Minnesota’s draft conundrum: Nobody fits

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Well done Timberwolves. You tanked the last few weeks of the season and were somehow able to end the season with a worse record than a team that went on a historic losing streak. You must be proud.

Now for your reward you get the best chance at the top pick in this NBA draft. And while this may be a down draft, there’s some good guys at the top of the board in point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Derrick Williams.

Except, you don’t really need them.

Tom Ziller summed it up well in his latest NBA mock draft at SB Nation.

The Wolves are, predictably, in a tough spot. They don’t have a good point guard on the roster — Jonny Flynn’s story has been written, but he’s been unproductive in two seasons. Luke Ridnour is aging and struggled with injury last season. But if David Kahn really thinks Ricky Rubio is coming stateside, can you pick another lottery point guard? Irving’s the best prospect on the board, but taking him would complicate the Ricky relationship, at least at the onset.

But I’m not sure Minnesota could take Derrick Williams No. 1, given the presence of Kevin Love and Michael Beasley.

If the Wolves get the top pick, their only real choices revolve around drafting Irving and making a trade. Irving is the game changer in this draft, Williams is going to be good but he is second. Irving is the man. If the Wolves fully believe in Ricky Rubio, they can trade the top pick away. Or, they can draft Irving then immediately trade him.

But the smart move might be to draft and keep Irving, then see what the market will offer for Rubio. Not a ton, not for a guy who has never played in the NBA and has a very questionable jumper. But they can get some value. Minnesota continues to insist that Rubio will be playing for them next season, but that still makes no sense for Rubio (you’re going to come over into a lockout?). If Rubio stays the Wolves could play Irving for a year then have to make a decision on Rubio and Irving.

But that’s only if they get the top pick in the draft. Which they have a 25 percent chance of getting. So worse odds than Jonny Flynn hitting a three pointer. Yes, that bad.

Quinn Cook signing two-year contract with Hawks

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The Hawks began last season with just two point guards, one fewer than most teams – especially notable because neither starter Dennis Schroder nor backup Malcolm Delaney was experienced for his role.

Schroder and Delaney return, but Atlanta is adding another option – Quinn Cook.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Cook is a borderline NBA player. He might not make the regular-season roster. He also might supplant Delaney for a rotation spot.

A 24-year-old who has spent most of the last two years in the D-League (also getting stints with the Mavericks and Pelicans), Cook is a good outside shooter. He’s also steady, if unspectacular, in his lead-guard duties.

This is a solid flier at a position the Hawks could use depth.

Knicks sign Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Jamel Artis

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The Knicks signing Nigel Hayes leaked first.

But New York didn’t stop there.

Knicks release:

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Like Hayes, Artis (Pittsburgh) and Rathan-Mayes (Florida State) went undrafted this year – making them eligible to be waived and assigned to the Knicks’ minor-league affiliate. That’s likely all three’s fate.

But first, each will have an opportunity to make the regular-season roster. The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one roster spot for someone on a standard contract. Chasson Randle (unguaranteed) is the incumbent choice, but these three could supplant him.

O.J. Mayo says abusing prescription painkillers triggered NBA ban

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Last year, O.J. Mayo was banned from the NBA for at least two years due to a drug violation. Aside from stating a plan to come back, Mayo didn’t say much publicly.

Until now.

Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

He acknowledged smoking marijuana and abusing a prescription pain medication that triggered his two-year ban because it is on the NBA’s “drugs of abuse” list. (He emphatically denied testing positive for hard drugs like cocaine.)

Mayo also concluded that he had been “overwhelmed” by a string of difficult life events: his father, high school basketball star Kenny Ziegler, was sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for distributing crack cocaine, his brother was placed in juvenile lock-up, a close friend went to jail, and another was killed. “I was bred to play basketball and I thought I could balance everything,” he said. “I couldn’t.”

That’s part of an interesting feature on Mayo, who’s training for his come back. Golliver’s story makes it easy to pull for Mayo.

But the guard will be 30 when he’s eligible to apply for reinstatement, and he played lousily in his last three seasons with the Bucks.

Hopefully, Mayo has and keeps his personal life in order. But returning to the NBA will be an uphill battle.

James Harden throws alley-oop to Chris Paul, pair puts on show at Houston charity event

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What chemistry problem?

There are legitimate questions about how Chris Paul and James Harden will share the backcourt and ball with the Rockets, but none of those were on display on Sunday. That’s when CP3 joined his new teammate in Harden’s charity game (raising money for Harden’s charity, which helps children from single-family homes get a higher education), a kind of pro-am with some names thrown in to draw a crowd.

Harden and CP3 put on a show for the fans.

This is a charity event, not every team is going to defend like this or the Phoenix Suns. It’s going to be harder when the games matter.

But the Rockets are going to be entertaining to watch this season. No doubt.