James Bouknight

Draft Rumors: Top Picks, Kuminga, Trade Talks, Pacers, Jazz

The top three picks appear set as the draft draws closer, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. We shared the news earlier today that the Pistons have decided to take Cade Cunningham with the first overall selection, and sources tell Woj that the Rockets “continue to trend toward” Jalen Green, while the Cavaliers are doing the same with Evan Mobley.

Those three selections have been been expected for a while, with most mock drafts listing Cunningham, Green and Mobley in that order. It appears that only an outrageous offer from a team looking to move up can add any drama to the very top of tonight’s draft, but the Cavs are sending out signals that they plan to keep their pick, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  •  Jonathan Kuminga‘s fate remains a mystery, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Once considered a possible top five pick, Kuminga’s stock has fallen in recent weeks, and Givony says teams are still debating where to rank him on their final boards. The Thunder at No. 6, the Warriors at No. 7 and the Magic at No. 8 are all considered possibilities, but Givony cautions that Kuminga could fall out of the top 10.
  • Several teams have been hoping to trade their way into the top 10, but right now it looks as if that won’t happen, Givony adds (Twitter link). James Bouknight, Franz Wagner and Josh Giddey have risen up draft boards, causing the teams holding those picks to consider them more valuable.
  • The Pacers have gained traction in possible deals to trade down or out of the first round entirely, but any move probably won’t be finalized until after the draft begins, tweets draft expert Chad Ford. Possible trade partners include the Knicks, Thunder and a “mystery team.”
  • The Jazz are willing to trade the final pick of the first round, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team is having trade discussions, but there’s one player who may be on the board that would make them consider keeping the pick.

O’Connor’s Latest: Nuggets, Grizzlies, Warriors, Kings, Hornets

Within his latest mock draft, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer confirms a few items we’ve heard elsewhere in recent days. According to O’Connor, Jalen Green‘s workout with the Pistons last week was “outstanding,” the Jazz are willing to attach the No. 30 pick to Derrick Favors in a potential trade, and league sources widely expect Scottie Barnes to be the Magic‘s pick at No. 5.

O’Connor also reiterates that the Rockets continue to explore moving up to No. 1 and says the Thunder have made efforts to trade up, with Green, Cade Cunningham, and Evan Mobley among their presumed targets.

Here are a few more notes of interest from O’Connor’s latest article:

  • League sources tell O’Connor that the Nuggets are trying to move up from No. 26 into the top 20, dangling young bench players or future draft assets in those talks.
  • Although O’Connor confirms that the Grizzlies are interested in Josh Giddey after trading up to No. 10, he says Memphis could try to move up even further, with an eye on Jonathan Kuminga or James Bouknight.
  • Giddey, Kuminga, and Bouknight could also be in the mix for the Warriors at No. 7, according to O’Connor, who says Giddey is thought to be one of Golden State’s “main targets.” O’Connor adds that Keon Johnson‘s ceiling may be the Warriors’ pick at No. 7.
  • The Kings continue to be active in shopping the No. 9 pick, Buddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley III in separate trade scenarios, per O’Connor.
  • League sources continue to connect the Hornets, who will be seeking a center this summer, to Myles Turner, Richaun Holmes, and Nerlens Noel, according to O’Connor.

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Cunningham, Green, Magic, Pelicans, More

Speaking today to reporters, including Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link), Pistons general manager Troy Weaver confirmed that the team hasn’t made a final decision on what it will do with the No. 1 overall pick.

[RELATED: Pistons Still Mulling Options With No. 1 Pick]

The Pistons have long been expected to select Cade Cunningham with that top pick, and the Oklahoma State guard remains the overwhelming favorite to be the choice. However, John Hollinger of The Athletic has heard whispers that Detroit wasn’t blown away by Cunningham’s private workout, while Marc Stein says Jalen Green‘s workout for the team “made the strongest of impressions.”

Even if those reports are accurate, it’s hard to imagine the Pistons selecting Green over Cunningham with the No. 1 pick. A trade down to No. 2 is a possibility if Detroit really likes Green. But for what it’s worth, Weaver provided a reminder today that not everything you hear leading up to the draft will be accurate.

“I don’t comment on rumors, but don’t believe everything that you read,” the Pistons’ GM said (Twitter link via James Edwards III of The Athletic). “… The rumor mill does nothing for us right now.”

