Chris Grenham: Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji has met virtually with the Celtics, per source. Nnaji has received good feedback after interviews, and his shooting during workouts has impressed many around the league, including a solid in-person session with the Heat last week.
Jonathan Wasserman: Per source, Onyeka Okongwu meets with the Cleveland Cavaliers this week. Has recently met with the Hornets, Spurs and Wizards.
Additionally, the Chicago Bulls, who have the fourth overall pick, are taking a long, hard look at Haliburton and are scheduled to meet with him next week as well. Haliburton, a 6-foot-5 combo guard, has seen a meteoric rise in his draft stock since the beginning of last season at Iowa State. At the time, he was generally regarded as a mid-to-late first round pick.
Darren Wolfson: I'm also told that Ryan Saunders and Gersson Rosas were in Las Vegas. At one point in recent days meeting with a prospect. I'm told that they will eventually meet with Obi Toppin.
Darren Wolfson: It was not Obi Toppin, but that they will meet with Obi and they hope to meet with James Wiseman. But that one's a slippery slope. They want to get some face time with Wiseman but the Wiseman camp is wondering 'Okay, is James really a fit there in Minnesota? Can he coexist with Karl-Anthony Towns? Does that make sense?' So that meeting may eventually take place presumably in Miami where James is training. But I know there's been some hiccups in the wolves trying to line up some face time with James Wiseman but they are trying to use at least most if not all, of their 10 draft visits.
Iowa State point guard Tyrese Halliburton and Villanova forward Saddiq Bey are scheduled for pre-NBA Draft visits on Thursday with the Dallas Mavericks, according to league sources.
DBcom reported a few days ago that Dallas has hosted Immanuel Quickley for a visit. Definitely in the case of Thursday's schedule, most of these visits will take the form of "virtual'' sessions, Zoom meetings between the prospects and executives, coaches and scouts from a Mavs franchise that owns picks Nos. 18 and 31 in the upcoming NBA Draft.
A note on the Knicks and the 2020 NBA Draft: New York recently saw former Alabama point guard Kira Lewis Jr. work out in person, SNY sources confirm. Lewis, one of the top point guards in the draft, had previously interviewed with the Knicks over a Zoom call, as SNY reported.
New York also has spoken to American point guard LaMelo Ball, French point guard Killian Hayes and former Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton over Zoom calls. It is unclear if the Knicks have attended in-person workouts for Ball, Haliburton or Hayes.
Freddie Gillespie told KSTP that he has virtually interviewed with over half the NBA teams, including the hometown Timberwolves. He's mocked by many experts to go in the second round. Even if he goes undrafted, Gillespie should have opportunities to sign with teams.
Chris Grenham: The Celtics have met with RJ Hampton and are looking to have an in-person workout with him soon, per sources. More info in here, plus my conversation with Hampton on his refined jumper, strengths and pre-draft routine with Mike Miller and Penny Hardaway: https://t.co/qSPrqUDVbL
The Cavs have met virtually with countless prospects, ranging all over the board. The front office has provided coaches with a specific film-breakdown list in anticipation of Nov. 18. Sources say those names have included Toppin, Auburn swingman Isaac Okoro, USC’s Onyeka Okongwu, Memphis’ James Wiseman and Israeli point-forward Deni Avdija.
Chris Grenham: The Celtics have met virtually with Houston’s Nate Hinton, per source. High-character guy with a great motor and solid versatility. His improved 3-point shooting and release could make him a second-round steal. Really underrated prospect people need to keep an eye on.
The Golden State Warriors, legitimate contenders for the NBA title next season, need players who are ready to contribute immediately. Michigan State’s Xavier Tillman was averaging 13.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game before the season abruptly ended in March. He had been among the most prolific pick-and-roll finishers in all of college basketball. His assist percentage (18.3%) ranked in the top 15 nationally among all players 6-foot-8 or taller.
According to someone with knowledge of the organization who spoke to USA TODAY Sports Media Group on the condition of anonymity, Tillman stood out during his interview with the organization due to his maturity and his excellent basketball IQ.
Adam Zagoria: Former @KentuckyMBB G Immanuel Quickley @IQ_GodSon has met twice each with the Knicks, Pistons and Thunder and with multiple teams once including the Nets and Celtics.
Rick Bonnell: Among the draft candidates @Charlotte Hornets have interviewed: Charlottean @Devon Dotson. He could be there when Hornets select 32nd.
“I’ve had just two teams: Knicks and Warriors,” Ball said. “That was just like a little Zoom call. Hopefully, everybody is [interested in drafting me]. To be honest, I’m just ready to go out and play; the whole little draft process, [it’s] too much with it.”
Ian Begley: NBA Draft note: Phoenix Suns had a second Zoom interview with Alabama PG Kira Lewis Jr. earlier this week, per team source familiar with the meeting. Suns have the No. 10 pick. Knicks have also interviewed Lewis Jr. over a Zoom call.
Chris Grenham: Top JUCO prospect Jay Scrubb had his second pre-draft meeting with the Celtics on Tuesday, per source.
