Sindarius Thornwell

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Clippers, Russell, McGee

As free agency nears, the Lakers may avoid signing players to contracts that extend past 2017/18 for fear of eating into potential Paul George cap space, Justin J. Page of ESPN writes. The club is currently expected to have $18MM to work with this summer and potentially over $40MM next summer, depending on the status of Julius Randle.

Considering that the key here would be to retain flexibility to make a move for George when he officially hits free agency in 2018, the Lakers could zero in on players with one-year deals when the 2017 free agency period begins next week. Los Angeles could justifiably overpay for players in 2017/18 so long as they come with team options for anything beyond that.

Page also writes that fans can expect the franchise to continue shedding as much salary as possible, the primary target being Luol Deng and the $54MM remaining over the course of the last three years of his deal.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

Clippers Acquire Sindarius Thornwell From Bucks

JUNE 23, 12:35am: The deal is official, with the Clippers sending cash considerations to the Bucks in exchange for Thornwell’s draft rights, per a press release.

JUNE 22, 11:03pm: Having already reached a deal for the No. 39 pick, the Clippers have picked up another second-rounder, according to Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Turner reports (via Twitter) that Los Angeles has bought the No. 48 overall pick from the Bucks.

The Clippers are using the pick on South Carolina guard Sindarius Thornwell, per Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link).

Thornwell was the SEC Player of the Year in 2016/17, averaging 21.4 PPG to go along with 7.2 RPG and 2.1 SPG. He also upped his shooting percentages to .445/.395/.830, all career-bests.

The exact details of the deal aren’t yet known, but it appears that the Clippers paid cash to obtain the pick from Milwaukee.

Draft Notes: Jackson, Bako, Collins

The Hornets worked out a handful of possible first-round draft picks Sunday, including familiar face Justin Jackson. Alongside video footage of Jackson following the workout, Diedra Laird of the Charlotte Observer writes that club additionally auditioned Bam Adebayo, Luke Kennard and more.

Jackson, a North Carolina product, is being forecast as the No. 19 overall pick in NBADraft.net‘s latest mock draft. Duke product Kennard, on the other hand, has been projected as the No. 12 pick. Adebayo, out of Kentucky, is currently forecast to go No. 17 in that same mock.

Although the Hornets will pick earlier than any of those projections at No. 11, it’s reasonable that they could elect to take a flyer on a blue chip prospect that played their college basketball in state.

There are more pre-draft workout notes from around the league:

Atlantic Notes: James, Celtics, Pre-Draft Workouts

Rumors are swirling that LeBron James will look to leave Cleveland for a second time after next season and potentially head out west. If he is not on the Cavaliers after 2017/18, James’ departure would have a domino effect across the league. A. Sherrod Blakely joined Mike Felger and Gary Tanguay at CSN New England to discuss Celtics general manager Danny Ainge‘s potential moves if James heads out West and weakens the Eastern Conference.

Blakely believes that no matter James’ future, Ainge should not focus on what’s going around the league, focusing instead on his own team. The Celtics have the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft and are coming off a year where they were the first seed in the East. The Celtics have their own issues to address, including the impending free agency of Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, and others.

In any case, the Celtics are in the best position of any Eastern Conference team to unseat the Cavaliers as the class of division and a James departure after next season only strengthens that.

Here are other notes from around the Atlantic Division:

Northwest Notes: Hill, Favors, Workouts

Keeping Gordon Hayward in Utah is the top priority for the Jazz this offseason, but re-signing him alone isn’t going to help the team climb in the Western Conference standings, Benjamin Mehic of the Deseret News writes.

The team must also shore up its point guard position. George Hill will be a free agent this summer and the team will have trouble finding a top-notch point guard replacement should he bolt. Hill has expressed a desire to return, as Dana Gauruder of Hoops Rumors mentioned in the team’s offseason preview. However, many players say flattering things about their current team as they head into free agency only to leave for another club.

