Author: Brett Pollakoff

2014 NBA Draft

NBA Draft green room invites expected to go out to at least 20 players

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The NBA invites players to attend the draft every year, obviously, because otherwise we wouldn’t have those stellar photo opportunities of gangly ballers dressed in suits with a team cap on their heads shaking the commissioner’s hand.

Those with green room access can give us a glimpse as to where certain guys are projected to go, especially in the later positions of the draft’s first round.

Thanks to Andy Katz of, we have a preliminary look at the list.

The NBA is expected to invite at least 20 players to the draft Thursday in Brooklyn, with as many as three from national champion Duke, two from national runner-up Wisconsin and four representing 38-1 Kentucky, multiple sources with knowledge of the list said.

Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones will be in attendance, sources said. So, too, will Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, as well as Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker. …

Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell, expected to be picked in the top four, as well as 7-foot-1 Latvian Kristaps Porzingis also will be in attendance, sources said. …

Emmanuel Mudiay, who is from Dallas, signed at SMU but instead chose to play professionally in China, is also a lottery lock and a candidate to be picked among the top five. He joins Arizona’s Stanley Johnson, Texas’ Myles Turner, Murray State’s Cameron Payne and Kansas’ Kelly Oubre as invitees, sources said.

The rest of the invites, according to multiple sources, are expected to be Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arkansas’ Bobby Portis, Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant.

Nothing earth-shattering, here, as every name listed is widely-projected to be a first-round selection.

The best is actually when players attend without an invite, and walk down from the stands after hearing their name called, sometimes not until the middle or the end of the second round.

Little kid gets bucket on DeMarcus Cousins (VIDEO)

DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins is known for being, shall we say, less than pleasant to be around during the majority of time he spends playing professional basketball.

But once the pressures of being the best player on the perennially terrible Sacramento Kings are no longer weighing on him in the offseason, he’s able to have a good time just like anyone else.

This took place at a Nike basketball camp in Taiwan that Cousins was hosting a couple of weeks back.

Report: Spurs may agree to ‘wink-wink’ deal with Tim Duncan in order to save salary cap space

Gregg Popovich

The San Antonio Spurs have as much uncertainty as just about anyone heading into next season. And before any of it can begin to be sorted out, the team is waiting on decisions from Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili as to whether they’re interested in continuing their careers, or if retirement is finally the more appealing option.

Ginobili has indicated he’ll be back if Duncan returns, and it’s looking more and more likely that Duncan will come back, if only for one additional season.

If that happens, then the Spurs are going to have to get pretty creative in how they structure those contracts, since both Duncan and Ginobili are, at the moment, unrestricted free agents. Here’s one interesting scenario that shows how it might work out.

From Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News:

There are several NBA player personnel executives who believe the Spurs will offer Duncan a two-year contract that begins between $6 million and $7 million, with a partial guarantee and a player option in the second season.

If Duncan doesn’t exercise the option, he gets, say, 50 percent of that season’s salary. In effect, his salary for next season would remain over $10 million, the partially guaranteed portion of the second season’s salary remaining on the Spurs team salary after the cap explodes with the NBA’s new TV money kicking in for 2016-17.

“You can call it a ‘wink-wink’ deal if you want to,” said an Eastern Conference team executive.” It’s what they did with (Antonio) McDyess, so why not for Duncan.”

Duncan’s cap hold is slightly more than $15.5 million so such a two-year deal would drop their team salary by more than $8 million.

Obviously, a similar deal could be reached with Ginobili, as well.

The problem for the Spurs exists in the form of cap holds, which prevent teams from going out and signing free agents while still retaining the rights to the players on a fully stacked roster. Even though San Antonio technically only has five players currently inked to guaranteed deals for next season, the rules require that the salaries of 12 players (with projected increases over the previous season) remain in place for cap purposes.

The “wink-wink deal” would only be illegal if it could be proven that there was an agreement in place ahead of time that this would, in fact, be Duncan’s final season. Since that’s essentially impossible to do, credit the Spurs for having a creative ability to get things done to their advantage — if this is how the contract negotiations with Duncan and/or Ginobili ultimately play out.

Report: Paul Pierce ‘is set on playing’ next season


After the Wizards suffered what was a crushing Game 6 loss to the Hawks, one that eliminated them from the second round of the playoffs, Paul Pierce said he was unsure if he’d play basketball in the future.

The emotional toll of it all was becoming too much for Pierce, who had just completed his 17th NBA season. And even though he has a player option on a deal to stay in Washington for one more year, retirement was clearly something that was looking like a very real possibility.

But now that Pierce has had time to reflect, it appears as though he’s ready to return next season.

From Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post:

Paul Pierce has until the end of June to decide whether he will exercise his $5.5 million player option and return for a second season with the Washington Wizards.

Pierce candidly revealed he wasn’t sure about his basketball future minutes after he heaved a last-gasp three-pointer to extend the Wizards’ season a tick of a second too late. He indicated retiring was a possibility, but a month later Pierce is set on playing next season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The question becomes, where?

Pierce has been a great fit in Washington, a veteran voice alongside budding stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal who can still produce in the game’s biggest moments. But evidently, returning home to play in Los Angeles and reuniting with Doc Rivers to make a run with the Clippers is something Pierce is considering.

Pierce would likely need to take less money to sign in L.A., unless a two-year deal that was fully guaranteed exceeded his potential Wizards salary for next season. But even though they play in the more challenging Western Conference, it’s easy to argue that the Clippers have championship potential with the core of their roster, and adding someone like Pierce to the mix could be the piece that pushes them over the edge.

Sixers CEO expects to get an answer on Joel Embiid ‘in a couple of weeks’

2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

When the Sixers selected Joel Embiid with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, it marked the second straight year that the team grabbed a player it knew would sit out his entire rookie season due to injury.

Philadelphia’s strategy worked out just fine with Nerlens Noel, who looked great last season after missing all of 2013. And, the fact that he was unavailable helped the Sixers bottom out to the point where they were able to land Embiid in the first place.

But drafting injured players is fairly risky business. The Sixers are seeing that now with Embiid, who suffered a setback with his foot injury that may force him to miss a second straight season.

The team is hoping to get confirmation one way or another in the next couple of weeks.

From Keith Pompey of

“We’re still waiting,” [Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil] said. “We have another three doctors to come see him. The nice thing about jobs like these – you can literally get the best experts in the world. All you have to do is call and they love to see us.”

He added that the franchise could get an answer about the 7-foot center’s future in “a couple of weeks.” …

“We’re trying to figure out with a 21-year-old how do you focus wholly on long-term health and wellness and make sure he’s OK,” O’Neil said. “So what we’re doing now is seeing experts, the best experts from around the world, to make sure we make the right decisions with him and his family and do the best.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Embiid’s updated status has any effect on the team’s plans in the June 25 NBA Draft. The Sixers have the third overall pick, and for weeks it was believed that D’Angelo Russell would be their choice, assuming Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor go one and two as expected.

But the 7’1″ Kristaps Porzingis has recently been slotted in as a realistic selection for Philadelphia, which makes you wonder if Embiid’s situation is internally feared to be a worst-case scenario.