New York's 2010 game turns into a high-stakes gamble

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With talks between the Knicks and the Rockets as serious as any other trade discussions out there, Donnie Walsh’s 2010 vision may finally be coming into focus. On a very basic level, it’s golden: Walsh draws on using the biggest market and the biggest stage the NBA has to offer, not to mention some solid young complementary talent, to lure in two of the free agent class’ elite stars.

But if the Knicks end up completing a deal for Tracy McGrady with the other principles of the reported trade staying in place, the Knicks won’t have anything in the way of a back-up plan. From Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

It’s a great deal for the Knicks if they can get either LeBron James or
Dwyane Wade. If not, they wouldn’t have much to build around in terms
of young talent. Hill would be with Houston, the Jazz own the Knicks
2010 first round pick and the Rockets would get the Knicks picks in 2012.

While trading for McGrady would indeed open up the cap room to potentially sign two big-name, big-game free agents, what would be left of the rest of the roster? Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Toney Douglas are the only current Knicks under contract for next season, supposing Jared Jeffries indeed has one foot out the door and Eddy Curry remains glued to the bench. The Knicks won’t even have the promise of Jordan Hill, nor any future opportunities at a mulligan as they’re essentially forfeiting their involvement in the first round of the draft until 2013, with the sole exception being the 2011 first round pick of a consistently impressive Rockets team.

If the Knicks could somehow land LeBron, Wade, and/or Bosh, other free agents would follow. But without having two huge talents carrying the load on a nightly basis, how would the Knicks find a way to be anything other than middling? And considering that Walsh’s 2010 plan essentially boils down to gambling on the attractiveness of NYC and the Garden (the former of which means less than you’d think in the internet age) against actually competitive basketball cores in other free agent destinations, isn’t sending out all of the Knicks’ first-rounders for the near future a decidedly bad idea? The Knicks’ fans have been promised a shot in the 2010 free agent lottery, but the price Walsh pays for that opportunity could backfire and doom New York for years to come.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.