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Potential first-rounder Rodions Kurucs withdraws from 2017 NBA draft

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The first – and most important – withdrawal deadline for the NBA draft came last month, but that’s set by the NCAA for players to maintain eligibility.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline was this week, and that’s the relevant one for international players not shackled by the NCAA’s ever-shifting definition of “amateurism.”

Before the NBA’s deadline, 38 more players (oddly including two college players) withdrew from the draft. The most notable: Rodions Kurucs, a 19-year-old forward who appeared to have a solid shot of going in the first round.

Kurucs has mostly played for FC Barcelona’s lower teams. He needs more experience and to get stronger. But he has the size, athleticism and shooting stroke to project in the NBA.

It seemed he could develop in the NBA or even D-League while on an NBA contract. Alas, he went another route.

Here’s a full update on draft bookkeeping. NBA release:

Here is the list of international players who have withdrawn their names from consideration for the NBA Draft 2017 presented by State Farm:

 

PLAYER                                              TEAM (COUNTRY*)

Ege Arar                                                Galatasaray (Turkey)

Laurynas Beliauskas                              Neptunas (Lithuania)

Terrence Bieshaar                                  Joventut (Spain)

Laurynas Birutis                                    Vytautas (Lithuania)

Leo Cizmic                                            Sevilla (Spain)         

Berkan Durmaz                                      Tofas (Turkey)

Martynas Echodas                                  Siauliai (Lithuania)

Cyrille Eliezer-Vanerot                          Levallois (France)

Aquiles Ferreira                                     Pinheiros (Brazil)

Diego Flaccadori                                    Trento (Italy)

Tolga Gecim                                          Banvit (Turkey)

Yoan Granvorka                                    Nancy (France)

Egemen Guven                                      Karsiyaka (Turkey)

Karlis Helmanis                                     RTU Riga (Latvia)

Aleksa Ilic                                             Buducnost (Montenegro)

Verners Kohs                                         GBA Sparta (Czech Republic)

Antonios Koniaris                                  PAOK (Greece)

Arnoldas Kulboka                                  Baunach (Germany)

Rodions Kurucs                                     Barcelona (Spain)

Axel Louissaint                                      Lugano (Switzerland)

Michail Lountzis                                    Panathinaikos (Greece)

Gytis Masiulis                                        Zalgiris (Lithuania)

Lovro Mazalin                                       Zadar (Croatia)

Regimantas Miniotas                              Vytautas (Lithuania)

Kostja Mushidi                                      Mega Leks (Serbia)

Margiris Normantas                               Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)

Elie Okobo                                            Pau Orthez (France)

Viny Okouo                                            Unicaja (Spain)

Ayberk Olmaz                                         Istanbul BSB (Turkey)

Lucas Pereira                                          Pinheiros (Brazil)

Martynas Sajus                                        Starogard (Poland)

Borisa Simanic                                        Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)

Nik Slavica                                             Cibona (Croatia)

Berk Ugurlu                                            Fenerbahce (Turkey)

Kristupas Zemaitis                                   Vytautas (Lithuania)

Zou Yuchen                                            Bayi Fubang (China)

 

Here is the list of additional players from colleges who have withdrawn their names from consideration for the NBA Draft 2017 presented by State Farm:

 

PLAYER                                              SCHOOL

Darin Johnson                                        CSU-Northridge

Maverick Rowan                                   North Carolina State

 

Following is a list of players from colleges who remain early entry candidates for the NBA Draft 2017 presented by State Farm:

 

PLAYER                                              SCHOOL

Edrice Adebayo                                     Kentucky

Jarrett Allen                                           Texas

Ike Anigbogu                                         UCLA

OG Anunoby                                         Indiana

Dwayne Bacon                                      Florida State

Lonzo Ball                                             UCLA

Jordan Bell                                            Oregon

James Blackmon Jr.                               Indiana

Antonio Blakeney                                  LSU

Tony Bradley                                         North Carolina

Isaiah Briscoe                                        Kentucky

Dillon Brooks                                        Oregon

Thomas Bryant                                      Indiana

Clandell Cetoute                                    Thiel College (PA)

John Collins                                          Wake Forest

Zach Collins                                          Gonzaga

Chance Comanche                                 Arizona

Tyler Dorsey                                         Oregon

PJ Dozier                                               South Carolina

Jawun Evans                                          Oklahoma State

Tony Farmer                                          Lee College (TX)

De’Aaron Fox                                        Kentucky

Markelle Fultz                                       Washington

Harry Giles                                            Duke

Isaac Humphries                                    Kentucky

Tre Hunter                                             Mt. San Jacinto College (CA)

