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NBA Rumors: Wiggins Set to Ink Rookie Deal

Andrew Wiggins will sign his rookie deal with the Cavaliers this week … Knicks looking to shake up backcourt … Suns consider making an offer to Greg Monroe

Jesse Blancarte

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Check out the biggest rumors of the day in our NBA Rumor Round-Up. For more rumors and news, check out Basketball Insiders’ headlines, which are constantly being updated.

Wiggins Will Ink Contract Later This Week

The Cleveland Cavaliers are planning to sign No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins to a contract in the coming week, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Cavaliers’ delay in signing the former Kansas star has nothing to do with the prospect of Wiggins being dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of Cleveland’s ongoing trade discussions for Kevin Love.

via Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com 

Since LeBron James announced his return to Cleveland, rumors stating that Andrew Wiggins will be dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a package for Kevin Love have gone rampant.

As of today, Wiggins has yet to officially sign his rookie contract with the Cavaliers. Some have interpreted this as an indicator that Wiggins will be dealt, but the delay really just affords the Cavaliers additional time to make small roster moves before adding Wiggins’ $5.5 million deal to their books.

Once Wiggins officially signs later this week, his $5.5 million will count against the Cavaliers’ salary-cap space and will be factored if he is traded for Love. In addition, the Cavaliers will need to wait 30 days from the day Wiggins signs to officially make any trade involving Wiggins, per league rules. However, the Cavaliers will still be able to negotiate with Minnesota, or any other team, in the meantime and agree in principle to a deal.

The Cavaliers remain in discussions for Love, but they aren’t the only team pursuing the All-Star forward. The Golden State Warriors have expressed serious interest as well, but have been reluctant throughout the talks to include shooting guard Klay Thompson. However, Basketball Insiders’ Yannis Koutroupis reports that the Warriors may have had a change of heart and are now willing to part with Thompson. It seems that Minnesota is remaining patient while the Cavaliers and Warriors bid against one another.

Knicks Looking to Shake Up Backcourt?

Working to clear the logjam in the backcourt, the Knicks are discussing their potential trade options with guards J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Shane Larkin, a league source said Sunday.

“They’re working on trying to make a move in the backcourt,” the NBA source familiar with the Knicks’ thinking said Sunday.

via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com 

With three shooting guards in New York, the Knicks are reportedly looking to make a move involving J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert or Shane Larkin, who was recently acquired from the Dallas Mavericks. However, the Knicks are not making Tim Hardaway, Jr. available in trade discussions.

Smith won the Sixth Man of the Year award in the 2012-13 season, but struggled all of last season after returning from offseason knee surgery. Smith’s numbers were down across the board in almost every major category, and he even said recently that he wouldn’t blame Knicks president Phil Jackson for trading him after what he calls the “worst year” in his NBA career. In addition to his sputtering on-court production, Smith was at times a distraction, missing the first five games of last season for violating the NBA’s drug policy, making a threatening comment to point guard Brandon Jennings on Twitter and untying opponents’ shoelaces on two occasions.

Shumpert is another guard reportedly on the table. Shumpert struggled all season to find his offensive game, averaging just 6.7 points per game and shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point range. At age 23, Shumpert still has a lot of room to grow and improve his game. He is very athletic, even after tearing his ACL in 2012, and is a strong perimeter defender. Considering his age, affordable contract, defense and potential, Shumpert may be the easiest guard for the Knicks to move in a deal.

Larkin has yet to play a single NBA game for the Knicks, but is already being put on the table. Larkin was drafted 18th overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, and subsequently traded to the Mavericks. He broke his ankle during a summer league game last year, and missed the start of his rookie season. He played in 48 games for the Mavericks, averaging 10.2 minutes per game.

Suns Set to Offer Deal to Monroe?

via Jordan Schultz of HuffingtonPost.com – Twitter 

The Detroit Pistons have yet to resolve the situation revolving restricted free agent Greg Monroe. Monroe is one of the best young big men in the league, but he plays alongside Josh Smith and Andre Drummond in a loaded frontcourt.

Similarly, the Phoenix Suns have yet to come to terms with restricted free agent point guard Eric Bledsoe. The Suns have a crowded backcourt with point guard Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas already locked into deals, and are reportedly unwilling to offer Bledsoe the five-year, $80 million he is seeking.

With the Suns and Bledsoe so far apart, it seems the Suns may look to Monroe as an option to shore up their frontcourt. Monroe averaged 15.2 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and shot 49.7 percent from the field last season. At just 23 years old, Monroe has a fluid offensive game, is a solid passer and has plenty of room to improve, which makes him a very attractive player. There have been conflicting reports as to whether the Pistons will bring Monroe back considering the amount of money invested in Smith and the fact that Drummond will demand a large contract extension in the near future.

