Kurt Helin

NBA Draft Prospects Workout 2015

D’Angelo Russell says he would like to be a Laker

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What does it take to get an agent to see marketing dollars floating around his head? Have a client near the top of the NBA Draft board, and have the nation’s two biggest markets — Los Angeles and New York — each with top four picks. That’s the Lakers and Knicks, two teams each with a massive, passionate fan base. From there it’s easy to see endorsement potential.

DeAngelo Russell seems poised to fall between the two big cities — the Lakers at No. 2 are expected to take Jahlil Okafor of Duke (Karl-Anthony Towns will go No. 1 to Minnesota). The Sixers are rumored to be leaning toward taking Russell at No. 3, right before the Knicks pick at No. 4 — and the Knicks like Russell. They’ll take him if he’s there, it’s just likely he’s not.

On Monday, Russell made his case to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports why the Lakers should take him at No. 2.

“If I were to go to the Lakers, I wouldn’t want anybody to hand me anything,” Russell told Yahoo Sports. “I wouldn’t expect Kobe to take me under his wing. I think he will want to see a resemblance of that hunger and fire that he came into the league with as a young kid. No one needs to be nicest guy in the world, or needs to pretend to be that. He will see through that, pick all that apart.

“I’ve got to be me.”

Russell would fit with the Lakers. He’d fit just about anywhere. He knows how to score — 19.3 points a game, shoots 41 percent from three — plus is a gifted passer with phenomenal court vision. He’s a good athlete and can defend. There is a lot to like.

It’s easy to see a fit in Philadelphia, where Russell has said he’d be willing to play. Russell could be making passes to (a hopefully healthy) Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel for a decade. But Russell sees a fit with the Lakers and their history, too.

“I want to work for it,” Russell told Yahoo Sports. “I know I can earn it. I am not Magic Johnson and I’m not 6-9, but I am 6-5 and it gives me an advantage to see over the smaller guards. Watching Magic, you learned to turn your back, put the guards on your hip and then dice up the defense.”

 

Russell can make his case, but he should know the Lakers are strongly leaning toward Okafor at No. 2 (and no, they are not trading the pick).

What Russell will find in Philadelphia is a passionate fan base that understands and appreciates hard work. They expect a lot and can make it a tough place to lose, but there are few places like it if you win.

Report: Lakers trying to trade for DeMarcus Cousins

Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings
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Sacramento decision maker Vlade Divac has made it clear: He doesn’t want to trade DeMarcus Cousins. So stop asking, unless you’re offering Michael Jordan.

Yet, in the wake of Cousins’ frustrations with the constantly shifting plans of the Kings ownership, plus coach George Karl saying he never had an untradable player, the offers keep coming. Even though they are all long-shots. At best.

The latest long shot is from the Los Angeles Lakers, in a possible three-way deal with Orlando, as reported by Marc Stein at ESPN.

The Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as one of the most determined trade suitors for Sacramento Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins, according to league sources….

Sources say that the Lakers, Kings and Orlando Magic have had exploratory dialogue on a three-way Cousins trade that would land the 24-year-old in Los Angeles. All three teams hold top-six picks in Thursday’s NBA draft, and Orlando has a young top-flight center of its own in Nikola Vucevic, who could theoretically fill the Cousins void….

The Lakers would appear to have limited assets to get into the trade sweepstakes for Cousins — in the event Sacramento’s stance changes — beyond surrendering prized young big man Julius Randle and/or the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday’s draft.

How do you think Sacramento trading its best and most popular player by far to the hated Los Angeles Lakers would go over with an already frustrated fan base?

I can’t see this happening. For one thing, it’s going to take more than the Lakers’ No. 2 pick — which would be Duke’s big man Jahlil Okafor. No way the Lakers would give up Randle and the No. 2, but would the Lakers surrender Jordan Clarkson and the No. 2? It’s likely going to take at least that — and that may not be enough.

All that’s if you can get the Kings to change their minds. Which is unlikely at best.

