When the lottery balls fell into place, the Utah Jazz’s front office knew it would be a virtual impossibility to convince a handful of the draft’s biggest names to come to Salt Lake City for workouts.
Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid have been thought of as locks for the top three picks next week in Brooklyn. Many believe Australian guard Dante Exum will follow at No. 4.
But one player who seemed likely to make his way to Utah for a workout — Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart — has not.
In response to a Jazz fan’s question on Twitter last week, Smart said he wasn’t headed to Salt Lake City for a workout.
“They’re not interested in me,” the guard wrote.
But Jazz officials say Smart’s absence from the team’s pre-draft workouts is not for a lack of trying on the team’s part.
“I have talked with Marcus’ agent probably three or four times before I called him the night of the tweet,” Jazz Vice President of Player Personnel Walt Perrin said. “So he knows we have interest in Marcus.”
The Jazz already have a young point guard in Trey Burke, the team’s first-round pick from a year ago. But the Jazz believe the two guards could co-exist, and Perrin said Smart’s refusal to work out wouldn’t cause the team to avoid him in the draft.
“We do have interest in Marcus,” Perrin said. “We have done a lot of background on Marcus. We had our interview in Chicago with Marcus. We have watched a lot of tape of Marcus.
“So if we get guys in, that’s great. If we don’t get guys in for workouts, we’ve done our homework. We’ve seen them. And if we like them, we will take them.”
The Jazz brought in projected lottery picks Noah Vonleh and Julius Randle for workouts this week, and Perrin said he remains in talks with Exum’s representation.
“I talked with Dante’s agent [Tuesday],” Perrin said. “He was going to talk with the family and we’re going to talk again.”
Kansas’ Embiid faces surgery
Kansas center Joel Embiid is scheduled to have surgery Friday to repair a stress fracture in his right foot, a development that could affect the top choices in next week’s NBA Draft. Embiid, one of the candidates the Cleveland Cavaliers were considering for the No. 1 overall pick, fractured the navicular bone in his right foot, agent Arn Tellem said Thursday. Embiid will be unable to participate in any additional workouts.