Rob Hennigan

Orlando admits what became obvious: It’s about the draft

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There are a lot of ways to question the ultimate decision that Orlando made in trading Dwight Howard.

That has to start with, why didn’t you just do this at the trade deadline? I know you wanted to keep your superstar but everyone could see where this was headed, you needed to get out quick (think Utah Jazz). Then we can ask why the Houston deal wasn’t better (saved more money and had unrestricted picks)? Or the Brooklyn deal? (Although to me any rebuilding deal that includes Brook Lopez is to be avoided.) Getting Andrew Bynum might have been better than anyone you will draft with the picks they got.

But through it all one thing became clear — the plan was to rebuild via the draft. Oklahoma City assistant GM Rob Hennigan was brought in to rebuild via that model. (We can discuss if that model is something they can really replicate another day.)

Magic CEO Alex Martins confirmed the plan to the Orlando Sentinel but said free agency is not out of the question (via SLAM).

“We’re not turning our back on free agency,” Martins said. “We’re just putting the emphasis on our draft that we feel should be the case.”

It is not going to be easy for the Magic to replicate the success that the Thunder or Spurs had with this draft plan, it takes a lot of luck (like Kevin Durant falling to you at the No. 2 pick or having a down year the one year Tim Duncan comes up in the draft). It takes great scouting — everyone thought Russell Westbrook was a reach at No. 4 and there were questions about James Harden.

But Magic fans, give it a chance. It’s the road you are committed to now. Spending a max deal on someone like Josh Smith next summer is the road back to mediocrity. Don’t go for a quick fix, get the right players. It’s not going to be a fun couple of years, but it is the path you are committed to.

WATCH: LeBron James, Stephen Curry lead NBA’s top 100 plays of 2015-16 season

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The NBA has unveiled its top 100 plays of the 2015-16 season, and there’s no mystery as to what were the top two.

No. 2: Stephen Curry‘s halfcourt buzzer-beater in overtime against the Thunder in Oklahoma City during the season.

No. 1: “The Block” by LeBron James on Andre Iguodala in the final stretch of Game 7 of the Finals.

There’s plenty more, too, and if you have 25 minutes to kill, you can and should watch all of them above.

Report: Celtics re-sign Tyler Zeller for two years, $16 million

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 19:  Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks grabs a rebound against Tyler Zeller #44 of the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 19, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Tyler Zeller is one of the few restricted free agents left on the market who could make an actual impact next season, and on Saturday morning, he’s come off the board. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports that the fourth-year big man has agreed to a deal to stay with the Celtics. It’s for two years and $16 million, with the second season being a team option.

Zeller isn’t a starter, but he’s a nice rotation big man, especially at that price. He can play minutes off the bench for Boston, and his contract is also very movable with the second season being unguaranteed. He played just 11.8 minutes per game last season, but averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Watch Charles Barkley struggle to pronounce “Jonas Valanciunas” last season

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The Toronto Raptors were good last season, second best team in the East. That means the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT had to talk about them.

Which means Charles Barkley had to say “Jonas Valanciunas” a lot. Which is high comedy. While a lot of people struggle to say his name the guy is a solid NBA center who, with a little practice, you can say (and spell) his name pretty easily.

This comes from a YouTube user, via Reddit, with a hat tip to Eye on Basketball.

Watch highlights of USA’s 111-74 rout of Argentina in exhibition game

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Argentina isn’t considered a medal contender heading into the Rio Olympics. Their golden generation — led by Manu Ginobili — has picked up a lot of speed on the downhill side of their careers at this point.

They didn’t provide much of a challenge for Team USA in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Vegas, one won by the USA 111-74. Kevin Durant impressed playing with his new teammates in dropping 23 points, Paul George had 18, and the Americans had their way in the game.

Which is what we’re going to see a lot of in Rio — the USA’s talent level is just steps above any other team in the tournament.