Players invited to NBA Draft Combine named

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Sixty guys with a dream.

The names for the NBA Draft Combine to take place in Chicago have been released. These are the guys who will be measured, weighed and in most cases put through drills to test their speed, agility and shooting. I say in most cases because, like the NFL draft combine, some of the best players will sit out some drills.

If you wonder why they won the national championship, Kentucky had more player invited than any other school with six. North Carolina has four invitations; Baylor, Vanderbilt and Syracuse have three.

As for snubs, there is Casper Ware out of Long Beach State should be on this list. DraftExpress.com has him at 57 and he was one of the best players at the mid-major level this year. I’ll admit my bias up front — I’m a Long Beach State season ticket holder and watched Ware for four years. But he’s exactly the kind of player you will fall for at Summer League — quick, good in the open court, can shoot with range if he sets he feet, is aggressive and plays hard all over the court. He’s not big (5’9”) but the guy could find a spot in the league. Not inviting him to the combine was a mistake.

Still, all the big names got the call. The invitees are below in alphabetical order.

Quincy Acy, Baylor
Harrison Barnes, North Carolina
Will Barton, Memphis
Bradley Beal, Florida
J’Covan Brown, Texas
William Buford, Ohio State
Jae Crowder, Marquette
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State
Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Marcus Denmon, Missouri
Andre Drummond, UConn
Kim English, Missouri
Festus Ezeli, Vanderbilt
Evan Fournier, France
Drew Gordon, New Mexico
Draymond Green, Michigan State
JaMychal Green, Alabama
Moe Harkless, St. John’s
John Henson, North Carolina
Tu Holloway, Xavier
Robbie Hummel, Purdue
Bernard James, Florida State
John Jenkins, Vanderbilt
Orlando Johnson, UC Santa Barbara
Darius Johnson-Odom, Marquette
Kevin Jones, West Virginia
Perry Jones III, Baylor
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Kris Joseph, Syracuse
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky
Doron Lamb, Kentucky
Jeremy Lamb, UConn
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Damian Lillard, Weber State
Scott Machado, Iona
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Fab Melo, Syracuse
Khris Middleton, Texas A&M
Darius Miller, Kentucky
Quincy Miller, Baylor
Tony Mitchell, Alabama
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State
Kevin Murphy, Tennessee Tech
Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure
Kyle O’Quinn, Norfolk State
Miles Plumlee, Duke
Austin Rivers, Duke
Thomas Robinson, Kansas
Terrence Ross, Washington
Mike Scott, Virginia
Henry Sims, Georgetown
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Jeff Taylor, Vanderbilt
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
Marquis Teague, Kentucky
Hollis Thompson, Georgetown
Dion Waiters, Syracuse
Royce White, Iowa State
Tony Wroten, Washington
Tyler Zeller, North Carolina

Russell Westbrook listed as out for season opener vs. Warriors

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No Russell Westbrook. No Andre Roberson. Maybe no Steven Adams.

This is not what the NBA had in mind when they sent Oklahoma City to Golden State for the second game of the NBA’s opening night doubleheader on national television. But, that’s the reality due to injury.

Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on right knee back on Sept. 12 and it was expected to be re-evaluated around the start of the season. However, with the marathon of the NBA season about to start no way the Thunder were never going to rush him back, national television and the Warriors or not. While it’s less than ideal, getting it dealt with and missing training camp and a few games is better than to risk something worse during the season (or miss a month of the season in a Western Conference where there is little margin for error because of the depth of quality teams).

The Thunder called it “maintenance,” but this is Westbrook’s fourth surgery on that knee, although it’s the first in more than four years. His issues with this knee date back to the 2013 playoffs when Patrick Beverley crashed into it and tore the meniscus.

Westbrook is about to turn 30, has some heavy-usage miles on that body, and just signed a five-year, $205 million contract extension.

Alvin Gentry: Pelicans wouldn’t trade Anthony Davis for anyone – ‘not even Beyonce’

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Pelicans star Anthony Davis said he’s the best player in the NBA.

His coach, Alvin Gentry, agreed then expanded.

Gentry:

If you don’t want to call him the best player, I call him the most valuable. Because if you can trade him for anybody, then he is the most valuable guy. Not that we would ever consider that. Don’t you guys take some kind of spin and put it on top. There is no one in the league that we would trade him for. There is no one out of the league. Not even Beyonce. If we wouldn’t trade him for her, then he’s probably untouchable.

I’d trade Davis for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s also in the MVP race, even younger and locked up an extra season.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden are better, older and locked up for longer than Davis. I’d probably trade Davis for LeBron or Curry, though not Harden.

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum are worse, younger but also locked up for longer than Davis. I probably wouldn’t trade Davis for any of them, though the additional team control makes it worth considering.

Really, Davis is already at the point – as few as two years from unrestricted free agency – trade speculation hits high gear. The possibility of him leaving New Orleans high and dry in 2020 is too great to ignore.

As far as Davis for Beyonce… I guess it depends on your priorities.

Paul Allen, long-time owner of Portland Trail Blazers, dies after battle with cancer

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This is a painful loss, not just for the Portland Trail Blazers, but for the NBA.

Paul Allen, who made his money as one of the founders of Microsoft and went on to start Vulcan enterprises, which owns the Trail Blazers as well as the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, has passed away from his battle with cancer. He was just 65 years old.

“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small.  He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies.  He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him.  Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, Allen had announced his non-Hodgkins lymphoma had returned. It was his third round with the disease, but it was not known that it was already at a life-threatening stage.

After his first battle with the disease, Allen left Microsoft to pursue other interests, which included philanthropy and owning the Trail Blazers and Seahawks. Allen bought the Trail Blazers in 1988 for $70 million from real estate developer Larry Weinberg. Forbes currently estimates the value of the franchise at $1.3 billion.

It is possible this will lead to a sale of the Trail Blazers in not too distant future.

(Do not think this means another owner can swoop in like a vulture and move the team. Aside the fact Commissioner Adam Silver and the league would push back against moving a healthy franchise, the Blazers’ lease at the Moda runs through 2025, with explicit language to keep the team in Portland through 2023 at least.)

Allen’s sister, Ms. Jody Allen, released the following statement:

“Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”

Our thoughts and condolences go out to Allen’s family and friends.

Larry Nance Jr., Cavaliers reportedly agree to four-year, $45 million contract extension

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Cleveland wanted this to happen, he’s the son of a Cavaliers’ legend who showed last playoffs he can have a role in whatever is next for this team post-LeBron.

Larry Nance Jr. wanted this to happen — he was born in Akron and was raised in the area, Cleveland is where he wants to be.

So as had been expected, the Cavaliers and Nance were able to work out an extension to his rookie contract before the deadline, as reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Joe Varden of the Athletic said the final numbers were four-years, $44.8 million.

That seems about a fair price. Nance was a steal in the draft by the Lakers 27th back in 2015 and was a fan favorite in L.A., but was sent to Cleveland in the Isaiah Thomas trade. Nance is a quality rotation player on both ends, a guy who averaged 8.7 points per game last season (expect that to go up) and shot 58.1 percent overall (and a 58.5 true shooting percentage, above the league average). He had a PER of 21.5 while with the Cavaliers last season (and a 20.2 PER with a 68.5 true shooting percentage in a smaller playoff role), showing the kind of versatility prized in today’s NBA.

This contract is a win for both sides.