National Basketball Association
NBA News Wire
  • Report: Pelicans pick up Okafor's 2019-20 option
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 20, 2019

    The New Orleans Pelicans exercised center Jahlil Okafor's option for the 2019-20 season, ESPN reported Thursday.

    • If the 23-year-old remains with the team through Jan. 7, 2020, his full $1.7 million salary would become guaranteed, per the report.

      Okafor was drafted No. 3 overall by Philadelphia in 2015 and averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a 2015-16 rookie, but his numbers steadily declined from there until an upswing last year.

      Signed as a free agent by New Orleans in August 2018, Okafor worked to transform his body through a vegan diet and exercise. In 59 games (24 starts) for the Pelicans, he shot a career-best 58.6 percent from the field and averaged 8.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes.

      With the trade of Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers, Okafor could play a more prominent role in 2019-20 alongside presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cavs owner Gilbert released from hospital
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 20, 2019

    Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was released from a Detroit hospital on Thursday, three weeks after suffering a stroke, and faces an "intensive rehabilitation program" ahead.

    • According to a statement from Quicken Loans, Gilbert will "continue focusing on his recovery at an in-patient rehabilitation center."

      Gilbert was taken to the hospital over Memorial Day weekend when he felt ill. He reportedly had a stroke while at the hospital.

      "Dan is looking forward to beginning an intensive rehabilitation program and is eager to continue the progress he has made over the last several weeks," Quicken Loans CEO Jay Farner said in a statement. Gilbert is the founder of Quicken Loans.

      Gilbert has been the owner of the Cavaliers since 2005. The team has the No. 5 overall selection in Thursday night's NBA draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • Warriors acquire Hawks' No. 41 pick
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 20, 2019

    The Golden State Warriors acquired the Atlanta Hawks' No. 41 pick in Thursday's draft for cash and a future draft pick, the Hawks announced.

    • The Hawks will receive $1.3 million, according to ESPN, and a second-round pick in 2024.

      Atlanta, which traded the No. 44 pick to the Miami Heat on Wednesday, still has three first-round picks (Nos. 8, 10 and 17) and a second-rounder at No. 35.

      Golden State has the 28th, 41st and 58th picks.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bucks deal 30th pick, Snell to Pistons
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 20, 2019

    Tony Snell will be traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Detroit Pistons, who will also receive the 30th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, when the moratorium on official transactions is lifted July 6.

    • The Bucks are looking to clear cap space as they begin the task of retaining the core of the roster that earned the Eastern Conference's top seed in the playoffs.

      The trade saves Milwaukee more than $4 million, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and clears from the books Snell's $12 million cap hit for the 2020-21 season.

      Snell, 27, averaged 6.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 17.6 minutes in 74 games (12 starts) in 2018-19. The 6-foot-7 wing shot 39.7 percent from 3-point range.

      The Bucks could waive forward Jon Leuer, who will be sent back to Milwaukee in the deal agreed to Wednesday night, per ESPN.

      Free agency will be a challenging stretch for Milwaukee with center Brook Lopez, All-Star guard Khris Middleton, point guard Malcolm Brogdon and 3-point specialist Nikola Mirotic eligible for new deals. Brogdon is a restricted free agent expected to draw high-level interest.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Celtics shop Baynes to clear cash
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 20, 2019

    Kyrie Irving and Al Horford are expected to opt out of their contracts with the Boston Celtics, who are placing center Aron Baynes on the block to clear a total of $23 million in salary cap space, ESPN reported Thursday.

    • Baynes' expiring contract at $5.4 million could be integral in president Danny Ainge finding enough cap space to replacing Irving and Horford with a max-level player.

      The Celtics are reportedly interested in 76ers free agent Jimmy Butler as well as Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard.

      Irving's backup at the point the past two seasons, Terry Rozier, could be in line for a new deal as he enters restricted free agency and the Celtics move toward a core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward.

      If Baynes is moved without the Celtics taking salary in return, Boston would be in position to offer nearly the max -- just over $32 million per season -- to a player with seven or more years of experience.

      Ainge had the Celtics in contention for Anthony Davis, but the Lakers made a more enticing offer that included former No. 2 picks Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball and the fourth overall pick in the 2019 draft.

      The Celtics were reluctant to deal young assets -- Brown was reportedly the holdup in a Celtics-Spurs swap that could have landed Leonard in Boston last summer -- in recent deals and didn't want to part with Tatum in the Davis deal.

      According to multiple reports, the Celtics are also trying to move multiple draft picks. Ainge has five picks in Thursday's draft, including three first-rounders.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: KD, Kyrie plot NY union
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 20, 2019

    One side of the bridge or the other, a Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving pairing in New York is becoming more likely, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported Thursday.

    • While hedging that the Warriors remain an option with the power to give Durant $57 million more on a five-year deal than any other team, Windhorst and Durant confidant Jay Williams, the former Duke star, pointed to Durant and Irving hooking up in Brooklyn to play for the Nets when free agency begins June 30.

