Jabari Walker

Northwest Notes: Jokic, George, Ayton, Blazers, Gobert

Sixers star Joel Embiid racked up 41 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds in a comeback victory over the Nuggets on Tuesday, but after the game he had nothing but praise for opposing center and fellow MVP Nikola Jokic, as Bennett Durando of The Denver Post writes.

Embiid joked that there’s a “war” on Twitter between Sixers and Nuggets fans about which player is better, but suggested that Jokic has earned that honor, at least for now, after leading Denver to a championship in 2023.

“He deserves (the title of best in the NBA),” Embiid said. “Until you knock him down, that’s the best in the league, and he’s the Finals MVP. So until someone else takes that away, then you can claim that.

“But then again,” Embiid continued, with a smile. “I also believe in myself. … I’ve just gotta get there.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Following a victory over Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Paul George said the 2019 trade that sent him from the Thunder to the Clippers for a package that included Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and several first-round picks has been a win for both sides — and acknowledged that it may have been a bigger win for OKC. “I just think both sides won. I did think it was quite a lot that the Clippers were willing to give up, but their commitment to me is my commitment to them,” George said (Twitter video link via Joey Linn of SI.com). “… We knew Shai was gonna be really, really good, but he’s special. In a way, Oklahoma won that trade with picks and a future MVP. Great trade for both sides.”
  • After missing the Trail Blazers‘ past 11 games due to a knee issue, starting center Deandre Ayton was on track to return Wednesday vs. Brooklyn, but icy conditions in Portland prevented him from getting to the game, as Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report tweets. Ayton will presumably be available on Friday vs. Indiana.
  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups tried a new starting lineup on Wednesday, with Jerami Grant, Anfernee Simons, Malcolm Brogdon, Duop Reath, and Jabari Walker making up the 19th starting five the team has used this season. After the game, Billups explained that he wanted to make a change due to the slow starts the Blazers had been having (Twitter link via Highkin). The original plan, Billups added, was to move Shaedon Sharpe into Scoot Henderson‘s starting spot, but Sharpe is sidelined with an abdominal injury.
  • While Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert has been lauded for a bounce-back season on defense, he lauded his teammates for making things easier on him at the end of the court, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “We got people that can guard. We got people that can move their feet and take the challenge,” Gobert said.

Trail Blazers To Guarantee Jabari Walker’s Contract For 2023/24

The Trail Blazers have decided to guarantee forward Jabari Walker‘s $1.7MM contract for the upcoming season, according to Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report (Twitter link). The team faced a July 20 deadline to decide whether or not to keep Walker’s salary on the books.

[RELATED: Early NBA Salary Guarantee Dates For 2023/24]

According to Highkin, the decision to guarantee Walker’s salary was a formality after the forward’s strong showing in Las Vegas this month. In five Summer League games, Walker averaged 12.4 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 62.9% from the floor.

The Blazers selected Walker, a forward out of Colorado, in the second round (No. 57 overall) in the 2022 NBA draft. He averaged 3.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 56 games as a rookie.

Walker didn’t play much for most of the season, but closed the year on a high note after the Blazers shut down many core rotation pieces. In his final 10 appearances of the season, he averaged 9.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 21.8 minutes per contest.

Portland appears to think highly of Walker, having opted to keep him around on a standard contract for a second straight season. Since the inception of the two-way contract, many late second round picks begin their careers on two-way pacts rather than standard deals. The Trail Blazers signed Walker to a standard contract despite him being the second-to-last pick in the 2022 draft. Now, he appears locked in to a 15-man roster spot and a potential rotation role for the upcoming season.

Walker has a non-guaranteed contract for the 2024/25 season at $2.01MM, which would become fully guaranteed on July 20, 2024. He’ll become eligible for restricted free agency in 2025 if he’s not extended before then.

Portland now has 12 players on guaranteed standard contracts and another, Jeenathan Williams, on a non-guaranteed standard contract. Williams’ $1.7MM non-guaranteed salary becomes fully guaranteed on Aug. 1. The Trail Blazers also have two players on two-way contracts (John Butler and Ibou Badji).

Northwest Notes: Watford, Walker, K. Johnson, KCP, Bolmaro

Strong showings by Trendon Watford and Jabari Walker in the Las Vegas Summer League may have eased any concerns the Trail Blazers have about front court depth, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

Watford, who signed a two-way contract with Portland last summer and was converted to a standard deal in February, was outstanding late in the season when injuries to teammates pushed him into a more prominent role. He remained productive in Las Vegas, averaging 13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game as the Blazers captured the Summer League title.

Walker didn’t have flashy statistics in Vegas, but he showed he can be a valuable role player, Fentress states. Walker rebounded, played defense, set screens and did other things that will be necessary for him to earn consistent minutes in the NBA.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Trail Blazers shooting guard Keon Johnson also stood out during Summer League, Fentress adds. Johnson, who was acquired from the Clippers in February, looked like a former first-round pick, leading Portland’s squad in scoring at 14.2 PPG. Fentress doesn’t expect Johnson to be part of the rotation this season, barring injuries, but said he could see spot duty.
  • Although Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has found a new home with the Nuggets, who gave him a two-year extension last week, he didn’t expect to be traded by the Wizards, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. It marked the second straight offseason that Caldwell-Pope has been part of a significant trade. “My initial reaction was surprise because what me and my team and the Washington Wizards was talking about and communicating was different,” he said. “It was a surprise.”
  • Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune examines what the Jazz can expect from Leandro Bolmaro, who was part of the return in the Rudy Gobert trade. Bolmero, a 21-year-old swingman, is a 2020 first-round pick who made his NBA debut last season with the Timberwolves. Larsen notes that Bolmaro is an outstanding defender and a capable rebounder and playmaker, but there are questions about his ability to score.

Trail Blazers Sign Second-Rounder Jabari Walker

The Trail Blazers have signed second-round pick Jabari Walker to a standard contract, the team announced in a press release.

Walker, who turns 20 later this month, was the 57th pick of last month’s draft after two seasons at Colorado. In 33 games (28.1 MPG) for the Buffaloes last season, Walker averaged 14.6 PPG and 9.4 RPG on .461/.346/.784 shooting, earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors in the process.

The 6’9″ forward has had a stellar Summer League with Portland thus far, posting averages of 13.0 PPG and 8.3 RPG on .682/.375/.667 shooting in three games (19.6 MPG).

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Blazers had a small portion of their mid-level exception remaining to give Walker a contract that exceeds two years if they wanted to. Most of their mid-level was used to sign Gary Payton II.

Portland now has 15 players on standard deals, with one two-way spot still open. Although his last name is quite common, it’s worth noting that Walker is the son of former NBA player Samaki Walker.

As Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report tweets, the younger Walker recently said his father taught him one of the keys to having a long career is to understand his role.

My dad taught me that a ‘role player’ isn’t a bad thing. You can make a lot of money being a role player. You can be a starter being a role player. A lot of people don’t embrace that. So that’s going to be an advantage for me,” he said.

Draft Decisions: J. Williams, Braun, J. Walker, Scheierman

Early entrants Jalen Williams (Santa Clara), Christian Braun (Kansas), and Jabari Walker (Colorado) are all keeping their names in the 2022 NBA draft, notes Jeff Goodman of Stadium (Twitter link). The three prospects have signed with BDA Sports and WME Sports for representation, rendering them ineligible to return to college.

Williams, a junior guard, is a potential first-round pick, currently ranking 24th overall on ESPN’s big board. When he first entered the draft, he was at No. 48 on ESPN’s list, so he has clearly improved his stock in the last couple months.

Braun, also a junior guard, isn’t far behind Williams at No. 30, while sophomore forward Walker is at No. 74 and isn’t a lock to be drafted.

Here are a few more updates on early entrants deciding to either remain in the draft pool or return to school:

  • After declaring for the draft following his junior season, forward Baylor Scheierman has decided to withdraw and return to school for at least one more year, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Scheierman, the No. 86 prospect on ESPN’s board, is transferring from South Dakota State to Creighton.
  • As expected, after securing a lucrative NIL deal to play for Miami, Nijel Pack has opted to withdraw from the NBA draft, according to Rothstein (Twitter link). The guard spent his first two college seasons at Kansas State.
  • Nevada junior guard Grant Sherfield will withdraw from the draft and is transferring to Oklahoma to play for the Sooners next season, tweets Goodman. Sherfield made the All-MWC team in each of the last two years after transferring from Wichita State in 2020.