Bledsoe and Monroe are two of the most talented free agents available, but are suffering from teams not wanting to take a risk on bidding for a restricted free agent. The market for Bledsoe has dried up, and Monroe currently remains in limbo with the Pistons.

Jesse Blancarte is a Deputy Editor for Basketball Insiders. He is also an Attorney and a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

NBA Daily: The Winners Of The NBA Draft

Simon Hannig breaks down the winners from Thursday’s 2018 NBA Draft.

Simon Hannig

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The 2018 NBA Draft has come and gone, and although many teams have improved coming out of this loaded draft, five teams seemed to have walked away as the biggest winners.

The Phoenix Suns Got Their Guy

The Suns made a couple of splashes in the draft, selecting DeAndre Ayton with the first overall pick.

The Suns then drafted Zhaire Smith, but later traded his rights to the Philadelphia 76ers for Mikal Bridges.

In the second round of the draft, Phoenix selected Frenchman Elie Okobo and George King from Colorado, each of whom should be able to contribute right away. Ayton should be the starting center come opening night and Bridges could also start for the team immediately. If not, Bridges will be a valuable weapon coming off the bench for a team who is trying to win games and get back into the playoffs.

Does Mo Bamba Have The (Orlando) Magic?

The Orlando Magic got a stud in Mo Bamba, whom they surprisingly selected with the sixth overall pick in the draft. They later drafted Melvin Frazier in the second round. It was a bit surprising that the Tulane product lasted that long, but the Magic benefitted.

Orlando got a player who can contribute right away and could compete for a starting job. Frazier is a great rebounder and defender and could change the team’s defense all by himself. The club now has two young core pieces they can build around in Jonathan Isaac and Bamba and a young contributor in Frazier.

Although the team’s offense will likely be work in progress, they can be very scary on the defensive end.

Now, we’ll all wait to see if Bamba, the New York product, can carry the Magic back to respectability.

Atlanta Hawks Will Let It Fly

Despite the Hawks trading Luka Doncic, the Hawk drafted players that can help and contribute right away, plus Quavo from the Migos got his wish of Trae Young being selected.

With their second first round pick, the Hawks took sharpshooter Kevin Huerter from Maryland and they took Omari Spellman from Villanova with their third pick in the first round. The Hawks are starting to build themselves like the Warriors, getting sharpshooters in Young and Huerter. It is no surprise they are doing this as their current general manager, Travis Schlenk, worked with the Golden State Warriors before taking the job with the Hawks.

They have the core for their future and I am really excited to see what Young can do in the NBA.

The Rich Got Richer In Boston

The Celtics once again got a steal in Robert Williams from Texas A&M. They get another athletic big man who plays great defense and rebounds the ball very well. I am pretty surprised he fell this far.

He is another rim protector the Celtics can use. He averaged 2.5 blocks per game in college. He will also provide second chance opportunities for the team. Williams averaged 3.0 offensive rebounds per game in college. He is just a monster on the defensive end of the floor and on the boards.

He would have been a lottery pick in last years draft, but he decided to stay in school another year, and I am sure the Celtics are happy about that.

Luka Doncic Found A Good Home

The Mavericks have the best young backcourt duo in the NBA now in Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic. They also drafted Jalen Brunson from Villanova, acquired Ray Spalding from Louisville in a trade with the Sixers and drafted Kostas Antetokounmpo, Giannis’ younger brother, in the second round. I love the Mavs’ backcourt a lot.

It is going to be very scary in a couple of years. It will take time and patience to develop them, but it will be worth it. This is going to be a dynamic duo for years to come for the Mavs. The Mavs have set themselves up not only for the future, but also to compete and to try to get into the playoffs. It also depends if they can bring in a max player in free agency, but I love the core the Mavs are building.

The Mavs should be a better defensive team next season, and will be a better offensive team next season with the weapons they have added to the team.

The Mavs are the clear cut winners of the 2018 NBA Draft.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

NBA Draft Night Trades

David Yapkowitz breaks down the trades that took place during the 2018 NBA Draft.

David Yapkowitz

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Another NBA Draft has come and gone. With rumors swirling all week about possible pick/player movement, the night remained relatively uneventful. There were a few trades that occurred, however. Here’s a quick breakdown of the movement that happened on draft night.

