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NBA gets high grades again for race, gender hiring

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A diversity report shows the NBA “significantly ahead” again in professional sports in racial and gender hiring practices.

The league received an A for racial hiring and a B for gender hiring practices for the 2016-17 season. The NBA drew an overall grade of A-minus, continuing its run of A grades since the start of the 2000s.

The report card was released Thursday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport. The report was written by Richard Lapchick.

The NBA sets the pace, with people of color making up 30 percent of the head coaches and 45 percent of the assistants. The NBA is also the first major sports league to have three owners of color.

Report cards are also issued for the NFL, MLB, WNBA, MLS and college sports.

“They have been significantly ahead of the other leagues from the time we started it in the 1980s,” said Lapchick, the chair of University of Central Florida’s sports business management program. “Other leagues have closed the gap and improved a little bit but the NBA has continued to improve as well to stay the industry leader.”

The league, however, did receive an F for race representation this season at the levels of team president/CEO and general manager. There are just four people of color at the top tier of team management and three general managers of color.

The NBA also received a D for gender hiring for team vice presidents, with women making up 24 percent of the workforce in that area. Although women in team senior administrative positions jumped from 24 percent in 2015-16 to 29 percent this past season, the league earned a C-minus for gender hiring at the team level.

“There are obviously areas in there that need improvement,” Lapchick said. “This is the second year in a row that we’ve talked to about the lack of women in senior leadership positions at the team level.”

Still, the NBA receives overall high marks for hiring practices at the team and league offices. In the NBA league office, 35 percent of the professional staff positions were held by people of color at the beginning of this season, with women at nearly 39 percent.

Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum is the highest ranking African-American of any of the professional American sports leagues.

Lapchick attributes the NBA’s strong marks to its past two commissioners – David Stern and Adam Silver. Months after he became commissioner in 2014, Silver led the way in ousting Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling after it was discovered he made racist remarks.

“That kind of out-front posturing is important,” Lapchick said. “It sends a signal to the teams and obviously to the league office that diversity and inclusiveness is very important. I think all commissioners feel that way but I think the NBA has made its stamp even more powerful.”

 

Danny Ainge unwittingly leaks Celtics’ draft pick on call with Terry Rozier during live show (video)

AP Photo/Bob Leverone
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Terry Rozier takes solace in how much Danny Ainge believes in him.

But I didn’t appreciate how deep their bond went.

Appearing on Bleacher Report’s live draft show, Rozier was asked to predict the Celtics’ No. 27 pick. So, Rozier called Ainge to ask. Shockingly, Ainge answered – with Boston on the clock. Almost certainly not knowing the call was public and live, Ainge revealed the likely selection:

Good thing the Celtics stuck with Robert Williams. That would have been extremely awkward otherwise.

As is, it was only a little awkward. Williams said today he doesn’t like to be called Bob.

Report: Rival teams expect Paul George to consider 1+1 contract with Thunder

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Paul George has openly stated the appeal of playing for his hometown Lakers. He has also openly stated the appeal of staying with the Thunder.

That has created significant confusion about his upcoming free agency.

Could George find a compromise outcome?

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

More than one rival team has suggested to me that they expect George to strongly consider a two-year deal with the Thunder at $30.3 million next season and $32.7 million in 2019-20 that includes a player option to return to free agency next summer.

This makes sense on paper.

A 1+1 contract would give George more time to determine whether he and Russell Westbrook can win together in Oklahoma City without getting stuck there long-term if they can’t. The Thunder were starting to put it together when Andre Roberson got hurt. Perhaps, Roberson getting healthy would swing Oklahoma City’s fortunes.

George would also be eligible for a higher max salary in two years – 35% of the salary cap, up from 30% if he signs now. So, a short-term contract would allow him to maximize his potential earnings.

But George said he wanted to sign somewhere long-term this summer. He also suffered an extremely gruesome leg injury just a few years ago. He might not want to bypass guaranteed money to gamble for a little more later.

Are these rival teams just looking at the general outlook for a player in George’s position without considering his specific circumstances? Or do they know something? George could have informed teams he might become available in 2019 or 2020 so they should prepare.

I’m skeptical this is more than speculation by opposing teams. But the possibility that they’re basing their expectations on inside information makes this worth monitoring.

Heartbreaking: Watch Mikal Bridges explain joy of joining hometown 76ers while they trade him to Suns (video)

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Mikal Bridges‘ mom jumped up, pumped her fists and screamed “Yes!” through her giant grin.

The 76ers – the organization she works for in human resources – had just drafted her son No. 10 overall. Bridges, a Philadelphia native who played at Villanova, seemed as if he’d stay home for his pro career.

Bridges:

She’s very, very excited. She’s been wanting this. She’s probably more excited than I am. She was about to cry and all that. She said she didn’t want to ruin her makeup, so she’d try to hold it in. But no, she’s very excited. I’m her only son. I’m a little mama’s boy. Her son is right there around the corner again, and it’s just really cool.

Except, as Bridges was talking, the 76ers were trading him to the Suns for No. 16 pick Zhaire Smith and the Heat’s unprotected 2021 first-rounder.

That extra pick carries major value. Even if you like Bridges much more than Smith – which I did, especially considering their fits in Philadelphia – that’s hard to pass up. The NBA is a business after all.

But it’s lamentable how this played out.

Kings GM Vlade Divac: ‘My team is a super team. Just young’

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Kings drafted Marvin Bagley No. 2 last night (seemingly for bad reasons, which doesn’t at all eliminate him from being the right pick but makes it less likely he is). He’ll join a young core also comprised of Bogdan Bogdanovic, De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Justin Jackson and Harry Giles.

That group excite you?

Kings general manager Vlade Divac isn’t reducing expectations.

Lina Washington of ABC 10:

To be fair, in 2012, the Warriors were coming off a 23-43 season with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson already on the roster and had just drafted Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes. Everyone would’ve laughed at calling Golden State a “super team, just young” then. But those four (plus Andre Iguodala) eventually led the Warriors to a championship.

But, really: Nah.

Entering the 2016-17 season, then-Knicks guard Derrick Rose said, “They’re saying us and Golden State are the super teams.” We mocked Rose relentlessly, and of course, the Warriors went 73-9 while New York finished just 32-50.

How long until Divac’s young super team reaches even 32-50?