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Report: Hawks were ‘really determined’ to get Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013 NBA draft

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Mike Budenholzer just worked his way out of Atlanta to Milwaukee to coach Giannis Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo, just 23, is already a superstar. Helping to mold him is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

But what if Budenholzer could have been coaching Antetokounmpo all along?

The Bucks drafted Antetokounmpo No. 15 in 2013, but they had competition from the Hawks, as Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst of ESPN detailed on The Woj Pod:

  • Wojnarowski: “That night with Giannis, Atlanta was really – Brian, you both know this. Atlanta was really determined to get him.”
  • Windhorst: “Oh, yes. I’ve listened to Danny Ferry’s sob story about this one.”
  • Wojnarowski: “Danny Ferry, Wes Wilcox were really focused on him.”

The Hawks entered the draft with the No. 17 and No. 18 picks. How determined were they if they couldn’t move ahead of Milwaukee picking 15th?

I believe Ferry and Wilcox, both since ousted, liked Antetokounmpo more than most teams did. But if they had an inkling Antetokounmpo would even near the level he actually has, the Hawks would have gotten him. He fell all the way to No. 15!

Instead, Atlanta traded up from No. 18 to No. 16 with the Mavericks – who have their own Antetokounmpo draft-night story – and got Lucas Nogueira. The Hawks took Dennis Schroder No. 17.

Of course, only the near-hits get leaked. All the times Ferry and Wilcox were “really determined” to trade for a player who wound up a bust, you’ll never hear about it.

Still, I’m fascinated by the “what if?” Atlanta already had Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver. That same summer, the Hawks signed Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll to complete the starting lineup that would win 60 games a couple seasons later. Imagine that team with Antetokounmpo coming into his own.

Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma trolling now in ad for Wish shopping app

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The Lakers asked Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma to back off on their social media trolling battle.

However, they made an exception for this new Wish.com app ad (Wish is the Lakers’ jersey ad sponsor).

Well played guys.

Miami bringing Briante Weber into camp with chance to make roster

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For three seasons, Briante Weber has bounced around the fringes of the NBA. The defensive-minded point guard has played in short stints (often 10-day contracts) for the Grizzlies, Heat, Warriors, Hornets, and last season he got in 13 games for the Rockets (plus five in Memphis). He’s spent most of his career in the G-League, working for his chance to get in the door.

Miami is bringing him into training camp, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

This is apparently camp invite.

There is roster space in Miami if Webber blows them away. Miami has 12 fully guaranteed roster spots and, with Webber, two partially-guaranteed deals (Malik Newman, who was undrafted out of Kansas, is the other).

The problem for Webber is Miami is deep at the point guard spot: Goran Dragic will start, and if Tyler Johnson is healthy (as expected) he will get a lot of minutes behind him, and then there is Newman. The Heat also have in the guard rotation Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and possibly Dwyane Wade if he returns (all of those guys are more two guards).

That’s a lot of guys for Webber to beat out and find a spot. On the other hand, his defensive style is something different from what the Heat have on the roster.

Webber is a longshot, but he’s at least going to camp.

Russell Westbrook “very, very excited” Paul George re-signed with Thunder

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What did you expect him to say?

Rather than a potential rebuild — or another “Russell Westbrook vs. The World” season — the Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the big winners of the off-season when Paul George agreed to re-sign with the team. They also moved on from Carmelo Anthony, will get Andre Roberson back from injury, and added Dennis Schroder to give them a shot creator off the bench.

Needless to say, Westbrook is a happy man. We could kind of tell that from the party he threw the night George agreed to re-sign, but he said it directly in an ESPN interview while in China on his Jordan Brand Tour.

“I’m very, very excited. Paul has been an unbelievable teammate, obviously a great friend. I’m very, very excited that he is back and we’re ready to make some noise. We are just going to take it one day at a time. I think our team has a lot of great, young talent. We have one goal now and that is winning a championship.”

While it’s hard to envision the Thunder reaching that goal (as constructed), the Thunder could well be the three or four seed in the West and have home court in the first round of the playoffs. While the margin for error in the West will be minuscule (with 12 teams having a shot at the eight playoff spots), with the Thunder’s strong top-10 defense and two stars who can take over games nightly, they should be one of the more consistent regular season teams in the West.

Either way, the Thunder are a lot more interesting with George than without. It’s going to be a good season for the Thunder.

PBT Extra: Carmelo Anthony officially a Houston Rocket now — this can work

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Did the Houston Rockets get better this summer? The conventional wisdom is no, they will miss the switchable defense and versatility of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute against the NBA’s other elite teams.

But with Carmelo Anthony officially signing with the Rockets on Monday, don’t expect a big step back, something I cover in this latest PBT Extra.

The Rockets had the second-best offense in the NBA last season (almost tied with the Warriors) and ‘Melo can enhance that — he can still punish switches in the post, he has a catch-and-shoot game, and while he may not be as efficient as he once was, the man can get buckets. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, expect Mike D’Antoni to find him minutes while Chris Paul and James Harden rest where he can be an offensive focal point.

This all could work out in Houston.