Kurt Helin

EAST LANSING, MI - FEBRUARY  28: Deyonta Davis #23 of the Michigan State Spartans dunks the ball during in the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at the Breslin Center on February 28, 2016 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
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Michigan State freshman big man Deyonta Davis declares for draft

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Deyonta Davis is the classic case of a player where if you just saw his raw numbers — 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game in less than 19 minutes a night for Michigan State this season — you’d look right past him as an NBA prospect.

But scouts watched his game and saw impressive potential, which is why he’s a late lottery pick on a lot of draft boards right now and likely will climb higher (as bigs often do) as we get nearer the draft.

Tuesday Davis, a freshman, declared for the NBA Draft, and said he plans to hire an agent (which would end his college eligibility — he’s fully committed).

“I asked coach (Tom) Izzo and (Muskegon High School) coach (Keith) Guy to do research for me,” Davis said in a released statement. “The information that came back made me decide to enter the draft. It was a tough decision, but after talking to my family and coaches, I felt it was the right decision and one I’m fully committed to.”

This is a smart move for Davis, who will get paid to develop his game on the next level.

In a draft that’s not considered particularly deep and will have teams reaching for prospects, Davis looks like a future NBA rotation player. He’s got the size at 6’10” with a 7’1″ wingspan to play the four (where he was mostly in college) or the five. What really grabbed people’s attention was his defensive ability — Izzo switched pick-and-rolls with him, particularly late in games, and he could stay in front of guards and make plays.

PBT’s NBA Draft expert — and Rotoworld writer — Ed Isaacson broke down Davis’ game for us before the tournament and liked what he saw.

A long, athletic freshman, Davis became a major piece for the Spartans as the season went on. He has been effective in the low post, using his good footwork and length to create some easy looks around the rim. Davis is also great working along the baseline, cutting to the rim off of penetration and using his reach to get the ball and finish up around the basket. He has a nice feel for hitting the offensive boards. Defensively, Davis has been solid defending in the post, but he has been very good as a rim protector, again showing a nice feel for being able to get into position quickly and extend to get at the shot.

Stan Van Gundy rips North Carolina “bathroom law,” says league should move 2017 All-Star Game

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 06:  Stan Van Gundy of the Detroit Pistons looks on during the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on January 6, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Pistons defeat the Celtics 99-94. 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 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Stan Van Gundy isn’t afraid to say what he’s thinking.

In an era when the Stephen Curry is soft-pedaling his response to the controversial new “bathroom law” in his native North Carolina, Detroit Pistons head coach Van Gundy will step right into the fray and tell you he thinks it’s crap. He’ll say what the NBA itself vaguely threatened to do, which is it should move the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte.

Here is what Van Gundy said, as reported by David Mayo at MLive.com.

“We went through this. People had their rationale for discriminating against blacks back in segregation,” Van Gundy, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations and head coach, said Monday. “I don’t care, religious liberty and all of that — look, that’s the same stuff that people brought up during the civil-rights movement. They’ll try to justify it with anything they have.

“We shouldn’t have the right in our country to discriminate against anybody and especially in this situation. And I think the league should take a stand.”

Good on Van Gundy.

North Carolina’s rushed law restricts transgender bathroom use (you have to use the bathroom for the gender with which you were born) and preempted anti-discrimination ordinances put in by Charlotte and other North Carolina cities that tried to block discrimination against gays and lesbians. This was passed despite zero evidence of attacks nationwide by transgendered people in bathrooms. This law in North Carolina (and other Southern States) is a pretty naked political move to motivate non-Trump parts of the conservative Republican base in an election year, particularly in North Carolina where it was feared some down ticket races could go to Democrats.

There has been a backlash against North Carolina from business interests — PayPal killed plans for a 400-person global operations center in the state, Deutsche Bank halted plans to add 250 new jobs in what is generally a banking friendly state, other businesses have pulled back, and even Bruce Springsteen canceled his concert in the state.

The NBA moving the All-Star Game would be another blow along those lines. Whether it happens remains to be seen, even if Adam Silver wants it to happen the logistics of moving the massive undertaking that is the All-Star Game — and finding a city with an unbooked arena/convention space/hotel rooms — within a year is difficult.

We’ll see if the NBA — or even other players and coaches — will take the kind of stand Van Gundy was willing to. They should be for inclusion, but maybe they are concerned and want to make sure Republicans buy Under Armour shoes too.

 

Marv Albert to call Olympic hoops for NBC for first time since 1996

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STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — Marv Albert will call Olympic basketball this summer for the first time since 1996.

He is set to be joined in Rio de Janeiro by analyst Doug Collins and reporter Craig Sager for the U.S. team’s games, NBC announced Tuesday.

Albert was the voice of the “Dream Team” run to gold during the 1992 Olympics. He also worked boxing for NBC at the 1988, 1996 and 2000 Games. The lead NBA play-by-play announcer for TNT since 1999, Albert started calling boxing matches again for NBC last year.

Albert “ranks in the pantheon of all-time play-by-play voices,” said Jim Bell, NBC Olympics’ executive producer.

This will be the fifth straight Olympics for both Collins, the former NBA All-Star and coach who now works as a studio analyst for ESPN, and Sager. Sager, the popular TNT sideline reporter, has continued to work as he battles a recurrence of cancer.

Hall of Famer Ann Meyers will also be calling her fifth straight Olympics when she serves as the analyst for women’s basketball. She will be joined by two first-timers: play-by-play announcer Marc Zumoff, the voice of the Philadelphia 76ers, and reporter Ros Gold-Onwude, a former Stanford player who now works Golden State Warriors games.

Zumoff’s and Gold-Onwude’s regular jobs are both at Comcast SportsNet regional channels that are part of NBC Sports.

Report: Ettore Messina, David Blatt leading candidates for Nets coaching job

Coach Ettore Messina of CSKA Moscow patrols the sidelines during the NBA Europe Live Tour presented by EA Sports on October 10, 2006 at the Koeln Arena in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Mansoor Ahmed/Getty Images)
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It will be new GM Sean Marks first big move.

Tony Brown is the interim coach in Brooklyn, having taken over for the fired Lionel Hollins mid-season, but he is not long for the job. Marks is going to bring in his own guy to help rebuild the franchise.

Which guy? Think guys with Spurs ties like Marks, and with Europeans roots such as Ettore Messina and David Blatt, reports Brian Lewis at the New York Post.

No, pole position may go to Spurs assistant Ettore Messina, who is also from the Gregg Popovich coaching tree and has a long-standing relationship with Marks.

Marks told The Post he’ll have some relationship and at least an indirect connection with whomever he hires, a la Six Degrees of Separation. Messina worked with Marks for the past three years. He also coached Nets assistant GM Trajan Langdon to two Euroleague titles at CSKA Moscow. (Nets owner Mikhail) Prokhorov owned the Russian team, and board member Sergey Kushchenko was the GM….

Another likely contender is ex-Cavaliers coach David Blatt, who coached the Russian National Team from 2004-12 and whom Prokhorov knows, nearly hiring him at CSKA in 2008.

The question with Messina in Blatt isn’t their knowledge of the game, it’s their ability to adjust to the NBA power dynamic — the players have it, not the coaches — and their ability to win over players and communicate. Blatt (and his ego) learned those lessons the hard way in Cleveland, would he be ready to adjust? The man deserves another shot, he won 67.5 percent of his games as the Cavaliers coach, which usually means you get to keep your job.

Messina has filled in this season when Gregg Popovich was away from the team.

Don’t expect a big name that will demand a lot of power — Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy — in Brooklyn. The rebuild is going to be a long, slow process there and Marks needs a guy he can work with.

Report: Even if he’s not the coach, expect Kurt Rambis to stay with Knicks in some role

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 16:  Head coach Kurt Rambis of the New York Knicks complains about a call during their game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Kurt Rambis isn’t going anywhere.

He’s a Knick.

Well, at least as long as Phil Jackson is a Knick. Rambis is currently the interim head coach of the Knicks and the frontrunner to keep that job for next season. But if Jackson decides to go a different direction with his coach, Rambis isn’t leaving the organization, reports Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Whether Kurt Rambis is Knicks head coach for the last time Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse hasn’t been determined. What has been determined is Rambis will return in some capacity next season — whether as offensive coordinator or assistant general manager, according to sources. That’s part of the reason Rambis talks about the Knicks’ future as if he’s definitely part of it.

Berman goes on to say the candidacy of David Blatt as head coach is a “long shot.”

The Knicks were better this season. As John Schuhmann at NBA.com pointed out, no team saw a bigger improvement in net rating this season (point differential per 100 possessions) than the Knicks at +7.4. But that was still not enough to get them near the playoffs. This was — and still is — a team with a long way to go.

This summer and Phil Jackson’s moves will go a long way in determining if and when they get back to the playoffs, and maybe beyond that someday back to contention. He nailed the Kristaps Porzingis pick last summer, but this summer he needs to build on that through free agency and trades.

And also nailing the head coaching choice.

Whatever happens at Madison Square Garden, just know Kurt Rambis will be a part of it.