Zaccharie Risacher goes No. 1 to the Hawks, UConn teammates go in top 10

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Zaccharie Risacher goes No. 1 to the Hawks, UConn teammates go in top 10

The week of NBA Draft is finally here. After months of deliberation among perhaps one of the most interesting draft classes in the 21st century, we are closer to getting the answers to some of the most pressing questions surrounding the sport. Another wrinkle: The NBA Draft is a two-day event for the first time, giving teams more opportunities to make trades during the draft.

The Atlanta Hawks made a shocking jump from the mid-lottery to the No. 1 overall pick last month, but it’s still unclear who the team is targeting. French big man Alex Sarr has been the consensus top pick for the last few months, but according to the latest reports, Atlanta could be deciding between UConn’s Donovan Clingan or French forward Zaccharie Risacher if they keep the selection.

We decided to look at 11 mock drafts from analysts at CBS Sports, ESPN, The Athletic, Bleacher Report and Yahoo to create our own mock draft listing each player who was mocked the most times at each specific spot in the first round. There is a mutual consensus among draft analysts on who will be taken with the first few picks, but after that, it’s a free-for-all.

If you want to see who CBS Sports experts Kyle Boone, Adam Finkelstein, David Cobb, Travis Branham, Gary Parrish, Colin Ward-Henninger, and yours truly are mocking to your favorite team(s), the link for each mock is below. If you don’t like mock drafts and rather see who the best players from this class will be in 10-15 years, Matt Norlander’s big board may be for you.

CBS Sports mock drafts: Boone | Finkelstein | Cobb | Branham | Parrish | Ward-Henninger | Salerno

Let’s take a look at our consensus mock draft, with the real draft taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn later this week.

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How a brotherly bond and brutal injury turned Cody Williams into 2024’s most compelling prospect

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — There was a look on young Cody Williams’ face that his mother will never forget. This would have been when Cody was 6, maybe 7. It often came on the basketball courts at Arizona’s Luke Air Force Base, where the family spent their Saturdays. Cody, big sister Jasmine and big brother Jalen are the children of Nicole and Ron Williams, who met while serving in the military in the early 1990s. Nicole was in the Air Force for 13 years, Ron held active duty for 24.

On those bustling Saturdays on the base, the family would bounce from the gym to the basketball courts to the bowling alley before streaming the aisles of the commissary, shopping for groceries.

“It was pretty fun. A lot of memories,” Nicole said. You can practically feel the beam of her smile over the phone. As she remembers the bigger things, some smaller moments — that look on Cody’s face — indelibly resurface. Cody and Jalen’s fraternal bond was nurtured by sports, basketball most of all. Jalen, who is three and a half years older than Cody and one of the better young players in the NBA, was already taking to hoops in a serious way before middle school. Sure enough, little bro wanted to be like that. So, Cody watched Jalen with deep intent.

“He soaked it in. He looked up to his brother, admired him,” Nicole said.

That’s how this story started. But as Cody got bigger, his look shifted. Where he once wanted to be like his brother, he soon wished to be better, and in his own way. Cody said that by the time he was 10, something shifted in his perspective. Jalen remembers it the same way.

“He caught on to everything twice as fast as I did when I was his age,” Jalen said.

Ron and Nicole saw how their boys would feed off each other, constantly in challenge mode. Cody with that look: watching, learning, plotting.

“It was always competitive,” Cody said. “When I was younger, like when I was really young, it [felt like] just the older brother being annoying, just picking on me. But he was really trying to help.”

They took to basketball early, though they were never pushed into it. In fact, Cody’s first memories of competition with Jalen came in the pool. In elementary school, they’d swim laps in the 5 a.m. hour, racing on 100-meter splits.

“And I’ve never done that again,” Cody said. “That was torture, especially waking up early on summer break.”

Basketball took hold over all other activities. From a young age both boys were clearly talented. Cody got better because Jalen never let up.

“When I went into high school, that’s when he got old enough to where we could play a little bit, and even during the drills he could see how hard I was going,” Jalen said. “I felt like that pushed him that way. I’m competitive too, so that pushed us both. My parents did a good job of making sure it was always fun. It was fun competition but we were always competing, getting better. It kept us grounded.”

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Jalen Williams, left, and brother Cody bonded through basketball from a young age. Nicole Williams
Ironically, despite having an outdoor hoop at the house, the boys seldom played on it. Competitive ball was saved for indoors, at gyms and in climate-controlled spaces where they wouldn’t scuff their shoes or risk scraping knees. If they played outside, that meant hopping in the family pool to hoop, where sibling battles were mandatory.

“We could never be in the pool and just kick it,” Nicole said. “It’s someone’s getting dunked on, parents vs. kids, shooting contests. We were never in the pool with them without playing basketball. That never, ever happened.”

