Semi Ojeleye

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Hayward, Ojeleye, Bayless

In a wide-ranging interview with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Thunder superstar Carmelo Anthony discussed his activism, his trade to Oklahoma City, missing his family in New York, and more. The interview is worth a read, but Anthony once again discussed his tumultuous exit from New York. The 1o-time NBA All-Star said multiple times before the trade that he wanted to win in New York — and even admitted in the interview that he was prepared to come to media day with the Knicks before a trade was consummated.

“It was bittersweet. That’s my city. I didn’t want to leave like that,” Anthony said. “I didn’t want it to end like that. But it’s just a reoccurring thing that happens in New York. It happened in the past. It happened to other people. It happens all the time. Nobody ever goes out the right way in New York. I wanted to have an opportunity now to go somewhere else rather than wait and dealing with that. It’s at the end. It’s over with.”

The Thunder have played well with Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George as part of a revamped roster. However, as Anthony touched upon in the interview, being away from his son — who convinced him to join the Thunder — and his wife has been the most challenging part of the process.

Check out other news from the Atlantic Division:

Celtics Notes: Morris, Baynes, Defense, Ojeleye

Marcus Morris may be ready for his debut with the Celtics this week, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. The 6’9 forward was acquired from the Pistons this summer in a deal for Avery Bradley, but has been unable to suit up because of soreness in his left knee. Morris had hoped to be ready for tomorrow’s game with the Spurs, but now Wednesday seems most likely.

“He needs to have at least a day of hard practice with our guys before he could play in a game,” said coach Brad Stevens. “That’s probably a little bit optimistic for Monday.” Morris didn’t travel with the team on its current road trip, staying in Boston for more treatments on the knee.

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • Aron Baynes was an under-the-radar move in a newsworthy Celtics offseason, but he is turning out to be a valuable addition, Blakely writes in a separate story. The former Piston has provided a physical presence in the paint, something the team lacked last year. Baynes, who signed a one-year, $4.3MM deal, has started three of the six games so far and is averaging 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per night. “Everybody has their own role to play and value to add,” Stevens said. “He’s physical and tough.”
  • There were concerns that Boston’s defense might decline after losing Jae Crowder and Bradley in offseason trades, but early-season numbers show an improvement, Blakely notes in another piece. The Celtics ranked third in the league heading into Saturday’s game with a defensive rating of 95.9. They are in the top 10 in steals, points off turnovers and effective field goal percentage. “It’s great team defense,” said Daniel Theis, who got his first start this week. “Two games in a row now, under 90 points, that’s really good defense.”
  • Rookie forward Semi Ojeleye only plays about 11 minutes per night, but he gets the toughest defensive matchups when he’s on the court, writes Jay King of MassLive. A second-round pick in this year’s draft, Ojeleye earned a roster spot on the strength of his defense and the Celtics have taken advantage of that attribute since the season began. Ojeleye has found himself matched up with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kristaps Porzingis and LeBron James. “You just try to prepare, watch film, try to be always ready,” Ojeleye said. “You try to take it seriously, know their tendencies, and go out there and just do what you can.”

Celtics Sign Semi Ojeleye, Waive Demetrius Jackson

JULY 19: The Celtics have officially signed Ojeleye, according to a press release from the team. Meanwhile, Jackson cleared waivers this week and his partial guarantee has been stretched across seven seasons by the Celtics, as we noted on Tuesday.

JULY 15: The Celtics are planning to sign second-round pick Semi Ojeleye to a four-year deal with the first two years guaranteed, a league source told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, point guard Demetrius Jackson has been waived and his guaranteed $650K will likely have his partially guaranteed salary stretched out if he’s not claimed, Himmelsbach adds in a separate tweet.

The four-year deal for Ojeleye is quite a commitment to the 37th overall pick in the draft. The 6’7” forward played two seasons at Duke before transferring to SMU. In his season with the Mustangs, he averaged 19 PPG and 6.9 RPG. He can play either forward spot but is mostly considered a stretch four. The club lost veteran power forwards Amir Johnson (Sixers) and Jonas Jerebko (Jazz) in free agency.

Jackson’s full salary of $1,384,750 for next season would have become guaranteed today if he had not been waived. The point guard appeared in just five games with Boston during his rookie year.

Celtics Notes: Pagliuca, Hayward, Bird, Ojeleye

Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca promises the team is ready to become a taxpayer again if that’s what it takes to win a title, relays Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. Pagliuca says it’s not a guarantee that the franchise will cross the tax threshold next summer when Isaiah Thomas enters free agency, but vows that potential tax penalties won’t affect the decision on Thomas.

Pagliuca adds that cap management is becoming important again after last summer’s spending spree, which factored into the decision to trade Avery Bradley to the Pistons to make room for Gordon Hayward. “There was a time when teams had lots of cap space with the increase in revenues,” Pagliuca said. “Now we’re entering a period where cap management becomes imperative. Now we’re going back to the future, where people had to work hard for cap space.”

There’s more news out of Boston:

  • Hayward is denying reports that the controversial delay regarding his choice of the Celtics was related to his article for The Players’ Tribune, writes D.J. Bean of CSNNE. Hayward explained that he was on the phone with his agent, Mark Bartelstein, when the story broke that he was coming to Boston. “At that point in time we decided, look, we have to step away from this,” Hayward said. “I was pretty upset that that had happened. I didn’t feel like I was ready to say, ‘Yes, I want to be a Boston Celtic,’ so I had to take a step back and regroup and I think we talked about it more and more, then finally we put out the article, but I know there was a lot of reports with people saying we were finishing up the article for the Tribune, which is just completely false.”
  • Jabari Bird‘s play during summer league has made him a candidate to receive one of Boston’s two-way contracts, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. A 6’6″ shooting guard out of California, Bird was the 56th selection in this year’s draft. He has been given a larger role with some of the Celtics’ top players sidelined and has responded by averaging 13.7 points and shooting 19-of-27 in his last three games.
  • The versatility shown by second-rounder Semi Ojeleye could give him a role in Boston this season, Himmelsbach adds in the same piece. A 6’7″ forward out of SMU, Ojeleye shot 40% from 3-point range in Las Vegas and earned praise for his defense from coach Brad Stevens.

Draft Rumors: Monk, Ntilikina, Hornets, Thunder

Malik Monk and Frank Ntilikina may be in “weird positions” tonight, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford. As Ford explains, one of those two players is a good bet to land with the Knicks at No. 8. However, the player who isn’t picked by New York is a candidate to fall out of the top 10 and perhaps to the end of the lottery. In his final mock draft, Ford has Ntilikina going to the Knicks and Monk slipping to the Pistons at No. 12.

Here are a few more draft rumors and notes:

  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post continues to hear that if he’s still on the board at No. 11, Donovan Mitchell appears likely to land with the Hornets (Twitter link).
  • There’s “growing chatter” that Frank Jackson has a first-round promise, and the Thunder may be that team that gave him that guarantee, tweets Royce Young of ESPN.com. Young adds (via Twitter) that Oklahoma City may look to trade back a few spots in the first round in an effort to pick up a second-round selection.
  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 identifies Davon Reed and Semi Ojeleye as two players to watch for the Suns in the second round (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Pre-Draft Workouts, 76ers, Nets

Although likely no other pre-draft workout will top the excitement of Markelle Fultz‘s with the 76ers on Saturday, followed by media availability, and the subsequent finalizing of the blockbuster trade that would bring Fultz to Philly, the Sixers held another session on Tuesday, Keith Pompey of Philly.com reports. Participants included Kris Jenkins (Villanova), Michael Young (Pittsburgh), Kadeem Allen (Arizona), Michael Ojo (Florida State), and Youssoupha Fall (France).

Here are more pre-draft workout updates from the Atlantic division:

Southeast Notes: J. Johnson, Heat, Hawks, Hornets

When James Johnson was asked about whether his affection for the Heat could translate into a team-friendly contract in free agency this offseason, the forward took a measured stance Sunday, reports Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Johnson reiterated his love the organization, while maintaining that a business decision must be made:

I love this place so much and the opportunity they gave me. I couldn’t thank them enough. Down the line, it’s hard in this phase of my career to try to find somewhere that you call home or you want it to be home and things like that. So you know the love I have for this team is up there. But it’s just something I got to let the agent and Pat [Riley] discuss and try to figure out, and then just give my last say so at the end.”

Johnson enjoyed a career season in 2016/17, averaging 12.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 3.6 APG.

Here’s what else you should know from the Southeast division:

Draft Notes: Tatum, Kennard, Jefferson, Allen

Duke’s Jayson Tatum worked out today in Los Angeles for the Suns, who will give him strong consideration with their No. 4 pick, writes Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic. The 6’8″ forward may be the most offensively talented player in the draft, but he has shortcomings on defense, which is the prime concern in Phoenix. Still, he is ranked fourth or fifth in most mock drafts and could easily wind up in a Suns uniform.

