Dariq Whitehead

Nets Notes: Simmons, Point Guards, Whitehead, Sharpe, More

Nets guard Ben Simmons is taking part in 5-on-5 workouts without any restrictions and is expected to be a full participant in training camp, head coach Jacque Vaughn and general manager Sean Marks said on Tuesday, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“Pretty simple that way which is good for me to say, and I think that fits into an exciting time for me to have this group together,” Vaughn said. “No restrictions at the beginning of the year — get to form an identity together, get to form some relationships at the beginning of the year, a style of play, so really looking forward to the challenge and getting to training camp because of that.”

In addition to discussing Simmons’ health, Vaughn confirmed something the former No. 1 overall pick said last month, telling reporters that the relationship between the two men is in a better place now than it was last season. As Bontemps details, Vaughn also agreed with Simmons’ assessment that he’s a point guard, though the head coach did offer a caveat.

“I would use the word ‘agreement’ more so than ‘commitment,'” Vaughn said when he was asked if he’s committed to playing Simmons at the point this season. “The agreement is if he’s playing at a consistent and high level, then I think our pictures look exactly the same. I think you can kind of put it in that category.”

Asked if Simmons is competing with Spencer Dinwiddie for minutes at point guard, Vaughn said the two guards will share the floor at times, with Dennis Smith Jr. also in the mix for a regular backcourt role, tweets Ian Begley of SNY.tv.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • There’s no specific timeline for the return of first-round pick Dariq Whitehead, who underwent foot surgery in the spring, but the Nets certainly don’t expect him to miss his entire rookie season, per Adam Zagoria of NJ.com. “We’re definitely not going to rush him,” Marks said. “We love the grit and determination. I wouldn’t put a timeline on when he’ll be back but he will definitely be playing this year.”
  • While Vaughn still expects to use smaller lineups frequently in 2023/24, he wants to give Day’Ron Sharpe an opportunity to earn a role since he’s one of the team’s best rebounders, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter links). The head coach also said that he expects Simmons and center Nic Claxton to share the floor quite a bit, despite the spacing issues it created last season.
  • For the first time since 2018, the Nets won’t have any superstar players on their roster entering training camp. That doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be open to pursuing a star in the next year or two if the right opportunity arises, but it also doesn’t sound like they feel compelled to do so. “(Team owner) Joe Tsai, myself and (Vaughn) have talked openly about how this team will look in the upcoming years and when’s the right time to go back in,” Marks said, according to Bontemps. “Whether it’s facilitating another deal, whether it’s acquiring more players, whether it’s seeing what these young guys on our team right now can develop, and that’s an exciting piece too that we’re forgetting to mention. We’re certainly not in any hurry, but at the end of the day, we’re going to do our due diligence like we always have over the course of the last six years.”
  • Over at his Substack, Steve Lichtenstein explores why forward Trendon Watford has the potential to be a solid developmental piece for Brooklyn. Watford is on a non-guaranteed contract with the Nets.

Nets Notes: Whitehead, Claxton, Wilson, Schedule

Dariq Whitehead‘s appearance at the Nets’ Plaza Party on Sunday provided another reason for optimism that he’ll be ready when training camp opens, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The first-round pick out of Duke underwent a second surgery on his right foot this summer, but Lewis states that he was able to walk without a limp or a boot. While Whitehead didn’t provide any specifics about the operation or his projected return, he indicated that he’s making progress.

“Rehab is going great. Foot feeling good. Definitely not trying to give it a definite timetable right now, just trying to take it day by day,” Whitehead said. “But everything’s feeling good, and just looking forward to approaching the season, getting back to 100 percent.” 

Whitehead was the second-ranked high school player in the nation and was hoping to be a top-five pick in the draft. But issues with his foot disrupted his college career and caused him to slip to No. 22. The surgery prevented Whitehead from playing in Summer League, so he’s eager to get started with preparations for his rookie season.

“When you’re injured, you always have that urge to want to get out there and be out there on the court with the guys,” Whitehead said. “But that’s something coach Jacque (Vaughn) has preached to me since the first day I stepped in the door, about it’s a marathon not a (sprint) race.  So just knowing that I’ve got to be patient and take my time with it, and hearing that come from him, makes it a little more assuring that, all right, just take my time, get back to where I need to be, and everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.” 

