The executives who orchestrated the two biggest turnarounds in the NBA this season — Pat Riley of the Miami Heat and Gar Forman of the Chicago Bulls — will share the NBA’s Executive of the Year award.
Well, privately they probably share this about as well as two 3-year-old girls in a room with one Princess Ariel doll. But publically they will say nice things. And Riley got screwed in this vote, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
There were 30 votes from team executives (you can’t vote for yourself, insert your own Riley joke here) and both Forman and Riley got 11 votes. John Paxson of the Bulls finished third (we assume one of his votes was from the Clippers, who would like to choke Vinny Del Negro themselves).
Riley got robbed here.
Make no mistake, Forman did a fine job, he brought in coach Tom Thibodeau, which was the biggest step in the turnaround of the team. Well, that and drafting Derrick Rose, which was lottery luck. Forman also brought in Carlos Boozer and filled out the rest of a good Bulls roster.
But Riley… look, you may love to hate the Big Three, but to pull that off was a brilliant and ballsy move. He had to take huge risks, clear out loads of cap space, convince everyone to go with the plan, get them all to sign for less so that Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller could be brought in. (Okay, so Miller proves he’s not perfect.)
Riley lapped the field as executive of the year. That he didn’t win shows how other executives around the league feel about him more than anything. Watching his team jell the last couple weeks, Riley doesn’t care what they think.
Clippers’ Milos Teodosic opts into $6.3 million for next season
Expect the Clippers to try to trade him in the next three weeks. He would have value to a team looking for a backup point guard — when he did play he averaged 9.5 points per game, shot 37.9 percent from three. The fans will love his passing and play. The coach will like him too… when healthy.
Report: Suns to renounce rights to Alex Len, Elfrid Payton
The Suns want to free up some cap space heading into July. They are not going big game hunting, but with $10 million to $15 million they could bring in some solid veterans to provide leadership to their young core — and win a few games along the way.
Expect them to renounce their rights to center Alex Len and point guard Elfrid Payton, making them both free agents. Ayton’s addition has made Len expendable, and while Phoenix still needs point-guard help, Payton’s inconsistent play last season and, more importantly, his $10 million cap hold figure, likely means he’s played his last game in a Suns uniform.
The Suns acquired Payton at the trade deadline for a second-round pick (which was just by Orlando to land Jarred Vanderbilt) and it was a good flier. The Suns need a point guard to go next to Devin Booker, Payton is a former lottery pick that had shown flashes in the past, so Phoenix rolled the dice on him. It didn’t work out, and the Suns can just move on.
Both Len and Payton probably find new homes in the NBA next season. Len is 7’1″ and can use that size to protect the paint, plus he can score around the rim. Teams can use that off the bench. Payton has shown enough in flashes, and he can get buckets, that some team will grab him, just probably as a reserve.
Markelle Fultz’s new trainer describes him as having the “yips”
It was about this time last year that Markelle Fultz started to change his shot. As Sixers coach Brett Brown said just before the start of training camp: “Markelle has made some personal adjustments to his shot since we last saw him in Vegas, we’ve done stuff with him but really he’s been with his personal trainer over the month of August and since Summer League ended.” What followed was a chicken-and-egg debate about whether the new shooting form caused his shoulder problems or the injury forced the change, either way the combination of the two sidelined for most of his rookie season.
“With Markelle, obviously he has one of the most documented cases of kind of the yips of basketball in recent years, where he completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot. So for me it was, ‘Hey listen, how can I get this kid that was No. 1 in last year’s draft back rolling and get him to the point where he was before, if not better?’…
“We’ve been working hard every day, working on rewiring his body and getting a kind of smooth stroke back into his shot. We’re way ahead of pace where I thought we were going to be, I thought it was going to take me at least six weeks before we had kind of a serviceable jump shot, and we’re already starting to shoot with a jump in week two.
“It’s not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer it will be perfect, he’ll be back rolling and he’ll show people why he was the No. 1 pick. Even though I still give him trouble on a daily basis and tell him and remind him I still believe Jayson Tatum was the best player in that draft.”
That should light a fire under Fultz.
It’s far too early to write off Fultz as some want to do, we just do not know yet what kind of player he will be at the NBA level. His rookie year was lost to the yips, and someday there will be a great 30-for-30 (or maybe just a Drunk History segment) about what happened to Fultz’s shot. It will get the full D.B. Cooper treatment.
The Sixers just want the guy they drafted back, not the one who came to camp last fall. With where he is in the process, we may not see Fultz at Summer League (the Sixers have yet to release their Summer League roster). It may be training camp before we get a good look at his reworked form.
Dwyane Wade wants to own an NBA team someday, ideally in Seattle
I definitely want to be a part of ownership in the NBA. I’m not going to try to buy a team. I don’t have that kind of bread, but I definitely want to be a part of a great ownership group. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is all about players being involved in an ownership capacity. You’ve got players like Grant Hill involved in the Atlanta Hawks. Shaquille O’Neal is involved in the Sacramento Kings. It’s definitely something that I’ve talked about, some of my friends have talked about. But, first of all, I’d have to be retired.
Seattle. I want Seattle’s team, the Sonics, to come back. I think Seattle is a great basketball town. I would love to be a part of that. But I’m open—if you know somebody.
It’s not now, but it’s not going to be that long before Wade retires. Then he’ll have to pick his spots with ownership, just like any business.
Seattle deserves to get a team back (wearing the Sonics colors and uniform). It’s just going to take a while. Right now there is no appetite for expansion among NBA owners, if a team goes to Seattle (or Las Vegas, or Mexico City, or anywhere else) it will be because an existing team moves. Current NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is more about stability and teams staying in cities rather than seeing them move — he helped create the opportunity for Vivek Ranadive to keep the Kings in Sacramento rather than move to Seattle — but the day will come when an owner sells and the new one is looking to get out of the lease and on to a new (usually bigger) market. That’s not on the immediate horizon with the NBA, but it’s coming.