Tuesday And-1 links: Set your DVRs, next week is “NBA Week” on Wheel of Fortune

4 Comments

Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like Bobby Flay loves a chipotle pepper.

• Finally, something NBA related you can do with your grandmother — “Wheel of Fortune” has teamed up with the NBA for “NBA Week,” which air all next week  (Feb. 4 – 8). Who is involved? Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Grant Hill as well as Lakers legend and Hall of Famer James Worthy. And of course Pat Sajak and Vanna White, which is why you are really watching (admit it). Plus players such as Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Durant will do pre-taped segments and introduce custom NBA prizes.

• Chris Bosh, photobombing at the White House. Well, I’m calling it that, maybe he planned to make that lame face.

• Here is another great look at life for the Celtics without Rajon Rondo, via Zach Lowe of Grantland. I’m not sure any of his Paul Pierce trade ideas will go over well with Celtics faithful.

• In the wake of a report that raised all sorts of ethical red flags around Billy Hunter and the NBA players union, he has let go of all his family members working for the union. That was not enough to stop agent Arn Tellem from sending a letter to his clients urging them to vote Hunter out of power.

• The Washington Post caught up with Yao Ming, and he seems settled and happy. Good for him.

Great interview in GQ with Mike Conley, conducted by the legend that is Lang Whittaker. Oh, and don’t tell Conley he’s no good at Halo.

• Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and San Antonio’s Tony Parker today were named Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week for last week. Irving led the Cavaliers to a 3-0 record averaging 35.7 points per game. Paker led the Spurs to a 4-0 week averaging 24.5 points and 9.5 assists a game.

• Speaking of Kyrie Irving, he is questionable for Tuesday night’s game due to an illness.

• A change in coaches can make a difference for a player — since Jim Boylan took over the Bucks Ersan Ilyasova has averaged 15.4 points on 47 percent shooting plus 8.4 rebounds a game. He looks like the guy from last season again.

• As people around the team expected, the Pacers have brought back Sam Young as he gets closer to playing following a severe ankle sprain.

The Timberwolves inked Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson to second 10-day contracts. At the end of these 10 days Minnesota has to sign them (or one of them) for the rest of the season or let the player go.

• Loul Deng wants the British government to restore funding to the national basketball program.

• Lorenzen Wright’s ex-wife got a $1 million payout following his 2010 murder. She’s burned through almost all of it within 10 months.

• Rajon Rondo’s injury has Keyon Dooling thinking about coming out of retirement.

• Kendrick Perkins’ wife got in an argument at a nail salon and there is video, Perkins allegedly threw a Gatorade bottle outside the store. Warning: It’s not that exciting.

• Finally, this Russian league coach knows how to make a swing pass to the open man.

Hawks GM: We might have traded up with Bucks if their draft pick didn’t leak first

AP Photo/Kevin Hagen
Leave a comment

Let’s pick up with the No. 16 pick in last night’s NBA draft.

The Suns were on the clock and planning to pick Donte DiVincenzo. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

But then 76ers called Phoenix about trading No. 10 pick Mikel Bridges for the No. 16 pick and a future first-rounder. The teams agreed to the deal (causing this heartbreaking moment), and the Suns picked Zhaire Smith for Philadelphia.

The next three picks:

17. Donte DiVincenzo, Bucks

18. Lonnie Walker, Spurs

19. Kevin Huerter, Hawks

Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk on 95.7 The Game, via ESPN:

“Last night, for instance, we had the 19th pick, and we’re coming down and we’re actually talking to Milwaukee on the 17th pick, talking about trading up to get a guy we like,” Schlenk said. “There’s were a couple of guys we felt really good about on the 19th pick, obviously Kevin [Huerter] was one of them, and it leaked who Milwaukee was going to take.

“So, all of a sudden, we were able to pull back out of that deal and keep the draft pick instead of packaging picks to move up because we knew that, two guys on the board we felt really good about and only one team in between us, so that was beneficial to us last night.”

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports and Jeff Goodman of ESPN reported the Bucks picking DiVincenzo at 9:18 p.m.:

The pick became official at 9:22 p.m.:

Clearly, Atlanta wanted Huerter or “Mystery Player Not Named Donte DiVincenzo.”* Once they learned Milwaukee would take DiVincenzo at No. 17, the Hawks knew at least one of Huerter or “Mystery Player Not Named Donte DiVincenzo” would be available at No. 19.

*I think there’s a good chance it was Walker, whom San Antonio picked No. 18.

That saved the Hawks an asset(s) and cost the Bucks an asset(s), though perhaps Milwaukee couldn’t have gotten DiVincenzo at No. 19. Maybe the Spurs would’ve selected him at No. 18.

Still, the Bucks didn’t protect their internal plans well enough. Maybe that’s an organizational flaw. But this also could have been a fluky sequence of events. Perhaps, after hearing Phoenix would take DiVincenzo, someone in Milwaukee felt comfortable sharing that the Bucks wanted him. Then, when he surprisingly fell, it was too late. The information was already out there – allowing Atlanta to stand pat.

Danny Ainge unwittingly leaks Celtics’ draft pick on call with Terry Rozier during live show (video)

AP Photo/Bob Leverone
Leave a comment

Terry Rozier takes solace in how much Danny Ainge believes in him.

But I didn’t appreciate how deep their bond went.

Appearing on Bleacher Report’s live draft show, Rozier was asked to predict the Celtics’ No. 27 pick. So, Rozier called Ainge to ask. Shockingly, Ainge answered – with Boston on the clock. Almost certainly not knowing the call was public and live, Ainge revealed the likely selection:

Good thing the Celtics stuck with Robert Williams. That would have been extremely awkward otherwise.

As is, it was only a little awkward. Williams said today he doesn’t like to be called Bob.

Report: Rival teams expect Paul George to consider 1+1 contract with Thunder

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
2 Comments

Paul George has openly stated the appeal of playing for his hometown Lakers. He has also openly stated the appeal of staying with the Thunder.

That has created significant confusion about his upcoming free agency.

Could George find a compromise outcome?

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.

This makes sense on paper.

A 1+1 contract would give George more time to determine whether he and Russell Westbrook can win together in Oklahoma City without getting stuck there long-term if they can’t. The Thunder were starting to put it together when Andre Roberson got hurt. Perhaps, Roberson getting healthy would swing Oklahoma City’s fortunes.

George would also be eligible for a higher max salary in two years – 35% of the salary cap, up from 30% if he signs now. So, a short-term contract would allow him to maximize his potential earnings.

But George said he wanted to sign somewhere long-term this summer. He also suffered an extremely gruesome leg injury just a few years ago. He might not want to bypass guaranteed money to gamble for a little more later.

Are these rival teams just looking at the general outlook for a player in George’s position without considering his specific circumstances? Or do they know something? George could have informed teams he might become available in 2019 or 2020 so they should prepare.

I’m skeptical this is more than speculation by opposing teams. But the possibility that they’re basing their expectations on inside information makes this worth monitoring.

Heartbreaking: Watch Mikal Bridges explain joy of joining hometown 76ers while they trade him to Suns (video)

2 Comments

Mikal Bridges‘ mom jumped up, pumped her fists and screamed “Yes!” through her giant grin.

The 76ers – the organization she works for in human resources – had just drafted her son No. 10 overall. Bridges, a Philadelphia native who played at Villanova, seemed as if he’d stay home for his pro career.

Bridges:

She’s very, very excited. She’s been wanting this. She’s probably more excited than I am. She was about to cry and all that. She said she didn’t want to ruin her makeup, so she’d try to hold it in. But no, she’s very excited. I’m her only son. I’m a little mama’s boy. Her son is right there around the corner again, and it’s just really cool.

Except, as Bridges was talking, the 76ers were trading him to the Suns for No. 16 pick Zhaire Smith and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder.

That extra pick carries major value. Even if you like Bridges much more than Smith – which I did, especially considering their fits in Philadelphia – that’s hard to pass up. The NBA is a business after all.

But it’s lamentable how this played out.