Collin Sexton

Knicks Notes: Smart, Porzingis, Delany, Draft

Grizzlies assistant Keith Smart is expected to become a top assistant on David Fizdale’s staff with the Knicks, tweets ESPN’s Ian Begley. Smart was an assistant with Fizdale for two years in Miami and came to Memphis with him when he was hired as head coach in 2016.

Smart, who appeared in just two NBA games as a player, began his coaching career in 2000. He has also been an assistant with the Cavaliers, Warriors and Kings and eventually became head coach of all three franchises, compiling a 93-170 career record.

J.B. Bickerstaff, who recently had his interim tag removed by the Grizzlies, has started interviewing potential replacements in anticipation of Smart’s departure, according to Begley.

There’s more today from New York:

  • Fizdale met Friday with Janis Porzingis, the older brother and agent for Kristaps Porzingis, relays Frank Isola of The New York Daily News. Fizdale is hoping to travel to Latvia this summer to talk with the Knicks’ star, who is currently rehabbing his left knee in Spain. Fizdale is working to repair a damaged relationship, Isola adds, as Porzingis has been losing faith in the front office, the Knicks’ medical staff and former coach Jeff Hornacek. In Friday’s meeting, Fizdale reportedly addressed his issues with Marc Gasol in Memphis and a reputation that he doesn’t deal well with foreign-born players.
  • Pat Delany, who also worked with Fizdale in Miami, could be another addition to the coaching staff, Isola adds. Delany has been with the Hornets the past four seasons.
  • Small forward is an obvious position of need for the Knicks, but they plan to approach the ninth pick in this year’s draft with a best-player-available philosophy, writes Chris Iseman of NorthJersey.com. Wing players Miles Bridges and Kevin Knox met with the Knicks during the draft combine, but so did point guards Collin Sexton and Trae Young, even though New York drafted Frank Ntilikina in the first round last year. “There’s no secret that we can use help on the wing,” GM Scott Perry said. “But at the end of the day I think we’re still in that talent-acquisition mode. If that happens to be at No. 9 a wing player, great. If we feel the most talented guy clearly is at another position then we got to look at that direction as well.”

Central Notes: LeBron, Draft, Sexton, Zisper

Much has been made in the last week of the Cavaliers’ poor performance against the Celtics in Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. One topic approached in particular is the potential free agency of LeBron James this summer. James, who has a player option worth a little more than $35.6MM, will again be the showcase of his free agent class like he was in 2010 if he decides to decline his option.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer opines that James, should he choose to enter the open market, may again change the way we think about free agency. O’Connor writes that as the most powerful player in the game, James could leave the Cavaliers and potentially land with the Rockets this offseason – most likely by opting in to his contract and forcing a sign and trade a la Chris Paul last season – then join the Sixers a year or two later before ending his career in Hollywood with the Lakers.

It may seem improbable, but as O’Connor notes, LeBron is probably the one player – other than perhaps Kevin Durant – who can get away with signing one-year contracts season after season, relying on his power and talent to confidently assure himself he’ll be able to sign another maximum-salary deal the next year. He’s been doing it with the Cavaliers ever since he returned to Cleveland in 2014.

Ultimately, while there likely won’t be another “The Decision” debacle if James ends up leaving the Cavaliers, it’ll be interesting to see where James ends up playing next season nonetheless.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Both the Bucks and Pacers have first round selections in this summer’s draft, with Milwaukee selecting at No. 17 and Indiana at No. 23. Beat writers J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star and Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provide five potential draft targets for each team.
  • Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago takes a look at the fit of Alabama point guard Collin Sexton, aptly nicknamed “Young Bull,” as the pick for the Bulls at No. 7. Sexton, who was coached in college by former NBA coach Avery Johnson, averaged 24.2 points on 53 percent shooting, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists in five postseason games this past season.
  • And speaking of the Bulls, Dan Santaromita of NBC Sports Chicago reports that reserve forward Paul Zipser underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a broken left foot. Zipser has a non-guaranteed contract worth just over $1.54MM for next season.

Combine Notes: Young, Carter, Knox, Walker, Bowen

Trae Young claims the Sixers are interested in him, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The Oklahoma freshman point guard was interviewed by Philadelphia at the NBA draft combine. “They are looking for a playmaker all-around,” Young said. “I know they are interested in me. But you never know how things will fall.”

Given the composition of the Sixers’ roster, it’s hard to see how Young would fit in. They have budding superstar Ben Simmons and last year’s No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz along with valuable backup T.J. McConnell to share the ballhandling duties. The Sixers hold the No. 10 and No. 26 picks in the first round and Young is currently ranked No. 6 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, so Philadelphia would likely have to move up to draft him if the interest is genuine.

In other combine developments:

  • Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. and Kentucky forward Kevin Knox met with the Knicks on Friday, Al Iannazzone of Newsday reports. The Knicks own the No. 9 pick. Carter is ranked No. 7 by Givony while Knox is listed at No. 15.
  • Carter also interviewed with the Bulls, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets, and the Sixers, according to Pompey. The Bulls have the No. 7 pick.
  • Miami shooting guard Lonnie Walker met with the Magic, Bulls, Sixers and Knicks, all teams with Top 10 selections, Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype tweets. The Clippers, who hold picks 12 and 13, are also interested in Walker, Kalbrosky adds. Walker is ranked No. 14 by Givony but those meetings could indicate that he’ll go higher in draft day.
  • The Trail Blazers interviewed forward Brian Bowen, who sat out last season after his controversial recruitment by Louisville, Jason Quick of NBCSNorthwest tweets. Bowen is still mulling whether to attend South Carolina or remain in the draft, Quick adds. Bowen barely cracks Givony’s Top 100 at No. 96.
  • Top point guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Collin Sexton and Young were interviewed by the Suns, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic relays. Phoenix has the No. 1 and No. 16 selections. Texas center Mohamed Bamba, Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr. and Carter are some of the other prominent players who met with the Suns.

Combine Notes: Bridges, Sixers, DiVincenzo, Sexton

Michigan State wing Miles Bridges, a probable lottery pick, interviewed with the Bulls, Pacers, Kings, Cavaliers, Spurs, Nuggets, and Clippers earlier this week, and was set to meet with the Sixers, Hornets, and Knicks on Friday, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bridges is one of several intriguing prospects the Sixers are meeting with in Chicago this week, according to Pompey, who adds Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr., Michigan State power forward Jaren Jackson Jr., and IMG Academy guard Anfernee Simons to that list. Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo was also scheduled to interview with Philadelphia on Friday, Pompey tweets.

Finally, Pompey has details on Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo, who has been impressing NBA evaluators at this week’s combine and says he’s received plenty of “positive feedback.” According to Pompey, DiVincenzo has had meetings with the Lakers, Magic, Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Spurs, Hawks, and Grizzlies in Chicago.

Here’s more on meetings taking place at the combine:

Draft Notes: Porter, Bamba, Sexton, Allen

Missouri standout Michael Porter Jr. spoke to reporters at the draft combine in Chicago today and confirmed he has met with the Knicks, Mavericks, Sixers, Suns, Cavaliers, Hawks, Grizzlies, Rockets and Clippers, tweets Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel. He will have another set of interviews tomorrow as he is scheduled to meet with the Kings, Hornets, Thunder and Celtics.

Porter, 19, missed most of his freshman campaign after he suffered a serious back injury just two minutes into the season. Porter underwent surgery –a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs — which sidelined him until the SEC tournament later in the season. In total, Porter appeared in three games with the Tigers, averaging 10.0 PPG and 6.7 RPG. However, Porter spoke confidently about his abilities and how he compares to other talents in this year’s draft pool.

“I know without a doubt that I’m the — I played against all these guys, they’re all great players — but I’m the best player in this draft,” Porter said. “And I just can’t wait to show what I’m capable of.”

Check out more notes related to the draft below:

  • We relayed earlier that Texas big man Mohamed Bamba measured in with a staggering 7’10” wingspan at the combine. Bamba would have the longest wingspan of any player coming into the NBA since 2000. Speaking to reporters, including Madeline Kenney of the Chicago-Sun Times, Bamba addressed his strongest attribute.“I’d say my biggest strength right now, just one word to summarize it all, is just my presence,” Bamba said. “Both offensively and defensively, the presence that I have is pretty profound. I don’t think any other prospect has this presence. I do more but require less. That’s both on the court and off the court. I feel I’m the most efficient guy in this draft class.” Bamba confirmed he has met with 13 teams, tweets ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
  • Alabama point guard Collin Sexton is at the draft combine and has already met with five teams, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News. Sexton has yet to interview with the Mavericks but that could happen by Friday. Sexton did meet with the Knicks, tweets Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.
  • The Timberwolves are set to interview Duke shooting guard Grayson Allen, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.

Knicks Looking For “Unquestioned Upgrade” If Drafting PG At No. 9

The Knicks didn’t move up in the lottery and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has the team selecting Collin Sexton in his post-lottery mock draft. However, a source tells Marc Berman of the New York Post that they have yet to decide whether the Alabama product is an “unquestioned upgrade” over the point guards already on the roster.

The team selected Frank Ntilikina with the No.8 overall pick last summer. “Frank’s a better defender,’’ one NBA personnel director said. “And Collin can struggle with his shot.’’

New York’s preference is to take a small forward, though Berman notes that’s only the case if prospects are seen as equal. The available prospect with the highest upside may be the pick regardless of the player’s position.

The Knicks also have Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke in-house. Neither appears to be the point guard of the future in New York, though both should be near-locks to make the roster next season.

