Jahlil Okafor goes through second workout with Lakers in advance of NBA Draft


Just about every credible projection out there has Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor going (in some order) one and two in next Thursday’s NBA Draft.

The Lakers hold the No. 2 pick, and have put plenty of players through their paces while doing their due diligence. But with Okafor being the most likely selection for Los Angeles, the team decided to get a second private look in just to solidify any opinions that might be influencing that very critical decision.

From Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

The Lakers will host a private workout for Duke center Jahlil Okafor on Friday afternoon at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo, marking the second individual workout Okafor has had wearing a purple and gold practice jersey. The Lakers also plan to host a private workout on Saturday both for Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell and for prospects that might be available at the No. 27 and 34th draft slots. The Lakers will then have private workouts next Monday and Wednesday just for prospects they would consider with the 27th and 34h picks. …

The Lakers have also become increasingly doubtful they will have a workout for Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns. The Lakers believe their lack of progress with those efforts stem from most NBA mock drafts predicting the Minnesota Timberwolves will select with their No. 1 pick. But the Lakers will accommodate their workout schedule should Towns and his representatives express interest in a workout.

Towns is the heavy favorite at this point to be the No. 1 overall pick by the Timberwolves, and if he’s passing up workouts with a team just one slot lower on the draft board, he may already know that’s what’s coming.

As for Okafor, the Lakers have looked hard at Emmanuel Mudiay and D’Angelo Russell, just in case they believe a perimeter player may be a better option. But barring something unexpected occurring during Friday’s workout, all signs will continue to point to the Lakers landing the big man from Duke on June 25 — provided the Timberwolves snatch up Towns at one as virtually everyone expects.

Report: Lakers will not pick up $9 million option on Jordan Hill


When the Lakers wildly overpaid Jordan Hill $9 million last season, with a team option for this season, the idea was to create a salary that could be a trade chip. The hope was Jordan’s salary would become part of a deal to bring a quality player to the Lakers, and the team that traded for Jordan would not pick up the option and save cap space.

It didn’t work out that way, no deal involving Jordan materialized.

Instead, the Lakers are going to get that cap space. The Lakers are not likely to pick up Hill’s $9 million option for next season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.com.

As the Los Angeles Lakers maneuver to free $24 million-plus of salary cap space for summer free agency, the franchise is unlikely to exercise the option on forward Jordan Hill’s contract for the 2015-16 season, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Lakers are not obligated to make a final determination on the $9 million owed on Hill’s contract before June 30, but momentum is strong that they’ll allow Hill to enter into free agency, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Hill started 57 games for the Lakers and averaged 12 points and 7.9 rebounds a game. You can’t fully trust his midrange game, but he can pop and not just roll off the pick. He can play solid defense in the paint, is athletic, and appears to have worked out off-the-court issues. He’d make a decent reserve big man somewhere.

He’s just not going to make $9 million again.

And if the Lakers draft Jahlil Okafor at the No. 2 spot, there would be far fewer minutes for Hill anyway.

There will certainly be interest in Hill in the $4 million to $5 million range, and the Lakers may well be among the teams interested. They liked him. Just not at that price.

Report: Sixers ‘leaning toward’ selecting Kristaps Porzingis with No. 3 pick in NBA Draft


International prospect Kristaps Porzingis has been rising up league draft boards, partially on the strength of a recent stateside workout where plenty of scouts and executives were in attendance.

Porzingis has been labeled as a “serious threat” to go in the draft’s top three, despite Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell being seemingly locked into those spots (in some order) for the past several weeks. The Lakers were reportedly considering it, and at least one scout believes Porzingis will be the best player to come out of this draft class.

If L.A. passes (as is somewhat expected), then things get interesting at No. 3 with the Sixers. And the latest report has Philadelphia leaning toward going with Porzingis.

From Chad Ford of ESPN.com:

We’ve been hearing both Mudiay and Russell’s name here for months. But over the past few weeks multiple sources around the league suspect that Sam Hinkie may actually be leaning toward Porzingis. He’s an odd fit given the Sixers abundance of big men (though news that Joel Embiid’s foot hasn’t healed may change the fit analysis). But Hinkie has always drafted based on the best player available strategy. He doesn’t draft for need. So while the team needs Mudiay or Russell more, if he believes Porzingis is the best player on the board, so be it. Or, as one rival GM opined, this Porzingis intel is all a smoke screen to get Orlando (who loves Porzingis) to trade up to three and give Hinkie another coveted asset.

It’s been widely reported that Orlando won’t let Porzingis slip past five, so the Sixers putting this information out there as an enticement for the Magic to come calling with trade offers makes plenty of sense.

It really comes down to Philadelphia’s talent evaluation process. If the team truly believes Porzingis is the best available, it may shun its need at the point guard position to go in this direction. But what’s clear is that with just six days left until the draft, the rumors (and potentially, the misinformation) will increase exponentially until June 25 is upon us.

Emmanuel Mudiay has second workout with Lakers in advance of NBA Draft


The Lakers have the No. 2 overall pick in the June 25 NBA Draft, which means that either Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns will be there for them, depending on which of the two big men Minnesota selects.

But could L.A. go in another direction?

The Lakers have needs almost everywhere, so taking the player they believe to be the best available, regardless of position, would seem to be the most sense. While conventional wisdom would favor them going with Towns or Okafor, a long-term solution at point guard might also be appealing — and one somewhat mysterious prospect just completed a second individual workout in Los Angeles.

From Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

The Lakers made progress on that front on Thursday by hosting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay for his second pre-draft workout at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. The Lakers hope to do the same with Duke center Jahlil Okafor and Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell. Mudiay’s individual workout was not open to the media, and the Lakers will follow the same course presuming Okafor and Russell work out again. The Lakers will have open workouts, however, for prospects they will consider with their 27th and 34th picks on Friday.

The Lakers also hosted a private workout on Monday for Kristaps Porzingis and are hoping for a workout for Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns. But that might not happen since Minnesota is expected to select Towns with the No. 1 pick.

Mudiay has worked out plenty recently in Los Angeles in which he has offered both glimpses of his athleticism and speed and uncertainty regarding his shooting. Mudiay appeared streaky with his outside shooting both in an individual workout with the Lakers on June 6 and a private workout at an athletic club in Reseda on June 11. But in his private workout open to members of his agency, Rival Sports Group, and a handful of reporters, Mudiay showed more of his speed, dunking and athleticism that has intrigued NBA talent evaluators.

Mudiay or Russell may each turn out to be a fine choice, but with the No. 2 overall pick, the stakes are higher, and ending up with a star-level player is to be expected.

Now, the Lakers have proven to have the ability to evaluate talent at an above-average clip; remember, they bought a late second round pick last season and grabbed Jordan Clarkson, who ended up finishing as a first-team All-Rookie selection.

But there’s a difference between finding an overlooked gem like Clarkson, and sorting out who may be the best choice when having essentially the entire crop of draft-eligible players to choose from. Taking someone like Mudiay or Russell at two would seem to be a bit of a reach, especially with either Towns or Okafor still on the board.

But with multiple workouts in play, it would lead you to believe that the Lakers are at least considering that possibility.

Report: D’Angelo Russell ‘killed it’ in workout for Sixers


The Sixers hold the third overall pick in the June 25 NBA Draft, and with most projecting Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor to go (in some order) with the first two picks, just about every mock draft you can find has D’Angelo Russell penciled in at No. 3.

Russell cancelled a recent workout with Philadelphia, and though the reported reason was illness, it caused some to speculate whether or not he may know something in terms of possibly being selected with one of those first two picks.

As it turned out, that wasn’t the case. Russell rescheduled his workout, and reportedly was very impressed with himself once the meeting in Philadelphia was finished.

From Keith Pompey of Philly.com:

Russell arrived on Tuesday afternoon and had dinner with general manager Sam Hinkie. Then he spent Wednesday at the Sixers’ practice facility at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. The point guard worked out for the team and had a lengthy meeting with coach Brett Brown. …

“He said he killed it,” the source said of the workout. “He was talking about how excited he was about Philly.” …

Russell’s workout came one day after the Sixers worked out point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. Although the team was impressed with Mudiay, the Sixers would love to draft Russell if he’s still available at pick No. 3.

The Sixers are loaded with bigs, although a recent setback with Joel Embiid could make going with someone like Kristaps Porzingis a reasonable option.

But after bailing on a reigning Rookie of the Year in Michael Carter-Williams at the trade deadline, the Sixers do need to find their point guard of the future. By most accounts, and following a stellar pre-draft workout, Russell could very well be their guy.