Daniel Orton made his NBA debut 582 days after being drafted by Orlando Magic

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The Orlando Magic drafted Daniel Orton on June 24, 2010, with the 29th overall pick of the NBA Draft. 582 days later, the 6-foot-10 center made his big league debut in garbage time of Friday night’s 93-67 loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

Orton, a project pick and one of five Kentucky players selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, sank two free-throws in his three minutes and nine seconds off the bench for the Magic in Friday’s blowout loss. It wasn’t much, obviously, but at least he can say that he’s finally played in the NBA. It was a long road to that point, too, as Orton had to deal with a season-ending knee injury last season while on assignment in the NBA Development League.

While Orton waited to make his NBA debut, teammate Dwight Howard was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year for a third straight season, ‘strongly’ considered playing overseas and decided that his trade demand would extend to nearly half of the teams in the NBA before his emotions bubbled over following the loss to the Hornets. It would seem that Howard’s likely going to be traded sooner rather than later following the latest incident, though that doesn’t necessarily bode well for his backup’s future in Disney World.

The Magic declined Orton’s rookie option earlier in the week, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but it wasn’t without controversy. There are very few players that haven’t had their first rookie option extended — Joe Alexander being one of the more high-profile prospects of the bunch — but Orton’s case was quite rare considering that, prior to Friday it looked like he may never play a game with the team that drafted him.

“I haven’t done anything on the court to prove that I can play or anything, so I understand why they did it,” Orton told the Orlando Sentinel. “But I don’t understand a lot of things, such as why I didn’t get a chance maybe to showcase what I have.”

Getting to the charity stripe for a pair of free-throws in a blowout loss to the Hornets probably wasn’t exactly what Orton had in mind when he made the above comment, but it’ll be interesting to see exactly what happens with him down the road when he’s able to actually showcase what he has. There aren’t a lot of players that have Orton’s combination of size, strength and shooting touch, but the Magic apparently weren’t impressed with what he brought to the table during practice.

Considering he’s just 21 years of age, however, there’s a solid chance that whichever team picks him up this summer might better utilize him on their roster. At the very least, it’s unlikely he’d have to go another 50,284,800 seconds on an NBA roster without actually seeing the court during a game, right?

Some owners reportedly want access to mental health files of players

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If you read one thing NBA related today, it should be the first installment of Jackie MacMullan’s brilliant series at ESPN on the mental health of players and staffs in the NBA, and how the league is handling it. MacMullan not only got Kevin Love and Paul Pierce to open up about their challenges, but she also got into the challenges the league faces in confronting this issue head-on.

One such challenge: Owners wanting access to players mental health “files.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, players union executive director Michelle Roberts and their respective teams are reportedly working on a new mental health policy for the league. Privacy is going to be a big part of that. From MacMullan:

Yet there remain many obstacles to confront, chief among them the stigma attached to mental health that prompts many players to suffer in silence. The union also insists that mental health treatment be confidential, but some NBA owners, who in some cases are paying their players hundreds of millions of dollars, want access to the files of their “investments.” That is not, however, the league’s position. “The NBA fully supports protecting the confidentiality of players’ mental health information and, accordingly, committed to the players association that any mental health program we undertake would do so,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass says.

Confidentiality, says Love, has to be non-negotiable. Without it, he says, he never would have become comfortable enough to announce from that All-Star dais that he was seeking treatment.

Those files must be private. This is different from a torn knee ligament or sprained ankle (and on those we have HIPPA laws for good reason). For one, this is something more unpredictable in treating. Second, it comes back to the stigma of mental health issues and how the information about them might be used.

That stigma still exists, both in society and the NBA — McMullan gets into the players and their wives talking behind Love’s back All-Star weekend, and the players currently seeking treatment who do not want it public. The “real men don’t talk about this” mentality is everywhere, but it has fertile ground in professional sports locker rooms where players see themselves as invincible.

That mentality, that stigma will be the hardest thing to change in altering the culture of mental health issues in the NBA. There are no easy answers here. Does anyone think the owners who want access to those files wouldn’t use against the player in negotiations (never underestimate an owner’s effort to gain leverage)?

The players’ union will not allow that in whatever the framework is for the leagues’ new mental health policy. Nor should they.

Love, DeMar DeRozan, Royce White and others broke barriers stepping forward into the spotlight to discuss their challenges. But there are a lot of barriers still up, and a lot of work for both the NBA and society to do on this front. And privacy must be part of that.

Rebuilding Hawks add depth by signing Daniel Hamilton, Alex Poythress.

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ATLANTA (AP) — The rebuilding Atlanta Hawks have added depth by signing guard-forward Daniel Hamilton and forward Alex Poythress.

Poythress was signed to a two-way contract, so the former Kentucky player will split his time with the Hawks’ G League Erie team.

Hamilton is on a fully guaranteed one-year contract after impressing the Hawks playing for the Thunder Summer League team. He averaged 2 points in six games with Oklahoma City last season while on a two-way contract with the Thunder. He spent most of the season with the G League Oklahoma City Blue.

Poythress averaged 1 point in 25 games with Indiana last season. He began the season on a two-way contract.

 

Lance Stephenson on why he blew in LeBron’s ear: “I was really trying to get him mad”

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Lance Stephenson and LeBron James are teammates with the Lakers.

It’s not something anyone would have seen coming back in 2014 when Stephenson blew in LeBron’s ear, creating a meme for the ages and adding to the legend of Stephenson. From the moment it happened, people have asked: “What was Stephenson thinking?”

“I was really trying to get him mad, really trying to win the game, get him unfocused,” Stephenson told The Score in an interview (video above). “And I was trying anything, and for you to do something to somebody and they don’t respond, they keep continuing playing hard, it’s like: ‘yo, how do I…’ I was just trying to find stuff… LeBron was such a good player, you know, I was trying to do anything to get him frustrated. It’s going to be different, being friends with LeBron, you know what I mean?”

We do, because Stephenson did other stuff over the years, like tap LeBron on the face, trash talk LeBron, and kicking him in the “groin,” and those antics occasionally worked.

LeBron has said before he could put that behind him and play with Stephenson, but of all the signings the Lakers made this summer this was the one that left people around the league scratching their heads. In part because of the history between the two, but more because of Stephenson’s history outside of Indiana — he’s struggled. Badly. Now he’s going to be put in a tight role on a team with high expectations and ridiculous levels of scrutiny. Is this really going to work?

It’s just a one-year deal, the Lakers set themselves up to chase another star (via trade or free agency) and that remains the priority. Everything else is just window dressing. But man, there could be quite a show in that window with the Lakers this season, that’s a lot of big personalities in one space.

 

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. guesses Vince Carter’s first NBA season was in 1987 (video)

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Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. insisted he meant no disrespect to Luka Doncic after liking an Instagram comment that called the Mavericks rookie overrated.

But this is darn sure disrespectful toward Vince Carter.

Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype:

Carter – who signed with the Hawks for next season – entered the NBA in 1998. He’s old, but he’s not that old.