AP Photo/David J. Phillip

PBT Awards: Executive of the Year


Kurt Helin

1. Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets

2. Danny Ainge, Boston Celtics

3. Dennis Lindsey, Utah Jazz

This award is usually won in July, and that’s when Morey won it — not with simply the Chris Paul trade, but with the moves around it, such as getting P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute, that fit perfectly around the stars to create a deep team that could challenge the Warriors. Danny Ainge looks brilliant now with the roster he put together, despite injuries (although the book is still out on some of his moves, such as how good Markelle Fultz will be and what happens with the Brooklyn pick). Also, the Jazz lost Gordon Hayward for nothing in free agency, yet smart moves (led by the Donovan Mitchell trade, and moving on from Rodney Hood and getting Jae Crowder, who has played well in Utah) means they will win just about as many games as they did the season before.

Dan Feldman

1. Daryl Morey, Rockets

2. Dennis Lindsey, Jazz

3. Kevin Pritchard, Pacers

Daryl Morey lured Chris Paul in a creative opt-in-and-trade that required the 32-year-old to delay locking into a long-term deal – an incredible accomplishment in its own right. The Rockets general manager also convinced James Harden, this season’s clear MVP, to sign a  contract extension (easier, considering the price). To top it off, Morey rounded out a roster capable of challenging the Warriors with the savvy signings of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker. In one summer, Houston went from a good team to a championship contender.

Dennis Lindsey found a franchise-changer in Donovan Mitchell with the No. 13 pick in the draft, which alone might have earned second place here. But Lindsey’s other additions – Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko, Ekpe Udoh, an unearthed-out-of-nowhere Royce O’Neal and Jae Crowder – have helped build a team capable of making Utah forget about Gordon Hayward.

Kevin Pritchard was dealt a tough hand when Paul George made clear his desire to leave Indiana, and Pritchard got someone who might be even more valuable in Victor Oladipo. Even if he didn’t realize how good Oladipo would be, Pritchard chose to bet on Oladipo. So, Pritchard gets the credit for how that has paid off.

The Celtics’ Danny Ainge did well to acquire stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward and potential future star Jayson Tatum – even if Boston won’t reap the rewards this year. Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis were strong under-the-radar signings. But Ainge was operating from a position of strength entering the summer, so his moves must be judged accordingly when assessing only this year. Tom Thibodeau got a massive head-start with the Jimmy Butler trade, but the Andrew Wiggins extension is enough to keep the Timberwolves president off the ballot.

Rumor: Timberwolves bypassed Stephen Curry in draft because Minnesota is too cold for year-round golf

AP Photo/Jim Mone

Timberwolves general manager David Kahn infamously drafted two point guards – Ricky Rubio No. 5 and Jonny Flynn No. 6 – before the Warriors took Stephen Curry No. 7 in the 2009 draft.

Curry, as transcribed by Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area:

“My guy David Kahn. I don’t know where he’s at right now,” Curry said on The Bill Simmons Podcast. “I don’t know if that ever came out — there’s a story. Everybody knows how much I love golf — play it in my spare time and what not.

“I think the word on the street was that he didn’t draft me because in Minnesota it’s cold and I wouldn’t be able to play as much golf so I would have been miserable.”

A shocked Simmons asked Curry: “Is that true?”

“I hope it’s true because that’s hilarious (laughter),” Curry said. “That’s hilarious.”

If this is why Minnesota passed on Curry, it was a huge mistake. Better to take the best prospect available and hope for the best. Curry probably would have learned to appreciate Minnesota. There’s plenty of room to golf elsewhere in the offseason. Remember, Golden State was seen as a low-rung destination just a few years ago. Curry helped transform the franchise’s perception.

Mostly, though, I’m with Curry. This would be a hilarious story if true.

But that doesn’t mean we should just assume it’s accurate. Plenty of teams underestimated Curry, who looked like an undersized score-first guard when he entered the NBA. He just beat the odds and made everyone who passed on him look silly.

Orlando not getting 2023 All-Star game

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The next three NBA All-Star hosts are set:

  • 2019: Charlotte Hornets
  • 2020: Chicago Bulls
  • 2021: Indiana Pacers

Beyond that? The Orlando Magic want an All-Star game, but they apparently struck out with upcoming selections.

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins said Sunday the Magic put in a bid to host the 2023 All-Star Weekend and have been informed by league officials that another location will be selected for that year.

The league asked for bids for the 2022 and 2023 All-Star Weekends, but Martins said the Magic couldn’t bid for the 2022 game because a major convention will be held in Orlando that same weekend, leaving the city with too few hotel rooms to also host All-Star Weekend.

Orlando hosted All-Star games in 2012 and 1992. I bet one will return there soon enough. It’s a warm-weather city with the infrastructure to host.

It just won’t be within the next half decade.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer: ‘I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in’

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The Clippers will probably miss the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference. But they’re also even further from landing a high draft pick. They’re in that middling position some teams find perilous.

But not Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times:

Ballmer also vowed that the Clippers won’t tank to get a better draft pick. “That ain’t us. Nuh-uh, no way,” he said. “People can do it their way. We’re going to be good our way. We’re not going to show up and suck for a year, two years. I think we got higher expectations on us than the long, hard five, six years of absolute crap like the 76ers put in. How could we look you guys in the eye if we did that to you?”

The 76ers missed the playoffs five straight seasons, but they emerged from that self-inflicted drought with two franchise cornerstones – Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons – and multiple other helpful pieces. The Process worked as intended.

But this is also why the NBA needn’t freak out about other teams replicating Sam Hinkie’s plan. Few have the stomach for it.

Ballmer doesn’t. The Clippers are trying to attract free agents. The better they are in the interim, the more credibility they’ll build.

Jordan Clarkson, Yao Ming keen observers at Asian Games basketball

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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson watched from the bench, not quite able to make it to the Asian Games in time to play in the opening game for the Philippines.

Yao Ming was there, too, also keeping a close eye on the Philippines’ opening 96-59 win over Kazakhstan.

After getting a special exemption from the NBA to play for the Philippines in Jakarta, the US-born Clarkson should be ready to suit up for the next game against China. And that has the attention of ex-Houston Rockets and Chinese all-star center Yao.

Clarkson, one of three NBA players given an exemption by the league to play in Jakarta, said he had a frustrating time while his status for the tournament was being considered. The NBA also granted exemptions to Houston Rockets 7-foot-1 (2.17-meter) center Zhou Qi and Dallas Mavericks forward Ding Yanyuhang to play for China.

“We went back and forth so many times, saying I was going to play, then I wasn’t going to play,” the 6-5 (1.96-meter) Clarkson told Philippines’ reporters after Thursday’s game. “Now, being able to participate is awesome.

“I’m very excited to know that I’m finally getting to do this, being able to play … for the country. It’s definitely something that I’ve been looking forward to.”

Clarkson, who qualifies to play for the Philippines through his maternal grandmother, has four days to get familiar with “fun style of play.”

“I feel the support, the love all the time,” he said. “My grandma is real proud I’m able to do this now.”

The Philippines is playing a tournament for the first time since 10 players and two coaches were suspended following a wild brawl in a World Cup qualifier against Australia on July 2. Three Australian players were also suspended.

Video of the brawl was widely played around the world, with punches thrown, chairs tossed at players, and security needed to restore order.