The Cleveland Cavaliers secured their second No. 1 overall pick in the three years since LeBron James left town Tuesday night in the NBA draft lottery.
SH Blog: NBA Draft Lottery Recap, Cleveland Hits the Jackpot (Again); Howard Bashes D’Antoni; Coach K To Return To Team USA?
It seems like every couple years or so, there’s a dilemma about who to select first overall in the NBA draft, and one of the options is almost always a defense-first center with an “unrefined” offensive game. This year’s model is Nerlens Noel, and right now it’s looking like he’ll go No. 1 unless a team with no need for a center lands the No. 1 pick. Our own Joe Kotoch, whose next Mock Draft goes up Tuesday, has already told you that Orlando and New Orleans will look to trade the pick if they win Tuesday night’s draft lottery.
It’s not hard to see why. Franchise centers are perhaps the hardest thing to find in the NBA, and the truly great ones can absolutely transform a franchise (see: Dwight Howard with the Magic). But past lotteries are absolutely littered with “project” centers that never turned into what so many people thought they could. Darko Milicic, Hasheem Thabeet, Kwame Brown… the list goes on. Does anyone remember Patrick O’Bryant? Nikoloz Tskitishvili? All these guys were drafted in the lottery since 2000. None of them have made an All-Star team, and most are out of the league.
So when the draft order is revealed Tuesday, the team who the ping pong balls favor might end up with a franchise player or a total bust. Or maybe Ben McLemore, whatever he turns out to be. Nothing is for sure. It’s what makes the draft so fun.
Now to the latest NBA news and rumors:
- With the Grizzlies playing in their first conference finals, it’s time to take a look back at some of the moves that got them where they are today. Peter May of this site has already spoken to Chris Wallace about the Gasol-Gasol trade that was mocked around the league when it was made. More on the subject from Jeff Caplan of NBA.com: “The next move came on Feb. 1, 2008 and will go down as the franchise’s moment of truth. At that moment, however, it was perceived more like the moment of ultimate doom. Wallace agreed to a trade that unleashed shockwaves of ridicule from, yes, the media, but also shockingly from within the league. The backlash, Wallace said, was so fierce that it damaged the team’s ability to conduct business in its own city as it set out to sell critical sponsorships and arena suites for the following season. “People [potential clients] would list off all the big-name people [in the NBA] that had ridiculed us,” Wallace said. “It was like running the 100-meter dash with a 20-pound leg weight.” Everyone knows the deal: Pau Gasol to the Lakers for his chubby, unheralded younger brother Marc Gasol, bust Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and a couple first-round draft picks. Stunning criticism crushed Wallace for getting fleeced while being backhandedly credited for handing the post-Shaquille O’Neal Lakers the keys to certain championships. “I expect the media to shoot from the hip and not study the deal. That’s to be expected,” Wallace said. “I just shook my head. I had never seen that kind of response from inside the league. I don’t deny that was the assist for two Lakers championships, but we had to shake things up. We had never won a playoff game. We had been in the 20s [wins] and there was complete apathy in our market. Calipari and the Tigers were roaring at the time. When we went around the league, we weren’t going to get a tit-for-tat deal. We wanted to bring our salary structure down, get assets and draft picks. And no one else had a Marc Gasol.” “
Well, the Knicks are done. Kind of anti-climactically, as well, at least compared to previous playoff series against Indiana (see right). Now it’s up to the Pacers, who are kind of like the anti-Heat, to stop the Miami freight train that seems destined to roll right on through to the finals.
For all the gory details on just what went wrong in the Knicks’ elimination, I’ll point you over to Chris Sheridan’s latest column and podcast.
In the West, we’ve got the Grizzlies and the Spurs starting today, in a series that should push the Spurs in an entirely different manner from the way the Warriors pushed them. If the Grizzlies get their way, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will suffocate Tim Duncan in the low post and Tony Allen will shut down Tony Parker and/or Manu Ginobili. But the Spurs don’t make a habit of letting their opponents get their way. In fact, as Jan Hubbard writes in his latest column, the Spurs are all about doing it their way, and not anybody else’s.
Today’s blog actually doesn’t focus much on the playoffs, though. There’s lots of draft stuff in here, since the combine just happened. Check out all the links below, of course, but also be sure to read Jeremy Bauman’s roundup of the biggest news from the combine.
- Mike Krzyzewski is considering a return as Team USA’s head coach. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated reports: “Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski acknowledged in a phone interview Saturday that he’s in discussions to return as head coach of USA Basketball through the 2016 Olympics. “There’s a chance,” Krzyzewski said. “That’s correct.” Krzyzewski said he hasn’t made a final decision, but his openness to the position represents a significant change. For eight months, Krzyzewski has maintained he’s not returning as USA Basketball’s head coach. On Saturday, Krzyzewski said he and USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo have been talking about his return “quite a bit.” Colangelo said Saturday he and Krzyzewski have been discussing his return “in installments.” “I think it’s very close to being resolved,” Colangelo said. “That’s all I can say for sure.” He added: “Give it another week and it should be resolved.”
The Evening News: Nowitzki willing to take pay-cut to ensure future success in Dallas; Teams looking at Noel with “double play” in mind; Mobley eyes comeback
Hello and welcome to the Evening News.
Here’s the latest news from around the league:
According to the Dallas Morning News, Dirk Nowitzki told KRLD-FM 105.3 that he is willing to take a pay cut after his current contract runs out after next season.
“I got one year left on this deal and then I’m coming off the books. So if that helps for us to be better I’m going to take a paycut. That’s part of the pitch. Cuban and Donnie have got to be part of the pitch.”
Nowitzki’s Mavericks won the 2011 NBA title but have been largely disappointing since as they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2012 and finished as the Western Conference’s 10th seed in 2013.
O.J. Mayo, the team’s second leading scorer behind Nowitzki, will likely opt-out of his player option for next season to test free agency. The Mavericks have identified re-signing Mayo as a top priority for the offseason. Still, Dirk Nowitzki has not ruled out hope that Dallas can make a run at either Dwight Howard or Chris Paul as well.
Bobcats and Magic might try for “double play” in draft
Many fans expect the winner of the NBA lottery to be wary of drafting Nerlens Noel due to his torn ACL figuring to sideline him for most of the 2013-2014 season. Chad Ford of ESPN, however, believes that the injury might actually help Noel’s case for being the number one pick.
“I actually think that’s helping Noel’s case with teams like Orlando and Charlotte,” wrote Ford. “Going for the double-play.”
By this, Ford means that because there is not a consensus top pick in this year’s draft, it might make sense for a team to draft Noel and let him rehab all season. By doing this, the team would all but ensure themselves another high pick in the loaded draft of 2014.
Mobley eyes comeback to NBA
Alex Kennedy of Hoopsworld.com reports that Cuttino Mobley is hoping for a return to the NBA.
Mobley, 37, has not played in a game in nearly five years. He was forced to retire from the league in 2008 after a physical with the Knicks revealed that he had a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Mobley’s ailment is the same one that tragically took the lives of both Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis in the early 1990s.
Mobley played eleven seasons in the NBA and averaged 16 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.2 steals. He had his best season in 2001-2002 when he averaged 21.7 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting .395% from deep.
Mobley was a key player in the trades that sent Tracy McGrady to Houston in 2004 and Zach Randolph out of New York in 2008.
Mobley will be one of several former NBA players working out on May 31st for ASM Sports’ pro-day.