Big men Len, Smith move up NBA Draft boards

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It’s an annual occurrence, like the swallows returning to Capistrano, or the Grammy going to some banal performer.

Big men move up  NBA draft boards.

This year Alex Len out of Maryland is the biggest beneficiary of this, with Steven Adams of Pittsburgh climbing the ladder, too.

DraftExpress has Len going No. 4 to the Bobcats, Adams No. 10 to the Portland Trail Blazers. Over at NBA.com, Scott Howard-Cooper talks about how those two are moving up fast.

Len is the best true center in this draft — plenty of teams looked at three of the final four teams in the NBA and noticed they had a true center in the lineup and they are looking for a good one (the Heat being the exception, but they have the LeBron trump card). Len is  7’1” and can add strength to his frame. This guy has all the physical tools you want in a center — moves well, soft hands, good touch around the rim, can pass, blocks shots, ad he rebounds. He’s a bit raw offensively, but he’s got a lot of potential because all the tools are there. The questions are how tough he can be and why was his energy was inconsistent?

Also, Len had surgery on a stress fracture in his ankle. He should be fine in the long run he hasn’t done any workouts and will not be playing in Summer League.

Adams is also raw, but there aren’t a lot of finished products in this draft. Adams is a legit 7’0” at 255 pounds is still very mobile. He was in the first round already but started climbing boards after the NBA Draft Combine when he showed more skill than expected. He’s a bit of a project, especially on offense, but he has a nice high ceiling and he can give you some defense and rebounding right away. And teams will take a big who can give them some defense and rebounding now and then some offense down the line.’

Don’t be shocked if a team trades up to get Len, or he goes a little higher than No. 4 — he is really growing on teams right now. Both of these guys are climbing.

Hawks sign two-way Tyler Cavanaugh to standard contract

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ATLANTA (AP) — Rookie forward Tyler Cavanaugh, who originally came to Atlanta on a two-way contract, has signed a multi-year deal with the Hawks.

Cavanaugh has averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 19 games, including one start, since signing the two-way contract on Nov. 5.

Cavanaugh, from Syracuse, New York, played two seasons at Wake Forest before transferring to George Washington, where he averaged 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds last season. He was selected the National Invitation Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2016 after leading the Colonials to the NIT title.

 

Carlos Boozer announces retirement

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Carlos Boozer went from being known as a gritty second-rounder to an overpaid defensive liability.

In some ways, that’s the ultimate success story.

Now, after playing last season in China, he’s walking away.

Boozer on ESPN:

I’m officially retired.

The Cavaliers drafted Boozer with the No. 35 pick in the 2002. After he spent a couple productive seasons in Cleveland, the Cavs declined his cheap team option to make him a restricted free agent – with an agreement he’d re-sign at a reasonable rate if you ask them, with no handshake deal if you ask him.

Boozer bolted for the Jazz, who gave him a six-year, $68 million contract. He made a couple All-Star teams and helped Utah reach the conference finals.

Then, he went to Chicago on a five-year, $75 million contract after the Bulls struck out on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls never broke through, and Boozer was often the scapegoat.

Chicago amnestied him, and he spent his last NBA season with the Lakers three years ago.

Boozer was a pretty good player paid like a very good one, and that didn’t endear him. We mostly remember him for accidentally punching a referee below the belt:

Painting on hair:

And yelling “and one!” after nearly every shot.

For a while, it seemed the 36-year-old Boozer wanted to play another NBA season. But he finally could no longer find a front office eager to pay him.

It’s only fitting that he was denied that last “and one!”

Nikola Mirotic, Bobby Portis still not talking off court

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The Bulls are 5-0 since Nikola Mirotic returned from an injury suffered when Bobby Portis punched him in the face during a preseason practice. Mirotic and Portis are both excelling individually, and Chicago has outscored opponents by a whopping 34.3 points per 100 possessions when those two share the court.

Jack Maloney of CBSSports.com:

When asked if the two former combatants have spoken yet, Mirotic said, “We did on the floor. We’ve always spoken because we need to have good communication.” As for whether they’ve talked off the floor, however, Mirotic was succinct in his response: “No.”

I guess Mirotic hasn’t completely moved on, though he said he did. But that’s fine. How could someone get past a teammate punching him in the face?

Importantly, this is becoming just a regular NBA problem. The extent of that practice punch was practically unprecedented. But plenty of players have loathed teammates while making it work on the court. That happens more than people realize.

Mirotic and Portis can make this their status quo – at least the on-court cooperation. I’m not convinced Chicago will keep winning like this.

Watch Kobe Bryant’s ‘Dear Basketball’ short film (video)

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Kobe Bryant announced his retirement in a letter called “Dear Basketball,” which was made into a short film.

Now, on the day the Lakers retire his Nos. 8 and 24, you can watch it. It’s quite beautiful: