Tag: Nerlens Noel

2015 NBA Draft

Lakers’ selection of D’Angelo Russell with No. 2 pick in NBA Draft causes chaos for Sixers, Knicks


NEW YORK — In the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft, the expectation was that Karl-Anthony Towns would go number one overall to the Timberwolves, and that Jahlil Okafor was too talented for the Lakers to pass up at two.

But even if Okafor does eventually evolve into the once in a generation post player that some project, L.A. is in the business of attempting to win now. And with its eyes on landing someone like LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love in free agency, or a disgruntled talent like DeMarcus Cousins in trade from a dysfunctional organization, that bevy of big man options was enough to send the Lakers looking in another direction.

D’Angelo Russell got the call, a 6’5″ point guard who can shoot the three and has as good a chance as anyone in this class of becoming a real star. And once he did, that threw a fairly large wrench into the plans of the Sixers at three, and the domino effect could have been strong enough to remove some very real options the Knicks may have had at four.

“I didn’t know at all, man,” Russell said, when asked if he had any advance notice that he’d be heading to Los Angeles. “I’m still in shock.”

That might be too strong a word to describe the feeling in the war room of the Philadelphia 76ers, but they had to at least be a little bit surprised. Having Okafor still on the board made the choice for Sam Hinkie and company easy, because taking the best available player, regardless of need, is the team’s currently prevailing philosophy.

But the rebuilding Sixers now have a logjam of talented frontcourt players, all of whom would seem to need a healthy dose of minutes in order to speed their development. Nerlens Noel averaged 30.8 minutes per game last season, and Okafor would like to see in the neighborhood of the same. But there’s Joel Embiid to consider, provided the setback he’s experienced with his foot injury doesn’t force him to miss some or all of a second consecutive season.

“Joel Embiid texted me last night and said, ‘See you in Philly,'” Okafor said. “He kind of jinxed me.”

Okafor has said all along that he wasn’t concerned with whether or not he might fall from one of the top two spots on draft night, and reiterated that stance after his fate became known.

“I wasn’t shocked,” Okafor said of ending up with the Sixers. “I knew I was going to be going to the NBA tonight. I was going to be a top-five pick no matter what happened, so I wasn’t shocked.”

Philadelphia needed to grab a guard here, after dealing a reigning Rookie of the Year in Michael Carter-Williams in part because he simply couldn’t shoot. With a seemingly sure thing in Russell now gone, however, and with Emmanuel Mudiay perhaps feeling like too big of a risk, the Sixers are now forced to try to make it work with three potentially franchise-changing big men, perhaps all at the same time.

“It’s not my job to figure it out,” Okafor said. “I’ll just go there and work as hard as I can.”

Similar words were spoken by Kristaps Porzingis, the international seven-footer with the sweet shooting stroke who was mercilessly booed after being selected by the Knicks.

“I mean, a lot of fans weren’t happy that they drafted me, but I have to do everything that’s in my hands to turn those booing fans into clapping fans,” Porzingis said. “For me it’s an honor to be a part of this organization, and I just can’t wait to let the season start and just get to work.”

Porzingis may vey well have ended up in New York because of L.A.’s unexpected choice. Phil Jackson told reporters that he had offers from other teams, but they were all contingent on how the first three picks played out. Had Okafor been gone as had been projected, the Sixers may very well have gone with Porzingis at three if they believed he was the best player left on the board — a possibility which had been previously reported, and one which could have unlocked all kinds of attractive offers for the Knicks.

The result, instead, is chaos in Philadelphia, and uncertainty in New York — all thanks to D’Angelo Russell landing in Los Angeles with the Lakers.

Report: Boston offered Marcus Smart as part of package for No. 3 pick, Philly said no thanks

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics

If you’re looking for a couple of teams you can expect to be active on draft night, start with Denver and Boston.

Denver has been dragged into the DeMarcus Cousins sinkhole, but the Celtics are circling that situation and would be interested if the Kings’ owner decides to move him.

But that’s not all the Celtics are doing, they tried to move up to the No. 3 pick, reports Broderick Turner at the Los Angeles Times. It just didn’t work.

The executives said the Celtics were looking to trade point guard Marcus Smart and the Nos. 16 and 28 picks in the first round to Philadelphia for center/forward Nerlens Noel and the No. 3 pick. But the 76ers, the executives said, weren’t interested.

I wouldn’t be either. Now, Smart and the 16 for just the three, maybe I listen if I’m in Philadelphia, at least until I remember I can draft D’Angelo Russell with the three, and he’s better than Smart. But I’m not moving the No. 3 and Noel for Smart, essentially.

One thing to remember, the offers that were made last week and over the weekend are the first part of the negotiations. Most of the time the talks wither and die, but occasionally the sides find some common ground and things get serious.

Still, nobody makes their best offer early; it will be Thursday night before anyone shows their cards — for example, what Boston would surrender for the No. 3 pick, and what the Sixers would take to move it. Most likely the talks between these teams are dead.

Then comes the Kincks with the No. 4 pick and… watch out.

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.

New report says D’Angelo Russell would be just fine playing in Philadelphia

D'Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

First came D’Angelo Russell missing a workout with the Sixers because he was “sick.” Clearly this was him trying to avoid going to Philadelphia… until he showed up for a rescheduled workout and killed it.

Then came the report that Russell doesn’t want to play in Philadelphia.

You had to know the counter to that report was coming, and it did from an incredibly reliable source — Jonathan Givony of Draft Express.

I know most fans in Philly want to see the team draft Russell because the impressive point guard out of Ohio State — a guy who can score but also has great court vision and passing skills — fits well on paper with a front line of Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid and, eventually, Dario Saric. I also know that having Sam Hinkie as your GM means a flood of rumors and reports, including reliable ones that Hinkie is seriously considering drafting seven-foot, sweet-shooting Euro Kristaps Porzingis.

As for the Russell rumors…

Two outside forces are at play here. First, the New York Knicks would love Russell to fall to them — if that happens, they keep the pick and take him. (The Knicks also would love Jahlil Okafor to fall to them, that’s not happening.) So if the Knicks can float rumors that make it less likely Philly takes Russell, why wouldn’t they do it? Second, Russell’s agent knows the marketing potential of his client landing in NYC, and he’d be far from the first agent to try and steer his client toward a major market in the draft.

All that said, none of it matters — if Hinkie and the Sixers decide Russell is their man, they can take him, and he basically has to play there. This isn’t the NFL where a top draft pick can Eli Manning his way to New York. If the Sixers draft Russell, he’ll go (unless he wants to sit out all basketball for a year, re-enter the draft, and then again be at the mercy of franchises he may not wish to play for).

The ball is in the Sixers court; they just may take that ball and go play in Europe.

Sixers CEO expects to get an answer on Joel Embiid ‘in a couple of weeks’

2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot

When the Sixers selected Joel Embiid with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, it marked the second straight year that the team grabbed a player it knew would sit out his entire rookie season due to injury.

Philadelphia’s strategy worked out just fine with Nerlens Noel, who looked great last season after missing all of 2013. And, the fact that he was unavailable helped the Sixers bottom out to the point where they were able to land Embiid in the first place.

But drafting injured players is fairly risky business. The Sixers are seeing that now with Embiid, who suffered a setback with his foot injury that may force him to miss a second straight season.

The team is hoping to get confirmation one way or another in the next couple of weeks.

From Keith Pompey of Philly.com:

“We’re still waiting,” [Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil] said. “We have another three doctors to come see him. The nice thing about jobs like these – you can literally get the best experts in the world. All you have to do is call and they love to see us.”

He added that the franchise could get an answer about the 7-foot center’s future in “a couple of weeks.” …

“We’re trying to figure out with a 21-year-old how do you focus wholly on long-term health and wellness and make sure he’s OK,” O’Neil said. “So what we’re doing now is seeing experts, the best experts from around the world, to make sure we make the right decisions with him and his family and do the best.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Embiid’s updated status has any effect on the team’s plans in the June 25 NBA Draft. The Sixers have the third overall pick, and for weeks it was believed that D’Angelo Russell would be their choice, assuming Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor go one and two as expected.

But the 7’1″ Kristaps Porzingis has recently been slotted in as a realistic selection for Philadelphia, which makes you wonder if Embiid’s situation is internally feared to be a worst-case scenario.