The Williamses could have never dreamed those busy mornings on the base and splash battles in the pool would lead to what will materialize Wednesday night, when they’ll make their second trip to the Barclays Center in two years’ time and once again have a Green Room table with the family name on a placard. Cody, a likely top-10 pick, is about to officially join Jalen in the NBA as members of a rare club: not only brothers who made the league, but lottery selections.

What hasn’t been publicly revealed until this story is the extent to which Cody Williams has rehabbed to get back into healthy playing shape for the first time in more than seven months. He endured a trio of injuries — from head to limb to foot — in his one season at Colorado. While helping Colorado make an NCAA Tournament push, Cody (of his own volition) played with an injury that needlessly endangered his future and potentially damaged his draft stock.

Those ailments, his diligent recovery from them — combined with how well his brother has adapted to the pros — have made Cody one of the most interesting prospects in this draft class.

The fourth-ranked recruit in the Class of 2023, Williams was the highest-rated player to ever commit to the Buffaloes. He’s the uncommon case of a one-and-doner who cruised under the radar at a high-major program — yet will still go in the lottery. Usually, if a five-star player is going to be a top-10 pick after one year in college, they’ve got a pretty big profile. That’s not the case with Williams, who missed 13 games and didn’t start the final six contests at Colorado.

Cody was tagged as a high-level talent from his early days in high school, but his five-star status really only aligned in correlation to Jalen’s rise as an NBA prospect in the spring of 2022. In a symbiotic way, the brothers were uplifting each other’s reputations, which was punctuated by Jalen becoming one of the more shocking rags-to-riches lottery-pick stories in modern NBA history. After that happened, Cody became an even bigger target and wound up being the hunted for two-plus years. He handled that well; his Perry High team in Arizona won back-to-back 6A state titles. Williams also played on the 2023 Men’s U19 USA National Team.

At Colorado, though, he never really took off. Williams’ averages were pedestrian for a five-star recruit: 11.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 71.4% as a foul shooter in 28.1 minutes per game. His 3-point shooting was good (41.5%), albeit with limited sample size (just 41 attempts in 24 games).

Injuries held him back.

The first was a wrist fracture suffered against Pepperdine on Dec. 4, 2023. He sat for a month and missed seven games. Even then, the return felt a little rushed. When Williams came back vs. California on Jan. 10 he logged 16 points in 38 minutes with five turnovers, four fouls and shot 5 of 13 from the field.

Three weeks later, Cody took an elbow to the face in practice on Feb. 1 and broke his left orbital bone. It took nearly a week for double vision and blurriness to subside, though he kept those details private. He had to don a mask while playing and his efficiency numbers dipped.

“He played hurt when a lot of guys in his draft range/tier would not have played,” Nicole Williams told CBS Sports.

NCAA Basketball: Utah at Colorado
An orbital fracture led to Cody wearing a mask for part of the season. His production dipped as a result. USATSI
“I think it speaks to his competitive nature,” Jalen said. “He was fighting through a lot of that, and we got him to sit down and heal from that, so I think a lot of people really missed that part of it.”

The first two injuries were aggravating, but the third was the most damaging. Williams sprained his right ankle in a road win against Utah on Feb. 24, badly hurting himself after landing on a defender’s foot.

“It doesn’t look good on camera, I’m not gonna lie. It was a nasty little ankle injury,” Cody said. “I had some stressed ligaments, I had some bone bruises, two bone fragments in my foot.”

It was the worst kind of ankle damage: a complete ligament tear. Grade 3. That would have ended the season/college career for the majority of players expected to go in the top 20 of a forthcoming draft. Not Cody, though in retrospect that decision became controversial. He missed the final four games of the regular season but opted to return for the Pac-12 Tournament — doing so while significantly hindered but nonetheless after Colorado’s medical team cleared him.

“Some people were maybe like, ‘You should think about your future,’ and it was like, ‘I’m not worried about that. I’m worried about trying to win a Pac-12 championship and make a tournament run,'” Williams said. “I wanted to get out there and play. I love basketball. So once they told me [I could play] and it was a green light for me … you can’t tell me not to play.”

Williams played six games over an 11-day span (Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments) and averaged just 6.7 points while on a minutes restriction. He helped Colorado go from bubble team to making the Pac-12 title game to squeezing into the NCAAs (and winning two games) before falling by four to Marquette. As badly as he wanted in, it was evident he wasn’t close to the player he was blossoming into three months prior.

“I wish I was 100% healthy for the tournament,” Williams said, adding, “sprinting up and down the floor, I felt like an old man running down the court.”

Cody would send pictures of his purple foot to his family members. He never talked publicly about the pain and held the severity of his injury extremely close to the vest.

In mid-April, Dr. Richard Ferkle, a Los Angeles-based orthopedist who also works with the NBA and is considered among the best in his field, examined Williams’ MRI from late February. What he saw was damage that, in his medical opinion, should have kept Cody from returning for the rest of Colorado’s season. A Grade 3 sprain of this extent takes months to properly heal. Instead, Cody and Colorado chanced it — and fortunately avoided further injury in the process.

“Once it was a green light for me, you can’t tell me not to play.”
Cody Williams on opting to play on a damaged ankle
“From a brother perspective, I think it’s admirable, it’s how we were raised,” Jalen said. “There were no excuses in our household. But to shed light on the situation, he was not healthy for the back half of the season and definitely should not have been playing on the ankle.”

A second injury in that area might have sidelined Cody for close to a year. As Colorado became one of the most interesting bubble teams, its star freshman was putting millions of dollars in future earnings on the line.

“Do I feel like that whole situation could have been handled a whole lot better? Come on, of course,” Nicole Williams told CBS Sports. “Am I going to go after anyone? Of course not. Do I think things could have been handled better with better communication? Of course.”

Cody isn’t resentful after the fact and he proudly admits he wanted a shot to experience the NCAA Tournament. But returning affected his immediate training and prep for the draft. He had a lot to lose by playing on a bad wheel and it did impact his draft standing. Only recently have NBA teams fully understood just how limited he was and started to recalculate Williams’ place in the draft’s pecking order.

“I don’t even know if it was 50%,” Williams said of his ankle health in late March. “I couldn’t jump off it, single leg, I couldn’t jump off two. I couldn’t really sprint. Most I could do was a fast jog. It kind of hurt to push off it. I really couldn’t do a lot of movement, as far as my ankle. Made it work, somehow. I don’t know how I did.”

Four months removed from ripping up his right ankle, Williams’ draft night outlook remains a moving target. His dedication to the game and as a teammate will work in his favor. Still, those in his circle believe playing on the ankle set back his recovery timeline in the most crucial evaluation period of his life. It didn’t have to be this way.

Cody Williams saunters into a modest Santa Barbara rec gym at 8:30 a.m. on a warm late-May Tuesday. It’s here, at the Page Youth Center, where Williams has put up (and been tracked on) more than 26,200 shots (making approximately 16,500) since he arrived in April to spend the bulk of his pre-draft training in Santa Barbara.

“He was not healthy for the back half of the season and definitely should not have been playing on the ankle.”
Jalen Williams
On this day he crosses 14,000 makes in the past six weeks, nearly 5,000 of those buckets being 3-pointers. He runs a gamut of high-intensity shooting workouts, putting his body through a wringer of exercises with a training team from WME Sports that’s led by Packie Turner, a veteran performance coach. He guides Williams through demanding full-court dribbling drills, some of them with specialized 3-pound basketballs to hone Cody’s handle.

They cycle through routines that rotate between at-the-rim attacks, tight mid-range pull-ups and deep contested shots. It’s been less than two weeks since Williams got cleared for full speed on his recovering ankle. (When Williams’ time in Santa Barbara is up, he’ll have logged 60 grueling workout hours over 40 days in two months’ time.)

After a 70-minute sweat, there’s much more work to be done. Williams makes the 10-minute drive to P3, a specialty gym unassumingly tucked away on a side street that sits less than 400 yards from the Pacific Ocean, adjacent to Santa Barbara’s West Beach. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you’d walk right past it. This humble spot has altered the lives of hundreds of millionaire athletes over the past 15 years. It’s also played a major role in how executives evaluate players.

P3, which stands for Peak Performance Project and was established in 2006, has built up a sterling reputation in the past decade for its kinetics and kinematics data. In addition to projecting out nuanced athletic skill sets, P3’s computer algorithms and evaluations purport to help project injury prevention by identifying the weaknesses in a player’s body long before those weaknesses lead to serious injuries.

It sounds high-tech — and it is — but the gym is not adorned in glamor or staged for Instagram pics. The cozy space feels semi-dark, there’s a no-frills bathroom/shower next to one of the training areas near the front, and most of the weight equipment and benches look at least 15 years old. Across the room, a few employees dutifully help athletes grunt through their sets.

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Cody Williams, now nearly 100% healthy, spent the past two-plus months training in Santa Barbara. Joey Caione
The gym also serves as a physical rehab center, which is part of the reason why Williams is here. Today, he rotates through a half-dozen exercises to improve his core strength, shoulders, upper body mass, arm reflexes and angular flexibility. He goes from hurling a medicine ball against a metal slab bolted to the ceiling, to working his glutes, hamstrings and arms with what’s called “an elevated plate drop” that enhances Cody’s ability to stabilize external forces.

It looks miserable.

He loves it.

“Being able to see where my body’s at and what I need to get stronger has really been one of the main focuses — and I can see my body transforming,” he said.

A lot of the work that’s been done in this gym in recent weeks has been to restore full function to Cody’s right ankle, to make sure nothing is holding him back as he revs for the massive NBA leap. On May 28, it’s determined that his ankle recovery is at approximately 90%.

“He doesn’t feel limited by it at all,” P3 general manager Adam Hewitt told CBS Sports. “Teams are going to see a better athlete than what they saw at the end of the season.”

