After the dust has settled, 25 observations from the NBA draft

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25 thoughts, observations, and wisecracks about the 2012 NBA Draft, now that there’s been some time to see the whole board.

 

1. I spent two months talking myself into the idea that Tyshawn Taylor was a first round pick because I was worried I was being overly harsh on his decision making late in games. Then it turned out I was giving him too much credit.

2. Harrison Barnes was essentially overrated in evaluations for two years, all the way up until Thursday at 7:00 EST. Then he was adequately rated by the draft process. Waiters may have been a reach by Cleveland, but Barnes going seventh was representative of where he should go overall. Enough of a risk to not go top five, enough of a talent to go top ten.

3. The bust likelihood on Anthony Davis is the basement. It’s sub-arctic. That’s such a luxury for the Hornets. Even if his offensive game never flourishes, defensively, he’s a franchise player. His ceiling is mega-star, his basement is franchise power forward. So that works out well for them.

4. I was vehemently opposed to the idea of Harrison Barnes going top four. But he would have been a better choice for Cleveland than Waiters. It’s not that Waiters doesn’t fill the need or won’t be a good player. He does and he will. It’s just such a reach. The Cavaliers spent all that time efforting to move up to No. 2, why not spend a little time moving back to get Waiters and pick up something else? It wasn’t a huge reach, it was a small reach, but it was still a reach.

5. But Sacramento reaps the benefits. All of your rebounds? They belong to the Kings. All of them. In two years, that’s the single nastiest frontcourt in the NBA. Just nasty. Cousins and Robinson are going to flat out beat up on other frontcourts.

6. How about Portland showing common sense? Addressing need while taking arguably the two best players at their positions? Some common sense in a rare showing.

7. I love John Henson as a draft prospect, I hate him as a Milwaukee Buck. Ekpe Udoh, Larry Sanders, Samuel Dalembert… why do you need to add John Henson to that mix? What does he do for you in Skiles’ system?

8. Detroit couldn’t get away from Drummond’s hypnotic effect. No matter what they did, they just landed back there. Unfortunate, really. (File this under: things to throw back in my face if Drummond reaches his potential and shows that every single piece of evidence about his mental approach is flawed.)

9. The only thing, the only thing that gives me pause on Royce White is the fact that he said he might rather play music than play basketball. It’s a totally fair position. A lot of people would rather do other things than what they do. It’s just that so few NBA players are truly great with that mindset.

10. I had all these wonderful words prepared for whoever took Terrence Ross in spots 13-18, and then the Raptors went and reached for the sky on him and now I don’t like the pick at all. That’s just aggravating. He was best available at the position, but it’s such a “competent role player with a top-10 pick” feel.

11. “Philly drafts Moe Harkless so surely they’re going to trade Andre Iguodala!” #thingswehavethoughtforthepastfiveyears

12. Houston managed to get three great players in the draft and still come out a loser because they yet again whiffed on the big pitch. Graded. On. A curve.

13. I want you to imagine a frontcourt of Glen Davis and Andrew Nicholson. Rolly, polly, big, and aggressive as everything holy.

14. You know, if you combine both of Boston’s picks into one player, you really start to have something.

15. Oh, what’s that, you can’t do that due to NBA regulations and basic laws of science? Oh, then that’s a terrible 1-2 set. Great for value where they were at, though, even if Melo was a bit of a reach.

16. OK, Dallas. Whatever.

17. Very excited to attend the Grand Opening of the Denver Nuggets new department store: “Versatile Wings Outlet Store,” since they can open it now by owning approximately 1,100 of them.

18. Perry Jones III went from being that pick that you were anxiously dreading a team taking too high to that kid you felt sorry for dropping so low. The draft, she is a cruel mistress.

19. Kendall Marshall to the Suns makes so much sense and you nod along and nod along and then you look at the draft board and go “Wait, Marshall went No. 13? That high? Really?”

20. The Ben Gordon trade helps my “MKG is going to have too many expectations to do things he can’t even though he’s a phenomenal player and a great kid” blood pressure stay down. That’s one of the weirdest sentences ever written.

21. Washington: Daring the fates and skating by since… 2012. But still!

22. An Austin Rivers-Eric Gordon backcourt should just be called The Hunger Games.

23. Teague may have been the slightly better, maybe safer pick for Memphis, but based off their need for a combo guard, he fits well. They still will not be able to shoot. At all.

24. Philadelphia really sneakily managed their way into a tremendous draft.

25. Robbie Hummel getting drafted is just a good thing for this world. Congrats to that kid.

Basketball Hall of Famer John Kundla dies at 101

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — John Kundla, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Minneapolis Lakers to five NBA championships, died Sunday. He was 101.

