2014 NBA Draft Preview: Philadelphia 76ers

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Picks: 3. 10, 32, 39, 47, 52, 54

Needs: The rebuild began in earnest in Philadelphia a season ago, and as long as you’re not into winning, things got off to a fantastic start. Michael Carter-Williams took home Rookie of the Year honors, while the player selected five spots earlier in the 2013 draft, Nerlens Noel, sat out the entire year — primarily due to injury, though he may have been healthy enough to play near the end of the season.

For a team that endured a 26-game losing streak before it was eventually snapped, however, rushing players back to seek additional wins wasn’t in the plans.

With two lottery picks already on the roster, the Sixers need to add more complementary talent to begin to build a team capable of developing into a successful ongoing concern. With the third overall pick, there will be guys there capable of potentially becoming building blocks for the future. It gets more murky further down the draft board, of course, but that’s where scouting comes into play, and for a team essentially starting from scratch, player development and front office stability will be what’s most important in turning the franchise around.

Trade possibilities: The Sixers appear to have locked in on Andrew Wiggins, especially given the way they behaved when they had him in for a pre-draft workout this week. There are plenty of mock drafts that have him still available at three, with Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker being selected with the first two picks. But Philadelphia may not want to take any chances, so it has been engaged with Cleveland in discussions about trying to trade for the number one pick.

The Sixers haven’t been willing to part with picks 3 and 10 to make that happen, however, and that’s probably a wise choice, given both the probability that Wiggins will still be there, along with the fact that guys like Parker or Embiid would be available by default if Wiggins were already gone. Philadelphia might give up the three and Thaddeus Young in a deal, which would rid the team of its last capable veteran who also happens to be the highest paid player on the roster.

Predictions: Even the Sixers, who embraced rebuilding to the point of absurdity last season, wouldn’t use all of their picks with the intent of adding seven rookies to the mix for next season. The ones in the later rounds will either be European prospects who can be stashed for the future, or players who will be glorified training camp invites that will have to prove themselves in order to be signed for next season.

If a trade agreement can’t be reached with the Cavaliers, Wiggins might still be the one the Sixers end up with, and that appears to be their wish. In the event that he’s off the board, however, ending up with Embiid, Parker, or even someone like Dante Exum wouldn’t appear to be a bad consolation prize.

Report: Celtics focused on adding All-Star-caliber frontcourt player

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Isaiah Thomas said he he’d happily forgo a renegotiation-and-extension if the Celtics use their cap space to upgrade their roster.

Where are they looking?

A. Sherrod Blakey of CSN New England:

Multiple league sources have told CSNNE.com in recent weeks that the Celtics are focused on landing an All-Star caliber talent in the frontcourt.

In the last three years, 22 frontcourt players have been All-Stars. Boston already has one: Al Horford. Could the Celtics land any of the other 22?

Almost certainly unavailable

Free agency

Trade

Free agency or trade

  • Pau Gasol (Though Gasol said he’d opt in, San Antonio might try pushing him out to pursue Paul. If Gasol opts in, the Spurs could also trade him to clear space for Paul.)
  • Dirk Nowitzki (The Mavericks have a $25 million team option on Nowitzki for next season. Nowitzki going to Boston, via trade or free agency, would probably require a mutual agreement between Dallas and him that pursuing a title elsewhere is the right way for him to end his career.)

Report: Spurs exploring Chris Paul pursuit

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The Clippers are taking the Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumors seriously.

And apparently so are the Spurs.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The San Antonio Spurs are exploring the feasibility of making a free-agent run at All-Star point guard Chris Paul, league sources told ESPN.

San Antonio must complete three difficult objectives to land Paul:

  • Clear cap space. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to dump two of them to clear max room. Can they convince Gasol to reverse course and opt out, maybe re-signing at a major discount? Would they trade Parker, who has meant so much to the franchise? Would they deal Aldridge or Green, players who would make major contributions to a Leonard/Paul-led team?
  • Convince Paul to accept a projected max of $152 million over four years rather than the projected $205 million he could get over five years from the Clippers. Although the annual difference is just $3 million and Paul could sign another deal in four years, it’s unlikely he recoups that at age 36.
  • Convince Paul to leave big-market L.A. for small-market San Antonio. Remember, Paul forced his way from small-market New Orleans then ascended into one of the NBA’s biggest endorsement stars.

The Spurs boast a fantastic basketball culture, and Leonard and Popovich make great partners in a championship chase. There are reasons San Antonio is gaining traction with Paul.

But there’s still a lot for the Spurs to overcome. Will they? At least they’re trying rather than just dismissing the plot as unfeasible.

Cleveland GM David Griffin: “I hope everybody says we have no chance”

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The Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA title. According to bovda.lv, bet $100 on the Warriors to win the title and you get $41.7 dollars. Bet $100 on the Cavaliers and you get $200. And that number is likely to get worse for Warriors fans.

The Cavaliers are okay with that. They like being the underdogs. Look at what GM David Griffin said in a televised interview after they eliminated the Celtics in Game 5, via Cleveland.com.

“I hope everybody says we have no chance,” General Manager David Griffin said during a TV interview following the Cavaliers’ 135-102 win Thursday night against the Boston Celtics, clinching a third straight NBA Finals appearance.

“Obviously the team we’re playing is as good as you can possibly put together, it’s going to be an unbelievable battle for us, but I think [the Cavs] love battling together. The greater the odds, the better we seem to play together. We really do rally around each other in that sense.”

There is some truth to that.

There’s also a difference between that truth and slowing Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. How the Cavaliers are going to do that will be the interesting part of these playoffs.

Detroit’s Van Gundy honored for cooperation with media, fans

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons has won the Rudy Tomjanovich Award, which honors an NBA coach for his cooperation with media and fans, as well as excellence on the court.

The Professional Basketball Writers Association announced the winner Friday. Van Gundy was one of five finalists for the award. The others were Steve Clifford of the Charlotte Hornets, Mike D’Antoni of the Houston Rockets, David Fizdale of the Memphis Grizzlies and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.

Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors won the award last season.