Wizards Notes: White, Little, Sanon, Draft

The Wizards‘ workout with Coby White and Nassir Little drew a larger than normal crowd with Ted Leonsis and star Bradley Beal among the observers. Little said that more team representatives were present for his workout in Washington than in any other team workout he participated in.

“The building is pretty full right now,” Little told Hoops Rumors and the other media in attendance. “It shows how interested they are in me and Coby, so that’s been pretty great.”

While the large turnout may lead to speculation, there’s still no sense of what direction the Wizards will go in with the No. 9 overall pick. Interim GM Tommy Shepard is running the show for Washington and the front office will use the next couple days to further evaluate the pool of talented prospects.

Team officials had dinner with White on Sunday night and Washington clearly has interest in the North Carolina native, however, White may not be available by the time the Wizards are on the clock. Despite the projections, White doesn’t see the workout as a waste of time.

“I’m blessed to be here,” White said. “I love it. My sister lives not too far. It’s a great town. Blessed to be here and blessed that they gave me the opportunity to come in and work out for them.”

Here’s more from Washington:

  • Issuf Sanon, the team’s 2018 second-round draft-and-stash prospect, participated in drills during the workout with the North Carolina duo. No word yet on whether the Wizards will bring the 19-year-old guard over from the Slovenian League, though I’d speculate that the team keeps him abroad for at least one more season.
  • The workout with White and Little will be the Wizards‘ final session before the draft barring any last-second scheduling.
  • Little made his pitch to be selected with the No. 9 overall pick. “Their roster is pretty short on wings. They have Bradley Beal and Troy Brown but in regards to the 3-spot, I think they have a real need right there and I think I can fill that with my ability to play defense and score,” Little told Hoops Rumors and other media in attendance.
  • The Wizards were the final workout for White. Little also has no more workouts scheduled, something that may return a sense of normalcy to the prospect’s life. “Throughout this process, you’re in a different city every other night. You don’t really have a home,” Little said. “…going to the draft, you have a sense of security… like you belong somewhere, so it’s really a relief.”

Pelicans Pick Up Alvin Gentry’s Team Option For 2020/21 Season

The Pelicans have picked up the team option for coach Alvin Gentry’s 2020/21 season, sources tell Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). New VP of basketball operations David Griffin has a strong relationship with Gentry dating back to their days working together with the Suns.

Gentry was essential in holding the Pelicans’ locker room together after Anthony Davis‘ trade request last season and he masterfully handled the media, preventing the situation in New Orleans from spiraling out of control. Many around the league believe his fast-paced system is a great fit for presumed No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.

Gentry joined New Orleans after the 2014/15 season where he won a title as an assistant with the Warriors. Over his four seasons with the Pelicans, he’s compiled a record of  145-183.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Draft, Anunoby

The Sixers want to select someone in the mold of Landry Shamet with the No. 24 overall pick.

“[Shamet has] always been an overcomer and mature and very very self-aware,” senior director of scouting Vince Rozman said (via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer). “…I think those are the guys that tend to make it in that range, because they know their role and they know what’s going to be asked of them.”

Pompey suggests that Cameron Johnson fits the profile and speculates that the UNC product may slip in the draft because of his age. Johnson turned 23 in March.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Bucks Shopping Snell, Ilyasova For Cap Room

The Bucks are looking to move either guard Tony Snell or forward Ersan Ilyasova in a trade this week with draft compensation as the sweetener to the deal, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Milwaukee had the league’s best record but its roster is in a state of flux. The Bucks’ second-best player, swingman Khris Middleton, will become an unrestricted free agent when he opts out this month. Starting center Brook Lopez will also be unrestricted and guard Malcolm Brogdon will be a restricted free agent. The Bucks are also expected to make guard George Hill an unrestricted free agency, rather than guaranteeing his $18MM salary before the end of the month.

Snell has an $11.4MM salary next season and a player option for $12.2MM in 2020/21. Ilyasova’s contract might be easier to move. He’ll make $7MM next season but his $7MM salary for 2020/21 is not guaranteed.

