Tari Eason

Southwest Notes: Hardy, Liddell, Pelicans, Smith, Eason, Matkovic

The Mavericks gave up second-round picks in 2024 and 2028 to the Kings in order to draft Jaden Hardy at No. 37, but they had the G League Ignite guard rated much higher, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.

Hardy was ranked No. 19 on Dallas’ draft board, which convinced Mavs — who had dealt their picks in both rounds — to jump back into the draft. He averaged 17.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 3.2 APG for the Ignite.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell was projected in mock drafts as a first-rounder and that’s where the Pelicans had him rated, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Liddell slipped down to New Orleans’ second-round pick at No. 41. The Buckeyes forward averaged 19.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.6 BPG over 33.2 MPG last season.
  • Even though pre-draft rumors swirled regarding a potential trade of their lottery pick, Pelicans GM Trajan Langdon said the team didn’t have serious conversations about moving down from the No. 8 spot, Will Guillory of The Athletic tweets. They chose G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels.
  • The Rockets were “beyond excited” that Jabari Smith was still on the board at No. 3 when the Magic pivoted to Paolo Banchero at the top spot, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. GM Rafael Stone wouldn’t indicate if he would have chosen Smith with the No. 1 pick but he was thrilled the Auburn forward was there for the taking at No. 3, saying it “made my night.” “He’s just so big and he moves his feet exceptionally well on the perimeter,” Stone said. “I don’t remember anybody at his size in college with his ability to stay in front and contain and contest on the perimeter. He’s also good on the interior.”
  • Stone and his staff were “sweating bullets” that LSU forward Tari Eason would drop to their pick at No. 17, Feigen adds in the same story. The Rockets view Eason as an elite defender. “Tari can play defense, man,” he said. “He plays really hard and he’s a great athlete and he’s really committed on the defensive end. Some defensive players contain. Very few are playmakers. I would definitely consider him a playmaker on defense.”
  • Pelicans draft-and-stash second rounder Karlo Matkovic is close to signing with Slovenia’s Cedevita, according to Antigoni Zachari of Eurohoops.net. The Crotian forward/center, selected 52nd overall, is expected to join New Orleans’ Summer League roster.

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Mathurin, Duren, Eason, J. Smith, More

People around the NBA have been “gossiping” about an incredible workout Bennedict Mathurin had with the Pistons, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who says there’s chatter that members of Detroit’s front office are “infatuated” with the Arizona guard.

Jaden Ivey and Keegan Murray have long been considered the favorites to join Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and Paolo Banchero in the top five, but perhaps the Pistons will upend that expectation by targeting Mathurin. For what it’s worth, however, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) still believes Murray is the favorite over Mathurin at No. 5 if Ivey is off the board.

Within his latest mock draft, Givony also reports that Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is one of Jalen Duren‘s biggest fans in the NBA. While Duren likely won’t be under serious consideration at No. 5, the Pistons could consider trading back into the first round if he slips at all, according to Givony, who points to the Hornets (No. 13 and No. 15) as a possible trade partner for Detroit in a deal involving Gordon Hayward.

Elsewhere in his mock draft, O’Connor writes that the Nuggets (No. 21 and No. 30) and Grizzlies (No. 22 and No. 29) have both made attempts to package their picks in an effort to move up in the first round.

O’Connor suggests Denver’s picks probably aren’t enough to move into the middle of the first round unless the team is willing to include a young player or another future pick. However, he writes that the Grizzlies have been exploring picks as high as the Knicks‘ selection at No. 11. In order to get that high, Memphis would presumably have to take on some unwanted salary or include another asset beyond the team’s two 2022 first-rounders.

Here’s more on the 2022 NBA draft, which is now just hours away:

  • Executives around the league keep connecting LSU forward Tari Eason to the Rockets at No. 17, according to O’Connor. Meanwhile, Zach Harper of The Athletic has heard from sources that the Celtics are also high on Eason and could try to trade into the first round using a young rotation player to draft him. An earlier report indicated Boston was open to discussing Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard, and Harper adds Aaron Nesmith to that list.
  • Auburn’s Jabari Smith tells Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he’ll be surprised if he’s not drafted first overall tonight. Virtually every major sportsbook made Paolo Banchero the favorite to go No. 1 late last night, but those odds have since swung back in the other direction. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report speculates (via Twitter) that the Banchero buzz may have been related to contact he and his camp had with the Magic on Wednesday after a Monday visit was canceled, but Fischer — like ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — reiterates that Smith remains the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.
  • Ian Begley of SNY.tv (video link) views Duke’s AJ Griffin as the most likely pick for the Knicks if they remain at No. 11.
  • The Raptors, who moved down from No. 20 to No. 33 in the draft as a result of their Thaddeus Young trade in February, don’t view the gap between those two selections as significant, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Koreen observes, there’s less of a consensus on prospects further down draft boards than there is at the very top, so several of the players drafted between Nos. 20 and 32 may not be at or near the top of Toronto’s board.

Draft Notes: Ivey, Griffin, Eason, Holmgren

Amid rumors that Sacramento isn’t his preferred landing spot, Purdue guard Jaden Ivey was asked directly during a Monday media session about the prospect of joining the Kings and confirmed that he hasn’t worked out for the team or had any contact with them. Although he didn’t say outright that he doesn’t want to play for the Kings, Ivey wasn’t exactly brimming with enthusiasm when discussing the possibility.

“If I got drafted there, it wouldn’t be the worst option,” he said, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

As James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star tweets, Ivey said the only teams he has worked out for are the Magic and the Pistons, who hold the first and fifth overall picks, respectively. The Kings draft fourth overall.

Interestingly, while Ivey is expected to come off the board long before the Knicks are on the clock at No. 11, the Purdue standout said unprompted that he believes there “could be situations where I can land in New York,” as Zach Braziller of The New York Post writes. The Knicks would likely have to trade up to No. 4 to make that happen.

Here are a few more of Monday’s draft-related notes:

  • Speaking to reporters on Monday, Duke forward AJ Griffin confirmed his previously announced workouts with Indiana and Portland and said he also auditioned for the Pelicans, Spurs, and Knicks, per Jason Sacramento Bee of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). The teams Griffin worked out for range from No. 6 to No. 11 in Thursday’s draft.
  • The Hawks, Rockets, and Timberwolves are among the teams LSU forward Tari Eason has worked out for during the pre-draft process, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Those three clubs pick between Nos. 16 and 19.
  • In an in-depth profile, Tim Keown of ESPN takes a look at how Chet Holmgren became one of the nation’s top basketball prospects and explores what’s next for the seven-foot “unicorn.”

Draft Notes: Rockets, Nuggets, Green Room, Houstan, Sharpe, Roddy

Now that they’re poised to add the No. 26 pick to their list of draft assets, the Rockets are looking into the possibility of trading up in the draft, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reports within his latest mock draft. According to O’Connor, Houston has inquired about moving up from No. 3 into one of the top two spots in the draft, and has also explored the possibility of moving up from No. 17 into the late lottery.

Like Houston, the Nuggets have agreed to acquire an extra first-round pick (No. 30) and are trying to package it with No. 21 in order to move into the middle of the first round, O’Connor writes. However, O’Connor expects Denver to have to add a young player or a future asset to its package in order to make any real headway.

O’Connor’s newest mock draft includes a few more interesting tidbits, including his suggestion that there’s still some “chatter” about teams trying to trade for the Magic‘s No. 1 overall pick.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Five more players have been invited to the green room for next Thursday’s draft, reports Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). Tari Eason, Jalen Williams, TyTy Washington, MarJon Beauchamp, and Jaden Hardy received invites, joining an initial list of 16 invitees. Of the 21 players invited to the green room, only Hardy (No. 22) and Beauchamp (No. 23) are outside of the top 21 prospects on ESPN’s big board.
  • Michigan’s Caleb Houstan, one of the only prospects to decline a combine invite this year, worked out this week for the Grizzlies and Nuggets, a source tells Givony (Twitter link). Those two teams control the last two picks of the first round.
  • Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe told reporters today that the Spurs, Thunder, and Magic are among the teams he has worked out for in the pre-draft process, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Sharpe will work out for the Pacers on Monday, a source tells James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link).
  • Colorado State forward David Roddy still has workouts coming up with the Thunder and Celtics, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. By the time draft night arrives, Roddy will have visited “half the league,” Wolfson adds.

