Tyrese Haliburton

Draft Notes: Combine, Haliburton, Francis, Figueroa

If not for the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA’s draft combine would have taken place last week in Chicago, with dozens of this year’s top prospects congregating for workouts, scrimmages, interviews, and medical tests. Instead, that event has been indefinitely postponed, and it’s unclear what form it will eventually take — if it happens at all.

According to Marc Berman of The New York Post, league sources still believe there’s a good chance that a “downsized” combine that includes live interviews could take place in August or September. One report earlier in May suggested that such an event might be held within the NBA’s “bubble” location – possibly Walt Disney World – rather than Chicago, though that’s still speculative at this point.

Of course, before the NBA can even line up tentative plans for a combine, it will need to formally postpone the draft, which is still scheduled for June 25. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), some teams expect the draft to be delayed until September, with free agency potentially starting around October 1.

Here’s more on the 2020 NBA draft:

  • Within his above-linked piece, Berman notes that Iowa State head coach Steve Prohm believes potential top-10 pick Tyrese Haliburton would benefit from being able to interview in person with NBA teams. “On Zoom, you can only impress so much,” Prohm said. “If he was in person, over dinner, or in the facility or ballroom at the combine, he’d knock it out of the park. His spirit and personality will wow people. He’ll move up on the charts on that alone. … His character and maturity is very high.”
  • Richmond guard Blake Francis, who tested the draft waters following his junior year, has decided to withdraw and return to school for one more season, he tells Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Francis is the third Richmond early entrant to withdraw from the draft pool, joining teammates Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden.
  • St. John’s guard LJ Figueroa has entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, a source tells Evan Daniels of 247Sports (Twitter link). Figueroa, who declared for the draft in the spring, will continue testing the waters as he explores his transfer options, tweets Rothstein.

Knicks Notes: Haliburton, Front Office, Porzingis

Tyrese Haliburton, who is expected to be a top-10 pick in this year’s draft, claims he won’t be fazed by the pressure of playing in New York if the Knicks end up selecting him.

“Being in New York, they always talk about the pressure of being a Knick,’’ Haliburton said Tuesday on ESPN’s The Jump (h/t Marc Berman of the New York Post). “I feel like no matter where I go, the pressure I put on myself is more than I’ll get from anywhere. No matter where I’m at, that pressure is prominent and it will be more from me. I’m ready to play anywhere.’’

The Knicks have the sixth-worst record in the league, as our reverse standings show. “I think the Knicks are on the right track if they take (Haliburton) at six,’’ one NBA executive told Berman.

Here’s more from New York:

  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic details what Walt Perrin brings to the Knicks. New York is finalizing a deal to hire Perrin – whose decision it was for the Jazz to draft Donovan Mitchell back in 2017 – as an assistant GM.
  • Several scouts throughout the league believe the Knicks are in good hands with Perrin and Frank Zanin, who will also join the team an assistant GM, Ian Begley of SNY.tv writes. Zanin spent the past four seasons with the Thunder, helping them retool post-Kevin Durant and later, setting the franchise up for a rebuild down the line with the Paul George trade.
  • It’s been over a year since the Knicks traded away Kristaps Porzingis and Mark Cuban is still stunned that Dallas was able to make that deal. “It’s like the James Harden trade,” Cuban explained on WFAN’s Moose and Maggie radio show. “Harden gets traded from OKC to the Rockets and I’m like, damn, why didn’t we even get that offered to us? We weren’t in the mix. Nobody was. It was one phone call and the Rockets said yes. (The Porzingis trade) was our one phone call.”

Draft Notes: 2020 Class, Haliburton, Vassell, More

The 2020 NBA draft class has repeatedly been referred to by analysts and league observers in recent months as subpar. However, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer doesn’t think that’s quite right.

As O’Connor explains, the 2020 NBA draft may not have the star power that some past drafts have — there’s no consensus future superstar like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, or Zion Williamson among this year’s top prospects. However, O’Connor believes it’s a deep class that features “a plethora of potential high-end role players who could develop into the missing ingredient of a championship team’s recipe.”

In O’Connor’s view, teams picking in the lottery this year will have to weigh certain players’ possible star upside with other prospects’ solid, high-floor skill sets. For instance, big man James Wiseman is at or near the top of most draft boards, but O’Connor has players like Tyrese Haliburton and Devin Vassell ranked higher than Wiseman on his own board, viewing them as safe picks capable of improving a team as complementary pieces. Positional value could also be weighed more heavily in 2020 than it typically is, O’Connor adds.