There are also limitations to which draft picks the Bucks can offer, since they already are obligated to move several of them. They owe a protected first-rounder to the Suns next year and a protected first-rounder to the Cavaliers in 2022. They’ve also traded second-round picks to the Pelicans (2020) and Pacers (2021).

Snell, 27, appeared in 74 regular-season games this season, including 12 starts, but was a non-factor in the postseason due to an ankle injury. He’s a career 38.2% 3-point shooter.

Ilyasova, 32, has played for six organizations since the 201516 season. He’s a 36.5% career 3-point shooter and also led the league this past season in charges drawn.

Latest From Charania: Davis, Beal, Irving, Conley, Suns

The Knicks discussed a trade package for Anthony Davis that included Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith, Thursday’s No. 3 overall pick and other draft compensation but they never fully offered forward Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. The Pelicans weren’t particularly high on either Knox or Robinson anyway but the Knicks were reluctant to jeopardize their future flexibility because they weren’t convinced Davis would re-sign with them.

Contrary to other reports, the Celtics were open to discussing Jayson Tatum and the future first-rounder owed by the Grizzlies in a trade package for Davis but didn’t want to part with both of those assets, Charania continues. Boston’s unwillingness to give up multiple major assets tipped the scale in the Lakers’ favor. The Nets also made a bid, Charania adds, but the Pelicans weren’t enamored with their available assets, especially since the Nets couldn’t include restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell.

Here are more highlights from Charania:

  • The Rockets were willing to get involved in three-team scenarios in Davis trade talks with Clint Capela being dangled.
  • The Pelicans are monitoring the Wizards’ interest in trading All-Star guard Bradley Beal.
  • The Celtics and impending free agent Kyrie Irving will meet soon, possibly before the draft, to discuss his future with the organization.
  • The Grizzlies have ramped up trade talks involving point guard Mike Conley. The Jazz are the leading contenders for Conley’s services.
  • The Suns have discussed moving the No. 6 pick, as well as forwards T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson, in separate trade packages.

Nets Won’t Make Qualifying Offer To Hollis-Jefferson

The Nets will not make a qualifying offer to forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who will become an unrestricted free agent, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. By letting Hollis-Jefferson walk, the Nets will have approximately $46MM in cap space this summer, Wojnarowski adds.

Brooklyn would have needed to extend a $3,594,369 qualifying offer to Hollis-Jefferson to make him a restricted free agent. The Nets are looking to open up as much as cap space as possible to bring in two high-level free agents.

A 2015 first-round selection, Hollis-Jefferson has spent all four of his seasons with Brooklyn. He averaged 8.9 PPG and 5.3 RPG in 20.9 MPG last season after posting career bests of 13.9 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 28.3 MPG during the 2017/18 campaign. Adductor and groin injuries limited him to 59 games this past season.

In 234 career games, he’s averaged 9.9 PPG and 5.9 RPG.

The 24-year-old Hollis-Jefferson is well-regarded for his defensive versatility and should attract interest from multiple teams on the open market.

Rockets Plan To Keep Spending, Add Another Top Player

The Rockets are planning to keep their starting five intact and “add a third star or a top mid-level player to our core,” GM Daryl Morey said in an ESPN Radio interview on Monday.

Reports surfaced late last month after the Rockets were eliminated by the Warriors during the conference semifinals that Morey had made available everyone on his roster with the possible exception of James Harden. Morey declared on the Golic & Wingo show that he plans to keep the core group of Harden, Chris Paul, Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon intact while adding another impact player to the mix.

Morey says he’s been given the green light from owner Tilman Fertitta to upgrade the roster, despite major luxury tax issues. The salaries next season for the above five players alone add up to approximately $115MM.

He also believes that with significant injuries to Warriors’ stars Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and despite the pending trade of Anthony Davis to the Lakers, the Rockets should be considered the Western Conference’s premier team.

“We feel like we should be the favorite in the West, and we’re going to do moves to show people that we should be the favorite in the West, and that’s going to create a little tension when we do that,” Morey said. “But at the end of the day, we’re going to have at least our starting five back, which again most teams are scrambling to keep it together and we’re going to spend mid-level, we’re going to spend into the tax. We’re going to be one of the most expensive rosters, like we were last year and this year, and we’re going to be right there.”

