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Here is the list of international players who have withdrawn their names from consideration for the NBA Draft 2017 presented by State Farm: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

After Kyrie Irving trade, here are five biggest threats to Warriors

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Let’s be honest: The blockbuster Kyrie Irving trade to the Boston Celtics likely means the NBA Finals goes five games instead of four.

The Golden State Warriors can be that good. They won 67 games last season with the NBA’s top offense and second-ranked defense, now they have been in the system for a year as a unit, know each other better, and made some good offseason additions. The Warriors will be better. And they still have Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. The Warriors are the clear favorites to repeat as NBA champions.

But life rarely follows the script. So who are the biggest threats to the Warriors? Here are the top five.

1) The Houston Rockets. Houston won 55 games last season with the NBA’s second-ranked offense and a style of play that can hang with the Warriors — then they added Chris Paul to the mix. Plus GM Daryl Morey added quality veteran wing defenders such as P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute, guys picked up in part to match up with the Warriors firepower. On paper, Houston is the NBA’s second best team and the one best poised to challenge the Warriors. It’s fair to wonder if Chris Paul and James Harden can share the backcourt and the ball — and if they can find a tempo that works for them — but coach Mike D’Antoni isn’t worried. It’s also fair to question if this team can be good enough defensively, even though they added good defenders. Still, the Rockets are a threat and a contender.

2) The Cleveland Cavaliers. The reason they are here is not the trade, it’s LeBron James. He remains the best player on the planet (although Durant is close). But the trade helps. In terms of pure offensive production, Isaiah Thomas matched or even bested Irving last season, IT is an All-NBA player for a reason. Also, the Cavaliers pick up the kind of “3&D” wing they have desperately needed in Jae Crowder. And if another player they really want/need comes available, they have assets in Ante Zizic and that Brooklyn first round pick to get him. Cleveland gets this spot because they are the clear favorite to win the East again, and if they are back in the Finals they have a shot despite an aging roster. The Cavs have beaten the Warriors in the Finals before.

3) The Boston Celtics. Admittedly, there is a bit of a drop off after those first two. I see Boston as more of a threat in two seasons (2018-19) and beyond, but after this trade they have quality players at key positions — Irving at the point, Gordon Hayward on the wing, and Al Horford in the paint. Boston also has one of the best coaches in the league in Brad Stevens, who will put Irving in better situations (so long as Irving buys in and doesn’t just force isolation action, as he did at times in Cleveland). What Boston needs is guys like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to develop, and Marcus Smart to step up, to become real contenders. They also need to show they can defend, they traded away some of their best defenders this summer. That and a stronger defensive presence in the paint. All that said, Boston has a legitimate shot to beat Cleveland and come out of the East, and if they reach the Finals, then the Celtics at least have a puncher’s chance against the Warriors.

4) The San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs won 55 games last season, had the best defense in the NBA, and with Kawhi Leonard they have their own superstar. The Spurs are going to execute and make plays. They will miss the depth that Dewayne Dedmon and Jonathon Simmons brought, but they added the scoring punch of Rudy Gay off the bench. What we know is the Spurs will not beat themselves, that they will be in the hunt, and we should know by now not to sleep on them.

5) The Oklahoma City Thunder. I think this is a dark horse contender. What we know is that the Thunder should be a top five defensive team — they were 10th in the NBA last season, they brought back their core guys (Andre Roberson and Steven Adams are key here), and they added an excellent wing defender to the mix in Paul George. The Thunder will get stops. If George and Russell Westbrook can figure out how to play well together on the offensive end — last season the Thunder were middle of the pack offensively with the Westbrook show — and get in the top 10, they become a team that could surprise some people.

Thon Maker, all 7’1″ of him, sat in economy class to get flight going

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If you are six-foot or taller, economy class on a modern airline feels cramped. But at least the airlines make up for it with a delicious full meal a bag of peanuts and a free movie.

Can you imagine a 7’1″ guy in economy?

The Bucks’ Thon Maker did it on a recent United flight and the passenger next to him Paul Kuzma posted about it on Facebook (hat tip to onmilwaukee.com).

Well, a missed #United flight found me on a rebooked one. After ending up in an upgraded Economy Plus (yay!) middle seat (not so yay!), volunteers were asked one by one, row by row, if one would relocate to the last row of the plane, middle seat….

My heart leapt again when I came to the last row and BOTH the middle AND aisle seats were open! I stowed my gear in the middle seat area but sat in the aisle seat, hoping.

Alas, it was too good to be true! Moments later, a 7’1″ tall young man who could not even stand completely straight in the aisle of the plane made his way our direction. My heart sunk, not for me, but for him! I saw him emerge from an Economy Plus window seat!

I told him I was so sorry, knowing this would be uncomfortable for him. He nonchalantly said it was worth it to get this delayed flight going. He had practice to attend in the morning and had a 2+ hour drive to get where he was headed after landing….

I had to ask how in the world he ended up in the last row. He also had missed a flight and was rebooked on this one. He was assigned his original FIRST CLASS seat. He had settled in there when a flight attendant told him the person who had paid for that seat on THIS flight had shown up, albeit very late. They had to move him to Economy Plus.

Once there for a while, his story mirrors mine. Requests were being made for someone to move to the last row and no one was volunteering. So he volunteered, wanting the flight to begin.

He couldn’t even fit his knees into the Economy seat! Every time the snack cart came by or someone had to use the restroom, he had to get up and move out of their way.

The entire flight, there was not a hint of resentment in his voice. He was even happy to allow me a picture with him and an autograph. Class act, Thon!

Somewhere a cranky old NBA player is saying “we always used to have to fly commercial…” and sorry old man, but that doesn’t make it easy or right. There’s a reason NBA teams moved away from that (and it wasn’t to save money).

Good on Maker for being willing to sacrifice when plenty of other normal-sized people couldn’t be bothered.

And if the name Kuzma is familiar, the author says his is the second cousin once removed of the Lakers’ rookie Kyle Kuzma.

PBT Podcast: Breaking down the Kyrie Irving trade

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Is LeBron James more likely to stay in Cleveland now?

Are the Boston Celtics contenders? Are they better set up for the future?

There are a lot more questions that come out of the surprise Kyrie Irving trade to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick. It’s a deal that is a big win for Cleveland, they got more than they should have expected in return. However, this is in no way a bad deal for the Celtics.

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break it all down in this latest PBT Podcast.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (just click the button under the podcast), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Report: Clippers reach deal with Michael Winger to be new GM

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We knew this was coming, now it’s about to be official.

Former Oklahoma City Thunder assistant GM Michael Winger is about to take over as the general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers. They offered him the job last week, now the sides have agreed to terms, and he will sign a deal soon, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Oklahoma City Thunder executive Michael Winger has reached an agreement in principle to become the general manager of the LA Clippers, league sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

Doc Rivers is no longer the guy with the hammer in Los Angeles, he will just be coaching the Clippers (and still getting $10 million a year paychecks, in case you think he’ll just walk away). The power structure now has Lawrence Frank at the top as the President of Basketball Operations, with Winger doing to work under him. The Clippers are expected to hire Trent Redden, one of David Griffin’s former right hand men in Cleveland, to work under Winger as an assistant GM. The Clippers also are expected to hire another assistant GM soon.

Frank, Winger and crew take over a team in transition. Chris Paul is gone, but the Clippers locked up Blake Griffin on a max deal this summer, they got a good veteran point guard in Patrick Beverley from Houston, and they signed Danilo Gallinari. They picked up some good young players in the CP3 trade such as Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker (who they now need to develop). The Clippers should be in the mix for one of the final three playoff slots in the West next season, but that doesn’t answer the bigger picture questions. Are the Clippers a team rebuilding for the future on the fly? Are they looking to stay good and relevant until they can get their new building in Inglewood constructed? Are they a year or two away from a total rebuild?

Steve Ballmer ultimately gets to make that call. It will be up to Winger to execute it.