Kerwin Roach

Atlantic Notes: Kawhi, Lowry, Knicks, C’s, Sixers

While their star players haven’t been forced out of action like some Warriors have been, the Raptors are dealing with some health issues of their own in these NBA Finals, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

According to Vardon and Sam Amick of The Athletic, the leg injury that has been bothering Kawhi Leonard since the Raptors’ series against the Bucks is a left knee issue. While the right quad injury that sidelined Leonard for nearly all of 2017/18 hasn’t been a problem, his knee pain stems from overcompensating for that quad issue, Vardon writes.

Meanwhile, Vardon also provides more specifics on Kyle Lowry‘s left hand injury, noting that the Raptors’ All-Star point guard has a ligament tear in his thumb. Lowry has previously hinted that he may need to undergo a surgical procedure on the injury after the season, but he appears set to play through it for the rest of the Finals.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Hawks, Hornets

There have been no recent updates on the Wizards‘ search for a new head of basketball operations, leading to speculation that Washington is waiting to make a run at current Nuggets president of basketball ops Tim Connelly.

While Connelly’s Nuggets are still alive in the playoffs, David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that if Connelly is the Wizards’ man, they should go after him now. As Aldridge points out, active postseason runs didn’t stop the Timberwolves from hiring Gersson Rosas, or the Suns from naming Monty Williams their new head coach.

It’s not entirely clear if the Wizards are still targeting Connelly, but Aldridge hears from several sources that Denver’s head of basketball ops would be “delighted” to run the Wizards. A previous report referred to the Wizards’ open position as Connelly’s “dream job.” Connelly is still under contract with the Nuggets, but if the Wizards make an offer that significantly exceeds his current salary – which Aldridge says is “just north” of $2MM per year – then he could go to Denver’s ownership in good faith and ask for the opportunity to run his hometown team.

So far, the Wizards have interviewed Danny Ferry, Tommy Sheppard, Troy Weaver, and Rosas for the front office vacancy, Aldridge confirms.

As we wait to see what the Wizards do to replace Ernie Grunfeld, here’s more from around the Southeast…

Draft Notes: Doncic, Maye, Roach, Konate

While he has long been considered a strong candidate to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, Luka Doncic no longer appears to be a lock to even be a top-three selection, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link). While it’s hard to know what to believe at this time of year, Givony explains to Kevin Pelton that the Kings, Hawks, and Grizzlies didn’t send anyone to watch the EuroLeague Final Four in person last week, and several NBA evaluators seem to have cooled on Doncic.

Givony believes those evaluators are overthinking matters, but admits “the skepticism is a lot more prevalent than expected.” As ESPN’s draft guru explains, some people around the league have concerns about Doncic’s athleticism – or lack thereof – and his ability to keep improving. However, Givony points to Doncic’s incredible workload over the last 18 months, along with European teams’ relative inattention to players’ diets and conditioning, as reasons why the young star may have not looked quite as impressive in recent months as he did last fall. On an NBA schedule, working with NBA coaches, those issues could be addressed.

Ultimately, Givony and Pelton both believe that Doncic is worthy of the No. 1 pick, with Givony writing that the 19-year-old is “too productive, too skilled, too smart and too good a fit in the modern game to pass up.” However, it remains to be seen how many teams at the top of the draft will agree with that assessment.

Here’s more on the 2018 NBA draft:

  • UNC forward Luke Maye has decided to return to the Tar Heels for his senior year after testing the draft waters, he announced today on Instagram. Maye, who earned a spot on the All-ACC First Team and was named the conference’s Most Improved Player, averaged a double-double (16.9 PPG, 10.1 RPG) in 2017/18.
  • Texas guard Kerwin Roach II has withdrawn his name from the 2018 draft and will head back to the Longhorns for his senior year, the school announced in a press release. “I’m hungry for the opportunity to make a career in the NBA, but I realize I have to improve in so many areas on the court,” Roach said in a statement. “I’m also on pace to earn my degree, and that is a big deal for me and my family.”
  • After testing the draft waters without an agent, West Virginia forward Sagaba Konate will head back to school for his junior year, he confirms to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman (Twitter link).
  • Sean Deveney of The Sporting News and the staff at Basketball Insiders are among those who have released new mock drafts this week.

Draft Updates: Milton, McCoy, Roach, Ball, More

SMU guard Shake Milton has decided to test the 2018 NBA draft waters, a source tells Patrick Engel of Pony Stampede. A junior, Milton would have the opportunity to return to school for his senior year if he enters the draft without hiring an agent.

Milton, who is currently ranked 34th on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com, is coming off a strong season at SMU, averaging 18.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 4.4 APG with a shooting line of .449/.434/.847. In Givony’s most recent mock draft, he has Milton coming off the board at No. 36 to the Mavericks.

Here are more of the latest draft updates from around the basketball world:

  • UNLV center Brandon McCoy, who averaged 16.9 PPG and 10.3 RPG as a freshman and ranks 58th on ESPN’s big board, announced he’ll forgo his remaining years of NCAA eligibility to enter the draft, according to the school. “This is probably one of the toughest decisions I have ever made,” McCoy said in a statement. “I will always be a Rebel, but when weighing all the factors, with the support of my family I have decided it is in my best interest to forgo my collegiate eligibility and pursue my lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.”
  • The 65th-ranked prospect on ESPN’s top 100, Texas junior guard Kerwin Roach II will test the draft waters without hiring an agent, the school announced in a press release. “We want to see where I may stand in this year’s draft, but we’re also keeping all options open,” Roach said. “We want to get the most accurate feedback directly from the NBA, so we can make the best decision for my future.”
  • Marshall junior guard Jon Elmore and Eastern Michigan junior forward Elijah Minnie are each expected to declare for the 2018 draft without hiring an agent, reports Jeff Goodman of ESPN (Twitter links).
  • Washington State’s basketball program announced on Monday that junior forward Robert Franks is declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent. An earlier report from Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports suggested that Franks would hire an agent rather than simply testing the waters, but that hasn’t happened yet.
  • Lonzo Ball‘s younger brother LiAngelo Ball has declared for the 2018 NBA draft after spending the last few months playing for Lithuanian team Vytautas Prienu, agent Harrison Gaines tells Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. The former UCLA swingman isn’t expected to be drafted.