Hamidou Diallo may be on his way to being none-and-done first round pick

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Last year, Hamidou Diallo played half a season of college prep basketball at Putnam Science as a postgraduate of high school, then enrolled for the spring semester at Kentucky, but he did not play with the team. In fact, he hasn’t played in a game publicly in four months.

Yet the stock on the 6’6″ swingman — one of the more explosive athletes in the draft, with great physical tools and length — seems to be rising. He put up an impressive 44.5-inch vertical leap at the NBA Draft Combine that turned a few heads.

Some teams like him, others don’t want to take the risk, but he is generally considered a bubble first rounder right now, but in NBC’s mock draft we had him go 23rd to Toronto (GM Masai Ujiri is willing to take these kinds of gambles). Diallo hasn’t officially decided yet if he’s going to stay in the draft, that’s why he was at the combine to let teams talk get a closer look at him, and to get a sense of where he stands.

What is the attraction of this draft’s mystery man? Kentucky Coach John Calipari think he knows, as he told the New York Times.

“They don’t know,” he said. “Well, don’t show them. They all like you without watching you. Good. The more you don’t play, the more they like you, the more they’re impressed.”

“If someone takes him in the lottery I will retire. Four months, doesn’t play, lottery pick, I’m done. I’m stopping,” he said.

Lottery seems high, but if a team falls in love with him and thinks they can develop him… who knows. The Milwaukee Bucks taking Thon Maker at No. 10 last year turned heads (he had gone to a fifth year of high school rather than play college ball), yet by the postseason he was becoming an increasingly important part of their rotation and played well.

If Diallo goes back to college for a year, he could well be a top 10 pick next year, which is part of the attraction for teams drafting late in the first round this year — they might steal a quality player late in the first. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla put it well to the Times.

“I don’t think there’s any question a team will take him in the first round, based on just his age, his size for a guard and that crazy combination of skill and athleticism.”

The question of whether said team will be able to develop him is another issue, but if he stays in the draft someone will take the chance.

The only question for Diallo is does he want to start his NBA journey now as a lower pick, or spend a season at Kentucky and likely be a much higher pick (that gets paid more out the gate, this past season the No. 10 pick made $1.4 million more than the 25th selection, but start now and he gets to the potentially more lucrative second contract sooner).

If he stays in the draft, others might start to follow his and Maker’s path.

 

James Dolan’s MSG threatens to sue Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers

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This story requires a little background.

The Forum in Inglewood was best known for decades as being both fabulous and the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, back from the Jerry West era and through Magic’s “Showtime” teams. Then in 2001 the Lakers moved downtown to Staples Center, and after that the Forum went through some rough times. It was a number of things, including a mega church for a while, but mostly it was empty. Then several years ago the Madison Square Garden company (owned by Knicks owner James Dolan) bought the Forum, fixed it up, and started booking it again. Now the Forum is one of the hot major concert/event spaces in Los Angeles again, and it’s about to get a boost because it’s adjacent to where Stan Kroenke is building the new Los Angeles Rams stadium. Hello gentrification!

Now enter Steve Ballmer. The Clippers’ owner wants out of Staples Center and the Lakers’ shadow, so he has proposed to build his new arena in Inglewood in another space adjacent to the Rams stadium — land that MSG used to lease. As you might imagine, Dolan’s MSG is not thrilled — they are already battling with Staples to fill their space, now a state-of-the-art arena is moving in down the street.

In a proxy Knicks/Clippers battle, MSG may sue to Clippers and Inglewood in an attempt to block the new building. Here is what Dolan’s attorney in the case, Marvin Putnam, told the Daily Breeze in Los Angeles.

“The mayor made it extremely clear that he needed that piece of land back for a kind of ‘Silicon Beach,’ ” said Marvin Putnam, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, which filed the damage claim that serves as a precursor to a lawsuit. “They’re attempting to flat-out trick people.”

(Inglewood Mayor James) Butts declined to comment, and there is no proof that he made those statements. But when Madison Square Garden Co. relinquished the parking lease to the city, its approved contract states that the land would not be used for anything that would hurt the Forum’s business, according to documents.

Right now the Clippers and Inglewood are in an exclusive negotiating agreement to come to terms on the sale and plans for the property. Putnam told the paper — and the Inglewood City Council — that if the deal goes forward they will sue to block it.

It’s impossible to say how this will turn out, although as a former government reporter I will say these cases tend to be decided in favor of the side about to spend a ton of money on a new building.

 

Jaylen Brown’s #drivebydunkchallenge video is awesome

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I love the drive by dunk challenge (if you prefer, the #drivebydunkchallenge), it would be the best thing on NBA Twitter this summer, if it wasn’t for Kyrie Irving.

But the best one yet comes from Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

He steals the ball, and the best part is the guy who comes over like he’s going to stop Brown from throwing it down.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.