Desmond Bane has become a Zoom expert. He said last week in an NBA Draft Combine call with reporters that he’d virtually interviewed with 26 teams. It came as no surprise that the Sixers were on that list for the 6-foot-6, 215-pound TCU product whose main selling point is that he can sink long-range jumpers and also do a little bit of everything else. “There’s been a lot of interest with Philly,” Bane said. “We feel good about where we’re at with Philly.”
Bane said his Sixers interview was led by Vince Rozman, the team’s vice president of scouting. He named the Sixers, Suns and Bucks as teams his agent, Seth Cohen of SAC Sports, thought had shown the most interest, in addition to two Bane couldn’t recall at the time. Phoenix’s only pick in the upcoming draft is No. 10, while Milwaukee’s only selection is No. 24. The Sixers own the 21st pick and four second-rounders, including No. 34 and No. 36. “Shooting is a necessity for them; they need a lot of shooting,” Bane said of the Sixers. “Obviously the attention that Ben Simmons and (Joel) Embiid demand is huge, so guys like me are very valuable that can play off the ball and make shots, have similar success to JJ Redick and Landry Shamet in previous years, running off screens. I feel like I can provide some of those same things.”
Tillie had a good interview with the Boston Celtics back in the spring, per a source. With four total picks in this year’s draft, the Celtics will continue to meet with a wide range of players, but this information allows us to explore his potential fit in Boston.
Omar Cooper, Okoro’s agent, said “every team in the NBA has reached out for Isaac Okoro,” including the Timberwolves. “I could see myself fitting in there, playing with D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns,” Okoro said. “I feel like I could come in there and play my role, do whatever the coach needs me to do in the game and just win.”
Sarah Todd: French draft prospect Theo Maledon said that the Utah Jazz are one of the teams that he's spoken to.
KC Johnson: Speaking on his NBA draft combine Zoom call, SF Deni Avdija, who is listed as potential Bulls pick at No. 4 on several mock drafts, said "any team that drafts me is going to get the best of me." Called the Bulls "a good, young roster." Hasn't interviewed with any NBA teams yet.
Hampton hasn’t interviewed with the Mavericks — at least not yet — as the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the tradition draft evaluation process. But some experts predict the former five-star guard who spent last year playing professionally in New Zealand could be available at the Mavericks' No. 18 overall pick in the first round. “Kind of the hometown team,” Hampton said Tuesday in a Zoom press conference during the NBA’s virtual draft combine. “I’ve definitely kept up with the Mavs since I was a baby.” So far, Hampton has virtually interviewed with the Thunder, Pistons, Suns, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Bulls, Wizards and Kings.
Noah Levick: Desmond Bane says the Sixers are one of the 26 teams he’s spoken with and that they have “a lot of interest.” He says Elton Brand wasn’t on his interview and that it was led by VP of scouting Vince Rozman.
Chris Grenham: The Celtics have met virtually with and expressed interest in Stanford guard Tyrell Terry, a source confirmed. Great shooter (44.1/40.8/89.1) with a nice release.
Chase Hughes: RJ Hampton says he's working out regularly with Penny Hardaway and Mike Miller in Memphis. Hampton went to play pro in New Zealand instead of college. He says he has interviewed with the Kings, Thunder, Pistons, Suns, Blazers, Knicks, Bulls.
Duane Rankin: #Duke point guard Tre Jones said he's talked with #Suns and is looking forward to continuing that draft process. Jones lived in Minnesota went his brother, Tyus, was with T-Wolves. So he saw #Suns PG Ricky Rubio play there. Sounded excited about idea of learning from Rubio. pic.twitter.com/CK31s4Y9cd
Chage Hughes: Stanford guard Tyrell Terry says he has interviewed with the Suns. They pick 10th, right after the Wizards at 9.
Duane Rankin: LaMelo Ball said he hasn't talked with #Suns, but said he feel like can fit in with any team. He's doing his Zoom media interview from a gym. Said he's been working out. Many here remember when his dad talked about wanting to get all three of his sons to Phoenix. pic.twitter.com/Ui3EHK4Gee
Adam Zagoria: Former @TerrapinHoops F Jalen Smith mentions the Wizards, Nets, Suns And Spurs among teams he’s met virtually with pic.twitter.com/GX0Tlv2lRV
Each team has its own needs and brings its own questions, but Yurtseven has noticed some commonalities to the experience in recent months. That has allowed him to settle in and be more comfortable in the setting, after he said he was nervous in his first interview with the Atlanta Hawks. "I think first comes being honest and being yourself," Yurtseven told NBC Sports Washington of the keys to a draft interview. "But other than that, you have to know their rosters in order to see how they would fit in; what shooters are you going to be able to kick out to, or what bigs would you be playing with, what picks do they have. In all the interviews, I try to incorporate all the things I know about them in order to show them that I care, that I want to be on their team."
