Goga Bitadze

And-Ones: Pacers, Favors, Zhou, Teodosic

The Pacers were thrilled to see Goga Bitadze still available when the team picked at No. 18, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star relays. The scribe hears that many within the league were surprised Bitadze was still available at that spot. However, several executives told Michael that had they been running the Pacers, they wouldn’t have taken the center unless they planned on trading either Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis.

Most of the executives Michael spoke to believe that if the team decides to trade either Turner and Sabonis, the latter will be the one to go. Turner is entering the first season of a four-year, $80MM contract, while Sabonis is entering the last year of his rookie deal.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Pelicans were Derrick Favors‘ preferred destination once it was clear the Jazz were moving him, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Utah needed to trade Favors in order to accommodate the Bojan Bogdanovic signing.
  • Former Rockets center Zhou Qi plans to play in Europe next season, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Zhou has not yet picked a team.
  • Milos Teodosic will make slightly over €5MM during his three-year contract with Virtus Bologna, Carchia passes along in a separate piece. Teodosic last played for the Clippers during this past season.

Pacers Sign Goga Bitadze To Rookie Contract

The Pacers have officially signed first-round pick Goga Bitadze to his rookie contract, tweets Scott Agness of The Athletic. NBA.com’s transactions log confirms that the move has been finalized.

A Georgian-born center, Bitadze was the 18th overall pick in last month’s draft and was the second international player to come off the board, behind Sekou Doumbouya.

Bitadze’s selection raised some eyebrows, since the Pacers already had centers Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis on their roster. However, with Turner and Sabonis expected to start alongside one another in Indiana’s frontcourt, Bitadze is in position to earn rotation minutes as a backup at the five.

Assuming he signed for the maximum allowable 120% of the rookie scale, Bitadze will earn about $2.82MM in his rookie year, and a total of approximately $13.64MM over the life of his four-year contract.

As our draft pick signing tracker shows, Chuma Okeke of the Magic is now the only first-round pick who has yet to sign his rookie contract.

Pacers Rumors: Oladipo, Bitadze, Turner, Young

Speaking on Thursday night to reporters, including J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard acknowledged that the team isn’t expecting to have Victor Oladipo ready to go to start the 2019/20 season. Oladipo continues to recover from the torn quad tendon he suffered in January.

“I’m hopeful that he’s going to be back in December, January,” Pritchard said of Oladipo. “To put a true timeline is not really fair.”

Here are several more Pacers notes worth passing along:

  • First-round pick Goga Bitadze will join the Pacers right away rather than being stashed overseas, Michael writes. “Of any of the guys we’ve drafted in the last few years, I think he’s more polished and ready to play in an NBA game than a normal kid coming out of college,” Pritchard said of the Georgian center.
  • While the Pacers are committed to playing Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis together, with one of the two at power forward, the team will have trade options available, Michael writes. Multiple league sources have told Michael that no one on Indiana’s roster is really untouchable, though he doesn’t expect the team to move Turner, as he tweeted prior to the draft.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic remains the Pacers’ top priority in free agency, while Thaddeus Young appears less likely to be retained, per Michael.
  • Pritchard expects to be active in free agency as the Pacers look to fill out their roster, Michael relays. “We’ve got a lot of holes to fill. We’re going to have a lot of money to go out into the marketplace,” Pritchard said. “July 1 is going to be where the real dirty work starts. We got to make some hay in free agency.”
  • More from Pritchard, via Michael: “We’ll try to be a good team next year. We’re not going to go young and try to start at the bottom. We want to win again.”

Draft Rumors: Wolves, Pistons, Hornets, Knicks

While the Timberwolves were exploring trades involving the No. 6 pick after acquiring it from Phoenix, they plan on hanging onto Jarrett Culver, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Still, it’s safe to assume Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas will continue to be aggressive in exploring trade options, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News, who tweets that Rosas seems to be open to discussing anyone except Karl-Anthony Towns.

Here are a few more draft-night notes and rumors:

  • Sekou Doumbouya was higher than No. 15 on the Pistons‘ draft board, so the team was happy to snag him, a source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). Ellis hears that the Pistons were also seriously considering big man Goga Bitadze at No. 15 (Twitter link). Pistons executive Ed Stefanski said that Detroit explored trading up, but teams wanted too much, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
  • The Hornets were close to trading up from No. 12, but felt like the price was excessive compared to what their options at No. 12 were, Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said tonight (Twitter link via Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer). Kupchak added that Charlotte views PJ Washington as both a small forward and power forward.
  • Jalen McDaniels, Miye Oni, Zylan Cheatham, and Jaylen Nowell are among the prospects receiving consideration from the Knicks at No. 55, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who tweets that New York likely won’t draft Tacko Fall.

Draft Updates: Oni, Langford, Bitadze, Bone, Harris

Yale wing Miye Oni returned to the Bucks’ practice facility for a second workout on Saturday, ESPN’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Oni averaged 17.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 3.6 APG during his junior season. The 6’6” Oni is hoping to become the first Ivy Leaguer drafted since 1995, Schultz adds.

We have more draft info:

  • Indiana freshman swingman Romeo Langford is meeting with the Heat this weekend, Schultz reports in another tweet. Miami possesses the No. 13 pick and Langford is ranked No. 14 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
  • International prospect Goga Bitadze is visiting the Celtics, Pistons and Hornets in the days leading up to Thursday’s draft. according to a tweet from Hawks website writer Kevin Chouinard. The 6’11” Bitadze, 19, led the EuroLeague and Adriatic League in blocks on both a per-game and per-minute basis. He is ranked No. 17 overall by Givony.
  • The Wizards worked out Tennessee guard Jordan Bone on Saturday, according to a team press release. The point guard is No. 56 on Givony’s list.
  • Forward Terry Harris worked out for the Knicks on Thursday, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets. He also visited the Nets this week and will work out for the Mavericks and Jazz, Bondy adds in another tweet. He played for North Carolina A&T in his senior year, averaging 8.1 PPG. He is the younger brother of Sixers free agent forward Tobias Harris.

Draft Updates: Bol, Claxton, Norvell, Green Room

As expected, Oregon center Bol Bol held a Pro Day on Wednesday in Los Angeles, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who tweets that about a dozen NBA teams attended the event, including five general managers. Bol, who is viewed as one of the draft’s biggest high-risk, high-reward prospects, is coming back from surgery on his left foot and wanted to use the Pro Day to ease concerns about his health, says Givony.

Givony adds that Bol showed on Wednesday why he’s considered a top-five prospect in terms of talent, and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic (Twitter link) also hears from teams that the young big man looked good. However, Vecenie points out that the questions about Bol weren’t going to get answered in a non-contact open gym setting. He remains one of the draft’s most intriguing wild cards.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Georgia big man Nicolas Claxton has canceled and shut down all of his workouts for non-lottery teams, a source tells Vecenie (Twitter link). Claxton, who ranks 29th on ESPN’s big board, feels good about where he’ll be picked based on the feedback he’s received so far, per Vecenie.
  • Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr., the 63rd prospect on ESPN’s big board, said today he’s been told he’s projected to be drafted in the 20-40 range, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Norvell also said that he’s had 15 workouts during the pre-draft process (Twitter link).
  • Two more draft prospects have been invited to the Green Room for next Thursday’s event, according to reports. Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com tweets that Georgian center Goga Bitadze has received an invite, while Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com adds Keldon Johnson (Kentucky) to the list (Twitter link). Sixteen other Green Room invitees were previously reported.
  • In addition to his previously-reported workouts, Cameron Johnson (UNC) has auditioned for the Timberwolves, Celtics, Thunder, Sixers, and Warriors, tweets Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Mike Schmitz, and Kevin Pelton (Insider link) named several of their favorite draft sleepers, singling out Grant Williams (Tennessee), Dylan Windler (Belmont), and Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State), among others.

Southeast Draft Notes: Hornets, Heat, Magic, Hawks

The Hornets have looked into the possibility of moving up in the draft from their current spot in the lottery at No. 12, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Bonnell acknowledges that it may be difficult for Charlotte to put together the sort of trade capital necessary to make a deal happen, but says GM Mitch Kupchak is active.

Meanwhile, the Hornets will continue to explore their draft options by bringing in six more prospects for workouts tomorrow, according to the team. Marques Bolden (Duke), Tacko Fall (UCF), Jaylen Hoard (Wake Forest), Jalen Hudson (Florida), and Luka Asceric (Mega Bemax) are among the players set to participate.

