Zach Collins

Heat Notes: Leaf, Collins, Reed, Aldridge

The Heat will be looking for size with the 14th pick, especially if Luke Kennard and Donovan Mitchell are both off the board, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. T.J. Leaf, who proved to be an effective outside shooter at UCLA, is a possibility, along with Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, who can also hit from 3-point range. Miami would like to find a stretch four to team with Hassan Whiteside, a traditional low-post center.

If Collins is off the board, Jackson says the Heat will look at Jarrett Allen of Texas and Justin Patton of Creighton. Both are 6’11” and are targeted for the back of the lottery or possibly later. A minor injury prevented Allen from working out for Miami, but he held an interview Sunday and reportedly impressed team officials. Patton did participate in a workout for the Heat on Sunday.

Jackson offers more insight into Miami’s strategy for tonight and beyond:

  • Drafting a backup center would protect the Heat in case Willie Reed leaves in free agency. The front office fears that Reed will get an offer significantly higher than the team is willing to pay.
  • Leaf could be a replacement for either Luke Babbitt or James Johnson, two forwards who are both headed for free agency.
  • Another big man to consider is John Collins of Wake Forest, who impressed the Heat in a workout last week. Miami will also look at Duke’s Harry Giles, but might be scared off by his history of knee problems. Giles canceled a workout in Miami and never rescheduled.
  • If the Heat decide to trade down, they will focus on UCLA center Ike Anigbogu and Kentucky power forward Bam Adebayo.
  • Miami is a possible destination if LaMarcus Aldridge wants out of San Antonio. The Spurs are seeking a top 10 draft pick and would like to cut salary to make a run at Chris Paul. Jackson says Miami could offer a competitive package of the 14th pick, Wayne Ellington, whose $6.27MM contract won’t be guaranteed until July 12th, Justise Winslow and Josh McRoberts.

Knicks Rumors: Porzingis, Carmelo, Z. Collins

Players and agents around the NBA have taken notice of the way the Knicks have treated their star players under Phil Jackson, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. While the appeal of playing in New York has been on the decline somewhat in recent years thanks to the team’s poor performance, this year’s Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis situations have made the club even more toxic.

“There are 30 teams, and you don’t want to write off anybody, because there’s only so many rotation spots around the league,” one agent tells Deveney. “But of course you’d have to be worried about sending a guy to New York with this front office, especially an upper-level guy. Because he might be doing what he can to help and you might have the team president there ripping him in the media like it’s his fault or putting him in trade rumors. … No one wants that. You have to be concerned about that.”

Deveney’s piece was published early in the day on Wednesday, before Phil Jackson confirmed publicly in an interview on MSG that he’s listening to inquiries on Porzingis.

Here’s more out of New York:

  • According to Frank Isola of The New York Daily News, multiple people familiar with the Knicks’ thinking believe that the Porzingis drama is a result of members of the front office scrambling to save face and protect their jobs.The front office is in full survivor mode,” a team source tells Isola. “The place is a mess, so now they want to make it seem like the kid is the problem. Suddenly he’s uncoachable. He won’t listen. They’re trying to put it all on him.”
  • For his part, Porzingis has his own thoughts and opinions on the Knicks and the triangle, as Marc Berman of The New York Post details. Wednesday’s other Porzingis rumors can be found right here.
  • Jackson’s MSG interview also included a segment on Carmelo Anthony, with the Knicks president suggesting that he still thinks Anthony would be better off elsewhere, though he acknowledged that Carmelo may prefer to stay in New York. As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News writes, Jackson hasn’t given up hope on a trade, but Anthony does have a no-trade clause that he can use if he wants to.
  • The Knicks had dinner with Gonzaga big man Zach Collins on Tuesday night, league sources tell Ian Begley of ESPN.com. Collins is viewed as a potential top-10 pick, though it would be a surprise if he lands with New York, considering the team’s apparent preference for a guard or wing. Jackson indicated today, in fact, that there’s a “good chance” the Knicks will use their No. 8 pick on a guard (Twitter link via Tommy Beer of Basketball Insiders).

