Alex Sarr

Wizards Sign First-Rounders Alex Sarr, Kyshawn George

The Wizards have signed a pair of their first-round picks, locking up big man Alex Sarr and swingman Kyshawn George to their rookie scale contracts, per the NBA’s official transaction log.

Sarr, 19, spent the 2023/24 season in Australia’s National Basketball League, where he averaged 9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game with the Perth Wildcats. The 7’1″ center, who has elite upside as a rim protector and defensive presence, was considered a strong candidate to be the first overall pick in the 2024 draft but ultimately ended up going to the Wizards at No. 2. He’ll be a cornerstone for Washington to build around for years to come.

George, the No. 24 overall pick out of Miami, will be another one of the Wizards’ long-term building blocks going forward. A 6’8″ wing, George started 16 of the 31 games he played for Miami in his freshman season in 2023/24. While his averages of 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 23.0 minutes per contest were relatively modest, the youngster can handle the ball and has displayed a promising outside shot, having knocked down 40.8% of 4.2 three-pointers per game.

The Wizards actually made three first-round selections in last week’s draft, but don’t yet officially have the third one – No. 14 pick Carlton Carrington – on their roster, since that pick was part of the Deni Avdija/Malcolm Brogdon trade that still needs to be formally completed. That should happen soon now that the moratorium period has ended, putting Carrington on track to ink his rookie contract too.

Assuming they sign for the maximum allowable 120% of the standard rookie scale amount, Sarr will get a four-year deal worth about $51MM ($11.25MM in year one), while George’s four-year contract will be worth approximately $14.34MM ($2.83MM as a rookie).

Southeast Notes: Valanciunas, Salaun, Simpson, Wagner, Heat

Reaching a three-year agreement with 32-year-old center Jonas Valanciunas seems like an odd move for a rebuilding team. So why did the Wizards do it?

As Josh Robbins and William Guillory of The Athletic see it, Valanciunas’ presence will allow second overall draft pick Alex Sarr to develop at a slow and steady pace. Sarr needs to add bulk and muscle to his seven-foot frame and Valanciunas can match up against more physical centers. The veteran can also serve as a role model to the team’s other younger players.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hornets lottery pick Tidjane Salaun suffered a minor laceration near his knee but is expected to be available for the start of Las Vegas Summer League next week. However, he will unavailable when the team begins mini-camp in Sacramento on Tuesday. Second-round pick KJ Simpson won’t play during either the Sacramento or Las Vegas Summer Leagues as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered during the pre-draft process. He is expected to be fully recovered and available at the start of training camp this fall, according to the team’s PR department (Twitter links).
  • The Magic have reached an agreement with backup big Goga Bitadze but they’re still interested in re-signing Moritz Wagner, who reciprocates that interest, Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. Orlando declined its $8MM option on Wagner’s contract prior to free agency.
  • Other than reaching a two-year agreement with Kevin Love, the Heat haven’t done much in terms of their 15-man roster during the first two days of free agency. It’s a product of the team’s salary-cap crunch, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. They don’t have much to offer to outside free agents and new restrictions in the CBA make it harder to pull off a trade. Miami also doesn’t have much draft capital to facilitate those deals.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Martin, Murray, Bridges

The Wizards held a press conference Saturday to introduce their three first-round picks, who are products of an aggressive strategy to add young talent in this year’s draft, writes Sapna Bansil of The Washington Post. Heading into Wednesday night with the second and 26th selections, Washington took Alexandre Sarr at No. 2 as expected, then traded up to No. 14 to grab Carlton Carrington and moved up to No. 24 to add Kyshawn George.

“We walked into [the draft] Wednesday night and had a plan in place,” general manager Will Dawkins told reporters. “We were aligned from top to bottom. We were strategic, [and] we were aggressive and made sure that we accomplished our goals. So with these three young men to my left, we feel like we’re adding a few more bricks to that base-level foundation that we talked about at the end of the season.”

Sarr, a 7’0″ center, becomes the cornerstone of the franchise and an anchor for the defense. Carrington will provide scoring punch in the backcourt, while George is a wing who can handle the ball and shoot threes. All three players are expected to be part of the Wizards’ Summer League team.

Bansil notes that for the second straight year, the front office prioritized athleticism, positional size and the ability to contribute on both ends of the court. They also looked for players who are mentally tough enough to handle rebuilding.

