Harry Froling

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Barton, Rubio, Jazz Workouts

Russell Westbrook dealt with significant pain in his left hand for approximately six weeks before the Thunder were eliminated from the postseason, Brett Dawson of The Athletic reports.

Westbrook, who shot 36% from the field during the opening round, and fellow Thunder All-Star Paul George underwent surgical procedures this week. Westbrook had a ligament repaired in his left hand as well as arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. George had a tendon repaired in his right shoulder and will soon undergo surgery to address a small labrum tear in his left shoulder.

It’s difficult to know how the injuries might impact the Thunder next season, though Westbrook should be ready in plenty of time for training camp, Dawson continues. Expected roster changes over the next four months will have a bigger impact, Dawson adds.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers traded Will Barton to the Nuggets four years ago but Barton downplays the significance of trying to eliminate his former team, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Barton is averaging 9.2 PPG and 4.9 RPG this postseason. “I’m past that. That was a long time ago in my career,” Barton said. “They just happen to be the opponent that we’re playing against and I just want to beat them, not because I used to play with them, just because they’re in our way for trying to advance. That’s the only thing I’m thinking about. I can’t try to make it personal or anything like that.”
  • The Pacers, Bulls and Suns are the most likely landing spots for Ricky Rubio if he doesn’t remain with the Jazz, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype opines. Rubio could come at a lower cost than other point guard options for Indiana, while he could give Chicago and Phoenix a veteran presence while also grooming a younger player at the position, Urbina adds. Rubio will be an unrestricted free agent after making nearly $15MM this season.
  • The Jazz brought in six draft prospects on Wednesday, according to a tweet from the team’s media relations department. Power forwards Mamadi Diakite (Virginia) and Dewan Hernandez (Miami, Fla.), wings Tyus Battle (Syracuse) and Brandon Randolph (Arizona) and guards Matt Mooney (Texas Tech) and T.J. Gibbs (Notre Dame) were the visitors. Big men Neemias Queta (Utah State), Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State), Silvio De Sousa (Kansas) and Australian Harry Froling and guards Payton Pritchard (Oregon) and Devon Dotson (Kansas) are coming in on Saturday, according to another Jazz tweet.

236 Early Entrants Declare For 2018 NBA Draft

The NBA has released the official list of early entrants for the 2018 NBA draft, announcing in a press release that 236 players have filed as early entry candidates. Of those prospects, 181 are from colleges, while 55 are international early entrants.

That number blows away the previous record for early entrants, established in 2017. Last year, 182 early entrants declared for the draft, though ultimately only 73 of those prospects remained in the draft by the final deadline.

This year’s total of 236 early entrants also figures to shrink significantly by May 30 and again by June 11, the two key deadlines for players to withdraw their names from the draft pool. But it still looks like that pool will remain crowded, with the eventual number of early entrants likely exceeding 60, the number of picks in the draft.

Our list of early entrants is now up to date and can be found right here. Here are today’s updates:

College underclassmen:

The following players were listed on the NBA’s official breakdown today, but weren’t yet noted on our own list. For now, we’re assuming they haven’t yet hired agents.

The following players reportedly declared for the draft or planned to, but weren’t named in the NBA’s official announcement today. As such, we’ve removed them from our list.

International players:

The following players were listed on the NBA’s official breakdown today, but weren’t yet noted on our list.

  • Berke Atar, C, Turkey (born 1999)
  • Laurynas Beliauskas, G, Lithuania (born 1997)
  • Rihards Berzins, F/C, Latvia (born 1997)
  • Etienne Ca, F, France (born 1997)
  • Sigfredo Casero-Ortiz, G, France (born 1997)
  • Berkan Durmaz, F, Turkey (born 1997)
  • Aleksander Dziewa, C, Poland (born 1997)
  • Stephane Gombauld, F, France (born 1997)
  • Yoan Granvorka, F, Switzerland (born 1997)
  • Michal Kolenda, F, Poland (born 1997)
  • Antonios Koniaris, G, Greece (born 1997)
  • Leon Kratzer, C, Germany (born 1997)
  • Shekinah Munanga, F, France (born 1997)
  • Williams Narace, F, France (born 1997)
  • Marcel Ponitka, G, Poland (born 1997)
  • Leonardo Tote, F, Italy (born 1997)
  • Martynas Varnas, G, Lithuania (born 1997)
  • Filip Zagrajski, G, Croatia (born 1997)

Draft Updates: Metu, Kalaitzakis, Foster, Froling

USC big man Chimezie Metu has decided to enter the 2018 NBA draft, he announced last week (via Twitter). As Joey Kaufman of The Orange County Register details, the decision was expected, since Metu had sat out this month’s National Invitation Tournament in order to avoid a potential injury as he prepares for his professional career.

Metu, a junior, is expected to graduate early this spring and will forgo his final year of NCAA eligibility. After deciding last spring to return to USC for another season, Metu averaged 15.7 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 1.7 BPG in 34 games. He currently comes in at No. 37 on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.

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

  • Greek guard Georgios Kalaitzakis has joined the ranks of 2018’s international early entrants, telling Jonathan Givony of ESPN that he’s declaring for the draft. “I am very happy with Panathinaikos, but I decided to enter the draft because it’s my dream to play in the NBA,” Kalaitzakis told ESPN. “With hard work and commitment, I think I will achieve my goal.”
  • SMU swingman Jarrey Foster will test the draft waters without hiring an agent, he tells Givony (Twitter link). “This has been my dream ever since I started playing basketball,” said Foster, who averaged 13.2 PPG and 5.9 RPG in his junior year.
  • After Marquette announced that sophomore center Harry Froling wouldn’t be returning to the program next season, Olgun Uluc of FoxSports.com.au hears that the Australian will hire an agent and begin his professional career.
  • In a piece for NBA.com, TNT’s David Aldridge identifies 11 college prospects who impressed NBA scouts with their play during the NCAA tournament.