By the time the draft rolls around next Thursday, G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels will have worked out for every team picking between No. 4 and No. 11, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report, who suggests within his latest mock draft that Daniels’ maturity has stood out to teams during interviews. The 19-year-old is increasingly being viewed as the sort of player whose versatility and high floor makes him one of the safest picks in the mid-lottery, Wasserman adds.
Here are a few more draft-related notes:
- Jeremy Woo of SI.com has published his final big board for 2022’s draft class, featuring a top three of Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Jaden Ivey.
- David Aldridge of The Athletic spoke to several coaches and executives to get their thoughts on this year’s top draft-eligible forwards, including Smith, Banchero, Keegan Murray, and AJ Griffin. One college assistant coach who talked to Aldridge said it was “a joke” that Banchero had to go to college for a year, since he was NBA-ready after high school.
- The Bucks, Bulls, and Lakers are among the teams Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard has worked out for so far in the pre-draft process, he said today following a workout with the Pacers (Twitter link via James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star). Nembhard still has auditions on tap with the Thunder, Heat, and Timberwolves.
- As part of a Q&A with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Wake Forest wing Jake LaRavia said he has workouts coming up with the Timberwolves, Warriors, and Pacers.
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.
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.
LaVine is expected to receive a new five-year contract valued at around $200MM, according to Fischer, who notes that the only significant point of contention is the status of the final year of the deal. It could be fully or partially guaranteed, or LaVine could be given a player option.
The Trail Blazers, Spurs, Hawks and Lakers are all expected to reach out to LaVine, but Fischer doesn’t believe any of those teams can provide the two-time All-Star with a better situation than what he has in Chicago. LaVine wants to be the sole focal point of the offense, which hasn’t happened since the Bulls added DeMar DeRozan last summer, but he wouldn’t get that in Portland, Atlanta or L.A. It’s something San Antonio could offer, but the Spurs aren’t among the top contenders in the West.
Upgrading the frontcourt will be an offseason priority in Chicago, according to Fischer. His sources say the team is listening to offers for Nikola Vucevic, who has a $22MM expiring contract, and has expressed interest in Jazz center Rudy Gobert, although the club’s reluctance to part with Patrick Williams may prevent a deal from being worked out with Utah.
The Bulls are also exploring trades involving third-year point guard Coby White, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension, and the No. 18 pick in next week’s draft, Fischer adds.
Notre Dame shooting guard Blake Wesley has upcoming workouts scheduled with the Grizzlies, Heat and Bulls, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. Wesley told Robbins he had already worked out for the Spurs, Cavaliers, Bucks and Pistons.
A potential first-round selection, the 6’5” Wesley is ranked No. 27 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list.
We have more draft-related news:
- International center prospect Kai Sotto will return to NBA team workouts this week on the West Coast after nursing a sprained ankle, Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com tweets. He already worked out for the Knicks, Magic and Hawks, among others. The 7’3” big man from the Philippines spent last season in Australia’s National Basketball League, averaging 7.5 PPG and 4.5 RPG for the Adelaide 36ers.
- The Rockets are sitting at the No. 3 spot and will presumably take the remaining big man in the trio of Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero, unless there’s a draft-day surprise. The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen picks the brains of some NBA executives and a college coach to get a handle on how the trio’s skills will translate to the NBA.
- The Timberwolves brought in six prospects on Monday, Andrew Slater tweets. That group included Tyson Etienne (Wichita State), Jermaine Samuels (Villanova), Aminu Mohammed (Georgetown,) Justin Lewis (Marquette), Fanbo Zeng (G League Ignite) and Kalob Ledoux (Louisiana Tech).
Echoing comments made last week by Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that Suns center Deandre Ayton – a restricted free agent this summer – may be the biggest name to change teams in the coming weeks.
Phoenix is “increasingly expected” to explore sign-and-trade scenarios involving Ayton, according to Stein, who says there’s plenty of skepticism around the NBA about the team’s desire to make a significant financial commitment to the young center.