Draft Notes: Jackson, Ball, Ntilikina, Smith

Kansas forward Josh Jackson wanted to work out for the Celtics after they traded for the No. 3 pick, but couldn’t work out the scheduling, tweets Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. The Celtics are reportedly deciding between Jackson and Duke forward Jayson Tatum if they decide to keep the pick, and Tatum held a workout in Boston on Monday.

Jackson added that he has spoken to Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown and believes they would form a good combination (Twitter link). The former Jayhawk also disputed a rumor that he refused to work out for the team unless he was promised Boston wouldn’t trade its pick (Twitter link).

There’s more as the top prospects met with the media today in New York:

  • Lonzo Ball confirmed to reporters his only pre-draft meeting was with the Lakers, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. Ball also believes L.A. traded D’Angelo Russell to open up a spot for him and he can see that “the Lakers have a plan.” He adds that the Lakers haven’t promised to take him, relays Adam Zagoria of Fanrag Sports (Twitter link), saying, “We’ll just find out tomorrow night.” Ball also explained why he turned down a session with the Celtics when they had the top pick, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. “If it’s either play for the hometown or go No. 1, I’d rather play for the hometown,” Ball said.
  • Frank Ntilikina met with the Knicks front office today, including team president Phil Jackson, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The French point guard, who is reportedly in strong consideration with New York’s No. 8 pick, said the team wanted to meet him in person.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. also met with Jackson and the Knicks front office, Begley relays (Twitter link). The North Carolina State point guard believes he can be effective in the triangle offense.
  • Indiana’s OG Anunoby said doctors have assured him that he can resume basketball activities by October or early November, according to Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Anunoby had surgery on his right knee after a season-ending injury in January.
  • Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen was a Timberwolves fan growing up, and Minnesota was among the four teams he worked out for, Fischer tweets. The others were the Mavericks, Celtics and Magic, and he had a meeting with the Knicks.
  • Gonzaga’s Zach Collins had private workouts with the Magic, Wolves, Kings, Mavericks and Suns, and a group session with the Lakers, Fischer relays (Twitter link).
  • Duke’s Luke Kennard held individual workouts for the Lakers, Pistons, Knicks and Mavericks (Twitter link).
  • The Nets and Bulls were among the teams to work out international big man Isaiah Hartenstein leading up to the draft, tweets David Pick.

Draft Notes: Mitchell, Jackson, Tatum, Ferguson

Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell will hold a last-minute workout for the Knicks today, posts Ian Begley on ESPN Now. The sophomore out of Louisville, whose session was originally scheduled for Tuesday, is being considered with the No 8 pick, Begley adds, along with French point guard Frank Ntilikina, Kentucky guard Malik Monk, Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen and others. Team president Phil Jackson is intrigued by Mitchell’s defensive prowess and athleticism and likes the fact that he prefers to work out in a group setting to showcase his defense. Joining Mitchell today will be Villanova’s Josh Hart, Miami’s Davon Reed, Iowa State’s Naz Long and others.

There’s more draft news on the eve of the big event:

  • The Celtics have received Josh Jackson‘s medical records, but the Kansas forward still refuses to work out for the team, tweets Chad Ford of ESPN.com. Boston appears to be leaning toward Duke’s Jayson Tatum with the No. 3 pick, Ford states, but no decision has been made.
  • Ford still has Jackson as the third selection in his latest mock draft, which was released today. Markelle Fultz remains No. 1, followed by Lonzo Ball, with the rest of the top 10 as Tatum, Jonathan Isaac, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Monk, Zach Collins and Markkanen.
  • Terrance Ferguson recently pulled out of workouts with the Pistons, Hawks and Bucks, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. It’s possible that Ferguson received a draft promise from the Nuggets or Nets or he may have been responding to poor workouts (Twitter link).
  • A 7-footer with a soft shooting touch, Markkanen is drawing comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, writes Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. Some scouts believe the 20-year-old Finnish star is the best 3-point shooter in the draft. “It’s probably not fair to him to have some young guy compared to a Hall of Fame player and champion,” Markkanen said of Nowitzki. “We have similarities because of the height, being from Europe and shooting. But I have a long way to go before I’m in the same category as him. Hopefully, I can get there one day.”
  • The Wizards will work out six players today, the team announced on its website. They are French center Alpha Kaba, Cincinnati’s Troy Caupain Jr., VCU’s JeQuan Lewis, Eastern Michigan’s Jalen Ross, Niagara’s Tahjere McCall and East Tennessee State’s Hanner Mosquera-Perea.

