NBA Draft: Say hello (and goodbye) to Ekpe Udoh

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The Baylor Bears were downed by the Duke Blue Devils behind the same thing that helped the Mountaineers sink the Kentucky Wildcats. Killer three-point shooting.

But in the midst of that, the Bears showed that most likely they, not the Coach K’s crew, had the most NBA ready talent in star guard LaceDarius Dunn and big man Ekpe Udoh. Udoh, in particular was a huge playmaker for the Bears. He showcased good leaping ability, instincts and awareness in transition, actually put the ball on the floor a decent amount, and finished with aggression.

There were downsides as well, pointed out by draft guru Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. Most notably, the Blue Devils created a lot of those opportunities for those long-range bombs off offensive rebounds. Udoh struggled with boxing out and they sorely needed it with other bigs limited by foul trouble.

But Udoh’s performance was one of the better we’ve seen from a prospect in the tournament, and might be enough to boost him into a high lottery pick, possibly in the top ten if things go right and he decides to come out. DX currently has him at #13 to the Grizzlies (unlikely unless they move Thabeet), and this game should help him on a lot of boards, even if Givony sees weaknesses.

Udoh is 22, but a big man that can run the floor and finish at 6-10 is still something of value in the draft.

As expected, Jimmy Butler says no issue between him, Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler
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Is the Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler relationship nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows? No. There will be sparks between two intense competitors.

Have those sparks started a fire Bulls fans should be concerned about? A report on Wednesday said the core problem was Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic, which provided some kindling for that spark to catch.

However, as you would expect, Butler said this was all much ado about nothing, that he and Rose are all good. Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Spin this however you wish: Their relationship is fine and someone in the media is making this up; or their relationship has been rough, and this is all just leaking out now.

This is a Bulls team in a bit of a transition as Rose declines some and Butler has grown into a top-flight player. Clearly that dynamic has some people around the team — likely the people in one of one of the players’ camps doesn’t like the power struggle or where it leaves his buddy — talking out of school to the press.

But as Butler noted, winning cures all ills. If Chicago can get off to a fast start, nobody will be asking chemistry questions.

For now, however, tounges are wagging.

Report: No criminal charges to be filed against Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes
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The NBA is still investigating and can take its own action. In theory people involved in the incident could decide to file a civil lawsuit (although Fisher said he would not).

However, Memphis’ Matt Barnes is not going to face any criminal charges for an altercation he instigated with Knicks’ head coach Derek Fisher at the home of Barnes’ estranged wife in Los Angeles, according to police, who talked to TMZ.

Matt Barnes will NOT be charged with a crime for allegedly attacking Derek Fisher over the weekend … the Redondo Beach Police Department tells TMZ Sports.

Cops tell us they did respond to an incident and a police report was filed regarding the altercation — but officers say the case “was reviewed and there is no basis for criminal charges.” As we previously reported, a witness at the home says Barnes struck Fisher in the face and a fight ensued. However, the NY Post is reporting that Fisher did not want to pursue charges against Barnes.

Fisher has been seeing Gloria Govan — Barnes’ estranged wife and star of the “Basketball Wives” reality series — for several months, and was over at her house in the South Bay of Los Angeles Saturday night, along with other friends. Barnes said he got a call from one of his two sons, who “looked distressed” that Fisher was over, and that caused Barnes to drive over to the house. Once he arrived an altercation broke out between the two men, with Barnes allegedly texting a friend that he beat up Fisher and spat in his wife’s face. That’s not going to scar the young boy any further, well done.

If Barnes did this as described (and we don’t know the details), the NBA has to look hard at this. Barnes does not get to decide for a woman he is no longer seeing who she can and cannot see, and who she has over to her home. She is not property. That is the level of control seen in domestic abuse situations, and the league can’t sit back and tolerate it.