Report: Board of Governors expected to pass draft lottery reform, Sixers and Thunder opposed

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When the NBA’s Board of Governors meets on Wednesday, they will vote on a set of draft lottery reforms designed to disincentivize tanking by adjusting the weights on teams’ odds at winning the No. 1 pick. The Philadelphia 76ers have been known to be opposed to the reforms, as the team that has taken the most steps to be as actively terrible as possible over the last two seasons.

However, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Oklahoma City Thunder are joining the Sixers in their opposition.

Grantland’s Zach Lowe confirms the report that the Thunder are the other team that have come out against the reforms:

The reforms, which Lowe first reported in July, would give the four worst teams in the league identical odds (around 11 percent) at winning the top pick, with the fifth team having about a 10 percent chance and the rest of the teams declining. Under the current system, the team with the worst record has a 25 percent chance at the No. 1 pick and the second-worst team has a 19.9 percent chance, with each subsequent team’s odds declining slightly.

The proposed changes would have the obvious effect of taking away the advantage of having the worst record in the league. If the bottom four teams have the same odds at winning the top pick, there’s no reason to try to lose as many games as possible to get the worst record. The idea is that you can still win a respectable amount of games as a lottery team and still have a decent chance of getting the No. 1 pick, which would result in the bottom-tier teams being more competitive and thus creating a better fan experience.

It’s no surprise that the Sixers are against the idea. Their entire rebuilding plan is predicated on the current system. In 2013, they traded All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for center Nerlens Noel, who missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL. This summer, they followed that up by trading veteran forward Thaddeus Young and using both of their lottery picks on players who can’t help them in the immediate future. The No. 3 pick, Joel Embiid, will likely miss the entire year with a broken foot. The No. 12 pick, Dario Saric, can’t come over for the next two seasons because of buyout issues with his current contract with the Turkish club Anadolu Efes. Most of the Sixers’ roster is comprised of D-Leaguers and fringe NBA players. Their roster is designed to lose games, and they’ve made no secret of it. If the proposed changes pass, they could go 11-71 and lose the No. 1 pick to a 27-win team with the same odds in the lottery.

The Thunder’s reported opposition to the reforms is more interesting. They’re a title contender in the Western Conference (presuming Kevin Durant’s foot injury isn’t lingering), so this doesn’t affect them in the short term. They won’t be picking in the lottery regardless. However, the Thunder got where they are by following a rebuilding model very similar to what the Sixers are attempting to do. Their middle-of-the-decade awfulness (some of which took place when they were still the Seattle SuperSonics) resulted in three consecutive top-five picks, all of whom became superstars: Durant in 2007, Russell Westbrook in 2008 and James Harden in 2009. They see the value in the strategy and don’t want to lose the option of bottoming out again if Durant leaves in 2016.

Still, despite their protests, the reforms are expected to pass. Most teams are set in their rosters at the moment, but it will be interesting to see how this affects rebuilding strategies going forward.

Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts makes Russell Westbrook ‘next question’ jokes (video)

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Damian Lillard took a well-deserved victory lap after his buzzer-beating 3-pointer sunk Russell Westbrook – who seemingly took a shot at Lillard last year – and the Thunder.

Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts had fun at Westbrook’s expense, too.

Westbrook has repeatedly answered questions from Berry Tramel of The Oklahoma with, “Next question.” Though Westbrook shifted to variants of “not sure” after the last couple games of the series, he still didn’t meaningfully answer Tramel’s questions.

Stotts interjected himself into Westbrook’s feud with Tramel before Game 3.

Clay Horning of The Norman Transcript:

Also, when former Sooner standout Terry Stotts, who is head coach of the Trail Blazers, entered the pregame interview room on Friday, the first thing he said was, “Go ahead, I’ll answer your question, Berry.”

Then, Stotts really laid it on thick after Game 5 last night, as shown in the above video. He specifically called on Tramel to ask a question then joked how badly he wanted to answer with “next question.”

Stotts landed on the hot seat after Portland got swept in the first round last year. He kept his job and did a fantastic work with the Trail Blazers this year. It’s great to see him enjoying himself.

I also can’t help but wonder how Westbrook feels about Stotts.

Kyle Lowry’s ring finger “popped out” during Game 5, he will be ready for Game 1 vs. 76ers

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In the second quarter of the Raptors’ close-out win against the Magic, Kyle Lowry injured his finger, apparently dislocating the ring finger on his right hand, his shooting hand.

However, it’s the playoffs, he was back in the game quickly and he will certainly be ready to go Saturday when Toronto begins a second-round showdown against Philadelphia. Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN has the details.

Lowry jammed the finger while deflecting a ball in the second quarter. During the subsequent timeout, the Raptors’ medical staff attended to Lowry’s hand on the bench. He returned to play but went back to the locker room with 2:41 remaining in the first half.

Lowry, who was wearing a splint on the finger during the postgame news conference, started the second half for the Raptors and finished with 14 points, 9 assists and 4 rebounds in 26 minutes.

“It popped out, but it’s fine,” Lowry said. “I popped it back in. Got a couple days to get it back and recover, and hopefully it will be better by Game 1. Well, it will be better by Game 1.”

It needs to be because the Raptors can’t have another 0-of-7 shooting start from him, which is what they got in an ugly Game 1 loss to Orlando. The 76ers are not the Magic, Toronto can’t have another dreadful start in Game 1 and dig themselves a hole at home.

Lowry’s shooting and playmaking will be a big part of that next series.

Grizzlies’ Jaren Jackson Jr. wants to work out with Kevin Garnett this summer

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Last summer, Jaren Jackson Jr. did some workouts with Kevin Garnett before embarking on his rookie campaign. It made sense for a lanky 6’11” rookie who can score in the post or step out and shoot threes to work with Garnett. There’s a similarity to the style of their games.

This summer Jackson wants to go back to that well, he told David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Specifically, Jackson said he wants to improve his “motor” and his ball-handling and his shooting mechanics entering year two.

And he hopes to work on some of those skills with Garnett over the coming months. Jackson and Garnett spent time together last summer and again in February when Garnett visited Memphis to feature Jackson game for his “Area 21” segment on TNT.

The veteran Conley had some ideas for that workout and what Jackson needs to add to his game.

“I think for him, working out of the post, like mid-post, being able to jab and shoot off the glass, basically like Kevin Garnett would do,” Conley said.

Jackson had an impressive rookie season, averaging 13.8 points a game, shooting 35.9 percent from three, playing good rim-protecting defense, and he fit well with veteran point guard Mike Conley (and Marc Gasol, before the Grizzlies traded him). Despite being shut down with a thigh bruise after 58 games, Jackson is almost a lock for All-Rookie First Team.

He showed the potential to be a future All-Star and the cornerstone of the Grizzlies franchise into the future. Most importantly, he seems willing to put in the work to get there.

 

Kings reportedly meet with Jeff Hornacek about lead assistant coaching job

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Among the questions and frustrations with the Lakers this past season — and there were many, most of them much more significant than this — were questions about the construction of the coaching staff under Luke Walton. Brian Shaw was the lead assistant, a former NBA head coach with plenty of experience, but there were questions about the experience on the rest of the staff.

Throw in the uncertainty circling Walton right now after a sexual assault allegation against him, it makes sense to have a veteran coach right next to Walton on the bench in Sacramento. That may be Jeff Hornacek, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports.

According to sources, Walton and Kings general manager Vlade Divac met with former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek in Sacramento about the possibility of him being the team’s lead assistant coach.

Amick’s primary point is that as of right now the Kings and Walton are moving ahead as if their working relationship will continue. They are lining up assistant coaches and taking the other steps expected this time of year for a new coach.

Both the Sacramento Kings and NBA are investigating the allegations of sexual assault against Walton, put forward in a lawsuit by a former female reporter for the Lakers’ regional sports network. Kelli Tennant, the accuser, conducted a press conference to state her case on Tuesday. Walton, through his attorney, has denied the allegations.