Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter is becoming key to the NBA Draft

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Suddenly, the NBA Draft is becoming the “what to do with Enes Kanter?” draft.

Cleveland will take Kyrie Irving No. 1 overall. Then the drama starts.

Minnesota is shopping around the No. 2 pick. Which had seemed like it will be Derrick Williams out of Arizona (a four who wants to play away from the basket more). But after not seeing much of Kanter — he didn’t play anywhere last year after coming to play for Kentucky but being ruled ineligible because he had played for a professional team in his native Turkey — scouts are becoming enamored with the guy.

Kanter measured 6’11 and ¼ tall and 259 pounds with 5.9 percent body fat at the NBA Draft Combine. He was a specimen. And while other top picks all sat out the Combine workouts Kanter was in the mix — and impressing with his energy and effort. He showed good footwork and some skill with his shot. He’s a rookie, he’s got a lot of learning to do at the NBA level, but the foundation of a very good player is in there.

He is one of a handful of players that stood out at the NBA combine. Kanter has looked fantastic at the Nike Hoops Summit and other places he has played, the hesitation is that because he sat out nobody has really seem him play much in a couple.

Kanter has a number of individual workouts that will be the big test and decide his fate. And the direction of the NBA draft.

Will some team become enamored with Kanter and trade with the Timberwolves to get him at the No. 2 spot?

If Kanter falls past the two spot, does the Utah Jazz take him at No. 3? They already have Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors and Paul Millsap under contract, their need is at the guard position and guys like Brandon Knight (who has moved up a lot of team’s draft boards) and Kemba Walker will be available. But if Kanter is really the best player available at that point, do the Jazz take him and figure they would rather figure out what to do with too much talent up front?

What the Jazz do at three is the first domino deciding what the teams after them do.

If Kanter falls to four, it’s not likely he gets past the Cavaliers. Kanter said he would like to fall to six and play for the Washington Wizards and with his friend John Wall. But that is not happening. Kanter will not fall that far.

We don’t know where Kanter will go. But right now he is becoming the hinge on which the entire draft will turn.

NBA: Kenneth Faried got away with foul on decisive basket in Nuggets’ win over Bulls

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The Bulls’ biggest loss Friday was Jimmy Butler to injury. His absence certainly contributed to a loss to the Timberwolves the following night.

But Chicago also lost to the Nuggets on Friday, and perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if the game were called correctly down the stretch.

With Denver up two points and 21.1 seconds remaining, Kenneth Faried offensively rebounded a free throw and scored. The Bulls then intentionally fouled down the stretch, and Faried and Danilo Gallinari added a few free throws in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win.

One problem: Faried should’ve been called for offensively fouling Taj Gibson on the key putback, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Faried (DEN) extends his arm into Gibson (CHI) and dislodges him, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.

This was a huge swing. Instead of Taj Gibson – a 69% career free-throw shooter – going to the line for two attempts with Chicago down two points, Faried put the Nuggets up four. Even if Gibson split at the line, the Bulls would have been in significantly better shape.

As usual, we can’t know what would’ve happened if this call were made correctly. But it significantly set back Chicago.

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

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The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

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Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.