Charles Barkley as Suns GM? Will not happen. They can’t afford him.

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Do you think Charles Barkley would have been good as the governor of Alabama? He once talked about running, but do you think he would have done well in a world where he needed to be diplomatic, to compromise and to be detail oriented? Does Barkley strike you as the kind of guy who would take a steep pay cut to take on way more work?

So what makes you think he’d make a good general manager in Phoenix?

Barkley has talked about that again. The Suns have fired Lance Blanks and need a GM, and Barkley wants to throw his hat in the ring. Here are Barkley’s own words from an Arizona radio interview transcribed by the Arizona Republic.

“The Suns are the Titanic. So the notion that I can’t do better than them is ridiculous. The Suns stink. So whoever has been rowing the boat has just done a horrific job so let’s just get that straight and out of the way. I made it perfectly clear that I’m going to be a GM. The Suns know my number. They know that I want to be a GM….

“I don’t believe it’s a 24-7 job. You draft your players. You have your team. How many trades do you make during the season? You might make a trade. But most of the good teams don’t make a lot of trades during the season. Do you have to be there every day? Of course you have to be there every day. But you have to have a good supporting staff as far as going out scouting players. Listen, this thing is about players. It ain’t about the general manager. It’s about the general manager who is picking players….

“Obviously, I’m probably going to have to take a pay cut. But, listen, dude, I’m not overly concerned about money at this stage of my life. I’ve been very blessed.”

Paul Coro at the Arizona Republic is rightfully dismissive of the idea, as was team president Lon Babby, after listing the guys the Suns actually talked to.

The GM search began this week with the Suns considering Milwaukee assistant GM Jeff Weltman (a finalist in 2010 when Blanks was hired), former Indiana Pacers GM and Arizona graduate David Morway and former Lakers assistant GM Ronnie Lester. Assistant GMs Ryan McDonough (Boston), Wes Wilcox (Atlanta) and Troy Weaver (Oklahoma City) are potential candidates too…

Charles Barkley talks about becoming a GM like he once spoke of becoming Alabama governor, but the Suns likely would not approach the TNT salary paid to Barkley, who is in the Suns’ Ring of Honor.

“I think the job requires rowing the boat every single day and it’s an all-consuming job and my impression is that he has a pretty full and good life,” Babby said. “Taking on a challenge like this might be something he really doesn’t want if he knew what it entails.”

Despite what Barkley says, I think it’s about the money.

Suns owner Robert Sarver is notoriously cheap with his franchise. Well, that’s how you view it as a fan, but the man stays within the budget he has for the team. No matter what. So first off, while Charles Barkley’s salary is not public he is one of the big draws on TNT, a big personality, and you can be sure he gets paid accordingly. Way more than other GMs around the league.

However the money issue is not just about salary. What happens the first time Barkley really wants to spend on a free agent, or to go into the luxury tax to re-sign a player on the roster, and Sarver laughs him out of the office? To win with the budget constraints in Phoenix will take a smart and clever GM willing to work very hard.

Bottom line to me: Does Barkley strike you as the kind of guy who would take a serious pay cut to take on more work?

This is kind of a fan fantasy, because Barkley would likely run the team like a lot of fans. Heck, most fans can remember players’ names better than Barkley seems to. I love Barkley around the NBA, but this would not be a good fit.

Medically risky prospects bring intrigue to 2017 NBA draft

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla dubbed Indiana forward O.G. Anunoby, who was slipping through the first round, a “sexy blogger pick.”

While I appreciate the compliment, Fraschilla was also right about another point: Those analyzing the draft for websites clearly valued Anunoby more than NBA teams. Fraschilla cited Anunoby’s limited offense, but it’s hard to get past Anunoby’s knee injury as a primary reason he fell to the Raptors at No. 23.

The 76ers adjusted us to the idea of picking an injured player high in the draft, with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid in recent years. Even though Ben Simmons was healthy when picked, a later injury that cost him his entire rookie year conditioned us to the idea that sometimes top rookies don’t begin their pro careers ready to play.

But the 2017 NBA draft pushed back against that as a new norm. Most of the biggest tumblers on my board had injury concerns, from where I ranked them to where the went:

  • 12. O.G. Anunoby, SF, Indiana – No. 23, Raptors
  • 13. Harry Giles, PF, Duke – No. 20, Kings
  • 18. Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Zalgiris – No. 43, Rockets
  • 19. Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA – No. 47, Pacers

Anunoby had the aforementioned knee injury that even he, trying to paint himself in the most favorable light, said would cause him to miss some of the upcoming season. The strength of his game is a defensive versatility that would be undermined by a decline in athleticism.

Giles looked like a potential No. 1 pick in high school until three knee surgeries in three years derailed him. He was limited at Duke as a freshman, though reportedly acquitted himself in pre-draft workouts.

