Jalen Smith

Suns Sign Lottery Pick Jalen Smith

The Suns have signed lottery pick Jalen Smith, according to a team press release.

Assuming Smith received the usual 120% above the rookie scale, he’ll make $4,245,720 in his first season and a total of $19,328,334 over the next four seasons.

He’ll look to get some minutes at the power forward and center spots on a team with playoff aspirations. He played two seasons at Maryland.

The 6’10” Smith averaged 15.5 PPG on 53.8% shooting from the field and 36.8% from 3-point range, plus 10.5 RPG and 2.4 BPG as a sophomore. He finished third in the nation with 21 double-doubles last season.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Okoro, Poirier, VanVleet, Nets

The Celtics have reportedly explored the possibility of packaging their three first-round picks (Nos. 14, 26, and 30) to move into the middle of the draft lottery. On Thursday, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggested that Boston’s intent with that plan may be to flip the newly-acquired mid-lottery pick to New Orleans in a deal for Jrue Holiday.

However, Sean Deveney of Heavy.com hears that the Celtics also have their eye on a potential target in the top 10. Sources tell Deveney that Boston has been “enamored with” Auburn forward Isaac Okoro all year and that he would be the target if the team trades up. The C’s would also be happy to see who falls to them at their current spot, Deveney adds.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Clarifying some comments he made recently to a French outlet, Celtics center Vincent Poirier tells Tom Westerholm of MassLive that he wasn’t upset about his limited role in 2019/20 and knows that if he wants more minutes, he has to earn them. “I just told (head coach Brad Stevens) I accepted the role I had this year, because obviously that’s what I deserved, because I didn’t show anything,” Poirier said. “But I think I worked, I think I understand the game, so I used this season to grow and to progress. I’m just saying that was cool, but as a competitor, as a man, as a basketball player, I want more. I’m not here just to be with the guys.” Poirier has a guaranteed $2.6MM salary for 2020/21.
  • Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun isn’t reading too much into Fred VanVleet‘s comments about “trying to get paid” in free agency. It’s hardly breaking news that money is an important consideration for top free agents, according to Wolstat, who says he’d still bet on the Raptors re-signing their veteran point guard.
  • Maryland’s Jalen Smith declined to say which teams he has worked out for, but the Nets were one of the first teams to interview him and have genuine interest in drafting him, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Smith told reporters in a conference call that if he gets an opportunity to play with Kevin Durant, it would be a “dream come true.”

Heat Notes: Leonard, Carey, Achiuwa, Scrubb

Reiterating a point he made in a previous interview, Heat center Meyers Leonard told Jeremy Werner of 247Sports.com that when he considers his options in free agency, he’ll be looking for a spot where he can contend, rather than one where he can try to put up big numbers.

“I don’t give a damn about numbers. I care about winning,” Leonard said. “I think that they knew that in Miami. I know that (coach Erik Spoelstra) and my teammates sure as hell did. I would tell Bam (Adebayo) often, ‘I don’t give a damn about rebound numbers. You go grab 15, and I’ll block out their best rebounder and you come grab them.'”

Leonard also said that he thinks a reunion is a possibility, but that he’s prepared to consider other landing spots if the Heat decide to move on.

“The NBA is a business. I think there’s mutual interest between Miami and I, but we’ll see,” he said. “There’s other teams that are very interested. I’m in a good spot.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The Heat conducted a private, in-person workout last week with Duke big man Vernon Carey Jr., according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Carey is only the No. 43 prospect on ESPN’s big board but has received some first-round buzz and could be an option for Miami at No. 20.
  • Carey is far from the only draft-eligible frontcourt player receiving interest from the Heat. The team also recently worked out Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa and has interest in Maryland’s Jalen Smith, Jackson writes for The Herald. ESPN ranks both players in its top 20.
  • The Heat have conducted two interviews with 6’6″ shooting guard Jay Scrubb, a source tells Jackson. The No. 76 prospect on ESPN’s board, Scrubb is considered one of 2020’s best junior college prospects. Within the same Herald article, Jackson notes that Miami has also interviewed Stanford guard Tyrell Terry.

Kings Notes: Bogdanovic, Lewis, Trade Proposals, Achiuwa

Deciding whether to keep Bogdan Bogdanovic will be one of the most important offseason decisions for new Kings general manager Monte McNair, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. The shooting guard is a restricted free agent, meaning Sacramento can match any offer he receives on the open market. ESPN’s Bobby Marks estimates that Bogdanovic’s new contract will start at $14-16MM, which translates to a total investment of $63-72MM on a four-year deal.

Bogdanovic is coming off his most productive season, averaging 15.1 points per game and shooting 37.2% from three-point range. The Kings don’t want to lose an important part of their offense, but they have to be careful about overpaying with so many other young players whose contracts will be up soon. De’Aaron Fox is likely to receive an extension this fall that will take effect during the 2021/22 season.

Ham suggests offering Bogdanovic a front-loaded contract that declines in value each year, as the team did with Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield. That would help control costs in the future and make Bogdanovic easier to move if the Kings ever decide to trade him.

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • With the Kings reportedly interested in drafting Kira Lewis Jr., Ham examines the potential fit for the Alabama point guard. His speed blends well with the up-tempo style that Sacramento prefers, and Lewis could allow the team to play fast when Fox is on the bench. Ham states that Lewis projects as an instant-offense player off the bench.
  • Richard Ivanowski of The Sacramento Bee offers six hypothetical trades for the Kings to pursue if McNair wants to shake up the roster before the draft. Ivanowski suggests Sacramento should chase a star such as Washington’s Bradley Beal with a package of Hield, Marvin Bagley and the No. 12 pick, or possibly try to get the No. 1 selection and James Johnson from the Timberwolves in exchange for Hield and No. 12. Ivanowski also has trade proposals involving the Hawks, Bucks, Celtics and Sixers.
  • Jason Jones of The Athletic believes the Kings might use their first-round pick to add frontcourt depth and identifies Precious Achiuwa of Memphis as a potential selection. Jalen Smith of Maryland may also be under consideration.

Heat Notes: J. Grant, J. Smith, Offseason

The Heat are expected to be among the teams with interest in free agent forward Jerami Grant this offseason, says Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. If Miami operates as an over-the-cap team, landing Grant would be tricky, since he’s expected to receive offers worth more than the mid-level exception.

Grant could be a more viable option for the Heat if the team loses some of its top free agents and has the opportunity to open up cap space. Even if Miami remains over the cap, we saw a year ago with the acquisition of Jimmy Butler that the front office is willing to get creative with sign-and-trades when cap room is unavailable.

However, Grant will almost certainly require a long-term investment, so presumably he’d only become a realistic target for the Heat if the club decides it no longer needs to preserve max-salary space for 2021.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The Heat requested a Zoom interview with former Maryland forward Jalen Smith, Jackson reports in the same Miami Herald story.  Smith is currently the No. 20 prospect on ESPN’s big board, while the Heat hold the No. 20 overall pick in this year’s draft.
  • Several aspects of the Heat offseason will be out of the team’s control, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, who writes that the team will have to adjust to the new salary cap projection, wait to see if free agents like Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder get aggressive multiyear offers from rival suitors, and potentially modify their plans for both 2020 and 2021 if Giannis Antetokounmpo signs an extension with Milwaukee.
  • Miami assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn reportedly had strong interviews with Indiana, but the Pacers went in another direction, hiring Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach. That’s good news for the Heat, who should retain Craig and Quinn for 2020/21.

Nets Notes: Coaching Staff, Arena Workers, J. Smith

It has been five weeks since the Nets hired Steve Nash as their new head coach, but there haven’t been many updates since then on who will be part of Nash’s coaching staff beyond Jacque Vaughn, who is expected to remain in Brooklyn as the associate head coach.

According to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, current Nets assistant Adam Harrington is also likely to be retained, given his connection to Kevin Durant — Harrington briefly served as the Thunder’s shooting coach during Durant’s time in Oklahoma City.

A source tells Schiffer that the Nets had some interest in trying to add former Suns coach Igor Kokoskov as an assistant. However, Kokoskov recently agreed to become the head coach of EuroLeague team Fenerbahce and prefers to remain with his new club in Turkey, per Schiffer.

Schiffer also names Jay Triano, Royal Ivey, and Phil Handy as possible candidates for the Nets’ staff, though Ivey has received interest from multiple teams. As for Handy, Schiffer recently heard from a source that the veteran assistant is happy working on Frank Vogel‘s staff with the Lakers, but would be open to other opportunities.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Nets owner Joseph Tsai intends to pay his Barclays Center employees – who lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic – through the rest of the year, Brian Lewis of The New York Post confirms. The decision, originally reported by The Atlantic Yards Report, may cost Tsai in the neighborhood of $10MM.
  • Maryland power forward Jalen Smith is the No. 20 prospect on ESPN’s big board, which could put him in play for the Nets at No. 19 in this year’s draft. As Lewis relays in a separate story for The New York Post, Smith is intrigued by the idea of being selected by Brooklyn and becoming teammates with a superstar he grew up watching. “Just being able to play with KD, that’s a dream come true,” Smith said. “Obviously growing up watching him so much and pretty much just learning from him, being the same size as him, just being able to get so much from him that he’s done in the league and continue to work and just compete against him would be tremendous and a good thing for me and my skills.”
  • In case you missed it, we previewed the Nets’ upcoming offseason in a feature last week.

Eastern Notes: Heat, Thibodeau, Bane, Nets

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes his assistants rightfully deserve consideration for head coaching vacancies around the league, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Both Dan Craig and Chris Quinn have seen their names linked to various teams this year, with Spoelstra backing the idea as a whole.

“I think on our staff we have several future head coaches,” Spoelstra said, as relayed by Winderman. “I don’t want them to just be assistant coaches their whole career. I want them to be able to grow and have opportunities to be head coaches at some point.”

The Heat have previously lost coaches such as Juwan Howard, who left for Michigan, and David Fizdale, who left to become head coach of the Grizzlies and Knicks. Spoelstra credits the coaching tree to team president Pat Riley, a former coach himself.

