Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman senses positive momentum as Cleveland prepares to pitch LeBron James on sticking around.
Altman entered the NBA draft Thursday without knowledge of James’ intentions in free agency. James has until midnight on June 29 to exercise the 2018-19 season option in his contract worth $35.6 million or opt out to become a free agent.
Altman described talks between the Cavaliers and James’ representatives as “good dialogue.”
The Cavaliers believe drafting point guard Collin Sexton with the No. 8 pick on Thursday was a signal to James that they’re still building around him. Altman also said owner Dan Gilbert is set to “spare no expense” building a championship team after the Cavaliers were swept by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
—LiAngelo Ball went undrafted on Thursday night and afterward was informed by the Los Angeles Lakers that they won’t be inviting him to join their summer league team, according to an ESPN report.
LiAngelo, the younger brother of Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball and middle of three basketball-playing Ball brothers, worked out for Los Angeles and the Golden State Warriors before the draft. After his Lakers workout, the team signified it had no interest in drafting LiAngelo or signing the 19-year-old to play for their G League team, the South Bay Lakers, according to a report from USA Today Sports.
Ball had reportedly held out hope for a summer league invite. The 6-foot-5 LiAngelo said recently that he wanted to join his brother, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, on the Lakers. LaVar, the patriarch of the Ball family, has said previously all three of his sons, including 16-year-old LaMelo, would be playing for the Lakers in 2020.
—Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk admitted that his NBA draft strategy one night earlier was altered by a leaked media report during trade talks, leading to him backing out of a proposed trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.
During a radio interview on 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, the Hawks GM explained that a tipped news report helped him avoid dealing away additional draft picks to the Bucks, who picked No. 17 overall in the first round Thursday — two spots ahead of the Hawks at No. 19, where Atlanta selected Maryland guard Kevin Huerter.
The Bucks instead chose Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo at No. 17, and the early tip helped the Hawks hold on to a few other draft picks.
—First-round pick Robert Williams and the Boston Celtics had to scuttle an 11 a.m. ET introductory press conference when the team couldn’t locate the Texas A&M big man. Williams had watched the draft from a Buffalo Wild Wings in Louisiana, rather than make the trip to Brooklyn.
The Celtics figured out the confusion and rescheduled the call for noon. On the call, Williams said he simply overslept after a long two days waiting to figure out where he’d start his pro career.
“Right after the draft, I actually ran to my aunt’s house and went to sleep because I was so tired from everything. When I woke up, my sister woke me up, she said, ‘You have a conference call,’” sadi Williams, who is expected to be formally introduced in Boston next week.
—Field Level Media