Author: Brett Pollakoff

New York Knicks v Atlanta Hawks

Report: Knicks trade Tim Hardaway Jr. to Atlanta for Jerian Grant, Hawks trade Kelly Oubre to Wizards


NEW YORK — The Hawks made two separate draft night trades, and didn’t end up with a single first round pick when all was said and done.

They did, however, end up with Tim Hardaway Jr. from the Knicks, and two future second-round picks from the Wizards.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Washington has traded for No. 15 and will select Kelly Oubre, sources tell Yahoo.

Washington will send Atlanta the No. 19 pick tonight and two future second-round picks for Kelly Oubre, league source tell Yahoo.

The Knicks are trading Tim Hardaway to the Hawks, who will draft Jerian Grant for the Knicks, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.

If Oubre was the guy Washington had pegged all along, then the price of two future second-round picks that the team chose to pay in order to get him was extremely reasonable.

As for Hardaway, he could be a nice young rotation piece for Atlanta — he’s a capable defender who averaged 11.5 points in 24 minutes per contest for the Knicks last season, and while his shooting percentage took a dip to just 38.9 percent in his second season, he could very well have much more open looks while playing in Atlanta’s motion-heavy, equal opportunity offense.

Not a bad haul for Atlanta, especially when considering how desperately they lacked consistent scoring from their bench unit all season long. And, Hardaway’s salary for next season ($1.3 million) is less than what the Hawks would have had to pay the 15th overall pick ($1.54 million), so the deal winds up looking pretty shrewd from Atlanta’s standpoint, as the team will need as much cap space as possible to attempt to re-sign Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll in free agency this summer.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor say post-playing big men can still be effective in today’s NBA


NEW YORK — The players expected to be taken with the first two picks in Thursday’s NBA Draft have the potential to be franchise-changing big men, even in a league that seems to be moving away from their style of play and into a new era of basketball.

The Golden State Warriors just completed an historically great season, and did so by having versatile players in the lineup who used their high level of athleticism to play stifling team defense. On the offensive end of the floor, the three-point shot was the weapon of choice, and a shift to a smaller lineup was what gave the Cavaliers fits in the later stages of the NBA Finals, and allowed the Warriors to take control and secure a title for the first time in 40 years.

But despite the shift in how plenty of teams will look to operate because of the success we’ve seen in Golden State, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor both believe that the back-to-the-basket bigs will continue to have a place in the league for years to come.

“I think [post play] can be effective because it’s still an art,” Towns said. “It’s still something that needs to be done. You still need the big man to do the dirty work, and also change up the philosophy of the defense. Everything’s a chess match. Everything has a counter. Having a player play with his back to the basket changes up the game, because it changes up the way you look at the offense and the way you have to play defense. The spacing it creates, also, is awesome.”

In the Finals, the winning move on the chess board was to bench Andrew Bogut, who had started in all but two of his 166 appearances for the Warriors over the last three regular seasons. Okafor, however, sees that as the exception, and not the rule.

“Because it’s always been effective,” Okafor said, when asked why he believes post play can still be featured offensively. “It was one series of Golden State playing small ball. Big men have always been effective in the NBA.”

“I have no doubts about my scoring ability in the NBA,” he added.

If league-wide changes are in store, Towns believes they’ll be based on genetics rather than teams simply choosing to move toward a style that was proven to be successful most recently.

“For me, I don’t see the league changing, I see us as humans changing,” Towns said. “I’m watching the other day, seventh-graders are putting their heads at the rim dunking. I didn’t see that when I was back in my day, which is not too long ago.

“When I was back in seventh grade I had never seen a kid put his head at the rim dunking with ease, windmills, through the legs. Humans are changing. We’re getting quicker, faster, stronger — more precise. The league isn’t changing, but this new crop of talent, this new generation of talent is changing the way the league is played because of how explosive, how fast, how quick we are all becoming.”

