Jalen Williams

Thunder’s Jalen Williams Undergoes Surgery For Orbital Bone Fracture

Thunder rookie Jalen Williams has undergone surgery to address a right orbital bone fracture, the team announced today in a press release.

Williams sustained the injury in Oklahoma City’s season opener on Wednesday when he took an inadvertent elbow to the face from Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels.

According to the Thunder, Williams will be reevaluated in approximately seven-to-10 days, so he’ll miss at least the next few games on OKC’s schedule.

The 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, Williams had scored five points in six minutes in his NBA regular season debut on Wednesday before going down with the injury.

While Williams’ exact recovery timeline is unknown, the injury shouldn’t be a long-term concern in the same way that an issue related to an ankle or knee might be. However, I imagine he’ll probably have to temporarily don a mask to protect his face when he returns to action.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Barrett, Edwards, Holmgren, Thunder

Some teams with interest in Knicks forward RJ Barrett believe they’d have a chance to land him if the Jazz were to acquire him in a Donovan Mitchell trade, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. As Begley explains, while the Jazz are thought to like Barrett, there’s a belief that they’d be open to the idea of flipping him for additional first-round picks if he were included as part of a package for Mitchell.

The Jazz’s potential plans for Barrett may be a moot point. Now that the former No. 3 overall pick has agreed to a four-year extension with the Knicks, the poison pill provision will complicate efforts to include him in any Mitchell trade — the Jazz could still theoretically acquire him, but a third team with cap room may need to get involved to make the salary-matching math work, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks noted in a video segment earlier this week.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Timberwolves‘ trade for Rudy Gobert showed that the team is ready to take the next step toward title contention, and the work that Anthony Edwards has been putting in this offseason shows that he’s positioning himself to make a third-year leap to stardom, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. According to Krawczynski, people who have been watching Edwards’ workouts this offseason have all been saying some variation of, “Just wait ’til you see him.”
  • The foot injury that ended Chet Holmgren‘s rookie season before it began probably won’t have a major impact on the Thunder‘s place in the 2022/23 standings, but it will significantly diminish the buzz surrounding the team in Oklahoma City, writes Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman. As Carlson writes, many Thunder fans that had been excited to watch Holmgren play are less likely to follow the club closely this year.
  • In a subscriber-only story for Daily Thunder, Josh Haar identifies Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Jalen Williams, and Aaron Wiggins as three candidates to earn bigger-than-expected roles for the Thunder with Holmgren sidelined.

Thunder Sign Chet Holmgren, Jalen Williams To Rookie Deals

The Thunder have signed a couple of their first-round draft picks, Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams, according to NBA.com’s official transactions log.

Holmgren was the second pick of the draft after spending one season with Gonzaga. In 32 games (26.9 MPG) for the Bulldogs, the 7’0″ Holmgren averaged 14.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG and 3.7 BPG on .607/.390/.717 shooting.

Williams was the 12th pick of the draft after three seasons with Santa Clara. In 33 games (34.8 MPG) as a junior for the Broncos, the 6’6″ wing averaged 18 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.2 APG and 1.2 SPG on .513/.396/.809 shooting.

Oklahoma City has been in rebuilding mode for a couple of seasons now, but the influx of young talent should help accelerate the team’s progression. Holmgren was considered the top prospect in the draft by many talent evaluators, while Williams was a draft riser after strong athletic testing numbers and standout scrimmage performances at the combine in Chicago last month.

Assuming Holmgren and Williams sign for 120% of the rookie scale, which virtually every first-rounder does, they’ll be in line for first-year salaries of $9.89MM and $4.34MM, respectively.

Central Notes: Cavs, Williams, Sotto, Pacers, Pistons

As a solid two-way perimeter player with exciting defensive upside, 6’6″ Santa Clara wing Jalen Williams could serve as an ideal fit for the Cavaliers, opines Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Cleveland has the No. 14 pick in this week’s draft.

During the 2021/22 season, the 21-year-old averaged 18.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.2 APG and 1.2 SPG, with shooting splits of .513/.396/.809. Fedor notes that Williams is a high-level playmaker, having begun his prep career as a point guard before an eight-inch growth spurt in between his sophomore season of high school and his freshman season at Santa Clara. The First-Team All-West Coast Conference shooting guard/small forward boasts a 7’2″ wingspan and posted a 33.5″ standing vertical.

“He is the biggest riser in this process – and rightfully so,” a league executive said of Williams. “The more I watch, the more I like him. Plug-and-play guy. Can crack a rotation immediately. I think he’s a top 20 guy in this year’s draft.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • 7’2″ Adelaide 36ers center Kai Sotto is set to work out for the Pacers on Tuesday, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com, who tweets that Sotto has recovered from a sprained ankle. In 23 contests in Australia’s National Basketball League in 2021/22, the 20-year-old big man averaged 7.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 0.8 BPG. Sotto was voted as the 2022 NBL Fans MVP.
  • With the fifth pick of the 2022 draft in hand, the Pistons are exploring the fit of several potential draft picks, writes Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit is looking to build around 2022 All-Rookie first team point guard Cade Cunningham, the first pick in the 2021 draft.
  • In case you missed it, Bucks reserve forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, older brother of 2021 Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, has opted to exercise his $1.8MM player option for the 2022/23 NBA season with Milwaukee. Across 48 games this season, the 6’6″ forward averaged 3.6 PPG and 2.1 RPG across 9.9 MPG.

