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SMU’s Shake Milton, Wichita State’s Landry Shamet both declare for NBA draft

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Two potential combo guards — both of whom would like to climb into the first round of the draft but may go early second — have declared for the NBA Draft.

SMU’s Shake Milton and Wichita State’s Landry Shamet both have made their intentions known.

Shamet made his intentions known on Instagram.

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I was 4 when I knew I wanted to play in the NBA someday… This ball and this goal ten feet off of the ground have brought me places I wouldn’t have ever imagined I’d go; who would’ve thought I’d be a Division 1 basketball player at Wichita State? This game has created friendships and unbreakable brotherhoods, has allowed me to meet and learn from interesting people from all over and, through hard work, has lead to me having an opportunity to fulfill that dream I’d envisioned at 4 years old. With that being said, I am declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft and foregoing my junior and senior seasons at Wichita State. I want to thank the city of Wichita and all of the thousands of people I’ve gotten to meet and interact with over the years. This community has truly touched my heart in more ways than one could imagine. Every single person I’ve crossed paths with has impacted me and left a mark on me and I truly felt an obligation to give you all absolutely everything I had every time I put on that jersey. I want to thank you all, the greatest fans in the world, for the unwavering support and love through all of the ups and all of the downs and everything in between. I want to thank my family and those that have been in my close circle throughout my career for allowing me to lean on you during any and all of my trials and tribulations. You know who you are. I want to thank my coaches for putting me in a position to have the opportunity to go fulfill my one and only lifelong dream. Without this platform and without Coach Marshall giving me the opportunities he’s given me, none of this is possible. And all of the coaches who have grown me on and off the court over my years playing. And lastly, I want to thank my brothers who I went to war with night-in and night-out. My teammates put me in a position to be who I am today and they’re guys that I’m proud to call my brothers for life. I’m following my intuition and I believe in life when an opportunity that you’ve dreamed of presents itself, you’ve got to go take it. And that’s what I am doing. I hope I’ve made you all proud and I hope that I’ll continue to do so. Nothing but Love -11

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Shamet could get a team’s attention because he can shoot the rock — 44.2 percent from three on 5.9 attempts per game, and with opposing defenses focused on him. He has good NBA size and length, plays a very high IQ game, and he can knock down shots off the bounce or on catch-and-shoots. The concern, what could keep him out of the first round, is a lack of athleticism for the NBA level. An example of the concerns: In the NCAA Tournament this year against Marshall he had 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting overall and 0-of-7 from three. Can he defend well enough and create the needed space for his shot at the next level?

Big guards with playmaking skills and who can shoot will get the attention of NBA teams. Enter Shake Milton, who was SMU’s Mr. Everything this season averaging 18 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. He made it official on Twitter, he is on his way to the NBA.

How important was Milton to the Mustangs? A broken hand forced him to miss the final 11 games of the season and SMU won just two of those.

He shot 43.3 percent from three and looks like someone who can play either guard spot at the next level (and teams love versatility). He was good on the pick-and-roll in college and showed impressive passing and floor vision. The only concern is his athleticism, he’s not explosive and the guys he is going up against will be. While he has a floater he wasn’t a great finisher inside, and there are questions about how well he can defend on one end, or on the other turn the corner on the pick-and-roll at the other.

Players see similarities between Brad Stevens, Erik Spoelstra

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Jae Crowder will tell anybody who asks that the Miami Heat are extremely well-prepared for whatever comes their way in the Eastern Conference finals.

He can say the same about the Boston Celtics, too.

Crowder and fellow Heat teammate Kelly Olynyk are both in the East title series for the second time. Their first time was in 2017 — when they were Boston teammates under coach Brad Stevens. And it isn’t hard for Crowder to see the similarities between Stevens and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

“Oh, the No. 1 thing that sticks out to me is the attention to detail,” Crowder said. “Both coaches have preached that and pushed that with their teams, respectively. You need that at this level. You need that at this time of the year, because both teams really know exactly what they’re trying to get to. It’s just about the level of detail that you’re doing it and how much you’re imposing your will.”

The Celtics lost that 2017 series to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and neither Olynyk nor Crowder ever played for Boston again when that postseason run ended. Crowder was traded in the summer after those 2017 East finals, part of the deal that brought Kyrie Irving from Cleveland to Boston. Olynyk left Boston in the same summer, signing a three-year contract with Miami with a player option for next season tacked on as well.

Stevens remains fond of both players, and even now — with the Celtics trying to beat the Heat — he says he’s happy for Olynyk and Crowder.

“I think they’re both great competitors, great people,” Stevens said. “They impact winning. It’s not a surprise they’re doing it again.”

Spoelstra has a bit of familiarity with a key member of the Celtics, albeit on a different level. The Heat made a big push to sign Gordon Hayward in 2017, even getting him to visit Miami on what became a bit of a whirlwind free-agent tour that summer. Hayward ended up signing with Boston; that was largely why Miami got Olynyk that summer, because the Celtics had to rescind the qualifying offer made to him in order to help clear the space needed to sign Hayward.