Son Jim Kundla said his father died at an assisted living facility in Northeast Minneapolis that he has called home for years.

Kundla coached George Mikan and the Lakers in the 1940s and 1950s, helping them become the NBA’s first dynasty. He went 423-302 before retiring at the age of 42 and went on to coach his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.

Kundla was the oldest living Hall of Famer in any of the four major pro sports.

Kundla was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. A year later, he was named one of the league’s 10 greatest coaches as part of the league’s “NBA at 50” celebration.

 

Report: Magic signing Marreese Speights to one-year, minimum contract

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It’s a tough market for free-agent centers, as Marreese Speights learned the hard way.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

I wonder whether Speights regrets opting out with the Clippers, who were also slated to pay him a minimum salary. Not only is he stuck with a low-paying deal, he’s on a worse team and one with center depth.

Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo should play only center, where Speights is best. Speights can also play power forward, but Aaron Gordon should get all his minutes there. Maybe Jonathan Isaac should, too, though it’s more tolerable to play him at small forward while the rookie adjusts to the NBA.

Simply, there won’t be much playing time for Speights unless Orlando makes a trade (maybe this is a harbinger) or plays too big of lineups (a lesson it should have learned last season).

Likewise, the Clippers will be fine, though less versatile, without Speights. The acquired Willie Reed (free agency) and Montrezl Harrell (Chris Paul trade) to play behind DeAndre Jordan.

Speights clearly isn’t essential, but he has expanded his range beyond the 3-point arc. He defends with effort, though not necessarily well. There’s a place in the league for stretch fives like him. But he turns 30 in a couple weeks, and his stock is clearly low. At least he’ll have a chance for a bigger payday next summer.

Kristaps Porzingis on Knicks: “This is where I want to stay… this is where I want to win”

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There were multiple, connected reasons it was time for the Knicks to move on from the Phil Jackson era — a triangle of reasons, really — but this one should have been at the top of the list:

He was alienating Krisptaps Porzingis.

We don’t know yet if Porzingis can be a franchise NBA player, however, he shows the potential to do it. He could become a top five NBA player you can build a contender around. You endear yourselves to those kinds of players, not get into power struggles that lead to said player blowing off end-of-year meetings and being guided out the door.

With Jackson gone, Porzingis has more motivation to stay a Knick and be the guy that turns the franchise’s fortunes around. KP was running a youth hoops camp in his native Latvia and was taking questions from the children when one kid got in a question the New York media would have loved to ask: Are you going to abandon New York? Here is Porzingis’ answer, translated and obtained by the New York Post.

“I feel that it is the best place to win. And if you win in New York, you are king. For the last two years, I have had so many positive emotions here that this is where I want to stay and that this is where I want to win.”

The Knicks have their cornerstone big. Now they need a guy on the outside (Kyrie Irving will get mentioned, but he is not the only answer), they need to get and develop young players to go with their stars. It’s the next phase for the Knicks.

But if they can keep Porzingis happy, they can lock him up to a max rookie extension after next year and have that piece in place. Then it’s up to Steve Mills and Scott Perry to put the pieces around him.

Report: LeBron James won’t waive his no-trade clause

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They Cavaliers have had a frustratingly lousy offseason.

They ousted trusted general manager David Griffin. Since, they’ve watched Golden State load up while their roster stagnates, as stars like Paul George and Jimmy Butler have landed elsewhere. Now, Kyrie Irving is requesting a trade and reportedly blaming LeBron James for that leaking.

LeBron has practically thrown up his hands and left ownership and management to figure out everything.

But LeBron – with rumors swirling about him leaving in 2018 free agency – won’t take an earlier exit.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

LeBron James will not waive his no-trade clause for any teams at any point during the 2017-18 season, league sources tell ESPN.

Cleveland essentially has two options with Irving:

1. Trade him for better, older players

2. Trade him for worse, younger players

No. 2 becomes much more palatable if the Cavs can also flip LeBron (and Kevin Love) and launch into a full rebuild. But as long as LeBron is around, it’s hard not to contend for a title.

But if they trade Irving for immediate help and LeBron leaves next summer, the Cavaliers could be left with a ghastly roster. That might be the risk they’re forced to take now.

It’s hard to believe the Cavs would trade beloved LeBron, even if he didn’t hold veto power. It would turn owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman into Cleveland villains, co-conspirators in LeBron leaving again. If Gilbert and Altman dare LeBron to leave in free agency, LeBron would have to own the decision himself.

Still, if LeBron and Irving would return incredible hauls of younger players and draft picks – I can’t even imagine what LeBron would draw in a trade – Gilbert and Altman should at least consider it. It just doesn’t seem the Cavs will have that option.