Orlando is in trouble.
They are down 2-1 to the Atlanta Hawks, a team that through the regular season and into the playoffs has shown its matchup advantages are hard for Orlando to overcome. Now the Magic face a virtual must-win Game 4 and likely will have to do it without Jason Richardson, who probably will get suspended for his little run in with Zaza Pachulia in Game 3.
There are a lot of people blaming Orlando’s roster-changing trades in November as the root of the problem.
Unless you think Vince Carter could solve the Magic’s woes, that theory doesn’t really work. And if you think Vince Carter changes this series, your issues may require professional help.
Orlando traded one roster that was going to lose early in the playoffs on for another.
The Magic would have gotten about as much out of Rashard Lewis as they are Gilbert Arenas. Orlando GM Otis Smith had more faith in Arenas than anyone else, and that hasn’t worked out, but Lewis was already becoming a ghost on this roster. Marcin Gortat would have given the Magic depth in the paint and allowed Stan Van Gundy to cut Howard’s minutes from the 46 a game he has played this series to maybe 38 or so (he wouldn’t go much lower) but that is not a series changer.
The Magic brought in guys who were supposed to get them through a series like this easily. Orlando certainly expected more out of Jason Richardson in the playoffs (8.7 points per game and he’s shooting 26.7 percent from three). Hedo Turkoglu has been worse, and we’re not just talking about that disaster of a last play the Magic ran in Game 3. Turkoglu was always a pretty average player who Van Gundy understood how to use well, but he has not found room this series
Orlando as a team is shooting 26 percent from three, the Hawks are doing a good job contesting the arc (because they can single-cover Howard with Jason Collins and others). When Orlando can’t hit threes, their offense falters. The guys Orlando got in this deal are not doing the job.
But if you think that Carter and Lewis were changing things you are sorely mistaken. The only real difference between this roster and the last one is that this one is more expensive long term.
Which might have Dwight Howard thinking about things. But that is another issue for another day.
The current, authoritarian government in Turkey is not big on dissent (they have beaten protestors of the Turkish regime at a march in this country). Or human rights.
So what’s real trouble for them is opposition and dissent from a famous, well-known person.
Which brings us to Oklahoma City big man Enes Kanter. He is a native of Turkey, and he has been outspoken in his opposition to that country’s current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Last week the Turkish government revoked Kanter’s passport while he was traveling the globe promoting his charity. He barely got out of Indonesia and was able to get to Romania, where he was detained for a stretch before getting to return to the United States via London.
Now, the Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant for Kanter, reports the Agence France-Presse.
Turkey issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter, accusing him of being a member of a “terror group”, a pro-government newspaper reported.
A judge issued the arrest warrant after an Istanbul prosecutor opened an investigation into Kanter’s alleged “membership of an armed terrorist organisation”, Sabah daily reported.
He is in no danger of being extradited by the United States because of this. If anything, it strengthens his case for U.S. citizenship based on asylum.
Kanter is a supporter of the Gülen movement in that country, which is led by the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania. That movement has opposed Erdogan (who recently won a disputed election in that country that gives him sweeping, almost dictatorial powers). Erdogan blamed Gulen for masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, one with members of the military involved (after that attempt members of the Gulen movement have been swept up by the government all over Turkey. This has come at a cost for Kanter, who has been disavowed by his own family because of his political beliefs.
Kanter is not about to back down from his position. Which means it may be a long time before he gets to visit his homeland again.
Duke guard Frank Jackson declared for the 2017 NBA draft with an outside shot of going in the first round and a likelihood of getting picked in the second-round.
This won’t help his stock.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:
Duke’s Frank Jackson, a well-regarded point guard in the 2017 NBA draft class, underwent right foot surgery and is expected to be fully recovered sometime in July.
When Jackson recovers will determine whether he plays in summer league, and that can affect transition to the pros as a rookie.
The bigger questions: Will this hinder his athleticism long-term? Does this put him at greater injury risk?
Jackson, a 6-foot-4 scoring guard, relies on a strong first step to attack the basket and high elevation on his jumper.
If there’s consensus on the top prospects in the 2017 NBA draft, it’s:
1. Markelle Fultz
2. Lonzo Ball
3. Josh Jackson
That squares nicely with the Celtics picking Fultz No. 1 and the Lakers taking Ball No. 2.
But what about the 76ers, who pick No. 3? They already have a playmaking forward with a shaky jumper in Ben Simmons. Jackson isn’t the cleanest fit. Even if they plan to deploy Simmons at point guard, they could still use a traditional point guard for support/insurance.
Enter De'Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr.
Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
The 76ers could also get a workout with Ball. There will be point guard options.
I’m just unsure any of them, assuming Ball is off the board, trump Jackson.
Philadelphia’s starting small forward is Robert Covington – a nice player, but not someone who should influence draft decisions. We can lightly pencil Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons into the 76ers’ starting lineup the next time the team gets good, but the rest of the lineup is open. Pondering Jackson’s fit into a half-blank canvass is overthinking. Embiid is an excellent outside shooter for a center, and Philadelphia’s eventual guards (or shooting guard and power forward if Simmons plays point guard) could be good shooters.
The 76ers’ should draft the best prospect available. If that’s Jackson, so be it. They should consider Fox’s and Smith’s fit only if those point guards are in the same tier as Jackson.
That said, don’t rule out the possibility of Fox and Smith working their way into that level. They’re intriguing players.
When Kevin Durant left the Thunder for the Warriors, Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter jumped fully on board the pro-Russell Westbrook, anti-Durant bandwagon.
That ride doesn’t stop with his former teammate facing the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
Kanter, via Fox Sports Radio:
I don’t like Golden State, so I want Cleveland to win the championship.
Kanter never misses an opportunity to take a shot at the Warriors – except when Zaza Pachulia laid out Westbrook and stood over him.