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Markelle Fultz among 67 players to attend NBA Draft combine, other top names to skip

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On May 11-12, 67 NBA hopefuls will pour into a gym in Chicago to be measured, tested, interviewed, and do what they can to impress the NBA scouts and GMs in attendance.

Markelle Fultz, the likely No. 1 pick, will be there. The point guard almost certainly will not get on the court, but he will get measured and interviewed.

Other expected guys to go in the Top 5 are not showing up — Lonzo Ball of UCLA, Josh Jackson of Kansas, and Jayson Tatum of Duke all declined their invitations. That’s the norm now (both in the NBA and NFL), agents for these picks see only downsides to being poked and prodded at these events, so everyone stays away. Credit to Fultz for agreeing to show up at all.

Here is the list of invitees:

Adebayo, Edrice (Kentucky)
Alkins, Rawle (Arizona)
Allen, Jarrett (Texas)
Allen, Kadeem (Arizona)
Anigbogu, Ike (UCLA)
Anunoby, OG (Indiana)
Artis, Jamel (Pittsburgh)
Bacon, Dwayne (Florida State)
Beachem, V.J. (Notre Dame)
Bell, Jordan (Oregon)
Blossomgame, Jaron (Clemson)
Boucher, Chris (Oregon)
Bradley, Tony (North Carolina)
Briscoe, Isaiah (Kentucky)
Brooks, Dillon (Oregon)
Bryant, Thomas (Indiana)
Collins, John (Wake Forest)
Collins, Zach (Gonzaga)
Diallo, Hamidou (Kentucky)
Dorsey, Tyler (Oregon)
Dotson, Damyean (Houston)
Dozier, PJ (South Carolina)
Evans, Jawun (Oklahoma State)
Ferguson, Terrance (Australia)
Fox, De’Aaron (Kentucky)
Fultz, Markelle (Washington)
Giles, Harry (Duke)
Hart, Josh (Villanova)
Hayes, Nigel (Wisconsin)
Hicks, Isaiah (North Carolina)
Iwundu, Wesley (Kansas State)
Jackson, Frank (Duke)
Jackson, Justin (North Carolina)
Jackson, Justin (Maryland)
Jeanne, Jonathan (France)
Jok, Peter (Iowa)
Jones, Andrew (Texas)
Kennard, Luke (Duke)
Kuzma, Kyle (Utah)
Leaf, TJ (UCLA)
Lydon, Tyler (Syracuse)
Mason III, Frank (Kansas)
Meeks, Kennedy (North Carolina)
Mika, Eric (BYU)
Mitchell, Donovan (Louisville)
Morris, Monte (Iowa State)
Motley, Johnathan (Baylor)
Mykhailiuk, Svi (Kansas)
Ojeleye, Semi (SMU)
Oliver, Cameron (Nevada)
Patton, Justin (Creighton)
Peters, Alec (Valparaiso)
Rabb, Ivan (California)
Reed, Davon (Miami, FL.)
Robinson, Devin (Florida)
Simmons, Kobi (Arizona)
Sumner, Edmond (Xavier)
Swanigan, Caleb (Purdue)
Thornwell, Sindarius (South Carolina)
Trimble, Melo (Maryland)
Wagner, Moritz (Michigan)
Walton Jr., Derrick (Michigan)
Welsh, Thomas (UCLA)
White, Derrick (Colorado)
Williams-Goss, Nigel (Gonzaga)
Wilson, D.J. (Michigan)
Yurtseven, Omer (North Carolina St.)

There are a lot of underclassmen and not a lot of seniors on that list. Part of that is this is considered a weak senior class (the good players already went pro) but also it’s a change in the system. The NCAA used to require that players declare whether they were in or out of the draft well before the combine, but the organization finally changed it so that these young players can now get honest feedback from teams about where they might actually land in a draft, then they can back out (so long as they don’t hire an agent). That’s a good thing. Too many players got bad advice from family, friends, hangers-on, AAU coaches, or others trying to profit off them, now those players can go to teams and get a dose of reality. A lot of underclassmen are taking advantage of it.

Report: Joe Dumars, David Griffin early names coming up in Hawks GM search

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If it’s not going to be Mike Budenholzer and Wes Wilcox running the show in Atlanta, who will it be?

Those two just stepped back from their jobs at the head of the Hawks’ basketball brain trust (stepped back being the kind way of putting it, they were pushed out), although both will remain with the organization (Budenholzer as coach). That leaves a power vacuum at the top that Atlanta will hire a search firm to help fill.

