Markus Kennedy

D-League Will Hold Draft Today

Anthony Brown, who was the last player cut by the Lakers on Monday, is expected to be the top pick in today’s D-League draft. The event will get under way via teleconference at 2 p.m. Eastern, with the Erie BayHawks, Orlando’s affiliate, holding the first selection.

Brown, a 24-year-old forward, was taken in the second round of the 2015 NBA draft by the Lakers and played in 29 games during his rookie season. He was in the starting lineup 11 times and averaged 4.0 points and 2.4 rebounds per night. L.A. parted ways with Brown despite a guaranteed salary of $874,636.

Big men will be a draft priority in a guard-heavy league, writes Adam Johnson of D-League Digest, but the Santa Cruz Warriors may be tempted to use the second pick to bring back a former Warrior, 6’4″ shooting guard Travis Leslie. Johnson also projects center/power forward Will Davis of UC Irvine, center/power forward Chris Horton of Austin Peay and 7-foot center Jaleel Roberts of UNC Asheville to be taken early.

The draft has been reduced from eight rounds to six this year, and the number of eligible players has dropped from 290 to 182. Three expansion teams, the Long Island Nets, Greensboro Swarm and Windy City Bulls, will be joining the draft.

In his mock draft, Johnson lists Brown, Horton, Leslie, Davis and Roberts as the top five picks, followed by 6’7″ forward Shonn Miller of Connecticut, 6’7″ forward Jarelle Reischel of Eastern Kentucky, 6’9″ forward Markus Kennedy of Southern Methodist, 6’4″ guard Keith Hornsby of LSU and 6’3″ guard DaVonte Lacy of Washington State.

And-Ones: Salary Record, LeBron, CBA, D-League

The NBA’s record $24MM television deal is playing out just as predicted, writes Mitch Lawrence of Forbes. With LeBron James signing a three-year, $100MM deal with the Cavaliers, a record 17 teams now have the highest-paid players in franchise history on their current rosters. However, most of them are players who re-signed with their current teams or agreed to contract extensions. The only players who earned that distinction by changing teams this summer are Atlanta’s Dwight Howard, Boston’s Al Horford and Golden State’s Kevin Durant.

There’s more NBA-related news this afternoon:

  • Because James has a player option for the third season of his new contract, he can become a free agent in July of 2018, along with Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, tweets Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders. In March, James made headlines by speculating on the possibility of the four close friends one day joining forces.
  • A “super max” contract is among several changes the NBA and the players union should consider in a new collective bargaining agreement, suggests Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. That provision would allow for a contract that is 40% of the salary cap, but would only count as a normal maximum deal against the cap. It would be available only to a player who remains with his current team and it would not be tradeable. Kyler also would like to see a third round added to the draft to help teams stock their D-League affiliates, a two-way contract with different salaries when players are in the NBA and D-League, and minimum qualifications that players would have to meet before being eligible for maximum contracts.
  • The D-League will holds its national tryouts Sunday in Manhattan, tweets Chris Reichert of Upside & Motor. Among the players who received invitations are Sterling Gibbs of Connecticut, Jonathan Holton of West Virginia, Chris Obekpa of St John’s and Markus Kennedy of SMU (Twitter link).

Pacific Notes: Russell, Kennedy, Kings

Lakers 2015 lottery pick D’Angelo Russell has heard the trade rumors connected to himself but isn’t concerned, especially after GM Mitch Kupchak reached out to re-assure him the team has faith in his abilities, Mark Medina of The Orange County Register relays. “You hear trade talks,” Russell said. “Then you get a text from your GM saying he trusts your work ethic and don’t worry about it.

The young playmaker has already been picking new coach Luke Walton‘s brain about how Warriors star Stephen Curry was able to develop his game to the level it is now, Medina adds. “Please don’t take this the wrong way,” Russell said. “He didn’t compare me to Steph. But I asked him a lot about Steph. I asked him a lot of Steph questions about how he got to this point.”

Here’s more news and notes from the Pacific Division:

  • Former SMU power forward Markus Kennedy worked out for the Lakers today, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders relays (via Twitter). Kennedy is the No. 77 overall senior in this year’s draft according to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.
  • The Warriors should place a high priority on re-signing restricted free agents Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes, Bobby Marks of The Vertical opines in his offseason primer for the franchise. The scribe cites the team’s lack of cap flexibility and the potential for the duo to turn into high-value trade assets down the line as reasons why.
  • The Kings hold the No. 8 overall pick in this year’s draft, yet none of the players projected to be lottery selections worked out for the team, notes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The highest-regarded prospect who worked out was former Vanderbilt guard Wade Baldwin, who is a projected mid-first round pick, Jones adds. The team downplayed the significance of pre-draft workouts, with assistant GM Ken Catanella saying, “It’s important, but I would always say we’re looking at a guy’s body of work. It is a small piece, but you still want to, if you haven’t had the opportunity to interview a player at the combine perhaps, or you haven’t had the opportunity to see a guy live, it never hurts. But again, you take the available information you have, and you make the most of it.

