Cole Swider

Pacific Notes: Suns, Ayton, Lakers, Swider, Kings

With JaVale McGee and Aaron Holiday headed elsewhere and Elfrid Payton not expected to return, the Suns‘ additions of Josh Okogie, Damion Lee, and Jock Landale will help replenish their depth, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. According to Gambadoro, Phoenix is done adding role players for the time being, though the club could still bring back free agent forward Ish Wainwright.

As for the Suns’ bigger-business items, there was no movement as of Sunday morning on the Kevin Durant front, according to Gambadoro, who tweets that Phoenix remains interested but doesn’t want to gut its roster.

Additionally, Gambadoro confirms (via Twitter) that the Suns and Jazz have had a discussion about restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton, who was previously linked to Utah. However, Gambadoro isn’t sure how far that conversation went and notes that many teams aren’t looking to spend big money on a center at the moment.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific:

  • The Lakers still have glaring issues despite making some free-agency additions, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. Buha writes that Los Angeles could use more shooting and size. The team has has signed Damian Jones, Troy Brown Jr. and Juan Toscano-Anderson in free agency so far, and agreed to a deal with Lonnie Walker.
  • Cole Swider‘s two-way contract with the Lakers covers two seasons, per Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Swider, who went undrafted last month after spending three seasons at Villanova and one season at Syracuse, averaged 13.9 points per game last year, shooting 41% from deep.
  • Jazz head video coordinator Charles Allen is leaving Utah for a job with the Kings, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. According to Jones, Allen will be Sacramento’s head video coordinator and a special assistant to new head coach Mike Brown.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Lakers Sign Scotty Pippen Jr., Cole Swider Via Two-Way Deals

JULY 1: The Lakers have officially signed Pippen and Swider to two-way contracts, the team announced today (Twitter links).


JUNE 23: The Lakers are set to add undrafted former Vanderbilt point guard Scotty Pippen Jr. to a two-way contract, according to Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link). Los Angeles will also sign undrafted Syracuse rookie forward Cole Swider into their second two-play player slot, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The 21-year-old Pippen, son of Hall of Fame Bulls small forward Scottie Pippen, played for three seasons with the Commodores. The 6’1″ guard was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team in 2020, and was a two-time First-Team All-SEC selection in 2021 and 2022.

During his third NCAA season in 2021/22, the younger Pippen averaged 20.4 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.6 RPG and 1.9 SPG across 36 games, all starts. He posted a slash line of .416/.325/.749.

Swider spent his first three college seasons with Villanova before finishing his NCAA career with Syracuse. For the Orange in 2021/22, Swider averaged 13.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.4 APG and 1.0 SPG. The 6’9″ forward started all 33 games during his final NCAA season, with solid shooting splits of .473/.411/.866.

Pippen and Swider will log some time with L.A.’s NBAGL affiliate, the South Bay Lakers, but could also help contribute to the depth-challenged NBA club.

Los Angeles Notes: Ott, Westbrook, Brogdon, Swider, Clippers’ Targets

Darvin Ham‘s Lakers staff is starting to take shape. Nets assistant Jordan Ott will join him on the West Coast and move into a more prominent role in front of the Lakers’ bench, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. Ott has been with Brooklyn since 2016. He served as Steve Nash’s offensive coordinator this past season.

We have more from the Los Angeles teams:

Draft Workout Notes: Kings, Wizards, Wolves, Jazz, More

The Kings hosted several prospects for pre-draft workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the team announced (Twitter links).

The Tuesday group featured Trey McGowens, Ziga Samar, Ron Harper Jr., Brady Manek and Dallas Walton. Wednesday’s group was Jacob Gilyard, Fatts Russell, Yoan Makoundou, Karlo Matkovic, Yannick Nzosa and Kai Sotto.

The Kings control the fourth, 37th and 49th picks in the 2022 draft, and a handful of those players could be targets with one of those second-round picks. Nzosa, Samar, Harper and Matkovic are ranked between 53rd and 58th on ESPN’s big board.