Central Notes: Pistons Draft, Davis, Gobert, Eason

Jaden Ivey‘s lack of a mid-range game might give the Pistons some pause if he’s available with No. 5 pick, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Keegan Murray may not be flashy but he’s an efficient scorer who be a great option for playmaker Cade Cunningham, according to Edwards, who examines the fit of the options at the No. 5 pick.

We have more from the Central Division:

Northwest Notes: Eason, Connelly, Wolves, Thunder, Terry

LSU forward Tari Eason, who headlined the Trail Blazers‘ six-player workout on Friday, already has some connections to the franchise, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. A Seattle native, Eason’s high school coach was one-time Portland star Brandon Roy, and the Blazers’ roster already includes another recent LSU standout, Trendon Watford.

Although Portland likes Eason enough to see him in person, he probably won’t be in the mix for the seventh pick, which is the Blazers’ only current selection in the first round. Fentress notes that Eason has a wide variety of projections in mock drafts and has worked out for other teams ranging from Washington at No. 10 to Minnesota at No. 19. Eason says he’s tried to avoid such predictions as he prepares for draft night.

“I don’t really have a preference or really look into that sort of thing,” he said. “I don’t really get caught up in that. I just control the things that I can control.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • New Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly is approaching the draft with an open mind, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota needs more size, but may not find any attractive options with the 19th pick. The team also has three second-rounders at 40, 48 and 50 that may be used to facilitate a trade. “We feel good about adding another valuable piece, a good player at 19,” Connelly said. “There will potentially be some pretty cool opportunities to use that as a trade asset as well. Anytime you have four draft picks, it’s exciting. It’s the one day of the year where you really control what you can do, largely.”
  • Six players worked out Friday for the Timberwolves, tweets Andrew Slater of Pro Insight. They are Christian Braun of Kansas, Jordan Hall of St. Joseph’s, Dereon Seabron of North Carolina State, Jalen Williams of Santa Clara, Bryce McGowens of Nebraska and Donovan Williams of UNLV.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) tries to build an ideal draft for the Thunder using their four picks. Givony’s simulation gives Oklahoma City Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren at No. 2, Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe at No. 12, Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia at No. 30 and Khalifa Diop of Gran Canaria at No. 34.
  • Jason Terry had his interview today as the Jazz search for their next head coach, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah assistants Alex Jensen and Lamar Skeeter also interviewed this week.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Raptors, Knicks, Nets

As great as Jayson Tatum is, he hasn’t been dominant in these playoffs and isn’t considered as a top-three NBA player like the stars on most recent champions have been, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. If these Celtics win two more games, they would resemble champs like the 2014 Spurs or various Pistons squads (1989, 1990, 2004), according to Hollinger, who notes that those teams were extremely well-balanced but lacked a true mega-star in his prime.

Pointing to the recent success of teams like these Celtics and the 2021 Suns (who were two wins away from a championship), Hollinger wonders if we’re beginning to see a trend of teams whose postseason fortunes are determined “more by the strength of their weakest link and less by the greatness of their best player.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Holding only the No. 33 pick in this year’s draft, the Raptors are preparing for a wide number of scenarios on draft night, team executive Dan Tolzman told reporters on Wednesday. “We’re working really hard trying to narrow down the group of guys that we think we’re going to be looking at, and then trying to fine-tune who we like in that group,” Tolzman said, per Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “But then you also have to kind of prepare for, you know, five to 10 guys that might drop to you just in case, and then how do they compare against the guys that we were preparing for that we expect to be there?” Tolzman added that the team expects the player it selects to be on next season’s roster, meaning a draft-and-stash selection is unlikely.
  • Fred Katz and Andrew Schlecht of The Athletic spoke to a high-ranking scout and an Eastern Conference assistant general manager to get their thoughts on 11 players the Knicks may be considering with the No. 11 pick, including Ochai Agbaji (“I don’t think it’s a guarantee that he’s an elite shooter,” the assistant GM said), Dyson Daniels (“He’s probably not the full-time offensive engine”), and Tari Eason (“His game is as an energy big with a little bit of shooting”).
  • The Nets announced this week that they’ve hired Sam Zussman to be the CEO of BSE Global, the team’s parent company. Zussman is expected to become the Nets’ alternative governor, according to the team.