Full List Of 2022 NBA Draft Combine Participants

The NBA has revealed its list of 76 players who have been invited – and who are expected to attend – next week’s draft combine in Chicago. The combine workouts will take place from May 18-20.

Over the course of the week, players will conduct interviews with NBA teams, participate in five-on-five games, and go through shooting, strength and agility drills.

While several of the prominent names at the top of the draft likely won’t participate in scrimmages, those top prospects are still expected to attend. That group includes Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey.

A handful of standout players from the G League Elite Camp could be invited to participate in the combine as well.

Here’s the full list of 76 names announced by the NBA today, in alphabetical order, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link):

  1. Ochai Agbaji, G/F, Kansas (senior)
  2. Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, Milwaukee (freshman)
  3. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke (freshman)
  4. Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  5. MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  6. Hugo Besson, G, Australia (born 2001)
  7. Malaki Branham, G/F, Ohio State (freshman)
  8. Christian Braun, G, Kansas (junior)
  9. Kendall Brown, F, Baylor (freshman)
  10. John Butler Jr., F/C, Florida State (freshman)
  11. Julian Champagnie, G/F, St. John’s (junior)
  12. Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee (freshman)
  13. Max Christie, G, Michigan State (freshman)
  14. Kofi Cockburn, C, Illinois (junior)
  15. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  16. Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin (sophomore)
  17. JD Davison, G, Alabama (freshman)
  18. Moussa Diabate, F, Michigan (freshman)
  19. Ousmane Dieng, F, Australia (born 2003)
  20. Khalifa Diop, C, Spain (born 2002)
  21. Jalen Duren, C, Memphis (freshman)
  22. Tari Eason, F, LSU (sophomore)
  23. Keon Ellis, G, Alabama (senior)
  24. Michael Foster, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  25. Collin Gillespie, G, Villanova (super-senior)
  26. AJ Griffin, F, Duke (freshman)
  27. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)
  28. Ron Harper Jr., F, Rutgers (senior)
  29. Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga (freshman)
  30. Harrison Ingram, F, Stanford (freshman)
  31. Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue (sophomore)
  32. Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana (junior)
  33. Nikola Jovic, F, Serbia (born 2003)
  34. Johnny Juzang, G, UCLA (junior)
  35. Ismael Kamagate, C, France (born 2001)
  36. Trevor Keels, G, Duke (freshman)
  37. Walker Kessler, F/C, Auburn (sophomore)
  38. Christian Koloko, C, Arizona (junior)
  39. Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest (junior)
  40. Justin Lewis, F, Marquette (sophomore)
  41. E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State (junior)
  42. Bennedict Mathurin, G/F, Arizona (sophomore)
  43. Matthew Mayer, F, Baylor (senior)
  44. Bryce McGowens, G, Nebraska (freshman)
  45. Leonard Miller, F, Canada (born 2003)
  46. Josh Minott, F, Memphis (freshman)
  47. Aminu Mohammed, G/F, Georgetown (freshman)
  48. Iverson Molinar, G, Mississippi State (junior)
  49. Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite (auto-eligible)
  50. Wendell Moore, F, Duke (junior)
  51. Keegan Murray, F, Iowa (sophomore)
  52. Andrew Nembhard, G, Gonzaga
  53. Scotty Pippen Jr., G, Vanderbilt (junior)
  54. Gabriele Procida, G/F, Italy (born 2002)
  55. Orlando Robinson, F/C, Fresno State (junior)
  56. David Roddy, F, Colorado State (junior)
  57. Ryan Rollins, G, Toledo (sophomore)
  58. Dereon Seabron, G, NC State (sophomore)
  59. Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  60. Jabari Smith, F, Auburn (freshman)
  61. Terquavion Smith, G, NC State (freshman)
  62. Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor (freshman)
  63. Matteo Spagnolo, G, Italy (born 2003)
  64. Julian Strawther, G/F, Gonzaga (sophomore)
  65. Dalen Terry, G, Arizona (sophomore)
  66. Drew Timme, F, Gonzaga (junior)
  67. Jabari Walker, F, Colorado (sophomore)
  68. TyTy Washington Jr., G, Kentucky (freshman)
  69. Peyton Watson, G/F, UCLA (freshman)
  70. Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame (freshman)
  71. Alondes Williams, G, Wake Forest (super-senior)
  72. Jalen Williams, G, Santa Clara (junior)
  73. Jaylin Williams, F/C, Arkansas (sophomore)
  74. Mark Williams, C, Duke (sophomore)
  75. Trevion Williams, F/C, Purdue (senior)
  76. Fanbo Zeng, F, G League Ignite (auto-eligible)

Draft Notes: Walker, Abmas, Hall, Travers, Freeman-Liberty, Kiss, Big Board

Colorado’s Jabari Walker, a First-Team All Pac-12 selection, intends to stay in the draft, his father and former NBA player Samaki Walker told ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link).

“Jabari is fully committed to becoming a professional basketball player and has no intentions on returning to school. He wants to sign with an agent and go all in,” Samaki Walker said.

Jabari Walker averaged 14.6 PPG and 9.4 RPG as a sophomore for the Buffaloes. A power forward, Walker is rated No. 61 on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more draft-related news:

  • Oral Roberts’ Max Abmas, Saint Joseph’s Jordan Hall, Australian forward Luke Travers and DePaul guard Javon Freeman-Liberty have been invited to the NBA G League Elite Camp, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw reports (Twitter links found here). Among that group, Hall (No. 76) and Travers (No. 87) are on ESPN’s Best Available list.
  • Guard Peter Kiss will work out for the Celtics on Tuesday, Adam Zagoria tweets. Kiss averaged a Division I-best 25.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG for Bryant this past season.
  • Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren remain the top two players on Sam Vecenie’s latest big board, which includes his top 100 prospects. The Athletic’s draft expert considers Smith a somewhat safer pick because his shooting and defense translates well to the NBA game. Separating players into tiers, Vecenie ranks Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin and Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe just outside the top five.

MSU’s Max Christie Among Early Entrants For 2022 NBA Draft

The list of early entrants for the 2022 NBA draft continues to grow, as college players put their names into this year’s draft pool ahead of the April 24 deadline.

[RELATED: 2022 NBA Draft Dates, Deadlines To Watch]

Michigan State’s Max Christie is among the players who recently declared for the draft, announcing his intentions in a post on Instagram. The freshman shooting guard stated that he’ll test the draft waters, maintaining his remaining college eligibility for the time being as he gets feedback on his draft stock.

A full-time starter for the Spartans in 2021/22, Christie averaged 9.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG on .382/.317/.824 shooting in 35 games (30.8 MPG). Those numbers are modest, but the 6’6″ guard has shown the potential to develop into a stronger shooter and a solid defender, per ESPN’s Mike Schmitz. Christie ranks 41st overall on ESPN’s big board.

Here are a few more of the college players who have recently entered the draft pool:

Expected to stay in draft, forgoing remaining NCAA eligibility:

Testing draft waters:

Draft Notes: Sherman, Pecarski, Gauzin, More

West Virginia guard Taz Sherman has decided not to keep his name in the 2021 NBA draft and will instead return to the Mountaineers, the school announced today in a press release.

Sherman was one of the names on the list of 130+ seniors sent to NBA teams last week. However, rather than go through the full draft process, he has made an early decision to pull out and take advantage of his extra year of NCAA eligibility.

In 28 games (24.3 MPG) in 2020/21, Sherman averaged 13.4 PPG on .413/.359/.873 shooting.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Serbian forward/center Marko Pecarski and French point guard Matthieu Gauzin have declared for the 2021 draft, agent Daniel Moldovan tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Pecarski spent the ’20/21 season with KK FMP in Serbia, while Gauzin played for Champagne Chalons-Reims in France.
  • With the early entry deadline for draft prospects having passed, Jeremy Woo of SI.com takes a look at some of the notable college players who opted to return to school rather than entering the draft pool. Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin, and Colorado’s Jabari Walker are among the players Woo suggests keeping an eye on next season.
  • Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) considers how certain recent NBA trends, including the success of a smaller guard like Trae Young and the bigger lineups that some contenders have used, could impact prospects in this year’s draft class. Schmitz also explores which non-lottery picks in 2021 could contribute in the postseason a year from now.