Lance Jones

Draft Workouts: Spurs, Suns, Pacers, Blazers, Lakers, Wolves, Thomas

The Spurs, who are widely expected to draft at least one guard next Wednesday, recently worked out both Stephon Castle of UConn and Devin Carter of Providence, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

As we relayed on Wednesday, recent mock drafts from ESPN and Bleacher Report both have San Antonio drafting Castle at No. 4, and the team is said to be high on Carter as well. Iko confirms as much, writing that the Spurs have “strong interest” in Carter, Castle, and Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard, with Carter’s private workout “resonating” among the team’s decision-makers.

Here’s more pre-draft workout news from around the NBA:

Draft Notes: Shannon, Dante, Blazers, Magic, Antoine

Illinois guard Terrence Shannon has been found not guilty of all charges at his criminal trial in Kansas, per Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Shannon was facing felony charges of first-degree rape and sexual aggravated battery.

According to Givony, NBA teams have been closely monitoring Shannon’s legal situation. At one point he was a projected first-round pick, Givony notes, but he’s currently ranked No. 33 on ESPN’s big board.

Here are some more draft-related notes:

  • Oregon center N’Faly Dante, who is ranked No. 75 on ESPN’s board, appealed to the NCAA for an extra year of college eligibility, but that request has been denied, sources tell Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
  • The Trail Blazers hosted a pre-draft workout on Thursday featuring Colorado forward Tristan Da Silva, Serbian guard Nikola Djurisic, Duke big man Kyle Filipowski, Memphis guard David Jones, Arizona guard Pelle Larsson and Maryland guard Jahmir Young, tweets Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report. Portland controls four picks in the upcoming draft: a pair of lottery picks (Nos. 7 and 14) and two second-rounders (Nos. 34 and 40). Da Silva (No. 17 on ESPN’s board) and Filipowski (No. 21) are considered probable first-rounders.
  • The Magic held a pre-draft workout on Wednesday that featured Purdue’s Lance Jones, Syracuse’s Judah Mintz and North Carolina’s Cormac Ryan, according to Cody Taylor of Rookie Wire (Twitter link).
  • Radford guard Bryan Antoine, a McDonald’s All-American in High School, has a workout on Thursday with the Nets, a league source tells Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link). The Knicks will host Antoine for a workout next week, Zagoria adds.

Pacers Notes: Siakam, Turner, McConnell, L. Jones

A new contract with free agent forward Pascal Siakam will be one of the Pacers‘ priorities this summer, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star, who adds that the options to replace Siakam may be limited if they can’t re-sign him. The two-time All-Star was a valuable addition for Indiana after being acquired from Toronto in January and played a major role in the team’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals. He was the Pacers’ leading scorer at 21.7 PPG in the 41 regular season games he played, as well as their top scorer in the playoffs at 21.6 PPG.

“Pascal was a great fit,” general manager Chad Buchanan said. “Obviously, we targeted him in the trade. I’ve liked him for a long time and I thought he came in and was a tremendous piece to the puzzle for us and had major impact on the team both on the court and in the locker room. He seems to be happy here and we’re obviously happy with him and hope this is something long-term for both sides.”

If Siakam and the team are unable to out a new deal, Dopirak points to former Pacers star Paul George as a potential target. He and the Clippers haven’t been able to reach an extension agreement, with L.A. reportedly unwilling to give George the four-year contract he desires. Dopirak also names the Knicks’ OG Anunoby, the Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan, the Hornets’ Miles Bridges and the Sixers’ Tobias Harris as other free agents who could replace Siakam, but Indiana would face competition for all of them and wouldn’t necessarily have the cap room necessary to pursue some of them.

