Six good players not drafted in the NBA

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The end of the second round of the NBA Draft got ridiculous.

Teams stopped trying to draft guys who could maybe make their team and help and instead drafted ludicrous reaches that they will never have to pay. Ater Majok, Tanguy Ngombo, Chukwudiebere Maduabum — these were strange choices when quality players were on the board. (Yes, I know Manu Ginobili was the No. 57 pick — but that was the Spurs and that was the one guy out of the last decade of drafts.)

Here are six guys that should have been taken instead of them. Guys who will get invited to a camp and impress (Summer League could have really helped these guys, thanks a lot lockout.) There are a lot more than six, but these are just a few as a sample.

David Lightly, 6’7” shooting guard, Ohio State: He’s got good size and he has range on his shot, hitting 42.9 percent from three this past season. He is considered solid at everything but the knock was that he exceled at nothing. He started as a Buckeye with Greg Oden and Mike Conley, some thought he could be a guy who comes in and does the little things.

Demetri McCamey, 6’3” point guard, Illinois: He is a strong, physical point guard who can drive the lane and shot 45.1 percent from three last season. He’s a guy who can pass. We get why he wasn’t drafted — even his coach called him out for off-court distractions and lack of effort — but if you’re a team looking for a talented point guard (Lakers, we’re looking at you) isn’t McCamey a decent gamble?

Ben Hansbrough, 6’3” point guard, Notre Dame: The younger brother of Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough, Ben is a gritty, hard-nosed point guard, which makes him a good defender. He can shoot, 43.5 percent from three last season, but there were questions about his athleticism at the next level. Not the kind of guy scouts drool over, but he gets the job done.

Diante Garrett, 6’4” point guard, Iowa State: He is a guy that has shot up the boards after the season ended, when he got into workouts (starting at Portsmouth). He is big for a PG and has a quick first step, he wants to be a facilitator. Problem is he’s not a great shooter and has the reputation of being turnover prone. Don’t expect much out of him as a rookie but he was a guy who might develop.

Brad Wanamaker, 6’3” point guard, Pittsburgh: A very heady basketball player who just knows how to be a floor general. He’s physically strong and a good passer. There were concerns about his athleticism and his three point shooting, but this is a guy who can lead a team on the floor. You’re telling me some teams couldn’t use a guy like that? He deserved a better shot.

Malcolm Thomas, 6’9” power forward, San Diego State: Kawhi Leonard overshadowed him but Thomas is a smooth player and good athlete who can finish at the rim. He is long, can defend and is a good shot blocker. There are concerns about his size at the four, and he doesn’t have an offensive game outside the paint (his offense is pretty raw generally) but another guy with real potential.

All Cedric Maxwell got for winning NBA Finals MVP was this janky watch (video)

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Just two NBA Finals MVPs who are eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame haven’t been selected for induction:

  • Cedric Maxwell (1981 Celtics)
  • Chauncey Billups (2004 Pistons)

Andre Iguodala (2015 Warriors) could join them, but he at least has some Hall of Fame chatter surrounding him. Billups is absolutely a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate, even if not enshrined.

Maxwell, on the other hand, wasn’t on that level. He never even made an All-Star team. He was just a good player who had an excellent six games against the Rockets in the 1981 NBA Finals.

Really, it’s a neat distinction to be the lone NBA Finals MVP who was never a star. Maxwell can cherish that.

And this watch, which he reveals in this entertaining video.

NBPA reaching out to players, getting feedback on return scenarios

Michele Roberts
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images
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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been in information gathering mode since the day he was forced to shut the league down. He’s gathered information from medical experts on how a return would work, talked to owners and GMs about the financial end and what they hope to see, and had conferences with the league’s broadcast partners.

Most of all, Silver wanted to know what the players thought. With the NBA closing in on a return strategy — Friday Silver and team owners will have a conference call that could lead to a decisive plan — players’ union executive director Michele Roberts is taking the return plans to the players for feedback, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

It looks like the NBA will return to play in Orlando, with training camps starting in late June and games in mid-July.

The questions to be answered are:

• Do all 30 teams report to Orlando to play a handful of regular season games, getting teams over the 70 game threshold?
• Do just the top 16 teams report with the league jumping straight to the playoffs?
• If the league does go straight to the playoffs, how will that impact player pay, which is tied to the regular season?
• Will there be a play-in tournament for the final playoff seeds?
Should the NBA do a 1-16 seed playoff format, or keep the traditional Eastern/Western conference format?
• Will each playoff round have seven games, or will the first round (or two) be best-of-five?