Here’s more on the 2020 draft:

Draft Notes: Early Entrants, Haliburton, Hayes, Avdija

The list of early entrants for the 2020 draft continues to grow, with a trio of guards among the latest underclassmen to announce their intent to test the waters this spring.

Wichita State sophomore guard Dexter Dennis, Colgate junior guard Jordan Burns, and UNC Greensboro junior guard Isaiah Miller all made their draft announcements on Twitter.

Dennis averaged 9.2 PPG and 5.0 RPG in 28 games (25.8 MPG) for the Shockers in 2019/20; Burns, a former Patriot Tournament MVP, posted 15.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 1.7 SPG in 34 games (32.4 MPG) for the Raiders; and Miller recorded a team-high 17.8 PPG to go along with 2.8 SPG as he earned Player of the Year – and Defensive Player of the Year – honors in the Southern Conference.

Here are a few more draft-related updates:

  • Even after the departure of Leon Rose, the head of the agency’s basketball department, Creative Artists Agency is having no problem continuing to fill out its roster with promising young players. CAA announced on Thursday (via Twitter) that projected lottery pick Tyrese Haliburton will be represented by the firm.
  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic shares his “unconventional” top five for the 2020 draft, valuing efficiency and production over hype and athleticism and focusing on versatile players who have at least one elite skill. Based on those criteria, French wing Killian Hayes top Strauss’ board, followed by Obi Toppin, Haliburton, Onyeka Okongwu, and Isaac Okoro.
  • With the help of draft expert Fran Fraschilla, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com takes an in-depth look at Israeli swingman Deni Avdija, who is another candidate to be one of the first five players off the board in the 2020 draft. Fraschilla cautions that Avdija’s shot needs some work, but views him as this year’s top international prospect – above Hayes – and believes he belongs in the upper tier of the draft class.

Tyrese Haliburton Entering 2020 NBA Draft

Another potential top-10 pick has confirmed he’s entering his name in the 2020 NBA draft, with Iowa State’s Tyrese Haliburton declaring his intent to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Haliburton, a 6’5″ point guard, averaged just 6.8 PPG and 3.6 APG as a freshman in 2018/19. However, he enjoyed a breakout sophomore year in 2019/20, recording 15.2 PPG, 6.5 APG, 5.9 RPG, and 2.5 SPG on .504/.419/.822 shooting in 22 games (36.7 MPG).

Currently, Haliburton ranks seventh overall on ESPN’s big board, including second among point guards, behind only LaMelo Ball. In his scouting report, ESPN draft guru Mike Schmitz praises Haliburton’s shooting touch and basketball IQ, while cautioning that the youngster’s shot creation could use some work and his light frame makes him inclined to avoid contact.

Haliburton, who had his sophomore season cut short due to a fractured wrist, impressed NBA scouts last summer when he helped lead Team USA to a gold medal at the FIBA U-19 World Cup, Givony and Wojnarowski observe.

Our running list of early entrants for the 2020 draft can be found right here.

Eastern Notes: Haliburton, VanVleet, Presti, Thompson

Iowa State sophomore Tyrese Haliburton might be the safest lottery pick for the Knicks among the guard prospects, ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg told Marc Berman of the New York Post. Haliburton was averaging 15.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 6.5 APG and 2.5 SPG before a wrist injury cut short his season. There isn’t any guard on par with Ja Morant in the draft, according to Greenberg, but Haliburton is a pure point guard who doesn’t carry any baggage.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Raptors would probably be willing to pay unrestricted free agent guard Fred VanVleet $17-20MM annually to retain his services, Blake Murphy of The Athletic opines. The market for VanVleet could drop significantly if the salary cap is lowered, with only a handful of teams having the ability to sign him using their space. VanVleet’s best option may be to secure long-term money from the Raptors since they hold his Bird rights, Murphy adds.
  • It’s doubtful the Bulls would make a serious run at Thunder GM Sam Presti during their planned front office restructuring, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Not only is it unknown whether Presti would be interested in a high-level front office role with the club but it would probably take $8-10MM annually to land his services, Johnson continues, and the Bulls historically haven’t forked up that kind of money. Presti would also likely want to bring in some of his own people, which would add to the tab, Johnson adds.
  • A sign-and-trade is the most likely outcome for Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer opines. It’s increasingly likely that Andre Drummond will exercise his $28.7MM option, relegating Thompson to a bench role. The Cavs might want to bring back Thompson on a team-friendly contract, but if they draft a center that would also change the equation. Thompson has earned the right to test the market and a sign-and-trade could give him a chance to maximize his value and playing time, Fedor adds.

