Dan Feldman

Celtics owner: Boston would trade No. 1 pick only for ‘second coming’

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Celtics president Danny Ainge said he’d explore trading the No. 1 pick.

His boss indicated Boston will keep the selection.

Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, via CSN New England:

I think these picks are very, very valuable. You think of it, if you’re going to trade this pick as part of a package for an establish star making max, you’ve got to send max money out the door, as well. You’ve got to send more guys along. So, this guy coming back better be the second coming. What’s more, he’s going to be halfway through his career, whoever he is. And he’s going to be paid right now a ton of money, which restricts you in other ways.

If you can get a really good guy with this pick, you’ve got him. You can build with him. You can grow with him. You can coach him up. And you get to max money eventually – five, six years down the road – but it’s a totally different thing.

So, these picks are really valuable in today’s NBA. And so our intention would be to make the pick unless someone blows us away with an offer. That’s the way I would probably think about it.

I’m not trying to lay down rules of the road for the basketball staff when they make their recommendations. I’m just trying to say how I feel. And it’s the way we felt in February, quite honestly.

This could be a play for leverage in trade discussions, but Grousbeck’s assessment is sound. A relatively cheap four-year contract followed by the team control of restricted free agency makes first-round picks so valuable.

There’d be nothing wrong with Boston trading the No. 1 pick. It’s just difficult for other teams to match its value. This pick is more valuable than Paul George (on an expiring contract) and probably Jimmy Butler (locked up two more years). Teams with more valuable stars are in no rush to trade.

So, expect the Celtics to draft Markelle Fultz. It’s not a lock, but Grousbeck’s comments make it even more likely.

LaVar Ball: Lonzo Ball will work out for only Lakers

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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LaVar Ball, no matter what controversy he invites, is managing the career of one of the most promising prospects in the 2017 NBA draft. So, as much as you might want to ignore him and focus on basketball, what he says matters for basketball.

And he says his son, Lonzo Ball, will have an exclusive workout schedule.

Ball, via Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation:

“That’s all we working out for is the Lakers,” said LaVar. “Just the Lakers. There’s nobody else that we need to workout for.”

This will probably work well for the Balls. Markelle Fultz is the consensus top prospect, and Boston will likely take him No. 1. Lonzo is the consensus second prospect, and the Lakers will probably draft him No. 2.

Lonzo has said he’d rather go to the Lakers than go No. 1, because that’d keep him close to family. LaVar is also keen on his son remaining in Southern California.

But there is downside to this plan. The No. 1 pick will earn about $4 million more than the No. 2 pick over a four-year rookie-scale contract, and Ball is decreasing his chances of the Celtics drafting him (though they still could anyway). Ball also risks the Lakers passing on him and other teams – 76ers at No. 3, Suns at No. 4, Kings at No. 5, etc. – also passing because they don’t know enough about him. There’s a floor on a potential fall, because Lonzo looked so good at UCLA. But the possibility of a small tumble, and commensurate financial loss, exists.

If the Balls get indication closer to the draft the Lakers might not pick him, Lonzo could always work out with other teams. This makes sense as an initial plan, not one to keep at all costs.

Teams hold so much control over players entering the NBA. Managing their own workout destinations is one way players hold leverage in the process. If Lonzo prioritizes playing in Los Angeles, more power to him.

Doris Burke keeps Popping Gregg Popovich (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich once nearly made Doris Burke cry during an in-game interview.

Burke has shown her hardened (and playful) side during the Western Conference finals.

In Game 1 of Warriors-Spurs on Sunday, she asked Popovich one question then gifted herself a Mother’s Day present of ending the interview. During Game 2, with San Antonio getting crushed, she again asked one question then ended the interview, inducing a smirk from Popovich.

In-game interviews are rarely revealing, but these are at least fun.

Watch the actual 2017 NBA lottery drawing (video)

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If the NBA draft lottery isn’t rigged, why is the drawing done behind closed doors with no video made available to the public?

Oh.

LaVar Ball to critical reporter: ‘Stay in your lane… She scares me to death’

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LaVar Ball won.

The Lakers landed the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, seemingly ideally positioning them to pick Lonzo Ball. Lakers president Magic Johnson said LaVar wouldn’t affect how the the Lakers view Lonzo, and they’re reportedly enamored with him. It’s coming together exactly as LaVar willed and Lonzo wanted.

But as LaVar strutted in victory, he dug himself the biggest hole his publicity hunt has landed him in.

First, some background: Kristine Leahy of Fox Sports alleged in March that LaVar “forced” his sons to play basketball and said Lonzo “looks like he’s terrified to go against anything his father says.”

