London Perrantes

NBA Notes: Underdog Isaiah Thomas now facing biggest challenge of career

NBA Notes: Underdog Isaiah Thomas now facing biggest challenge of career

BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas' basketball journey is littered with decision-makers who have underestimated the diminutive guard.

He was selected last in the 2011 NBA draft coming out of Washington, and when he arrived in Boston he looked only to be a role player for the storied franchise. Thomas has had to prove his worth with every stop.

Now, following the biggest slight of his NBA career, he'll have to do it again.

All eyes will be watching how he rebounds after Tuesday's blockbuster trade . The Celtics sent the two-time All-Star packing from a franchise and city that he'd embraced with every ounce of his 5-foot-9 frame. He's now bound for Cleveland in exchange for a bigger star -- and what the Celtics believe is a better point guard for them -- in Kyrie Irving.

For all the praise Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge showered on Thomas in explaining what he's meant to the Celtics, the organization took Irving -- a four-time All-Star, Olympic and NBA champion -- over the scrappy underdog who's just beginning to build his resume (see full story).

Celtics: Irving switches to No. 11 with new team
BOSTON -- Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce's No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

Spurs: Undrafted Perrantes signs contract
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs have signed guard London Perrantes.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed Wednesday

The 22-year-old Perrantes wasn't drafted out of Virginia this year but made summer league appearances for the Miami Heat in Las Vegas and Orlando.

The 6-foot-2 guard averaged 10 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 1.5 steals in the MGM Resorts Summer League. He averaged 11.3 points, 4.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals in Orlando summer league action.

Perrantes set school career records at Virginia with 138 games and 4,425 minutes. He averaged 12.7 points, 3.8 assists and 3 rebounds during his senior season. He made 40.9 percent of his career 3-point attempts (211 of 516).

Clippers: Team reportedly close to deal with Winger as GM
LOS ANGELES -- The expansion of the Los Angeles Clippers' front office isn't done yet.

After removing Doc Rivers' title as president of basketball operations earlier this month, the team has reached an agreement with Oklahoma City's Michael Winger to become their general manager, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Winger will replace Dave Wohl, who is staying with the team as a special adviser, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has yet to be announced publicly.

Winger had been an assistant GM and team counsel for the Thunder for the last seven years. Previously, the 37-year-old executive worked for the Cavaliers (see full story).

Virginia's London Perrantes ready to follow in the mold of Justin Anderson

Virginia's London Perrantes ready to follow in the mold of Justin Anderson

CAMDEN, N.J. — In the last four seasons under Tony Bennett, it's been much of the same for Virginia basketball — 23 or more wins, a top-five NCAA Tournament seed and a postseason exit, all without making a trip to the Final Four.

But for what the Cavaliers have lacked in success, they've made up for with NBA talent. After producing just five draft picks since Ralph Sampson went No. 1 overall in 1983, Virginia has churned out a trio in the last three drafts, including current Sixer Justin Anderson and a potential NBA Rookie of the Year in Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon.

Now the mantle falls to London Perrantes, who got the chance to show off for the Sixers Friday morning with just six days until the 2017 NBA draft in Brooklyn. Although Perrantes isn't a fixture on many mock draft boards, he's made his mark as a defensive specialist in Charlottesville the last four years, and will very likely still be on the board when the Sixers have their last couple of picks at Nos. 46 and 50.

"Just coming into college, I was a guy that tried to get everyone involved," Perrantes said. "I just want to get out and help any team win. Whatever the team needs, I think I'll be able to do that, so whether that's a couple of minutes or just going hard in practice, I feel like I can go anywhere and be ready when my number's called."

With Virginia, the Los Angeles native was primarily a defensive specialist. He set a career high with 12.7 points per game as a senior, shooting just 41.4 percent from the field. However, he was also was the Cavaliers' best defender on a team that ranked second in the nation in adjusted defensive, according to basketball stathead Ken Pomeroy.

His numbers, however, compare somewhat to his most recent predecessors in Charlottesville. Brogdon was a slightly better scorer coming out of college, translating to a stellar 2016-17 campaign with the Bucks, whereas Anderson is bigger than Perrantes and maybe even a better defender.

But given his mixture of abilities on both ends of the floor, Perrantes could be a hybrid of the two, and projects as a fringe role player that still has room to grow as a professional.

"Once you get to the next level, you're not like Virginia where it's a slow pace," he said. "Just being able to defend and knock down open shots is what we do a lot of at Virginia, so just being able to translate that and then working on your game. You're just playing basketball — there's no more school, so you get to get better and do what you love to do."

With an interesting group of second-round prospects in Friday morning, including former ACC mates Davon Reed and Jamel Artis, Perrantes had plenty of opportunities to get the ball in hands and show the Sixers' brass why he's the next Virginia product who can make a splash in the association.

"A lot of it is the Virginia system. They're very defensive-focused and a slower-paced team, so offensively, it's easy to get hidden," Sixers senior director of basketball operations Vince Rozman said. "He's actually a really, really creative guy. He can make shots. ... He's interesting."

Outside of the smaller T.J. McConnell, who was in the gym for Friday's pre-draft workout along with Joel Embiid, the Sixers don't have much depth at the point guard position. Although Ben Simmons is likely to be the team's primary ballhandler next season, the Sixers could very much use a guy like Perrantes to take on the task of defending some of the Eastern Conference's best guards.

Given that head coach Brett Brown's team will still be seeing plenty of guys like Boston's Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving and Washington's John Wall next season, a gritty, defensive-minded guard could have a huge impact — even in limited minutes.

After talking with Anderson and getting a chance to hit the floor in the City of Brotherly Love, Perrantes feels like the Sixers could be the right match.

"I've been [at Virginia] for four years and defense is my heart. That's what I do," Perrantes said. "To be able to make it at this next level, you have to be able to play defense as well as be a good offensive player, so that's just engrained in me. It's not going anywhere."