Sixers GM says rare availability of high lottery pick is what motivated him to trade Michael Carter-Williams

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The Sixers made a couple of trades right as Thursday’s deadline came to a close, and as usual, the moves were about the future more than they were about improving in the present.

Philadelphia traded reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams to the Bucks, as part of a three-team deal that netted the Sixers the Lakers’ (top-five protected) 2015 first round draft pick that was owed to the Suns.

Carter-Williams still needs to develop, but has already shown he’s capable of being an NBA-caliber starting point guard. It was curious, then, to see the Sixers hit the reset button once more, but GM Sam Hinkie said that the rare availability of a high lottery pick was simply too tempting to pass up.

From John Finger of CSN Philly:

What got Hinkie to release his grip on Carter-Williams was the chance to get the Lakers’ top-5 protected first-round pick. At 13-40, the Lakers are headed for the lottery this June. Looking at it linearly, the Sixers gave up the No. 11 pick of the 2013 draft for possibly the No. 6 pick in the 2015 draft. Then it’s top-3 protected the next two years, then unprotected after that.

Was it worth it?

“It is impossibly hard to get your hands on a pick that at least has the chance to be a high lottery pick,” Hinkie said. “It’s very rare that they move and because of that, we considered it and decided it was the best way to move our program forward.” …

“It’s not about Michael at all. I think Michael has a very bright future in this league, and I think will do quite well and we wish him the best,” Hinkie explained. “It’s still necessary for someone to look at the tough decisions we have to make to try to move our program forward.”

Carter-Williams has struggled with his shot in his first season-plus, which may be the underlying reason Hinkie pulled the trigger this quickly.

From Tom Moore of Calkins Media:

Hinkie: ‘For us to be among the best teams, you have to be able to shoot from 3.’

Carter-Williams simply can’t do that yet; his field goal percentage has dropped since last year, and he’s currently at just 38 percent for the season, which includes a mark of only 25.6 percent from three-point distance.

Meanwhile, the K.J. McDaniels trade to the Rockets may be even more frustrating for Sixers fans to deal with. McDaniels is a superb athlete and a legitimate defensive presence, and the type of player on a reasonable contract that a team would seem to want to rebuild around. And yet, he was dealt for nothing more than a point guard in Isaiah Canaan and a future second round pick.

“We traded K.J., who we are proud of, who we got in the 30s and we got back a mid-30s in the past and a mid-30s in the future,” Hinkie said. “In the end it came down to a trade we felt we had to do and it came down to the last four minutes.”

That’s just plain weird; Hinkie made a point of saying during his press conference that he’s “never in my life called a player an asset,” but when looking at them solely in terms of their draft position, it’s hard to believe that’s actually the case.

At some point, Philadelphia will need to begin developing the talent they have, instead of constantly searching for an upgrade by trading talented players for future draft picks; the team’s fans (and ownership) are likely to only be patient with this process for so long.

Nets hire Hawks’ Peterson as assistant general manager

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Brooklyn Nets have hired Jeff Peterson as their assistant general manager.

Peterson replaces Trajan Langdon, who was hired as the New Orleans Pelicans’ GM.

Peterson spent seven seasons in the front office of the Atlanta Hawks, the last three as assistant general manager. He worked there with Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson, who was an assistant to coach Mike Budenholzer.

Nets general manager Sean Marks says Saturday that Peterson is an “innovative basketball executive” whose “extensive scouting and front office experience” will be assets to a Nets team that lost in the first round of the playoffs.

Warriors open as big betting favorites to win NBA title over Raptors

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Kevin Durant is going to be out to start the series, with no exact timetable on his return.

The Toronto Raptors were very impressive — with Kawhi Leonard leading the way and a fantastic halfcourt defense — in eliminating the Milwaukee Bucks.

None of that changes the overall picture — the Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the NBA Finals.

The Warriors are -320 to win the NBA title, the Raptors +260 at the Ceasars Palace sportsbook. What that means for non-gamblers is you have to bet $320 to win $100 on the Warriors, while a $100 bet on the Raptors wins $260.

The Warriors are also 1.5 point favorites to win Game 1 on the road without Durant and coming off a nine-day layoff where rust is to be expected.

Toronto won both regular season meetings between these teams, but both games also were before Christmas.

These lines are the respect the Warriors have earned with two straight titles, three in four years, and a sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Warriors are a dynasty led by Stephen Curry, the Raptors in their first finals, these betting lines were to be expected, and they will follow general public sentiment.

Charles Barkley, on the other hand, picks the Raptors in an upset. Do with that information what you will.

Giannis Antetokounmpo walks out of postgame press conference

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Giannis Antetokounmpo wants to win, wants to make the NBA Finals. Badly. As in he could walk if the Bucks don’t do that in the next couple of years.

Antetokounmpo already showed he was willing to walk — he did so right out of his postgame press conference Saturday night after the Bucks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Raptors.

Khris Middleton‘s “you just leaving me here” face is the best part of this video.

Chalk that up to frustration, on a couple of levels. The question is legitimate — how much this experience helps the Bucks grow and fuels their offseason will say a lot about where they are as a team in a year — but it’s also understandable that in the moment the Greek Freak doesn’t want to talk about it. Or, really, in that spot have the perspective to do the question justice. Middleton went on to say, “hopefully, we learn from this.”

The other part of this is that the reporter, Malika Andrews, wrote a story at ESPN about how Antetokounmpo making the Finals would play a big role in if he stays or not in Milwaukee past this contract. That is not the narrative Antetokounmpo wants out there about him, and sometimes this is how players deal with reporters who write things they don’t like.

Antetokounmpo is one of the league’s good guys, don’t expect this to become a trend.

Report: Making 2020 NBA Finals could swing whether Giannis Antetokounmpo signs super-max extension with Bucks

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The honeymoon between Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks is over.

Milwaukee’s superb season ended tonight with a Game 6 loss to the Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals. Already, attention is turning to the 2020 offseason, when Antetokounmpo can sign a five-year super-max extension that projects to be worth $250 million. If he doesn’t, the pressure will turn way up as he approaches unrestricted free agency in 2021.

Antetokounmpo is already applying some.

Malika Andrews of ESPN:

a source close to Antetokounmpo said that getting to the NBA Finals is not just an ambition, it could tip the scales as he weighs his contractual future.

And if they can reach the NBA Finals next season, the Bucks can improve their chances of signing Antetokounmpo to the supermax in the summer of 2020.

Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon will be free agents this summer. It’s unclear how much luxury tax Milwaukee is willing to pay.

This leak could be Antetokounmpo trying to convince the Bucks to pay to keep this team intact.

Would he actually leave Milwaukee? At every turn, he has praised the city and organization. But the Bucks have also been on an upward trajectory for years. As they get closer to the top, it becomes more difficult to maintain that positive momentum. They’re now entering a crucial season with the clear goal of a conference title. That doesn’t leave much room for error.

The Lakers are rumored to be plotting to get Antetokounmpo. If there are signs he’ll actually become available, many other teams will line up just for a chance to sign him. Antetokounmpo is a special player, a superstar at age 24.

He also needed this loss. Having never advanced past the first round before this year, he didn’t fully grasp the high level of play and intensity this deep into playoffs. He hadn’t felt the heartache of coming so close and falling short, a highly effective motivator. Raptors like Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol had already faced these tests, and that had a lot to do with Toronto winning.

I have no doubt this experience will make Antetokounmpo even better.

Antetokounmpo wants to ensure the Bucks match his desire to win. If they do, he and Milwaukee will remain committed to each other. The honeymoon isn’t the end.

But this is when it gets real.