It’s a great barstool debate: Who do you want taking the final shot with the game on the line?
General Managers around the NBA say Kevin Durant.
For many years that question was one Kobe Bryant owned in the annual NBA.com GM survey, but for the second straight GMs picked the scoring machine out of Oklahoma City over him. This year 39.3 percent of GMs went with Durant, 32.1 percent with Kobe, while Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James each got 7.1 percent of the vote. (Ray Allen, Manu Ginobili, Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Paul each also got a vote… pray that the GM who would still give Ginobili the ball at the end of the game is not the one from your team.)
What do the stats say?
In the final 10 seconds of a game where their team was +/- three points, Durant was 0-of-5 last season but he did get to the free throw line for nine shots (hitting 8), while Kobe was 3-of-9 from the field and got to the stripe eight times (hitting 7). To throw the other guys in there, LeBron James was 4-of-10 from the field with four free throw attempts, while Carmelo was 0-of-4 with just two trips to the line.
The guy I would give the ball to? Joe Johnson of the Nets — 4-of-4 from the field plus he got to the line 8 times. He’s been clutch. But that Durant guy is still a good call.
Only high schoolers who would’ve been consensus draft candidates to receive $125,000 minor-league offer
The NBA is limiting eligibility for the professional path program to prep players who would be considered consensus candidates for the draft if there were no early entry rule to prohibit them. Feaster will work with a group that includes Strickland and the NBA’s basketball operations and player development staffs to evaluate the potential players.
“It will be elite prospects with a readiness for a professional league,” Feaster told ESPN. “We want to target players who would not be going to a university if it weren’t for the NBA eligibility rule. That’s more or less what’s going to dictate this.”
Feaster expects a “handful” of players to be part of the initial group in the professional path. Feaster and Strickland emphasized that the program will be judicious in choosing those eligible for the pro path opportunity.
For reference, 17 high schoolers were picked in the final two drafts (2004 and 2005) before the NBA implemented its one-and-done rule. So, that suggests about 8-9 players annually will get offered the $125,000 deal.
That still leaves the other question: Who will take it?
Then, Fultz’s agent, Raymond Brothers, informed the 76ers the guard wouldn’t play or practice until visiting a specialist Monday. Fultz will miss at least three games – against the Pelicans, Cavaliers and Nets.
76ers coach Brett Brown:
It’s kind of the first real sort of red-flag-type news.
This news about his shoulder, it did catch me off guard. But if it’s that real that he needs to go seek further consultation, then we support him. In my eyes, it’s not complicated. If that’s what it is, then we’ll support him.
76ers general manager Elton Brand:
We thought it was the regular bumps and bruises.
There’s nothing that we saw medically that didn’t allow him to play.
It’s also hard to take the 76ers seriously when they suggest it seemed like business as usual. Fultz’s shot is disturbingly broken. There is clearly a problem. Maybe letting Fultz play without fretting over the issue was the right course, but how surprised can Philadelphia be that he took a more drastic measure?
Hopefully, the specialist helps Fultz identify and fix this issue.
Bulls’ Denzel Valentine likely to miss entire season
A lottery pick two years ago, battled ankle injuries during his rookie year and underwent ankle surgery after the season. He stayed mostly healthy last year, but his season still ended early for knee surgery. Then, over the summer, he got torched in the Drew League by Frank “Nitty” Session, who questioned how Valentine was in the NBA:
Denzel Valentine was originally expected to miss one to two weeks after suffering a sprained ankle on the second day of training camp. One setback led to another, and on Monday the Bulls announced that the third year guard will undergo surgical reconstruction on that left ankle. He’ll miss four to six months, the team announced, effectively ending his season.
The long end of that timeline will keep Valentine sidelined the entire season. The short end would allow him to return late in the year, but with Chicago so dismal, there’s little incentive to rush him back.
Valentine is under contract next season, the final year of his rookie-scale deal. He might need to prove himself to make Nitty’s question still relevant.
Report: J.R. Smith and Cavaliers separating as they seek trade
“I can’t do that to the city and the fans,” Smith said. “A lot of people have been backing me since I’ve been here. I feel like it’s been a new start since I came here. The way the fans embraced me, the way that I’ve embraced the city, my teammates, I can’t do that to them.”
But Smith also said Cleveland is tanking and reaffirmed his desire to be traded. That probably set wheels in motion.
Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
JR Smith will no longer be actively with the Cavs, a league source tells me. He is working with the team to trade him, and in the meantime will work out on his own
Smith – who’s guaranteed $18.59 million on a contract that will surely end after this season – carries negative trade value. The Cavs shouldn’t attach the sweetener necessary to dump him. They’re better off just paying him for now.
Because just $3.87 million of his $15.68 million salary for next season is guaranteed, Smith’s contract could prove useful in a trade.
If Smith would reduce his guarantee with a buyout, let him go. But Smith probably shouldn’t do that without a new job lined up.
So, the stalemate continues.
If everyone is happier apart, all the better. Smith wasn’t making a difference on the court for a team he correctly identified as tanking.