Peyton Watson

Northwest Notes: Prince, Nuggets Injuries, Watson, Grant

Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince said he’s relieved that a grand jury in Texas did not charge him with possession of a controlled substance stemming from a May 19 arrest, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“To me, I wasn’t in the wrong in the first place,” Prince said. “The situation that happened was very unfortunate. Things happen, for whatever reasons they happen. I’m past it now, though.”

Police in Arlington, Texas said after the arrest that they found guns and a vape pen with THC oil in Prince’s car when they stopped him for an expired registration. Possession of marijuana is illegal in Texas, and it also violates state law “to carry a gun while engaging in a criminal offense.”

Prosecutors also dropped the gun charges after the grand jury’s decision, according to a TMZ report.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will likely be without several key players again when they host Detroit on Tuesday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Jeff Green is out with a right knee contusion, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are doubtful due to health and safety protocols, while Aaron Gordon (non-COVID illness) and Ish Smith (right calf strain) are listed as questionable.
  • Rookie Peyton Watson has appeared in just five Nuggets games and is currently playing for their G League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Watson, a late-first round pick, is trying to be patient while developing his skills, Singer writes in a separate story. “They know I want it right now and that I’m super, super motivated to take it,” Watson said. “You’ve got to wait your turn. We’re the No. 2 team in the West.”
  • Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant learned during his first season with the Pistons what it was like being the top scorer for his team. He told current teammate Damian Lillard that he gained a greater appreciation for players with that status, Grant revealed on an interview with The Athletic’s Shams Charania (video link). “I told him I got a lot more respect for people who are the No. 1 option because it’s a lot more difficult than just putting up the numbers,” Grant said.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, McDaniels, Azubuike, Sharpe

After replacing his old boss Tim Connelly this offseason, new Nuggets head of basketball operations Calvin Booth had a busy summer, trading for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith, signing Bruce Brown and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, and using first-round picks on Christian Braun and Peyton Watson.

Speaking to Mark Medina of NBA.com, Booth said the Nuggets’ offseason goals were to upgrade their defense, get more athletic, and add more two-way talents. He feels the team accomplished those goals.

“With KCP, we have one of the best 3-and-D guys in the league, someone with championship experience and a proven vet,” Booth said. “Bruce was one of the most underrated guys in the league last season. We’re finding that out every day in the game with how sophisticated of a game he has.

“Christian and Peyton will eventually address those needs. We valued DeAndre’s vet leadership and the way he communicates. He’s one of the best rebounders of his generation, and he can still do that. Ish Smith has been a great addition as well and brings different levels of speed and pace to the game.”

In his Q&A with Medina, Booth also discussed several other Nuggets-related topics, including Nikola Jokic‘s chances of winning a third consecutive MVP award, Jamal Murray‘s return from an ACL tear, and Booth’s own contract extension with the franchise.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Even though John Hollinger of The Athletic believes the Nuggets have a chance to come out of the West this season, he thinks there are still too many question marks related to the team’s depth and returning stars to actually forecast such a scenario. In his preview of Denver’s season, Hollinger projects a 50-32 record and a fourth-place finish in the West.
  • Jaden McDaniels will be the Timberwolves‘ starting small forward to open the 2022/23 season, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. McDaniels, whom the team worked hard to keep out of the Rudy Gobert trade, will fill out a star-studded lineup that features Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns up front, with Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt.
  • Jazz center Udoka Azubuike, who underwent surgery on his right foot and ankle in March, was cleared to practice in full on Thursday for the first time in seven months, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “I was excited about it,” Azubuike said. “We did some exercises in the morning before practice, and that felt good. Then, me going out there, getting a rep and you know, I’m just excited. It really felt good.” It remains to be seen if the former first-round pick will earn a spot on Utah’s regular season roster, since the team has 18 players on standard contracts and will need to make cuts by Monday.
  • Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe has signed with agent Mike George of One Legacy Sports for representation, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Northwest Notes: Green, Jazz, Wallace

Nuggets forward Jeff Green put together a voluntary minicamp for himself and some of his Denver teammates this week in Miami, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Davon Reed, Zeke Nnaji, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson and Jack White joined Green for the workouts. Wind adds that additional players hoped to join them but were unable to carve out the time in their schedules.

The Nuggets are preparing for an exciting 2022/23 NBA season, with reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic set to be rejoined by point guard Jamal Murray, who missed all of 2021/22 due to a left ACL tear, and small forward Michael Porter Jr., who appeared in just nine games before back surgery waylaid him for the rest of the year. The team’s starting lineup will be rounded out by power forward Aaron Gordon and newly-acquired 3-and-D specialist Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Nuggets role players like Green, Reed, and Nanji, plus the three rookies joining them in Miami this week, could prove to be important contributors during what Denver hopes will be an extended postseason run.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • After the Jazz appeared to signal the beginning of a rebuild with their trade of All-Star center Rudy Gobert for a package comprising young players, movable veterans and draft compensation, they seem set for a lackluster 2022/23 season. Brandon Judd of the Deseret News notes that Kendra Andrews, Andrew Lopez and Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) projects the club to finish with a 26-56 record next season.
  • Former Nuggets scouting coordinator Jon Wallace is departing his post in Denver to join the Timberwolves as both Minnesota’s director of player personnel and the general manager of the club’s NBAGL affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, reports Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Wallace tweets that Wallace was especially valued with the Nuggets for his impact on their guards. Wallace is joining a revamped Minnesota front office led by Tim Connelly, himself the former Denver team president.
  • In case you missed it, Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor recently sat for a long-ranging discussion about the new-look team’s personnel and expectations.

Nuggets Sign Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Collin Gillespie

The Nuggets have signed first-round draft picks Christian Braun and Peyton Watson to their rookie contracts, the team announced in a press release. Denver also officially signed undrafted Villanova guard Collin Gillespie to a two-way contract.

Braun, 6″7″, was drafted No. 21 overall last month. He helped Kansas win the NCAA championship this past season, averaging 14.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in 34.4 minutes per game. He also shot 49.5% from the floor and 39% from downtown during those outings. Assuming the usual 120% of the rookie scale, his deal will be for four years and $13.77MM.

Watson, 6’8″, was selected with the final pick of the first round. He played 32 games with UCLA as a freshman last season, ranking second on the team in blocked shots. He’s also only 19 years old. His deal is expected to be worth $11.27MM across four years.

Gillespie agreed to a two-way deal with Denver shortly after the draft. He averaged 15.6 points per game for Villanova last season, shooting 41.5% from three-point range. Gillespie, Braun and Watson are all set to play for the team during summer league this month.

Nuggets Notes: Braun, Free Agency, Booth, Campazzo

The Nuggets opted to draft champion Kansas shooting guard Christian Braun with the No. 21 selection due to his cumulative abilities, writes Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

“I comment to myself, ‘Man, that was a nice play, but what is he?’” Denver general manager Calvin Booth said of assessing Braun’s fit at the next level. The 6’7″ swingman, who played both forward spots with the Jayhawks, projects as a helpful contributor on both sides of the ball.

In an interesting wrinkle, Singer notes that Booth was concerned Braun might be selected by former Denver front office executives Arturas Karnisovas, selecting for the Bulls at No. 18, or Tim Connelly, who was slated to pick at No. 19 for the Timberwolves before trading down.

“CB playing with (Nikola) Jokic, what a good cutter CB is,” Braun’s college head coach Bill Self said. “You stop and think about, I don’t know if CB could play with a better big man than that dude because he’s such a good cutter and mover without the ball, and (Jokic is) such a great passer.”

During his final collegiate season, Braun was a key member of the team’s 2022 title-winning squad, being named to the NCAA All-Region Team and the All-Big 12 Second Team. Across 40 games, including 39 starts, he averaged 14.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 1.0 SPG and 0.8 BPG in 34.4 MPG. He posted solid shooting marks of .495/.386/.733.

There’s more out of Denver:

  • Booth indicated following the 2022 draft that while Denver is excited about its three draft picks (Braun, Peyton Watson and Ismael Kamagate), the team has more work to do this offseason. The Nuggets intend to sign quality defenders in free agency to bolster the roster on that end of the floor, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link).
  • When it comes to making additions to the club in free agency this week, Booth has been given the green light by Nuggets ownership to use the club’s taxpayer mid-level exception, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). That exception currently projects to be worth $6.4MM this summer.
  • Nuggets second-year reserve point guard Facundo Campazzo has indicated that he is open to moving on from the NBA as he enters free agency this summer, according to an interview with Pablo Brunetto of TN Sports (h/t to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops). That said, the 5’10” vet seems likely to take stock of his stateside options first. Personally, it would be naive to be obsessed with staying in the NBA,” Campazzo said. “Maybe I don’t get any offers. (Former team) Real Madrid has always been like a second home for me, but I must wait. That is my only choice right now.” During the 2021/22 season, the 31-year-old averaged 5.1 PPG on 36.1% field goal shooting, plus 3.4 APG, 1.8 RPG and 1.0 SPG in 65 contests.

Wolves Notes: Connelly, KAT, Draft, Russell, A. Williams

If it were up to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly, Karl-Anthony Towns would remain with the Timberwolves for his entire career. Towns is eligible for a super-max extension this summer after being selected to the All-NBA Third Team.

I hope he’s here forever. I hope we have the type of team success that would allow us to look up and see Karl’s jersey being hung up in the rafters,” Connelly said in a Q&A session with Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “I reached out to a bunch of these guys, but I don’t want to force relationships. You have to develop those things naturally. So, I’ve heard so many great things about him. I know how great a player he is on the court, but off the court it’s been so consistent, just an unbelievably sweet guy that treats everyone in a really classy manner.

“I think he’s been through so much, so many different faces and different chairs, from the front office to the coaching staff. So I think with continuity with Finchy (head coach Chris Finch), you’re going to see a better version of Karl and he’s already a great player.”

Connelly conceded that the team’s potential first-round pick (19th overall) likely won’t have a significant role on the team next year, but he believes the Wolves can find a good long-term fit with the selection.

We’ll beat up all the different possibilities pretty good. We’re also very content and pretty excited about if we’re going to get a good player at 19,” he said. “It’s going to be hard for any player we draft to have a huge role with the team that just had the success they had. We’re not drafting for June 24, we’re drafting for, hopefully, to add a person that can be a part of sustained success and a person who can grow into a role. I think things are on the table, but we do feel pretty convinced that 19 is going to yield a good player.”

It’s an interesting interview from Hine for any Wolves fans looking for insight into Connelly’s approach.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • Amid rumors that Minnesota is exploring the trade market for veteran centers, including Clint Capela, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune wonders if one of the team’s biggest offseason moves might be a position change for Towns. Rand notes that sliding Towns down to the power forward spot would improve the Wolves’ rebounding woes, and he’d likely feast on smaller players in the post, but there are some possible drawbacks. Towns is quicker than most centers, so he might lose the ability to pump-fake and drive past slower-footed defenders, and it would take him time to adjust defensively. Ultimately, Rand believes utilizing a bigger lineup could work in certain matchups.
  • Jon Krawczynski and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic discuss Minnesota’s draft possibilities for the 19th and 40th picks (the Wolves also control the 48th and 50th picks). Vecenie doesn’t love the team’s options for the first-rounder and believes trading out in order to acquire additional first-round selections makes sense, but if the Wolves keep the pick, he thinks Blake Wesley or E.J. Liddell could be decent options. Wesley, a guard from Notre Dame, is ranked 22nd on ESPN’s big board, while Liddell, a forward from Ohio State, is ranked 21st. Vecenie says there are a number of “interesting, high-upside” prospects who could be available with the 40th pick, including Peyton Watson, Josh Minott and Kendall Brown, among others.
  • The Wolves haven’t come close to trading D’Angelo Russell “or any other player,” sources tell Krawczynski in another story for The Athletic. However, Krawczynski says trade talks are expected to heat up “the closer it gets to the draft,” which is tomorrow, and the fate of Russell and other possible trade candidates should become clearer once it concludes.
  • Alondes Williams worked out for the Wolves on Tuesday, reports Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (via Twitter). The 6’5″ guard averaged 18.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.2 APG and 1.2 SPG on .507/.282/.691 shooting as a junior for Wake Forest. He’s ranked 59th on ESPN’s board, so he could be a possibility for one of the team’s second-round picks.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Blazers, Wolves, Nuggets

Sources told Tony Jones of The Athletic that “there is a world where the Jazz keep most of their top-seven core with the hope that a new coach energizes them.” Jones explores the potential cost of a Rudy Gobert trade to Chicago with fellow Athletic writer Darnell Mayberry, but stresses that Gobert won’t be traded just for the sake of shaking up the roster, noting that the asking price for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year will be very high.

Utah is casting an extremely wide net as they seek a replacement for Quin Snyder. As our head coaching search tracker shows, Sam Cassell became the 15th candidate linked to the Jazz after it was reported that he’ll interview for the vacancy.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers are hosting a pre-draft workout with six prospects on Wednesday, including a couple of potential lottery picks, tweets Aaron J. Fentress of The Oregonian. Shaedon Sharpe, the No. 7 prospect on ESPN’s big board, headlines the group, followed by Jeremy Sochan (No. 15), Dalen Terry (No. 25), John Butler (No. 67), Jamaree Bouyea (No. 79) and Jordan Hall (No. 87). Portland holds the Nos. 7, 36 and 59 picks in the draft.
  • The Timberwolves are also hosting workout of draft-eligible players on Wednesday, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). The group features multiple potential second-round picks, including Hugo Besson (No. 41 on ESPN’s board), Michael Foster Jr. (No. 49), Jean Montero (No. 52) and Gabe Brown (No. 78). It also includes Nysier Brooks, who is unranked, and David Roddy (No. 30), as Wolfson previously reported. The Wolves hold the Nos. 19, 40, 48 and 50 picks, but aren’t expected to have four rookies on the roster next season.
  • Peyton Watson (No. 34) headlines a group of six prospects working out for the Nuggets on Thursday, as Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports relays (via Twitter). The other five players are Florida’s Anthony Duruji, UNLV’s Bryce Hamilton, Flagler’s Jaizec Lottie, Marquette’s Darryl Morsell and Buffalo’s Ronaldo Segu, all of whom project to go undrafted and are unranked on ESPN’s board. After reaching an agreement to trade JaMychal Green to the Thunder, Denver now controls the Nos. 21 and 30 picks in the 2022 draft.

Central Notes: LaVine, Pacers, Pistons Lottery Pick, Bucks Offseason

What would it take for teams without cap room to ink Zach LaVine and engineer a sign-and-trade? Evan Sidery of Basketball News takes a look at several potential trades in which LaVine winds up with the Heat, Hawks or Mavericks. In the Hawks’ case, Sidery speculates that a three-way deal in which the Bulls receive Kevin Huerter and Onyeka Okongwu and the Pacers get Danilo Gallinari and a 2023 first-round pick from the Hawks might work.

We have more on the Central Division:

  • The Pacers will work out six draft prospects on Monday, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. That group includes Teddy Allen (New Mexico State), Terrell Brown Jr. (Washington), Max Christie (Michigan State), Ryan Rollins (Toledo), Peyton Watson (UCLA) and Kok Yat (Overtime Elite).
  • Would the Pistons move off the No. 5 spot in the lottery for three first-round selections? Keith Langlois of Pistons.com believes if the Spurs offered the No. 9, 20 and 25 picks, Detroit might go along with it. The draft is deep enough that adding three first-rounders would bring more value that the No. 5 pick alone, in Langlois’ assessment.
  • The Bucks may have as many as five roster holes to fill and The Athletic’s Eric Nehm takes a comprehensive look at how they’ll approach the offseason and what kinds of free agents they might target.

Full List Of 2022 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed its list of 76 players who have been invited – and who are expected to attend – next week’s draft combine in Chicago. The combine workouts will take place from May 18-20.

Over the course of the week, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft likely won’t participate in scrimmages, those top prospects are still expected to attend. That group includes Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey.

A handful of standout players from the G League Elite Camp could be invited to participate in the combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 76 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link):

  1. Ochai Agbaji, G/F, Kansas (senior)
  2. Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, Milwaukee (freshman)
  3. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke (freshman)
  4. Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  5. MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  6. Hugo Besson, G, Australia (born 2001)
  7. Malaki Branham, G/F, Ohio State (freshman)
  8. Christian Braun, G, Kansas (junior)
  9. Kendall Brown, F, Baylor (freshman)
  10. John Butler Jr., F/C, Florida State (freshman)
  11. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (junior)
  12. Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  13. Max Christie, G, Michigan State (freshman)
  14. Kofi Cockburn, C, Illinois (junior)
  15. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  16. Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin (sophomore)
  17. JD Davison, G, Alabama (freshman)
  18. Moussa Diabate, F, Michigan (freshman)
  19. Ousmane Dieng, F, Australia (born 2003)
  20. Khalifa Diop, C, Spain (born 2002)
  21. Jalen Duren, C, Memphis (freshman)
  22. Tari Eason, F, LSU (sophomore)
  23. Keon Ellis, G, Alabama (senior)
  24. Michael Foster, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  25. Collin Gillespie, G, Villanova (super-senior)
  26. AJ Griffin, F, Duke (freshman)
  27. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  28. Ron Harper Jr., F, Rutgers (senior)
  29. Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga (freshman)
  30. Harrison Ingram, F, Stanford (freshman)
  31. Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue (sophomore)
  32. Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana (junior)
  33. Nikola Jovic, F, Serbia (born 2003)
  34. Johnny Juzang, G, UCLA (junior)
  35. Ismael Kamagate, C, France (born 2001)
  36. Trevor Keels, G, Duke (freshman)
  37. Walker Kessler, F/C, Auburn (sophomore)
  38. Christian Koloko, C, Arizona (junior)
  39. Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest (junior)
  40. Justin Lewis, F, Marquette (sophomore)
  41. E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State (junior)
  42. Bennedict Mathurin, G/F, Arizona (sophomore)
  43. Matthew Mayer, F, Baylor (senior)
  44. Bryce McGowens, G, Nebraska (freshman)
  45. Leonard Miller, F, Canada (born 2003)
  46. Josh Minott, F, Memphis (freshman)
  47. Aminu Mohammed, G/F, Georgetown (freshman)
  48. Iverson Molinar, G, Mississippi State (junior)
  49. Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  50. Wendell Moore, F, Duke (junior)
  51. Keegan Murray, F, Iowa (sophomore)
  52. Andrew Nembhard, G, Gonzaga
  53. Scotty Pippen Jr., G, Vanderbilt (junior)
  54. Gabriele Procida, G/F, Italy (born 2002)
  55. Orlando Robinson, F/C, Fresno State (junior)
  56. David Roddy, F, Colorado State (junior)
  57. Ryan Rollins, G, Toledo (sophomore)
  58. Dereon Seabron, G, NC State (sophomore)
  59. Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  60. Jabari Smith, F, Auburn (freshman)
  61. Terquavion Smith, G, NC State (freshman)
  62. Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor (freshman)
  63. Matteo Spagnolo, G, Italy (born 2003)
  64. Julian Strawther, G/F, Gonzaga (sophomore)
  65. Dalen Terry, G, Arizona (sophomore)
  66. Drew Timme, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  67. Jabari Walker, F, Colorado (sophomore)
  68. TyTy Washington Jr., G, Kentucky (freshman)
  69. Peyton Watson, G/F, UCLA (freshman)
  70. Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame (freshman)
  71. Alondes Williams, G, Wake Forest (super-senior)
  72. Jalen Williams, G, Santa Clara (junior)
  73. Jaylin Williams, F/C, Arkansas (sophomore)
  74. Mark Williams, C, Duke (sophomore)
  75. Trevion Williams, F/C, Purdue (senior)
  76. Fanbo Zeng, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)

Terquavion Smith Among Latest Early Entrants Declaring For Draft

NC State freshman guard Terquavion Smith is entering the 2022 NBA draft while maintaining his college eligibility, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Smith, who currently ranks No. 39 on ESPN’s big board of 2022 prospects, said he’ll make a final decision after getting feedback on his draft stock.

“I will be working out for teams and seeing how high I can get in the draft,” Smith told ESPN. “I’m signing with a NCAA certified agent to maintain my eligibility. I want to be taken with a high pick — top 20. I want to be able to contribute effectively to an NBA team.”

In his first college season, Smith started 25 of 32 games and averaged 16.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 2.1 APG. The 19-year-old, who made 36.9% of 8.1 three-pointers per game as a freshman, told Givony he models his game after NBA players like Jordan Poole, De’Aaron Fox, and Anfernee Simons“guys who are electric off the bounce, who can create their own shot and shoot the ball.”

Here are several more updates on the 2022 draft pool:

  • UCLA freshman wing Peyton Watson is entering the draft and forgoing his remaining college eligibility, he announced on Twitter. Watson didn’t play much for the Bruins, logging just 12.7 MPG in 32 appearances off the bench, but he’s the No. 61 prospect on ESPN’s board.
  • German point guard Justus Hollatz, who tested the draft waters a year ago, will enter the draft pool again this year, according to agent Misko Raznatovic (Twitter link). Hollatz is currently a member of the Hamburg Towers in Germany.
  • Kentucky junior forward Jacob Toppin is testing the draft waters, according to an announcement from the school. Toppin averaged a modest 6.2 PPG and 3.2 RPG in 29 games (17.7 MPG) for the Wildcats in 2021/22.
  • Providence senior shooting guard A.J. Reeves is entering the 2022 draft and going pro, he announced on his Instagram account. Reeves has played in 107 games (88 starts) for the Friars over the course of his four years in the program.
  • After initially declaring for the 2022 draft last month, Saint Louis sophomore guard Jordan Nesbitt will withdraw and transfer, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).