Thunder Rumors

Draft Notes: Mamukelashvili, Carr, Champagnie, Figueroa, Cockburn, Sims

Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili is scheduled to work out for the Pistons on Thursday, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. The 6’11” Mamukelashvili already worked out for the Jazz, Thunder and Hornets. He’s currently listed as the No. 56 overall prospect on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more news and insights on this year’s draft:

Thunder Will Decide On Vasilije Micic After The Draft

  • The Thunder own the draft rights to Vasilije Micic, who was named MVP of the EuroLeague last month, but a decision on his NBA future will have to wait a few weeks, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 27-year-old Serbian point guard may be ready to consider the NBA this summer, but Oklahoma City isn’t willing to commit a roster spot until after the July 29 draft, when it could have two picks in the top five. Micic is much older than the Thunder’s core and the team is already set at point guard, so his draft rights could become a valuable trade asset, Mussatto adds.

Heat Notes: Herro, Adebayo, Draft Picks, Okpala

After averaging 16.0 PPG and making 37.5% of his three-point attempts during last year’s playoff run as a rookie, Heat guard Tyler Herro didn’t take a major step forward statistically in 2020/21. The 21-year-old recorded 15.1 PPG with a .360 3PT% during the regular season and struggled in the postseason (9.3 PPG, .316 FG%).

However, president of basketball operations Pat Riley said multiple times during his end-of-season presser on Thursday that Herro is still a “core player for the Heat, expressing confidence that the second-year guard will continue to make positive strides going forward, as Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes.

“What happened to him going down the stretch, I actually thought he got better as a player,” Riley said. “If you think about his first year or his first 35 or 40 games, he really was strictly a catch-and-shoot type of player coming off of screens and catching and shooting. The only way that he was ever going to become a complete offensive player is he had to improve his ball-handling with both his right hand and his left hand, and he did. He’s an exceptional ball-handler. Now he can create space and get into gaps and raise on jumpers from almost anywhere.”

Given the Heat’s lack of moveable future draft picks, Herro would be the team’s most appealing trade chip if the front office tried to take a big swing for another impact player this offseason. But Riley’s comments on Thursday suggest Herro remains very much a part of Miami’s “core.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • Riley said on Thursday that during last fall’s extension talks with Bam Adebayo, the Heat broached the subject of putting off the big man’s new contract until this year in order to maximize the team’s 2021 cap room. However, Adebayo preferred to sign his extension immediately and the Heat were fine with that, as Jackson relays.
  • Riley hasn’t had any discussions with the Thunder about removing the protections on the 2023 first-round pick Miami owes Oklahoma City, according to Jackson. Making that pick unprotected would allow the Heat to trade their 2025 and 2027 first-round picks, if they so choose, giving them more flexibility in trade talks. However, the Thunder likely won’t do the Heat a favor without receiving compensation — in a similar situation last offseason, the Bucks had to send the Cavaliers a 2025 second-round pick in order to remove the protections on the 2022 first-rounder Milwaukee owed to Cleveland. That allowed the Bucks to free up other future first-rounders for the Jrue Holiday trade.
  • This summer will be a critical one for KZ Okpala, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Okapala was the 32nd overall pick in the 2019 draft, but has yet to develop into a reliable rotation player for Miami and will be entering the final season of his three-year contract. “It’s a blessing that I do have a full offseason with Summer League and all that,” Okpala said. “So I accept my blessing, and I’m going to take advantage of it.”

Celtics Notes: Stevens, Fields, Presti, Ainge, Holtmann

The Celtics promoted Brad Stevens from head coach to president of basketball operations today, but they never considered having him handle both roles, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Stevens said he would have been happy to continue coaching if Danny Ainge was still running the front office, but he began considering the move in conversations with owner Wyc Grousbeck when Ainge started talking about retirement.

Grousbeck said he considers coaching and personnel decisions to be “two separate jobs,” and Bontemps adds that neither Stevens nor management pushed for a dual role. The idea of having a head coach with a prominent voice in front office decisions has become less common across the league in recent years.

“I think it’s too much (to do both jobs),” Stevens said. “All of my intention, energy, focus is doing this job well, and hiring a great coach and trusting they will do their job well. I think that everyone will benefit from that approach. To me, that would have been a lot to be able to do both of those things. I know some people have done it, some people have done it really well, but that would have been a great challenge.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Hawks assistant general manager Landry Fields has been mentioned as a candidate to become GM of the Celtics, a source tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News (Twitter link). Bondy notes that Fields could complement Stevens because of his history in dealing with agent and player relationships.
  • Before turning to Stevens, the Celtics thought about trying to land long-time Thunder general manager Sam Presti, sources confirmed to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. A Massachusetts native, Presti has been with the organization since 2007 when it was still in Seattle. Several other internal candidates were considered, according to O’Connor, who adds that there have been rumors for months that Ainge might be leaving, with speculation that he would be interested in working for Utah, where much of his family lives, or possibly Portland.
  • Ainge’s decision to step down has been in the works for a couple of months, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Sources tell Murphy that Ainge informed ownership of his intentions shortly after the March 25 trade deadline.
  • Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann is a strong “sleeper” candidate as the Celtics begin their search for a new head coach, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Like Stevens, Holtmann is a former Butler coach and has enjoyed success in the college ranks. Hollinger mentions Dayton’s Anthony Grant as another under-the-radar possibility.

Agent: No Guarantee Euro Star Micić Will Move To NBA In 2021/22

Serbian guard Vasilije Micić put the finishing touches on a memorable season on Sunday, leading Anadolu Efes to a EuroLeague title with a win over Barcelona in the championship game. Micić, who scored 25 points on Sunday, was named the EuroLeague’s Final Four Most Valuable Player after previously winning the MVP award for the regular season.

Micić, 27, seems poised to make the leap to the NBA, and an April report indicated that he would likely do so for the 2021/22 season. However, agent Misko Raznatovic, who cautioned in April that it was hardly a done deal that Micić would come stateside, reiterated that point this week in the wake of his client’s EuroLeague success.

As Saša Ozmo of Sport Klub relays (via Twitter), Raznatovic suggested that he doesn’t want Micić to make the move to the NBA only to find himself stuck on the bench.

“Micić won’t go until everything is right – maybe this year, maybe not,” Raznatovic said, per Ozmo (Twitter link). “Everything is still open. If the NBA is not good enough and fair enough towards him, they Oklahoma City will have to wait for Vasa for another year.”

Having been drafted 52nd overall in the 2014 draft, Micić wouldn’t be an NBA free agent. Oklahoma City currently holds his draft rights, so he’d have to sign with the Thunder unless they trade his rights to another team.

As a rebuilding franchise, the Thunder appear well positioned to give Micić regular minutes, and should have the cap flexibility to sign him to a contract that works for both sides. Micić wouldn’t be subject to the NBA’s rookie scale, so the team would have to sign him using cap room or an exception like the mid-level.

Holding Micić’s NBA rights will give the Thunder some leverage in negotiations, but the Serbian has some fallback options too — coming off an MVP season, he’d draw interest from multiple top teams in Europe and could continue playing a starring role in the world’s second-best basketball league. We’ll likely have to wait until later this summer to see whether he and Oklahoma City can work something out.

Micic Earns EuroLeague Final Four MVP Honors

  • Thunder draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic was named the EuroLeague’s Final Four Most Valuable Player after leading Anadolu Efes Istanbul to the championship for the first time in club history, according to He averaged 25.0 points and 5.5 assists in the Final Four. He previously was named the league’s MVP after averaging 16.3 PPG and 4.8 APG in 38 EuroLeague games. He is a candidate to come stateside for the 2021/22 season.

Draft-And-Stash Prospect Vasilije Micic Wins EuroLeague MVP

  • Thunder draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic has been voted the EuroLeague’s 2020/21 Most Valuable Player, the league announced on Wednesday. Micic, who averaged 16.3 PPG and 4.8 APG in 38 EuroLeague games for Anadolu Efes is a candidate to come stateside for the 2021/22 season.

2021 NBA Draft Tiebreaker Results

The NBA conducted a series of random tiebreakers today to determine the lottery standings and the 2021 draft order. These tiebreakers involved teams that finished the regular season with identical records.

The results are as follows, per Jeremy Woo of (Twitter link):

  • Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 4) over Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 5)
  • Chicago Bulls (No. 8) over Sacramento Kings (No. 9) over New Orleans Pelicans (No. 10)
    • Note: The Magic will receive the Bulls’ first-round pick if it doesn’t move up into the top four.
  • Charlotte Hornets (No. 11) over San Antonio Spurs (No. 12)
  • New York Knicks (No. 19) over Atlanta Hawks (No. 20)
  • New York Knicks (No. 21) over Los Angeles Lakers (No. 22) over Houston Rockets (No. 23)
    • Note: The Knicks’ pick is courtesy of the Mavericks, while the Rockets’ pick is courtesy of the Trail Blazers.
  • Los Angeles Clippers (No. 25) over Denver Nuggets (No. 26).

Lottery teams that finished tied in the regular standings are granted essentially identical odds to move up into the top four. For instance, the Thunder and Cavaliers will each have an 11.5% chance at the No. 1 overall pick, while the Bulls, Kings, and Pelicans will have matching 4.5% odds at the top selection.

However, the tiebreaker is still important for lottery teams because it dictates which team(s) will draft first in the event that neither club moves into the top four. For example, the Cavs could theoretically slip as far as No. 9 in the draft now, while the Thunder couldn’t fall below No. 8.

Outside of the lottery, the tiebreaker results simply determine the draft order. That order is subsequently reversed in the second round. For instance, the Clippers and Nuggets will pick at Nos. 25 and 26, respectively in the first round, but in round two, Denver’s pick (traded to the Thunder) will be No. 55, while the Clippers’ pick (traded to Charlotte) will be No. 56.

The Thunder and Knicks are among the big tiebreaker winners. Oklahoma City’s odds of securing a top-six pick improved by virtue of its tiebreaker win over Cleveland. As for the Knicks, they could’ve ended up with the 20th and 23rd overall picks, but will instead draft at 19 and 21.

The Magic are an under-the-radar winner as well, since they hold Chicago’s first-round pick (top-four protected). The Bulls’ tiebreaker win didn’t affect the team’s odds of moving into the top four, but it substantially increased the odds that Orlando will end up with a pick at No. 8 or 9 instead of 10 or lower.

Takeaways From Presti's End-Of-Season Presser

  • Spenser Davis of Daily Thunder passes along three key takeaways from Thunder GM Sam Presti‘s end-of-season press conference. Presti indicated that he expects Oklahoma City’s rebuild to take some time and told reporters that he’d be open to moving either up or down in the draft, depending on where the Thunder’s picks land.

Why Mike Muscala Wanted To Stay With Thunder

  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman examines why veteran big man Mike Muscala wanted to stay with the Thunder this season. Oklahoma City shut down Muscala and teammate Al Horford to focus on its young core late in the season, but Muscala had no interest in leaving the team. “I’m going to get a little emotional probably,” he said as part of a larger quote. “But coming to OKC, it was just like — I’m grateful for it, and it helped me a lot as a man and as a player.”