Combine buzz: Skal Labissiere impresses

·The Vertical

CHICAGO – Skal Labissiere was once projected as a serious contender to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft.

But a disappointing season at Kentucky in which he was in and out of coach John Calipari's doghouse and struggled to get playing time put an end to that.

On Wednesday, DraftExpress was invited to watch Labissiere in a private workout in Chicago, and he showed why he was such a highly regarded prospect six months ago.

Labissiere has excellent tools, is just a hair under 7 feet in shoes and has outstanding fluidity for a player his size. He is quick off his feet, extremely nimble and covers ground effortlessly. He is still thin, but has a frame that should have no problem filling out in the next few years.

His skill level was extremely impressive. Labissiere made shots from all over the floor, both off the dribble and with his feet set, and showed range out to the NBA three-point line. His footwork and balance was excellent in the post and on the perimeter, and his fundamentals were outstanding for someone who only started playing basketball as a teenager. It's incredibly rare to see a player his size with that type of touch.

Labissiere has a world of talent even at an early stage of development, yet he will need time to translate that to game settings on a consistent basis. After stringing together one of the most impressive workouts DraftExpress has seen in the past few years, there's little doubt that Labissiere's draft stock will recover quickly over the next few weeks. Talent rises in the NBA pre-draft process, and Labissiere has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in this class.

Price of second-round picks rising
CHICAGO – The 2016 NBA draft is considered by many NBA executives to be fairly weak in terms of star-caliber talent. But few think it is a shallow class. With the draft combine in full swing, the sheer quantity of NBA-caliber talent has teams exploring ways to acquire more draft picks.

The trend is particularly noticeable among teams picking in the second round, where – as opposed to the first round and its rigid rookie salary scale – there are no restrictions on the type of contracts teams can negotiate with players.

Many teams now try to sign contracts up to three or four years in length for second-round picks, with only a portion of the deal being guaranteed up front. If they are fortunate enough to uncover an NBA-rotation caliber player in that range, they can enjoy having that player under contract for a rate far below market value for many years.

The Miami Heat did that with 2015 second-rounder Josh Richardson, the No. 40 overall pick who agreed to a three-year, $2.5 million deal. Toronto gave Norman Powell three years and $2.5 million after selecting him at No. 46 in 2015. With the NBA salary cap rising this summer that is something more teams will try to do. Even if a team signs a player to a small guarantee in the $1.5 million range and it doesn't pan out, it's not the end of the world. A team can simply cut ties and try its luck again.

Second-round picks could once be had for pennies on the dollar, but those days are long gone, multiple NBA executives in Chicago told The Vertical. Second-round picks are now at such a premium that it's likely we'll see some sold on draft night for the maximum amount allowed, $3.4 million dollars. It's a creative way for big-market teams such as New York and Brooklyn to find their way into the draft.

Last year the most that was paid for a pick was $1.5 million, when the Knicks purchased the No. 35 draft pick from Philadelphia to select Willy Hernangomez, and Portland acquired the rights to Daniel Diez (No. 54 from Utah). The Knicks also paid Indiana $1.5 million for the draft pick they used to select Louis Labeyrie at No. 57. The most ever paid for a second-round pick is $3 million, which Oklahoma City paid Atlanta to acquire 31st overall pick Tibor Pleiss in 2010.

This draft's dollar amounts might put previous years to shame as the entire financial model of the NBA continues to shift with the new TV money about to roll in.

– Jonathan Givony of The Vertical

Furkan Korkmaz gets buyout clause
Turkey’s Furkan Korkmaz – No. 15 selection in The Vertical’s projected NBA Draft – has negotiated a buyout clause into his contract with Anadolu Efes, clearing the way for him to possibly join the NBA for the 2016-17 season, a source with knowledge of the deal told The Vertical.

Furkan Korkmaz is the No. 15 selection in The Vertical’s projected NBA draft. (Getty)
Furkan Korkmaz is the No. 15 selection in The Vertical’s projected NBA draft. (Getty)

Korkmaz, a promising 18-year-old forward, had no escape clause in his contract with the Turkish team, and now his draft standing is strengthened because NBA teams can bring him over right away.

Korkmaz’s buyout will be $2 million, a source said. If he’s unable to secure assurances that he’ll be selected in the lottery, it appears likely he will withdraw from the draft before the June 15 deadline and return to Turkey for another season, sources said. Korkmaz would then turn his attention to entering the 2017 draft.

An NBA team can contribute up to $650,000 this summer for a player picked in the first round with an international buyout, but league rules dictate that the difference must be paid out of the player's pocket. The significant cost of paying the rest of the buyout dictates the need for Korkmaz to be selected high enough that the rookie wage scale would allow him to pay the difference on the buyout.

Korkmaz’s minutes have been inconsistent this season, which isn’t surprising considering his age and that he’s playing for one of the most ambitious clubs in European basketball. At 6-foot-8, he possesses an impressive combination of perimeter shooting and athleticism, and NBA teams consider him one of the best long-term pro prospects in this international class. He’s an attractive draft-and-stash candidate for teams with multiple picks in the mid-first round, such as Denver (Nos. 15 and 19) or Boston (Nos. 16 and 23).

Nevertheless, Korkmaz is expected to have difficulty traveling to the United States for the workouts and interviews needed to improve his draft stock if his Turkish season runs late into June.

– Jonathan Givony of The Vertical

Surgery shelves Wayne Selden

Wayne Selden is on track in his rehabilitation and training. (AP)
Wayne Selden is on track in his rehabilitation and training. (AP)

Kansas junior Wayne Selden will only participate in interviews and medical exams at the NBA draft combine – pulling out of on-court drills – after undergoing a recent procedure for a small meniscus tear in his knee, league sources told The Vertical.

Selden played with the injury for part of the season, helping Kansas reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. He held off on the procedure in his right knee until after the season, sources said. In 38 games, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 13.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists while shooting 47.4 percent from the field.

Selden, 21, informed the league of his status in advance of the start of the combine Wednesday. Selden has stayed on track in his rehabilitation and training, and is expected to begin individual team workouts soon.

Miami senior Sheldon McClellan will now attend the combine as a replacement, sources told The Vertical.

NBA executives told The Vertical that Selden has a wide draft range between the first and second rounds.
Shams Charania of The Vertical

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