Here are more workout-related notes from around the NBA:

Southeast Draft Notes: Beauchamp, Agbaji, Daniels, Washington, Devoe, Toney

Projected first round prospects MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite) and Ochai Agbaji (Kansas) are among the players visiting the Wizards on Friday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington tweets. Beauchamp is ranked No. 23 on ESPN’s Best Available list, while Agbaji sits at No. 16. Washington holds the No. 10 selection. Ryan Allen (Delaware), Michael Devoe (Georgia Tech), Brady Manek (North Carolina) and Cole Swider (Syracuse) will also work out.

We have more draft-related notes for the Southeast Division:

Pacific Notes: Ham, Lakers, Kings, Warriors

Newly-hired Lakers head coach Darvin Ham is earning high praise from those who know him, according to Broderick Turner and Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times.

Ham, who was a Lakers assistant coach from 2011-13 and won a title against L.A. as a player on the Pistons in 2004, has served as an assistant under head coach Mike Budenholzer with the Hawks and Bucks for the past nine seasons. The Bucks won the 2021 NBA championship with Ham on Budenholzer’s staff.

“His work ethic in practice and when we put him in the game, he always seemed to deliver,” former Knicks head coach and current Indiana University coach Mike Woodson said of Ham. “So, you knew that the fact he got into coaching, I knew it would work because that’s a big part of being a good coach. You got to work.”

Metta Sandiford-Artest, who played on the Lakers teams where Ham first cut his coaching teeth as a development assistant under Mike Brown, also had high praise for Ham.  “He definitely understands modern basketball,” Sandiford-Artest said. “He also is capable of communicating in a way where you can receive it the right way.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers held workouts on Saturday for six NBA hopefuls, per Matthew Barrero of Lakers.com. Baylor guard James Akinjo, Connecticut guard Tyrese Martin, Syracuse forward Cole Swider, USC guard Drew Peterson, Texas A&M guard Quenton Jackson, and Alabama guard Keon Ellis all got a look from the L.A. front office brass. Though Los Angeles does not possess a draft pick this season, the team could trade into the second round or sign an undrafted rookie as a free agent. “There is a good side to it if you’re able to choose your team,” Ellis said. “Even if it happens to be myself, you can’t get too down on it or overthink it. There’s been guys who have gone undrafted and come back with great stories.”
  • The Kings, who possess the fourth pick in the 2022 draft, had at least two key representatives take a look at several high-level prospects during recent pro day workouts in Southern California, writes Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. Team owner Vivek Ranadive and GM Monte McNair attended a CAA pro day workout for Purdue shooting guard Jaden Ivey and Duke small forward AJ Griffin. McNair attended an additional pro day with another top-10-level player, Arizona shooting guard Bennedict Mathurin, Anderson notes, examining the potential fit of each player.
  • Injured Warriors role players Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr. and Andre Iguodala will be gradually included in team practices ahead of the 2022 NBA Finals this week as they continue to recuperate from their respective ailments, per Kendra Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). The club has leaned on 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody for help in the absence of Payton, Porter and Iguodala.

Pacific Notes: Zubac, Curry, Lakers Draft, Coaching Search

As we noted in our Clippers offseason preview earlier today, L.A. holds a $7,518,518 team option on center Ivica Zubac, who is also extension-eligible this offseason. He said this week that he enjoys playing for the team and hopes to stick around.

I want to stay and I think they want to keep me,” Zubac told Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net. “I think I should be there and they’re going to pick (the option) up. I like Los Angeles a lot and I like the Clippers. It’s like a family to me. Hopefully, everything is going to work out.”

Zubac notched several career-high marks in 2021/22, including games played (76, all starts), minutes per game (24.4), points (10.3), rebounds (8.5) and blocks (1.0). He said he hopes his role continues to expand going forward.

It’s great,” Zubac said about the trust he receives from Clippers coach Tyronn Lue. “I hope that keeps on going. Every year I get more and more minutes so, hopefully, by the next year I’ll get even more. The coach trusts me, the teammates trust me and I’m really enjoying my time there.”