If Hill is lured away, the most likely option for the Jazz is promoting Dante Exum to the starting unit, though that could hurt the team in the win column since Exum hasn’t quite proven himself in the league yet.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

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:

Draft Notes: Fox, Ball, Mitchell, Workouts

In a draft expected to be dominated by point guards, John Wall thinks De’Aaron Fox will be the best of the bunch, relays Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic. Wall insists his opinion stems from watching Fox play and isn’t because they went to the same school. “A lot of people say it’s bias because he’s from Kentucky, but I think De’Aaron Fox might end up being the best point guard out of that class,” Wall said. “He reminds me of myself a lot, just a lefty.” Wall was the first player picked in 2010 and has been a four-time All-Star. Fox is widely projected to be taken early in the lottery, but after point guards Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball.

There’s more news as the draft looms three weeks away:

  • Fox is the latest rookie to get a shoe deal before being drafted, tweets Nick DePaula of The Vertical. Fox, who was highly sought after by shoe companies, agreed to a multi-year deal with Nike.
  • Ball may need an exceptional workout with the Lakers to be the No. 2 pick, according to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who notes that L.A.’s interest is growing in Fox and Kansas forward Josh Jackson. Ball’s camp, which once said he would only meet with the Lakers, is now willing to hold meetings, but probably not workouts, with the Sixers and Kings.
  • Donovan Mitchell is a non-traditional point guard who may be a steal for somebody in the middle of the draft, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The Louisville product is celebrated for his defense, but doesn’t possess great passing skills.
  • Oregon guard Dylan Ennis has been among the most active prospects in pre-draft workouts, tweets Oliver Maroney of Dime Magazine. Ennis has already worked out for the Thunder, Raptors and Celtics, and has sessions with the Clippers, Kings and Spurs set for next week. He is listed by DraftExpress as a long shot to be selected.
  • Pitt’s Jamel Artis will work out for the Magic on Thursday, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.
  • Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan was the top name at Tuesday’s Raptors workout, tweets Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic. Swanigan was joined by Virginia’s Austin Nichols, Dayton’s Scoochie Smith, Houston’s Damyean Dotson, North Carolina’s Nate Britt and Southeast Missouri’s Antonius Cleveland.
  • The Knicks welcomed six players on Tuesday, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. At the workout were Kentucky’s Isaiah Briscoe, South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell, Duke’s Amile Jefferson, Colorado’s Derrick White, Florida’s Canyon Barry and Columbia’s Luke Petrasek.

Central Notes: Pistons, Pacers, Bucks, Workouts

After a disappointing 2016/17 season, the Pistons will be looking this offseason for ways to improve the team’s outlook for next year. However, as Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press details, Andre Drummond doesn’t believe a roster overhaul is necessary.

“I don’t think we need to do any changes,” the Pistons center told reporters earlier this week. “We had a lot of bumps in the road last season with different things going on, and it took everybody out of sync. … With this summer coming up, we have to do a better job staying connected — the more stuff we do together, the better our camaraderie will be.”

Even if the Pistons were interested in making major changes to their roster, they would be tricky to pull off. Detroit has nearly $95MM in guaranteed salary on its books for 2017/18 without counting Aron Baynes‘ $6.5MM player option or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s $9.2MM cap hold, so the team won’t have cap room to work with.

Here’s more from around the Central division:

Central Notes: Pistons, Valentine, Bucks, Pacers

Having remained at No. 12 after Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery, the Pistons are scouting a wide range of prospects and won’t necessarily target a player at a position of need next month, per GM Jeff Bower (link via Rod Beard of The Detroit News). As Bower explained, a player’s value and long-term potential may make him the best pick for Detroit, even if he doesn’t immediately fit into the team’s rotation.

Our list of draft picks by team shows that the Pistons’ 12th overall selection is currently their only pick in this year’s draft. That could make it difficult for the club to bring in second-round prospects for workouts, but Bower remains hopeful that those players will be willing to audition for the team, recognizing that they could be undrafted free agents, or that the Pistons could acquire a second-round pick.

“Some guys aren’t going to want to come in and work out if they don’t see a vehicle at the end of it,” said the Pistons’ GM. “The reality of it is we are looking for guys where we don’t have a second-round pick now — we could (via a trade) — but those possibilities change, so you want to try to be prepared. … Our relationships with agents are strong. They like our program and like their guys to have the exposure to us.”

Here’s more from around the Central division:

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