Matas Buzelis

Central Notes: Livingston, Holland, Klintman, Buzelis, Tshiebwe, Jackson, Trent Jr.

The Bucks lost their first four Summer League games in Las Vegas but 2023 second-round pick Chris Livingston has been a bright spot, averaging 15.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 28.1 minutes per game, Eric Nehm of The Athletic notes.

The 6’6” Livingston is preparing to play any of the frontcourt positions, including center, after seeing just 90 minutes of NBA action as a rookie.

“It’s a fight, you know what I’m saying? I’ve been working,” he said. “Trying to get in the best shape of my life, that’s what I’m going to do. Working on my skill development, my shot. My shot’s always been there, but just speeding my shot up. Being ready to shoot, changing my mindset when it comes to that.”

We have more from the Central Division:

Bulls Notes: Phillips, LaVine, Vucevic, Buzelis

With a path to playing time seemingly opened by the departures of two veteran wings, young Bulls forward Julian Phillips is hoping to get some extended run this season, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“Just my leadership and being around the ball,” Phillips said of his goals for his second Summer League with the Bulls this year. “Get loose balls, rebounds. Defense, get my hands on loose balls. Try to be all around.”

With ex-Bulls Alex Caruso and DeMar DeRozan having been sent to contending Western Conference squads, an opportunity could open up for Phillips to earn more rotation minutes this year. Phillips, for his part, seems grateful for the lessons learned from Caruso and DeRozan during his rookie season in 2023/24.

“They both helped and taught me a lot, so I appreciate them for everything,” Phillips said. “It’s not our job to worry about the roster decisions. That’s up to the front office. Our job is to be ready to play. We got a lot of great guys and we’ll be ready for it for sure.”

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • The Bulls received poor marks for their trades of Caruso and DeRozan from Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, who is underwhelmed by the return for Caruso and believes the team waited too long to move on from DeRozan. Cowley adds that two of the club’s other pricey veterans, shooting guard Zach LaVine and center Nikola Vucevic, may be stuck on a rebuilding Chicago team for a while, as neither seems to have garnered much trade interest around the league.
  • During his Summer League debut, a 96-89 win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, Bulls lottery pick Matas Buzelis scored 15 points, grabbed seven boards and blocked two shots. He showed a knack for drawing contact in taking seven free throws during 29 minutes of action, and proved adept at defending the rack. Buzelis, however, was concerned by his 4-of-15 shooting line and some defensive decisions away from the rim, notes K.C. Johnson in another NBC Sports Chicago story“Honestly, I was very sloppy, Buzelis said. “I can play a lot better.”
  • In case you missed it, Chicago recently waived two-way power forward RaiQuan Gray, acquired in the team’s three-team sign-and-trade deal that sent DeRozan to Sacramento.

Central Notes: Mobley, Pacers, Bulls, Buzelis

Could Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension, sign a deal to secure his long-term future in Cleveland this summer? During an appearance on ESPN Cleveland (YouTube video link), Brian Windhorst of ESPN expressed optimism that an agreement will be reached sooner rather than later.

“I would expect the contract to be done somewhat soon,” Windhorst said. “I think the Cavs are willing to give him the max, and quite frankly, they don’t have a leg to stand on now that the guys around him in their draft class with comparable statistics and comparable futures have gotten the max.”

Across 50 healthy contests last season for the 48-34 Cavaliers, the 6’11” power forward averaged 15.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals per game with a .580/.373/.719 shooting line. If he gets a maximum-salary extension, he would be the fourth player from the 2021 draft class to do so, joining Scottie Barnes, Franz Wagner, and Cade Cunningham.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Fresh off their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance in a decade, the Pacers still have roster spots available, including all three of their two-way slots, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Three current Summer League players for Indiana are all in the mix for spots on the 18-man regular season squad. Swingman Kendall Brown is on a non-guaranteed contract, while guard Quenton Jackson and center Oscar Tshiebwe are both restricted free agents after serving on two-way contracts in 2023/24. Indiana also has a pair of unsigned second-round picks (Tristen Newton and Enrique Freeman) and has a decision to make on the fate of unrestricted free agent forward James Johnson, a veteran enforcer who is more of a locker-room presence than a rotation player at this stage of his career.
  • Although the Bulls have offloaded two of their veteran starters, six-time All-Star forward DeMar DeRozan and two-time All-Defensive Team guard Alex Caruso, in separate deals this summer, Chicago may need to make further roster moves to maximize their tanking opportunity, opines Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic.
  • Rookie Bulls point forward Matas Buzelis, the No. 11 pick out of the G League Ignite in this year’s draft, is hoping to make a major two-way impact in his first NBA season, as he revealed during a new interview on NBC Sports Chicago’s “Bulls Talk” podcast. “My rookie year, I’m not going to have any plays ran for me,” Buzelis said (hat tip to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago for the transcription). “So I have to go play defense and be an energy guy and make open shots.” 