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Warriors star Stephen Curry, who was recently named the Western Conference Finals MVP, could have pushed Golden State to trade its high draft picks and prospects to improve the roster the past couple seasons, but he said the team’s patience was rewarded as it heads to the Finals for the sixth time in eight years. “That’s not how I operate,” Curry told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “There were conversations and different paths to take, and we all had conversations about going different ways. But at the end of the day, I have a lot of trust in (president/GM) Bob (Myers), a lot of confidence in what we’re about. There was no panic. Obviously, it helps that we had won a couple championships. It affords patience. But there was no panic in terms of getting me, Klay (Thompson) and Draymond (Green) another run at it, figuring out how we could get pieces around us to make it work. It’s just patience at the end of the day.”
  • The Lakers don’t currently own a draft pick, but that isn’t stopping them from working out six prospects on Saturday, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The six players are Villanova’s Collin Gillespie, UConn’s Tyrese Martin, USC’s Drew Peterson, Alabama’s Keon Ellis, Syracuse’s Cole Swider, and Texas A&M’s Quenton Jackson. Ellis, Gillespie and Martin are all in the 60s on ESPN’s big board, while Jackson is No. 95; both Peterson and Swider are unranked. There’s a good chance at least a few prospects in the group will go undrafted.
  • Sean Deveney of Heavy.com queried rival front office executives to get their opinions on the Lakers‘ head coaching search, with some mixed opinions on which candidates might be favored by certain segments of the team.

Hawks Notes: Offseason Priorities, Draft Workouts, More

Appearing on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, Hawks president of basketball operations Travis Schlenk said, unprompted, that the front office is committed this offseason to making roster changes in an attempt to improve the team after standing relatively pat a year ago.

“We made the decision last year to kind of run the same group back and we probably should’ve tried to upgrade as opposed to stay status quo,” Schlenk said. “This year, the way the season ended and played out, we’re certainly going to try to upgrade the roster moving forward into next season.”

Asked specifically about how much turnover the Hawks’ roster could experience, Schlenk suggested the club won’t be looking to re-sign all of its free agents.

“We have some guys that are free agents, we have some guys that have contract situations. We’ve got a guy eligible for a contract extension,” Schlenk said. “All that stuff plays into it. Every year, the only thing that’s really consistent in this league is change, so we anticipate that there will be some change, certainly with some of our free agents as we look to upgrade our roster.”

Delon Wright, Lou Williams, Gorgui Dieng, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Kevin Knox, and Skylar Mays will be free agents this offseason, while Danilo Gallinari has a small partial guarantee on his salary for 2022/23 and De’Andre Hunter will be eligible for a rookie scale extension.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • Schlenk said during his appearance on 92.9 The Game that the Hawks’ defense was a “big letdown” in 2021/22 and will be an area the club looks to address in the offseason. Schlenk added that having another reliable secondary ball-handler and shot creator to relieve the pressure on Trae Young will be a priority.
  • The Hawks announced in a press release that they’ve brought in 12 prospects this week, hosting six for a group workout on Monday and another half-dozen on Wednesday. Justin Bean (Utah State), Darius Days (LSU), Michael Devoe (Georgia Tech), Gaige Prim (Missouri State), Will Richardson (Oregon), and Cole Swider (Syracuse) were in earlier this week, while Keve Aluma (Virginia Tech), Garrison Brooks (Mississippi State), Jamal Cain (Oakland), Keon Ellis (Alabama), Allen Flanigan (Auburn), and Jaden Shackelford (Alabama) were part of today’s pre-draft workout.
  • Chris Kirschner of The Athletic examines 10 offseason questions facing the Hawks, including whether team owner Tony Ressler is willing to go into luxury-tax territory, whether the team can attract a second star, and what level of pressure head coach Nate McMillan is under.

MSU’s Max Christie Among Early Entrants For 2022 NBA Draft

The list of early entrants for the 2022 NBA draft continues to grow, as college players put their names into this year’s draft pool ahead of the April 24 deadline.

[RELATED: 2022 NBA Draft Dates, Deadlines To Watch]

Michigan State’s Max Christie is among the players who recently declared for the draft, announcing his intentions in a post on Instagram. The freshman shooting guard stated that he’ll test the draft waters, maintaining his remaining college eligibility for the time being as he gets feedback on his draft stock.

A full-time starter for the Spartans in 2021/22, Christie averaged 9.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG on .382/.317/.824 shooting in 35 games (30.8 MPG). Those numbers are modest, but the 6’6″ guard has shown the potential to develop into a stronger shooter and a solid defender, per ESPN’s Mike Schmitz. Christie ranks 41st overall on ESPN’s big board.

Here are a few more of the college players who have recently entered the draft pool:

Expected to stay in draft, forgoing remaining NCAA eligibility:

Testing draft waters: