Iowa v Indiana

Noah Vonleh declares for NBA Draft, reportedly has lottery guarantee


No matter how much buildup a draft receives months before it occurs, the hype usually dies down by draft nights.

1. Not every top prospect declares. 2. Scouts have more time to pick apart players. 3. Executives leak contrary opinions for fear expectations have gotten too high and picks who don’t immediately become stars will be judged too harshly.

No. 2 is already happening with the 2014 draft, and we’re on the cusp of No. 3. But this draft has so far avoided No. 1, and now we have assurance at least one high-end prospect won’t return to school.

Gary Parrish of

Indiana’s Noah Vonleh told on Sunday that he will enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

NBA sources have told that he’s guaranteed to go in the lottery, and that the top five of the draft is a possibility.

“I’ve heard the fourth pick to the 12th pick is wide open,” Vonleh said. “[I think I’ll be selected] anywhere in that range.”

If you want to speculate, the Nuggets are pretty locked into the 12 seed in the lottery (3.0 games behind the Timberwolves and 2.5 games ahead of the Pelicans), and that would carry a 93.5 percent chance of picking No. 12 after the lottery. If Vonleh has a guarantee from a lottery team, and he believes No. 12 is his floor, does that mean Denver made him a promise?

The Nuggets already have Kenneth Faried at power forward, but the draft should be about taking the best prospect available. If Denver general manager Tim Connelly likes Vonleh, it shouldn’t matter who else is already on the team.

I suspect, however, the Nuggets won’t land Vonleh.

Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Dante Exum and Marcus Smart are commonly viewed as the draft’s top-six prospects. After them, the next tier seems to be Vonleh and Aaron Gordon. A few other players could work their way into that group, and either could fall, but I’d be surprised if Vonleh slipped into the late lottery.

He uses his athleticism well to grab rebounds and defend, and the 6-foot-10 power forward made 48 percent of his 3-pointers this season. Even if that was on only 33 attempts, his long-range potential will certainly intrigue scouts. Nothing will impress NBA teams more than Vonleh’s age, though. He won’t turn 19 until August.

That’s the profile of a top-10 pick, even in this stacked draft.

LeBron James calls Cavs’ players’ only meeting after loss to Raptors

LeBron James
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Yes, the Cavaliers are 11-4 on the season and on top of the East. Yes, they are outscoring teams by 6.7 points per 100 possessions, which is fourth best in the NBA. They have the third best offense in the league. All that without their starting backcourt (Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert). There are reasons to be optimistic.

But the Cavaliers have a middle-of-the-pack defense and their efforts have been up and down. Wednesday night was a down, they lost on the road to Toronto, dropping the Cavs to 3-4 outside Quicken Loans Arena, with all those losses to teams in the East.

It was enough for LeBron James and James Jones to call a players-only meeting, reports Dave McMenamin at ESPN.

Following a 103-99 road loss to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers held a players-only meeting during which LeBron James and James Jones got on the team for its inconsistent play through the Cavs’ 11-4 start to the season, multiple sources told….

“It’s all mindset,” James said after the game, still visibly frustrated. “It comes from within. I’ve always had it; my upbringing had me like that. It’s either you got it or you don’t.”

When asked whether fatigue was a factor, James said, “No. It’s not an excuse.” When another reporter asked whether injuries were to blame, James repeated, “It’s not an excuse.”

Injuries and fatigue did play a role, this was a team without four regular rotation players and that puts more of a burden on everyone else. Players can’t look at it that way, but ijuries are a reality.

LeBron is trying to set a tone, one he learned in Miami and is now trying to instill in the Cavaliers. It’s about effort, it’s about attention to detail, it’s about building good habits over the course of a season so they can pay off in the playoffs. The Cavs are winning, they look clearly like the best team in the East once healthy, and yet LeBron rightfully isn’t convinced they could beat Golden State or San Antonio right now. The good news is they don’t have to beat them right now, but they need to beat them eventually. The building blocks for that are laid during the season. He wants that building to start going up.

But getting guys healthy would solve a lot of those problems.

Jason Kidd ejected; shoving match ensues between teams after Kings beat Bucks

Jason Kidd

Jason Kidd is going to miss a game or three (and some dollars to go with it), and he could not be the only guy in trouble with the league after a tension-filled end to the Kings’ win over the Bucks Wednesday.

There wasn’t a ton of drama at the end of the contest itself. The Bucks played a “defense optional” game that led to 36 points for Rudy Gay and 13 dimes for Rajon Rondo, and the Kings won their first game this season without DeMarcus Cousins (back issue). That frustrated the Bucks to no end.

Jason Kidd expressed that frustration by slapping the ball out of referee Zach Zarba’s hands, a move that rightfully earned him an instant ejection.

You can be sure a suspension is coming for Kidd — the league can’t let that slide. This was not a Budenholzer incidental bump. After the game here is what Kidd had to say.

After Kidd had gone to the showers, there was a little jawing on the court between Cousins (in street clothes) and the Bucks’ O.J. Mayo. That spilled over after the final buzzer into the tunnel, where there was at the very least some jawing, maybe a little shoving, and a lot of security stepping in before anything serious happened.

Whatever happened in the tunnel is going to be a lot harder for NBA disciplinarian Kiki Vandeweghe (technically the vice-president of basketball operations for the NBA) to sort out. Who started what, and did it rise to the level it calls for a fine or more, is going to be tricky, especially since this was out of site of the arena cameras.

Cavaliers stand in middle of Raptors dancers’ routine (video)

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The Cavaliers were ready for their game against the Raptors tonight, and Toronto’s dance team wasn’t going to change that.

The last time I remember something like this happening, Grizzlies guard Tony Allen walked through the Warriors’ kid dancers. This video doesn’t show how the Cavaliers got to that point, but they might have the defense of being there first. Allen definitely didn’t have that.

Wizards score six fourth-quarter points in loss to Hornets

Cody Zeller, Ramon Sessions
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Gary Neal made a jumper with 10:12 remaining in tonight’s Wizards-Hornets game.

That was Washington’s last basket.

Jared Dudley made a pair of free throws on the Wizards next possession, and Neal added two more free throws with 23 seconds left.

And that was all the Wizards scoring in the quarter.

Washington, which entered the final period up seven, lost 101-87 after its 1-for-20 final-period shooting.

The six fourth-quarter points were the fewest by an NBA team in a quarter since Cavaliers scored six third-quarter points in a Jan. 26, 2014 loss to the Suns. Last time a team scored so few in a fourth quarter: Nov. 13, 2012, when the Raptors had five against the Pacers.

At least Neal’s late free throws spared the Wizards further shame. Nobody has scored four or fewer points in a quarter since the Warriors managed just two in a Feb. 8, 2004 loss to the Raptors.

As it stands, this is one of only 44 times in the shot clock era a team has scored so few points in a quarter.