There are a lot of Europeans near the top of this year’s draft. NBA teams are interested in part due to the looming lockout — draft a big man project and he can play overseas through a lockout, develop some more then bring him over in a year.
Meet Jan Vesely, who falls into that group. The Czech native is a long 6’11” but has the skills of a three, enough so he was voted FIBA Europe Player of the Year in 2010. He could provide a lot of versatility along the front line, if he develops. His potential has intrigued teams for years.
But teams are not going to get a chance to see that potential first hand this spring — his agent told Hoopshype Vesely will not work out for any teams before the draft. Teams may not be happy but it also is not that big a deal, he has played for KK Partizan Belgrade, a big time European team for a couple years and everybody has had a good look at him.
While everybody wants to compare lanky Euros to Dirk Nowitzki, the comparison more often used for Vesely is Andrei Kirilenko. But one who can’t shoot nearly that well yet. He has to get stronger and improve that shot — the shooting is a big thing, he shot just 51 percent overall and 33 percent from three in EuroLeague. He was inconsistent. But he could bring the defensive energy and rebounding that AK-47 brings.
That’s the high end, but even a poor man’s AK-47 would be welcomed off the bench by a lot of teams. It’s not a bad risk to take, and some team will do so — Rotoworld’s Steve Alexander has him falling (appropriately) to the Jazz at No. 12, but don’t be shocked if he goes in the top 10. Bigs rise as the draft gets closer. And if there is a lockout, he can play another season in Europe and work on that shot.
With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
You can watch the video of his speech below:
In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.
“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.
“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
So that settles that.
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Bulls acquired Dinwiddie in a trade with Detroit last month and waived him three weeks ago. He spent two years with the Pistons and appeared in 12 games last season, averaging 4.8 points and 13.3 minutes.
The Bulls announced the move Thursday.