Here are a few more draft-related items from around the Southeast:

Draft Updates: Matthews, Bol, Porter, Withdrawals

Former Michigan guard Charles Matthews suffered some bad luck with the 2019 NBA draft right around the corner, as agent Adam Pensack tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com that his client has a torn ACL. The injury occurred during a workout with the Celtics, Givony adds.

Matthews, who had been ranked as the No. 60 prospect on ESPN’s big board and was receiving second-round interest, will head to his hometown of Chicago to undergo surgery to repair the ACL. He hasn’t given up hope of being selected in next week’s draft.

“Injuries are tough, but Charles is an extremely hard worker and will be back stronger than ever,” Pensack told Givony. “He had a series of outstanding workouts lately and has helped himself. Charles will continue that momentum when he returns to action. As of now, we have interest in the second round as Charles is OK signing a two-way contract like Edmond Sumner did with the Indiana Pacers in 2017.”

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

  • Bol Bol, who is recovering from a foot fracture, will hold an invite-only workout for select teams on Wednesday, according to Jeremy Woo and Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). Bol is one of the biggest wild cards in the draft for health-related reasons, so Wednesday’s session could have a major impact on where he’s selected.
  • Kevin Porter Jr., a probable first-round pick, has worked out for the Nets, Spurs, and Hornets, and has sessions lined up with the Magic and Hawks, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Porter’s previously-reported upcoming workouts with the Heat and Wizards will take place on June 13 and June 17, respectively (Twitter links via Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald and Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington).
  • With Monday’s withdrawal deadline looming, several international early entrants are pulling their names out of the 2019 draft pool. According to reports from Givony and Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (all four Twitter links), the following players are withdrawing: Nikita Mikhailovskii (Russia), Arturs Zagars (Latvia), Henri Drell (France), Tadas Sedekerskis (Lithuania), Gytis Masiulis (Lithuania), and Arnas Velicka (Lithuania).
  • Lithuanian early entrants Deividas Sirvydis and Matas Jogela intend to remain in the draft pool, sources tell Urbonas (Twitter link). According to Givony (all Twitter links), Sekou Doumbouya (France), Goga Bitadze (Georgia), Luka Samanic (Croatia), Adam Mokoka (France), and Marcos Louzada Silva (Brazil) will also stay in the draft.

Nets Targeting Big Men In Draft?

There’s no guarantee that the Nets will use all three of their picks (Nos. 17, 27, and 31) in the 2019 NBA draft, as those selections could become trade assets next month. But assuming they keep at least one or two, they’ll be using those picks to target a certain type of player, writes Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

According to Begley, Brooklyn is hoping to draft a big man that can either complement or back up starting center Jarrett Allen.

As Begley observes, there’s not necessarily a consensus among draft evaluators this season about which players will come off the board in the middle or back end of the first round, so it’s hard to say which bigs will be available to the Nets. However, Begley identifies Bol Bol (Oregon), Goga Bitadze (Republic of Georgia), Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State), Naz Reid (LSU), and Nicolas Claxton (Georgia) as possible options.

Allen had a promising sophomore season for Brooklyn in 2018/19, averaging 10.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, and 1.5 BPG with a .590 FG%. Despite Allen’s strides, the Nets’ front line, with Allen and Ed Davis handling most of the center minutes, was undersized on many nights, Begley notes. That was on display during the team’s first-round loss to Joel Embiid and the Sixers.

With Davis facing unrestricted free agency and a desire to add more size to their frontcourt, the Nets will see if they can address that hole at all in the draft.

Georgian Center Goga Bitadze Enters Draft

International prospect Goga Bitadze from the Republic of Georgia has entered this year’s draft, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

Ranked 19th on the latest ESPN big board, the 7’0″ center is excelling for Buducnost in the EuroLeague at age 19, averaging 12.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 24 minutes per game. He is expected to win the EuroLeague Rising Star award next month and posted the highest PER in league history by a teenager, eclipsing the mark Luka Doncic set last year.

Bitadze’s combination of size and skill could make him the best center prospect in the draft, according to Givony. He can play in the post or on the perimeter and excels in finishing pick and rolls. He has limitations on defense, but several teams consider him worthy of a lottery selection.

Bitadze also has extensive FIBA experience, representing his country in under-16, under-18 and under-20 competitions. He was part of this year’s World Cup Qualifiers until his Euroleague commitment forced him to miss games in February.