Kai Sotto

Pacers Notes: Warren, Taylor, Sharpe, Keels

T.J. Warren has only appeared in four games over the past two seasons but he could still bring value to the Pacers, even if he’s not on the team next season, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Warren will be an unrestricted free agent this summer but Indiana could sign-and-trade him to a team coveting his services. Warren has averaged 15.5 PPG in his career.

We have more on the Pacers:

  • Pacers assistant Bryce Taylor has been named an assistant coach for EWE Baskets Oldenburg in Germany, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files reports. Taylor, 35, played in Germany and Italy before retiring prior to this past season.
  • Projected lottery pick Shaedon Sharpe worked out for the Pacers on Monday and feels he could be a difference-maker if they use the No. 6 selection on him, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star tweets. “I know that (the Pacers are) a great organization, love to develop their players,” he said. “I feel like I could come in and be that go-to guy.”
  • Duke’s Trevor Keels will work out for the team on Tuesday, Boyd adds in another tweet. Keels is a candidate for the Pacers’ second-round selection at No. 31. That’s exactly where the Blue Devils’ wing is rated on ESPN’s Best Available list. As previously reported, center Kai Sotto is also visiting on Tuesday.

Central Notes: Cavs, Williams, Sotto, Pacers, Pistons

As a solid two-way perimeter player with exciting defensive upside, 6’6″ Santa Clara wing Jalen Williams could serve as an ideal fit for the Cavaliers, opines Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Cleveland has the No. 14 pick in this week’s draft.

During the 2021/22 season, the 21-year-old averaged 18.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.2 APG and 1.2 SPG, with shooting splits of .513/.396/.809. Fedor notes that Williams is a high-level playmaker, having begun his prep career as a point guard before an eight-inch growth spurt in between his sophomore season of high school and his freshman season at Santa Clara. The First-Team All-West Coast Conference shooting guard/small forward boasts a 7’2″ wingspan and posted a 33.5″ standing vertical.

“He is the biggest riser in this process – and rightfully so,” a league executive said of Williams. “The more I watch, the more I like him. Plug-and-play guy. Can crack a rotation immediately. I think he’s a top 20 guy in this year’s draft.”

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • 7’2″ Adelaide 36ers center Kai Sotto is set to work out for the Pacers on Tuesday, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com, who tweets that Sotto has recovered from a sprained ankle. In 23 contests in Australia’s National Basketball League in 2021/22, the 20-year-old big man averaged 7.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 0.8 BPG. Sotto was voted as the 2022 NBL Fans MVP.
  • With the fifth pick of the 2022 draft in hand, the Pistons are exploring the fit of several potential draft picks, writes Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit is looking to build around 2022 All-Rookie first team point guard Cade Cunningham, the first pick in the 2021 draft.
  • In case you missed it, Bucks reserve forward Thanasis Antetokounmpo, older brother of 2021 Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, has opted to exercise his $1.8MM player option for the 2022/23 NBA season with Milwaukee. Across 48 games this season, the 6’6″ forward averaged 3.6 PPG and 2.1 RPG across 9.9 MPG.

Draft Workout Notes: Kings, Wizards, Wolves, Jazz, More

The Kings hosted several prospects for pre-draft workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the team announced (Twitter links).

The Tuesday group featured Trey McGowens, Ziga Samar, Ron Harper Jr., Brady Manek and Dallas Walton. Wednesday’s group was Jacob Gilyard, Fatts Russell, Yoan Makoundou, Karlo Matkovic, Yannick Nzosa and Kai Sotto.

The Kings control the fourth, 37th and 49th picks in the 2022 draft, and a handful of those players could be targets with one of those second-round picks. Nzosa, Samar, Harper and Matkovic are ranked between 53rd and 58th on ESPN’s big board.

Here are more workout-related notes from around the NBA:

Draft Notes: Wesley, Sotto, Rockets, Timberwolves

Notre Dame shooting guard Blake Wesley has upcoming workouts scheduled with the Grizzlies, Heat and Bulls, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Wesley told Robbins he had already worked out for the Spurs, Cavaliers, Bucks and Pistons.

A potential first-round selection, the 6’5” Wesley is ranked No. 27 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more draft-related news:

  • International center prospect Kai Sotto will return to NBA team workouts this week on the West Coast after nursing a sprained ankle, Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com tweets. He already worked out for the Knicks, Magic and Hawks, among others. The 7’3” big man from the Philippines spent last season in Australia’s National Basketball League, averaging 7.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG for the Adelaide 36ers.
  • The Rockets are sitting at the No. 3 spot and will presumably take the remaining big man in the trio of Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero, unless there’s a draft-day surprise. The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen picks the brains of some NBA executives and a college coach to get a handle on how the trio’s skills will translate to the NBA.
  • The Timberwolves brought in six prospects on Monday, Andrew Slater tweets. That group included Tyson Etienne (Wichita State), Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), Aminu Mohammed (Georgetown,) Justin Lewis (Marquette), Fanbo Zeng (G League Ignite) and Kalob Ledoux (Louisiana Tech).

Southeast Draft Notes: Murray, Hawks, Wizards, Hornets

The Magic hold the No. 1 pick and Iowa’s Keegan Murray isn’t expected to go higher than No. 4 in the lottery. That didn’t prevent Orlando from doing its due diligence on the high-scoring wing. Murray came in for a pre-draft workout on Thursday, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. The two sides also had a discussion during the draft combine in Chicago, Price adds.

We have more developments from the Southeast Division:

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Heat, Hornets, Magic

After several years of mixed results when picking late in the lottery and in the middle of the first round, the Wizards should aggressively try to move up from No. 10 in this year’s draft, David Aldridge of The Athletic argues.

Aldridge suggests specifically targeting the No. 3 pick and making any assets besides Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis available, including a future first-round pick and some combination of recent first-rounders Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, and Corey Kispert. If the Rockets’ asking price is too steep, the Wizards should shift their focus to the No. 4 pick, says Aldridge.

I’m skeptical that the Wizards will be able to pry No. 3 away from Houston, given the relative consensus on the top three prospects in this year’s draft, and I’m not sure how eager they should be to give up any future first-round picks, given their current roster situation. But Aldridge believes it would be worth it to roll the dice to land a player like Paolo Banchero or Keegan Murray.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The Heat won’t make any changes to their starting lineup for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference, head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters today (Twitter link via Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel). That means Kyle Lowry and Max Strus will continue to start, despite calls to bench them.
  • In a mailbag for The Charlotte Observer, Roderick Boone considers whether Deandre Ayton is a realistic free agent target for the Hornets, looks at where their head coaching search stands, and discusses what to expect from 2021 first-rounder Kai Jones going forward.
  • Kai Sotto, a draft-eligible center from the Philippines, had a workout with the Magic on Thursday, tweets Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Sotto played in Australia’s NBL last season after initially committing to the G League Ignite in 2020. He didn’t end up playing for the Ignite due to travel and COVID-19 complications.

New York Notes: Brunson, Stoudemire, Baldwin, Sotto

The Knicks’ top executive, Leon Rose, needs to go all out this summer to sign free agent Jalen Brunson, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post opines. The Knicks settled for Kemba Walker last summer instead of engaging in an all-out bidding war for Fred VanVleet. The same mistake can’t be made this time around, in Vaccaro’s view, so Rose must figure out a way to clear more cap space and give Brunson a competitive offer. Vaccaro also notes Brunson’s father, Rick Brunson, was Rose’s first ever client as a player agent.

We have more on the New York teams:

  • Amar’e Stoudemire clarified comments he made on ESPN shows regarding Kyrie Irving and the Nets organization in an Instagram post (hat tip to Chris Milholen of NetsDaily.com). Stoudemire told coach Steve Nash he was leaving his post as a player development coach due to his religious obligations prior to his TV appearances and has no issue with Nash or GM Sean Marks. He also said he wasn’t trying to blast Irving when he said Irving “hurt us” due to his lack of availability during the season. “You’re not going to turn me against Kyrie. You’re not going to turn me against the Nets. You’re not going to turn me against anyone. So you can forget about it,” Stoudemire said.
  • The Knicks have quietly added Vince Baldwin — a longtime Nike talent scout — as a “talent evaluator,” Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Baldwin has extensive contacts in the high school and college ranks and is close with Knicks senior executive William Wesley. The Knicks also hired Tim Hardaway Sr. as a scout without making an official announcement.
  • Center prospect Kai Sotto will work out for the Knicks on Monday, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com tweets. The 7’3” big man from the Philippines spent last season in Australia’s National Basketball League, averaging 7.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG for the Adelaide 36ers.

NBA Announces Initial Early Entrant List For 2022 Draft

The NBA has officially released the initial list of early entrants for the 2022 NBA draft, announcing in a press release that 283 players have filed as early entry candidates. Of those prospects, 247 are from colleges, while 36 are international early entrants.

Those are big numbers, but they fall well short of the 353 early entrants who initially declared for the draft a year ago. Beginning in 2021, the NCAA granted players an extra year of eligibility due to the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in seniors having to decide between staying at college for one more season or declaring for the draft as an “early” entrant.

That tweak to the NCAA’s eligibility rules has increased the number of total early entrants due to the influx of seniors into the pool. However, as Jonathan Givony of ESPN observes (via Twitter), the number of college non-seniors (123) on the initial early entry list this year is actually the lowest since 2016, while the number of international prospects (36) is the lowest since 2014.

This year’s total of 283 early entrants figures to shrink significantly by June 1 and again by June 13, the two deadlines for players to withdraw their names from the draft pool. But it still looks like the pool will remain extremely crowded, with the eventual number of early entrants certain to exceed 58, the number of picks in the draft.

Our tracker of early entrants for the 2022 draft is fully up to date and can be found right here.

Here are the changes we made to our tracker today:


Newly-added players:

College players:

These players either didn’t publicly announce that they were entering the draft or we simply missed it when they did.

International players:

These players weren’t previously mentioned on our list of international early entrants. The country listed here indicates where they last played, not necessarily where they were born.

Other notable draft-eligible early entrants:

The NBA sent its teams a list of 33 “also-eligible” names. That list isn’t public, but Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link) shared some of the most notable players on it, and we’ve added them to our early entrant tracker. They are as follows:

  1. Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite
  2. MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite
  3. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite
  4. Henri Drell, G/F, Windy City Bulls
  5. Michael Foster, F, G League Ignite
  6. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite
  7. Makur Maker, C, Sydney Kings (formerly Howard Bison)
  8. Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite
  9. Samson Ruzhentsev, G/F, Mega Basket (formerly Florida Gators)
  10. Kai Sotto, C, Adelaide 36ers (formerly G League Ignite)
  11. Zaire Wade, G, Salt Lake City Stars
  12. Kok Yat, F, Overtime Elite
  13. Fanbo Zeng, F, G League Ignite

Players removed:

Despite reports or announcements that the players below would declare for the draft, they didn’t show up on the NBA’s official list.

That could mean a number of things — they may have decided against entering the draft; they may have entered the draft, then withdrawn; they may have had no NCAA eligibility remaining, making them automatically draft-eligible; they may have incorrectly filed their paperwork; or the NBA may have accidentally omitted some names.

In any case, we’ve removed the following names from our early entrant list, at least for the time being.

Finally, Givony reports (via Twitter) that Canadian forward Leonard Miller, from the Fort Erie International Academy has been asked to fill out additional paperwork to finalize his entrance into the draft pool. According to Givony, there’s an expectation that Miller will be added to the list, so we’ve left him listed in our early entrant tracker among the international players.

Kai Sotto Signs Multiyear Deal with Adelaide 36ers

Kai Sotto, a 7’2″ center from the Philippines who was a member of the G League Ignite, has signed a multiyear contract with the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League, the Australian club announced in a press release.

Sotto will join the team for the 2021/22 season, having signed a two-year deal with an option for a third year. While he could decide to declare for the NBA draft as early as 2022, it’s unclear if his new contract includes an NBA out that would allow him to come stateside before it expires.

Sotto was one of several young prospects who joined the Ignite, the NBA G League’s new select team, for its inaugural season in 2020/21. However, he didn’t end up appearing in any NBAGL games, having left the Ignite in January to train with the Philippines National Team at the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Qatar. That event ended up being canceled, but Sotto and the Ignite decided not to have him report back to the Walt Disney World bubble due to the compressed schedule and the quarantine protocols that would have delayed his return.

A four-star recruit in 2020, Sotto remains somewhat of an unknown commodity, as he opted to forgo college and has yet to play in any professional leagues. His time in Adelaide should give him an opportunity to showcase his skills for NBA evaluators.

Kai Sotto Not Rejoining G League Ignite

Kai Sotto, a 7’2″ center from the Philippines, will not return to the G League Ignite, as he and the team have mutually agreed to part ways, the club announced today in a press release.

Sotto was one of several young prospects who joined the Ignite, the NBAGL’s new select team, for its inaugural season in 2020/21. However, he didn’t end up appearing in any G League games, having left the Ignite in January to train with the Philippines National Team at the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Qatar. That event was ultimately canceled, but Sotto won’t head back to the G League bubble at Walt Disney World for the home stretch of the NBAGL season.

“Kai and the team both understood the challenges for him to rejoin Ignite given the current international travel constraints, quarantine times and health and safety protocols,” NBA G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim said in a statement. “Kai will always be part of the extended Ignite family and we wish him continued success as he pursues his NBA dreams.”

A four-star recruit, Sotto arrived stateside in 2019 and joined The Skill Factory, a prep program based in Georgia. A handful of colleges were believed to be keeping an eye on the big man, including Kentucky, Georgia Tech, Auburn, and USC, but he opted to go pro, joining the Ignite as he pursued an eventual NBA career.

Given that this season didn’t exactly play out as he likely envisioned, it’s unclear whether Sotto still intends to enter the 2021 draft. If he does, he’ll be something of a mystery to NBA teams, who didn’t really get a chance to scout him at all this season.