Isaac Jones

Central Notes: Caruso, Pacers Workout, Haliburton, Bucks

The Bulls have fielded numerous inquiries and proposals regarding guard Alex Caruso, says Will Gottlieb of According to Gottlieb, Chicago was offered multiple protected first-round picks ahead of this year’s trade deadline, with the Warriors among the teams who made a strong offer for Caruso. One of those proposed deals included a 2024 pick that ended up being a top-10 selection, per Gottlieb.

However, the Bulls have thus far resisted moving Caruso, with ownership pushing the front office to continue competing for the postseason rather than undergoing a major rebuild. Caruso is extension-eligible this summer.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers are holding a pre-draft workout on Tuesday with some potential second-round picks in the mix. They’ll host Nikola Djurisic (Serbia), Allen Flanigan (Mississippi), Isaac Jones (Washington State), Tristen Newton (Connecticut), Donta Scott (Maryland), and Santiago Vescovi (Tennessee). Shooting guard Djurisic is ranked No. 41 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list, with forward Jones (No. 57) and Newton (No. 68), point guard for national champion UConn, also among the top 75.
  • Coming off their run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers now must focus on taking the next step, star guard Tyrese Haliburton told Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. “It was a great year for us as a team, me individually, of course, but we know there’s another step for us to go, and obviously not satisfied with just Eastern Conference Finals. We want to do a lot more,” he said.
  • The Bucks currently hold the No. 23 and 33 picks in the draft. What type of players should they target? The Athletic’s Eric Nehm and Sam Vecenie explore that topic, with Vecenie suggesting Indiana’s Kel’el Ware, Purdue’s Zach Edey and Dayton’s DaRon Holmes could get a long look with one of their selections as the club seeks a long-term option at the center spot. Vecenie also mentions numerous prospects at other positions.

Pacific Notes: Looney, Suns, Tellem, Gregory, Warriors

After Tim Kawakami of The Athletic suggested on a recent episode of the Warriors Plus Minus podcast that he thinks Kevon Looney could be cut this offseason to save the Warriors some money (hat tip to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports), the veteran center appeared on The Draymond Green Show (YouTube link) and addressed his uncertain future in Golden State.

Looney is under contract for one more season, but he’s coming off a down year and his $8MM salary for 2024/25 is only partially guaranteed for $3MM. If the Warriors cut him, they could try to bring him back on a minimum-salary deal or he could end up signing with a new team after spending his entire nine-year NBA career in Golden State.

“The ball isn’t in my court,” Looney said (story via Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area). “I don’t have full control over my destiny, so I kind of have to play the waiting game, control what I can control. I’ve been here my whole career. I don’t know nothing else. You always want to finish what you started and be somewhere for your whole career, but I’ve been in this business long enough to know that’s not realistic. I’m preparing myself for whatever. My family’s out here, the Bay’s been great to me. They treat me like family, I grew up here.

“I haven’t really thought about it too far. I’m trying to see what they’re going to do first before I push the envelope and see what I want to do. … I’ve been a Warrior for life. Even whatever happens, I’m always going to be a Warrior for life.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Looney ranks atop the list compiled by Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports of 15 potential minimum-salary centers the Suns could target this offseason in free agency. Goga Bitadze, Andre Drummond, Daniel Theis, and Luke Kornet round out Bourguet’s top five, though it’s very possible that some of those players will get more than the veteran’s minimum from another team, putting them out of reach for a Phoenix team that can’t offer more than that to outside free agents.
  • The Suns officially announced in a press release on Monday that they’ve hired Matt Tellem as an assistant general manager and Brian Gregory as vice president of player programming. The team’s deal with Tellem, a Brooklyn executive, was reported last month, but we hadn’t previously heard about the hiring of Gregory, who has been in the college basketball coaching ranks for several decades, most recently with South Florida. Phoenix is adding another longtime college coach – Mike Hopkins – to Mike Budenholzer‘s staff, as we relayed earlier today.
  • Anthony Slater and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic examine some potential targets at No. 52 in this year’s draft for the Warriors, who are looking to replicate the success of last year’s 57th overall pick (Trayce Jackson-Davis). Slater also shares a long list of prospects who have visited Golden State for pre-draft workouts in recent weeks, including Dillon Jones (No. 48 on ESPN’s big board), Keshad Johnson (No. 50), Jalen Bridges (No. 53), Isaac Jones (No. 57), and Antonio Reeves (No. 58), among others.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up several notes on the Lakers, with a focus on their head coaching search, earlier this afternoon.

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 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: PIT Standouts, Dates, Ajinca, Diarra, Watkins

The Portsmouth Invitational Tournament wrapped up last week. The event, which showcases college seniors trying to boost their stock in front of NBA teams, saw two participants — Hunter Tyson and Toumani Camara — get drafted last year, notes Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link).

Washington State forward/center Isaac Jones was “the most productive player” at the 2024 PIT, Givony writes, and he’ll likely be invited to next month’s draft combine in Chicago as a result. The 23-year-old big man was a first-team All-Pac-12 member for the Cougars in 2023/24 and could be a second-round pick, Givony adds.

Morehead State forward Riley Minix and Illiniois guard Marcus Domask were among the other standouts from the tournament, according to Givony.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • In the same story, Givony highlights several upcoming draft-related dates and deadlines to monitor, including Saturday’s early-entrant deadline.
  • French wing Melvin Ajinca, who is ranked No. 42 on ESPN’s big board, is entering the 2024 NBA Draft, agent Bouna Ndiaye told Givony (Twitter link). The 19-year-old has been playing professionally for Saint-Quentin in France’s top basketball league, LNB Pro A. Givony refers to Ajinca as a possible first-rounder.
  • North Carolina State senior forward Mohamed Diarra, who averaged 6.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG and 1.0 BPG in 40 games this past season for the Wolfpack (22.1 MPG), announced on Twitter that he’s entering the draft. Another French player, Diarra didn’t say anything about maintaining his college eligibility, so we’re assuming he’s going pro.
  • Wing Jamir Watkins, who is ranked No. 81 on ESPN’s board, is also entering the draft (Instagram link). After spending his first two college seasons at VCU, Watkins transferred to Florida State for his junior campaign and averaged 15.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.8 APG and 1.9 SPG on .457/.344/.795 shooting in 33 games for the Seminoles (28.1 MPG). As with Diarra, Watkins didn’t say anything about maintaining his remaining eligibility.