Kurt Helin

Dikembe Mutombo rejects lottery conspiracy after Twitter mistake


NEW YORK — Dikembe Mutombo is rejecting the idea of another NBA draft lottery conspiracy.

Mutombo congratulated the Philadelphia 76ers on winning the No. 1 pick with a tweet Tuesday that came about four hours before the lottery. But he tells The Associated Press it was a “mistake that happened” and that he had no knowledge that the 76ers would win.

“I want to let people know there was no conspiracy,” Mutombo said in a phone interview.

Mutombo played for the 76ers during his Hall of Fame career and now works for the NBA as a global ambassador. On Tuesday afternoon, he received an email from the Sixers organization asking him if he would post a congratulatory message on Twitter if the 76ers won.

The email, obtained by AP, showed some sample tweets that could be used. He copied and pasted one onto his Twitter page – but then immediately sent it.

“It was like maybe 30 seconds, then I realized, `Whoa! What did I do here?”‘ he said. “But it was too late. It was out in the air.”

Mutombo quickly deleted the tweet, which included a picture of himself and Allen Iverson, his teammate when the 76ers went to the 2001 NBA Finals. He soon posted another tweet saying he was just excited and had gotten ahead of himself, but was still hoping for a Sixers victory.

The NBA has battled conspiracy accusations since the very first lottery, when the New York Knicks moved up to the No. 1 spot to draft Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing and there was suspicion that one of the envelopes was tampered with so the person selecting would know which one to grab. The league has gone to great lengths to make the event, which is overseen by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young, more transparent, even making a video of last year’s drawing to show how it couldn’t be rigged.

Mutombo, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year best known for his wagging his finger when he blocked a shot, rejects the idea of that the league would cheat.

“They need to stop that,” he said. “The NBA is like such a great organization, they don’t even go that way.”

Mutombo got plenty of messages kidding him about his error, and he was able to laugh about it, too.

“I think a lot of people understood the error that was made,” he said.

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving put on show at Raptors’ expense (VIDEO)


The Toronto Raptors were terrified of the hot shooting of the Cleveland Cavaliers these playoffs, and they made a commitment to get out high and chase the Cavs shooters off the arc.

Problem is, the Raptors don’t have the defenders to then contain those guys on the drive. Or to protect the rim. All of which led to a blowout win for the Cavaliers and a show that the fans in Cleveland had to love.

Above there was Kyrie Irving showing off his handles, while below we have LeBron James at the rim — where he got most of his shots in this game — throwing it down. Hard.

Report: Mike D’Antoni gets second interview with Houston Rockets

Associated Press

Houston played relatively fast under Kevin McHale — they were top five in the NBA two seasons in a row — and were seventh fastest this season under mostly J.B. Bickerstaff’s guidance.

Maybe that’s not fast enough for GM Daryl Morey.

While all the talk has been about Jeff Van Gundy (who has yet to interview with the team) or maybe Frank Vogel — both defensive minded guys — it is Mike D’Antoni who got a second interview with the team, reports Marc Stein and Calvin Watkins with ESPN.

Sources told ESPN.com that D’Antoni, currently serving as associate head coach with the Philadelphia 76ers, was summoned for a second sit-down with the club — this time face-to-face with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander — after impressing in his first interview.

The Rockets, sources say, would seek to hire a coach with strong defensive credentials, to essentially serve as D’Antoni’s defensive coordinator… Sources say Jeff Van Gundy has received strong support from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to make a return to Houston for a second stint as the team’s coach, but also maintain that Alexander has yet to be fully sold on a reunion with the ESPN analyst, who has been working in television since the sides parted ways in May 2007.

D’Antoni is an innovative coach who has done a better job than his critics give him credit for, but he wants to win his way and with his style — that means putting together a roster that fits his style. James Harden can mesh with that certainly, and Dwight Howard is gone either way so that’s not a problem. Guys under contract such as Patrick Beverley, Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza and others certainly could play roles. Heck, Michael Beasley might thrive. However, guys such as Donatas Motiejunas may be a tougher fit.

The Rockets interviewed a lot of people from across the NBA spectrum, but this would be an interesting fit for a team that feels it is on the cusp and just a couple players away. And the right coach.

Philadelphia wins No. 1 pick in NBA Draft Lottery; Lakers keep first-round pick


Sam Hinkie’s “process” was strip the team all the way down to the foundation and rebuild, being bad to get great draft picks — the most likely way Philadelphia was going to land elite talent — and build it back up. He got to do the stripping down part and the team struggled for three seasons, then this year he was pushed to the side as Jerry Colangelo then Brian Colangelo under him were brought in to head basketball operations.

The Colangelos will be the beneficiaries of the process — the Philadelphia 76ers won the top pick in the NBA Draft this June.

For the first time in recent memory, the draft followed the exact order of the odds — no teams jumped up or down the ladder. Here is the lottery draft order:

1. Philadelphia 76ers
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Boston Celtics (via Nets)
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
6. New Orleans Pelicans
7. Denver Nuggets (via Knicks)
8. Sacramento Kings
9. Toronto Raptors (via Nuggets)
10. Milwaukee Bucks
11. Orlando Magic
12. Utah Jazz
13. Phoenix Suns (via Wizards)
14. Chicago Bulls

• The Los Angeles Lakers stayed in the top three which means they keep their pick (the remnants of the Steve Nash trade). The pick will go to Philadelphia next season and is again Top 3 protected.

The Lakers will draft whoever is left between Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, the clear top two picks in this draft. Most teams have Simmons on the top of their lists, but expect the Sixers to take a long look at both. For the Lakers it works either way, both are forwards who would play opposite Julius Randle in a young front line.

• The Knicks pick stayed at No. 7, which was traded to the Denver Nuggets.

• The Raptors had the worse of the Knicks and Nuggets picks, that ended up being Denver’s at No. 9.

• The Suns keep the Wizards’ pick at No. 13.

Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk has shoulder surgery, likely out for Olympic qualifier

Getty Images

In the end, club won over country. This time.

Boston’s Kelly Olynyk had been considering postponing “inevitable” shoulder surgery to play for Canada in Olympic qualifying tournaments this summer. Tuesday the Celtics announced Olynyk had gone ahead with the surgery.

The Boston Celtics announced today that Kelly Olynyk yesterday underwent a successful right shoulder arthroscopy for recurrent subluxations. He will begin an immediate rehabilitation program and the time frame for his return to basketball activities has not yet been determined.

Olynyk had said previously said it likely would be five months of rehab after the surgery, which would have him back sometime during training camp (or the start of the season) but would mean he is out for this summer. Olynyk is a vital part of Team Canada, which will be in one of the three Olympic qualifying tournaments trying to earn a last-chance ticket to Rio.  Here is what Olynyk told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

“It’s hard to give up, Olympics,” Olynyk told CSN. “But when you do look at it, if you get hurt it’s even worse to give up the next season. It’s a tough decision.”

Olynyk has developed into a solid stretch four who scored 10 points a game and shot better than 40 percent from three for Boston.