Hartenstein’s and Anigbogu’s medical issues were less widely know, but teams were apparently concerned.

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:

https://twitter.com/DraftExpress/status/878094857037676544

https://twitter.com/DraftExpress/status/878099339012210688

The 7-foot-1 Hartenstein is big enough to put a heavy load on his back. Just 19, he has nice vision as a passer and a developing outside shot that could allow him to spend more time on the perimeter and better take advantage of his passing.

Anigbogu was the youngest player drafted. He’s big and strong and mobile and throws his body around like a wrecking ball. He must develop better awareness and maybe even some ball skills, but there’s a path toward productivity.

Will these players blossom as hoped?

As I wrote when ranking Anunoby and Giles 12th and 13th before the draft, “I’m somewhat shooting in the dark” and “I’m mostly guessing here.”

This is the disconnect between the public perception of these players’ draft stocks and where they’re actually selected. We don’t have access to their medical records like teams do. We’re operating with far less information.

Still, it’s not as if teams always know how to interpret medical testing. Even with more information, this is hard.

I’m confident Anunoby, Giles, Hartenstein and Anigbogu would have gotten drafted higher with clean bills of health. So, this is an opportunity for the teams that drafted them. If the players stay healthy, they provide excellent value.

It’s obviously also a risk. If the player can’t get healthy, his value could quickly approach nil.

There are no certainties in the draft, but these four players present especially wide ranges of outcomes, which makes them among the more exciting picks to track in the years ahead.

Vlade Divac: Kings would have drafted De’Aaron Fox No. 1

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I sense a pattern.

Like Celtics president Danny Ainge saying Boston would’ve drafted No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum No. 1 if it kept the top pick, Kings president Vlade Divac said Sacramento would’ve taken No. 5 pick De'Aaron Fox No. 1 if it had the top pick.

Divac, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Screaming,” Divac said about the reaction in the room to Fox falling in their lap. “It was a guy that we all loved and in some way, if we had the number 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy.”
“De’Aaron is our future,” Divac added.

The Kings are getting a lot of credit for drafting well. Maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t get the No. 1 pick, because it would have been foolish to pass on Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball (and others) for Fox. (The real punchline: Sacramento couldn’t have won the lottery due to Divac’s dumb salary dump with the 76ers giving Philadelphia the ability to swap picks.)

I don’t believe the Kings would’ve actually taken Fox No. 1. This sounds like Divac embellishing, which can be no big deal. It also puts outsized expectations on Fox, for better or worse.

Danny Ainge: Celtics would have drafted Jayson Tatum No. 1

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After trading down from No. 1 to No. 3 in the draft, Celtics president Danny Ainge said Boston would probably still get the player it would’ve picked No. 1.

The Celtics selected Jayson Tatum No. 3. Would they have taken him if they held the No. 1 pick?

Ainge, via CSN New England:

Yes, we would have picked him with the first pick. But the draft was very even, we felt, at the top all the way through maybe five or six. And it was very difficult. There was a lot of players we liked in this draft.

I believe that the Celtics saw the top several picks as similar. I also believe, but don’t know, that they would’ve drafted Markelle Fultz if they kept the top pick.

I’m also curious, considering how the process unfolded, whether Ainge had Tatum or Josh Jackson in mind when making his initial statement. Regardless of whether he was thinking Jackson, Tatum or both, Ainge couldn’t reasonably back out of his claim now.

For what it’s worth, I would have seen Jackson (No. 3 on my board) as a reach at No. 1. I see Taytum (No. 9 on my board) as a reach at No. 3, let alone No. 1.

Warriors break record by paying $3.5 million for draft rights to Jordan Bell

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The Thunder paid the Hawks $3 million for the draft rights to No. 31 pick Tibor Pleiss in 2010. Last year, the Nets paid $3 million just to move up 13 spots in the second round to get Isaiah Whitehead.

The Warriors surpassed that amount, previously the record for spending on a draft pick, to buy the No. 38 pick from the Bulls and get Jordan Bell last night.

Marcus Thompson of The Mercury News:

Golden State also bought the No. 38 pick last year to get a player I rated as first-round caliber, Patrick McCaw, whose rights cost “just” $2.4 million. McCaw had a promising rookie year and even contributed in the NBA Finals.

Bell – whose draft rights drew the maximum-allowable $3.5 million – could achieve similar success. I rated him No. 31 but in the same tier as other first-round-caliber prospects. He’s a versatile defender, capable of protecting the rim and switching onto guards. He’s obviously not nearly the same level, but Bell is in the Draymond Green mold defensively. Bell’s offense doesn’t come close to Green’s, though. Bell could fill a role sooner than later when Golden State needs a defensive-minded sub.

The Warriors have generated massive revenue during their dominant run the last few years. Now, they’re putting some of that money back into the on-court product. Success breeds success – especially when the owners don’t just pocket the profits.