Kyle Kuzma

Draft Notes: Aldridge, Robinson, McIntosh, Kuzma

The Celtics are likely to select one of the top two point guards, Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, rather than moving their pick, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com. Boston has to protect itself with a tough decision coming on whether to re-sign Isaiah Thomas in the summer of 2018 and Fultz would make the most sense, Aldridge continues. Ball would be a natural fit with the Lakers, while the Sixers will probably go with small forward Josh Jackson, though Kentucky’s Malik Monk is an intriguing alternative, Aldridge adds. A trade in which the Suns move up a spot to snag Jackson to settle their small forward issues isn’t out of the question, according to Aldridge, who goes through each team’s need on a pick-by-pick basis.

In other news involving the draft:

  • Austin Peay’s Josh Robinson will hire an agent, meaning he won’t be able to return to the university, Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). The 6’2″ guard, who missed time this season after being suspended from the school’s basketball team, will look to play overseas.
  • MiKyle McIntosh is working out for the Raptors today, Goodman tweets. The Illinois State product has until Wednesday to make a final decision on entering the draft.
  • Iowa State point guard Monte Morris headed the list of prospects worked out by the Kings today, Sean Cunningham of KXTV tweets. Morris is considered second-round material by both DraftExpress and ESPN’s Chad Ford.
  • Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss and Indiana big man Thomas Bryant were among the prospects the Lakers worked out on Monday, Robert Morales of the Orange County Register reports. None of the players Los Angeles brought in are considered first-round prospects.
  • University of Utah forward Kyle Kuzma, who has already hired an agent, will work out for the Jazz on Tuesday, according to Aaron Falk and Tony Jones of the Salt Lake City Tribune. The 6’9” Kuzma, who is considered a second-round prospect, was one of the other hopefuls who worked for the Lakers on Monday.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Walker, Wizards

The Hawks‘ list of potential general manager candidates continues to grow, with Zach Klein of Channel 2 Sports in Atlanta reporting that the club is interested in speaking with Nets executive Trajan Langdon about the opening. Langdon, who currently serves as an assistant GM in Brooklyn under Sean Marks, was identified by ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz earlier this year as a front office “prospect” to watch. However, league insiders told Arnovitz at the time that Langdon may still need a few seasons with the Nets before he becomes a legit candidate to run an NBA front office.

[RELATED: Latest on Hawks’ front office search]

As we wait to see if Atlanta gets the opportunity to talk to Langdon, let’s round up a few more notes and rumors out of the Southeast…

Draft Rumors: Risers/Fallers, Fox, Giles, Bradley

Power forwards Jordan Bell (Oregon) and Kyle Kuzma (Utah) are among the players who have impressed scouts and executives during five-on-five action in Chicago at this year’s combine, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider link). Kuzma’s performance was so strong that he pulled out of today’s five-on-five game, quitting while he was ahead, tweets Ford.

Conversely, Maryland’s Melo Trimble and Iowa’s Peter Jok have struggled in Chicago, with Ford suggesting that Trimble’s draft stock has been “devastated” by his combine showing.

In addition to assessing the on-court performances of some notable prospects, Ford also passed along several interesting off-the-court items. Let’s dive in and round up those tidbits, along with a couple other draft-related notes and rumors…

  • There appears to be a “growing movement” among some teams to place De’Aaron Fox ahead of Lonzo Ball on draft boards, according to Ford, who suggests that the Kentucky point guard could come off the board as high as No. 3 — or even No. 2.
  • Teams are eagerly anticipating a look at the medicals on Harry Giles, who has been plagued by knee injuries. Ford says he has spoken to multiple NBA executives who are ready to move Giles into the 5-10 range if he’s fully cleared medically. “He’s the best prospect in the entire draft if he can fully recover and stay healthy,” one NBA exec told Ford. “He’s just a freaky talent.” Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times (Twitter link) also hears that Giles is moving up draft boards.
  • Ford’s sources expect freshman center Tony Bradley to remain in the draft rather than returning to North Carolina.
  • Some NBA scouts believe Donovan Mitchell (Louisville) will end up being selected in the lottery, or just outside of it, according to Ford.
  • Kentucky’s Hamidou Diallo looks like one of the best athletes in this year’s draft class, and that could be enough to make him a first-round pick if he stays in the draft, Ford writes.
  • Arizona’s Rawle Alkins said on Thursday that he’s 50-50 on whether to remain in the draft or go back to school, and will get all the feedback he can before making a final call. Adam Zagoria of FanRagSports.com has the quotes and the details.

Utah’s Kyle Kuzma To Remain In Draft

Utah forward Kyle Kuzma, who had been testing the NBA draft waters without an agent, has opted to hire representation and keep his name in the draft, he tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. According to Goodman, Kuzma is signing with Zach Kurtin of Priority Sports, forgoing his remaining NCAA eligibility.

“I decided to leave school now because of the benefits it will give to my development, both on and off the floor,” Kuzma told Goodman. “Utah was a great place for me to grow, and Coach K (Larry Krystkowiak) and the staff definitely had a major role in that for me.”

[RELATED: 2017 NBA Draft Early Entrants List (updated)]

Kuzma, who will turn 22 this summer, is coming off a junior year in which he established new career bests in PPG (16.4), RPG (9.3), and a handful of other categories. The 6’9″ forward barely cracks Chad Ford’s top-100 list at ESPN.com, but comes in at No. 68 on Jonathan Givony’s big board at DraftExpress.com.

According to Ford, Kuzma’s rebounding ability and his floor vision will appeal to teams, but his inconsistent jump shot and lack of elite athleticism will likely prevent him from being a first-round pick.

Kuzma is expected to attend next week’s draft combine, per Goodman.

Hawks Notes: Howard, Millsap, Bazemore, Workout

Dwight Howard expressed anger today after his exit interview about his deteriorating role with the Hawks, relays Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Howard saw less playing as the season wore on, then averaged just 26.2 minutes per game during the playoff series with Washington. Coach/executive Mike Budenholzer believed the offense worked better without Howard and frequently opted for a smaller lineup with Paul Millsap at center. This comes just months after the Hawks gave Howard $70.5MM over three years to return to his hometown. “It was very difficult,” Howard told reporters. “I want to play. I want to be out on the floor. I want to make a difference. I want to make an impact, and I can’t do that on the bench.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:
  • Earlier today, we told you that Millsap intends to opt out of his nearly $21.5MM deal for next year. Even though he’s hitting the open market, the 32-year-old power forward says his first choice is to remain in Atlanta, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Eventually I probably will opt out, yes,” Millsap said. “But I want to be here. I think talks have been pretty good, so we’ll see what happens.” Millsap led the Hawks in scoring this season at 18.1 points per game, and was second in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Vivlamore expects him to get maximum offers this summer, but Atlanta has the advantage of Bird rights. The Hawks can offer five years at up to $205MM, while other teams will be limited to four years at $158.4MM.
  • The Hawks’ efforts to keep Millsap will stretch from the front office to the locker room. Owner Tony Ressler has said the organization will make “every effort imaginable” to re-sign Millsap, and Charles Odum of The Associated Press writes that teammates will be involved as well. “I’m definitely recruiting Millsap to come back,” said Kent Bazemore.
  • Utah’s Kyle Kuzma was among the players at the Hawks’ pre-draft workout this morning, Vivlamore tweets. The junior power forward is ranked 59th in the latest mock draft from Jonathan Givony at DraftExpress.
  • Rookies Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry are definites for summer league, according to Budenholzer, and they may be joined by Isaia Cordinier, a second-round pick in 2016 who spent this season in France (Twitter link).

Draft Notes: Williams, Kuzma, Wilder, Ball

Texas A&M freshman forward Robert Williams decided to remain in college because he wants to be the top pick, a source told Evan Daniels of Fox Sports and Scout.com (Twitter link). Williams also believes he’s not mature enough yet to enter the league, the tweet adds. Williams averaged 11.9 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 2.5 BPG during his freshman season for the Aggies. The 6’9” Williams was considered a late lottery pick, ranked as the 10th-best overall prospect by DraftExpress and 13th in Chad Ford’s top 100 at ESPN.com.

In other news involving the draft:

  • Utah forward Kyle Kuzma will enter the draft but won’t hire an agent, Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. Kuzma is ranked No. 73 among the top 100 prospects by DraftExpress and doesn’t make Ford’s top 100 list. The 6’9” Kuzma averaged 16.4 PPG and 9.3 RPG for the Utes in his junior season.
  • Western Michigan’s Thomas Wilder will also test the draft waters, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. The 6’3” guard averaged 19.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 3.8 APG in his junior season. He is not rated among the top 100 by either DraftExpress or Ford.
  • Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado and Khadeen Carrington will also enter the draft without hiring agents, Jon Rothstein of FanRagSports.com reports. Delgado, a 6’10” junior forward, averaged 15.2 PPG and 13.1 RPG this past season while Carrington, a 6’4” junior guard, averaged 17.1 PPG. Neither is considered a top 100 prospect.
  • Former Virginia and Memphis forward Austin Nichols has declared for the draft and hired an agent, according to Evan Daniels of Scout.com. The 6’9” Nichols played two seasons at Memphis, sat out a year, then played one game for the Cavaliers before he was dismissed from the team.
  • UCLA freshman point guard Lonzo Ball and Kansas freshman small forward Josh Jackson have solidified their status as two of the three top prospects with their performances in the NCAA tournament, Ford writes in a stock watch column. Arizona freshman forward Lauri Markkanen and Michigan State freshman forward Miles Bridges are among the players who have improved their draft stock during the first two rounds of the tournament, according to Ford. Villanova senior guard Josh Hart and Duke sophomore guard Luke Kennard are among the players that Ford believes hurt their draft status with subpar tournament outings.
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