Jared Sullinger won’t be available in 2011 draft, will return to Ohio State

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Derrick Williams should be hearing cash register sounds in his head right about now.

The 2011 NBA Draft is not slated to be terrific. It’s a weak class to begin with, shallow, with no “locks” at the top. Throw in the effect of a potential lockout on the process and you’re looking at a draft no one is particularly excited about. Granted, drafts can look one way in March and entirely different in December as players outperform expectations. The 2009 class wasn’t thought of very highly but a surprising number of first round picks from that class are starters and rising stars. But if this year’s draft was considered light on star power before Friday night, it just plummeted even more.

Jared Sullinger is coming back to Ohio State.

After the Buckeyes’ gut-wrenching loss to the Kentucky Wildcats, Sullinger told reporters he was absolutely returning next season for his sophomore season;

“I’m going to be an Ohio State Buckeye next year,” he said. “This isn’t why I came here, to come in here and see my seniors in here crying. I came here to win a national championship.”

Plenty of people make pledges in the rubble of an emotional loss only to change their mind later, when the sting and suddenness of the season fades and the promise of the NBA looms.

Sullinger, who had 21 points and 16 rebounds in his final game of the season, insists that won’t happen.

“I’m a man of my word,” Sullinger said. “I don’t change my word and no one changes it for me. This is what I want.”

via Jared Sullinger vows he will return to Ohio State – ESPN.

The comments are consistent with what Sullinger has said consistently throughout the season, so there’s no reason to doubt him, despite many previous one-and-done players committing to their team after a tournament exit only to depart when the financial realities set in. It’s entirely possible the same happens with Sullinger, but his comments have been pretty strong to the point you have to believe him.

With Sullinger out, Arizona’s Derrick Williams becomes the surefire top big in the draft, if he hadn’t already obtained that with his perimeter barrage and terrifying posterizations against Duke Thursday night. Buckeye fans get another year of Sullinger and NBA fans will have to wait while continuing to be concerned about the quality of the upcoming draft for teams who need stars now.

 

Akron store already selling “Stay Home 23” shirts, hats as LeBron decision looms

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We’ve seen this movie before.

There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.

The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.

Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.

Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Marshall Plumlee gets camp invite, partially guaranteed contract from Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).

That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.

Kawhi Leonard is smiling, and that confuses Manu Ginobili (PHOTO)

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Much like Kevin Durant, it appears that Kawhi Leonard is having a great summer.

In fact, this appears to be the Summer of Kawhi Smiling. Which, according to one of his longtime teammates, is a bit confusing.

When the Spurs posted a photo of Leonard with a big old grin on his face to their Twitter feed recently, San Antonio legend Manu Ginobili responded asking the team whether something was up.

Specifically, Ginobili said that he had seen more photos of Leonard smiling in the past two days then he had in six seasons as a teammate.

Via Twitter:

You can leave an anonymous tip about why Kawhi Leonard is smiling so much by contacting the produce manager at your local H-E-B.

Kobe is the Lakers’ all-time leader in steals (and other trivia rookies don’t know)

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“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”

That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.

In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.

A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!

Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.