Wizards Rumors

Draft Notes: Rockets, Wizards, Suns, France, Big Boards

The Rockets may be more interested in moving their pick than keeping it, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reports. Offers for the selection are expected to be entertained until Houston is on the clock at No. 3 in Wednesday’s draft. If Houston does stand pat at No. 3, Reed Sheppard appears to be the heavy favorite for that spot. The Trail Blazers have called the Rockets about moving up to No. 3 in the draft.

According to Fischer, the Wizards have the league convinced they’re honing in on Perth’s Alexandre Sarr. As reported, Sarr hasn’t conducted a private workout for the Hawks, holders of the No. 1 selection, and Fischer reports Sarr’s preferred destination is in fact Washington. Beyond their plans at pick No. 2, the Wizards are simultaneously trying to move up from the No. 26 pick as well as acquire a third first-round pick in Wednesday’s draft.

Further down the draft, the Suns are a strong candidate to trade down from No. 22. The goal for the Suns, Fischer reports, would be to accumulate future second round picks while moving down in the first in order to restock their draft capital for trade flexibility. Additionally, adding several rookie contracts onto an expensive roster holds appeal for Phoenix.

We have more from around the draft:

  • A flood of talent is following 2023 No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama from France, Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek writes. His teammate Bilal Coulibaly was selected No. 7 overall in last year’s draft and another teammate, Armel Traore, could be in play in the second round of this year’s draft. Additionally, Zaccharie Risacher and Sarr are both seen as the favorites for the top two draft selections in this class while Tidjane Salaun, Melvin Ajinca and Pacome Dadiet are all likely to be selected this year. Down the line, Nolan Traore and Nathan Soliman are picking up steam for future draft classes.
  • Risacher, Sarr and UConn’s Donovan Clingan, in that order, round out ESPN’s top three players on Jonathan Givony’s final big board update before the draft. Givony and Jeremy Woo provide their picks for the top 100 players in the class, with Sheppard, G League Ignite’s Matas Buzelis, UConn’s Stephon Castle, Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht, Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, Salaun and Serbia’s Nikola Topic filling in the rest of their top 10 (in order).
  • Risacher is lower on Sam Vecenie’s draft board via The Athletic, with the French wing coming in at No. 5 on Vecenie’s board. Salaun, Buzelis, Dillingham and Topic all sit outside the top 10 of Vecenie’s annual draft guide, while he ranks Colorado’s Cody Williams (No. 6), Providence’s Devin Carter (No. 7), Pitt’s Bub Carrington (No. 8) and Ron Holland of the G League Ignite (No. 10) among the draft’s best. I highly recommend both Givony and Vecenie’s draft guides if you have a subscription to either platform, as this is some of the top draft content to come out annually.
  • Clingan is the name most linked to the Hawks over the past week, Vecenie writes in a recent mock draft. While Atlanta has openly stated it is content with standing pat at No. 1, Vecenie hears there’s an impression the club is open to making a move if the right deal presents itself. However, Atlanta hasn’t finalized its decision yet and even if it wanted to trade down to select him later, Chicago and Memphis have expressed interest in taking Clingan themselves if they can trade up. Vecenie indeed has Washington landing Sarr and Houston getting Sheppard, but has Risacher falling to San Antonio at No. 4, Buzelis going No. 5 to Detroit and Castle landing in Charlotte at No. 6.

Pistons Plan To Interview Bickerstaff, Borrego, Sweeney, Nori

7:14pm: The Pistons also intend to interview Borrego, according to Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press.

6:27pm: The Pistons plan to interview former Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff for their head coaching position, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Detroit has also received permission to meet with Mavericks assistant Sean Sweeney and Timberwolves assistant Micah Nori.

Bickerstaff was just let go by the Pistons’ division rivals in Cleveland last month after he posted a 170-159 (.517) record across four-plus seasons with the Cavaliers, leading them to playoff appearances in 2023 and 2024 and a first-round series victory this spring. Bickerstaff also coached the Grizzlies from 2017-19 and was as an assistant for several teams before that, with stints in Charlotte, Minnesota, and Houston.

Sweeney, who began his NBA career in the Nets’ video room in 2011, has worked on Jason Kidd‘s staffs in Brooklyn, Milwaukee, and Dallas, and was also an assistant in Detroit under Dwane Casey from 2018-21. Casey remains with the Pistons in a front office role.

Nori is another veteran assistant who was on Casey’s staff from 2018-21. He worked for the Raptors, Kings, and Nuggets before that, and has been with the Timberwolves since 2021. Nori shared some of Chris Finch‘s head coaching duties during Minnesota’s playoff run this spring when Finch was unable to roam the sidelines due to knee surgery.

Sweeney and Nori have been hot names on the head coaching carousel in the past couple months. Sweeney was linked to the Lakers’ and Wizards’ vacancies, while Nori reportedly interviewed with the Cavaliers and Lakers. Both men were high on the list of potential Pistons candidates published by James L. Edwards III of The Athletic on Wednesday following Monty Williams‘ ouster.

According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Pistons are expected to seek permission to interview more assistants from around the NBA.

One name to watch will be James Borrego of the Pelicans, who was atop Edwards’ list and was also mentioned by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) as a candidate who would receive serious consideration if he’s available. Multiple reports have suggested Borrego is the frontrunner for the only other available head coaching job, in Cleveland, so it’s unclear whether or not Detroit will get a chance to talk to him.

Moore’s Latest: Kings, Kuzma, Bulls, Bridges, Sixers, Jones, Grizzlies, More

The Kings are expected to return to the trade market this offseason with the same assets they offered Toronto for Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby earlier in 2023/24, writes Matt Moore of ActionNetwork.com: Harrison Barnes, Kevin Huerter, and draft compensation.

While Sacramento will do its best to re-sign Malik Monk, the team only holds his Early Bird rights and will be limited to offering him up to $78MM over four years. If Monk ends up getting away, the Kings will likely feel some additional pressure to make a trade to upgrade its rotation — and will have some additional financial flexibility to add salary.

The Kings will likely circle back to the Wizards to discuss Kyle Kuzma, according to Moore, who says Sacramento has also talked to the Bulls about Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso. LaVine, whose price tag is believed to be lower now than it ever has been, could become a more attractive target if Monk departs, Moore adds.

Here are a few more items of interest from Moore’s latest look at free agency and the trade market:

  • The Sixers are expected to have interest in forward Miles Bridges in free agency, according to Moore. Philadelphia would have more than enough cap room to make a competitive offer for Bridges, especially if it misses out on its top targets. Moore reports that the Hornets are “known to be” fans of Bulls restricted free agent Patrick Williams, so he could be a target for Charlotte if the team loses Bridges.
  • Veteran point guard Tyus Jones, who was a full-time starter this past season for the Wizards, is expected to seek a deal worth north of $15MM annually, two sources tell Moore. Jones is the No. 15 free agent on our top-50 list.
  • There’s an expectation that the Grizzlies will look to add multiple centers this summer, Moore writes, noting that Nets big man Day’Ron Sharpe is a name to watch for Memphis. A Grizzlies offer for Sharpe could consist of a second-round pick and one of their bench wings, Moore adds.
  • The Grizzlies are also among the teams that have expressed interest in Hawks center Clint Capela, along with the Wizards, Pelicans, and Bulls, Moore says.
  • The free agent market for Heat forward Haywood Highsmith is expected to start around the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.2MM), two team cap strategists tell Moore.

Draft Rumors: Hawks, Risacher, Sarr, Knecht, C. Williams, Dillingham, More

The Hawks don’t appear to have made any final decisions yet, but intel from teams around the league suggests forward Zaccharie Risacher still looks like the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick, Jonathan Givony writes in ESPN’s latest mock draft (Insider link). Risacher is working out for Atlanta on Wednesday.

While Alexandre Sarr is widely considered to be another contender for that No. 1 pick, Givony says the Hawks have been unable to get the French big man in for a workout so far, and suggests that UConn center Donovan Clingan might be Risacher’s top competition for the top spot in the draft. Clingan impressed Atlanta during his workout with his passing ability and his performance in film study and interviews, according to Givony.

The Hawks have brought in several lottery prospects for workouts, including Reed Sheppard, Matas Buzelis, Cody Williams, and Ron Holland, Givony notes, which suggests they’re preparing for potential trade-down scenarios as well. One possibility that has been “widely discussed” by rival teams, per Givony, is a deal with the Spurs that would see the Hawks move down to No. 4 and get back one of their draft assets controlled by San Antonio, such as Atlanta’s 2025 first-rounder. A move along those lines would put the Hawks in a better position to rebuild, as Givony observes.

If Atlanta doesn’t select Sarr with the No. 1 pick, teams and agents believe he’ll come off the board at No. 2 to the Wizards, per Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. Both Wasserman and ESPN have Sarr second overall in their latest mock drafts.

