Dan Feldman

Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott smiles as the studio begins to fill before the NBA basketball draft lottery, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Report: Lakers expected to try trading draft pick if it’s No. 3

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The Lakers lose their first-round draft pick if it falls outside the top three in tonight’s lottery (44% chance of that  happening).

They reportedly want to trade the pick if it hits No. 1 (20% chance of it landing there).

What about other possibilities?

Chad Ford of ESPN:

Multiple sources said at the combine this week that they expect the pick to be in play if it’s No. 3 — with the Lakers looking for a young veteran in return.

Good luck.

This is a two-player draft with a significant drop after Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. So, the third pick holds less value in this draft than an average one. The Lakers might not want the pick, but other teams will likely view it similarly.

You’re not using the No. 3 pick as a centerpiece of a package that lands Paul George.

That said, the Lakers might be willing to take commensurate value for the pick if it comes in the form of a veteran ready to help the team win now. That’s what Jim Buss needs, and he’s running the show.

Steven Adams calls Warriors guards ‘monkeys,’ apologizes

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 16:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors drives with the ball against Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during game one of the NBA Western Conference Final at ORACLE Arena on May 16, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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After the Thunder’s Game 1 win over the Warriors last night, Oklahoma City center Steven Adams described the challenge of covering Golden State’s guards (via Kenny Ducey of Sports Illustrated):

They’re quick little, quick little monkeys, those guys.

Adams, via Sam Amick of USA Today:

“It was just a poor choice of words, mate,” Adams told USA TODAY Sports. “I wasn’t thinking straight. I didn’t know it was going to upset anyone, but I’m truly sorry. It was just a poor choice of words. I was just trying to express how difficult it was chasing those guys around.”

Adams, who came to America to attend the University of Pittsburgh in 2012, said differences in dialect were, in part, to blame.

“It’s just different, mate,” he said. “Different words, different expressions, and stuff like that. But they obviously can be taken differently, depending on which country you’re in. I’m assimilating, mate, still trying to figure out the boundaries. But I definitely overstepped them tonight.”

Without context, there’s nothing inherently wrong about comparing players to monkeys – quick, jumpy animals. If Adams had called them cheetahs or jaguars, nobody would’ve batted an eye.

But context matters – even if Adams is unaware of it.

There is a troubling history of comparing black people to monkeys or apes. This was done to justify treating black people as less than human, whether that meant slavery, Jim Crow laws or any other form of discrimination.

Calling a black person a monkey fosters those damaging attitudes, intentionally or not.

Adams gave a good apology. His background, while an explanation for his error, does not let him off the hook. He owned that he said something inappropriate and said he was sorry.

The only other thing you can ask is that he – and all of us – learn from this and why it matters.

Tom Jacobs of Pacific Standard:

Study five, conducted at Penn State University, took a different approach. A group of white male students were primed with words associated with either apes or big cats. They then watched a tape of a policeman beating a man, a la Rodney King. Half were told the man (whose image was unclear on the film) was white; the other half were told he was black.

The students who were primed with cat words considered the beating unjustified. So did those who were primed with ape words but were told the victim was white. But those who were primed with the ape words and told the victim was black were far more ambivalent in their reaction. “The association between black and ape left our white respondents more open to the possibility that police violence might in fact be justified,” Goff said.

Goff considers the sixth and final study the most distressing of all. “We looked at 183 cases over a 20-year span where a defendant was found guilty of a crime and was eligible for the death penalty,” he said. “We looked at any article from the Philadelphia Inquirer that mentioned the incident, up until the sentencing. We coded them for words like ‘ape,’ ‘beast,’ ‘brute’ or ‘jungle’ — ape-specific words.

“It turned out African Americans had significantly more ape-related images ascribed to them than did whites. And among African Americans, the more ape-related images you had in your press coverage, the more likely you were to be put to death.”

Report: Knicks president Phil Jackson interviewed Jeff Hornacek

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 29:  Head Coach Jeff Hornacek of the Phoenix Suns looks on during an NBA game against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre on November 29, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
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Phil Jackson has apparently awoken from his vacation.

Not only did he talk to Frank Vogel, the Knicks president has also interviewed Jeff Hornacek.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com that Knicks president Phil Jackson recently met with Hornacek

Hornacek has likewise ‎interviewed for a number of openings over the past month-plus and, according to sources, would be at or near the top of Golden State’s list in the Warriors’ search for a new lead assistant coach at season’s end if he’s still available

Kurt Rambis still looms, but with David Blatt, this makes four known candidates.

I’m slowly returning to the theory that Jackson touted Rambis to make a friend look good and make New York’s eventual hire look better by comparison. After all Knicks fans have been through with this search, Hornacek would seem fantastic.

Taking a step back, he’d still be pretty good. His lack of triangle experience might limit his candidacy, but Hornacek can install an offense that his players would believe in. At best, Jackson would help Hornacek integrate triangle principles that make the team even more effective.

But I’m still unconvinced Jackson is that open-minded.

Assisting Steve Kerr in Golden State would be a nice fallback option for Hornacek, who is also reportedly a candidate with the Magic, Grizzlies and Rockets. The Warriors have invested in building a strong coaching staff, and Alvin Gentry’s and Luke Walton’s departures in consecutive years have created an opening for another quality assistant.

Kyle Lowry: ‘LeBron’s probably one of the best players in the league besides Steph’

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The Raptors just advanced to their first conference finals in franchise history, and Kyle Lowry is excited to face LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Lowry in his on-court post-game interview:

LeBron’s probably one of the best players in the league besides Steph.

Stephen Curry just won MVP unanimously. Even LeBron said Curry deserved it.

Are we really going to do this?

Yup.

There is no shortage of people who view Lowry’s comments as disrespectful to LeBron.

LeBron preemptively stoked the flames by bringing up differing definitions of valuable. And LeBron’s on-court value has clearly increased in the playoffs. There’s something to the idea that, when LeBron puts his mind to it, he’s still the best basketball player in the world.

But Curry has outplayed LeBron the last two seasons and is three years younger. Maybe Curry is just better now. At minimum, he has shown he can play better over the the largest samples.

Lowry’s “probably one of the” is drawing criticism, too. There’s no doubt LeBron is one of the best players in the league besides Steph. LeBron might not be the best anymore – Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are in the running – but none of those four is clearly better than the rest. Lowry’s wordiness is just that – not intended disrespect.

Now, LeBron could take it another way and use the statement as motivation. That’s his prerogative.

Even if he doesn’t, he already has many fans who’ve already vilified Lowry on his behalf.

Warriors regain big lead when adjusting for playoff rotation

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The Warriors fell behind the Spurs, Thunder, Cavaliers, Raptors and Heat when adjusting for playoff rotation entering the second round of the playoffs.

But, to paraphrase Stephen Curry, they’re back.

Golden State’s adjusted net rating dipped in our last batch of these ratings due to Curry’s injury. With him back in the lineup, nobody else touches the Warriors.

A reminder how this works: I’ve used nba wowy! to rank teams by net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating) during the regular season and playoffs, counting only lineups that include five players in the team’s postseason rotation. Here’s each team’s rating, from the regular season adjusted to only lineups that include five players projected to be in the second-round rotation:

Eastern Conference

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Offensive rating: 111.4 to 117.4 to 118.0
  • Defensive rating: 105.1 to 106.8 to 106.4
  • Net rating: +6.3 to +10.6 to +11.6

2. Toronto Raptors

  • Offensive rating: 110.9 to 113.7 to 111.1
  • Defensive rating: 106.0 to 104.2 to 105.1
  • Net rating: +4.9 to +9.5 to +6.0

Western Conference

1. Golden State Warriors

  • Offensive rating: 114.9 1 to 109.1 to 118.8
  • Defensive rating: 104.1 to 103.8 to 99.7
  • Net rating: +10.8 to +5.3 to +19.1

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Offensive rating: 113.6 to 117.3 to 116.7
  • Defensive rating: 106.0 to 104.6 to 104.8
  • Net rating: +7.6 to +12.7 to +11.9

Notes:

  • The top two adjusted net ratings belong to the Western Conference finalists.
  • I included Andrew Bogutwho’s questionable for Game 1 – in a 10-man Warriors rotation. Remove Bogut, and Golden State’s adjusted offense/defensive/net rating actually improves to 122.9/102.8/+20.1. Obviously, the Warriors are better with Bogut available. But excluding him gives more weight to high-powered lineups with Draymond Green at center.
  • If Bogut is healthy, Golden State can trim its rotation and become more potent. Dropping Marreese Speights improves the Warriors’ adjusted ratings to 120.3/99.6/+20.7. Dropping Festus Ezeli improves it to 120.8/100.5/+20.3. Drop both? It becomes 122.9/100.8/+22.1.
  • The Thunder’s ratings worsened from 117.3/104.6/+12.7 entering the last round, even though Oklahoma City looked its most impressive while downing San Antonio. Why? The adjusted rankings are opponent-agnostic and don’t give more credit to recent games. So, teams often build strong adjusted ratings throughout the regular season and see them steadily fall during competitive playoff rounds. It would have been tough for the Thunder to outscore the Spurs by 12.7 points per 100 possessions, so anything less brings down the average. In fact, San Antonio outscored Oklahoma City in the series.
  • The Raptors miss Jonas Valanciunas, whose injury kept him out of Toronto’s projected rotation here. If he can play, the Raptors’ adjusted ratings jump to 113.4/104.2/+9.2 – still short of the Cavs’, but much better.
  • I counted the eight Raptors who played each game of the Heat series in the projected rotation, but Norman Powell didn’t play until garbage time of Game 7. Remove him, and Toronto’s adjusted ratings improve to 112.9/106.3/+6.3. That’s probably not enough to challenge Cleveland, but Dwane Casey could maximize the Raptors’ chances by keeping their rotation tight.
  • If Toronto somehow pushes them, the Cavs have room to respond. Richard Jefferson is on the fringe of their rotation, and dropping him would improve their adjusted ratings to 119.9/106.7/+13.2.