Bobcats looking to trade down?

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The Bobcats would receive the Trail Blazer’s first-round draft pick this year – a remnant of the Gerald Wallace trade – in the .001 percent chance Portland lands the No. 13 pick in tomorrow’s draft lottery. But Charlotte is doing a lot of work based on just that .001 percent chance. Rick Bonnell of charlotteobserver.com:

The Charlotte Bobcats, a team assured of drafting no lower than fifth in the first round and having no second-round pick, seem oddly curious about players projected to be drafted in the middle of the first round.

They interviewed Duke center Mason Plumlee, Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams and Gonzaga center Kelly Olynyck. It’s a stretch to draft any of those guys in the top-five.

This might be just zealous due diligence. General manager Rich Cho is meticulous to a fault, so chatting up too many draft prospects could be in his wheelhouse. But there was something that raised my radar about how curious the Bobcats seem to be about players who could be drafted 10th through 20th.

My gut says this is just, as Bonnell wrote, Cho doing his due diligence. That thorough approach part of what has made Cho such a successful general manager.

Plus, trading down from the top of the NBA Draft rarely makes sense. It’s just too important to get premier talent, or the chance at premier talent, whenever its’ available.

Even in this draft, hailed as the weakest ever, I really like Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo. The Bobcats are guaranteed the opportunity to draft at least one of those five, and if they draft someone else – say Anthony Bennett or C.J. McCollum – it would be because they like that player more than one of the five I like, not because nobody else is available, and that makes a big difference.

If the Bobcats are interested in trading down, five teams have two first-round picks: Cavaliers (No. 3 seed in lottery, No. 19), Suns (No. 4 seed in lottery, No. 30), Timberwolves (No. 9 seed in lottery, No. 26), Jazz (No. 14 seed in lottery and No. 21) and Hawks (No. 17 and No. 18).

Perhaps a trade with the Cavaliers or Suns, in the event Charlotte lands a higher draft pick than the either of those teams, would make sense. That way, the Bobcats could trade down, still have a high pick and gain another pick.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.