Givony says the Magic continue to cast a wide net as they evaluate their options at No. 1, but rival executives “overwhelmingly” expect them to ultimately land on Smith. The Rockets, meanwhile, watched Banchero work out in Memphis and then brought him to Houston for an individual workout, according to Givony, who writes that the team seems “high on (his) talent, skill, and fit.”
While Givony’s newest mock doesn’t include a shake-up in the top three, there are some changes elsewhere in the lottery and further down in the first round. ESPN’s draft guru also shares a handful of draft-related tidbits. Here are some of the highlights:
- According to Givony, Keegan Murray‘s chances of being the No. 4 pick may be gaining momentum, since Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and incoming head coach Mike Brown reportedly like him and Sacramento isn’t Jaden Ivey‘s preferred landing spot. However, Givony notes that the Kings have been willing in past years to draft players they haven’t worked out — plus, the pick is considered to be available via trade if there’s a team that wants to move up to snag Ivey.
- Although Shaedon Sharpe is viewed as a legitimate candidate to be selected at No. 5 by the Pistons, he didn’t separate himself in a recent 3-on-3 workout that also included Bennedict Mathurin and Dyson Daniels, Givony writes. ESPN’s new mock has Mathurin and Daniels going sixth and seventh overall, ahead of Sharpe at No. 8.
- The Wizards‘ lottery pick (No. 10) is widely thought to be available in a deal that would send a “proven backcourt player” to D.C., per Givony.
- The Thunder are reportedly looking to trade up from No. 12 to acquire another pick in the top half of the lottery, according to Givony, who says Ivey and Sharpe may be among Oklahoma City’s targets.
- Rival teams don’t believe the Hornets will keep both the 13th and 15th overall picks. Givony has also heard from rival clubs that the Bulls don’t love their options at No. 18 and are open to trading that pick, possibly in a package with guard Coby White.
Alabama guard Keon Ellis worked out for the Heat on Monday, according to Jake Weingarten of StockRisers.com (Twitter link). It was previously reported that Ellis is working out for Florida’s other pro club, the Magic, today.
The 6’6″ shooting guard played his first two seasons of college ball at Florida SouthWestern, from 2018–20, before transferring to Alabama. During his second season with the Crimson Tide in 2021/22, Ellis was named to the SEC All-Defensive Team. In 33 games, he averaged 12.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.9 SPG and 1.8 APG with a shooting line of .439/.366/.881.
Ellis is ranked as the No. 66 prospect on ESPN’s big board. The Heat only possess the No. 27 pick this year. Miami lost its 2022 second-round draft pick for a free agency tampering violation. Of course, it’s worth noting that the Heat have had plenty of luck in recent years when it comes to developing undrafted free agent rookies, should Ellis become available that way.
There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- Magic center Mohamed Bamba is a restricted free agent this summer and could be the odd man out in the frontcourt. Orlando is set to add another big man prospect with the top pick in the 2022 draft this summer to complement forward Franz Wagner and big man Wendell Carter Jr., who was extended last summer. With that in mind, Ethan Fuller of Basketball News considers potential landing spots for Bamba. During a breakout fourth NBA season, the 24-year-old showed off his abilities as a high-level finisher and elite rim protector. Fuller considers clubs like the Nets, Heat and Mavericks as possible destinations. Should Bamba remain in Orlando, Fuller projects him to move to the bench to accommodate whichever player the Magic decide to draft.
- Hornets ownership agreed to extend its lease for the team’s Charlotte home arena, Spectrum Center, through 2045, according to a team press release. “Hornets Sports & Entertainment truly values the public-private partnership that we share with the City of Charlotte, including our agreement to manage Spectrum Center, which is a city-owned building,” the statement read in part. “We look forward to continuing to serve as stewards of Spectrum Center to make it the premier destination for sports and entertainment in the Carolinas.”
- The Hawks are looking at five prospects tomorrow, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Atlanta will work out Houston big man Josh Carlton, Providence forward Justin Minaya, St. John’s wing Julian Champagnie, VCU forward Vince Williams Jr., and Fresno State forward Orlando Robinson. The Hawks have the No. 16 and No. 44 picks in the 2022 draft at their disposal.
The Pacers are pursuing trade talks involving Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Indiana is exploring what it can get in return for both veteran players as it focuses on becoming younger and rebuilding the roster around Tyrese Haliburton.
Turner was available before the February deadline, but the Pacers couldn’t work out a deal and the 26-year-old center’s season was ultimately cut short by a stress reaction in his left foot. Sources tell Fischer that the team is again considering trading Turner, who has a $17.5MM expiring contract for next season and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023. Fischer states that the Hornets have interest in Turner and have let it be known that they’re willing to part with the 15th pick in next week’s draft. Fischer cites the Raptors and Knicks as other teams to watch.
New York also has interest in Brogdon, Fischer adds. The Knicks would like to trade up and draft Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, but league executives are skeptical of that happening, according to Fischer. He states that if Knicks executives decide they’re not likely to sign Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, they could view Brogdon as the best alternative.
The Pacers, who own the No. 6 pick in the draft, would like to acquire an extra first-round selection, Fischer adds. They’re willing to offer the 31st pick and the Cavaliers’ first-rounder in 2023.
There’s more from Fischer:
- After picking up the No. 30 pick in a reported trade with the Thunder, the Nuggets are expected to focus on finding a backup point guard, possibly Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard. Denver has already talked to several teams about trading Monte Morris, Fischer adds. He also notes that rival executives believed Oklahoma City might have included Vasilije Micic in the Denver deal. The 28-year-old, who was named EuroLeague MVP this season, has received interest from a number of playoff teams, including the Bucks and Bulls, according to Fischer.
- Two other teams looking to move their first-round picks are the Mavericks at No. 26 and the Warriors at No. 28. Dallas and Golden State prefer to avoid adding another guaranteed salary to already-expensive rosters and would be looking for future draft assets in return. Fischer believes both teams may target draft-and-stash players if they can’t work out trades.
- The Lakers, who currently don’t have any picks in the draft, are hoping to trade into the second round. Sources tell Fischer that the Hawks‘ selection at No. 44 and the Pistons‘ pick at No. 46 are believed to be available.
The Wizards have six draft prospects visiting on Tuesday, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. They’ll evaluate Jules Bernard (UCLA), Theo John (Duke), Davion Mintz (Kentucky), Alex O’Connell (Creighton), Nate Roberts (Washington) and Au’Diese Toney (Arkansas).
We have more draft-related news involving Southeast Division clubs:
- Alabama shooting guard Keon Ellis is working out for the Magic on Tuesday, according to Locked On Sports (Twitter link). He’s ranked No. 66 on ESPN’s Best Available list.
- The Hawks are looking at four players on Tuesday, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets. That group includes Alex Barcello (BYU), Marcus Bingham Jr. (Michigan State), JD Notae (Arkansas) and Dereon Seabron (NC State). The latter may be the most interesting name in that quartet, as he’s rated No. 55 on ESPN’s list.
- Barcello visited the Hornets on Monday, the team’s PR department tweets. The other prospects who joined him included Ron Artest III (KW Titans/Canada), Buddy Boeheim (Syracuse), Malcolm Cazalon (Mega Mozzart/Serbia), Christian Koloko (Arizona) and Kur Kuath (Marquette).
Hornets forward/center Montrezl Harrell was scheduled to be arraigned Monday on felony drug charges stemming from a traffic stop in Richmond, Ky., last month, according to Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer.
Harrell will be an unrestricted free agent next month.
Harrell, 28, was initially pulled over by a Kentucky state trooper on May 12 while driving on I-75 because the trooper said Harrell was following the vehicle in front of him too closely, according to the police report.
The trooper observed an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and Harrell “admitted to being in possession of marijuana and produced a small amount from his sweatpants,” according to the report.
A search of the vehicle, which Harrell claimed was rented, found three pounds of marijuana in vacuum sealed bags. He has been charged with trafficking less than five pounds of marijuana.
Under Kentucky law, possessing or trafficking eight or more ounces but less than five pounds of marijuana is a Class D Felony for first-time offenders. It is punishable by 1-5 years of incarceration with a fine ranging from $1-10,000. The Hornets declined comment, according to Boone.
The NBA stopped testing for marijuana in 2020 and that policy continued into this season. Harrell began the season with the Wizards and appeared in 46 games. He was traded to Charlotte in February and appeared in 25 more games, averaging 11.4 PPG and 4.9 RPG.
Wizards star shooting guard Bradley Beal recently sat down with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report (video link; hat tip to ClutchPoints) to discuss his impending free agency. Beal has a $36.4MM player option for the 2022/23 season.
“I know what my decision will be based off of, and that’s gonna be where I feel like I can win. That’s going to be my decision,” Beal said. “If I feel like I can win in D.C., that’s what I’m gonna do, and I want people to respect that. You may or you may not, but I’m gonna work my ass off and I’m gonna compete and I wanna make this team better. If it’s elsewhere, it’s going to be the exact same commitment.”
Should he opt out, Beal would be eligible for a projected five-year, $247MM maximum contract from the Wizards this summer. The most a rival team could offer him in free agency would be a four-year, $183.6MM deal. Washington drafted Beal out of Florida with the third pick in the 2012 draft. He has never played beyond the Eastern Conference Semifinals with the Wizards.
A left wrist tear restricted Beal’s availability for much of the 2021/22 NBA season. The three-time All-Star remained relatively productive when he was available, though his shooting numbers dipped in his age-28 season. Beal averaged 23.2 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 4.7 RPG across 40 contests, on .451/.300/.833 shooting. The Wizards finished with a 35-47 record this season.
There’s more out of the Southeast Division:
- After the Hawks made an exciting run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, they expected more of the same success the following season. Instead, the team finished with a disappointing 43-39 record and was eventually defeated 4-1 in the first round by the Heat. Atlanta seems primed to make changes in the 2022 offseason, prompting Chris Kirschner of The Athletic to list some of his favorite trade targets for Atlanta, including Suns center Deandre Ayton, Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon, and Pistons forward Jerami Grant.
- Following a breakout season with the Heat, 26-year-old wing Max Strus is aware that the team will have heightened expectations heading into the 2022/23 NBA season, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’ve just got to be more complete,” Strus said of developing his play. “There’s definitely areas for improvement. And that’s exciting about this game, that’s what wants you to keep flourishing, is the challenges that come with it.” In his second season with the Heat, the 6’5″ guard out of DePaul averaged 10.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 1.4 APG, with shooting splits of .441/.410/.792. During an extended playoff run, Strus supplanted Duncan Robinson as the club’s starting shooting guard thanks to his superior defense. The top-seeded team in the East, the Heat went on an extended playoff run before eventually falling 4-3 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
- Reaction around the hiring of new Hornets head coach Kenny Atkinson has been resoundingly positive, per Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer. Boone explores the expectations surrounding Atkinson and his ability to help Charlotte, led by All-Star point guard LaMelo Ball, move beyond the play-in tournament. Last season under the tutelage of head coach James Borrego, the Hornets finished with a 43-39 record and the No. 10 seed in the East. Atkinson is currently on Steve Kerr‘s bench with the Warriors, in a 2-2 Finals series against the Celtics.
The Hornets’ need for a defensive anchor in the middle makes Duke center Mark Williams an intriguing option in the draft, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Williams, who worked out for Charlotte on Friday, believes he could fill a need if the team selects him with the 13th or 15th pick.
“I feel like I’d bring that immediate rim protection,” Williams said, “that guy that can run the floor, be that lob threat on the offensive end, and also be somebody that plays hard every night and ultimately just wants to win.”
There’s a danger that Williams could move out of Charlotte’s range. His draft stock has been rising since last month’s combine when measurements showed that he had the longest reach and wingspan and ranked second in height among the participants.
No matter where he lands, Williams, who was a finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors, sees himself in a role similar to what Robert Williams does for the Celtics.
“Obviously, he’s battling injury right now,” Mark Williams said. “But that’s a guy who plays defense, catches lobs, runs the floor, does a little bit of everything for them.”
There’s more from Charlotte:
- Also conducting a solo workout for the Hornets on Friday was Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, Boone adds in the same piece. Sharpe may be taken in the top half of the lottery, but he acknowledged that some teams are uncertain about him because he didn’t play in college. “Most of the questions that teams got is how will I come out and play,” Sharpe said. “I’ve haven’t played in about a year, but for me I feel like that’s really not any big deal because as a basketball player once you start playing and getting back into the flow, it (doesn’t) really matter. Just keep playing.”
- The workout that Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley had with Charlotte today is his third so far, tweets James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Wesley also had sessions with the Hawks and Nuggets.
- New head coach Kenny Atkinson has a reputation for developing young talent, but his success will be determined by the progress of LaMelo Ball and his ability to improve the Hornets’ defense, contends Scott Fowler of The Raleigh News & Observer.
- The Hornets will work out six draft-eligible players on Saturday, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). Chattanooga’s Silvio De Sousa, Florida’s Anthony Duruji, the G League Ignite’s Jaden Hardy, Seton Hall’s Ike Obiagu, Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley and VCU’s Vince Williams will all work out for the club.
G League Ignite guard/forward Dyson Daniels, who worked out for the Pacers on Friday, believes he’d be good fit alongside Tyrese Haliburton, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Daniels is the sixth-best prospect on ESPN’s big board, and Indiana holds the No. 6 pick in the upcoming draft.
“For me, this offseason has been a big focus on my shooting, being able to knock down the shot so I can play off the ball,” Daniels said. “I’m confident in my shot now, so I feel like playing here with a guy like Tyrese, who’s a very good passer as well, I can play off the ball, cut to spots and knock down the shot. That’s something that’s come a long way in my game, and it’s definitely something I’ve worked on because every team usually has a primary ball-handler.”
Known as a well-rounded player who’s a solid rebounder, cutter and passer, Daniels is considered one of the best perimeter defenders in the draft and he said he hoped he showcased that during his workout.
“I think with my defense, you can see that on film and things like that, but coming here you play 1-on-1, you play 3-on-3, 2-on-2, so you can show that in the drills and stuff,” Daniels said, per Boyd. “Busting through screens, using your hands, getting deflections, things like that. … Showing that’s my main strength and showing that offensive stuff that I’ve worked on as well.”
Daniels has an upcoming workout with the Kings (No. 4), and previously worked out for the Pistons (No. 5) and Spurs (No. 9), as Boyd relays.
Here are a few more workout-related notes on some projected first-round picks:
- Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji, the 16th overall prospect on ESPN’s board, has upcoming workouts with the Knicks (No. 11) and Hawks (No. 16). He previously worked out for the Thunder (No. 12), Cavaliers (No. 14) and Bulls (No. 18), according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).
- G League Ignite’s MarJon Beauchamp, another wing who ranks 23rd on ESPN’s board, has workouts scheduled with the Knicks, Pelicans (No. 8), Spurs (Nos. 9, 20 and 25), Hornets (Nos. 13 and 15) and Timberwolves (No. 19). He previously worked out for the Hawks, Bulls and Grizzlies (Nos. 22 and 29), tweets Robbins.
- Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley worked out for the Hawks on Friday, Boyd reports (via Twitter). Wesley, who is No. 27 on ESPN’s board, had a previous workout with the Nuggets (No. 21).