There’s more news from a busy day of draft workouts:

  • Duke’s Luke Kennard wants teams to think of him as more than just a shooter. In a video posted on The Detroit News website, Kennard tells reporters he can handle the ball and has the physical strength to play in the NBA. He worked out for the Pistons today and has upcoming sessions with the Magic, Knicks, Mavericks and Hornets.
  • Duke teammate Amile Jefferson is going through a workout marathon, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Jefferson, who was part of a six-player session with the Hornets today, hopes to work out for about half the league’s 30 teams before draft day. “I love every minute of it,” Jefferson said. “This is the only chance you get to do something like this. From state to state, really introduce yourself and show off your talents to 15 or more teams in the NBA. I’m cherishing all these places. I’m really thankful for this opportunity.” He has also held workouts for the Timberwolves, Jazz, Knicks, Rockets and Nuggets, with six more on his schedule.
  • Texas center Jarrett Allen, who worked out for the Kings today, is trying to develop a more consistent outside shot, relays Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Allen watched Game 4 of the NBA Finals with team officials Friday night and said he enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere. “I like how they understand it’s a really busy time,” Allen said, “so they’re just trying to get into a relaxed situation; it helps us out a lot more than people think.” Sacramento also held a six-player workout today with Joe Rahon of Saint Mary’s, Milton Doyle of Loyola, Matt Williams of Central Florida, Semi Ojeleye  of SMU, RaShawn Thomas of Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Eric Mika of BYU. Zach Collins of Gonzaga is scheduled for a session on Sunday.
  • Terrance Ferguson, who committed to Alabama and Arizona before playing last season in Australia, was among the players who worked out for the Trail Blazers today, relays Mike Richman of The Oregonian. He is considered to be a first-round talent who can contribute as a “3 and D” wing player. “Every NBA teams needs shooting,” he said. “…Shooting and a coachable player and defense. I think I can bring that to the table.” Ferguson has also worked out for the Lakers, Pacers, Bulls and Nuggets and has visits remaining with the Hornets, Heat, Pistons, Nets and Bucks.

Pacific Notes: David West, Jerry West, Kings, Bell

No one gave up more to be part of this year’s NBA Finals than the WarriorsDavid West, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. The 37-year-old turned down a $12MM player option with the Pacers in 2015 to pursue a ring, signing veteran’s minimum contracts with San Antonio and Golden State. Grange estimates West could have earned about $20MM over the past two seasons if he had sought a long-term deal instead of a championship. “I’m 36 and I’ve been playing basketball for 30 years of my life and you get to a point where [The Finals] is the only environment, the only stage I haven’t been in,” West explained. “I’ve been in high school championships, played collegiately at a high level, but you want to get this final stage and it was an opportunity where personally I felt I had to jump at.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors plan to meet with consultant Jerry West after the playoffs are finished to discuss his future with the team, according to Tim Kawakami of The San Jose Mercury News. West recently met with the Clippers to discuss a similar role in their organization and confirmed he received an offer. West has been with Golden State for six seasons and GM Bob Myers and owner Joe Lacob have said they want him to stay. However, West said isn’t sure if the team still needs his input now that it has risen to the top of the league.
  • Markelle Fultz‘s willingness to visit the Kings is a sign that Sacramento no longer has a toxic reputation among potential draftees, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. The Kings, who own picks No. 5 and 10, were only able to bring in one first-rounder, Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin, in last year’s pre-draft workouts. The team has already had sessions with Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, North Carolina’s Justin Jackson and Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell.
  • Texas center Jarrett Allen, another potential lottery pick, will have a private workout with the Kings today, the team announced on its website. Also on today’s schedule is a group session with SMU’s Semi Ojeleye, St. Mary’s Joe Rahon, Loyola’s Milton Doyle, Texas A&M Corpus Christie’s Rashawn Thomas, BYU’s Eric Mika and Central Florida’s Matt Williams.
  • The Suns are intrigued by Oregon’s Jordan Bell, who worked out for the team Friday, relays Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Bell, who compares himself to Draymond Green, enhanced his reputation when he blocked eight shots in an NCAA Tournament win over Kansas. “I very much take pride in my defense,” Bell said. “That’s what I hang my hat on every time I step on the floor. I think my ability to guard perimeter players, switch on screens and keep people in front of me is definitely something that will help me in the long run and keep me in the league for a long time.”

Workout Notes: Nets, Bulls, Evans, Dorsey

The Nets worked out several prospects today, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Jaron Blossomgame, Devin Robinson, Wesley Iwundu, Damyean Dotson, London Perrantes and Tarik Phillip all participated in drills for Brooklyn.

There’s more news on prospects meeting with teams. Here’s the latest:

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