Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson To Miss Rest Of Summer League

No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson will be held out for the remainder of this month’s Las Vegas Summer League after suffering a bruised left knee in Friday’s game, the Pelicans announced today in a press release.

While fans in Vegas will be disappointed not to see any more of Williamson in action this month, it’s no surprise that the Pelicans will be cautious with their new franchise cornerstone. Based on the club’s announcement, it doesn’t sound as if Zion’s knee issue is serious.

“Zion will move forward from this incident without issue,” head of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement. “However, in an abundance of caution, we have made the determination that he will not appear in game action for the remainder of the NBA Summer League. He will continue to take part in training and conditioning with our performance team.”

Williamson played just nine minutes in his professional debut on Friday vs. the Knicks, but looked good in limited action, pouring in 11 points and grabbing three rebounds.

Williamson, Morant Sign Rookie Contracts

The top two picks in the draft, Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, have officially signed their rookie contracts, according to a press release from the Pelicans and a tweet from the Grizzlies’ PR department.

Assuming he receives a max of 120% of the rookie-scale salary for the top pick, Williamson will earn approximately $9.757MM in his first year, according to Jeff Siegel of EarlyBirdRights.com (Twitter link). Morant would receive $8.73MM if he received the max for the second pick.

Williamson’s salary numbers for years 2-4 would be $10.245MM, $10.733MM and $13.535MM. Morant would get $9.167MM, $9.6MM and $12.1MM over those seasons.

Williamson appeared in 33 games for Duke, averaging 22.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.1 SPG and 1.8 BPG. With Anthony Davis‘ impending trade to the Lakers, he’ll immediately be the marquee attraction for the franchise.

Morant averaged 24.5 PPG, 10.0 APG and 5.7 RPG for Murray State. Morant should step right into the starting lineup after veteran point guard Mike Conley was shipped to the Jazz.

Pacific Notes: Henry, Suns, Landry, Buss

Pierria Henry, the most recent EuroCup regular season MVP winner, worked out for the Suns today, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports (Twitter link). Henry has plans to work out for at least two additional teams over the weekend.

The 6’5″ combo guard spent four years at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, becoming the school’s all-time leader in assist and steals. Henry didn’t hear his name called in the 2015 Draft and ended up carving out a career overseas. Henry has had stops in Georgia, Germany, Israel, Turkey, and Russia.

Henry is now a candidate for an NBA roster spot next season. As the West Virginia native attempts to make it in the league, let’s take a look at some notes from the Pacific Division:

  • Coach Monty Williams has finalized his staff, as he announced on the Suns‘ podcastWillie Green, Darko Rajakovic, Mark Bryant, Randy Ayers, Larry Greer, and Steve Blake will all serve as assistant coaches in Phoenix.
  • Landry Shamet has been invited to participate with the Select Team at Team USA’s National camp, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com tweets. The Clippers guard will join Zion Williamson in the younger group come August.
  • Lakers owner Jeanie Buss admits that Magic Johnson’s resignation caught her off-guard, as Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register relays. Buss added that once the executive stepped down, she needed time to “figure out what the process was going to be.” Los Angeles decided that Rob Pelinka leading the front office would be best for the franchise.

Southwest Notes: Murray, Arakji, Jackson Jr, Pelicans

Spurs guard Dejounte Murray is almost fully recovered from his torn ACL and is focused on getting ready for the 2019/20 season, Jabari Young details in a story for The Athletic.

Murray, 22, suffered the injury last preseason, a crushing blow to an organization hoping to feature him at starting point guard alongside the likes of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. He was overcome with emotion upon realizing his regular season ended before it even began.

“I’ve never been hurt before,” Murray said. “I pray to God it doesn’t happen again. It was just tears because I know all the hard work that I put in last (offseason). I put in a lot of work.”

Murray, who was drafted by the Spurs with the No. 29 pick in 2016, was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team during his second season. He’s expected to be a focal point in San Antonio’s offense heading into training camp this fall.

“I can’t wait (until) training camp because I’ll know who is on my team and who is not on my team,” Murray said. “I’m just excited to get to work. I want a championship bad, and I just want the players to want it as bad as me. So, if we all get on the same page and get a championship, then everybody is successful.”

  • The Mavericks have reached a summer league commitment with guard Wael Arakji, a promising young star from Lebanon who recently impressed at a free agent mini-camp with the team, a league source told Hoops Rumors. Arakji, 24, also hired agent Scott Nichols of Rize Management as representation to continue his pursuit of an NBA deal, quickly becoming a fan-favorite overseas and impressing Mavs officials during his workout.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. has become the leader on the Grizzlies, but the team still needs more wing players to be competitive next season, Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian writes. Herrington outlines ten takes on the franchise after the draft, including what’s to come in free agency.
  • Zion Williamson is a match made in heaven for the Pelicans, William Guillory of The Athletic writes. New Orleans drafted Williamson No. 1 overall and plans to add him to a young core that includes Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and others.

