De’Aaron Fox

Nuggets, Suns Discuss Bledsoe, Mudiay

6:01pm: Discussions between the Suns and Bulls on Bledsoe involved the No. 16 overall pick, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

5:39pm: The Suns currently have no trades on tap, and are preparing to use the No. 4 pick in the draft, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge.

5:25pm: The Nuggets and Suns have discussed a trade that would send Eric Bledsoe to Denver, with Emmanuel Mudiay and the No. 13 pick going to Phoenix, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). No deal is imminent, but talks remain “fluid,” per Haynes.

ESPN’s Chad Ford first reported that the Nuggets and Bulls were engaged with the Suns today on possible Bledsoe trade scenarios, while Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times tweeted that Phoenix was still looking to make a “major splash” with Bledsoe and/or the No. 4 pick.

According to Ford, if the Suns use the fourth overall pick on De’Aaron Fox, it will likely signal that they found a taker on Bledsoe. If Phoenix isn’t able to complete a Bledsoe trade tonight, Josh Jackson is the more probable pick at No. 4, assuming he’s still on the board, says Ford.

Denver would be an interesting landing spot for Bledsoe, who averaged a career-best 21.1 PPG and 6.3 APG in 66 games last year, before he was benched down the stretch by the tanking Suns. Although Mudiay is a former seventh overall pick, his development has been slow so far, leaving the Nuggets seeking a possible long-term alternative at the point guard position.

Draft Notes: Ball, Ntilikina, Bulls, Mavericks

The Lakers are widely expected to take Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick after trading D’Angelo Russell on Tuesday, but Ball tells Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports that he hasn’t received a guarantee from the team. Ball worked out twice for L.A., with the second time reportedly at the request of the Lakers after a disappointing showing in the first session. “I think they were both fine,” he said. L.A. is still giving “real consideration” to Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

There’s more news as teams lock in their draft strategies:

  • French point guard Frank Ntilikina held a last-minute workout for the Knicks this morning, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Sources tell Berman that the Mavericks, who are also in the market for a point guard, talked to the Timberwolves about trading up from the ninth pick to the seventh to have a shot at Ntilikina, but talks collapsed because of Minnesota’s high asking price. The Wolves would prefer to use that pick as part of a package to get Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. Today’s workout was conducted by former Knicks player developmental coach Chris Brickley, who tutored Ntilikina last summer.
  • If the Bulls do move Butler, they will likely target Fox or Josh Jackson, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • The Celtics are also interested in the seventh pick and have spoken to the Wolves about a possible deal, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Boston may want an extra draft choice to sweeten its offer to the Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis.
  • Responding to Damian Lillard‘s request for a better supporting cast, the Trail Blazers are trying to acquire a lottery pick, tweets Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News. Portland’s priority in any deal is getting rid of a bad contract, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The Blazers made an offer for Paul George, but it “doesn’t move the needle” for the Pacers, relays Jason Quick of CSNNW (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors, who hold the No. 23 pick, are gauging interest around the league and are willing to trade down, according to Scotto (Twitter link).
  • The Nuggets, who have the 13th selection, are another team that may try to move down, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. He notes that Denver has a history of making draft-night trades.
  • Several teams have expressed an interest in moving into the late part of the lottery, according to Givony (Twitter link). He lists the Lakers, Hawks, Nets, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Rockets as teams that might try to acquire a pick in the 10-14 range.

Trade Rumors: Butler, Bledsoe, Hawks, Cavs

While the Bulls still aren’t close to moving Jimmy Butler, there appears to be more “organizational alignment” than there was last year on the idea that a rebuild is in the team’s best interest, reports K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Chicago’s asking price for Butler hasn’t changed, according to Johnson, who says the team would be seeking starters or rotation players, along with multiple high draft picks.

Since the Bulls would like to land a high pick in Thursday’s draft if they move Butler, the Celtics (No. 3), Suns (No. 4), and Timberwolves (No. 7) would make sense as trade partners. However, as Johnson details, the Bulls have received the impression that Boston plans to use the third overall pick, and Minnesota’s seventh overall pick likely wouldn’t put Chicago in position to nab one of the top prospects they like, such as De’Aaron Fox or Josh Jackson.

Here are more trade rumors from around the league, including notes on Chicago’s other potential trade partner, the Suns:

  • The Suns have explored the possibility of trading their No. 4 overall pick in a deal for a star, having looked into players like Butler, Paul George, and Kristaps Porzingis, Adrian Wojnarowski noted during The Vertical’s live show on Wednesday night. Sources tell K.C. Johnson that Phoenix is also looking to include Eric Bledsoe, who has two years left on his contract, in any major trade package.
  • On The Vertical’s live show, Wojnarowski identified the Hawks as a team to watch on the trade market, suggesting that new GM Travis Schlenk may be looking to cut costs as he retools the roster. Kent Bazemore could be a trade candidate in Atlanta, per Wojnarowski.
  • Even without a GM in place, the Cavaliers continued to work “furiously” on Wednesday pursuing trade possibilities, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. It appears the Cavs and Chauncey Billups are close to reach an agreement that would add him to their front office, but the team is more focused on working the trade market, and will continue trying to find a deal on Thursday.
  • Within a larger piece about the draft, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun suggests the Raptors are confident about their chances to re-sign Serge Ibaka in free agency, which could make Jonas Valanciunas expendable in the right deal.

Draft Notes: Mitchell, Jackson, Tatum, Ferguson

Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell will hold a last-minute workout for the Knicks today, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. The sophomore out of Louisville, whose session was originally scheduled for Tuesday, is being considered with the No 8 pick, Begley adds, along with French point guard Frank Ntilikina, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen and others. Team president Phil Jackson is intrigued by Mitchell’s defensive prowess and athleticism and likes the fact that he prefers to work out in a group setting to showcase his defense. Joining Mitchell today will be Villanova’s Josh Hart, Miami’s Davon Reed, Iowa State’s Naz Long and others.

There’s more draft news on the eve of the big event:

  • The Celtics have received Josh Jackson‘s medical records, but the Kansas forward still refuses to work out for the team, tweets Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Boston appears to be leaning toward Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick, Ford states, but no decision has been made.
  • Ford still has Jackson as the third selection in his latest mock draft, which was released today. Markelle Fultz remains No. 1, followed by Lonzo Ball, with the rest of the top 10 as Tatum, Jonathan Isaac, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Monk, Zach Collins and Markkanen.
  • Terrance Ferguson recently pulled out of workouts with the Pistons, Hawks and Bucks, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. It’s possible that Ferguson received a draft promise from the Nuggets or Nets or he may have been responding to poor workouts (Twitter link).
  • A 7-footer with a soft shooting touch, Markkanen is drawing comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, writes Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Some scouts believe the 20-year-old Finnish star is the best 3-point shooter in the draft. “It’s probably not fair to him to have some young guy compared to a Hall of Fame player and champion,” Markkanen said of Nowitzki. “We have similarities because of the height, being from Europe and shooting. But I have a long way to go before I’m in the same category as him. Hopefully, I can get there one day.”
  • The Wizards will work out six players today, the team announced on its website. They are French center Alpha Kaba, Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain Jr., VCU’s JeQuan Lewis, Eastern Michigan’s Jalen Ross, Niagara’s Tahjere McCall and East Tennessee State’s Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Ford’s Latest: Lakers, Suns, Kings, Magic, Mavs

Sources in Los Angeles say that the Lakers have been “moving closer and closer” in recent days to making Lonzo Ball their man at No. 2, ESPN’s Chad Ford writes in his latest mock draft (Insider-only link). However, the Suns also have legitimate interest in Ball, and have had conversations with both the Lakers and Celtics about trading up, says Ford. Phoenix has interest in Josh Jackson too, but if both Jackson and Ball come off the board in the top three and the Suns don’t move up, Ford expects Jayson Tatum to be the team’s choice.

Here are several more interesting tidbits from Ford’s latest mock:

  • The Kings have explored moving up to No. 2 or No. 3, with De’Aaron Fox as their target. Ford’s mock suggests Sacramento will have a chance to nab Fox with the No. 5 pick though.
  • The Magic have shown “serious interest” in Jayson Tatum, but Ford thinks he’ll be off the board at No. 6, and has Orlando picking Jonathan Isaac instead.
  • The Knicks and Mavericks both appear to be very high on French point guard Frank Ntilikina. Ford says not to be surprised if Dallas attempts to leapfrog New York by trading up to No. 6 or No. 7 to secure Ntilikina.
  • Ford’s newest mock forecasts a potential fall out of the top 10 for Malik Monk. ESPN’s draft guru suggests that if Monk makes it past the Timberwolves and Knicks, he could slip to the Hornets at No. 11.
  • There has been “a lot of buzz” about the possibility of OG Anunoby landing with the Nuggets, Ford writes. The injured Indiana forward is receiving interest as high as No. 10 (Kings), but Denver would be a good fit, since the Nuggets wouldn’t need him to play right away.
  • The Trail Blazers, who hold three first-round picks, continue to shop around No. 20, per Ford.