The option of passing on Sexton might not even present itself, as Alabama coach Avery Johnson believes Sexton will rise in the draft after working out for teams. “Nine range?’’ the former NBA player and coach said. “If they saw what I have seen, I’m not trying to promote my player [because] my reputation is on the line also. But if they’ve seen what I’ve seen, I don’t see how he gets past five.’’

Collin Sexton Signs With Agents Ahead Of NBA Draft

Alabama point guard Collin Sexton has signed with agents Austin Brown and Leon Rose of CAA ahead of the 2018 NBA Draft, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Sexton is considered a likely lottery pick and one of the top point guards in this year’s class.

Earlier this month, Sexton announced his intention sign with an agent and enter the draft, thus foregoing his remaining NCAA eligibility.

“I will be going to the NBA,” Sexton said. “I made this decision because I feel like it’s been my dream growing up, it’s so close. Also I talked to my family and the coaching staff and they felt like I’m pretty much ready and I’ll be good because they taught me a whole lot here at Alabama.”

Sexton, 19, was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Year after averaging 19.2 PPG and 3.6 APG. The five-star recruit will be Alabama’s first one-and-done player since the current rules were instituted in 2006.

Draft Updates: Maye, Lewis, Sexton, Green

North Carolina junior forward Luke Maye will enter the draft but won’t hire an agent in order to retain his college eligibility, according to the team’s website. The first-team All-ACC selection averaged 16.9 PPG and 10.1 RPG.

“This is what the system is designed to do, which is provide players with an opportunity to workout with NBA teams and get feedback from those teams,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said in a statement.

The 6’8” Maye is not listed among the top 100 prospects by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

In other draft-related news:

  • New Jersey Institute of Technology forward Abdul Lewis will test the draft waters, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. Lewis averaged 12.0 PPG and 8.8 RPG as a junior. The 6’10” Lewis played for South Alabama during his freshman campaign.
  • Alabama point guard Collin Sexton could be next season’s Donovan Mitchell, a late lottery steal, according to Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders. Sexton could slide to the 8-13 range in the lottery and has star potential, Brigham continues. Michigan State sophomore swingman Miles Bridges and Missouri freshman big man Jontay Porter, the brother of more heralded Michael Porter Jr., could also fit the category of a major first-round bargain, Brigham adds.
  • Kentucky freshman guard Quade Green will return for his sophomore season, his mother to the Lexington Herald-Leader (Twitter link). The 6’0” Green averaged 9.3 PPG and 2.7 APG in 25.6 MPG as a freshman.

Alabama’s Collin Sexton Declares For NBA Draft

APRIL 6: Sexton has confirmed to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com that he’s entering the draft and will hire an agent, forgoing his remaining NCAA eligibility.

“I will be going to the NBA,” Sexton said. “I made this decision because I feel like it’s been my dream growing up, it’s so close. Also I talked to my family and the coaching staff and they felt like I’m pretty much ready and I’ll be good because they taught me a whole lot here at Alabama.”

APRIL 5: Alabama point guard Collin Sexton will announce his intention to enter the NBA draft at a press conference Friday, according to Tony Tsoukalas of BamaInsider.

The move has been expected as Sexton is a likely lottery pick and could be the first point guard selected. He is ranked ninth in the list of top 100 prospects compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who has him going ninth to the Knicks in his latest mock draft.

Sexton, 19, was named SEC Co-Freshman of the Year after averaging 19.2 points and 3.6 assists per game. A five-star recruit, he will be Alabama’s first one-and-done player since the current rules were adopted in 2006.

And-Ones: NCAA Prospects, BIG3 Draft, McDaniels

Trae Young‘s late-season struggles have put Alabama’s Collin Sexton and Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on even terms with the much-hyped Oklahoma freshman for the status of top point guard in the draft. That’s one of the observations made by ESPN’s Mike Schmitz and Jonathan Givony in a look at first-round prospects whose teams were knocked out early in the NCAA tournament.

Missouri forward Michael Porter will have to show more than other players projected in the top half of the lottery during predraft workouts to solidify his status after a back injury sidelined him most of the season, according to Givony. Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s poor and abbreviated performance against Syracuse Sunday didn’t help the Michigan State freshman’s cause in comparisons to the draft’s other top big men, in Givony’s opinion.

In other news:

  • The BIG3 league will hold a combine on April 11th and its draft the following evening, according to a league press release. Approximately 100 players will compete for 19 available roster spots at the combine. All but two of the league’s eight teams will fill three roster spots during the draft. Championship team Trilogy must retain its existing roster to defend its title, while runner-up 3-Headed Monsters exercised its option to retain Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Kwame Brown and elected to place Eddie Basden back into the draft pool.
  • San Diego State freshman forward Jalen McDaniels will declare for the draft but won’t hire an agent, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.  He averaged 10.5 PPG and 7.5 RPG this season.
  • Hoops Rumors’ Arthur Hill provided insights on the Spurs, Wizards and top prospects in the NCAA tournament in his weekly mailbag column. Check it out here.