Scouts who had seen Jonas Valanciunas raved about him as maybe the player with the highest ceiling in this draft (or at least the guy most likely to reach a high ceiling of all the Europeans in the draft).
Fans? Not sold at all. Plenty read the name and thought the Raptors just drafted a New York cab driver.
Then they should have been watching yesterday. The Toronto Sun was.
Valanciunas was the best player on the floor as Lithuania humiliated the United States 108-75 in a tuneup for the FIBA under-19 championship, which gets underway on Thursday in Latvia.
The fifth overall selection by the Raptors imposed his will on the smaller Americans, compiling a game-high 23 points and 11 rebounds, along with two blocks and a steal.
Valanciunas is rail-thin and must pack on 15-25 pounds before he can compete effectively in the NBA, but against those his own age, he has consistently dominated.
He did that against Florida’s Patric Young, who was considered a sure fire lottery pick if he came out this season (Young had 6 points). We told you draft night this was a smart pick by the Raptors, they took the best guy on the board. This is not Andrea Bargnani part deux, this is a guy a lot of teams were seriously eyeing. And some young Americans found out why Tuesday.
The league may find out in a couple years.
All anyone would talk about is how the Bulls could not hit the three.
Then, with the game in the balance, the ball rolled out to Dwyane Wade standing at the three-point line and he sank the dagger three — Chicago beat Boston on Thursday night.
Watch the video above, after Wade hits the game-sealing three, he makes a throat-slashing gesture.
That will cost Wade $25,000. The league announced the fine Friday.
Wade cares about this as much as he cares when the Osmonds are playing in Branson. He can afford this.
Three days into the NBA season seems early to be discussing the semantics of NBA trade talk, but here we are.
There have been rumors that the Minnesota Timberwolves called the Cleveland Cavaliers, interested in talking Iman Shumpert trades, possibly involving Ricky Rubio (who at some point will lose his starting job to rookie Kris Dunn). And that the Cavaliers were at least open to the idea. But nothing came of it.
How serious is Cleveland on the Shumpert front? Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer addressed that in a Q&A with fans.
A few teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves have inquired about Iman Shumpert, who has three years and $30 million left on his contract at age 26. The Cavs are answering the phone… But they are not actively looking to deal him, a team source told cleveland.com….
Keep in mind, Cleveland also has a trade exception worth about $11 million, the expiring contract of Mo Williams ($2.2 million) and Jordan McRae to deal. So if it is Rubio they want, they don’t have to trade Shumpert to get him.
What Varden is saying is Cavaliers GM David Griffin is not picking up the phone and seeing what he can get for Shumpert. But if teams call him…
Right now, the Cavaliers will need to be blown away to make a deal. Shumpert is backing up J.R. Smith and got more than 22 minutes of court time in the opener — he has a role on this team. Plus Shumpert is on an affordable contract. The Cavs are only going to make a move they believe makes them better right now — they want another ring. Maybe that offer comes, but the Cavs can be patient, and they have options.
The Baller and Chief is on his way out the door.
Barack Obama has been by far the biggest hoops fan to inhabit the White House (with John Quincy Adams a very distant second). He’s put up a basketball court at the White House, filled out NCAA Tournament brackets, jokingly applied for the Wizards’ coaching job, thought about becoming an owner, gone to NBA games, and just been a fan like the rest of us.
And he’s picking the Warriors to win it all. Like everyone else.
In what was primarily a “get out the vote” effort, President Obama called in to ‘Sway in the Morning’ hosted by Sway Calloway on Eminem’s SiriusXM channel Shade 45. Asked to pick the next NBA champ, the Bulls fan went exactly where everyone else did — Golden State.
“I’m going to go with the Warriors just because of [Kevin] Durant, that addition. I think they just have too much firepower,” Obama said. “Although they just got spanked in their first game, so it will take a while to figure things out.”
Obama also picked the Patriots to win the NFL title. He’s such a frontrunner.
With rumors of NBA expansion swirling, it’s time to look at more concrete evidence.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has repeatedly shot down expansion talk, and that’s not him going rogue. His bosses have apparently taken a firm stance.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:
Basketball Insiders reached out to an NBA owner and a voting member of the Board of Governors and was told flatly that any talk of expansion has been shot down at every turn inside the Board of Governors meetings. It’s been a non-starter.
There is a theoretical one-time expansion fee so high where the current 30 owners would divide their shares of revenue further. But the NBA takes in so much annually, it’s hard to imagine a new ownership group could and would front enough money.
Sorry, Seattle (and Louisville and Las Vegas and…). The evidence is overwhelmingly on the side of the league staying at 30 teams. You’ll probably just have to poach a team from another city.