The NBA’s annual Draft Combine is such an interesting environment. Not only do teams gather for several days in the same place, but the amount of cross talk that comes from it is impressive and usually where all the juiciest of rumors and speculation originate from.
With most teams already in Chicago for the NBA G League Elite Camp and NBA Draft lottery tonight, there are some things worth watching:
Wizards Executive Search
The Washington Wizards have been conducting a pretty wide-ranging search for their new leadership, but one name the team has had circled just became available to interview, and that is Denver’s President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly.
Connelly was raised in the Baltimore area and got his first job in the NBA as a basketball operations intern for the Wizards back in 1996. It’s been believed that both parties have serious interest in one another.
The Nuggets recently extended the contracts of all the Nuggets leadership staff back in February, which makes the situation an interesting one to watch.
Back in 2013, the Nuggets allowed then Executive of The Year Masai Ujiri to take his “dream job” in Toronto, after the Raptors offer to more than quadruple the salary the Nuggets were paying him.
The Wizards and owner Ted Leonsis have deep pockets, so the question becomes will they try and outbid a Nuggets team that all already up the price on Connelly once already.
Typically, NBA owners won’t stand in the way of advancement, and it’s never a good thing to have a guy in a senior leadership position that wants to be somewhere else.
The Wizards would need the Nuggets permission to meet and interview Connelly and at this point that has not been granted.
Brett Brown Is Safe
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Philadelphia 76ers will not be making a change at head coach and that Brett Brown and leadership has already started planning for the draft and free agency.
Despite another successful season in Philadelphia, there has been growing noise that maybe the 76ers had run their course with Brown and that he would be let go if the 76ers did not advance against Toronto.
Brown apparently got significant back-channel support from most (if not all) of the 76ers major contributors and ownership wanted the cloud over Brown to go away quickly.
Brown agreed to a three-year extension back in May of 2018 and has some $15 million remaining on his deal after this season.
While the NBA draft is next on the calendar for all teams, the 76ers have also started gauging where they stand with soon-to-be free agents Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler. Privately both have expressed an interest in staying in Philadelphia. However, both are in line for hefty new deals.
The 76ers seem willing to pay both players the max-level money both will require in new deals, even if it means a hefty luxury tax bill.
The problem for the 76ers is both players look to be highly coveted by other teams. The Utah Jazz have been continually linked to Harris and Butler is viewed in NBA circles as the consolation prize for the LA Lakers if they can’t restart an Anthony Davis trade with the New Orleans Pelicans.
It Could Be The Knicks Night
Tonight’s NBA draft lottery should be a bit more interesting given the new changing the lottery odds format.
This will be the first year where the worst four teams will have a shot at the top overall pick, with picks one through four now being decided by lottery drawing.
The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns finished with the worst three records respectively, giving them each equal 14 percent odds of landing the top picks. The Chicago Bulls are also in the lottery mix with a 12.5 percent chance of landing the top pick. The very worst any of those teams can do is land the fifth pick, making tonight all the more interesting as there is not statistically favors team in the top three.
The buzz in NBA circles is that not only to the Knicks seem to have the inside track on Warriors pending free agent Kevin Durant, they may also have the inside track on Celtics guard Kyrie Irving.
If the Knicks land the top overall pick, things could get really interesting for the Knicks, because they would then also have the keys to Duke forward Zion Williamson or the draft chip that might land Anthony Davis in the Big Apple.
Basketball Insiders will be on the ground in Chicago, so stay tuned for the latest news and notes from the Combine as well as in-depth interviews and features from all of the draft class.
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