      Durant and Irving have player options that would need to be declined by June 29 to become unrestricted free agents, but that's considered mere formality at this stage.

      Durant, 30, is unlikely to play until at least April 2020 and could sit out all of next season recovering from a ruptured right Achilles tendon.

      Irving, 27, met with Durant in New York last week. Durant remained in the city after surgery to repair the injury he incurred in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto.

      As for reports the All-Stars could land in New York, with one on the Knicks and the other with the Nets, Williams said that isn't going to happen.

      Durant's "super max" offer from the Warriors could be used to help facilitate a sign-and-trade, Windhorst said.

      "So, the Durant situation is still in flux," Windhorst said. "One of the things that is being discussed right now is that the Golden State Warriors would offer Kevin Durant a five-year contract, $57 million extra than he can get signing elsewhere, let him rehab and then work with him to be traded, potentially to New York, potentially to somewhere else. It would be their way to sort of take care of him monetarily after what he just went through and also protect the franchise to some assets. If that happens, the Knicks would be in tremendous position to get back into it because they're going to have some of these young assets plus cap space."

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Jazz to acquire Grizzlies' Conley
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    The Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to trade point guard Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz for guards Kyle Korver and Grayson Allen, forward Jae Crowder and two first-round picks, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

    • According to multiple reports, the picks will be Utah's 23rd overall selection in Thursday's draft and a protected 2020 first-rounder, which would convey in 2020 or 2021 if it falls between picks 8 and 14, or as a lightly protected pick in 2022 (top six), 2023 (top three) or 2024 (top one).

      The Athletic reports the Grizzlies, who also hold the second pick in Thursday's draft and are expected to take Murray State point guard Ja Morant, will listen to offers for the 23rd selection acquired from the Jazz.

      The deal, which cannot be made official until July 6, ends Conley's tenure in Memphis after 12 seasons. The 31-year-old returned from an injury-plagued 2017-18 campaign to play in 70 games last season, averaging a career-high 21.1 points along with 6.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game.

      --Milwaukee Bucks All-Star guard Khris Middleton opted out of the final year of his contract and will officially become an unrestricted free agent.

      Middleton passes on a one-year, $13 million deal for 2019-2020, but he and the Bucks are still discussing a new five-year contract to keep him in Milwaukee, according to ESPN. Middleton can sign a max value contract for five years with Milwaukee; other teams can offer a four-year deal starting June 30.

      Middleton, 27, had a career year averaging 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, the latter two marks setting career highs.

      --A relaxed Zion Williamson met with the media in New York, the day before he's expected to become the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft and the face of the New Orleans franchise.

      And he made one thing clear: Don't compare him to NBA players who came before him. "I just look to be myself. I'm not trying to be nobody," Williamson said. "I'm just trying to be the first Zion."

      In his one season at Duke, Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 33 games. He was the consensus National Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American.

      --The Miami Heat acquired the 44th overall pick in Thursday's draft from the Atlanta Hawks, in exchange for a 2024 conditional second-round pick and cash considerations.

      The Heat were previously without a second-round pick, but they now add No. 44 to the 13th overall pick in the first round.

      The Hawks still have four picks in the draft, two in each round: Nos. 8, 10, 35 and 41.

      --The Hawks are expected to have new uniforms and an adjusted color scheme for the 2020-21 season, replacing the current look they adopted before the 2015-16 season.

      Hawks owner Tony Ressler confirmed a uniform change on Atlanta radio station 92.9 The Game.

      The current Hawks uniform features sharp angles and patterns plus new-age fonts in gray, neon yellow and dark red. A new color scheme has not been revealed, so it is unclear if the Hawks will return to their traditional red, white and gold.

      --Field Level Media

  • Hawks set for uniform change in 2020-21
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    The Atlanta Hawks are expected to have new uniforms and an adjusted color scheme for the 2020-21 season, replacing the current look they adopted before the 2015-16 season.

    • Hawks owner Tony Ressler confirmed a uniform change on Atlanta radio station 92.9 The Game.

      The current Hawks uniform features sharp angles and patterns plus new-age fonts in gray, neon yellow and dark red. A new color scheme has not been revealed, so it is unclear if the Hawks will return to their traditional red, white and gold.

      The Hawks' G-League affiliate, the College Park Skyhawks, currently uses a gold, red, gray and black color scheme that could be a hint to the direction the Hawks are headed after next season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Heat acquire second-round pick from Hawks
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    The Miami Heat acquired the 44th overall pick in Thursday's draft from the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, in exchange for a 2024 conditional second-round pick and cash considerations.

    • The Heat were previously without a second-round pick, but they now add No. 44 to the 13th overall pick in the first round.

      The Hawks still have four picks in the draft, two in each round: Nos. 8, 10, 35 and 41.

      Atlanta has reportedly been targeting a trade-up into the top five using the eighth and 10th picks, but the New York Knicks (picking third) have declined such an offer.

      --Field Level Media

  • Williamson: 'I'm just trying to be the first Zion'
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    A relaxed Zion Williamson met with the media in New York on Wednesday, the day before he's expected to become the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft and the face of the New Orleans franchise.

    • And he made one thing clear: Don't compare him to NBA players who came before him.

      "I just look to be myself. I'm not trying to be nobody," Williamson said. "I'm just trying to be the first Zion."

      That's what the coaching staff of the Pelicans, holders of the first pick, must hope.

      In his one season at Duke, Williamson averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 33 games. He was the consensus National Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American.

      With the Pelicans' trade of All-NBA big man Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers last weekend, Williamson becomes the unequivocal star of the team. He'll turn 19 on July 6.

      "I just want to be in the NBA," the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson said. "I didn't have a favorite team growing up. Just to be in the NBA is all I ask for.

      "Whatever team I end with, I know I'm going to give my all."

      Williamson said he made his first-ever visit to New Orleans recently.

      "The city was just very welcoming," he said. "Everywhere I went, I'm walking down the street and people are high-fiving me, saying they hope I come here."

      One thing Williamson was less certain about was the emotions he'll feel when he hears his name called Thursday night at the draft.

      "Honestly, I don't know," he said. "I don't know how I'm going to react. I don't know if I'm going to cry or have this giant smile on my face.

      "We'll see [Thursday] night. But I know I'm very excited about it."

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Grizzlies trade Conley to Jazz for three players, two 1sts
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    The Memphis Grizzlies have agreed to trade point guard Mike Conley to the Utah Jazz for guards Kyle Korver and Grayson Allen, forward Jae Crowder and two first-round picks, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

    • According to multiple reports, the picks will be Utah's 23rd overall selection in Thursday's draft and a protected 2020 first-rounder, which would convey in 2020 or 2021 if it falls between picks 8 and 14, or as a lightly protected pick in 2022 (top six), 2023 (top three) or 2024 (top one).

      The Athletic reports the Grizzlies, who also hold the second pick in Thursday's draft and are expected to take Murray State point guard Ja Morant, will listen to offers for the 23rd selection acquired from the Jazz.

      The deal, which cannot be made official until July 6, ends Conley's tenure in Memphis after 12 seasons.

      Conley addressed the trade on his Twitter account.

      "What more can I say about my city! You guys made me the man I am today! Memphis is home. Always! ..Time for another chapter! Excited to give all I have to The Jazz and Salt Lake City!"

      The 31-year-old returned from an injury-plagued 2017-18 campaign to play in 70 games last season, averaging a career-high 21.1 points along with 6.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game. He is under contract for $32.5 million in 2019-20 and $34.5 million in 2020-21, though he has an early termination option he could exercise next summer.

      Conley was a rumored target of Utah near the trade deadline, but he stayed put while longtime teammate Marc Gasol -- who played 11 seasons in Memphis -- was dealt to the Toronto Raptors, whom he helped win an NBA championship. Conley is the franchise's all-time leader in games (788), points (11,733), assists (4,509) and steals (1,161) while sitting second behind Gasol in a slew of other categories.

      With both Conley and Gasol gone, the Grizzlies' longest-tenured player is Chandler Parsons (three seasons).

      Korver, 38, joined the Jazz for his second stint in Utah via trade from Cleveland last season. He averaged 8.6 points in 19.1 minutes across 70 games, shooting 39.7 percent from 3-point range.

      Crowder, who turns 29 on July 6, also joined the Jazz via trade from the Cavs, in a deal before the 2018 trade deadline. He averaged 11.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 80 games (11 starts) for Utah last season.

      Allen, 23, was Utah's first-round pick last June, taken 21st overall. He appeared in 38 games (two starts) as a rookie, averaging 5.6 points in 10.9 minutes.

      The Jazz finished last season with a 50-32 record, earning the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They were eliminated in the first round by the Houston Rockets, 4-1.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bucks' Middleton declines option, hopes to stay in Milwaukee
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    Milwaukee Bucks All-Star guard Khris Middleton opted out of the final year of his contract and will officially become an unrestricted free agent.

    • Middleton passes on a one-year, $13 million deal for 2019-2020, but he and the Bucks are still discussing a new five-year contract to keep him in Milwaukee, ESPN reported Wednesday.

      Middleton can sign a max value contract for five years with Milwaukee. Other teams can offer a four-year deal starting June 30.

      A max contract worth more than $30 million per season could hamstring the Bucks against the cap and push Milwaukee into the luxury tax one year before Giannis Antetokounmpo can be offered a max extension.

      The Bucks have a $19.5 million cap hold on Middleton that could help them retain their second-leading scorer from last season. However, multiple key role players, including Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic, are also eligible for free agency.

      Middleton, 27, had a career year averaging 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game, the latter two marks setting career highs. He shot 37.8 percent from 3-point range on a career-high 6.2 attempts per game.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Lakers hope to add third star
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    The Los Angeles Lakers, with LeBron James in place and Anthony Davis on the way, reportedly are attempting to clear enough salary-cap space to make a run at a third star player this summer.

    • According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks, the Lakers are looking to expand the agreed-upon trade that would bring in Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, hoping to add other teams who might take fringe players off their hands.

      It's all part of the Lakers' efforts to boost their available money from the current $23.8 million up to $32.5 million.

      Those who could be on their way out of Los Angeles, according to the report, are Moritz Wagner, Jemerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga. The Lakers also would need Davis to waive the $4 million trade bonus that he is contractually due to receive in order for his new team to reach its desired salary-cap level.

      --Kawhi Leonard is ready to head home and is reportedly focusing on signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.

      ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski dispelled reports that Leonard might be interested in joining the Lakers, who will add Anthony Davis when trades can become official next month. Per Wojnarowski's report, it's the Clippers that Leonard wants to join.

      Leonard attended San Diego State and is an L.A. native. He had almost an entire section of Oracle Arena filled with family in Oakland to watch the Toronto Raptors claim Game 6 against the Warriors and win the NBA Finals last week.

      --Boston forward Al Horford will turn down his 2018-19 option of $30.1 million and no longer intends to re-sign with the Celtics, multiple media outlets reported.

      After he opts out, the 33-year-old will be able to discuss contracts with other teams starting June 30. Players can sign or re-sign contracts beginning July 6.

      Horford has spent the last three years in Boston since arriving on a free agent deal from Atlanta, where he played the first nine seasons of his career. The nine-time All-Star averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 68 games for the Celtics last season.

      --Rockets All-Star point guard Chris Paul wants out of Houston, and his relationship with MVP candidate James Harden is "unsalvageable."

      According to Yahoo Sports, Paul approached management to demand a trade following the season-ending loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals.

      Moving Paul and his three-year, $124 million contract will not be easy, though general manager Daryl Morey has been open about having trade discussions involving all of his players other than Harden this offseason.

      --Should you know the whereabouts of Kyrie Irving, the Celtics would like a word.

      Irving, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent June 30, has reportedly gone silent and given president Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to assume he will move on to another team.

      Reports last week indicated Irving was "preparing to sign" with the Brooklyn Nets not long after splitting from his only professional agent to join the stable of Roc Nation. Because Irving has no active agent -- his change from Jeff Wechsler cannot be official until June 29 -- the Celtics have no conduit to the six-time All-Star.

      --The Pelicans picked up the 2020-21 option for head coach Alvin Gentry, who is now under contract for the next two seasons.

      "We couldn't be happier to extend our relationship with Alvin," executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said in a statement.

      Gentry, 64, has spent the past four seasons coaching the Pelicans, going 145-183.

      --Harrison Barnes is set to opt out of his contract with the Sacramento Kings and become an unrestricted free agent.

      Barnes' agent, Jeff Schwartz, told ESPN of the pending move that will allow the 27-year-old to pursue his fourth NBA team since entering the league with the Golden State Warriors in 2012.

      Traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Kings in February, Barnes averaged 16.4 points per game between the two clubs.

      --A sheriff's deputy sustained serious injuries and is considering a lawsuit against Masai Ujiri after an altercation with the Raptors president following Thursday's title-clinching victory in Oakland, the deputy's attorney said.

      David Mastagni, the deputy's attorney, told Bay Area CBS affiliate KPIX late Monday that his client has a "serious concussion" and a "serious jaw injury" after an "unprovoked, significant hit to the jaw" caused by Ujiri.

      "No options are being ruled out as to how to rectify the situation," Mastagni added.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Lakers seek salary-cap space to add 3rd star
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    The Los Angeles Lakers, with LeBron James in place and Anthony Davis on the way, reportedly are attempting to clear enough salary-cap space to make a run at a third star player this summer.

    • According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks, the Lakers are looking to expand the agreed-upon trade that would bring in Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, hoping to add other teams who might take fringe players off their hands.

      It's all part of the Lakers' efforts to boost their available money from the current $23.8 million up to $32.5 million.

      Those who could be on their way out of Los Angeles, according to the report, are Moritz Wagner, who made $1.76 million last season and is due to make $2.06 million in 2019-20; Jemerrio Jones, who made $52,170 last season and is due to make $1.42 million next season; and Isaac Bonga, who received $1 million last season and is set to get $1.66 million in the upcoming season.

      The Lakers also would need Davis to waive the $4 million trade bonus that he is contractually due to receive in order for his new team to reach its desired salary-cap level.

      Moritz, a 22-year-old who was a first-round pick last year, averaged 4.8 points and two rebounds per game as a rookie. Jones, 24, appeared in just six games last season, producing 4.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Bonga, 19, averaged 0.9 points and 1.1 rebounds in 22 games for the Lakers.

      Last weekend, the Lakers agreed to send Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and three first-round picks to the Pelicans in exchange for Davis.

      The New York Times reported that Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker is expected to be a top target in free agency for the Lakers in the wake of the Davis deal. The Lakers also managed to keep forward Kyle Kuzma, one of the players mentioned earlier in a possible deal.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wizards owner stays patient, shoots down Ujiri rumors
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis will not rush to hire a new president of basketball operations.