And-Ones: Wiseman, Barrett, Dedmon, Barbosa, DeMarco

The latest 2020 mock draft has Memphis freshman center James Wiseman going to the Knicks with the No. 1 pick. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Georgia guard Anthony Edwards going to the Cavaliers at No. 2 and North Carolina guard Cole Anthony heading to the Suns at No. 3.

We have more from around the basketball world:

Western Notes: Dumars, Thompson, Horford, Morris, Zion

The Kings have named former Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars as a special advisor to GM Vlade Divac, according to a team press release. Dumars, who build Detroit’s 2004 championship team, stepped down from his post with the Pistons in April 2014. “Joe and I played together in the league and is a legend in our sport,” Divac said in a press release. “As an experienced and talented basketball executive, I’m excited to have him serve as a special advisor and expert resource for our incredible front office team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Former Sixers forward Hollis Thompson will join the Kings’ summer league team, J.D. Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Thompson hasn’t appeared in an NBA regular-season game since the 2016/17 season, when he played a combined 40 games for Philadelphia and New Orleans.
  • While numerous teams and agents believe Celtics big man Al Horford will receive a four-year, $112MM offer in free agency, it won’t be coming from the Mavericks, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Horford will decline his $30.1MM player option and has broken off negotiations with Boston.
  • Veteran NBA guard Darius Morris will play for the Spurs’ summer league squad, Shaw reports in another tweet. Morris hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2014/15 season. He had stints with the Lakers, Sixers, Clippers, Grizzlies and Nets.
  • The Pelicans’ top executive, David Griffin, is trying his best to keep the pressure off top pick Zion Williamson. He said on Friday to ESPN”s Malika Andrews and other media members that Williamson doesn’t have the burden of “saving this franchise.” Griffin added that Williamson is not yet the face of the franchise. “This is Jrue Holiday‘s team,” Griffin said. “Zion is going to be learning how to win at a really high level. At some point, if there is a time that the baton gets passed in terms of who is expected to carry us to win games, it will. That is not now.”

Pelicans Select Zion Williamson With Top Pick

Zion Williamson‘s ascension as the top prospect in the draft became official when the Pelicans selected him with the No. 1 pick on Thursday night.

Williamson has been regarded as the best player in the draft since early in his lone college season at Duke. He’s the most highly touted prospect to enter the league in several years and with good reason. Williamson often looking like a man against boys with the Blue Devils, averaging 22.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.1 APG, 2.1 SPG and 1.8 BPG in 30.0 MPG over 33 games.

He had a minor setback late in the season when his shoe infamously came apart against arch-rival North Carolina on February 20. He suffered a knee injury but returned to action in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

With the impending trade of franchise player Anthony Davis to the Lakers, Williamson will immediately become the face of the New Orleans franchise. He’ll join a mostly young core that includes Jrue Holiday and three players in the agreed-upon deal with the Lakers, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram.

Under the rookie scale wage, Williamson can earn a max of $9,744,840 in his first year, according to RealGM. The base salary for the top pick is $8.12MM but players can receive up to 120% of the scale salary.

Williamson is the first Blue Devil selected with the top pick since Kyrie Irving in 2011. Prior to that, a Duke player hadn’t been taken with the No. 1 pick since Elton Brand in 1999.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Williamson, Morant, Barrett Will Go 1-2-3

There won’t be any suspense regarding the first few picks on the draft this evening, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Duke freshman sensation Zion Williamson, who emerged early in the college season as the top talent in this year’s draft will be selected No. 1 overall by the Pelicans.

The Grizzlies will select Murray State point guard Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick. Memphis’ interest in Morant became public shortly after the draft lottery. They opened up the starting point guard spot by agreeing to trade their all-time leading scorer, Mike Conley, to the Jazz.

The Knicks have settled on R.J. Barrett, according to Charania. The Duke swingman was regarded as the likely No. 1 pick before his teammate seized that distinction.

With the Pelicans agreeing to deal the No. 4 pick to the Hawks today, the first four selections seem set in stone. Atlanta reportedly moved up to snag Virginia forward De’Andre Hunter. Duke forward Cam Reddish might be in play for the No. 4 pick but the Hawks are leaning toward Hunter, Charania reports in a separate tweet.

