NBA Rumor: Draft Early Entries

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I spoke to Aaron Wiggins’ agent, Austin Walton, earlier this morning, and he mentioned that interest from NBA teams had increased significantly in recent days. He continued to explain to me that Wiggins and his family have decided to preserve his college eligibility in order to keep the door open for a return back to Maryland next season. However, if things keep trending up, and he is provided a certain level of assurance, it is certainly possible that Wiggins stays in the 2021 NBA Draft.

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Kofi Cockburn, a 7-foot, 285-pound center, has done everything but come right out and say that he’s remaining in the 2021 NBA Draft and won’t be returning to Champaign. The Jamaica native made a post on Instagram on Tuesday with a heartfelt caption, signaling that his time with the Illini is over. “Extremely happy to have been apart of and represented a program like this, I enjoyed every single day I spent in Champaign and I am proud of the growth I had while I was there, words can’t express how much I love the Illini and I wouldn’t trade that part of my journey for the world,” Cockburn wrote.

Max Abmas entering draft

Oral Roberts sophomore Max Abmas will enter the NBA Draft, sources told ESPN on Sunday. Abmas will maintain his college eligibility. “My plan is to enter the draft and get as much feedback as I can. I’m hoping to work my way into the first round or get some type of guaranteed contract to help me decide whether to stay in,” said Abmas.

Oral Roberts point guard Max Abmas led the country in scoring (24.2 points per game) and turned in a Stephen Curry circa 2008 NCAA tournament performance (26.6 ppg.) during a Sweet 16 run this season. His stock couldn’t be higher. The 6’1″ sophomore took a major step toward cashing in, declaring for the NBA Draft on Sunday. “I’m officially declaring, but I plan to retain my eligibility throughout the process,” Abmas told Sports Illustrated.

Sophomore guard D.J. Carton of the Marquette University men’s basketball team is leaving the program to pursue a career in professional basketball. “I would like to thank Marquette University, Coach Smart and my teammates for their support throughout my decision process,” Carton said. “I will be putting my name in for consideration in the 2021 NBA Draft and hiring an agent. I am thankful for the opportunity and looking forward to the next step in my career.”

San Diego State senior Matt Mitchell has hired an agent and officially declared for the 2021 NBA draft, USA TODAY SMG’s Rookie Wire has learned. Mitchell, a lengthy 6-foot-6 senior with a plus wingspan, won the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year behind 15.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in 2020-21. As a defender, he had the second-best steal percentage in the conference and he earned MWC First-Team All-Defense consideration. Mitchell was then honored as the MWC Tournament MVP and he helped his squad make an appearance in March Madness.

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June 23, 2021 | 9:04 am EDT Update

Nate McMillan has reservations about coaching Hawks next season?

While McMillan is the team’s “interim’’ head coach, sources made it abundantly clear Hawks management would love to remove the interim title. However, sources also said the 56-year-old McMillan has some reservations whether he wants to be the permanent head coach and may prefer some other role in the organization. Money won’t factor into McMillan’s decision as he is financially set, sources said.
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The 24-year-old is just fearless, and it’s that kind of bravado that has everything to do with the Suns taking these two games without Chris Paul while he continues to go through COVID protocol. Beverley bothered him defensively, but Booker never backed down. I asked him afterward if their back-and-forth was good, old-fashioned playoff basketball, or if perhaps Beverley and the Clippers were going too far with the physicality. “That’s for you guys to decide,” he said. “They’re an aggressive team. That’s how they guard. All those guys, they’re athletic. Watching the previous series against Dallas and Utah, (they’re) switching everything and trying to turn teams over. But we’re figuring it out and we try to stay aggressive, stay with what we do and whether it’s basketball plays or not, we’ve got to move on to the next one.”
“CP has taken Cam Payne under his wing,” he said. “When you see Cam Payne coming into practice with Chris Paul, you’re wondering, you know — Chris Paul is usually the one here early and you see Cam Payne right behind him and you tend to ask questions, them two been together watching film, lifting weights together stuff like that. You could tell that Cam really took a different approach to a whole other level and he did it right in front of our eyes. Like I said, he was bound to have one of these games and he’s a guy who keeps it consistent. He plays hard both ends of the ball, and I just love his passion.”
“We want everybody to cherish this moment because we are built for this,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s why we are here. No matter the pressure, no matter what’s going on, we are built for this. We believe in who we are. No matter what happens, win or lose, we’ll stay together and we’re just going to go out there and compete.” Antetokounmpo delivered for the Bucks in the series finale against the Nets with 40 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. For the series, he averaged 28.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
Against Brooklyn, Antetokounmpo averaged 40.1 minutes per game, the most he has averaged in any series and by far the most he has averaged since Budenholzer became coach in 2018. Antetokounmpo played 50 of 53 minutes in Game 7. “I’ve prepared my body all year for moments like that, being able to play 40 minutes, 42, 45, 48, whatever it may be, 53,” he said. “(Budenholzer) knows the way I am. If I get tired I’m going to let him know. If I get tired and I need a 30-second break or a minute-break, usually we have a great way to communicate about that – that he can pull me out and put me right back.”
Two people who have played important roles behind the scenes for the Hawks are Larry Riley and Mike McNeive. Riley, once an assistant coach and scout for the Bucks, is a senior advisor to Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk. Before joining the Hawks, Riley played a major role in the enormous success of the Golden State Warriors as be drafted Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson while being the team’s general manager. McNeive, who worked as an advance scout and assistant coach for the Bucks during the George Karl regime, is the Hawks director of basketball operations.
June 23, 2021 | 5:32 am EDT Update

Nets upset with Kyrie Irving?

Sullivan is the author of “Can’t Knock the Hustle: Inside the Season of Protest, Pandemic, and Progress with the Brooklyn Nets’ Superstars of Tomorrow,” which released on Tuesday. In a conversation with our friends from Celtics Wire on their podcast, Celtics Lab, Sullivan said that Nets ownership was unhappy with Irving over his midseason “pause,” and that Irving could be available for the right offer.
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