Janis Berzins

Draft Notes: Lakers, Johnson, Berzins, Payne

The Lakers would prefer Karl-Anthony Towns to Jahlil Okafor, but Towns appears to be the player that the Timberwolves are targeting with the top pick, as Chris Mannix of SI.com hears (Twitter link). L.A. has swung and missed on attempts to have Towns in for a workout, while Mark Heisler of Forbes.com heard recently that Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders has become enamored with the Kentucky big man. The Lakers have zeroed in on Okafor if Towns is off the board, as Mannix reported earlier. Here’s more on the rapidly approaching draft:

  • Stanley Johnson is refusing to work out with the Hornets, who pick ninth, in hopes that either the Pistons, at No. 8, or the Heat, with the 10th pick, will draft him, tweets Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.
  • Latvian small forward Janis Berzins is working out for the Spurs and Celtics in addition to his audition with the Jazz this past Friday, as VEF Riga, his Latvian team, revealed via Twitter (translation via HoopsHype).
  • Cameron Payne has worked out for the Lakers, Kings, Nuggets, Pacers and Thunder, writes Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. In addition, Payne held a meeting with the Celtics.
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson said earlier this week that he has workouts left with the Jazz, Kings and Hawks, tweets Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post.
  • Justin Anderson recently completed his eighth workout, Castillo tweets. He has the Cavaliers and Thunder remaining.
  • Larry Nance Jr. tells the Associated Press he has worked out for “about a dozen” teams, including the Spurs, Sixers, Celtics, Suns, Heat, Pacers and Knicks. The last workout on his schedule will be Wednesday with the Cavaliers.
  • Pat Connaughton has managed to fit more than a dozen teams into his workout schedule, according to Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. The Notre Dame product has received positive reviews at most of the workouts and has a chance to be a second round pick, Himmelsbach writes.
  • Kevon Looney has worked out for “nine or 10 teams,” tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. One of those sessions was with the Celtics on June 17th, writes Josh Slavin of WEEI.com.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Lawson, Jazz, Gordon

If new Nuggets coach Michael Malone is to succeed in Denver, the team will need to part ways with point guard Ty Lawson, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post writes.My question to all these guys is going to be: How serious are you about winning? Do you like to win? Or do you hate to lose?” Malone said during his introductory press conference. Lawson doesn’t quite fit the mold of a player who’s truly serious about winning, Kiszla opines, and Malone won’t abide having to coax effort out of his players, which is an issue with the talented point guard. The Mavs are reportedly interested in Lawson, though he’s not at the top of the franchise’s priorities this offseason.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • DeMarcus Cousins, one of Malone’s former players with the Kings, is thrilled that his former coach was hired by the Nuggets, Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee relays in a series of tweets. “I was extremely happy. I think he’s one of the better coaches in the league. He’s a great man,” Cousins said. “I learned a lot from him, and I’m just happy he’s getting an opportunity to do what he loves. Like I said, you can’t keep a good man down.
  • The Jazz have workouts scheduled Friday for Janis Berzins (Latvia), Sam Dekker (Wisconsin), Terrence Drisdom (Cal Poly Pomona), Skyler Halford (BYU), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona), and Rashad Madden (Arkansas), the team announced (on Twitter).
  • There was no way that Pelicans guard Eric Gordon would have landed a deal that would pay him more than the value of his $15,514,031 player option for 2015/16, so opting in was his only rational choice, Jimmy Smith of The Times Picayune opines.
  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan thinks that Kentucky forward Trey Lyles‘ versatility will pose a major matchup problem for defenders when he arrives in the NBA next season, Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman writes. Lyles is a possibility for Oklahoma City, who own the No. 14 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft.