Author: Brett Pollakoff

Ohio State v Indiana

Report: Sixers to select D’Angelo Russell in 2015 NBA Draft


The NBA Draft is two months away, and we won’t know the order of who picks where until the lottery is held on May 19.

But it’s fun to guess which teams might be targeting certain players before then, and we have one report that has the Sixers already settled on someone for their first-round selection.

From Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The thought around the NBA is that the 76ers hope to select D’Angelo Russell in the NBA draft, according to a league executive.

“He’s the guy they want,” the executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Saturday. “That’s the word around the league. You know the Sixers. They won’t come out and say it, but he’s the guy they want.”

The executive said the team might have to nab one of the top two selections at the draft lottery on May 19 to get the former Ohio State combo guard.

The Sixers finished with the league’s third-worst record, which guarantees them a pick of no worse than sixth. They have a 15.6 percent chance of moving up to land the number one overall pick through the draft lottery process.

Even if the Philadelphia brass has put this information out there, there’s little reason to believe in it 100 percent. There’s a lot of misinformation planted in order for teams to position themselves for trades leading up to the draft, and though the Sixers might indeed have an affinity for Russell at this time, where they end up picking will have a lot to do with whether or not he’s the player they ultimately select.

Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.0 assists while shooting 41.1 percent from three-point distance in his final college season at Ohio State. The shooting is what likely has Sixers GM Sam Hinkie intrigued the most, considering it was among the reasons he traded reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams earlier this season.

LaMarcus Aldridge flew back to Portland after Game 2 loss while rest of Blazers stayed in Memphis

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three

LaMarcus Aldridge will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and although it was believed for much of the season that he’d simply re-sign with the Blazers, there have been recent rumblings that he may seriously consider playing somewhere else.

One anonymous teammate put his odds of returning at no better than 50-50, while another report had the Spurs as a team that could possibly in the mix for his services.

To this point, all of the chatter has come from various unnamed sources. But for those looking to read the tea leaves to see what might truly lie in store, a decision Aldridge recently made might provide some additional clarification.

From Jason Quick of The Oregonian:

There is unease about the future of LaMarcus Aldridge, who will become a free agent on July 1. ESPN’s Chris Broussard on Saturday reported that he asked Aldridge if Portland is his No. 1 choice. Broussard said Aldridge smiled and said “We’ll see.”

And after Game 2 in Memphis, Olshey gave the team the option to stay the night and fly home on the team charter, or return to Portland on their own.

Take it for what it’s worth, but only one player wasn’t on the team charter: Aldridge.

“I didn’t want to stay in that hotel one more night,” Aldridge said on Saturday. “So I bought my own ticket and flew home.”

Having stayed in Memphis hotels, I don’t halfway blame Aldridge for wanting to get back to Portland as soon as possible. But it also doesn’t scream brotherhood, or togetherness, either.

It was an odd choice by Aldridge, if only because it was one that isolated him from the rest of his teammates.

This may, of course, mean nothing at all. Or, it could be yet another sign that Aldridge has one foot out the door, and might only have one game left as a member of the Blazers franchise.

Mark Cuban shouts at Adam Silver to complain about foul calls during Mavericks’ Game 3 loss to Rockets

Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers

After Dallas dropped Game 3 at home to the Rockets, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle ripped the officiating through the media.

During the game, however, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban delivered the message directly to the commissioner himself.

Near the end of the regular season, Cuban was critical of the way Monta Ellis was being officiated, and said it was “criminal” how Ellis doesn’t get the calls on drives to the basket. He met with commissioner Adam Silver in person to review film and get some clarification, but evidently whatever was explained to him wasn’t being enforced to his satisfaction.

From Tim MacMahon of

During the fourth quarter, Cuban made a point to express his displeasure to commissioner Adam Silver, who was seated next to the midcourt tunnel. Cuban briefly exited the floor after an offensive foul called against Mavs forward Al-Farouq Aminu, walking from his baseline seat by the Mavs’ bench into the midcourt tunnel, glaring at Silver and shaking his head as he walked by the commissioner. When Cuban returned moments later, he complained to Silver, shouting over press row as he walked.

“That’s exactly what we talked about!” Cuban shouted. …

Cuban said the following week that he traveled to New York to review film with Silver, NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn and other league officials regarding the rule of verticality for defensive players.

Cuban has long had a crusade against the inconsistent way with which the game is officiated, so this latest outburst shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

But one or two calls not going your way, during a game where the fouls were even at 28 apiece — and one in which the Mavericks were awarded seven more free throw attempts — really shouldn’t be a source of this much consternation.

MORE: Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle fined $25K for public criticism of officials after Game 3 loss

Nets use 18-0 second-half run to secure Game 3 victory over Hawks

Brook Lopez

NEW YORK — The Hawks came into Game 3 having won the first two games of their first-round series against the Nets, just as a 60-win team facing one that finished the year six games below .500 should.

But this isn’t the same Atlanta squad that won 40 of its first 48 games of the season, and as evident as that was during those first two victories that were more closely-contested than expected, that fact became crystallized during Saturday’s demoralizing loss.

“I think they came out with a lot of energy and a lot of activity, and maybe forced some turnovers,” Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said afterward. “And I don’t think our rhythm, our pace and all the things we do … I don’t think we started well, and they had something to do with that.”

The Nets jumped on the Hawks early, getting out to a first quarter lead of as many as 15 points. Brooklyn had given back all of it after halftime, however, and trailed by four with under three minutes to play in the third.

But the Hawks’ lack of execution returned at the worst possible time.

An 18-0 run from late in the third until midway through the fourth proved to be the difference, and Brooklyn held on for a 91-83 victory to cut their deficit in the series to two games to one.

The slow start was less than ideal, especially against a Nets team that played well enough in Atlanta to nearly steal Game 2 on the road. But the problems with the Hawks run much deeper than that.

The crisp level of ball movement that Atlanta dazzled with during the first part of the season has disappeared far too often in the playoffs. And that is of much greater concern to the top-seeded Hawks than allowing the Nets a glimmer of hope by letting them back into this series.

Jeff Teague, who was 4-of-13 from the field to finish with 13 points, six assists and four turnovers, believes his team is a long way away from playing the elite style of basketball we saw during the regular season.

“Very far,” he said, when asked how far away the Hawks were from the best basketball they played earlier in the year. “We’re not playing well at all. We’re due for a game, so hopefully next game we’ll get back to our normal self.”

Kyle Korver was limited to just two points on 1-of-8 shooting, which included going 0-for-5 from three-point distance. After being such a key component in the first two games of this series, the Nets stifled him in Game 3 — despite Lionel Hollins at one point downplaying Korver’s significance.

“We were ready for him coming off screens,” Hollins said. “He had a couple open shots that he missed, and when you scramble on a team that hard consistently … when you get open, you’re rushing your shot a little bit.”

“I didn’t really get any good looks early, and probably was pressing a little late,” Korver said. “I was trying to make something happen, but there just wasn’t a whole lot there for me tonight.”

The victory for the Nets validated what they believed at times through the first two games of the series, which was that they can compete with this Hawks team, despite the disparity in their respective fortunes during the regular season.

“I think we knew we could beat this team,” Joe Johnson said afterward.

The win came on a night where they shot just 38.6 percent from the field, and Deron Williams didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter; it was unclear whether it was because he wasn’t right physically, or because he was so ineffective that he was hurting his team’s chances.

At the same time, it’s becoming painfully clear to this Hawks team that they’re no longer the juggernaut they once were. As Brooklyn is finding its way, Atlanta seems to be slipping further and further from the early-season identity it established as a dominant team that shared the ball, and consistently created open looks for shooters within the confines of its equal-opportunity offense.

“We haven’t been sharp offensively for a little while now,” Korver said. “Maybe this will kind of jar some things and we’ll figure some things out, and play with a little more purpose and a little better on Monday.”

Or maybe, the issues that exist aren’t ones which can be fixed that easily.

WATCH: LeBron James, Dwight Howard hit ridiculous one-handed, full-court shots at practice

LeBron James

A lot of guys can make a variety of trick shots in practice.

But LeBron James, who cocked back and threw a one-handed, length-of-the-court shot through the basket at shootaround in Boston on Saturday, just makes that which is seemingly impossible look so, so easy.

It’s unclear if Dwight Howard got word of what LeBron had accomplished, but he somehow pulled off a similar feat in Dallas a short time later.