Cavaliers GM says there’s no clear-cut No. 1 pick, and winning Draft Lottery won’t impact coaching search

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NEW YORK — The Cleveland Cavaliers were the winners of the NBA’s Draft Lottery for the second straight year, and the third time overall since LeBron James bolted in free agency in the summer of 2010.

“It was incredible,” Cavaliers GM David Griffin said. “When Cleveland didn’t pop up at nine, I knew obviously we’d moved up, and I had to gather myself for a second. But it was just a remarkable, remarkable feeling.”

The team had just a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top overall pick, and had the probabilities held to form, Cleveland would have had to settle for ninth. But good fortune smiled upon the Cavaliers once again, and while Griffin represented the team on stage at the ESPN Studios in Times Square this time instead of team owner Dan Gilbert and his son Nick, Griffin made sure to bring along one of the duo’s good luck charms.

“We talked about before, not having Nick here with us but having the bow tie,” Griffin said. “I didn’t wear it, because nobody else can swing Thor’s hammer. And I kind of felt like it was a good luck charm for us all along.”

Moving up eight picks to secure the top one in a very deep draft is certainly something to celebrate. But it won’t necessarily make Griffin’s job or the organization’s decision any easier, because of a lack of a consensus No. 1 overall pick — something Griffin believes is the case most seasons.

“I don’t think there’s a clear cut number one in most drafts,” Griffin said. “And I think people, when they say that, they have a really strong feeling for one player over another. But I don’t think it’s necessarily a consensus in most drafts.”

That means there isn’t a “best player available” strategy that the Cavaliers can realistically pursue. But it sounds like they’ll look at every possibility, in hopes of landing a player who can provide an immediate impact to the team’s winning chances.

“We’re going to try to get radically better much quicker,” Griffin said. ‘We really feel like there’s a sense of urgency about  improving our team as a whole, and we’re going to look for the right fit in [accomplishing] that. We’re very open-minded in what that means.”

At present, it means the Cavaliers will make that decision without a head coach.

After firing Mike Brown (again) following season one of a five-year deal he signed when the team rehired him last summer, Cleveland will need to get a coach in place that can help mesh whoever is drafted on June 26 with the young talent already in place. But Griffin doesn’t expect the fact that the team now owns the number one pick to affect his search.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if anything, it certainly makes us a more attractive destination. But that’s a process that really is sort of in its infancy right now, and I don’t think of them as being correlated.”

Much like the decision on who to draft, Griffin is looking for the right fit at coach to help lead what’s been an arduous process to turn his team around.

“We’ve got very clear criteria for what we feel makes us better as a team,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of young talent — a lot of young talent that in some ways doesn’t fit terribly well together, and in some cases, has really helped each other grow. We just need to get the right mix. We need to get the right person to advance us the fastest, and we’re very open-minded to what that is.”

Report: Magic’s search firm inquiring about Larry Bird

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Larry Bird resigned as Pacers president.

Not just today, but also in 2012. A year later, he was again running a front office (Indiana’s).

Could he make an even quicker leap back into NBA team presidency – with the Magic?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This strikes me as more as Orlando’s search firm trying to prove its usefulness than a viable option.

Whether they’re trying to generate excitement, getting used for leverage or actually serious, the Magic keep getting linked to big-name replacements for the fired Rob HenniganDoc Rivers, David Griffin and now Bird. If the Magic are willing to pay major money for name recognition, they could get plenty of people to at least listen. But I’m unconvinced about that spending.

It’d be a little weird for Bird to inherit Frank Vogel, whom Bird fired as the Pacers’ coach. But Bird did everything he could to show that was more about seeking change than losing faith in Vogel.

Report: Larry Bird stepping down as Pacers president

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Larry Bird put his stamp on the Pacers in the last year –  firing Frank Vogel and trading for Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young to join hand-picked Monta Ellis and Myles Turner as Paul George‘s supporting cast on an up-tempo, offensively dynamic team.

The plan fell flat.

Indiana played at a below-average pace and produced a middling offense. The Pacers got swept by the Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.

Now, Indiana’s uncertain future – with Paul George a year from free agency and the Lakers courting – gets even more chaotic.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Bird had already resigned once as Pacers president, in 2012. He returned the following year.

Bird’s patience and pain tolerance for the job due to lingering back issues from his playing days has long seemed to waver. I wouldn’t write him off for good.

Indiana promoted Kevin Pritchard in 2012, when Bird previously stepped down. Pritchard previously worked as the Trail Blazers’ general manager, and he’s a qualified replacement.

The work begins immediately with a decision on George. If he doesn’t make an All-NBA team, the Pacers won’t gain as much financial advantage in his contract offer. That could open the door to a trade and rebuilding around Turner — or making a last-ditch push to convince George he can win in Indiana.

Report: Clippers expect Chris Paul to re-sign

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Chris Paul reportedly verbally committed months ago to re-sign with the Clippers. There have been mixed signals about Blake Griffin‘s intention to re-sign.

But they can’t formalize the deals until July, and the Clippers are now one game from another demoralizing first-round exit.

Where do they stand now?

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

Sources close to the Clippers say that they expect Paul to re-sign with the Clippers. He’ll be eligible for a five-year contract in excess of $200 million. Griffin’s return is less certain, sources say. This summer is his first foray into unrestricted free agency. Given his snakebitten tenure with the team and the possibility of another early exit, the prospect of exploring what’s out there will be alluring. One premise volunteered in good humor suggests that Paul is more likely to take a slew of meetings in a public process but ultimately re-sign with the Clippers, while Griffin is more likely to mull the decision privately under the guise of night, but announce he’ll be playing elsewhere in 2017-18.

Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers has made clear his desire to re-sign Paul and Griffin, and the playoffs won’t change that. This is the right call. It’s so difficult to assemble a team this good, the Clippers shouldn’t throw it away for the sake of change. Just because the Clippers haven’t gotten the breaks in previous seasons doesn’t mean they won’t get the breaks in future seasons.

But Paul and Griffin – and J.J. Redick, who’ll also be an unrestricted free agent – will determine the franchise’s fate. If they want to leave, they’ll leave.

Can the Clippers lure them back? They apparently think they’ll keep Paul, but there’s an uncertain dynamic in L.A. that Arnovitz explores in great depth. I highly recommend reading his full piece.

Nike, Adidas, Under Armour pass on potential No. 1 pick Lonzo Ball

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NBA teams reportedly aren’t dinging potential No. 1 pick Lonzo Ball over all the wild stuff his dad says and does.

Shoe companies are apparently taking a different approach.

Darren Rovell of ESPN:

An endorsement deal with Nike, Under Armour or Adidas is not in the cards for Lonzo Ball.

Ball’s father LaVar confirmed that the three shoe and apparel companies informed him that they were not interested in doing a deal with his son. Sources with the three companies told ESPN.com that they indeed were moving on.

In his meetings with the three, LaVar insisted that the company license his upstart Big Baller Brand from him. He also showed the companies a shoe prototype that he hoped would be Lonzo’s first shoe.

“We’ve said from the beginning, we aren’t looking for an endorsement deal,” LaVar told ESPN. “We’re looking for co-branding, a true partner. But they’re not ready for that because they’re not used to that model. But hey, the taxi industry wasn’t ready for Uber, either.”

“Just imagine how rich Tiger (Woods), Kobe (Bryant), Serena (Williams), (Michael) Jordan and LeBron (James) would have been if they dared to do their own thing,” LaVar said. “No one owned their own brand before they turned pro. We do and I have three sons so it’s that much more valuable.”

Is there more upside in this approach? Yeah, I guess.

But the traditional shoe companies bring valuable infrastructure and experience. There’s value in forfeiting upside for those resources. Lonzo Ball, who has yet to play in the NBA, is also missing out on guaranteed life-changing money.

On the risk-reward curve, this seems like a mistake.