A bad pre-draft interview with an executive can hurt a prospect’s stock as much as an underwhelming game or workout for a team. “It’s just amazing how these guys don’t realize this is a job interview, and this isn’t a recruiting process,” one longtime executive told HoopsHype. “You’re not coming in here, and we’re going to tell you how good you are. That’s what trips a lot of them up.”
With that in mind, HoopsHype spoke with six executives who’ve conducted pre-draft interviews with numerous NBA draft prospects over the years for different teams. The executives shared the worst answers they’ve heard over the years, responses to character questions and outlandish player comparisons that negatively impacted a prospect on their draft board.
Some executives were shocked by the blunt honesty of the prospect, while others learned new intel that wasn’t in their background report. The answers led the executives to downgrade prospects or remove them from their draft board. One longtime Eastern Conference executive asked a prospect if he did drugs. When the player surprisingly said he did, the executive asked what his favorite drug was.
“He said he did ecstasy,” the executive recalled. “We asked him where he got the money for the drugs. He said, ‘They paid me to come to this school, so that’s where I got the money.’ Needless to say, he was red-flagged from our list.”
One executive spoke to a draft prospect who got in trouble and was suspended by his school. The executive asked the player what he learned, and the response blew him away. “He said, ‘People are always watching. I’ve got to be more careful next time.’” an executive told HoopsHype. “The player denied it, was asked about it again and doubled down denying the incident when it was basically public knowledge. I was like what the f—? Most guys own it. That’s the smart thing to do. This guy doubled down on it and was like I’ve got to be a better criminal.”
One executive spoke with a prospect who said he got caught with counterfeit money while trying to buy something at a store. “That was probably one of the worst things I’ve ever heard, but I did have respect for him for being honest about it because none of us had that information,” another executive told HoopsHype. “That player is no longer in the league.”
Chris Grenham: DePaul’s Paul Reed has met with the Celtics, according to a source. Reed is an athletic big who can be a real disruptor on the defensive end. Has great value as a second-rounder.
The Raptors have been one of the teams that has shown interest in Nate Darling who said he had a really great interview with the organization. They were impressed by his shooting, he said, and wanted to do their due diligence on the 22-year-old Canadian prospect.
Bryan Kalbrosky: The Golden State Warriors will interview Lamar Stevens this afternoon, per multiple sources. The four-year starter for @PennStateMBB is an athletic forward who is receiving comparisons to Jae Crowder. Interview with @LamarStevens11: bit.ly/33HD7JJ #ClimbWithUs 🦁
Chris Grenham: Adding to the pre-draft list: Oregon guard Payton Pritchard has interviewed with the Celtics, per source.
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.
September 19, 2021 | 12:44 pm EDT Update
Brian Windhorst: On opening night I think he’s gonna be in Los Angeles filming jump shot videos. He may be on the roster but I don’t think he’s gonna be there. (…) I don’t think Ben Simmons plays another game in a Sixers uniform.
After Ekpe Udoh’s “dramatic” injury against Tortona, Italian defending champion Virtus Bologna is considering Jordan Bell as a replacement for the former Fenerbahce center, according to Corriere di Bologna
September 19, 2021 | 7:06 am EDT Update
Clutch Points: Isaiah Thomas is expected to work out with the Golden State Warriors on Monday, sources tell @markhaynesnba. pic.twitter.com/aXdiqpdJcl
Lakers legend Pau Gasol, Marc’s older brother, recently sat down with Spanish newspaper Marca as he discussed the future of his sibling. Pau’s response was cryptic, but it is clear that he is hoping that Marc returns to Spain: “Marc has earned the freedom and flexibility to make his own decision and he will do so when he decides,” Pau said (h/t Sam Yip of Fan Nation). “I know he has a lot of enthusiasm for Basquet Girona, a club in which I am also involved as vice president. He is in a different situation, because he is five years younger than me. We will see what he decides to do this season and later, I am also waiting.”
“I’ve been on him about things I need from him,” Billups said. “I said, ‘Nurk, I know you are going to be a free agent, and I understand you have to have a great year. You need me for you to have a great year, and I need you for us to have a good year. We need each other, right?’ “I’m going to give him every opportunity to have a great year. Because if he has a great year, that means we are a pretty damn good team. Because he is a good player. But that means he has to be focused and be in shape. Because you are only going to play as many minutes as you are physically able. If you are out there tired, uh-uh, come on, gotta get you out. There are good players behind you.”
It is unclear exactly what Nurkic and his role will look like under Billups, but to hear Nurkic talk, Billups has given him a vision of being more involved on both ends. Billups has been careful not to publicly define roles, but in general, he has preached that the offense will include more ball movement. “I just want to feel wanted, and I think I just need more support, and what I mean by that is different playing style, more inside-out game, more chance,” Nurkic said. “More chance to be successful and the position where they put you in. It’s all about the coach and where they put you, and I think Chauncey has figured out that certain people are going to have one to three points less, but the team is going to be way more successful with ball movement and playing together and be more fun. Even at the defensive end.”