Of course, the NBA rumor mill abhors a vacuum, so already names are popping up. Via Marc Stein:

Those names are also interesting because they are rumored in other places as well. Dumars, the former Pistons GM, is rumored to be the guy the New Orleans Pelicans are looking at if Dell Demps is let go as GM. Griffin is currently under contract as the GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers but does not have a deal lined up for beyond this season, and Orlando is reportedly interested in talking to him.

If I were the agent for either of those men, I would love having my client mentioned in association with the Hawks because it puts pressure on those other teams to act.

There are a lot of questions to answer before a GM is hired, starting with how they get along with Budenholzer, but no matter now far along the process actually is the rumor mill is in full swing.

Atlanta makes it official: Mike Budenholzer, Wes Wilcox to take step back in front office

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Whatever direction the Atlanta Hawks go, there will be a new person at the helm of the ship.

Friday the Hawks made official what had been reported the day before: Mike Budenholzer stepped down as team president (but will stay on as coach), Wes Wilcox will no longer be the general manager, but both will remain in the organization and front office. Now a new head of basketball operations will be found.

“As we have said from the beginning, we are committed to building the Atlanta Hawks into a championship-caliber team, and after the end of our season, it was clear to all of us that our basketball operations leadership needed this reorganization,” Principal Owner Tony Ressler said. “With Bud moving his focus exclusively to his position as head coach, we are freeing him up to do what he does best as one of the most respected coaches in the NBA. As owners, we value Wes’ dedication, intellect and capabilities, however we believe that our leadership would be best served by recruiting a new general manager to bring our team to the level of play that we expect.”

Wilcox will become a “special advisor to ownership.” Atlanta will hire an executive search firm to help select a new general manager.

This makes sense. I generally think it’s tough to have a coach with player/personnel power just because the perspectives can be difficult to juggle. Coaches want to win now, GMs/presidents need to think long-term and more strategically.

The big question: What does this mean for Atlanta’s plans to re-sign Paul Millsap to a max contract this summer?

 

Budenholzer seemed ready to trade Millsap at the deadline and start a rebuild, but pulled back from that (reportedly at the request of ownership). If the Hawks re-sign Millsap to a five-year max contract, they likely remain a good but not contending team for the next four or so years (projecting beyond that is nearly impossible). Atlanta ownership may abe good with that — the team has connected with the community, particularly a younger crowd living in the city, and are selling tickets at a pace the organization hasn’t seen in a long time. The team is profitable.

We will see what the plans are going forward based on who gets hired and what he says coming in the door about the future.

Steve Kerr getting specialized treatment on back, reportedly “very unlikely” he returns vs. Jazz

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Steve Kerr is getting the quality of medical treatment usually reserved by Congress to give itself.

He was seeing specialists at Stanford University’s medical center, now he is on the other coast getting treatment at the Duke University facilities. Just don’t expect him back in the next few games, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is seeing a specialist at Duke University Medical Center on Friday and receiving treatment aimed at alleviating the symptoms that have forced him to take a temporary leave of absence from the team, sources told ESPN. He remains out indefinitely and sources indicated it’s become “very unlikely” he would return during the Warriors second round series against the Jazz.

Let’s be honest, the Warriors don’t need him this round. With all due respect to the up-and-coming Jazz — who played better in Game 2 but still fell short — the Warriors can win this round on talent and style.

But Jerry West has worried publicly that not having Kerr to push the right buttons later in the playoffs could be a problem for Golden State. Granted, West’s default mode is to worry about every little thing, and Mike Brown is a veteran coach, but his point is valid — at some point, the Warriors will face real adversity and Kerr’s ability to have the pulse of his team and say the right thing/make the right adjustment will be missed.

It also may not matter. This team is that good and that comfortable in its system.

Ankle injury has Kyle Lowry as game time decision for Game 3 Friday night

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Raptors Coach Dwane Casey was quick to remind every one after his team fell into an 0-2 hole to the Cavaliers, both by blowout, that this has happened before. Last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors got rolled in Games 1 and 2 only to bounce back at home and win Games 3 and 4 to even the series.

That’s not happening without Kyle Lowry.

And the All-Star point guard says he is a game-time decision due to a sprained ankle. Here are the quotes, via Blake Murphy of the Toronto Sun.

If you’ve played some hoop and ever did one of those inward rolls, those hurt a lot and seem to heal more slowly.

I’d be surprised if Lowry doesn’t go in Game 3, but how well he moves and how much he can give Toronto is up for debate. They need him, as the Cavaliers have done a good job taking away what DeMar DeRozan wants to do (5 points in Game 2).

If Lowry can’t have a big game, this playoff series against Cleveland is not going to be like the last one for Toronto.