Derrick Rose says it’s Stern’s fault, yada yada… wait, who’s in charge of the union?

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This is the paragraph I’m supposed to blockquote you and pull the news story off of. Guess what? A member of the player’s union thinks David Stern and the owners are mean and it’s their fault for the lockout! TOTALLY NEW INFORMATION.

“It’s sad. It’s very sad. But everybody knows it’s not our fault. It’s definitely not our fault. If it was up to us, we’ll be out there playing,” the reigning league MVP said Saturday at the State Street Foot Locker in the Loop. I think that it’s wrong. I know that they can easily take care of it and not take advantage of people, but I guess that’s how people are.

“There’s not too much that we can say. They’re not thinking about anything that we’re saying, they’re not taking into consideration anything that we’re trying to give them. We’ll just have to see how it goes.”

via Rose blames owners for NBA lockout.

This is supposed to be provocative, but really, it’s just Rose’s ultra-simplistic view of what the union holds. The owners don’t want a deal, they’re the ones locking the players out, #letusplay and all that jazz. So yeah, Derrick Rose spoke out against the league, which is of note since Rose has been pretty quiet.

But here’s the excerpt that should actually catch your eye from our friends at CSN Chicago (emphasis mine):

While fans shouldn’t anticipate Rose sitting in on labor negotiations, the perception that the shy kid with the loud game won’t speak up isn’t quite so accurate these days.

“I’ve been so busy, where I haven’t had time to go into the news or anything like that, but my agents, Arn [Tellem] and B.J. [Armstrong] have been doing a great job with keeping me up with the updates and I’m supposed to be talking to ‘D-Fish’ in a couple days or Paul Pierce,” said Rose.

via Rose blames owners for NBA lockout.

Wait.

What?

Okay, so some background on Pierce. He’s not just one of the guys who blew apart the 50/50 proposal last weekend alongside Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant.  He’s prominently involved in the union, has been present at more meetings than any of the other superstars, and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported that Pierce has considered a formal presence in the union:

In addition, the Celtics’ Paul Pierce — who was among the stars present Friday and who stuck around for Saturday’s and Monday’s sessions — will take on a prominent role in the negotiations again on Tuesday. Though Pierce has previously expressed interest in being involved in the union — perhaps even as a committee member and vice president — his presence is notable for more than his star power. Pierce’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, is one of seven powerful reps who wrote a pointed letter to their clients urging them not to agree to any further reductions in their share of basketball-related income (BRI) or any further restrictions to the system beyond what the union has negotiated.

via A moment of truth arrives in NBA talks – CBSSports.com.

So I’m not saying it’s random that Rose would want to touch base with him. Pierce does know what’s going on. He’s in the room.

But consider that Pierce’s agent sides with those who reportedly want to at least question if not undercut Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher’s approach. So does Rose’s agent, Arn Tellem. And you’re telling me Derrick Rose, the MVP of the league, can’t get Derek Fisher on the phone to tell him what’s going on? He’s going to Pierce?

I’m not trying to blow anything out of proportion here, though I can readily admit that’s what it looks like. But it seems exceptionally weird that the MVP is checking with someone who’s not a member of the executive committee who recently took things into his own hands along with Garnett and Bryant and blew up the talks, at least in cooperation with the owners’ intransigence. It sounds a lot like there are too many cooks in the players’ kitchen.

You need one voice. One expert. One law. Right now, there’s confusion and unrest coming out of the union. Maybe that’s just a flawed perception from the media. But the perception is still there.

Rumor: Raptors trying to trade up in draft for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The Raptors have major problems in the playoffs annually.

Is a coaching change enough to fix them?

Toronto already fired Dwane Casey and promoted assistant Nick Nurse after a highly successful regular season. Perhaps, major roster turnover could follow.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be a late lottery pick. The Raptors have no selections in this draft. So, acquiring one high enough to pick the Kentucky point guard would take plenty.

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are stars. Toronto’s bench is stocked with solid young players. O.G. Anunoby is very promising.

