Tag: CLG

Celebrities Attend Philadelphia 76ers Vs New York Knicks Game - April 05, 2015

Phil Jackson hints he’s going to make a pick at No. 4, not trade it. But who?


What is Phil Jackson going to do with the Knicks’ No. 4 pick if Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell are off the board when it’s his turn Thursday night?

The conventional wisdom is he would trade it, find a team that coveted Kristaps Porzingis and was willing to swap picks and give up a reliable veteran to move up. 

Don’t bet on it.

Sounds more like Jackson is going to use that pick unless someone steps up with a better offer and blows his doors off. Jackson met with the New York media on Tuesday, and here’s what he said, via Marc Berman at the New York Post.

“We’re listening,’’ Jackson said. “We’re not soliciting so much, but we are listening.’’

Asked the percentage of striking a deal on Thursday’s Draft Night to turn the fourth pick into multiple assets, Jackson said, “Short percentage. Small percentage.’’

So who does he take? Don’t bet on Porzingis — the seven-footer may have upside, but he’s years away from fully showing it. The Knicks don’t have that kind of time (and are not a franchise exactly know for player development). Plus, Jackson noted that Porzingis cramped up and couldn’t finish the workout the Knicks put him through.

There’s been buzz that the Knicks are looking at Wisconsin’s star big Frank Kaminsky. Jackson may be enamored because Kaminsky’s skill set fits the triangle — he is comfortable playing on the block or out on the perimeter. 

“We’re looking for mature kids who have a reasonable understanding of their skills and have had some success in the past because of it,’’ Jackson said.

Sources have indicated Jackson is looking at this draft for a player who can help immediately. When asked directly if older players are good or bad, Jackson said, “It seems to be a negative at this particular time in the history of the NBA, but it’s really a positive for a lot of teams looking to have a player to move into the lineup right away. He doesn’t have to be nurtured and trained.’’

I’m with PBT’s draft expert Ed Isaacson (as discussed on the PBT Podcast) — if Russell is off the board, the Knicks should take Justise Winslow, the small forward out of Duke. He would instantly be the best defender on New York’s roster, he’s got the kind of skills the Knicks need on the wing with the triangle, and the biggest knock is he needs to improve his shooting, yet he shot 41 percent from three last season. I think he’s a future All-Star in the NBA.

Jahlil Okafor tells PBT he’s ready to learn from Kobe, prove he can play defense

NBA Draft Prospect Jahlil Okafor Workout

LOS ANGELES — Not everybody wants to play with Kobe Bryant. Some players see him dominate the ball for long stretches of the game, followed by overcompensation with overpassing — followed by frustration from him if this strategy doesn’t work. He’s demanding of his teammates and himself. That has worked to the tune of five titles, but it can wear guys down. So some choose to play elsewhere.

Jahlil Okafor is not going to have a choice — he is a borderline lock to be selected by Kobe’s Los Angeles Lakers with the No.2 pick in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. (He’s their guy, unless the unlikely happens and the Lakers trade the pick.)

Okafor is pumped at the idea of spending a season (or two, or…) learning from one of the game’s greats.

“I think I can learn a ton,” Okafor told NBCSports’ ProBasketballTalk. “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.”

Okafor has had two pre-draft workouts with the Lakers, and both reportedly went well.

“I like the staff, I like the coaches, I like Mitch Kupchak, it was a great vibe…” Okafor said of the workouts. “I saw a fit (with the Lakers), but I saw a fit with all the teams in the top five, the top six.”

The one thing that came out of workouts, both with the Lakers and other teams, is that Okafor has slimmed down and looks more mobile and lighter on his feet. Okafor confirmed he’s dropped some pounds.

“When my ankle got 100 percent healed — throughout the college season I was not 100 percent … I was playing on a bad ankle — when that healed, I was able to pick up my workout regimen more than when I got hurt,” Okafor said “I was able to work out three times a day, and, as a result, my weight went down.”

Okafor is sharing his story heading into the draft as part of the American Express Home Court Advantage Rookie Draft Desk Series. That is done in partnership with the NBA and includes Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell and Frank Kaminsky. The best part of the page is the roundtable, where all four sit around and talk about their stories and how they got to the cusp of the NBA Draft.

“It was a great opportunity for myself and with the three other guys I was with — Frank, D’Angelo, Karl — it’s great to share our stories and really let the fans see us, and present us as we really want to presented,” Okafor said. “I really enjoyed it and the other guys did as well.”

The one knock on Okafor heading into the draft has been his defense at Duke. This has morphed online for some fans who now think he’s terrible on that end, which is not the case. He does need work, but there are mitigating factors. Besides the ankle injury, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski wanted to run the offense through Okafor, so at the top of his list of instructions was to stay out of foul trouble. That does not lead to aggression.

Okafor isn’t worried about his defense.

“I thought I played well on both ends of the floor,” Okafor said. “My coaches did as well, they didn’t have any complaints and we won a national championship. I was so a bad defensive player, Duke was a bad defensive team too — that one was put out there — but somehow we win a national championship.”

As PBT’s Draft Expert Ed Isaacson noted during our draft podcast, if you have someone with the footwork of Okafor there is no reason to think he will not be able to defend. It’s just a matter of focus and practice, but the work ethic and fundamentals are there.

“That’s something Coach K said, I move my feet so well that I could definitely handle the defensive end,” Okafor said. “As the season progressed I improved, and Coach K was happy with me.”

And the Lakers and their fans will likely be very happy with him, too.

NBA invites 19 players to NBA Draft green room Thursday

2015 NBA Draft Lottery
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Other players will crash the party and just show up in the stands. Others will throw their own party at home on Thursday night.

But 19 guys got official invites to the big party Thursday in Brooklyn — the NBA Draft.

The NBA announced the 19 guys who got invites to the green room Thursday night, meaning they are expected to go in the first round.

  • Devin Booker (Kentucky)
  • Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky)
  • Sam Dekker (Wisconsin)
  • Jerian Grant (Notre Dame)
  • Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Arizona)
  • Stanley Johnson (Arizona)
  • Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin)
  • Kevon Looney (UCLA)
  • Trey Lyles (Kentucky)
  • Emmanuel Mudiay (Democratic Republic of Congo)
  • Jahlil Okafor (Duke)
  • Kelly Oubre, Jr. (Kansas)
  • Cameron Payne (Murray State)
  • Bobby Portis (Arkansas)
  • Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia)
  • D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State)
  • Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky)
  • Myles Turner (Texas)
  • Justise Winslow (Duke)

According to DraftExpress.com, three players were offered green room invites by the league but turned them down: R.J. Hunter, Delon Wright and Tyus Jones.

What seems certain is that Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will go first and second to the Timberwolves and Lakers. After that… who knows? Sam Hinkie and the Sixers are leaning D’Angelo Russell according to the reports I hear, but Kristaps Porzingis is in the mix. And a lot of teams want Porzingis and might be willing to trade up to get him.

If you want to get some prep in on this guys before draft night, I recommend checking out the most recent PBT Podcast, with Ed Isaacson of NBADraftBlog. We talk about a lot of these guys, their strengths and weaknesses, and where they might land.

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

NBA Draft Prospects Workout 2015

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

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.