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets need Nic Claxton to expand his game this season, even though it could raise his asking price when he becomes a free agent next summer, Lewis adds in another Post story. Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype told Lewis that Claxton is already in position to land a contract similar to Jakob Poeltl, who got $78MM over four years from the Raptors.
  • Second-round pick Jalen Wilson tells Ian Begley of SNY.tv that spending four years in college made him more ready for the NBA than he would have been if he had left early. “I know I’m a rookie but being 22, about to be 23 years old, I feel like I’m mature enough to be able to share my experiences and understand that when you have a culture, you have a foundation that you can do anything (from),” Wilson said. “Me being able to present that and being able to execute it on and off the floor, I feel like that’s an advantage I have.”
  • With the Big Three era over, the Nets only have 11 nationally televised games this season, with six of those on NBA TV, Lewis observes in an overview of the schedule. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who both asked to be traded in February, will return to the Barclays Center in the same week, with the Suns visiting on January 31 and the Mavericks following on February 6.

Dariq Whitehead Signs Rookie Scale Contract With Nets

The Nets have officially signed first-round pick Dariq Whitehead, according to a team press release.

As the No. 22 overall pick, Whitehead will receive $2,966,040 in his rookie season. His four-year contract will be worth a total of $14,709,751.

The salary figures assume that he signed for 120% of the rookie scale amounts for 2023’s first-round picks. First-rounders almost always get the maximum amount for their salary slot.

Rookie scale contracts are guaranteed for the first two years, with team options on the third and fourth years.

Whitehead spent one year at Duke. He averaged 8.3 points on 42.1% shooting from the floor and 42.9% shooting from 3-point range over 20.6 minutes per game in 28 games (seven starts).

The Nets choose Whitehead in the first round even though he underwent a second surgery on his right foot in May. Whitehead was considered a top-10 draft prospect when he committed to the Blue Devils.

Nets Notes: Johnson, Bridges, Whitehead, Milutinov

Cameron Johnson will be one of the top names on the free agent market, and long-time teammate Mikal Bridges is urging him to stay with the Nets, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Johnson and Bridges have been together since Johnson was drafted in 2019 by Phoenix, where they were nicknamed “The Twins” because of their close friendship. They spent three and a half years as Suns teammates before both being shipped to Brooklyn in February as part of the Kevin Durant trade.

“I just know a lot of people probably want him on different teams,” Bridges said. “I just tell him, I’ll just be like ‘I know money and this and that, but just know where I want you. And you can’t leave your Twin!’ But he knows. He knows that I never want him to go. And I hope that he stays and they offer him a really good deal. Get my boy paid and go from there.”

Johnson will be a restricted free agent, so the Nets will be able to match any offer he receives, but they can’t talk to him about a new contract until the official start of free agency at 6 p.m. ET on Friday. General manager Sean Marks told Lewis on draft night that he’s hoping to reach an agreement with Johnson before he meets with any other teams.

“I think it’s one of those things that maybe … we should expect the unexpected,” Marks said. “Things happen all the time in this. We’ll be prepared for that. Cam knows how we feel about him. We hope he’s a Net and so we’ll just have to sort of play it all out. … I think we’ve got a nice young group and he can see how this group has a chance to do something special here and do something special in Brooklyn.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets weren’t afraid to gamble on Dariq Whitehead with their 22nd pick, even though he underwent a second surgery on his right foot last month, per Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Whitehead was considered one of the top prospects in the nation heading into his freshman season at Duke, and the 18-year-old is confident that he can eventually get past his physical issues. “I think I can definitely get back to that guy who I was,” Whitehead said. “I feel like people definitely from last year, they tend to think that I’m not athletic, and that was due to me pretty much playing on one leg. But I feel like I can definitely show the athletic part, and then really my playmaking.” 
  • The Nets selected a pair of teenagers in the first round in Whitehead and Noah Clowney, but Marks said that’s not an indication that the team is focused on rebuilding rather than winning right away, relays Ian Beglay of SNY.tv.
  • Nikola Milutinov, whose draft rights the Nets acquired in a 2021 trade, has signed a two-year contract with Olympiacos, according to Dario Skerletic of Sportando. The 28-year-old center spent the past three seasons with CSKA Moscow.