Appearing with Colin Cowherd and Leahy today, LaVar had a few testy exchanges with Leahy about his shoe brand:

  • Ball: “I’ve sold a good amount, to me. Like I said, there’s different amounts.”
  • Leahy: “How many?”
  • Ball: “Stay in your lane. Anyway, on The Herd, like I was telling you.
  • Leahy: “I’m just curious.”
  • Ball: “I don’t even worry about her over there.”
  • Leahy: “Why not? That’s kind of disrespectful.”
  • Ball: “She scares me to death. She said she scares Lonzo – Lonzo’s scared of me. She scares me. That’s why I don’t even look that way. I don’t look over there, because she scares me. I’m thinking of ‘Saw’ right now. Leave me alone. I’ll tell you – four-, five-hundred pair.”
  • Cowherd: “She’s a reporter. Her job is to probe.”
  • Ball: “She can report to whoever she want behind her. I’m talking to you, Colin.”
  • Leahy: “What is your problem with me?”
  • Ball: “My problem is, you are a hater. ‘I would never wear a Big Baller shirt.’ Well, good. Don’t even talk to Big Baller. I heard you say it. I’m not even worried about it.
  • Leahy: “I didn’t say that. I said that I wouldn’t wear something, as a woman —”
  • Ball: “That says Big Baller. It’s the same thing. With all due respect, you’re a great reporter – just not reporting on me.”
  • Leahy: “I have a right to say what shirt I would and wouldn’t wear.”
  • Ball: “Uh-oh, welcome to Big Baller zone.”
  • Cowherd: “She said ‘baller’ was offensive.
  • Ball: “To her, it is.”
  • Leahy: “No, no, no. I didn’t say it was offensive. I didn’t say it was offensive. I just said that if you wanted to work with Nike, Adidas and Under Armour, to maybe have something that appeals to women.”
  • Cowherd: “I thought that was a legitimate — I mean, I don’t have to agree, but I thought that was a pretty good point.”
  • Ball: “I don’t agree with her. It’s a good point because y’all friends. I’m not friends with her. I don’t even see her.
  • Leahy: “I wasn’t even saying it as I would never wear this. I’m saying –”
  • Ball: “What’s this show about again? Ain’t we talking about shoes? I don’t want to talk about that. Next.”
  • Leahy: “Well, I think that in order to have a successful company, you’re going to have to have women who like your brand.”
  • Ball: “Uh, yeah, if you have a women’s company. But anyways.”
  • Leahy: “Oh, so you’re not marketing to women?”
  • Ball: “We’re talking about Big Baller Brand.”

 

  • Ball: “I’m not even worried about you right now. Keep in your lane.”
  • Leahy: “Can you look me in the eye?”
  • Ball: “I don’t want to look you in the eye. You scare me to death.”
  • Leahy: “Oh, thank you.”
  • Ball: “You’re scaring me right now. I don’t want to look that way.”

 

  • Leahy: “They wouldn’t want to work with you anyway, because you don’t respect women. So.”
  • Cowherd: “She’s after you today.”
  • “Ball: “Oh, I don’t respect women? But I’m the one that’s married. I’m good,” Ball said. “She can say what she want. She’s trying to — I never disrespect women.
  • Leahy: “You did on the show today.
  • Ball: “But I tell you what, if you act like that, guess what? Something’s coming to you. And it’s OK.”
  • Leahy: “Wait, are you threatening me?.
  • Ball: “See how she’s trying to turn the words? I would never threaten you.”
  • Leahy: “You said something’s coming to me.”
  • Ball: “I don’t know what it is. I’m not a psychic.”

Ball is clearly shooting back at Leahy for how she psychoanalyzed his family from afar. One problem: She did it several weeks ago, and not everyone realizes the context of Ball’s comments. So, he’s left sounding misogynistic (and maybe being misogynistic, but absolutely sounding misogynistic).

Ball’s brand is brashness, but does he want that brand to include misogyny? Big Baller Brand’s website has a section of women’s shirts, for what it’s worth.

Ball also snapped at Jason Whitlock, another critic, but one who wasn’t there: “I don’t think he can comment on anything but snacks.”

These comments also have an outside chance of harming Lonzo’s draft stock. Though most NBA executives agreed LaVar won’t affect Lonzo in the draft, professional sports leagues are becoming increasingly conscious of their image on treatment of women. LaVar’s previous public comments have mostly been hyperbolic, but harmless. His digs into Leahy struck a nerve with many.

LaVar – maybe due to justifiable retribution, maybe not; maybe out of misogyny, maybe not; maybe just out of general rudeness, maybe not – created an image problem for himself today. He ought to hope it won’t extend to Lonzo.