Morey also addressed a few other issues:

  • He downplayed any disconnect between his superstar guards. An in-depth story from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon detailed the turmoil within the organization, including the tension between their two best players due to the differences in their preferred playing styles and personalities. “Two competitive superstars at that level, there’s going to be times when they are extremely competitive, extremely focused on how do we get to that next level, and when we don’t there’s going to be frustration,” Morey said.
  • He expressed optimism that the organization will reach a contract extension agreement with coach Mike D’Antoni, who is entering the final year of his deal. D’Antoni’s agent indicated a week ago that there was a lack of progress. “He’s going to be our coach next year. We’re hoping to work things out for the future right now; if we don’t, we’re going to work it out after next season,” Morey said.
  • He insisted that Paul had not asked for a trade, though his contract would be tough to move anyway. Paul has three years and approximately $124MM remaining on his deal, which includes a player option in the final season.

Cavaliers Notes: Garland, Sexton, Culver, Smith

Kings Not Expected To Chase Nikola Vucevic

The Kings are hoping for an upgrade at center, but they won’t pursue Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic when free agency starts June 30, according to James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area.

Vucevic is in line for a huge raise after posting his best NBA season and his first All-Star appearance. The 28-year-old averaged 20.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.1 blocks in 80 games this year. Despite reports that Sacramento might be one of his free agent suitors, Ham states that he doesn’t fit the up-tempo approach that the Kings prefer.

That’s also true of fellow free agent big man Jonas Valanciunas, who opted out of his deal with the Grizzlies last week. He’ll be seeking a significant raise over the $17.6MM salary he bypassed.

Ham suggests the Kings might opt for a short-term solution, seeking a one- or two-year contract with the Knicks’ DeAndre Jordan or the Hawks’ Dewayne Dedmon. Jordan will turn 31 this summer and Dedmon is almost 30, so neither is viewed as a long-range option.

Sacramento also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of keeping Willie Cauley-Stein, as Ham notes the team is expected to make him a restricted free agent by issuing a qualifying offer before June 30. GM Vlade Divac said the front office still sees potential in the former No. 6 pick, but has been frustrated by his up-and-down performance.

“We would like to keep Willie in terms of his talent potential,” Divac said, “but he still needs to show us the consistency that we are looking for. We are talking.” 

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Horford, Rozier, Draft

The Celtics might have been willing to include Jayson Tatum in a trade for Anthony Davis, but they never would have matched the offer that the Lakers made for the Pelicans’ star, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Acquiring Davis was less risky for L.A. because of the likelihood he will re-sign there when he opts out of his current contract.

Boston was among the teams trying to work out a deal for Davis, but the offers never matched what was speculated when it seemed there was a chance to pair him with Kyrie Irving, Bulpett adds. With Irving believed to be headed for Brooklyn, the Celtics were wary about mortgaging their future when Davis had the option to leave after one season.

There’s more this morning from Boston:

  • The Celtics are trying to work out a longer-term deal with Al Horford, who must decide by tomorrow whether to opt into a $30.1MM salary for next season, Bulpett reports in the same story. The team is offering to add two years to Horford’s current deal if he agrees to accept a lower salary for 2019/20. Horford, who turned 33 this month, is one of the few veteran leaders on what’s shaping up to be a very young team next year. He is coming off another productive season, posting a 13.6/6.7/4.2 line in 68 games.
  • Restricted free agent Terry Rozier won’t have nearly the value on the open market that he would have last year, notes Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. A rival executive told Mannix that Rozier could have commanded $18MM to $20MM annually if he had reached free agency after leading the Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals in 2018. Interest has fallen after Rozier experienced an uneven season while trying to adjust to a backup role again. The Celtics will have added incentive to keep him with Irving expected to leave. “I’m a big fan of Terry’s,” president of basketball operations Danny Ainge  said recently. “I think that if Terry was in the right circumstance and the right role, I think he would love playing in Boston, in my opinion. And if not, then I think Terry would let me know that. But Terry and I have a very good relationship, as Terry does with (coach) Brad (Stevens) as well.”
  • The failure to land Davis makes it more likely that the Celtics will hold onto all three of their first-round selections, states Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link). Boston has picks at No. 14, 20 and 22.