Winderman: Hats players put on at NBA Draft may just be loaners

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stern_draft.jpgThe greatest concern among leading NBA Draft prospects is not a wardrobe malfunction or even having to work for Donald T. Sterling.

No, it’s lice.

Because tonight’s draft, like most, likely will require a significant amount of re-gifting when it comes to the hats handed to first-round picks by Commissioner David Stern, especially with the NBA’s arcane rule about announcing trades of draft choices well after the selections are made.

Yet this year, the hat swaps might have to be done by courier, two weeks after the fact.

If the NBA Draft isn’t confusing enough, with its constant reshuffling, the process could be even more confounding this time around, with so much of a focus on the July 1 start of free agency.

Because of the timing of the two events, it is possible that players drafted tonight could have to wait until July 8, the first day free-agent signings are allowed, to learn their true 2010-11 homes.

For example, if a pick is to be packaged with an impending free agent, such a trade cannot be made until July 8.

Take Chicago, for example, and its (as of this writing) No. 17 pick. Say the Bulls try to package that pick with impending free-agent center Brad Miller in some type of sign-and-trade maneuver. Any sign-and-trade involving an impending free agent cannot be made until July 8.

So if Oklahoma State’s James Anderson goes up to the podium at No. 17 tonight, he might want to treat that cap received from Stern gingerly. It might have to be shipped back to Chicago in two weeks.

If anything, it is yet another reason why the NBA would be wise to follow the NFL’s lead of opening its free-agency period, pausing for the draft, and then continuing free agency.

Yes, it could mean summer league being pushed back a few weeks. But the August heat in Las Vegas is no different from the July heat.

As for the notion that this is the only way to assure that the league can take at least a few months off each offseason, the reality is that this has become a 12-month league. Even this year, there will be plenty of free-agent signings in August and September.

As for tonight, don’t believe everything you see on the stage at Madison Square Garden.

This is a process that very well could come with its own built-in two-week tape delay.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Report: Pelicans to waive Omri Casspi after broken thumb leaves them shorthanded

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 23:  Omri Casspi #18 of the New Orleans Pelicans warms up before a game against the Houston Rockets at the Smoothie King Center on February 23, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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In his first game in New Orleans, coach Alvin Gentry threw forward Omri Casspi right into the rotation, and he scored a dozen points.

Casspi also broke his thumb and will be out 4-6 weeks.

Because there is so little time in the season and the Pelicans want to make the playoffs, they have decided to waive Casspi, reports Sams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The idea is to create a roster spot to either grab someone waived by another team over the next few days or to get players on 10-day contracts.

Casspi will be a free agent this summer, and there are a number of teams that think he has real potential once unleashed outside what was going on in Sacramento.

Hawks sign Ryan Kelly, Lamar Patterson to multiyear deals

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 13:  Tobias Harris #34 of the Detroit Pistons defends against a pass to Ryan Kelly #30 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on October 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward Ryan Kelly and guard Lamar Patterson to multiyear contracts.

Patterson provides depth across the perimeter, including at point guard. He previously signed two 10-day contracts with the team, most recently on Feb. 8. He has averaged 2.3 points in four games.

The 6-foot-11 Kelly has played in nine games with the Hawks after signing Oct. 31.

The Hawks now have their maximum 15 players. They traded forward Mike Scott to the Suns on Thursday, leaving two vacant roster spots.

Kelly and Patterson are expected to be available when the Hawks play Miami on Friday night.

Kevin Durant: Shaq’s constant ripping of JaVale McGee ‘childish’

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 09:  Shaquille O'Neal reacts during the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Symphony Hall on September 9, 2016 in Springfield, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee fired back at Shaquille O’Neal via Twitter after the former star-turned analyst posted on his verified account a disparaging photo of McGee with the words, “America meet Javale “BUM” McGee.”

O’Neal also responded angrily to McGee , saying he would “smack” McGee’s “bum a–.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant backed McGee on Friday, with Durant calling Shaq “childish” while calling out the retired center’s free throw shooting and other flaws in his game during a Hall of Fame NBA career.

Shaq and McGee went back and forth in a heated Twitter spat late Thursday night, when McGee returned to a reserve role for the NBA-best Warriors as starting center Zaza Pachulia returned from an eight-game absence because of a shoulder injury.

Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey on plan for Warriors: Bury them in an avalanche of threes

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 19: Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets speaks during a press conference announcing the signing of Jeremy Lin at Toyota Center on July 19, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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For a couple of seasons now, teams have tried to beat the Golden State Warriors by making the game ugly — slow, grinding, physical, and the opposite of the free-wheeling game they like. Only one team has had any real success with that strategy, and it has LeBron James on it (and even that wouldn’t have been enough if Draymond Green could keep his hands to himself).

So why not beat them at their own game?

That’s what Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey thought when he added Lou Williams to the roster, he said.

There is a sense around the Warriors that the Rockets may be a bigger concern than the Spurs, because Houston can score with them. Don’t confuse that with worry in the Bay Area, they are the best team in the West if healthy, but the Rockets may be the team they face off against in the conference finals.

And if that happens, Lou Williams is going to play a significant role.