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.

Mario Chalmers trips James Harden, Harden shoves him back (VIDEO)

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Memphis came back on an 18-2 run late to in the fourth quarter to knock off the Houston Rockets, a very impressive road win that reminds us Memphis is not a team to be written off.

This is the play everyone will be talking about — James Harden squared up looking for a fight.

Mario Chalmers got knocked down by a Harden screen, and while on the ground tries to trip up Harden, and Harden turns around and shoves him. Harden squared up, but as happens in the NBA everyone stepped in, and nothing actually happened.

Neither man was ejected. The referees called it an offensive foul on Harden for the pick, then there were double technicals. Fines may follow from the league.

Metta World Peace joins Lakers’ G League team as ass’t coach

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Metta World Peace has joined the Los Angeles Lakers’ NBA G League affiliate as a player development coach.

The veteran NBA forward was added to the South Bay Lakers’ staff Monday.

World Peace played 16 NBA seasons for six franchises, including six years with the Lakers from 2009-10 and 2015-17. He was a standout defensive player who won a championship alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in 2010.

While he hasn’t publicly retired, the forward formerly known as Ron Artest will assist South Bay Lakers head coach Coby Karl and his staff.

World Peace earned the longest suspension in NBA history for his role in the Indiana Pacers’ infamous brawl in the stands at Detroit in November 2004, but he matured into a valued veteran leader for the Lakers.

LaVar Ball calls out Wizards, Marcin Gortat doesn’t think that was smart

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“I told him after the game, due to all the riffraff his dad brings he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. He’s got to be ready for that, and I let him know after the game… (I had to) welcome his little young a** to the NBA.”

That was the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley after he tormented Lonzo Ball on opening night, and he speaks for a number of other players I have heard from who said father LaVar wrote checks that Lonzo is going to have to cash, and guys were going to go at him. Not every night, but enough.

Since that rough opener the rookie has had a decent couple of games — averaging 18.5 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds a night, not efficient but playing better — going against Eric Bledsoe (a capable defender who had checked out mentally in Phoenix) and Jrue Holiday and the Pelicans. Wednesday night John Wall and the Wizards come to town, and that’s another level of competition.

My least favorite thing about this Lakers season is the way the L.A. media sticks a microphone in front of LaVar Ball after every game. I don’t care about LaVar, in the same way I don’t care about the Kardashians.

But what he said has become a thing. After the Lakers loss to the Pelicans LaVar said, “[The Wizards] better beware cause Lonzo ain’t losing again. Not in the same week!”

Wizards’ center Marcin Gortat thought that was funny.

First off, Lonzo is going to lose twice in a week a lot this season — the Lakers are not a good team.

Second, Wall is a top-five NBA point guard by any standard, an All-NBA player who is far more than just quick (although he is that, too). He can shoot, he’s an aggressive defender, and he knows how to set up teammates. He’s going to be more than a handful for Ball. To put it kindly.

Whatever happens Wednesday night (most likely Wall smokes Lonzo) we know one thing for sure: LaVar will say something outlandish. And it will become a thing. The game is secondary for that marketing effort.

Lakers to break out powder blue Minneapolis throwback uniforms this season

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The Lakers have gone a few different directions with alternate uniforms in recent years, such as the black version, but when you have a classic brand you shouldn’t mess with it. Same with the Celtics, Bulls, Sixers, and other classic uniforms — if you’re going to go alternate then go older.

The Lakers are doing just that — going back to Minneapolis.

They are breaking out the George Mikan era jerseys, starting on Wednesday vs. Wizards and in four other games later in the season.

I like it.

Now if the Lakers could get George Mikan in the paint it would help.