Jimmer Fredette has great workout in Utah

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Former BYU sensation and current draft prospect Jimmer Fredette recently had a draft workout with his hometown Utah Jazz, and all indications are that it went great. Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune has the report:

The Jimmer Fredette Circus arrived Wednesday in Salt Lake City. The show was packed; the scene was a riot. And Fredette again stole the spotlight.

Building off strong performances during four previous NBA Draft workouts, the former Brigham Young guard accomplished exactly what he set out to do weeks ago when initial plans took shape for a highly hyped session with the Jazz. Fredette got his long-desired matchup against ex-Connecticut star Kemba Walker, holding his own against a player many consider to be a lock for a top-10 pick in the June 23 draft. Fredette also drilled shots he was expected to sink, while drawing praise for his sharp passing and improved defense. In turn, the undersized combo guard who entered the five-week buildup toward selection day facing numerous questions and serious doubts ended Wednesday’s session by converting more believers…

…Fredette again focused on proving that he can play defense and run the point guard position at the NBA level.

All five other players involved in the workout said Fredette did just that. And while Jazz general manager Kevin O’Connor offered his standard string of no comments, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin was impressed with the guard’s speed and fiery spirit.

“This cat really competes and he hate to lose,” Corbin said. “He’s a good kid. He really like to play, and that shows in everything that he do on the floor – along with his scoring ability. Everyone knows him for putting up numbers on the board. But I think he’s a more complete player than a lot of people give him credit for.”

Sounds like things went pretty well for Jimmer, but this may actually put the Jazz in a bind. No matter how well Jimmer’s workout goes, he would still be far too much of a reach for the Jazz to take with their #3 pick, and if he keeps having workouts this impressive, he might not be there when the Jazz pick for the 2nd time with the #12 pick. Given Fredette’s immense popularity in the Jazz’s market and the fact that Utah traded away its franchise point guard last season, it seems almost impossible that the Jazz will pass on Fredette if he’s available at 12.

When the draft process first started, the opinion seemed to be that the Jazz would be drafting Fredette for marketing as much as they would for his on-court skill, but now he appears to be playing like a legitimate lottery pick in workouts — on both ends of the floor, no less. The question now seems to be whether or not Jimmer will be available for the Jazz to grab with the #12 pick, and if they’ll try and make some sort of move up to get him if he isn’t.

Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson leaves Duke-North Carolina game with knee injury

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Zion Williamson will probably be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

He’s a generationally good prospect. The rest of this draft also looks relatively weak.

In fact, Williamson has such a stranglehold on the top pick, some have suggested he sit out the rest of his freshman season.

His injury during Duke’s game against North Carolina tonight will only heighten those calls.

Duke:

Hopefully, Williamson is OK.

And hopefully, the system changes. The NCAA is a cartel in which schools conspire to cap compensation for athletes at a scholarship plus some expenses. In a free market, Williamson would earn far more.

Unfortunately, it probably can’t be both. If Williamson escapes this without major injury, the status quo will likely endure.

But, if this injury even allows him to play again this season, it might be a warning shot that causes him to sit until he can enter the NBA draft.

Again, I hope he’s healthy enough to make that decision for himself.

Jayson Tatum guarantees Celtics will win 2019 NBA championship

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Friday morning, Jayson Tatum guaranteed the U.S. team would beat the World team in the Rising Stars game that night. The U.S. team won.

So, Tatum was asked Saturday morning whether he wanted to guarantee anything for that night. He guaranteed he’d win the Skills Challenge. He won.

So, then ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Tatum whether he wants to guarantee anything else. And he really let it ride.

Tatum:

We’re going to win the Finals this year. February 16th, mark it. Jayson Tatum says we’re going to win the Finals this year.

Obviously, Tatum wasn’t going to pick against Boston. But this wasn’t that. He could have easily avoided such a grand proclamation.

Instead, even if he were just caught up in the emotion of an All-Star Saturday Night victory and taking the interview especially seriously, Tatum put a little more attention and pressure on the Celtics.

I’m not convinced that’s what this team needs.

Kristaps Porzingis reportedly gave Knicks wish list of trade destinations: Nets, Clippers, Heat, Raptors

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Kristaps Porzingis will sign long-term with Dallas this summer, and Porzingis he was on the same page.

But he will be a free agent. Restricted, but a free agent, nonetheless.

Porzingis’ exit from the Knicks provided a clue about where he’d want to go if he explores leaving the Mavericks.

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

The four teams Porzingis had on his wish list of trade destinations were the Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, according to two people with knowledge of the list who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Porzingis had little leverage to get to any of these teams. Because he’ll be a restricted free agent, the Knicks or any team acquiring him would retain immense team control over him.

The Nets and Clippers project to have cap space this summer. The Heat and Raptors don’t.

But even if Porzingis signs an offer sheet elsewhere, Dallas will will likely match it.

Still, Porzingis will become an unrestricted free agent someday – 2020 in the unlikely event he accepts his qualifying offer or a future year if he signs a multi-year deal this summer. It’s probably best to file away this list until then.

Kyrie Irving on video with Kevin Durant: ‘Me and one of my best friends talking’

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The Knicks opened double-max cap space for next summer. Kevin Durant‘s company is moving to a new office in New York. Kyrie Irving backed away from his commitment to re-sign with the Celtics.

Plenty of people were already connecting dots when this video emerged of Durant and Irving talking at the All-Star game (in which, not for nothing, they jelled).

Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops:

Irving, via MassLive (warning: language in the above video):

It’s just crazy. This is the stuff that just doesn’t make the league fun. It doesn’t make the league fun. Nobody helps promote the league even more by doing bulls— like that, of just putting fictitious things on what we’re talking about. It’s crazy.

It’s a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of a free agency meeting? Do you get that? Like, do you get that? And then I’m asked questions about it? That’s what disconnects me from all that s—.

That wasn’t a denial.

Still, it’s hard to believe Durant and Irving really discussed free agency in a hallway with so many people passing. There are far more discreet places to have that conversation.

Like a restaurant in Miami where they were spotted together:

I understand Irving’s exasperation with this, just as I understood Durant’s testiness over constant speculation. They should be allowed to spend time together as friends without it turning into a bigger deal.

But there is immense interest in where they play next year. People will continue to search for clues – some that prove insignificant, some that might prove significant – about the stars’ futures.

So, I’m at least glad Irving addressed this. It’s going to get discussed either way. Better for him to enter his perspective into the conversation.