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Pistons’ owner doesn’t regret pushing for playoffs instead of tanking

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A first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks showed just how far the Detroit Pistons are from the elite of the East. Even factoring in Blake Griffin‘s injury. On top of that, the Pistons are capped out next season — Griffin $34.5 million, Andre Drummond $27.1 million, Reggie Jackson $18.1 million, and a payroll over the tax with just 10 players locked in on the roster. Improving this summer will be tough.

Landing higher in this draft might have helped add youth and athleticism, but the Pistons pushed to make the playoffs. Which is just want owner Tom Gores wanted, he said speaking to the media after the Pistons were eliminated, via Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

“We have to make more progress. A lot of people talk about the idea of winning or losing — we want to win. This idea of what happens in the league and losing is going to be good for you, well that’s not going to be good for any of us,” Gores said. “We just want to go and win — and we did.

“I just don’t believe in the idea of whatever you want to call it — tanking or losing. We need a winning culture and let’s just see what happens from there. I don’t think sports is about that. You can’t get on the court and think about losing. I just don’t believe in it … I’m not going to get into that business.”

The Pistons would be smart this summer to look at deals to either lower their tax bill or make them more athletic, adding playmakers and shooters to help Griffin and Jackson. Of course, that sounds great on paper but will be very difficult to execute. Gores said he would be willing to go above the tax to add players to help the Pistons win, he would take on salary for the right deal. Again, finding that kind of trade is much easier said than done within the confines of the NBA.

The Pistons have an interesting summer ahead, but with the salary cap tying their hands it will be difficult to make any meaningful changes to this roster. That doesn’t mean tanking for a few draft spots (they weren’t moving into Zion Williamson territory) would have been the right move.

Report: Despite rumor to contrary, Suns would draft Zion Williamson over Ja Morant with No. 1 pick

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The rumor the Suns might draft Ja Morant over Zion Williamson with the No. 1 pick? It was never that believable.

Now comes concrete reporting to the contrary.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

The Suns need a point guard and clearly like Morant. But Williamson is the far-superior prospect. That’s the good reason to take Williamson. There are even bad reasons, too – like Williamson’s marketability.

Remember, there’s only a 14% chance Phoenix gets the No. 1 pick. So, this probably won’t matter.

But good for the Suns settling this quickly. The rumor only made them look bad (which might have been part of the point of people spreading it). James Jones’ regime has hit at least a tolerable level of credibility.

Jerry West on NBA draft: ‘I don’t know how you could pass Zion Williamson’

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A rumor started buzzing around NBA Twitter last week, a second-hand report that NBA legend and Clippers’ consultant Jerry West was praising Murray State guard Ja Morant, saying he would take him in front of the presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.

The source of that rumor: comedian Jeff Garlin, saying it on the Dan Patrick Show.

Jerry West himself went on the Dan Patrick show Thursday and shot that down saying “it Would Be Like Passing Jordan in the draft.”

Two players were picked in front Jordan in the 1984 Draft. The Houston Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon, and while Jordan went on to be Jordan nobody can fault the Rockets for how this picked turned out — two titles and a Hall of Fame big man in your organization is an amazing draft.

The one everyone talks about was Portland at No. 2, when executive Stu Inman and coach Jack Ramsey decided they were set on the wing in Clyde Drexler and needed a big man, so they selected Sam Bowie out of Kentucky. Bowie might have had an excellent NBA career if injuries had not plagued him, but he was no Jordan. It’s the ultimate NBA cautionary tale — draft the best player on the board, not according to need.

Williamson is projected by teams as the best player on the board. By far. Even the Morant fans have him a clear second. Plus, Williamson comes in hugely popular and a brand unto himself — he will sell tickets and sponsorships. Not drafting him would be a stupid business decision, not to mention a basketball one.

Whoever lands second in next month’s draft lottery will do well with Morant. Whoever is third will likely get R.J. Barrett out of Duke and… let’s just say that’s where it gets interesting.

Presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson declares for NBA draft

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This is not a surprise, it’s just now official.

Zion Williamson, the Duke star projected by basically everyone to be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, is headed to the NBA. He made it official on his Instagram account in a message largely about how much he appreciated his year in Durham, North Carolina.

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🔵Thank you Duke🔵#thebrotherhood

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“I will pursue my next dream and declare for the 2019 NBA Draft.”

Willaimson is is a 6’7″ versatile forward with an NBA-ready physique who has the potential to be a perfect fit in the modern NBA game. Sources from multiple NBA front offices have told me he is their highest rated prospect since Anthony Davis (some throw in Karl-Anthony Towns). Williamson is an insane athlete who can leap out of the building, but also shows a point guard’s feel for the game and has the potential to be an excellent defender. He needs to work to get his shot to an NBA level, but every report about him says he has a fantastic work ethic.

Now comes the race to see who will be his agent, and from there which shoe company signs Williamson. He is expected to get one of the — if not THE — largest rookie shoe contract ever.

Also on Monday, Virginia’s De'Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome, as well as Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura, also all declared for the draft.

In nod to history, Patrick Ewing will represent Knicks at NBA Draft Lottery

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It was the greatest moment in the Knicks’ draft lottery history — Commissioner David Stern pulling out the (frozen?) envelope that gave the Knicks the rights to the No. 1 pick in the 1985 draft, where Patrick Ewing was the clear top pick.

This year, with the Knicks one of the three teams at the top of the lottery and Zion Williamson as the prized top pick, the Knicks are hoping to recreate a little magic:

Patrick Ewing will represent the team on the dais at the NBA Draft Lottery next month, the Knicks have announced.

“Patrick is a huge part of our team’s history and we’re thrilled to have number 33 represent the franchise at this year’s draft lottery,” said Steve Mills, president of the New York Knicks. “Patrick’s connection to the lottery is well documented, and we’re proud to have one of the all-time Knicks greats sit on the dais on behalf of the team, the city and the fans.”

Selecting Ewing worked out pretty well for New York, to say the least. He went on to become the franchise’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, and blocked shots. Ewing is currently the head coach at Georgetown University, his alma mater.

The Knicks are hoping for lightning to strike again and turn the franchise around, via Williamson and the lottery and/or free agency, where the team seems quietly confident it will have a big summer. Talking to sources around the league, there is a strong belief is Kevin Durant will be a Knick next season.

The Knicks, along with the Suns and Cavaliers, have a 14 percent chance of landing the top pick in the draft under the new, flattened out lottery odds the NBA put in place for this season. With the worst record in the NBA, the Knicks can pick no worse than fifth.