Trey Murphy

Draft Rumors: Pistons, Cunningham, Green, Magic, Pelicans, More

Speaking today to reporters, including Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link), Pistons general manager Troy Weaver confirmed that the team hasn’t made a final decision on what it will do with the No. 1 overall pick.

[RELATED: Pistons Still Mulling Options With No. 1 Pick]

The Pistons have long been expected to select Cade Cunningham with that top pick, and the Oklahoma State guard remains the overwhelming favorite to be the choice. However, John Hollinger of The Athletic has heard whispers that Detroit wasn’t blown away by Cunningham’s private workout, while Marc Stein says Jalen Green‘s workout for the team “made the strongest of impressions.”

Even if those reports are accurate, it’s hard to imagine the Pistons selecting Green over Cunningham with the No. 1 pick. A trade down to No. 2 is a possibility if Detroit really likes Green. But for what it’s worth, Weaver provided a reminder today that not everything you hear leading up to the draft will be accurate.

“I don’t comment on rumors, but don’t believe everything that you read,” the Pistons’ GM said (Twitter link via James Edwards III of The Athletic). “… The rumor mill does nothing for us right now.”

Here’s more on the 2021 NBA draft:

  • The Magic brought Stanford’s Ziaire Williams back for a second workout during the pre-draft process and some rival teams think Orlando may be eyeing him at No. 8, says Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Two league sources who spoke to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic also believe the Magic have Williams “very high” on their board.
  • According to Vecenie, sources around the league view some of the draft’s top “older” shooters – such as Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy, and Chris Duarte – as likely targets for the Pelicans at No. 17. However, there’s no guarantee New Orleans keeps that pick after acquiring it from Memphis. Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link) says the Pelicans could look to move down again or may shop that selection for veteran help.
  • There’s a belief that the Raptors are high on Evan Mobley, but they’d almost certainly have to trade up from No. 4 to get him and it seems unlikely they’ll be willing to pay that price, says Vecenie.
  • Vecenie is the latest to report that the Thunder are fans of James Bouknight, who could be the team’s pick at No. 6. However, Hollinger is unconvinced that the chatter surrounding Bouknight and the Thunder isn’t a smokescreen — he has Jonathan Kuminga going to the OKC at No. 6 in his mock draft.

Draft Rumors: Spurs, Pacers, Knicks, Nets, Duarte, Warriors, More

Reports in recent weeks identified the Nos. 9 and 10 picks in the draft as two of the most available lottery picks. New Orleans agreed on Monday to move the 10th pick to Memphis, while the Kings‘ pick at No. 9 continues to be viewed as available, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

In addition to Sacramento’s pick, the Spurs‘ (No. 12) and Pacers‘ (No. 13) selections are among the lottery choices that could be had, according to Fischer, who suggests that both teams are viewed as candidates to move back into the mid-teens or early 20s if the price is right.

As for which teams picking later in the first round might be looking to move up, Fischer says the Knicks (Nos. 19 and 21), Rockets (Nos. 23 and 24), and Nets (No. 27) fit that bill. Brooklyn has been willing to discuss shooting guard Landry Shamet in trade talks, Fischer adds.

Here are a few more draft-related rumors and notes:

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report is the latest reporter to indicate that Chris Duarte is unlikely to fall past the No. 15 pick on Thursday. The Lakers are among the teams that have shown interest in Duarte and have looked into possibly moving up in the draft, Wasserman notes.
  • James Bouknight, Duarte, Trey Murphy, and Jonathan Kuminga are among the prospects the Warriors are eyeing, says Wasserman. While Kuminga isn’t necessarily NBA-ready, there’s support for him within Golden State’s front office from those who consider his upside too significant to pass up, Wasserman adds.
  • The Warriors turned down a Knicks offer of the Nos. 19 and 21 picks for the No. 14 selection, per Wasserman.
  • Some teams outside the top 10 believe Michigan forward Franz Wagner has assurances he’ll be selected in the top 10, according to Wasserman. The Kings at No. 9 are considered a strong candidate for Wagner if they keep their pick.
  • Both Wasserman and Matt Babcock of BasketballNews.com continue to suggest the Raptors aren’t a lock to draft Jalen Suggs at No. 4, since the team has done “extensive homework” on Scottie Barnes.
  • Alabama’s Joshua Primo and Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu are two of the prospects Wasserman has heard linked to the Nuggets at No. 26.
  • Alperen Sengun has a good chance of being a lottery pick, according to Babcock, who says the Turkish big man could be picked as high as No. 8 by the Magic.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Murphy, Oubre, Toppin

Knicks guard Frank Ntilikina looks at the Olympics as a chance to rebuild his reputation after a rough start to his NBA career, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The French guard was considered among the best prospects in the world when he was selected with the eighth pick in the 2017 draft. He was a modest contributor during his first three years, but had his playing time cut in half when new coach Tom Thibodeau took over.

“Not playing is not easy for a player,’’ Ntilikina said in a recent interview with the French publication L’equipe. “I would definitely like to play more. But I train all season long. And because I’m still a young player, I know I have a lot of things of my game that I can improve on in future seasons. This is what I did this season offensively in games with the Knicks as soon as I had playing time, being at my advantage over the opponent’s point guards.’’

