Howard doesn’t think the Magic get enough love from media

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Dwight Howard, you do not get to have it both ways.

The center was in Paris recently, part of a promotional tour by adidas, and said the Magic do not get enough love from the American media. It was part of an interview with the French magazine Reverse, transcribed by web site TalkBasket.

“I really think we get no love at all, to be honest. But that’s ok. We want to be respected by the teams we play and that’s the only thing that matters. The media can pick whoever they want to win the title, but the team that wins the title is the team that plays. The media doesn’t play a game. I’m pretty sure nobody thought that the Dallas Mavericks were ever going to win the title this year. It’s not about what anybody else says. It’s about what you believe. I believe in myself and in my team. We’ll bring our team to the top, then we will get some respect.”

Is there any player on the planet that doesn’t think the media is out to get them? That their team doesn’t get enough love?

Here’s a little clue: “the media” doesn’t love or hate anyone, not really. “The media” is not some mindless, faceless entity. We’re a bunch of people looking for stories to tell. Stories that people will read. How you react emotionally to said stories depends on your perspective. From your perspective Dwight, look at it this way: Give us good stores to tell (like the year you made the finals), you feel loved. You get knocked out of the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks, you probably won’t like the stories we tell. It’s not rocket science.

I think the Magic got a fair amount of love at the start of last season, they were thought of as potential contenders. Sure, Boston, Miami and Los Angeles were the favorites going in, but the Magic were on the periphery of that discussion, much more in the discussion than the Mavericks. The difference is, the Mavericks overcame injuries and obstacles, while the Magic made a poor mid-season trade then got bounced by the Hawks. You didn’t like our stories at that point, but they were the truth.

Media attention is a double-edged sword. Howard wants the attention but on his terms. He wants to keep the pressure on the Magic to improve the team by not signing a contract extension, but doesn’t want anyone to ask him and speculate about trades or where he may go if he leaves. It doesn’t work that way.

You want the media to give the Magic more love? Probably like you think the Mavericks are getting now? Then earn it. The Mavericks won, with that comes stories of adulation (because that’s what people want to read about the winners). No doubt Howard had another strong season but Orlando had a terrible playoffs. There needs to be roster moves but they are now saddled with the contracts of Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu making that hard. Drafting DeAndre Liggins isn’t changing anything.

Sorry if that doesn’t feel like love to you. But it’s the only story Orlando has given us to tell.

After Zion Williamson injury, Donovan Mitchell notes risk without reward

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Hype for rival North Carolina visiting Duke on Wednesday night was near an all-time high — secondary ticket prices were pushing Super Bowl prices. It was on national television. A lot of people were making money off of this, starting with the two universities.

Then Duke star and lock No. 1 pick Zion Williamson had to leave the game with a knee injury (later described as a knee sprain).

Utah Jazz wing Donovan Mitchell wanted to remind everyone Williamson was not among the people making money.

Luka Doncic then reminded everyone there is another path.

The NCAA makes its money off the archaic notion of amateurism, that myth fuels the profits major universities rake in off their revenue sports. Keeping that myth alive creates the underground market where players are bribed with shoe money or by boosters (or coaches) to come play at specific universities. It’s that myth that needs to die for the system to change. The issue of paying players is not a simple one — college softball players spend just as much time perfecting their sport and face the same restrictions, shouldn’t they be compensated as well? That said, there’s enough money for everyone if done right. A first step might be to allow Williamson and other stars to be able to profit from their name and likeness while in college without losing their eligibility.

Or, more basketball players may just start choosing Europe or other paths.

76ers coach Brett Brown says he doesn’t expect rookie Zhaire Smith to play in NBA this season

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Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons.

Zhaire Smith?

A few recent 76ers first-round picks missed their entire first professional season due to injury. Smith, the No. 16 pick in last year’s draft could join them.

Smith has missed the entire season so far with a broken foot then allergic reaction. He just returned to practicing with the 76ers, but maybe not in time to play for them this season.

Keith Pompey of The Inquirer:

If the 76ers clinch their playoff seed before the regular season ends, I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith plays for them. But meaningful minutes seem unlikely.

Philadelphia is trying to win now, and a rookie who entered the NBA relatively raw then missed so much time is unlikely to help.

That said, backup wings James Ennis and Jonathon Simmons aren’t exactly reliable options. If everything breaks right for Smith – essentially the opposite of his season to date – maybe, just maybe, he plays for the 76ers this season.

Warriors vs. Bucks or Raptors betting favorite to be NBA Finals matchup

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Who will we see in the NBA Finals come June?

The West looks cut and dried — if the Warriors are healthy, it’s hard to imagine any other team in that conference giving them too much trouble.

The East? That’s wide open. A good case can be made for Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, or Milwaukee finding their way in. (For a more detailed breakdown, listen to the latest PBT Podcast where Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports and myself break down the East in more detail.)

The bookmakers over at BetOnline put together these odds on potential Finals matchups, and after the first four options the odds get pretty long.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Toronto Raptors vs Golden State Warriors 9/2
Boston Celtics vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Golden State Warriors 5/1
Indiana Pacers vs Golden State Warriors 28/1
Brooklyn Nets vs Golden State Warriors 33/1
Boston Celtics vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Toronto Raptors vs Houston Rockets 40/1
Charlotte Hornets vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Detroit Pistons vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Miami Heat vs Golden State Warriors 50/1
Orlando Magic vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Washington Wizards vs Golden State Warriors 66/1
Boston Celtics vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Milwaukee Bucks vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Philadelphia 76ers vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1
Toronto Raptors vs Oklahoma City Thunder 80/1

A few quick thoughts on that list:

• Interesting that the Sixers and Celtics are just a little behind the Bucks and Raptors in the minds of the bookmakers.

• I don’t know that I’d have Houston in front of Oklahoma City as the second-best option in the West. Not this season. The Thunder have the defense and star power to do playoff damage.

• If you’re thinking about putting money on Washington or Orlando to make the Finals — against anyone — just donate that money to charity instead. That way it will do some good.

Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson leaves Duke-North Carolina game with knee injury

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Zion Williamson will probably be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

He’s a generationally good prospect. The rest of this draft also looks relatively weak.

In fact, Williamson has such a stranglehold on the top pick, some have suggested he sit out the rest of his freshman season.

His injury during Duke’s game against North Carolina tonight will only heighten those calls.

Duke:

Hopefully, Williamson is OK.

And hopefully, the system changes. The NCAA is a cartel in which schools conspire to cap compensation for athletes at a scholarship plus some expenses. In a free market, Williamson would earn far more.

Unfortunately, it probably can’t be both. If Williamson escapes this without major injury, the status quo will likely endure.

But, if this injury even allows him to play again this season, it might be a warning shot that causes him to sit until he can enter the NBA draft.

Again, I hope he’s healthy enough to make that decision for himself.