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Rumor: Mavericks pre-draft courtship of Frank Ntilikina was ‘ruse’

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A photo of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and president Donnie Nelson with Frank Ntilikina made the rounds – aided by the Mavericks themselves – before the draft:

Word leaked Ntilikina’s coach in France would coach Dallas summer-league team:

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Yet it was all something of a ruse. That whole time Dallas was growing infatuated with Smith

If it were a ruse, it worked. The Knicks drafted Ntilikina No. 8, and Dennis Smith Jr. fell to the Mavericks at No. 9.

Vincent Collet never coached the Mavericks’ summer-league team. They hired Smith’s college coach at North Carolina State, Mark Gottfried, as a scout, though.

Either guard could have the better career, but both before the draft and currently, I’d take Smith over Ntilikina. (LeBron James agrees.)

So, did Dallas pull a fast one?

Cuban, via Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

“Not a stunt at all,” Cuban wrote Friday. “We like Frank quite a bit. If Dennis had been selected there was a very good chance we would have taken Frank.”

Take Cuban’s denial for what it’s worth – something, but not everything.

Maybe he’s telling the truth. Ntilikina would have been a reasonable pick at No. 9 (just as he was a reasonable pick at No. 8). If the Mavericks tricked the Knicks, Cuban might take a victory lap.

But maybe Cuban doesn’t want to offend Ntilikina or his agent by acknowledging they’d been used. Or maybe Cuban doesn’t want to reveal tricks that would make future Dallas subterfuge less effective.

Cuban and the Mavericks could have just been playing their Ntilikina interest straight all along. But if they were misdirecting, there’s at least some incentive to keep it up.

Marcus Smart announces he recovered, cleared of coronavirus

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Marcus Smart stepped forward and self-identified as having tested positive for the coronavirus. He wasn’t showing any symptoms and went into self-quarantine, and last we heard was doing well.

Sunday, Smart said that two days ago he was cleared and has fully recovered from the virus.

Most importantly, this is excellent news for Smart and his friends and family (and, by extension, the Celtics). His health is the most important thing in this story.

The NBA has asked recovered players to donate plasma because scientists are hoping to use the blood — which has developed immunities — to help create a vaccine or medicine to slow COVID-19. It’s optional, but the league is encouraging players to help.

There have been 10 players and five NBA off-court staff — including Knicks owner James Dolan — who have tested positive for the disease. Fortunately, none of them have shown any advanced symptoms that required hospitalization.

Colorado junior forward Tyler Bey declares for NBA Draft

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University of Colorado forward Tyler Bey has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The junior averaged 13.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Buffaloes. Bey shot 53% from the field overall and 74.3% at the free throw line.

Bey also extended his range a bit in his third year at Colorado. He knocked down 13-of-31 three-pointers (41.9%) on the season. At just six-foot-seven, he’ll need to be able to score from behind the arc to find a place in the NBA.

Most draft analysts have Bey pegged as an early second-round pick. Some thought he could play his way into the back-end of the first-round with strong pre-draft workouts. With the pre-draft process up in the air, NBA front offices may have to make their decisions based on what they’ve already seen in person and on tape.

Stephon Marbury has arrangement to procure 10 million medical masks for New York

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Former NBA player Stephon Marbury told The New York Post that he’s arranged a deal to deliver 10 million N95 medical masks to New York. These masks are much-needed among healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marbury is having the masks produced at cost in China, where he played the last seven years of his career.

Although Marbury currently lives in Beijing, China, he said “At the end of the day, I am from Brooklyn. This is something that is close and dear to my heart as far as being able to help New York.”

While growing up, Marbury starred at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and on New York City’s famed playgrounds. After one year at Georgia Tech, Marbury left for the NBA. The high-scoring guard played for five teams during his 13-year NBA career, including his hometown New York Knicks.

After sitting out for two seasons, Marbury signed to play for the Beijing Ducks in 2011. The move was initially seen as a way for Marbury to prove he could still play at an NBA level. Instead, Beijing became home-away-from home for the New Yorker.

Marbury averaged 21.6 points per game in 271 contests spread over seven seasons with the Ducks.

Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Georgetown sophomore Mac McClung told ESPN Jonathan Givony that he’s declaring for the 2020 NBA Draft.

McClung first came to national prominence when his high school highlights blew up on YouTube:

In his second season at Georgetown, McClung averaged 15.7 points and 1.4 steals per game. A foot injury in late-January kept McClung out of the lineup for nearly a month. He returned for one game in late-February, but played just eight minutes off the Hoyas’ bench.

The six-foot-two guard is known for his deep shooting range and his highlight dunks. McClung’s shot is inconsistent however, as he shot under 40% in each of his first two seasons at Georgetown. McClung’s defense also needs work.

McClung projects to be a point guard in the NBA, due to his size. To make it as a lead guard, he’ll need to work on his ballhandling and playmaking. With those question marks, McClung is seen as a stretch to be drafted in the second round.

McClung stated he’s signing with an NBA/NCAA approved agent. That will allow him to keep his college eligibility as he goes through the pre-draft process.