Kurt Helin

Report: Maryland freshman center Diamond Stone to declare for draft, hold off on agent

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Diamond Stone is a perfect example of why the new NCAA guidelines on declaring for the draft are infinitely better than the old version.

That said, the Maryland freshman center will test the waters, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

A year ago Stone would be coming up on a hard-and-fast deadline — declare and you’re committed to the NBA draft. This year, Stone is declaring, but by not taking on an agent he can get evaluations from NBA teams on his draft stock then make an informed decision on staying in the draft or returning to college.

Stone is projected as a late first-round pick; DraftExpress.com has him going 23rd. Players selected in the first round of the draft get guaranteed deals in the NBA for at least two seasons (and most times a third and fourth year are picked up by the team). However, if he were to slip to the second round (just eight spots) he would have no guarantee of an NBA roster spot or money.

PBT’s NBA Draft expert — and Rotoworld writer — Ed Isaacson had this breakdown of Stone’s game for PBT before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

As the season went on, Stone became a force in the middle for Maryland, giving them strong play on both ends of the floor. At 6’11” and 255 pounds, Stone can be an imposing figure in the post, and he showed impressive skill and footwork for his age. He uses his body well to make his way to the basket, and he has no problem getting physical when hitting the offensive boards. Stone built a good on-court rapport with point guard Melo Trimble, and the duo became very tough to stop in pick-and-roll situations, as well as Stone getting open space around the basket off of Trimble’s penetration. Defensively, other than what seemed like normal freshman lapses, Stone more than held his own in a conference with some quality big men.

That sounds like the kind of guy who has a game that fits in the NBA, the kind of player who climbs draft boards, not slides down them. But Stone will hear from the people doing the drafting, then get to make his call.

Report: Memphis will not bring Mike Conley back for end of season, playoffs

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Associated Press
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This was ultimately both feared and expected, but Memphis was holding out hope that things would be different.

When point guard Mike Conley went out with Achilles tendonitis in early March is was reported he would be out three to four weeks, which would have him back for the playoffs. However, the team was going to be cautious — they already lost Mario Chalmers to a ruptured Achilles this season and didn’t want to put a star point guard heading into free agency at risk.

Now comes word from Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal that Conley is done for the season and playoffs.

The Commercial Appeal independently confirmed that Conley was re-evaluated last week by team doctors. It was determined that it is in Conley’s best interest to not return to action until the 2016-17 season.

Barring a miraculous recovery by the time the postseason begins, Conley still walks with a limp, experiences soreness in the Achilles and requires a walking boot. The franchise and Conley, who will be a free agent this summer, are taking a cautious approach to his long-term future.

As they should.

This is not going to diminish Conley’s value on the free agent market this summer. He has said it would be hard to leave Memphis — he worked hard to recruit Marc Gasol to stay last summer — and Memphis can offer the most money if they max him out. However, the New York Knicks among others are known to be interested and will make a run at Conley come July 1.

Stephen Curry: Allen Iverson inspired me to defy basketball odds

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Allen Iverson is a Hall of Famer.

Deservedly so. Nobody pushed their abilities to the edge, nobody defied the conventional basketball wisdom — on and off the court — like Allen Iverson. That made him a hero to a generation.

And it inspired Stephen Curry, the Warriors’ guard told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“He was a guy I loved watching, just his entertainment value and knowing his story,” Curry recently told CSNPhilly.com. “It was inspiring just to know that you can defy a lot of odds and be yourself while you’re out there on the court playing and changing the game. Everybody used to imitate his crossover moves, obviously starting with the one on [Michael] Jordan and every other one that he did in his career.”

Curry saw what Iverson can do up close. Back in 2001 Stephen’s father Dell Curry was on the Raptors team taking on Iverson’s Sixers in the second round — a series where Iverson averaged 33.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 3.1 steals a game, and the Sixers took it in seven.

“My dad was on that Toronto team so we went to the games, watched,” Curry, who was a teenager at the time, said. “You’d see him out on the floor and you just kind of didn’t think what he was doing was possible. His motor never stopped. His competitiveness and desire out there, he played with so much spirit and passion. You loved watching A.I. play because of what he brought to the table.”

By the way, this is a mutual admiration society — Iverson is a big Curry fan.

Part of what makes both Curry and Iverson special is they are relatable in a physical sense. It’s hard to relate to the physical specimen that is LeBron James, or Anthony Davis, or Kevin Durant — it’s not that they are not fun to watch, but we don’t know what it’s like to be 6’9″ and fast as a gazelle. But Iverson was 6-foot (officially, that may be in shoes) and Curry is 6’3″ and skinny. They are the size of guys you play pickup against on the playground. You can relate.

And they can inspire.

NBC’s PBT Podcast: NBA end of season awards preview with Dan Feldman

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MVP? Stephen Curry.

Rookie of the Year? Karl-Anthony Towns.

However, not all of the NBA’s end-of-season awards will be such obvious and easy calls this year. Sixth Man of the Year could go a lot of directions. Can you vote Steve Kerr Coach of the Year if he only coached half the year?

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports and ProBasketballtalk discuss all the major end of season awards in this podcast.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Jazz D-League team on move from Idaho to Salt Lake City

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Back in the ABA days, from 1971-76, there were the Salt Lake Stars. The first major professional sports team in the city, they won the ABA title in 1971 coached by Bill Sharman (former Celtics star and Lakers’ coach) and led in scoring by Zelmo Beaty.

The Stars are back.

The Utah Jazz are moving the D-League’s Idaho Stampede — a team the Jazz own and operate — to Salt Lake City starting next season, the team announced Monday.

“We are thrilled to bring an NBA D-League team to Salt Lake City and in close proximity to the Utah Jazz,” said Steve Starks, president of Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment. “The Salt Lake City Stars will provide further opportunities to promote the game of basketball, extend the reach of the Jazz, and engage with our surrounding communities in new ways.”

“The relocation of our D-League team to Utah will further align our efforts in player development and basketball operations to support the Jazz,” said Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz general manager. “The close relationship will strengthen our team on the court by providing our younger players a chance to grow in an environment that is consistent with Jazz basketball. Additionally, it serves as a training ground for all aspects of our organization, from coaches to support personnel.”

The advantage for the Jazz is simply proximity. Basically, center Tibor Pleiss will be closer to them should they want to call him up.

As teams get added to the D-League — the league hopes for a 30-team D-League someday — expect teams to be located closer to their NBA partner. It just makes sense economically and logistically for the team.