Karlo Matkovic

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Mavs’ Trade Prospects, Matkovic, Udoka

Thirteen of the Grizzlies‘ 15 players on standard contracts were sidelined by injuries for Sunday’s 40-point loss at Boston, writes Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. David Roddy and Luke Kennard were joined by three players on two-way contracts and three others on 10-day hardship deals as Memphis barely met the requirement of having eight active players for the game.

Coach Taylor Jenkins unveiled a makeshift starting lineup — his 30th of the season — consisting of Roddy, Kennard, G.G. Jackson, Trey Jemison and Jacob Gilyard. Jemison picked up two fouls in the game’s first minute, leaving 6’9″ forward Tosan Evbuomwan to match up with 7’3″ Kristaps Porzingis.

While the Grizzlies were clearly overmatched, some players are taking advantage of the opportunity. Cole singles out Jackson, who became the focus of the offense and scored 18 points on 24 shots, and Scotty Pippen Jr., who led the team with 19 points off the bench, as two who stood out.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Finding a power forward with size — preferably one who can shoot from the outside and contribute on both ends of the court — is the Mavericks‘ priority heading into Thursday’s trade deadline, multiple sources tell Tim Cato of The Athletic. He adds that the team could also use a backup center who can protect the rim, noting that Dallas is often forced to play zone against larger teams. Cato points out that rivals such as the Thunder and Jazz may be in the market for similar players and have more assets to offer than Dallas does.
  • Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News also assesses the Mavericks‘ trade outlook, observing that the 2027 pick is the team’s only tradeable first-rounder and suggesting that Josh Green, Jaden Hardy or Olivier-Maxence Prosper would likely have to be included in any significant deal.
  • As expected, Pelicans prospect Karlo Matkovic has left his KK Cedevita Olimpija team and is headed to New Orleans, according to Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. Matkovic’s role with the organization hasn’t been defined publicly, but the Pelicans have one opening on their 15-man roster and Malcolm Hill‘s 10-day contract is about to expire. It’s also possible that Matkovic, a 6’11” power forward/center, will be signed to a G League deal and join the organization’s affiliate in Birmingham.
  • Rockets coach Ime Udoka was disappointed after watching his offense sputter against one of the league’s best defenses in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “The lack of reaction was not making the easy play, making the easy pass to a teammate, driving into a crowd, trying to play through double-teams,” Udoka said. “A four-point game at half, we talked about … all these open shots that we left on the table by driving to a crowd (against) the No. 1 team defensively, top five in packing the paint, protecting the paint, what they give up in the paint.”

Pelicans Prospect Karlo Matkovic Heading Stateside

Croatian big man Karlo Matkovic is leaving KK Cedevita Olimpija and will be coming to the U.S. at the start of February, his Slovenian team announced in a press release.

Matkovic was selected 52nd overall in the 2022 NBA draft by the Pelicans, who still control his NBA rights. It’s possible that the former second-rounder will sign a standard contract with New Orleans, given that the team essentially has two openings on its 15-man roster (Malcolm Hill, on a 10-day deal, currently holds the 14th spot). However, that has yet to be confirmed.

Matkovic could also be ticketed for the Birmingham Squadron, the Pelicans’ G League affiliate, either on a G League contract or a two-way deal. The team would have to cut one of its current two-way players (Matt Ryan, Dereon Seabron, or Jeremiah Robinson-Earl) to sign the forward/center to a two-way contract. If Matkovic signs a G League deal, New Orleans would retain his exclusive NBA and NBAGL rights.

Matkovic, who will turn 23 in March, has enjoyed a strong season with Olimpija, averaging 14.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 28.6 minutes per game across 14 EuroCup appearances. He has also averaged 15.4 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 2.8 BPG in 15 ABA contests (27.7 MPG).

“We are proud that in the current season (Matkovic) has developed into a real leader of our game, who is dominant not only in the regional league, but also in the EuroCup, and his departure is proof that hard and long-term work can go a long way,” Olimpija director Davor Uzbinec said in a statement (translated from Slovenian). “We are aware that we are losing one of the most important members of our team, but at the same time we are extremely happy for him and his family. We will miss Karlo immeasurably, and at the same time we will follow him in the continuation of his career, and we wish him the best of luck on his further sports journey.”

