Keldon Johnson

Spurs Sign First-Round Rookies

The Spurs signed both of their first-round selections, forward Luka Samanic and swingman Keldon Johnson, to rookie contracts, according to team press releases.

Assuming they received the max of 120 percent of the rookie scale, Samanic will make $2.69MM in his rookie year, ascending to 2.82MM and 2.959MM in the next two seasons. Johnson will get $1.95MM in the upcoming season and $2.05MM and $2.146MM in his second and third years.

Samanic was the 19th overall pick. The 6’10” Samanic spent last season with KK Olimpija in the Slovenian League, averaging 10.1 PPG and 5.9 RPG in 20.7 MPG over 17 games. The 19-year-old also saw action in 12 games in the FIBA Champions League, posting averages of 8.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 19.4 MPG.

Johnson was chosen with the No. 29 pick, which was acquired from Toronto as part of the Kawhi Leonard trade. The 6’6” Johnson averaged 13.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 1.6 APG in 30.7 MPG while playing 37 games for Kentucky last season.

Both will play on the Spurs’ summer league teams in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

Could The Wizards Be The “Right Situation” For Keldon Johnson?

The Wizards hold the No. 9 overall pick in next week’s draft, though they haven’t had many of the elite prospects in Washington for workouts. Keldon Johnson broke that trend, participating in drills at the team’s practice facility on Thursday. The former Kentucky Wildcat described the experience as “amazing” when speaking with Hoops Rumors and other media in attendance.

“I feel I really got to compete today. Got in a great workout. Great staff. I feel everyone was involved in it. … I just had an amazing time,” Johnson said.

Opinions on where Johnson will be drafted range from late-lottery pick to the early 20s. The 6’6″ wing is no. 19 on ESPN’s latest top 100 and Jonathan Givony has Utah selecting him with the No. 23 overall selection in his latest mock draft.

Johnson doesn’t worry about where he’s projected to go. He takes the same approach to invites regardless of what pick the team possesses.

“I don’t really look at it,” he said. “I just go into the workout open-minded. Whatever workouts I have, I go in there and kill [the workout] and go at whoever’s in front of me.”

Iowa State’s Cameron Lard was the only prospect to participate in on-court activities with Johnson. Many pre-draft workouts have upwards of six prospects. Others are merely individual workouts. The two-man workout calls for more one-on-one drills and showcases a different skill set.

Johnson, who scored 13.5 points per game at Kentucky last season, feels his ballhandling is an area of his game that’s underrated. The Virginia-native feels he can better showcase that ability at the next level and added that the tempo of the NBA suits his game. “It’s a lot of up-and-down. … I think I’ll transition well,” the 19-year-old said.

Johnson simply wants to go to the “right situation.” When asked to clarify, the prospect emphasized a place where he can learn. “Just come in, play, learn. Just listen to my coaches,” he said.

John Calipari‘s former recruit previously worked out for a bevy of teams, including the Celtics — owners of three picks in the top 22. He’ll head to Minnesota next, which will likely be his last workout before the NBA draft.

The draft process continues for Washington today. The Wizards will bring in six prospects, as the team relays on its website. Corey Davis (Houston), Jessie Govan (Georgetown), Jaylen Hands (UCLA), Lyle Hexom (Peru State), Jonathan Kasibabu (Fairfield) and V.J. King (Louisville) will participate in drills while Sekou Doumbouya (France) will simply meet with the team.

Draft Updates: Bol, Claxton, Norvell, Green Room

As expected, Oregon center Bol Bol held a Pro Day on Wednesday in Los Angeles, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who tweets that about a dozen NBA teams attended the event, including five general managers. Bol, who is viewed as one of the draft’s biggest high-risk, high-reward prospects, is coming back from surgery on his left foot and wanted to use the Pro Day to ease concerns about his health, says Givony.

Givony adds that Bol showed on Wednesday why he’s considered a top-five prospect in terms of talent, and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic (Twitter link) also hears from teams that the young big man looked good. However, Vecenie points out that the questions about Bol weren’t going to get answered in a non-contact open gym setting. He remains one of the draft’s most intriguing wild cards.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Georgia big man Nicolas Claxton has canceled and shut down all of his workouts for non-lottery teams, a source tells Vecenie (Twitter link). Claxton, who ranks 29th on ESPN’s big board, feels good about where he’ll be picked based on the feedback he’s received so far, per Vecenie.
  • Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr., the 63rd prospect on ESPN’s big board, said today he’s been told he’s projected to be drafted in the 20-40 range, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Norvell also said that he’s had 15 workouts during the pre-draft process (Twitter link).
  • Two more draft prospects have been invited to the Green Room for next Thursday’s event, according to reports. Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com tweets that Georgian center Goga Bitadze has received an invite, while Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com adds Keldon Johnson (Kentucky) to the list (Twitter link). Sixteen other Green Room invitees were previously reported.
  • In addition to his previously-reported workouts, Cameron Johnson (UNC) has auditioned for the Timberwolves, Celtics, Thunder, Sixers, and Warriors, tweets Gery Woelfel of Woelfel’s Press Box.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Mike Schmitz, and Kevin Pelton (Insider link) named several of their favorite draft sleepers, singling out Grant Williams (Tennessee), Dylan Windler (Belmont), and Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State), among others.

Eastern Draft Notes: Culver, Wizards, King, Sixers

According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, the Cavaliers, who hold the No. 5 overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft, conducted a private workout with top prospect Jarrett Culver on Monday before hosting him for dinner with general manager Koby Altman, assistant GM Mike Gansey, head coach John Beilein, and assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

As Fedor details, the Cavaliers have been keeping tabs on Culver throughout the entire season, watching him in person multiple times. In addition, both Altman and Gansey were  in attendance for Culver’s 22-point game against Michigan in the Sweet 16. Beilein, of course, coached the Wolverines in that game.

The Cavaliers are still hoping to conduct a workout with De’Andre Hunter as well, but it reportedly hasn’t happened yet. Culver is currently the No. 6 ranked prospect in ESPN’s top 100, while Hunter is No. 5, so both are obviously in consideration for the fifth pick.

The No. 7 overall prospect, forward Cam Reddish, won’t work out with the Cavaliers due to recent surgery on a core muscle, but the Cavs would like to meet with him in person again prior to draft night.

There’s more draft notes tonight from around the Eastern Conference.

Eastern Draft Notes: Hawks, Barrett, Knicks, Pistons

With six of the top 44 picks in the 2019 NBA draft, the Hawks have been understandably busy when it comes to bringing in prospects for pre-draft workouts. While Atlanta is unlikely to keep all six of its selections, the club is doing its due diligence on players who might be available at each spot — or as undrafted free agents.

On Sunday, the Hawks worked out Darius Bazley (Princeton HS), Robert Franks (Washington State), Matur Maker (Zlatorog Lasko), William McDowell-White (Baunach), Miye Oni (Yale), and Trayvon Reed (Texas Southern), according to the team.

The Hawks conducted another workout on Monday, bringing in Jordan Bone (Tennessee), Brian Bowen (Sydney), Dewan Hernandez (Miami), Jordan Poole (Michigan), Justin Robinson (Virginia Tech), and Dean Wade (Kansas State) in for a look.

On Tuesday, the Hawks will host yet another workout, with Charlie Brown Jr. (St. Joe’s), Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State), Keldon Johnson (Kentucky), Nassir Little (UNC), KZ Okpala (Stanford), and Kevin Porter Jr. (USC) set to participate.

Here are a few more updates on pre-draft workouts from around the Eastern Conference:

Draft Notes: Magic, K. Johnson, Bazley, Fall, Mann

The Magic had a full day of pre-draft workouts today, bringing in two separate groups featuring six prospects apiece. As Josh Robbins of The Athletic details (via Twitter), Orlando’s first group this morning was made up of Darius Bazley (Princeton HS), Jaylen Hoard (Wake Forest), Keldon Johnson (Kentucky), Terance Mann (Florida State), KZ Okpala (Stanford), and Miye Oni (Yale).

Later in the day, the Magic auditioned Barry Brown (Kansas State), Tacko Fall (UCF), Kyle Guy (Virginia), Kaleb Johnson (Georgetown), John Konchar (IPFW), and Cameron Lard (Iowa State), according to Robbins (via Twitter).

Several of the prospects who worked out today for Orlando shared additional details on their respective workout schedules, so we’ll round up some of those updates…

  • Keldon Johnson, the No. 19 overall prospect on ESPN’s big board, said he has worked out for the Celtics and also has sessions on tap with the Heat, Hornets, and Timberwolves, per Robbins (via Twitter).
  • Potential first-round pick Darius Bazley said today that he has worked out for the Spurs and has a workout lined up with the Pistons, tweets Robbins.
  • Big man Tacko Fall has workouts scheduled with the Pacers, Knicks, Lakers, Cavaliers, and Hornets, according to Robbins (via Twitter). He may add more teams to that list if his schedule allows for it.
  • The Nets, Knicks, Bulls, and Cavaliers will work out FSU’s Terance Mann prior to the draft, tweets Robbins.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Wall, White, Draft

Retaining Bradley Beal in his prime, rather than trading him for assets, might be the best course of action for the Wizards, Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington argues. Beal could be the ideal role model to establish a new identity and culture for the franchise, Standig continues. Beal could be the main locker room leader next season with John Wall recovering from his Achilles injury and he’d embrace that role, Standig notes. Giving Beal that power might deepen his connection to the franchise’s long-term success, Standig adds.

We have more on the Wizards:

  • With Wall’s super-max extension kicking in, owner Ted Leonsis wants his star point guard to take all the time necessary to make sure he’s fully ready when he starts playing again, as Leonsis expressed in an NBC Sports podcast and relayed by Chase Hughes“John understands his commitment will show from this rehab,” Leonsis said. “If it takes the whole season, we don’t care. We are not putting pressure on you on a time. Make sure that you are rehabilitating in the right way so that when you do come back, you don’t have that little voice in your head [saying], ‘Did I do everything the right way to be able to come back and be a great, great player?'”
  • North Carolina shooting guard Coby White and Kentucky small forward Keldon Johnson are among the prospects the Wizards are bringing in for workouts, Hughes reports in post written by NBC Sports Washington’s Josh Luckenbaugh. White is currently ranked No. 8 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and the Wizards have the ninth pick. Johnson is ranked at No. 19. The Wizards will also soon bring in Georgetown’s Trey Mourning, Duke’s Marques Bolden and Temple’s Shizz Alston Jr.
  • Unless the franchise promotes interim president Tommy Sheppard and ends its long search for a new front office leader to replace Ernie Grunfeld, it’s unknown who will determine Washington’s draft decisions this month, Hughes writes in a separate story.

Draft Notes: Reddish, Pro Days, Early Entrants, Thybulle

Duke’s Cam Reddish made a strong impression at Wednesday’s pro day in Phoenix, writes Mike Schmitz of ESPN. With more than 35 prospects on hand, Reddish put on a shooting display that caught the attention of an estimated 100 scouts and several general managers.

Reddish was projected as a high lottery pick last fall, but his stock slipped during a disappointing freshman season. However, he was in top form at the workout, sinking shot after shot in a variety of situations before stopping his session because of a minor groin injury.

Jarrett CulverKeldon JohnsonMfiondu Kabengele and Luguentz Dort were other top prospects at the event, along with a large collection of potential second-rounders.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • In the same article, Jonathan Givony looks at how pro days sponsored by agencies are gradually replacing individual workouts. These events enable players to show off their strengths and hide their weaknesses, allowing someone like Georgios Papagiannis or Rashad Vaughn to rise dramatically. “We’ve completely lost control of the pre-draft process, and we have no one to blame but ourselves,” an unidentified GM said. “Instead of spending time getting to know the guys we are about to invest millions of dollars in, as well as our job security and having our coaching staffs put players through meaningful workouts, we are sitting in traffic on the 405, shuffling between airports and watching celebrity trainers put players through dog and pony shows, with highly scripted routines against cones that tell us absolutely nothing about how they might perform in an actual game.”
  • Givony also takes a look at players who might be on the fence about staying in the draft ahead of Wednesday’s deadline and unveils an updated top-100 list that hasn’t changed much at the top.
  • A few more players reached draft decisions this morning. Caleb Daniels, who is transferring from Tulane to Villanova (Twitter link), Al-Wajid Aminu of North Florida (Twitter link) and Troy Baxter Jr. of Florida Gulf Coast (Twitter link) will all pull out of the draft, while Charlie Brown of St. Joseph’s (Twitter link from Goodman) will keep his name in.
  • Matisse Thybulle of Washington may have a draft promise from the Celtics, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The small forward is slotted at No. 28 on the new ESPN list, and Boston holds picks No. 14, 20 and 22.

Draft Notes: C. White, Barrett, Culver, G. Williams

A number of draft-eligible prospects who attended this week’s combine decided against participating in today’s scrimmages, with at least one prospect leaving the event altogether.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported (via Twitter) that Jalen Lecque, who performed well during Thursday’s scrimmages, decided not to play anymore based on feedback to his family. Croatian forward Luka Samanic followed suit, as did Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky), Moses Brown (UCLA), and DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa), according to Jeremy Woo of SI.com (via Twitter), who adds that Brown is believed to have suffered an injury on Thursday.

Meanwhile, projected lottery pick Coby White (UNC) left the combine on Friday after interviewing with several teams, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). White’s departure will likely fuel speculation of a draft promise, and while it’s a possibility, there have been no reports yet suggesting that’s the case.

Here’s more on the draft:

Full List Of 2019 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed its list of 66 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 May 15-19.

While a small handful of top prospects often skip the event, that won’t be the case this year — Zion Williamson and Ja Morant are on the league’s list of 66 names, along with R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Jarrett Culver, Darius Garland, De’Andre Hunter, and many more. Of course, those top prospects may not participate fully in all of the workouts and scrimmages at the combine.

A few more names figure to be added to this list, as a select number of the 40 draft-eligible prospects participating in the G League Elite Camp earlier in the week are expected to receive invites to the combine.

Here’s the full list of 66 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order:

  1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech (sophomore)
  2. R.J. Barrett, G/F, Duke (freshman)
  3. Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky (freshman)
  4. Darius Bazley, F, Princeton HS (OH) (N/A)
  5. Bol Bol, C, Oregon (freshman)
  6. Jordan Bone, G, Tennessee (junior)
  7. Brian Bowen, F, USA (born 1998)
  8. Ky Bowman, G, Boston College (junior)
  9. Ignas Brazdeikis, F, Michigan (freshman)
  10. Moses Brown, C, UCLA (freshman)
  11. Brandon Clarke, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  12. Nicolas Claxton, F, Georgia (sophomore)
  13. Jarrett Culver, G/F, Texas Tech (sophomore)
  14. Luguentz Dort, G, Arizona State (freshman)
  15. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas (freshman)
  16. Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue (junior)
  17. Bruno Fernando, F, Maryland (sophomore)
  18. Daniel Gafford, F/C, Arkansas (sophomore)
  19. Darius Garland, G, Vanderbilt (freshman)
  20. Quentin Grimes, G, Kansas (freshman)
  21. Kyle Guy, G, Virginia (junior)
  22. Jaylen Hands, G, UCLA (sophomore)
  23. Jaxson Hayes, F/C, Texas (freshman)
  24. Tyler Herro, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  25. Jaylen Hoard, F, Wake Forest (freshman)
  26. Talen Horton-Tucker, G, Iowa State (freshman)
  27. De’Andre Hunter, F, Virginia (sophomore)
  28. Ty Jerome, G, Virginia (junior)
  29. Cameron Johnson, G, UNC (senior)
  30. Keldon Johnson, F, Kentucky (freshman)
  31. Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State (sophomore)
  32. Louis King, F, Oregon (freshman)
  33. Romeo Langford, G, Indiana (freshman)
  34. Dedric Lawson, F, Kansas (junior)
  35. Jalen Lecque, G, Brewster Academy (NH) (N/A)
  36. Nassir Little, F, UNC (freshman)
  37. Charles Matthews, G, Michigan (junior)
  38. Jalen McDaniels, F, San Diego State (sophomore)
  39. Ja Morant, G, Murray State (sophomore)
  40. Zach Norvell Jr., G, Gonzaga (sophomore)
  41. Jaylen Nowell, G, Washington (sophomore)
  42. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville (sophomore)
  43. Chuma Okeke, F, Auburn (sophomore)
  44. KZ Okpala, F, Stanford (sophomore)
  45. Miye Oni, G/F, Yale (junior)
  46. Eric Paschall, F, Villanova (senior)
  47. Shamorie Ponds, G, St. John’s (junior)
  48. Jordan Poole, G, Michigan (sophomore)
  49. Jontay Porter, F, Missouri (sophomore)
  50. Kevin Porter Jr, G, USC (freshman)
  51. Neemias Queta, C, Utah State (freshman)
  52. Cam Reddish, F, Duke (freshman)
  53. Naz Reid, C, LSU (freshman)
  54. Isaiah Roby, F, Nebraska (junior)
  55. Luka Samanic, F, Croatia (born 2000)
  56. Admiral Schofield, G, Tennessee (senior)
  57. Simisola Shittu, F, Vanderbilt (freshman)
  58. Killian Tillie, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  59. PJ Washington, F, Kentucky (sophomore)
  60. Tremont Waters, G, LSU (sophomore)
  61. Quinndary Weatherspoon, G, Missippi State (senior)
  62. Coby White, G, UNC (freshman)
  63. Kris Wilkes, G, UCLA (sophomore)
  64. Grant Williams, F, Tennessee (junior)
  65. Zion Williamson, F, Duke (freshman)
  66. Dylan Windler, G, Belmont (senior)

Rui Hachimura (Gonzaga) and Matisse Thybulle (Washington) are among the potential first-round picks who aren’t on the NBA’s list of combine participants, as noted by Jeremy Woo of SI.com and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter links).