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Celtics, Lakers, and Magic headline 2017 NBA Draft Lottery winners and losers

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The 2017 NBA Draft Lottery is over, and the Boston Celtics — a team in the Eastern Conference Finals — hold the No. 1 overall pick. The Los Angeles Lakers will pick at No. 2, and the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 3. Who will take Markelle Fultz and who will take Lonzo Ball isn’t yet clear, but they seem slated to go right next to each other at the top of the draft.

A dizzying amount of picks changed hands thanks to protections and swap rights, but the final order ended up looking like this:

1. Boston (via Brooklyn)
2. L.A. Lakers
3. Philadelphia
4. Phoenix
5. Sacramento
6. Orlando
7. Minnesota
8. New York
9. Dallas
10. Sacramento (via New Orleans)
11. Charlotte
12. Detroit
13. Denver
14. Miami

We won’t know who really wins this thing until we get deep into next season, but an initial reaction of winners and losers thanks to aforementioned pick swaps and ping pong balls I think looks pretty clear.

Winners

Celtics
Boston traded for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen during the summer of 2007, then took home the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2007-08. The Celtics then traded Garnett and Pierce in 2013 for three of Brooklyn’s first round picks as well as the right to swap picks in 2017.

Boston traded for a championship, then traded those guys to either add the best player in college basketball or to be able to swap for an existing superstar. They’re doing all that with a team that was already the No. 1 seed in the East and is in the conference finals. That is getting some serious run out of the Big 3. Paul Pierce even thinks so himself.

Celtics fans have to know they came up huge on this one, and even though there might be some overlapping talent with Isaiah Thomas and either Fultz or Ball, that also gives them more weapons to be able to take down LeBron James and the Cavaliers in coming seasons. Or, as Celtics GM Danny Ainge hinted at after the lottery, they might be looking to use that pick to trade for a guy like Jimmy Butler or Paul George.

Lakers
Los Angeles didn’t get the pick they wanted, but they got the next best thing. It’s entirely possible that Ball is a serious talent and missing piece for LA, and they have burgeoning young talent on the roster. Couple that with rumored interest from 2018 free agent Paul George, the Lakers could be on their way back up.

They also keep their 2019 first round pick, which would have gone to Orlando, so things definitely worked out well for Lakers fans.

Sixers
Philadelphia didn’t get the top pick, and someone like Fultz would fit in nicely especially as the 76ers look to add competent ball handlers. But without Fultz or Ball on the board, the Sixers can look at guys like Josh Jackson and De'Aaron Fox to fill out their roster as they add a healthy Ben Simmons next season.

The important thing is that the 76ers still wound up in the Top 3, with the availability to now use that pick to keep building on The Process or to swap for veteran talent, something not many have talked about. The other good news here is that because of pick swaps, the Sixers not only got a high selection this season but have the Lakers’ first round pick unprotected for next year.

Losers

Magic
A serious blow here for the Orlando Magic, who wound up with the No. 6 pick and do not get to keep the Lakers’ 2019 first round pick. Orlando is without a GM at the moment, and finished just 29-53 this season. Their roster is in flux, they’re back toward the bottom of the league, and their new GM will need to knock it out of the park with that No. 6 pick if they want to be able to capitalize with the young talent they already have.

Heat
Miami wound up with the No. 14 pick, which is right where they should be. The Heat had a 98 percent chance to end up at the end of the lottery, but I still think that’s some kind of bummer. Miami had an awful start to the season, but finished 30-11 to tie the Chicago Bulls for No. 8 in the East, just narrowly missing the playoffs. The up-and-down nature of Miami’s season combined with missing out on the postseason and getting the last pick in the lottery sort of sums up a weird, frustrating season in Florida.

Another Hornets backup PG injured

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Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williamsout.

Nicolas Batum, who handled a lot of playmaking with Charlotte’s second units – out.

Julyan Stone, another Hornets backup point guard – out.

Hornets release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard Julyan Stone has suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. The injury occurred in practice on Sunday, Oct. 22 and he did not travel with the team to Milwaukee.  Stone is listed as out for tonight’s game against the Bucks and his expected recovery time is estimated at four to six weeks.

The Hornets have been outscored by an astounding 35.8 points per 100 possessions without starter Kemba Walker, producing an offensive rating of just 61.4. That’s in just 23 minutes, but the problem dates back to last season, when Charlotte was outscored by 7.0 points per 100 possessions with a 100.7 offensive rating sans Walker.

Now, the Hornets have little choice but to turn to rookie Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring guard, but his 6-foot-3 size means he has at least worked on playing point guard. Is he ready to play the position full-time for a team eying the playoffs. Probably not, but he’ll just have to do his best to keep Charlotte afloat in the few minutes Walker rests.

Report: Suns also fire three assistant coaches

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The Suns fired Earl Watson just three games into the season – the second-earliest firing in NBA history.

They didn’t stop there.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Firing assistant coaches during the season has become Phoenix’s m.o. I’m just not sure what it accomplishes.

Were Watson, Nate Bjorkgren, Mehmet Okur and Jason Fraser all so bad at their jobs? If so, why did the Suns figure that out simultaneously?

Were the firings designed to shake up a losing team? If so, wouldn’t ousting Watson have been enough?

Will Phoenix replace those assistants? If not, will the team have the resources to properly train its players?

The Suns are filled with young players who need coaching, particularly skill development. This move looks like it will put them further behind.

Watch Andre Roberson airball back-to-back free throws

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Andre Roberson is not a good free throw shooter, a career 48.9 percent from the stripe.

But even for him, this is ugly. Heck, for DeAndre Jordan would think this was ugly.  Against the Timberwolves Sunday night, Roberson airballed two free throws. In a row. You can see it above.

This game went on to have the most dramatic ending of any NBA game this season, with Carmelo Anthony and Andrew Wiggins trading big buckets but the Twolves getting the win on the road.

 

NBA Three Things to Know: Sun sets on Earl Watson in Phoenix

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. This is what you missed on Sunday while wondering if oyster vending machines are a good idea. (They’re not.)

1) Eric Bledsoe Tweets he wants out, hours later it’s Earl Watson who is out, fired as Suns coach. The Suns are a bad team, one that lacked offensive cohesion and defensive effort. Phoenix was blown out by 48 points by the Trail Blazers in their first game, the worst opening night loss in NBA history. It was an ugly start to the season. How could things possibly get worse from there?

Well, how about the Suns get blown out by 42 points in the third game of the season, have their best player Tweet he “doesn’t want to be here” then turn around and fire the coach? That’s what happened, and Earl Watson is out in Phoenix.

Watson was 33-85 as the Suns head coach, but that record isn’t a fair way to judge him — Suns management made him sit Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler to tank at the end of last season, much to Watson’s frustration. This is a young team this season that is not going to be good no matter who coached it. But Watson’s Suns didn’t seem to have a strong offensive identity, didn’t play hard on defense, and there were doubts about his ability to develop young talent. Watson took over as an interim coach after the Suns fired Jeff Hornacek, then he went an unimpressive 9-24 in that role. However, he preached love and togetherness at a time the franchise needed it, and the players loved him, so despite the record management decided to give him a shot as a guy who could develop talent. Watson and GM Ryan McDonough were notoriously rarely on the same page, but Robert Sarver is not the kind of owner who will pay a couple of coaches at once, and the players loved Watson, so he stayed. Then, Eric Bledsoe tweeted this.

I’m not saying the two things are directly related, but if Watson was losing the players, he had little left.

The only question about this move is “why did they wait three games into the season?” Why not make their move over the summer, allowing a new coach to have a training camp to change the tenor of the team? Former Raptor coach (and Canadian national team coach) Jay Triano gets the job in the short term.

The Suns are a young, developing team but with some good pieces already in place — Devin Booker, Josh Jackson — and some guys who need to be brought along (Dragan Bender, Marquese Chriss). They need a strong developmental head coach, someone who can install a mindset and get the young guys playing hard. The Suns are going to lose a lot of games this season, and end up with a high draft pick, they are building for the future. They need their process, and they need a coach who can lead it.

2) Carmelo Anthony drains game-winning three… wait, no it’s Andrew Wiggins who drains game-winner for Timberwolves. For a couple of games (this one and the previous one against the Jazz) the Thunder have struggled with their offensive rhythm. Or, more accurately, they just missed shots. Through three quarters the Russell Westbrook/Paul George/Carmelo Anthony trio was 17-of-43 (39.5 percent) and 3-of-10 from three.

But after the Thunder second unit made it a game again, Westbrook found his groove late — he took over the offense, attacking, and going 6-of-9 in the fourth. Then came the big finish. Karl-Anthony Towns — who was a beast again with 27 points and 12 boards (but needs to take fewer threes if he keeps missing like this) — put the Timberwolves up two. With 8.9 seconds left Westbrook drove, drew two defenders, then shared the rock, found Anthony… and just watch for yourself.

Underrated on that last play: Towns set a massive screen to free up Wiggins and get him that look. Wiggins did not call bank, but as Paul Pierce said last season he did call game.

3) Clippers’ Milos Teodosic out indefinitely. The NBA just got a little less fun to watch. The Clippers brought the passing wizard over from Serbia as a 30-year-old rookie, and he was dishing.

Unfortunately, Teodosic is out indefinitely with a plantar fascia injury. The concern with the Clippers this season was not the talent but the health of a team leaning on Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari, and others with long injury histories. Hopefully for Los Angeles, the Teodosic injury is not the start of a trend.