Here’s more on the 2021 NBA draft:

  • The Magic brought Stanford’s Ziaire Williams back for a second workout during the pre-draft process and some rival teams think Orlando may be eyeing him at No. 8, says Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Two league sources who spoke to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic also believe the Magic have Williams “very high” on their board.
  • According to Vecenie, sources around the league view some of the draft’s top “older” shooters – such as Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy, and Chris Duarte – as likely targets for the Pelicans at No. 17. However, there’s no guarantee New Orleans keeps that pick after acquiring it from Memphis. Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link) says the Pelicans could look to move down again or may shop that selection for veteran help.
  • There’s a belief that the Raptors are high on Evan Mobley, but they’d almost certainly have to trade up from No. 4 to get him and it seems unlikely they’ll be willing to pay that price, says Vecenie.
  • Vecenie is the latest to report that the Thunder are fans of James Bouknight, who could be the team’s pick at No. 6. However, Hollinger is unconvinced that the chatter surrounding Bouknight and the Thunder isn’t a smokescreen — he has Jonathan Kuminga going to the OKC at No. 6 in his mock draft.

Draft Rumors: Spurs, Pacers, Knicks, Nets, Duarte, Warriors, More

Reports in recent weeks identified the Nos. 9 and 10 picks in the draft as two of the most available lottery picks. New Orleans agreed on Monday to move the 10th pick to Memphis, while the Kings‘ pick at No. 9 continues to be viewed as available, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

In addition to Sacramento’s pick, the Spurs‘ (No. 12) and Pacers‘ (No. 13) selections are among the lottery choices that could be had, according to Fischer, who suggests that both teams are viewed as candidates to move back into the mid-teens or early 20s if the price is right.

As for which teams picking later in the first round might be looking to move up, Fischer says the Knicks (Nos. 19 and 21), Rockets (Nos. 23 and 24), and Nets (No. 27) fit that bill. Brooklyn has been willing to discuss shooting guard Landry Shamet in trade talks, Fischer adds.

Here are a few more draft-related rumors and notes:

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report is the latest reporter to indicate that Chris Duarte is unlikely to fall past the No. 15 pick on Thursday. The Lakers are among the teams that have shown interest in Duarte and have looked into possibly moving up in the draft, Wasserman notes.
  • James Bouknight, Duarte, Trey Murphy, and Jonathan Kuminga are among the prospects the Warriors are eyeing, says Wasserman. While Kuminga isn’t necessarily NBA-ready, there’s support for him within Golden State’s front office from those who consider his upside too significant to pass up, Wasserman adds.
  • The Warriors turned down a Knicks offer of the Nos. 19 and 21 picks for the No. 14 selection, per Wasserman.
  • Some teams outside the top 10 believe Michigan forward Franz Wagner has assurances he’ll be selected in the top 10, according to Wasserman. The Kings at No. 9 are considered a strong candidate for Wagner if they keep their pick.
  • Both Wasserman and Matt Babcock of BasketballNews.com continue to suggest the Raptors aren’t a lock to draft Jalen Suggs at No. 4, since the team has done “extensive homework” on Scottie Barnes.
  • Alabama’s Joshua Primo and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu are two of the prospects Wasserman has heard linked to the Nuggets at No. 26.
  • Alperen Sengun has a good chance of being a lottery pick, according to Babcock, who says the Turkish big man could be picked as high as No. 8 by the Magic.

More On Grizzlies/Pelicans Trade

The Grizzlies and Pelicans made a significant splash today, agreeing to the first trade of NBA draft week. As we previously relayed, Memphis will ship center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 selections in the 2021 draft to New Orleans for center Steven Adams, guard Eric Bledsoe, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks, plus the Lakers’ top-10 protected 2022 first-round pick.

The top-10 protected 2022 Lakers pick will become two second-rounders if it doesn’t convey in next year’s draft, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The protection was previously reported, but the two second-rounders element was not.

It appears that the Grizzlies may not be done dealing, as they look to continue to build their roster around promising point guard Ja Morant and intriguing big man Jaren Jackson Jr. Morant led the Grizzlies to their first playoff appearance since the 2016/17 season this year. Memphis fell 4-1 in the first round to the Jazz.