Draft Notes: Black, Whitehead, Henderson, Hornets, Porter

In an interview with Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), Arkansas guard Anthony Black describes himself as an unselfish player who’s willing to do whatever it takes to help his team win. Black displayed impressive passing skills during his freshman year with the Razorbacks, but he said he can defend, rebound and score as well.

Black, who grew up admiring Gilbert Arenas and Kobe Bryant, compares himself to Oklahoma City’s Josh Giddey among current players. Like Giddey, Black is exceptionally tall for a point guard and he uses his 6’7″ height to his advantage.

“I think it helps in my reads,” Black said. “I watch a lot of film, so I’m watching some of the film from the season and some of my reads I’m making just looking straight. There’s a defender, but he’s not tall enough to block it. I can read the back line of the defense a lot easier, I feel like, than a smaller guard who could be guarded by someone with some length and disrupt the passing lane.”

There’s more on the draft:

  • The second surgery needed by Duke forward Dariq Whitehead wasn’t caused by a re-fracture of his right foot, tweets Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. A source tells Wasserman that Whitehead has met with several teams picking late in the lottery as well as teams with multiple first-round selections. He hasn’t been able to work out, but he’s gone through film sessions and met with head coaches, executives and medical personnel.
  • The Hornets haven’t set a date for their workout with Scoot Henderson, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The G League Ignite guard visited the Trail Blazers over the weekend and indicated that he will only work out for Portland and Charlotte. Boone notes that workout days usually aren’t publicized far in advance, and Henderson lives in Georgia so it wouldn’t take him long to get to the Hornets’ facility.
  • The Hornets are hosting a workout today with Texas’ Timmy Allen, Baylor’s Adam Flagler, Florida’s Alex Fudge, Michigan State’s Joey Hauser, Southern Utah’s Tevian Jones and North Carolina State’s Terquavion Smith (Twitter link).
  • Craig Porter Jr. has already conducted workouts with the Mavericks, Warriors, Celtics, Pistons, Magic and Cavaliers, and he has upcoming sessions with the Clippers, Wizards, Nuggets and Knicks, according to a tweet from Global Scouting. The Wichita State guard is a potential late second-round pick.

Dariq Whitehead Has Second Foot Surgery

Projected first-round pick Dariq Whitehead underwent a second surgical procedure on his right foot this week, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who adds that the Duke forward is expected to be ready when training camps open in late September.

Whitehead’s first foot surgery was performed last August, and Dr. Martin O’Malley of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York called the latest procedure a “revision operation with bone grafting for a fifth metatarsal Jones fracture,” according to Wojnarowski.

“He will begin his rehab process in two weeks and should be ready for full participation at the start of NBA training camp,” O’Malley told ESPN.

Whitehead was considered a 10-top draft prospect when he committed to Duke, and he was able to recover from the first surgery to play 28 games. He averaged 8.3 PPG and shot 43% from three-point range as a freshman with the Blue Devils.

Whitehead, who is projected at No. 26 in ESPN’s latest mock draft, has met with several teams during the pre-draft process, including some in the lottery, sources tell Wojnarowski.

NBA Reveals Players Expected At 2023 Draft Combine

The NBA has announced 78 players that are expected to attend this year’s draft combine, scheduled for May 15-21 at in Chicago, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets.

Additionally, a select number of standout players from the G League Elite Camp, which takes place May 13-14 in Chicago, will be invited to participate in the combine.

Players will have interviews with NBA teams and participate in five-on-five scrimmages, as well as shooting, strength and agility drills. Some top prospects opt out of the scrimmages.

Victor Wembanyama, the projected top pick, is not on the list. His French League season is still ongoing.

The list of invitees is as follows:

Projected First-Rounder Whitehead Undergoing Second Procedure On Foot

Former Duke swingman Dariq Whitehead will undergo a second procedure on his right foot after a preseason surgery on that foot didn’t heal properly, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Whitehead, who is the No. 23 prospect on ESPN’s big board and is considered a probable first-round pick, recently met with multiple specialists and determined that a second procedure will be necessary. The expectation is that he’ll be fully recovered for the start of the 2023/24 NBA season, his agents at Excel Sports Management tell Wojnarowski.