Bulls Sign Matas Buzelis To Rookie Contract

Rookie forward Matas Buzelis, the No. 11 pick in the 2024 draft, has signed his first NBA contract with the Bulls, according to’s transaction log.

A 6’10” forward who played for the G League Ignite in 2023/24, Buzelis averaged 14.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks in 31.0 minutes per game across 34 NBAGL outings. While there’s optimism among NBA evaluators about his ability to improve as a shooter, he made a modest 45.3% of his field goal attempts and 26.1% of his three-pointers for the Ignite.

Viewed as a possible top-five pick, Buzelis slipped out of the top 10 and will head to a Chicago team that’s in the midst of retooling its roster. The Bulls have already traded Alex Caruso for Josh Giddey, are prepared to lose DeMar DeRozan in free agency, and are looking to move Zach LaVine.

As our breakdown of this year’s rookie salaries shows, Buzelis will earn approximately $5.2MM in his first NBA season and nearly $24MM over the course of four years, assuming he signed for the maximum allowable 120% of the rookie scale (which virtually every first-rounder does). The third and fourth years of the deal will be team options.

Southeast Rumors: Shamet, T. Jones, Adebayo, Martin, Hawks, Buzelis

Wizards wing Landry Shamet has been the subject of exploratory trade interest from a number of teams around the NBA, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who identifies the Clippers, Lakers, Mavericks, Jazz, Raptors, and Magic as possible suitors.

Shamet has historically been a reliable three-point threat, having entered last season with a career 38.8% rate from beyond the arc. However, he made just 33.8% of his tries last season while averaging a career-low 15.8 minutes per game. Still, Scotto says that if Shamet remains in D.C., the club is leaning toward guaranteeing his $11MM salary for 2024/25. That figure is fully non-guaranteed for now, as is his $11.75MM salary for ’25/26.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • While the Wizards‘ decision to hang onto point guard Tyus Jones through the 2024 trade deadline suggested they’d like to re-sign him as a free agent this summer, rival executives are monitoring the situation to see if he’ll be a sign-and-trade candidate, sources tell Scotto.
  • Confirming a pair of items that don’t come as any surprise, Scotto says the Heat are expected to have contract extension discussions with star big man Bam Adebayo this offseason and that forward Caleb Martin is expected to decline his $7.1MM player option in search of a more lucrative payday as a free agent, either in Miami or elsewhere.
  • The Hawks brought in projected top-10 pick Matas Buzelis on Sunday for a pre-draft workout, a source tells Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who confirms the news of Buzelis’ workout, says it signals that Atlanta continues to evaluate all its options in the lottery, including trading down from No. 1. Buzelis has been most frequently linked to Detroit at No. 5.
  • After he spent the 2023/24 season coaching the College Park Skyhawks – Atlanta’s G League affiliate – Ryan Schmidt is expected to move to the Hawks‘ bench for the 2024/25 season, Scotto reports, adding that Hawks assistant Steven Klei is a candidate to become the Skyhawks’ head coach.

Draft Notes: Rockets, Wizards, Suns, France, Big Boards

The Rockets may be more interested in moving their pick than keeping it, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reports. Offers for the selection are expected to be entertained until Houston is on the clock at No. 3 in Wednesday’s draft. If Houston does stand pat at No. 3, Reed Sheppard appears to be the heavy favorite for that spot. The Trail Blazers are among the teams that have called the Rockets about moving up to No. 3 in the draft.

According to Fischer, the Wizards have the league convinced they’re honing in on Perth’s Alexandre Sarr. As reported, Sarr hasn’t conducted a private workout for the Hawks, holders of the No. 1 selection, and Fischer reports Sarr’s preferred destination is, in fact, Washington. Beyond their plans at No. 2, the Wizards are a “prime candidate” to move up from No. 26 and have also been seeking a third first-round pick, Says Fischer.

Further down the draft, the Suns are a strong candidate to trade down from No. 22. The goal for the Suns, Fischer writes, would be to accumulate future second-round picks to restock their draft capital for trade flexibility. Additionally, the idea of adding inexpensive rookie contracts onto an expensive roster appeals to Phoenix.

We have more from around the draft:

  • A flood of talent is following 2023 No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama from France, Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek writes. His former teammate Bilal Coulibaly was selected No. 7 overall in last year’s draft and another ex-teammate, Armel Traore, could be in play in the second round of this year’s draft. Additionally, Zaccharie Risacher and Sarr are seen as the favorites for the top two draft selections in this class, while Tidjane Salaun, Melvin Ajinca and Pacome Dadiet are all likely to be selected this year too. Down the line, Nolan Traore and Nathan Soliman are picking up steam in future draft classes.
  • Risacher, Sarr and UConn’s Donovan Clingan, in that order, round out ESPN’s top three players on Jonathan Givony’s final big board update before the draft. Givony and Jeremy Woo provide their picks for the top 100 players in the class, with Sheppard, G League Ignite’s Matas Buzelis, UConn’s Stephon Castle, Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht, Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, Salaun, and Serbia’s Nikola Topic filling in the rest of their top 10 (in that order).
  • Risacher is lower on Sam Vecenie’s draft board at The Athletic, with the French wing coming in at No. 5. Salaun, Buzelis, Dillingham and Topic all sit outside the top 10 of Vecenie’s annual draft guide, while he ranks Colorado’s Cody Williams (No. 6), Providence’s Devin Carter (No. 7), Pitt’s Carlton Carrington (No. 8) and Ron Holland of the G League Ignite (No. 10) among the top 10. I highly recommend both Givony’s and Vecenie’s draft guides if you have a subscription to either platform, as this is some of the top draft content to come out annually.
  • Clingan is the name most linked to the Hawks over the past week, Vecenie writes in a recent mock draft. While Atlanta has openly stated it is content with standing pat at No. 1, Vecenie hears there’s an impression the club is open to making a move if the right deal presents itself. However, Atlanta hasn’t finalized its decision yet and even if it wanted to trade down to select him later, Chicago and Memphis have expressed interest in taking Clingan themselves if they can trade up. Vecenie indeed has Washington landing Sarr and Houston getting Sheppard, but has Risacher falling to San Antonio at No. 4, Buzelis going No. 5 to Detroit and Castle landing in Charlotte at No. 6.

Draft Rumors: Hawks, Risacher, Sarr, Knecht, C. Williams, Dillingham, More

The Hawks don’t appear to have made any final decisions yet, but intel from teams around the league suggests forward Zaccharie Risacher still looks like the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick, Jonathan Givony writes in ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link). Risacher is working out for Atlanta on Wednesday.

While Alexandre Sarr is widely considered to be another contender for that No. 1 pick, Givony says the Hawks have been unable to get the French big man in for a workout so far, and suggests that UConn center Donovan Clingan might be Risacher’s top competition for the top spot in the draft. Clingan impressed Atlanta during his workout with his passing ability and his performance in film study and interviews, according to Givony.

The Hawks have brought in several lottery prospects for workouts, including Reed Sheppard, Matas Buzelis, Cody Williams, and Ron Holland, Givony notes, which suggests they’re preparing for potential trade-down scenarios as well. One possibility that has been “widely discussed” by rival teams, per Givony, is a deal with the Spurs that would see the Hawks move down to No. 4 and get back one of their draft assets controlled by San Antonio, such as Atlanta’s 2025 first-rounder. A move along those lines would put the Hawks in a better position to rebuild, as Givony observes.

If Atlanta doesn’t select Sarr with the No. 1 pick, teams and agents believe he’ll come off the board at No. 2 to the Wizards, per Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Both Wasserman and ESPN have Sarr second overall in their latest mock drafts.

Here are several more draft-related tidbits from ESPN and Bleacher Report:

  • Dalton Knecht‘s draft range seems increasingly small, according to Givony, who says that every team between No. 4 and No. 9 (with the exception of the Pistons at No. 5) has shown interest in the Tennessee forward.
  • Rival teams are predicting that Colorado’s Cody Williams will be picked higher than expected, possibly by the Spurs or Pistons, says Wasserman, who has Williams at No. 7 in his mock. Givony adds that Williams has worked out or will work out for nearly every team in the top 10 (except for the Rockets) and that teams with lower picks haven’t been able to bring him in, signaling that his camp is confident about his draft range.
  • Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham hasn’t been able to work out for teams for most of the pre-draft process due to an ankle injury, prompting speculation that he could slide on draft night, according to both ESPN’s Jeremy Woo and Wasserman. ESPN has Dillingham coming off the board at No. 8 to the Spurs, but Wassmeran’s sources believe San Antonio is an unlikely landing spot based on what the team is signaling to agents. Wasserman has the former Wildcats guard at No. 11 in his mock.
  • Ja’Kobe Walter, one of the first 12 players who received a green room invite, worked out for teams like the Pistons, Hornets, Spurs, Jazz, and Kings, per Givony, which bodes well for his odds of being a lottery pick.
  • French forward Tidjane Salaun worked out for the Thunder, Kings, and Trail Blazers, then sprained his ankle at a workout with the Spurs this past weekend, Givony reports. Salaun had also lined up workouts with the Pistons and Hornets, but his ankle injury might prevent those sessions from happening.
  • Serbian point guard Nikola Topic has had a handful of meetings scheduled with lottery teams, including the Trail Blazers, Spurs, Grizzlies, and Jazz, Givony writes. However, Givony cautions that a team interested in picking Topic will have to prepare for the possibility of a redshirt rookie year due to the guard’s partially torn ACL.
  • Teams were “buzzing” about Indiana center Kel’el Ware after a strong shooting display at his pro day, according to Wasserman, who says the big man is receiving consideration as high as the late lottery. Givony agrees that Ware seems to be building momentum in the pre-draft process, but notes that he hasn’t received a green room invite yet — that could change later this week when the final invites are sent out. According to Givony, Ware has worked out for over a dozen teams, ranging from late-lottery clubs to those near the end of the first round. The Bucks are one of those teams, and ESPN’s mock has Ware going to Milwaukee at No. 23.

Draft Notes: Fit Vs. Value, International Prospects, Top PGs, More

In their latest mock draft for (Insider link), Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo provide two paths — Givony makes each pick based on the team’s biggest need, while Woo chooses the player who would be the best value at that spot.

For example, at No. 1, Givony has the Hawks taking Donovan Clingan, arguing that one of the league’s worst defenses would benefit from adding the draft’s best rim protector, while Woo views Zaccharie Risacher as the choice for Atlanta, since both he and Givony have the French forward ranked as the best prospect in this year’s draft class.

There are several spots where the best fit and best value overlap, including at No. 2 (Alexandre Sarr to the Wizards), No. 4 (Reed Sheppard to the Spurs), No. 5 (Matas Buzelis to the Pistons), No. 6 (Stephon Castle to the Hornets), and No. 12 (Nikola Topic to the Thunder).

Here’s more on the 2024 NBA draft:

  • In another Insider-only story for, Givony and Woo highlight 20 draft prospects who excel in specific areas. For instance, while Givony and Woo consider Kentucky’s Sheppard to be the best spot-up shooter in the 2024 draft class, ESPN’s duo names UConn’s Cam Spencer as the best pull-up shooter and Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht as the best movement shooter. On the other side of the ball, Virginia’s Ryan Dunn is viewed as the best defensive play-maker, UConn’s Castle is recognized as the best on-ball defender, and Risacher is identified as the best off-ball defender.
  • While top prospects Risacher and Sarr and potential lottery picks Tidjane Salaun and Topic have gotten plenty of attention leading up to the draft, there are several other international prospects worth getting familiar with, according to Givony, who provides a primer on a handful of others who could hear their names called on June 26 or 27, including French wing Pacome Dadiet, Spanish point guard Juan Nunez, and Serbian forward Nikola Djurisic.
  • In an interview with Cyro Asseo de Choch of HoopsHype, Djurisic said he has been told his game is similar to that of seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson and likened himself to a “less athletic, taller Anthony Edwards.”
  • Referring to UConn’s Castle as one of the biggest risers in the pre-draft process, Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports ranks the reigning national champion No. 1 among point guards in this year’s draft class, followed by Topic at No. 2. Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, Providence’s Devin Carter, and Pitt’s Carlton Carrington round out Peek’s top five point guard prospects.

Risacher, Sarr, Clingan, Nine Others Receive Green Room Invitations

Zaccharie Risacher and Alexandre Sarr, the projected top two picks in the draft, were among 12 players who received green room invites on Tuesday, Jonathan Givony of ESPN reports.

Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle of national champion UConn were also extended green room invitations along with Reed Sheppard, Matas Buzelis, Dalton Knecht, Tidjane Salaun, Ron Holland, Cody Williams, Devin Carter and Ja’Kobe Walter.

All of those players are projected lottery picks, according to ESPN’s latest mock draft. The only omissions were Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham and Serbian point guard Nikola Topic.

Dillingham still hasn’t completed all the qualifications to be eligible for the draft. He didn’t undergo athletic testing and shooting drills at the draft combine in Chicago last month due to an ankle injury. He hasn’t been able to attend private workouts with NBA teams for the same reasons but he plans to fulfill those requirements at the Lakers’ practice facility on Friday.

Topic’s status as a lottery pick is in jeopardy due to a partially torn ACL. Topic has until June 16 to decide whether or not he wants to keep his name in the draft pool. Topic will be evaluated in the coming days by NBA team doctors to determine his recovery process.

Both Willingham and Topic could still wind up in the green room, as another 11-12 invites are expected to be sent out starting next week, Givony adds.

The fact that the draft is now a two-day event beginning on June 26 could lead to additional scrutiny over the final players invited to the green room. The league doesn’t want players to be forced to wait around an extra day to hear their names called.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Clingan, Castle, Grizzlies

A wing player with size would be the perfect addition to the Rockets‘ current roster, Kelly Iko of The Athletic states in a mailbag column. He adds that the ideal player would be someone who can drive to the basket and create offense for himself and his teammates, pointing to San Antonio’s Keldon Johnson and Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan as examples, although they may not be obtainable.

Among realistic free agent targets, Iko names Nuggets shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Raptors swingman Bruce Brown. Both are veterans who can space the floor and fit into coach Ime Udoka’s defensive system, Iko writes. Brown dropped to 32.3% from three-point range this season after shooting 40.4% and 35.8% the previous two years, but Iko notes that Houston assistant coaches Royal Ivey and Tiago Splitter both worked with Brown in Brooklyn and may be able to help him regain his form. Iko contends Caldwell-Pope was worthy of an All-Defense nod this year.

Toronto holds a $23MM team option on Brown that has to be picked up by June 28, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be available in free agency. Caldwell-Pope has a $15.4MM player option with a June 29 deadline, and even if he tests the market, Denver figures to make a strong effort to retain one of the key members of its 2022/23 title team.

There’s more from the Southwest Division, all from Iko:

  • UConn center Donovan Clingan has been listed as the Rockets‘ pick at No. 3 in several mock drafts, but Iko isn’t convinced that he’s the best choice. Even though Clingan is a potential defensive anchor with a soft touch around the basket, Iko questions his fit alongside Alperen Sengun because neither is a proven three-point shooter. Iko notes that Houston had a top-10 defense this season without a reliable shot blocker, and Udoka likes having defensive versatility so he can adapt to the opponent. Even with the addition of Steven Adams, Iko expects the Rockets to employ smaller lineups next season with Jabari Smith seeing time at center.
  • According to Iko, the Spurs‘ perfect draft would include UConn guard Stephon Castle as No. 4 and a larger wing at No. 8, providing two more young talents to develop alongside Victor Wembanyama. Iko is concerned about Nikola Topic‘s latest ACL injury and says G League forward Matas Buzelis would be a much safer choice if he’s still on the board. Iko also likes Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard for San Antonio, but adds that an ideal situation would involve using the eighth and 35th picks to acquire a veteran guard like Dejounte Murray.
  • Iko advises the Grizzlies to trade down rather than trying to solve their need for a center by taking a project like Indiana’s Kel’el Ware at No. 9. Iko compares Ware to Christian Wood and suggests that Duke’s Kyle Filipowski could be a better fit later in the draft. Iko also considers a pair of potential trade scenarios with the Trail Blazers to land Robert Williams or Malcolm Brogdon.