Josh Christopher

Pacific Notes: Ayton, K. Jones, Lakers, Warriors

Deandre Ayton, fresh off of his first NBA Finals appearance with the Suns, is eligible for a five-year, $168MM max contract that would kick in at the start of the 2022/23 season, and Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic takes a look at what could be next for the big man.

Ayton’s career lows in PPG and APG were a result more of the context of adding Chris Paul and reorganizing the offense, rather than any regression on Ayton’s end, Rankin writes. In fact, Ayton’s growth as a team-first player willing to do whatever it takes for the success of the Suns adds even more appeal for the club as it decides if it will offer him a max deal.

If sacrificing is leading the wins and where we are today, I’ll sacrifice everything, you know what I’m saying,” Ayton said. “Everything (Paul’s) told me has led up to here, so why stop now?

We have more news from the Pacific Division:

Sixers Likely To Trade No. 28 Pick?

The Sixers have had discussions about moving the No. 28 pick in the 2021 NBA draft and are open to trading that selection in a deal for future assets or a veteran contributor, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com, who first reported that the 76ers were exploring trading their first-round selection, hears from a source that there’s a “very good chance” the pick is on the move on or before draft night. Philadelphia’s goal, Neubeck notes, is to add another starter-level player to its rotation, so even if the team trades No. 28 for future assets, it may look to flip those assets for a veteran.

Although the Sixers could be a taxpayer in 2021/22 and the No. 28 pick would give them the opportunity to add an inexpensive young player to the roster, the team feels it doesn’t have a ton of extra “developmental reps” to offer, says Neubeck. Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Paul Reed, and Isaiah Joe are among the young players who will be competing for rotation minutes next season.

Still, the 76ers continue to take a closer look at players who could be options at No. 28, in case they hang onto the pick. Pompey reports that Arizona State wing Josh Christopher, who ranks 33rd on ESPN’s big board, recently visited and worked out for the team.

If the Sixers do move the No. 28 pick, it won’t necessarily be involved in or related to a Ben Simmons trade, according to Neubeck, who says nothing much has changed on that front.

Philadelphia continues to set a high asking price in discussions involving Simmons and isn’t interested in trading him for a package made up of role players and draft assets. For instance, Neubeck says the Sixers wouldn’t be interested in dealing with the Kings if De’Aaron Fox wasn’t included in Sacramento’s offer. If the 76ers stick to that stance, it’s probably safe to assume Simmons won’t be a King.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Barton, Edwards, Nuggets Workouts

Keeping Mike Conley is a top priority for the Jazz, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic in his off-season primer, but there are plenty of other questions beyond that facing this year’s No. 1 seed in the West.

One such question will be if the Jazz can hit on the 30th pick in the draft. While it’s not historically a wellspring for players who can help a team with championship ambitions, this is a deep draft and there are plenty of examples of success stories at that spot, such as Jimmy Butler, Kevin Porter Jr.., Kevon Looney, and Kyle Anderson, among others.

There’s also the question of their current young players on the roster. Though Donovan Mitchell is the only young player who is a member of the team’s core, the Jazz will have to decide which other youngsters they keep and try to develop, and which they let go.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Will Barton of the Nuggets was cagey about the topic of his impending player option deadline and whether he’ll look to enter free agency, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.  “Being appreciated,” Barton said of what he’s looking for in free agency. “Team knowing my value. Of course, an important role. Just the right situation. I want to win.” Barton will have to decide whether he picks up his $14.6MM player option by July 17.
  • The Timberwolves have brought Anthony Edwards back to Minnesota for an injury evaluation, reports Christina Long of The Star Tribune. Edwards was among the players chosen to practice with Team USA as part of the Select Team, but was seen limping off the floor last week. A Star Tribune source reports that the injury is non-knee related, and is a sprain.
  • The Nuggets held a workout for six draft prospects yesterday, tweets Mike Singer: Josh Christopher, Quentin Grimes, Jason Preston, Duane Washington, Jordan Goodman, and Matt Coleman. Of the six, Christopher and Grimes are the highest-ranked, and either one could potentially be in play when the Nuggets are on the board with the 26th pick.

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:

Wizards Notes: Nored, Coaching Search, Beal, Workouts

The Wizards recently conducted a second interview with Ronald Nored for their head coaching job, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

A report last week indicated that Nored was close to leaving his position as a Hornets assistant for a role on Rick Carlisle‘s staff in Indiana. Haynes’ report today suggests Nored may still be in the running for Washington’s top job — presumably, if he isn’t hired by the Wizards, the 31-year-old will pivot to finalizing a deal with the Pacers.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Besides Nored, the Wizards’ top head coaching candidates are believed to be Wes Unseld Jr., Charles Lee, Darvin Ham, and Jamahl Mosley (who may be hired by the Magic). Fred Katz of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at those four contenders for the job to assess what they could bring to the organization.
  • Before the Wizards finalize their head coaching hire, general manager Tommy Sheppard will meet with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook to get their feedback on the finalists, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
  • Within the same NBC Sports Washington story, Beal says he appreciated the five years he spent playing for Scott Brooks. “When I first got the news (Brooks wouldn’t return), it was tough,” Beal said. “Scotty was great. This is my second coach I’ve played for and even when I talked to him afterwards, (I said) how grateful I was towards him. He helped change my game and evolved my game to what it is now.”
  • The Wizards are working out a pair of guards today, according to Hughes, who tweets that Arizona State’s Josh Christopher and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu are visiting the team. Christopher and Dosunmu rank 33rd and 34th, respectively, on ESPN’s big board for the 2021 draft, so it seems like a long shot that the Wizards would select either with the No. 15 pick.

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)

Draft Notes: Giddey, Pro Days, Combine, G League Elite Camp

Potential lottery pick Josh Giddey isn’t expected to attend the NBA draft combine in Chicago or any pre-draft workouts, tweets Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Instead, scouts will get a look at Giddey later this month when his Australian team travels to Las Vegas for exhibition games with Team USA, Spain, Nigeria and Argentina.

The 6’8″ shooting guard has been moving up draft boards and ranks No. 13 on ESPN’s latest list of prospects. Giddey, 18, played this season with the Adelaide 36ers and averaged 10.9 points, 7.1 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

Draft Notes: Edwards, Alatishe, Cunningham, Mobley, More

Pepperdine junior forward Kessler Edwards has decided to enter his name into the 2021 NBA draft pool, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. While Edwards is maintaining his college eligibility for now, he expects to ultimately keep his name in the draft.

“I don’t think there’s a number in particular that I need to stay in the draft,” he told ESPN. “I’m hoping to receive interest from multiple teams and assurances that I would getting a solid deal and not end up being a free agent that no one picks up. I’m planning on going pro, going through this thing. I feel like most of these teams haven’t seen me in person and the work I’m doing getting ready in terms of my body, measurements and how I play on the court.”

Edwards, who is the No. 48 overall prospect on ESPN’s big board, has an intriguing combination of size, defensive versatility, and outside shooting that appeals to NBA teams, says Givony. In 27 games (33.9 MPG) in 2020/21, Edwards averaged 17.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG on .491/.378/.876 shooting.

Let’s round up a few more draft-related items…

  • Oregon State junior forward Warith Alatishe has decided to test the draft waters, a source tells Givony (Twitter link). The MVP of this year’s Pac-12 tournament, Alatishe averaged 9.5 PPG and 8.6 RPG in 33 games (27.4 MPG) for the Beavers in 2020/21.
  • Even though Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs had more memorable runs in the NCAA tournament, scouts and evaluators still widely view Cade Cunningham as this year’s probable No. 1 pick, writes Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Mobley, Suggs, and Jalen Green are very likely to be the next three players off the board, though there’s still no consensus on the order, according to Wasserman, who says Mobley may have the slight edge at No. 2.
  • Within the same story, Wasserman examines the mixed opinions that evaluators have about a handful of draft prospects, including Davion Mitchell, Josh Christopher, and Cameron Thomas. He also suggests that Florida State forward RaiQuan Gray is a potential riser to watch during the pre-draft process, adding that Gray looks like a top-40 pick.

Draft Updates: Christopher, Liddell, Akinjo, More

Arizona State shooting guard Josh Christopher is entering the 2021 NBA draft, he announced late last night on Twitter.

The 6’5″ freshman played just 15 games for the Sun Devils, having missed 10 due to leg and back issues. When he played, he averaged 14.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.5 SPG on .432/.305/.800 shooting. Despite his limited résumé at the college level, Christopher looks like a good bet to be drafted, currently ranking 37th overall on ESPN’s big board.

Here are a few more updates on early entrants declaring for the 2021 draft:

  • On the heels of Ohio State’s early exit from the NCAA tournament, sophomore forward E.J. Liddell will enter the draft while leaving the door open to return to the Buckeyes, he announced on Twitter. Liddell enjoyed a breakout year in 2020/21, increasing his scoring average from 6.7 PPG as a freshman reserve to 16.2 PPG as a full-time starter.
  • Junior guard James Akinjo announced on Instagram that he’ll test the draft waters this spring. After spending his first two college seasons at Georgetown, Akinjo transferred to Arizona and averaged 15.6 PPG and 5.4 APG in 26 games (34.9 MPG) this year.
  • North Texas guard Javion Hamlet has opted to enter the draft pool, he announced on Twitter. In two college seasons, Hamlet averaged 15.1 PPG on .461/.396/.878 shooting in 59 games (31.7 MPG), earning Conference USA Player of the Year honors in 2019/20.
  • UNLV guard Bryce Hamilton is testing the draft waters, according to an announcement on Twitter. Hamilton averaged 17.9 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 3.0 APG in 24 games (32.6 MPG) as a junior this season.