A five-star recruit out of high school, Whitehead was widely viewed as a potential lottery pick entering the college season, but has seen his stock drop a bit since then. The 6’7″ wing averaged just 8.3 points per game on .421/.429/.793 shooting in 28 games (20.6 MPG) during his freshman season, chipping in 2.4 RPG and 1.0 APG.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report previously stated (via Twitter) that Whitehead’s draft range may be among the widest of this year’s first-round prospects. Today’s news could further divide opinions on the former Blue Devil and will likely negatively impact his stock.

Even if Whitehead is ready to go in the fall, as his representatives say he will be, he’ll miss his first Summer League this July and will find himself a little behind his fellow rookies by the time training camps open. According to Wojnarowski, Whitehead is expected to attend this month’s draft combine, so teams will get an opportunity to meet with him and presumably check out his medical info at that time.

Duke’s Dariq Whitehead Declares For 2023 NBA Draft

Duke freshman Dariq Whitehead announced on Wednesday that he’s entering his name into the 2023 NBA draft pool, per a press release from the school. The announcement doesn’t mention anything about Whitehead maintaining his NCAA eligibility, so it seems safe to assume he’ll hire an agent and go pro.

“I’m really looking forward to this next step in my basketball career and I’m truly blessed to have this opportunity,” Whitehead said in a statement. “I’ve dreamed of these moments for so long. I can’t wait to get after it and continue preparing for the NBA Draft.”

A five-star recruit out of high school, Whitehead was widely viewed as a potential lottery pick entering the college season, but has seen his stock dip a little since then. The 6’7″ swingman averaged just 8.3 points per game on .421/.429/.793 shooting in 28 games (20.6 MPG) for the Blue Devils, chipping in 2.4 RPG and 1.0 APG.

Whitehead sustained a stress fracture in his right foot last August and also dealt with an ankle sprain during the college season, so those injuries may have been a factor in his up-and-down freshman year.

Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) believes Whitehead’s draft range is among the widest for this year’s first-round prospects. Jonathan Givony of ESPN currently has the 18-year-old ranked at No. 24 on his big board. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic had him at No. 22 in his most recent mock draft.

And-Ones: 2023 Draft, M. Leonard, TV Rights, Elam Ending

The latest installment of Jonathan Givony’s 2023 NBA draft stock watch at ESPN (Insider link) highlights a series of Duke prospects, with big man Kyle Filipowski coming in at No. 14 on Givony’s big board, followed by center Dereck Lively II at No. 24 and swingman Dariq Whitehead at No. 26.

Whitehead’s stock has slipped since the start of the season, according to Givony, who notes that the freshman has struggled to be effective when healthy and ranks dead last among ESPN’s top 100 prospects in two-point field goal percentage (39.7%).

Jeremy Woo of SI.com also takes stock of where a few 2023 draft prospects stand, writing that UCF forward Taylor Hendricks is solidifying his place as a first-rounder and identifying Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin as a possible sleeper.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent center Meyers Leonard spoke to Jeremy Schaap of ESPN’s Outside the Lines about his efforts to make it back to the NBA, discussing the work he has done to educate himself about antisemitism since uttering a slur on a video game stream nearly two years ago. Leonard also said that he suffered nerve damage when he underwent ankle surgery in April 2021 and spent much of the last two seasons rehabbing shoulder and ankle injuries.
  • Bill Shea of The Athletic explores how the collapse of the regional sports network model will affect the NBA as it negotiates its next media rights deal. It’s safe to assume the NBA’s next agreement will include a major streaming element, according to Shea, who observes that other leagues like the NFL, MLS, and MLB have established partnerships with companies like Amazon and Apple in recent years.
  • With the “Elam Ending” gaining some momentum in the G League, Jake Uitti of HoopsHype spoke to the creator, Nick Elam, about why he believes in the idea and what it was like to see the NBA adopt the concept for its All-Star Game, beginning in 2020.