“Not every team [has] three first-round picks, and I think it was just very cool to be able to be with these guys that enjoy the game, are very positive and are easygoing people,” George said. “We’re all in the same boat, and getting to start this rebuild as a young group, young core is very exciting.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat are unlikely to be able to re-sign free agent forward Caleb Martin, a source tells Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Martin, who declined his $7.13MM player option on Saturday, may get offers for the full $12.9MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception, Chiang adds. Re-signing him would mean second-apron status for Miami, which may now prioritize keeping Haywood Highsmith. They have been talking since teams were allowed to start negotiating with their own free agents, and Chiang hears there’s mutual interest in a new deal. Chiang also reveals that second-round pick Pelle Larsson is expected to sign a standard contract for next season worth between $1-2MM, although a two-way deal remains an option depending on how the rest of the roster comes together.
  • In a SportsCenter appearance (video link), ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said there was “more of a market” to trade Dejounte Murray than fellow Hawks guard Trae Young. Murray is heading to New Orleans in exchange for a package that includes the Lakers’ first-round pick next year, and Wojnarowski said Atlanta was determined to land a selection in what’s projected to be a strong 2025 draft.
  • There’s still no clarity on Miles Bridges‘ future with the Hornets, per Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Bridges has been able to negotiate with the team for the past week-and-a-half, but Boone states that there hasn’t been “a hint of much traction” and the forward appears ready to test the open market.

Wizards Use No. 2 Pick On Alexandre Sarr

The Wizards have selected power forward/center Alexandre Sarr with the No. 2 pick in the 2024 draft.

In a rarity for the draft, top-two picks Sarr and newly-drafted Hawks small forward Zaccharie Risacher are both Frenchmen.

Sarr’s athleticism and dominant defensive presence make him one of the top prospects in this year’s class. The seven-footer played this season with the Perth Wildcats of Australia’s National Basketball League. He averaged 9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.

Sarr has drawn comparisons with Memphis center Jaren Jackson Jr. for his defensive instincts and rim protection. He may be a bit small to thrive as an NBA center right away, so it’s possible he’ll see more time at power forward early in his career. If Sarr can improve his outside shooting, he has the physical skills to develop into an All-Star big man.

In 2023/24, the Wizards posted a 15-67 record, their worst in history. The team has enjoyed an active offseason already, having agreed to acquire the No. 14 pick in this draft’s lottery, a 2029 first, two second rounders and the contract of Malcolm Brogdon, from the Trail Blazers in exchange for swingman Deni Avdija.

Sarr is the younger brother of Thunder reserve center Olivier Sarr.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Draft Rumors: Hawks, Wizards, Sarr, Knicks, Kolek, Bulls, More

In their latest mock drafts ahead of Wednesday’s first round, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic each say there’s no clarity yet on what the Hawks will do with the No. 1 overall pick. Both mocks still have Zaccharie Risacher going to Atlanta first overall for the time being, but haven’t ruled out the idea of a trade down (possibly for Donovan Clingan) or a different choice at No. 1.

While there has been some chatter linking French big man Alexandre Sarr to Atlanta, both Givony and Vecenie suggest those rumblings may be a smokescreen designed to get the Wizards to consider a possible move up to No. 1 so that they can land the player widely viewed as their top target. A year ago, the Wizards moved up one spot in the lottery from No. 8 to No. 7 in order to nab Bilal Coulibaly.

According to Givony, there’s a belief that Sarr would be comfortable ending up with the Wizards, whose rebuild may offer him a more immediate path to a significant role. Meanwhile, during a Tuesday radio appearance on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, Hawks general manager Landry Fields confirmed that Sarr hasn’t visited his team, as Brad Rowland of Locked on Hawks relays (via Twitter).

“He was scheduled to come work out,” Fields said of Sarr. “We had it on the books and then he declined to come work out.”

Here’s more on the 2024 NBA draft, which is just one day away:

