Josh Jackson Reportedly Cancels Pre-Draft Visit with Boston Celtics

With two weeks before the 2017 NBA draft, presumptive lottery pick Josh Jackson cancelled a workout with the Boston Celtics on Monday. 

ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman and Marc J. Spears reported Jackson’s decision to cancel his workout with the Celtics, who own the No. 1 overall pick.   

 

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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David West, Tristan Thompson, JR Smith Get Technicals for Game 5 Altercation

A shoving match between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors interrupted Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals.

The altercation began after Kyrie Irving and David West were fighting for a rebound. West yanked the ball away from Irving and extended his left arm to push Irving away. Tristan Thompson then confronted West, while JR Smith shoved West as well.

Referees assessed technical fouls to all three players.

   

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

   

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LeBron James Would Pick Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson on Olympic 3-on-3 Team

LeBron James doesn’t appear likely to participate in the new three-on-three basketball event at the Summer Olympics, but he knew who he would choose if he could create an all-time team.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star picked Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan for his hypothetical team, according to Doug Feinberg of the Associated Press (via NBA.com).

When asked about current players, however, he only responded, “I don’t know; I have to think about it.”

The International Olympic Committee announced Friday it would add three-on-three basketball to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 for both men’s and women’s competitions. However, James explained Sunday that he is unlikely to participate in the new event.

“I’m not very good in a three-on-three thing. I’m more of a five-on-five guy,” he said in his full comments, via NBA TV:

Still, it would be nice to dream about a potential trio of James, Johnson and Jordan, arguably the three best players in NBA history.

When former Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley recently said Johnson is the greatest player of all time, the five-time NBA champion instead corrected him to say James is the best, via ESPN.com.

“He has it and it just rubs off,” Magic said. “He’s just special.”

Only in a video game can we see these three great players competing on the same team in all their primes. They would have likely been an unstoppable trio.

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NBA Rumors: Jrue Holiday, George Hill, Jeff Teague Linked to Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves will target a trio of point guards in free agency in an effort to bolster their backcourt.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN in Minneapolis (via RealGM) reported Monday the Timberwolves have Jrue Holiday, George Hill and Jeff Teague on their summer wish list.

Minnesota selected Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick of last year’s draft, while Ricky Rubio is under contract for the next two years. Still, the Timberwolves’ desire to spend big on a free-agent point guard is little surprise.

Dunn had a disappointing rookie season in which he averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 assists a game and shot 28.8 percent from three-point range. Rubio, meanwhile, is a victim to the NBA‘s shift to point guards who can not only run an offense but also create their own shot. Rubio has never averaged more than 11.1 points a game over an entire season, and he’s a career 31.5 percent shooter from beyond the arc.

The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in January the Timberwolves were making Rubio available via trade. When the season officially ends, those rumors may spark up again. ESPN.com’s Ian Begley reported June 5 some members of the New York Knicks front office are angling for a Rubio trade.

Trading Rubio would likely be the easy part for Minnesota. The hard part will be signing an adequate replacement.

The rising salary cap, coupled with the market for point guards, will make the price to sign Holiday, Teague or Hill extremely high. In addition, the players’ respective teams will almost certainly want to bring all three back.

General manager Scott Layden is smart to identify point guard as an area of need this summer, but he should make sure to have a contingency plan should the opportunity to sign one of Holiday, Teague or Hill fall through.     

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Markelle Fultz Reportedly to Meet with Lakers Before 2017 NBA Draft

Projected No. 1 NBA draft pick Markelle Fultz will reportedly meet with the Los Angeles Lakers at some point this week, according to NBA insider Adam Zagoria

Last week, Fultz spent two days meeting with and working out for the Boston Celtics—who will make the draft’s first selection on June 22. The Lakers have the No. 2 pick.

Assuming Fultz follows through with the visit to Southern California, the Lakers will have met with the top four prospects in this year’s class. 

Last week, Purple and Gold brass were on hand for a workout with former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. According to the Orange Country Register‘s Mark Medina, the Lakers were “impressed with Ball, including his leadership potential, passing and scoring.”

However, Medina noted the team was not thrilled with his conditioning. 

Magic Johnson and Co. also previously met with former Kansas swingman Josh Jackson, whom Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman projected to the Lakers in his latest mock draft. 

Next up for the Lakers is a private workout with former Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, who is scheduled to hit the court at the team’s practice facility on Tuesday, per Medina.      

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Dennis Rodman Reportedly Heading to North Korea

NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman is reportedly traveling to North Korea and will arrive in the country Tuesday, CNN’s Joshua Berlinger, Elise Labott and Nicole Gaouette reported Monday.

Rodman visited North Korea in January 2014, participating in an exhibition basketball game in the nation’s capital, Pyongyang.

 

This article will be updated to provide more information as it becomes available.

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NBA Draft 2017: Updated Mock Draft After Latest Prospect Workouts

It’s only fitting the NBA Finals wind down alongside the 2017 NBA draft process.

While LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fight for survival against the Golden State Warriors in a familiar 3-1 situation, NBA draft prospects continue to go through the paces with teams perhaps interested in calling their names at the podium on June 22.

The Finals rightfully command more attention right about now. Not only is there a championship at stake, the prospect workouts themselves don’t usually change much unless something wildly negative occurs.

By now, NBA front offices have worked for years on this class and have droves of film from maybe before high school on, not to mention the combine and plenty of background work.

Those details aside, it doesn’t make the final stretch of the process any less interesting. Below, let’s take a look at a mock draft and zoom in on some of the interesting recent workouts.

            

2017 NBA Mock Draft

          

Notable Recent Workouts 

TJ Leaf

UCLA’s TJ Leaf is one of the more interesting prospects in the draft this year.

Far from the biggest name on the Bruins one season ago, Leaf quietly posted a season NBA teams loved because he’s the embodiment of where the league’s headed when it comes to forwards who can shoot from range.

Leaf is easily one of the better stretch 4 prospects in the draft. Coming in at 6’10” and 222 pounds, he shot 61.7 percent from the floor last season and 46.6 percent from deep. He clearly needs to work on other areas of his game, but the size-shooting combo doesn’t come around often and is quite the baseline NBA teams can start with when it comes to developing him.

Unfortunately for Leaf, he recently worked out with the Utah Jazz, and Walt Perrin, the team’s vice president of player personnel, told Andy Larsen of KSL.com the following: “His Jazz 100 was good, but not great. He shot it pretty well when he was spotting up but struggled a little bit on the move.”

Look, Leaf’s struggles outside of shooting don’t exactly come as a surprise. He’s light for a forward and needs to add strength, which in turn doesn’t help him fight through screens or bang down low on the defensive end of the court when asked.

Still, the above mock doesn’t slam Leaf’s stock too much by having him come off the board at No. 21 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Considering the team needs to get back to its floor-spacing ways via shooting, Leaf is a nice rotational piece to groom for the future while he soaks up minutes off the bench.

           

Luke Kennard

While the above comments about workouts hold true, they can be quite important for a prospect like Duke’s Luke Kennard.

Kennard is all of 6’6″ and 196 pounds and seems stuck in a rut known as the shooter-only prospect. He didn’t do himself any favors digging out of the reputation when handed a shovel known as the draft combine, as he declined to do athletic testing.

If all a team wants is shooting, great. Last year, Kennard shot 48.9 percent from the floor and 43.8 percent from deep on the way to averaging 19.5 points per game.

Teams clearly want to know more, though, which is why the Detroit Pistons recently had him in for a workout. There, the former Duke standout brought up quite the interesting name while talking about his game.

“I’m a student of the game,” Kennard said, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. “I love to study film and watch, not only myself, but other players. (San Antonio Spurs star Manu) Ginobili is really creative. I just love his competitiveness.”

One look at Detroit’s depth chart shows why the Pistons would have an interest in a 2 with elite shooting skills given the need of scoring in the lineup next to Reggie Jackson. In the mock above, though, all the factors combine to have Kennard dip to No. 30 with the Utah Jazz, where he’ll space the floor for Gordon Hayward or everyone else if the team’s star player leaves in free agency.

Unless Kennard is stunning teams with new developments not seen on film, his stock seems rather steady at this point.

              

Lonzo Ball

The headline act for this year’s draft, of course, is Lonzo Ball. 

Ball has himself to blame. While some might point a finger or two at the antics of his father, LaVar, it’s been no secret for a long time the California kid had his sights set on the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now? He just so happened to enter the draft as the Lakers pick No. 2 while led by a guy who knows a thing or two about court generals, Magic Johnson.

Ball just had his workout with the Lakers, and the rumblings have been all over the place. 

Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding noted Ball performed as most would’ve predicted: “Ball didn’t separate himself clearly from the pack. The thing is, he never was going to do that in a one-on-none workout format that gave him no one to find with a dynamic hit-ahead pass in transition or a perfectly timed bounce pass for a basket cutter.”

Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times caught a similar feeling:

Despite standing at 6’5″ and 195 pounds, Ball certainly isn’t known for his athleticism. He isn’t flashy, either, but he is the best passing guard in the class who has incredible vision, poise and a solid ability to defend either spot in the backcourt.

Where Ball falls behind during the eye test is when comparing him to hyper-athletic points in the class such as Markelle Fultz, De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr.—all names who could join Ball in the top 10.

But the Lakers don’t need Ball to be flashy—they need him to come in and run the offense while letting fellow young prospects such as D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle grow alongside him.

As such, the Lakers still make him the choice in the mock above. It’s funny the prospect making the most noise this year had a predictable, almost boring workout with his team of choice, but fans of the rebuilding Lakers and NBA fans wanting an interesting show that history will remember no matter how it unfolds can’t complain.

           

All stats and info via ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.

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