So, the Raptors have pieces to move. The only question how much they’d package for a draft pick.

Toronto already has Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright at point guard. But Lowry is 32, and VanVleet will be a restricted free agent this summer. If they really believe in Gilgeous-Alexander, the Raptors should try to get him.

All that said, this is the time of year rumors – both credible and not – fly. So, it’s worth remaining skeptical while still considering the validity of what reputable reporters like Stein convey.

Luka Doncic, Donte DiVincenzo, Jerome Robinson among NBA draft invitees

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Of course DeAndre Ayton will attend Thursday’s NBA draft. The Suns will likely draft him No. 1 overall.

But what about more marginal first-round prospects?

The NBA’s draft invite list is an important tool in judging their stock. The league wants to avoid players sitting in agony until their names are called. So, the NBA works to invite only the prospects most likely to get picked high in the draft.

The full list of invited players (which the league notes is subject to change):

Luka Doncic will go high in the draft, and though how high is still uncertain, his inclusion on this list says nothing about his stock. It just speaks to whether we’ll see him Thursday night. His attendance will depend at least on when Real Madrid’s season ends, though the NBA is apparently confident enough to list him.

Jerome Robinson has climbed draft boards since the season ended. He must be impressing in workouts and interviews.

Donte DiVincenzo is a bit of a surprise selection, as he’s not widely viewed as a first-round lock. Perhaps, the league is looking to capitalize on his popularity stemming from a breakout NCAA tournament championship game.

This will only reinforce the idea Chandler Hutchinson received a promise. Otherwise, he’s a surprise invitee.

Among the top players not attending: Kevin Huerter (Maryland), Jacob Evans (Cincinnati), Troy Brown (Oregon) and Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech). Though they could go higher than players listed here, that says something about Huerter’s Evans’, Browns’ and Okogie’s stock, too.

Report: Rudy Gay opting out of Spurs contract

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Kawhi Leonard reportedly wants to leave the Spurs, but he’s at their whims.

This doesn’t mean Rudy Gay will depart San Antonio, but he’s taking control of his future.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Gay’s option-year salary was $8,826,300.

I doubt Gay, who turns 32 this summer, will draw such a high starting salary on his next contract – though I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. He could likely get a multi-year deal with a higher total value.

Or he could chase a ring elsewhere.

Remember, Gay gave up money to leave the Kings last summer. No matter how much the Leonard situation should make us rethink the Spurs’ culture, San Antonio probably isn’t “basketball hell.” Still, the Spurs clearly don’t look as appealing as they once did, and Gay has shown how much he values team quality.

Gay is coming off a nice season, and San Antonio might try to re-sign him. Danny Green has a $10 million player option for next season, which will swing whether the Spurs have the flexibility for a bigger move this summer.

Report: LeBron James’ camp likes Collin Sexton

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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In 2014, LeBron James tweeted his fondness for Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier. The Heat traded up to get Napier in the draft, but LeBron left for the Cavaliers that summer, anyway.

Could history repeat itself, this time in Cleveland?

LeBron has already talked up Oklahoma point guard Trae Young, but maybe LeBron and his camp want the Cavs to take a different point guard – Alabama’s Collin Sexton – with the No. 8 pick.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, via Jordan Zirm of ESPN Cleveland:

The Cavaliers should take the best prospect available. Worrying about what LeBron might want makes a mistake only more likely.

LeBron might stay in Cleveland, but as 2014 showed, it won’t be because of a draft pick. If he stays, it very well could be by opting into the final year of his contract. His player-option salary ($35,607,968) is slightly higher than his projected max salary as a free agent (about $35.35 million). If LeBron opts in, the best chance of keeping him long-term is building a better team around him.

That means taking the best prospect at No. 8 or trading the pick for someone who can help LeBron win now. If the top prospect is Sexton, that’s fine. But the Cavs are fare more likely to appease LeBron by getting the pick right in the long run rather than choosing the prospect he wants now.