Lionel Hollins: 38-year-old Kevin Garnett to get more minutes this season

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Here’s something you don’t hear every day about a 38-year-old.

Kevin Garnett will play more.

Roderick Boone of Newsday:

Garnett mostly sat out the second half of back-to-backs a season ago, but Nets coach Lionel Hollins has no plans to do so in 2014-15, explaining that it’s something Hollins never has done unless it was near the tail end of the regular season leading into the playoffs.

Hollins also has said that Garnett’s minutes, which dipped to a career-low average of 20.5 last season, are certain to increase during the future Hall of Famer’s second season in Brooklyn. That’s fine with Garnett.

“It’s all good,” said Garnett, who missed 19 games battling back spasms a season ago and will earn $12 million this season in the final year of his contract. “We are not predicated to anything. I think what he’s saying is he wants me out there. Times where I need the rest, I think he will provide it for me. But we are not going to preset anything. We are going to go through this thing as if we never went through last year, as if I’m still playing for Doc [Rivers] or Flip [Saunders] or whoever. I prepared myself for it mentally and I’m ready for it.”

Of the 102 37-year-olds to play a season before last year, just 23 increased their minutes per game at age 38. Just 20 38-year-olds played more than Garnett’s 20.5 minutes per game last season.

And in all honesty, those numbers are higher than I expected.

Maybe Garnett’s playing time dipped too much last season. After all, 20.5 minutes per game are a big drop from the 29.7 he played at 36.

But he’s reaching an age where it’s increasingly tough to stay healthy and productive in a major role. I understand the inclination to limit his minutes, even if Jason Kidd might have gone too far.

This could be an overcorrection, though. Garnett is talking about playing beyond this season, and Hollins will start him. Nobody is hedging.

The Nets have depth at power forward and center with Brook Lopez, Mason Plumlee, Andrei Kirilenko and Mirza Teletovic. They can afford to limit Garnett’s playing time.

Maybe 20.5 minutes per game for a 37-year-old Garnett were too few, but 20.5 minutes per game for a 38-year-old Garnett xould be just right. Or maybe he can handle a little more.

But I’d ease him into a larger role before declaring it a certainty he’s ready for it at his age.

Video: Carmelo Anthony says he’d have won 2-3 titles if drafted by Detroit

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In an Instagram Live chat with friend Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony said he’d “have won 2-3 championships if drafted by the Detroit Pistons:

Anthony was drafted third overall in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. LeBron James went off the board first to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons then drafted Darko Milicic with the second pick. Chris Bosh was drafted fourth by the Toronto Raptors, and Wade was selected with the fifth pick by the Miami Heat.

James, Wade and Bosh would famously team up in Miami seven years later. Those three and Anthony all put together Hall of Fame careers. Milicic was another story entirely.

Detroit had that second overall pick by virtue of a 1997 sign-and-trade with the then Vancouver Grizzlies for forward Otis Thorpe. Vancouver didn’t even keep Thorpe for one full season, as he was shipped to the Sacramento Kings at the 1998 trade deadline. By the 2003 draft, the team had moved from Vancouver to Memphis.

The Pistons went on to win the championship in 2003-04, despite relatively limited production from rookie Milicic. The seven-footer played in just 34 games as a rookie during Detroit’s title run. Milicic then appeared in just 62 games over the next two seasons before he was traded to the Orlando Magic at the 2006 trade deadline.

Despite never living up to his draft position, Milicic did carve out a 10-year NBA career. On the other hand, Anthony blossomed into a 10-time All-Star.

Anthony went on to make six All-NBA teams over the course of his time with the Nuggets and New York Knicks. He holds a career average of 23.6 points per game, but has yet to win that elusive title.

Detroit passing on Anthony is one of the more interesting  what if’s in recent NBA history. The Pistons only got the one championship, but made the Finals back-to-back years. They had a multiple year run of contention behind a core of Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamiltion in the backcourt. The frontcourt was anchored by Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. The one thing that group struggled with on occasion was scoring, which Anthony would have provided.

Had Anthony been drafted by the Pistons, he’d likely have a ring and Detroit would have a fourth banner. Who knows? Maybe they’d each have a couple more beyond that.

Former NBA player OJ Mayo to sign in China

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When the Liaoning Flying Leopards of the Chinese Basketball Association return to play, they’ll have a familiar face to NBA fans suiting up for them. Liaoning announced they are signing former NBA player O.J. Mayo to a contract for the remainder of this season.

Mayo has been out of the NBA since the end of the 2015-16 season. The scoring guard was banned from the NBA due to a violation of the league’s anti-drug policy. He was eligible for reinstatement at the start of the 2018-19 season.

Since being banned from the NBA, Mayo has signed to play with various clubs in Puerto Rico, Taiwan and with a team in China’s second division.

During his eight-year NBA career, Mayo played for the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks. The 32-year old guard holds a career average of 13.8 points per game on 43/37/82 shooting splits.

With Liaoning, Mayo may suit up alongside former NBA players Lance Stephenson and Brandon Bass. The club announced that Mayo will undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, after which they expect him to back up Stephenson.

Neither Stephenson nor Bass have returned to China following the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s unclear when either player will return, as the CBA has delayed their return to play until May.

Alabama’s Herbert Jones declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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University of Alabama junior forward Herbert Jones announced via Instagram that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft:

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All Glory to God 🙏🏽

A post shared by Herb Jones 🛸 (@yung.ch0) on

Jones says he’s declaring while maintaining his eligibility, meaning he could get feedback and choose to return to school.

In his third campaign with the Crimson Tide, Jones turned his best collegiate season. The six-foot-seven forward scored 7.9 points on 48.4% shooting. He also grabbed 6.4 rebounds per game. Jones was also one of Alabama’s best defensive players.

Alabama has also seen starting guard Kira Lewis and John Petty Jr. declare for the draft.

Lewis is expected to be a first-round pick, while Petty and Jones are considered to be late second-round talents.

Arizona’s Zeke Nnaji, DePaul’s Paul Reed declare for NBA draft

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Nobody knows when the NBA Draft is going to take place — like everything with the NBA calendar, it is up in the air — but for college players whose season has ended now is the time to declare and throw their hats in the ring.

Two possible draftees did that Saturday.

Arizona center Zeke Nnaji was one.

The 6’11” Nnaji averaged 16.1 points per game on 57 percent shooting, plus grabbed 8.6 rebounds a game his freshman season at Arizona. In a good sign, he shot 76% from the free throw line, meaning he should be able to space the floor and hit midrangers (and maybe someday threes). He brings a lot of energy to the court, but is considered raw still on both ends of the floor and not an elite defender.

Nnaji is a bubble first-round pick.

The other player coming out is DePaul forward Paul Reed.

A projected first-rounder is a generous description by Charania, Reed is seen more as a second-round pick (and without a Draft Combine or workouts with teams it will be difficult to move up). He’s a 6’9″ power forward who averaged 15.1 points and 10.7 rebounds a game this season. Reed shot the three well as a sophomore (40 percent) but regressed this past season. He’s athletic but needs to get stronger, and he needs to be able to fit into a role at the NBA level to last.

That said, he will likely get a chance somewhere to prove he belongs.