Things will get a little cloudier once the Cavaliers, who hold the No. 5 pick, go on the clock.

Pelicans Agree To Trade Anthony Davis To Lakers

The Pelicans have reached an agreement to trade All-Star big man Anthony Davis to the Lakers for guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, forward Brandon Ingram and three first-round picks, including the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

The rest of the Pelicans’ haul includes a 9-30 protected first-rounder in 2021, which becomes unprotected in 2022, and an unprotected first-rounder in 2024.

New Orleans will also have the right to swap unprotected first-rounders in 2o23 and will have the option to defer the 2024 pick until 2025, according to reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN and Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter links).

[UPDATE: Davis trade will become a three-team deal]

The Lakers immediately become championship contenders with Davis joining forces with LeBron James. Davis’ agent Rich Paul, also James’ agent, had tried to steer trade talks toward the Lakers over the winter after Davis’ desire to be traded was made public. But Davis didn’t get his wish at the time.

Paul and Davis recently met with the Pelicans’ new top executive, David Griffin, who tried to convince Davis to rescind his trade request. Davis declined and expressed his desire to play long-term for either the Lakers or Knicks.

GM Rob Pelinka, who has been under fire after criticism from former Lakers president Magic Johnson, pulled off a major coup by winning the Davis sweepstakes over the Knicks and Celtics, among others. Los Angeles gave up plenty in the deal but didn’t have to include another talented big man, Kyle Kuzma.

Davis could sign an extension with the Lakers but still intends to test free agency next summer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The Lakers will have either $27.8MM or $32.5MM in cap room after the deal to pursue a high-level free agent, depending upon timing and Davis’ willingness to waive his $4MM trade bonus, ESPN salary cap expert Bobby Marks tweets.

The trade cannot be officially finalized until after the new league year begins in July. It may be even be completed as late as July 30 — newly-drafted players can be traded immediately without signing a rookie scale contract, but if they sign that contract, they aren’t eligible to be dealt for 30 days. Waiting those 30 days would be advantageous to the Lakers for cap-related reasons, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

The Lakers still don’t have quite enough cap room to max out a free agent like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving or Kemba Walker but they’re close to it, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Naturally, one of those free agents might take a little less to form a superstar trio in Los Angeles or the Lakers could make other moves to clear more cap room. Walker will be the Lakers’ top free agent target, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Boston refused to part with its top young player, forward Jayson Tatum, in trade talks with the Pelicans, Stein add in another tweet. That put the Lakers in the driver’s seat for Davis’ services.

With Ball and Hart joining Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans have greatly enhanced their backcourt. They now have the No. 1 and No. 4 picks in Thursday’s draft. It’s a slam dunk they’ll select Duke forward Zion Williamson with the top pick and theyll get another high-level prospect, unless they have another trade in the works. Williamson and Ingram should be a formidable duo at the forward spots and the Pelicans can now concentrate on bringing in another big man to make all the other pieces work.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Bol, Williamson, Hawks, Knicks, Langford

Oregon center Bol Bol has received the last of 20 invites to the draft’s Green Room, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. Bol Bol is ranked No. 15 overall by Givony. The 7’2” freshman appeared in only nine games with the Ducks due to a foot injury but averaged 21.0 PPG, 9.6 RPG and 2.7 BPG.

We have more draft notes:

  • Projected top pick Zion Williamson has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to terminate an agreement he signed with a Florida marketing company, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Williamson signed a marketing deal, which included a clause that it couldn’t be terminated for five years, with Gina Ford and Prime Sports in April. Williamson’s family told the agency two weeks ago that it was terminating the agreement and the agency responded that it would sue for damages in excess of $100MM, Wojnarowski continues. According to Williamson’s suit, the agreement was unlawful under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act because Prime Sports is not certified by the Players Association or a registered athlete agent in North Carolina or Florida.
  • The Knicks’ workout on Friday included St. John guard Justin Simon and Kansas power forward Dedric Lawson, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. Virginia Tech swingman Ahmed Hill and St. Louis guard Javon Bess also participated in the workout, Zagoria adds.
  • The Pistons, Magic and Hornets are the teams most likely to take first-round prospect and former Indiana swingman Romeo Langford, Dustic Dopirak of The Athletic writes.
  • The Hawks will look at six big men on Saturday according to a team press release. That group includes center Nicolas Claxton (Georgia), Aric Holman (Mississippi State), Mfiondu Kabengele (Florida State) and Naz Reid (LSU) along with Europeans Sekou Doumbouya and Luka Samanic. Langford will also visit with the Hawks on Saturday but will not workout.