With his 23rd birthday looming next week, Ntilikina may be ready for a fresh start. He will hit the open market when free agency begins in August, and the Knicks will have to make a $7MM+ qualifying offer to keep him restricted. Berman notes that would carry an $18MM cap hold.

For now, Ntilikina’s priority is the Olympic Games and trying to win a gold medal for France.

“My approach to the Olympics is a bit the same as the one I had for the World Cup,’’ he said. “I try to bring as much as possible to the team. It’s the Olympics, it’s not just anything, it’s something I watched every four years. Now having the chance to go with the France team is a childhood dream.’’

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • In a separate piece, Berman takes a closer look at Virginia forward Trey Murphy III, who could be in play for the Knicks with the 19th or 21st pick in Thursday’s draft. A source says Murphy had a “solid showing” in his workout for New York last week.
  • Kelly Oubre‘s desire to join a team that plays “hard-nosed defense, scrappy, fast-paced, athletic open-floor offense” may make him a good fit for the Knicks. The Warriors’ free agent forward made the comments in a recent interview with Ian Begley and Chris Williamson of SNY.tv.
  • Begley also talked with Obi Toppin about his experiences during his rookie season (video link). Toppin is doing offseason workouts with teammates RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Immanuel Quickley.

Southwest Notes: Kidd, Pelicans Draft Choices, Pelicans Roundup

New Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd joined ESPN’s The Jump on Wednesday to discuss his time with Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, as well as what’s in store for his relationship with Luka Doncic in Dallas.

Asked about what he was focused on helping Doncic improve on, Kidd replied, “My job is to help make the game easier for him. Understanding the game within the game. Understanding how to get guys going, becoming a better leader.”

Kidd was also asked about Kristaps Porzingis. “Getting KP back to what he did in New York,” Kidd said. “Putting the ball on the floor, one dribble stop-and-pop… I remember a lotta highlights when he was putting the ball on someone’s head. So getting him back to that era in his basketball when he was having fun.”

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • In part one of his offseason mailbag, The Athletic’s Will Guillory explored some of the big questions of the Pelicans’ offseason. One such question regarded whether the disappointing seasons of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams were more about personal decline or bad fit with the team’s stars. Guillory maintained that Adams, who had trouble fitting in, has been serious about adding a three-point shot to extend his career, and that he’s been “shooting the snot out of the ball,” according to a source. But he also warns that Bledsoe could face boos at home if he’s still on the roster next season.
  • Guillory also confirms that many believe Jacque Vaughn was the favorite for the Pelicans’ head coaching position before withdrawing, but that Willie Green won many in the front office over immediately upon his first meeting with them.
  • In a piece for NOLA.com, Pelicans beat writer Christian Clark breaks down five prospects the Pelicans are likely to consider with the 10th pick in the draft. Clark quotes executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin on the need to improve the roster construction: “We need to make the pieces fit a little bit better. I think you could all see that this was a rather wonky group at times.” Clark names Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy, Moses Moody and others, in a clear sign that wing shooting is going to be at a premium for New Orleans

Pacific Notes: Ayton, K. Jones, Lakers, Warriors

Deandre Ayton, fresh off of his first NBA Finals appearance with the Suns, is eligible for a five-year, $168MM max contract that would kick in at the start of the 2022/23 season, and Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic takes a look at what could be next for the big man.

Ayton’s career lows in PPG and APG were a result more of the context of adding Chris Paul and reorganizing the offense, rather than any regression on Ayton’s end, Rankin writes. In fact, Ayton’s growth as a team-first player willing to do whatever it takes for the success of the Suns adds even more appeal for the club as it decides if it will offer him a max deal.

If sacrificing is leading the wins and where we are today, I’ll sacrifice everything, you know what I’m saying,” Ayton said. “Everything (Paul’s) told me has led up to here, so why stop now?

We have more news from the Pacific Division:

Southeast Notes: Herro, Unseld Jr., T. Murphy, Magic

Although Heat president Pat Riley considers Tyler Herro to be a “core player” for the franchise, Herro heard his name in a lot of trade rumors during his second NBA season, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Herro was mentioned frequently as Miami pursued James Harden in January and Kyle Lowry at the trade deadline in March. Now that he’s been exposed to the distraction of trade talk, Herro plans to ignore it in the future.

“I’m done listening to all that, honestly,” he said. “I think every time that we’re not playing or even if we are playing, my name is brought up in something. So it is what it is at this point. Like I said, I’m focused on getting better, getting this team better.”

Herro averaged 15.1 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game this season while shooting 43.9% from the field, all better numbers than in his rookie year. He has already gained four pounds since the Heat were knocked out of the playoffs and hopes to add between 10 to 12 overall to become stronger for next season.

“I think it translates obviously offensively,” he said. “Getting stronger, I can get to my spots easier and just being able to defend bigger guys than me. I want to be able to be as big as the rest of the vets are in the league. So just gaining weight I think will help me tremendously on both ends.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards conducted 26 interviews before deciding to hire Wes Unseld Jr. as their next coach, writes Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports Washington. During an appearance this week on the Sports Junkies podcast, general manager Tommy Sheppard talked about the process, which included 18 formal interviews and eight others over the phone. “We went about it pretty thoroughly, pretty thoughtfully, and where we arrived was at a fantastic, young head coach that has been putting in the time and doing everything he could possibly do,” Sheppard said. “Not a self-promoter, but somebody that was ready for this job.”
  • Potential lottery pick Trey Murphy is scheduled to work out for the Wizards on Thursday, the team announced on its website. A junior out of Virginia, he shot over 40% from beyond the arc last season and ranked seventh in the ACC in made three-pointers. St. Louis guard Jordan Goodwin and Kyree Walker of Chameleon BX will also participate.
  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic proposes a few potential draft-day trades for the Magic involving the other teams in the top six.

Knicks Notes: Noel, Payne, Grimes, Murphy

Nerlens Noel was a revelation for the Knicks this season. Signed to a one-year, $5MM deal to back up Mitchell Robinson, Noel stepped up to fill the starting spot for a majority of the season after multiple injuries kept Robinson out of the lineup, and was one of the best defensive centers in the league during that time.

Now, Noel is hitting unrestricted free agency once again and he spoke to Michael Scotto of Hoops Hype about the decision he’ll face.

Whether it’s a team that has or hasn’t been to the playoffs, I just want to help the team overall with my playing style and wreaking havoc defensively and catching lobs,” Noel said. “It’s about finding the right fit. Guard play that can help a big man excel. Small things like that I think will be an ideal fit.

Scotto writes that Noel could potentially double his 2020/21 earnings next year in whatever deal he signs. The Hornets, Mavericks, Nets and Raptors have been rumored to have interest in his services.

We have more news and notes on the Knicks:

  • Cameron Payne has had a remarkable last season-and-a-half for the Suns, which could put him in a position to secure a $10MM+ deal in this summer’s free agency, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks, who are looking for answers at point guard and will have the most cap room of any team, could be a suitor for Payne, Berman writes. If Chris Paul stays in Phoenix, it will be difficult financially for the Suns to retain Payne.
  • The Knicks are considering Quentin Grimes with one of their two first-round picks, writes Berman in a separate article. The 6’4″ guard’s stock has risen considerably over the most recent season and the pre-draft process, and the Knicks were reportedly “wowed” by his combination of shot-making and defense during workouts.
  • Berman writes that the team also worked out Virginia’s Trey Murphy III on Tuesday. Murphy isn’t considered a high-ceiling prospect, but he fits head coach Tom Thibodeau‘s edict of getting “wings and guys who can shoot.” Berman reports that Oregon’s Chris Duarte is under consideration as well, and that the Lakers, picking one slot after the Knicks, have also shown interest in Murphy.

Draft Notes: Warriors, Hornets, Green Room Invites, Preston

The Warriors brought in some first-round prospects for workouts on Friday, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweetsChris Duarte, Keon Johnson, Corey Kispert, Trey Murphy III, Ziaire Williams and Ayo Dosunmu visited the Warriors’ training facility. Johnson is the highest-rated prospect on the list, as the Tennessee guard is currently ranked No. 9 overall by ESPN.

Gonzaga’s Kispert (No. 13), Virginia’s Murphy (18), Oregon’s Duarte (23), Stanford’s Williams (24) and Illinois’ Dosunmu (34) could all be off the board by the second round. Golden State holds the seventh and 14th overall picks.

We have more draft-related news and tidbits:

Hawks Notes: Prunty, J. McMillan, Workouts, Collins

Joe Prunty and Jamelle McMillan are expected to become part of Nate McMillan‘s revamped coaching staff with the Hawks, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Prunty, who began working as an NBA assistant in 1996, has spent time with a total of seven different teams and briefly served as the interim head coach of the Bucks during the 2017/18 season. Prunty, who last coached in the NBA in 2018/19 as a Suns assistant, was the head coach of the Team USA squad that played in the AmeriCup qualifiers earlier this year. He and Nate McMillan worked together in Portland from 2008-10.

Jamelle McMillan, who is Nate’s son, has spent most of his career with the Pelicans, including several years as an assistant under Alvin Gentry. He joined the Suns for a season in 2018/19 before rejoining the Pelicans, but was let go in 2020 when Stan Van Gundy was hired by New Orleans.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

Kings Notes: Haliburton, Draft Workouts, Wagner

Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton is enjoying his experience with the U.S. Select Team, which is giving him a chance to test his skills against some of the NBA’s best players, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic. Haliburton had previous experience in the international format as part of the USA under-19 National Team while at Iowa State.

Haliburton has fully recovered from the hyperextended left knee that brought an early end to his first NBA season. Although he played just 58 games, he was an All-Rookie First Team selection and finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting. He has been working out in Sacramento for the past month and now gets to see how his expanded game fares against elite competition.

“For me to get out and use that stuff against other guys and see it work against them in live action, it helps a lot,” Haliburton said. “And just kind of seeing what other guys are working on at the same time, how other guys are improving. Just taking bits and pieces of that, putting that into my training and things like that.”

There’s more from Sacramento: