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Pelicans win NBA Draft Lottery throwing twist into Anthony Davis sweepstakes

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Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson together in New Orleans?

That’s not likely to happen — Davis’ camp quickly sent out word their trade demand stood — but for a Pelicans’ fan base that felt betrayed and punched in the gut, this result makes the inevitable Davis trade easier to swallow.

The New Orleans Pelicans won the NBA Draft Lottery and will draft Zion Williamson No. 1 (that’s not official yet, but come on).

How did Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry and president David Griffin feel about it?

This result throws a wrench in the plans of teams that wanted to use the pick to jump into the Davis sweepstakes — we’re looking at you, New York Knicks — but gave other teams, such as the Lakers, another asset that could be part of a trade for Davis or another star player.

The Pelicans had a six percent chance of landing the top pick but leapfrogged up to the top spot, where they will undoubtedly take the Duke star. The NBA flattened out the lottery odds in hopes of reducing tanking by teams — the team with the worst record in the league went from having a 25 percent chance at the top spot to just 14 percent — and it worked, there was a lot of lottery movement.

Memphis and the L.A. Lakers all jumped also jumped up into the top four, joining the New York Knicks. That pushed Cleveland, Phoenix, and Chicago down the ladder.

Here is the NBA Draft order.

1. New Orleans
2. Memphis
3. New York
4. L.A. Lakers
5. Cleveland
6. Phoenix
7. Chicago
8. Atlanta
9. Washington
10. Atlanta (via Dallas)
11. Minnesota
12. Charlotte
13. Miami
14. Boston (via Sacramento)

Some other quick thoughts out of the lottery.

• Memphis will likely take consensus No. 2 pick Ja Morant with their selection, which makes it even more likely they trade Mike Conley this summer.

• The Celtics will take this result because Memphis still owes a pick to Boston. Said pick is top-6 protected in 2020. If it doesn’t convey to Boston in 2020, it becomes unprotected in 2021. That is more valuable in a trade package for someone such as Davis.

• The Lakers had a 78 percent chance of selecting 11th, by jumping up to No. 4 they have a more valuable trade asset — if they can get back in the Davis sweepstakes, or can target someone else — or at the very least a better young player to go with their young core.

Kyle Kuzma, the Lakers’ representative at the Draft Lottery, on the team jumping seven spots: “Must have been my purple jacket.” I thought it was the Hand of the King pin he wore on his lapel for the event.

• The Knicks had hoped to land the top spot to use that pick — read: Zion — to tempt the Pelicans in a potential Davis trade. Now it’s more difficult to construct a Knicks trade that would tempt the Pelicans, New York has other young players and future picks, but the Pels don’t want to totally bottom out. Never say never, but the odds got longer for New York.

• Atlanta has two picks at 8 and 11, but don’t expect them to package the picks to move up in the draft. First, that just doesn’t happen as often in the NBA as it does in the NFL or other sports. Second, there aren’t a lot of players worth moving up for in what is seen as a down draft after No. 1, and teams with the top picks will not give them up for later picks.

Just a reminder, after draft and free agency Wizards have still not named official GM

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When Wizards owner Ted Leonsis finally ended Ernie Grunfeld’s run as team GM back in April — to the joy of Wizards fans everywhere — it was expected they would have a new head of basketball operations in place by the draft.

Nope.

So by the start of free agency, to guide the Wizards through this tumultuous summer?

Nope.

Tommy Shepard has been doing the job on an interim basis, and as Jeff Zillgit of the USA Today points out a lot of league talk in Las Vegas was about why Leonsis just hasn’t given Shepard the job.

Team executive after executive had the same question when the Washington Wizards’ unresolved top front-office job opening came up. “Why not just give Tommy the job?”

Tommy is Tommy Sheppard, the Wizards’ longtime exec, who has been running basketball operations since owner Ted Leonsis decided not to bring Ernie Grunfeld back. Sheppard ran the draft, free agency and the Wizards’ Summer League team, but he doesn’t have the full-time job.

A couple of more prominent names were linked to the Wizards job at points. There were reportedly talks with Tim Conley, who built Denver into a real threat, but he decided to stay in the Rockies. There were rumors of Masai Ujiri, but he has chosen to stay in Toronto after winning a title.

At this point, after Shepard has built the team for this coming season, is Leonsis really going to bring in someone else?

The Wizards have decisions to make. This is a young roster not ready to be a threat in the East, but with Bradley Beal and the injured John Wall (likely out for the season after tearing his Achilles), they also are capped out. So far they have turned away calls from other teams about a Beal trade (nobody is calling about a Wall trade with his max contract extension just kicking in).

Come July 26 the Wizards can offer Beal a three-year, $111 million extension, both sides are talking and the offer is expected to be made. That’s when the big decision comes — if Beal doesn’t sign that offer the Wizards have to look at trading him. Beal has spoken numerous times in the past about wanting to stay with the Wizards, but there was plenty of informed league speculation at Summer League that he is frustrated with the franchise and may not sign the extension, essentially forcing his way out. It’s something to watch in the coming weeks.

It probably would be nice to have a locked-in head of basketball operations by then, but who knows what Leonsis will do.

Cameron Payne reportedly agrees to partially-guaranteed contract with Toronto

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Cameron Payne was the starting point guard at one point early in the season in Chicago (until Kris Dunn returned), it didn’t last long, and by the middle of the season he was waived. The Cavaliers picked him up in a limited role at the end of the season.

Payne played for Dallas at Summer League and needed to impress there to have a shot a roster spot for next season. He did, averaging 20 points per game on 51 percent shooting, and he had one 32-point game.

The Toronto Raptors will bring Payne and let him compete to be the third point guard, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Raptors have Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet at the point, there are not a lot of minutes to be had there. However, both men are in the final year of their contracts. Plus, he brings some pregame dancing that every team needs.

The Raptors now have 16 potential NBA contracts coming into training camp, which means there will be cuts. The fact Payne has a decent guarantee his first year means he’s going to get a real look.

Payne, the No. 14 pick of the Thunder back in 2015, has struggled to find a fit in the NBA. While his skill set should fit the modern game, he doesn’t quite shoot or distribute well enough to earn a coach’s trust. He will try to change that with Nick Nurse.

Enes Kanter trolls (jokingly) Kyrie Irving on why Kanter will wear No. 11 with Boston

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Kyrie Irving is off to Brooklyn, which opened up the No. 11 jersey in Boston.

New Celtics center Enes Kanter will wear it, and his answer as to why is an awesome joke and troll of Irving.

You have to love the smile before he makes the joke, he has planned this out.

If you don’t get the “I want to be the reason no one else will” wear No. 11, you have to remember this Irving/Nike ad from Boston.

Well played Kanter, well played.

Report: Knicks’ Reggie Bullock could miss first month of season with injury

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On Tuesday, the Knicks made it official, they had signed sharpshooter Reggie Bullock to a two-year contract.

It had been a strange negotiation. Bullock had initially agreed to a two-year, $21 million contract with New York but after that (during the physicals) an injury of some nature came to light and the contract was re-negotiated down to two-years, $8.2 million (part of the room exception), money freed up allowed the Knicks to chase and land Marcus Morris.

Now comes a report Bullock will miss the start of the season with an injury. From Ian Begley of SNY.tv

There is no specific timetable for Bullock to be on the court at the moment. But, per SNY sources, Bullock is expected to miss at least a month of the regular season due to his ailment…

The medical issue that caused the hiccup is unclear, but Bullock has dealt with plantar fasciitis in the past.

Plantar fasciitis is something generally healed with rest, which Bullock should be getting plenty of this summer, making it a little unusual for it to extend into the season.

Bullock has a history of injury issues, having played 62 games two seasons ago in Detroit, then 63 last season between the Pistons and Lakers.

Bullock averaged 11.3 points and shot 37.7 percent from three last season. He will provide some much-needed floor spacing in New York, once he gets on the court.