NBA draft: Sam Presti refuses to let the Thunder fade to the background, moves up to grab Cole Aldrich

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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.

LeBron James says he rides a motorcycle

LeBron James
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LeBron James appeared in a GQ video, and as one of the hosts discussed his leather jacket, LeBron noted he should’ve ridden his motorcycle to the set. It seemed the Cavaliers star might have been joking, but a few seconds later, he explicitly said he owned a different, three-wheel motorcycle.

Asked what the team thinks of his riding, LeBron said:

Oh, man. They’re like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “What you think I’m doing? I’m getting a breath of fresh air. You know? I’ve got one life with this, man. So, that’s what I’m doing.”

It’s impossible to think of an NBA player riding a motorcycle without Jay Williams coming to mind.

Williams, the No. 2 overall pick in 2002, crashed his motorcycle after his rookie season and suffered career-ending injuries. The tragedy caused him to attempt suicide.

Thankfully, Williams – a college basketball analyst – appears to be doing better now. But that incident has left increased scrutiny on NBA players riding motorcycles.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement states (emphasis mine):

Accordingly, the Player agrees that he will not, without the written consent of the Team, engage in any activity that a reasonable person would recognize as involving or exposing the participant to a substantial risk of bodily injury including, but not limited to: (i) sky-diving, hang gliding, snow skiing, rock or mountain climbing (as distinguished from hiking), rappelling, and bungee jumping; (ii) any fighting, boxing, or wrestling; (iii) driving or riding on a motorcycle or moped; (iv) riding in or on any motorized vehicle in any kind of race or racing contest; (v) operating an aircraft of any kind; (vi) engaging in any other activity excluded or prohibited by or under any insurance policy which the Team procures against the injury, illness or disability to or of the Player, or death of the Player, for which the Player has received written notice from the Team prior to the execution of this Contract; or (vii) participating in any game or exhibition of basketball, football, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, or other team sport or competition. If the Player violates this Paragraph 12, he shall be subject to discipline imposed by the Team and/or the Commissioner of the NBA.

It’s hard to see the Cavaliers restricting LeBron on anything like this. They practically let him write his own contract – two-year max with a player option and trade kicker – annually so he can keep collecting as the salary cap rises. If he requested a clause allowing him to ride a motorcycle, would they really say no?

On the other hand, I doubt they want their franchise player taking any undue risks. It’s worth noting, though, that Williams wasn’t wearing a helmet and didn’t have a license. Maybe the Cavaliers could accept LeBron riding in a safer manner.

But if they didn’t consent and LeBron is riding a motorcycle, what would the consequences be? They’re not voiding his contract. It’d be up to the team and Adam Silver to determine punishment, and I don’t recall any precedent for that type of violation.

76ers owner: Brett Brown deserves an ‘A’

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Only one person in NBA history has coached as many games as Brett Brown and had a worst winning percentage.

The 76ers coach, who sports a 37-127 record, is trumped by just Brian Winters. Winters went 36-148 with the expansion Grizzlies and during interim stint guiding the Warriors.

Brown is entering the third season of his four-year contract, and Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie has been mum about an extension.

76ers owner Josh Harris is taking a similar approach, but he also says a lot of nice things about Brown.

Harris, via John Finger of CSN Philly:

“It’s probably not appropriate for me to talk about specifics about what the negotiations are with him,” Harris said during a media conference on Thursday at the team’s training camp at Stockton College.

“I give Brett an A for the job he’s done,” Harris said. “He’s been an incredible player development person, which is what we need at this point in time. He’s a great person to be around. He’s enthusiastic and he’s a born coach and a leader of men. I’m very impressed with Brett and I hope and expect Brett to be around the team for a very long time.”

Brown has done a fantastic job keeping this team engaged through losing and developing its young players. It’s not his fault Philadelphia stinks. Tanking is an organizational decision.

But the 76ers aren’t tanking forever, and soon, they’ll require a different type of coaching.

Is Brown up for it? No idea. He hasn’t had any chance to prove it.

After all he’s done, though, he probably deserves a chance to find out.