Jonathan Isaac

Celtics Rumors: No. 3 Pick, Tatum, Isaac, Smith

With just over 24 hours until the NBA draft gets underway, one NBA executive tells Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that the Celtics may be looking into the possibility of moving down in the draft again. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets that he has heard the same thing.

Per Bulpett, most sources still believe that the Celtics’ decision will come down to Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum, but it doesn’t appear Boston is necessarily locked in on one specific player at No. 3. Jonathan Isaac has even “crept into the speculation,” according to Bulpett, who adds that another exec believes the C’s would like to find a way to end up with point guard Dennis Smith Jr. — that scenario would almost certainly involve a trade down.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • A coach from one NBA franchise tells Bulpett that if you asked 10 different teams which player Danny Ainge wants in this draft, you might get 10 different answers. “We call him the minister of disinformation,” the coach said of Ainge. “He’s putting a lot of stuff out there.”
  • Rumblings on Wednesday have indicated the Celtics may be leaning more toward Tatum than Jackson with the third overall pick. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress appears to be on board that bandwagon — his latest mock draft for The Vertical has Boston selecting Tatum at No. 3, though he acknowledges Jackson is also in the conversation.
  • The NBA’s rumor mill appears to be more active this year than it usually is prior to the draft, and the Celtics – loaded with assets of all sorts – are at the eye of the storm, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

Draft Notes: Mitchell, Jackson, Tatum, Ferguson

Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell will hold a last-minute workout for the Knicks today, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. The sophomore out of Louisville, whose session was originally scheduled for Tuesday, is being considered with the No 8 pick, Begley adds, along with French point guard Frank Ntilikina, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen and others. Team president Phil Jackson is intrigued by Mitchell’s defensive prowess and athleticism and likes the fact that he prefers to work out in a group setting to showcase his defense. Joining Mitchell today will be Villanova’s Josh Hart, Miami’s Davon Reed, Iowa State’s Naz Long and others.

There’s more draft news on the eve of the big event:

  • The Celtics have received Josh Jackson‘s medical records, but the Kansas forward still refuses to work out for the team, tweets Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Boston appears to be leaning toward Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick, Ford states, but no decision has been made.
  • Ford still has Jackson as the third selection in his latest mock draft, which was released today. Markelle Fultz remains No. 1, followed by Lonzo Ball, with the rest of the top 10 as Tatum, Jonathan Isaac, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Monk, Zach Collins and Markkanen.
  • Terrance Ferguson recently pulled out of workouts with the Pistons, Hawks and Bucks, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. It’s possible that Ferguson received a draft promise from the Nuggets or Nets or he may have been responding to poor workouts (Twitter link).
  • A 7-footer with a soft shooting touch, Markkanen is drawing comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, writes Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Some scouts believe the 20-year-old Finnish star is the best 3-point shooter in the draft. “It’s probably not fair to him to have some young guy compared to a Hall of Fame player and champion,” Markkanen said of Nowitzki. “We have similarities because of the height, being from Europe and shooting. But I have a long way to go before I’m in the same category as him. Hopefully, I can get there one day.”
  • The Wizards will work out six players today, the team announced on its website. They are French center Alpha Kaba, Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain Jr., VCU’s JeQuan Lewis, Eastern Michigan’s Jalen Ross, Niagara’s Tahjere McCall and East Tennessee State’s Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Ford’s Latest: Lakers, Suns, Kings, Magic, Mavs

Sources in Los Angeles say that the Lakers have been “moving closer and closer” in recent days to making Lonzo Ball their man at No. 2, ESPN’s Chad Ford writes in his latest mock draft (Insider-only link). However, the Suns also have legitimate interest in Ball, and have had conversations with both the Lakers and Celtics about trading up, says Ford. Phoenix has interest in Josh Jackson too, but if both Jackson and Ball come off the board in the top three and the Suns don’t move up, Ford expects Jayson Tatum to be the team’s choice.

Here are several more interesting tidbits from Ford’s latest mock:

  • The Kings have explored moving up to No. 2 or No. 3, with De’Aaron Fox as their target. Ford’s mock suggests Sacramento will have a chance to nab Fox with the No. 5 pick though.
  • The Magic have shown “serious interest” in Jayson Tatum, but Ford thinks he’ll be off the board at No. 6, and has Orlando picking Jonathan Isaac instead.
  • The Knicks and Mavericks both appear to be very high on French point guard Frank Ntilikina. Ford says not to be surprised if Dallas attempts to leapfrog New York by trading up to No. 6 or No. 7 to secure Ntilikina.
  • Ford’s newest mock forecasts a potential fall out of the top 10 for Malik Monk. ESPN’s draft guru suggests that if Monk makes it past the Timberwolves and Knicks, he could slip to the Hornets at No. 11.
  • There has been “a lot of buzz” about the possibility of OG Anunoby landing with the Nuggets, Ford writes. The injured Indiana forward is receiving interest as high as No. 10 (Kings), but Denver would be a good fit, since the Nuggets wouldn’t need him to play right away.
  • The Trail Blazers, who hold three first-round picks, continue to shop around No. 20, per Ford.

Draft Notes: Briscoe, Fox, Ferguson, Artis

Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe had to cancel his remaining workouts because of an ankle injury, according to Adam Zagoria of FanRagSports. The scheduled sessions were with the Lakers, Kings, Bucks and Pacers. Briscoe had reportedly been impressive in workouts with the Knicks, Sixers and a few other teams. DraftExpress lists Briscoe 71st in its list of top 100 prospects.

There’s more draft-related news as the clock winds down toward Thursday:

  • De’Aaron Fox, Briscoe’s backcourt partner at Kentucky, is intrigued by the prospect of joining former Wildcats Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in Phoenix, writes Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated. The Suns hold the No. 4 pick, but seem unlikely to take another guard unless they make a trade to clear out their already overcrowded backcourt. Fox, who is considered a top five pick, sees the Lakers at No. 2 as another possibility. “I’ve heard they’re trying to move D’Angelo [Russell] to the 2,” he says. “Even if he does play point, I feel like we could play together. A lot of teams play two point guards anyway.” Fox touches on several other subjects, including his rivalry with UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, in a wide-ranging piece.
  • Regardless of the order, the first five picks in the draft appear to be set, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Turner talked to several league executives and found a consensus. After Washington’s Markelle Fultz is taken at No. 1, Ball, Fox, Kansas’ Josh Jackson and Duke’s Jayson Tatum will round out the top five. However, some believe Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac has a shot at being the fifth pick.
  • Terrance Ferguson, who is projected as the Nets‘ pick at No. 27 in the latest mock drafts from DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com, will work out for Brooklyn today, according to NetsDaily.com (Twitter link).
  • Pitt’s Jamel Artis has scheduled workouts today with the Pistons and Monday with the Thunder, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Jazz held a workout Saturday that could be their last one before the draft, relays Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Baylor’s Johnathan Motley was the highest-ranked prospect on hand, joined by Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss, Houston’s Damyean Dotson, North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks, La Salle’s Jordan Price and Southeast Missouri State’s Antonius Cleveland. “It was great,” Motley said. “Played with a lot of energy, played good defensively and shot the ball well during the workout. I think I did pretty good.”

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Divac, Suns Pre-Draft Workouts

The Clippers could be a drastically different team next season as Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and J.J. Redick could leave for greener pastures this offseason. While Paul is a long shot to depart, Griffin and Redick are far from guaranteed to stay in Los Angeles. James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders examines Griffin’s options as he considers potential suitors.

The Celtics are an intriguing possibility as they have the No.1 pick in the NBA Draft, a budding superstar in Isaiah Thomas, and a young core of talented assets. Griffin, 28, can think long-term with a younger team in Boston and if Thomas departs after next season, he could become the primary option in Beantown.

Additionally, the Heat are a possibility as the team’s history luring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami shows a commitment to winning. While the Heat lack Boston’s young assets, Blancarte explains that playing under Erik Spoelstra — who is known to bring out the best in his players — and being the definitive centerpiece in South Beach is an appealing proposition.

Here are additional links around the Pacific Division:

Draft Rumors: Jackson, Kennard, Isaac, Smith Jr.

Although foot issues have prevented former Duke guard Frank Jackson from working out for teams in recent weeks, he has been visiting and meeting with several clubs, per Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Deveney reports that the Hawks, Knicks, and Jazz have all brought in Jackson.

Elsewhere in his piece, Deveney provides updates on OG Anunoby and Luke Kennard, writing that the Lakers are holding out hope that Anunoby will fall to them at No. 28, though he’s receiving interest from plenty of teams picking earlier. As for Kennard, one scout who spoke to Deveney wasn’t overly bullish on Kennard’s ability to sneak into the top 10.

“I understand that everyone wants shooters,” the scout said of Kennard. “No one questions that the kid can shoot. But I can’t see him becoming a good defender. You just hope that he develops into a neutral defender, that he does not hurt you. He might go in the lottery in this draft because of the way he can shoot, but in most drafts he is more down in the late teens.”

Here are a few more draft-related rumors and notes from around the league:

Pacific Notes: J. Jackson, Isaac, Tatum, Thompson

The Suns potentially have a difficult decision to make when they find themselves on the clock with the fourth overall pick, writes Doug Haller of AZCentral Sports. Three talented freshman small forwards could be available: Josh Jackson, Jonathan Isaac, and Jayson Tatum. Defense and three-point shooting are likely the Suns’ two most glaring weaknesses, and one of these athletes could certainly help.

Haller writes that Jackson’s real impact could come defensively. The scribe adds that, while Tatum is nowhere near the defender that Jackson is, the Duke freshman may be the most polished scorer in the draft. As for Isaac, he can play both forward positions, with many believing that he will also be able to man the center position when his body fills out. Furthermore, the departing Seminole would contribute defensive versatility, having defended all over the floor for Florida State.

Here are some more pertinent notes from the Pacific division:

Pacific Notes: Kerr, Pachulia, Ball, Suns

Steve Kerr isn’t expected to coach the Warriors in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, but he will accompany the team on its trip to San Antonio, according to Connor Letourneau of SFGate. GM Bob Myers relayed the news in a radio interview today. It’s the latest sign of improving health for Kerr, who watched from the locker room during Game 2 in Oakland. He has been out of action since health problems stemming from his 2015 back surgery forced him to leave the team midway through its first-round series. Lead assistant Mike Brown has guided the team to an 8-0 record in his place.

There’s more tonight from the Pacific Division:

  • Spurs fans may get a chance to vent their anger at Warriors center Zaza Pachulia after all. Pachulia, who became a villain in San Antonio after his collision with Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 aggravated the Spurs star’s sprained ankle, left Game 2 in the first quarter with a right heel contusion. Pachulia underwent an MRI today, which came back negative, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. Pachulia is listed as day-to-day.
  • Many experts believe the Lakers should grab Lonzo Ball with their No. 2 pick, writes Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Although Washington’s Markelle Fultz is considered a standout choice to be taken first, Ball is “potentially a transformational-type point guard,” according to Stu Jackson of Turner Sports. “What makes him special are the same qualities that made a guy like Magic Johnson or Jason Kidd special,” Jackson said. “Lonzo sees plays most players don’t see.”
  • The Suns were among the losers in Tuesday’s lottery, but they still have plenty of attractive draft options, according to Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix entered the night with the second-best shot at a No. 1 pick, but slid to fourth as the Lakers and Sixers both moved up. Haller states that Suns fans can console themselves with the possible addition of Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, Kansas’ Josh Jackson, Duke’s Jayson Tatum or Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac. Opting for Fox, Haller notes, would probably make Eric Bledsoe expendable in a trade.

Heat Notes: Wade, Bosh, J. Johnson, Draft

Udonis Haslem and Tyler Johnson made a public appearance today to help Dwyane Wade sell sneakers, but they avoided questions about whether their former teammate might rejoin them with the Heat, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Wade is considering whether to opt out of his $23.8MM contract with the Bulls for next season. If he does, many believe he will decide to return to Miami, where he spent his first 13 seasons. Haslem and Johnson have both been in touch with Wade since Chicago was eliminated from the playoffs last week. “He’s going to have to make the best decision for him,” Johnson said. “I know he wants to be in a situation where he’s playing for a team that’s kind of established. I don’t think he wants to go through a rebuilding process.”
There’s more news out of Miami:
  • The Heat are expected to petition the league office soon to have Chris Bosh‘s salary removed from their cap. Bosh was kept on the roster all season after failing a physical in training camp over blood clot problems that have plagued him for the past two seasons. Haslem tells Winderman in the same story that he has contacted Bosh but hasn’t discussed his NBA future. “Chris is one of those guys, when he puts his mind it, he can do anything,” Haslem said. “So he doesn’t lack opportunity. He’s going to have a lot of opportunity to do a lot of things. He’s a very well-rounded guy. And whatever he does, he’s going to be great at it.” If Bosh is able to play enough games for another team, his $52MM salary would be put back onto the Heat’s cap.
  • Free agent forward James Johnson may not be guaranteed a starting job if he re-signs with the Heat this summer, Winderman speculates in another piece. With Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic both starting, Johnson may give Miami too many players on the court at the same time who need to handle the ball. Also, Justise Winslow may claim one of the starting forward slots when he returns from injury.
  • Winderman examines who the Heat might take if they keep the No. 14 pick in the May 16th lottery. Players who have been linked to Miami in that spot include Duke’s Harry Giles, UCLA’s T.J. Leaf, North Carolina’s Justin Jackson, California’s Ivan Rabb, Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac, Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, Indiana’s OG Anunoby, Duke’s Luke Kennard, Wake Forest’s John Collins and two overseas players, Terrence Ferguson of Australia and Frank Ntilikina of France.

Tatum, Monk, Other Top Prospects To Skip Combine

10:09pm: V.J. Beachem, Nigel Hayes, Peter Jok, Derrick Walton and Chris Boucher, originally alternative invitees, have now made the official NBA combine list, sources tell Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter).

9:19pm: Lonzo Ball won’t be the only top prospect skipping this year’s NBA draft combine. According to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter), a handful of other standout prospects expected to be top-10 picks won’t participate in the event next week in Chicago.

[RELATED: Lonzo Ball to skip combine]

Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk, Josh Jackson, Lauri Markkanen, Jonathan Isaac, and Dennis Smith Jr. will skip this year’s combine, Charania reports. While none of those players are quite as highly regarded as Ball, most are in the tier right below him — DraftExpress, which has Ball at No. 2 on its big board, ranks those six players between Nos. 3 and 9.

The mass exodus from this year’s combine leaves Markelle Fultz and De’Aaron Fox as the only elite prospects whose status for the event hasn’t been reported. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either player – particularly Fultz – skip the combine, as more and more players in recent years have passed on attending and haven’t seen their draft stocks suffer as a result.

For a player like Ball, there’s little upside to attending the combine, since he’s already viewed as a near-lock to be a top-two pick. The event has more appeal to prospects whose stocks aren’t as high, since they could potentially move up a few spots on teams’ draft boards if they have a strong week in Chicago.

As Bobby Marks of The Vertical tweets, the league’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement indicates that the NBA and NBPA have agreed to work on a solution to address this issue.

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