Chris Grenham: Top JUCO recruit Jay Scrubb made a great impression on the Celtics during their virtual pre-draft meeting, per source. Scrubb was committed to Louisville before opting to stay in the draft this spring. Solid 3-and-D potential with great athleticism. Really intriguing prospect.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA tentatively expects to allow teams to begin conducting in-person interviews with 2020 draft prospects starting in mid-October, sources tell ESPN. For now, there are still no in-person workouts with prospects allowed by teams.
In the meantime, the 6-foot-7, 225-pound All-American selection has spoken via Zoom or phone to reps from 27 of the 30 NBA teams. Bartelstein remains in daily contact with the franchises about his client. Nwora figures it’s wise during the COVID-19 pandemic to “be ready for the moment” due to roving dates, so he has immersed himself in preparations.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, NBA teams are not allowed to meet face-to-face with draft prospects. The Warriors -- who are guaranteed to land a top-five pick -- also can't bring any of the top players to Chase Center for private workouts. Fortunately for members of Golden State's front office, they can take advantage of modern technology. "We can do RingCentral video interviews with players. That's been great actually. That has been really great," Warriors executive VP of basketball operations Kirk Lacob, said Tuesday morning on 95.7 The Game. "We've gone through -- on man -- over 100 players, maybe, at this point. We've just never had the opportunity to do that. This has been totally different, but not necessarily bad."
Manny Camper forgoes NBA draft, returning to Siena. He had until Monday to remove his name from draft consideration and retain his NCAA eligibility. Camper, a 6-7 guard/forward, pointed out he still spoke with representatives from the Memphis Grizzlies, New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets.
The Knicks are among the teams who have conducted a video interview with prospect Killian Hayes, according to his agent, Yann Balikouzou. Balikouzou said on the Envergure podcast last month that Hayes had talked to dozens of teams. Some of those teams did not have a lottery pick, which is an indication that teams are at least considering trading up in the draft for a player like Hayes.
While Hayes interviewed with the Knicks, Balikouzou said his client hasn’t spoken to every lottery team. Balikouzou said Hayes would likely speak with Minnesota and Golden State but didn’t plan to do an interview with Cleveland. “It’s not a secret, they probably won’t draft a guard,” Balikouzou, of ISE, said in the interview, which was conducted in French and translated. “….The chances they’d draft a guard are really thin.”
Darren Wolfson: Ex-South Dakota big Tyler Hagedorn is another in a lengthy list of draft prospects to have already interviewed w/ the #Timberwolves. Was one of the best players in the Summit League. Bigs w/ his stroke can always find a job somewhere. Led nation in 3-pt %.
Darren Wolfson: Former Hopkins HS & Arizona star Zeke Nnaji had a recent interview w/ the #Rockets, a team currently w/o a 2020 pick. Next up for Nnaji: the Golden St. #Warriors next week. He’s been training hard at @impactbball in Vegas, able to pick the brains of NBA vets A. Johnson & C. Wood.
Frank Martin stands with A.J. Lawson in staying in the NBA Draft at this point in time. “There’s no need to rush. He’s had probably six or seven interviews with NBA teams, which is what they’re all doing right now,” Martin said. “As long as NBA teams are offering interviews, I don’t see any reason why he should try to make a decision sooner than he has to. If no NBA team was asking to meet with him, I would think he’d make a decision by now.”
Sestina said right now his focus was on playing in the NBA. “I’m really waiting it out,” Sestina said. “I’ve had a couple of good offers to play overseas, but the opportunity to get my foot in the door with an NBA team — or on a two-way contract with a G-League team — is more appealing to me. If you get even a two-way contract, you’re right there on the fringes of the NBA.” Sestina said he had a “bunch of good interviews” with NBA teams virtually in May.
Kispert has been interviewed by roughly 15 teams. “You can only tell so much about a potential player through a Zoom interview,” he said. “In my case, it would be a really good thing to get in front of the right people and show them what I have face to face.”
Adam Zagoria: Former Louisville F @JordanNwora has done Zoom calls with about 20 NBA teams, including the Knicks and Nets, per source. The former @NYRhoops F averaged 18.0 ppg and 7.7 rpg last season and is a projected 2nd-round pick. The Knicks have two 2nd-round picks in the Draft. pic.twitter.com/ISeBHH7dWt
The new reality we are all living has made the draft process considerably different than in past years. Since face-to-face meetings can’t happen right now, Tillman has been meeting with NBA teams through Zoom meetings. “I’ve had two so far with Utah and Detroit. It’s all about these Zoom interviews and how well you perform in those. Answering the questions honestly is the biggest key for those teams because they know everything about you,” Tillman said. Being born and raised in Michigan, Tillman says the Pistons are a team that is on his list.
Where things are moving more quickly, John Petty said in a telephone interview, are in his contacts with other teams. “I’ve done 12 Zoom interviews already,” Petty said. “I don’t want to say any specific teams but I’ve gotten some great feedback. They have been impressed. We’ve talked about my elbow (a hyperextending which knocked him out of two games late late season.) It has perfectly healed, no problem. My process now is to keep working out, be patient, talk to scouts and hopefully get a great answer from them (about a potential draft position.) If that happens, I’m probably going to stay in. ... I will have a decision but I’m going to be patient.”
Darren Wolfson: Former @DLSislanders star Tyrell Terry is expected to connect virtually with the #Timberwolves/#Twolves before the week is over. He’s already chatted with a handful of teams. Intriguing draft prospect. Kicked butt at Stanford his freshman year.
The Washington Wizards have been gathering as much information as possible by interacting with prospects on video conference calls. They recently spoke with Immanuel Quickley of Kentucky and have plans this week to interview Jalen Smith of Maryland, NBC Sports Washington has learned. Both players are projected first round picks. The Wizards also interviewed Arizona big man Zeke Nnaji, who is expected to fall in the late second round or go undrafted.
With in-person visits sidelined because of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams can hold only video chats with prospects. Hazan said McClung had met with 11 teams as of Tuesday, with more scheduled. According to a source, those teams include the Rockets, the Bulls and the Nets. At least one team mentioned to McClung the potential of signing a two-way contract should he go undrafted. Such deals allow teams to freely use players in the NBA and G League.
September 26, 2021 | 6:15 am EDT Update
“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team,” NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tells Rolling Stone. “There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”
Irving, who serves as a vice president on the executive committee of the players’ union, recently started following and liking Instagram posts from a conspiracy theorist who claims that “secret societies” are implanting vaccines in a plot to connect Black people to a master computer for “a plan of Satan.” This Moderna microchip misinformation campaign has spread across multiple NBA locker rooms and group chats, according to several of the dozen-plus current players, Hall-of-Famers, league executives, arena workers and virologists interviewed for this story over the past week.
When asked directly about Irving’s vaccination status — or his plans to change it — multiple people familiar with his thinking declined to answer directly. But one confidant and family member floated to Rolling Stone the idea of anti-vaxx players skipping home games to dodge the New York City ordinance… or at least threatening to protest them, until the NBA changes its ways.
“There are so many other players outside of him who are opting out, I would like to think they would make a way,” says Kyrie’s aunt, Tyki Irving, who runs the seven-time All-Star’s family foundation and is one of the few people in his regular circle of advisors. “It could be like every third game. So it still gives you a full season of being interactive and being on the court, but with the limitations that they’re, of course, oppressing upon you. There can be some sort of formula where the NBA and the players can come to some sort of agreement.”
A spokeswoman for Irving declined to respond to a list of questions regarding his vaccination and playing status, and Irving did not immediately respond to a message from Rolling Stone. But as teams return to pre-season training camps next week, fifty to sixty NBA players have yet to receive a single vaccine dose, league sources tell RS. Most are considered merely reluctant skeptics. Some of the holdouts, however, amount to their own shadow roster of anti-vaxxers mounting a behind-the-scenes resistance to Covid protocols — and the truth.
Isaac considers un-vaxxed players to be vilified and bullied, and he thinks “it’s an injustice” to automatically make heroes out of vaccinated celebrities. He rejects the NBA’s proposal for a vaccine mandate and social distancing for players like him during team travel: “You can play on the same court. We can touch the same ball. We can bump chests. We can do all those things on the court. And then when it comes to being on the bus, we have to be in different parts of the bus? To me, it doesn’t seem logically consistent. “If you are vaccinated, in other places you still have to wear the mask regardless. It’s like, ‘OK, then what is the mask necessarily for?’” Isaac continues. “And if Kyrie says that from his position of his executive power in the NBPA, then kudos to him.”
Enes Kanter — the veteran center, devout Muslim and outspoken liberal — senses a creep of the religious right upon his workplace, which just happens to involve players like Isaac sweating all over him and yelling in his face: “If a guy’s not getting vaccinated because of his religion, I feel like we are in a time where the religion and science has to go to together,” he tells RS. “I’ve talked to a lot of religious guys — I’m like: ‘It saves people’s lives, so what is more important than that?’”
In their sit-down interview back in August, Durant and Green rehashed the incident and how it ultimately affected KD’s decision to leave the Warriors. Surprisingly, KD claimed it wasn’t the beef itself that pushed him away, but the way Steve Kerr, Bob Myers and the front office handled things. “It wasn’t the argument,” the former Warriors star said. “It was the way that everybody … Steve Kerr acted like it didn’t happen. Bob Myers tried to just discipline you and think that would put a mask over everything. I really felt that was such a big situation for us as a group, the first time we went through something like that. We had to get that s— all out.”