Lakers Rumors: Ball, Russell, Randle, LeBron

ESPN’s Chad Ford reported earlier today that sources believe the Lakers moved “closer and closer” over the weekend to making Lonzo Ball their pick at No. 2, Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report shares a similar sentiment in his latest column. According to Ding, the Lakers are “nearing a final decision” to use the second overall pick on Ball.

Team sources tell Ding that there are still some additional discussions and final planning that will take place before the Lakers are on the clock on Thursday, but Ball’s second pre-draft meeting with the club on Friday was a productive one. An “appreciation for Ball’s all-around upside” has emerged within the Lakers in recent weeks, according to Ding.

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

  • There are ongoing questions within the Lakers’ organization about how D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle take criticism, team sources tell Ding within the article linked above. Neither player advanced as far in 2016/17 as Luke Walton had hoped, according to Ding, who says Russell was “inconsistent with his professionalism” while Randle “often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly.”
  • Trading Jordan Clarkson for a current or future draft pick would make “a ton of sense” for the Lakers, given their desire to continue stockpiling assets and maintaining cap flexibility, says Ding. Clarkson is rumored to be on the trade block.
  • Ding also touches on the LeBron James rumors that have surfaced within the last week or two, citing sources who say that James’ wife would like to live in Los Angeles full-time. Multiple recent reports have suggested that LeBron opting out and joining one of the L.A. teams in 2018 is a possibility.
  • League sources tell Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link) that the Lakers have expressed no interest in trading the No. 2 overall pick at this juncture. We heard last week that L.A. was “taking and making calls” related to that selection, but it seems those calls may not be happening anymore.
  • Mark Medina of The Orange County Reigster spoke to former Gonzaga big man Zach Collins following his Monday workout with the Lakers, suggesting that Collins will likely only be on L.A.’s radar if the team makes a trade. We heard this morning that the Lakers may be trying to acquire a second lottery pick.

Lakers Notes: George, Ball, Russell, Workout

The Lakers will have to unload some salary before next summer to offer Paul George a maximum contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical. George has informed the Pacers that he plans to opt out after next season and hopes to sign with L.A. The franchise would need roughly $30.6MM in cap room to fit in a full max deal for 2018/19, and right now there’s only about $15.6MM available (Twitter link). That number assumes they make both of their first-round picks this year and renounce all their free agents this summer and next summer except for Julius Randle.

To create more space, the Lakers would have to either renounce Randle, a valuable young talent, or trade one of their big-money contracts in Luol Deng ($18MM for 2018/19) Timofey Mozgov ($16MM) or Jordan Clarkson ($12.5MM), according to Marks (Twitter link). Another option is to use the stretch provision, which would amount to paying Deng $7.2MM and Mozgov $6.4MM over the next five years (Twitter link)

There’s more today out of Los Angeles:

  • The news about George makes the Lakers more likely to draft Lonzo Ball, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The team is reportedly deciding between Ball and Kansas forward Josh Jackson, but the expected addition of George reduces the need for Jackson.
  • Immaturity remains a concern with incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell, according to Mark Heisler of The Los Angeles Daily News. Russell, who might be moved to shooting guard if Ball is selected, doesn’t have point guard instincts after switching to the position during his single season at Ohio State. Heisler also shares concerns that Russell is partying too much and that coach Luke Walton has grown tired of the “post-adolescent” nature of the team.
  • Johnny Buss tells Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that he lost his passion for owning the Lakers when his father Jerry died in 2013. Johnny Buss resigned as members of the board of directors during the season after a failed attempt to take over control of the team. “If anybody thought that Johnny or Jeanie or Jimmy or any of his kids could fill his shoes, they’re grandly mistaken,” Buss said. “He’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of person. So all we could do was try to stay together and do what he asked us to do and that was to make as much money as possible. Create a franchise that was worth billions.”
  • The Lakers will bring in six players Monday for a pre-draft workout, the team announced via Twitter. They are Gonzaga’s Zach Collins, Clemson’s Avry Holmes, Creighton’s Cole Huff, Cal-Irvine’s Luke Nelson, Columbia’s Luke Petrasek and Alabama-Huntsville’s Seab Webster.

Mavs Notes: Noel, Draft, Harris

Having performed admirably during his half season with the Mavs and said all the right things to the media, Nerlens Noel is an excellent option to man the paint in Dallas for years to come. Unfortunately, as Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News explains, the restricted free agent will likely field significant offers from other teams this summer for those very same reasons.

In the last edition of his SportsDay series ranking notable available players, Sefko rounds up the five most appealing free agent options at the center position (he recently wrote about the top five power forwards and the top five small forwards). Noel, not surprisingly, is ranked No. 1 by Sefko, although Dewayne Dedmon, Greg Monroe, Nene Hilario and Tiago Splitter round out the list. The scribe adds that the athletic big man would work well in this era and could contribute to what the Mavericks are trying to accomplish.

In April, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News wrote about Noel’s time with the franchise since the trade deadline day deal that sent him from Philadelphia south. In it, Townsend quotes Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle saying that the available center has “got to get signed”.

I’ve been impressed with him,” Carlisle added in the Townsend piece. “He’s a very likable guy. Guys in the locker room took to him. He’s an exciting young talent, and I do think he can expand his game.

There’s more from the Mavs:

  • Count veteran point guard Devin Harris among those who admire how the Warriors built their dynasty. Harris recently told the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko that the Mavs should look to draft wisely and hone their talent. Harris adds that building through free agency should be a secondary option considering that there is so much competition with other franchises.
  • The Mavs have been busy working out possible draftees, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News tweets. On Thursday the team saw Zach Collins (projected to go No. 10 by NBADraft.net) and Lauri Markkanen (No. 11). Dallas holds the No. 9 pick in the June 22 NBA Draft.
  • Hoops fans may have to wait a while for the next great NBA team to come and unseat the Warriors and there’s no reason to believe that, when it happens, it will be any less of a surprise than when Golden State rose to prominence by drafting Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green in consecutive drafts. Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News writes that it may not be the Mavs who take the throne in 2020 but, then again, it could be anybody.

Pacific Notes: Griffin, Divac, Suns Pre-Draft Workouts

The Clippers could be a drastically different team next season as Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and J.J. Redick could leave for greener pastures this offseason. While Paul is a long shot to depart, Griffin and Redick are far from guaranteed to stay in Los Angeles. James Blancarte of Basketball Insiders examines Griffin’s options as he considers potential suitors.

The Celtics are an intriguing possibility as they have the No.1 pick in the NBA Draft, a budding superstar in Isaiah Thomas, and a young core of talented assets. Griffin, 28, can think long-term with a younger team in Boston and if Thomas departs after next season, he could become the primary option in Beantown.

Additionally, the Heat are a possibility as the team’s history luring LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Miami shows a commitment to winning. While the Heat lack Boston’s young assets, Blancarte explains that playing under Erik Spoelstra — who is known to bring out the best in his players — and being the definitive centerpiece in South Beach is an appealing proposition.

Here are additional links around the Pacific Division:

Draft Notes: Smith Jr., Collins, Leaf, Sixers

The Lakers have a short list of players they’re said to be targeting with the No. 2 pick in this year’s NBA Draft but they opted to bring North Carolina State guard Dennis Smith Jr. for a workout just in case they trade down, Mark Medina of the Orange County Register writes.

