T.J. Leaf

O’Connor’s Latest: Thunder, Bradley, Simmons

When we relayed the latest rumors on the Thunder‘s search for wing help on Tuesday, Avery Bradley was one player we mentioned, with a report suggesting Oklahoma City has done its due diligence on the Clippers guard. It wasn’t the first time Bradley’s name has surfaced as a potential OKC target, and multiple league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer that Bradley’s name “keeps popping up” as a player of major interest to the Thunder.

As O’Connor observes, one deal that would make sense on paper and would work financially is Bradley for Alex Abrines and Terrance Ferguson. However, the Thunder are reportedly very reluctant to part with Ferguson, recognizing that they’ll need inexpensive role players for the next few years if they hope to keep their current core together.

Still, some sort of deal involving Abrines could be possible. O’Connor hears from a league executive that Clippers director of pro player personnel Johnny Rogers – who played and broadcasted in Spain – “loves” Abrines, a former Barcelona standout.

O’Connor shares a few more items of interest in his latest piece for The Ringer, so let’s round them up…

  • Although the Thunder have kicked the tires on Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons, multiple sources tell O’Connor that Simmons isn’t expected to be available — at least not for what Oklahoma City would offer.
  • Two front office sources have informed O’Connor that the Thunder would be among the frontrunners to sign Joe Johnson if he’s bought out by the Jazz this month.
  • The Hawks have had some trouble gaining traction on deals for some of their veterans, according to O’Connor, who says that the Thunder and Pacers are among Atlanta’s potential trade partners for players like Marco Belinelli, Dewayne Dedmon, or Ersan Ilyasova. O’Connor notes that the Hawks had interest in T.J. Leaf prior to last year’s draft, but he’s skeptical that the Pacers would surrender the rookie forward for a veteran rental.

Central Notes: Walker, Van Gundy, LaVine, Cavs

The case for the Pacers pursuing a trade for Hornets point guard Kemba Walker comes down to whether he’d mesh with another ball-dominant guard in Victor Oladipo, Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star opines. Indiana hasn’t been linked to Walker but needs a long-term solution at point guard, Ayello continues.  The Pacers could dangle rookie forward T.J. Leaf, a 2018 first-round pick and a handful of expiring and short-term contracts to interest the Hornets, Ayello notes. They also have some team-friendly contracts to trade if Charlotte wants to package a bad contract with Walker. Indiana needs another playmaker but Walker may not fit its scheme and he’s a subpar 3-point shooter, Ayello adds.

Also of note regarding the Central Division:

  • The Pistons have lost five straight and coach Stan Van Gundy admits he’s at a loss why the team’s effort and energy has sunk over the past month, as he told Hoops Rumors and other media members. Detroit suffered a one-point home loss Sunday to the Nets, a team they blew out 11 days earlier. “I don’t know what’s with us. We’re not playing hard enough consistently enough,” he said. “We played hard at times. … But we’re not consistent enough at the defensive end and that, I don’t understand.”
  • Zach LaVine is still trying to get back into top basketball shape, as the Bulls shooting guard admitted to Vince Goodwill of NBCSports.com. LaVine is averaging 11.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 2.5 APG in 19.2 MPG in four games since returning from knee surgery. “It was feeling good in practice but in games it’s seventy [percent],” LaVine said of his conditioning. “Playing defense, getting back, running the break, just getting used to it.” LaVine will be reevaluated on Wednesday and could soon see an uptick in minutes, Goodwill adds.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue doesn’t plan on making a lineup change even though his team has lost 10 of its last 14, according to Associated Press report. Lue said that group has proven it can also turn things around. “We’ve got to play better, we’ve got to be sharper and that’s what we continue to keep working on,” he said. “It’s the same team that won 18 out of 19 and 13 in a row.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/22/17

Here are the minor league moves from around the Association today:

  • The Pacers have recalled T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team announced in a press release. Leaf averaged 23.3 points and 8.3 rebounds in three contests with the affiliate squad.
  • The Rockets recalled Zhou Qi from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Cavaliers assigned Ante Zizic to their affiliate, the Canton Charge announced in a press release. In four games with the minor league squad, Zizic has posted 15.8 points and 8.5 rebound sin just 23.5 minutes per contest.
  • The Grizzlies have assigned Ivan Rabb to the Memphis Hustle, the Grizz announced in a press release. The rookie has averaged a double-double in 14 games with the G League squad.
  • The Hornets assigned Julyan Stone to their G League affiliate, the team announced in a press release. The last time the guard suited up for the Greensboro Swarm, he put up 14 assists in 24 minutes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/16/17

