lot of changes to my game,’’ Hayes said. “What I really improved on, really, is my body. As soon as you see me, there’s a big difference and change from eight months ago to now. … The player that I was back in March is not the same player I am today. I’ve really leveled up a lot.”

Hayes turned 19 in July, making him one of the youngest players in the draft. However, he faced much older competition in Germany and says fellow Frenchmen Frank Ntilikina and Sekou Doumbouya have helped him prepare for the NBA.

“I learned a lot being able to leading a group of grown men,’’ Hayes said. “I’m used to playing against a lot of physicality. People coming at me. That will definitely help me.’’

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Cole Anthony believes his love for the game will help him succeed in the NBA, writes Chris Dortch of NBA.com. Anthony demonstrated his commitment by returning to the court for North Carolina after undergoing surgery during the season to fix a small meniscus tear in his right knee. “A few things went into my decision to keep playing,” he said. “But first and foremost, I love the sport of basketball. A lot of people say that, but they don’t really mean it. I truly love the game. And I wasn’t going to sit out when I was healthy and I could go.”
  • In an interview with Ethan Fuller of Basketball News, Tyrese Maxey said he’s been working to improve his outside shot after hitting just 29% from beyond the arc in college. “You have to be able to shoot the ball at the next level,” Maxey explained. “As a guard my height, and guards in the NBA, period, it’s hard to be on the floor and play in an NBA game without being able to knock down wide-open threes. I feel like I’m a way better shooter than what the numbers say.”
  • Teams are relying on Zoom and other technology to handle the unusual circumstances surrounding this year’s draft, writes Mark Medina of USA Today.

Draft Notes: Anthony, Vassell, Maledon, Maxey

Southeast Division clubs have shown the most interest in North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony. He’s had individual workouts for the Wizards, Heat and Magic, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. The son of former NBA guard Greg Anthony is ranked 19th on ESPN’s Best Available list. The Wizards own the No. 9 pick, with Orlando holding the No. 15 selection and Miami sitting at No. 20.

We have more draft news:

  • Florida State guard Devin Vassell, ranked 11th by ESPN, has worked out for a handful of teams, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets. Vassell said he’s visited with the Knicks, Warriors, Celtics, Hawks and Magic. The presence of the Hawks (No. 6 pick) and Knicks (No. 8) suggest Vassell could go in the top 10. Golden State’s interest is intriguing, suggesting Vassell would be a target if the club trades down from the No. 2 pick.
  • French point guard Theo Maledon has worked out for three Atlantic Division clubs as well as the Spurs, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. The Nets (19th pick), Celtics (three first-rounders) and Raptors (No. 29) have also taken a look at Maledon, who is rated 24th overall by ESPN.
  • As of Thursday, the Pelicans were the only team to host Tyrese Maxey, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. The Kentucky shooting guard is 14th on ESPN’s list and New Orleans holds the 13th pick, so its interest late in the lottery makes sense.

Knicks Rumors: Westbrook, Draft, Okoro, Vassell

While Chris Paul‘s name has been connected most frequently to the Knicks in recent months, it’s worth keeping an eye on Russell Westbrook as well, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley reports that some agents who represent top free agent point guards think the Knicks will “poke around” on a possible Westbrook trade if the Rockets make him available.

It’s certainly not a sure thing that Houston considers moving Westbrook this offseason. And even in that scenario, “poking around” doesn’t mean that the Knicks would make a deal.

Still, the Knicks are well-positioned to take on a big contract like Westbrook’s, which has three years and more than $132MM left on it. Begley also cites sources who say that Westbrook viewed New York as a favorable landing spot when the Thunder were shopping him last July. So if the Rockets do mull a potential trade at some point, it’s a safe bet the Knicks will be linked to the star point guard.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

Knicks Notes: Melo, DSJ, Cole Anthony, Trade Scenarios

Were the Knicks to move forward Kevin Knox and additional pieces in a win-now move to acquire All-Star point guard Chris Paul from the Thunder, former Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony could be interested in a return to Madison Square Garden, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. Both are former CAA clients of current Knicks president Leon Rose.

The 36-year-old Anthony, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, most recently served as an important starting forward for the Trail Blazers during an exciting run in the NBA restart this summer. He played with the Knicks for parts of seven seasons. Anthony enjoyed his most success with the club during the 2012/13 season, when he led a veteran-laden Knicks team to a 54-28 record and a conference semifinals appearance.

There’s more out of New York:

  • Knicks bench point guard Dennis Smith Jr., the No. 9 pick in 2017, still has ample backing within the front office, according to Ian Begley of SNY. Earlier this month, Smith attended the voluntary mini-camp team practices held by coach Tom Thibodeau and his staff. Smith missed 32 games this season due to various injuries and the death of a family member.
  • UNC point guard Cole Anthony, son of former Knick Greg Anthony, is apparently being given minimal consideration by the Knicks’ front office with the eighth pick in the 2020 draft, according to the New York Post’s Marc Berman. The team would be open to taking Anthony, who missed part of his lone college season with a knee surgery, with the No. 27 pick if he falls that far, says Berman, but the guard isn’t expected to be an option for New York in the lottery even if the club trades back a few spots.
  • Mike Vorkunov and John Hollinger of The Athletic have written an epic piece unpacking potential Knicks trades the team could engage in during the 2020 offseason. Both agree that New York will actively look to improve its roster heading into the 2020/21 season, and that all Knicks not named RJ Barrett or Mitchell Robinson could be on the trading block.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.

