Report: Joel Embiid’s agent pushing for No. 1 pick, Celtics or Lakers

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Joel Embiid, in light of his foot injury, will likely no longer go No. 1 in the draft.

How far will he slip?

Once Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker go off the board – probably with the first two picks – Embiid might still be the best prospect available. The rebuilding 76ers could easily draft Embiid at No. 3 and give him plenty of time to recover while losing a lot of games next season in pursuit of another high lottery pick.

But if Embiid’s agent, Arn Tellem, gets his way, Embiid would fall further.

Bill Simmons of Grantland:

https://twitter.com/BillSimmons/status/479651015226974208

Tellem can try to steer Embiid past the Bucks (No. 2), 76ers (No. 3), Magic (No. 4) and Jazz (No. 5), but those teams can obviously take Embiid without the player’s consent.

Unless he’s willing play overseas in perpetuity or not play professionally anywhere for a year – sitting out injured while getting paid counts as “playing” for these purposes – Embiid has no leverage other than to threaten to do those things.

Unlike Marcus Smart, Embiid can’t skip workouts to dissuade teams. He’s too hurt to work out anywhere.

But Embiid has a major trump card – his medical reports. He doesn’t need to share that information with anyone, and it would be extremely risky to draft him without reviewing those records.

Tellem knows how much falling would cost Embiid, but the agent also realize the potential second-contract benefits of playing for a team that can better develop Embiid.

Maybe Embiid can get the best of both worlds.

Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

a source tells CSNNE.com that the Celtics will give some serious thought to potentially moving up in the draft to select him.

If the Celtics get Embiid’s medical records and then try to trade up for him, that would signal to any potential trade partner that Embiid checks out. Maybe that team – whether it’s the Bucks, 76ers, Magic or Jazz – doesn’t trust Boston, or maybe it uses that implicit knowledge sharing to justify drafting Embiid itself.

At this point, it’s a game of cat and mouse.

Josh Jackson’s first pitch is… just a bit outside

Associated Press
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Josh Jackson is not going Bo Jackson on us and playing baseball in the offseason.

The highly-rated forward out of Kansas who was the No. 4 pick of the Phoenix Suns was invited to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.

To quote Bob Uecker, he was just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

Lonzo Ball was able to make his first pitch, ergo, he will turn out to be a much better NBA player. Obviously, these skills correlate.

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel Mavericks’ top off-season priority

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This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.

But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).

What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.

Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.

Magic Johnson on drafting Lonzo Ball: “what I needed was a leader”

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Nobody, not even his critics with the Lakers, question that D'Angelo Russell had talent. What they questioned from the start was his work ethic and maturity. I was told by sources with the team he often was the last one to team meetings, often one of the first out of the gym, and the whole Nick Young thing spoke to the maturity question. Byron Scott took a lot of heat as Lakers’ coach for benching him, and Scott’s communication skills were lacking, but he had reasons. Russell also just 21 and maybe he finds his way, but the Lakers weren’t willing to wait anymore.

Which is why the Lakers were willing to move him to Brooklyn in the Brook Lopez trade, and why the Lakers went after Lonzo Ball in the draft, Magic Johnson said, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

Is Lonzo Ball a leader? Only time will tell, he has the potential.

Will players want to play with him? Yes, if the passing skills he showed in college transfer to the NBA. If guys know they will get the rock if they run/cut, then they will do just that. It’s some simple B. F. Skinner stuff here — if players are rewarded they will keep doing it. Get them the rock in transition and they will get out there every time.

Ball has flaws in his game, there are certainly questions about his defense, and how that awkward shot translates remains to be seen (it goes in but his time to get it off will decrease at the NBA level)? Will he be a scoring threat in the half-court? He’s got work to do. But answer those questions and the Lakers may have the key piece to help anchor a franchise he’s been looking for.

Sacramento Kings waive guard Arron Afflalo

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento Kings have waived guard Arron Afflalo one year after signing him as a free agent.

The Kings cut ties with Afflalo on Friday before his entire $12.5 million contract for 2017-18 would become guaranteed. Afflalo will get $1.5 million instead.

Afflalo averaged 8.4 points and 2 rebounds in 61 games this past season for Sacramento. He has averaged 11.3 points per game in his 10-year career.