Trae Young

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

Southeast Notes: Anderson, Young, Go-Go, Magic Big Men

The Heat aren’t particularly interested in acquiring Rockets forward Ryan Anderson, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. A rumored trade that would involve the Houston power forward and a draft pick in exchange for either Tyler Johnson or James Johnson doesn’t appeal to Miami’s front office, Jackson continues. Anderson has a higher salary than both of those players, so bringing him in would worsen the team’s luxury-tax issues. Additionally, even though James Johnson has three years left on his deal compared to Anderson’s two remaining seasons, Miami values his versatility, Jackson adds.

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Rookie Trae Young realizes the commitment the Hawks made to him by trading starting point guard Dennis Schroder to the Thunder, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. While Young was non-committal about whether he or Jeremy Lin should start, Young knows he’ll get ample playing time. “Obviously when they move the point guard they’ve had for a while, their starting point guard, it definitely opened my eyes,” Young told Vivlamore. “It shows how much they are committed to me. Bringing Jeremy in as well is a good fit for us. I know there is a lot on my plate.”
  • The Wizards’ new G League team, the Capital City Go-Go, will share the same practice facility as the NBA team. The G League team’s GM, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, sees that as an incentive for his players, as he explained to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington“I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do,” Mensah-Bonsu said. “I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level.”
  • The Magic are bucking the league trend by building around big men, as Nick Zappulla of RealGM details. The trio of rookie Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon provide versatility and game-changing ability on both ends of the floor, Zappulla adds.

Hawks Sign All Three First-Round Picks

The Hawks have reached contract agreements with first-round picks Trae Young, Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman, according to Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Their first-year salaries will be approximately $5.36MM for Young, $2.25MM for Huerter and $1.62MM for Spellman. All rookie scale deals cover two years, followed by two team option seasons.

Young, the fifth overall pick, was among the nation’s top collegiate scorers at Oklahoma. Atlanta grabbed him after trading down from No. 3 in a draft-day deal with Dallas. Huerter, a 3-point specialist out of Maryland, was taken at No. 19 despite a wrist injury that limited his pre-draft workouts. Spellman is a center with shooting range who won a national title at Villanova.

Southeast Notes: Kulboka, Sanon, Taylor, Walker

The Hornets plan to stash 6’10” forward Arnoldas Kulboka in Europe, Chapel Fowler of the Charlotte Observer relays. The Hornets took the Lithuanian native with the No. 55 pick with that plan in mind. “He’s got a buyout that’s manageable, but we’ve talked to his representative …” GM Mitch Kupchak told Fowler and other media members. “At least right now, the plan is to keep him over there and hopefully watch him develop and then, when he’s ready, bring him back over here and see how good he is.”

In other developments around the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards will go the draft-and-stash route with the No. 44 pick, Issuf Sanon, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tweets. The Ukrainian combo guard is just 18 years old and played in the Slovenian League last season.
  • The Hawks have pushed back the date of Isaiah Taylor‘s partial guarantee from Friday until the end of the month, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Taylor would receive a $300K guarantee by remaining on the roster through the due date. The remainder of his $1,544,951 salary for next season would become guaranteed if he’s on the roster through July 27th. The 6’3” point guard appeared in 67 games last season and averaged 6.6 PPG and 3.1 APG.
  • The Hawks dealt their early second-round pick at No. 34 because the players they liked in that spot were guards and they already got two backcourt players in the first round, Cunningham reports in a separate tweet. The Hawks secured two future second-rounders in their deal with the Hornets. In the first round, Atlanta wound up with point guard Trae Young after dropping down two spots from the No. 3 slot and chose shooting guard Kevin Huerter at No. 19.
  • Kupchak would like to see point guard Kemba Walker play his whole career with the Hornets but can’t do much about that before Walker hits free agency next season, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. A contract extension isn’t feasible because of Charlotte’s salary-cap restraints. “He is on a (contract) that may make it a challenge going forward to figure out (the best course) before he becomes a free agent,” Kupchak told Bonnell.

Hawks Notes: Trade Talks, Young, Doncic, Schroder

While leaks to the media often make it harder for Travis Schlenk to do his job, the Hawks‘ general manager was appreciative of a particular leak on Thursday night, he said during an appearance on 95.7 The Game in the Bay Area (link via ESPN.com). According to Schlenk, the Hawks were considering a deal to move up two spots from No. 19 last night, but when word broke of the Bucks‘ plans at No. 17, Schlenk decided it against it.

