Kyrie Irving

Minnesota’s draft conundrum: Nobody fits


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.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

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China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.