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report conveys a similar sentiment in his latest round-up of NBA rumors, suggesting there’s “considerable skepticism” that the Suns will re-sign Ayton. The Pistons, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Hawks, and Raptors have all been mentioned as possible suitors for the former No. 1 overall pick, Stein notes.
Here are a few more updates from Stein and Pincus on some of this year’s top free agents and trade candidates:
- According to Pincus, some sources believe that the Spurs (Jakob Poeltl), Bulls (Nikola Vucevic), Hawks (Clint Capela/John Collins), and Pacers (Myles Turner) are among the teams that could be willing to move their current centers in a package for one of the offseason’s top available big men (Ayton, Rudy Gobert, etc.). Grizzlies center Steven Adams also may be a summer trade candidate, though he’s well-liked in the locker room, says Pincus.
- While both Pincus and Stein have talked to sources who believe the Pacers are likely to keep Myles Turner, Stein notes that the situation could change if the big man wants to play out his expiring contract rather than agreeing to an extension, since Indiana may not want to risk losing him for nothing next year.
- According to Stein, one or two teams hopeful of landing Bradley Beal believe the All-Star guard wants to be the Dirk Nowitzki of D.C., sticking with the Wizards for his entire career.
- While Dario Saric‘s $9.24MM expiring contract makes him an obvious trade candidate, Pincus writes that the Suns are hopeful the forward can return to form after missing last season due to an ACL tear, and may not be looking to move him.
- If the Lakers have any hope of trading Russell Westbrook without including a first-round pick, they’ll likely have to take on at least one or two players earning $15-25MM annually on multiyear deals, Pincus writes, citing veterans like Davis Bertans and Duncan Robinson as hypothetical examples. Rival executives and agents don’t expect the Lakers to get clarity from LeBron James on his long-term intentions before the draft or free agency, which will complicate L.A.’s decision-making process — the team would be more comfortable taking on pricey multiyear contracts with a guarantee that LeBron is sticking around long-term, Pincus observes.
The Bulls could be the main threat to take Mitchell Robinson away from the Knicks in free agency this summer, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Chicago and the Pistons were among teams that engaged in trade talks about Robinson prior to February’s deadline, Berman writes, but Knicks officials decided to hang onto the fourth-year center through the rest of the season.
The Bulls are still doing research on Robinson, sources tell Berman, and have interest in pairing him with center Nikola Vucevic to improve their interior defense. If Chicago re-signs free agent guard Zach LaVine, the team would likely operated over the cap and be limited to the mid-level exception. The Mavericks, who were rumored to have interest in Robinson at one time, are now expected to pursue less costly alternatives, according to Berman’s source.
Berman reported in February that Robinson was likely to leave if he couldn’t reach a new contract with the Knicks prior to free agency, but he’s now expected to take the best offer he can find, even if that means staying in New York, Berman adds. A source tells Berman that the Knicks’ major concern with Robinson involves maturity and how he might respond once he has a guaranteed deal.
There’s more from the Central Division:
- Comments about continuity from Bulls executive vice president Arturas Karnišovas indicate that he’s serious about re-signing LaVine and keeping the rest of the team’s nucleus together, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Johnson believes Chicago plans to add depth through the draft and cap exceptions rather than seeking a significant trade.
- The Bucks will promote Charles Lee to associate head coach, filling the spot vacated by new Lakers coach Darvin Ham, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Lee interviewed Friday for the head coaching slot with the Jazz, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).
- Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin worked out Friday for the Pacers, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Mathurin didn’t talk to the media, but he told Agness at last month’s draft combine that his main concern is landing in the best situation. “It’s not about going high or low, it’s all about going to the right spot,” he said. “And I’ll bring winning to the team. I want to go to a team and win a championship and get better as a player.”
- Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis has a workout scheduled with the Pacers on Monday, Agness tweets.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times explores the Bulls‘ rumored interest in Jazz center Rudy Gobert. Chicago could make roster upgrades after losing in five games to Milwaukee during the first round, and Gobert may become available in trade talks. The Bulls ranked 23rd in defensive rating this season, although the team dealt with numerous injuries throughout the year.
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).