Hewitt’s team pulls up Cody’s profile on their screens and explains how a lot of his “underpinning” data resembles (you guessed it) Jalen’s. That’s an extremely encouraging sign. Jalen’s pre-draft results were a major factor that allowed him to vault from potential NBA pick all the way to being selected No. 12 by the OKC Thunder.

“Our models really love how he moves,” Hewitt says of Cody, who measured 6-feet-6 1/2 with a 7-1 wingspan at the combine. One of his biggest knocks: He’s the skinniest player in this draft, coming in at 184 pounds. Williams has been tested with P3’s state-of-the-art 3D Motion Capture and Force Plate data, which fills out an athlete’s strength and agility profile through “biomechanics and machine learning.”

What’s particularly promising is how well Cody has tested in comparison to Jalen, despite the ankle issue and going through this as a 19-year-old; Jalen’s results came when he was fully healthy and 21. Cody’s movement, use of force and athleticism is nearly identical to big bro. Hewitt said Cody’s lateral testing put him in the 92nd percentile of all current NBA athletes they’ve examined (more than 66% of players currently in the league). His vertical is 89th percentile.

“Not a high flier but the tools are there to be a really good all around athlete,” Hewitt said. “He has tools to be a high-level defender, and at his size, he should be a handful.”

Imagine if he tested at 100%.

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Courtesy of Nicole Williams | CBS Sports illustration
Among the many uncertainties in an underwhelming, hard-to-project 2024 draft class, one looming question that’s hovered over the build-up to Wednesday night: Who’s going to pass on a Williams brother again?

Jalen moving from fringe prospect to the 12th pick in a few months’ time was one of 2022’s feel-good stories. In retrospect, the Santa Clara alum was still taken too late. Two years in, Jalen (19.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 4.0 rpg) objectively ranks as one of the five best players from that draft. Five teams in the top 11 in 2022 that passed on Jalen are back in the top 11 this year: Detroit, Houston, Portland, San Antonio and Washington. Will all of them opt out on Cody too? He’s worked out for nine of the teams holding a top-10 pick.

“Just from a scouting perspective, just watch the shit,” Jalen flatly says of Cody’s chances to adapt as he did. “Just watch what he’s doing. Just watch the game, watch the reads he makes. Basketball is a collective thing where we get caught up in social media, where we want to see highlight plays, dunks … and we overlook playing the right way, being a high-IQ player. I have a chip on my shoulder as far as that goes. He does as well.”

Jalen pointed out Boston’s recent NBA championship and the way Jayson Tatum put his teammates’ needs above his own and how he wanted to win playing the right way.

“People see that with me, and I think it would be pretty weird to pass up on that,” Jalen said. “All his combine numbers are better than me. He’s taller, has a good frame, will constantly put on weight as he gets older. He’s someone who plays the right way and that gets lost now. … It would be pretty dumb to overlook him.”

Cody will be one of three picks taken this year out of Colorado, joining teammates Tristan da Silva and KJ Simpson, all three projected first-rounders. It will be a record for Colorado and coach Tad Boyle.

If those same franchises (and new ones) pass, it will be in some part because of his up-and-down year in Boulder. The whole way, Nicole kept reminding her youngest of a simple truth. For as easy as it could be to fall into the mindset of following a big brother’s path to high-profile success, she told Cody: “I don’t need you to be like Jalen, I don’t need Jalen to be like you.”

“It would be pretty dumb to overlook him.”
Jalen Williams on his brother’s draft appeal
“It just so happens when they started going on the same path, just remember, you are you,” Nicole said. “Jalen’s path was his path and that was the right timing for Jalen. This is your path and this is the path I need you to be on.”

For as much as they can be packaged similarly, the brothers are motivated in different ways. Jalen seeks people who dismiss his objectives. He craves doubters. Cody knows who he is and is confident without giving thought to a critic. Come at him and he’ll filter you out without conscience.

“It’s amazing to Ron and I how he managed to do that,” Nicole said. “It impresses the hell out of me. He’s walking his own path in his own shoes. He’s not walking in Jalen’s shoes, he’s not walking Jalen’s path. It’s his.”

It came from the home they grew up in. A family of full accountability.

“They could have fun, laugh, be open and honest, but when it comes down to a respect level, there’s a line you don’t cross. And our boys wouldn’t even teeter near the line,” Nicole said. “We’re not that white-glove military family, but it’s the basic things, that maybe society’s losing track of, I need them to have a grip on.”

Raising their children that way led to genuine dedication to studying and schoolwork. That paid off earlier this spring, when Cody impressed many teams behind closed doors at the combine with his high IQ in video sessions and in interview settings. He could watch tape, verbalize what he saw and explain the parts that should happen next in front of NBA minds 30-plus years older than him who he’d never met before. Being a good student led to him believing in the analytics of the game and, to hear him explain it: “How technical everything is, how everything they do is for a purpose.”

Cody ranks Kobe Bryant as his all-time favorite player, with Jalen right alongside. One current player whose game he loves: two-time champ Jrue Holiday. He also models his styles after Kevin Durant, Lu Dort, Brandon Ingram and Jaden McDaniels.

“I feel like just having a good feel for the game and making the small, simple, right plays is a big thing,” he said.

He’s on the precipice of a rarity, which is a fitting word. It’s the one he used to describe his closest bond.

“The best word to describe our relationship is rare,” Cody said of Jalen. “I’d definitely say a lot of siblings don’t have a relationship we have, not as close as we are. It’s really rare to find an older brother that wants their younger brother to be better than him. He really wants me to become the best basketball player ever and he does everything he can to help me.”

Now at nearly 100% full health for the first time since 2023, Cody Williams can arrive as scheduled, is truly ready for his biggest moment yet and sprinting toward the greatest leap of his life.

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Cleveland lands Warriors assistant after month-long search, per report

The Cleveland Cavaliers have hired Kenny Atkinson as their head coach, according to Shams Charania. Atkinson, who previously served as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets from 2016-2020, has spent the past three seasons with the Golden State Warriors as a top assistant under Steve Kerr. He is known for his pick-and-roll heavy offense and his ability to develop young players.

Cleveland’s coaching search began on May 24 when the Cavaliers fired J.B. Bickerstaff, and it was centered around two coaches throughout the entire process: Atkinson and former Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego. It had been widely reported earlier in the process that Borrego, not Atkinson, was considered the favorite, but Atkinson gained steam in recent days.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who had taken a step back from active leadership with the team in recent years, was reportedly heavily involved in the decision to hire Atkinson. The former Nets coach received an important endorsement from Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, according to Marc Stein. Gilbert is a Michigan State alum and tried to hire Izzo himself in 2010, so his word holds quite a bit of sway in Cleveland.

Two key Cleveland players have experience playing for Atkinson in Brooklyn, as both Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert were drafted by the Nets during his tenure. Allen, infamously, was a point of contention when Atkinson lost the Nets job, as star free agent signings Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving reportedly wanted Brooklyn to start DeAndre Jordan over him. Jordan had passed his prime by that point, and Allen has blossomed into an All-Star in Cleveland, so Atkinson has since been proven right on that front.

Cleveland’s roster is in a state of flux at the moment. While the Cavaliers are reportedly confident that he will sign a contract extension, Donovan Mitchell can become a free agent in 2025 and if he does not agree to extend, he is expected to be traded. If he does extend, point guard Darius Garland will reportedly explore trade possibilities with his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Meanwhile, the fit between Allen and Evan Mobley continues to cause problems on offense, and Mobley’s strong performance at center in the playoffs may make Allen expendable as the team looks for an impact wing.

Finding a coach was the first domino for the Cavaliers. There is still a lot of work to be done. Now, at least, Cleveland knows who will be leading its roster even if it doesn’t quite yet know who will be playing on it.

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NBA’s 10 biggest offseason storylines with Lakers, Warriors, Knicks, 76ers, more facing crucial decisions

The NBA offseason is already off and running with JJ Redick taking the Lakers job, Alex Caruso and Josh Giddey trading places, Pascal Siakam agreeing to a four-year, $189 million deal to stay with Indiana, and Malik Monk, who possibly could’ve gotten something close to $100M on the open market, giving the Sacramento Kings a hometown a discount on a four-year, $78M extension.

The first round of the NBA Draft is Wednesday night, and the second round Thursday. Free agency opens Sunday, June 30, at 6 p.m. ET. Until then, we’ve got the normal assortment of rumors swirling. Some shall come to fruition. Some shall not. But they’re all worth discussing, and on that note, let’s take a look at the 10 biggest offseason storylines to watch.

  1. Lakers and LeBron
    Redick is in, but could LeBron be out? Probably not. However, James is a free agent (assuming he opts out of his 2024-25 contract for $51.4 million, which he is expected to do in search of a longer-term deal) and Philadelphia, as an example, does have the space to sign him to a max contract. If LeBron leaves, it will obviously be the biggest story in the league, More likely, if he stays, what will his contract look like?

After that, will the Lakers make a move for the third star they have long been threatening to add? Trae Young is out there on the trade block. So is his current Atlanta teammate, Dejounte Murray. The Lakers, who are over the luxury-tax first apron, are expected to be aggressive. Is this the summer we see Austin Reaves, as the Lakers’ only real non-draft-pick asset with meaningful market value, shipped out? We’ll find out.

