De'Anthony Melton

Four 2018 NBA Draftees Remain Unsigned

With Thunder second-rounder Devon Hall set to spend the upcoming season playing in Australia, 56 of 60 players selected in the 2018 NBA draft have now made plans – in the NBA or elsewhere – for the 2018/19 campaign.

As our 2018 draft pick signing tracker shows, that leaves four players whose status for 2018/19 has yet to be reported or announced. Here’s what we know – or can deduce – about those four rookies:

  1. Justin Jackson (Magic): According to our roster counts, the Magic have used both of their two-way contract slots and have 16 players on NBA contracts. However, only 14 of those NBA deals are fully guaranteed, meaning there could be a path for Jackson to claim the 15th spot. Still, Isaiah Briscoe looks like he’ll have an opportunity to make the team despite not having a guaranteed salary. Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel expects Jackson, who is coming off a major shoulder injury, to spend the 2018/19 season with the Lakeland Magic, so perhaps he’ll sign a G League contract with an eye toward joining Orlando’s 15-man squad in 2019.
  2. De’Anthony Melton (Rockets): The Rockets only have 10 players on fully guaranteed salaries, meaning there’s plenty of room for Melton to join the mix. It’s possible Houston is waiting to sign Melton in order to keep him trade-eligible — as soon as he signs, he can’t be dealt for one month, and the Rockets may want to keep their options open as they scour the market for a wing player. Assuming Melton remains with the Rockets, they’ll likely lock him up for at least three years using part of the taxpayer mid-level exception, like they did with Isaiah Hartenstein.
  3. Chimezie Metu (Spurs): The Spurs have a lone opening on their projected 15-man roster, with 14 players on guaranteed deals. It’s possible Metu could slot into that spot, but he’s not the only option. Former two-way player Darrun Hilliard is a candidate to be promoted to a standard NBA contract, and 2017 second-rounder Jaron Blossomgame could also be signed. The Spurs are very comfortable stashing draft picks, as they currently retain the NBA rights to 11 players who aren’t playing in the NBA. We’ll see if Metu becomes the 12th or if the Spurs held onto part of their mid-level exception this summer in order to sign him to a long-term deal.
  4. Kevin Hervey (Thunder): Hall’s move overseas looks like it could be good news for Hervey. The Thunder have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, leaving no clear path to OKC’s regular season roster, but the club only has Deonte Burton on a two-way deal. That leaves the Thunder’s other two-way contract slot open, and it would make sense for Hervey to fill it, as four other 2018 draftees in the 54-60 range have inked two-way deals so far this summer.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, Rondo, Doncic, Belinelli

Pelicans GM Dell Demps made his first public comments on the loss of free agents DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo in an interview with Rod Walker of The New Orleans Advocate.

According to Demps, team officials met with Cousins on the first two days of free agency, but the two sides weren’t able to find “common ground.” Demps called negotiations with Cousins “respectful” and “cordial,” but said the uncertainty over his physical condition in the wake of a torn Achilles made it difficult to reach a deal. Cousins eventually signed a one-year contract with the Warriors for their $5.3MM taxpayer mid-level exception.

“The unknown of returning to play made it difficult for both sides to find a common ground,” Demps explained. “We enjoyed DeMarcus in New Orleans and wanted him back. We had multiple discussions with his representatives. It was just very difficult for us to find common ground.”

Rondo also headed west for a one-year contract, signing with the Lakers for $9MM after a single season in New Orleans. Demps hopes the intangibles that Rondo brought will influence other players.

“Ultimately, it was a tough situation because we had so much success with Rondo with his leadership and on-court presence,” Demps said. “We felt like we had a chemistry. Unfortunately, he’s not back. At the same time, we believe that his impact will stay with our team.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks made the correct move in holding first-round pick Luka Doncic out of Summer League play, writes Dwain Price of NBA.com. Doncic’s buyout with Real Madrid wasn’t finalized until Monday, and he would have faced a difficult adjustment in joining the team in Las Vegas after it had already played two games.
  • Manu Ginobili was among the first people to text congratulations to Marco Belinelli after he committed to return to the Spurs, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. That doesn’t guarantee Ginobili will be back for another season, but he’s glad to see his former teammate return after winning a title together in 2014. “We didn’t talk about [Ginobili playing], but I can say he was really happy about me coming back,” Belinelli said. “Winning a championship with that great team was amazing. Nobody is going to take that away from me.”
  • Rockets second-round pick De’Anthony Melton has turned in a standout performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Melton slipped to the 46th pick after not playing last season at USC, and he has looked like a steal so far. Melton struggled with his shot in the opener, but is 10 of 23 from 3-point range since then and has impressed the coaching staff with his defense and play-making.