Southwest Notes: Hardy, Liddell, Pelicans, Smith, Eason, Matkovic

The Mavericks gave up second-round picks in 2024 and 2028 to the Kings in order to draft Jaden Hardy at No. 37, but they had the G League Ignite guard rated much higher, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.

Hardy was ranked No. 19 on Dallas’ draft board, which convinced Mavs — who had dealt their picks in both rounds — to jump back into the draft. He averaged 17.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.2 APG for the Ignite.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell was projected in mock drafts as a first-rounder and that’s where the Pelicans had him rated, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Liddell slipped down to New Orleans’ second-round pick at No. 41. The Buckeyes forward averaged 19.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.6 BPG over 33.2 MPG last season.
  • Even though pre-draft rumors swirled regarding a potential trade of their lottery pick, Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon said the team didn’t have serious conversations about moving down from the No. 8 spot, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. They chose G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels.
  • The Rockets were “beyond excited” that Jabari Smith was still on the board at No. 3 when the Magic pivoted to Paolo Banchero at the top spot, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. GM Rafael Stone wouldn’t indicate if he would have chosen Smith with the No. 1 pick but he was thrilled the Auburn forward was there for the taking at No. 3, saying it “made my night.” “He’s just so big and he moves his feet exceptionally well on the perimeter,” Stone said. “I don’t remember anybody at his size in college with his ability to stay in front and contain and contest on the perimeter. He’s also good on the interior.”
  • Stone and his staff were “sweating bullets” that LSU forward Tari Eason would drop to their pick at No. 17, Feigen adds in the same story. The Rockets view Eason as an elite defender. “Tari can play defense, man,” he said. “He plays really hard and he’s a great athlete and he’s really committed on the defensive end. Some defensive players contain. Very few are playmakers. I would definitely consider him a playmaker on defense.”
  • Pelicans draft-and-stash second rounder Karlo Matkovic is close to signing with Slovenia’s Cedevita, according to Antigoni Zachari of EuroHoops.net. The Crotian forward/center, selected 52nd overall, is expected to join New Orleans’ Summer League roster.

Pistons’ Procida, Cavs’ Diop Among Draftees Expected To Be Stashed Overseas

Italian wing Gabriele Procida, who was drafted 36th overall on Thursday night after spending last season with Fortitudo Bologna, is expected to be stashed overseas by the Pistons, reports James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).

While Procida is the highest of this year’s draft picks reported to be a likely draft-and-stash prospect, he’s hardly the only one. Here are a few more updates on 2022’s draft-and-stash candidates:

  • After using the No. 39 pick to draft him on Thursday, the Cavaliers intend to keep 20-year-old center Khalifa Diop overseas for the 2022/23 season, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The Senegalese big man won the EuroCup Rising Star award playing for Gran Canaria in Spain this past season.
  • The Nuggets plan to stash center Ismael Kamagate in Europe next season, a source tells Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). The No. 46 pick on Thursday, Kamagate had an All-Star season playing for Paris in 2021/22.
  • Italian shooting guard Matteo Spagnolo, drafted at No. 50 by the Timberwolves, will likely remain overseas next season, per president of basketball operations Tim Connelly (Twitter link via Dane Moore). Spagnolo is still just 19 years old.
  • Crotian forward/center Karlo Matkovic, selected 52nd overall by the Pelicans, is expected to join New Orleans’ Summer League roster but will continue playing in Europe for another year or two, general manager Trajan Langdon told reporters, including Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Wizards president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard said after the draft that No. 54 pick Yannick Nzosa will be a “stash guy” in the Spanish League next season, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link).

Draft Workout Notes: Kings, Wizards, Wolves, Jazz, More

The Kings hosted several prospects for pre-draft workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday, the team announced (Twitter links).

The Tuesday group featured Trey McGowens, Ziga Samar, Ron Harper Jr., Brady Manek and Dallas Walton. Wednesday’s group was Jacob Gilyard, Fatts Russell, Yoan Makoundou, Karlo Matkovic, Yannick Nzosa and Kai Sotto.

The Kings control the fourth, 37th and 49th picks in the 2022 draft, and a handful of those players could be targets with one of those second-round picks. Nzosa, Samar, Harper and Matkovic are ranked between 53rd and 58th on ESPN’s big board.

