Who cares about the players? NCAA kills testing draft waters.

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I thought colleges were about helping students with guidance and some expertise when making life-changing decisions.

But not if your college basketball player.

The NCAA approved a ridiculous rule that moves the deadline day for a college player to declare for the draft up to the day before the spring National Letter of Intent signing period. This year that would have been April 12. One week after the national championship game.

So good luck college baller, you have eight days to gather information, talk to reliable sources and find out whether you should pull out of college and enter the NBA draft or not. Biggest decision of your life. But be sure to rush it.

Who this benefits is coaches, who learn earlier who they need to replace. It also benefits universities and their free labor sources.

Before you start making the “they are getting a free education” argument, we are not talking about 95 percent of college basketball players here. For the vast majority of guys playing college basketball, going on to the NBA is not really an option (a dream, sure, but not a reality). For them, they are staying in school and getting their education (hopefully, but that’s another issue).

But the 100 or so top players — the best players at their schools, the guys the universities make the most money on in terms of ticket sales, jersey sales and more — whether or not to declare for the draft is a huge decision. Frankly, it’s a much easier decision if you are Kyrie Irving or someone who every legitimate source says is a top pick or near it.

But for the guy who has some people around him saying he’s a lottery pick while others are saying he might not get drafted, the guy getting pressured by people at the university to stay, some time to work out for and talk to NBA scouts and front office people and get an honest assessment is key. It’s the difference in making a smart informed decision or leaving a college student to guess at his future.

We thought that colleges were about helping students make educated decisions. But not the NCAA, not when its own self-interests are involved.

James Harden scores 61, ties Kobe Bryant’s Madison Square Garden visitor’s record (VIDEO)

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James Harden has been on a Wilt Chamberlain-level streak the past few weeks, it’s unlike anything we have seen in the modern NBA.

Wednesday night he topped himself.

James Harden scored 61 points against the Knicks. That would be:

• Harden’s career high.
• Tied with Kobe Bryant for most points scored by an opponent in Madison Square Garden (Carmelo Anthony holds the overall record at 62).
• A Rockets’ franchise record.
• His 21st consecutive 30-point game, tying Chamberlain for fourth-longest such streak in league history.

Oh, and Harden had the seal and dunk that sealed the win.

Harden also had 15 rebounds in the game. The last player to have 60+ points and 15+ rebounds in a game? Some guy named Shaquille O’Neal back on March 6, 2000, with the Lakers.

Harden is playing like an MVP — and the banged-up Rockets need him to if they are to have a chance to win every night.

Report: Wizards not trading Bradley Beal, but if team slips Otto Porter could be available

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The Washington Wizards have won 7-of-10 and have climbed up to the nine seed, just a couple of games out of the playoffs in the East. Without John Wall, the Wizards are making a push to get into the postseason.

Which impacts whether they are willing to trade players at the deadline.

The Wizards are not trading Bradley Beal — the most coveted of their stars — but might be open to Otto Porter trades if the team slides back, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Wizards star guard Bradley Beal is not going anywhere, which Washington has made adamantly clear, league sources told The Athletic. Depending on how the next week to two weeks shape up, the Wizards could look more aggressively toward moving Otto Porter. The Utah Jazz have been an interested suitor for Porter, league sources said.

History suggests the Wizards will not be sellers. The pattern for owner Ted Leonsis and GM Ernie Grunfeld has always been to think short term and make the playoff push, even when it was not the smart thing to do. We should expect that again. Maybe Washington crawls into one of the final playoff slots in the East, but is that the smart play?

Don’t expect the Wizards to move Porter, even if they wanted to finding a team to take on his $26 million for 13 points a game this season would be difficult (although Utah would be a good fit), plus Porter is owed $27.3 million next season and has a player option he very likely will pick up for $28.5 million two seasons from now.

Pacers’ Victor Oladipo stretchered off court after scary knee injury (VIDEO)

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Let’s hope this is not as scary as it looks.

Pacers’ All-NBA, All-Star guard Victor Oladipo was trying to defend a length-of-the-court pass to Pascal Siakam when Oladipo went down with a brutal knee injury were his kneecap was clearly not in the right place. Oladipo had to be taken off the court on a stretcher. The video is below, but be warned this is not pretty.

The team’s official announcement called the injry “serious.”

Oladipo is the Pacers’ best player and was a lock to be an All-Star reserve averaging 19.2 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.2 assists a game this season in Indiana. His efficiency had dropped his season as teams game planned more for him. Beyond that, you’d be hard pressed to find a kinder, more genuine person around the NBA than Oladipo.

Quickly the NBA community rallied on social media to Oladipo.

Grizzlies franchise burning down. Literally. They had a locker room fire Wednesday.

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Things have seemed like they are burning down around the Grizzlies the past few weeks: The team has lost 12-of-13 games and now long-time franchise stars Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are on the trade block.

Now the franchise is on fire — literally. They had a locker room fire in the FedEx Forum, which fortunately was small and no one was injured.

Fortunately, there were no injuries or serious damage.

But this seems about right for the Grizzlies lately.