Rokas Jokubaitis

International Notes: Petrusev, Madar, Giedraitis, Jokubaitis

Turkish club Anadolu Efes, the reigning EuroLeague champion, is expected to sign 6’11” forward/center Filip Petrusev for the coming season, a source tells Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Petrusev was the 50th player selected in the 2021 draft, and while he spoke earlier this month of wanting to join his new NBA team – the Sixers – as soon as possible, the plan was always to stash him overseas for at least one more seasons.

The 21-year-old is coming off a big year (23.6 PPG, 7.6 RPG) for Mega Basket in the Adriatic League and will get an opportunity to face a higher level of competition in EuroLeague play in 2021/22.

Here are a few more notes from around the international basketball world:

  • If the Celtics opt not to sign 2020 second-rounder Yam Madar for the 2021/22 season, the expectation is that he’ll play for Ratiopharm Ulm in Germany, according to reports out of Israel (hat tip to Sportando). Madar remains a candidate to come stateside, but Boston already has 15 players on fully guaranteed contracts (plus Jabari Parker on a non-guaranteed deal) for ’21/22, so it may be another year before the Israeli guard signs his first NBA contract.
  • Lithuanian wing Rokas Giedraitis has turned down a one-year, minimum-salary offer from an NBA team and will remain with Baskonia in Spain, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com. Giedraitis averaged 12.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 1.6 APG on .485/.405/.824 shooting in 33 EuroLeague games (28.7 MPG) last season. It’s unclear which NBA team attempted to sign him.
  • Marc Berman of The New York Post explores the roles that the Knicks‘ European scouts, Adam Tatalovich and Kevin Wilson, played in the team’s decision to draft Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis. As Berman notes, Wilson is based in Barcelona, so he’ll get an opportunity to continue scouting Jokubaitis in 2021/22 — the No. 34 pick is set to spend the season with FC Barcelona in Spain.

New York Notes: Perry, Thomas, Jokubaitis, Grimes

The Nets rescinded their qualifying offer to Reggie Perry just before Friday’s deadline, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be back for another season, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. The second-year power forward can no longer accept the offer, which was limited to one year with a $50K guarantee because he was a two-way player last season, and Brooklyn can’t match any offer he might receive in free agency because he’s now unrestricted.

Perry remains with the Nets’ Summer League team and took part in practice today. He wasn’t made available to the media afterward, and coach Jordan Ott said questions about Perry’s future should go to his bosses.

“We just want to leave that to (general manager) Sean (Marks) and (head coach) Steve (Nash),” Ott said. “I’ll say this: He is here, he’s practicing. He’s a Brooklyn Net. He’s part of our summer league team. We coached him just like any other person on our team. We came here to get better. He got better (Saturday). We all got better. We’re going to continue to coach him every day. That’s what we’re all signed up to do. He’s a Brooklyn Net right now, and we’ll continue to coach him.”

There’s more on the two New York teams:

  • The Nets drafted Cameron Thomas well outside of the lottery, but he has been among the most productive rookies so far during Summer League, Lewis writes in a separate story. Going into Friday’s games, Thomas was the top-scoring first-year player in Las Vegas. “Cam, I mean, I don’t even know where to start,” Ott said. “Ultimate gamer, young guy, finds a way often. … Even just getting to the free-throw line when nothing is there, the ability to get to the free-throw line. For a young guy, it’s pretty incredible.”
  • Second-round pick Rokas Jokubaitis won’t finish Summer League play with the Knicks, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The 34th overall pick has left Las Vegas to join his Barcelona team, and Berman states that the plan was to have him play in three games. He notes that Jokubaitis saw limited action, but displayed speed, outside shooting and energy on defense.
  • Rookie guard Quentin Grimes had his best offensive showing Friday night, scoring 10 of his 15 points in the second half, Berman writes in another piece. Grimes credits the performance to becoming more aggressive. “I’m starting to get real comfortable,’’ he said. “The first two games, I didn’t shoot it the way I can. But I hung my hat on defense and rebounding and making plays. Allan Houston told me keep shooting, they’re going to fall. Penny (Hardaway) texted me and said you’re a shooter, keep shooting. That’s what you do. That’s what I did today, being aggressive at all times.’’

Eastern Notes: Smart, Jokubaitis, Magic Staff, Aldridge

The Celtics have offered Marcus Smart a four-year extension, longtime beat writer Mark Murphy tweets. The Celtics are awaiting a response from Smart’s agent, Jason Glushonworth, on an extension worth approximately $17MM annually, Murphy adds (Twitter link). The maximum possible extension the Celtics could give Smart would be worth around $77MM, Ryan McDonough of NBC Sports Boston tweets. The extension would kick in during the 2022/23 season. Smart has an expiring $14.33MM contract for next season.

We have more tidbits from the Eastern Conference:

  • The assumption that Rokas Jokubaitis was a draft-and-stash pick by the Knicks last month may not be entirely accurate. The Lithuanian guard, chosen with the No. 34 pick, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing in the NBA this season, Marc Berman of the New York Post tweets. It’s unclear whether New York is on board with that possibility or if the team prefers to stash Jokubaitis for at least a year.
  • The Magic have settled on a number of coaching hires to assist new coach Jamahl Mosley, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweetsNate Tibbetts, Jesse Mermuys, Dale Osbourne, Bret Brielmaier and Lionel Chalmers will join Mosley on the bench. The expected hires of Tibbetts and Osbourne were previously reported.
  • If LaMarcus Aldridge chooses to come out of his health-related retirement, the Bulls could be his destination. Both K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago and Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times report that there could be mutual interest between the club and the veteran big man (Twitter links). Aldridge would require team medical clearance from his heart-related issues in order to sign a contract and take the court again.

Knicks Notes: Point Guards, Rose, Grimes, Jokubaitis

Leon Rose has been conservative about spending since taking over as president of the Knicks, but he’s ready to put the team’s more than $50MM in cap space to good use, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York has more money available than anyone heading into free agency, and the primary target will be a new point guard.

The dream scenario for Rose is to land his former CAA client, Chris Paul, who declined his $44.2MM player option on Sunday. The Knicks are one of two teams that can offer Paul $123MM over three seasons, but there are indications that he prefers to stay in Phoenix after leading the Suns to the NBA Finals.

New York is also interested in Kyle Lowry, who reportedly is leaning toward the Heat, but the Knicks can offer a starting salary up to $39MM, which is more than he could get in Miami. However, Berman notes that would limit the team’s other options, such as finding a scoring wing like Evan Fournier, Duncan Robinson, Norman Powell or Kelly Oubre.

The most likely option may be Dennis Schröder, who won’t be staying in L.A. now that the Lakers have Russell Westbrook. The Knicks scouted Schröder extensively this week, Berman adds, to make sure he’s a good fit for Tom Thibodeau’s system.

There’s more from New York:

  • The free agency process will provide an indication of how much the Knicks value Derrick Rose, notes Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Rose played an important role after being acquired from the Pistons at midseason, but a rival team told Begley that some members of New York’s front office want to let him get other offers on the free agent market before making one of their own.
  • The Knicks traded down before drafting Quentin Grimes, but they knew they couldn’t go lower than the 25th pick, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Kelvin Sampson, Grimes’ college coach at Houston, talked to New York general manager Scott Perry during the draft and says the Nuggets were ready to take Grimes at No. 26 if had still been available.
  • Second-round pick Rokas Jokubaitis is expected to spend another year overseas before joining the Knicks, Berman adds in a separate story. The Lithuanian guard will join Barcelona after playing the past three seasons for Zalgiris. New York is already looking at four potential rookies on its roster next season, and Jokubaitis is on board with the plan, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.

Draft Notes: Giddey, I. Jackson, Jokubaitis, Barnes, Kuminga

Due in large part to his obligations with the Australian national team, Josh Giddey hasn’t worked out for any NBA clubs leading up to the draft, tweets James Ham of NBC Sports California. Giddey has been limited to interviews during the pre-draft process. The 6’8″ guard is still viewed as a potential lottery pick, however, ranking 11th on ESPN’s big board.

Here are a few more draft-related notes:

  • Kentucky center Isaiah Jackson told reporters today that he has worked out for the Hawks, Nets, Kings, Thunder, Rockets, and Spurs, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link). He also confirmed that he auditioned for New York, Indiana, and Charlotte, as was previously reported.
  • Rokas Jokubaitis, one of eight international early entrants who kept his name in the 2021 NBA draft, signed a four-year contract with Barcelona this week, as Alessandro Maggi of Sportando relays. As a BasketNews.com report explains, an NBA team could still draft Jokubaitis and bring him stateside immediately, but would have to pay a $750K buyout to his old team, Zalgiris Kaunas. If he remains in Europe, Barcelona would pay Zalgiris Kaunas a more modest buyout.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a look at each team’s biggest need, then considers which prospects each club should target with its first draft pick to address that need.
  • Several coaches and executives at various levels (NBA, G League, and college) shared their thoughts on a handful of draft prospects with David Aldridge of The Athletic. Among the topics Aldridge explored: The Scottie Barnes vs. Jonathan Kuminga debate — the two forwards are the best bets to be drafted fifth and sixth overall in some order, and both have fans among NBA executives.

