James Bouknight

Southeast Notes: Yurtseven, Bouknight, Haslem, Magic

Heat center Omer Yurtseven has gone through his fair share of highs and lows during the team’s summer league in Las Vegas this month, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Yurtseven, a promising 23-year-old from Turkey, recently signed a two-year contract with the Heat. Miami envisions him as part of its future, featuring him heavily throughout summer league to this point.

“I think it’s been a lot of learning, like watching the film and taking it all in,” Yurtseven said. “I’m still making those adjustments inside the game. All the coaches have been in my ear and also, OG, Udonis Haslem has been with us like for the last two, three games just giving advice.

“More reps and more reps, it’s just going to translate into the regular season.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Hornets rookie James Bouknight was recently inspired by a surprise phone call from team owner Michael Jordan, Jonathan Alexander of the Charlotte Observer writes. The 20-year-old had a poor game on Monday, spoke to Jordan and bounced back for Thursday’s game against San Antonio. Bouknight finished with 23 points and eight assists against the Spurs.
  • In his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman explores whether Udonis Haslem could get more minutes with the Heat this season. The 41-year-old Haslem recently re-signed with Miami, committing to his 19th NBA season.
  • The Magic‘s less proven players are looking to make their marks in summer league, Josh Cohen of NBA.com writes. “I think it’s a great opportunity,” said coach Jamahl Mosley. “We talked about it coming into summer league. Talking about guys learning the habits, getting the fundamentals down. Try to see the things that we are putting in place and how do they respond to it. With Jalen [Suggs] being out, how do other guys get their opportunity to do things that we’ve asked them to do.”

Hornets Notes: Oubre, I. Smith, Li. Ball, Summer League

Kelly Oubre‘s two-year deal with the Hornets, which was completed using cap space, is worth $12MM and $12.6MM in year two, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. That second year is only partially guaranteed for $5MM, however, so the agreement includes just $17MM in total guaranteed money.

Meanwhile, Ish Smith‘s two-year contract with the Hornets uses most of the club’s room exception, according to Smith (Twitter link). It starts at $4.5MM in 2021/22, while the $4.725MM salary for ’22/23 is non-guaranteed.

Here’s more on the Hornets:

  • LiAngelo Ball, who is playing for the Hornets’ Summer League team in Las Vegas, said he’s “very thankful” for the opportunity and isn’t taking it for granted, as Rod Boone of SI.com writes. Ball was supposed to play for Oklahoma City’s G League affiliate in March 2020 before the pandemic stopped the season. He impressed Charlotte’s brass while working out in the gym with his brother LaMelo Ball in recent months, Boone writes.
  • Ball’s performance in Las Vegas is one of a handful of Hornets Summer League storylines to watch, according to Jonathan M. Alexander of The Charlotte Observer, who says he’ll also be keeping an eye on James Bouknight‘s three-point shooting and how much time Kai Jones spends at center.
  • In case you missed it, the Hornets are still believed to be eyeing restricted free agent Lauri Markkanen, despite no longer having the cap room necessary to sign him to an offer sheet.

Hornets Sign James Bouknight, Kai Jones

The Hornets have officially signed their two first-round picks, finalizing deals with former UConn guard James Bouknight and former Texas big man Kai Jones, according to a team press release.

Bouknight was taken with the 11th pick after averaging 18.7 PPG and 5.7 RPG in his sophomore season as an athletic shooting guard carrying a major offensive load. He showcased tough shot-making ability, elite athleticism and a nose for getting himself open off cuts and off-ball movement. The highlight of his season was a 40-point game against the ninth-ranked Creighton.

Jones, another sophomore, gained steam as a first-round pick throughout the season, and was at times even considered a potential lottery pick, due to his combination of athleticism, fluidity, and burgeoning offensive skillset, including a promising-looking jump shot. The Hornets traded a protected future first round pick to the Knicks to get the No. 19 pick to select Jones.

According to the team’s press release, Jones became just the fifth Bahamian player ever selected in the NBA draft.

Bouknight’s deal is expected to start at approximately $4.1MM and be worth approximately $19.1MM over its duration, while Jones’ is expected to start at around $2.7MM and will be worth approximately $13.4MM.

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.