There’s more on the Pacers:

  • In a separate story for The Indianapolis Star, Dopirak looks at each player on the roster and examines their prospects for next season. He states that the team and center Myles Turner have both expressed interest in another extension before he becomes a free agent in 2025.
  • T.J. McConnell went from being out of the rotation on opening night to playing crucial minutes in the conference finals, Wheat Hotchkiss of notes in a player review. The veteran guard’s value to the Pacers became more apparent as the season wore on, and he looks like a bargain for next season at $9.3MM in the final year of his contract. “Getting this franchise back into the playoffs and making a run to the Eastern Conference Finals when not a single person had us going there, it was really fun just to play alongside the group and in games like that,” McConnell said.
  • After participating in a pre-draft workout with the Pacers on Tuesday, Purdue’s Lance Jones talked about the prospect of staying in Indiana for his NBA career (video link from the Indianapolis Star). “It’s very exciting,” Jones said. “I love Indiana. They’ve accepted me with open arms, and it just feels like another home for me.”

Pacers Notes: Defense, Toppin, McConnell, Workouts

Having already taken one big swing this year by trading for Pascal Siakam in January, the Pacers aren’t opposed to having a relatively quiet offseason and running it back with a similar group to the one that made this year’s Eastern Conference finals, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star (subscription required).

“You always gotta look and see what’s out there on the market,” general manager Chad Buchanan said this week during his end-of-season press conference. “Is there a player or players out there who are available who make sense for your team? You’re also very excited about the young core we have. It’s a balance. It’s going to be a lot of discussion, a lot of debate. Maybe there’s nothing out there that makes sense, and we’re fine with that. We really like this team. If we come back with this same group next year, we still believe there’s a lot of upside with this group.”

Improving the defense will be an offseason priority in Indiana, though it’s possible that could happen without making any outside additions, according to Dopirak, who points to young players like Aaron Nesmith, Andrew Nembhard, Ben Sheppard, Bennedict Mathurin, and Jarace Walker as guys who are capable of getting better on that end of the court. Buchanan acknowledged that the defense will be a focus for the front office after the team ranked 24th in defensive rating during the regular season.

“As you watch the team that eliminates you, it’s always fresh in your mind what they did to beat you,” Buchanan said. “I think Boston, obviously they have more experience than us, No. 1, but they have a tremendous defensive foundation. When we needed to try to score these last couple of games, it’s been very, very challenging. That’s one thing we take away that’s going to be important for us moving forward if we want to make another step.”

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • While Indiana’s spending power will be limited if Siakam signs a maximum-salary contract, the team hopes to continue its relationship with restricted free agent forward Obi Toppin, per Buchanan. “I thought Obi had a tremendous year for us,” the Pacers’ GM said, per Dopirak. “… I thought he really blossomed this year. We envisioned him being a good with a team that played fast; he was exactly that. His three-point shooting really developed and improved as we saw this year. The way we play, you get a lot of open shots. If you can catch and shoot, you’re going to have some success. His defense grew as the season wore on. He seems to be happy here too. Would like to continue the relationship.”
  • Buchanan also raved about the contributions of backup guard T.J. McConnell, who will be extension-eligible this offseason as he enters a contract year. It sounds as if Indiana will explore an extension for McConnell, as Dopirak relays. “He’s not slowing down. You’re not seeing any sign of an aging player,” Buchanan said. “… His value to us is very, very high, and that has not changed by anything that happened this year and we hope he’s with us for a long time as well.”
  • In a separate story for The Indianapolis Star, Dopirak observes that the Pacers‘ first pre-draft workout on Friday only consisted of prospects who played college basketball for four or more years and started for at least three seasons. As Dopirak writes, Indiana has three picks in this year’s draft but none higher than No. 36, so the team may be targeting seasoned prospects capable of stepping in and contributing right away, rather than focusing on upside. Dopirak notes that head coach Rick Carlisle frequently said during the season that Sheppard’s four years of college experience made it a smooth transition to the NBA for the No. 26 pick in last year’s draft, since he understood his role without requiring much instruction.
  • The Pacers’ second pre-draft workout, scheduled for Tuesday, will feature several more experienced college players, including Reece Beekman (Virginia), DJ Horne (NC State), Lance Jones (Purdue), Cam Spencer (UConn), and Harrison Ingram (UNC), tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Mantas Rubstavicius, who has played professionally in Lithuania and New Zealand since 2018, will fill out the six-man workout group.