Ignas Brazdeikis

Draft Notes: Blazers, Hawks, Hunter, Samanic, Kings, Warriors

The Trail Blazers, who hold just one pick – No. 25 overall – in this year’s draft, brought in a total of 24 prospects for workouts, according to Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com.

In addition to the 12 prospects whose names we previously relayed, the Trail Blazers also brought in David Crisp (Washington), Matur Maker (Slovenia), KZ Okpala (Stanford), Samir Sehic (Tulane), Jaylin Walker (Kent State), Cameron Young (Quinnipiac), Vic Law (Northwestern), Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Louis King (Oregon), Admiral Schofield (Tennessee), Rayjon Tucker (Little Rock) over the last week.

Not all of those players are candidates to be selected 25th overall, so the Trail Blazers were also doing their homework on potential undrafted free agent signings — or possibly even second-round picks, if Portland opts to trade back into the draft.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and rumors worth rounding up:

  • The Hawks are “very high” on Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link). Sources tell Givony that Atlanta is the only team Hunter has worked out for, though if the Hawks want to secure him, they may have to trade up from No. 8. The Hawks are also said to like Jarrett Culver.
  • Croatian forward Luka Samanic isn’t interested in becoming a draft-and-stash player, sources tell Givony. That might cause his stock to fall a little, since he’s still “raw and inexperienced,” Givony writes. Some teams may be reluctant to guarantee him a roster spot until he’s a little more NBA-ready.
  • The Kings worked out Kyle Guy (Virginia), Jaylen Hands (UCLA), Rayjon Tucker (Little Rock), Miye Oni (Yale), Daulton Hommes (Point Loma), and Kenny Wooten (Oregon) on Monday, per James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets are among the teams that brought in Purdue Fort Wayne’s John Konchar for a pre-draft workout, tweets ESPN’s Jordan Schultz.
  • Jordan Poole (Michigan) and Jarrell Brantley (Charleston) auditioned for the Warriors today, per Gery Woelfel and Adam Zagoria, respectively (Twitter links).

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Wade, Raptors, Workouts

The Celtics own three of the first 22 selections in the NBA draft and we reported last month that the team was expected to shop at least one of those picks. It appears that Boston has begun making calls with Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders connecting Houston as a potential trade partner for the franchise.

Boston has interest in Clint Capela, though the big man is not the organization’s top priority. As we wait to see if Capela is shipped to Boston or if Danny Ainge‘s squad unloads a first-rounder elsewhere, let’s take a look at some draft notes from the Atlantic Division:

Eastern Notes: Leonard, Pistons, VanVleet, Hornets, Wizards

Despite a report from last week that Kawhi Leonard bought a house in Toronto, Leonard denied the story on Saturday in front of reporters, according to a Canadian Press report (via The Toronto Star).

Raptors fans were optimistic that this could be a clue of Leonard’s upcoming free agency decision, with the 2014 Finals MVP scheduled to become a free agent on June 30, one day after his 28th birthday. He’ll likely register interest from several suitors outside of Toronto, including his hometown teams in Los Angeles.

“No, it didn’t. It didn’t happen yet, no,” Leonard said of the report.

Leonard has guided the Raptors through the Eastern Conference and out to a 3-1 series lead over the Warriors, averaging a playoff career-high 31.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 22 postseason games.

The Raptors have a chance to win their first ever NBA championship on Monday night, a pivotal game for a franchise hoping to persuade Leonard to re-sign on a lucrative free-agent contract this summer.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

Atlantic Notes: Udoka, Knicks, Celtics

As we relayed earlier this week, new Sixers coach Ime Udoka is replacing Monty Williams as lead assistant coach under head man Brett Brown. Unlike Williams, however, Idoka will also be tasked with being the team’s new defensive coordinator next season, writes Rich Hofmann of The Athletic.

Udoka has interviewed unsuccessfully for some head coaching positions over the last couple offseasons in Cleveland, Toronto, Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando, but this new position for the Sixers will still be a promotion for him, as Ettore Messina is the lead assistant in San Antonio.

Getting the opportunity to be a lead assistant may very well increase Udoka’s chances of landing a head coaching role in the near future, especially considering the success that Brown’s other assistants for the Sixers like Lloyd Pierce (Hawks) and Williams (Suns) have had when they had the opportunity to interview for top jobs.

In the meantime, Udoka will oversee a defense that largely underperformed during the 2018/19 season given the talent on the Sixers’ roster.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division this afternoon:

Central Draft Notes: Pacers, Cavs, Bucks, Pistons

Holding the 18th and 50th overall picks in the 2019 NBA draft, the Pacers should have a wide variety of options available to them in both the first and second rounds, so they’re doing plenty of homework in the weeks leading up to the draft.

On Wednesday, the Pacers held a pre-draft workout that featured Shizz Alston Jr. (Temple), Ky Bowman (Boston College), Tacko Fall (UCF), Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State), Juwan Morgan (Indiana), and Elijah Thomas (Clemson), according to the team. Fall’s ability to participate in that session was limited after he rolled an ankle, as we noted yesterday.

Today, the Pacers are working out six more prospects, announcing that Luguentz Dort (Arizona State), Kyle Guy (Virginia), Amir Hinton (Shaw), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Cody Martin (Nevada), and Josh Reaves (Penn State) are in town.

The Pacers will audition six more prospects on Friday, per the club’s latest press release. Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan), Jon Elmore (Marshall), Aric Holman (Mississippi State), Luke Maye (UNC), Miye Oni (Yale), and Admiral Schofield (Tennessee) will attend that session.

Here are more updates on pre-draft workouts from around the Central:

Bulls Notes: Point Guard, Cap Room, Workouts

Finding a solution at point guard and making savvy additions in free agency will be among the Bulls‘ goals this offseason, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN.com (Insider link) in his preview of the team’s summer.

In Marks’ view, there’s a role for Kris Dunn in Chicago, but he’s probably not the long-term solution at point guard, so the club needs to use its No. 7 overall pick or a chunk of its cap space to address the position. Coby White as a possible option at No. 7, according to Marks, who says that if Chicago doesn’t draft a point guard, the club should set aside about $13-14MM of its cap room to try to get one in free agency.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

Northwest Notes: J. Howard, Jazz, Nuggets, Noel

Before he reached a deal to become the new head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Juwan Howard reportedly drew interest from the Timberwolves as they considered whether to retain head coach Ryan Saunders or go in a different direction.

While Minnesota ultimately opted to retain Saunders and Howard left the NBA for a college job, the Wolverines’ new head coach revealed today that the Timberwolves’ interest was real. According to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (via Twitter), Howard said that the Wolves offered him their associate head coach position – presumably under Saunders – but he declined. “My heart is with Michigan,” he said.

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Northwest…

Draft Notes: Brazdeikis, Pistons, Pacers, Dort, Wooten

University of Michigan freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis is strongly leaning toward staying the draft, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com tweets. “Definitely leaning toward staying in,” he said while working out for the Pistons on Monday. Brazdeikis’ representatives have told him he’ll go anywhere from No. 20-40 in the draft, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony currently pegs the power forward at No. 46 overall.

We have more developments regarding draft prospects:

Full List Of 2019 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed its list of 66 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from May 15-19.

While a small handful of top prospects often skip the event, that won’t be the case this year — Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are on the league’s list of 66 names, along with R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Jarrett Culver, Darius Garland, De’Andre Hunter, and many more. Of course, those top prospects may not participate fully in all of the workouts and scrimmages at the combine.

A few more names figure to be added to this list, as a select number of the 40 draft-eligible prospects participating in the G League Elite Camp earlier in the week are expected to receive invites to the combine.

Here’s the full list of 66 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech (sophomore)
  2. R.J. Barrett, G/F, Duke (freshman)
  3. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (freshman)
  4. Darius Bazley, F, Princeton HS (OH) (N/A)
  5. Bol Bol, C, Oregon (freshman)
  6. Jordan Bone, G, Tennessee (junior)
  7. Brian Bowen, F, USA (born 1998)
  8. Ky Bowman, G, Boston College (junior)
  9. Ignas Brazdeikis, F, Michigan (freshman)
  10. Moses Brown, C, UCLA (freshman)
  11. Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  12. Nicolas Claxton, F, Georgia (sophomore)
  13. Jarrett Culver, G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  14. Luguentz Dort, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  15. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas (freshman)
  16. Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue (junior)
  17. Bruno Fernando, F, Maryland (sophomore)
  18. Daniel Gafford, F/C, Arkansas (sophomore)
  19. Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt (freshman)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Kansas (freshman)
  21. Kyle Guy, G, Virginia (junior)
  22. Jaylen Hands, G, UCLA (sophomore)
  23. Jaxson Hayes, F/C, Texas (freshman)
  24. Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  25. Jaylen Hoard, F, Wake Forest (freshman)
  26. Talen Horton-Tucker, G, Iowa State (freshman)
  27. De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia (sophomore)
  28. Ty Jerome, G, Virginia (junior)
  29. Cameron Johnson, G, UNC (senior)
  30. Keldon Johnson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  31. Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State (sophomore)
  32. Louis King, F, Oregon (freshman)
  33. Romeo Langford, G, Indiana (freshman)
  34. Dedric Lawson, F, Kansas (junior)
  35. Jalen Lecque, G, Brewster Academy (NH) (N/A)
  36. Nassir Little, F, UNC (freshman)
  37. Charles Matthews, G, Michigan (junior)
  38. Jalen McDaniels, F, San Diego State (sophomore)
  39. Ja Morant, G, Murray State (sophomore)
  40. Zach Norvell Jr., G, Gonzaga (sophomore)
  41. Jaylen Nowell, G, Washington (sophomore)
  42. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville (sophomore)
  43. Chuma Okeke, F, Auburn (sophomore)
  44. KZ Okpala, F, Stanford (sophomore)
  45. Miye Oni, G/F, Yale (junior)
  46. Eric Paschall, F, Villanova (senior)
  47. Shamorie Ponds, G, St. John’s (junior)
  48. Jordan Poole, G, Michigan (sophomore)
  49. Jontay Porter, F, Missouri (sophomore)
  50. Kevin Porter Jr, G, USC (freshman)
  51. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (freshman)
  52. Cam Reddish, F, Duke (freshman)
  53. Naz Reid, C, LSU (freshman)
  54. Isaiah Roby, F, Nebraska (junior)
  55. Luka Samanic, F, Croatia (born 2000)
  56. Admiral Schofield, G, Tennessee (senior)
  57. Simisola Shittu, F, Vanderbilt (freshman)
  58. Killian Tillie, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  59. PJ Washington, F, Kentucky (sophomore)
  60. Tremont Waters, G, LSU (sophomore)
  61. Quinndary Weatherspoon, G, Missippi State (senior)
  62. Coby White, G, UNC (freshman)
  63. Kris Wilkes, G, UCLA (sophomore)
  64. Grant Williams, F, Tennessee (junior)
  65. Zion Williamson, F, Duke (freshman)
  66. Dylan Windler, G, Belmont (senior)

Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga) and Matisse Thybulle (Washington) are among the potential first-round picks who aren’t on the NBA’s list of combine participants, as noted by Jeremy Woo of SI.com and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter links).

P.J. Washington, Grant Williams, Others Entering 2019 Draft

Kentucky forward P.J. Washington has opted to enter the 2019 NBA draft and will hire an agent, according to a press release from the program. Washington, who considered going pro after his freshman year, returned to the Wildcats for his sophomore season and had a strong year. Now, he plans to keep his name in the draft pool, forgoing his remaining NCAA eligibility.

“When I decided to come back to school a year ago, I knew there were things I still wanted to accomplish so I challenged myself to become a better all-around player, to develop more consistency and to become a leader for this team,” Washington said in a statement. “Although we fell a couple games short of our ultimate goal, I’ll never forget the season we had with my brothers. We did some special things this season and made memories that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.”

Washington increased his numbers across the board in his second year at Kentucky, averaging 15.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 1.2 BPG on .522/.423/.663 shooting. He’s currently ranked 15th on ESPN’s big board, with Jonathan Givony praising his “enviable physical tools.”

Here are more updates on players declaring for the 2019 NBA draft:

  • Another one of the top 25 players on Givony’s board – Tennessee junior forward Grant Williams – has announced his intention to test the draft waters. Williams, the No. 24 prospect per ESPN, averaged 18.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 3.2 APG for the Vols. He indicated that he’ll go through the pre-draft process, leaving the door open to return for his senior season.
  • Florida State’s Mfiondu Kabengele is entering the draft and intends to keep his name in this year’s pool, he tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. “My decision is I’m going to put my name in the draft this year,” the sophomore center said. “Just because of the season I had, the growth, I feel like I did as much as I could at Florida State. I learned a lot. My next challenge is going to be to expand my game.” Kabengele is the No. 30 prospect on ESPN’s top 100.
  • Three Michigan underclassmen on ESPN’s big board – freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis (No. 48), sophomore guard Jordan Poole (No. 68), and junior guard Charles Matthews (No. 69) – will go through the draft process, the school announced today in a press release. All three players will hire agents, though they’ll still have until May 29 to withdraw if they so choose.
  • Auburn junior guard Jared Harper is leaving school and declaring for the 2019 NBA draft, per a press release. “I have always been a believer in Jared,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said of the No. 61 prospect on ESPN’s big board. “He is a special player with speed, quickness, power and a skill level that is unmatched by virtually any player his size. He will make it in the NBA.”
  • Kentucky’s Ashton Hagans, a candidate to be drafted this year, will instead return to the Wildcats for his sophomore season, he confirmed today. As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony tweets, Hagans will focus on improving his shooting and play-making in his second season at Kentucky.
  • Here are a few more early entrants who don’t rank in ESPN’s top 100, but who are entering the draft: