Jalen Suggs

Draft Rumors: Thunder, Pistons, Rockets, Pelicans, Raptors, More

Armed with the Nos. 6, 16, and 18 picks in the first round of this year’s draft and a huge stash of future first-rounders, the Thunder are expected to start “knocking on the door” to try to move into the top three of the 2021 draft, Adrian Wojnarowski said on Sunday’s Woj & Lowe special on ESPN (video link).

In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) confirms that the Thunder have been actively exploring the idea of trading up, with Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley among the prospects they’re said to be high on.

It would take a substantial package for the Thunder to move up into the top three from No. 6, and it remains to be seen whether they’re be willing to eat into their stockpile of draft assets to make such a move, especially if there’s a player they like outside of the top five. James Bouknight could be that player, according to Givony, who says Oklahoma City has “long been high” on the UConn guard, having inquired last year about the possibility of him entering the 2020 draft.

Here are several more draft-related rumors from ESPN’s reporters:

  • It’d be extremely surprising if the Pistons do anything with the No. 1 pick other than select Cade Cunningham, says Givony. Wojnarowski says that decision isn’t finalized yet, but the Pistons are “getting there” on Cunningham, and Woj expects the Oklahoma State guard to be the pick.
  • Jalen Green is increasingly likely to be the No. 2 pick, according to Givony, who writes that the Rockets have been “stonewalled” in their attempts to host Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs for workouts.
  • The Kings‘ (No. 9) and Pelicans‘ (No. 10) picks continue to be among the most available lottery selections, per Givony. New Orleans is attaching Eric Bledsoe to the No. 10 pick in most trade discussions involving that selection, says Wojnarowski (video link). Givony adds that Franz Wagner has gained traction as a possible target for Sacramento if the club stays in the lottery, despite his “mysterious” pre-draft process — Wagner skipped the combine and hasn’t worked out for many teams.
  • While the Raptors are still widely expected to draft Jalen Suggs, they’ve taken long looks at other top-10 prospects, including Jonathan Kuminga, Scottie Barnes, James Bouknight, and Franz Wagner, says Givony. Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Zach Lowe (video link) expect Toronto to have several more conversations about either moving up or down from No. 4, but also view Suggs as the club’s likeliest choice.
  • The Cavaliers continue to be active in trade talks and are rumored to be discussing the possibility of acquiring a second top-10 pick, according to Givony. Wojnarowski (video link) is skeptical that Cleveland is looking to add more draft assets though, suggesting he doesn’t “see a scenario” in which the club trades Collin Sexton or Darius Garland to get even younger.
  • People around the league have “locked into the idea” that Scottie Barnes is the favorite to be picked at No. 5 by the Magic, reports Givony.

Draft Rumors: Warriors, Kings, Pacers, Cavs, Raptors, Magic, OKC

The Warriors, Kings, and Pacers are among the late-lottery teams that are exploring trade scenarios involving their first-round picks, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.

As O’Connor writes, the Warriors remain “highly active” in trade talks involving the No. 7 pick — Golden State also holds the No. 14 selection and would presumably be open to moving it as well. As for the Kings, they’ve shopped the No. 9 overall pick for players capable of helping them right away, sources tell The Ringer.

O’Connor describes the Pacers as “incredibly active” in trade discussions, having talked about scenarios that would move them into the top 10 or out of the draft entirely. Currently, Indiana holds the No. 13 pick.

Here are a few more draft-related rumors from O’Connor latest mock:

  • The Cavaliers have received “significant” trade interest in the No. 3 overall pick, according to O’Connor, who says the Raptors (No. 4) and Magic (No. 5) are among the clubs that have made offers to move up. Evan Mobley is considered the favorite to be the third player off the board, though it’s not entirely clear that he’s the player that Toronto, Orlando, and other interested teams are targeting.
  • If the Raptors remain at No. 4, they’re not a lock to select Jalen Suggs, says O’Connor. Executives around the NBA tell The Ringer that Toronto’s interest in forward Scottie Barnes is legitimate.
  • O’Connor’s newest mock draft has the Thunder selecting Jonathan Kuminga at No. 6, and may execs have the young forward penciled in at that slot. However, league sources tell O’Connor that Oklahoma City is high on both Barnes and James Bouknight, so there’s a chance Kuminga could slip further.

Draft Notes: Garza, Cooper, Pacers, Mock Drafts

The Sixers, who are in the market for a reserve center, worked out a pair of big men today, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Iowa’s Luka Garza, the two-time national player of the year, was in Philadelphia, along with Utah State’s Neemias Queta.

Garza, who is projected to be taken anywhere from the end of the first round to the middle of the second round, has dropped weight since the college season ended in an effort to become more mobile on defense. Queta was named Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference and was a finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors.

With Dwight Howard entering free agency, Pompey notes that the Sixers don’t have a reliable backup to Joel Embiid. Philadelphia holds the 28th and 50th selections in next week’s draft.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

Pistons To Work Out Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs

After hosting Cade Cunningham for a visit, the Pistons are set to bring in two more top prospects – Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs – for private workouts in the coming days, according to Jonathan Givony and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Sources tell ESPN’s duo that Detroit would also like to bring in Evan Mobley, but the team has yet to schedule a visit for the USC big man.

The fact that the Pistons are conducting workouts with top prospects besides Cunningham shouldn’t come as a surprise. While the Oklahoma State star is widely expected to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, general manager Troy Weaver is doing his due diligence on all possibilities, including trading down from No. 1.

Even if Detroit has already decided to stay put and select Cunningham, it doesn’t hurt to bring in other top prospects — if Green, Suggs, and Mobley end up with other teams, this will be the only opportunity the Pistons have for years to meet with them and gather first-hand information on them.

According to Givony and Wojnarowski, Cunningham doesn’t intend to meet with any other teams besides the Pistons, while Green’s only other workout will be with the Rockets, who hold the No. 2 pick.

Draft Notes: Butler, Duarte, Knicks, Rockets

Baylor guard Jared Butler has received medical clearance from the NBA’s Fitness to Play panel, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. Butler, the Most Outstanding Player in this year’s Final Four, had been considered a possible mid first-round pick when the draft process began, but he was sidelined in June due to a heart condition.

Butler hasn’t been permitted to do anything on the court for the past three weeks, but he was still allowed to meet with teams and go through off-court activities such as interviews and medical exams. He met this week with executives from the Kings, who hold the ninth and 39th picks in the draft.

“I am fully healthy and cleared to play in the NBA!” Butler wrote on Twitter“Out of an abundance of care, the NBA is incredibly thorough in vetting the health of every player during the pre-Draft process and throughout our careers. I am forever grateful that their comprehensive and strict health analysis has unanimously confirmed my fitness to play in the NBA. Now, my focus is entirely on the Draft and working daily to prepare myself to fulfill my lifelong dream !!”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • Oregon’s Chris Duarte was happy with the results of Friday’s workout for the Warriors, per James Crepea of The Oregonian. Duarte, who is expected to be selected around the middle of the first round, has also visited the Wizards, Hornets, Thunder, Pelicans and Spurs. “It went great,” Duarte said of Friday’s session. “I really love it, enjoying this time here.”
  • Butler and Duarte may be possibilities for the Knicks if they hold onto the 19th and 21st picks, ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla tells Steve Serby of The New York Post. Fraschilla also mentions Kentucky center Isaiah Jackson and international prospect Usman Garuba.
  • The Rockets‘ interest in trading up for the No. 1 pick is legitimate, but they don’t have any really strong future draft choices to offer the PistonsZach Harper of the Athletic writes in his latest mock draft. Harper expects Detroit to hang on to the No. 1 selection and take Cade Cunningham, leaving Houston to decide between keeping the No. 2 choice or trading down for extra assets. Jalen Green is the expected pick, but Harper cites “people within the Rockets’ decision-making process” who are in favor of drafting Jalen Suggs.

Draft Notes: Warriors, Hornets, Green Room Invites, Preston

The Warriors brought in some first-round prospects for workouts on Friday, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweetsChris Duarte, Keon Johnson, Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy III, Ziaire Williams and Ayo Dosunmu visited the Warriors’ training facility. Johnson is the highest-rated prospect on the list, as the Tennessee guard is currently ranked No. 9 overall by ESPN.

Gonzaga’s Kispert (No. 13), Virginia’s Murphy (18), Oregon’s Duarte (23), Stanford’s Williams (24) and Illinois’ Dosunmu (34) could all be off the board by the second round. Golden State holds the seventh and 14th overall picks.

We have more draft-related news and tidbits:

Draft Notes: Top Picks, Barnes, Mitchell, Green Room

With the draft less than two weeks away, more clarity is emerging about the top of the lottery, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The Pistons are reportedly listening to offers involving the No. 1 selection, but league sources tell O’Connor the most likely scenario is that they will keep the pick and take Cade Cunningham. Even if a trade does happen, teams around the league expect Cunningham to be taken first.

The Rockets are leaning toward Jalen Green with the second pick, sources tell O’Connor. Green’s elite athleticism and ability to create his own shot could eventually make him the best player in the draft, O’Connor adds, and rival teams are preparing for him to go to Houston.

Evan Mobley, who ranks higher than Green on many teams’ draft boards, appears to be a good fit for the Cavaliers at No. 3. They may consider a guard if Collin Sexton is traded by draft night, but Mobley makes sense with the current roster. Jalen Suggs appears headed to the Raptors with the fourth pick and would be a young replacement for Kyle Lowry if he leaves in free agency.

O’Connor cites league sources who believe the Magic like Scottie Barnes with the fifth pick, while the Thunder at No. 6 will decide between James Bouknight and Barnes if he’s still on the board. Jonathan Kuminga, who was considered a top five selection early on, isn’t getting much interest from either Orlando or Oklahoma City, O’Connor adds.

There’s more on the draft:

  • Many scouts and executives believe Barnes will be a top five pick, per Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Sources tell Wassmerman that the Magic are a good bet to take Barnes, but the Thunder will nab him if Orlando passes. Rival teams also believe the Raptors will consider him with the fourth pick if they’re determined to keep Lowry.
  • Baylor point guard Davion Mitchell held an individual workout for the Warriors on Thursday, according to Anthony Slater of The AthleticMoses Moody, Jalen Johnson and Kai Jones also worked out for the team, but they were in a group session that was held after Mitchell’s workout and interview. Slater examines the arguments for and against drafting Mitchell, who is a strong defender and improved greatly as a three-point shooter last season.
  • Kuminga is among the prospects who have received a Green Room invitation for draft night, Wasserman tweets. Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that Jones (Twitter link) and Australian guard Josh Giddey (Twitter link) have also been invited to join the Green Room, which is reserved for prospects who are expected to be chosen early.

Eastern Notes: Sexton, Knicks, Heat, Hawks, Raptors

Following up on Shams Charania’s report that the Knicks have been the most aggressive trade suitor for Collin Sexton so far, Marc Berman of The New York Post confirms that the team has the Cavaliers guard on its trade radar.

According to Berman, the Knicks would’ve picked Sexton over Kevin Knox in the 2018 draft if he had slipped to No. 9 instead of being selected at No. 8. Berman adds that Knicks forward Obi Toppin, who played his college ball at Dayton, may be a player the Cavs would target in a trade.

A source tells Berman that the Knicks – who hold the 19th and 21st overall picks – are open to trading out of the first round entirely in order to acquire an “established player.” Sexton has certainly established himself as a talented scorer, having averaged 24.5 points per game in 2020/21, though it’s unclear if New York would be willing to offer both of its first-round picks in a package for him.

Here’s more from around the East:

Draft Notes: Executive Roundup, Duarte, Monyyong, Lakers, Mini-Combine

In a Draft Confidential column for The Athletic, Hall-of-Fame reporter David Aldridge interviews anonymous team executives and college coaches to get their inside scoop on the 2021 draft’s burning questions.

Some of the topics discussed: the Jalen Green versus Jalen Suggs debate, who will be the fourth guard taken after Suggs, Green, and Cade Cunningham are off the board (James Bouknight, Moses Moody, Davion Mitchell, and Keon Johnson are the top candidates), draft promises, some of the late risers (Joshua Primo, Nah’Shon Hyland, Miles McBride, and others), and a whole lot more.

We have more news from the draft:

Central Notes: Cavs’ Lottery Pick, Buford, Diallo, Carlisle

The Cavaliers will not just limit their interview and workout list for the No. 3 pick to USC’s Evan Mobley, the G League Ignite’s Jalen Green and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Those players are widely considered the next three prospects beyond Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham, who is only expected to visit Detroit

Duke’s Jalen Johnson, who is ranked No. 9 by ESPN, was scheduled to meet with the Cavaliers on Friday. The Cavs are also expected to look at the G League Ignite’s Jonathan Kuminga (rated No. 5) and Florida State’s Scottie Barnes (No. 6). The latter met with Cleveland’s brass on Thursday, Fedor adds.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Chase Buford is leaving his post as the Wisconsin Herd’s head coach in order to become the head coach of the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL, according to a team press release. “We are excited for Chase to pursue this opportunity with one of the best clubs in Australia,” said Herd GM Dave Dean. Buford, 32, led the Bucks’ G League team to a league-best 33-10 record before the 2019/20 season was suspended due to the pandemic.
  • Along with mulling what to do with the top pick, the Pistons must decide how high they’re willing to go on restricted free agent Hamidou Diallo, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) writes. Diallo is projected to command somewhere in the neighborhood of the mid-level exception, which the Pistons could easily match. Marks also explores the team’s other pending decisions and its cap situation.
  • With his long track record and a four-year contract, Rick Carlisle will command respect in the Pacers’ locker room, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star (subscription required) writes.