Associated Press

Celtics get No. 1 pick, Lakers will select No. 2 in NBA Draft Lottery

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The Boston Celtics have looked like the team calling “we got next” after the Cleveland Cavaliers — well, really LeBron James — has dominated the Eastern Conference for years.

That looks a lot better after they drew the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery. The Los Angeles Lakers will pick second and the Philadelphia 76ers third (a swap with Sacramento, who moved up from eighth to third, but the Sixers had rights to exchange picks so Philly is third and the Kings will pick fifth).

This is a monster win for the Celtics — they are the No. 1 seed in the East, they are in the Eastern Conference Finals this season, and they have the No. 1 pick.

“It’s a good time to be a Celtics fan,” said Wyc Grousbeck, co-owner of the Celtics, on the ESPN broadcast. “I wish the draft were today and we could get a little help for tomorrow night (Game 1 of the Conference Finals) but this is a great night.”

With Boston landing the No. 1 pick (this is actually the Brooklyn pick, but Boston had the right to swap as part of the Kevin Garnett deal), the next question is will GM Danny Ainge use it to add to the team’s impressive depth, or might he trade this pick in a package for an established star (such as Paul George or Jimmy Butler)? Ainge has been incredibly patient so far trying to land stars (he did get Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas developed before their eyes), does he think his team is one piece away from challenging LeBron James and the Cavaliers now, or does he want to wait for that powerhouse to wilt a little. Also, if the Celtics draft a top point guard such as Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball, what does that mean for the future of Isaiah Thomas (who is a free agent in the summer of 2018)? Whatever Ainge is thinking, don’t expect him to tip his hand before draft night.

The other big winner was the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers get to keep their pick in this draft (this is the third straight year they’ve had the lottery balls bounce their way and the pick owed Philly has stayed theirs), and that’s a double blessing. They not only get to select No. 2 now — they are reportedly high on Los Angeles are native Lonzo Ball and this makes it highly likely they can land him — they also keep their 2019 first round pick which would have gone to Orlando. (Next year’s Lakers first round pick unconditionally goes to the Sixers, and they owe the Magic two second rounders but not a first). Magic Johnson gets to make a big splash.

The biggest loser was the Orlando Magic. Not only did they slide a spot to sixth, they do not get that 2019 Lakers first rounder.

Here is the draft order (with a break at the end of the lottery.

1. Boston (swap with Brooklyn)
2. L.A. Lakers
3. Philadelphia (swap with Sacramento)
4. Phoenix
5. Sacramento (swap with Philadelphia)
6. Orlando
7. Minnesota
8. New York
9. Dallas
10. Sacramento (via New Orleans)
11. Charlotte
12. Detroit
13. Denver
14. Miami
———–
15. Portland
16. Chicago
17. Milwaukee
18. Indiana
19. Atlanta
20. Portland (via Memphis, via Denver and Cleveland)
21. Oklahoma City
22. Brooklyn (via Washington)
23. Toronto (via LA Clippers and Milwaukee)
24. Utah
25. Orlando (via Toronto)
26. Portland (via Cleveland)
27. Brooklyn (swap with Boston)
28. L.A. Lakers (via Houston)
29. San Antonio
30. Utah (via Golden State)

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.