Emanuel Miller

Central Notes: Bird, Pacers, Pistons, Portis

Six players who participated in a pre-draft workout for the Pacers on Wednesday were surprised when a Hall of Famer showed up to watch them, writes Zion Brown of The Indianapolis Star. Larry Bird, who was hired as a consultant last June, walked into the gym to observe the prospects, who noticed his presence immediately.

“It’s exciting,” Oakland’s Jack Gohlke said. “Obviously (he’s) an NBA legend, and a guy who has been with the Pacers organization for forever and a legend with the Celtics, too. So I think it’s just really cool. … I would say it’s almost easier to play in front of a sold-out arena than to have these guys sitting courtside, but it’s still a really cool experience.”

Bird has worked for the Pacers in several capacities over the years, starting as head coach in 1997. Tyrese Haliburton and Isaiah Jackson also made an appearance on Wednesday, but the focus was on Bird, even though the players at the workout were all born well after his playing career ended.

“Once he walked in I was like, ‘I recognize him,’” UC-Santa Barbara’s Ajay Mitchell said. “It’s amazing to see him here. Working in front of him, it’s a great opportunity and it’s a blessing to have him around.”

Also participating in the workout were Yongxi Cui of China, Thijs de Ridder of Belgium, TCU’s Emanuel Miller and Michigan State’s Tyson Walker. Indiana owns picks 36, 49 and 50 in this month’s draft.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers have another workout set for Thursday featuring Baylor’s Jalen Bridges, North Carolina State’s D.J. Burns Jr., West Virginia’s Jesse Edwards, Kentucky’s Antonio Reeves and Morehead State’s Kalil Thomas, the team announced (via Twitter). Indiana’s Xavier Johnson was a late replacement for USC’s Boogie Ellis (Twitter link).
  • New Pistons head of basketball operations Trajan Langdon has a challenge to try to fix an organization that has been sputtering for years, observes Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News. Wojnowski blames owner Tom Gores, whom he accuses of meddling too often, as well as the people he has entrusted to run the franchise. He criticizes former general manager Troy Weaver for his roster construction, particularly his willingness to take on big men who failed elsewhere, and coach Monty Williams for his insistence on playing Killian Hayes and his misuse of Jaden Ivey early in the season.
  • Bobby Portis should be thrilled by the return of Darvin Ham to the Bucks‘ coaching staff, notes Christopher Kuhagen of The Journal-Sentinel. Kuhagen recalls that after Milwaukee was eliminated from the playoffs in 2023, Portis sent out a social media message that read, “Only thing hurt us was D ham leaving. That ain’t talked about enough.”

Central Notes: Buckner, Giannis, Pacers Workout, Pacers Offseason

Greg Buckner is expected to join Doc Rivers’ staff with the Bucks, Marc Stein tweets. Buckner was the Cavaliers‘ associate head coach under J.B. Bickerstaff. He had been on Cleveland’s staff since 2020. Previously, Bucker was an assistant with the Grizzlies (2017-19). Former Lakers coach Darvin Ham has also made a commitment to join Rivers’ staff.

We have more from the Central Division:

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Hartenstein, Raptors, Edey, Nets

Fred Katz and Danny Leroux of The Athletic answer several CBA-related offseason questions for the Knicks, including why they’ll be limited to offering Isaiah Hartenstein a four-year, $72.5MM contract in free agency.

As The Athletic’s authors explain, New York only holds Hartenstein’s Early Bird rights because he has only spent the past two years with the Knicks. One recent report said the 26-year-old could receive $80-$100MM on a new deal from a team with cap room.

Katz and Leroux also cover several other topics, including why the Knicks are in a much better position to potentially trade for a star during the 2024/25 league year instead of in ’25/26 (they could be over the second tax apron at that point).

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Cap expert Yossi Gozlan explores a few cap room teams that reportedly could be threats to sign Hartenstein away from the Knicks (YouTube link). Gozlan views Orlando as the most logical potential (external) suitor for the big man, but he thinks Hartenstein will ultimately re-sign with New York.
  • The Raptors are hosting six prospects for a pre-draft workout on Monday, including Purdue star center Zach Edey, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Edey, who won back-to-back college Player of the Year awards, is ranked No. 16 on ESPN’s top-100 list. The other five players are Keion Brooks Jr. (Washington), Joseph Girard III (Clemson), Emanuel Miller (TCU), Tyrese Samuel (Florida) and Jahmir Young (Maryland). Edey, Miller and Samuel are all natives of Canada. The Raptors control the No. 19 and No. 31 picks in the 2024 draft.
  • Speaking to reporters on Monday, new Nets head coach Jordi Fernandez discussed his staff of assistants, which was made official last week (Twitter links via Brian Lewis of The New York Post). Common thread is bringing energy on the court, a lot of player development-oriented coaches,” Fernandez said. “And also coaches with a lot of experience as players…I was not a pro…so it’s important that we have enough guys that have done it.”

