AP Source: Nuggets finishing deal with Pelicans for Hampton

DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets are finalizing a deal to acquire guard R.J. Hampton from New Orleans for a future protected first-round pick, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the trade had not been announced.

Hampton was selected by Milwaukee with the 24th overall pick, though he didn’t stay long. The Bucks were expected to send the 24th selection to the Pelicans as part of a package of picks included in a deal to acquire v eteran guard Jrue Holiday. The Bucks were also trading guards Eric Bledsoe and George Hill to New Orleans as part of the deal, which hasn’t been officially announced yet.

The 19-year-old Hampton decided against playing college basketball and instead took his talents overseas to play for the National Basketball League’s New Zealand Breakers. The 6-foot-5 point guard returned to the United States in February to recover from a hip injury and prepare for the draft.

It’s was all part of a productive draft night for Denver.

Arizona center Zeke Nnaji was taken by the Nuggets with the No. 22 overall pick as they added a mobile big man with a soft touch to a team that’s coming off a run to the Western Conference finals.

Nnaji was the Pac-12 freshman of the year after a season in which he averaged 16.1 points and 8.6 rebounds. His 14 double-doubles were the second-most by a Wildcat freshman in program history.

The 19-year-old who grew up in Minnesota also is a talented pianist and has composed his own songs. His full name is Ezekiel Tobechukwu Nnaji.

Nnaji joins a young Nuggets nucleus that includes All-Star big man Nikola Jokic, sharpshooter Michael Porter Jr. and point guard Jamal Murray, who turned in one sizzling shooting performance after another during the postseason.

The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Nnaji is looking forward to working alongside Jokic.

”He’s a superstar. He’s one of the best centers in the league,” Nnaji said. ”His vision and passing is incredible. He’s super talented.”

Nnaji just may be counted on right away, too, depending on the team’s decisions with free agent big men Mason Plumlee and Paul Millsap. Denver also has 7-foot-2 center Bol Bol, but he’s more of a player on the wing.

One of the priorities for Denver before camp opens may revolve around bringing back versatile player Jerami Grant, who’s reportedly opting out of his deal.

It was a memorable postseason run for coach Michael Malone and the Nuggets, who came back from a 3-1 deficit against Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz. They followed that up by rallying from a 3-1 deficit against Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers.

But their extended stay inside the NBA bubble was halted when LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers sent them packing after Game 5. The Lakers captured the NBA title over Miami.

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