KZ Okpala

Heat Notes: Free Agency, Leonard, Okpala, Mooney

The Heat won’t be in the market for any of the remaining free agents unless they trade someone from their current roster, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The hard cap that the team has been operating under since the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade has put a severe limit on its flexibility. Miami is already uncomfortably close to its $138.9MM limit.

That means potential additions such as Jamal Crawford, J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony are off the table unless the Heat make another move to open space. They could release Kendrick Nunn, whose contract isn’t fully guaranteed, but Winderman considers that unlikely. If they decide to trade someone in exchange for a lesser salary, Winderman identifies Meyers Leonard, who will earn $11.3MM this season, as a possibility. He adds that they may try to move Goran Dragic by the deadline or save their next significant moves for next summer.

There’s more this morning from Miami:

  • Second-round pick KZ Okpala wouldn’t object to spending time in the G League if it’s necessary to get consistent playing time, relays Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson notes that a similar path worked for Josh Richardson, who played four games for Sioux Falls as a second-round pick in 2015. “I trust the staff and whatever they say is best,” Okpala said. “I believe in that and will go into it with a good foot forward.”
  • Free agent guard Matt Mooney, who agreed to sign an Exhibit 10 deal with the Grizzlies last week, received the same offer from the Heat, Jackson notes in the same story. It’s a similar situation to Rayjon Tucker, who recently joined the Bucks, as both players worked out for Miami and were interested in two-way contracts. However, the Heat have decided to let players in training camp compete for two-way deals.
  • Jackson rates the Heat’s potential interest in six players recently identified by former Hawks GM Wes Wilcox as among the most likely to be traded: Chris Paul, Kevin Love, Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins, Andre Iguodala and Devin Booker. Miami’s interest in Beal is well known, and he would be at the top of the list if he becomes available. The Heat had discussions about Paul, but won’t make a deal unless they get their two first-round picks back from Oklahoma City. Jackson doesn’t believe Miami would want Love because of his age, contract and injury history, while Iguodala fits better on an immediate contender. However, Jackson sees Booker and Wiggins as possible targets in the future if the Heat can’t land another star in free agency.

Heat Sign KZ Okpala To Three-Year Deal

The Heat have signed second-round pick KZ Okpala to a three-year deal, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). The contract will be a minimum salary arrangement.

The contract will count against Miami’s mid-level exception since the franchise went beyond two seasons. All three years of the contract will be guaranteed, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel tweets. As a result of making his deal a three-year pact, the Heat will own Okpala’s full Bird Rights once it expires.

Miami currently projects to be over the tax line, so the team will likely have the taxpayer’s mid-level ($5.7MM) at its disposal. Outside of Okpala, the team has not yet used any of this exception.

Okpala was selected with the No. 32 overall pick by the Suns (Phoenix had sent it to the Pacers in the T.J. Warren trade). Indiana agreed to pass Okpala’s draft rights on to the Heat in exchange for three second-round picks (2022, 2025, and 2026).

Woj: Heat “Team To Watch” For Russell Westbrook

The Heat are a “team to watch” in the Russell Westbrook situation, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said today during the network’s broadcast of a Summer League game (video clip).

“Russell Westbrook at 30 years old is still a high-level player, but it is a lot of money and he’s going to take up a great deal of your salary cap,” said Wojnarowski, who predicts Miami will be among several to talk to the Thunder about Westbrook’s availability.

A source confirms to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald that Heat officials “absolutely like” Westbrook, but there’s no indication of how hard they plan to pursue him (Twitter link). He adds that the Thunder own Miami’s first-round pick in 2021 and don’t have any incentive to help the Heat.

Westbrook’s availability was made public in the wake of the surprising overnight trade that sent teammate Paul George to the Clippers to team up with Kawhi Leonard. Westbrook will make $170MM over the next four seasons and the Thunder are interested in cutting costs now that they longer have two stars in place.

There’s more today from Miami:

  • New Heat center Meyers Leonard told Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel that he has gotten over the shock of being traded from the Trail Blazers. Leonard said he was in the middle of a workout when his trainer told him to call his agent after seeing a tweet from Wojnarowski about the deal. “There are numerous things I’m excited for — the culture, the kind of get-in-there-and-work-hard grit mentality,” Leonard said. “I can only say I’m very, very excited for this opportunity, to help the Heat win.”
  • The Heat are risking their ability to surround Butler with more talent in the future with today’s decision to stretch the $15.6MM still owed to Ryan Anderson, Winderman notes in a separate story. They had to cut salary before they could accommodate Butler’s new contract, but the deal will keep Anderson on the payroll for three more years at $5.2MM per season.
  • The Heat expect rookie forward KZ Okpala to make his Summer League debut tomorrow, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. With the moratorium lifted, the 32nd pick in the draft officially traveled the circuitous route that took him from the Pacers to the Suns to the Heat. “The process has been different,” Okpala said of the long wait. “It’s not what I expected, for sure. But I think it’s just all a part of the process. You just have to control the things you can control.”

Heat Acquire KZ Okpala’s Draft Rights

JULY 6: The Heat have officially acquired Okpala’s draft rights, sending the Pacers their 2022, 2025, and 2026 second-round picks, Miami announced in a press release. The deal technically became a three-team trade, having merged with the Pacers’ acquisition of T.J. Warren from the Suns.

JUNE 20: The Pacers agreed to send the No. 32 pick to the Heat, who selected Stanford small forward KZ Okpala, Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. The Pacers gained the rights to that pick earlier in the day in a trade with the Suns.

Indiana will receive three future second-round picks from Miami. The Heat had traded away their second-round pick.

Indiana also acquired forward T.J. Warren from Phoenix, which used cap room to make that deal in a salary dump. The Suns received cash considerations.

The 6’9” Okpala averaged 16.8 PPG and 5.7 RPG last season.

New York Notes: Barrett, Durant, Bol, Bazley

Family considerations are part of the reason R.J. Barrett wants to be drafted by the Knicks tomorrow, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. At a press conference today, Barrett explained that his grandfather was a huge Knicks fan, his mother is from Brooklyn and his father played at St. John’s.

It appears Barrett will get his wish, unless someone leapfrogs New York and makes a deal with Memphis for the No. 2 pick. He has turned down requests for a workout with the Grizzlies, saying he prefers to play for the Knicks.

“My agent and I and my parents, we just decided not to (work out for Memphis),’’ Barrett said. “Not really anything wrong with Memphis. New York is just more where I wanted to be.”

Ja Morant ranks slightly higher on the Knicks’ board, but the team will be content to stay put at No. 3 and take Barrett if that’s how the draft works out, a source tells Berman.

There’s more from New York on the eve of the draft:

  • While the Knicks have clarity about their draft situation, free agency looks very different, notes Frank Isola of The Athletic. He cites league sources who believe Kevin Durant is headed to New York, even if Kyrie Irving winds up in Brooklyn. However, Isola is skeptical after hearing months of rumors that they want to play together. He adds that Durant’s Achilles surgery last week was performed by an orthopedic surgeon who formerly worked for the Knicks but is now with the Nets.
  • The Nets attended a private workout for Oregon center Bol Bol last week, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.TV. Brooklyn has the 27th pick and would probably have to move up for Bol, but the foot injury he suffered in college make his draft range unpredictable.
  • Darius Bazley is a name to watch if he’s still on the board for the Nets‘ selection, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The 6’10” forward didn’t play college basketball after committing to Syracuse, but he has been impressive in workouts. Lewis mentions Stanford’s KZ Okpala, Auburn’s Chuma Okeke, USC’s Kevin Porter, Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort and Croatian Luka Samanic as other possibilities at No. 27.

Draft Notes: Blazers, Hawks, Hunter, Samanic, Kings, Warriors

The Trail Blazers, who hold just one pick – No. 25 overall – in this year’s draft, brought in a total of 24 prospects for workouts, according to Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com.

In addition to the 12 prospects whose names we previously relayed, the Trail Blazers also brought in David Crisp (Washington), Matur Maker (Slovenia), KZ Okpala (Stanford), Samir Sehic (Tulane), Jaylin Walker (Kent State), Cameron Young (Quinnipiac), Vic Law (Northwestern), Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Louis King (Oregon), Admiral Schofield (Tennessee), Rayjon Tucker (Little Rock) over the last week.

Not all of those players are candidates to be selected 25th overall, so the Trail Blazers were also doing their homework on potential undrafted free agent signings — or possibly even second-round picks, if Portland opts to trade back into the draft.

Here are a few more draft-related notes and rumors worth rounding up:

  • The Hawks are “very high” on Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link). Sources tell Givony that Atlanta is the only team Hunter has worked out for, though if the Hawks want to secure him, they may have to trade up from No. 8. The Hawks are also said to like Jarrett Culver.
  • Croatian forward Luka Samanic isn’t interested in becoming a draft-and-stash player, sources tell Givony. That might cause his stock to fall a little, since he’s still “raw and inexperienced,” Givony writes. Some teams may be reluctant to guarantee him a roster spot until he’s a little more NBA-ready.
  • The Kings worked out Kyle Guy (Virginia), Jaylen Hands (UCLA), Rayjon Tucker (Little Rock), Miye Oni (Yale), Daulton Hommes (Point Loma), and Kenny Wooten (Oregon) on Monday, per James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets are among the teams that brought in Purdue Fort Wayne’s John Konchar for a pre-draft workout, tweets ESPN’s Jordan Schultz.
  • Jordan Poole (Michigan) and Jarrell Brantley (Charleston) auditioned for the Warriors today, per Gery Woelfel and Adam Zagoria, respectively (Twitter links).

Central Notes: Beverley, Bucks, Pacers, Doumboya

Clippers free agent guard Patrick Beverley would consider signing with the Bulls, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (hat tip to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports). Beverley said he’d enjoy playing in his hometown, though he’d probably take the best offer he can find on the market.

“I am Chicago. I’m from Chicago. I bleed Chicago. I really think I can help the city. I think I can save the city,” Beverley said. “I inspire already. And I’d be a great inspiration just walking around the city of Chicago, knowing I’m from there, knowing that someone made it out and you can go and do the same. I’m a Chicago kid. So of course I’m open to playing for the Chicago Bulls if that’s a team that’s interested in me. At the same time, any decision that is made, it’s never personal. It’s always business.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks are the early favorite to win the championship next season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. The odds from BetOnline.ag have the Bucks as the lukewarm 9-2 choice, followed by the Warriors.
  • The Pacers will host the Virginia Tech duo of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Justin Robinson in a pre-draft workout on Monday, according to a team press release. Phil Booth (Villanova), Kris Clyburn (UNLV), Matt Mooney (Texas Tech) and KZ Okpala (Stanford) will also visit Indiana’s practice facility. Alexander-Walker is ranked No. 22 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony with Okpala two slots behind him. Devin Cannady (Princeton) JaKeenan Gant (Louisiana-Lafayette), Cameron Jackson (Wofford), Christian James (Oklahoma) and Lamar Peters (Mississippi State) were among the players who visited on Friday, Scott Agness of The Athletic tweets.
  • Draft prospect Sekou Doumbouya visited the Bulls on Friday, the team’s PR department tweets. The forward plays for Limoges CSP in the French league.

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.

Northwest Notes: J. Howard, Jazz, Nuggets, Noel

Before he reached a deal to become the new head coach of the Michigan Wolverines, Juwan Howard reportedly drew interest from the Timberwolves as they considered whether to retain head coach Ryan Saunders or go in a different direction.

While Minnesota ultimately opted to retain Saunders and Howard left the NBA for a college job, the Wolverines’ new head coach revealed today that the Timberwolves’ interest was real. According to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (via Twitter), Howard said that the Wolves offered him their associate head coach position – presumably under Saunders – but he declined. “My heart is with Michigan,” he said.

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Northwest…