Oklahoma City Thunder

Draft Rumors: Monk, Ntilikina, Hornets, Thunder

Malik Monk and Frank Ntilikina may be in “weird positions” tonight, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. As Ford explains, one of those two players is a good bet to land with the Knicks at No. 8. However, the player who isn’t picked by New York is a candidate to fall out of the top 10 and perhaps to the end of the lottery. In his final mock draft, Ford has Ntilikina going to the Knicks and Monk slipping to the Pistons at No. 12.

Here are a few more draft rumors and notes:

  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post continues to hear that if he’s still on the board at No. 11, Donovan Mitchell appears likely to land with the Hornets (Twitter link).
  • There’s “growing chatter” that Frank Jackson has a first-round promise, and the Thunder may be that team that gave him that guarantee, tweets Royce Young of ESPN.com. Young adds (via Twitter) that Oklahoma City may look to trade back a few spots in the first round in an effort to pick up a second-round selection.
  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 identifies Davon Reed and Semi Ojeleye as two players to watch for the Suns in the second round (Twitter link).

Trade Rumors: Jackson, George, Porzingis, Kanter

Numerous teams are trying to obtain a top-4 pick in order to select Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. With the Sixers having obtained the top overall pick to select Markelle Fultz, that means a blockbuster deal involving the Lakers, Celtics or Suns could be on the horizon. It also strongly suggests that the Celtics have settled on Duke forward Jayson Tatum as their preferred choice, since Jackson wouldn’t be available at No. 4 if Boston wants him.

Here are some of other trade rumors floating around as the draft approaches:

  • There is a growing sense that unless the Pacers get a suitable offer for Paul George today, President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard will wait until next month to re-engage talks regarding the 2018 free agent, according to Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler. However, the latest projected salary cap of $99MM could motivate Indiana and the Lakers to get a deal done today, as Kyler details. The Spurs and Blazers are also making a run at George, Kyler adds in another tweet.
  • The Knicks believe Kristaps Porzingis would have been the top selection in today’s draft and next year’s draft and desire a package of picks that reflect his value, David Aldridge of NBA.com tweets. Team President Phil Jackson confirmed Wednesday he is listening to offers for the disgruntled big man. Talks between the Knicks and Suns have not gained any traction because Phoenix is unwilling to part with shooting guard Devin Booker, Wojnarowski tweets.
  • The Thunder could deal center Enes Kanter as early as today, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman speculates. The team has enough big men to take over his minutes, though Kanter is the most offensively-gifted frontcourt player they have, Carlson continues. It makes sense to obtain more shooters and veterans to help out Russell Westbrook, which makes Kanter expendable, Carlson adds. Kanter will make approximately $17.9MM next season and holds an $18.6MM player option on the final year of his contract next summer.

Harry Giles Could Be Thunder's Pick

Duke forward Harry Giles could go as high as No. 10 overall to the Kings despite lingering concerns over his knee injury, according to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford. The Blazers, who control the No. 15 and No. 20 picks, are also intrigued by Giles, whose lone college season was marred by the injury, Ford continues. The Thunder, who pick No. 21, could also be a destination for Giles, who has been cleared medically by most doctors that have examined him, Ford adds.

Latest On Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks

10:19pm: The Knicks have talked with each team in the top five of Thursday’s draft about Porzingis, in an effort to extract a pick and a young potential star, sources tell Ian Begley and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks have had “substantive” talks with two teams, plus the Suns.

Sources tell ESPN that the Knicks have also spoken Oklahoma City about a possible Porzingis trade, but one source says the Thunder “don’t have enough” to be a viable trade partner.

8:40pm: Asked about what it would take to trade Porzingis, Jackson suggested the Knicks may be seeking two starters and a draft pick (Twitter link via Al Iannazzone of Newsday).

8:27pm: In an interview tonight on MSG, team president Phil Jackson confirmed that the Knicks are listening to calls on Porzingis. “As much as we love this guy, we have to do what’s best for the club,” Jackson said of the big man (Twitter links via Ian Begley of ESPN.com).

