Kurt Helin

As expected, Sixers pick up $1.5 million option on Robert Covington for next season

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This was a no-brainer, the Sixers were always going to do this.

The Philadelphia 76ers have picked up the $1.5 million option for next season of Robert Covington.

Covington started 67 games for the Sixers last season and averaged 12.9 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.9 steals per game (fourth in the NBA) and he while shooting 33.3 percent from three. He is an improving “3&D” type player, a quality NBA rotation player who is just 26 and improving.

The Sixers have options about how to lock up Covington beyond next season, but the price tag is going to go up — at least to a league average salary and likely higher. He is a very good wing defender whose three-point shooting is improving, and “3&D” guys are getting paid around the league in recent years. Bobby Marks of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports laid it out.

If the Sixers strike out on big free agents such as Kyle Lowry, they can use their cap space to renegotiate and extend. If the Sixers do not extend and reach a deal with Covington on future years, other teams will start circling. He has real value.

PBT Podcast: Mock Draft No. 2 with Rob Dauster (plus some NBA Finals talk)

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Here we go again…

Rob Dauster from NBC’s College Basketball Talk and myself combined for another podcast this week, with the intent of talking through our second mock NBA Draft (the mock itself will go up tomorrow morning on PBT).

Since I recorded this Tuesday from my hotel room in the Bay Area after the Finals, we talk about and wrap up the NBA Finals first, discussing the Warriors place in history. Then we go through the entire first round of the NBA draft, making the first 30 picks. Without spoiling too much, the first five are fairly solid (and predictable):

1. BOSTON (via Brooklyn) – Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
2. LAKERS – Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
3. PHILADELPHIA – Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
4. PHOENIX – De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
5. SACRAMENTO – Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (just click the button under the podcast), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Lonzo Ball roasts father LaVar in awesome, funny Foot Locker ad (VIDEO)

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Well played Lonzo, well played.

Foot Locker put together an ad that has guys at the top of this year’s NBA Draft board — De'Aaron Fox, Jason Tatum, Jonathan Issac — talk about their special times with their fathers, how they helped them get to the NBA.

Then Lonzo Ball jumps in.

First off, no way this happens without LaVar signing off on it on some level.

But the self-awareness and self-deprecation here by Lonzo will play well with fans and teams. Not that it really moves the needle. In the latest mock draft I did with Rob Dauster of NBC’s College Basketball Talk (coming to PBT Friday morning), we still have Ball going to the Lakers No. 2.

Adam Silver says rather than break up Warriors, “let’s create more great teams”

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Golden State may well be a super team — one that will set the bar in the NBA for the next four years or so — but they didn’t go out and buy a team like the Yankees. They drafted Stephen Curry (7th pick), Klay Thompson (11th), and Draymond Green (35th), developed those guys, put them in an innovative system where they thrived, then managed their salary cap well enough that when the opportunity came to add Kevin Durant via free agency, they had the space to do it.

The Warriors were just smart, and a little lucky.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has heard the hot take calls about breaking up the Warriors, and he told the Washington Post the better idea is to help other teams raise themselves up.

“Rather than focusing on the top of the league, we should be focusing on the rest of the league,” Silver told The Post before Game 4. “Rather than talking about how to break up or knock down a championship-caliber team, my focus should be on how we do a better job developing more great players in this league….

“And yes, an incredible free agent was added to that squad,” Silver said. “All the focus seems to be on, ‘They’re too good’ as opposed to, ‘What is it we should be doing to create more great teams in this league?’ That’s what my response is.

“My answer is, let’s create more great teams, rather than completely focus on one incredible team and whether that’s seemingly unfair to the other team. I think it’s the nature of competition…

“My answer is, let’s create more great teams.”

I like the concept, but the answer is a bit simplistic. There is a limited pool of great players and you can’t just go into Frankenstein’s lab — or John Calipari’s — and create new ones. Making guys stay in college for another year or two is not going to create more star players (it didn’t in the past), nor is there some other magic wand to wave.

Should teams work on improving their player development programs? Certainly. The Warriors, Spurs, and Celtics do it well, and notice where they sit in the standings. Cleveland drafted and developed LeBron James (although he is a once-in-a-generation anomaly), Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson. Franchises have to draft and develop talent to succeed, try to just buy a contender and you get Brooklyn.

That said, stars are going to cluster in the NBA. Always have. And the league has thrived when it happened.

Also, that CBA will eventually tear apart the Warriors. After they lock up Durant and Curry this summer it will be all good for two more seasons, but in the summer of 2019 Thompson is up for a new deal, followed by Green the following year. The Warriors could keep them all together, but the cost in salary and luxury tax penalties would be $1 billion over the next four years (according to former front office person Bobby Marks of the Vertical). Yes, billion with a “B.” I get the Warriors owners are very rich, and have a new building coming on line to pump cash into the organization, but that’s going to get too rich for their blood. The squad will break apart, role players will get paid elsewhere.

But not for a couple of years. For now, it’s the Warriors league, and Silver is going to be spouting versions of this “rising tide lifts all boats” theory through it all.

 

 

 

Knicks pre-draft workouts reportedly involve teaching some triangle offense

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A lot of energy is expended discussing pre-draft workouts — this year’s headlines were Lonzo Ball not working out for the Celtics, then not blowing away the Lakers in his first workout — but the reality is these workouts are one piece in a much larger puzzle. For the guys in the lottery, the workouts may not move the needle that much, but the further down the draft you go the more they matter. What teams want to see in these workouts, besides getting an up-close look at things like shooting form, is how the player takes to coaching, or how he responds when physically tired (does he push through or wilt).

This year’s Knicks workouts are a little different — they’re trying to see how guys grasp the triangle, so they’re teaching it, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“It was more teaching than all the other ones,’’ (North Carolina forward Justin) Jackson told The Post in a phone interview. “With the triangle and the other types of offenses they run, I would say it was a little more mental than physical…

“I picked it up pretty easily — everyone picked it up as time went on,’’ he said. “That helped a lot as far the workout, going into different actions. For me it was just basketball, making plays and reads.

“Phil [Jackson] stepped in a few times to say what he wanted to see, but it was mostly coach [Jeff] Hornacek running the workout.”

Since the Knicks are committed to running the triangle next season (whether they should is an entirely different discussion), what they’re doing makes sense. They should see how a player picks up the concepts, and how he interacts with the coach.

In our latest PBT mock draft — it and a podcast on it should be out in the next 24 hours — we have the Knicks taking Malik Monk of Kentucky with the No. 8 pick. How he picks up the triangle matters less than the fact Monk can flat out shoot the rock, and the Knicks need that no matter what offense they run.