Jonathan Isaac                                       Florida State

Frank Jackson                                        Duke

Josh Jackson                                          Kansas

Justin Jackson                                        North Carolina

Jaylen Johnson                                       Louisville

Ted Kapita                                             North Carolina State

Marcus Keene                                        Central Michigan

Luke Kennard                                        Duke

Kyle Kuzma                                          Utah

TJ Leaf                                                  UCLA

Tyler Lydon                                          Syracuse

Lauri Markkanen                                   Arizona

Eric Mika                                               BYU

Donovan Mitchell                                  Louisville

Malik Monk                                           Kentucky

Johnathan Motley                                  Baylor

Austin Nichols                                       Virginia

Semi Ojeleye                                         SMU

Cameron Oliver                                     Nevada

Justin Patton                                          Creighton

L.J. Peak                                                Georgetown

Ivan Rabb                                              California

Xavier Rathan-Mayes                             Florida State

Devin Robinson                                     Florida

Josh Robinson                                       Austin Peay

Kobi Simmons                                       Arizona

Dennis Smith Jr.                                    North Carolina State

Edmond Sumner                                    Xavier

Caleb Swanigan                                     Purdue

Jayson Tatum                                        Duke

Matt Taylor                                            New Mexico State

Trevor Thompson                                  Ohio State

Melo Trimble                                         Maryland

Craig Victor II                                        LSU

Antone Warren                                      Antelope Valley CC (CA)

Nigel Williams-Goss                              Gonzaga

D.J. Wilson                                            Michigan

 

Following is a list of international players who remain early entry candidates for the NBA Draft 2017 presented by State Farm:

 

PLAYER                                              TEAM (COUNTRY*)

Simon Birgander                                    Clavijo (Spain)

Luka Bozic                                            Zagreb (Croatia)

Vlatko Cancar                                        Mega Leks (Serbia)

Wesley Alves Da Silva                           Paulistano (Brazil)

George de Paula                                     Paulistano (Brazil)

Isaiah Hartenstein                                  Zalgiris (Lithuania)

Jonathan Jeanne                                     Nancy (France)

Alpha Kaba                                           Mega Leks (Serbia)

Tidjan Keita                                           Cegep de Thetford (Canada)

Frank Ntilikina                                      Strasbourg (France)

 

*Country indicates where team plays, not country of players nationality

It’s time for No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz to turn 76ers into winners

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Markelle Fultz already has his first turnover as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers.

It came in an Instagram post sponsored by a watch company. “Excited to head to (City) and join the (team name). (at)Tissot.us is helping me get started with my (team name) watch,” Fultz posted, not bothering to actually fill in the blanks.

Ah, it’s a process. Or rather, The Process. And the Sixers have plenty of blanks to fill in on their roster before becoming a playoff contender.

The No. 1 overall pick in this NBA draft has become an instant fan favorite before signing his rookie contract. The 6-foot-4 guard out of Washington has gone on late-night TV and boasted of his love of Philly cheesesteaks, made a social media connection with franchise player Joel Embiid and dazzled on draft night with a pair of orange sneakers made of the same leather used to make NBA game balls.

If that wasn’t enough, Philly fans found an open love letter from Fultz to the city on The Players’ Tribune.

“What’s up, Philly? You good? I’m pretty good,” Fultz wrote . “Today is a good day. Today we take The Process to another level.”

Long the league laughingstock, it’s the Sixers’ turn to clap back, with Embiid and Ben Simmons poking fun on Twitter at Lonzo Ball and his father, LaVar.

Moments after LaVar Ball went on TV and declared of his son, “From the words of Zeus, Jesus, everybody said he gonna be a Laker,” Simmons simply tweeted, “Crazy pills .” Embiid quickly chimed in with, “Please dunk on him so hard that his daddy runs on the court to save him.”

But the Sixers aren’t counting on the Fultz-Simmons-Embiid core to simply entertain in 140-character bursts. They expect the trio to help lead the franchise to their first playoff appearance since 2012 and first championship since 1983.

“It’s been a while,” team president Bryan Colangelo said, pointing toward championship banners hanging in the team’s New Jersey complex.

Here’s a look at how they might get to 35-50 wins over the next two seasons:

—–

STEP ON THE GAS

First, Simmons and Embiid need to be healthy.

Embiid, who missed his first two seasons with foot injuries, was placed on minutes restrictions in 2016-17 and was banned from playing both games of back-to-back contests. Despite the precautionary steps, Embiid played in only 31 games and needed surgery on his left knee in March.

Simmons missed his rookie season with a broken right foot.

“I think both Ben and Joel are on course for recovery,” Colangelo said Friday. “We anticipate a full, healthy roster.”

Colangelo said Embiid would have no minutes’ restrictions this season, provided he stays healthy.

“He plays with reckless abandon and some of that has got to be controlled,” Colangelo said.

—–

IT TAKES TWO

Coach Brett Brown had said all year that Simmons would open next season as the point guard. Simmons seemed excited at his shot to run the show until a confluence of events and a trade with Boston for the No. 1 pick that netted Fultz.

No worries, for now. Brown said Simmons and Fultz, who will play in the summer league, could work well together in the backcourt, no matter which player is the ballhandler.

“It’s a really exciting challenge to have where you try to grow those two players and let them coexist and learn more about each other,” Brown said. “The start of the season and training camp and the month of September are really going to be important for us to allow those guys to feel each other and the coaching staff to be able to truly see it on the court.”

—–

TOUCH OF GREY

So who shall lead the talented trio of Embiid-Fultz-Simmons, a trifecta of first- and second-year players. The Sixers have long needed a veteran both in the locker room and to help lead on the court.

“Those young guys need nurturing and they need veteran leadership. To think that you’re going to go into a season with a 19-year-old, a 20-year-old and Joel Embiid, as much as we love him and see how special he is, the reality is those three players have played a cumulative 31 NBA games,” Brown said. “And holding a locker room, growing those guys, helping them navigate NBA life and NBA games is a very powerful message when it comes from a player. And trying to identify veterans that have the ability to nurture and help those three, especially, is one of the main priorities.”

WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART

Sixers fans have been very patient, and they may have stay that way.

They waited two years for Dario Saric to come from his overseas commitments. They waited two years for Embiid to recover from injuries.

They may have to wait two more years for Latvian center, and first-round pick, Anzejs Pasecniks. Pasecniks, who most recently played with Gran Canaria, a Spanish basketball club, has two more years left on his deal and may not immediately join the Sixers. Second-round picks Jonah Bolden and power forward Mathias Lessort out of France also won’t join the team next season.

But when they do, they could be the final pieces for a contender.

“Everything is designed with a championship in mind,” Colangelo said.

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

Report: Mavericks will decline $25 million option for Dirk Nowitzki, sign him to new deal

AP
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Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki had a huge $25 million team option on his contract for the upcoming 2017-18 NBA season. It now appears that the team will not exercise that option, and will instead try to re-sign their star player for an additional few years.

Given the context of the Mavericks roster, it makes sense that the team would want to allocate its resources as the NBA salary cap goes even further up the scale. Nowitzki’s salary would have remained a huge chunk of change as the Mavericks yet again try to go after free agents this summer.

While a restructuring of his contract to, say, half the amount it would have been originally would not give Dallas room for a max-level free agent, it could at least give them the capacity to go after mid-level exception type of players.

Meanwhile, it’s not clear what kind of contract the Mavericks will try to sign Nowitzki to. Reports at this point say that a two-year deal for Nowitzki Is one of the options are being considered.

The question now will be what kind of deal will Mark Cuban offer his favorite player, And how low Nowitzki Is willing to go.

Via ESPN:

Nowitzki’s advanced statistics were down from prior seasons, particularly affecting his offensive efficiency thanks to dips in both field goal percentage and free-throw rate. He also only played and 54 games last year, a real concern as the Dallas roster looks to be carried by a player going into his age 39 season.

Paul George disputes the idea that he’s already moved out of his house in Indiana

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Rumors spread on social media this week as moving trucks were found outside of Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George‘s house. But were they really his?

The user posted photos of giant moving trucks outside of a house in George’s neighborhood to Snapchat. People began speculating wildly that George, the subject of trade rumors for the last few weeks, could be on the move.

Now, the Pacers start has taken to Twitter to dispute the moving trucks as his. So whose were they?

According to George, they were there to move his neighbors.

Via Twitter:

Well I guess that settles that.

The other obvious answer is that they were George’s and NBA players simply move to new locations during the summer. Half of the NBA it seems lives in the Los Angeles area come the off-season, or at least train there, so seeing moving trucks outside of his house would not have been an anomaly if you ask me.

We are past the 2017 NBA Draft and still we have no deal for George. But the NBA off-season is long, and free agency is just around the corner. I am sure that we will see a new landing spot for George in the coming months.

Then we can send somebody on over to see if there are moving trucks at his house.

Hornets’ GM slips up, introduces Dwayne Bacon as Dwyane Wade

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It’s a slip that would have made Freud proud.

Charlotte had a good draft night. In the first round, Kentucky shooter Malik Monk fell to them at 11 and they grabbed him. In the second round, they took a smart risk with Florida State wing Dwayne Bacon.

Friday came the usual team press conference with the GM introducing his players and Charlotte GM Rich Cho made a mistake, introducing Bacon as “Dwyane Wade.”

I love Bacon’s reaction.

Cho instantly realized his mistake and laughed it off, then later said: “Actually, I think they have some similarities.” Hornets fans can only hope.