Kira Lewis

Pacific Notes: Ball, Warriors, Suns, Lewis, Lakers

Possible No. 1 pick LaMelo Ball confirmed this week in an appearance on ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby (video link) that the Warriors are one of the teams he has met with so far.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes (via Twitter) that the Warriors’ interview with Ball actually happened over four months ago, well before the team secured the No. 2 pick. Still, Golden State is one of just two clubs known to have spoken to Ball, along with New York.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Addressing the possibility of the Timberwolves trading the No. 1 pick, Brian Witt of NBC Bay Area observes that such a move would have a major impact on the Warriors. Besides holding the No. 2 pick this year, Golden State controls Minnesota’s top-three protected pick for 2021, so a win-now move by the Wolves would affect where that pick lands.
  • The Suns had a second Zoom interview this week with former Alabama point guard Kira Lewis, reports Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter link). Lewis is ranked No. 25 on ESPN’s big board, but it’s worth noting that GM James Jones hasn’t been shy about “reaching” for prospects — last year, he selected Cameron Johnson, a projected late first-rounder, at No. 11.
  • Some executives around the league believe that the Lakers make sense as a trade partner for the Thunder in a Chris Paul deal, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. While LeBron James and Paul likely wouldn’t mind teaming up, it would be tricky for the Lakers to pull off a deal — they’d have to package at least six players in order to match Paul’s salary, and there would be other roadblocks to consider, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports writes.

Knicks Rumors: Westbrook, Draft, Okoro, Vassell

While Chris Paul‘s name has been connected most frequently to the Knicks in recent months, it’s worth keeping an eye on Russell Westbrook as well, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Begley reports that some agents who represent top free agent point guards think the Knicks will “poke around” on a possible Westbrook trade if the Rockets make him available.

It’s certainly not a sure thing that Houston considers moving Westbrook this offseason. And even in that scenario, “poking around” doesn’t mean that the Knicks would make a deal.

Still, the Knicks are well-positioned to take on a big contract like Westbrook’s, which has three years and more than $132MM left on it. Begley also cites sources who say that Westbrook viewed New York as a favorable landing spot when the Thunder were shopping him last July. So if the Rockets do mull a potential trade at some point, it’s a safe bet the Knicks will be linked to the star point guard.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

Atlantic Notes: Kemba, Tatum, Nets, Knicks

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge doesn’t expect Kemba Walker to require offseason surgery to address his left knee issues, but said today that the point guard was “definitely not himself” during the playoffs, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. According to Ainge, the club will construct a plan for Walker going forward to try to avoid having that happen again.

“In fairness to Kemba, he doesn’t want to say (that he wasn’t himself). He doesn’t say that to our coaches. He doesn’t say that to you, the media. He doesn’t say that to me. I haven’t heard one excuse from him,” Ainge said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “But watching the games, even the games we won, even the games where he played well, I could tell he wasn’t the same physically as he was in October, November, December. So we’re going to try to get that Kemba back.”

While Walker still made some big plays for the Celtics en route to the team’s appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals, his postseason numbers reflect that he wasn’t at his best. He made just 31.0% of his three-point attempts in 17 playoff contests after knocking down 38.1% during the season.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Ainge didn’t sound worried about being able to lock up Celtics forward Jayson Tatum to a long-term contract extension sooner rather than later. “Jayson knows how much we like him,” Ainge said, according to Bontemps. “We have a good relationship. Jayson likes it here, so I’m confident that we’ll be able to work something out this summer — this offseason, I should say.”
  • Appearing on Kevin Durant‘s podcast this week, Nets teammates Durant and Kyrie Irving denied playing a role in Kenny Atkinson‘s dismissal and made some unusual comments about the club’s new head coaching situation. Brian Lewis of The New York Post has the details.
  • Alex Schiffer and William Guillory of The Athletic explore whether a Jrue Holiday trade between the Pelicans and Nets might make sense, as well as what such a deal would look like. The two Athletic writers conclude that it’s probably not a great match.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post takes a closer look at Tyrese Haliburton as a possible Knicks draft target, while Kira Lewis‘ trainer Cory Underwood talks to Ian Begley of SNY.tv about the Alabama guard’s potential fit with the Knicks.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.

Draft Notes: Second Round, Bolmaro, Wizards, Okoro

The NBA previously announced slight changes to its 2020 lottery, with the eight teams left out of the summer restart claiming the top eight spots in the lottery standings based on their records as of March 11 — even if they didn’t have the league’s eight worst records by the time the summer’s seeding games ended this month.

According to Jeremy Woo of SI.com (Twitter link), the league is also tweaking the way the second-round order is determined this season, with picks 31 through 44 assigned to the lottery teams based on their March 11 winning percentages and the remaining picks assigned to the playoff clubs based on their end-of-season records.

As Woo notes (via Twitter), winning percentage would normally dictate the second-round order regardless of whether or not a team made the playoffs. For example, the Magic – who made the playoffs despite finishing behind the Grizzlies and Suns in the overall NBA standings – will get the No. 45 pick this year rather than the No. 43 pick they’d typically receive.

We’ll be publishing the full pre-lottery 2020 draft order this week after the NBA announces its tiebreaker results.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • Leandro Bolmaro, a guard/forward from Argentina, remains in the 2020 draft pool as an early entrant and ranks 23rd overall on ESPN’s big board. He recently agreed to a new three-year contract with Barcelona, according to the team, but ESPN’s Jonathan Givony suggests (via Twitter) that the deal has NBA outs with an affordable buyout number. The flexibility to potentially stash Bolmaro overseas after drafting him could appeal to some NBA teams, Givony notes.
  • If the Wizards get lucky and win the 2020 draft lottery, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington believes their choice would come down to Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman. As Hughes observes, Edwards would fit well on the wing alongside Washington’s star guards, while Wiseman’s strengths – rim protecting and rebounding – match the team’s biggest weaknesses.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic polled a series of college coaches about Isaac Okoro‘s NBA upside and received mixed reviews on whether the Auburn forward will be a quality top-five pick. One coach said that Okoro “might have been my favorite guy in the SEC in terms of feeling most confident on his projection,” while another said he views Alabama’s Kira Lewis as a better draft prospect.

Draft Notes: Alexander, Hightower, UCF, Hampton, More

Creighton junior guard Ty-Shon Alexander has announced on Instagram that he’ll enter the 2020 NBA draft and go pro, hiring an agent and forgoing his final year of college eligibility. A report earlier this month suggested that would likely be the path Alexander chose.

Alexander had a strong 2019/20 season with the Bluejays, averaging 16.9 PPG and 5.0 RPG with an impressive .399 3PT%. However, he ranks just 79th on the big board at NBADraft.net and doesn’t appear at all on ESPN’s list of 2020’s top 100 prospects, seemingly making him a long shot to be drafted.

Here’s more on the 2020 draft:

  • Tulane junior guard TeShaun Hightower, UCF junior big man Collin Smith, and UCF freshman guard Darin Green Jr. are all expected to declare for the 2020 draft, reports Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter links). Green announced his decision on Instagram a few days ago. All three players will likely test the waters while maintaining their college eligibility.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic shares a few of the latest draft rumblings he’s hearing, writing that NBA teams haven’t been overly impressed by the film on RJ Hampton from his time in Australia’s National Basketball League. Conversely, according to Vecenie, Alabama guard Kira Lewis‘ stock is on the rise and many evaluators view Vanderbilt’s Aaron Nesmith as the second-best wing in the 2020 class.
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic took a stab at identifying some potential sleepers among this year’s senior prospects, singling out LSU guard Skylar Mays, TCU guard Desmond Bane, and a handful of others.

Draft Notes: Lewis, Vogt, Drell, Williams, More

Alabama sophomore guard Kira Lewis has elected to keep his name in the 2020 NBA draft and will forgo his final two years of college eligibility, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Lewis, who will hire an agent, confirmed his decision to go pro in a Twitter video.

A point guard who ranks 25th overall on ESPN’s big board, Lewis averaged a team-high 18.5 PPG to go along with 5.2 APG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.8 SPG in 31 games (37.6 MPG) in 2019/20 for the Crimson Tide. Alabama head coach Nate Oats told reporters nearly a month ago that Lewis would test the draft waters, noting at the time that he didn’t expect the starting point guard to return to school for ’20/21.

We have a few more draft decisions to pass along:

  • Cincinnati center Chris Vogt announced today on Twitter that he intends to test the draft waters. After transferring from Northern Kentucky, Vogt averaged 11.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 30 games (28.5 MPG) as a junior.
  • Estonian swingman Henri Drell, who played for Italian team VL Pesaro this season, has declared for the NBA draft, his agency tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). The 19-year-old, who also tested the draft waters a year ago, has previously played for teams in Estonia and Germany.
  • Evansville sophomore forward Deandre Williams has declared for the 2020 draft while entering the NCAA transfer portal, he tells Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype (video link). Williams recorded 15.2 PPG and 6.9 RPG in 18 games (27.1 MPG) in 2019/20.
  • VCU junior forward Marcus Santos-Silva, who previously entered the draft, has announced on Instagram that he’s transferring. While he didn’t explicitly say it, it sounds as if Santos-Silva will pull out of the draft process as he looks to play his senior season at a new program.
  • Former University of Sioux Falls commit Lincoln Bernhard, a 6’7″ wing, has entered the draft in the hopes of making a G League roster next season, he tells Hoops Rumors.

Kira Lewis, Tyler Bey Among Prospects Testing Draft Waters

Alabama guards Kira Lewis and John Petty will enter the 2020 NBA draft and will go through the pre-draft process before deciding whether to keep their names in this year’s pool, coach Nate Oats said today, per Charlie Potter of 247Sports (Twitter link).

“We’re planning on possibly not having either of them back,” Oats said of Lewis and Petty.

Lewis, a sophomore point guard who ranks 25th overall on ESPN’s big board, averaged a team-high 18.5 PPG to go along with 5.2 APG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.8 SPG in 31 games (37.6 MPG) in 2019/20.

Petty, the Crimson Tide’s starting shooting guard, recorded 14.6 PPG and 6.6 RPG with an impressive .440 3PT% in 29 games (33.5 MPG) as a junior. He ranks 56th on ESPN’s top-100 list.

Meanwhile, a pair of Colorado juniors will also test the draft waters, according to head coach Tad Boyle, who says that Tyler Bey and McKinley Wright will go through the process, per Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). A report earlier this month indicated Bey and Wright were expected to enter their names in the 2020 draft.

Bey, the No. 36 prospect on ESPN’s big board, posted 13.8 PPG and 9.0 RPG with 1.5 SPG and 1.2 BPG in 31 games (29.0 MPG) in 2019/20. The forward also showed a slightly increased willingness to let it fly from beyond the arc, making 13-of-31 (41.9%) of his three-point attempts.

As for Wright, he was the Buffaloes’ leading scorer with 14.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 5.0 APG. However, the junior guard doesn’t show up on ESPN’s list of 2020’s top 100 prospects.

While all four Alabama and Colorado underclassmen will go through the pre-draft process, it’s not clear yet what that process will actually entail, with the combine and individual workouts in jeopardy and this year’s draft calendar up in the air.