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DeMar DeRozan wants to know where he’d get picked in 2009 re-draft

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Imagining how previous NBA drafts would play out in hindsight is always fun, an instant debate starter for basketball fans. I’m sure we’ve all wasted a countless hours analyzing questions like:

  • Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh No. 3 behind LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in 2004?
  • Do half the top-eight picks in 2013 remain in the top eight in a re-draft?
  • Where would DeMar DeRozan, originally selected No. 9, go if the 2009 picks were re-chosen?

That last question interests even DeRozan, who’s apparently a basketball fan just like the rest of us.

DeRozan, via Eric Koreen of the National Post:

“I think Chuck [Hayes] brought it up. We were saying that if we did my draft class over, where would guys [be picked] now,” DeRozan said on Sunday evening. “Chuck brought it up. It was kind of funny and made me think about everybody in my draft class and what they’re doing now. There are not too many that are … playing and getting a lot of minutes.”

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Stephen Curry (No. 7 in the actual draft), Blake Griffin (No. 1) and James Harden (No. 3) would definitely remain ahead of DeRozan, and Ty Lawson (No. 18) would pass him. That puts DeRozan in the 5-9 tier with Taj Gibson, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Ricky Rubio.

It would come down to team need and fit.

At minimum, DeRozan wouldn’t fall – which is a credit to how much he’s progressed this season. An All-Star, he’ll be a strong candidate for Most Improved Player.

But the draft – despite Hasheem Thabeet (No. 2) and Jonny Flynn (No. 6) being high-profile busts – wasn’t quite as weak as DeRozan implies. Just getting minutes doesn’t mean he’d necessarily move up.

Several players in the draft have put together a single strong season, and DeRozan joined that group this year. Whichever player(s) in his tier consistently produce impressive seasons will jump above the rest.

When DeRozan is re-drafting his class next year, if he’s having as strong a season as this one, he can safely put himself higher. Until then, where he belongs in the 5-9 range is up to debate.

Gregg Popovich pins Spurs’ effort problems on players: ‘I don’t remember playing tonight’ (video)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives instructions against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:

Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Popovich:

I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.

Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.

But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.

His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.

Donatas Motiejunas signing four-year, $35 million contract with Rockets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets is helped to his feet by teammates James Harden #13 and Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.

So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.

The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.

Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.

After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).

But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?

Report: Rockets return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency, working on new contract with him

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.

He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.

But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.

I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.

John Wall pushes down Jusuf Nurkic from behind in retaliation (video)

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John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.

An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.

But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.