Luguentz Dort

Luguentz Dort Signs Two-Way Deal With OKC

JULY 6: The Thunder have officially signed Dort to his two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.

JUNE 21: The Thunder will sign Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort to a two-way contract, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.

Dort was one of the more surprising players to be passed over on draft night, as Givony had him going at No. 34 in his final mock draft. It’s not clear why Dort wasn’t taken, but sources tell Givony that he turned down a few draft-and-stash opportunities.

It may turn out to be good fortune for the Thunder, who get a low-cost chance to evaluate Dort. The 20-year-old guard was a versatile defender in college and a strong finisher in the transition game. He averaged 16.1 PPG in his only season with the Sun Devils.

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.

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:

Central Draft Notes: Pacers, Cavs, Bucks, Pistons

Holding the 18th and 50th overall picks in the 2019 NBA draft, the Pacers should have a wide variety of options available to them in both the first and second rounds, so they’re doing plenty of homework in the weeks leading up to the draft.

On Wednesday, the Pacers held a pre-draft workout that featured Shizz Alston Jr. (Temple), Ky Bowman (Boston College), Tacko Fall (UCF), Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State), Juwan Morgan (Indiana), and Elijah Thomas (Clemson), according to the team. Fall’s ability to participate in that session was limited after he rolled an ankle, as we noted yesterday.

Today, the Pacers are working out six more prospects, announcing that Luguentz Dort (Arizona State), Kyle Guy (Virginia), Amir Hinton (Shaw), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Cody Martin (Nevada), and Josh Reaves (Penn State) are in town.

The Pacers will audition six more prospects on Friday, per the club’s latest press release. Ignas Brazdeikis (Michigan), Jon Elmore (Marshall), Aric Holman (Mississippi State), Luke Maye (UNC), Miye Oni (Yale), and Admiral Schofield (Tennessee) will attend that session.

Here are more updates on pre-draft workouts from around the Central:

Celtics Rumors: Horford, Ainge, Kyrie, Rozier, Herro

If Al Horford opts out of his contract this month, he’s probably unlikely to top his $30MM+ player-option salary on the open market, but he should be able to top that total figure on a multiyear deal. That’s a scenario that intrigues the Celtics.

Speaking today to reporters, including Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald, C’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said that restructuring Horford’s contract into a longer, more cap-friendly deal is a “priority” for the club this summer.

NBA rules don’t technically allow teams to restructure contracts to reduce cap hits in the same way that NFL franchises can. But if Horford turns down his player option, he and the Celtics could essentially start from scratch on a new deal — it wouldn’t be a restructuring so much as a brand new contract. If the C’s are able to negotiate a starting salary in the range of, say, $20-25MM, it would create some added cap flexibility for the coming offseason.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Despite suffering a mild heart attack last month, Ainge said he’s feeling good and will continue to lead the Celtics going forward, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “My role is not going to change,” Ainge said.
  • We passed along some of Ainge’s comments on Kyrie Irving in an earlier story, but Boston’s president of basketball operations offered a few more observations on the All-Star point guard. As Himmelsbach relays, Ainge said he had no regrets about the risk the Celtics took when they acquired Irving in 2017, and dismissed the idea that Kyrie was largely to blame for the club’s struggles in 2018/19. “We had a lot of reasons the team did not succeed this year,” Ainge said. “Kyrie deserves his share of the blame, but not any more than anybody else. There’s a lot of guys that didn’t handle things the right way and didn’t make the sacrifices that needed to be done for the benefit of the team. So I think that they’re all going to learn from it, including Kyrie.”
  • Ainge praised restricted-free-agent-to-be Terry Rozier, despite the fact that Rozier has publicly griped about the role he had with the Celtics this season. “I think that if Terry was in the right circumstance and the right role, I think he would love playing in Boston,” Ainge said, per Himmelsbach.
  • Ainge also acknowledged that the Celtics will consider draft-pick trades and told reporters that Brad Stevens continues to meet with candidates to replace assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry, according to Murphy and Himmelsbach.
  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets that the Celtics worked out Kevin Porter Jr. (USC), Luguentz Dort (Arizona State), Tyler Herro (Kentucky), Talen Horton-Tucker (Iowa State), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (VA Tech), and Skyler Flatten (South Dakota State) on Tuesday. Herro made a strong impression, per Aaron Torres of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

Trail Blazers Notes: Kanter, Aminu, Workout, Durant

Enes Kanter received a hero’s welcome Saturday as he returned to Oklahoma City for his annual youth basketball camp, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The former Thunder center remains popular with local fans, many of whom encouraged him to return to OKC in free agency. While Kanter might be too pricey for the Thunder to consider, he can count on receiving a lot of offers after rebuilding his stock in Portland following his release by the Knicks.

The Trail Blazers were aggressive in recruiting Kanter, who also received interest from the Thunder and Lakers. Repeated calls and texts from coach Terry Stotts, GM Neil Olshey and Damian Lillard were enough to tip the scales in Portland’s favor, which became fortunate when starting center Jusuf Nurkic was lost for the season with a broken leg.

“I’m glad that Portland happened,” Kanter said. “I love Portland, I love the people there, I love the fans there. I just want to go – and Portland counts, too – somewhere I can win games. I’m going into my ninth year. I just want to go somewhere where I have a good situation, have some playing time and just win.”

There’s more Trail Blazers news to pass along:

  • Al-Farouq Aminu‘s agent is open to negotiating an extension with Portland before his client hits free agency, but the Blazers may not be able to afford a substantial raise, relays Jason Quick of The Athletic. “He wants to be there,” Raymond Brothers said. “He’s still committed to the Blazers. He likes the city, the team, the coach, he likes Neil. He’s happy. He just wants to win.” Any extension would be limited to $48MM over four years. Aminu made $6.96MM this season.
  • The Trail Blazers brought in six players Friday for their first pre-draft workout, notes Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. The session featured Wake Forest’s Jaylen Hoard, Memphis’ Jeremiah Martin, Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort, Wichita State’s Markis McDuffie, St. John’s Shamorie Ponds and Shaw University’s Amir Hinton. Portland enters the draft with just one pick, its first-rounder at No. 25.
  • Lillard is asking an Oakland-based rapper to help convince Kevin Durant to come to Portland, relays Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Mistah F.A.B. joined Lillard on Instagram Live following Game 1 of the NBA Finals and asked him which free agent the Blazers should pursue. “Just go in there and tell KD, say ‘KD, just go to Portland, bruh. I’m a Portland fan,'” Lillard responded. “You a Portland fan now, so just be like, ‘Bruh they left Oakland anyways, so just go to Portland.'”

Draft Workouts: Reid, Dort, Fernando, Poirier

With the 2019 NBA draft just 19 days away, teams around the league are ramping up their workout schedules, bringing in draft-eligible prospects to get a first-hand look at those players in action before they make their final decisions. Here are some of the latest workout updates from across the NBA:

  • LSU big man Naz Reid said on Friday that he has worked out for the Celtics and also has sessions on tap with the Nets, Cavaliers, Sixers, and Spurs, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Previous reports indicated that Reid also auditioned for Detroit, Utah, and Orlando.
  • In addition to bringing in Reid on Monday, the Sixers will also work out Arizona State guard Luguentz Dort, per Keith Pompey of Philly.com (via Twitter). Dort ranks 26th on ESPN’s big board, which could make him a candidate for Philadelphia’s picks at 24, 33, and 34.
  • Maryland’s Bruno Fernando, who also projects as a potential first-round pick, also worked out for the Celtics, and will do the same for the Hawks, Pacers, Timberwolves, Spurs, and Jazz, tweets Robbins. Workouts with Charlotte, Detroit, and Orlando had been previously reported for Fernando.
  • Florida State big man Mfiondu Kabengele has worked out for the Celtics too, according to Robbins (via Twitter).
  • After visiting the Lakers on Friday, French center Darel Poirier had workouts lined up with the Heat, Sixers, Jazz, and Timberwolves, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando (Twitter link). Poirier played in the G League in 2018/19 with Washington’s affiliate, but remains draft-eligible for 2019.
  • According to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (via Twitter), the workout list for Indiana forward Juwan Morgan includes the Suns, Pacers, Bulls, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Jazz, and Kings.

