Lonzo Ball

Draft Notes: Ball, Ntilikina, Bulls, Mavericks

The Lakers are widely expected to take Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick after trading D’Angelo Russell on Tuesday, but Ball tells Adam Zagoria of FanRag Sports that he hasn’t received a guarantee from the team. Ball worked out twice for L.A., with the second time reportedly at the request of the Lakers after a disappointing showing in the first session. “I think they were both fine,” he said. L.A. is still giving “real consideration” to Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders.

There’s more news as teams lock in their draft strategies:

  • French point guard Frank Ntilikina held a last-minute workout for the Knicks this morning, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Sources tell Berman that the Mavericks, who are also in the market for a point guard, talked to the Timberwolves about trading up from the ninth pick to the seventh to have a shot at Ntilikina, but talks collapsed because of Minnesota’s high asking price. The Wolves would prefer to use that pick as part of a package to get Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. Today’s workout was conducted by former Knicks player developmental coach Chris Brickley, who tutored Ntilikina last summer.
  • If the Bulls do move Butler, they will likely target Fox or Josh Jackson, tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.
  • The Celtics are also interested in the seventh pick and have spoken to the Wolves about a possible deal, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Boston may want an extra draft choice to sweeten its offer to the Knicks for Kristaps Porzingis.
  • Responding to Damian Lillard‘s request for a better supporting cast, the Trail Blazers are trying to acquire a lottery pick, tweets Mitch Lawrence of The Sporting News. Portland’s priority in any deal is getting rid of a bad contract, according to Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The Blazers made an offer for Paul George, but it “doesn’t move the needle” for the Pacers, relays Jason Quick of CSNNW (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors, who hold the No. 23 pick, are gauging interest around the league and are willing to trade down, according to Scotto (Twitter link).
  • The Nuggets, who have the 13th selection, are another team that may try to move down, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. He notes that Denver has a history of making draft-night trades.
  • Several teams have expressed an interest in moving into the late part of the lottery, according to Givony (Twitter link). He lists the Lakers, Hawks, Nets, Bucks, Trail Blazers and Rockets as teams that might try to acquire a pick in the 10-14 range.

Draft Notes: Jackson, Ball, Ntilikina, Smith

Kansas forward Josh Jackson wanted to work out for the Celtics after they traded for the No. 3 pick, but couldn’t work out the scheduling, tweets Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The Celtics are reportedly deciding between Jackson and Duke forward Jayson Tatum if they decide to keep the pick, and Tatum held a workout in Boston on Monday.

Jackson added that he has spoken to Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown and believes they would form a good combination (Twitter link). The former Jayhawk also disputed a rumor that he refused to work out for the team unless he was promised Boston wouldn’t trade its pick (Twitter link).

There’s more as the top prospects met with the media today in New York:

  • Lonzo Ball confirmed to reporters his only pre-draft meeting was with the Lakers, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. Ball also believes L.A. traded D’Angelo Russell to open up a spot for him and he can see that “the Lakers have a plan.” He adds that the Lakers haven’t promised to take him, relays Adam Zagoria of Fanrag Sports (Twitter link), saying, “We’ll just find out tomorrow night.” Ball also explained why he turned down a session with the Celtics when they had the top pick, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “If it’s either play for the hometown or go No. 1, I’d rather play for the hometown,” Ball said.
  • Frank Ntilikina met with the Knicks front office today, including team president Phil Jackson, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The French point guard, who is reportedly in strong consideration with New York’s No. 8 pick, said the team wanted to meet him in person.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. also met with Jackson and the Knicks front office, Begley relays (Twitter link). The North Carolina State point guard believes he can be effective in the triangle offense.
  • Indiana’s OG Anunoby said doctors have assured him that he can resume basketball activities by October or early November, according to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Anunoby had surgery on his right knee after a season-ending injury in January.
  • Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen was a Timberwolves fan growing up, and Minnesota was among the four teams he worked out for, Fischer tweets. The others were the Mavericks, Celtics and Magic, and he had a meeting with the Knicks.
  • Gonzaga’s Zach Collins had private workouts with the Magic, Wolves, Kings, Mavericks and Suns, and a group session with the Lakers, Fischer relays (Twitter link).
  • Duke’s Luke Kennard held individual workouts for the Lakers, Pistons, Knicks and Mavericks (Twitter link).
  • The Nets and Bulls were among the teams to work out international big man Isaiah Hartenstein leading up to the draft, tweets David Pick.

Draft Notes: Mitchell, Jackson, Tatum, Ferguson

Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell will hold a last-minute workout for the Knicks today, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. The sophomore out of Louisville, whose session was originally scheduled for Tuesday, is being considered with the No 8 pick, Begley adds, along with French point guard Frank Ntilikina, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen and others. Team president Phil Jackson is intrigued by Mitchell’s defensive prowess and athleticism and likes the fact that he prefers to work out in a group setting to showcase his defense. Joining Mitchell today will be Villanova’s Josh Hart, Miami’s Davon Reed, Iowa State’s Naz Long and others.

There’s more draft news on the eve of the big event:

  • The Celtics have received Josh Jackson‘s medical records, but the Kansas forward still refuses to work out for the team, tweets Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Boston appears to be leaning toward Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick, Ford states, but no decision has been made.
  • Ford still has Jackson as the third selection in his latest mock draft, which was released today. Markelle Fultz remains No. 1, followed by Lonzo Ball, with the rest of the top 10 as Tatum, Jonathan Isaac, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Monk, Zach Collins and Markkanen.
  • Terrance Ferguson recently pulled out of workouts with the Pistons, Hawks and Bucks, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. It’s possible that Ferguson received a draft promise from the Nuggets or Nets or he may have been responding to poor workouts (Twitter link).
  • A 7-footer with a soft shooting touch, Markkanen is drawing comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, writes Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Some scouts believe the 20-year-old Finnish star is the best 3-point shooter in the draft. “It’s probably not fair to him to have some young guy compared to a Hall of Fame player and champion,” Markkanen said of Nowitzki. “We have similarities because of the height, being from Europe and shooting. But I have a long way to go before I’m in the same category as him. Hopefully, I can get there one day.”
  • The Wizards will work out six players today, the team announced on its website. They are French center Alpha Kaba, Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain Jr., VCU’s JeQuan Lewis, Eastern Michigan’s Jalen Ross, Niagara’s Tahjere McCall and East Tennessee State’s Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Lakers Rumors: Ball, Russell, Randle, LeBron

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported earlier today that sources believe the Lakers moved “closer and closer” over the weekend to making Lonzo Ball their pick at No. 2, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report shares a similar sentiment in his latest column. According to Ding, the Lakers are “nearing a final decision” to use the second overall pick on Ball.

Team sources tell Ding that there are still some additional discussions and final planning that will take place before the Lakers are on the clock on Thursday, but Ball’s second pre-draft meeting with the club on Friday was a productive one. An “appreciation for Ball’s all-around upside” has emerged within the Lakers in recent weeks, according to Ding.

Here are a few more Lakers-related notes and rumors:

  • There are ongoing questions within the Lakers’ organization about how D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle take criticism, team sources tell Ding within the article linked above. Neither player advanced as far in 2016/17 as Luke Walton had hoped, according to Ding, who says Russell was “inconsistent with his professionalism” while Randle “often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly.”
  • Trading Jordan Clarkson for a current or future draft pick would make “a ton of sense” for the Lakers, given their desire to continue stockpiling assets and maintaining cap flexibility, says Ding. Clarkson is rumored to be on the trade block.
  • Ding also touches on the LeBron James rumors that have surfaced within the last week or two, citing sources who say that James’ wife would like to live in Los Angeles full-time. Multiple recent reports have suggested that LeBron opting out and joining one of the L.A. teams in 2018 is a possibility.
  • League sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link) that the Lakers have expressed no interest in trading the No. 2 overall pick at this juncture. We heard last week that L.A. was “taking and making calls” related to that selection, but it seems those calls may not be happening anymore.
  • Mark Medina of The Orange County Reigster spoke to former Gonzaga big man Zach Collins following his Monday workout with the Lakers, suggesting that Collins will likely only be on L.A.’s radar if the team makes a trade. We heard this morning that the Lakers may be trying to acquire a second lottery pick.

Jayson Tatum Works Out For Celtics

Former Duke forward Jayson Tatum met with the Celtics on Monday, working out for Boston at the team’s practice facility in Waltham, Massachusetts, a source tells Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com. It was the first time that Tatum had paid a visit to the C’s.

The Celtics confirmed on Monday afternoon that their trade with the Sixers, which will see them move down from No. 1 to No. 3, is now official. While we know that Philadelphia will use its newly-acquired pick on Markelle Fultz, it’s still not clear which prospect Boston will draft at No. 3.

Josh Jackson is viewed as the favorite for the Celtics, but there are increased rumblings that Tatum remains very much in the mix as well. Lonzo Ball also figures to be an option if the Lakers pass on him with the second overall selection, though it remains to be seen if he and/or Jackson will work out for Boston before Thursday.

Speaking to reporters today, Celtics president Danny Ainge said that the team believes “there’s a really good chance the player we’ll take at No. 3 is the player we would have taken at No. 1” (Twitter link via Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe). However, he also suggested the team hasn’t necessarily zeroed in one specific player, indicating that there may be multiple players the team would happy with at No. 3 (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com).

While I wouldn’t expect the Celtics to move down any further than they already have, it’s worth noting that ESPN’s Chad Ford reported the Suns (No. 4) have talked to Boston about a deal. Phoenix reportedly has its eye on either Ball or Jackson, so if the Celtics would be happy with Tatum, it will be interesting to see if Ainge is willing to discuss moving down again in a deal with the Suns. For what it’s worth, Ford tweets that the Celtics have Jackson and Tatum ranked as first-tier prospects alongside Fultz and Ball.

Ford’s Latest: Lakers, Suns, Kings, Magic, Mavs

Sources in Los Angeles say that the Lakers have been “moving closer and closer” in recent days to making Lonzo Ball their man at No. 2, ESPN’s Chad Ford writes in his latest mock draft (Insider-only link). However, the Suns also have legitimate interest in Ball, and have had conversations with both the Lakers and Celtics about trading up, says Ford. Phoenix has interest in Josh Jackson too, but if both Jackson and Ball come off the board in the top three and the Suns don’t move up, Ford expects Jayson Tatum to be the team’s choice.

Here are several more interesting tidbits from Ford’s latest mock:

  • The Kings have explored moving up to No. 2 or No. 3, with De’Aaron Fox as their target. Ford’s mock suggests Sacramento will have a chance to nab Fox with the No. 5 pick though.
  • The Magic have shown “serious interest” in Jayson Tatum, but Ford thinks he’ll be off the board at No. 6, and has Orlando picking Jonathan Isaac instead.
  • The Knicks and Mavericks both appear to be very high on French point guard Frank Ntilikina. Ford says not to be surprised if Dallas attempts to leapfrog New York by trading up to No. 6 or No. 7 to secure Ntilikina.
  • Ford’s newest mock forecasts a potential fall out of the top 10 for Malik Monk. ESPN’s draft guru suggests that if Monk makes it past the Timberwolves and Knicks, he could slip to the Hornets at No. 11.
  • There has been “a lot of buzz” about the possibility of OG Anunoby landing with the Nuggets, Ford writes. The injured Indiana forward is receiving interest as high as No. 10 (Kings), but Denver would be a good fit, since the Nuggets wouldn’t need him to play right away.
  • The Trail Blazers, who hold three first-round picks, continue to shop around No. 20, per Ford.

Lakers Trying To Acquire Another First-Round Pick

The Lakers are one of a small handful of NBA teams with multiple first-round picks in the 2017 draft, but the team doesn’t appear to be satisfied with just having two first-rounders. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, the Lakers are attempting to acquire another selection in the first round for Thursday’s draft.

Shelburne reports that the Lakers, who currently hold this year’s second and 28th overall picks, have engaged at least two teams picking in the lottery. The club is in the market for prospects that could help improve L.A.’s outside shooting and perimeter defense, Shelburne adds.

While it’s not clear which teams the Lakers have spoken to, there have been reports suggesting that the Timberwolves (No. 7) and Pistons (No. 12) are open to moving their lottery picks for veteran help. ESPN’s Chad Ford heard last week from a Lakers source that if Los Angeles lands a second lottery pick, the club’s target may be Luke Kennard, who projects to land in Detroit at No. 12 in many mock drafts. It’s also possible that the Lakers are looking to accumulate more assets for a Paul George offer, though Shelburne’s story gives no indication that’s the case.

Another report from last week indicated that the Lakers have been “taking and making calls” involving the No. 2 overall pick, but that selection remains unlikely to be dealt, according to Shelburne. Lonzo Ball, the favorite to be drafted with that pick, has yet to line up meetings with any teams besides the Lakers, Shelburne notes.

Shams Charania of The Vertical reported late on Sunday night (via Twitter) that the Lakers and Harrison Gaines – Ball’s agent – remain in discussions, but Ball’s camp has not yet received any guarantees.

Lakers Notes: George, Ball, Russell, Workout

The Lakers will have to unload some salary before next summer to offer Paul George a maximum contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. George has informed the Pacers that he plans to opt out after next season and hopes to sign with L.A. The franchise would need roughly $30.6MM in cap room to fit in a full max deal for 2018/19, and right now there’s only about $15.6MM available (Twitter link). That number assumes they make both of their first-round picks this year and renounce all their free agents this summer and next summer except for Julius Randle.

To create more space, the Lakers would have to either renounce Randle, a valuable young talent, or trade one of their big-money contracts in Luol Deng ($18MM for 2018/19) Timofey Mozgov ($16MM) or Jordan Clarkson ($12.5MM), according to Marks (Twitter link). Another option is to use the stretch provision, which would amount to paying Deng $7.2MM and Mozgov $6.4MM over the next five years (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The news about George makes the Lakers more likely to draft Lonzo Ball, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The team is reportedly deciding between Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson, but the expected addition of George reduces the need for Jackson.
  • Immaturity remains a concern with incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell, according to Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. Russell, who might be moved to shooting guard if Ball is selected, doesn’t have point guard instincts after switching to the position during his single season at Ohio State. Heisler also shares concerns that Russell is partying too much and that coach Luke Walton has grown tired of the “post-adolescent” nature of the team.
  • Johnny Buss tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that he lost his passion for owning the Lakers when his father Jerry died in 2013. Johnny Buss resigned as members of the board of directors during the season after a failed attempt to take over control of the team. “If anybody thought that Johnny or Jeanie or Jimmy or any of his kids could fill his shoes, they’re grandly mistaken,” Buss said. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. So all we could do was try to stay together and do what he asked us to do and that was to make as much money as possible. Create a franchise that was worth billions.”
  • The Lakers will bring in six players Monday for a pre-draft workout, the team announced via Twitter. They are Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, Clemson’s Avry Holmes, Creighton’s Cole Huff, Cal-Irvine’s Luke Nelson, Columbia’s Luke Petrasek and Alabama-Huntsville’s Seab Webster.

Latest On Celtics-Sixers Deal

Saturday’s blockbuster deal that will allow the Sixers to draft Markelle Fultz validates “the process” that former GM Sam Hinkie brought to Philadelphia, writes Tim Cato of SB Nation. The Sixers were able to get the No. 1 pick from Boston in exchange for their own selection at No. 3 and the Lakers’ first-rounder next year, which will be conveyed only if it falls between No. 2 and No. 5, or the Kings’ first-rounder the following year. Hinkie’s philosophy of getting high draft picks and collecting assets gave Philadelphia the ammunition to make the deal, Cato notes. The Sixers now have a promising core of Fultz, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to build their future around.

There’s a lot more this morning as writers weigh in on the trade:

  • The Sixers held a private workout with Fultz Saturday night before agreeing to the deal, and the Celtics weren’t notified that the trade was done before the news became public, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. He notes that the Celtics’ already crowded backcourt factored into their decision to pass on Fultz (Twitter link). Potential Boston draftees Josh Jackson and Lonzo Ball both turned down workouts with the team, so the Celtics haven’t seen either player in person (Twitter link). They watched Jayson Tatum during a session in Los Angeles.
  • The trade happened five days before the draft because the Sixers and Celtics are both hoping to make other deals, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Fultz, who grew up in Maryland, told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he likes the idea of playing relatively close to home and being with a rising team like the Sixers. Sources told Pompey that Fultz was disappointed when Philadelphia failed to land the top pick at the lottery. “They have a young team, and I think the upside of it would be crazy,” Fultz said. “I’m close to home. So a lot of my family can come out and just show love, and this city has great fans.”
  • The Celtics could have seven first-rounders over the next three drafts, tweets ESPN.com’s Chris Forsberg, who details the picks.
  • On his website, Derek Bodner examines how the Sixers acquired the assets they used to land Fultz.

Draft Rumors: Lakers, Ball, Monk, Kennard

On Thursday, we learned that the Lakers are “taking and making calls” about the No. 2 overall pick, and according to ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider-only link), one scenario in particular has piqued the team’s interest. Ford reports that the Lakers have had internal discussions about trading back to No. 4 if the Suns are willing to offer them a 2018 first-round pick. The Suns are currently in line to have two first-rounders next year, with Miami’s top-seven protected pick coming their way, but that’d still be a steep price to move up two spots.

According to Ford, the Lakers are unwilling to trade their No. 2 overall pick if it involves dropping out of the top five entirely, since they want to land at least one prospect with star potential next Thursday. The most likely scenario involves the team simply keeping the pick, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, who hears from team sources that a trade remains a long shot.

Here are more draft rumors and notes, with less than a week to go until the big day:

  • Lonzo Ball, who will work out for the Lakers again on Friday, is considering talking to other lottery teams that want to meet with him, according to Ramona Shelburne. Ball’s preference is to land in Los Angeles, but if the team doesn’t give him any indication after Friday’s meeting that he has “separated himself” from other contenders for that No. 2 pick, he may explore more options, per Shelburne.
  • Having worked out for four teams with picks between Nos. 3 and 8, Malik Monk doesn’t intend to audition for any more clubs before the draft, tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.
  • Former Duke sharpshooter Luke Kennard is starting to be considered alongside several second-tier prospects in this draft, according to Chad Ford, who reports that the Knicks are “seriously considering” Kennard at No. 8. One GM tells Ford that his team has Kennard ranked higher than Monk on its board, while a Lakers source says Kennard would be the favorite for L.A. if the club could acquire a second top-10 pick.
  • Another GM from a late-lottery team to Ford, regarding Kennard: “There’s no way he gets to us. I don’t think there’s any way he’s out of the top 10. We think he’s the best shooter in the draft. We think he’s tough. He’s more athletic than you think. He really thinks the game. He’s the most underrated guy in this draft.”
  • Danny Chau, Jonathan Tjarks, and Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer identify eight prospects who are rising or falling on their respective draft boards.
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