Draft Notes: Briscoe, Fox, Ferguson, Artis

Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe had to cancel his remaining workouts because of an ankle injury, according to Adam Zagoria of FanRagSports. The scheduled sessions were with the Lakers, Kings, Bucks and Pacers. Briscoe had reportedly been impressive in workouts with the Knicks, Sixers and a few other teams. DraftExpress lists Briscoe 71st in its list of top 100 prospects.

There’s more draft-related news as the clock winds down toward Thursday:

  • De’Aaron Fox, Briscoe’s backcourt partner at Kentucky, is intrigued by the prospect of joining former Wildcats Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in Phoenix, writes Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated. The Suns hold the No. 4 pick, but seem unlikely to take another guard unless they make a trade to clear out their already overcrowded backcourt. Fox, who is considered a top five pick, sees the Lakers at No. 2 as another possibility. “I’ve heard they’re trying to move D’Angelo [Russell] to the 2,” he says. “Even if he does play point, I feel like we could play together. A lot of teams play two point guards anyway.” Fox touches on several other subjects, including his rivalry with UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, in a wide-ranging piece.
  • Regardless of the order, the first five picks in the draft appear to be set, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Turner talked to several league executives and found a consensus. After Washington’s Markelle Fultz is taken at No. 1, Ball, Fox, Kansas’ Josh Jackson and Duke’s Jayson Tatum will round out the top five. However, some believe Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac has a shot at being the fifth pick.
  • Terrance Ferguson, who is projected as the Nets‘ pick at No. 27 in the latest mock drafts from DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com, will work out for Brooklyn today, according to NetsDaily.com (Twitter link).
  • Pitt’s Jamel Artis has scheduled workouts today with the Pistons and Monday with the Thunder, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Jazz held a workout Saturday that could be their last one before the draft, relays Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Baylor’s Johnathan Motley was the highest-ranked prospect on hand, joined by Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss, Houston’s Damyean Dotson, North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks, La Salle’s Jordan Price and Southeast Missouri State’s Antonius Cleveland. “It was great,” Motley said. “Played with a lot of energy, played good defensively and shot the ball well during the workout. I think I did pretty good.”

76ers Notes: Fox, Monk, Korkmaz, Workouts

De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky is slated to work out for the 76ers this weekend, reports Keith Pompey of Philly.com. The workout is tentatively scheduled for Saturday. Fox worked out for the second-pick-possessing Lakers on Tuesday. Philadelphia holds the third overall pick. Pompey also adds that former Miami shooting guard Davon Reed will work out for the Sixers on Friday.

Here’s more professional basketball from the City of Brotherly Love:

  • Malik Monk (Kentucky) will work out for the Sixers on Thursday, according to Derek Bodner of The Ringer (link via Twitter).
  • Other prospects scheduled to work out for Philadelphia on Thursday include Dillon Brooks (Oregon), Dylan Ennis (Oregon), Jack Gibbs (Davidson), Josh Hart (Villanova), Tidjan Keita (France), and Darryl Reynolds (Villanova), also via Bodner (link via Twitter). This workout will be separate from Monk’s.
  • Furkan Korkmaz, who was drafted by Philly a year ago but has yet to play an NBA game, will play for Turkey’s under-20 team, which overlaps with the Las Vegas Summer League schedule, reports Bodner (link via Twitter). Still, Korkmaz is undecided on whether he will play for the 76ers during the summer league, adds Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com (link via Twitter).
  • The Sixers are considering using at least a couple of their four second-round picks on draft-and-stash options and Jonah Bolden (Australia) is one of the prospects they are most closely following, reports Orazio Cauchi of Sportando.com. Bolden played one season for UCLA before beginning his professional career in Europe’s Adriatic League.

Markelle Fultz To Meet With Lakers

Projected top pick Markelle Fultz is expected to meet this week with the Lakers, who hold the No. 2 pick, a source told Adam Zagoria of The 4 Quarters Podcast (Twitter link).

Fultz spent two days with the Celtics earlier this month and it’s generally assumed the University of Washington point guard will be Boston’s choice on draft day. The fact that Fultz is willing to meet with the team holding the next pick at this stage suggests that the Celtics may not be completely sold on Fultz, or at least haven’t made any promises that he’ll be their pick. It’s noteworthy that Fultz is only scheduled to meet with the Lakers and not work out for them, though that obviously could change.

