If one top pick was going to stay in school for another season, it likely would be Kansas big man Joel Embiid.
He said earlier this season he was considering returning for a sophomore season in Kansas, but that was before a back injury that sidelined him at the end of the season and made him miss the NCAA Tournament. A tournament where Kansas was eliminated in the second round.
After that game Embiid wasn’t into talking about his future (and you certainly can’t blame him), as reported by Gary Parish at CBSSports.com.
“I’m not worried about that right now,” Embiid said.
Embiid added that he’ll speak to KU’s coaching staff and fellow Cameroonian Luc Mbah a Moute before deciding whether to enter the 2014 NBA Draft. There is no timetable for a decision, Embiid told CBSSports.com.
The back issue — a fractured vertebra — has caught the attention of NBA teams (Bill Self said it was no big deal), but they want their medical staffs to get a look before making any decisions. The fact remains that Embiid is a potential No. 1 pick and unless the back injury news is devastating he will not fall any farther than No. 3 in the draft.
Embiid should do what he feels is best for himself. However, I’d be surprised if he returned.
A lot of guys say they will return until they see the money on the table. If he comes out and is taken No. 1 Embiid would make a guaranteed $9.5 million in his first two seasons (that’s the least he could make if he fell out of the league), plus he starts the clock sooner on the larger, second contract that would likely follow.
He’ll also develop faster as a player if he goes pro — it’s his job to get better in the NBA. There is superior competition, more games and no NCAA time constraints on his development work. The NBA only wants to raise the age limit so that some of that development doesn’t happen on their dime, they want colleges to do the work, it’s not that players develop faster or better in college. The elite players simply do not.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.