Report: UCLA’s Zach LaVine to declare for NBA Draft

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UCLA’s Zach LaVine is what scouts could call “bouncy.”

The 6’5” swingman has real hops and athleticism, some solid handles and he shot 38.4 percent from three this season — and he is taking his game to the NBA next season, his father told the Los Angeles Daily News. That came after LaVine’s 2-of-7 for 5 points night against Florida in the Sweet 16.

He could well be a trio of UCLA players leaving for the draft — Kyle Anderson has already all but declared for the draft as well. Personally if I could take one guy off the UCLA team for my NBA team it would be Jordan Adams, the guy is a natural scorer, but he has not yet made an announcement.

LaVine has fantastic athleticism but his game is not NBA ready right now, he’s a guy you’ve got to develop. He clearly feels stuck in the rotation in Westwood, like he’s not getting his chance. His handles are fine for college but need work at the next level, as does his shot and defense. The big question is can he convince an NBA GM that his potential is worth a first round pick — which means a couple years of guaranteed money and investment. If he falls to the second round there is no guaranteed money or roster spot.

LaVine is considered a bubble first rounder. His father told the Daily News they were told he would go around 22, the traditionally pretty accurate DraftExpress had LaVine at 30, the last pick in the first round.

PBT’s Draft expert, Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog.com, is not a fan of this move.

To me, LaVine is exactly the kind of player who should stay in school. I believe you should only come out early if you are a lock first-round pick — UCLA’s Anderson is that, and while I’m not as sold as some on his NBA fit and development he will develop faster in the NBA than with another year in college. He made the right move.

LaVine is going to have to kill it at the NBA Draft Combine and in team workouts to get a team to use a first round pick on him. If not he will get taken in the second round but that comes with no guarantees. He could end up in the D-League next season (which is a very good place to develop as well, if that’s all LaVine wants) or as the non-guaranteed guy on the end of the NBA bench that starts the season with the team but gets cut loose in December when the team moves to bring in a veteran. Not sure that’s the dream, if he went back college for a season he could be a solid first rounder next year.

But he made his call and those around the UCLA program seemed to expect it. LaVine is going pro.

Aging Pelicans’ owner couldn’t remember Anthony Davis’ name in deposition

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Tom Benson, the now 90-year-old owner of the New Orleans Pelicans and the NFL’s Saints, a few years back changed around the succession of control of the team after his passing — his wife Gayle will take control. Rita Benson LeBlanc, Benson’s granddaughter and former handpicked successor, sued saying Benson had been manipulated. After meeting privately with Benson, a judge ruled that while Benson suffered some “cognitive impairment” he was capable of making his own decisions and that Gayle remained the successor.

Benson has been sued multiple times since then, including by former Saints employee Rodney Henry, and the then-89-year-old Benson was deposed in that case last year.

Someone broke the gag order and sent a copy of the deposition to The Advocate of New Orleans, and it shows that Benson’s mental acuity is fading. He couldn’t remember who Anthony Davis was by name.

During another set of questions, apparently aimed at establishing how close Benson and Henry had been, Benson was shown a photo of the two men with Pelicans star Anthony Davis.

“Who is this?” Williams asked.

“It’s Rodney and a basketball player,” Benson said. “Oh, hell, I forget his name. Let me — he’s a great player for us. Tell me his name, and I will tell you yes or no.”

When asked “is it Anthony Davis,” Benson said yes. The man is 90, I’m not sure that we should expect much. He had the foresight to bring in people to run his businesses — including his sports teams — and set up a line of succession for when he does pass. Smart moves.

Would Benson’s mental state impact potential changes coming to the Pelicans? Probably not. New Orleans’ GM Dell Demps bet big on going big in a league trending smaller, pairing Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. If that doesn’t work out, plenty of people around the league expect a house cleaning on the basketball side with the Pelicans. Benson’s mental state, whatever it may be, does not impact that.

The deposition leak came from an anonymous source (and anonymous email account, the paper verified the document before publishing). Who leaked it? It may be nearly impossible to find out, but only one side benefits from all this becoming public. And it’s not Benson.

K.J. McDaniels signs with Raptors for camp, can he make roster?

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A few years back in Philadelphia, the athletic K.J. McDaniels was a highlight factory and looked like a guy who could develop into a role player on the wing in the NBA.

Except, he never actually developed. Houston gave him a chance (three years at a total of $10 million), and it didn’t work out, then last season Brooklyn had him for 20 games, but they decided to move on.

Now Toronto is going to give him a chance, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

McDaniels’ agent later confirmed the news. This is a training camp, make-good contract for McDaniels. But unlike a lot of those contracts being handed out around this time, there is space on the Raptors roster for a player or two.

McDaniels will compete with Alfonzo McKinnie, Kennedy Meeks, and Kyle Wiltjer for one of the final roster spots in Toronto. Of that group, I’d most likely want to keep McDaniels because of the shot blocking and his potential — but his outside shot has to improve.

The Raptors can carry 15 on the roster and very possibly will until at least Jan. 10, which is the date these partially guaranteed deals become fully guaranteed for the season. Toronto is flirting with the tax line, and ownership is not going to want to pay the tax for this team, so if they do carry 15 they likely will cut it to 14 by that date.

Watch James Harden do the #DriveByDunkChallenge from a speed boat (VIDEO)

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The #DriveByDunkChallenge has been a fun distraction this summer. If you don’t know what it is, it essentially involves NBA players jumping out of their cars to dunk on regular folks on community basketball hoops.

Players like Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown have led the charge in the social media video fad, and now it appears that Houston Rockets guard James Harden is setting a new trend.

That trend? Doing the #DriveByDunkChallenge from dang boat.

Yup, seriously.

Via Twitter:

I can’t think of anything more baller than dunking on somebody from a speed boat, so congrats to Harden for winning the NBA offseason.

Photoshop no more: here’s Gordon Hayward in a Boston Celtics uniform (PHOTO)

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I suppose it will take some time to get used to seeing Gordon Hayward in a Boston Celtics jersey. This photo is the first step on that journey.

In a photo posted to Hayward’s Instagram on Wednesday, many of us got our first look at the former Utah Jazz forward in his new digs.

Specifically, the new Celtics Nike jersey in green with the GE patch on the left shoulder.

Via Instagram:

🍀🔥

A post shared by @gdhayward on

There are still some serious doubts about whether the Celtics will be able to unseat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, but perhaps they won’t need to wait for long. Rumors are starting to trickle in about LeBron James leaving Ohio, so maybe by the time we are used to seeing Hayward in Celtics green next season they will have less competition out east.