Joel Embiid

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


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.

Kevin Love unsure about opening-night return

Kevin Love
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He’s back in practice with the Cavaliers, but there’s still no clarity on whether Kevin Love will be available for the season opener. Love had shoulder surgery in April after suffering a torn labrum in Game 4 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Celtics, and doctors initially gave him a timetable of four to six months for a return. The six-month end of that is right around opening night (October 27), but Love still doesn’t know whether he’ll be able to play against the Bulls—although he is hopeful.

Via the Sporting News‘ Sean Deveney:

“I feel pretty good,” Love told Sporting News. “As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”

Love has been cleared for 3-on-3 practices, but not yet for 5-on-5. If it were up to him, he’d be back on the court, but he understands he needs to follow the rehab protocol for his injury.

“(Six months is) just a ballpark figure that has generally been thrown out there by anybody who has talked about the rehab process for this kind of an injury,” Love said. “I like to think that I am ahead of the game, but there’s different tests and the due diligence that the doctor will go through and the training staff will go through. So all I can do is go out there every day and attack my rehab and hopefully I will be able to go out there and help these guys as soon as possible.”

At the very least, the Cavs will be without Kyrie Irving (still recovering from knee surgery) and Iman Shumpert (out up to three months with a wrist injury), and probably Tristan Thompson too, unless his contract situation changes unexpectedly. So having Love available would be some much-needed good news. But it’s more important that Love (and everyone else) is healthy for the playoffs. If he’s not ready to play, there’s no need to rush back for an October game.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.