Both Towns and Okafor have done the majority of their damage inside to this point of their budding careers, and both are expected to make an immediate impact at the professional level. Okafor is seen as already having an elite offensive skill set, but will need to improve defensively. Towns is viewed by most as having better all-around tools, and his passing and shot-blocking ability make him a two-way threat with more upside, which gives Minnesota plenty of reasons to have him slotted in as a potential number one overall selection.

But Towns wouldn’t get caught hyping his own chances.

“It’s not about why do I believe I should be [the No. 1 pick],” he said. “I just know that I’ve put a lot of work into the game, a lot of hours of quality, great work, working on my body and on my craft. No matter where I go, I know that I have the confidence in me that I feel that I’d be (the one) helping my teammates the most.”

Phil Jackson doubtful Knicks have the assets necessary to trade for DeMarcus Cousins

Phil Jackson

The Knicks are expected to keep the fourth overall pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, as opposed to including it in a trade to move down to possibly get a veteran who could provide immediate help alongside a lower-rated first-round prospect.

Phil Jackson, of course, would like to inject more immediate life into the organization. But after last season’s fire sale that saw New York get rid of everyone relevant not named Carmelo Anthony, there simply aren’t enough enticing players in place to deal for one of the league’s star players — like DeMarcus Cousins, for example — and Jackson knows that.

From Peter Botte of the New York Daily News:

Jackson doubted the Knicks will have enough assets to be in play for available All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins of Sacramento.

“I wouldn’t want to talk about that. I don’t think it’s fair to disclose that,” Jackson said. “Sacramento’s gone through changes. They changed their front office personnel. We’re aware of the situation. We understand the possibilities. We’re just going to see what falls out.

“We don’t know if we have enough stuff to even be in the talk, but we’re aware of what’s going on.”

It’s unclear if being “aware” of the potential rift between Cousins and Kings head coach George Karl is due to the widely-publicized media reports, or if Jackson knows more due to information gleaned via talks with those in the Kings front office.

But he’s right in that New York simply has nothing of value to give in order to get back a player with Cousins’ capabilities.

Report: Celtics will continue push to trade for DeMarcus Cousins through NBA Draft

Danny Ainge

The Sacramento Kings, from owner Vivek Ranadive to newly-installed president of basketball operations Vlade Divac, continue to insist that DeMarcus Cousins is not available via trade.

But with rumors swirling and reports discussing an allegedly fractured relationship between Cousins and head coach George Karl — and with Cousins not-so-cryptically confirming that an issue does indeed exist — teams are going to continue to come calling with offers.

The Celtics are among them, and though GM Danny Ainge has already been shot down at least once, he’s expected to continue to keep trying to pry Cousins away right on through Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Greg Dickerson of (via Jay King at MassLive):

I’ve been told that even w continuous no’s from sactown, Danny will continue to push them for a DeMarcus Cousins deal Through draft day

Boston has stockpiled a ridiculous amount of draft picks precisely for a moment like this, when a disgruntled All-Star in a bad situation is on the verge of forcing his way out. The problem, though, is that Sacramento under George Karl wants to win now, and would rather have productive veterans in return in order to make a playoff push as early as next season.

The Kings can continue their public stance that Cousins isn’t up for grabs, and it’s the smart way to play things to receive the most lucrative trade offers possible. But whether it’s true or it isn’t, those offers will continue to roll in until draft night is finished, and it appears as though the Celtics will be continue to be aggressive in trying to get something done.

Emmanuel Mudiay appears in four Foot Locker spots in advance of NBA Draft (VIDEO)

World Select Team v USA Junior National Select Team

Emmanuel Mudiay is expected to be a top-10 selection in Thursday’s NBA Draft, and could potentially go even higher. But he’s already getting the star treatment courtesy of the folks at Foot Locker.

The sneaker retailer released four spots with Mudiay as the centerpiece, all of which are light-hearted looks at the before and after life of a player who goes from prospect to professional.

This one, where Mudiay’s brother gets a sudden promotion once the draft has been completed, is the best of the bunch.