1. Atlanta Hawks/Dallas Mavericks

The Hawks and Mavericks completed the first trade of the night early on in the draft. Leading up to the draft, there were questions about how high Luka Doncic was going to be drafted. It was widely assumed that he wouldn’t slip past Dallas at No. 5. The Mavericks weren’t going to take that chance as the Hawks drafted Doncic with the intention of trading him to Dallas for Trae Young.

Both teams ultimately get what they need. It’s been reported that the Hawks might move on from Dennis Schroder this summer and they’ll need a point guard to replace him. Young is an explosive scorer who will fit in nicely with Atlanta’s rebuild. He can score from anywhere on the court and he’s a great playmaker as well.

For the Mavericks, they get a guy to add to their own young core with Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. Doncic has the size to play next to Smith in the backcourt. He’s quite possibly the best playmaker in the draft with a solid offensive game as well.

2. Charlotte Hornets/Los Angeles Clippers

The Hornets and Clippers consummated the second move the night by swapping their own draft picks. The Hornets took Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with the 11th pick and then immediately traded him to the Clippers for Miles Bridges, whom Los Angeles selected at No. 12.

For the Hornets, they get a guy who can play both forward positions. Bridges is more of a small forward but in small ball lineups, he can slide over to the four. Offensively he is at his best when he puts the ball on the floor and attacks the rim. He’s a decent shooter too.

The Clippers get a point guard who was rumored to climbing up many draft boards as the night approached. Gilgeous-Alexander is a solid pick for them provided both Patrick Beverly and Milos Teodosic’ injury history. He can also play off the ball if need be. He’s got the physical tools to be a very good defender at the NBA level. It’s not at all far-fetched to imagine him as the future long-term starting point guard for the Clippers.

The Hornets also got two future second-round picks from the Clippers.

3. Philadelphia 76ers/Phoenix Suns

The Sixers and the Suns had the next move of draft night, also swapping their picks. The Sixers selected hometown hero Mikal Bridges with the No. 10 pick and later traded him to the Suns for the No. 16 pick, Zhaire Smith.

Bridges made a lot of sense for the Sixers. Not only is he a local guy, but his mother works for the team as well. He was a talented player who fit their team. He gave a post-draft press conference raving about being a Sixer all the while he had been traded already. But such is life in the NBA. Instead, Phoenix gets a guy that’s ready to contribute in the NBA right away. He’s the prototypical 3&D type guy.

For the Sixers, Zhaire Smith is another guy who was steadily climbing the boards in the days leading up to the draft. He’s a very athletic prospect with good defensive instincts. He probably won’t play much right away, but he does have the potential to end up being one of the better rotation players in this draft.

The Sixers also get a 2021 first-round pick from the Suns via the Miami Heat. It’s highly likely this ends up being a lottery pick and thus giving the Sixers the chance to add a high-end talent to an already potent group.

4. Second-Round moves

There are a few second-round moves that were made as well.

For one, the Hawks selected Devonte Graham with the 34th pick and traded him to the Hornets for two future second-round picks. Graham is another NBA ready guy who can come in and immediately contend for backup point guard minutes behind Kemba Walker.

The Sixers were involved in another deal sending the No. 38 pick Khyri Thomas to the Detroit Pistons for two future second-round picks. Thomas is a player that many projected to go in the first round. For a team that didn’t have a first-round pick coming into the night, the Pistons essentially picked one up. It’s possible he turns out better than Detroit’s most recent first-rounders Henry Ellenson and Luke Kennard.

The Sacramento Kings drafted Gary Trent Jr. with the 37th pick only to trade him to the Portland Trail Blazers for two future second-round picks. Trent was one of the better shooters in the draft and that’s what he projects to the be in the NBA. He’s probably a few years away from earning a spot in the rotation but he was also a possible first-round pick. He’s more NBA ready than Anfernee Simons who the Blazers took in the first-round.

The Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets swapped second-round picks with the Magic sending the No. 41 pick Jarred Vanderbilt to the Nuggets for the No. 43 pick Justin Jackson and a future second-round pick. Vanderbilt is a project in every sense of the word. He’s extremely raw and probably needed more time in college. But he’s got long-term potential and could pay off in the future. Jackson, on the other hand, was possibly a first-round talent had he entered the draft last year. He’s going to have to make the roster but could be a 3&D guy.

In the final move of the night, the Hornets traded the No. 45 pick Hamidou Diallo to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Diallo is a guy that had he come out last year, probably would’ve been a first-round guy. In any case, he is also very raw and will need seasoning in the G-League. He’s got all the physical tools and skill to be a good rotation NBA player.

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2018 NBA Draft Diary

#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors

Jesse Blancarte

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With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.

Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.

Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.

Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.

The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.

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