Luke Kennard

Central Notes: Bulls, Smith, Johnson

The Bulls have fully embraced a rebuild and it’s centered around Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. Vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman declared as much at media day, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

We’re in a position now where we have supportive ownership, we’ve defined our direction and we’re looking forward,” Paxson said. “That’s all Gar and I can do every day.

The three players mentioned were all acquired a draft day deal between the Bulls and Timberwolves that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. The change of course to embrace a rebuild came after a season of trade rumors and speculation that the organization should dismantle its core (among other things).

I do think we can win our fans’ trust back by showing them we can put a group of young players out there who care and show them there’s promise ahead,” Paxson said.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • For now at least, J.R. Smith is the starting shooting guard on the Cavaliers, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes. “I’m not going to sit here and get into a ‘blank’ measuring contest with Dwyane Wade,” Smith said. “I’m not going to win that. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to continue to work hard for our team and however they choose to do it, that’s who it’s going to be.”
  • Citing mental maturation and a commitment to improving, Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy is optimistic about third-year forward Stanley Johnson‘s progress, Keith Langlois of the team’s official site writes. Van Gundy also praised rookie Luke Kennard‘s performance at training camp thus far.
  • There’s a case to be made for Cavaliers forward LeBron James winning the MVP this season. Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes that the 15-year veteran is coming off one of the best offseasons he’s had since he came into the league.

 

NBA Rookies View Dennis Smith Jr. As ROY Favorite

For the last decade, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann has been surveying several incoming rookies to get their thoughts on their fellow first-year players.  Schuhmann asks the newest NBA players to identify which rookie they expect to have the best career, which was the steal of the 2017 draft, and which is the frontrunner for the 2017/18 Rookie of the Year award, among other questions.

This year, Schuhmann polled 39 rookies, and more than a quarter of those players made Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. their pick for Rookie of the Year favorite. The No. 9 overall pick received 25.7% of the vote, beating out top picks like Lonzo Ball (20%) and Markelle Fultz (17.1%). That may be good news for the Mavs, though as Schuhmann observes, the rookies he has surveyed haven’t accurately predicted the Rookie of the Year winner since 2007/08, when they made Kevin Durant the overwhelming favorite.

Here are a few more items of interest from Schuhmann’s survey:

  • Smith was the landslide winner (43.6%) as the most athletic rookie. But while his fellow rookies believe the Mavericks point guard will have the best first year, Ball and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received the most votes (18.4% apiece) for which rookie will have the best overall career.
  • Donovan Mitchell (18.9%) was the top choice for biggest steal of the draft, after the Jazz nabbed him at No. 13. Some of the second-round picks that the rookies viewed as steals included Jordan Bell (Warriors; No. 38) and Dwayne Bacon (Hornets; No. 40).
  • Luke Kennard (Pistons) and Malik Monk (Hornets) were widely considered the top two outside shooters in the draft. Among their fellow rookies, Kennard (48.6%) easily topped Monk (13.5%) as the pick for the No. 1 shooter of the 2017 class.
  • Suns forward Josh Jackson (26.3%) was narrowly voted the best rookie defender, while Ball (71.8%) was the overwhelming pick for best rookie playmaker.

Central Notes: Kennard, D. Williams, Antetokounmpo

The Pistons are more optimistic than ever about rookie Luke Kennard after watching his summer league performance, writes Keith Langlois of NBA.com. The 12th pick in this year’s draft, Kennard averaged 17.2 points per game as Detroit’s team advanced to the finals in Orlando. He made 11 of 23 shots from 3-point range during the 10-day competition and eased any fears the Pistons may have harbored about his defense.

“Pretty much what we thought offensively, maybe even did a better job passing the ball than I thought,” said coach/executive Stan Van Gundy. “He’s able to make plays off the dribble , that nice change of pace, and things I hadn’t seen a lot of. He really has a great feel for the game and how to play in addition to clearly his ability to shoot the ball.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Richard Jefferson offered some insight on his Road Trippin’ podcast about why Deron Williams is unlikely to return to the Cavaliers, relays Daniel Rappaport of Sports Illustrated. Jefferson said the veteran guard’s “eyes did not light up” about coming off the bench in Cleveland, but joked that the Warriors’ “eyes lit up” whenever Williams checked into the Finals. Williams didn’t turn out to be a good fit for the Cavs after joining the team in late February in the wake of buyout with the Mavericks. He was particularly bad in the Finals, shooting 2 of 16 for the series and averaging 1.0 points and 1.2 assists per game. Williams’ contract with Cleveland expired after the season, and he remains a free agent.
  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, whose $100MM extension begins with the start of the season, has another big payday ahead, writes Nick DePaula of ESPN. He will be a free agent in the shoe market at the end of September after making just $25K from Nike last year and expects to top that figure several times over. Antetokounmpo is hoping to exceed the nearly $5MM-per-year deal that Kristaps Porzingis received from Adidas, with one industry specialist speculating that he could receive $7MM to $10MM annually.
  • The Bucks won’t be the only team playing at their new arena, according to the Associated Press. The NBA team has reached a seven-year agreement allowing Marquette to use the facility, which is expected to open ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Pistons Notes: Marjanovic, Backcourt, Kennard

Long one of the NBA’s most intriguing reserve big men, Boban Marjanovic will be utilized differently this season than he was during his first under Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy. Keith Langlois of the team’s official website spoke with the Van Gundy about his 7’4″ backup.