“We loved the meeting with Gordon,” Spoelstra said in 2017. “There’s a reason why we recruited him.”

All the moves have worked out for everyone involved. Most of the Celtics who were on that 2017 team aren’t there now, so it’s not like Olynyk and Crowder are facing off with their old team — just their former franchise.

“I mean, there’s definitely similarities … they’re two of the best coaches in the league, and to be successful in this league you’ve got to do some of the same stuff,” Olynyk said. “But they do have their differences as well and that’s what makes them unique and that’s what makes our two teams different.”

Miami leads this year’s East finals 2-1 going into Game 4 on Wednesday night.

“I think the similarity is definitely just the attention to detail that they both coach with, and they push it to their groups tremendously,” Crowder said. “I think that’s a hell of a compliment to both coaches.”

Report: G-League considering tournament including select team of top draft prospects

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There is not going to be a G-League Showcase in Las Vegas right before Christmas. At least not in the traditional sense.

However, the G-League reportedly is considering a tournament-style showcase event while the NBA will be between seasons. This tournament would include the Ignite select team of highly-touted draft prospects getting paid, skipping college, and spending a season working on their game. All that according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The key line here: Decisions are fluid.

The 2020 NBA Draft is Nov. 18. After that, nothing is set in stone; there is no official start date for free agency and no date for the start of next season (although the buzz around the league continues to say February, maybe even March). This G-League tournament would be a way to show off players to general managers/scouts/executives, which means it needs to occur when those people can attend. Until more of the schedule is set, nobody is sure when that will be.

The Ignite team, which will train in Northern California (Walnut Park), is stacked with a number of potential high picks — including Daishen Nix, Jonathan Kuminga, and Jalen Green — and they will be coached by former NBA player/coach Brian Shaw. No doubt the G-League would like to give them and others a chance to shine, but the coronavirus will make finding the right time a challenge. Then the league has to create a bubble again. It’s not cheap or easy.

That said, it could happen. Keep an eye out.

Wes Unseld Jr., Kenny Atkinson reportedly top list for next Chicago coach

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Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley, the two guys at the top of Chicago Bulls basketball operations, fired a coach in Jim Boylen that the team owner liked. Which means they have to nail the next hire.

Chicago in on to the second round of interviews and four names stand out, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Bulls are narrowing to finalists for their head coaching job and expect to conduct final interviews soon, sources said. Denver assistant Wes Unseld Jr., Philadelphia assistant Ime Udoka, Milwaukee assistant Darvin Ham and former Brooklyn head coach Kenny Atkinson are among the coaches who have had strong interviews so far.

Atkinson has a more proven resume after what he did in Brooklyn, but the other three are top assistants who have earned their shot in the big chair. Unseld Jr. is a hot name right now because his team is still in the bubble and playing well — he’s Mike Malone’s lead assistant on the Denver Nuggets — but every name on this list is qualified.

Whoever lands the job will head a team with plenty of potential but also plenty of questions. The Bulls have quality young talent on the roster — Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, Coby White, Wendell Carter — but do they are fit together? How good Chicago is next season may depend more on the growth of White and the health of Markkanen than it does on who gets selected as coach.

Expect Karnisovas to spend a year putting his stamp on this roster and moving players around. First, however, he’s got to find his coach.

Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin form NASCAR racing team with Bubba Wallace driving

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Michael Jordan is getting into the NASCAR game.

The North Carolina native has teamed up with three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin to form a new NASCAR Cup Series race team — and they’ve signed Bubba Wallace to drive.

Wallace is the only Black man driving full-time in NASCAR’s top series (the previous three seasons he raced for Richard Petty Motorsports). Wallace has been at the forefront of bringing social changes to NASCARincluding the banning of the Confederate flags at NASCAR events and tracks.

“Growing up in North Carolina, my parents would take my brothers, sisters and me to races, and I’ve been a NASCAR fan my whole life,” Jordan said in a statement. “The opportunity to own my own racing team in partnership with my friend, Denny Hamlin, and to have Bubba Wallace driving for us, is very exciting for me.

“Historically, NASCAR has struggled with diversity and there have been few Black owners. The timing seemed perfect as NASCAR is evolving and embracing social change more and more. In addition to the recent commitment and donations I have made to combat systemic racism, I see this as a chance to educate a new audience and open more opportunities for Black people in racing.”

Michael Jordan becomes the first Black owner of a full-time race team in NASCAR top series since NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott in the 1960s and early 1970s (he owned the team and drove the car). Bubba Wallace is the first Black full-time driver in the top NASCAR series since Scott.

Hamlin will be a minority partner in the new team and continue to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“This is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I believe is a great fit for me at this point in my career,” said Wallace in a statement. “Both Michael and Denny are great competitors and are focused on building the best team they possibly can to go out and compete for race wins. I’m grateful and humbled that Michael and Denny believe in me and I’m super pumped to begin this adventure with them.”

The car manufacturer, number, sponsors and more will be announced at a later date.

Jordan is the primary owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.