Festus Ezeli working on his game, confident money will come to him

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If you’re looking for a top candidate to get a head-scratching contract extension, thanks to the coming flood of money from the new NBA television deal, look no further than Festus Ezeli.

The Warriors backup big man is eligible for a contract extension this summer (before Nov. 1) and he is looking for one, but he’s not too concerned about it, according to Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.

Ezeli will earn $2 million next season but can become a restricted free agent next July. It has been speculated that Ezeli could be in line for a deal averaging as much as $10 million….

“I deal with playing and training and getting ready for next season,” Ezeli said. “In terms of that stuff, I’m not really worried about it. The Warriors are committed to their players. They love our team. We’re going to be winning for a long time. It’s a young group.”

Talk to Warriors management and they see Ezeli as part of their future. It makes sense. He came into the league with a lot of athletic talent and real defensive potential, but he had a ways to go and this habit of dropping the ball. Manos de piedra. But his hands have gotten better and his defensive awareness has started to blossom.

“It’s never been about my hands,” he said Thursday, as he prepared to meet with about 150 boys and girls at a team-sponsored basketball camp. “It’s kind of weird, because I always hear people talking about my hands…

“It’s more of an issue of the game slowing down. The more I play, the more I get to see the game and it slows down. I get to have a feel for what to do and how to respond.”

In an old-school NBA that is nowhere near worth $10 million a year. But the new TV deal changes everything — the salary cap is going to jump by $40 million in two seasons.

For Golden State, seeing if they can reach a three-year extension averaging around $8 million a season could be a steal. Ezeli could start to take on more defensive load off the bench behind Andrew Bogut, who has two seasons left at $26.4 million total, and physically can only play limited minutes. The Warriors could have Ezeli for a couple seasons after Bogut at an affordable deal if they are willing to bet on his development.

There are going to be some crazy extensions coming in the next couple months, and they are all going to be similar — a team looking at the cap and betting on the player, thinking this could be a steal in a couple years. These teams have to spend 90 percent of the cap anyway — that is the salary floor — so if you have young player you like, why not bet on developing him?

 

2019 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades

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Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

The NBA Draft saw the trade of the No. 4 pick — twice — plus the No. 6 and 11 picks before the New Orleans Pelicans were even on the clock for the No. 1 pick. Listening to the buzz around the league, expect a lot more first-round trades, especially when we get into the 20s. It’s going to be a crazy night.

We will be on top of it all night long.

Here is a breakdown of every pick, every trade — complete with analysis of how that player fits (or doesn’t) with his new surroundings.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 1. New Orleans Pelicans:

Sounds like Cavaliers will draft Darius Garland No. 5 if they don’t trade pick

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The top of the draft has become clear:

1. Pelicans: Zion Williamson

2. Grizzlies: Ja Morant

3. Knicks: R.J. Barrett

4. Hawks: De'Andre Hunter

What will the Cavaliers do at No. 5?

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Those follow-up reports emerged quickly and from multiple reporters. The Cavaliers apparently want to make it very clear they’re open to trading the pick.

For good reason.

My highest-rated prospects available are both point guards: Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland and North Carolina’s Coby White. Cleveland already has Collin Sexton, last year’s lottery pick, at point guard.

I generally favor drafting the best prospect available then figuring it out. Sexton isn’t good enough to justify deviating from that.

But this situation demands the Cavs explore trading the pick – or Sexton. Cleveland shouldn’t just blindly walk into a conundrum.

Still, it seems if the Cavaliers don’t find a trade, they’ll make the smart move and draft Garland.

Report: Minnesota trades up to No. 6 pick, sends Phoenix Dario Saric, No. 11 pick

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New Minnesota president Gersson Rosas has a reputation around the league: He’s aggressive. He learned in Houston to go hard after what he wants.

Rosas wanted to move up in this draft, and he found a partner, the Phoenix Suns. The Timberwolves will draft sixth after a trade with the Suns for the 11th pick and Dario Saric. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news.

This trade can work out for Minnesota, depending upon who they draft and develop.

Who will the Timberwolves pick at six? Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett will be off the board for sure. The Hawks, who just traded for the No. 4 pick, are expected to take De'Andre Hunter out of Virginia. Cleveland at No. 5 now is the breaking point of the draft but reports are they like Darius Garland out of Vanderbilt, unless they trade down from this spot. That makes Jarrett Culver the likely Timberwolves pick at six. Coby White, the North Carolina point guard, is another option.

For Phoenix, Saric can be a good fit at the four if they acquire a good ball-sharing point guard this summer.

Saric gives the Suns a sharpshooter to help space the floor. The Suns starting lineup now has Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr., Saric, Deandre Ayton, and they are expected to chase a veteran point guard in free agency. That has some potential.

 

Report: Hawks trading up for Pelicans’ No. 4 pick to get De’Andre Hunter

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As soon as they got control of the No. 4 pick from the Lakers in the Anthony Davis trade, the Pelicans have been looking into flipping it.

New Orleans found a taker in the Hawks, who want Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is excellent value for the Pelicans.

I’m not enthused about the No. 4 pick in this draft – especially for New Orleans. My top prospect available, Vanderbilt point guard Darius Garland, would be somewhat redundant with Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball. Reaching for another position would be even worse.

Instead of facing that dilemma, the Pelicans get a nice set of assets and additional flexibility.

The No. 8 pick could yield a player similar to whomever New Orleans would have taken No. 4. The No. 17 pick could could come just before this draft thins too much. That Cavaliers pick is top-10 protected next year then converts into two second-rounders.

By clearing Solomon Hill‘s burdensome $12,758,781 salary, the Pelicans project to open $29 million in cap space. There are plenty of exciting possibilities for spending that.

New Orleans – which landed the No. 1 pick in the lottery and got a haul for Davis – is having such a good offseason. The future looks bright with Zion Williamson and a restocked cupboard.

The Hawks clearly believe in Hunter. I’m not as high on him, but I like his fit in Atlanta between Trae Young and John Collins. Hunter will complement scoring guard Kevin Huerter as a defensive-minded combo forward. This strikes me as an overpay, but at least the young Hawks should mesh well.

This puts pressure on Cleveland, which picks No. 5. My next two prospects available before a tier drop: Garland and North Carolina point guard Coby White. The Cavs drafted point guard Collin Sexton in last year’s lottery. Will they take another point guard, look to another position or also trade out of their pick?