  1. Does Bronny James get drafted?
    Will the Lakers take Bronny with the 17th pick? Will the Suns take him with the 22nd pick? Will he fall to the second round? Will he fall out entirely and have to sign as an undrafted free agent? Bronny will be the biggest story on draft night(s), which is certainly a unique situation for a guy who isn’t even universally regarded as a legit NBA prospect. And that’s really all there is to say here. We’ll know more by the end of Thursday night.
  2. Where does Paul George end up?
    The Clippers are apparently pinching pennies with George, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent assuming he doesn’t pick up his 2024-25 player option for $48.7M. Reports have so far indicated the Clippers aren’t willing to exceed the three-year, $150M million extension that they gave to Kawhi Leonard. That’s a long way off from the four-year, $221M max contract George could get from a team holding the necessary cap space to make such an offer.

The Philadelphia 76ers are one of those teams and it’s hard to imagine a better basketball and timeline pairing, which makes the report that the Sixers’ interest in George significantly waned exceedingly strange. It’s worth noting that Oklahoma City could definitely make something work with over $31M in projected cap space and/or plenty of assets to facilitate a potential sign and trade. So could the Orlando Magic. Reminder that a sign and trade hard caps the team receiving the signed player.

The Knicks are also reportedly keeping their eye on George should he decide to opt in to the final year of his deal with L.A. and then request a trade, which ESPN’s Brian Windhorst has reported as a real option. Golden State feels like a sleeper if Klay Thompson is moved and Jonathan Kuminga anchors a legitimate trade package.

Understand, George opting in and then requesting a trade is risky. George is in position to secure one more max deal at 33 years old, and that might not be true next summer. One thing is for sure: George can’t like the news that Philadelphia has cooled on him in terms of his leverage with the Clippers, who are basically daring him to leave for more money.

  1. How do 76ers use max space?
    The Sixers are finally off the Tobias Harris contract and, as mentioned above, have max cap space at their disposal. Again, why their interest in George has waned is a mystery. Is this a negotiating tactic? Do they want the Clippers to get complacent thinking there isn’t a max offer out there for George and the fly in at the last second to offer one?

I’m too trusting. I take people at their word, or reported word, so when I see reports saying the Clippers don’t want George, I believe they don’t want George, as little sense as that makes to me. I would be a terrible GM, I guess. I’ll fall for anything.

Either way, the Sixers are going to do something significant, of that I am sure. It’s simply not an option to dole out max cap space to a bunch of peripheral players with the Joel Embiid championship clock ticking like a lead weight.

Signing Tyrese Maxey to a max deal doesn’t even count. He’s already there. They need an outsider. Brandon Ingram could be an option. DeMar DeRozan. Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports reported that the 76ers aren’t interested in pursuing Zach LaVine, which, unlike the George leak, makes sense. LaVine is signing up for another Tobias Harris contract. Maybe even worse.

So, what do the Sixers do?

  1. Hawks facing a crossroads
    Atlanta beat long odds to secure the No. 1 pick Wednesday night. Zaccharie Risacher, a 6-foot-8 wing who projects as a plus defender with work to do as a shooter and creator, is slotted as the guy Atlanta will take in our latest CBS Sports mock draft, and other mocks agree. It’s still an option to trade down for a couple picks in what is seen as a weak high-end draft.

Aside from the draft, do the Hawks make the hard decision to move on from the Trae Young era and trade their franchise player? It might be easier said than done. Young’s market isn’t exactly bullish. The Lakers, I suppose, can do business with Atlanta. I wouldn’t encourage it, but the Lakers do love their stars.

It’s a franchise-changing decision: Do the Hawks trade Young and build around Dejounte Murray as their point guard, or trade Murray and stick with Young. Or, do they trade them both and totally reset around whoever they take at No. 1? A lot of moving parts here, and it will be fascinating to see what shakes out.

  1. Klay Thompson and the Warriors
    It’s looking more and more likely that Thompson’s incredible Warriors career could be coming to an end this summer. This from our Sam Quinn:

According to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, there is no offer of any kind on the table for Thompson to remain with Golden State. There have been “no productive discussions” between the two sides and “talks are essentially frozen.” Further complicating matters, according to Slater, is the potential loss of Thompson’s best source of leverage. While there was reportedly mutual interest between Thompson and the Orlando Magic early in the process, there is currently no traction between them either.

Last offseason, the Warriors reportedly offered Thompson a two-year extension for $48 million and he turned it down. Now they may not even be offering that much, perhaps banking on the possibility that Thompson’s market could be cool and he wold be forced to come back to Golden State on a bargain.

That’s pretty cutthroat business to conduct with with a franchise legend who has been instrumental in turning the Warriors into an estimated $8 billion enterprise. Then again, Thompson has been compensated pretty well for his services. The Warriors paid him almost $70 million from 2019-2021and he didn’t play one game for them over that span. They gave him a five-year, $189 million contract knowing he was headed for ACL surgery and rehab.

Now the Warriors are looking to duck the tax after paying nearly $600 million in luxury penalties over the past four years, but they also don’t want to waste what is left of Stephen Curry’s prime. So beyond the Thompson decision, are the Warriors ready to swing a big deal by shipping out draft picks and possibly Jonathan Kuminga? The two-timeline thing is over.

As mentioned above, Paul George could be a legit option if the Clippers would dance on a potential sign- or extend-and-trade, or if George just decides to opt in to his $48M player option for this season and then request a trade. Chris Paul’s money could anchor a the finances of such deal, or any other that Golden State chooses to pursue.

  1. Donovan Mitchell and the Cavs
    Cleveland finally hired a coach, landing Kenny Atkinson on Monday morning. There’s also this little bit of business of Mitchell, who can essentially tell the franchise what to do with him. He’s entering the last year of his contract, and if he says he wants to be traded, leveraging the fear of losing him for nothing next summer, he’s going to be traded. It’s really that simple.

Now, if Mitchell says he wants to stay and signs an extension, then what becomes of Darius Garland? It’s hard to imagine them both coming back as Cleveland has proven to be a few notable notches below the East’s true contenders with this super-small backcourt that does a lot of the same things that didn’t even manage to produce a top-15 offense last season.

Jarrett Allen could also be dealt, as he is similarly redundant with Evan Mobley, who is younger and the more likely guy to build around. These are all big to super-big names and Cleveland controls all of them presently speaking. Let’s see how they play their hand.

  1. Do Thunder go for it?
    OKC already traded for Alex Caruso, who is going to make their defense an honest-to-god nightmare. Is that the first move in a busy summer for a team with unlimited draft assets and over $31M in projected ca to work with? They could get into the Paul George sweepstakes. They could, really, make a run at pretty much any player they want.

If they don’t go huge, Klay Thompson would make a lot of sense to bolster shooting, which was a little bit exposed in OKC’s second-round loss to Dallas. Isaiah Hartenstein would be incredible in addition to, and alongside, Chet Holmgren. Hartenstein would solve a lot of OKC’s rebounding troubles and be a second elite rim protector if they could take him from the Knicks. Mitchell Robinson would slot similarly. As we’ll talk about in a second, the Knicks are at least doing due diligence on a Mitchell trade. Brook Lopez is a name to keep in mind.

One way or another, you have to wonder how much longer Sam Presti is going to slow play his roster building around the edges. To be clear, they don’t need to go superstar hunting; they shouldn’t, in fact, unless something perfect presents itself. But the options are limitless here, and OKC is ready to make a championship run right now.

  1. The Brandon Ingram conundrum
    Ingram is one of the most interesting players this summer. He’s a 26-year-old two-time All-Star. That is a typically a player description that equals a max extension, which, for Ingram, who entering the last year of his current deal, would be $208 million over four years.

But Ingram isn’t a lock to sign a max deal with New Orleans and in fact is probably a pretty likely trade candidate. He was benched in New Orleans’ first-round loss to the Thunder. He was a nothing in Game 4, scoring eight points on 2-of-14 shooting in 39 minutes as the Pelicans were swept.

Ingram doesn’t fit great alongside Zion Williamson. He needs the ball, and Zion, not exactly a floor spacer himself, is going to control things as a top priority. Do you really want to commit to Ingram at an average annual salary north of $50M through 2029?

Because if the Pelicans don’t, which many would argue they shouldn’t, they almost have to trade him this summer. He’s going to get paid a big number by someone next summer, and if the Pelicans don’t want to pay him or lose him for nothing, they will find themselves backed into a corner at this time next year.

  1. Knicks could be busy
    New York has a lot going on this summer. OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein are free agents. They’re reportedly looking into trading Mitchell Robinson. In his latest newsletter on Sunday, Marc Stein cited a source advising him to “keep the Knicks on the list” in the event that Paul George opts in and requests a trade rom the Clippers. Julius Randle always feels like a potential trade option.

Stein reported that the Knicks are still the overwhelming favorite to re-sign Anunoby, and the reporting on the potential Robinson trade would suggest they feel good about their chances of keeping Hartenstein. It should be noted, however, that the Knicks aren’t necessarily shopping Mitchell but merely gauging what may be out there in the even they do decide to move him.

From our James Herbert:

The Knicks have spoken to several teams, including the Washington Wizards, about potential trades involving center Mitchell Robinson, SNY’s Ian Begley reported on Sunday. Robinson, 26, is one of the best rebounders in the NBA and, before suffering a stress fracture in his left ankle in December, he was playing the best defense of his career.

On Saturday, SNY reported that Leon Rose’s front office is gauging the market as it approaches an offseason that could see its payroll increase significantly. Isaiah Hartenstein, the center who broke out after Robinson’s injury, is about to hit free agency, and the Knicks would like to re-sign both him and Anunoby. They can offer Hartenstein a four-year deal worth $72.5 million, using their Early Bird rights. Anunoby will cost much more than that. If Hartenstein, Anunoby and Bojan Bogdanovic (who has a $19 million team option) all return, New York could be well over the luxury tax.

Also, at some point, the Knicks are going to look to cash in some of this draft capital they’ve acquired — unless they shifts gears and decide they have enough to compete with some smaller moves and see the bevy of draft picks as a way to add cheap talent as their payroll increases.