Everything option is still on the table (as officials will be quick to say). However, the buzz around the league has grown louder that just the top 16 teams will go to Florida, and there will be seven-game series for every round, as the league tries to squelch any asterisk talk.

We may know a lot more on Friday. And the players will have their say.

Michael Jordan on tape saying he wouldn’t play on Dream Team with Isiah Thomas

Pistons guard Isiah Thomas and Bulls guard Michael Jordan
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
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In “The Last Dance,” Michael Jordan was asked to react to Isiah Thomas’ explanation of the Pistons’ infamous walk-off. Jordan replied immediately:

I know it’s all bulls—. Whatever he says now, you know it wasn’t his true actions then. He’s had time enough to think about it. Or the reaction of the public, that’s kind of changed his perspective of it. You can show me anything you want. There’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t an a—hole.

Maybe there was some projection in that answer.

For years, Jordan has denied any involvement in Thomas not making the Dream Team. Rod Thorn, who was on the selection committee for the 1992 Olympics, has backed Jordan’s version of events.

But Jordan once revealed a different story.

Jordan on Jack McCallum’s “The Dream Team Tapes:”

Rod Thorn called me. I said, “Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.” He assured me. He said, “You know what? Chuck doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team.”

Yes, the Pistons were being poor sports when they left the floor without shaking the Bulls’ hands in the 1991 playoffs. But that neither began nor ended the story.

The Bulls repeatedly disrespected the Pistons while finally overcoming Detroit. That particularly bothered the Pistons, because, on their way up, they paid deference to to the Celtics and Lakers. So, while the walk-off was – even according to Thomas – regrettable, it happened for a reason.

Jordan carrying his vendetta to the Dream Team only escalated matters. Yet, unlike the Pistons for not shaking hands, Jordan receives minimal scorn for his poor sportsmanship. Threatening not to play if a rival player is also included is the antithesis of what people want the Olympics to stand for.

And Jordan is now on published audio admitting that’s exactly what he did. You can listen to him for yourself.

As the best player and marketing giant, Jordan had the power. Thomas felt the consequences.

In 1992, Thomas was a marginal choice for the Dream Team. He wasn’t clearly better than the players who made it on current ability. He wasn’t as great as the players – Magic Johnson and Larry Bird – who made it on career accomplishments. It would’ve been fine to select Thomas. It would have been fine to omit him.

But it’s a shame he never got proper consideration on merit.

It’s also a shame Dream Team coach Chuck Daly, who coached Thomas in Detroit, is no longer alive to give his account. Did Dally really tell Thorn not to put Thomas on the Olympic team? Did Thorn really tell that to Jordan? Jordan and Thorn are just so untrustworthy on this matter.

Kendrick Perkins: LeBron James-Paul Pierce rift stems from Pierce spitting at Cavaliers bench

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In 2004, Celtics forward Paul Pierce got fined for spitting at the Cavaliers bench during a preseason game.

Why did Pierce do that?

Apparently, LeBron James.

Kendrick Perkins, via ESPN:

When LeBron was coming into the league, he was getting a lot of heat from players. “Oh he’s not going to do that to us. The Chosen One. Wait til he play against grown men.”

So, Paul is talking noise to the bench, right? He’s talking big noise to the Cavs bench. And they’re sitting over there. Bron and them, they’re all sitting over there.

Paul actually spits over there at the bench, right? The ultimate disrespect, OK?

It ended up turning up. After the game, both teams were meeting in the back. Guys was ready to fight. We had to hold people back. It went up from there.

Ever since that moment, LeBron James and Paul Pierce hate each other. They don’t speak to each other.

This was entering LeBron’s second season, not his rookie year. But Pierce was still the established star, LeBron the riser trying to prove himself. As we’ve seen since, Pierce is very protective of his place in the game.

The feud deepened over the years as Pierce’s Celtics battled LeBron’s Cavaliers and Heat in the playoffs. Pierce took other shots at LeBron, even indirectly. Most recently, Pierce named a top-five list that didn’t include LeBron.

But spitting? That’s low.

There’s just something about Boston players from that era.