Jalen Duren

Central Notes: Ayton, Duren, Agbaji, Pacers, Bulls

The Pistons‘ draft haul Thursday night makes it less likely that they’ll pursue Suns center Deandre Ayton in free agency, according to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Ayton was believed to be Detroit’s main target after opening up roughly $43MM in cap space by agreeing to trade Jerami Grant to the Trail Blazers. Thursday’s deals knock that number down to about $30MM, which sources tell Edwards the team plans to use to sign multiple players rather than handing out one large contract.

The Pistons landed their center of the future by acquiring Jalen Duren of Memphis, who “blew away” the organization during the pre-draft process, according to Edwards’ sources. Multiple teams called Detroit in hopes of making a deal for No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey, but the Pistons were more interested in landing another first-round selection. One of those calls came from the Knicks, who needed to offload salary in hopes of making a run at free agent guard Jalen Brunson. Detroit was able to use some of its cap room to take on Kemba Walker‘s contract, valued at $9.17MM next season, and received Duren, whom New York acquired from the Hornets in a previous deal.

Detroit now has an exciting young core with Ivey and Duren joining Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey, along with enough cap room to be a significant player in free agency. The Pistons are still expected to be big spenders when the process begins next week, sources tell Edwards.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Cavaliers passed on several younger talents to take four-year college player Ochai Agbaji, notes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. After reaching the play-in tournament this season, Cleveland was focused on finding someone who could contribute right away, and there’s hope that the Kansas sharpshooter will add another dimension to the offense. The Cavs were extremely interested in French star Ousmane Dieng, Fedor adds, and would have considered him at No. 14 if the Thunder hadn’t traded up to grab him with the 11th pick.
  • The Pacers had numerous trade opportunities Thursday night, but nothing worth pulling the trigger on, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. “We’re always gonna be aggressive, but there’s always certain price points,” general manager Chad Buchanan said. “Sometimes you have to walk away from deals if it’s not right for your team.”
  • Finding a rim protector will be one of the Bulls‘ priorities for the summer, tweets Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bulls will explore their options through free agency and trades, according to general manager Marc Eversley, who suggested the team wants a player who can complement current center Nikola Vucevic.

Jalen Duren, Kemba Walker To Pistons In Three-Team Trade

10:55pm: The Knicks have officially announced their part of the trade with the Hornets, indicating that this deal will actually be split into two separate transactions. The Knicks and Pistons can’t complete their half of the trade until Detroit opens up cap room in July.

9:47pm: Zach Lowe of ESPN confirms (via Twitter) that the Bucks’ 2025 first-rounder is headed to the Knicks in the deal. That means the trade, as reported so far, looks like this:

  • Pistons acquiring Jalen Duren and Kemba Walker.
  • Knicks acquiring Bucks’ 2025 first-round pick (top-four protected; from Pistons).
  • Hornets acquiring Nuggets’ 2023 first-round pick (top-14 protected), Knicks’ 2023 second-round pick, the Jazz’s 2023 second-round pick, either the Mavericks’ or Heat’s 2023 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable), and the Knicks’ 2024 second-round pick (all from Knicks).

9:29pm: According to Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link), the Hornets are receiving the Nuggets’ 2023 first-round pick, the Knicks’ 2023 second-round pick, Utah’s 2023 second-round pick, either Dallas’ or Miami’s 2023 second-round pick (whichever is most favorable), and the Knicks’ 2024 second-round pick.

All of those second-rounders belonged to New York, while the Nuggets’ 2023 first-rounder (top-14 protected) was held by the Thunder — it’s presumably one of the picks headed to the Knicks in the Ousmane Dieng trade.

Boone’s report suggests that the Bucks’ 2025 first-rounder will go from Detroit to New York rather than to Charlotte, but we’ll await further confirmation to be sure.

8:26pm: The Hornets will trade Memphis center Jalen Duren to the Pistons after selecting him 13th overall in tonight’s draft, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

According to Fischer (Twitter link), it’ll be a three-team trade that also involves the Knicks. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that New York is sending Kemba Walker to Detroit as part of the trade.

However, it seems unlikely that Walker will remain with the Pistons for long, as sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) that the two sides are expected to discuss a buyout of the final year of his contract, which is worth $9.17MM next season.

James L. Edwards III of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that a deal was close, while Wojnarowski says (via Twitter) that Charlotte is acquiring the 2025 Milwaukee first-round pick (top-four protected) that Detroit is receiving from Portland in the Jerami Grant trade.

