Report: Lakers would consider drafting Joel Embiid if he falls to seven

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Joel Embiid was projected by many to go as high as number one overall in the upcoming NBA Draft, but a foot injury he suffered which required surgery threw everything into a state of chaos.

Now, we have no idea where Embiid may be selected — his talent hasn’t diminished in the slightest, but he’s had too many injuries given his young age and low basketball mileage for there not to be significant red flags raised.

Embiid will likely fall on most teams’ draft boards; the question is, how far? If the latest report is to be believed, he won’t get past the Lakers at seven if the teams ahead of them decide that his injury history is too much of a risk.

From Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

The Lakers would consider selecting Embiid should he become available, according to a person familiar with the Lakers’ thinking. But such an idea would hinge on Embiid’s recovery.

The Lakers are mindful there would be risk in selecting Embiid considering his recent back injury and his current foot fracture. But they are also aware of Embiid’s upside with various draft experts likening him to Hall of Famer center Hakeem Olajuwon. It is unclear what information in Embiid’s medical report and progress the Lakers would need to see that would make them feel comfortable picking Embiid assuming he stays undrafted before the seventh pick.

Despite what Kobe Bryant may think, the Lakers don’t need to make a splash with an NBA-ready draft pick this season. In that regard, Embiid would be a fine choice, even if he ends up pulling a Nerlens Noel and sits out the entire season.

The Lakers don’t even have a starting five under contract for next season, and it’s unlikely they’ll be able to piece together a playoff contender with the spare parts that are available on the open market. L.A. is targeting 2015 to make its move, when far more (and more impactful) free agents are likely to be available as realistic targets.

(And no, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James this summer are not realistic targets.)

Embiid’s talent is evident, but the injury concerns are real at the same time. The Lakers could afford to take the risk on him, given the money they’ll have to spend in free agency and the desirable market they play in that would make the signing of superstars potentially that much easier.

Other teams may not feel like the gamble is worth it, especially in what’s expected to be a very deep draft class. For those reasons, Embiid could fall to the Lakers, and it’s likely they’d select him if the opportunity presented itself.

Interviewer: LeBron James wasn’t dissing Kyrie Irving

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LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.

That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.

Beck:

It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.

LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

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Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

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Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?

Tony Allen: Russell Westbrook flopped to draw DeMarcus Cousins

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DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.

Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.

And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.

Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.