Joe Wieskamp

Jazz Considered Likely To Re-Sign Mike Conley

Free agent point guard Mike Conley is likely to return to the Jazz, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic, though Jones cautions that the price tag “won’t be cheap.”

The report comes on the heels of a pair of similar stories from Tuesday. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst wrote that league executives believe Conley is most likely to remain in Utah, while Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said there’s a “strong belief” around the league that the Jazz will be able to shed some salary and make Conley a substantial offer.

The Mavericks have been cited repeatedly as one team expected to show interest in Conley, but their focus is said to be more on Kyle Lowry, which perhaps reflects their belief that Lowry will be more attainable.

As we outlined in our preview of Utah’s offseason, the team is already on the hook for nearly $130MM in guaranteed salary for nine players. Even if Conley is willing to take a pay cut after earning $34.5MM last season, a reasonable deal for him (perhaps in the neighborhood of $20MM+ per year) would push the Jazz way into luxury tax territory.

Virtually all of Utah’s biggest contracts belong to productive rotation players, so if the club wants to trim salary, it may come at the cost of a regular contributor. The Jazz have reportedly explored trades involving Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, and Derrick Favors.

Multiple reports have suggested the team could end up attaching this year’s No. 30 pick to Favors in a cost-cutting deal. Since Favors’ contract (two years, $20MM) isn’t especially unwieldy, it’s possible Utah could get a less expensive rotation player back in such a deal, though that’s just my speculation.

Here are a few more notes on the Jazz:

  • Sources tell Jones that the Jazz remain high on second-year shooting guard Elijah Hughes and believe he could play his way into the team’s 2021/22 rotation. The team likes what he brings to the table offensively and will be looking for him to show defensive improvement in Summer League play, per Jones.
  • Miles McBride, Ayo Dosunmu, and Nah’Shon Hyland are among the guards the Jazz like as possible targets if they keep the No. 30 pick, says Jones.
  • If Utah trades the No. 30 pick and remains in the draft, moving up is unlikely, but a move down is a possibility, according to Jones, who says there are multiple players the team likes in the second round. One potential second-round target would be Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp, Jones adds.

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: Early Entrant Decisions, Mintz, Obanor, Duarte

Kentucky guard Davion Mintz has withdrawn from the draft and will return to the Wildcats for another year, per an ESPN report.

Jalen Wilson (Kansas), Orlando Robinson (Fresno State), Josh Mballa (Buffalo), Moussa Cisse (Memphis), Stanley Umude (transferring to Arkansas from South Dakota), and Alex Morales (Wagner) are also pulling out of the draft in order to return to school, according to a series of tweets from Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports.

The NCAA’s early entrant deadline is July 7, so players who declared for the draft and are testing the waters will have until next Wednesday to either withdraw or keep their names in the pool.

Here’s more on the draft:

  • Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports takes a look at a dozen college programs whose rosters for 2021/22 will be affected by key decisions made on or before the July 7 early entrant withdrawal deadline.
  • Nebraska guard Dalano Banton will remain in the 2021 draft, he told Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Iowa forward Joe Wieskamp and Evansville wing Sam Cunliffe are staying in the draft too, while Coppin State wing Koby Thomas has also signed with an agent and will go pro rather than returning to school, according to Rothstein (Twitter links).
  • Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn and Oral Roberts forward Kevin Obanor have entered the transfer portal but are remaining in the draft for now, according to reports from Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com and Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). Obanor has worked out for the Warriors and Cavaliers and has auditions lined up with the Sixers and Magic, per Goodman.
  • Oregon guard Chris Duarte tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that he believes he should be a lottery pick in this year’s draft.

Hollinger’s Latest: Draft, Wiseman, Siakam, Trent, Combine

Sources who have spoken to John Hollinger of The Athletic are skeptical that the Pistons, Rockets, or Cavaliers will trade out of the top three spots in the draft.

As Hollinger notes, there are a lot of teams that figure to have interest in moving up in the draft, including several holding multiple first-round picks, such as the Magic, Thunder, and Knicks. However, it’s more difficult to find teams that will give serious consideration to moving down. Any trade up may require a substantial overpay, Hollinger adds.

Here are a few more tidbits from Hollinger following his time at the pre-draft combine in Chicago:

Full List Of 2021 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed via press release its list of 69 players who have been invited to next week’s draft combine in Chicago and who are expected to attend. The combine will take place from June 21-17.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft will opt to skip the event – most notably, presumed number one pick Cade Cunningham and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs – there are several high-profile prospects set to attend. Evan Mobley, widely considered a likely choice for the No. 2 pick as well as potential top-five picks Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green headline the class of participants this year, along with potential lottery picks Moses Moody, Corey Kispert and Scottie Barnes.

According to the press release, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills throughout the week-long event. It’s likely that the more high-profile names will focus more on the interviews than the drills.