Draft Notes: Reddish, Pro Days, Early Entrants, Thybulle

Duke’s Cam Reddish made a strong impression at Wednesday’s pro day in Phoenix, writes Mike Schmitz of ESPN. With more than 35 prospects on hand, Reddish put on a shooting display that caught the attention of an estimated 100 scouts and several general managers.

Reddish was projected as a high lottery pick last fall, but his stock slipped during a disappointing freshman season. However, he was in top form at the workout, sinking shot after shot in a variety of situations before stopping his session because of a minor groin injury.

Jarrett CulverKeldon JohnsonMfiondu Kabengele and Luguentz Dort were other top prospects at the event, along with a large collection of potential second-rounders.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • In the same article, Jonathan Givony looks at how pro days sponsored by agencies are gradually replacing individual workouts. These events enable players to show off their strengths and hide their weaknesses, allowing someone like Georgios Papagiannis or Rashad Vaughn to rise dramatically. “We’ve completely lost control of the pre-draft process, and we have no one to blame but ourselves,” an unidentified GM said. “Instead of spending time getting to know the guys we are about to invest millions of dollars in, as well as our job security and having our coaching staffs put players through meaningful workouts, we are sitting in traffic on the 405, shuffling between airports and watching celebrity trainers put players through dog and pony shows, with highly scripted routines against cones that tell us absolutely nothing about how they might perform in an actual game.”
  • Givony also takes a look at players who might be on the fence about staying in the draft ahead of Wednesday’s deadline and unveils an updated top-100 list that hasn’t changed much at the top.
  • A few more players reached draft decisions this morning. Caleb Daniels, who is transferring from Tulane to Villanova (Twitter link), Al-Wajid Aminu of North Florida (Twitter link) and Troy Baxter Jr. of Florida Gulf Coast (Twitter link) will all pull out of the draft, while Charlie Brown of St. Joseph’s (Twitter link from Goodman) will keep his name in.
  • Matisse Thybulle of Washington may have a draft promise from the Celtics, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The small forward is slotted at No. 28 on the new ESPN list, and Boston holds picks No. 14, 20 and 22.

Draft Notes: Brazdeikis, Pistons, Pacers, Dort, Wooten

University of Michigan freshman forward Ignas Brazdeikis is strongly leaning toward staying the draft, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com tweets. “Definitely leaning toward staying in,” he said while working out for the Pistons on Monday. Brazdeikis’ representatives have told him he’ll go anywhere from No. 20-40 in the draft, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets. ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony currently pegs the power forward at No. 46 overall.

We have more developments regarding draft prospects:

Draft Notes: Reid, Waters, Childs, Porter

There’s “no chance” Naz Reid returns to LSU, as the prospect tells Jeff Goodman of Stadium Sports (Twitter link). Reid’s teammate Tremont Waters will also remain in the draft. Waters and Reid are the 47th and 48th prospect, according to ESPN.

  • BYU’s Yoeli Childs will remain in the draft, per Goodman (Twitter link). Childs is not listed in ESPN’s top 100.
  • Jontay Porter will not return to Missouri instead electing to remain in the draft, Goodman tweets. Porter is still recovering from a knee injury.
  • Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort tells Goodman (Twitter link) that he is “100 percent” staying in the NBA Draft. Dort is No. 27 on ESPN’s draft board.