Spurs’ R.C. Buford wins Executive of the Year

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How has Gregg Popovich won only one Coach of the Year award? How has R.C. Buford never won Executive of the Year?

Consider those perceived Spurs-related slights fixed and fixed.

After Popovich earned his second Coach of the Year in the last three seasons (bringing his total to three), longtime Spurs general manager Buford won the 2013-14 Executive of the Year.

Consider this a lifetime achievement award. Buford’s key moves in the last year – signing Marco Belinelli, re-signing Manu Ginobili, re-signing Tiago Splitter, drafting Livio Jean-Charles – are pedestrian relative to Buford’s years of team-building.

Seventeen general managers – most of the league – received votes, and 11 received first-place votes. That parity created an opening for Buford to win in a season his biggest accomplishment was keeping in tact everything he’d assembled previously.

I feel bad for the Suns’ Ryan McDonough, who was my choice for the honor and finished second. In his first year on the job, he made the Suns better in the short term and set them up beautifully for the long term by acquiring multiple first-round picks. I believe he did the best job this year, which is what the award is literally supposed to honor. It’s just bad luck to do so in a year voters – the NBA’s 30 top executives themselves – decide to honor someone’s entire career.

But in that sense, the whole award is a little silly. Being a good general manger requires long-term strategizing, and good moves often don’t reveal themselves in the year they occur. Maybe they should hand out this award each year based on the previous five seasons. That would at least more accurately reflect the job these executives are doing.

Buford is one of the NBA’s best – maybe even the best – general manager, and he deserves some type of recognition for that. The 2013-14 Executive of the Year probably isn’t the most appropriate choice, but it’s all there is to give, and in that sense, it’s well-earned.

Full voting (first-, second-, third-place votes, total points)

1. R.C. Buford, San Antonio (9-3-4-58)

2. Ryan McDonough, Phoenix (5-6-4-47)

3. Neil Olshey, Portland (5-2-3-34)

4. Masai Ujiri, Toronto (3-3-4-28)

5. Pat Riley, Miami (1-3-1-15)

5. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City (1-3-1-15)

7. Danny Ainge, Boston (1-2-2-13)

8. Billy King, Brooklyn (2 -0-1-11)

9. Daryl Morey, Houston (0-3-1-10)

9. Ernie Grunfeld, Washington (1-1-2-10)

11. Rod Higgins, Charlotte (1-0-1-6)

11. Larry Bird, Indiana (0-2-0-6)

11. Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers (0-1-3-6)

14. Bob Myers, Golden State (1-0-0-5)

15. Danny Ferry, Atlanta (0-1-0-3)

16. Gar Forman, Chicago (0-0-2-2)

17. Donnie Nelson, Dallas (0-0-1-1)

Reports: Lakers to sign Andrew Bogut to one-year deal

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Brook Lopez will start at center for the Lakers. Behind him, they have a couple young players they want to groom, Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant.

Those youngsters just got bumped a notch down the ladder — Andrew Bogut is about to become a Laker. Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news, and other reports have confirmed it.

Lakers’ coach Luke Walton coached Bogut at Golden State, and that connection helped get him to Los Angeles when Boston, Minnesota, and Cleveland were also trying to land his services. Bogut gets the system Walton wants to run and wants to be part of this new Lakers team.

The question with Bogut is always health. He can be a solid defensive big in the paint and is a good passer, but last season he broke his tibia in his first game with the Cavaliers, the latest in a long line of health concerns. Bogut’s doctors have cleared him to play.

The Lakers also add a solid veteran presence to help mentor those young bigs (although if Bogut is taking minutes from them it seems counterproductive). Bogut can show Zubac and Bryant the art of setting the best illegal screens in the league (he’s a master, Lonzo Ball will love him). We’ll see how many minutes Bogut gets when it matters.

This one-year deal gives the Lakers another potential trade chip and does not mess with their cap space next summer, when they want to clear out room and go after two max free agents (which will mean dumping the contract of Luol Deng, likely with Julius Randle or someone as a sweetener, to get the space). For Bogut, stay healthy and play well and he might come back on a minimum contract to a stacked Lakers team next season.

Report: Grizzlies to sign Ivan Rabb, adds to already crowded roster

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The Memphis Grizzlies have 15 guaranteed contracts on the roster already — and that’s not counting a deal for JaMychal Green and the non-guaranteed deal for Mario Chalmers.

Which makes this signing interesting, via Marc Spears of ESPN.

The Grizzlies and second-round pick Ivan Rabb are close to agreeing terms on a three-year contract, a source told The Undefeated.

Two years of that are rumored to be guaranteed. If so, that leads to questions about who gets cut from the roster and paid anyway? Or, are the Grizzlies setting themselves up for a trade during camp? Also, Mario Chalmers is going to have to show enough skill for another team to grab him.

Rabb is a 6’10” guy with potential but a lot of development to do. He may be more of a four than a small ball five, but he needs time on the court to find out and show off his game. He didn’t get a lot of that time to show what he can do in Summer League due to a sprained ankle. He should get run in Grizzlies camp, where there are going to be some interesting roster battles.

Report: Andrew Wiggins to sign $148M max extension before camp opens

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Old-school owner Glen Taylor wanted to talk with Andrew Wiggins face-to-face before maxing out the Timberwolves young wing, likely to say something along the lines of “you’re going to earn this, right?”

However, the deal was always on the table. Wiggins was always going to sign it.

That should happen in the next week, reports Darren Wolfson.

Wiggins averaged 23.6 points per game last season, shot 35.7 percent from three, plus played solid defense, but he’s got a big new challenge this season — mesh with Jimmy Butler. Wiggins and Butler both play on the wing and have similar games — except Butler is pretty much better at everything. Thibodeau doesn’t want to have Wiggins just sitting on the weak side as a floor spacer most of the time, he’s got to get him involved. Problem is Karl-Anthony Towns is a flat-out stud who has to get a lot of touches, and while we’re at it Jeff Teague is better with the ball in his hands as well.

Can Wiggins improve his efficiency with fewer touches? Can he make the needed sacrifices to win and still find a way to assert himself (a question for a lot of the Timberwolves this season)? Wiggins has gotten his big payday, this season we start to see if he can take the next steps to being truly an elite player.

Watch Stephen Curry drill a penalty kick at Chelsea’s stadium

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Chelsea is off to an expected strong start to the English Premier League season, racking up 10 points (3-1-1) in five contests, with a solid +3 goal differential. (That has them just one spot ahead of my beloved Newcastle, which is an unexpected fourth with nine points through five… I’m good with calling it a season right now and taking these standings).

If Chelsea is looking for a striker — and they might want one after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal over the weekendStephen Curry seems to have a decent right foot. He swung by Stamford Bridge and took a penalty kick (that the goalie probably could have stopped but…)

If Curry could strike from distance on the pitch like he does on the court, then we might have something.