Jared Harper

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Clippers, Hiatus, Harper

A potential championship run for the Lakers has officially been put on hold with the NBA suspending its season over coronavirus concerns, Bill Oram of The Athletic writes.

The Lakers were one of the most formidable teams of the season, dominating through 63 games and holding the best record in the Western Conference at 49-14. They only trailed the Bucks (53-12) for bragging rights of the NBA’s best record.

“Even if we’re out for a month, even if we’re out for six weeks, we can still restart the season,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week, clarifying that the season isn’t necessarily lost. “It might mean that then the Finals take place in July or late July. Just my feeling was that it was way premature to suggest that we had lost the season.”

The Lakers made several moves in order to build its current group. The franchise made a blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis, signed two-time champion Danny Green and made a pivotal decision to bring in Dwight Howard after DeMarcus Cousins ACL tear, signifying its willingness to go all-in for a championship.

The organization knows its clock is ticking, with Davis expected to enter free agency this summer and LeBron James set to turn 36 in December. Given everything that has happened to this point, it’s safe to assume the Lakers hope Silver’s reminder turns into reality.

There’s more out of Los Angeles this evening:

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report examines the biggest questions facing the Lakers if the NBA season doesn’t restart. Pincus examines the likelihood of several Lakers players opting in (including Davis), along with what value they could acquire for players such as Quinn Cook.
  • Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times details how potential championship runs for both the Clippers and Lakers remain in limbo, with the NBA naturally undecided on when (or if) the season will be resumed. The league is expected to be postponed for at least one more month as the country copes with the widespread outbreak of the coronavirus.
  • The Suns have officially waived point guard Jared Harper, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic confirms. “The G League season is over,” general manager James Jones said. “Jared’s on a one-year deal. For him to explore opportunities was something that we considered and at the end of the day, we just thought we could help him.”

Suns Reportedly Waive Jared Harper

As the NBA schedule comes to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams apparently aren’t fully halting their roster business. According to Gina Mizell of The Athletic (Twitter link), the Suns have made a minor move by releasing two-way player Jared Harper.

The motivation for the transaction – especially given the timing – is unclear, since the NBA and G League will be suspended for the foreseeable future. It’s not coronavirus-related, Mizell clarifies.

Harper, 22, signed a two-way contract with Phoenix last July after going undrafted out of Auburn. The 5’11” guard logged just eight total minutes in three NBA games for the Suns, but was in the midst of a strong season for the Northern Arizona Suns, Phoenix’s G League affiliate.

In 34 NBAGL games (28.9 MPG), Harper averaged 20.2 PPG, 5.5 APG, 2.6 RPG, and 1.1 SPG with a shooting line of .413/.362/.787.

If and when the season resumes, Phoenix won’t be permitted to sign a new two-way player to replace Harper, since the signing deadline for two-way contracts was January 15.

Suns Sign Jared Harper To Two-Way Deal

JULY 18: The Suns have officially signed Harper to a two-way contract, per RealGM’s log of NBA transactions.

JULY 17: The Suns have reached an agreement to sign undrafted rookie Jared Harper to a two-way contract, reports Gina Mizell of The Athletic (via Twitter).

A 5’11” point guard, Harper declared for the 2019 draft as an early entrant after helping lead Auburn to the Final Four as a junior. In 40 games for the Tigers, he averaged 15.3 PPG and 5.8 APG with a .399/.370/.828 shooting line.

Although Harper wasn’t selected on draft night, he caught on with Phoenix for Summer League play, averaging 10.5 PPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.5 RPG in four games in Las Vegas (21.8 MPG). The Suns liked what they saw from Harper enough to commit one of their two-way contract slots to him.

Phoenix’s other two-way contract slot remains open for now, as our tracker shows.

Draft Rumors: Trades, Knicks, Celtics, Warriors

There’s an “ongoing flurry” of trade talks involving draft picks in the 20-23 range, league sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). According to Fischer, teams like the Warriors, Nets, Kings, Mavericks, and Spurs have expressed interest in moving up into that range of the draft.

The Celtics hold the 20th and 22nd overall picks, and are unlikely to use all three of their first-rounders (they also have No. 14), so it makes sense that they’d be listening to inquiries. The Thunder are picking at No. 21 and have reportedly explored moving their pick in an effort to reduce team salary. The Grizzlies are acquiring No. 23 overall in the Mike Conley trade and are said to be listening to offers for the selection, which is their second of the first round.

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

  • The Knicks are interested in buying another second-round pick, league sources tell Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link). New York, which currently holds the No. 55 overall pick to go along with No. 3, hasn’t sent out any cash in trades so far this season, so the team has flexibility to make a move.
  • League sources tell Fischer and Jeremy Woo of SI.com (Twitter links) that the Celtics brought in six players for last-minute workouts on Wednesday: Darius Bazley, Jalen Lecque, Tremont Waters, Jordan Bone, Chris Clemons, and Jared Harper. It was the second workout with Boston for all six prospects.
  • People around the NBA are wondering how early the Warriors would be willing to draft Serbian power forward Alen Smailagic, tweets Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com. Smailagic played in the G League for Santa Cruz in 2018/19 but wasn’t draft-eligible until this year. He was shut down early in the pre-draft process and was “hidden” in Serbia from the rest of the NBA, according to Givony, who wonders if Golden State would use its newly-acquired No. 41 pick on Smailagic.
  • There are about 35 players whom various sources feel confident will be first-round picks, tweets Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. In other words, it’s tough to determine exactly which players will come off the board in the back half of the first round tonight.

Southeast Notes: Frazier, Washington, Langford

Melvin Frazier underwent successful surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right tibia, the Magic announced on their Twitter feed. The No. 35 overall pick from the 2018 draft played in just 10 games for Orlando during his rookie season.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

Bulls Notes: Point Guard, Cap Room, Workouts

Finding a solution at point guard and making savvy additions in free agency will be among the Bulls‘ goals this offseason, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN.com (Insider link) in his preview of the team’s summer.

In Marks’ view, there’s a role for Kris Dunn in Chicago, but he’s probably not the long-term solution at point guard, so the club needs to use its No. 7 overall pick or a chunk of its cap space to address the position. Coby White as a possible option at No. 7, according to Marks, who says that if Chicago doesn’t draft a point guard, the club should set aside about $13-14MM of its cap room to try to get one in free agency.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Raptors Workout, Russell, Eisley

Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard filed a federal lawsuit against Nike on Monday, claiming he designed the logo that appeared on his Nike apparel and the company copyrighted the logo without his consent, Matthew Kish of the PDX Biz Journal reports.

In a separate development that could foretell his summer plans, Leonard apparently bought property in his current NBA city, according to Michael Landsberg of TSN (hat tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). Landsberg said in a radio interview that “What we’ve heard is that he’s purchased a property in Toronto,” and that “we’ve heard this now from two different sources.” That could be an indication that Leonard, who will opt out and become a free agent this summer, plans to stick with the Raptors.

We have more news from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors will hold their fourth pre-draft workout on Tuesday, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). The list includes guards Jalen Adams (UConn) Australian William McDowell-White, Kyle Allman (Cal State Fullerton) and Jared Harper (Auburn) and  forwards Dedric Lawson (Kansas) and Dean Wade (Kansas State).
  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell expects that he’ll have to be patient in free agency, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reports. Russell will be a restricted free agent. “It’s more of just the waiting game as far as chess moves have to be made,” Russell told Lewis. “There’s a lot of big fish out there that have to find their destinations so I think I’ll [fall in line after that]. There are a lot of fish out there that need to find destinations. So whenever that time comes then I have decisions to make on my own, I think I’ll be well ready for it.”
  • Knicks assistant coach Howard Eisley is expected to join Michigan’s staff under former Heat assistant Juwan Howard, Brendan Quinn of The Athletic tweets.

Northwest Notes: J. Howard, Jazz, Nuggets, Noel

Before he reached a deal to become the new head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Juwan Howard reportedly drew interest from the Timberwolves as they considered whether to retain head coach Ryan Saunders or go in a different direction.

While Minnesota ultimately opted to retain Saunders and Howard left the NBA for a college job, the Wolverines’ new head coach revealed today that the Timberwolves’ interest was real. According to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (via Twitter), Howard said that the Wolves offered him their associate head coach position – presumably under Saunders – but he declined. “My heart is with Michigan,” he said.

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Northwest…

Draft Decisions: Bone, Harper, Simonds, Brooks, More

The NCAA’s withdrawal deadline for 2019’s early entrants is less than 12 hours away. Players who want to pull out of the draft and retain their college eligibility have until 11:59 pm eastern time tonight to officially do so.

We’re tracking all the players who have withdrawn from the draft on our early entrants list. Here are the latest decisions:

Staying in the draft:

  • Tennesee junior guard Jordan Bone announced in a video on Twitter that he’ll keep his name in the 2019 NBA draft pool. Bone is the No. 58 prospect on ESPN’s big board, making him a solid candidate to be drafted.
  • Auburn junior guard Jared Harper is expected to go pro too, keeping his name in the draft, reports Jeff Goodman of Stadium (via Twitter). Harper is at No. 64 on ESPN’s top-100 list.
  • Despite not showing up in ESPN’s top 100, Georgia State junior guard D’Marcus Simonds will also remain in the draft, forgoing his final year of his college eligibility, sources tell Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
  • Another prospect outside of ESPN’s top 100, Houston junior guard Armoni Brooks, has announced (via Twitter) that he’ll stay in the draft and begin his professional career.

Withdrawing from the draft:

  • Gonzaga got some good news on Tuesday night, as a source informed Rothstein (Twitter link) that forward Filip Petrusev will return for his sophomore season. Additionally, Goodman reports (via Twitter) that forward Killian Tillie is expected to rejoin the Zags for his senior year.
  • Freshman forward Emmitt Williams, who was one of six LSU players to test the draft waters, will head back to school for at least one more season, a source tells Goodman (Twitter link).
  • Glenville State junior forward Phil Bledsoe told Kyle Boone of CBS Sports (Twitter link) that he has withdrawn from the draft. However, as Aaron Beard of The Associated Press explains, Bledsoe may have eligibility concerns going forward, since the new NCAA rule allowing prospects to hire an agent while testing the waters only applies to D-I players, rather than D-II players like Bledsoe. Agent Jerry Dianis remains confident that the NCAA will allow Bledsoe to return for his senior year.
  • A pair of early entrants are withdrawing from the draft and transferring. UNLV freshman forward Joel Ntambwe announced (via Twitter) that he’s making the move to Texas Tech, while SMU junior guard Jimmy Whitt will return to Arkansas, where he began his college career.
  • Mississippi State forward Reggie Perry announced in a Twitter video that he’ll be back for his sophomore season.
  • Boston College forward Nik Popovic is expected to take advantage of his final year of NCAA eligibility by going back to school for his senior season, sources tell Rothstein (Twitter link).
  • Louisiana Tech junior guard DaQuan Bracey and South Florida junior guard Laquincy Rideau will both withdraw from the draft and return to school, according to a pair of tweets from Goodman.
  • Rothstein reports (via a pair of tweets) that TCU freshman center Kevin Samuel and Xavier junior guard Quentin Goodin will pull out of the draft after testing the waters.
  • Maryland junior guard Anthony Cowan is expected to withdraw from the draft tonight to return to school for one more year, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com.
  • Creighton guard Davion Mintz will report back to the Bluejays for his senior year, he tells Goodman (Twitter link). Goodman’s full list of prospects returning to school also includes UNC Greensboro junior forward James Dickey, so it appears he withdrew from the draft too.

And-Ones: Combine, Coach Challenges, World Cup

Eleven prospects who participated in this week’s G League Elite Camp in Chicago have been invited to stick around to attend the actual draft combine, which will begin today and run through this Sunday.

According to a tweet from the NBA G League, those 11 players are as follows: Oshae Brissett (Syracuse), Tyler Cook (Iowa), Terence Davis (Ole Miss), Tacko Fall (UCF), Jared Harper (Auburn), Dewan Hernandez (Miami), DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa), Terance Mann (Florida State), Cody Martin (Nevada), Reggie Perry (Mississippi State), and Marial Shayok (Iowa State).

A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects who weren’t initially invited to the draft combine worked out in front of NBA teams at the G League Elite Camp. Teams were then polled on which prospects they’d most like to get a longer look at for this week’s combine. The group of 11 prospects who were chosen will join the 65 players who were initially announced as combine participants last week.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Multiple sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe that the “liveliest” topic of discussion at Tuesday’s GM meetings involved the possibility of instituting a system for coaches’ replay challenges, which exist in many other major sports. According to Lowe, not everyone agreed on what should be reviewable, with some GMs arguing that coaches should be able to challenge foul calls, while others disagreed. There was also discussion about whether a challenge should cost a team a timeout, regardless of whether a call is reversed or upheld.
  • Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons announced this week that he intends to play for Australia in the 2019 FIBA World Cup (link via ESPN.com). He’ll be joined on the Australian squad by Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. However, Roy Ward of The Age Sport (Twitter link) hears that Ingles’ teammate Dante Exum is unlikely to participate in the event due to his knee injury.
  • The NBA and the National Basketball Coaches Association are creating a program intended to better identify and illuminate potential coaches among groups that are underrepresented, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “We are not talking about a quota system,” Mavericks coach and NBCA president Rick Carlisle told ESPN. “Rival leagues have proven that mandates and demands for diverse hiring practices do not work. Our goal is an absolute equal opportunity for all our members to develop their skills on a level playing field.”