D’Angelo Russell says “I can definitely thrive” in triangle offense


It is possible that D’Angelo Russell falls to the Knicks in the No. 4 slot in Thursday’s NBA Draft. Karl Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor will almost certainly go 1-2 to the Timberwolves and Lakers. After that comes the Sixers, and while Russell has had strong workouts for them — and they could use a point guard — there is a lot of buzz that GM Sam Hinkie might take promising Euro Kristaps Porzingis.

But are the Knicks looking for a strong point guard since they run the triangle offense? As Phil Jackson has run it, that offense tends to attack out of the wing or post, with the point guard just there as a shooter (think Steve Kerr or Derek Fisher).

Russell thinks he can thrive in the triangle, he told Ian Begley of ESPN.

“Now that I look at it, Kobe had great success in it. The shots that he took, the shots that he made were in the same areas, all from the offense. So I think I can definitely thrive there,” Russell said in a phone interview on Friday.


Maybe he can. Russell can score the rock — 19.3 points a game, shot 41 percent from three last season — but also is a gifted passer with phenomenal court vision. Another reason the Knicks may want him: Phil Jackson likes big guards and at 6’5″ Russell is that.

The question is less fit than if he is on the board at No. 4 when the Knicks pick? There was some buzz Russell doesn’t want to play for the Sixers, but GM Sam Hinkie isn’t about to let that influence his choice. He’s going to take the best player, and if he thinks Porzingis is the best player  — although likely three years or so away from maybe reaching that potential — Hinkie will snatch him up (then figure out how to deal with the glut up front later). Or he might trade the pick to a team that covets Porzingas. Or he might take Russell, which is what the fans in Philly want as there is an obvious fit with their young core.

If Russell (and Towns and Okafor) are off the board when then Knicks pick, Phil Jackson becomes the biggest wild card in the deck. He might trade the pick, he might draft Emmanuel Mudiay or Willie Cauley-Stein or Mario Hezonja. It’s going to be interesting.


Karl-Anthony Towns works out for Timberwolves; only team he has worked out for during pre-draft process


The Timberwolves hold the No. 1 overall pick in the June 25 NBA Draft, and are largely expected to take Karl-Anthony Towns with that selection.

Towns and those who surround him are well aware of just how high his stock happens to be, and that has prevented him from scheduling workouts with any teams sitting below one on the league-wide board.

He acquiesced on Saturday, and worked out in Minnesota. But that’s the only team that’s expected to have the privilege of getting a private look at Towns before the draft is upon us.

From Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press:

Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns worked out for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, less than a week before the Wolves pick first in the NBA draft.

Towns arrived in the Twin Cities on Friday night. He took a tour of the Wolves’ new $25 million practice facility and dined with owner Glen Taylor, President Flip Saunders and several other team officials.

Towns is considered the heavy favorite to be chosen No. 1 overall on Thursday night, and the Wolves are the only team he has worked out for during the pre-draft process.

Minnesota also worked out the rest of the prospects who are slated to go near the top of the draft in Jahlil Okafor, D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay.

But Towns seems to be the clear-cut favorite at this point, and because of their ability to make the first overall pick next Thursday, only the Timberwolves were fortunate enough to get a look at Towns up close and in person.

NBA Draft green room invites expected to go out to at least 20 players

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The NBA invites players to attend the draft every year, obviously, because otherwise we wouldn’t have those stellar photo opportunities of gangly ballers dressed in suits with a team cap on their heads shaking the commissioner’s hand.

Those with green room access can give us a glimpse as to where certain guys are projected to go, especially in the later positions of the draft’s first round.

Thanks to Andy Katz of ESPN.com, we have a preliminary look at the list.

The NBA is expected to invite at least 20 players to the draft Thursday in Brooklyn, with as many as three from national champion Duke, two from national runner-up Wisconsin and four representing 38-1 Kentucky, multiple sources with knowledge of the list said.

Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones will be in attendance, sources said. So, too, will Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, as well as Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker. …

Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell, expected to be picked in the top four, as well as 7-foot-1 Latvian Kristaps Porzingis also will be in attendance, sources said. …

Emmanuel Mudiay, who is from Dallas, signed at SMU but instead chose to play professionally in China, is also a lottery lock and a candidate to be picked among the top five. He joins Arizona’s Stanley Johnson, Texas’ Myles Turner, Murray State’s Cameron Payne and Kansas’ Kelly Oubre as invitees, sources said.

The rest of the invites, according to multiple sources, are expected to be Arizona’s Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arkansas’ Bobby Portis, Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter and Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant.

Nothing earth-shattering, here, as every name listed is widely-projected to be a first-round selection.

The best is actually when players attend without an invite, and walk down from the stands after hearing their name called, sometimes not until the middle or the end of the second round.

Sixers CEO expects to get an answer on Joel Embiid ‘in a couple of weeks’


When the Sixers selected Joel Embiid with the third overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, it marked the second straight year that the team grabbed a player it knew would sit out his entire rookie season due to injury.

Philadelphia’s strategy worked out just fine with Nerlens Noel, who looked great last season after missing all of 2013. And, the fact that he was unavailable helped the Sixers bottom out to the point where they were able to land Embiid in the first place.

But drafting injured players is fairly risky business. The Sixers are seeing that now with Embiid, who suffered a setback with his foot injury that may force him to miss a second straight season.

The team is hoping to get confirmation one way or another in the next couple of weeks.

From Keith Pompey of Philly.com:

“We’re still waiting,” [Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil] said. “We have another three doctors to come see him. The nice thing about jobs like these – you can literally get the best experts in the world. All you have to do is call and they love to see us.”

He added that the franchise could get an answer about the 7-foot center’s future in “a couple of weeks.” …

“We’re trying to figure out with a 21-year-old how do you focus wholly on long-term health and wellness and make sure he’s OK,” O’Neil said. “So what we’re doing now is seeing experts, the best experts from around the world, to make sure we make the right decisions with him and his family and do the best.”

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not Embiid’s updated status has any effect on the team’s plans in the June 25 NBA Draft. The Sixers have the third overall pick, and for weeks it was believed that D’Angelo Russell would be their choice, assuming Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor go one and two as expected.

But the 7’1″ Kristaps Porzingis has recently been slotted in as a realistic selection for Philadelphia, which makes you wonder if Embiid’s situation is internally feared to be a worst-case scenario.

Lakers, with No. 2 pick, don’t expect to get to work out Karl Anthony Towns


On Friday, the Lakers had their second workout with Jahlil Okafor out of Duke. With the No. 2 pick in the draft — the highest pick the organization has had since it took James Worthy No. 1 in 1982 — the Lakers are wisely doing their due diligence, working out and meeting with all the guys near the top of the draft board: D’Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis and others.

Well, all except Karl Anthony Towns.

The Kentucky big man projected to go first overall to Minnesota isn’t working out for anyone privately, and the Lakers have given up expecting him to, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

The Lakers have also become increasingly doubtful they will have a workout for Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns. The Lakers believe their lack of progress with those efforts stem from most NBA mock drafts predicting the Minnesota Timberwolves will select with their No. 1 pick. But the Lakers will accommodate their workout schedule should Towns and his representatives express interest in a workout.

Towns reportedly met with Minnesota officials Friday but is not believed to have worked out for them at that time.

This is simply an agent making sure he controls the spin and situation as best as he can, and he wants to make sure his client is seen as the unquestioned, prohibitive favorite No. 1 pick.

Still, it’s unusual, particularly for this reason: It’s not a lock the Timberwolves take Towns No. 1. It’s likely, but there is a well-reported difference of opinion between Minnesota decision maker Flip Saunders — who loves Okafor — and the rest of his staff (and just about every other scout) who likes Towns better. Saunders watched Towns at a workout last week in Southern California — one not put on or organized by the Timberwolves — and reportedly came away impressed. It made it more likely Towns goes No. 1. But it is no lock.

You can expect the top of the draft board to go Towns then Okafor, but even if the order flips those will be the top two. When things really get interesting is with Philadelphia at No. 3 and the Knicks at No. 4 (with New York willing to move the pick for the right price).