The Lakers can poke around a little, but they are better off with a young nucleus of Clarkson, Randle and Okafor.

Okafor would be good with that, he told NBC’s Sports ProBasketballTalk on Monday that he did see a fit in Los Angeles. And he likes the idea of playing with Kobe Bryant.

“I think I can learn a ton,” Okafor said of playing with Bryant in what might be Kobe’s final season. “He’s been in the NBA a while, he came into the league early — I think he was younger than me when he came into the league — so I want to pick his brain and learn as much as I can….

“It’s all about he wants to win. So do I.”

That sounds like a good Lakers foundation.

Greivis Vasquez says Rockets, Timberwolves interested in trading for him

Brooklyn Nets v Toronto Raptors - Game Seven
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Greivis Vasquez is a solid NBA backup point guard who can give a team some spot starting duty when needed. He did that in Toronto last season, averaging more than 24 minutes a night (mostly off the bench) and averaging 9.5 points per game, hitting 37.9 percent from three, and dishing out 3.7 assists per night, and the team was +2.5 points per 48 minutes when he is on the court.

Combine that with a reasonable $6.6 million contract for next season, and you can be sure a few teams will call up the Raptors looking to trade for Vasquez.

Like Houston and Minnesota, Vasquez said at a press conference in his native Venezulla, as reported by Sportando.

Both of those teams could use smart, veteran depth at the point.

Minnesota is looking to trade Canadian Anthony Bennett, but while there is a national draw there that is not a fair swap as the Raptors would see it. The Timberwolves will need to sweeten that deal but it’s a starting point. The Timberwolves are playing Zach LaVine as their backup point guard behind Ricky Rubio, and there are plenty of people around the league not sold on LeVine as a real point guard and decision maker. The Timberwolves could use depth.

Houston was hurting in the playoffs without Patrick Beverley, so they had to lean on Jason Terry heavily. While the Rockets made it to the conference Finals, someone like Vasquez would have been a big boost.

Neither of these deals may happen, but there is some logic to them. Either way, the Raptors will be active on the trade market and a team to keep an eye on, starting draft night. Toronto is looking for a roster shakeup.

PBT Extra: Talking NBA Draft, what will Sixers do at No. 3? What teams might trade up?

2015 NBA Draft Lottery
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This much I feel safe in predicting about the NBA Draft Thursday night: Everyone’s mock drafts will be well off.

That’s because once you get past the first two picks — the Timberwolves taking Karl-Anthony Towns and the Lakers taking Jahlil Okafor — things get unpredictable. Who will Sam Hinkie and the Sixers take at No. 3, D’Angelo Russell or Kristaps Porzingis? Will Phil Jackson trade the Knicks out of the four spot if Towns, Okafor and Russell are off the boards? Then there are a number of teams — Denver is at the top of the list — you can expect to be active with draft night trades.

Jenna Corrado and I try to look into our crystal balls and predict the draft in this latest PBT Extra.

PBT Podcast: Should the Knicks take Justise Winslow? That and other draft questions.

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The top two slots in the NBA Draft are all but locked in — Karl Anthony Towns will go to the Timberwolves at No. 1 and Jahlil Okafor will go to the Lakers at No. 2. Anything you hear different is spin and smoke.

At No. 3 the draft gets interesting. Does Philadelphia take D’Angelo Russell? Kristaps Porzingis? Do they trade out? And what should the Knicks do at No. 4?

In this podcast we asked PBT’s resident draft expert Ed Isaacson what he would do if he were Phil Jackson and Okafor, Towns and Russell were off the board — and he said take Justise Winslow out of Duke.

We get into some detail breaking down the draft in this podcast, with Isaacson — of NBA Draft Blog and Rotoworld — answering the questions of  PBT’s Kurt Helin and NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard. There is love for Bobby Portis, questions about Robert Upshaw, talk about what to expect from Porzingis and Mario Hezonja, plus talk of Emmanuel Mudiay adventure in China. Plus much more.

Spend an hour with us and you will be better prepped for the draft. Promise.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.