Santiago Vescovi

Central Notes: Caruso, Pacers Workout, Haliburton, Bucks

The Bulls have fielded numerous inquiries and proposals regarding guard Alex Caruso, says Will Gottlieb of According to Gottlieb, Chicago was offered multiple protected first-round picks ahead of this year’s trade deadline, with the Warriors among the teams who made a strong offer for Caruso. One of those proposed deals included a 2024 pick that ended up being a top-10 selection, per Gottlieb.

However, the Bulls have thus far resisted moving Caruso, with ownership pushing the front office to continue competing for the postseason rather than undergoing a major rebuild. Caruso is extension-eligible this summer.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers are holding a pre-draft workout on Tuesday with some potential second-round picks in the mix. They’ll host Nikola Djurisic (Serbia), Allen Flanigan (Mississippi), Isaac Jones (Washington State), Tristen Newton (Connecticut), Donta Scott (Maryland), and Santiago Vescovi (Tennessee). Shooting guard Djurisic is ranked No. 41 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list, with forward Jones (No. 57) and Newton (No. 68), point guard for national champion UConn, also among the top 75.
  • Coming off their run to the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers now must focus on taking the next step, star guard Tyrese Haliburton told Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. “It was a great year for us as a team, me individually, of course, but we know there’s another step for us to go, and obviously not satisfied with just Eastern Conference Finals. We want to do a lot more,” he said.
  • The Bucks currently hold the No. 23 and 33 picks in the draft. What type of players should they target? The Athletic’s Eric Nehm and Sam Vecenie explore that topic, with Vecenie suggesting Indiana’s Kel’el Ware, Purdue’s Zach Edey and Dayton’s DaRon Holmes could get a long look with one of their selections as the club seeks a long-term option at the center spot. Vecenie also mentions numerous prospects at other positions.

Draft Notes: J. Williams, Sasser, LaRavia, Houstan, Minott, More

Santa Clara wing Jalen Williams was perhaps the standout of last week’s draft combine in Chicago, while Houston guard Marcus Sasser looked like the best player at the G League Elite Camp, John Hollinger and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic write as part of their analysis of the combine.

Hollinger and Vecenie suggest that Williams’ stock has “exploded into the stratosphere” as a result of his performance in Chicago and that he looks like a safe bet to be a first-round pick. As for Sasser, he got “nearly unanimous praise” from scouts, who believe he has a chance to start his rookie season on a standard NBA contract, rather than a two-way deal.

The Athletic’s duo shares several more combine-related tidbits in their full story, including identifying Wake Forest forward Jake LaRavia as a prospect who is drawing legitimate interest from contending teams in the last 10 picks of the first round.

Hollinger and Vecenie also say that chatter about Michigan forward Caleb Houstan having received a promise continues to circulate among league insiders. Those insiders have speculated that Oklahoma City at No. 30 could be the team eyeing Houstan, given the Thunder‘s history of shutting down their targets well ahead of draft night.

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Josh Minott, the No. 48 player on ESPN’s 2022 big board, will be keeping his name in the NBA draft, according to his uncle (Twitter link via Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports). The freshman forward played fewer than 500 total minutes in his first and only college season at Memphis in 2021/22.
  • Wyoming guard Hunter Maldonado tells Rothstein (Twitter link) that he’ll withdraw from the draft and use his final year of NCAA eligibility. Maldonado had a big senior year in 2021/22, averaging 18.5 PPG, 6.3 APG, and 5.7 RPG and making the All-Mountain West Conference first team.
  • George Washington junior guard James Bishop will withdraw from the draft and return to school for at least one more year, tweets Rothstein. Bishop has been the Colonials’ go-to scorer since transferring for his sophomore season, averaging 17.6 PPG in 47 games over the last two years.
  • Senior guard Emmanuel Bandoumel will also withdraw from the draft as he transfers from SMU to Nebraska, tweets Rothstein.
  • Former Louisiana senior center Theo Akwuba has withdrawn from the draft and Oklahoma State junior guard Avery Anderson III and Tennessee junior guard Santiago Vescovi are expected to do the same, according to Jeff Goodman of Stadium (all Twitter links). Goodman notes that Akwuba will be transferring to Ole Miss for his final college season.

MSU’s Gabe Brown Among Early Entrants For 2022 Draft

Michigan State senior wing Gabe Brown will forgo his final year of NCAA eligibility and enter the 2022 NBA draft, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who tweets that Brown is signing with Parlay Sports for representation.

The No. 94 prospect on ESPN’s big board, Brown was a full-time starter for the Spartans in 2021/22, averaging 11.6 PPG and 3.8 RPG in 36 games (28.9 MPG). His calling card is his three-point shooting — he knocked down 39.3% of his attempts from beyond the arc over the last two seasons.

Brown’s MSU teammate Marcus Bingham also won’t be back with the Spartans next season, telling Mike Lacett of 13 On Your Side (video link) that he’s going through the NBA draft process. The senior center averaged 9.3 PPG and 6.3 RPG on .534/.415/.747 shooting in 35 games (18.7 MPG) for Michigan State in 2021/22.

Here are a few more players who are entering the 2022 NBA draft:

Expected to forgo remaining NCAA eligibility:

Testing the draft waters:

Our full list of early entrants for the 2022 NBA draft, which will be constantly updated in the next several weeks, can be found right here.