Meanwhile, Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer reports (via Twitter) that the Hornets are acquiring four second-round picks in the deal. The details on those second-rounders have yet to be reported, but it seems likely that most, if not all, of them are coming from the Knicks as part of the price for dumping Walker’s contract.

Duren averaged 12.0 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 2.1 BPG in 29 games (25.3 MPG) during his first and only college season, earning AAC Freshman of the Year honors and making the All-AAC First Team. He won’t turn 19 until November after graduating from high school a year early, making him one of the youngest players in the draft class.

Knicks Looking To Trade For Ivey, Pistons Balking

The Pistons selected Jaden Ivey with the No. 5 pick, forming a potentially dynamic backcourt with last year’s top pick, Cade Cunningham.

However, the Knicks didn’t give up on their pursuit of Ivey easily. They are trying to make a deal with Detroit to acquire the jet-quick point guard out of Purdue, according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer (Twitter link) and SNY TV’s Ian Begley (Twitter link).

Steve Popper of Newsday tweets that the Pistons may have some interest if Memphis center Jalen Duren is still available at New York’s pick at No. 11. However, New York instead chose French center Ousmane Dieng, the top international prospect, and are moving him to the Thunder in a trade, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

The Knicks are acquiring multiple picks in that deal and are making one last serious push to trade for Ivey with those additional assets, The Athletic’s James L. Edwards III tweets.

New York is desperately seeking a lead guard to get back into the postseason after coming up empty this past season.

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Duren, Dieng, Mavericks, Raptors, Anunoby

The Pistons, who already made news this week with their impending trade of Jerami Grant to Portland, could make another significant move this evening. They are holding ongoing conversations to acquire another lottery pick, with Memphis center Jalen Duren believed to be the target, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report tweets.

Detroit already holds the No. 5 selection in the draft. A report earlier today indicated Pistons GM Troy Weaver is a big fan of Duren.

  • Ousmane Dieng seems destined to be chosen higher than any other international prospect. The French big man, who played for the New Zealand Breakers, has been surging up draft boards and could go as high as No. 8, where the Pelicans are picking, Marc Stein tweets.
  • The Mavericks are covering all their bases, even though their first-round pick is headed to Houston and their second-rounder is headed to Washington, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets. GM Nico Harrison says they’re are not actively calling teams to trade into the draft, but have done the prep work needed in case they end up with a draft pick in either round.
  • The Raptors are unlikely to move into the lottery and trade forward OG Anunoby, Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets. Most of the chatter surrounding Anunoby has come from the Trail Blazers, who are trying to add veterans around Damian Lillard, Grange adds, while Toronto remains in a ‘be patient and grow’ mode.

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Mathurin, Duren, Eason, J. Smith, More

People around the NBA have been “gossiping” about an incredible workout Bennedict Mathurin had with the Pistons, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says there’s chatter that members of Detroit’s front office are “infatuated” with the Arizona guard.

Jaden Ivey and Keegan Murray have long been considered the favorites to join Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero in the top five, but perhaps the Pistons will upend that expectation by targeting Mathurin. For what it’s worth, however, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) still believes Murray is the favorite over Mathurin at No. 5 if Ivey is off the board.

Within his latest mock draft, Givony also reports that Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is one of Jalen Duren‘s biggest fans in the NBA. While Duren likely won’t be under serious consideration at No. 5, the Pistons could consider trading back into the first round if he slips at all, according to Givony, who points to the Hornets (No. 13 and No. 15) as a possible trade partner for Detroit in a deal involving Gordon Hayward.

Elsewhere in his mock draft, O’Connor writes that the Nuggets (No. 21 and No. 30) and Grizzlies (No. 22 and No. 29) have both made attempts to package their picks in an effort to move up in the first round.

O’Connor suggests Denver’s picks probably aren’t enough to move into the middle of the first round unless the team is willing to include a young player or another future pick. However, he writes that the Grizzlies have been exploring picks as high as the Knicks‘ selection at No. 11. In order to get that high, Memphis would presumably have to take on some unwanted salary or include another asset beyond the team’s two 2022 first-rounders.