  • Both Vecenie and Jeff Goodman of Field of 68 (Twitter link) have received similar feedback on the quality of this year’s draft class. According to Vecenie, while this year’s top 10 is considered weak, the depth in the 10-25 range is viewed as strong, with the rest of the class at about the usual level. A veteran general manager offered a similar assessment to Goodman. “The depth of this draft, especially in the back half of the first round, isn’t much different than in most years,” that GM said. “But the top five – and even top 10 – collectively is as underwhelming as I’ve ever seen it.”
  • Among the many sourced notes in Vecenie’s mock draft: The Knicks have had interest in Marquette guard Tyler Kolek throughout the season, while the Bulls are believed to be fans of Illinois wing Terrence Shannon. Kolek may be off the board by the time New York picks at No. 24; conversely, Chicago’s No. 11 pick would be higher than expected for Shannon, who has been viewed as a late first-rounder in most mocks.
  • Confirming prior reporting, Josh Robbins of The Athletic cites a team source who says the Wizards are “amenable” to acquiring another first-round pick. Washington currently controls the second and 26th overall selections. However, one scenario suggested by Robbins would involve the Wizards sending out a veteran player, the No. 26 pick, and the No. 51 pick for matching salary and a higher first-round pick, which would mean upgrading their second first-rounder rather than adding a third one.
  • ESPN’s latest mock draft has Yves Missi going to the Pelicans at No. 21, and a recent HoopsHype report also linked New Orleans to the former Baylor center. According to Christian Clark of, the Pelicans met with Missi at the draft combine in Chicago and also brought him to New Orleans for a workout. While Clark expects Missi to get serious consideration from the Pels if he’s available at No. 21, he says it’s unclear whether the team will prefer a player who is more NBA-ready.

Stein’s Latest: Hardaway, LaVine, Lakers, Cavs, Pistons, Spurs

Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. is a prime trade candidate to watch, according to Marc Stein, who says in his latest Substack article that Dallas is more likely than ever to find a deal this offseason involving Hardaway, who has been on the trade block during previous transaction windows. He’s entering the final season of his four-year contract and his cap hit is declining to $16.2MM, which should make him a little easier to move than he has been in the past.

Stein suggests that finding a deal involving Hardaway is a “key element” of the Mavs’ plans to re-sign Derrick Jones. The implication there is that moving off of Hardaway’s contract could free up the non-taxpayer mid-level exception for Jones, allowing Dallas to sign him for up to $12.9MM instead of up to $5.2MM (the amount of the taxpayer MLE).

It’s unclear if that means the Mavs will look to offload Hardaway without taking back any salary in return, or if they hope to take back a lesser-paid player in any deal.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest round-up of rumors from across the NBA:

  • While the Jazz and Sixers have both been linked to Zach LaVine as of late, Stein hears from league sources that Philadelphia has minimal interest in the Bulls guard and says he’s been “advised to dismiss” Utah’s reported interest as well.
  • The Lakers hope to hire two former head coaches as assistants on J.J. Redick‘s staff. Scott Brooks has been reported as one Lakers target, and Stein suggests James Borrego might be another, though he says the Pelicans are determined to keep Borrego on Willie Green‘s staff if he doesn’t get a head coaching job. The Celtics are likewise hoping to fend off interest from the Lakers and any other rivals for assistant Sam Cassell, with Charles Lee and Jeff Van Gundy having already been hired for new jobs this spring.
  • Speaking of Borrego, both he and Kenny Atkinson continue to be top candidates for the Cavaliers‘ head coaching vacancy, which Stein expects to be filled soon. Depending on who gets that job, either Borrego or Atkinson (or both, if Cleveland chooses another candidate, such as Micah Nori) are expected to be in the mix for the Pistons‘ head coaching position, according to Stein, who adds that Detroit’s search could extend into July.
  • According to Stein, rumblings about the possibility of the Spurs making a trade with the Hawks to move up from No. 4 to No. 1 haven’t gone away. The wording of this item from Stein makes it sound as if Alexandre Sarr might be the target in that scenario, but that seems unlikely, given that Sarr doesn’t look like a great fit next to the French big man already on San Antonio’s roster (Victor Wembanyama).

Stein’s Latest: Brown, Van Gundy, Coaching Carousel, More

The Raptors are still determining how they plan to move forward with Bruce Brown‘s $23MM team option for 2024/25, NBA insider Marc Stein relays in his latest around-the-league notebook. The Pacers originally signed Brown to the two-year, $45MM deal last summer in a successful effort to poach him from Denver, then traded him as part of a package to acquire Pascal Siakam.

According to Stein, numerous teams expect the Raptors to pick up that option to help facilitate a trade further down the road.

Brown played in 67 games (44 starts) between the Pacers and Raptors last season, averaging 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists contest one year after helping Denver win the championship.

We have more from Stein:

  • Before joining Tyronn Lue‘s staff in Los Angeles as an assistant, Jeff Van Gundy was pursued by the New Zealand Breakers of Australia’s National Basketball League to be their head coach, Stein reports. The Breakers formally requested permission from the Celtics to interview Van Gundy, who spent the year as a special adviser in Boston’s basketball operations room, but were told he had another coaching opportunity lined up already (with the Clippers).
  • J.J. Redick is the overwhelming favorite to be hired as the Lakers‘ head coach, while James Borrego is still considered the frontrunner to get the Cavaliers‘ job, according to Stein. Though he cautions that anything can happen, as of Wednesday Stein expects those two positions to be filled by those candidates soon.
  • Jayson Tatum and Derrick White‘s contract extensions with the Celtics are viewed as inevitable, Stein writes. Tatum is eligible for a five-year, $315MM deal that would make him the highest-paid player in NBA history.
  • Klay Thompson is in Houston training with Team Bahamas ahead of Olympic qualifiers, but likely would never have been able to participate in the tournament due to the timing of the event (July 2-7). An unrestricted free agent with an injury history, Thompson — like other free agents — can’t officially sign a new contract until July 6, making any play before then an unnecessary risk. Even if he were willing to make that risk, Thompson likely wouldn’t have received clearance from USA Basketball anyways after the organization was criticized last year for allowing Eric Gordon to join the Bahamas, which won a pre-qualifying tournament, Stein writes.
  • Stein confirms reports that Atlanta has been unable to secure an in-person workout with Alexandre Sarr, increasing rumblings that the Hawks may select Zaccharie Risacher first overall.

Draft Rumors: Hawks, Risacher, Sarr, Knecht, C. Williams, Dillingham, More

The Hawks don’t appear to have made any final decisions yet, but intel from teams around the league suggests forward Zaccharie Risacher still looks like the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick, Jonathan Givony writes in ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link). Risacher is working out for Atlanta on Wednesday.

While Alexandre Sarr is widely considered to be another contender for that No. 1 pick, Givony says the Hawks have been unable to get the French big man in for a workout so far, and suggests that UConn center Donovan Clingan might be Risacher’s top competition for the top spot in the draft. Clingan impressed Atlanta during his workout with his passing ability and his performance in film study and interviews, according to Givony.

The Hawks have brought in several lottery prospects for workouts, including Reed Sheppard, Matas Buzelis, Cody Williams, and Ron Holland, Givony notes, which suggests they’re preparing for potential trade-down scenarios as well. One possibility that has been “widely discussed” by rival teams, per Givony, is a deal with the Spurs that would see the Hawks move down to No. 4 and get back one of their draft assets controlled by San Antonio, such as Atlanta’s 2025 first-rounder. A move along those lines would put the Hawks in a better position to rebuild, as Givony observes.

If Atlanta doesn’t select Sarr with the No. 1 pick, teams and agents believe he’ll come off the board at No. 2 to the Wizards, per Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Both Wasserman and ESPN have Sarr second overall in their latest mock drafts.

Here are several more draft-related tidbits from ESPN and Bleacher Report:

  • Dalton Knecht‘s draft range seems increasingly small, according to Givony, who says that every team between No. 4 and No. 9 (with the exception of the Pistons at No. 5) has shown interest in the Tennessee forward.
  • Rival teams are predicting that Colorado’s Cody Williams will be picked higher than expected, possibly by the Spurs or Pistons, says Wasserman, who has Williams at No. 7 in his mock. Givony adds that Williams has worked out or will work out for nearly every team in the top 10 (except for the Rockets) and that teams with lower picks haven’t been able to bring him in, signaling that his camp is confident about his draft range.
  • Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham hasn’t been able to work out for teams for most of the pre-draft process due to an ankle injury, prompting speculation that he could slide on draft night, according to both ESPN’s Jeremy Woo and Wasserman. ESPN has Dillingham coming off the board at No. 8 to the Spurs, but Wassmeran’s sources believe San Antonio is an unlikely landing spot based on what the team is signaling to agents. Wasserman has the former Wildcats guard at No. 11 in his mock.
  • Ja’Kobe Walter, one of the first 12 players who received a green room invite, worked out for teams like the Pistons, Hornets, Spurs, Jazz, and Kings, per Givony, which bodes well for his odds of being a lottery pick.
  • French forward Tidjane Salaun worked out for the Thunder, Kings, and Trail Blazers, then sprained his ankle at a workout with the Spurs this past weekend, Givony reports. Salaun had also lined up workouts with the Pistons and Hornets, but his ankle injury might prevent those sessions from happening.
  • Serbian point guard Nikola Topic has had a handful of meetings scheduled with lottery teams, including the Trail Blazers, Spurs, Grizzlies, and Jazz, Givony writes. However, Givony cautions that a team interested in picking Topic will have to prepare for the possibility of a redshirt rookie year due to the guard’s partially torn ACL.
  • Teams were “buzzing” about Indiana center Kel’el Ware after a strong shooting display at his pro day, according to Wasserman, who says the big man is receiving consideration as high as the late lottery. Givony agrees that Ware seems to be building momentum in the pre-draft process, but notes that he hasn’t received a green room invite yet — that could change later this week when the final invites are sent out. According to Givony, Ware has worked out for over a dozen teams, ranging from late-lottery clubs to those near the end of the first round. The Bucks are one of those teams, and ESPN’s mock has Ware going to Milwaukee at No. 23.

Hawks GM Fields Expects To Keep Top Pick

The Hawks are expected to hold onto the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Charles Odum of The Associated Press reports.

Hawks general manager Landry Fields said during a Monday press conference that while he won’t stop fielding offers for the pick, he’s inclined to keep it.

“I think we’re really excited by the draft,” Fields said. “And the more that we uncover, like we go, ‘Great, I’m glad we have No. 1.’ I keep joking around like, ‘I’m not giving it back.’ So, I think we’re in a really good position here. I’m excited about it, frankly.”

Fields wasn’t expecting to be in this position before the lottery but Atlanta had the winning combination and zoomed up from the No. 10 spot.

If the front office has settled on a player, Fields isn’t tipping his hand. He did indicate the staff had narrowed down the list in recent days.

“I would say a week ago it was wider than it is now,” he said. “The board is definitely shaping up, tearing itself out.”

Most mock drafts have the Hawks going the international route and selecting either small forward Zaccharie Risacher or power forward Alexandre Sarr. If they decide on a domestic prospect, UConn center Donovan Clingan or Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard could be the surprise top pick on June 26.

There are apparently a number of teams willing to move up, if the Hawks are willing to part with the top selection.

“I got a little time off (Sunday) because it was Father’s Day,” Fields said, per The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Lauren Williams. “But for the most part, it continuously rings and we make outgoing calls as well, just to see what the rest of the landscape is looking like.”

According to Fields, he’ll make the final decision, not team owner Tony Ressler. Atlanta doesn’t currently own any other picks in the draft. Its second-rounder was dealt to Portland as part of a trade that allowed the Hawks to acquire Saddiq Bey.

Fields said the Hawks are looking for “a great fit for us, not just for the next day, but for the future as well.” He’s already certain they won’t have to worry about character issues.

“They’re just really good guys (and) good people in this draft and that doesn’t mean like it’s always like that,” Fields said. “But it really has been neat to kind of see especially the guys that are all projected to be at the top and guys that we’ve had in. Taking them to dinner and speaking with him, whether it’s in Chicago here in the building, on Zoom or elsewhere I mean, like we’ve had so many different mediums to do this. And just to get to know them more and more outside of just the intel that you gather around them. It’s just some really good guys.”

The Hawks would seemingly have a greater need in the frontcourt, though there’s been plenty of speculation that Fields may opt to break up his high-scoring backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

NBA’s 2024 Draft Withdrawal Deadline Has Passed

The deadline for early entrants to withdraw from the 2024 NBA draft passed on Sunday at 5:00 pm Eastern time, meaning that any players who haven’t removed their names from consideration at that point will remain in this year’s draft pool.

Because the NCAA has its own draft withdrawal deadline earlier in the spring, the NBA’s deadline typically represents decision day for non-college players, including international prospects. As we relayed on Sunday, several of those international early entrants who initially tested the draft waters decided to pull out before the deadline.

The following players also withdrew from the draft ahead of Sunday’s deadline:

Additionally, there were several reports on Sunday about international prospects who decided to keep their names in the draft pool. Here are those players:

There was no word on Sunday about several of the big-name international prospects, such as Alexandre Sarr, Zaccharie Risacher, and Tidjane Salaun, but there’s no doubt they kept their names in the draft, since they’re projected lottery picks. Nikola Topic is in that group as well, despite the fact that he recently suffered a partially torn ACL.

As our early entrant tracker shows, there are still a handful of prospects whose intentions haven’t been announced or reported, but it shouldn’t be long before we get clarity on them — the NBA will likely announce its official early entrant list for the 2024 draft at some point within the next 24 to 48 hours or so.