Sam Presti doesn’t just wait by the phone. He had antennae implanted in his brain years ago, for convenient and instantaneous connections to each and every GM in the league. Every time the draft broadcast goes 5 minutes without mentioning the Thunder or showing Kevin Durant, he makes a brain call and a subsequent move. Boom, whiz, pow, and the Thunder grabbed the 11th pick in a draft that didn’t feature them as major players — and filled a positional need — while holding on to the 18th pick.
OKC sent two late first rounders (the 21st and 26th picks, which were used on Craig Brackins and Quincy Pondexter) to New Orleans for Morris Peterson’s $6.2 million contract and the draft rights to Cole Aldrich. Not too shabby.
Aldrich may not pan out as a terrific NBA center, but the Oklahoma City Thunder honestly don’t need all that much. For the moment — and the foreseeable future — the Thunder just need someone to play quality minutes in the middle, and Aldrich can grab rebounds and play solid interior defense while finally giving OKC some depth at the 5. There’s nothing all that attractive about this game, and he won’t go down as the best center in this draft. Not a chance.
That won’t stop him from being a long-time, consistent role player that specializes in defense, which isn’t the easiest thing to find in a center. Aldrich won’t have Chris Paul force-feeding him buckets, but playing with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is a pretty plush gig, too.
The question is whether or not Mo Pete’s immediate effect on the Thunder’s salary total will make the acquisition of Aldrich worthwhile. New Orleans needed to ditch Peterson’s contract to escape the luxury tax, but that same $6.2 million will eat into OKC’s cap room this summer. For now, this trade gets an incomplete. Not only because we need to see Aldridge in NBA action to properly assess his game, but also because the financial implications for the Thunder could be minimal.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.
On Friday night, the Lakers announced that they’re hiring Luke Walton as their next head coach, effective as soon as the Warriors’ playoff run is over. It’s a good hire, but it’s especially interesting given Walton’s close relationship with Phil Jackson and the rumors that never seem to go away, that Jackson might be set up to return to the Lakers to run the team alongside fiancée Jeanie Buss after next season, when he has an opt-out in his contract with the Knicks.
But that doesn’t mean Walton will be running the triangle, as he said in his first comments to reporters since the news broke.
Via the Orange County Register‘s Bill Oram:
Regardless of whether Jackson eventually gets back in the picture in Los Angeles, Walton has been a successful assistant in Golden State and has the right temperament to lead the Lakers into the post-Kobe era.
Stephen Curry might be back sooner than expected. It’s been one week since he suffered the sprained MCL in his right knee that led the Warriors to rule him out for at least two weeks, but head coach Steve Kerr said Saturday that there’s at least an outside chance he could play Tuesday in Game 2 of Golden State’s second-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Via ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:
Obviously, the smart money is on Curry not playing this early in his timetable. But the fact that it’s even on the table would seem to indicate that, barring a setback, he’ll be back for at least some of the series, which tips off Sunday.