Pacific Notes: Walton, Rondo, Cousins, Clippers

Luke Walton has managed to stay focused on his duties as lead assistant with the Warriors, even as his head coaching job with the Lakers awaits, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Walton had his first interview on April 18th — more than two months ago — when he had a phone conversation with Knicks president Phil Jackson. “Luke is a real loyal guy,” said fellow Golden State assistant Ron Adams. “And he’s real loyal to the Golden State Warriors — has been since he was named coach of the Lakers. It might be hard for people to understand that. I would say he’s atypical in that regard. A lot of people, if a team would’ve allowed what the Lakers allowed, I think [the person] would’ve been more fixated on that team than this team. That’s not Luke. That’s not what Luke has been.” Walton will coach his final game with the Warriors tonight, then will likely be introduced as the Lakers’ new coach later this week.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Kings point guard Rajon Rondo pronounced himself fully healthy as he prepares for his second straight year of free agency, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Rondo signed a one-year deal with Sacramento last summer, which gave him a first-hand view of the turmoil in the organization, especially between DeMarcus Cousins and former coach George Karl“Obviously it didn’t go the way we wanted it as an exit [missing the playoffs], but I was able to bounce back, I believe,” Rondo said. “I am very healthy. I’ve been working extremely hard on my body and my game. I’m 30 years old and I feel great.” Rondo’s numbers had declined since tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament in 2013, but he bounced back to average 11.9 points and 11.7 assists per game this season.
  • Cousins’ younger brother, Jaleel, worked out for the Kings on Saturday, according to James Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The 6-11, 250-pound center was a senior this season at South Florida.
  • Dee Brown and Pat Sullivan have emerged as assistant coaching candidates with the Clippers, tweets Marc Stein of Kevin Eastman, a longtime assistant to Doc Rivers, announced his retirement earlier this week.
  • The Clippers will hold two workouts Monday, tweets Rowan Kavner of The morning session will feature Alabama’s Retin Obasohan, Miami’s Sheldon McClellan, Kentucky’s Alex Poythress, Maryland’s Jake Layman, Villanova’s Daniel Ochefu and UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman. Working out in the afternoon will be Tulsa’s James Woodard, West Virginia’s Jaysean Page, UNLV’s Patrick McCaw, Louisiana’s Alex Hamilton, SMU’s Markus Kennedy and Iowa’s Jared Uthoff.

Western Notes: Clarkson, Spurs, Felton

Jordan Clarkson, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, wants to remain with the Lakers and be a part of turning the franchise around, Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News relays. “We had two tough years, but I don’t want to be a guy that is afraid and will run away from challenges,” Clarkson said. “I want to be a part of the situation when it turns around because I was here when it was down. I never want to leave.

The young guard also expressed his willingness to take on whatever role the franchise requires of him, Medina adds. “I will do anything a team asks me to do,” Clarkson said. “If it’s to come off the bench, I would impact the game by coming off the bench. If I were to start, I would impact the game as a starter. I would impact the game either way.”

Here’s the latest from out West:

  • The Spurs have explored trading up in the first round of the NBA Draft, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders relays (on Twitter). It is unclear which teams San Antonio has contacted or who the team may be targeting if it was able to improve is draft position via trade. The Spurs currently own the No. 29 overall pick this June.
  • Former SMU forward Markus Kennedy has a workout scheduled with the Mavericks on June 14th, Kennedy (no relation) tweets.
  • Point guard Raymond Felton, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, said that his preference is to re-sign with the Mavericks, Earl K. Sneed of relays (Twitter links). “Of course, this is where I want to be. I’d love to come back here, so hopefully we can make that happen,” Felton said. “It’s a process. … I’m out of it now. My agent and the organization, it’s their situation now.
  • The Nuggets have workouts set for Friday with DeAndre Bembry (St. Joseph’s), Joel Bolomboy (Weber State), Cheick Diallo (Kansas), Taurean Prince (Baylor) and Antwan Scott (Colorado State), the team announced via press release.