Reggie Perry

Pacific Notes: Durant, Kings, Lakers, Franklin

The notion that the Warriors are a better team without Kevin Durant is silly and shouldn’t be taken seriously, Sam Amick writes for The Athletic.

Durant has missed Golden State’s last four games — all of which were wins — leading some to question how much better he truly makes the team. His absence has allowed Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and most notably Draymond Green to operate more with their surrounding cast, playing more up-tempo without their most talented player.

“We’re confident we can win (every time out), but we would much rather have (Durant) playing,” Curry said after Game 2, according to Amick. “So we’re going to hold the fort down till he gets back and go win another championship with our full squad. You know, him and DeMarcus (Cousins, who could return from his quad injury in this series), as well. We understand how great of players they are and how they raise our ceiling even higher.”

Multiple Warriors players have labeled Durant as the best talent on the team this season. The all-out recruitment of Durant, led by Green and others in 2016, kicked off because the team wanted another go-to scorer and all-around superstar on the wing.

Before suffering his strained calf against the Rockets, Durant was averaging a scorching 34.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game in the playoffs. He shot 51% from the field and 42% from deep during those 11 contests.

There’s more today from the Pacific Division:

And-Ones: Combine, Coach Challenges, World Cup

Eleven prospects who participated in this week’s G League Elite Camp in Chicago have been invited to stick around to attend the actual draft combine, which will begin today and run through this Sunday.

According to a tweet from the NBA G League, those 11 players are as follows: Oshae Brissett (Syracuse), Tyler Cook (Iowa), Terence Davis (Ole Miss), Tacko Fall (UCF), Jared Harper (Auburn), Dewan Hernandez (Miami), DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa), Terance Mann (Florida State), Cody Martin (Nevada), Reggie Perry (Mississippi State), and Marial Shayok (Iowa State).

A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects who weren’t initially invited to the draft combine worked out in front of NBA teams at the G League Elite Camp. Teams were then polled on which prospects they’d most like to get a longer look at for this week’s combine. The group of 11 prospects who were chosen will join the 65 players who were initially announced as combine participants last week.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Multiple sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe that the “liveliest” topic of discussion at Tuesday’s GM meetings involved the possibility of instituting a system for coaches’ replay challenges, which exist in many other major sports. According to Lowe, not everyone agreed on what should be reviewable, with some GMs arguing that coaches should be able to challenge foul calls, while others disagreed. There was also discussion about whether a challenge should cost a team a timeout, regardless of whether a call is reversed or upheld.
  • Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons announced this week that he intends to play for Australia in the 2019 FIBA World Cup (link via ESPN.com). He’ll be joined on the Australian squad by Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. However, Roy Ward of The Age Sport (Twitter link) hears that Ingles’ teammate Dante Exum is unlikely to participate in the event due to his knee injury.
  • The NBA and the National Basketball Coaches Association are creating a program intended to better identify and illuminate potential coaches among groups that are underrepresented, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “We are not talking about a quota system,” Mavericks coach and NBCA president Rick Carlisle told ESPN. “Rival leagues have proven that mandates and demands for diverse hiring practices do not work. Our goal is an absolute equal opportunity for all our members to develop their skills on a level playing field.”

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Hawks, Hornets

There have been no recent updates on the Wizards‘ search for a new head of basketball operations, leading to speculation that Washington is waiting to make a run at current Nuggets president of basketball ops Tim Connelly.

While Connelly’s Nuggets are still alive in the playoffs, David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that if Connelly is the Wizards’ man, they should go after him now. As Aldridge points out, active postseason runs didn’t stop the Timberwolves from hiring Gersson Rosas, or the Suns from naming Monty Williams their new head coach.

It’s not entirely clear if the Wizards are still targeting Connelly, but Aldridge hears from several sources that Denver’s head of basketball ops would be “delighted” to run the Wizards. A previous report referred to the Wizards’ open position as Connelly’s “dream job.” Connelly is still under contract with the Nuggets, but if the Wizards make an offer that significantly exceeds his current salary – which Aldridge says is “just north” of $2MM per year – then he could go to Denver’s ownership in good faith and ask for the opportunity to run his hometown team.

So far, the Wizards have interviewed Danny Ferry, Tommy Sheppard, Troy Weaver, and Rosas for the front office vacancy, Aldridge confirms.

As we wait to see what the Wizards do to replace Ernie Grunfeld, here’s more from around the Southeast…

NBA Announces 80 Players For G League Elite Camp

The NBA has announced in a press release that 80 players are set to participate in its G League Elite Camp next week in Chicago from May 12-14. The event will include 40 prospects who are eligible for this year’s draft, as well as 40 standout prospects from the 2018/19 G League season.

Heading into this spring, the NBA revamped its G League Elite Camp, which in past years has simply showcased some of the NBAGL’s top performers.  That aspect of the event will still exist, but G League players will only participate in the first two days of the event.

The second half of the event will feature 40 draft-eligible prospects who aren’t among the 60 prospects invited to the actual draft combine. The list of participants was determined by an NBA team vote, and those prospects will work out and scrimmage during the final two days of the event — there will be no overlap with the G League portion of the event.

As this week’s announcement confirms, a select number of draft-eligible prospects participating l in the G League Elite Camp will also be invited to attend the combine itself, which takes place from May 15-19 in Chicago.

Here are the list of draft-eligible prospects who are expected to participate in the 2019 G League Elite Mini Camp, per the NBA:

  1. Tyus Battle (Syracuse)
  2. Bennie Boatwright (USC)
  3. Phil Booth (Villanova)
  4. Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)
  5. Bryce Brown (Auburn)
  6. Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State)
  7. Chris Clemons (Campbell)
  8. Amir Coffey (Minnesota)
  9. Tyler Cook (Iowa)
  10. Jarron Cumberland (Cincinnati)
  11. Aubrey Dawkins (Central Florida)
  12. Javin DeLaurier (Duke)
  13. Mamadi Diakite (Virginia)
  14. CJ Elleby (Washington State)
  15. Tacko Fall (UCF)
  16. Robert Franks (Washington State)
  17. Jared Harper (Auburn)
  18. Ethan Happ (Wisconsin)
  19. Dewan Hernandez (Miami)
  20. Amir Hinton (Shaw (NC))
  21. DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa)
  22. Sagaba Konate (West Virginia)
  23. Matur Maker (Mississauga Prep (Canada))
  24. Terance Mann (Florida State)
  25. Caleb Martin (Nevada)
  26. Cody Martin (Nevada)
  27. Luke Maye (North Carolina)
  28. Trey Mourning (Georgetown)
  29. Andrew Nembhard (Florida)
  30. James Palmer Jr. (Nebraska)
  31. Josh Perkins (Gonzaga)
  32. Reggie Perry (Mississippi State)
  33. Jalen Pickett (Siena)
  34. Myles Powell (Seton Hall)
  35. Justin Robinson (Virginia Tech)
  36. Marial Shayok (Iowa State)
  37. Max Strus (DePaul)
  38. Lindell Wigginton (Iowa State)
  39. Kenny Wooten (Oregon)
  40. Justin Wright-Foreman (Hofstra)

Here are the 40 G League players set to participate in the G League Elite Camp:

  1. Josh Adams (Raptors 905)
  2. Jaylen Barford (Greensboro Swarm)
  3. Amida Brimah (Austin Spurs)
  4. Jared Brownridge (Delaware Blue Coats)
  5. Antonius Cleveland (Santa Cruz Warriors)
  6. Charles Cooke (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  7. Cody Demps (Stockton Kings)
  8. Aaron Epps (Northern Arizona Suns)
  9. Abdul Gaddy (Oklahoma City Blue)
  10. John Gillon (Greensboro Swarm)
  11. Kaiser Gates (Windy City Bulls)
  12. Isaac Haas (Salt Lake City Stars)
  13. Johnny Hamilton (Grand Rapids Drive)
  14. Dusty Hannahs (Memphis Hustle)
  15. Zak Irvin (Westchester Knicks)
  16. Peter Jok (Northern Arizona Suns)
  17. Matt Jones (Stockton Kings)
  18. Marcus Lee (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  19. Zach Lofton (Grand Rapids Drive)
  20. Tahjere McCall (Long Island Nets)
  21. Brandon McCoy (Wisconsin Herd)
  22. MiKyle McIntosh (Raptors 905)
  23. Jordan McLaughlin (Long Island Nets)
  24. Jaylen Morris (Erie BayHawks)
  25. Mychal Mulder (Windy City Bulls)
  26. Malik Newman (Canton Charge)
  27. Retin Obasohan (Northern Arizona Suns)
  28. Chinanu Onuaku (Greensboro Swarm)
  29. Norvel Pelle (Delaware Blue Coats)
  30. Darel Poirier (Capital City Go-Go)
  31. Billy Preston (Texas Legends)
  32. Desi Rodriguez (Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario)
  33. Kenneth Smith (Grand Rapids Drive)
  34. Richard Solomon (Oklahoma City Blue)
  35. Emanuel Terry (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  36. Juan Toscano-Anderson (Santa Cruz Warriors)
  37. Dakarai Tucker (Rio Grande Valley Vipers)
  38. Andrew White III (Maine Red Claws)
  39. Thomas Wimbush (Long Island Nets)
  40. Todd Withers (Grand Rapids Drive)

Draft Updates: Dort, Sirvydis, Reid, Shittu, More

Arizona State freshman guard Luguentz Dort reportedly intends to formally declare for the 2019 NBA draft next week, according to Nancy Audent of French-language TVA Sports.

Audent’s report doesn’t confirm whether Dort intends to remain in the draft or if he’ll just test the waters, but he’s a potential top-30 pick — currently, he ranks 27th overall on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com. According to Chris Karpman of 247Sports.com, multiple people familiar with Dort’s thinking have previously said he’ll likely go pro if the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee says he’s a probable first-round pick.

In his first – and possibly only – season with the Sun Devils, Dort averaged 16.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.5 SPG.

Here are more of today’s early entrant decisions:

  • Lithuanian wing Deividas Sirvydis tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.com that he has submitted his paperwork to enter the draft. Sirvydis, No. 48 prospect in ESPN’s top 100, currently plays in the Lithuanian league and EuroCup for Lietuvos Rytas.
  • LSU freshman center Naz Reid has elected to enter the 2019 NBA draft and pursue a professional career, he announced today in an Instagram post. I will be entering the NBA Draft with an agent in hopes of finally fulfilling a dream I believe is my destiny,” wrote Reid, the No. 50 prospect on ESPN’s big board.
  • Vanderbilt freshman Simisola Shittu will hire an agent and test the draft waters with the intent of keeping his name in the 2019 pool, he tells Givony. The 6’10” forward is the No. 81 prospect on ESPN’s big board.
  • Sophomore guard Charlie Brown, the leading scorer for Saint Joseph’s this season and the No. 96 prospect on ESPN’s top 100, is entering his name in the 2019 NBA draft, as Mike Jensen of Philly.com relays. Although Brown doesn’t yet have to make a final decision, it sounds like he’ll likely keep his name in the draft, having said in a statement that he’s “ready to move on to the professional ranks.”
  • The following prospects who fall outside of ESPN’s top 100 are also declaring for the draft: