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PBT Awards: Executive of the Year

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Kurt Helin

1. Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets

2. Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics

3. Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz

This award is usually won in July, and that’s when Morey won it — not with simply the Chris Paul trade, but with the moves around it, such as getting P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute, that fit perfectly around the stars to create a deep team that could challenge the Warriors. Danny Ainge looks brilliant now with the roster he put together, despite injuries (although the book is still out on some of his moves, such as how good Markelle Fultz will be and what happens with the Brooklyn pick). Also, the Jazz lost Gordon Hayward for nothing in free agency, yet smart moves (led by the Donovan Mitchell trade, and moving on from Rodney Hood and getting Jae Crowder, who has played well in Utah) means they will win just about as many games as they did the season before.

Dan Feldman

1. Daryl Morey, Rockets

2. Dennis Lindsey, Jazz

3. Kevin Pritchard, Pacers

Daryl Morey lured Chris Paul in a creative opt-in-and-trade that required the 32-year-old to delay locking into a long-term deal – an incredible accomplishment in its own right. The Rockets general manager also convinced James Harden, this season’s clear MVP, to sign a  contract extension (easier, considering the price). To top it off, Morey rounded out a roster capable of challenging the Warriors with the savvy signings of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker. In one summer, Houston went from a good team to a championship contender.

Dennis Lindsey found a franchise-changer in Donovan Mitchell with the No. 13 pick in the draft, which alone might have earned second place here. But Lindsey’s other additions – Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko, Ekpe Udoh, an unearthed-out-of-nowhere Royce O’Neal and Jae Crowder – have helped build a team capable of making Utah forget about Gordon Hayward.

Kevin Pritchard was dealt a tough hand when Paul George made clear his desire to leave Indiana, and Pritchard got someone who might be even more valuable in Victor Oladipo. Even if he didn’t realize how good Oladipo would be, Pritchard chose to bet on Oladipo. So, Pritchard gets the credit for how that has paid off.

The Celtics’ Danny Ainge did well to acquire stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward and potential future star Jayson Tatum – even if Boston won’t reap the rewards this year. Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis were strong under-the-radar signings. But Ainge was operating from a position of strength entering the summer, so his moves must be judged accordingly when assessing only this year. Tom Thibodeau got a massive head-start with the Jimmy Butler trade, but the Andrew Wiggins extension is enough to keep the Timberwolves president off the ballot.

Kelly Oubre: Raptors’ Delon Wright ‘doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home’

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Delon Wright made some big plays down the stretch to help the Raptors to a Game 5 win over the Wizards last night. With Toronto up 3-2 in the first-round series and the home team winning the first five games, Game 6 is tomorrow in Washington.

Oubre, via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

“The next game is a different story. We’re back at home. Just like Delon doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home,” Oubre said, sharing inspiration coupled with a touch of an insult. “You can kind of chalk it up as the same story.”

Wright decided not to escalate the conflict when reporters asked him about it.

Wright has been much better in Toronto than Washington in this series. His average game score is 14.7 at home and 5.7 on the road.

But that’s such a small sample. During the regular season, there wasn’t nearly such a big split between Wright’s average game score at home (8.4) and on the road (6.9).

For what it’s worth, Oubre has a somewhat similar home-road average-game-score split, both in this series (9.4 at home, 6.3 on the road) and during the regular season (8.1 at home, 7.5 on the road). Which Oubre basically acknowledged in his diss of Wright/self-own.

This is pretty typical Oubre – hyper-competitive verging on out of control. It’s fun regardless.

Let’s just say he’s right, though, and the Wizards win Game 6. Game 7 would be Sunday in Toronto, where, by Oubre’s own admission, Wright plays well and the Raptors are undefeated in the postseason. Then what?

Rumor: Bulls expected to wait until 2019 for free-agency splash

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The Bulls tanked so hard this year, the NBA warned them to cut it out. It was a rare instance of the league responding to actual tanking measures rather than just talk of preferring to lose.

Bulls executive John Paxson, via Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

“We did this year what we felt was in the longterm best interests of the Bulls,” Paxson said. “It’s not a situation that any of us want to ever be in again; it goes against everything as a competitive person that you believe in; but it’s the way the system is set up.”

Chicago could try to turn around quickly. The Bulls project to have about $25 million in cap space this summer – enough to land a good player or two.

Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago:

The assumption in league circles is the Bulls will wait until 2019 to make their big move when players like Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving could be on the market, and might consider signing with the Bulls after watching another year of development from LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn.

This is the wise course. It’s unlikely Chicago can lure anyone good enough to lift such a young core quickly. The Bulls are better off remaining patient – and bad, which will net another high draft pick as Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn develop.

This is also probably the course thrust upon Chicago. Even if they wanted to, the Bulls probably can’t land a premier free agent this summer. Star free agents can see the same problems with Chicago trying for a quick fix and will likely avoid the situation.

There’d be no harm in trying for top free agents like LeBron James or even Paul George. But the Bulls will probably be relegated to 2019 if they want to sign someone meaningful. Better they realize that than make a desperate attempt for relevance this year.

Rich Cho on Trail Blazers getting swept: ‘Being a previous Portland GM, that didn’t disappoint me’

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In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.

Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.

John Canzano of The Oregonian:

That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.

Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.

Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

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Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.