No pressure kid: Durant thinks Andrew Wiggins could be a “Hall of Famer”

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And you thought it was just the media over-hyping Andrew Wiggins…

That hype has some suggesting Wiggins could be the best pro prospect to come out of college since Kevin Durant.

So Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports asked Durant about Wiggins, and Durant cranked up the hype machine.

“He’s raw, but his ceiling is high. He can be like a Hall of Famer, All-Star, for sure. He’s good,” said Durant before the Thunder’s loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Durant said he watched closely on television as Wiggins and Kansas defeated Duke on Tuesday night. Duke features another talented true freshman forward in Jabari Parker, whom Durant also thinks highly of after working with him at his basketball camp last summer…

“That [Parker] kid is amazing,” Durant said. “I think he is the best player in the country. Him and Wiggins are like ‘1A’ and ‘1B.’ Those guys are going to do the one-and-done thing, do it early. They are going to do really well in college and lead their teams to, I think, the Final Four. That’s kind of like, ‘Close your eyes and pick one.’ You’re good with either one of those guys.”

Wiggins is no doubt special but he is no lock No. 1 pick in a deep, deep draft. The very reliable and connected site DraftExpress.com has Julius Randle of Kentucky and international combo guard Dante Exum ahead of Parker in their early drafts now. That’s not to say how the final rankings shake out, only that there is a lot of talent at the top of this draft.

Wiggins is at the heart of that talent and could well turn out to be a franchise-changing player. Nothing is a lock, but he has that potential. A lot of scouts see it. Remember, NBA teams don’t care who is the better player this season in college, they want to project who is the best player three years from now, five years from now. Who has the higher ceiling?

Durant sees that ceiling and realizes it is very, very high.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.