Central Notes: Bulls, Pistons, Pacers Workouts

After the Bulls mortgaged their long-term future to nab 2021 All-Star center Nikola Vučević in a deadline deal with the Magic, they still missed out on a play-in tournament appearance. The club is understandably anticipated to be seeking roster upgrades this summer, especially at the point guard position, writes Matt Moore of the Action Network.

Moore suggests that free agent point guards Kyle Lowry, Dennis Schröder, Lonzo Ball, and Spencer Dinwiddie are among Chicago’s preferred targets. Given the ages of the Bulls’ two best players – 30-year-old Vučević and 25-year-old All-Star Zach LaVine – 35-year-old veteran Lowry may not be a long-term fit, but would certainly raise the team’s floor for the 2021/22 season.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • The Pistons will get to choose from a handful of highly-touted NBA prospects with the top selection of the 2021 draft. Where Detroit opts to go in the second round of the draft is less clear. In a new piece, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic examines several possible draft-and-stash prospects the Pistons could pursue in the second round. Detroit has the Nos. 37, 42 and 52 picks in the second round. Edwards examines the fits of several draft candidates, including Zalgiris Kaunas guard Rokas Jokubaitis, Minas wing Guilherme Santos, Paris Basketball guard Juhann Begarin, and Antwerp Giants forward Vrenz Bleijenbergh.
  • Among 2020/21 season holdovers, the Pistons will face some interesting roster decisions in the summer, writes Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Langlois notes that restricted free agents Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson, forward Josh Jackson, deep-bench center Jahlil Okafor, 2019 draft selections Sekou Doumbouya and Deividas Sirvydis, and guard Tyler Cook all could move on during the offseason.
  • The Pacers are set to hold their sixth round of pre-draft workouts Tuesday, per a team press release. The club possesses the No. 13 pick in the 2021 draft, as well as the No. 54 and No. 60 picks in the second round. Indiana will work out Kansas guard Marcus Garrett, South Carolina guard A.J. Lawson, Alabama guard John Petty Jr., Tennessee forward Yves Pons, Mississippi State guard D.J. Stewart Jr., and Clemson forward Aamir Simms.

Roko Prkacin Withdraws From 2021 NBA Draft

In a somewhat surprising move, Croatian power forward Roko Prkacin has removed his name from the 2021 NBA draft pool, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Twitter link).

Prkacin was viewed as a possible first-round pick in this year’s draft, ranking 36th on ESPN’s big board and 29th on The Ringer’s. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer praised Prkacin’s ball-handling ability and scoring potential, noting that he’s capable of hitting outside shots or scoring in the post. The young forward has also shown promise on the defensive side of the ball.

Prkacin averaged 13.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in 24 contests (27.7 MPG) for KK Cibona in the Adriatic League this past season, knocking down 49.2% of his shots from the field and 39.4% from beyond the arc.

Prkacin is still just 18 years old, so he has the potential to continue improving and could end up even higher on 2022 draft boards.

While Prkacin is pulling his name out of this year’s draft class, Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis will remain in the draft, tweets Givony. Jokubaitis is the No. 44 prospect on ESPN’s board and No. 50 on The Ringer’s. He remains under contract in Europe, but could be bought out of his deal in order to come stateside immediately if he’s drafted.

And-Ones: Jokubaitis, Banton, LeBron, R. Paul

Point guard Rokas Jokubaitis has declared for this year’s draft, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets. Jokubaitis is currently ranked No. 42 on ESPN’s Best Available list. Playing for Žalgiris Kaunas of the Lithuanian Basketball League and the EuroLeague, the 20-year-old averaged 7.0 PPG and 2.5 APG in 20.9 MPG in 31 games this season.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Nebraska’s Dalano Banton has declared for the draft, according to his Twitter feed. The sophomore swingman averaged 9.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 3.9 APG last season. Banton played a season at Western Kentucky.
  • LeBron James‘ agent, Rich Paul, explained in a feature written by the New Yorker’s Isaac Chotiner why his top client didn’t skip this year’s All-Star Game after expressing dismay about playing the game during the pandemic. “You have to value what drives our business,” Paul said. “All-Star weekend is a very important part of our business. To not have the All-Star Game, or not have all-stars playing in the All-Star Game, I think that would be a form of doing bad business. You don’t have to like it, and you don’t have to always feel up to doing something.”
  • In the same piece, a current NBA general manager said James’ decision to leave Cleveland for Miami, which ushered in an era of player empowerment, was the “worst thing” to happen to not only the NBA but sports in general. “Player empowerment is a catchall for the fact that the league has done a terrible job of empowering teams,” he said. “The players have all of the leverage in every situation. I think it’s the worst thing that ever happened to professional sports on all levels.” 

Draft Notes: Haliburton, Wiseman, Ball, International Players

In a draft full of uncertain prospects, Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton may be the safest pick, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. Haliburton offers good size for a point guard at 6’5″ with a 6’9″ wingspan. He’s also an elite passer, an effective shooter and has natural leadership qualities.

“I’ve had a lot of No. 1, No. 2 picks, and this guy is a difference maker,” said Joe Abunassar, who trained Haliburton at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas after the season was shut down. “As teams look at him, part of that is his approach, his mentality, his personality. Everyone steps up their game when he steps in the game. He’s the most humble guy. I know with him, what you’re getting is a guy that’s going to win games for your franchise.”

Abunasser said Haliburton has gotten stronger since the college basketball season ended, adding roughly 15 to 18 pounds to his frame. With so many lottery teams needing a point guard, he could go higher than projected on draft night.

“He’s a winner. He has an amazing personality,” Abunassar added. “He’s contagious. He’s something that if I was a GM, I’d say we need guys like that.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • There’s increasing chatter around the league that former Memphis center James Wiseman is the most likely No. 1 pick, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Sources tell Wasserman that some Golden State officials believe Wiseman will be selected first, whether the Timberwolves keep their pick or not. Sources also say the Hornets “want Wiseman badly” and are interested in trading up to get him.
  • Warriors ownership may put pressure on the front office to select LaMelo Ball with the second pick if Wiseman is off the board, Wasserman adds in the same story. A source close to the team claims Ball has supporters and detractors in the front office. Golden State remains in the market to trade down, with Deni Avdija and Devin Vassell as possible targets.
  • More international prospects have pulled their names out of the draft ahead of today’s deadline, according to Nicola Lupo of SportandoNikola Miskovic, Marko Simonovic and Darko Bajo, all of ABA Liga, have all withdrawn. At No. 70, Simonovic was the only one in ESPN’s list of the top 100 prospects. Serbian big man Filip Petrusev (story link), who is 59th on ESPN’s list, and Lithuanian guard Rokas Jokubaitis (story link) are also skipping this year’s draft. On Saturday, we shared decisions from seven other overseas players.

Early Entry Deadline For 2020 NBA Draft Has Passed

The deadline for potential early entrants to declare for the 2020 NBA draft fell on April 26 at 11:59pm ET, which means prospects who aren’t automatically draft-eligible can no longer enter this year’s pool.

Players who have entered the draft don’t necessarily have to stay in, as long as they haven’t hired an agent — or as long as they’re working with one of 23 agents certified by the NCAA. Currently, the deadline for NCAA players to withdraw from the draft and maintain their college eligibility is June 3, though it’s possible that date will be adjusted if the NBA draft is postponed.

The NBA has a separate withdrawal deadline from the NCAA’s, allowing prospects to pull out as late as 10 days before the draft. With the draft scheduled for June 25, the NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 15 — that date is generally the one to watch for international prospects, who don’t have to worry about maintaining NCAA eligibility.

Our full list of early entrants can be found right here. While we did our best to make our list as accurate as possible, some players who declared in recent weeks may have slipped through the cracks, while others reported to have entered the draft may have had a change of heart.

The NBA should formally release its initial early entrant list for 2020 within the next two or three days, so we’ll update our list at that point to reflect the league’s official data.

Here are the latest additions we’ve made to our list:

And here are a couple players who had previously planned to enter the draft who ended up opting to return to school instead. They’ve been removed from our list:

It appears there are approximately 190-ish early entrants in this year’s draft pool, which would be a significant step down from the last couple years, when that total has been in the neighborhood of 235.

Of course, as ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes (via Twitter), the real question will be how many of these initial early entrants end up staying in the draft. That number landed at 98 last year, and 91 in 2018. It will likely end up lower this year, not just because the early total is lower, but due to the coronavirus pandemic. As Givony observes, many prospects who entered the draft may not have much more info about where they stand by the June 3 withdrawal deadline than they have now.