Central Rumors: J. Williams, Cavaliers, Turner, Rubio, LaVine

The Cavaliers view Jalen Williams as a peripheral prospect with the No. 14 pick, but he’ll get a chance to change their minds at a workout Monday, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Williams said that session will be his last one before Thursday’s draft and only his third for a lottery team, with the Spurs and Thunder being the others. Williams has reportedly been moving up draft boards and believes his lack of exposure at Santa Clara caused some teams to overlook him.

“Teams haven’t seen me a lot just due to the fact that we were a west coast team playing late at night,” he said. “Just showcasing that I’m a lot bigger than what it looks like on TV and I’m more athletic. Honestly, just playing my game, going in there and competing with other dudes that are doing the same thing as me. Just show a good, positive attitude throughout the whole workout. Everyone here can hoop so try to do the little things to stand out.”

The Cavs might have a greater interest in Williams if they trade down, which is under consideration, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Scotto hears from league sources that Cleveland would be willing to move backward in this year’s draft in exchange for a future first-round pick.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Trade rumors continue to surround Pacers center Myles Turner, but he prefers to stay in Indiana, Scotto notes in the same story. Turner, whose season was ended by a foot injury in mid-January, wants a chance to play alongside Tyrese Haliburton, who wasn’t acquired from the Kings until February. Turner reportedly views Haliburton as the best passing point guard he’s ever had a chance to team up with. He also expects a larger role in the offense now that Domantas Sabonis is in Sacramento.
  • The Cavaliers have interest in bringing back free agent guard Ricky Rubio, Scotto adds. Rubio helped Cleveland get off to a fast start last season before suffering a torn ACL in late December. He was sent to the Pacers in February as part of the Caris LeVert deal.
  • Zach LaVine appears increasingly likely to re-sign with the Bulls shortly after free agency begins, Marc Stein states in his latest column on Substack. Teams that were believed to have interest in pursuing LaVine are being warned that he may not be available, Stein adds.

Draft Notes: Banchero, Wesley, Williams, Mock

Duke’s Paolo Banchero is projected by most mock drafts to be selected by the Rockets with the No. 3 pick. Banchero believes that’s two slots too low, USA Today’s David Thompson writes.

“I feel like I am the best player in the draft and I feel like I showed that throughout the year,” he said. “I feel like I showed everything with my skill sets and my intangibles.”

However, he wouldn’t be disappointed if he ends up playing with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr in Houston.

“Those are two extremely skilled, extremely talented players,” Banchero said. “Both guys I’ve known for a while. I feel like playing with them would be fun.”

We have more draft-related info:

  • Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley is the latest player to get a green room invite, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. He’s currently ranked No. 27 on ESPN’s Best Available list. There are now 22 players with green room invitations.
  • Jalen Williams has worked out for the Clippers, Warriors, Nuggets, Grizzlies, Bucks, Thunder and Spurs, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. ESPN ranks the Santa Clara guard at No. 21. Williams will soon visit the Cavaliers, Anderson adds.
  • In Basketball News’ Matt Babcock’s latest mock draft, Williams winds up with the Grizzlies at No. 22. Jabari Smith is the Magic‘s pick at No. 1.

Draft Notes: Rockets, Nuggets, Green Room, Houstan, Sharpe, Roddy

Now that they’re poised to add the No. 26 pick to their list of draft assets, the Rockets are looking into the possibility of trading up in the draft, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reports within his latest mock draft. According to O’Connor, Houston has inquired about moving up from No. 3 into one of the top two spots in the draft, and has also explored the possibility of moving up from No. 17 into the late lottery.

Like Houston, the Nuggets have agreed to acquire an extra first-round pick (No. 30) and are trying to package it with No. 21 in order to move into the middle of the first round, O’Connor writes. However, O’Connor expects Denver to have to add a young player or a future asset to its package in order to make any real headway.

O’Connor’s newest mock draft includes a few more interesting tidbits, including his suggestion that there’s still some “chatter” about teams trying to trade for the Magic‘s No. 1 overall pick.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Five more players have been invited to the green room for next Thursday’s draft, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Tari Eason, Jalen Williams, TyTy Washington, MarJon Beauchamp, and Jaden Hardy received invites, joining an initial list of 16 invitees. Of the 21 players invited to the green room, only Hardy (No. 22) and Beauchamp (No. 23) are outside of the top 21 prospects on ESPN’s big board.
  • Michigan’s Caleb Houstan, one of the only prospects to decline a combine invite this year, worked out this week for the Grizzlies and Nuggets, a source tells Givony (Twitter link). Those two teams control the last two picks of the first round.
  • Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe told reporters today that the Spurs, Thunder, and Magic are among the teams he has worked out for in the pre-draft process, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Sharpe will work out for the Pacers on Monday, a source tells James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).
  • Colorado State forward David Roddy still has workouts coming up with the Thunder and Celtics, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. By the time draft night arrives, Roddy will have visited “half the league,” Wolfson adds.

Sixers Notes: Harris, Draft Plans, Warren, Riller, J. Williams

Tobias Harris‘ large contract makes his future with the Sixers uncertain, according to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice, who takes a deep dive into what the team should do with the veteran forward.

Neubeck notes that Harris, who will make $37.63MM in 2022/23 and $39.27MM in ’23/24, has roughly twice the salary of other productive NBA starters, limiting the team’s financial flexibility. Harris also saw his offensive role reduced following the trade for James Harden, becoming more of a complementary spot-up shooter.

In 73 regular season games, Harris averaged 17.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 3.5 APG on .482/.367/.842 shooting. He had a nice postseason run, playing improved defense while averaging 16.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.9 APG and 1.1 SPG on .500/.386/.864 shooting in 12 games.

As Neubeck writes, Harris is paid like a star, but produces more like a high-end starter. Ultimately, Neubeck believes the most likely outcome is that the Sixers will hold onto Harris through next season, at which point his expiring contract in ’23/24 could make him more valuable.

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • In a separate article for PhillyVoice, Neubeck thinks the Sixers will stand pat on draft night and select a player who can step into an immediate rotation role with the No. 23 pick. However, he notes that things change quickly in the NBA, so that outcome isn’t set in stone by any means. Neubeck states that Danny Green, whose name has been floated in trade rumors, underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL roughly two weeks ago.
  • Within the same piece, Neubeck says that “talk has picked up some” that forward T.J. Warren, an unrestricted free agent this summer, could receive a relatively large, one-year, $10+MM “prove-it” deal from a rebuilding club. Warren has played just four games over the past two seasons, so the injury concerns are obvious. If he’s unable to land such a deal, Neubeck thinks the Sixers and other contending clubs will likely pursue Warren and try to sell him on rebuilding his value on a short-term deal, similar to what happened with Victor Oladipo in Miami.
  • Free agent point guard Grant Riller has a workout scheduled with the Sixers later this week, a source tells our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Riller spent time on two-way contracts with Philadelphia and Charlotte the past couple seasons. The 25-year-old was waived by the Sixers in December when he injured his shoulder, which required surgery, but he’s fully recovered now.
  • Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams could be an intriguing option if he’s still available at No. 23, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He’s ranked No. 21 on ESPN’s big board and averaged 18 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.2 APG and 1.2 SPG on .513/.396/.809 shooting for the Broncos in ’21/22.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Magic, Williams, Heat, Hawks

The Wizards are scheduled to work out six draft-eligible players on Monday, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Oklahoma’s Jordan Goldwire, Arkansas’ Chris Lykes, Kansas’ Remy Martin, Kansas State’s Mike McGuirl, Alabama’s Jaden Shackelford and Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley will attend the session.

As noted by Robbins, all six players are guards. The Wizards, who own the 10th and 54th overall picks in the draft, are coming off a season in which they finished with a 35-47 record, missing the playoffs.

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:

Northwest Notes: Eason, Connelly, Wolves, Thunder, Terry

LSU forward Tari Eason, who headlined the Trail Blazers‘ six-player workout on Friday, already has some connections to the franchise, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. A Seattle native, Eason’s high school coach was one-time Portland star Brandon Roy, and the Blazers’ roster already includes another recent LSU standout, Trendon Watford.

Although Portland likes Eason enough to see him in person, he probably won’t be in the mix for the seventh pick, which is the Blazers’ only current selection in the first round. Fentress notes that Eason has a wide variety of projections in mock drafts and has worked out for other teams ranging from Washington at No. 10 to Minnesota at No. 19. Eason says he’s tried to avoid such predictions as he prepares for draft night.

“I don’t really have a preference or really look into that sort of thing,” he said. “I don’t really get caught up in that. I just control the things that I can control.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • New Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly is approaching the draft with an open mind, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota needs more size, but may not find any attractive options with the 19th pick. The team also has three second-rounders at 40, 48 and 50 that may be used to facilitate a trade. “We feel good about adding another valuable piece, a good player at 19,” Connelly said. “There will potentially be some pretty cool opportunities to use that as a trade asset as well. Anytime you have four draft picks, it’s exciting. It’s the one day of the year where you really control what you can do, largely.”
  • Six players worked out Friday for the Timberwolves, tweets Andrew Slater of Pro Insight. They are Christian Braun of Kansas, Jordan Hall of St. Joseph’s, Dereon Seabron of North Carolina State, Jalen Williams of Santa Clara, Bryce McGowens of Nebraska and Donovan Williams of UNLV.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) tries to build an ideal draft for the Thunder using their four picks. Givony’s simulation gives Oklahoma City Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren at No. 2, Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe at No. 12, Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia at No. 30 and Khalifa Diop of Gran Canaria at No. 34.
  • Jason Terry had his interview today as the Jazz search for their next head coach, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah assistants Alex Jensen and Lamar Skeeter also interviewed this week.