Here’s more on the 2022 NBA draft, which is now just hours away:

  • Executives around the league keep connecting LSU forward Tari Eason to the Rockets at No. 17, according to O’Connor. Meanwhile, Zach Harper of The Athletic has heard from sources that the Celtics are also high on Eason and could try to trade into the first round using a young rotation player to draft him. An earlier report indicated Boston was open to discussing Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard, and Harper adds Aaron Nesmith to that list.
  • Auburn’s Jabari Smith tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’ll be surprised if he’s not drafted first overall tonight. Virtually every major sportsbook made Paolo Banchero the favorite to go No. 1 late last night, but those odds have since swung back in the other direction. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report speculates (via Twitter) that the Banchero buzz may have been related to contact he and his camp had with the Magic on Wednesday after a Monday visit was canceled, but Fischer — like ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — reiterates that Smith remains the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.
  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv (video link) views Duke’s AJ Griffin as the most likely pick for the Knicks if they remain at No. 11.
  • The Raptors, who moved down from No. 20 to No. 33 in the draft as a result of their Thaddeus Young trade in February, don’t view the gap between those two selections as significant, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Koreen observes, there’s less of a consensus on prospects further down draft boards than there is at the very top, so several of the players drafted between Nos. 20 and 32 may not be at or near the top of Toronto’s board.

Draft Notes: Green Room, Draft Targets, Comps, Mock, Minott

The list of prospects invited to the green room on draft night has expanded to 16, tweets ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. The list includes all of the top-16 ranked players on ESPN’s big boardChet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Dyson DanielsShaedon Sharpe, Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin, Jalen Duren, Johnny Davis, Ousmane DiengMalaki BranhamMark Williams, Jeremy Sochan and Ochai Agbaji.

A source tells Givony that the list could expand further, with four more invites still a possibility. The draft is nine days away.

Here are some more draft-related notes:

Draft Notes: Duren, Agbaji, Washington, Griffin, Davis

Longtime coach Larry Brown, now serving as an assistant at the University of Memphis, believes Tigers center Jalen Duren has a bright future in the NBA, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Brown talked to Knicks general manager Scott Perry recently about Duren and teammate Josh Minott, who is projected as a second-round pick. Brown says Duren has similar skills as Heat big man Bam Adebayo.

“A lot of people compare him to Bam,’’ Brown said. “I spent time with Cal [Kentucky coach John Calipari] when Bam was there. Bam doesn’t shoot 3s either. Jalen is 3 inches taller than Bam. … I always teased him: I wanted him to be like [former Pistons center] Ben Wallace because he can run with anybody. He really can run. And can move his feet defensively.’’

The Knicks could consider Duren with the 11th pick if they’re not sure about re-signing free agent center Mitchell Robinson. There are concerns that coach Tom Thibodeau may not want to take the time to develop an 18-year-old center prospect, but Brown is convinced the wait will be worth it.

“If someone’s taking him to be starter on a playoff team, I don’t think it’s completely fair,’’ Brown said. “He’s 18. If you’re looking at a kid to develop and really be a factor, he’s the one you got to consider. … He wants to be coached. That’s important, especially with Thibs. He’ll coach him and demand things, and he’ll respond to that.’”

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

  • As a four-year college player, Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji is a rarity among potential lottery picks, notes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Agbaji said he’s been studying Desmond Bane, who followed the same path before succeeding with the Grizzlies. “That’s someone that I would say is similar to me game-wise. We’re both athletic, strong and can guard and make plays off the bounce, too,” Agbaji said after working out Friday for the Wizards. “He was a four-year guy, went under the radar and has his feet down in Memphis now. That’s really cool seeing that. He’s one of those guys who I saw his transition into the league.”
  • TyTy Washington sat out the end of his workout with the Wizards on Saturday after banging his knee in a collision, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. A team trainer checked Washington and said the knee will be OK. The Kentucky guard has also worked out for the Thunder, Knicks and Cavaliers and has upcoming sessions with the Spurs and Pelicans (Twitter link).
  • Duke forward AJ Griffin will work out for the Pacers Monday, tweets James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis moved his workout with Indiana to Tuesday because of scheduling issues.

Draft Notes: Green Room, Houstan, Nembhard, O’Neal, Gillespie

There were no surprises in the 11 green room invitations forwarded to the draft’s top prospects. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony confirmed that the list includes Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Shaedon Sharpe, Dyson Daniels, Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin, Jalen Duren and Johnny Davis. Approximately four more green room invites will be sent out next week, a source tells Givony.

We have more draft news:

  • Michigan’s Caleb Houstan and Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard, who both hail from Canada, will work out for the Raptors on Friday, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. They’re both considered late first-round or second-round prospects and Toronto has the No. 33 overall pick.
  • LSU forward Shareef O’Neal, son of Shaquille O’Neal, worked out for the Bucks on Thursday, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. The younger O’Neal will visit the Lakers, Cavaliers, Hawks and Wizards in the very near future.
  • Villanova guard Collin Gillespie also worked out for the Bucks on Thursday, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. He’ll soon visit the Suns, Nuggets, Jazz and Trail Blazers. Gillespie is ranked at No. 64 on ESPN’s Best Available list.

Draft Notes: J. Smith, Magic, Holmgren, Mohammed, Duren

Auburn forward Jabari Smith, a projected top-three pick, worked out for the Magic on Thursday, reports Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter video link). The Magic hold the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA draft and Smith has been linked to Orlando multiple times.

Smith believes he’d be a good fit for a young Magic team, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press relays.

I think I can fit in it really well,” Smith said. “Seeing the guys and seeing the players, this is a young team, one of the youngest in the league. So, adding me would just add another young player who was hungry and got a lot left in the tank. So, I’ll add some energy and just another person wants to come in and work and get this organization where it needs to be.”

Smith added that his strong two-way play and drive to win separates him from the other top prospects.

I just think it’s my will to win that sets me apart,” Smith said, per Reynolds. “I don’t really care about stats and glamour and all that. I just want to really win and play to win every game.”

Smith also said he has an upcoming workout with the Thunder, who control the No. 2 pick, but has no other workouts planned, Reynolds writes. Smith’s full post-workout media session can be found right here.

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren, another projected top-three pick, has a workout scheduled with the Magic next week, reports Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter).
  • Georgetown’s Aminu Mohammed has worked out for the Nets, Hawks, Spurs and Bulls, and has upcoming workouts with the Kings and Trail Blazers, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Mohammed also worked out for the Wizards on Wednesday, as we previously relayed.
  • Memphis center Jalen Duren, who is one of the youngest players in the draft after graduating from high school a year early, believes he’s ready for the NBA, writes Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com. “I wouldn’t have made this jump if I didn’t feel like I was ready mentally, physically or skill-wise. I mean, where I’m at, I love the challenge, that’s why I decided to go to college early. It was a great challenge, it helped me develop,” Duren said. The 18-year-old had a solo workout for Portland earlier this week and is a projected lottery pick.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Blazers, Wolves, Jazz

In addition to featuring Colorado State forward David Roddy, the Nuggets‘ group workout on Tuesday included Wendell Moore (Duke), Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest), Josh Minott (Memphis), Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), and Lucas Williamson (Loyola), according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link).

LaRavia (No. 31), Moore (36), and Minott (47) all rank as top-50 prospects on ESPN’s big board, as does Roddy (46). Denver only holds the No. 21 pick in this year’s draft, but may like one or more of those prospects more than ESPN’s experts do. The Nuggets could also just be doing their homework in case they trade back in the draft, pick up a extra second-round selection, or have an opportunity to sign any of these players as undrafted free agents.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • In a mailbag for The Denver Post, Singer discusses possible offseason targets for the Nuggets, identifying Dillon Brooks, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Cam Reddish, Josh Hart, and Kenrich Williams as possibilities on the trade market and Bruce Brown, Caleb Martin, and Cody Martin as free agents worth considering. While Singer doesn’t necessarily have any inside info saying Denver will pursue those players, he notes that he ran his list past a couple NBA executives and “they didn’t outright laugh at me.”
  • Memphis center Jalen Duren worked out for the Trail Blazers earlier this week, tweets Aaron J. Fentress of The Oregonian. It remains to be seen whether or not the Blazers will hang onto the No. 7 pick in this month’s draft, but if they do, Duren could be a player they consider — he’s ranked 10th on ESPN’s big board.
  • French big man Ismael Kamagate and Duke’s Wendell Moore were among the prospects working out for the Timberwolves this week, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter links). Both are top-40 prospects on ESPN’s board.
  • Jazz CEO Danny Ainge believes getting player input on the team’s head coaching search is important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that candidates who have existing relationships with star guard Donovan Mitchell (or other Utah players) will have a leg up, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “You have to sell (players) on what you’re doing, whatever it is — if you’re making a trade that they might not like you have to be able to sell why you’re doing it,” Ainge said. “That’s just to get them in the right frame of mind so they can give that change an opportunity to succeed. But, I believe players are partners in this thing, too.”