Author: Brett Pollakoff

Sam Hinkie Press Conference

Sixers expected to select best player available over need with No. 3 pick in 2015 NBA draft


The Sixers had the slimmest of chances of obtaining as many as three lottery picks in the June 25 NBA Draft, but the ping pong balls bounced unfavorably, and they ended up with only the third overall selection.

That’s still expected to yield a player capable of making an immediate impact, though there are projected to be four or five guys who could do so.

No matter who’s left when it’s Philadelphia’s turn, however, the team is expected to take the best player available — even if that duplicates a skill set that’s already considered to be strong on the Sixers roster.

From Keith Pompey of

It’s hard to build around a cornerstone if you’re not completely certain he’s the cornerstone you want to build around.

That’s the reason why they’ll prefer the best player available over need in the June 25 NBA draft. …

From CSN

“Let’s see how things go,” Hinkie said. “Not only us, but I suspect the Lakers and the Timberwolves and the Knicks, they will do what we all do — spend a lot of time trying to analyze the players that are likely to be available to them. That time may yield different results than what the prognosticators are saying so far.”

If things go as expected, with Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns going in some order to the Timberwolves and the Lakers with the first two picks, then Philadelphia could accomplish both filling a need and selecting one of the best players left by taking D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay. But if one of the bigs remains on the board, then the Sixers would have a more difficult decision to make.

Philadelphia, remember, bailed on their Rookie of the Year point guard in Michael Carter-Williams, mainly because GM Sam Hinkie couldn’t pass up the opportunity to snag another high lottery pick, but also because Carter-Williams couldn’t shoot from three-point distance, and regressed from beyond the arc in his second season with the franchise.

It’s worth noting that Philadelphia, much like the Lakers, plans to use its lottery pick as opposed to trading it to someone else.

“I find that hard to believe,” Hinkie said when asked if the pick could be more valuable to another team than it is to the Sixers. “We are clearly building through the draft. We are trying to find star players that we can move forward with. There may be other teams out there more interested and more committed and interested in that sort of thing, but I doubt it.”

LeBron James was mic’d up during Game 2 win over Hawks (VIDEO)

LeBron James

LeBron James finished with 30 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists in Cleveland’s Game 2 win over the Hawks, and he didn’t only lead by example.

As you might imagine, James was vocal throughout, talking on defense and chatting up his teammates whenever he got the chance.

The best moment might have come near the end of the clip, once the game was already decided. James can be seen telling the injured Kyrie Irving, “I told you I got your back, G,” in a heartwarming display of camaraderie only available to teammates who truly care for each other.

Raptors’ Terrence Ross undergoes ankle surgery

Toronto Raptors vs Chicago Bulls
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The Raptors’ ended the 2015 season in about as disappointing a way as possible, getting swept out of the first round of the playoffs at the hands of the Washington Wizards, and losing the final game of the series by 31 points.

Toronto was supposed to be better this season, and many had them pegged as the third best team in the East behind only the Cavaliers and the Bulls before things got started.

Injuries certainly played a part in the demise, and things fell apart in the second half of the season. Terrence Ross was expected to help the cause, and progress in his third NBA season. But he took a step back in all major statistical categories despite playing in all 82 regular season contests.

Health may or may not have been a factor where Ross was concerned. But now that the offseason has begun, Ross took care of an ankle issue by undergoing surgery.

From the official release:

The Toronto Raptors announced Saturday forward-guard Terrence Ross underwent surgery yesterday in Van Nuys, California to remove bone spurs and loose bodies from his left ankle. The procedure was performed by Dr. Richard Ferkel at the Southern California Orthopaedic Institute.

Ross will conduct his rehabilitation in Toronto. No timetable has been set for a return to basketball activities.

Ross was inconsistent at best last season. Here’s hoping that if injury issues were holding him back, this surgery begins the process of getting him healthy in advance of next season.

Lakers GM: If free agents don’t choose L.A. because of Kobe Bryant, ‘we don’t want them. You should go someplace else.’

kobe mitch

The notion that free agents haven’t been willing to come to the Lakers in recent seasons because they don’t want to play with Kobe Bryant was brought up near the beginning of the season, but has been refuted by plenty of star players since.

The reality is that the only star-caliber players who have changed teams lately had very specific reasons for doing so. LeBron James was never going anywhere but back home to Cleveland, Carmelo Anthony stayed in New York to get the maximum amount of money allowed, and L.A.’s poor treatment and marginalization of Pau Gasol the past two years had him ready and willing to play somewhere (or perhaps anywhere) else.

Bryant has one year remaining on his contract, and though he’s expected to be healthy at the beginning of next season, no one can predict how long that will last. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said that Bryant hasn’t indicated that he will play beyond next season, but also mentioned that if Bryant’s presence is seen as a deterrent by free agents considering Los Angeles, then he doesn’t want them, and they should go play somewhere else.

From Baxter Holmes of

Kupchak was also asked if it’s important for free agents to have clarity on Bryant’s future plans with the Lakers, particularly if they’re wary of joining the team while Bryant is still playing, a notion that has been reported in recent years.

“I think it is clear,” Kupchak said. “He’s on the last year of his deal. There have been no discussions [about playing beyond next season]. He hasn’t indicated that he wants to continue to play.

“But if there is a player out there like that, that won’t come here for that reason, then we don’t want them. Every great player is demanding and focused, and if you don’t want to play for a guy like him that’s driven to do nothing but win championships and work hard, then you shouldn’t be here. You should go someplace else.”

This has been the stance the Lakers have taken all along, and they are right to do so.

Dwight Howard famously clashed with Bryant, and took less money to play for the Rockets. He may not have wanted to play with Bryant any longer, but I believe he left more because he couldn’t take the pressure of being the face of the franchise in a major market like Los Angeles once Bryant was gone.

That’s one example of the type of player the Lakers can’t afford to sign to a long-term, max-money deal as they look to reshape the franchise into a contender in the future. There certainly are others. But the Lakers organization needs a strong-willed star to carry it into its next era of greatness, and someone who would bristle at Kobe’s level of commitment or competitiveness simply isn’t a match.

Kent Bazemore after Hawks are blown out in Game 2: ‘I still think we’re the better team’

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One

After the Hawks were blown out in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, at least one of their players still believes.

While dropping the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home has put Atlanta in a severe hole, especially when considering the injuries the team is dealing with, Kent Bazemore said he still feels like his Hawks are the better squad, and possess the ability to play much better to try to get back into the series.

From Brian Windhorst of

“We played them in the regular season this year and got the best of them,” Bazemore said in reference to the Hawks’ 3-1 record against the Cavs this past season. “I still think we’re the better team. We just haven’t shown it yet.”

Bazemore scored seven points in 12 minutes off the bench and spent some time guarding LeBron James, who scored 30 points with 11 assists and nine rebounds.

“The bright side is we haven’t played well the first two games. We still think we’re the better team. We’ll try to get two up in Cleveland,” Bazemore said. “We’ve got to play angry.”

Hopefully this is simply a motivational tactic from Bazemore. Because if he truly believes this, then he’s completely delusional.

As we mentioned in the Game 2 recap, these Hawks are hell and gone from the dominating team that won 40 of its first 48 games of the regular season. Atlanta no longer shares the ball offensively the way it used to, when the team’s equal-opportunity offense was, for long stretches, seemingly impossible to stop.

DeMarre Carroll was completely ineffective in Game 2 as he played through a knee injury, and Kyle Korver left with an injury of his own that has his status in doubt for Game 3. These facts alone would make Bazemore’s claim seem silly. But when adding in the results of the first two games, it makes his statement patently false, and downright ridiculous.