NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Celtics denied in attempt to deal for veteran — If you haven’t checked out the piece by our Ian Thomsen on how Boston Celtics president Danny Ainge has no shortage of assets to play with in the 2016 draft and beyond, it’s a must-read. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, Ainge apparently tried to leverage at least the No. 3 overall pick in his draft and possibly others to try and pry some young superstars away from the Utah Jazz, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks, but was rebuffed on all fronts:
The Boston Celtics have been pursuing a number of established veterans in the buildup to Thursday’s NBA draft, offering trade packages built around the No. 3 overall pick, according to league sources.
But sources told ESPN that the Celtics, to date, have been rebuffed in their efforts to assemble a sufficiently enticing deal to acquire any of these four prime targets: Chicago Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler, Utah Jazz guard Gordon Hayward and Milwaukee Bucks teammates Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton.
Who the Celtics like at No. 3, if they end up keeping the pick, has likewise emerged as one of the bigger mysteries of draft week, sources say.
The Bulls, sources say, continue to show little interest in dealing Butler to the Celtics, who previously tried to trade for him before the league’s annual deadline in February.
Sources say the Celtics are one of just a number of teams trying to convince Utah to surrender Hayward — Phoenix, which holds two lottery picks (No. 4 and 13) in Thursday’s draft, is another — but the Jazz have been telling interested teams that he is not available.
The same, sources say, goes for Parker and Middleton in Milwaukee, since the Bucks regard both of those young cornerstones, as well as Giannis Antetokounmpo, as untouchables.
No. 2: Calipari says Murray wants to play for Wolves — With just one day to go until the 2016 NBA Draft, plenty of chatter about who may end up being picked by whom is sure to bubble up. Such is true in Minnesota, where the Timberwolves have the No. 5 pick and could be looking to add some perimeter shooting. Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune reports that University of Kentucky coach John Calipari says his former star player, Jamal Murray, wants to play for the Wolves:
According to someone who should know, Kentucky guard Jamal Murray wants to play for the Timberwolves.
This comes according to Wildcats coach John Calipari, who did a pre-draft conference call to talk about the four Kentucky players likely to be taken in Thursday’s draft – Murray, Alex Poythress, Skal Labissiere and Tyler Ulis.
As for Murray, his high-scoring, versatile guard?
He wants to come here, according to his coach.
That info came up when Calipari was asked how Murray would fit with Karl-Anthony Towns, the Kentucky Wildcat taken by the Wolves with the No. 1 overall pick last year.
“Who is Mr. Towns?’ Calipari joked. “That KAT kid? OK, well, here’s what I would say. [Wolves president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau] and I are great friends. He helped my career, helped me basketball-wise and every other way. I’m a big fan of Thibs. Jamal? I’m saying this to you and no one else. He loves Minnesota. As a matter of fact, that’s where he’d like to go.’’
But this is: Murray is big (6-5, 201), physical, can hit the three and attack the rim.
“I like these kids when they’re the No. 1 pick because the No. 1 pick should end up coming here,” said Calipari, who had players go 1-2 in the 2012 draft with Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. “So yeah, I like it. But these kids are also smart. And he looked at that situation and said, ‘They need me and I’d love to be there.’ And he’s met Karl and been around Karl and knows what a great kid he is. I’m not saying Thibs has to take him. But I know that’s what Jamal likes, that situation: The young guys and what they have and what he’d ad to that team.’’
No. 3: Report: Embiid given all-clear to scrimmage 5-on-5 — A variety of foot surgeries and setbacks have kept Joel Embiid, the No. 3 pick in the 2014 Draft, from playing in an NBA game since that big night. As we reported in this space a few weeks ago, the Philadelphia 76ers may be thinking of trading Embiid or Jahlil Okafor at some point. But for now, Embiid is a Sixer and according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Philly got some good news on the Embiid healing front:
After a full year of rehabilitation, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has been cleared to start light scrimmaging in five-on-five settings, league sources told The Vertical.
It is the next step in the process to make his NBA debut in 2016-17.
Embiid, the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, has missed two full NBA seasons because of foot injuries. Embiid, a talented, versatile player, is considered a key to the 76ers’ future.
The 7-foot Embiid has been impressive in his non-contact workouts in recent weeks at the 76ers’ facility, sources said, and the soundness of his problematic right foot should continue to allow him to begin preparations for next season.
Embiid, 22, is expected to travel to Las Vegas for the 76ers’ entry in the summer league in July but only to practice with the team, sources said. There’s no plan for him to participate in summer league games.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Luke Walton reported for duty as the Los Angeles Lakers new coach yesterday and is looking forward to his new gig … The Milwaukee Bucks have signed Jason Kidd to a 3-year extension … Our latest Mock Draft, where Henry Ellenson rises a bit … Former All-Star guard Steve Francis says he was thinking of an NBA comeback up until February … Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade opens up about why he decided to grace ESPN The Magazine‘s “Body Issue” …