Smith Jr., a possible top-10 pick, participated in a group workout this weekend with a series of other draft hopefuls, including Syracuse’s Tyler Lydon. The guard impressed in the audition, his talent a cut above the rest.

Smith Jr. was sure to do his homework prior to his day with the Lakers and thinks that he can fill a void.

I checked one of the stats and they’re bottom 10 in almost everything relative to pick-and-roll scoring,” he said. “I think I can contribute to that.

There are more draft notes from around the league:

  • While he may not be around when the Jazz pick 24th in this month’s draft, TJ Leaf believes he would be a good fit with the franchise, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News writes. “Obviously draft number’s a big deal as well, but if I drop a couple of places and go to a team with a perfect fit, that’s who we want,” Leaf said after a recent workout in Utah. “We see a team like this — great coach, great system — and I think I’d fit well here, so that’s why I scheduled this one.
  • After an unexpectedly dominant first season at Gonzaga, Zach Collins is a potential one-and-done lottery pick. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee recently profiled the sharp-shooting big man, offering him up as a legitimate option for when the Kings pick at No. 10.
  • The Sixers will bring in Kyle Kuzma of Utah and Clemson’s Jaron Blossomgame for workouts tomorrow, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Kuzma is projected as a late first-round pick by NBADraft.net, while Blossomgame is expected to drop into the second round. Billy Garrett (DePaul), Jalen Moore (Utah State), V.J. Beachem (Notre Dame), and Dominique Hawkins (Kentucky) will also audition for Philadelphia.

Draft Notes: Tatum, Kennard, Jefferson, Allen

Duke’s Jayson Tatum worked out today in Los Angeles for the Suns, who will give him strong consideration with their No. 4 pick, writes Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic. The 6’8″ forward may be the most offensively talented player in the draft, but he has shortcomings on defense, which is the prime concern in Phoenix. Still, he is ranked fourth or fifth in most mock drafts and could easily wind up in a Suns uniform.

There’s more news from a busy day of draft workouts:

  • Duke’s Luke Kennard wants teams to think of him as more than just a shooter. In a video posted on The Detroit News website, Kennard tells reporters he can handle the ball and has the physical strength to play in the NBA. He worked out for the Pistons today and has upcoming sessions with the Magic, Knicks, Mavericks and Hornets.
  • Duke teammate Amile Jefferson is going through a workout marathon, relays Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Jefferson, who was part of a six-player session with the Hornets today, hopes to work out for about half the league’s 30 teams before draft day. “I love every minute of it,” Jefferson said. “This is the only chance you get to do something like this. From state to state, really introduce yourself and show off your talents to 15 or more teams in the NBA. I’m cherishing all these places. I’m really thankful for this opportunity.” He has also held workouts for the Timberwolves, Jazz, Knicks, Rockets and Nuggets, with six more on his schedule.
  • Texas center Jarrett Allen, who worked out for the Kings today, is trying to develop a more consistent outside shot, relays Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Allen watched Game 4 of the NBA Finals with team officials Friday night and said he enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere. “I like how they understand it’s a really busy time,” Allen said, “so they’re just trying to get into a relaxed situation; it helps us out a lot more than people think.” Sacramento also held a six-player workout today with Joe Rahon of Saint Mary’s, Milton Doyle of Loyola, Matt Williams of Central Florida, Semi Ojeleye  of SMU, RaShawn Thomas of Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Eric Mika of BYU. Zach Collins of Gonzaga is scheduled for a session on Sunday.
  • Terrance Ferguson, who committed to Alabama and Arizona before playing last season in Australia, was among the players who worked out for the Trail Blazers today, relays Mike Richman of The Oregonian. He is considered to be a first-round talent who can contribute as a “3 and D” wing player. “Every NBA teams needs shooting,” he said. “…Shooting and a coachable player and defense. I think I can bring that to the table.” Ferguson has also worked out for the Lakers, Pacers, Bulls and Nuggets and has visits remaining with the Hornets, Heat, Pistons, Nets and Bucks.
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