- Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star looks for clues about the Pacers‘ draft plans based on the prospects the team has brought in for workouts, observing that there has been a focus on potential three-and-D wings.
The Lakers are “super infatuated” with Zhaire Smith and have held several meetings with the Texas Tech guard, tweets Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. Smith has worked out for a number of teams, but L.A. is excited about his potential fit in its backcourt.
The Lakers, who don’t pick until No. 25, will have to trade up to have a shot at Smith. The 19-year-old averaged 11.3 points per game as a freshman with the Red Raiders and is projected to go to the Suns with the 16th selection in the latest mock draft compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.
There’s more draft-related news to pass along:
- Maryland’s Kevin Huerter, a potential first-round pick, is expected to miss two months after having surgery to fix torn ligaments in his right hand, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Projected at No. 21 in Givony’s mock draft, Huerter has been rising on draft boards since an impressive performance at the combine. He averaged 14.8 points per game for the Terrapins and shot 41.7% from 3-point range.
- Duke’s Grayson Allen will work out for the Timberwolves Thursday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Allen has already auditioned for the Sixers, Celtics, Lakers and Jazz, among others, and made a strong impression at the combine and his pro day.
- Donte Ingram of Loyola-Chicago will also take part in a session Thursday with the Wolves, Wolfson adds (Twitter link). Ingram had a recent workout with the Grizzlies.
- Oklahoma’s Trae Young will work out for the Bulls on Thursday, tweets ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
- Villanova’s Jalen Brunson will have an individual workout for the Pacers Thursday, the team announced on its website.
- Six players will work out for the Nuggets Thursday, tweets Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Scheduled to attend are UCLA’s Thomas Welsh, Idaho’s Victor Sanders and Iowa State’s Donovan Jackson, along with Dayon Goodman of Westminster (Utah), Todd Withers of Queens (North Carolina) and Tryggvi Hlinason of Valencia Basket.
- European sources are confident that Serbian center Dusan Ristic will be taken as a draft-and-stash player, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando (Twitter link).
- The Pacers will host their fourth pre-draft workout on Wednesday, and Marcus Foster (Creighton) will be earning a second look after working out for the club last week. Jordan Barnett (Missouri), Robert Johnson (Indiana), Quentin Snider (Louisville), Jae’Sean Tate (Ohio State), and Yuta Watanabe (George Washington) will also participate in the workout.
While Dwane Casey was always viewed as a strong candidate for the Pistons‘ head coaching job, right up until the team hired him on Monday, the former Raptors coach seriously considered taking a year off, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. As Lewenberg observes though, the Pistons really sold Casey on their situation, and sitting around isn’t really in his nature anyway.
TNT’s David Aldridge provides further context on Casey’s decision, tweeting that the veteran coach wasn’t inclined to accept the job as recently as Saturday morning. However, Pistons ownership and management – led by Tom Gores – put the “full-court press” on in order to finalize a deal.
According to Aldridge, one concession the Pistons made was letting Casey pick his assistants. Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) hears from a source that there was no pressure from ownership to pick Casey’s assistants for him, and Aldridge notes the team’s denial, but insists that multiple sources say otherwise (Twitter link). As Aldridge notes, it wouldn’t have been unprecedented for Casey to inherit some assistants that Pistons management likes, and it’s possible he’ll do just that, but he won’t be obligated to do so.
Here’s more from around the Central division:
- With his restricted free agency approaching, Bulls swingman David Nwaba has hired new representation, signing with agent Charles Briscoe, according to Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Charania previously identified Nwaba as an under-the-radar RFA target who should generate plenty of interest this summer.
- When word of Jimmy Butler‘s trade broke last June, Butler’s trainer Travelle Gaines made some pointed comments about the Bulls and GM Gar Forman in a now-deleted tweet. However, as he tells Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago, Gaines doesn’t “feel the Bulls are a bad organization or franchise” and wouldn’t steer current clients like Trae Young away from Chicago.
- As Thaddeus Young considers opting out of his contract, ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter) that the Pacers could easily carve out about $23MM in cap space if Young walks. Meanwhile, J. Michael and Scott Horner of The Indianapolis Star identify some free agents the Pacers could go after with that space.
The Knicks will work out UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday shortly before draft night, according to Ian Begley of ESPN. Holiday will have to make quite an impression to get drafted by New York. He’s currently ranked No. 17 by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and the Knicks hold the No. 9 pick.
Texas A&M big man Robert Williams, ranked No. 12 by Givony, and Missouri State forward Alize Johnson worked out for the Knicks on Monday, according to another Begley post. Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo was scheduled to work out for New York this week but it will not happen as scheduled, Begley adds.
In other draft workout news concerning Eastern Conference teams:
- The Hawks will work out Oklahoma point guard Trae Young on Tuesday, according to a team press release. Young is ranked No. 8 by Givony; Atlanta holds the No. 3 pick.
- Kentucky forward Kevin Knox, rated No. 9 by Givony, worked out for the Bulls on Monday, according to the team’s website. Bryant McIntosh (Northwestern), Donovan Jackson (Iowa State), Jae’Sean Tate (Ohio State), Jeff Roberson (Vanderbilt) and Nick Dixon (UTRGV) were also evaluated by Chicago. The Bulls have the No. 7 selection in the first round.
- The Hornets will soon work out Michigan State forward Miles Bridges, Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports tweets. Bridges, who visited the Sixers Monday, is ranked No. 15 by Givony and Charlotte holds the No. 11 pick.
- An injury prevented Tulane small forward Melvin Frazier from working out with the Pacers on Monday, Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports tweets.
Young holds a $13.7MM option on his contract and has until June 29th to exercise it.
By opting out, Young could land a long-term deal in the prime of his career, Wojnarowski continues. His ability to guard multiple positions would make him valuable on the open market.
Yet it’s very possible that Young will wind up with a lower salary next season if he goes into the free agent market in exchange for long-term security.
The Pacers could try to work out a contract extension with Young, Wojnarowski adds. He averaged 11.8 PPG and 6.3 RPG this past season for Indiana, which pushed the Cavaliers to seven games during the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
After the team was eliminated, Young expressed high hopes for Indiana’s future. “Man, I think the sky is the limit for us,” he said. “As a team, we’re already pretty good, but I think we’ll be so much better entering next season because we’ll all have another year of experience under our belt and we won’t be a new-look team that just got together anymore.”
The 6’8” Young, who will celebrate his 30th birthday this month, has been in the league since 2007. He’s also played for the Sixers, Timberwolves and Nets.
While no trades are likely to be completed until closer to – or during – draft night, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports believes there could be a lot of movement in this year’s draft, with several teams looking to trade up or down. Appearing today on Chris Mannix’s podcast, Charania pointed specifically to the Clippers as a team that has weighed the possibility of moving up. With the Nos. 12 and 13 picks currently in hand, L.A. could put together an intriguing package, and they’ve looked “heavily” at Real Madrid star Luka Doncic, according to Charania.
Here are more highlights from Charania’s appearance on the Yahoo Sports NBA podcast:
- Addressing the Kawhi Leonard situation in San Antonio, Charania indicated that an extension or a trade are the probable outcomes for the star forward this summer — it’s unlikely that the Spurs would keep him for next season without a new deal in place. However, both sides are interested in mending fences and clearing up last season’s miscommunications. Leonard is also nearing 100% health and should be ready to go to start next season, Charania adds.
- In a look at the restricted free agent market, Charania identified Magic forward Aaron Gordon and Bulls guard Zach LaVine as two players who could command max or near-max deals and are unlikely to change teams. He also speculated that the Suns, Kings, and Pacers are among the clubs with cap room who could be fits for Celtics RFA Marcus Smart, and said that there seems to be mutual interest between the Mavericks and Julius Randle.
- Raptors guard Fred VanVleet and Bulls swingman David Nwaba are two under-the-radar restricted free agents in line for sizable raises, in Charania’s view. He expects both players to land deals worth more than $5MM, noting that Toronto may have to use its full Early Bird exception (approximately $8.5MM) to retain VanVleet.
- While outside observers around the NBA remain skeptical about the Thunder‘s chances of re-signing Paul George, Oklahoma City is still exuding confidence, according to both Charania and Mannix. Charania observes that George and Russell Westbrook have become “really close,” which could factor into the forward’s decision.
- Many people around the league don’t expect former Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo to get another NBA job anytime soon, if at all, per Charania.