Then there’s the smallest of sample-size theater. James Wiseman played all of 69 minutes at Memphis, while Darius Garland played five games at Vanderbilt. Famously, Kyrie Irving played only 11 games at Duke. Top 2022 prospect Shaedon Sharpe didn’t play a single game this season for Kentucky. One executive said he’s been burned by an overly cautious medical staff who raised red flags that dissuaded him from selecting a first-round prospect. Many feel that workouts, more controlled by agents than ever, are overvalued, as is performance in the NCAA tournament (see Williams, Derrick and Flynn, Jonny). Combine results can be tantalizing, though scouts and execs feel as if the league has made a proper correction on a traditional fetish — “athleticism.” Yet at the same time, some say the swing toward “basketball IQ” has moved so dramatically in the past few years, that teams might look up to find that they don’t have the necessary shot creation to contend.
July 6, 2022 | 12:24 pm EDT Update
The New Orleans Pelicans have interest in signing CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. to contract extensions. The Pelicans acquired both players from the Portland Trail Blazers in February, which helped turn around their season and become a playoff team. “It sounds like CJ McCollum is having some contract extension talks with the Pelicans,” said Brian Windhorst. “I’m not sure when he can actually sign that, Andrew. I know he signed his last contract extension in 2019.”
Windhorst hinted that there have been discussions and Lopez said he “assumes” there have been talks. But both said it would probably be, at this point, very preliminary. Windhorst: “I don’t know what they’re offering. Maybe they haven’t offered him yet but if you put Griff (David Griffin, EVP of the Pelicans) on the stand and ask, ‘did you offer Brandon Ingram?’ he’d say, ‘No, your honor that is not accurate, I suppose. I mean if they are having conversations, they have to know it would involve Ingram. They’re not taking, with all due respect, a hot package around CJ McCollum.” Lopez: “I assume that has been discussed. But of course If that was an offer there. If it was ‘offered.”
In a Hoop Collective conversation late Tuesday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Andrew Lopez discussed whether the Pelicans and Nets might agree to a trade centered on Kevin Durant and Brandon Ingram … and possibly New Orleans draft pick from June’s Draft, Dyson Daniels. While at times the conversation appeared speculative, the sense of the conversation was that conversations may have already taken place between Brooklyn and New Orleans. Windhorst noted that while New Orleans has not been seen as part of the first order of Nets trading partners — Phoenix, Miami and Toronto — it could provide a “clean” deal for the Nets. No need for a third team.
The Utah Jazz partly blew up their core last week, trading Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves for an absolute haul and also shipping Royce O’Neale off to the Brooklyn Nets. These moves left Donovan Mitchell scratching his head. According to Brian Windhorst, who spoke on his Hoop Collective Podcast, Mitchell approached the front office and asked them what their plan is after parting ways with two key players. Windhorst revealed the Jazz are essentially looking to “do what’s right” for the franchise, with Danny Ainge, in particular, believing that giving up Gobert and O’Neale was in the best interest of Utah.
After struggling to find a consistent niche in his first full season with the Heat during the 2020-21 season, Strus made the decision to go back to summer league even though he had a deal lined up for the next season. “Summer league was everything for me last season,” Strus says. “It provided all the confidence in the world for me to do what I did last season, honestly.” And it was exactly what the Heat were looking for: a showcase for the young prospect to shine as the leading man for the team.
Strus’ progression from G Leaguer to NBA starter reinforces the player development reputation the Heat have created over Pat Riley’s two-plus decades in charge. “I knew that from the first week I was here that this is exactly what is meant for me,” Strus says. “It starts through practicing and putting in extra hours, and they really value that here.”