You know what deal Western Conference executives have been raving about this week in Vegas?
Tiago Splitter to the Spurs. A deal that became official now and at an incredible price of three years for $11 million. Splitter clearly wants to be here as a he took a paycut to leave Saski Baskonia, the team he just led to the Spanish League title.
Splitter is the best center in Europe right now (or was, technically). He is 6’11”, skilled but physical as well. The 25-year-old Brazilian is the entire package. Look for Antonio McDyess to remain the starter at first, but Splitter may push him out of that role later in the season, once he learns the system.
His game may look familiar to Spurs fans — he says he has been watching and trying to copy Tim Duncan for many years. If there is one thing Splitter can do, it’s help Gregg Popovich keep Duncan’s minutes down through the course of the regular season. Keeping him fresh for when it matters, and a fresh and healthy Spurs team in the playoffs could be dangerous.
Splitter was drafted in 2007, but was pretty ticked when he was drafted, he admitted to the San Antonio Express News. Not because the Spurs drafted him, but because he had been led to believe by his advisors that he would go in the top 10, not drop all the way down to the Spurs closer to the end of the first round.
So he stayed in Europe for three more years, meaning the time of what would have been his first rookie deal ran out and the Spurs were allowed to pay him more.
“I realize where you have the opportunity to be — on a team that is international and a team that won titles with such good players, Manu (Ginobili) and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker,” Splitter said. “Then I realized that I’m in good hands, and the team who had my rights was great for me.”
Do not sleep on San Antonio next season.
After the Cavaliers Game 3 loss to the Celtics, LeBron James accused reporter Kenny Roda of showing up/asking questions only when Cleveland loses.
Questioned by Roda after the Cavs’ Game 4 win, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue lightheartedly lobbed the same criticism at Roda.
Coaching LeBron can be tricky. Lue must both challenge the greatest player of his generation and handle LeBron’s passive-aggressiveness. Lue can neither let LeBron walk all over him nor bark orders at him.
In this case, it seems Lue is trying to diffuse LeBron’s pettiness before it turns into something bigger. Considering how silly LeBron’s initial comments were, I bet the star is on board.
North Carolina hasn’t had a one-and-done player in eight years.
Since Brandan Wright declared for the 2008 NBA draft after his freshman year, the Tar Heels have emphasized player development over multiple years. That practice has yielded two national titles, including this year’s, in that span.
It also limited freshman center Tony Bradley’s playing time this season, as he was stuck behind seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.
But Bradley shined enough in 15 minutes per game to follow Wright as one-and-done from Chapel Hill.
Jeff Goodman of ESPN:
Bradley is a borderline first-round pick, though this late decision when many expected him to return to school indicates he believes he’ll go in the first round. There’s certainly logic in turning pro before scouts pick apart his game over a larger sample.
Bradley is huge – 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan – but he’s not explosive. The hope is someone in the Rudy Gobert mold.
Whomever drafts Bradley will hope his elite offensive rebounding is a harbinger. But why is his defensive rebounding and rim protection so forgettable?
He moves and passes fairly well for his size, but considering he’s so big, those aren’t necessarily skills for him to hang his hat on. If a teammate sets him up, he uses his size to finish well at the rim.
Beyond his size and offensive rebounding, Bradley doesn’t set himself apart one way or the other. Whether that’s good or bad depends how deep in the draft it is.
Option A: Keep the pick, draft Markelle Fultz No. 1, go hard at Gordon Hayward this summer in free agency and if you strike out with him go hard at other guys, maybe in the 2018 class.
Option B: Trade the No. 1 pick for a package that includes Jimmy Butler (or, less likely, Paul George) and put together a roster to make a hard run at the Cavaliers next year.
Those aren’t the only two options on the table, but they represent the two paths the Boston Celtics can go down this off-season after landing the No. 1 pick in the draft. I delve into it more in this PBT Extra.
Expect them to go with option A — the chance to draft a potentially elite player, and have him under contract for years on an affordable rookie deal, is too smart a long-term move to pass up.
The Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond is on his way to Orlando, joining a new front office trying to turn the Magic — and their culture — around.
That means the Bucks need a new GM, and it was assumed long-time assistant GM Justin Zanik would step into the role. However, he may not be the long-term answer, according to a couple of reports.
Zanik will have the job in the short term, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
Marc Stein of ESPN broke the news on the broader search.
The Milwaukee Bucks have decided to commission a broad search for a new general manager, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN on Wednesday that Bucks consultant and longtime NBA executive Rod Thorn will lead the search on behalf of Milwaukee ownership, which is hopeful of attracting strong candidates given the Bucks’ on-the-rise status….
Current Bucks assistant general manager Justin Zanik will interview for the GM post and be given strong consideration to succeed Hammond, sources said.
Doing a broad search makes sense, the Bucks should explore their options even if they think the best one is the guy already doing the job. More information is a good thing.
The real question in Milwaukee is how much say Jason Kidd has over the roster — is he a de facto GM? There have been rumors of that for a while, and that it led to friction in the organization. How will whoever comes in handle that dynamic with the head coach?
The Bucks are a team on the rise in the East, they have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker and Kris Middleton, it’s a team that needs to add the right pieces around them and develop into an elite team in the conference over the next couple of seasons. It will take a deft hand at GM to do that. Zanik strikes me as a guy who can do that, but the Bucks want to cover their options.