The press release also confirms that a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp will be invited to participate in the Combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 69 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts (sophomore)
  2. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas (junior)
  3. Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State (freshman)
  4. Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State (freshman)
  5. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (junior)
  6. Brandon Boston Jr., G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. James Bouknight, G, UConn (sophomore)
  8. Greg Brown, F, Texas (freshman)
  9. Jared Butler, G, Baylor (junior)
  10. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (sophomore)
  11. Justin Champagnie, G/F, Pittsburgh (sophomore)
  12. Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  13. Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn (freshman)
  14. Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois (junior)
  15. David Duke, G, Providence (junior)
  16. Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  17. Luka Garza, C, Iowa (senior)
  18. RaiQuan Gray, F, Florida State (junior)
  19. Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Houston (junior)
  21. Sam Hauser, F, Virginia (senior)
  22. Aaron Henry, G/F, Michigan State (junior)
  23. Ariel Hukporti, C, Lithuania (born 2002)
  24. Matthew Hurt, F, Duke (sophomore)
  25. Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU (sophomore)
  26. Isaiah Jackson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  27. David Johnson, G, Louisville (sophomore)
  28. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke (freshman)
  29. Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  30. Herb Jones, F, Alabama (senior)
  31. Kai Jones, F, Texas (sophomore)
  32. Johnny Juzang, G/F, UCLA (sophomore)
  33. Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga (senior)
  34. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  35. Scottie Lewis, G, Florida (sophomore)
  36. Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan (senior)
  37. Makur Maker, C, Howard (freshman)
  38. Sandro Mamukelashvili, F/C, Seton Hall (senior)
  39. Tre Mann, G, Florida (sophomore)
  40. Matthew Mayer, G/F, Baylor (junior)
  41. Miles McBride, G, West Virginia (sophomore)
  42. Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor (junior)
  43. Evan Mobley, F/C, USC (freshman)
  44. Isaiah Mobley, F, USC (sophomore)
  45. Moses Moody, G, Arkansas (freshman)
  46. Trey Murphy III, G, Virginia (junior)
  47. Daishen Nix, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  48. John Petty Jr., G, Alabama (senior)
  49. Yves Pons, G/F, Tennessee (senior)
  50. Jason Preston, G, Ohio (junior)
  51. Joshua Primo, G, Alabama (freshman)
  52. Roko Prkacin, F, Croatia (born 2002)
  53. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (junior)
  54. Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma (senior)
  55. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova (sophomore)
  56. Terrence Shannon Jr., G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  57. Day’Ron Sharpe, F/C, North Carolina (freshman)
  58. Jericho Sims, F/C, Texas (senior)
  59. Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  60. DJ Steward, G, Duke (freshman)
  61. Cameron Thomas, G, LSU (freshman)
  62. JT Thor, F, Auburn (freshman)
  63. Isaiah Todd, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  64. Trendon Watford, F, LSU (sophomore)
  65. Joe Wieskamp, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  66. Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford (freshman)
  67. McKinley Wright IV, G, Colorado (senior)
  68. Moses Wright, F, Georgia Tech (senior)
  69. Marcus Zegarowski, G, Creighton (junior)

Cam Thomas, Joe Wieskamp Enter 2021 NBA Draft

LSU freshman guard Cameron Thomas announced on Twitter on Thursday that he will declare for the 2021 NBA draft and intends to sign with an agent.

Thomas, who joins teammates Javonte Smart and Trendon Watford in the 2021 draft pool, was the Tigers’ leading scorer in 2020/21, averaging 23.0 points per contest in 29 games (34.0 MPG). Although the 19-year-old struggled a little with his shot from the floor (40.6%) and from beyond the three-point line (32.5%), his ability to get to the free throw line (7.6 attempts per game) and make his foul shots (88.2%) was a big plus.

Thomas currently ranks 15th overall on ESPN’s big board, making him a probable first-round pick. In his scouting report on Thomas, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes that the 6’4″ shooting guard is a talented scorer but can be indifferent at times on defense, especially off the ball.

Meanwhile, Iowa swingman Joe Wieskamp – the No. 82 player on ESPN’s list – announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he’ll go through the draft process while maintaining his NCAA eligibility.

Weiskamp is coming off a junior season in which he averaged 14.8 PPG and 6.6 RPG with an impressive .462 3PT% in 31 games (29.3 MPG). If he keeps his name in the draft after testing the waters, he’ll be one of the top outside shooters available.

Draft Notes: Cunningham, Top Shooters, Todd, Nix

With the NBA G League season nearly over and the NCAA tournament around the corner, Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham remains atop experts’ big boards for the 2021 NBA draft. The freshman capped off an impressive regular season by being named the Big 12 Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, as the conference announced in a press release.

Cunningham averaged 19.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game with a .455/.425/.854 shooting line in 22 contests (35.1 MPG) in his first – and almost certainly only – college season. He’ll get a chance to further cement his claim as 2021’s top prospect in this week’s Big 12 tournament and during March Madness. Oklahoma State was banned from the postseason for a year, but their appeal to overturn that penalty is still pending, making the program eligible for the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s more on the 2021 NBA draft:

  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a look at the top shooters in the 2021 draft class, identifying WCC Player of the Year Corey Kispert (Gonzaga) as the No. 1 option. Joe Wieskamp (Iowa), Sam Hauser (Virginia), Isaiah Livers (Michigan), and Trey Murphy (Virginia) round out Vecenie’s top five.
  • The G League Ignite’s season is over, as the NBAGL’s select team – which features projected top-five picks Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga – was knocked out of the single-elimination postseason by the Raptors 905 on Monday. Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) examines what we learned about the Ignite’s prospects in the G League bubble, writing that Isaiah Todd boosted his stock with his play down the stretch, while Daishen Nix struggled a little. Todd is considered a first-round prospect by many NBA teams, but Nix is looking more like a second-rounder than a potential lottery pick, Givony adds.
  • The most recent big boards from Givony and Mike Schmitz at ESPN and from Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report have plenty of similarities in the lottery, but there are a few notable differences. Connecticut’s James Bouknight is No. 6 on Wasserman’s board and just 11th on ESPN’s, while Tennessee’s Jaden Springer is ranked 12th by Wasserman and all the way down at No. 39 by ESPN. Meanwhile, ESPN ranks Auburn’s Sharife Cooper and Kispert as top-10 prospects, while Wasserman has them 17th and 18th, respectively.

Draft Notes: Aiken, Wieskamp, Bowen, Jazz

All-Ivy League guard Bryce Aiken will take advantage of his final remaining year of NCAA eligibility and will return to Harvard for his senior season, the program announced today in a press release. Aiken had elected to test the draft waters this spring, but ultimately decided to pull out of the 2019 pool before next Wednesday’s withdrawal deadline.

“After having the opportunity to experience the NBA underclassmen process, I’m looking forward to graduating with my class next year, and, hopefully, leading Harvard basketball to unprecedented heights,” Aiken said in a statement.

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

Draft Notes: Hampton, Elite Camp, Celtics, Simonds, Hawks

RJ Hampton has decided to graduate high school early and reclassify to the Class of 2019, he told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. Hampton is the No. 4 player in ESPN’s top-100 class of early 2020 rankings, explaining his major decision to reclassify to Givony.

“I’ve decided to reclassify to the 2019 class,” Hampton told ESPN. “I am doing this because I feel that from a development standpoint, this is the right move for me at this time in order to play against the highest level of competition possible. I am eager to test myself against older and more physically developed players in order to help improve my weaknesses and prepare me for reaching the ultimate goal of playing in the NBA.”

With his decision, Hampton will enroll for college this summer and be eligible for the 2020 NBA Draft. A 6-foot-5 versatile player at 188 pounds, Hampton is one of the most promising young point guards in high school, now shifting his focus to interested schools such as Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis and Texas Tech, according to ESPN.

“This is a move we’ve been contemplating for some time and we don’t take lightly,” Hampton’s father, Rod, told ESPN. “As someone that played in college as well as professionally in Europe, I know that you can’t skip steps in a player’s development. Thankfully, because of the hard work that RJ has put in in the classroom — achieving a 3.75 GPA and a 1280 SAT — he was able to have this option. This weekend playing against the top players in high school basketball at the Nike EYBL, as well as earlier this month at USA Basketball, my wife, Markita, and I realized that RJ is ready to take the next step and challenge himself by taking the next step in level of competition.”

Here are some other draft-related notes today:

Stanford’s KZ Okpala Declares For NBA Draft

Stanford sophomore forward and potential lottery pick KZ Okpala has declared for the 2019 NBA draft, per Evan Daniels of 247Sports. Per new rules, he is permitted to sign with an NBA certified agent and still return to school if he withdraws his name by May 29.

“I have decided to declare for the NBA Draft,” Okpala said. “I have learned so much over these last two years at Stanford and am looking forward to continuing to improve along this journey. I am excited to see where it will take me.”

A rather interesting story, Okpala stood only 5’10” as a freshman in high school before spurting to a relatively incredible 6’7” as a senior. He is now listed at 6’9”. Because of his size, he wasn’t recruited by any high-major programs until late in his high school career, when Stanford saw him play on the AAU circuit.

As a sophomore this past season, Okpala averaged 16.8 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.0 APG while connecting on 36.8% of his three-point attempts. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony currently ranks Okpala as 2019’s No. 26 overall prospect, with his scouting report detailing how Okpala fits the modern NBA with his defensive versatility and greatly improved jumper. Per Givony, the 19-year-old may potentially generate some interest in back-end of the lottery.

In addition to Okpala, several other prospects have made themselves early entrants for the 2019 NBA draft: