Chris Grenham: Nico Mannion says he had an interview wi…

More on Draft Interviews

Ian Begley: Arizona's Nico Mannion says he's had a Zoom interview with Brooklyn. No in-person workout for BKN or NYK. Mannion said the Raptors, Lakers and Jazz are among the teams he's had in-person workouts with.
Mike Vorkunov: Knicks reached out to schedule a second interview with Stanford PG Tyrell Terry (nothing has materialized yet), according to league sources. Terry seems like a draft riser. Knicks have been looking into point guards but keeping their draft plans tight.
Eric Walden: French point guard Theo Maledon says he interviewed with the Jazz’s front office via Zoom, and then spoke afterward with the team’s sports psychologist. Said he feels like playing alongside a fellow Frenchman like Rudy Gobert would help his transition to the NBA.
Mark Medina: Deni Avdija and Obi Toppin both had interviews with the Warriors. Deni declined to say much, but Obi sensed that "they liked me a lot."
Barry Jackson: I'm told the Heat conducted a private workout with Duke power forward/center Vernon Carey Jr., last week, after interviewing him the day before. Miami has been focusing on several big men in its 10 permitted pre-draft workouts.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
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."
Storyline: Draft Interviews
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January 16, 2021 | 5:54 am EST Update

Andre Drummond addresses trade rumors

Instead of sulking with his successor standing on the sidelines in street clothes, Drummond gave everyone — Cleveland’s front office, Bickerstaff, the rest of the NBA — something to think about, even if he didn’t enter the night specifically looking to prove a point. “I play the same way each and every night,” Drummond said. “The trade, it is what it is. There’s nothing I can do about that. If I do get traded, I don’t control that either. I’m just here to play basketball with whatever jersey I have on. That’s all I can focus on right now.”
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Bickerstaff also hears the trade chatter. He’s talked with Drummond about it. “The optics are obvious,” Bickerstaff admitted. “But Dre and I have developed a great relationship up to this point. It’s a relationship that’s built on trust and honesty.” Drummond was asked about his reaction to the deal. He used the term “happy,” calling Allen and Prince “very, very good players.” And he backed up those words.
“The reason I’m having so much fun is I’m in a new environment, I’m in a new city and I love the guys that are here,” Drummond said. “It’s hard not to play hard here, having 12 guys that want to give it their all each and every night. It makes it fun to be out there.” Before the front office takes the next (logical) step toward unclogging the frontcourt by moving either Drummond or cheaper veteran JaVale McGee, who is also on an expiring contract and will garner interest, it’s worth considering how that would affect the team’s chances of staying competitive.
Justin Kubatko: The @Cleveland Cavaliers Andre Drummond has recorded his 43rd career game with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds, breaking a tie with Hakeem Olajuwon for the third-most such games since the ABA-NBA merger: 109 – Moses Malone. 51 – Dwight Howard. 43 – Drummond. 42 – Olajuwon. 41 – Charles Barkley.

Luka Doncic upset after Mavs fail to call timeout in loss vs. Bucks

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic animatedly expressed his dismay that coach Rick Carlisle didn’t use the team’s final timeout during a critical possession in the final minute of a 112-109 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night. The possession, which occurred with the Mavs trailing by two points, ended with Kristaps Porzingis badly missing a contested 3-pointer with 10.4 seconds remaining. After the Mavs took a foul seconds later, Doncic angrily gestured toward the Dallas bench, repeatedly forming a T with his hands to indicate that a timeout should have been called.
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“It’s Coach’s decision, but if we would have made the shot, everything would be good,” said Doncic, who had 29 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists in the loss, accounting for 61 of the Mavs’ 81 points when he was on the floor. “… But I don’t know. It’s Coach’s decision to call a timeout or no, so I think it’s good.” Doncic said he had not discussed the situation with Carlisle yet and declined to say if he intended to have that conversation with his coach. “If we talk, we’re going to talk,” Doncic said. “It’s not going to be in the media. It’s between us.”
According to Elias Sports Bureau data, Antetokounmpo’s 1-of-10 outing was the worst single-game performance from the foul line in Bucks history for a player with at least 10 attempts. Elias Sports also noted that the only other players to shoot 10% or worse from the free throw line in a game with at least 10 attempts are Andre Drummond, Al Horford and Shaquille O’Neal. Drummond has done it four times and O’Neal did it twice.
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