Draft Workouts: Sixers, Grizzlies, Pacers, Hornets, T-Wolves

The Sixers will host Kentucky forward Kevin Knox and Texas Tech guard Zhaire Smith for the second time on Tuesday, according to a team release. Knox’s workout will be separate from the other six players they will bring in, including Smith. The Sixers hold the No. 10 selection in the lottery. Knox is currently ranked No. 9 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, while Smith is slotted at No. 16.

The other members of the group workout are all guards, including B.J. Johnson (La Salle), De’Anthony Melton (USC), Tyler Nelson (Fairfield), Malik Newman (Kansas) and Landry Shamet (Wichita State). Melton (No. 24, Givony) is a possibility for the Sixers with their other first-rounder at No. 26.

We have numerous other draft workouts to pass along:

Draft Updates: Musa, Knox, Williams, Sixers

The Nets may be willing to package their picks to move up for Bosnia’s Dzanan Musa, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The 19-year-old small forward has spent the past week visiting teams that might be willing to use a first-round selection on him. The Nets hold the 29th pick, but may have to give up their second-rounders at 40 and 45 to get into Musa’s range.

Musa has two years remaining on his contract with KK Cedevita in the EuroLeague, but he plans to come to the NBA next season.

“I want to compete at the highest level and to compete with the best players in the world,” Musa said in an interview with CBS Sports affiliate 1430-AM in Indianapolis. “[My strength is] scoring: shooting, midrange floaters, to the rim. … I just want to get picked by the team who sees me as a project. But I think I’m a lottery pick for sure.”

There’s more draft-related news to pass along:

Draft Notes: Evans, Jazz, J. Robinson, Simons, Lakers

Potential first-round pick Jacob Evans will work out on Sunday for the Jazz, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). A swingman out of Cincinnati, Evans could be an option for Utah when the club is on the clock at No. 21.

Meanwhile, the Jazz are bringing in several more prospects for a Friday audition, according to the team (Twitter link). Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech) and Jerome Robinson (Boston College), two more possible targets at No. 21, are the headliners. They’ll be joined by Trevon Duval (Duke), Landry Shamet (Wichita State), Kelan Martin (Butler), and George King (Colorado).

Here are several more draft-related notes:

  • Anfernee Simons is generating some first-round buzz, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who tweets that the Trail Blazers and Lakers are among the teams with interest in the IMG Academy guard.
  • The Lakers will host another group workout on Friday, with De’Anthony Melton (USC), Yante Maten (Georgia), Gabe DeVoe (Clemson), Peyton Aldridge (Davidson), Justin Tillman (VCU), and Kyle Washington (Cincinnati) taking part, per a team release.
  • The Timberwolves are among the teams that have worked out Boston College guard Jerome Robinson, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who suggests (via Twitter) that Robinson has made a good impression on the workout circuit. Robinson currently ranks as the No. 17 prospect on Jonathan Givony’s ESPN big board, so he’s a potential target for Minnesota at No. 20.
  • In addition to Kevin Knox and Wenyen Gabriel, whose workouts were previously reported, the Sixers will be taking a closer look today at Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Tra Holder (Arizona State), E.C. Matthews (Rhode Island), and Jordan Barnett (Missouri), as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer relays (via Twitter).
  • Despite the declining importance of centers in the modern NBA, many of this year’s very best prospects play the five, creating some risk at the top of the draft, Kevin Pelton writes in an interesting piece for ESPN.com.

West Draft Workouts: Blazers, Kings, Carter, Warriors

Several of the Trail Blazers‘ previously-reported workouts are happening today, with Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech), Billy Preston (Bosnia), and Landry Shamet (Wichita State) among the prospects paying a visit to the team, per a press release.

In addition to those players, Portland is also taking a closer look at Khyri Thomas (Creighton), Troy Brown (Oregon), MiKyle McIntosh (Oregon), and De’Anthony Melton (USC). All seven of the prospects auditioning for the Trail Blazers today rank within Jonathan Givony’s top 100 at ESPN.com, with several considered viable candidates to be Portland’s pick at No. 24 overall.