Here are several more draft-related tidbits from ESPN and Bleacher Report:

  • Dalton Knecht‘s draft range seems increasingly small, according to Givony, who says that every team between No. 4 and No. 9 (with the exception of the Pistons at No. 5) has shown interest in the Tennessee forward.
  • Rival teams are predicting that Colorado’s Cody Williams will be picked higher than expected, possibly by the Spurs or Pistons, says Wasserman, who has Williams at No. 7 in his mock. Givony adds that Williams has worked out or will work out for nearly every team in the top 10 (except for the Rockets) and that teams with lower picks haven’t been able to bring him in, signaling that his camp is confident about his draft range.
  • Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham hasn’t been able to work out for teams for most of the pre-draft process due to an ankle injury, prompting speculation that he could slide on draft night, according to both ESPN’s Jeremy Woo and Wasserman. ESPN has Dillingham coming off the board at No. 8 to the Spurs, but Wassmeran’s sources believe San Antonio is an unlikely landing spot based on what the team is signaling to agents. Wasserman has the former Wildcats guard at No. 11 in his mock.
  • Ja’Kobe Walter, one of the first 12 players who received a green room invite, worked out for teams like the Pistons, Hornets, Spurs, Jazz, and Kings, per Givony, which bodes well for his odds of being a lottery pick.
  • French forward Tidjane Salaun worked out for the Thunder, Kings, and Trail Blazers, then sprained his ankle at a workout with the Spurs this past weekend, Givony reports. Salaun had also lined up workouts with the Pistons and Hornets, but his ankle injury might prevent those sessions from happening.
  • Serbian point guard Nikola Topic has had a handful of meetings scheduled with lottery teams, including the Trail Blazers, Spurs, Grizzlies, and Jazz, Givony writes. However, Givony cautions that a team interested in picking Topic will have to prepare for the possibility of a redshirt rookie year due to the guard’s partially torn ACL.
  • Teams were “buzzing” about Indiana center Kel’el Ware after a strong shooting display at his pro day, according to Wasserman, who says the big man is receiving consideration as high as the late lottery. Givony agrees that Ware seems to be building momentum in the pre-draft process, but notes that he hasn’t received a green room invite yet — that could change later this week when the final invites are sent out. According to Givony, Ware has worked out for over a dozen teams, ranging from late-lottery clubs to those near the end of the first round. The Bucks are one of those teams, and ESPN’s mock has Ware going to Milwaukee at No. 23.

Bilal Coulibaly Hopes The Olympics Are Part Of His Summer

  • Bilal Coulibaly is hoping to win a spot on the French Olympic team and compete for a gold medal in Paris, per Chase Hughes of Monumental Sports Network. The Wizards forward was one of 19 players to make France’s preliminary roster, which will eventually be trimmed to 12. Whether he’s in the Olympics or not, Washington has offseason plans for Coulibaly. “He’s got the mindset that this is a massive summer for him,” general manager Will Dawkins said. “Whether he’s playing with us or playing with France, we’ll be involved. We’ll be around and we’ll have a program in place.”

Scotto’s Latest: J. Smith, Toppin, Weaver, Hartenstein, Huerter, O’Neale, More

Early indications suggest that Pacers power forward Jalen Smith will decline his $5.4MM player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports in his latest aggregate mock draft. Sources tell Scotto that a final decision hasn’t been made, but Smith appears to be leaning toward testing the free agency waters. He has a June 29 deadline to opt in for 2024/25.

Smith, 24, appeared in 61 games this season and posted a career high in scoring at 9.9 PPG, along with 5.5 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 17.2 minutes per night. He was selected 10th overall by Phoenix in the 2020 draft and was acquired by Indiana at the 2022 trade deadline.

Scotto notes that rival teams are watching to see whether the Pacers will re-sign restricted free agent Obi Toppin. If the fourth-year power forward reaches a new deal, there’s a belief that Indiana might be willing to trade Jarace Walker, who was a lottery pick last June.

Scotto shares more inside information in his aggregate draft:

  • Washington is believed to be a potential destination for former Pistons general manager Troy Weaver, who recently parted ways with the team, Scotto writes, noting that Weaver was once part of Oklahoma City’s front office along with Wizards executives Michael Winger and Will Dawkins.
  • Scotto talked with some NBA executives who believe the Magic should be considered a threat to sign Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein. Orlando could have close to $50MM in cap space to work with.
  • Executives also expect the Kings to explore deals involving Kevin Huerter and Harrison Barnes, Scotto adds.
  • The Raptors plan to work out an extension with Scottie Barnes this summer, sources tell Scotto. The versatile swingman made his first All-Star appearance this year.
  • Scotto echoes other reports in stating that Royce O’Neale is likely to reach a new contract with the Suns. The 31-year-old forward, who was acquired from Brooklyn at the trade deadline, is expected to receive about $10MM per year, according to Scotto.
  • Vice president of basketball operations Brent Barry isn’t expected to return to the Spurs next season, sources tell Scotto. The longtime NBA player has been an executive with San Antonio since 2018.
  • Assistant coach Jason Love will likely leave the Sixers and join Doc Rivers’ staff with the Bucks, Scotto states. Love previously worked for Rivers in Philadelphia.
  • The Hornets are assembling a staff of assistants for new head coach Charles Lee. Scotto hears it will include Lamar SkeeterJosh LongstaffChris JentRyan FrazierZach PetersonMatt Hill and Blaine Mueller.

