Pistons future just got much brighter, Detroit wins NBA Draft Lottery

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The Detroit Pistons already some quality young talent on their roster: Isaiah Steward and Saddiq Bey each made the All-Rookie team this year, their star Jerami Grant is just 26, and other players have shown potential such as Hamidou Diallo, Sekou Doumbouya, and Killian Hayes.

Tuesday night, the Pistons’ future got a whole lot brighter — they are about to add a potential franchise cornerstone playmaking guard in Cade Cunningham to that list.

The Pistons won the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night and will draft No. 1.

Cunningham is the clear favorite to be taken first overall.

The Pistons had the worst record in the East this season (20-52) and were among the teams with a 14% chance of winning the lottery. The No. 2 pick went to Houston, which at 17-55 had the worst record in the NBA this season.

Cleveland and Toronto jumped up the board from lower odds to grab the No. 3 and 4 spots in the draft.

Here is how the NBA Draft Lottery shook out.

1. Detroit Pistons
2. Houston Rockets
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Toronto Raptors
5. Orlando Magic
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
7. Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota)
8. Orlando Magic (via Chicago)
9. Sacramento Kings
10. New Orleans Pelicans
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. San Antonio Spurs
13. Indiana Pacers
14. Golden State Warriors

Some other notes from how the NBA Draft lottery broke down.

• Cunningham will only work out for the Pistons since they have the top pick, reports Adrain Wojnarowski of ESPN.

• The Warriors now have two lottery picks, their own (14) and Minnesota’s (7), that second one part of the D'Angelo Russell trade. The buzz around the league is that the Warriors will try to package those two picks — and maybe last year’s No. 2 pick James Wiseman — to bring back a veteran star who can help their aging core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green win now.

• Houston retains its pick (it was top four protected, or it went to Oklahoma City), and with the No. 2 pick can select someone to go with young players such as Christian Wood and Jae'Sean Tate.

• The Timberwolves lost their lottery pick by not finishing in the top three (it goes to the Warriors). Minnesota will bank on its core — Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell, and last year’s top pick Anthony Edwards — to take a step forward this year.

• Chicago also fell out of the lottery this year, with their pick (No. 8) going to Orlando as part of the Nikola Vucevic deal.

• Jumping up to No. 4 is a big win for the Toronto Raptors, who are looking at a rebuild, no matter what happens with free agent Kyle Lowry this offseason. The Raptors will get to add a very good player to the mix.

• Most teams appear to have the same top four prospects on their draft boards. Cade Cunningham, the 6’8″ point guard out of Oklahoma State, is the clear No. 1. After that, Evan Mobley (USC), Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga), and Jalen Green of the G-League Ignite are the next three. Spots five and six in this draft are expected to be Jonathan Kuminga (Ignite) or Davion Mitchell (Baylor) depending on who you ask.

After the lottery, the rest of the draft order shakes out like this:
15. Washington Wizards
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston)
17. Memphis Grizzlies
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami)
19. New York Knicks
20. Atlanta Hawks
21. New York Knicks (from Dallas)
22. Los Angeles Lakers
23. Houston Rockets (from Portland)
24. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee)
25. LA Clippers
26. Denver Nuggets
27. Brooklyn Nets
28. Philadelphia 76ers
29. Phoenix Suns
30. Utah Jazz

Celtics lock-up Al Horford with two-year, $20 million extension

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics
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Brad Stevens has locked up the core of this Celtics team — the one that reached the Finals last season and has the best record in the NBA to start this one — through the summer of 2025.

They did that with a two-year, $20 million extension (that kicks in next season). The story was broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and later confirmed by the Celtics.

Horford, 36, is making $26.5 million this season, the final year of a four-year, $109 million deal he signed in Philadelphia. While he never fit well as a stretch four next to Joel Embiid, he has worked well as a role player in Boston’s front line. The Celtics have locked him up at a deal closer to the league average and about his value now, at an average of $10 million a season (both years are fully guaranteed). It’s a fair deal for both sides, and a low enough number that if Father Time starts to win the race it doesn’t hurt Boston much.

With Robert Williams still out following knee surgery, Horford has seen his minutes increase to start this season but he has handled it well, averaging  10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game, shooting 55.5% overall and 48.8% from 3-point range. Joe Mazzulla will likely try to get Horford some rest down the line when he can, but for now he’s leaning on the veteran.

And the team has rewarded him.

Donovan says Lonzo Ball’s recovery has ‘been really slow’

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Watching the finger-pointing and heated moments between Bulls’ defenders on Wednesday night as Devin Booker carved them up to the tune of 51 points, one thought was how much they miss Lonzo Ball‘s defense at the point of attack.

Ball had a second surgery on his knee back in September and the team said he would be out at “least a few months.” It’s coming up on a few months, so Donovan gave an update on Ball and his recovery, and the news was not good for Bulls’ fans. Via Rob Schaefer at NBC Sports Chicago:

“It’s been really slow,” Donovan said when asked about Ball’s rehab. “I’m just being honest.”

Donovan added Ball has not necessarily suffered a setback. The Bulls knew this would be an arduous process. But he also noted that Ball is “not even close” to being cleared for contact or on-court work.

Ball had his first knee surgery in January and the expectation was he would be back and 100% by the playoffs. However, Ball’s knee didn’t respond well, and he was eventually ruled out for the season. Things didn’t improve over the summer, which led to the second surgery. How much do they miss him? The Bulls were 22-13 with him last season, and he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists, a game. However, it was his defense that was most crucial.

There is no timeline for his return. Which is not good news for Chicago.

PBT Podcast: Timberwolves without KAT, get Luka some help

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Minnesota has stumbled out of the gate this season, and now they will be without Karl-Anthony Towns for around a month with a calf strain. Just how much trouble are the Timberwolves in?

Corey Robinson from NBC Sports and myself discuss that and then get into Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Team USA vs. Team World matchup — does Evan Fournier get the world team in trouble? Who guards whom?

From there, it’s time for Corey’s Jukebox and some New Orleans jazz for Zion Williamson. Some Mavericks’ talk follows that — Dallas has put a big load on the shoulders of Luka Doncic, and while he’s playing like an MVP it’s a long-term concern for the Mavericks and their fans.

You can always watch the video of some of the podcast above, or listen to the entire podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google Play, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please feel free to email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

LeBron calls out reporters for asking him about Kyrie Irving but not Jerry Jones

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Within days of Kyrie Irving being suspended by the Nets in the wake of a Tweet promoting an antisemitic film (and his initial refusal to apologize for it), Irving’s former teammate LeBron James was asked about it. He had to deal with the controversy, saying, “I don’t condone any hate to any kind. To any race.”

At the end of his press conference Wednesday night after the Lakers beat the Trail Blazers, LeBron scolded the assembled press for not asking him about the 1957 photo that surfaced of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones outside North Little Rock High School while white students protested the integration of the school when they had been quick to ask about Irving.

“When I watched Kyrie talk, and he says, `I know who I am, but I want to keep the same energy when we’re talking about my people and the things they’ve been through,’ and that Jerry Jones photo is one of those moments that our people, Black people, have been through in America. And I feel like as a Black man, as a Black athlete, someone with power and with a platform, when we do something wrong or something that people don’t agree with, it’s on every single tabloid, every single news coverage. It’s on the bottom ticker. It’s asked about every single day.

“But it seems like to me that the whole Jerry Jones situation, the photo, and I know it was years and years ago, and we all make mistakes, I get it. It seems like it’s just been buried under, like, `Oh, it happened. OK. We just move on.’ And I was just kind of disappointed that I haven’t received that question from you guys.”

Irving and LeBron were teammates in Cleveland and won a ring together, there was a direct connection (plus Irving had been linked to the Lakers in trade rumors over the summer).

However, there was a connection between LeBron and the Cowboys as well. LeBron was for many years a very public Cowboys fan (despite growing up in Browns territory). It came up as recently as October, when LeBron was on Instagram Live promoting his HBO show with Maverick Carter “The Shop” and he said he had stopped rooting for the Cowboys in the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protests, “There’s just a lot of things that were going on when guys were kneeling. Guys were having freedom of speech and wanting to do it in a very peaceful manner…. The organization was like, ‘If you do that around here, then you will never play for this franchise again.’ I just didn’t think that was appropriate.”

When asked about the photo, Jones said he was a curious 14-year-old who was watching and didn’t understand the magnitude of the moment or situation.