44 Prospects Invited To G League Elite Camp

Forty-four prospects for the 2024 NBA draft were invited to the NBA’s G League Elite Camp, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link).

The list of players is as follows:

The field of draft prospects scrimmage for two days in Chicago starting on May 11 ahead of the NBA’s annual draft combine. If players perform well enough, they’re often promoted to the larger combine immediately following the G League Elite Camp. Typically, at least a half dozen players move on.

While the combine usually focuses on the top-ranked players in each draft class, the G League Elite Camp offers opportunity to prospects further down boards who are more likely to go undrafted. Of the 44 names invited to the G League Elite Camp, only 16 rank among ESPN’s top 100 prospects. No prospect ranks higher than No. 48 (Onyenso) on ESPN’s board.

Nine of ESPN’s top 100 prospects have not been invited to Chicago for either event: Armel Traore (France), Zacharie Perrin (France), Andrija Jelavic (Croatia), Yannick Kraag (Netherlands), Tre Mitchell (Kentucky), Ilias Kamardine (France), Dylan Disu (Texas), Riley Minix (Morehead State) and Jonas Aidoo (Tennessee). According to Givony (Twitter link), the NBA might not announce the official list until Monday, so there’s a chance it’s amended.

The G League Elite Camp will give invitees who declared for the draft as early entrants an opportunity to see where they stand ahead of the draft withdrawal deadline on May 29. Not all of the players who participate in this event will remain in the draft pool.

Last year, future NBA players like Hornets forward Leaky Black, Pistons forward Tosan Evbuomwan, Mavericks forward Alex Fudge, Celtics guard Drew Peterson and Nets guard Jaylen Martin all participated in the event. Other recent notable alums of the event include Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado and Clippers guard Terance Mann.

NCAA’s Draft Withdrawal Deadline For Early Entrants Has Passed

Now that we’ve flipped the calendar from May to June, the deadline for early entrants to withdraw their names from the 2023 NBA draft and retain their NCAA eligibility has passed. Prospects had until 11:59 pm Eastern time on May 31 to make their decisions and meet the NCAA’s deadline.

The NBA’s own draft withdrawal deadline isn’t until June 12, but college players typically make their decisions in advance of the NCAA’s deadline so that they’re able to return to school.

[RELATED: 2023 NBA Draft Dates, Deadlines To Watch]

We passed along many last-minute draft decisions on Wednesday, but a few slipped through the cracks or weren’t reported until this morning. Most notably, Ohio State’s Brice Sensabaugh, a projected first-round pick, opted to keep his name in the draft as expected, per Adam Jardy of The Columbus Dispatch.

Washington State’s Justin Powell, TCU’s Damion Baugh, and Demetrius Mims of Gannon University will also remain in the 2023 draft, according to reports from Jonathan Givony of ESPN, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, and Jon Chepkevich of DraftExpress.com (all Twitter links).

Here are some of the players who decided to opt out of the draft:

Our early entrant tracker has been updated to reflect the latest reports and announcements. However, we’re still awaiting clarity on a number of players, and it’s worth stressing that our list is very unofficial.

The NBA won’t issue a full, final list of early entrants in the 2023 draft until after the June 12 withdrawal deadline. But last year the league provided an update following the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline, so we could get a similar announcement on Thursday or Friday.

By our count, at least 100 of the 242 players who initially declared for the draft as early entrants have pulled out.

Draft Notes: Pacers, Hawks, Kalkbrenner, Harrison, Bates

Ricky Council IV (Arkansas), Nikola Djurisic (Serbia), Tevian Jones (Southern Utah), Darius McGhee (Liberty), Jordan Miller (Miami) and Keisei Tominaga (Nebraska) will work out for the Pacers on Tuesday, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Council, ranked No. 56 on ESPN’s Best Available list, and Djurisic (No. 59) are the highest-rated players visiting Indianapolis.

We have more draft-related news:

  • Kentucky forward Oscar Tshiebwe (No. 75) headlines the group of six prospects that the Hawks will evaluate on Tuesday, Lauren Williams of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. Overtime Elite’s Jazian Gortman, North Carolina’s Leaky Black, UAB’s Trey Jemison, TCU’s Emanuel Miller and Texas’ Sir’Jabari Rice will join him.
  • Creighton’s Ryan Kalkbrenner is withdrawing from the draft and returning to school, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein tweets. Kalkbrenner was considered a second-round prospect, ranking No. 62 on ESPN’s list.
  • Grand Canyon’s Rayshon Harrison is also returning to school, Rothstein adds in another tweet.
  • Eastern Michigan’s Emoni Bates interviewed well at the combine, which boosted his stock and made a lot of teams take a closer look at him, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Bates is considered a second-round prospect (No. 57).

50 Prospects Reportedly Invited To G League Elite Camp

A total of 50 prospects for the 2023 NBA draft have been invited to the NBA’s G League Elite Camp, according to reports from Adam Zagoria of Forbes and Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter links).

Those players are as follows:

The name of the G League Elite Camp is a bit of a misnomer — when first introduced, the event showcased NBAGL players, but the field of participants now consists exclusively of draft prospects. The event will take place on May 13 and 14 in Chicago, ahead of this year’s draft combine.

Like the combine, the Elite Camp brings young players to Chicago to meet NBA teams and participate in drills and scrimmages. While the combine focuses on the top prospects in a given draft class, the Elite Camp generally features prospects who are trying to break into that upper echelon of prospects but are more likely to go undrafted. The top performers at the event typically receive invites to the combine.

Of the 50 G League Elite Camp invitees, 15 show up on Jonathan Givony’s list of this year’s top 100 prospects at ESPN.com. However, no Elite Camp invitee ranks higher than No. 58 (Hart) on ESPN’s board.

The G League Elite Camp will give the invitees who declared for the draft as early entrants an opportunity to see where they stand ahead of the draft withdrawal deadline on May 31. Not all of the players who participate in this event will remain in the draft pool.

Some NBA players who have participated in past G League Elite Camps include Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado, Pacers forward Oshae Brissett, Clippers guard Terance Mann, and Heat wing Max Strus.

Draft Notes: Walker, Lively, Podziemski, E. Miller, Lundy

Many of the top prospects in college basketball either struggled during the first four days of this year’s NCAA tournament or weren’t in action at all, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link), but Houston forward Jarace Walker and Duke center Dereck Lively II were among the players who showed off the defensive acumen that makes them intriguing prospects at the next level.

Referring to him as “arguably the most versatile defender” in the 2023 class, Givony praises Walker for his ability to protect the rim and stand tall against big men in the post while also switching onto perimeter players and drawing charges. Walker is currently the No. 6 prospect on ESPN’s top-100 list and has the potential to be a top-five pick, says Givony.

While Walker has shown some flashes of offensive potential, Lively scored just four points across his two NCAA tournament games (65 minutes) and has the lowest usage rate (11.6%) of any player in ESPN’s top 100, per Givony. However, the 7’2″ center possesses “exceptional mobility” and is easily the top shot blocker among players projected to be drafted, so he still projects to be a first-round pick (he’s No. 22 on ESPN’s list).

As John Hollinger of The Athletic observes, the floor spacing at the NBA level should give Lively more room to operate as a rim runner. He has shown some passing ability and the potential to make corner threes, according to Hollinger, so there’s reason to be hopeful that he could develop a passable offensive game to go along with his game-changing defense.

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Following a breakout sophomore season, Santa Clara guard Brandin Podziemski announced (via Twitter) that he’ll test the draft waters while maintaining his NCAA eligibility. Podziemski, who averaged 19.9 points per game and 8.8 RPG with an impressive .438 3PT%, is the No. 39 prospect on ESPN’s big board, but has moved up to No. 20 in Jonathan Wasserman’s Bleacher Report rankings.
  • TCU senior forward Emanuel Miller will test the draft waters while maintaining his extra year of college eligibility, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Miller, who began his college career at Texas A&M, averaged 12.3 PPG and 6.5 RPG on .505/.392/.652 shooting in 2022/23.
  • Penn State senior forward Seth Lundy is also declaring for the 2023 draft, he tells Rothstein (Twitter link). A press release issued by the school indicated that Lundy will be forgoing his final year of eligibility and going pro.