Jackson also suggested that he was somewhat bothered by Porzingis skipping his exit meeting. Still, he cautioned that the Knicks aren’t yet “intrigued” enough by what’s out there to make a move (Twitter links via Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders).

8:15pm: After a flurry of Kristaps Porzingis trade rumors surfaced on Tuesday, a follow-up report suggested that the trade talk was somewhat overblown, and that the Knicks were simply listening to calls rather than actively shopping the big man.

However, on The Vertical’s Facebook Live show on Wednesday, Adrian Wojnarowski said that the Knicks aren’t simply listening to inquiries, reporting that they’ve also been making outgoing calls about Porzingis. While Wojnarwoski acknowledges that New York’s asking price is high, and that a deal won’t necessarily happen, he notes that the Knicks appeared to be legitimately exploring the possibility, and haven’t told Porzingis he’s not going anywhere.

Here’s more on Porzingis:

  • According to Wojnarowski, the Knicks would be seeking a top-four draft pick and a starting guard in exchange for Porzingis. Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link) reports something similar, having heard that New York would want a top-four pick plus a “strong” asset for Porzingis.
  • We heard on Tuesday that the Knicks asked the Suns for Devin Booker and the No. 4 selection, so that sounds like the sort of package Wojnarowski and Berman are talking about. Besides Phoenix, the Celtics would seem to be the most logical trade partner for the Knicks.
  • If they were able to land a top-four pick in a deal for Porzingis, the Knicks would likely aim to draft Josh Jackson, says Wojnarowski.
  • Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link) follows up on an item he reported on Tuesday, clarifying that members of the Knicks organization have been in touch with Porzingis since the end of the season, though that contact has been “very minimal.”

Thunder Work Out Frank Mason, Brad Wanamaker

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:

Draft Notes: Briscoe, Fox, Ferguson, Artis

Kentucky guard Isaiah Briscoe had to cancel his remaining workouts because of an ankle injury, according to Adam Zagoria of FanRagSports. The scheduled sessions were with the Lakers, Kings, Bucks and Pacers. Briscoe had reportedly been impressive in workouts with the Knicks, Sixers and a few other teams. DraftExpress lists Briscoe 71st in its list of top 100 prospects.

There’s more draft-related news as the clock winds down toward Thursday:

  • De’Aaron Fox, Briscoe’s backcourt partner at Kentucky, is intrigued by the prospect of joining former Wildcats Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker in Phoenix, writes Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated. The Suns hold the No. 4 pick, but seem unlikely to take another guard unless they make a trade to clear out their already overcrowded backcourt. Fox, who is considered a top five pick, sees the Lakers at No. 2 as another possibility. “I’ve heard they’re trying to move D’Angelo [Russell] to the 2,” he says. “Even if he does play point, I feel like we could play together. A lot of teams play two point guards anyway.” Fox touches on several other subjects, including his rivalry with UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, in a wide-ranging piece.
  • Regardless of the order, the first five picks in the draft appear to be set, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Turner talked to several league executives and found a consensus. After Washington’s Markelle Fultz is taken at No. 1, Ball, Fox, Kansas’ Josh Jackson and Duke’s Jayson Tatum will round out the top five. However, some believe Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac has a shot at being the fifth pick.
  • Terrance Ferguson, who is projected as the Nets‘ pick at No. 27 in the latest mock drafts from DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com, will work out for Brooklyn today, according to NetsDaily.com (Twitter link).
  • Pitt’s Jamel Artis has scheduled workouts today with the Pistons and Monday with the Thunder, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.
  • The Jazz held a workout Saturday that could be their last one before the draft, relays Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Baylor’s Johnathan Motley was the highest-ranked prospect on hand, joined by Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss, Houston’s Damyean Dotson, North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks, La Salle’s Jordan Price and Southeast Missouri State’s Antonius Cleveland. “It was great,” Motley said. “Played with a lot of energy, played good defensively and shot the ball well during the workout. I think I did pretty good.”

Jawun Evans Could Be A Draft Option

  • Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans could fill the Thunder’s need for a backup point, John Helsley of The Oklahoman writes. The Thunder hold the No. 21 overall pick and Evans excels in pick-and-rolls, though he lacks size and isn’t particularly atheltic, Helsley continues. Originally viewed as a second-round pick, Evans has moved into the first round in many mock drafts, Helsley adds.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Jazz, Karnišovas

While Kevin Durant left the Thunder to join the Warriors in pursuit of a championship, Enes Kanter does not believe Russell Westbrook will do the same, the Turkish big man said to Sports Illustrated. Durant’s move proved wise as he captured his first NBA championship this season, leaving behind a legacy in Oklahoma City.

Westbrook enjoyed a historic season in 2016/17, averaging a triple-double (the first since Oscar Robertson in 1962) and is possibly the Most Valuable Player Award winner. Statistics and accomplishments aside, Kanter feels Westbrook best quality is loyalty.

“One thing I saw about him is he’s a loyal guy,” Kanter said. “I understand he’s from L.A., he loves L.A., he goes to L.A. every summer, but he’s a loyal player. I think he’s gonna finish his career in Oklahoma City.”

Westbrook signed an extension with OKC for three-years, $85.7MM last August, so his immediate future remains with the Thunder. However, the Los Angeles native still has strong ties to his hometown and that could be a factor in his NBA future.

Below are additional notes around the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz were swept by the Warriors in the postseason and none of the games were particularly close. However, Durant joined The Bill Simmons’ Podcast and talked about the series being a difficult because of the team’s interior defense and athleticism. “They are going to be really good,” Durant said of the Jazz. “I like them if they keep everything, that’s the thing.”
  • Artūras Karnišovas remained with the Nuggets and was promoted to general manager and he’s happy to stay, per Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports (links via Twitter). Karnišovas shared an amusing story of not being allowed in the Nuggets draft room while the Bucks were courting him for their GM opening.
  • Former Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns spoke to USA Today’s Alysha Tsuji and discussed his prior comments of the Timberwolves “coming soon.” Towns feels his young team is on the verge of breaking out as a viable contender in the NBA that can compete for success.
  • Speaking of Minnesota, Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen has visited with the T’Wolves for a pre-draft workout, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter).

Hoops Links Vol. 9: Time Travel, North Korean Diplomacy, More

We’re back with the latest edition of Hoops Links, one that will make you appreciate the joys of the NBA blogosphere as much as we do. Now, with the Finals in the rear-view mirror, celebrating good original content is as important as ever.

Once a week we round up the best content that we come across while obsessively perusing the internet and now you can help. Find a blog article that you think deserves a shout out next Thursday? Send it my way on Twitter (@AustinKent). Even if you wrote the blog yourself, nominate it for inclusion in future editions.

Remember, keep things limited to Cavaliers Era Shawn Kemp, relevant, original and fresh.

Isaiah Thomas Avery Bradley verticalThe Celtics have plenty of decisions to make over the course of the next few years, especially since their cap space projects to dry up after this offseason. Retaining their roster as is and signing a big name free agent in 2017 could put Boston in position to far exceed the luxury tax next season when it comes time to re-sign Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley. Jason Sullivan of You’re Ducking Right recently broke down the pros and cons of retaining each guard, coming to the conclusion that the C’s will inevitably need to part with one if they want to build around Markelle Fultz.

Author: Jason Sullivan – @Sully6827
Rating: 9 out of 10 Sophie’s Choices
Link: Isaiah Thomas vs. Avery Bradley.

Much has been said about how an increasing reliance on three-point shooting has changed the game of basketball, but few have delved into what it takes to stop a successful team on the perimeter. Thomas Bassine of Big Three Sports went to work compiling the three-point percentages certain teams allowed compared to what one might reasonably expect those opposing percentages to be. The result? A statistical analysis of how teams are defending against the biggest trend in basketball.

Author: Thomas Bassine – @Big3Sports
Rating: 9 out of 10 Scatter Plots
Link: Three-point defense trends.

There’s a decent chance that Dennis Rodman‘s latest trip to North Korea will have a negligible impact on anything but perhaps the quarterly sales of bootlegged Bulls jerseys on the streets of Pyongyang, but that doesn’t change the fact that the retired forward is likely the only person alive that has personal relationships with both Donald Trump and Kim-Jong Un. Dan Devine of Ball Don’t Lie summarizes the Washington Post’s reporting.

Author: Dan Devine – @YourManDevine
Rating: 7 out of 10 Mermaid Puzzles
Link: Dennis Rodman in North Korea, 2017.

It didn’t take long for the speculation about hypothetical Cavaliers trades to kick in following their loss in the NBA Finals. Sam Beech of the King James Gospel, however, insists that Cleveland should resist making a blockbuster trade. Forget Carmelo Anthony altogether and don’t rush out to trade Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving, Beech says, thwarting some of the most frequently discussed trade possibilities.

Author: Sam Beech – @KJG_NBA
Rating: 7 out of 10 Hasty Overreactions
Link: Cavs should not make blockbuster trade.

If you were simultaneously granted the abilities to go invisible and time travel, it’s presumed that you’d skip ahead to the day the free agency moratorium lifts in order to sneak through the journals of various general managers. I get it. Alas, for now at least, we’re stuck with David Nash’s thought exercise. For The Four Point Play, Nash imagines what the diaries of Rockets GM Daryl Morey and Thunder GM Sam Presti might look like after two vital 10-day stretches in each executive’s career.

Author: David Nash – @DKN17
Rating: 9 out of 10 Cringeworthy Drakes
Link: Sam Presti, Daryl Morey diaries.

Meyers Leonard verticalAfter last summer’s historically mediocre shopping spree, the Trail Blazers don’t have much cap space in 2017. Eric Griffiths of Blazer’s Edge, however, has some options that could create some breathing room for the franchise. Griffiths floats Pat Connaughton and Tim Quarterman as possible cuts with Meyers Leonard an intriguing salary dump option.

Author: Eric Griffiths – @EricG_NBA
Rating: 8 out of 10 Scroungers
Link: How Blazers can make cap space.

The Wizards haven’t had much success luring NBA superstars home to the D.C. area, most recently missing out on Kevin Durant last summer. Durant, a Washington native, didn’t even grant the franchise a meeting last offseason before taking his talents to Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach. Ryan Eugene of Wiz of Awes, however, thinks the tide could be changing, citing recent comments from Will Barton and Greivis Vasquez about returning home.

Author: Ryan Eugene – @ButterScotchT
Rating: 8 out of 10 Google Searches For Beaches Near Oracle Arena
Link: Local players interested in playing for Wizards.

After spurring a chorus of speculation at the trade deadline by tweeting an emoji, Pistons big man Andre Drummond has done it all over again. Count Steve Hinson of Detroit Bad Boys among those frustrated that we may be in line for another barrage of social-media-fueled angst as the rumor mill surrounding possible transactions begins to fly.

Author: Steve Hinson – @Shinons8
Rating: 7 out of 10 Damn Millennials
Link: Andre Drummond’s emoji tweet.

While they’ve managed to turn themselves into a perennial playoff team and regular dark horse option to make noise in the west, make no mistake, the Clippers Curse is alive and well. Need a reminder of just how blech things have been for the franchise? Autumn Anderson of Clipperholics recently published a feature detailing just how much of an impact the Michael Olowokandi-era bad luck continues to have on the organization.

Author: Autumn Anderson – @AAAutumn_
Rating: 8 out of 10 Eric Piatkowski Jerseys
Link: The Clippers Curse is real.

The thought of Dwight Howard putting up jump shots from beyond the arc is naturally unsettling, but that’s exactly what the big man plans to do for the Hawks in order to prolong his career. Justin Hodges of Soaring Down South weighed in on some recent comments made by the traditional back-to-the-basket big man, suggesting that Howard no longer boasts the impressive interior defense to get away with being a one-trick pony.

Author: Justin Hodges – @HodgepodgeHoops
Rating: 8 out of 10 Ambitious Shooting Coaches
Link: Dwight Howard to add three-pointer.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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