According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer (Twitter link), the Grizzlies may be looking to move up even higher in the lottery ahead of Thursday’s draft. Memphis could be trying to add NBA G League Ignite forward Jonathan Kuminga or Connecticut guard James Bouknight, per O’Connor.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN adds (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies also auditioned Arkansas guard Moses Moody during a private Los Angeles work out last week, apparently expecting to move into the lottery even at the time. Givony adds (Twitter link) that Michigan forward Franz Wagner, projected to be selected as high as the No. 7 pick, could be a potential Grizzlies target. Adelaide point guard Josh Giddey is another apparent prospect for Memphis, as previously noted.

New Grizzlies guard Bledsoe, who had a down season during his lone year with the Pelicans, is not anticipated to remain in Memphis next season, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

It is not at present clear if Bledsoe, a two-time All-Defensive Team selection, will be traded or will be waived (and possibly stretched). The Grizzlies would most likely need to attach assets in any trade of Bledsoe.

Luke Adams contributed to this report.

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.

Pacific Notes: Holmes, Schröder, Kuzma, Warriors, More

Speaking to Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link), Kings center Richaun Holmes said he’s excited to enter free agency this summer, since he’s “never really been in a position like this before.”

The last time Holmes was a free agent, he had just spent a year as a backup in Phoenix. This time around, he’s coming off a full season as a starter, having averaged 14.2 PPG and 8.3 RPG in 61 games (29.2 MPG) with Sacramento.

“I could fit anywhere,” Holmes told Charania. “The way I play, what I bring, any team is going to need that. Especially playoff teams. That’s something that’s going to be sought after.”

Holmes added that the best piece of advice he has received entering free agency is to do what’s best for him and his family. It remains to be seen whether that will result in a new deal with the Kings, who won’t have the ability to offer him a starting salary worth more than about $10-11MM unless they can create some cap room.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • League sources tell Jordan Schultz of ESPN (Twitter link) that Lakers point guard Dennis Schröder and forward Kyle Kuzma “feuded” throughout the 2020/21 season, with things worsening during the playoffs. Schröder is an unrestricted free agent and Kuzma is a trade candidate, so it’s possible that one or both players could join a new team this offseason.
  • UConn shooting guard James Bouknight, who could be an option for the Warriors if they keep the No. 7 pick, had a “great” workout with Golden State on Monday, tweets David Borges of Hearst Connecticut Media. Bouknight ranks eighth on ESPN’s big board of 2021 prospects.
  • The acquisition of Chris Paul and the continued development of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges were major factors in the Suns becoming a legitimate title contender, but head coach Monty Williams‘ role in the team’s improvement shouldn’t be overlooked, writes Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer.

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:

Draft Notes: Green Room Invites, Makur, Taylor, Draft Intel

The NBA has finalized the list of 20 prospects who will be invited to the Green Room on draft night, writes ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. While 15 of the names had already been reported, the final five players were identified over the last two days: Chris Duarte, Cameron Thomas, Isaiah Jackson, Alperen Sengun and Ziaire Williams will round out the group.

While an invitation to the Green Room is no guarantee of being drafted in the top 20, the decision is considered to be an indication of teams’ thinking, as the invitations are determined through a series of conversations with general managers and a voting process where teams vote on the 25 prospects most likely to have their name called first, Givony writes.

We have more news from around the draft world:

  • Howard University’s Makur Maker has withdrawn from the draft, tweets draft analyst Chad Ford. The 6’11 forward flashed versatility at the NBA Combine, but his draft stock was still hazy. Because he missed the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline, Maker will likely pursue professional options, whether in the G League, Australia’s NBL, or elsewhere.
  • Terry Taylor worked out with the Bucks yesterday and the Nuggets today, tweets Adam Zagoria of Forbes. Taylor has workouts lined up with the Nets, Cavaliers and Mavericks this week, and already worked out for the Knicks, Warriors, Kings, Pacers, Grizzlies, Bulls, Spurs and Pelicans. The 6’5″ wing led the country in double-doubles, Zagoria notes.
  • Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo released his latest mock draft today, sharing some pieces of intel gathered from sources. Within his mock, Woo confirms that the prevailing notion is that the Rockets prefer Jalen Green to Evan Mobley, that the Thunder are being increasingly linked to James Bouknight, that the Magic covet Scottie Barnes, and that Jonathan Kuminga‘s range seems to be settling around six-to-eight, rather than being a top-five pick.