Here are the G League transactions for today:

  • The Spurs announced on Saturday that guard Derrick White has been recalled from the team’s G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs. Through six games with San Antonio, White averaged 1.5 PPG and 1.5 RPG in less than eight minutes per game.
  • The Pacers announced on Saturday that T.J. Leaf and Ike Anigbogu have been assigned to the team’s G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Leaf has appeared in 25 games for the Pacers this season, averaging 3.3 PPG; Anigbogu has appeared in just six games for the Pacers.
  • The Jazz has recalled Tony Bradley from their G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, the team announced (via Twitter). The 19-year-old has appeared in seven games for Utah this season.

Pacers Sign T.J. Leaf To Rookie Contract

The Pacers have signed forward T.J. Leaf to this rookie contract, according to the NBA’s official transactions log. The team hasn’t officially announced the signing, but it appears Leaf made things official on Saturday before making his Summer League debut on Sunday.

Leaf, the 18th overall pick in last month’s draft, will be joining the Pacers as the club retools its roster, perhaps entering a full-fledged rebuilding phrase. He should have an opportunity to earn some frontcourt minutes in his rookie year for Indiana, alongside promising young bigs like Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.

An early entrant in this year’s draft, Leaf is coming off an impressive freshman campaign at UCLA in which he averaged 16.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 2.4 APG, and 1.1 BPG. He was also incredibly efficient from the floor, shooting 61.7% on field goal attempts, including 46.6% on threes.

Leaf’s rookie deal figures to be worth just over $2MM in year one, with a four-year total of more than $11.5MM, as our breakdown of this year’s rookie scale shows.

Heat Notes: Leaf, Collins, Reed, Aldridge

The Heat will be looking for size with the 14th pick, especially if Luke Kennard and Donovan Mitchell are both off the board, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. T.J. Leaf, who proved to be an effective outside shooter at UCLA, is a possibility, along with Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, who can also hit from 3-point range. Miami would like to find a stretch four to team with Hassan Whiteside, a traditional low-post center.

If Collins is off the board, Jackson says the Heat will look at Jarrett Allen of Texas and Justin Patton of Creighton. Both are 6’11” and are targeted for the back of the lottery or possibly later. A minor injury prevented Allen from working out for Miami, but he held an interview Sunday and reportedly impressed team officials. Patton did participate in a workout for the Heat on Sunday.

Jackson offers more insight into Miami’s strategy for tonight and beyond:

  • Drafting a backup center would protect the Heat in case Willie Reed leaves in free agency. The front office fears that Reed will get an offer significantly higher than the team is willing to pay.
  • Leaf could be a replacement for either Luke Babbitt or James Johnson, two forwards who are both headed for free agency.
  • Another big man to consider is John Collins of Wake Forest, who impressed the Heat in a workout last week. Miami will also look at Duke’s Harry Giles, but might be scared off by his history of knee problems. Giles canceled a workout in Miami and never rescheduled.
  • If the Heat decide to trade down, they will focus on UCLA center Ike Anigbogu and Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo.
  • Miami is a possible destination if LaMarcus Aldridge wants out of San Antonio. The Spurs are seeking a top 10 draft pick and would like to cut salary to make a run at Chris Paul. Jackson says Miami could offer a competitive package of the 14th pick, Wayne Ellington, whose $6.27MM contract won’t be guaranteed until July 12th, Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts.

Draft Notes: Josh Jackson, Fultz, Smith Jr., Heat

Kansas forward Josh Jackson paid a visit to Kings today, but didn’t go through a workout, tweets Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Jackson is expected to be one of the first players selected next week and probably won’t be around for Sacramento’s pick at No. 5. There have been rumors that the Kings would like to move up, but a report today said they aren’t willing to give the Sixers the fifth and 10th picks to get No. 3.

There’s more from a full day of draft workouts:

Draft Notes: Smith Jr., Collins, Leaf, Sixers

The Lakers have a short list of players they’re said to be targeting with the No. 2 pick in this year’s NBA Draft but they opted to bring North Carolina State guard Dennis Smith Jr. for a workout just in case they trade down, Mark Medina of the Orange County Register writes.

Smith Jr., a possible top-10 pick, participated in a group workout this weekend with a series of other draft hopefuls, including Syracuse’s Tyler Lydon. The guard impressed in the audition, his talent a cut above the rest.

Smith Jr. was sure to do his homework prior to his day with the Lakers and thinks that he can fill a void.

I checked one of the stats and they’re bottom 10 in almost everything relative to pick-and-roll scoring,” he said. “I think I can contribute to that.

There are more draft notes from around the league:

  • While he may not be around when the Jazz pick 24th in this month’s draft, TJ Leaf believes he would be a good fit with the franchise, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News writes. “Obviously draft number’s a big deal as well, but if I drop a couple of places and go to a team with a perfect fit, that’s who we want,” Leaf said after a recent workout in Utah. “We see a team like this — great coach, great system — and I think I’d fit well here, so that’s why I scheduled this one.
  • After an unexpectedly dominant first season at Gonzaga, Zach Collins is a potential one-and-done lottery pick. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee recently profiled the sharp-shooting big man, offering him up as a legitimate option for when the Kings pick at No. 10.
  • The Sixers will bring in Kyle Kuzma of Utah and Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame for workouts tomorrow, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Kuzma is projected as a late first-round pick by NBADraft.net, while Blossomgame is expected to drop into the second round. Billy Garrett (DePaul), Jalen Moore (Utah State), V.J. Beachem (Notre Dame), and Dominique Hawkins (Kentucky) will also audition for Philadelphia.

Northwest Notes: Miller, Jokic, Jazz, Brooks

After 17 years in the NBA, Nuggets forward Mike Miller isn’t ready to think about retirement, writes Mick Garry of the Argus [S.D.] Leader. Mitchell returned to his home state Saturday for an annual appearance at a basketball clinic and reflected on what it’s like to play professionally at age 37. “For me, it’s just a lot of fun – I enjoy playing,” Miller said. “I always will. My family still enjoys me playing, which is most important. So we’re going to keep going as long as we can. Every year is a new challenge and I enjoy those challenges. Until I quit, finding something to replace this will be hard.” Miller signed with Denver last summer, but appeared in just 20 games and averaged 7.6 minutes per night. His $3.5MM salary for next season won’t become guaranteed until July 12th.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Miller believes Nikola Jokic‘s breakout season will give free agents a reason to come to Denver. In an interview posted on the Nuggetswebsite, Miller talked about the bright future the 22-year-old has in the league. “I think the good thing that we have right now is Joker is one of those guys that everyone in the league is starting to take heed to and understand who he is,” Miller said. “He’s one of those superstars, I think he’s going to be a superstar. I think you’ll see even more growth at the beginning of this next year, that everyone just wants to play with. He plays that style of basketball. I’ve compared him a lot to Marc and Pau Gasol, I think he’s a lot like that.”
  • The Jazz have 11 players scheduled for workouts today, including UCLA big man T.J. Leaf, who is projected as a late first-rounder, relays Brandon Judd of The Deseret News. Joining Leaf at the second session will be Kentucky’s Dominique Hawkins, Central Michigan’s Marcus Keene, Louisiana Tech’s Erik McCree and Virginia Tech’s Zach LeDay. The first workout will feature Kentucky’s Isaiah Briscoe, Oregon’s Dylan Ennis, South Carolina’s P.J. Dozier, Kansas State’s Wesley Iwundu, Indiana’s Thomas Bryant and North Carolina’s Tony Bradley.
  • Several players with NBA ties were among the 25 participants in Utah’s free agent mini-camp Friday and Saturday. Tyler Hansbrough, Lamar Patterson, Cleanthony Early and R.J. Hunter are the most recognizable names, and the complete list can be found on the Jazz website.
  • Oregon’s Dillon Brooks, who worked out Saturday for the Trail Blazers, told Casey Holdahl of NBA.com that he can see a role for himself with the organization. “I got to watch Portland a lot, you get to see where you’d fit in,” Brooks said. “Especially with Portland, they’ve got two dominant guards and they need help with role players scoring. They get up and down, get into guys, it’s kind of like Oregon. The coach is kind of like [Oregon] Coach [Dana] Altman, they just let their guys play and go out there and try to compete and try to win games.”

Draft Notes: Ball, Lakers, Pre-Draft Workouts

There has been much innuendo and rumor in recent weeks that Lonzo Ball would not necessarily be taken by the Lakers with their second overall pick. Still, a majority of executives at the adidas EuroCamp expect the Lakers to draft Ball second, reports Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com (link via Twitter). Howard goes on to state that these executives believe that the purple and gold like De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson, but still lean towards Ball.

Check out the latest news in pre-draft workouts here:

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