Here are more updates on pre-draft works from around the Western Conference:

  • The Kings will be bringing in Duke big man Wendell Carter Jr. for a visit on Saturday, the team announced today. As Sean Cunningham of ABC10 notes (via Twitter), Carter won’t work out during that visit, since Sacramento already saw him work out in Los Angeles last month.
  • LiAngelo Ball is among the prospects participating in a group workout for the Warriors on Friday, according to the team (Twitter link via Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News). Nana Foulland (Bucknell), Daxter Miles (West Virginia), Tai Odiase (Chicago-Illinois), Nuni Omot (Baylor), and Duncan Robinson (Michigan) will also take part.
  • International prospect Elie Okobo, who is considered a good bet to come off the board in the second half of the first round, will work out for the Timberwolves this weekend, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.
  • UNLV’s Brandon McCoy has a workout on tap with the Mavericks and still intends to work out with four or five other teams before draft night, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

Draft Notes: R. Williams, Nuggets, Clips, Wizards

Texas A&M center Robert Williams, who previously worked out for the Bulls, Hornets, and Knicks, continues to earn looks from teams picking in the top half of the first round. According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News (Twitter link), Williams still has workouts on tap with the Clippers, Nuggets, Wizards, who hold the picks from 12 through 15.

Williams’ session with the Nuggets will take place today, according to a press release from the club. In addition to scheduling an individual session with Williams, Denver has also lined up a group workout which will feature Hayden Dalton (Wyoming), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Arnoldas Kulboka (Capo d’Orlando), Dzanan Musa (Cedevita), Ajdin Penava (Marshall), and Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga).

Meanwhile, the Bucks – who hold the No. 17 selection – also wanted to bring in Williams for a workout, but he expects to be off the board before Milwaukee picks and has passed on the team’s invitation, per Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times. According to Woelfel, Texas Tech’s Zhaire Smith, another good bet to be drafted in the top 16, also won’t work out for the Bucks.

Here’s more on the 2018 NBA draft:

Draft Notes: Sixers, Z. Smith, Pacers, Suns, Wolves

The Sixerspreviously-reported workout with Villanova wing Mikal Bridges is taking place today, but Bridges isn’t the only prospect in town to get a look from the club. According to a press release, the 76ers also hosted a group workout today, with Marcus Derrickson (Georgetown), Marcus Foster (Creighton), Donte Ingram (Loyola Chicago), Nick King (Middle Tennessee State), MiKyle McIntosh), and Zhaire Smith (Texas Tech) taking part.

Speaking of Smith, his busy workout schedule will continue, with an audition for the Hornets still on tap, as Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. We previously heard that Smith also has a workout lined up with Phoenix.

Let’s round up a few more draft-related notes…

Eastern Draft Notes: Sixers, Bulls, Diallo, Raptors

The Sixers, who hold the 10th and 26th picks in the 2018 NBA draft, continue to take a closer look at potential early- and late-first-round picks. According to Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter links), Philadelphia will have an interesting pair of prospects participating in a group workout next Monday when they bring in Miami guard Lonnie Walker and MSU forward Miles Bridges. Both players are considered potential lottery selections, making them options at No. 10.

Duke’s Grayson Allen, a possible candidate for the No. 26 pick, participated in a workout today for the Sixers, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. However, Allen – who will also work out for the Celtics on Friday, per Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald (Twitter link) – wasn’t the most notable person present at the session.

According to Pompey, embattled president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was in attendance at today’s workout. While that doesn’t mean that the Sixers have made a decision one way or the other on Colangelo’s future, it certainly doesn’t seem like bad news for him.

Here’s more on pre-draft workouts from around the Eastern Conference:

Draft Workouts: Walker, Clippers, A.J. Davis, Hawks

Miami guard Lonnie Walker IV, considered a potential lottery pick, had his first pre-draft workout on Sunday when he met with the Hornets, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. According to Bonnell, Walker indicated that he’ll audition for about six more teams, all of whom are picking in the 10-to-20 range in this month’s draft.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com has Walker going to the Clippers at No. 13 in his most recent mock draft, noting that the former Hurricane is a candidate to increase his stock during the pre-draft process due to his ” youth, strong frame, wingspan, and ability to shoot with his feet set or off the dribble.”

Here are more updates on pre-draft workouts, including another note on the Clippers: