Kurt Helin

Emmanuel Mudiay, Karl-Anthony Towns

Emmanuel Mudiay using Lakers’ “snub,” Scott’s words as motivation


With the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected point guard D'Angelo Russell of Ohio State.

Another point guard who had at one point been higher on most draft boards, Emmanuel Mudiay (who played that season before in China), was worked out by the Lakers, but they liked what they saw in Russell better. Mudiay fell to the Denver Nuggets at No. 7. Tuesday night the Nuggets take on the Lakers in L.A.

Lakers coach Byron Scott was asked Tuesday why the Lakers passed on Mudiay, and while he said he thought Mudiay would be “pretty good,” here is the heart of his response, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“I didn’t think he was a true point guard,” Scott said of Mudiay. “I didn’t think he was a guy who made great decisions when we saw him and had him here. I thought that was something he would have to learn to do to run that position.”

He was just answering a question, but you have to wonder why Scott would actually say that and provide motivation for an opponent. You know the comments would be passed along to Mudiay, who just added it to the fuel for his fire.

“They passed up on me; that’s definitely a motivation,” Mudiay told Los Angeles News Group after morning shootaround at Westchester High School. “They took another point guard ahead of me. I’m a point guard. So I guess they saw something in [Russell] that they didn’t see in me…

“That’s another human’s opinion,” Mudiay said. “I’m not worried about him. I just have to worry about what I do and worry about the Denver Nuggets.”

Right now, Mudiay is ahead of Russell on the learning curve. Mudiay has a more NBA ready body, plus he played for a season against professionals and men over in China, while Russell is still adapting from the college game to the NBA. Neither player is shooting well (both are under 37 percent) and both are turning the ball over way more than you would like. That’s to be expected. Mudiay has been given the keys to the Nuggets offense and has his hand on the flow of the offense much more than Russell now (who has to share the ball with Jordan Clarkson and Kobe Bryant), but both are trying to pick up the game.

Mudiay impressed me at Summer League, I think he can develop into a special player. With Russell, it’s far too early to say, he needs more time as he tries to catch up with the speed of the game. It’s impossible to say right now with any real certainty which of these two point guards will be the better player in three years.

But the Lakers have bet more heavily as an organization on Russell — he was their highest draft pick since James Worthy. They need him to be a franchise cornerstone player, they passed on Jahlil Okafor, Stanley Johnson, Mudiay, and others to take him, they need him and Julius Randle (who has impressed) to be the real deal.

If in three years if Mudiay has everyone saying “how did they pass on him?” it will be a big setback for the Lakers.

Warriors’ Andre Iguodala has best bench celebration this season


That. Is. Awesome.

The Golden State Warriors have had a lot of big shots to celebrate this young season, but nobody is celebrating them as well as Andre Iguodala on that play. I’m not even sure what to call that, but it’s awesome.

We’ll see if he gets a chance to whip that dance out against the Clippers Wednesday.

Hat tip to NBA.com for the video.

Oddsmakers say George Karl, Lionel Hollins coaches on hottest seats

George Karl, Rajon Rondo

It’s inevitable. Some team is going to get off to a slow start, ownership/top management will be looking for a scapegoat, and a coach will get fired in the middle of the season. Even though the guys swinging the axe are more likely at fault for the team’s problems than the guy on the receiving end.

But who’s it going to be?

The oddsmakers at Bovada have put a number on it.

George Karl (SAC) 14/5
Lionel Hollins (BRK) 3/1
Derek Fisher (NYK) 4/1
Byron Scott (LAL) 4/1
Randy Wittman (WAS) 5/1
Steve Clifford (CHA) 7/1
David Blatt (CLE) 8/1
Dwane Casey (TOR) 10/1

If I were you, I would not bet on Karl. Despite all the volatile personalities in Sacramento and the early issues between Karl and DeMarcus Cousins, things are pretty stable, and everyone’s on the same page right now. The Kings are playing fairly well; they’ve just had a rough schedule to start the season (the Clippers twice). Now Cousins is going to miss a couple of games, and the losses will put some strain on the team, but I don’t see Karl going away in the short-term. Unless Vivek Ranadive has decided it’s time to install another new system in Sacramento (they have stuck with this one for six months now).

Also, Wittman isn’t going anywhere in Washington because owner Ted Leonsis isn’t one to pay two coaches at a time. Things are going well in Cleveland and Toronto, their coaches are safe right now.

After that, however, there are some names on that list where the seat has to already feel warm.

PBT Extra: Previewing undefeated showdown, Clippers vs. Warriors

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Golden State is destroying everyone in their path — playoff teams such as the Pelicans and Grizzlies have been brushed aside. Through Warriors are +100 this season, the fastest start in NBA history through four games.

The Clippers are undefeated too, and Doc Rivers says 4-0 is 4-0 and that the teams are equal. I’m not sure that is true. However, one thing I didn’t have time to get into in this PBT Extra with Jenna Corado is that the small sample size skews things — the Pelicans are banged up and playing poorly, the Clippers have two closer wins over the Kings, but right now the Kings are a better team than the Pelicans.

The Clippers will not be the Grizzlies — Memphis plays big and slow, but Los Angeles with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are big and very athletic. Griffin can punish a smaller defender inside, and he has the handles and shooting range to make plays on the perimeter (Stephen Curry has everybody talking, but Griffin may be the second best player through four games).

With the long history between these teams, this will be heated, and it is going to be close, but I’ll still bet on Golden State.

Hornets do not pick up team option on P.J. Hairston

PJ Hairston

P.J. Hairston has started all three Charlotte Hornets games this season, but the team has not been impressed. They could have kept him around next season for just $1.25 million, but decided they would rather just let him walk.

In what is a rare move around the league, the Hornets did not pick up the team option on Hairston’s rookie-scale contract for next season, something Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer reported would happen and did just as he said. This means Hairston will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

The Hornets did pick up the option on Cody Zeller, he will stay with the team.

Hairston has been making bad decisions on and off the court since he was drafted and it ended up being too much for Charlotte. Off it he got in an altercation with a high school player at a pickup game before he got to Hornets camp, then twice was suspended for a game by coach Steve Clifford due to behavior issues. Don’t forget he had the flop of the year. This summer he was cited for driving without a license. And remember, this is a guy that was forced to leave North Carolina during college and went to the D-League before being drafted.

On the court, his decision making is not much better. While his defense has been good, he’s not provided the three-point shooting he is supposed to bring to the table (16.7 percent this year). His shot selection and other choices can be head-scratching. With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out Clifford has given Hairston a chance as a starter, and after watching him for a few games the Hornets decided they didn’t want him even at a rookie-scale price.

He’s got the rest of this season as an audition for the other NBA teams.