PBT Roundtable: Who is your League Pass team this season?

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Each week the PBT writers sit at a virtual roundtable, just like the knights of King Arthur, drink mead and discuss the NBA topic of the day. This week’s question:

Who is going to be your League Pass team this season (the team outside the brightest spotlights that you keep finding yourself drawn to when there are other games on)?

Kurt Helin: I tend to be drawn to the teams that have a little flair, that entertain me (Golden State last season, Minnesota the one before
that), which is why this season it’s going to be the New Orleans Pelicans for me (just edging out the Detroit Pistons). Eric Gordon is back and he looked good attacking the rim in his preseason debut (that may just set him up as trade bait, but still). Anthony Davis is a physical freak poised for a breakout season and he has started attacking off the dribble as well as showing the ability to finish on the roll. Tyreke Evans will make plays, they have Jrue Holiday setting the table, plus Ryan Anderson spacing the floor. This is young team with the potential to find its groove and be in the playoff hunt, or to just self destruct. Either way it’s must watch. (Also, they have the solid Joel Meyers on play-by-play — your League Pass team has to have an announcer you don’t hate and want to tune out.)

Dan Feldman: Denver Nuggets. Two words: JaVale McGee. McGee, for better or worse, is one of the most entertaining players in the league, as long as he’s not on your favorite team. If I were a Denver fan, he’d drive me nuts. But I’m not, so I can just enjoy the antics. Plus, Ty Lawson is a blur, and Kenneth Faried is the closest thing we have to Dennis Rodman. This team has personality, and that’s what I want to watch.

D.J. Foster: The Atlanta Hawks! I’ll be issuing plenty of Teague Pass Alerts this season, because I want to see how the Tony Parker clone plays in a similar offense. Even if Jeff Teague isn’t your bag, though, there’s something here for everyone. Al Horford is one of the smartest bigs in basketball, Paul Millsap has that awkward effectiveness that keeps you guessing, Kyle Korver’s jumper is perfection and Dennis Schroeder is an exciting young ball-hawk (okay, no more bad puns). Watching all the pieces mesh should be a blast.

Brett Pollakoff: I can’t watch Nuggets games just hoping for McGee to do something stupid with so many other teams in play, and if Lucas Nogueira was with the Hawks this season instead of playing overseas, I’d be fully on board with Teague Pass Alerts. Instead, give me the Timberwolves. They were on my list last year even with the constant injuries (sue me, I enjoy Alexey Shved), and with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love both healthy and doing what they do best, to me they’re guys who are must-watch on a nightly basis.

Watch Michael Jordan’s best highlight from each of his playoff runs (video)

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I’ve become a sucker for this highlight format.

Jazz deny rumored promise to draft D.J. Wilson

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Michigan forward D.J. Wilson said he’d stay in the draft only if he’d go in the first round. Yet, despite not doing any on-court work at the combine, the borderline first-rounder remained in the draft beyond the withdrawal deadline.

What gives?

Rod Beard of The Detroit News:

Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune:

NBA teams sometimes promise to draft a player. They never reveal that before the draft. So, Utah’s denial doesn’t mean much – even if it’s true.

The Jazz were the last team to give Wilson a full work out before he injured himself in a Spurs workout. So, this rumor could be based on circumstantial evidence rather than leak of a Utah guarantee.

Wilson would make sense for the Jazz, who could see their payroll bloat if they re-sign Gordon Hayward and George Hill (and maybe even Joe Ingles). They could move Derrick Favors, an interior who doesn’t exactly fit with Rudy Gobert. Wilson would give Utah another option with Trey Lyles as developing stretch fours behind Boris Diaw. (Utah could even move Diaw and count on Lyles/Wilson to emerge sooner than later.)

Watch LeBron James’ top highlight from each of his postseason appearances (video)

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LeBron James and Tony Parker are the only players to play in the last dozen postseasons.

(If you’re wondering, Manu Ginobili missed the 2009 playoffs due to an ankle injury.)

It’s fair to say LeBron was a bit more spectacular than Parker in that span. As LeBron enters his seventh straight Finals, the NBA released this awesome video showing LeBron’s best playoff highlight from each year:

There’s no entry for this year. Here’s betting it comes against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

David Stern: We thought we could re-work Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade until Mitch Kupchak ‘panicked’

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NBA commissioner David Stern – acting as New Orleans’ owner representative, he says – infamously vetoed a potential Chris Paul-to-Lakers trade in 2011.

But that didn’t close the possibility of Paul going to the Lakers.

The New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans and not be confused with the current Charlotte Hornets), Lakers and Rockets tried to rework the three-team trade that would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to Houston and Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and a first-round pick to New Orleans. But talks fell apart around the time the Lakers dealt Odom to the Mavericks.

Stern on Nunyo & Company (hat tip: Harrison Feigen of Silver Screen & Roll):

In fact, in the course of the weekend, we thought we could re-do the deal. We really thought that Houston would be ready to part with Kevin Lowry, and we had a trade lined up for Odom that would have gotten us a good first-round draft pick – not we, but my basketball folks. But Mitch Kupchak at the time panicked and moved Odom to Dallas. So the piece wasn’t even there for us to play with at the time. So that was it — just about what was good for the then-New Orleans Hornets.

Remember, Stern – roundly criticized for his handling of this episode* – has blamed the Lakers and Rockets for the lingering perception. This could just be him again trying to shift responsibility.

*Somewhat fairly, somewhat not. Owners veto general manager-approved trades often enough, and Stern was acting as New Orleans’ owner after George Shinn sold the franchise back to the league. But Stern had an agenda as commissioner. He never should have assumed such a large conflict of interest. What he did with the Paul trade was reasonable for an acting owner, but because Stern was also commissioner, it’s fair to question how much New Orleans’ interests and how much the league’s interests factored into the decision-making.

But let’s take Stern at his word – that he and the Hornets thought they could re-do the trade and send Paul to the Lakers. That doesn’t mean they were right. Maybe the Lakers and Rockets (who had Kyle Lowry, not the “Kevin Lowry” Stern named) were never going to part with enough to get Stern’s approval.

And maybe New Orleans didn’t properly convey its interest in still completing a deal. Perhaps, Kupchak acted reasonably by trading Odom to Dallas – for a first-round pick, a deal Mark Cuban would ultimately regret – rather than wait around for the Hornets, who eventually sent Paul to the Clippers.

It’s easy to blame Kupchak, but he might tell a different story.