Draft Notes: O’Neal, Eason, Lakers, Weathers, Nembhard, Mobley

LSU junior Shareef O’Neal is eligible to be selected in the draft, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The son of Shaquille O’Neal, Shareef O’Neal was mistakenly included in the list of withdrawals released by the league last week. He has upcoming team workouts, Charania adds.

We have more draft-related info:

  • Another LSU player, wing Tari Eason, has upcoming workouts scheduled with the Cavaliers, Grizzlies and Spurs, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. He has already worked out for a number of teams, including the Bulls, Thunder and Knicks. Eason is ranked No. 18 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list.
  • The Lakers hosted six prospects on Monday, including UCLA’s Johnny Juzang, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tweets. That group also included Remy Martin (Kansas), Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), Michael Devoe (Georgia Tech), Haowen Guo (Shanghai Sharks) and Kenneth Lofton Jr. (Louisiana Tech).
  • SMU’s Marcus Weathers worked out for the Spurs on Monday, Adam Zagoria of Zagsblog.com tweets. Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard and USC’s Isaiah Mobley were also among the six prospects San Antonio hosted, Nicola Lupo of Sportando tweets. Nembhard, a point guard, projects as a potential first-rounder. He’s ranked No. 35 on ESPN’s list.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Magic, Quinones, Wizards

After an exciting 53-29 season that saw them get to within one win of its second NBA Finals appearance in three seasons, the Heat appear set to make some adjustments during the summer to get over the hump. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes that the Heat rarely leave a stone unturned in the free agency and trade markets, and that the team could pursue adding All-Star talents like guards Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal if they become available.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic worked out Memphis guard Lester Quinones over the weekend, according to Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com (Twitter link). Quinones played for three seasons with the Tigers, averaging 10.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.8 APG and 0.9 SPG across 87 games, including 81 starts. The Magic possess the top pick in the 2022 draft, as well as the No. 32 and No. 35 selections in the second round.
  • The Wizards are set to work out several young hopefuls tomorrow ahead of the draft, per Ava Wallace of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Wallace notes that Vanderbilt guard Scotty Pippen Jr., LSU forward Tari Eason, Baylor guard James Akinjo, and Connecticut guard R.J. Cole will be working out for Washington. The Wizards possess the No. 10 and No. 56 picks in the upcoming 2022 NBA draft. Eason is the highest-ranked prospect among these four, coming in at No. 18 on ESPN’s big board.
  • In case you missed it, we took a look at the Hawks‘ 2022 offseason, examining the personnel that could be on the move, both among players under contract for the 2022/23 season and free agents.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Hornets, “Shadow Heat,” Bam

The Magic, owners of the top pick as well as the Nos. 32 and 35 selections in the 2022 draft, interviewed a variety of players at the pre-draft combine, have hosted several prospects for pre-draft workouts, and are expected to host several others as they do their due diligence with an eye towards the future.

Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel lists all the players the Magic are doing their homework on, including Duke guard Trevor Keels, Iowa forward Keegan Murray, Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan, Kentucky guard TyTy Washington Jr., and more.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets, who possess the Nos. 13 and 15 picks in the upcoming draft, are hosting UT-Arlington forward Kaodirichi Akobundu-Ehiogu, Gonzaga guard Rasir Bolton, LSU forward Tari Eason, North Carolina State guard Terquavion Smith, SMU forward Marcus Weathers, and Connecticut forward Isaiah Whaley for a pre-draft workout today, per Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
  • The Heat‘s young deep-bench players, a.k.a. the “Shadow Heat,” are gearing up for a summer of development, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Winderman notes that the Miami front office brain trust of Pat Riley, Andy Elisburg, and Adam Simon have made it a habit to add intriguing youngsters near the end of the regular season, letting them work out with the team during the end of the year and the postseason ahead of hopeful Summer League success. The Heat have hit on solid role players this way in the past, and hope to do so again with Haywood Highsmith and two-way players Mychal Mulder and Javonte Smart. That trio has been traveling with the club as it continues its playoff run. “I think that gives you invaluable experience, any time you can be a part of a playoff run,” said Heat reserve center Omer Yurtseven, who underwent a similar late-season development process last year.
  • Though Heat All-Defensive Team center Bam Adebayo has had a relatively modest offensive output in the team’s Eastern Conference Finals series against the Celtics thus far, the team assesses his production beyond just the box score, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Adebayo is averaging just 13.3 PPG in the series.