NBA Draft Combine news and notes

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The NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is a big deal, and it isn’t.

For a guy like Kyrie Irving, him basically skipping the event other than to get measured doesn’t matter. He did have 10.2 percent body fat, pretty high for a guard, and that doesn’t matter. He will go No. 1 to Cleveland anyway. Most of the top prospects skipped out on the drills, something that will not impact their draft status if they look good in individual workouts going forward.

But for other guys father down the list, this can move them up in the draft, drop them or get them noticed at all.

After two days of reading Draft Express, watching the ESPN coverage and looking at everything else here are some notes of guys who got noticed at the combine. Follow this link to the full list of measurements from the combine.

• Enes Kanter, center, Turkey: You remember his as the guy who went to Kentucky but couldn’t play because he’d played for a professional team in Turkey at 16. Because he basically hasn’t played anywhere outside of the NIKE Hoop Summit in the last two years, scouts and GMs were watching closely. What they saw was pretty impressive athleticism, good touch, not much on the defensive end. What he did was probably work as hard or harder than any other center out there. That matters.

But there are also a report from Andy Katz of ESPN that Kanter stood up the Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee bucks for interviews. The Jazz are the team with the No. 3 pick. Interesting, and there are rumors he doesn’t want to play for them. Remember that Utah tried to chase Chris Paul around for an interview back in the day, and the fact they got sick of it was part of the reason they took Deron Williams ahead of him.

• Jeremy Tyler, center, he’s been everywhere: You may remember this story, Tyler was one of the leading prep prospects as a junior in San Diego and he skipped his senior year of high school and all of college to play overseas. Where he was almost invisible in Israel and Japan, not impressing in not very good leagues. He’s got size — 6’10” with a 7’5” wingspan — and he just looks like an NBA player. There is some real buzz about him as he showed of a respectable midrange game and worked hard at the combine. That said his skill set seems to need a lot of work and after he floundered in mediocre leagues there should be questions. Might be a good second round pick as a project, he could develop into a rotation player (but expect a year in the D-League for him).

Nikola Vucevic, center, USC: He was the tallest player at the combine, 6’11” and 3/4, plus he showed surprising skill around the basket. Big, NBA ready body. Most people think he was a second rounder going in, but big men tend to move up as the draft gets closer, don’t be shocked to see him late in the first round.

• Marshon Brooks, guard, Providence: 6’5” with a massive 7’1” wingspan, he showed some real athleticism with some big dunks and blocks. But he also seemed to have a real feel for the game and be quite smooth. That should move him up. Then again, according to Jonathan Givony at DraftExpress Brooks referred to himself in the third person during interviews, turning some teams off.

• Kenneth Faried, forward, Morehead State: This guy had the Ronny Turiaf camp — he doesn’t have a lot of skill but he does know who he is on the court and wants to out work everyone. Turiaf was a guy diving two rows into the stands for the ball at Summer League, Faried could be that kind of guy. GMs love those kind of guys. Lots of good buzz, expect him to stay in the first round.

• Jordan Williams, forward/center, Maryland: He measured just 6’9” in shoes so thinking of him as a center isn’t going to work. But, he dropped about 15 pounds since the end of the season, showing he is taking the whole thing very seriously. He’s a second rounder but it’s things like the body transformation that keep him from dropping down and out.

• Klay Thompson, guard, Washington State: The son of former No. 1 overall Mychal Thompson came into the combine thought of as one of the better shooters in the draft and he didn’t disappoint. He knocked everything down. In a draft where teams drafting from 10 to 25 are looking for guys who can help a little, being a guy who can shoot gets you noticed. Think mid first round.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.

Report: Isaiah Thomas looking at first week of January for return to Cavs

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Just when we though Isaiah Thomas had fallen off the collective radar of the NBA, he squeaks right back in.

Thomas, who the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired in a trade this summer for Kyrie Irving, has yet to play a game due to a nagging hip injury. That injury caused some back-and-forth squabbling between Cleveland and the Boston Celtics, but things got sorted and the teams went on their way.

Irving has been spectacular of course, helping to lead the Celtics to a record of 25-7 in the absence of Gordon Hayward, good enough for the top slot in the Eastern Conference.

Now, it appears that Thomas is ahead of schedule and will be ready to help the Cavaliers fight for that spot come early January. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Shams Charania, Thomas and Cleveland want him to be playing the first week of the new year.

Via Twitter:

Of course, we’ve heard this before. The team has said this season that Thomas would play in January. Then the line moved and the Cavaliers thought he would play in December. It’s now moved back to January, but reports are more firm as we’re closer to the expected date and Thomas is playing in 4-on-4 drills. The great news is this honed return date seems to directly target the second game of 2018 for the Cavaliers, which is conveniently against the Celtics.

No doubt Thomas will be jonesing to take on his former team, where he certainly would have preferred to stay after a stellar season in 2016-17. Still, Thomas has been in good spirits — he gets to play with LeBron James for goodness sake — and the Jan. 3 game will be one to watch.

If Thomas can’t make it for that January matchup, the next opportunity he will have to beat Boston will be on Feb. 11.