“We had the 19th pick and we’re coming down and we’re actually talking to Milwaukee on the 17th pick, talking about trading up to get a guy we like,” Schlenk explained. “There were a couple of guys we felt really good about on the 19th pick, obviously Kevin [Huerter] was one of them, and it leaked who Milwaukee was going to take.

“So, all of a sudden, we were able to pull back out of that deal and keep the draft pick instead of packaging picks to move up because we knew that [there were] two guys on the board we felt really good about, and only one team in between us,” Schlenk continued. “So that was beneficial to us last night.”

Schlenk’s comments suggest that the Hawks were zeroing in on two players with that mid-first-round pick, and Donte DiVincenzo – who was selected by Milwaukee at No. 17 – wasn’t one of them.

Here’s more from Schlenk on the Hawks:

  • Discussing the trade that saw the Hawks move down to select Trae Young instead of simply drafting Luka Doncic, Schlenk said the front office was “really, really split” between the two guards (Twitter link via Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal Constitution). Given how close the two prospects were in Atlanta’s view, it made sense for the club to take Young and get an extra 2019 first-round pick out of the deal.
  • According to Schlenk, the Hawks had both Doncic and Young rated higher on their board than the top big men available at No. 3. The GM added that he has a “personal preference” for play-makers over bigs (Twitter link via Cunningham).
  • Asked about Young’s fit in Atlanta with Dennis Schroder already on the roster, Schlenk said that the two players are capable of playing together. However, as Cunningham notes, it’s not as if the Hawks GM will come out and say he wants to move Schroder. The team has been exploring possible trades involving the veteran point guard, but interest has been “tepid,” Cunningham adds (Twitter links).

Mavs Acquire No. 3 Pick, Draft Luka Doncic

9:21pm: Marc Stein of The New York Times has the protection details on the 2019 first-round pick going to Atlanta in the deal. According to Stein (via Twitter), it will be top-five protected in 2019 and 2020, top-three protected in 2021 and 2022, and fully unprotected in 2023.

6:47pm: The Mavericks and Hawks agreed to a blockbuster trade involving the No. 3 pick that allowed Dallas to draft Luka Doncic.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that the Hawks will acquire a 2019 first-round pick in the trade, while Atlanta took Trae Young at No. 5. No veteran players are involved in the deal, Woj adds (via Twitter).

Previous versions of the trade had Kent Bazemore going to Dallas and Wesley Matthews to Atlanta, but the Hawks were reluctant to add Matthews to a young, rebuilding team. They opted for a simple swap of picks, with some light protections on the future first-rounder. Atlanta had been hoping to free up some cap room by finding a taker for Bazemore, who is owed more than $18MM next season and has a player option worth nearly $19.3MM in 2019/20.

The teams were close to a trade around 5:00pm ET, tweets ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, but fell apart until the Mavs agree to include the future pick. The pick is scheduled to transfer next season, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports and will be top-five protected (Twitter link).

A source from the Mavericks, who described the protections as minimal to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, said, “We hope it conveys next year.” (Twitter link).

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Draft Rumors: Hawks, Bazemore, Porter, Suns

With Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III viewed as near-locks to be the first two players off the board in the 2018 NBA draft, the No. 3 pick is worth keeping a close eye on. Zach Klein of WSB in Atlanta hears (via Twitter) that the Hawks trading back to No. 5 is a viable possibility. In that scenario, the Mavericks would select Luka Doncic and Atlanta would grab Trae Young.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer follows up on Klein’s report, tweeting that the Hawks and Magic – who hold the No. 6 pick – have also been connected, according to a source. In either trade scenario, Kent Bazemore may be involved in a deal, per Klein and O’Connor.

