Were here in Chicago spending a considerable amount of time talking with players, agents, scouts, executives and General Managers, trying to get a pulse of where things stand in this draft at the moment. This is what weve learned over the last few days here in terms of what is happening off the court.
For a review of what is happening ON the court at the combine, check out our Chicago coverage at NBA.com.
Anyone Excited in Chicago?
With no competitive action to be found, most of the teams we talked to at the official networking point of the Combinethe Westin Hoteldont appear to be all that enthusiastic about what theyve learned here so far. Many are already calling for changes to be made next year. The NBAs competition committee held a meeting last night, and David Stern did not look all that enthused as we watched him exit the building.
I cant imagine that the NBA is going to allow this to happen again next year, one General Manager and Competition Committee member told us today. The agents are making a mockery of this process, and its making things increasingly difficult on us in terms of making decisions.
The top seven players in our mock draft were all either not in attendance (Ricky Rubio
, Brandon Jennings
) or declined to compete in the skill-portion of the workouts today.
Still, there were some who found a way to make do with the information that was presented to them.
These are certainly critical parts of information Mavericks General Manager Donnie Nelson told us. These are the best of the best here, and to see them all in one place alongside each othereven indirectly-- is definitely very helpful. You can see a players athleticism, you can see court awareness, you can see skill-level, so there is definitely lots of information you can see in a setting like this.
Sacramento Kings Assistant GM Jason Levien seems to agree: This is a good opportunity to see guys in a different setting, outside of their college uniforms, and against guys at their positions. Its one means of measuring players against each other. From a skills perspective, you can look at their ball-handling, look at their shooting, evaluate their mechanics, and get a feel for them that way. Its a piece to the puzzle. You dont want to make it more than that. There is a danger that when it comes so close to the draft that you forget the body of work. This is an opportunity to see them in a different setting, and in that regard its important.
Signs With WMG
The last major prospect without an agent has made a decision regarding who will represent him in this draft. Memphis freshman Tyreke Evans
has signed with Arn Tellem and Bob Myers of Wasserman Media Group, completing what has to be considered an impressive group of new clients for the powerhouse agency. WMG also signed Gerald Henderson
, James Johnson
and Wayne Ellington
, as well as DaJuan Summers
, Jon Brockman
and K.C. Rivers
The first decision made by Tellem and Bob Myers was to pull Tyreke Evans
out of the competitive portion of the Chicago combine, putting him in the same situation as other top prospects such as Blake Griffin
, Hasheem Thabeet
, James Harden
and Jordan Hill
Evans and co. are all in Chicago, they are just being selective about what parts of the combine they decide to participate in. James Harden
for example has elected not to conduct any interviews with teams drafting outside the top five, canceling a scheduled interview at the Westin Hotel with the Cleveland Cavaliers for example. He also reportedly will not be conducting any competitive workouts with anyone anywhere in the draft process. A source close to him tells us he feels very good about the possibility of being selected by Oklahoma City or Washington, and for right now is not planning on visiting the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Most teams weve spoken to in Chicago are indicating that they believe Oklahoma City is indeed leaning towards picking Harden. They also believe the Thunder are not enamored with Rubio at all, as they are committed to developing Russell Westbrook
at his natural positionpoint guard.
No Competitive Workouts for DeRozanDeMar DeRozan
will not be conducting any competitive workouts, his agent Aaron Goodwin tells us. The rumor mill indicated that he was only interested in going up against James Harden
, except for in Toronto, where he was slated to face off with Gerald Henderson
. Goodwin says that is not the case.
DeRozan is not working out with anyone. He isnt going up against Gerald Henderson
or anyone else at this point. He may not even go to Toronto. He wont fall to 9.
It will be very interesting to see how things play out, particularly if players such as Jrue Holiday
and Jonny Flynn
continue to move up the board. On face value, teams like Washington, Minnesota, Golden State and New York dont have an immediate positional need for a player like DeRozan, but his upside could clearly sway the tide in his favor.
Representatives of eight NBA teams spent their Memorial Day in Washington D.C. watching a workout featuring UConn freshman Ater Majok
. The Sudanese big man competed alongside college seniors such as UABs Lawrence Kinnard and UIC's Josh Mayo, in both individual skill-based drills and a two on two setting.
The feedback we received seemed to be lukewarm at best and very poor at worst. Majok is apparently trying to showcase himself as some type of small forward prospect, and the reaction in the gym was not very positive.
Hes five years away from being five years away, one high-level NBA executive told us. He definitely needs to go back to school, said another.
Majoks frame reportedly looked good, and he actually sports fairly nice shooting mechanics. The problem is that he looks like someone that has barely played any competitive basketball whatsoever in the last few years, which just happens to be exactly the case. Hes also not quite as athletic as you might think looking at him on first glance, as he appears to be more long than he is athletic.
Its going to be very tough for him to get drafted this year, the NBA executive opined. By the time hes ready to play, who knows where youll be. He needs to go back to UConn for at least another two years
Majoks advisors are apparently exploring the option for him to play overseas next year, according to reports weve gotten from teams in Europe.
-One player who really doesnt seem to have very much positive buzz these days is Ty Lawson
. Injury prone one assistant GM calls him. A backup point guard
hes 100% behind Jonny Flynn
another NBA representative says. Hes a product of North Carolinas system a third told us. Lawson seems to be outside of the lottery at the moment, but still has a good chance to be picked by two teams looking for point guards in the late teens, Philadelphia (#17) and Atlanta (#19). Hell have to keep Eric Maynor
at bay, though.
is being knocked by some teams for not being very impressive in their interview sessions, but others are wondering if those are the same franchises that appear to be most interested in him at this point. Were hearing that Phoenix at 14, Detroit at 15 and Chicago at 16 all like him quite a bit, and there are some question marks about whether there are smokescreens being placed in order to cause him to fall.
He was great in the interview we did with him. Seems like a really nice kid, one team that sat down with him here in Chicago said. Im not really sure where that stuff is coming from. Johnson is being knocked by some for not always being terribly enthusiastic about practice, and also for butting heads with Wake Forest head coach Dino Gaudio and teammate Jeff Teague
is reportedly extremely high on Stephen Curry
, and may be willing to trade up in order to get him. Apparently he views him as being able to play either guard position, even alongside Charlottes current group of point guards, Raymond Felton
and D.J. Augustin
Curry is getting love from teams as high up as Washington and also has a chance to be drafted 6th (Minnesota) or 7th (Golden State). While the Knicks clearly like him, he isnt the only player they will considerthe other top candidates on their board currently appear to be Tyreke Evans
and Jrue Holiday