Tag: Dwight Howard

Michael Olowokandi

Tanks for nothing: Top pick usually not franchise-changer


OK, so Cleveland won the NBA Draft lottery again, and a couple thoughts come to mind. The first is that it was somewhat fun to see Milwaukee and Philadelphia — two teams that sure seemed to be tanking games last season — not get rewarded. That was a bit like seeing someone who cuts in line at the airport get stopped and sent to the back.

In truth, the lottery has rarely rewarded the worst team. Only three times in 25 lotteries (since the NBA changed the system to weigh the odds) has the worst team won the first pick in the lottery. Even that’s misleading: The 2003 Cavaliers, the year they got LeBron James, were tied with Denver for the worst record.

In 12 of the 25 lotteries — just about half of them — the No. 1 pick went to a team with fifth-worst record or better. The odds are supposed to be STRONGLY against those better teams, but maybe the power of the basketball gods (who loathe tanking — I know, I’ve talked to them) overwhelms the strength of mathematical odds.

MORE: Wiggins goes No. 1 in first Rotoworld mock draft

Or maybe, you know, it’s could just be randomness. Either way, this trend does not seem to have stopped teams from tanking.

The second thought is that the NBA Draft Lottery is auctioning off the wrong thing. The real luck isn’t in getting the No. 1 pick. The real luck is getting the No. 1 pick in the RIGHT YEAR. That is: to get the No. 1 pick in a year when a franchise-changing basketball player is coming out. In most years, having the No. 1 pick is not necessarily better than having the No. 9 pick. In 1998, for instance, the Los Angeles Clippers had the No. 1 pick. The Dallas Mavericks traded for the No. 9 pick.

The Clippers got Michael Olowokandi.

The Mavs got Dirk Nowitzki.

That Clippers team, with the third-worst record in the NBA, would have been WAY better off not getting the first pick. But even more to the point, they would have been WAY better off getting the first pick in the draft one year earlier, when even Donald Sterling’s traveling circus would have known to take Tim Duncan.

It’s fascinating to look at draft by draft since the lottery went into place. How often has the No. 1 pick changed a franchise?

1990: New Jersey Nets select Derrick Coleman.

Best player available: Gary Payton (No. 2)

Result: Coleman was a good player for the Nets, and the team did get better. But Coleman was not a franchise changer..


1991: Charlotte Hornets select Larry Johnson

Best player available: Dikembe Mutombo (No. 4)

Result: Johnson did put the Hornets on the map somewhat with his whole Grandmama act.

1992: Orlando Magic select Shaquille O’Neal

Best player available: Shaq.

Result: Franchise-changer (until they lost him to the Lakers)


1993: Orlando Magic select Chris Webber

Best player available: Probably Webber

Result: Magic traded Webber to Golden State right away for Penny Hardaway, who was a super fun player until injuries wrecked him. Webber had a fine career but was only in Golden State for a year.


1994: Milwaukee Bucks select Glenn Robinson

Best player available: Jason Kidd (No. 2)

Result: Robinson was a bit of a disappointment, but he and Ray Allen did lead Bucks through an often magical 2000-01 season.


1995:  Golden State Warriors select Joe Smith

Best player available: Kevin Garnett (No. 5)

Result: Joe Smith didn’t pan out for Warriors and ended up playing for — this will look like a misprint — 12 different NBA teams.


1996: Philadelphia 76ers select Allen Iverson

Best player available: Kobe Bryant (No. 13)

Result: Bryant, Steve Nash and Ray Allen all might have been better picks. But, for better and worse, Iverson did change the Philadelphia franchise.


1997: San Antonio Spurs select Tim Duncan

Best player available: Duncan

Result: The all-time lottery franchise changer.


1998: Los Angeles Clippers select Michael Olowokandi

Best player available: Anyone else, but Nowitzki (No. 9) and Paul Pierce (No. 10) might have been good places to start.