The Fultz meeting the Lakers could also be a hedge by his representatives in case Boston decides to swap the pick in a blockbuster deal.

The Lakers did meet with Fultz at the scouting combine in Chicago last month. While most projections have Los Angeles taking UCLA passing wizard Lonzo Ball, the Lakers are covering all their bases. Some members of their front office are supposedly bullish on Kansas small forward Josh Jackson, and they will hold a closed workout for Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox on Tuesday morning, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News tweets.

Pacific Notes: David West, Jerry West, Kings, Bell

No one gave up more to be part of this year’s NBA Finals than the WarriorsDavid West, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. The 37-year-old turned down a $12MM player option with the Pacers in 2015 to pursue a ring, signing veteran’s minimum contracts with San Antonio and Golden State. Grange estimates West could have earned about $20MM over the past two seasons if he had sought a long-term deal instead of a championship. “I’m 36 and I’ve been playing basketball for 30 years of my life and you get to a point where [The Finals] is the only environment, the only stage I haven’t been in,” West explained. “I’ve been in high school championships, played collegiately at a high level, but you want to get this final stage and it was an opportunity where personally I felt I had to jump at.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors plan to meet with consultant Jerry West after the playoffs are finished to discuss his future with the team, according to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News. West recently met with the Clippers to discuss a similar role in their organization and confirmed he received an offer. West has been with Golden State for six seasons and GM Bob Myers and owner Joe Lacob have said they want him to stay. However, West said isn’t sure if the team still needs his input now that it has risen to the top of the league.
  • Markelle Fultz‘s willingness to visit the Kings is a sign that Sacramento no longer has a toxic reputation among potential draftees, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The Kings, who own picks No. 5 and 10, were only able to bring in one first-rounder, Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin, in last year’s pre-draft workouts. The team has already had sessions with Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, North Carolina’s Justin Jackson and Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell.
  • Texas center Jarrett Allen, another potential lottery pick, will have a private workout with the Kings today, the team announced on its website. Also on today’s schedule is a group session with SMU’s Semi Ojeleye, St. Mary’s Joe Rahon, Loyola’s Milton Doyle, Texas A&M Corpus Christie’s Rashawn Thomas, BYU’s Eric Mika and Central Florida’s Matt Williams.
  • The Suns are intrigued by Oregon’s Jordan Bell, who worked out for the team Friday, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Bell, who compares himself to Draymond Green, enhanced his reputation when he blocked eight shots in an NCAA Tournament win over Kansas. “I very much take pride in my defense,” Bell said. “That’s what I hang my hat on every time I step on the floor. I think my ability to guard perimeter players, switch on screens and keep people in front of me is definitely something that will help me in the long run and keep me in the league for a long time.”

Lakers Notes: Ball, Fultz, Smith

The Lakers aren’t sold on Lonzo Ball and remain intrigued with Markelle Fultz and Josh Jackson, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report writes. The UCLA product recently met with the franchise and worked out in a one-on-none scenario.

Although Ding notes that Ball’s biggest skill set – his ability to lead an offense and move the ball – isn’t exactly applicable in that sort of isolated practice situation, the guard didn’t separate himself from the rest of the potential top picks in the upcoming draft.

Over his two days with the team, Ding notes, Ball established himself as quiet and reserved, a far cry from his famously boisterous father. The other options that will likely be available when the Lakers pick, however, boast compelling characteristics of their own.

The Lakers are hopeful that they’ll be able to work out Fultz despite his apparent plan to only work out for the Celtics and have already traveled to Sacramento to scout Jackson. De’Aaron Fox, another potential player on their list, will be in Los Angeles to work out on Tuesday.

There’s more from the Lakers:

  • The Lakers will work out Dennis Smith Jr., Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog tweets. Smith Jr. is currently projected to go No. 7, according to NBADraft.net.
  • The Lakers are hopeful that they’ll be able to meet with Markelle Fultz next week, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. He adds that it’s unclear whether this would be for a meeting or a work out.
  • The Lakers worked out a batch of players on Friday, including Damyean Dotson and P.J. Dozier, the team announced on its official website.
  • Although it can likely be taken with a grain of salt, Lavar Ball believes that all three of his sons will end up with the Lakers eventually, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype relays.
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