Nerlens Noel

Could Nerlens Noel’s injury shake up the NBA draft? Not really.


UPDATE 2:01 pm: The word is in and Nerlens Noel has a torn ACL for which he will have surgery in the next few weeks. The X-rays were negative and there doesn’t seem to be other damage. Expect him to miss six to eight months. Which really sucks for Kentucky.

But it’s not going to impact Noel’s NBA draft status. We quoted him below saying the same thing, but here is a tweet from Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress after the ACL injury was announced:

NBA teams are not really concerned that Noel could miss training camp and the first month of the season or so. They are drafting a player for three years from now, and an ACL is something you can make a full recovery from.

10:11 am: That is ugly. And scary.

And that is Nerlens Noel, the Kentucky center that DraftExpress and many other sites have as the No. 1 pick in the next NBA Draft.

Did that chase-down block above just change the complexion of the 2013 NBA draft?

It depends on the extent of the injury, Jonathan Givony of the go-to NBA draft site told PBT in an email. If he is expected to make a full recovery it likely does not impact his status at all, Givony said. If he’s not, all bets are off, but nobody wants to think about the young player not getting all the way back.

Remember, NBA teams are not drafting the player as you see him, they are drafting the player they think they will get in three to five years. I hate the overuse of the word “upside” during a draft as much as anyone, but that matters to an NBA team — they want a guy who can contribute at a high level in a few years. NBA teams are in the business of projecting player growth.

There is nobody in this draft who is expected to be a future franchise player, there is no Anthony Davis or Kyrie Irving of the last two drafts that is a lock No. 1. There are a number of guys in the mix for the top spot, it depends on who wins the lottery. But Noel is a guy at or near the top of every draft board because of that potential — look at the play he got injured on, a 6’11” guy fast enough to run the floor and make a chase-down block.

Noel has measured 6’11” with a 7’4” wingspan, he’s a strong defensive player and shot blocker because he is quick of foot for someone with his length. He’s raw on offense, he lacks the natural instincts of a scorer, but that is something that can be worked on — he’s not going to be an elite offensive player at the NBA level but he can be solid in a few years.

And if his knee is going to be fine in a few years, he’ll still get drafted really high. Could the injury knock him out of the top spot? Maybe. But look at the need for shot blocking, defensive big men who can own the paint in the NBA even if their offensive game is limited — Tyson Chandler is an All-Star and a gold medalist.

If Noel can make a full recovery from this, he’s still going to go very high in the draft.

Report: Hawks co-owner made more money by exposing Danny Ferry’s Luol Deng comments

Michael Gearon, Bruce Levenson
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A terribly kept secret: Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. wanted to get rid of general manager Danny Ferry.

Many believe that’s why Gearon made such a big deal about Ferry’s pejorative “African” comment about Luol Deng – that Gearon was more concerned about ousting Ferry than showing real concern over racism.

Gearon had another, no less sinister, reason to raise concern over Ferry’s remarks.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

While Gearon felt that Ferry, as he wrote in the June 2014 email to Levenson, “put the entire franchise in jeopardy,” Gearon also figured to benefit financially from a Sterling-esque fallout.

In the spring of 2014, Gearon was in the process of selling more of his interest in the team to Levenson and the partners he had sold to in September. The agreed-upon price for roughly a third of Gearon’s remaining shares valued the Hawks at approximately $450 million, according to reports from sources.

“We accept your offer to buy the remaining 31 million,” Gearon wrote in an email to Levenson on April 17, 2014. “Let me know next steps so we can keep this simple as you suggested without a bunch of lawyers and bankers.”

Approximately five weeks later — just a little more than a week before the fateful conference call — Steve Ballmer agreed to pay $2 billion for the Clippers, a record-smashing price that completely changed the assessed value of NBA franchises. Gearon firmly maintains he was acting out of the sincerity of his convictions to safeguard the franchise from the Sterling stench, but such a spectacle also allowed him to wiggle out of selling his shares at far below market value.

Gearon and his legal team later challenged the notion that the sell-down was bound by any sort of contractual obligation and that any papers were signed. Once the organization became involved in the investigation, the sale of the shares was postponed.

Arnovitz and Windhorst did an incredible amount of reporting here. I suggest you read the full piece, which includes much more background on the Gearon-Ferry rift.

Considering the Hawks sold for $850 million, Gearon definitely made more money than if he’d sold his shares at a $450 million valuation.

Did that motivate him? Probably, though it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Most likely, his actions were derived from at least three desires – making more money, ousting Ferry and combating racism. Parsing how much each contributed is much more difficult.

What Ferry said was racist, whether or not he was looking at more racism on the sheet of paper in front of him. His comments deserved punishment.

But if Gearon didn’t have incentive to use them for his own benefit, would we even know about them? How many other teams, with more functional front offices, would have kept similar remarks under wraps or just ignored them?

PBT Extra bold prediction previews: Clippers ready to win West?

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With our PBT Extra videos, we are previewing the entire NBA by using bold predictions, starting in the Pacific Division (we already did the Warriors).

Some of those predictions come from fans on Twitter where I had sent out a request, including the bold prediction for the Clippers.

It could happen, they are certainly contenders. But two things need to happen.

The big one is their defense, which was middle of the pack last season, needs to move into the top 10 (and DeAndre Jordan needs to play consistently like a guy who is third in Defensive Player of the Year voting).

Second is the new and improved bench unit of Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, and Jamal Crawford (he’s not new) need to mesh into a unit. Those are three guys who like to create for themselves and make questionable shot choices, getting them play well with others could be a bumpy road.