Author: Brett Pollakoff

2015 NBA Draft

Lakers’ selection of D’Angelo Russell with No. 2 pick in NBA Draft causes chaos for Sixers, Knicks


NEW YORK — In the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, the expectation was that Karl-Anthony Towns would go number one overall to the Timberwolves, and that Jahlil Okafor was too talented for the Lakers to pass up at two.

But even if Okafor does eventually evolve into the once in a generation post player that some project, L.A. is in the business of attempting to win now. And with its eyes on landing someone like LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love in free agency, or a disgruntled talent like DeMarcus Cousins in trade from a dysfunctional organization, that bevy of big man options was enough to send the Lakers looking in another direction.

D’Angelo Russell got the call, a 6’5″ point guard who can shoot the three and has as good a chance as anyone in this class of becoming a real star. And once he did, that threw a fairly large wrench into the plans of the Sixers at three, and the domino effect could have been strong enough to remove some very real options the Knicks may have had at four.

“I didn’t know at all, man,” Russell said, when asked if he had any advance notice that he’d be heading to Los Angeles. “I’m still in shock.”

That might be too strong a word to describe the feeling in the war room of the Philadelphia 76ers, but they had to at least be a little bit surprised. Having Okafor still on the board made the choice for Sam Hinkie and company easy, because taking the best available player, regardless of need, is the team’s currently prevailing philosophy.

But the rebuilding Sixers now have a logjam of talented frontcourt players, all of whom would seem to need a healthy dose of minutes in order to speed their development. Nerlens Noel averaged 30.8 minutes per game last season, and Okafor would like to see in the neighborhood of the same. But there’s Joel Embiid to consider, provided the setback he’s experienced with his foot injury doesn’t force him to miss some or all of a second consecutive season.

“Joel Embiid texted me last night and said, ‘See you in Philly,'” Okafor said. “He kind of jinxed me.”

Okafor has said all along that he wasn’t concerned with whether or not he might fall from one of the top two spots on draft night, and reiterated that stance after his fate became known.

“I wasn’t shocked,” Okafor said of ending up with the Sixers. “I knew I was going to be going to the NBA tonight. I was going to be a top-five pick no matter what happened, so I wasn’t shocked.”

Philadelphia needed to grab a guard here, after dealing a reigning Rookie of the Year in Michael Carter-Williams in part because he simply couldn’t shoot. With a seemingly sure thing in Russell now gone, however, and with Emmanuel Mudiay perhaps feeling like too big of a risk, the Sixers are now forced to try to make it work with three potentially franchise-changing big men, perhaps all at the same time.

“It’s not my job to figure it out,” Okafor said. “I’ll just go there and work as hard as I can.”

Similar words were spoken by Kristaps Porzingis, the international seven-footer with the sweet shooting stroke who was mercilessly booed after being selected by the Knicks.

“I mean, a lot of fans weren’t happy that they drafted me, but I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans,” Porzingis said. “For me it’s an honor to be a part of this organization, and I just can’t wait to let the season start and just get to work.”

Porzingis may vey well have ended up in New York because of L.A.’s unexpected choice. Phil Jackson told reporters that he had offers from other teams, but they were all contingent on how the first three picks played out. Had Okafor been gone as had been projected, the Sixers may very well have gone with Porzingis at three if they believed he was the best player left on the board — a possibility which had been previously reported, and one which could have unlocked all kinds of attractive offers for the Knicks.

The result, instead, is chaos in Philadelphia, and uncertainty in New York — all thanks to D’Angelo Russell landing in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis No. 4 in NBA Draft, and fans in attendance were not at all pleased (VIDEO)


NEW YORK — The players selected with the first three picks of the NBA Draft were the ones expected, even if D’Angelo Russell overtook Jahlil Okafor, and ended up going to the Lakers with the No. 2 overall pick.

Karl-Anthony Towns went one to the Timberwolves, which meant that with the early lack of surprises, the Knicks should have had a pretty solid plan as to which way they’d go with the fourth overall selection already in place.

But things remain fluid on draft night, so New York listened to offers to trade down.

Phil Jackson told reporters that he had conversations with other teams, but that any potential offers were contingent on how the first three picks played out.

Since nothing concrete transpired, the Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis at four — and despite the fact that more than one scout has projected him to be the best player in this draft class once all is said and done, the Knicks fans in attendance at Barclays Center were, somewhat predictably, less than pleased.

“I mean, a lot of fans weren’t happy that they drafted me,” Porzingis said afterward. “But I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans.

“There’s nothing I can do,” he continued. “I was happy about it. I want to be a part of this organization, and I know the fans are a little harsh sometimes, but that’s how they are here in New York, and I’m ready for it.”

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

New York Knicks v Atlanta Hawks

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.