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Report: Australian league setting aside money to lure players who’ll be NBA draft-eligble

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The NBA infamously doesn’t allow players to enter the league straight out of high school. The FBI is cracking down on college basketball players earning an income. The NBA’s minor-league doesn’t allow potentially eligible college players.

Where can young American basketball players earn money?

Australia.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

As part of its new “Next Stars” program, the NBL will be adding an extra roster spot next season intended strictly for draft-eligible players such as Ferguson, the league told ESPN. Sources told ESPN those players will be paid 100,000 Australian dollars gross guaranteed (approximately $78,000 U.S.), funded directly by the league.

“Unlike other countries where players and agents deal with clubs, the NBL will directly contract the players,” NBL owner and executive chairman Larry Kestelman said in a release provided exclusively to ESPN. “We will make sure the players get the development they need as part of the program with our clubs, giving them the best chance of success.

“The NBL provides strong visibility back to the U.S. Our league is closest to the NBA in terms of style of play and game day presentation. We will work to build a program to provide the right access to NBA teams and scouts alike.”

Terrance Ferguson signed in the Australia’s National Basketball League out of high school then got drafted by Thunder in the first round last year. The unusual path mostly worked, and this plan addresses shortcomings in Ferguson’s experience.

NBL (and European) teams are trying to win now. They’re often uninterested in using a roster spot on a teenager who needs development. Ferguson wasn’t quite ready for professional basketball, and it strained his team at time.

But with this new plan, the roster spot is reserved for only young players. Teams can’t save it for a veteran.

Will the money lure major American prospects? It’s far more than the NBA’s minor league pays, and forgoing college basketball opens the opportunity for above-board endorsements. Australians speak English, making the transition overseas easier.

It could work, and good for the NBL recognizing a market inefficiency.

The Australian league is also running an impressive gambit. Expect these contracts to include an NBA buyout. NBA teams will be able to pay $725,000 toward international buyouts in 2019 without it counting toward the cap, and that amount will increase $25,000 annually. NBA teams are generally cool with paying that for their draft picks, and the money will go to the NBL (and trickles down to the young players whose signing with the NBL is necessary for the scheme).

The NBA has relied on college basketball for a free minor league for years. Now, the NBA might essentially have to pay the NBL to handle some of that responsibility.

It’s a small price and one that makes sense right now, but this could ultimately push the NBA toward emphasizing its own minor league.

PBT Extra: One last mock draft of NBA lottery

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DeAndre Ayton will go No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns Thursday night. Marvin Bagley III probably goes second to Sacramento (but that’s not a lock).

After that, things get wide open in the 2018 NBA Draft. Teams value different players at very different levels this year, and there are going to be a number of trades.

Which makes putting together a mock draft for this year more random than a roulette wheel. Not that it stopped me. Here is my final mock draft for the 14 lottery picks. I present it without much confidence, but I’m throwing it out there anyway.

Report: Dewayne Dedmon opts in for $6.3 million with Hawks

AP Photo/Todd Kirkland
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The Hawks’ rebuild got going with big John Collins. Though they’re reportedly eying Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick, they could easily draft another big – Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, Marvin Bagley or Wendell Carter.

And then there’s veteran center Dewayne Dedmon.

He no longer fits in Atlanta (never did, really). But he’s not bypassing a chance to earn $6.3 million.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.

Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.

If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.

Nick Young says ‘everybody needs to do cocaine,’ later insists he was joking

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
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Nick Young will say and do nearly anything for attention.

Empowered by the Warriors’ championship, he swung for the fences when asked about Canada passing marijuana legalization.

Young, via TMZ:

“I want people to pass cocaine,” the NBA star told TMZ Sports outside 1 OAK on Tuesday night … “Everybody needs to do cocaine!”

Predictably, that caused a bit of an uproar. Then, Young backtracked:

Chill. You know I was just joking

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Too late, Nick. People are already asking questions you don’t want asked.

Report: 76ers trade No. 39 pick to Lakers

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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The 76ers have too many 2018 draft picks – Nos. 10, 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60.

Philadelphia already has 11 players under contract for next season. Plus, the 76ers have the space to add premier players. There just isn’t room for everyone on the roster.

So, Philadelphia unloaded one of those selections.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.

Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.