Result: Biggest bust in lottery history. So far.


1999: Chicago Bulls select Elton Brand

Best player available: Shawn Marion (No. 9)

Result: Good player but little to no impact on the Bulls — they traded him after two years.


2000: New Jersey Nets select Kenyon Martin

Best player available: Maybe Hedo Turkoglu (No. 16). Weak draft.

Result: Martin, when healthy, was a good player. He was a key player in the Nets’ back-to-back finals appearances in 2001 and 2002.


2001: Washington Wizards select Kwame Brown

Best player available: Pau Gasol (No. 3) or Tony Parker (No. 28)

Result: No that didn’t work out.


2002: Houston Rockets select Yao Ming

Best player available: Yao when healthy; Amar’e Stoudemire (No. 9) has had a good career.

Result: Yao was a wonderful player and a game-changer when healthy.


2003: Cleveland Cavaliers select LeBron James

Best player available: James.

Result: Not just a franchise-changer, he was a franchise-saver. Until he took his talents to South Beach.


2004: Orlando Magic select Dwight Howard

Best player available: Howard

Result: Franchise changer for sure but only once, in 2009, has his team made a serious playoff run.


2005: Milwaukee Bucks select Andrew Bogut

Best player available: Chris Paul (No. 4)

Result: Bogut hasn’t stayed healthy enough to be impactful, though he has been a strong rebounder and defender when on the court.


2006: Toronto Raptors select Andrea Bargnani

Best player available: Probably LaMarcus Aldridge (No. 2) or Rajon Rondo (No. 21)

Result: Bargnani, now with New York, has played well at times, but his impact on Toronto was almost zero.


2007: Portland Trail Blazers select Greg Oden

Best player available: Kevin Durant (No. 2)

Result: Unfortunate.


MORE: The star-struck career of Greg Oden



2008: Chicago Bulls select Derrick Rose

Best player available: Kevin Love (No. 5) or Russell Westbrook (No.4).

Result: My thought is Rose IS the best and most impactful player out of that draft. But you can’t impact games when you’re not on the court.


2009: Los Angeles Clippers select Blake Griffin

Best player available: Griffin, James Harden (No. 3) or Steph Curry (No. 7)

Result: I think everyone is still waiting on the result. The Clippers franchise HAS changed for the better, and Griffin is a huge reason. Still, I think, going forward, I’d rather have Curry.


2010: Washington Wizards select John Wall

Best player available: Paul George (No. 10)

Result: This year was Wall’s first 82-game season. And this year he showed signs of turning around the Wizards fortunes.


2011: Cleveland Cavaliers select Kyrie Irving

Best player available: Maybe Irving. Maybe Kawhi Leonard (No. 15).

Result: Too early to tell. Irving is a very good player but the Cavaliers franchise has not taken a step forward since Lebron’s departure.


2012: New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans select Anthony Davis

Best player available: Probably Davis

Result: Too early to tell. Pelicans do seem to be getting better slowly.


2013: Cleveland Cavaliers select Anthony Bennett

Best player available: No way to know yet. Maybe Michael Carter-Williams or Tim Hardaway or Mason Plumlee.

Result: One year isn’t enough to tell much, but Bennett did look badly overmatched.


So, I would say in the 25 years of this lottery, there have been eight or nine franchise-changers taken No. 1 — 10 if Portland had selected Kevin Durant —  which means most of the time the No. 1 pick has NOT altered a franchise.

And chances are that this year’s No. 1 pick will not be a franchise-changer. There are probably three choices — Duke’s Jabari Parker, Kansas’ Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins. Three choices suggest that (A) There isn’t a clear-cut choice which is often a bad sign and (B) if there is one franchise-changer in here, the Cavaliers only have a 33 percentchance of picking him. There is new management in place but let’s be honest: The Anthony Bennett selection last year doesn’t inspire confidence that the Cavaliers will get it right.

Maybe the Cavaliers will have a lottery to determine who should be their first pick. If there’s one thing the Cavs are good at it’s winning lotteries.

Hakeem Olajuwon named NBA Ambassador to Africa

Dwight Howard works out with Hakeem Olajuwon

Hakeem Olajuwon has spent the last few years training NBA players – from Dwight Howard to LeBron James to Rudy Gay – on the finer points of post play.

Now, the former Houston Rockets great is moving onto more important work.

NBA release:

Two-time NBA Champion and Basketball Hall-of-Famer Hakeem Olajuwon was today named NBA Ambassador to Africa and will play a prominent role in the development of basketball on the continent.

Olajuwon will work closely with the NBA Africa office, which is located in Johannesburg and led by Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA Vice President for Development in Africa. The Nigerian native will represent the NBA through a range of basketball development events and NBA Cares activities across the region to help grow the game, give back to communities in need, and bring attention to diplomacy through sport.

“Basketball has given me so much in life,” said Olajuwon. “In this new role I am looking forward to impacting young Africans and utilizing the power of sport to help change lives in what is an exciting new chapter in my career.”

“We are elated that one of the greatest to ever play the game, a son of Africa, and a legend of Hakeem’s stature will officially represent the NBA in Africa,” said Amadou Gallo Fall. “He truly embodies the values of the game, and will be a great ambassador for the league and a perfect role model for Africa’s youth.”

Olajuwon recently participated in the launch of “Power Forward,” the ExxonMobil, NBA and Africare’s development program launched in Abuja, Nigeria last November. Prior to that he visited South Africa last August and attended the Nelson Mandela Sport and Culture Day celebrations at the International Convention Centre and the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olajuwon was selected with the number one pick in the 1984 NBA Draft, becoming the first African player selected first overall. His playing highlights include: 12-time NBA All-Star, two-time NBA Champion (1994, ‘95), NBA Most Valuable Player (’94), and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (’93, ’94). He is the only player in league history to be named MVP, Finals MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season (1993-94).

The NBA has a long history in Africa with more than 30 players from the continent playing in the league since 1984. Basketball without Borders Africa has been held 11 times on the continent and the league opened its African office in Johannesburg in 2010.

Since 2003, the NBA has worked with community-based organizations to create 38 places to live, learn or play in Africa, including youth hostels, kitchens, sports complexes, health facilities, Habitat for Humanity homes, and basketball courts in Angola, Botswana, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, Cameroon, South Sudan, and South Africa.

The Nigerian native has always expressed pride in his African roots, and that should help him connect to the people he’ll be helping. Olajuwon could really excel and make a difference in this role.

It’s a great opportunity for Olajuwon and the NBA to do good.

2014 NBA lottery is 100 percent fixed. Probably. Sort of.

Adam Silver

Adam Silver’s NBA is no better than David Stern’s. The lottery is still fixed.

If you want to see the lottery odds the league is pitching, take a look. But I have the real odds – and proof of the conspiracy.

Two years ago – before the lottery – I wrote:

The NBA no longer owns the Hornets, but is still committed to keeping them in New Orleans. With their arena improvements needing approval of the state legislature in July, the Hornets could ride the Anthony Davis buzz and ensure there are no hitches. The league spent a year-and-a-half trying to sell the team without finding a buyer, so maybe Tom Benson needed a No. 1 pick thrown in the deal. David Stern has also meddled in the Hornets’ business before, in the Chris Paul trade. Davis would help Eric Gordon, and therefore Stern’s reputation, because Stern was the one who handpicked Gordon for the Hornets rather than taking the Lakers’ offer.

Of course, the Hornets got the No. 1 pick. It was so obvious.

And then last year, again before the lottery:

Stern desperately wants to create a Cavaliers-Heat rivalry to boost rankings, and to do so, he must make the Cavaliers better. Dan Gilbert remained loyal during the lockout, and especially after LeBron became the worst example of players seizing control from teams, Stern will reward Gilbert with a second No. 1 pick.

Yup, Cleveland got the No. 1 pick. Saw that coming.

Isn’t it always convenient how the most-obvious team wins the lottery? That happening proves it’s fixed. If it were truly random, a team other than the one you know the league wants to win would at least sometimes get the No. 1 pick. But that literally never happens.

RELATED: Complete 2014 NBA draft lottery preview

Here are the true lottery odds:

Milwaukee Bucks

Odds of winning the lottery: 25 percent 100 percent

Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry just bought the Bucks, and they were determined to complete the sale before the lottery. Suspicious timing. Obviously, the NBA offered the No. 1 pick to grease the wheels. There’s no other explanation why a team Forbes valued at $405 million sold for $550 million. Milwaukee is worth that – only with a No. 1 pick thrown in.

Philadelphia 76ers

Odds of winning the lottery: 19.9 percent 100 percent

Last year, 76ers president Rod Thorn became the NBA’s president of basketball operations. He’ll reward his former employers with the No. 1 pick. Even if Thorn wanted to take the high road, the 76ers really forced the league’s hand here. By tanking, their attendance fell 2,848 fans per game from last season – by far the biggest drop in the NBA. The league can’t afford to have such dismal numbers in such a large market, so it will expedite Philadelphia’s rebuild.

Orlando Magic 

Odds of winning the lottery: 15.6 percent 100 percent

Cleveland lost LeBron James and then got the No. 1 pick. New Orleans lost Chris Paul and then got the No. 1 pick. Orlando lost Dwight Howard and then… Cleveland got the No. 1 pick. OK, I guess LeBron was worth two compensatory No. 1s. But now that the Magic deferred a year, they’ll get the top pick. The NBA doesn’t let teams suffer too much after losing a superstar, and Orlando has paid its dues.

Utah Jazz

Odds of winning the lottery: 10.4 percent 100 percent

Though Andrew Wiggins is still the likely No. 1 pick, don’t rule out Jabari Parker. He’s more polished, and that could give him the edge in many statistical models teams use. So, the NBA will give the Jazz the top pick to ensure they get Parker. A Mormon star in Utah would have HUGE marketing potential. Parker could be bigger than Malone.

Boston Celtics

Odds of winning the lottery: 10.3 percent 100 percent

The Celtics are a flagship franchise, and they play in the Northeast, an area the NBA is biased toward. The last time Boston floundered, Kevin Garnett was conveniently sent there by former Celtic Kevin McHale. The Celtics have moles all over the the league. They’re leaning on their connections – established over years of excellent and money-making play – to get a No. 1 pick. The Boston market is too valuable to the NBA to allow another season like the last.

Los Angeles Lakers

Odds of winning the lottery: 6.3 percent 100 percent

Los Angeles is the biggest market in the lottery, and the NBA wants to keep putting the Lakers on national television. The league can’t do that as long as they remain this bad. The No. 1 pick would turn the Lakers back into marketing giants and bring streams and streams of revenue to the NBA. Did I mention money? Money, so much money. This No. 1 pick, in Los Angeles, could swing billions.

Sacramento Kings

Odds of winning the lottery: 4.3 percent 100 percent

The Sacramento City Council will meet at 6 p.m. locally vote on whether to fund the Kings’ new arena – essentially immediately after the lottery results are televised (show begins at 5 p.m. in California). The implication is clear: Give us the No. 1 pick, or we vote no. Now that the Sacramento City Councilors have made their demands, will the NBA acquiesce? Yes, yes it will.

Detroit Pistons

Odds of winning the lottery: 2.8 percent 100 percent

Andre Drummond has developed a cult following of fans, and the NBA sees potential. With Stan Van Gundy helping him to refine his game, all Drummond needs is another star. Then, the Pistons are set, and the league can market Drummond – who’s young, charismatic and exciting – both locally and nationally. The Pistons’ attendance is highly volatile, swinging based on the team’s quality. Across the country, people will be drawn to Drummond – as long as he plays for a winner.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.7 percent 100 percent

I don’t know what Dan Gilbert is blackmailing the NBA with, but it sure works. Two No. 1 picks in three years is unprecedented in the current weight setup. Gilbert tried showing restraint on his golden goose, exercising his ability to get a top pick only every other year. But now, the Cavaliers owner is getting desperate. He traded for Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes and still couldn’t make the playoffs, and Anthony Bennett sure deserves a mulligan. Gilbert will cash in again.

Denver Nuggets

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.5 percent 100 percent

Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke also owns the St. Louis Rams, who just drafted Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player. In the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, the NBA wants to draw attention to its most tolerant owners – even if their most-notable acts came in another sport. Denver getting the No. 1 pick will put the spotlight on Kroenke and his open-mindedness at a time the league really needs people like him at the forefront.

New Orleans Pelicans

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.1 percent 100 percent

The team formerly owned by the NBA will definitely get the No. 1 pick. The league took over the franchise just to keep it in New Orleans, a point of pride after Hurricane Katrina. But the Pelicans still rank in the bottom third of the league in attendance. Anthony Davis has certainly helped. One more No. 1 pick will really get New Orleans over the hump.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.6 percent 100 percent

The NBA owners held a lockout with a goal of breaking up the Miami’s Big Three. Not only do the other owners not want super teams to be sustainable, they want to prevent them from forming by keeping their own stars – and they geared the rules toward that. They’ll gear the lottery toward that too, giving Minnesota the No. 1 pick and a much better chance of keeping Kevin Love.

Phoenix Suns

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.5 percent 100 percent

The Suns were the only lottery team competing hard until the end of the season, and Silver will reward that. The new commissioner has shown a willingness to overhaul the draft system, moving toward a setup that no longer encourages failure. He’s on record as interested in a play-in model for the final playoff spots, too – something that really would have helped Phoenix this season. But those type of big-picture fixes take time to implement. For now, Silver can just give the Suns the No. 1 pick as an end-around to achieving the outcome he believes should occur. It’s like a team getting the ball when touching it last going out of bounds following an uncalled foul on the opponent – and we know that’s approved in Silver’s NBA.

Commit these to memory now, or if you forget, check back after the lottery to see why it was rigged. After tonight, you only need to remember one of these outcomes – but then remember it forever and let all the sheeple know the truth.

Why Kevin Love might opt in to the final season of his contract

Kevin Love

Kevin Love wants to leave Minnesota, and the Timberwolves might trade him.

But they’ll trade him only if they get an enticing offer. Otherwise, it makes more sense to take their chances – no matter how slim – that Love actually follows through and leaves money on the table to depart Minnesota in 2015.

So, how can Love persuade the Warriors, Bulls, Rockets, Celtics or any other team to make Minnesota a satisfactory proposal?

He can agree to remain under contract beyond next season.

Knowing Love can become a free agent in 2015 will lower the quality of assets teams will relinquish in a trade for him. After the Lakers traded for Dwight Howard only to see him walk in free agency a year later, teams will be especially hesitant to get caught in the same position.

But Love can put those concerns at ease by agreeing to an extend-and-trade or exercising his 2015-16 player option ($16,744,219) contingent on a deal. And by agreeing to do either only for certain teams, he can effectively dictate where he’s traded.

Love will make $15,719,063 next season. After that, the ball is mostly in his court.

Here are the paths Love’s max salary could travel over the upcoming years depending on whether he opts in (green), opts out (blue) or agrees to an extend and trade (black) using a rough salary-cap estimate that increases each year by the amount it’s projected to this year.


Salary by year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Extend and trade $16,744,219 $17,497,709
Opt out, re-sign $18,975,014 $20,398,140 $21,821,266 $23,244,392 $24,667,518
Opt out, sign elsewhere $18,975,014 $19,828,889 $20,682,765 $21,536,640
Opt in, re-sign $16,744,219 $20,241,770 $21,759,903 $23,278,036 $24,796,169 $26,314,301
Opt in, sign elsewhere $16,744,219 $20,241,770 $21,152,650 $22,063,530 $22,974,409


Salary through year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Extend and trade $16,744,219 $34,241,928
Opt out, re-sign $18,975,014 $39,373,153 $61,194,419 $84,438,810 $109,106,328
Opt out, sign elsewhere $18,975,014 $38,803,903 $59,486,668 $81,023,308
Opt in, re-sign $16,744,219 $36,985,989 $58,745,892 $82,023,928 $106,820,097 $133,134,399
Opt in, sign elsewhere $16,744,219 $36,985,989 $58,138,639 $80,202,169 $103,176,578


It’s in Love’s best financial interest – whether he opts in or out – to re-sign with whatever team he’s playing for when his contract expires. That’s why it’s important Love plays his cards correctly now.

An extend and trade (if signed after the the July moratorium) would best serve Love if he opts in to the final year of his existing contract, but the deal could last only one additional season. Financially, it’s a poor option, but guaranteeing his next team three years might be the best way to secure a trade.

Most likely, though, Love can arrange a trade by opting in to the final year of his contract as a condition of the deal – giving his next team two years with him. If Love opts in to his final year of his contract, not only would his new team get an additional year of Love, it could use that extra year to re-trade him if it doesn’t believe he’ll re-sign.

Possibly, a team would trade for Love without the guarantee he’ll opt in. But, again, that’s headed toward the area where teams might not surrender enough to convince Minnesota to pull the trigger.

If Love wants to force a trade, he has some leverage. Opting in to the final year of his contract would cost him money next season, but if that’s what it takes to get him to place he wants to re-sign, it will make him money in the long run.

Report: Add Celtics, Rockets to the list of teams ready to make a run at trading for Kevin Love

Kevin Love, Quincy Acy

When it rains it pours, and once the initial reports emerged stating that Kevin Love will be looking to leave Minnesota as a free agent following the conclusion of next season, the floodgates opened with speculation of teams Love could end up with should the Timberwolves choose to trade him before that decision can be made.

The Warriors and Bulls are considered the leading destinations for Love if he were to be traded, mainly because he would need to agree to sign a max contract in his new situation in order for teams to give up the types of assets required to obtain his services. The Knicks, Lakers, and Suns are further down the list in some order, and a couple of other teams have come forward as ones that will be sure to take part in the bidding process.

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Boston Celtics have emerged as an increasingly intriguing destination for Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Love, and the Celtics’ draft position coming out of Tuesday night’s lottery could be telltale in determining the feasibility of a trade, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

If the lottery percentages hold to form, Boston would draft in the No. 5 slot, which could hold appeal to Minnesota in this talent-rich draft. If Boston moves up and cracks one of the top three spots, general manager Danny Ainge would have a more difficult decision to make on using the pick in a deal for Love. …

The Houston Rockets also plan to make a run at a trade for Love, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Officials believe Love’s close relationship and respect for coach Kevin McHale could give the Rockets an edge.

Let’s start with the Celtics. While a top-five pick in what appears to be a very deep draft is a great place to begin in terms of offers for Love, assuming Rajon Rondo stays (and that’s a huge assumption), is that really going to be perceived as an upgrade, or a better situation in Love’s mind to get him to sign there long-term? It’s tough to envision, at least as that roster is currently constructed.

The Rockets are more intriguing due to the star power already in place with Dwight Howard and James Harden, but the biggest knock on Love has been his defense, and Houston is already awful enough in that area that they were run out of the gym by an athletic Blazers team full of shooters in the first round of the playoffs this season.

Go ahead and add Boston and Houston to the long list of suitors, but neither make a whole lot of sense if Love’s goal is to play for a large market franchise that’s poised to win in the somewhat immediate future.