You want to turn some scouts heads? Be the biggest man at the NBA draft combine.
That would be Nikola Vucevic — at 7’0”, 260, (with a standing reach of 9.5 feet and a 7’4” wingspan) the center out of USC caught everyone’s attention as the biggest guy at the draft combine. But he also turned heads because he is a dramatically more well rounded player than when he entered college three years ago, and that is the sign of a guy who can grow.
Vucevic has worked hard to develop a midrange game, and in some workouts with teams has reportedly looked strong with it. There are still questions about that shot, as there are his footwork and post moves, but in all those cases things have gotten better. Which gives scouts hope.
Vucevic has what you see with guys who can be solid backup centers in the NBA — not great athleticism but he has a nice faceup game that can provide some offense, plus the size to rebound and defend inside. He is not going to be creating his own shot but he can score some.
Vucevic has had some impressive workouts in recent weeks and with that and the combine has moved out of the second round and into the first. Late first, but first.
I saw a fair amount of his games at USC and he is not going to blow your doors off, he is not an explosive NBA athlete. The word that comes to mind with him is solid. Not explosive, but solid. What he can be at the NBA level is a quality backup center, a guy who can shoot a little from the outside and defend and rebound.
There is real late first-round value in that kind of player, particularly in this draft. There is a reason he is moving up a lot of boards. In the end, a quality back up center you can rely on is a valuable piece. Look for him to go in the 20s.
Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose has already played two games better than he had all of last season. He scored 12 points with eight assists and no turnovers in a win over the Cavaliers on Friday then posted 28-5-5-2 against the Mavericks on Saturday.
But let’s not overreact to such a small –
Jace Frederick of the Pioneer Press:
If Tom Thibodeau is referring to a level of health Rose hasn’t had in several years and will never have again, that’s fine. Rose won MVP while healthy.
But if Thibodeau means just available to play without a limp, wow. His love of former Bulls extends even further than we realized.
Rose could help Minnesota in a limited role. He started to find a groove late last season, and he’s obviously starting strong this year. But this type of praise only prompts mocking.
Kris Dunn, the Bulls’ clear top point guard, has yet to play this season due the birth of his child. Even when he returns, Chicago’s other point guards – Cameron Payne, Ryan Arcidiacono, Tyler Ulis – are uninspiring, even as backups.
So, the Bulls added Shaquille Harrison, whom the Suns waived after agreeing to sign Jamal Crawford.
The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Shaquille Harrison.
In a preceding move, the Bulls waived center Omer Asik.
Harrison is a nice pickup, one of the better free agents available and someone who plays a position of need. The Bulls could use several swings at finding long-term point guards, and the 25-year-old Harrison is a potential fit.
Waiving Asik is an interesting move. Asik was injured, and this could end the 32-year-old’s career. But Chicago loses the ability to trade his contract. Just $3 million of Asik’s $11,977,527 2019-20 salary was guaranteed, which could have been useful in a salary-accepting trade.
Instead, Asik will count $11,286,516 against the cap this season and $3 million after that. The Bulls can either pay the entire $3 million next season or stretch it to $1 million each of the next three seasons. Stretching the money would indicate Chicago still plants to be aggressive in free agency next summer. Paying all it once would suggest a more patient rebuild.
Negotiations on lowering the NBA’s age limit have stalled, though there’s plenty of time to negotiate before the targeted allowance of high school players declaring for the draft in 2022.
In the meantime, the NBA’s minor league will soon offer $125,000 salaries to 18-year-olds – up from the standard G League salary of $35,000. Will players sign those Select Contracts rather than playing college basketball, which comes with cartel-limited compensation?
Darius Bazley – who committed to Syracuse, planned to play in the NBA’s minor league then decided to sit out the upcoming season – could provide an illuminating test case. Represented by Rich Paul, Bazley signed an endorsement deal with New Balance.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
According to Paul, Bazley’s multiyear deal will pay him $1 million “no matter what happens” with his N.B.A. career — and can pay up to $14 million if he reaches all performance incentives.
That dwarfs even the increased minor-league salary. Bazley can receive that endorsement money because he no longer cares about preserving college eligibility. The same would apply to Select Contract players.
But the shoe company would become the primary employer. If the shoe company decides playing in the NBA’s minor-league for $125,000 offers the best return on investment, that’s what the player will do. If the shoe company decides the player is better off doing something else, the player will do that.
Bazley ranked just No. 17 in his class, per the 247 composite. He projects as a late first-rounder once draft-eligible next year. The money gets even bigger with more highly touted prospects.
College basketball remains the place that offers them the most exposure, and shoe companies might continue to funnel players there with under-the-table payments. That was no longer an option with Bazley, but this ought to serve as a reminder of who drives the money for elite 18-year-old players. It isn’t the G League.
Gary Harris hit Kevin Durant‘s arm during the Nuggets’ 100-98 win over the Warriors yesterday. Except officials didn’t call a foul. They did call a technical foul on Durant for arguing about it, though.
Meanwhile, Harris made this fantastic face:
When you hit your brother and your mom yells at him.