    • Leonsis told the Washington Post on Tuesday that interim president Tommy Sheppard will remain in charge through this week's NBA draft and the start of the league's free-agent signing period, which begins June 30. Sheppard has served as interim leader for the past 11 weeks.

      "I am very happy with the work and preparation Tommy Sheppard, Coach (Scott) Brooks and our staff have done and I'm confident we'll execute both the draft and free agency in an expert manner," Leonsis said in a statement published by the Post. "Having that confidence has given me the freedom to continue the conversations I've been having on how to build a great organization and, as a result, I don't expect to make any decisions before the start of free agency."

      Leonsis also denied reports that the Wizards had pursued Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri for nearly $10 million a year. Ujiri built a championship roster north of the border.

      "We have not commented on the many rumors surrounding potential candidates during this process, but I wanted to make an exception in this case out of respect to the Raptors organization as they celebrate their well-deserved championship," Leonsis said. "Any reports that we have interest in Masai Ujiri as a candidate are simply not true, and we have never planned in any way to ask for permission to speak to him during our process."

      The Wizards fired executive Ernie Grunfeld in early April. The team has the No. 9 pick in the draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • 2019 NBA Mock Draft: Pels land Zion, Culver
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Zion Williamson created the type of viral anticipation reserved only for the great ones in his single season at Duke.

    • Only a few players of recent vintage -- LeBron James in 2003 is the standard bearer -- elicit the type of response from fans that Williamson did with the Blue Devils.

      The New Orleans Pelicans' timely lottery win puts a franchise in transition into position for an about face with Williamson as the new building block around which vice president of basketball operations David Griffin can erect a contender in the Western Conference.

      As former No. 1 pick Anthony Davis (2013) celebrates his new start alongside James with the Lakers, the stage is set for Williamson and a new cast likely to include another top-five pick Thursday.

      How will the first round play out?

      1. New Orleans Pelicans: Zion Williamson, F, Duke

      Williamson is an athletic freak of nature with Defensive Player of the Year instincts and explosiveness to challenge any shot he wants to swat. Less certain is how his game evolves from dunk-a-thon to his future fit as an NBA power forward.

      2. Memphis Grizzlies: Ja Morant, PG, Murray State

      Maybe the most natural playmaker in the draft, Morant has All-Star ability as a passer and scorer. Even if the Grizzlies show up in the lottery again next summer, a core taking shape shows there's a path out of the Western Conference cellar.

      3. New York Knicks: RJ Barrett, F, Duke

      Maybe the Knicks' reported love for Darius Garland is genuine, but Barrett is built for the NYC spotlight and suits the blueprint in place for the evolving Knicks.

      4. New Orleans Pelicans: Jarrett Culver, SG, Texas Tech

      There is some Joe Johnson in Culver's game. He projects as a plus scorer and defender while fitting a need in New Orleans immediately alongside Jrue Holiday.

      5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Cam Reddish, SG, Duke

      Culver would be the preference, and the Cavaliers could opt for Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter, but Reddish gets the nod because of his range.

      6. Phoenix Suns: Darius Garland, PG, Vanderbilt

      If the Knicks go Garland, the Suns are a candidate to trade out with the Atlanta Hawks or select the next best point guard in North Carolina's Coby White. Garland paired with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton would be a godsend for first-year coach Monty Williams' building project.

      7. Chicago Bulls: De'Andre Hunter, F, Virginia

      Bigs have been the trend recently for the Bulls with Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. Hunter does many things well but isn't the big-ticket splash Chicago hoped for amidst a season of stockpiled losses.

      8. Atlanta Hawks: Jaxson Hayes, C, Texas

      A modern-day version of Marcus Camby, Hayes enters the NBA needing physical development to bring his game to the next level.

      9. Washington Wizards: Coby White, PG, North Carolina

      White becomes the salve the Wizards needed -- but never expected to be able to get in this draft -- to survive without John Wall in 2019-2020. A high-energy, ball-dominant point, White and Bradley Beal would work well together.

      10. Atlanta Hawks: Tyler Herro, SG, Kentucky

      A perimeter marksman who could play well off of Trae Young, Herro is known for his in-the-gym range and serves as a luxury pick who also should be a safe-ish selection.

      11. Minnesota Timberwolves: Sekou Doumbouya, France

      Doumbouya is raw and recognized more for his defense at this stage, but Ryan Saunders and the Wolves can buy into a high upside project at this spot.

      12. Charlotte Hornets: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, G, Virginia Tech

      A combination guard with length to be a plus-defender, Alexander-Walker is the type Michael Jordan can envision an immediate role for.

      13. Miami Heat: Nassir Little, SF, North Carolina

      Pat Riley likes proven players from proven programs. Little is explosive and competitive with the type of natural gifts that indicate he'll be much more than he was at North Carolina.

      14. Boston Celtics: Rui Hachimura, PF, Gonzaga

      Already seasoned as the pace-and-space 4 in Gonzaga's offense, Hachimura contributes quickly and becomes the heir to Marcus Morris in 2020.

      15. Detroit Pistons: Kevin Porter, Jr., SG, Southern Cal

      Detroit's wing players leave a lot to be desired, and Porter brings one definite skill: scoring punch.

      16. Orlando Magic: PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky

      An athletic and versatile piece to mix into the still-developing equation in Orlando, Washington is unlikely to fall beyond the middle of the first round because NBA scouts are sure he's going to contribute.

      17. Atlanta Hawks: Goga Bitadze, C, Georgia/Serbia

      An NBA rarity these days, Bitadze was evaluated as a true center. Some see potential for him to develop into a stretch option and down-the-road answer at the 5 for the Hawks.

      18. Indiana Pacers: Keldon Johnson, G, Kentucky

      Johnson should be a rotation guard at the very least, and with Victor Oladipo recovering from quadriceps surgery, starting isn't out of the question as a rookie.

      19. San Antonio Spurs: Brandon Clarke, PF, Gonzaga

      There's a lot to like about Clarke, including his size and defensive potential, but Gregg Popovich will most value his versatility.

      20. Boston Celtics: Matisse Thybulle, F, Washington

      The best defensive player in the draft in the notebook of many scouts. Thybulle, whose wingspan is 7-foot-1, paired with Marcus Smart would mean a long day at the office for Eastern Conference combo guards.

      21. Oklahoma City Thunder: Romeo Langford, SG, Indiana

      A gamble on upside and potential after Langford grinded through injuries during his only season at Indiana.

      22. Boston Celtics: Cam Johnson, SF, North Carolina

      At next to no cost, the Celtics land one of the best pure shooters in the draft. He'll catch and shoot no matter who does the table-setting for Boston this season.

      23. Utah Jazz: Nic Claxton, F-C, Georgia

      A defensive presence behind Rudy Gobert who showed at the NBA Scouting Combine he could evolve as a stretch 4.

      24. Philadelphia 76ers: Bol Bol, C, Oregon

      With Joel Embiid likely in need of skimmed minutes, Bol is not ready to contribute in a big way. But as a 7-foot-1 perimeter player, the 76ers could add him to their intriguing blend of young talent for the matchup-minded Brett Brown.

      25. Portland Trail Blazers: Bruno Fernando, F-C, Maryland

      Strong and springy, Fernando would add a physical presence who can block shots and scrap for leftovers. He's not LaMarcus Aldridge but brings enough of a mid-range shot to be a regular.

      26. Cleveland Cavaliers: Chuma Okeke, F, Auburn

      Likely a non-contributor as a rookie coming off of a torn ACL, Okeke can get to know the cast in Cleveland while training for a role as Kevin Love Light.

      27. Brooklyn Nets: Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue

      Microwave offense behind the already established offensive options for the Nets, and a ready spot starter should the Nets lure Kyrie Irving in free agency.

      28. Golden State Warriors: Ty Jerome, PG, Virginia

      Calm and clutch under pressure with enough range to play here tomorrow, Jerome bears some similarity to Klay Thompson but lacks the bounce and explosiveness to become a lockdown defender.

      29. San Antonio Spurs: Dylan Windler, SF, Belmont

      With the selection shipped from Toronto via the Kawhi Leonard trade, Windler brings a deep shooter who doesn't shy away from any competition, He could be the perfect fit for the Spurs.

      30. Milwaukee Bucks: Mfiondu Kabengele, C, Florida State

      Brook Lopez could be lured away in free agency, and Kabengele is not the same type of player, but he's an energy-and-effort, athletic big man who can mop up misses and operate the pick-and-roll.

      --By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

  • Attorney: Deputy considering lawsuit against Raptors' Ujiri
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    A sheriff's deputy sustained serious injuries and is considering a lawsuit against Masai Ujiri after an altercation with the Toronto Raptors president following Thursday's title-clinching victory in Oakland, the deputy's attorney said.

    • David Mastagni, the deputy's attorney, told Bay Area CBS affiliate KPIX late Monday that his client has a "serious concussion" and a "serious jaw injury" after an "unprovoked, significant hit to the jaw" caused by Ujiri.

      "No options are being ruled out as to how to rectify the situation," Mastagni added.

      The altercation occurred when Ujiri was trying to get on the court after the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 to win the NBA championship. Sheriff's officials said Friday that Ujiri did not show the proper credential and then shoved the deputy, who pushed back, drawing another shove from Ujiri that struck the deputy in the face.

      In a video posted on social media of the end of the incident, Ujiri and the deputy are seen yelling at each other while being separated, and Raptors guard Kyle Lowry is then shown pulling Ujiri onto the court.

      The sheriff's department is pursuing potential charges against Ujiri of misdemeanor battery of an officer.

      The deputy, who has not been identified, is a 20-year veteran of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office, his attorney said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Kings F Barnes to opt out
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Harrison Barnes is set to opt out of his contract with the Sacramento Kings and become an unrestricted free agent.

    • Barnes' agent, Jeff Schwartz, told ESPN of the pending move that will allow the 27-year-old to pursue his fourth NBA team since entering the league with the Golden State Warriors in 2012.

      Traded from the Dallas Mavericks to the Kings in February, Barnes averaged 16.4 points per game between the two clubs.

      He's open to returning to Sacramento, according to the report, but could find greener pastures as he did when he left the Warriors for a $94 million deal in 2016. Barnes became expendable in Golden State when Kevin Durant chose to sign with the Warriors as a free agent.

      In a twist of irony, Barnes could be an option for the Warriors should Durant leave in free agency.

      He said in July 2016 that it was never his plan to leave the franchise.

      "The decision was more so made for me," Barnes said of the Durant dominoes. "I was not necessarily walking away from the situation. I wasn't saying, ‘I don't want to be here. I want to go there.'"

      --Field Level Media

  • Paging Kyrie: Celtics in dark on Irving's plans
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Should you know the whereabouts of Kyrie Irving, the Boston Celtics would like a word.

    • Irving, who can opt out of his contract and become a free agent June 30, has reportedly gone silent and given president Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to assume he will move on to another team.

      Reports last week indicated Irving was "preparing to sign" with the Brooklyn Nets not long after splitting from his only professional agent to join the stable of Roc Nation.

      Because Irving has no active agent -- his change from Jeff Wechsler cannot be official until June 29 -- the Celtics have no conduit to the six-time All-Star.

      ESPN reported Tuesday the Celtics are "almost to the point of resignation" that Irving is, in fact, leaving Boston.

      The Boston Globe claims Irving is "ghosting" the Celtics and the team has little to no communication with him.

      Kevin Durant reportedly had no such issue getting through to Irving.

      Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report said Friday on "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on Fox Sports Radio that a meeting between the two basketball superstars took place in New York, and likely means Durant won't be returning to the Golden State Warriors.

      Durant was in New York City on an extended stay since traveling there to have surgery for a ruptured Achilles suffered in Toronto during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: PG Garland to work out for Knicks
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    The New York Knicks reportedly will work out Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland on Wednesday, the day before the NBA draft, indicating they could be shifting gears with their No. 3 overall pick.

    • It has been presumed the Knicks would take RJ Barrett of Duke with the pick, but ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony tweeted Tuesday about the Garland visit. Givony also reports the Knicks have declined a trade offer from the Atlanta Hawks that would give the eighth and 10th overall picks in a deal to move up to No. 3.

      Several teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls, are looking to make a deal to move up to No. 4 to draft Garland, Givony reported. The Celtics will be in the hunt for a point guard with the presumed departure of Kyrie Irving, who can opt out of his deal and become a free agent.

      The New Orleans Pelicans control the No. 4 pick, which is part of the compensation in their trade -- which can't be official until July 6 -- with the Los Angeles Lakers for All-Star Anthony Davis. They are accepting offers for the pick, but if they hold on to it and Garland goes to the Knicks, the Pelicans could draft Barrett and reunite him with his Duke teammate, Zion Williamson, whom the Pelicans indicated they will select No. 1 overall.

      Garland reportedly has impressed in private workouts with the Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 5 pick) and Chicago Bulls (No. 7).

      The workouts will be key for whichever team drafts Garland, who played just five games for Vanderbilt. Five games and 139 minutes into his college career, Garland tore the meniscus in his left knee and underwent surgery. He was sidelined for the season.

      In his small sample size, Garland averaged 16.2 points and 2.6 assists in 27.8 minutes per game.

      Garland said his knee is healthy, and that he offers what today's NBA is looking for in a point guard.

      "I think 10 years ago, everything was pass-first point guards, and now it's evolved into more scoring guards," Garland told ESPN. "I also distribute the ball, as well. So, I think I came around at the right time."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Hawks offering two lottery picks to move up
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Two days before the 2019 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks are threatening to make some noise near the top.

    • The Hawks are shopping a pair of lottery picks -- the eighth and 10th overall selections -- in an effort to move into the top five of the draft, ESPN reported Tuesday.

      According to ESPN's report, which cited sources, the Hawks were rebuffed in their attempt to acquire the No. 3 pick from the New York Knicks.

      The New Orleans Pelicans, however, were willing to engage in a conversation about parting with the No. 4 pick in a deal that would include both Atlanta lottery picks.

      New Orleans will acquire the rights to the No. 4 pick from the Los Angeles Lakers in the reported trade involving Anthony Davis. That deal cannot become official until next month.

      The Pelicans have the first overall pick on Thursday and plan to select Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson.

      Atlanta is looking to add a prominent player to a young core that includes point guard Trae Young and forward John Collins. The Hawks acquired Young on draft night last June in a trade with the Mavericks involving Luka Doncic.

      In that deal, Dallas sent its 2019 first-round pick -- No. 10 overall -- to the Hawks.

      --Field Level Media

  • Rockets' Paul reportedly demanded trade
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Rockets All-Star point guard Chris Paul wants out of Houston, and his relationship with MVP candidate James Harden is "unsalvageable."

    • According to Yahoo Sports, Paul approached management to demand a trade following the season-ending loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals.

      Moving Paul and his three-year, $124 million contract will not be easy, though general manager Daryl Morey has been open about having trade discussions involving all of his players other than Harden this offseason.

      "It can't be fixed," a league source told Yahoo Sports about the Harden-Paul partnership.

      The rift between Paul and Harden became so severe that after going "nearly two months" during the season without speaking to one another, Harden followed suit with a "him or me" demand of his own to Morey, Yahoo reported Tuesday. In addition, Harden has refused to communicate with Paul this offseason, according to the report.

      "There's no respect at all, on either side," a source told Yahoo Sports. "They need to get away from one another. Chris doesn't respect James' standing in the league, and James doesn't respect the work Chris has put in to this point."

      Center Clint Capela could also be traded by the Rockets, as could Eric Gordon or P.J. Tucker.

      Capela signed a five-year, $90 million contract prior to last season. Capela turned 25 in May, after averaging 16.6, 12.7 rebounds (fifth in the NBA) and 1.5 blocks per game in 2018-19.

      Among teams thought to have interest in Capela are the New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Pelicans eyeing All-Star Beal via trade
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Wizards All-Star guard Bradley Beal is the target of the new regime in New Orleans, should Washington decide to shift toward rebuilding.

    • According to multiple reports, Pelicans executive vice president David Griffin is interested in acquiring Beal in a package that likely would include the fourth overall pick -- pending the official deal with the Los Angeles Lakers that sends Anthony Davis out of New Orleans -- and Brandon Ingram, who would be part of the return in the L.A. deal.

      Beal and Davis were teammates at the 2019 All-Star Game in Charlotte.

      Washington is without a permanent general manager, and the personnel department is in flux while a search for a fixture in that position is conducted.

      Beal was part of a 1-2 punch with John Wall in Washington, but the Wizards won't have Wall in the 2019-20 season due to a ruptured Achilles. Beal, who turns 26 later this month, could be a building block in Washington if the new personnel boss opts for a partial rebuild.

      Several other teams have expressed interest in Beal, per reports, including the Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat.

      Interim president Tommy Sheppard is running the personnel side for the Wizards and might be hesitant to reroute the direction of the team until a long-term vision is established.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Leonard wants to play for Clippers
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Kawhi Leonard is ready to head home and is reportedly focusing on signing with the Los Angeles Clippers.

    • ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski dispelled reports that Leonard might be interested in joining the Los Angeles Lakers, who will add Anthony Davis when trades can become official next month. Per Wojnarowski's report, it's the Clippers that Leonard wants to join.

      Leonard attended San Diego State and is an L.A. native. He had almost an entire section of Oracle Arena filled with family in Oakland to watch the Toronto Raptors claim Game 6 against the Warriors and win the NBA Finals last week.

      One day after Leonard celebrated with his teammates and fans at a victory parade in Toronto, he appears to be ready to march back to Los Angeles in his first opportunity at free agency.

      Acquired by the Raptors from the San Antonio Spurs last summer, Leonard has not ruled out a return to Canada on a long-term deal, ESPN reported.

      Leonard scored a total of 732 points in the postseason -- third most all-time -- and won his second Finals MVP award to help the Raptors win their first championship.

      Other veterans on the Raptors' roster are waiting to see which direction Leonard will go, including Marc Gasol and Danny Green, who can become free agents on June 30.

      Leonard has until June 29 -- his 28th birthday -- to opt out of his existing deal. His 2019-2020 option is worth $21.3 million - the final year of a five-year, $94.3 million deal signed with the Spurs.

      The Raptors can offer about $15 million more over the course of a five-year deal than any other team. But ESPN reported Leonard could be weighing short-term offers instead to return to free agency in two or three years, similar to the approach LeBron James has taken to free agency.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Horford to decline option, leave Celtics
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 18, 2019

    Boston forward Al Horford will turn down his 2018-19 option of $30.1 million and no longer intends to re-sign with the Celtics, multiple media outlets reported late Tuesday.

    • ESPN and the Boston Herald both reported earlier Tuesday that Horford would opt out with a goal of re-signing with the Celtics on a reworked deal, which would have a lower annual value but include two additional years of security.

      However, both outlets reported later Tuesday that Horford and the team are now unable to agree on a new contract, and that Horford will pursue a deal of three or four years elsewhere in free agency.

      After he opts out, the 33-year-old will be able to discuss contracts with other teams starting June 30. Players can sign or re-sign contracts beginning July 6.

      Horford has spent the last three years in Boston since arriving on a free agent deal from Atlanta, where he played the first nine seasons of his career. The nine-time All-Star averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 68 games for the Celtics last season.

      Boston could have a dramatically different look in 2019-2020. With point guard Kyrie Irving expected to leave and Gordon Hayward's name in the trade rumor mill, the Celtics are in likely to be in the market for key pieces.

      Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge acknowledged discussions took place with the New Orleans Pelicans about Anthony Davis before a trade agreement was reportedly reached with the Los Angeles Lakers last week.

      --Field Level Media