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Celtics’ Jaylen Brown asks Boston fans to help find missing ring he lost during championship parade

Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown is hoping that a good samaritan can provide an assist for a ring he lost during Friday’s championship parade. Brown shared on social media that he lost a ring during the celebration in which the Celtics traveled throughout Boston.

“Reward for whoever finds this ring lost it at the parade 🙃,” Brown wrote in an Instagram story.

The ring that Brown lost features the logo for his personal brand “7uice” in the center and contains diamonds. Brown didn’t mention what the reward would be if someone happened to find the missing ring.

“Big reward for whoever find this ring lost it at the parade if you find it lmk please 🙃,” Brown wrote in another post.

While the ring appears to be very sentimental to Brown, the ring isn’t his Celtics’ championship ring. NBA teams are traditionally given their championship on opening night during the following season.

It’s been quite the week for Brown as he helped the Celtics defeat the Dallas Mavericks to win their NBA record 18th championship. He was named the NBA Finals MVP after he averaged 20.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.0 assists during the series. The Celtics star also excelled defensively as he registered 1.6 steals per contest while locking down Mavericks star Luka Doncic throughout the series.

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Cavaliers confident Donovan Mitchell will sign extension, Lakers linked to veteran scorer

The NBA Draft is just two days away, and free agency starts on Sunday (June 30), which means the rumor mill around the league is going to start heating up this week. We’ve already got one trade completed, as the Bulls sent All-Defensive guard Alex Caruso to the Thunder in exchange for Josh Giddey, and the Bulls may not be done dealing as they try to solidify a plan for next season. Elsewhere around the league, Paul George remains a hot topic as other squads try to gauge if the versatile forward will stay with the Clippers long-term.

There could be a lot of movement this summer as every team tries to chase the newly crowned champions in the Boston Celtics. As we prepare for a busy offseason here are the latest rumors circulating around the league.

Cavaliers confident about Donovan Mitchell extension
The Cavaliers just checked one thing off their to-do list this summer in hiring Kenny Atkinson as their new head coach. He’s an ideal fit for a Cavs team that is hoping to make a deeper run in the postseason next season. Atkinson’s offensive-minded coaching style is also a perfect pairing for Mitchell, who has been a major topic of conversation. There’s been rumors dating back to last season that he could request a trade from Cleveland if things don’t go the way he wants, with the Knicks long being rumored as potential suitors. But a year later and a second-round playoff appearance under the Cavs belt, Cleveland is reportedly “confident” in its ability to sign Mitchell to an extension this summer, per The Athletic.

Mitchell is eligible for a four-year, $209 million maximum contract, which the Cavaliers are preparing to present to him. We’ll have to see if Mitchell takes the extension, but given the amount of money, it would be surprising if he said no. And while the Cavaliers are confident that Mitchell will sign the deal, that doesn’t mean that down the line he won’t request a trade from the team.

Lakers interested in Collin Sexton
This is a pivotal offseason for the Lakers for a number of reasons. They’ve already hired their next head coach in JJ Redick, who they are hopeful can turn into the franchise’s next Pat Riley. They’ll need to come to an agreement on a new contract with LeBron James, which could be his final deal in the NBA as retirement nears. There’s the decision on whether or not to draft LeBron’s son, Bronny James, this week. And really above all else, there’s the biggest question mark in how this team is going to improve for next season. Throughout the season the Lakers tried to upgrade their point guard position, as D’Angelo Russell was on the trading block until the deadline, but nothing came to fruition.

But with the offseason looming, it appears as though they’ve refocused on upgrading that position, with Collin Sexton as a potential target, per ESPN. Sexton averaged 18.7 points, five assists and nearly three rebounds with the Jazz this year, and would be an ideal fit for a Lakers team that has needed more shooting on the roster. Sexton is a career 38.3% shooter from deep, while making 39.4% of his shots from deep this past season on over four attempts a game. He’s the same size as Russell, but a more capable defender, which is an upgrade for the Lakers. We’ll have to see if the Jazz are willing to part ways with Sexton, and if they are the Lakers probably won’t be the only team calling them.

Rockets trying to make a splash this offseason
Houston finished .500 this season, and with a young core centered around Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith and Jalen Green, it appears as though the team feels ready to contend for a playoff spot next season. They’ve already been attached to Brandon Ingram, Marcus Smart, and now they’re setting their sights a little higher on the trade market, as Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler have been mentioned as potential trade targets, per ESPN.

Those are incredibly lofty dreams for a team that hasn’t proven if this young core can all coexist together. And the likelihood that the Suns would even entertain a Durant trade are low, even with their backs against the wall in trying to add depth to an incredibly expensive roster. But the Rockets do have a stable of young talent, the No. 3 pick in this week’s draft and that may entice someone like Phoenix, or the Heat, who could consider moving Butler this summer as the aging star is drawing interest around the league.