Enrique Freeman

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Celtics, Knicks, Nets

Injured Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis is expected to undergo surgery on his left leg injury in the coming days, the team announced today in a press release (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

Porzingis told ESPN after the NBA Finals ended last week that his injury – a torn retinaculum and dislocated posterior tibialis tendon – would require surgery, so this news doesn’t come as a surprise. However, as the Celtics explain in their announcement, the star center had hoped to put off surgery until after Latvia’s Olympic qualifying tournament — and potentially its trip to Paris. That won’t be possible, as Porzingis is unable to play through the injury at the level required for Olympic competition, per the team.

The Celtics are expected to provide updates on Porzingis’ recovery timeline after the surgery is completed. Latvia, meanwhile, will look to claim a spot in the 12-team men’s basketball Olympic tournament without Porzingis available. In order to clinch an Olympic berth, the Latvians will need to win a six-team qualifying tournament over Georgia, Brazil, Cameroon, Montenegro, and the Philippines. That tournament will take place from July 2-7 in Riga, Latvia.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Revisiting the Celtics‘ series of trades from last year, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reports that Boston still would have traded away Marcus Smart during the 2023 offseason even if its initial deal for Porzingis – which involved sending Malcolm Brogdon to the Clippers – hadn’t fallen through. According to O’Connor, if that Brogdon trade had been completed, the Celtics intended to send Smart to the Grizzlies in a separate deal for Tyus Jones and the two draft picks Boston got in the final Porzingis trade. In that scenario, the C’s may not have been in position to acquire Jrue Holiday later in the offseason.
  • Indiana center Kel’el Ware, Akron forward Enrique Freeman, and San Francisco forward Jonathan Mogbo are among the prospects who have worked out for the Knicks recently, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. New York currently holds the 24th and 25th overall picks in the first round on Wednesday, along with No. 38 on Thursday.
  • Fred Katz and Andrew Schlecht of The Athletic spoke to an Eastern Conference executive about several possible draft options for the Knicks, evaluating the pros and cons of Ryan Dunn, Kyshawn George, DaRon Holmes II, and Mogbo, among others.
  • The NBA’s Board of Governors has voted to approve the sale of 15% of the Nets‘ parent company (BSE Global) to billionaire Julia Koch and her family, according to Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico. For more details on the Kochs buying into the Nets, you can read our full story here.

Celtics Notes: Porzingis, Game 5, Van Gundy, Draft

Kristaps Porzingis, who hasn’t played in either of the past two games of the NBA Finals due to a “rare” leg injury, is listed as questionable to play in Game 5. While it’s possible he’s active for Monday’s contest, like he was on Friday, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link) that the big man seems unlikely to play a significant role.

“Right before Game 4, what I was told is that they would only utilize Kristaps Porzingis in situational appearances,” Charania said. “When you’re guarding the inbound, if you need to shoot a free throw, when you need to defend the rim on a lob threat with (little) time left on a possession. I would expect the same here in Game 5. … He’s just not there from a physical perspective.”

Celtics big man Xavier Tillman, who has seen some action in Games 3 and 4 with Porzingis unavailable, suggested during his media availability on Sunday that his frontcourt teammate is far from 100%.

“When we go through our practices, he’s doing some stuff, but you can still tell he’s very uncomfortable,” Tillman said (Twitter video link via Noa Dalzell of Celtics Blog). Asked if there’s been any noticeable improvements in recent days since Porzingis was diagnosed with the injury following Game 2, Tillman replied, “It’s been pretty much the same.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • As Sam Amick of The Athletic details, Jayson Tatum spoke on Sunday about head coach Joe Mazzulla‘s efforts to have his team carry a positive mindset into its second potential close-out game on Monday. “Joe did a great job today of reminding us that it’s OK to smile during wars,” Tatum said. “It’s OK to have fun during high-pressure moments. We would love to win tomorrow, more than anything. But if it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world. We have more opportunities. So just setting that (mindset) of ‘Don’t surrender to that idea that we have to win tomorrow.’ We would love to, absolutely. But Game 5 is the biggest game of the season because it’s the next game on the schedule. So (it’s) going with that mindset and just have fun. That’s really what we talked about today. Get back to having fun and being a team and how special we are and the team that got us here.”
  • Jeff Van Gundy joined the Celtics as a senior consultant last fall after being fired by ESPN and enduring a series of hardships in his personal life, including a death in the family, he revealed during an appearance on The Mark Jackson Show (hat tip to Brian Robb of MassLive.com). Given that context, Van Gundy appreciated the way that the franchise “embraced and welcomed” him. “I was really in an awkward place in life, not really knowing where I was going or what my purpose was, or how I’d be with this new group of people where I didn’t know anyone,” Van Gundy said. “It’s been one of the most rejuvenating things I’ve ever gone through. Brad Stevens and Joe Mazzulla threw me a lifeline.”
  • The Celtics hosted a pre-draft workout over the weekend that featured Ryan Dunn (Virginia), Justin Edwards (Kentucky), Enrique Freeman (Akron), and Judah Mintz (Syraucse), tweets Adam Zagoria of NJ.com. Boston controls the 30th and 54th overall picks in this year’s draft, while those four prospects rank between 31st (Edwards) and 78th (Mintz) on ESPN’s big board for 2024.

Northwest Notes: Williams, Blazers, Wolves, Hayward

As Bulls forward Patrick Williams heads into restricted free agency, look for the Thunder to make a run at him, The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry reports. A league source tells Mayberry that Oklahoma City has “great interest” in the 22-year-old.

Williams, who has failed to live up to his draft billing as the No. 4 pick in 2020, would give the Thunder more size at power forward. Oklahoma City’s stash of draft picks could entice Chicago to negotiate a sign-and-trade with the Thunder. Williams was limited to 43 games this season due to a foot injury.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers hosted six draft prospects on Tuesday — Daniss Jenkins (St. John’s), Dillon Jones (Weber State), Spencer Jones (Stanford), Jared McCain (Duke), Noah Penda (JA Vichy-Clermont) and Armel Traore (Ada Blois), Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report tweets. Out of that group, McCain is the most highly regarded by draft pundits. The point guard is currently rated No. 15 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list. Portland controls the seventh and 14th overall picks, along with No. 34 and No. 40.
  • The Timberwolves were also busy evaluating draft prospects on Tuesday, according to the team’s PR department (Twitter link). Sy Chatman (Buffalo), Enrique Freeman (Akron), Pelle Larsson (Arizona), KJ Simpson (Colorado), Justin Webster (UNLV) and Moses Wood (Washington) visited Minnesota’s practice facility. Larsson (No. 44), a shooting guard, is the highest-ranked prospect among that group on ESPN’s list.
  • In his latest player report card, The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto evaluates the forgettable half-season that Gordon Hayward spent with the Thunder. Hayward is headed to unrestricted free agency and Mussatto opines that the forward might be looking at veteran’s minimum offers the remainder of his career.

Draft Notes: Combine, Mocks, Holland, Trade Rumors, Osobor

Boogie Ellis (USC), Isaac Jones (Washington State), Jesse Edwards (West Virginia), Nae’Qwan Tomlin (Memphis), and Enrique Freeman (Akron) are among the prospects who stood out at the G League Elite Camp over the weekend and earned invitations to participate in the NBA’s combine this week, according to a series of tweets from Jonathan Givony of ESPN. The G League officially confirmed Givony’s reporting (Twitter link).

The combine got underway in Chicago on Monday, with all participants taking part in shooting drills and undergoing strength, agility, and performance testing.

Language in the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement requires all prospects to participate in those aspects of the combine, though they’re still permitted to opt out of this week’s scrimmages. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) identifies several of the fringe first-rounders who have decided to pass on scrimmaging, including Kyshawn George (Miami), Carlton Carrington (Pittsburgh), Kevin McCullar (Kansas), and Johnny Furphy (Kansas), among many others.

As Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network tweets, prospects whose international teams’ seasons haven’t ended are permitted to miss the combine, but those players – including Zaccharie Risacher of JL Bourg and Nikola Topic (Crvena Zvezda) – will be required to complete “pre-draft activities” at a later date.

Here are several more draft-related notes:

  • Wasserman, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, and Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN.com updated their 2024 mock drafts following the conclusion of Sunday’s lottery to reflect the new order. All three mocks have the Hawks using the No. 1 overall pick on French big man Alexandre Sarr.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic has shared his rankings of the top 20 prospects in the 2024 draft class, with plenty of choices that deviate from the consensus. Hollinger has G League Ignite guard Ron Holland at No. 1, with Sarr at No. 5 and Risacher (ESPN’s top prospect) all the way down at No. 13.
  • Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) and Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, two of the media members who were in the draft lottery drawing room on Sunday, share some behind-the-scenes observations from the event and consider what’s next for the teams most impacted by Sunday’s results. Sources tell Lowe that the Rockets (No. 3) and Grizzlies (No. 9) are expected to be among the teams that explore trade possibilities with their picks, though both teams could ultimately end up hanging onto their lottery selections. Meanwhile, Wizards general manager Will Dawkins told Fischer that he thinks “there are multiple All-Stars in this class.” Washington holds the No. 2 pick.
  • Coming off his junior year at Utah State, forward Great Osobor is testing the NBA draft waters, but it sounds like he’ll end up transferring to a new school for his senior year. According to Givony, Osobor has an NIL deal in place with Washington worth $2MM, which is the most lucrative known deal in college basketball this season.
  • A series of ESPN’s NBA reporters explore the biggest questions facing every lottery team.

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.

Draft Notes: Strawther, Bagley, LeDee, Flanigan, Nelson, Gaines

Gonzaga forward Julian Strawther has decided to remain in the draft, Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets. Strawther averaged 15.2 points and shot 41 percent from beyond the arc last season. He’s ranked No. 56 on ESPN’s Best Available list, making him a potential second round pick.

Arizona’s Marcus Bagley – the younger brother of Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III – has also decided to remain in the draft despite appearing in just five games over the last two seasons, CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein tweets.

Several other players who declared for the draft have opted to remove their names as the withdrawal deadline for early entrants nears. Here are some of the players who are headed back to school: