- Slovenian point-forward Luka Doncic is considered one of the top two prospects in the 2018 NBA Draft, but he could throw the draft for a loop if he wants to avoid being drafted by a specific team.
- One NBA draft expert said Doncic could threaten to sign an extension with his current team, Real Madrid, and skip coming to the NBA next season if he doesn’t want to go to the Sacramento Kings.
- Doncic said on Thursday that his mind isn’t made up about coming to the NBA next season.
Slovenian point-forward Luka Doncic has been pegged as a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft for months, but there is no certainty that he will come to the NBA next season.
According to EuroHoops, the 19-year-old Real Madrid star said on Thursday that he’s not positive if he’ll be playing his last games in the Euroleague as Real Madrid prepares for the Final Four of the Euroleague.
“I’m not sure if these are the last two games [in EuroLeague],” Doncic told reporters. “We have yet to make this decision. Perhaps after the season.”
Doncic’s comments are noteworthy because of some eyebrow-raising remarks by ESPN NBA draft expert Jonathan Givony on Adrian Wojnarowski’s podcast.
Givony said there is a chance that Doncic could throw a wrench into the draft by deciding to stay in Europe next season to avoid being drafted by a team he doesn’t like, namely the Sacramento Kings, who have the second overall pick.
“He’s gonna have a little bit of a say here in this process as well,” Givony said. “He’s actually under contract in Real Madrid, and if he doesn’t wanna go to Sacramento, he could definitely make things hard on them and give them a lot to think about by saying, ‘Guys, if you draft me, I’m gonna sign a huge extension, I’m gonna make 2 million Euro next year, and I’m not coming over until you trade my rights.’
“He’s never at any point said 100 percent that he’s coming over next year. I think he would like to – obviously, you want to get your rookie scale contract started, you wanna get moving on that second deal four years from now – but he has a lot more leverage in this process than anybody else in this draft.”
It’s unclear if Doncic has any bias against Sacramento to which Givony could be referring.
Nonetheless, it could be a situation that’s in play. Arizona big man Deandre Ayton is also in the running for going first overall to the Phoenix Suns. While the Suns hired Igor Kokoskov, who coached Doncic with the Slovenian national team, as their head coach this offseason, Givony said there’s a chance the Suns could draft Ayton, who is considered a safer pick than Doncic.
Others have noted that Doncic’s comments on Thursday may not be any indication of his plans whatsoever. American college basketball players don’t often state their intentions until after the season is over, too. Doncic is still playing for Real Madrid.
With the NBA Draft just over a month away, it will be worth monitoring whether Doncic continues to waver on his NBA intentions and if it changes the projected order of the draft.