As we wait to see what happens with the No. 3 pick, here are a few more draft-related rumors and notes:

  • In the latest version of his mock draft at ESPN.com, Jonathan Givony reports that there’s a chance Michael Porter Jr. will slip out of the top 10 due to concerns about his back and hip. Givony has Porter coming off the board at No. 12 to the Clippers.
  • The Suns continue to gauge the market as they explore a possible move up from No. 16, but it will be “extremely hard” to make a deal, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7, adding that most teams in the top 10 are reluctant to trade. If Phoenix stays at No. 16, keep an eye on Maryland’s Kevin Huerter as a possible “sleeper” pick, Gambadoro adds (via Twitter).
  • As ESPN’s Bobby Marks details (via Twitter), the Hawks, Bulls, Mavericks, and Sixers are ineligible to acquire any cash in trades tonight, while the Cavaliers and Heat can’t send out any cash. Although those teams have reached their 2017/18 limits, they could always reach a tentative trade agreement and finalize it in July, after those traded-cash restrictions reset.

Draft Rumors: Top 6, Bulls, Kings, Sixers, Suns

The Mavericks, Bulls, Cavaliers, and Clippers are among the teams still exploring the possibility of moving up in the draft lottery, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski adds that the Sixers‘ pick (No. 10) is in play for teams targeting Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Wojnarowski currently believes that Deandre Ayton (Suns), Marvin Bagley III (Kings), Luka Doncic (Hawks), Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba (Mavericks), and Trae Young (Magic) are the most likely selections (Twitter link). Interestingly, the Grizzlies are the only team Wojnarowski doesn’t mention in his rundown, suggesting the No. 4 pick is still the most likely selection at the top to be traded.

If the top six plays out like that and Chicago doesn’t trade up, the Bulls would likely opt for Wendell Carter Jr. over Michael Porter Jr., tweets K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.

Here are several more rumors worth passing along as draft night nears…

  • Kings beat reporter James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link) is also getting the vibe out of Sacramento that Marvin Bagley III is the club’s likely choice at No. 2.
  • Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link) is hearing some buzz linking Zhaire Smith to the Sixers at No. 10.
  • Although the Heat are exploring opportunities to trade into the first round of tonight’s draft, it’s hard to imagine the club completing a deal for a first-round pick unless it can shed a veteran salary, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.
  • The Suns, who hold Miami’s pick at No. 16, are eyeing Donte DiVincenzo, Zhaire Smith, Jalen Brunson, Aaron Holiday, Lonnie Walker, Troy Brown, Elie Okobo, and Landry Shamet at that spot, per John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).
  • NBA teams have been impressed with Michael Porter Jr. in interviews, but the club that picks him will have to be “ultra-cautious” with his health, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, who suggests (via Twitter) that sitting Porter for a good chunk of 2018/19 is a real possibility.

Suns Could Add Another Lottery Pick

The Suns could move some of their assets to gain another lottery pick, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic tweets.

Phoenix is expected to select Arizona center Deandre Ayton with the top pick. They also own the No. 16 pick, courtesy of the Goran Dragic deal with the Heat, as well as two second-rounders – Nos. 31 and 59. They are interested in forward Michael Porter Jr. and one of the top three college guards – Trae Young, Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – if they can make a deal, Bordow adds.

Porter Jr. could team up with Ayton and give the Suns a formidable frontcourt duo for the next few seasons. They are also in need of a point guard, with Elfrid Payton headed to restricted free agency if they extend a qualifying offer of $4.75MM by the June 29th deadline.

Givony’s Latest: Kings, Doncic, Porter, Gilgeous-Alexander

ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony posted his latest mock on Thursday morning, along with the updated information regarding what teams are planning to do. Here’s some of the most noteworthy nuggets he passed along:

  • The Kings will target Duke forward Marvin Bagley III if they keep the No. 2 overall pick but they have their eyes on Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. if they trade down in the lottery.
  • Hawks ownership has pushed for Euroleague guard Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick because of star power. The compromise between the front office and ownership could be trading down and then selecting Oklahoma point guard Trae Young.
  • Porter is favored by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban at No. 5 but they’re also considering Texas center Mohamed Bamba and Duke center Wendell Carter Jr.
  • Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander appears to be on the rise and Givony has him going at No. 6 to the Magic.
  • If the Clippers don’t trade their picks at No. 12 and No. 13, they’ll draft one of the top three college point guards – Gilgeous-Alexander, Alabama’s Collin Sexton or Young – if any are still on the board.
  • Boston College guard Jerome Robinson, Maryland forward Kevin Huerter and Texas A&M big man Robert Williams are under consideration with the Clippers’ second first-rounder.