Report: NBA executives increasingly believe Jabari Parker will remain at Duke another season

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Andrew Wiggins hasn’t been quite as good as many hoped at Kansas, but that doesn’t significantly diminish the 2014 NBA Draft. This beauty of the upcoming draft – and the reason so many teams are tanking – is how strong and deep it is at the top.

The team with the NBA’s worst record gets just a 25 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the lottery, hardly a safe proposition in a draft that features only one elite prospect. But this draft features several, meaning teams don’t need to combine tanking and lottery luck. Just tanking will do.

The NBA’s three worst teams will be guaranteed the option to pick at least one of Wiggins, Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Dante Exum or Marcus Smart – that is if all six of those players declare for the draft, which is not a given.

Sam Smith of Bulls.com:

And the growing view among NBA executives seems to be Jabari Parker will not leave Duke this year. Chicagoan Jahlil Okafor, a Parker friend and big man, is going to Duke next season. Parker is a bright young man with a strong family and the feeling is he understands both the importance of education and feels he owes Duke and the chance to have a great Duke team, which more than likely is the next two seasons. Plus, Parker has seen what staying in school has done for other greats compared with the tough starts for even stars like Kobe Bryant.

First of all, Parker owes Duke nothing. In fact, Duke owes him a lot more than the scholarship it’s giving him. Elite basketball players like Parker generate so much money for their schools, and most of it goes to coaches, administrators and other people whose compensation is artificially inflated by the NCAA’s absurd amateurism rules.

That said, if Parker wants to stay at Duke another year for whatever reason, more power to him. That’s his choice, and outsiders shouldn’t tell him what’s right or wrong for him.

I don’t actually expect Parker to stay, though. That’s easy for him to believe now, while he’s cruising, averaging 19.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. But what if he suffers a minor injury? That might convince him to stop risking his future for little compensation. What about when Duke’s season ends? That might give Parker the sense of finality he needs to go pro.

Or maybe, without any additional impetus, Parker just realizes how much money is at stake. I don’t know whether the Kobe comparison came from Sam Smith or trickled down from Parker himself, but the example seems pretty ridiculous. Does anyone think Kobe regrets how his career turned out? By skipping college, Kobe accelerated the timeline for getting his second contract – when NBA players really cash in – and added an additional year(s) to the post-rookie-scale portion of his career. Though there are plenty of variables that would have been affected, Kobe skipping a year of college basketball probably added more than $20 million to his career salaries.

Many players in Parker’s position consider staying in school. Few actually do. The money is just too great.

Lastly, we’re hearing this third-hand at best. Perhaps, Parker told NBA executives who told Smith. More likely, there were more links in the chain and more possibilities for the message to get twisted.

It’s possible Parker stays at Duke another year. I still consider that unlikely.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

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This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.