Knicks Notes: Ewing, Hayes, Facility, Nwora

Knicks legend Patrick Ewing would likely be a candidate in the search for a new head coach if Steve Mills hadn’t been fired as team president, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. A source tells Berman that Mills contacted Ewing two years ago before hiring David Fizdale. Ewing had just finished his first season at Georgetown and wasn’t ready to consider leaving. He was not among the 11 candidates that Mills interviewed.

Berman suggests Ewing could be in play for a top assistant’s role under Tom Thibodeau, who is rumored to be the favorite to replace Mike Miller. Thibodeau spent four years as a Knicks assistant while Ewing was still playing.

The former NBA star doesn’t have the advantage of a prior relationship with new president of basketball operations Leon Rose like Thibodeau, Kenny Atkinson and John Calipari all do. Ewing was represented by David Falk during his playing days. Still, he is believed to prefer the NBA over college basketball and Berman believes there’s a good chance he will eventually make his way to the Knicks.

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • French point guard Killian Hayes may be too similar to Frank Ntilikina for the Knicks to be interested, Berman adds in the same piece. Berman states that scouts are concerned about Hayes’ speed and he may be too much of a project to interest New York at No. 6, assuming the team stays there. He suggests Rose might be more willing to gamble on a scoring point guard like North Carolina’s Cole Anthony.
  • In a separate piece, Berman examines the benefits of the Knicks reopening their training facility, even though they won’t be part of the group resuming the season in Orlando. It will give their players a location where they can work out safely with minimal risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. Most of the team’s players left the New York area during the shutdown, but Taj Gibson and Maurice Harkless remained and Mitchell Robinson has returned. A source tells Berman it’s “a long shot” that the Knicks’ season will continue.
  • Louisville forward Jordan Nwora, an early entrant in this year’s draft, tells Adam Zagoria of Forbes that he has participated in Zoom calls with about 20 teams, including the Knicks (Twitter link). Nwora is projected to be taken in the second round, and New York has two second-round picks.

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Head Coach, Free Agency

As they prepare for the 2020 NBA draft, the Knicks have “extensively” scouted North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony, a source tells Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Anthony, who currently ranks 11th on ESPN’s big board, could be an option for New York if the team doesn’t move up in the draft lottery. Currently, the Knicks are most likely to land at No. 7 or 8.

Begley cautions that just because the Knicks are doing a ton of homework on Anthony, that doesn’t mean they’ll draft him or even that they’re targeting him. After all, the club is also said to be keeping a close eye on RJ Hampton and is likely monitoring several other lottery prospects too.

Still, the Knicks’ potential interest in Anthony is worth keeping in mind. A report back in February – shortly after the team reached agreed to hire new president of basketball operations Leon Rose – suggested the Knicks intended to target a scoring point guard in the draft. And Anthony, who grew up in New York, has talked about having interest in joining the franchise.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • In a mailbag for SNY.tv, Ian Begley discusses RJ Barrett‘s future, the Knicks’ draft plans, possible offseason trade targets, and more. Responding to one question about the head coaching situation, Begley says that he knows Tom Thibodeau is a strong candidate and that he expects Mike Miller to get an interview, but he’s not certain yet about any other specific candidates.
  • Mike Vorkunov and Danny Leroux of The Athletic explore which players might be good options for the Knicks in free agency and discuss whether pursuing a Chris Paul trade would make sense for the organization. Leroux isn’t in favor of going after Paul, pointing to a few veteran point guards on the free agent market who would come at a more reasonable cost, albeit without CP3’s upside.
  • In case you missed it over the weekend, we previewed the Knicks’ salary cap situation for the 2020/21 league year.

Atlantic Notes: Robinson, Knicks, Sixers, Celtics

Despite playing in just his second NBA season, Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson is already on his fifth agent since going pro, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details. Robinson signed with Rich Paul and Klutch Sports earlier this year, and Paul is confident that he can provide the sort of stable representation that will alleviate some concerns for the young center.

“When you get the right representation, there’s an ease that comes to your mind that allows you to focus on other things,” Paul told Berman. “It’s hard to sleep with both eyes closed in this business. It’s a lot more mental than people think.”

With a non-guaranteed salary for 2020/21 and a team option for ’21/22, Robinson is still a ways away from reaching free agency. However, Paul sounds as if he’s looking forward to eventually negotiating a second contract for the big man with new Knicks president of basketball operations Leon Rose, who previously represented Klutch’s current star client, LeBron James.

“He’ll shoot me straight when it comes to Mitchell and I’ll shoot him straight,” Paul said of Rose. “The Knicks know what’s best for him. They see him as a future guy. Leon knows the game. He’ll handle that properly.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • After declaring for the 2020 draft, potential lottery pick Cole Anthony – who grew up in New York – told Zach Braziller of The New York Post that he’d welcome the chance to play for the Knicks. “It would be pretty cool,” Anthony said. “I was a fan for a good amount of time. I do like the Knicks. I think they definitely can use a guard, a good scoring point guard.” As Braziller notes, the former Tar Heel added that he’d be fine dropping several spots in the draft if it means landing with a team that’s an ideal fit for him.
  • Appearing on The Sixers Beat podcast with Derek Bodner and Rich Hofmann of The Athletic, former Sixers sharpshooter J.J. Redick said he doesn’t believe head coach Brett Brown should be made the scapegoat for any issues in Philadelphia (audio clip). “I would love to play for Brett again,” Redick said. “I don’t think Brett is the problem, if there’s a problem. Sometimes things maybe just don’t work.”
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston revisits the Celtics‘ 2019 draft decisions, exploring whether the team should have gone in a different direction with any of its four selections.