“I think it’s just the whole Heat program, and that started with Pat,” Spoelstra said. “I think he’s taught us all how to become basketball coaches, at all levels, where you have to learn scouting, offense, defense, tendencies in the league, learning how to coach on the floor and teach.

“That was all demanded from Pat. And then growing, that culture of growing you.”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • For the Knicks, it won’t be business as usual with Tom Thibodeau now at the helm, Steve Popper of Newsday opines. Thibodeau is looking to ramp up the team’s offseason workload and work closely with the players, though he’ll have to adhere to the league’s COVID-19 guidelines first. “Obviously, we’d have to follow the protocol that’s set forth by the league, but we will have an opportunity to do the individual stuff with guys that are in the bubble up until October 6,” Thibodeau said. “Then we’re waiting on what we’ll be able to do with the guys that are out of the market. So whatever the league tells us we can do, we will certainly do. And if not we’ll find other ways to get to our development piece whether it’s through film, communications with the players. But we‘re planning on spending a lot of time with our players this offseason.”
  • TCU forward Desmond Bane could be the perfect 3-and-D player for the Nets to draft, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Bane credits current Nets forward Joe Harris for a key part of his game, explaining how he’s studied Harris’ ability to work off screens and make shots off different movements. The Nets have the No. 19 pick in this year’s draft, while Harris is set to reach unrestricted free agency.
  • NetsDaily.com examines the Nets‘ draft situation and which player could be selected, suggesting that Bane, Maryland big man Jalen Smith and others could fit nicely with Brooklyn, a team that’s expected to be at the forefront of contention next season. The draft will take place on Wednesday, November 18.

Pacific Notes: Howard, Nnaji, Bjelica, Hield

Veteran center Dwight Howard, who will be back on the free agent market after the Finals, is thankful the Lakers took a chance on him, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Howard was moved into the starting lineup during the conference finals. “It’s been the hardest road to get back here. I’m very grateful,” he said. “I’ve never given up on myself.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Power forward prospects Zeke Nnaji and Jalen Smith have interviewed the Suns, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Nnaji, who played at Arizona, is ranked No. 35 overall by ESPN, while Maryland’s Smith is considered first-round material at No. 20. The Suns currently own just one pick in the draft, the No. 10 overall selection.
  • The Kings’ decision on whether to retain forward Nemanja Bjelica could hinge on how much new GM Monte McNair values Marvin Bagley III, as well as the team’s financial constraints, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes. The Kings hold a $7.15MM option on Bjelica’s contract next season but re-signing Bogdan Bogdanovic is an even bigger priority, Jones continues. If Sacramento drafts another power forward, the team may find Bjelica expendable, Jones adds.
  • The Knicks, Sixers, Grizzlies and Hornets are some of the teams that might be willing to absorb Buddy Hield‘s four-year, $106MM extension and make a deal for the Kings‘ shooting guard, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype speculates. All four of those teams could benefit from the outside shooting of Hield, who had a somewhat disappointing season after signing his extension, which kicks in next season.

Draft Rumors: Hayes, J. Smith, Ball, Edwards, Krejci

With the NBA’s virtual combine underway, a handful of this year’s top draft-eligible prospects are speaking with reporters today on conference calls and are revealing some information about their pre-draft meetings.

French point guard Killian Hayes, for instance, confirmed that he has interviewed with the Spurs, Wizards, Knicks, Bulls, and Warriors, adding that his agent has told him to expect to come off the board between No. 2 and No. 10 on draft night (Twitter link via Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic).

Maryland big man Jalen Smith told reporters, including Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter links), that he has met with the Wizards, Spurs, Raptors, Nets, Suns, and Bulls, among other teams. Smith ranks No. 20 on ESPN’s big board.

Potential No. 1 pick LaMelo Ball was more evasive when asked about his meetings, refusing to name any teams he has talked to except for the Knicks, as K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. That meeting occurred prior to the lottery, per Steve Popper of Newsday (Twitter link).

While it’s possible Ball has had other meetings with top teams that he declined to mention, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) hears that the guard’s interview with the Timberwolves is still to come. Minnesota, of course, holds the top pick in the draft.

Here’s more on the draft:

  • There’s a belief around the NBA that the Timberwolves may make an effort to trade down from No. 1, but if they keep that pick, multiple sources believe they’ll select LaMelo Ball rather than Anthony Edwards, says Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report.
  • According to Wasserman, there’s some concern among scouts and executives about Edwards’ professionalism, drive, and desire to win. While the Georgia wing still figures to come off the board early, the likelihood of him falling to No. 3 appears to have increased, Wasserman notes.
  • One scout who spoke to Bleacher Report said his team will be putting more stock this year into prospects’ basketball IQ and other intangibles, and Wasserman believes other clubs around the NBA could take a similar approach. Tyrese Haliburton and Isaac Okoro are among the players who could benefit from that trend, Wasserman adds.
  • Czech guard Vit Krejci, who is playing for Zaragoza in Spain, has suffered a left ACL injury that will require surgery and is expected to sideline him for the rest of the season, according to the team (hat tip to Sportando). Krejci had declared for the 2020 NBA draft as an early entrant, but could still withdraw his name before the league’s November deadline.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.