The questions are going to be how [Marjanovic’s stellar play at the end of 2016/17] holds up over time and how many minutes he can take on a nightly basis,” Van Gundy said. “Those we don’t know, but we do know that he’s got unbelievable size and skill and that’s a pretty good combination.”

With Aron Baynes now a member of the Celtics, Marjanovic figures be the primary backup to Andre Drummond, splitting duties perhaps with Jon Leuer when more mobility is required.

There’s more out of Detroit:

  • Point guard Reggie Jackson made a point of travelling to meet Avery Bradley as soon as possible, Ansar Khan of MLive writes. Jackson said he wants the new-look backcourt to hold each other accountable this season.
  • Rookie Luke Kennard will need to outplay Langston Galloway and Reggie Bullock for a prominent place in the Pistons’ rotation but in his defense he has already assuaged some concerns about his mobility that Stan Van Gundy had prior to the summer league, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes in a mailbag.
  • Big man Andre Drummond has shouldered the blame for Detroit’s lousy 2016/17 campaign, Michael Lee of The Vertical writes. “It starts with me,” Drummond said. “I didn’t come out playing the way I was supposed to. I needed to take it upon myself to be a leader this summer, to really take care of myself, take care of my body to make sure my team got better.

Pistons Sign Luke Kennard To Rookie Contract

The Pistons have signed 2017 first-round pick Luke Kennard to his rookie contract, the team announced today in a press release.

The 12th overall pick in this year’s draft, Kennard will be in line for a deal worth more than $15MM over the next four years. His salary during his rookie campaign will be $2,759,280, as our breakdown of rookie scale salaries shows.

Kennard is one of several first-rounders to sign his new NBA contract on the first day he was eligible to do so. Because the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement no longer provides any additional cap flexibility to teams that keep their first-rounders unsigned, there is little incentive to delay in inking draftees anymore.

The 21-year-old averaged 11.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 26.7 minutes in 36 games as a freshman.  His three 20-point games as a freshman were the most by a Duke freshman and he ranked seventh among ACC freshmen in scoring (11.8 PPG), per the press release.

Heat Notes: Leaf, Collins, Reed, Aldridge

The Heat will be looking for size with the 14th pick, especially if Luke Kennard and Donovan Mitchell are both off the board, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. T.J. Leaf, who proved to be an effective outside shooter at UCLA, is a possibility, along with Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, who can also hit from 3-point range. Miami would like to find a stretch four to team with Hassan Whiteside, a traditional low-post center.

If Collins is off the board, Jackson says the Heat will look at Jarrett Allen of Texas and Justin Patton of Creighton. Both are 6’11” and are targeted for the back of the lottery or possibly later. A minor injury prevented Allen from working out for Miami, but he held an interview Sunday and reportedly impressed team officials. Patton did participate in a workout for the Heat on Sunday.

Jackson offers more insight into Miami’s strategy for tonight and beyond:

  • Drafting a backup center would protect the Heat in case Willie Reed leaves in free agency. The front office fears that Reed will get an offer significantly higher than the team is willing to pay.
  • Leaf could be a replacement for either Luke Babbitt or James Johnson, two forwards who are both headed for free agency.
  • Another big man to consider is John Collins of Wake Forest, who impressed the Heat in a workout last week. Miami will also look at Duke’s Harry Giles, but might be scared off by his history of knee problems. Giles canceled a workout in Miami and never rescheduled.
  • If the Heat decide to trade down, they will focus on UCLA center Ike Anigbogu and Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo.
  • Miami is a possible destination if LaMarcus Aldridge wants out of San Antonio. The Spurs are seeking a top 10 draft pick and would like to cut salary to make a run at Chris Paul. Jackson says Miami could offer a competitive package of the 14th pick, Wayne Ellington, whose $6.27MM contract won’t be guaranteed until July 12th, Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts.

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: Jackson, Bako, Collins

The Hornets worked out a handful of possible first-round draft picks Sunday, including familiar face Justin Jackson. Alongside video footage of Jackson following the workout, Diedra Laird of the Charlotte Observer writes that club additionally auditioned Bam Adebayo, Luke Kennard and more.

Jackson, a North Carolina product, is being forecast as the No. 19 overall pick in NBADraft.net‘s latest mock draft. Duke product Kennard, on the other hand, has been projected as the No. 12 pick. Adebayo, out of Kentucky, is currently forecast to go No. 17 in that same mock.

Although the Hornets will pick earlier than any of those projections at No. 11, it’s reasonable that they could elect to take a flyer on a blue chip prospect that played their college basketball in state.

There are more pre-draft workout notes from around the league:

Pre-Draft Workouts: Hart, Smith Jr., Kennard, Adebayo

It’s that time of the summer, days until the NBA draft, when your favorite team is doing its due diligence and working out every prospect and his brother. Here is the latest in pre-draft workout news:

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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