67RIEFNS No. 45: Josh Huestis in the D-League

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The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Josh Huestis and the Thunder conspired for Oklahoma City to draft the small forward No. 29 and for him to sign in the D-League rather than the NBA this season.

The unprecedented move drew plenty of attention, most of it focused on whether such an arrangement was legal and how the players’ union responded. (Quick summary from my point of view: I can’t even imagine how it was done legally, and the union is misreading the situation.)

But that’s all done now. The NBA hasn’t sanctioned the Thunder, and the union isn’t protesting the move.

Now, we’re left with the under-asked questions about just how well this will work for Oklahoma City.

For Huestis, pegged as a mid-to-late second rounder, it’s a victory as long as the Thunder sign him next offseason. Though they could always back out – part of the reason I’m interested in monitoring this – I’d be shocked if they did. They just made good on a similar arrangement with 2013 second rounder Grant Jerrett, and he was injured.

But did the Thunder really come out ahead by drafting Huestis?

Presumably, they wouldn’t have picked him had he not agreed to sign in the D-League this season. If they gave him a first-round grade – differing from essentially other known draft rating – this is all moot. I don’t think this all moot, though.

The Thunder are essentially betting they can do more with Huestis in five years – one year in the D-League plus a four-year rookie-scale contract – than they could have with their top-rated available prospect in four years. Oklahoma City has a good record of player development, but this would really stretch it. Having a D-League team in the same city could help, though it does only so much.

I think the Thunder would have been better off drafting a better player – say Kyle Anderson, whom the Spurs drafted No. 30 – and paying him how most first-round picks get paid. They’d still be below the tax line, though with less flexibility for a mid-season acquisition.

But most importantly, they’d have a more promising rookie.

If the Thunder are going to come out ahead on Huestis, that starts with developing him this season. Will he be better in five years than Anderson is in four? That’s the important question for Oklahoma City now.

Watch Common do epic NBA All-Star intros (video)

Common at NBA All-Star
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CHICAGO – Common is so, so talented.

If anything happens during the NBA All-Star game even half as cool as these player introductions, we’ll be quite lucky:

Magic Johnson, Jennifer Hudson give stirring pre-All-Star tribute to Kobe Bryant

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CHICAGO — The spirit and legacy of Kobe Bryant have been celebrated all weekend in Chicago.

However, never better than before the tip-off of the All-Star Game on Sunday night when Magic Johnson spoke from the heart about Kobe, and then led a moment of silence.

Then Jennifer Hudson sang a tribute to him.

Then Common lyrically talked about the influence of Kobe during his pre-game intro.

It was powerful.

Well done NBA. Well done indeed.

Adam Silver: I ‘strongly believe’ NBA will add in-season and play-in tournaments

NBA commissioner Adam Silver
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CHICAGO – NBA commissioner Adam Silver wanted to overhaul the schedule – including in-season and play-in tournaments – for the league’s 75th-anniversary season, 2021-22.

Instead, the Board of Governors vote planned for April was canceled.

Not because the ideas were unpopular, according to Silver. Because they were too popular.

“When we went to our teams, the Players Association and our media partners – probably the most important constituents in making changes,” Silver said, “the response we got was that, frankly, there was so much interest that they didn’t think it made sense to do it as a one-off.”

It’s easy to be skeptical of spin. But Silver is adamant.

“I strongly believe we will end up with some sort of in-season tournament and a play-in tournament,” Silver said.

The NBA will probably eventually have a play-in tournament. It makes a lot of sense, both competitively and financially. When those considerations align, things usually get done.

The league might even also add an in-season tournament. But it’s hard to find people actually enthusiastic about that idea.

Did Dwyane Wade violate judges’ agreement to keep dunk contest tied?

Dwyane Wade judging dunk contest
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CHICAGO – Dwyane Wade is a self-proclaimed Heat lifer.

Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. won the dunk contest with Wade as a judge.

You do the math.

On his final dunk, Jones got a 48. Then, Aaron Gordon dunked over terrified Tacko Fall… and got a 47.

The voting for Gordon’s last dunk:

  • Dwyane Wade: 9
  • Common: 10
  • Candace Parker: 10
  • Chadwick Bozeman: 9
  • Scottie Pippen: 9

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

With Common and Parker giving 10s and casting blame elsewhere, Wade, Bozeman and Pippen became suspects. The evidence points strongly at Wade.

Before the scores were even revealed a smiling Wade removed his earpiece, as if he knew the contest was finished. Notice how Common and Scottie Pippen both look at Wade after seeing the scores:

Wade danced around the controversy, never directly denying that he didn’t vote how he agreed he would:

Gordon’s final dunk was better than Jones’ final dunk. But Jones dunked better throughout the contest. Does that mean Gordon got robbed? At that point, yes. But Jones should have won the contest before then.

The bigger problem is judging dunks on a 6-10 scale. They should be judged relative to each other, and Jones’ were better.