NBA champions the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Bearcats guard Jacob Evans in the 2018 draft.
The 21-year-old, who played college basketball for the University of Cincinnati team, will join Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and others as they fight for a third consecutive title next season.
Golden State were given the 28th pick in the draft, while NBA finalists the Cleveland Cavaliers had eighth choice, selecting Collin Sexton.
Alabama’s highly rated 19-year-old point guard quickly appealed to LeBron James to re-sign with Cleveland.
He told Fox Sports: “Man, LeBron, let’s do it… I see you need a few extra pieces this past season, and let’s do it. Let’s go back to the finals.”
The Phoenix Suns had the first pick of the night and went local with Deandre Ayton of the Arizona Wildcats.
The Suns, who had the worst NBA regular season record at 21-61, were drawn last out at the NBA draft lottery.
The second pick went to the Sacramento Kings, who selected Duke Blue Devils’ 19-year-old power forward Marvin Bagley.
The Atlanta Hawks went third in the draft and chose Dallas Mavericks’ Slovenian shooting guard Luka Doncic, 19.
Howard was dealt from the Charlotte Hornets to the Nets on Wednesday in exchange for Timofey Mozgov, two second-round picks and cash.
Because the trade won’t become official until the league’s moratorium ends, a buyout on his $23.8 million expiring contract would make Howard a free agent no earlier than July 6.
Though he’s a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and five-time All-NBA First Team selection, Howard’s stature in the league has been on the decline over the past few years and his next team will be his sixth in eight seasons.
While the 32-year-old is still a productive player – he averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks last season with Charlotte – Howard carries question marks regarding his chemistry with team-mates and willingness to play more of a supporting role.
According to Howard, he wants to help a team win at his next stop.
“I want to be in a situation where I have an opportunity to help a team win,” Howard told ESPN. “That’s my only goal. All I need is a real chance and a clean slate where it’s not people talking about my past.”
If Howard’s main priority is winning a ring, the team that immediately jumps out is the Golden State Warriors.
The defending champions won’t be able to offer Howard much money – they’re already juggling their finances with four max contract calibre players – but if he wants to join on the veteran’s minimum to ring chase and rebuild his reputation, the Warriors would be an appealing option.
Outside of the value for money, it might not make much sense for Golden State though. Why risk ruining a good thing by bringing in a player who could potentially harm the locker room and derail a dynasty? As unlikely as that outcome is, the Warriors have little incentive to risk it.
I'd be stunned if Warriors even entertained the idea of Dwight Howard. They've publicly laid out their plans go young, hungry and smaller (more wings, fewer vet bigs), plus still feeling sting of Swaggy P whiff.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 21, 2018
Another team that could pursue Howard is the Washington Wizards, who are reportedly trying to unload centre Marcin Gortat.
Even by ridding themselves of Gortat’s $13.5m contract, the Wizards could only offer Howard minimum money, but he would potentially be a high-impact player on a team that could compete in the Eastern Conference.
Speaking of contenders in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics have a need for a big man and, like the Warriors, are attractive for ring chasers.
Howard is a fascinating free agent. Does he ring chase? Nets are paying him $20-plus million anyway. And tuck this away: Danny Ainge has liked—and expressed interest in—Howard in the past.— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) June 21, 2018
Boston are already over the salary cap, but they could potentially use the mid-level exception on Howard, who would benefit from playing next to three All-Stars and in Brad Stevens’ fluid system.
The biggest question is what does Howard want? A championship? Another decent contract? A significant role? Whatever it is, it will dictate where he ends up.
This year’s NBA draft feels more unpredictable than usual, with rumours flying everywhere of teams looking to move up and down.
And of course, there will inevitably be a trade that no one could have seen coming because as fluid as the draft is, the decision-making of teams will change in real time.
With that said, here’s a round-up of some of the biggest rumours making the rounds on draft day.
Teams lining up for Doncic
No one seems to know what direction Vlade Divac will go in, but Marvin Bagley has been the name most linked with the Kings in the lead-up. If Sacramento indeed select the Duke product, that could open the floodgates at three.
However, they’ll also have no shortage of suitors for a trade, as teams are expected to make a run at the pick to nab Doncic for themselves, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Mannix.
Doncic is considered one of the best international prospects to ever enter the draft and was in the mix for the top pick before Phoenix seemed to settle on Ayton.
If Atlanta aren’t as enamored with him as other teams, moving further down in the lottery while netting additional assets may the move.
Grizzlies trying to package four and Parsons
Like Atlanta, the Memphis Grizzlies could be willing to move down in the draft, but with the caveat that their trading partner must take on Chandler Parsons’ contract, according to Givony.
Parsons, who has played a total of 42 games over the past two seasons due to injuries, is owed $49.2 million over the next two years.
What offers the Grizzlies get for the fourth pick will depend on who’s still available, especially if Doncic is still on the board.
Memphis favour Duke big man Wendell Carter Jr, according to the report, which means they would only want to move down a couple picks to ensure they can land their man. That would put Dallas at five, Orlando at six and Chicago at seven as the most-likely trade partners.
Bamba number five
They could also reportedly make a deal with Chicago and move down to seven to select Michael Porter Jr, who is a favourite of the Mavericks’ ownership.
Dallas may also receive an offer from the New York Knicks, who met with Bamba in New York on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Ian Begley.
The Knicks hold the ninth pick and Bamba is expected to be long gone by then. However, outside of their own selection, New York don’t possess the same assets other teams do to entice the Mavericks.