Eastern Notes: Cavaliers, Nets, Bulls, Dawkins

In a conversation this week on the HoopsHype podcast, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reiterated several points that they and other reporters have made in recent weeks, telling listeners that there’s optimism in Cleveland about a Donovan Mitchell extension, the Cavaliers aren’t looking to trade any of their four core players, and James Borrego and Kenny Atkinson look like the top candidates for the Cavs’ head coaching job.

Addressing Mitchell’s contract situation, Scotto notes that the star guard might sign a shorter-term maximum-salary contract that would set him up to get his next deal in 2027 once he has 10 years of NBA service under his belt and qualifies for a maximum salary worth 35% of the cap instead of 30%.

Mitchell isn’t the only Cavalier who could sign a big-money extension this offseason. Within a discussion about a potential rookie scale extension for Evan Mobley, Fedor predicts that the Cavs will put a maximum-salary offer on the table for the big man.

“He hasn’t played to that (max) level yet, but there’s so much belief in Evan as a person and him as a player inside this organization,” Fedor said. “… They understand that he’s already one of the elite defensive players in the NBA. That’s already where he’s at, and they believe he can get to a point offensively where he becomes the unicorn type of player they’ve talked about him being since he came into the NBA. I don’t think the Cavaliers are going to hesitate to offer him the max extension.”

Even if Mitchell and Mobley are extended, the Cavaliers would likely have to be “blown away” to consider moving Darius Garland or Jarrett Allen, according to Fedor. While the Pelicans have been widely viewed as a potential trade partner Cleveland, Scotto says he doesn’t get the sense Cleveland is all that excited about the idea of trading for Brandon Ingram and then having to sign him to a lucrative new contract.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Despite not having any picks in the 2024 draft and no cap room this offseason, the Nets have several important decisions to make, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscription required), who examines Nic Claxton‘s free agency, Mikal Bridges‘ future, and the possibility of trading into the draft. According to Lewis, the Nets aren’t interested in acquiring a draft pick just to have one, but they figure to monitor specific targets and prepare to pounce if any of those targets drop past their expected draft range.
  • Given how many different directions the Bulls‘ offseason could take, there’s no shortage of prospects who might make sense for the team with the No. 11 pick in the draft, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley examines several of those options, including Ron Holland, Cody Williams, and Dalton Knecht. He also mentions center Donovan Clingan, citing a source who says the Bulls have discussed the possibility of trading up from No. 11.
  • Wizards general manager Will Dawkins spoke to Marc J. Spears of Andscape about being accused of shoplifting at a Saks Fifth Avenue in Miami last fall. Dawkins was briefly detained by a security guard and local police before they realized they had the wrong person. Saks issued a formal apology to Dawkins on Thursday.

International Notes: Mexico City Game, James, Teodosic, Harper

The NBA’s Mexico City Game in 2024 will feature a pair of Southeast rivals, as the Heat and Wizards will match up in the contest on Saturday, November 2, the league announced today in a press release. It will be the NBA’s 14th regular season contest and 33rd game overall in Mexico.

The game will be the fourth in Mexico for the Wizards, who last played there in 2019, and the third for the Heat. Since Miami’s last visit in 2022, the team has added Mexican-American forward Jaime Jaquez, which likely factored into the NBA’s decision to have the team return just two years later.

Here are a few more updates from around the international basketball world:

  • Reigning EuroLeague MVP Mike James has a new three-year deal in place with AS Monaco Basket, the team officially announced on Friday (via Twitter). The former NBA guard was initially said to be nearing an agreement a week ago before Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com reported that James was considering testing the open market. According to Urbonas (Twitter link), Monaco improved its offer to ensure that a deal got done. James previously appeared in 49 NBA games from 2017-21 with the Suns, Pelicans, and Nets.
  • Former NBA guard Milos Teodosic, who played for the Clippers from 2017-19, will spend another season with Crvena Zvezda in Serbia. The team announced (via Twitter) that it has signed the 37-year-old to a new one-year contract (hat tip to Sportando).
  • Valencia Basket and Jared Harper, who suited up for the Suns, Knicks, and Pelicans from 2019-22, have parted ways, the Spanish club announced in a press release. A former All-NBAGL first-teamer, Harper spent the past two seasons with Valencia but will be a free agent this summer.

Draft Notes: Fit Vs. Value, International Prospects, Top PGs, More

In their latest mock draft for ESPN.com (Insider link), Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo provide two paths — Givony makes each pick based on the team’s biggest need, while Woo chooses the player who would be the best value at that spot.

For example, at No. 1, Givony has the Hawks taking Donovan Clingan, arguing that one of the league’s worst defenses would benefit from adding the draft’s best rim protector, while Woo views Zaccharie Risacher as the choice for Atlanta, since both he and Givony have the French forward ranked as the best prospect in this year’s draft class.

There are several spots where the best fit and best value overlap, including at No. 2 (Alexandre Sarr to the Wizards), No. 4 (Reed Sheppard to the Spurs), No. 5 (Matas Buzelis to the Pistons), No. 6 (Stephon Castle to the Hornets), and No. 12 (Nikola Topic to the Thunder).

Here’s more on the 2024 NBA draft:

  • In another Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Givony and Woo highlight 20 draft prospects who excel in specific areas. For instance, while Givony and Woo consider Kentucky’s Sheppard to be the best spot-up shooter in the 2024 draft class, ESPN’s duo names UConn’s Cam Spencer as the best pull-up shooter and Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht as the best movement shooter. On the other side of the ball, Virginia’s Ryan Dunn is viewed as the best defensive play-maker, UConn’s Castle is recognized as the best on-ball defender, and Risacher is identified as the best off-ball defender.
  • While top prospects Risacher and Sarr and potential lottery picks Tidjane Salaun and Topic have gotten plenty of attention leading up to the draft, there are several other international prospects worth getting familiar with, according to Givony, who provides a primer on a handful of others who could hear their names called on June 26 or 27, including French wing Pacome Dadiet, Spanish point guard Juan Nunez, and Serbian forward Nikola Djurisic.
  • In an interview with Cyro Asseo de Choch of HoopsHype, Djurisic said he has been told his game is similar to that of seven-time All-Star Joe Johnson and likened himself to a “less athletic, taller Anthony Edwards.”
  • Referring to UConn’s Castle as one of the biggest risers in the pre-draft process, Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports ranks the reigning national champion No. 1 among point guards in this year’s draft class, followed by Topic at No. 2. Kentucky’s Rob Dillingham, Providence’s Devin Carter, and Pitt’s Carlton Carrington round out Peek’s top five point guard prospects.

Northwest Notes: Giddey, Malone, Nuggets’ Draft, Wolves

The Wizards could have interest in Josh Giddey if the Thunder decide to move him this summer, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic suggests on his Game Theory Podcast (hat tip to Rylan Stiles of Inside the Thunder). Vecenie notes that Washington general manager Will Dawkins, a former Oklahoma City executive, was heavily involved in the process when the Thunder drafted Giddey with the sixth pick in 2021.

Vecenie doesn’t place a high price tag on Giddey, theorizing that OKC could get the Wizards’ No. 26 pick and a future second-rounder in return: “That feels like it is about the price point, to be honest with you, for where Giddey is right now and where the playoffs ended with him, this feels like a reasonable offer for Giddey.”

The third-year swingman has been a starter since his rookie season, but he was ineffective in the second-round series against Dallas. Giddey averaged just 12.6 minutes per game and connected at 43.2% from the field and 18.8% from three-point range as the Mavericks dared him to shoot. Giddey will be extension-eligible this summer, but the Thunder may opt to trade him rather than committing to another long-term salary with so much young talent on the roster.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • During an appearance on the Jim Rome show, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said there have been discussions about trading the 28th pick (video link from Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports). Malone responded, “You can never have enough shooting” when asked about team needs, and although he said Denver has the league’s best starting five, he expressed concern about that group being overworked again.
  • Bennett Durando of The Denver Post offers his insight into players the Nuggets are projected to take in various mock drafts if they hold onto their first-round pick. ESPN and Yahoo Sports both have Denver selecting Dayton center DaRon Holmes II, whom Durando describes as a versatile big man capable of protecting the rim and spacing the floor. Other mock drafts give the Nuggets Duke center Kyle Filipowski, Indiana forward Kel’el Ware, Creighton wing Baylor Scheierman and California wing Jaylon Tyson.
  • Michael Rand of the Star Tribune examines the debate over whether the Timberwolves should keep the core of their current roster together or try to shake things up with an offseason trade.