Marcus Smart

Jazz can’t get Marcus Smart to work out for them


Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker are the consensus top three prospects in the 2014 NBA draft. Dante Exum, in many circles, is emerging as the fourth best.

That leaves the Utah Jazz, who have the No. 5 pick.

Several players fit in that next tier: Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh. The Jazz – who have intriguing young players at every position but nobody who commands drafting to build around – must do their due diligence to separate that pack.

Smart isn’t making it any easier on them, according to Walter Perrin, Utah’s Vice President of Player Personnel.

Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune:

Obviously, the Jazz can still draft Smart without a workout. If he really didn’t want to go to Utah, he’d have two options.

1. Play in another league outside the NBA. If he does this, the Jazz would continue to hold his NBA rights.

2. Sit out and don’t play professionally anywhere. If he does this, he could re-enter the draft next year.

Maybe the threat of either scenario would convince the Jazz to pass on him, but players rarely go to those lengths. If Utah drafts Smart, he’ll almost certainly play for there next season.

The Jazz’s problem is the two teams drafting after them, the Celtics and Lakers, are viewed as much more appealing destinations. It’s easy to justify taking a slight salary dip by getting picked lower if it means going to Boston or Los Angeles.

So what should Utah do?

A Trey Burke-Smart backcourt might be rocky at first, but there’s potential for growth. Smart would defend better guards, and Burke – once he gets his NBA legs under him – should complement Smart’s slashing with outside shooting. Lineups with two point guards have proven effective all over the NBA.

If Smart is the best prospect available, draft him. The Jazz have two years at Oklahoma State to review plus his time with the U.S. National U19 team.

A workout might help, but it’s not necessary to determine Smart’s value.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

Tony Parker
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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.

Report: Pelicans signing Greg Smith

Greg Smith
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The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.

Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.

Enter Greg Smith.

Scott Kushner of The Advocate:

Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.

But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.

Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.