Here are more workout-related notes from around the NBA:

Draft Decisions: Diop, Spagnolo, Savkov, Nzosa, Matkovic

The early entry deadline to withdraw from the draft was 5 p.m. on Monday. It’s mostly relevant for international prospects, since the deadline to withdraw while retaining NCAA eligibility was June 1.

Several more international prospects have decided to stay in the draft, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter links available right here). Here is that list:

  • Big man Khalifa Diop, is ranked No. 39 on ESPN’s Best Available list and the fourth-highest at the center spot. The 7-footer had a solid season in the ACB with Gran Canaria, winning the EuroCup’s Rising Star award.
  • Italian guard Matteo Spagnolo is another potential second-rounder, rated No. 59 overall and No. 11 among point guards. He shot 44% for 3 this season for Cremona in the first division.
  • Russian wing Pavel Savkov isn’t listed among ESPN’s top 100 prospects. The 6’7” Savkov shot 40% on 3-pointers in Spain the past two seasons.
  • Congolese big man Yannick Nzosa is the youngest player in the draft class. He’s played for Unicaja Malaga in Spain. Ranked No. 54, Nzosa is an extremely mobile big man with an excellent motor and strong defensive versatility, according to Givony.
  • Croatian power forward Karlo Matkovic is also staying in the draft after a last-minute change of heart. He’s slotted at No. 60 on ESPN’s list.

You can check out all early entrant decisions here.

Draft Decisions: Dieng, Jovic, Besson, Kamagate, L. Miller, More

The players who declared as early entrants for the 2022 NBA draft have until 5:00 pm Eastern time on Monday to decide whether or not to keep their names in this year’s draft pool.

Since the NCAA’s own withdrawal deadline passed earlier this month, today’s deadline doesn’t have a real impact on most college players — if they were going to withdraw, they’ve probably done so already to avoid forgoing their remaining NCAA eligibility. However, today’s deadline is an important one for non-college prospects, including those who are playing in professional leagues in Europe and around the world.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has provided a series of updates on top international prospects who are finalizing their early entry decisions today. Let’s round them up…

(Note: The country listed for each prospect is where he has been playing, not necessarily where he’s from.)

Staying in the draft:

Dieng, the No. 12 player on ESPN’s big board, and Jovic, ESPN’s No. 24 prospect, are considered good bets to be first-round picks, so it comes as no surprise that they’ll remain in the draft. The other players in this list may not be first-rounders, but most of them have a good chance to be drafted.

Besson comes in at No. 38 on ESPN’s board, while Kamagate is No. 40. Procida is the 52nd on player on ESPN’s list, but has received “strong reviews” during the pre-draft process, according to Givony.

Samar, the No. 61 player on ESPN’s board, has also gained traction recently due to his strong workouts for teams and the fact that his NBA buyout is flexible and inexpensive, making him an appealing draft-and-stash option, Givony explains.

Santos is the No. 76 player on ESPN’s top 100.

Withdrawing from the draft:

Miller, the No. 43 prospect on ESPN’s big board for 2022, will sign with the G League Ignite, he tells Givony.

“My decision to withdraw from this year’s draft is based on what’s best for my long-term development,” Miller said. “With another year of development both on and off the court, I will put myself in an even better position for the 2023 draft. Going through the pre-draft process, I learned about what it takes to be a successful professional. Whether it’s the daily on-court work, off-court work, diet, or recovery, I have gained a much greater understanding of the habits it takes to get to the top of this field.”

Givony is bullish on Miller’s chances of boosting his draft stock for next year, tweeting that the young forward will likely be a top-20 pick in ESPN’s next 2023 mock draft.

Matkovic was the No. 60 prospect on ESPN’s board, while Ivisic was No. 63, which made them borderline candidates to be drafted. Strazel was unranked.

A total of 37 international prospects declared for the draft as early entrants and typically no more than about 10 or 15 of those players keep their names in the pool. In other words, it’s a safe bet that many more players on our list of international early entrants will withdraw by today’s deadline, even if it those decisions aren’t reported immediately.

Draft Rumors: Top Two Picks, Daniels, Nembhard, Matkovic, More

Magic executives have made it clear they’ll do their homework on all their options for the No. 1 pick, even beyond Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link).

However, most NBA teams believe that process will be a formality and consider Smith to be the clear favorite to become the Magic’s pick, according to Givony. NBA executives also overwhelmingly view Holmgren as the probable No. 2 pick for the Thunder, Givony adds.

Givony and his fellow ESPN draft expert Mike Schmitz shared several more tidbits based on their conversations with talent evaluators at last week’s combine in Chicago. Let’s round up a few highlights…

  • NBA teams were “buzzing” about Dyson Daniels‘ performance in Chicago at his Pro Day, comparing him to NBA players like Tyrese Haliburton and Khris Middleton, according to Givony, who has moved the G League Ignite wing up to No. 6 on ESPN’s big board.
  • Andrew Nembhard‘s willingness to play through a minor quad injury and his strong performance in the second game of the combine scrimmages helped boost his stock. The Gonzaga guard “leapfrogged” a handful of players who sat out the scrimmages and has a legitimate shot to be drafted near the end of the first round, says Givony.
  • Croatian big man Karlo Matkovic was one of the under-the-radar risers as a result of his combine showing. He’s considered far more likely to be drafted than he was a week ago, and his agency says he’s had more requests for private workouts than he has available dates, per Givony.
  • Mark Williams‘ 9’9″ standing reach will make him the longest player in the NBA, according to Schmitz, who says the Duke center has a chance to be selected ahead of Jalen Duren in the lottery.
  • Canadian prospect Leonard Miller looked a step slow during the combine scrimmages and now appears more likely to attend college at Arizona or join the G League Ignite rather than staying in the draft, writes Givony.

Trayce Jackson-Davis Among Draft’s Latest Early Entrants

Indiana junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis announced on Instagram that he has decided to enter the 2022 NBA draft while maintaining his remaining college eligibility.

Jackson-Davis, who has started all 94 games he has played for the Hoosiers since his freshman year, averaged an impressive 18.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, and 2.3 BPG in 35 games (32.3 MPG) in 2021/22, establishing a new career high by shooting 58.9% from the field. He currently ranks 72nd overall on ESPN’s big board of 2022 prospects.

Here are a few more updates on early entrants declaring for the 2022 draft:

  • Slovenian point guard Ziga Samar is entering the 2022 draft, agent Gerard Raventos tells ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link). The No. 78 prospect on ESPN’s board, Samar is considered a potential second-round pick, according to Givony, who adds that several metrics consider the Fuenlabrada guard to be the best passer in Spain’s top league.
  • Two more Mega Mozzart players are joining Nikola Jovic in the 2022 draft pool. Forward/center Karlo Matkovic and shooting guard Malcolm Cazalon are declaring for the draft, per agent Misko Raznatovic (Twitter link). Matkovic is the No. 96 prospect on ESPN’s top 100. Both players tested the draft waters in 2021 as well.
  • St. Bonaventure big man Osun Osunniyi has decided to test the draft waters, he announced on Instagram. Osunniyi would have one more year of NCAA eligibility if he decides to withdraw from the draft.

Deadline Day For Early Entrant Draft Decisions

Today is Monday, July 19, which means it’s deadline day for the early entrants who declared for the 2021 NBA draft. Those players have until 5:00 pm ET today to decide whether they’ll remain in this year’s draft pool or remove their names and become draft-eligible in a future year.

The NCAA always sets its own early entrant withdrawal deadline that comes before the NBA’s deadline, and that one occurred earlier this month, on July 7. Most college players who are going to pull out of the draft did so by that deadline

A college player could theoretically wait until today to withdraw from the draft. However, in that scenario he’d lose his NCAA eligibility and would likely end up playing professionally in an international league for the next year before becoming draft-eligible.

Most of the players who will withdraw between July 7 and today’s deadline are international prospects who don’t have to worry about the NCAA’s rules. According to recent reports, these are some of the players who have removed their names from the draft pool after initially declaring as early entrants:

Once today’s deadline passes, the NBA will put out an official list of the early entrants who are eligible to be drafted in 2021. That list typically shows up within about 24 hours of the withdrawal deadline, though it’s possible it could take a little longer this year since the list of eligible players will be longer (since NCAA seniors are also on it). In the meantime, our extremely unofficial early entrant list can be found right here.

One international early entrant who won’t be withdrawing, according to Givony (Twitter link), is Juhann Begarin, who will turn 19 next month. The French shooting guard is coming off a strong season playing for Paris Basketball, and agent Bouna Ndiaye tells Givony that his client will keep his name in the draft.