Knicks To Target Scoring Point Guard In 2020 Draft?

With the Knicks‘ playoff chances for 2019/20 essentially dead, the team has its eye on the 2020 draft class. And according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, the Knicks’ scouting staff has been informed that the top priority for the club’s lottery pick is a scoring point guard.

Despite using their 2017 lottery selection on Frank Ntilikina and acquiring former top-10 picks such as Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr., the Knicks have been unable to secure a long-term answer at the point guard spot in recent years. It remains to be seen whether New York will find its answer in this year’s draft, but there should be some options, especially if the team remains in position to pick in the top half of the lottery.

Berman singles out LaMelo Ball as one possible target, noting that Leon Rose was expected to be Ball’s agent at CAA before Rose agreed to become the Knicks’ next president of basketball operations. Cole Anthony (UNC), Tyrese Haliburton (Iowa State), Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky), and Killian Hayes (France) are other young guards who figure to be on the Knicks’ radar on draft day, says Berman. All those players are projected to come off the board between No. 4 (Ball) and No. 12 (Hayes) in ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link).

With the Knicks’ front office in a transition period, it can be tricky to know what to make of reports like these, since it’s unclear whether they reflect the preferences of interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry or incoming head of basketball operations Rose.

However, Berman writes that the Knicks’ aggressive pursuit of D’Angelo Russell at this month’s trade deadline was under Rose’s “consultation,” which suggests the veteran agent has had a voice in the front office even before he finishes tying up loose ends at CAA and officially joins the franchise. Russell, of course, would have perfectly fit the description of a scoring point guard.

According to Berman, the Knicks’ other priority in the draft will be a swingman with three-point range, something that RJ Barrett (.318 3PT%) hasn’t yet shown. Berman notes that New York could use the Clippers’ first-round pick to target that sort of player.

Top Prospect Tyrese Haliburton Done For Season

Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton has been diagnosed with a left wrist fracture and will miss the rest of the 2019/20 college season, according to a press release from the team.

Haliburton suffered the injury during the first half of Saturday’s game vs. Kansas State. An MRI on Sunday confirmed the fracture, which will bring Haliburton’s sophomore season to an early end.

“We are disappointed for Tyrese and his family and we are focused on helping him in his recovery,” Cyclones head coach Steve Prohm said in a statement. “Tyrese is a great teammate, leader and valuable member of this program and university in so many ways. There is no doubt in my mind that Tyrese will face this setback with the same energy and passion that we have all come to appreciate and that he will return from this better than ever.”

It’s possible that Haliburton has now played the last game of his NCAA career. The second-year point guard had been in the midst of a breakout season, averaging 15.2 PPG, 6.5 APG, 5.9 RPG, and 2.5 SPG with a .592/.419/.822 shooting line in 22 games (36.7 MPG). The performance had helped boost his draft stock — he currently ranks sixth on ESPN’s big board, ahead of prospects like Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton.

Haliburton’s season-ending injury is the latest factor teams and scouts will have to take into account as they evaluate this year’s top prospects. A handful of players expected to be drafted in the top 10 haven’t played much this season — James Wiseman left Memphis after three games, Hampton and LaMelo Ball returned from Australia early due to injuries, and Anthony missed nearly two months with a knee injury of his own.

And-Ones: Two-Way Deals, 2020 Draft, Tournament

The two-way contract didn’t exist prior to 2017, but it’s now in its third year of existence and has injected some additional talent into the G League, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

“It’s added a lot of depth. The talent and skill level are at a different point than when I first came into the league as a player and as a coach,” South Bay Lakers coach Coby Karl said. “Over the last three years, it’s a completely different experience. … The young, talented guys were going overseas because there wasn’t enough money in the G League.”

While a two-way player still won’t earn as much as an NBA rookie on a standard, minimum-salary contract, that two-way player can earn up to about $411K this season if he maxes out his 45 NBA days, per cap expert Albert Nahmad (Twitter link). It also gives more young players a chance to enter an NBA team’s developmental program.

“I don’t love those contracts. They don’t really do anything for me,” one agent told Pincus. “They’re not very agent-friendly, but they’re a necessary vehicle. … [My clients] are getting in the door with an organization. They’re able to see the floor, to be a priority guy in the G League program while developing.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world: