Three NBA prospects land in the D-League

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The first round of D-League waiver claims are behind us, and three quasi-NBA talents will join a D-League season already underway. According to Scott Schroeder of NBA FanHouse, Joe Alexander, Stanley Robinson, and DeShawn Sims will all ply their trade in the D this season. Alexander will play for the Texas Legends, Robinson for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and Sims for the Maine Red Claws.

Alexander, a lottery pick in 2008, likely has the highest profile of the three. He has a ways to go before becoming a real NBA contributor, but Alexander could very well be called up as an answer to some team’s injury misfortune or a project of sorts. He’s still a tremendous athlete, and if he can tone down his fouling, improve his shooting, and hold his own defensively, Alexander could conceivably become a passable NBA player. The D-League would optimally give Alexander a spot to work on his game, but I have a feeling that his time in Frisco will be relatively short-lived. It’s not all that surprising that the Bulls elected to cut Alexander lose rather than pay him a multi-million dollar annual salary, but he’s likely worth the minimum somewhere.

Robinson was the Orlando Magic’s second round pick in this summer’s draft, and now he’ll join the ground level of the Houston Rockets’ operation. As Schroeder noted in his report, the Rockets are among the more active call-up teams in the NBA, and if Robinson succeeds in the D-League, he’ll likely get a pat on the head and 10 days’ worth of NBA salary for his efforts.

Sims was a quality scorer and rebounder last season for Michigan, and followed up his collegiate career with a strong showing at the Orlando Summer League. After playing a few games in Greece for PAOK BC, Sims has decided to return to the States, where he’ll grab a smaller paycheck but enjoy a more immediately visible big-league audition. The international route is clearly fitting for those who need the coin, but the D-League has rapidly grown into the premier avenue for NBA hopefuls. Sims is certainly one such player, and he’ll go to work in the D with the hope of turning a few heads.

Watch the top 60 clutch shots from last NBA season

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It’s that time of the year when there is no basketball, so we fill the time with idle Kyrie Irving speculation and video highlights of last season.

Along those lines, above you can out the top 60 clutch shots from last season, as determined by the folks at NBA.com.

The great thing about the clutch shot list is the ball is in the hands of stars at the ends of games, so there is plenty of Russell Westbrook, John Wall, LeBron James, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and more. Personally, I would have switch No. 1 and No. 2 on the list, but it’s all fun to relive.

Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert: Pacers ‘could have done better’ on Paul George trade

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Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. LeBron James could leave next summer. The Cavaliers keep churning through general managers, the newest – Koby Altman – the reason for today’s press conference.

But Cavs owner Dan Gilbert looked past his own team’s turmoil and potential turmoil to take a shot at the Pacers, who traded Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

“I will say Indiana could have done better than they did,” Gilbert said after Altman refused to directly address a question about George trade talks and shifted the discussion elsewhere.

This didn’t strike me as Gilbert trying to distract from Cleveland’s troubles. He just seemed to want to take a shot at a foe, something he’s no stranger to doing. The Cavaliers are particularly salty about their trade offer for George, which included Kevin Love, not being accepted.

For what it’s worth, Gilbert is right. The Pacers should have done better. Oladipo is now on a lucrative contract extension, and Sabonis spent his rookie season showcasing the reasons people doubted him the draft. That’s a piddling return for a star, even one on an expiring contract with dreams of joining the Lakers.

Report: Kings meet with former Magic GM Otis Smith about front-office job

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The Kings lost Scott Perry to the Knicks, so Sacramento is seeking someone else to aid Vlade Divac in the front office.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Former Orlando Magic general manager Otis Smith has met with Sacramento Kings officials about the franchise’s vacant vice president of basketball operations job, league sources told ESPN.

Smith has plenty of experience, which Divac lacks. But it’s not all good experience.

Running the Magic, Smith made numerous errors – including drafting Fran Vazquez (who has never played in the NBA) No. 11, overpaying Rashard Lewis and then trading Lewis for Gilbert Arenas’ even worse contract. If Smith’s Orlando tenure is predictive, he’ll indulge the Kings’ worst tendencies to mortgage the future for the present.

That said, Smith might have learned from his time with the Magic (though working under Stan Van Gundy with the Pistons the few couple years isn’t exactly the best place to hone long-term-planning skills). What amounts to an assistant general-manager role might be a better fit for him, too.

Usually, this opening wouldn’t garner so much attention. But Perry was lavished with praise for Sacramento’s offseason, raising the profile of this job – which already carried relative prominence. The No. 2 in the Kings’ front office is now perceived, somewhat fairly, as more important than the typical assistant general manager.

Lakers sign Tyler Ennis to minimum contract

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Jut before the trade deadline, the Lakers took a flier on Tyler Ennis, who had struggled in two-plus seasons with the Suns, Bucks and Rockets.

The former No. 18 pick finally looked like an NBA player in Los Angeles, so he’s returning.

Lakers release:

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed guard Tyler Ennis, it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

This is fantastic value for the Lakers. Ennis is probably worth a minimum salary, and if he is, they have him for two years at that price. If not, they can drop him for no cost next summer, when their cap room will be at a premium. This is the type of bet smart teams make, which bodes well for the Magic Johnson regime.

Ennis’ productivity in Los Angeles might not be sustainable. He shot well above his career marks on 3-pointers and free throws in a small sample. But he looked more comfortable on the court, showing some of the savvy he was expected to bring from Syracuse. He’s also just 22, and point guards tend to develop later than other positions.

The Lakers still have their room exception, which they could use on another point guard. So, it’s uncertain whether Ennis will back up Lonzo Ball or fall to third string. I’m not sure any remaining free-agent point guards – Ty Lawson, Deron Williams, Brandon Jennings, Ramon Sessions – will command more than the minimum or playing time over Ennis, though.