Is Billy King a lock for Executive of the Year?

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That’s right, I’m doing a prospective Executive of the Year post in September. Training camp doesn’t start for a week. What do you want from me?

Mikhail Prokhorov told reporters this week, via the New York Post:

Prokhorov on the job @bkdefend did retooling the @brooklynnets roster: “I think, I’m sure, I do believe he’ll be the GM of the year.”

via Twitter / TimBontemps: Prokhorov on the job @bkdefend ….

Is this thing a lock? No team will make a greater gain in wins next season. The Timberwolves went up marginally last year so a jump this year is expected but won’t be as dramatic. The Warriors may actually have put together a greater improvement and a smarter long-term roster, but they don’t have the market or starpower that the Nets do. Any other team would be a massive surprise.

So you have to think that King will wind up getting it, just based on team improvement. It’s kind of an odd choice, considering the GMs vote on it, and they all know that long-term the Nets have put a pretty hard ceiling on themselves and it’s not one of a championship. They’ll be great, but it would take moving a massive contract for either an aging or underwhelming player for them to throw in a piece that leads to a championship.

But there’s the other scenario. They just click, and the chemistry makes them an unlikely title contender. I can’t see it happening but God knows that doesn’t mean it can’t come out that way.

And the bigger result may be this: There may be simply no one else who seems like a good choice.

Possible exceptions: Rod Thorn, Masai Ujiri

Note: How amazing would it be if Arron Afflalo jetpacked into a superstar while Glen Davis got himself together and the Magic made a playoff run and Rob Hennigan won? It’s never going to happen, but oh the justice.

Note 2 (Update): If Dwight Howard comes back earlier than expected and the Lakers don’t have any injury issues and they win as many games as is likely. Mitch Kupchak is certainly a strong candidate.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.