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NBA News

Rookie of the first trimester posted by NBA News

The NBA's much-hyped Class of 2014, as a collective, is in the midst of a thoroughly forgettable and deflating introduction to the pros. Only two rookies -- Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker -- are scoring in double figures. And that's with Wiggins leading all rookies at a mere 12.6 points per game, with Parker, after going No. 2 overall, suddenly out for the season after a knee tear that has sadly shelved him just like No. 3 pick Joel Embiid (foot), No. 4 Aaron Gordon (foot) and No. 7 Julius Randle (leg). 

So you could make the argument, in this climate, that we should have skipped this category entirely for Trimester purposes. The problem there is that some youngster is eventually going to win Rookie of the Year honors in late April or early May, no matter how underwhelming his production might be, so we're somewhat duty-bound to try to identify a leader at the one-third stage. 

Which brings us to Nikola Mirotic. 

Perhaps he's not a rookie in the truest sense after spending more than half a decade in Real Madrid's system before finally matriculating to Chicago, but what qualifies as big league production from Mirotic in the month of December -- averages of 10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and .419 shooting from 3-point range -- is enough to put him in the lead. 

Who else could we conceivably propose here? Wiggins and Nerlens Noel have shown occasional flashes, as has Noel's Philly teammate K.J. McDaniels, but none of those more celebrated recent draftees is clearly on an upward career arc at this juncture. 

Continue reading "Rookie of the first trimester"

Wizards Fan

The 1 Thing Keeping Washington Wizards from True Title Contention posted by Wizards Fan

Efficient offensive practices in today's NBA largely revolve around the three-point shot. Attempt more—in lieu of mid-range jump shots—and results will generally skew in your favor. 

Why, then, have the Wizards revolted against conventional analytical wisdom when they are a few tactical adjustments away from becoming a near-elite offense: 

They have fired up nearly twice as many midrange jumpers as 3-pointers, despite converting identical percentages on 3s and long 2s. If one apple is healthier and more delicious than another at the same price, why the heck are you going for the rotten one?

The Wiz wield plenty of capable 3-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Rasual Butler and Paul Pierce, but they seem happy to bail out the defense and pull up in the midrange. If the Wiz shifted just 150 of their 822 midrange attempts into 3-pointers at their current conversion rates, they'd mathematically jump from being tied at 13th in offensive efficiency all the way up to seventh. Just by tweaking their shot allocation.

the Wizards are attempting 415 shots between eight to 16 feet and another 560 in that mid-range sweet spot that resides between 16 to 24 feet and with the season already a third complete, the Wizards need to alter their offensive strategy if they have a chance to make a significant playoff run. 

The good news is the Washington Wizards are protected by the cocoon that is the Eastern Conference's ineptitude. 

Safely nestled into a top-five seed at the very worst, the Washington Wizards still have plenty of time to correct their early-season inefficiencies and emerge as a potent shooting machine capable of capturing a conference title. It'll just take a little discipline along the way to make the dream a reality.

Continue reading "The 1 Thing Keeping Washington Wizards ..."

Jazz Fan

Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward lead Jazz past Grizzlies posted by Jazz Fan

After losing to Eastern Conference foes Chicago and Cleveland over the weekend, Memphis showed signs of fatigue in not being able to counter Utah's youth, allowing the Jazz to beat the Grizzlies 97-91 on Monday night.

Alec Burks scored 23 points and Gordon Hayward added 21 to lead the Jazz, who withstood a late push by hitting eight of 10 free throws down the stretch for their third win in the last four.

Derrick Favors finished with 15 points, while Enes Kanter added 13 points and nine rebounds. Rudy Gobert had a career-best 16 rebounds as the Jazz dominated the boards 49-34.

"I think our offensive game started with our defense," Hayward said. "We have a goal of not letting teams score over 24 points per quarter, and we won on three of four quarters."

Utah connected on 9 of 19 from outside the arc to create a buffer from Memphis. Another factor, beyond the rebounding margin, was the Jazz converting 20 of 27 free throws, while Memphis went to the line only nine times in the game, making eight.

Utah led through much of the second half until Gasol connected with 5:32 left for a 77-75 Memphis lead. Burks answered with a 3-pointer, and Utah never let go of the lead the final 5 minutes in rebounding from a 104-86 loss Saturday at Charlotte.

"It was big for our confidence to be able to come back and get a road win here in Memphis after a poor performance in Charlotte," Jazz guard Trey Burke said.

The Jazz pushed the lead to six points in the third quarter, and managed to keep the Grizzlies at bay through most of the period as Hayward had nine points and Kanter added seven.

Continue reading "Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward lead Jazz ..."

Raptors Fan

Raptors dominate Pistons down the stretch posted by Raptors Fan

It really was a nothing contretemps, a cheap elbow on James Johnson by frustrated Pistons centre Andre Drummond, but it precipitated a little shoving and pushing and jawing that was entirely a show of force by the supremely confident Raptors.

“Our team, we’re built for that,” Johnson said of the mild incident in the fourth quarter of yet another Toronto win, this one 110-100 over the Pistons here on Friday. “We’ve been brothers since the first day of pre-season. We go hard for each other. I do that for anyone of them, just like you seen Chuck (Hayes), Pat (Patterson) and GV (Greivis Vasquez) do that for me. We’re all a group, we’re all brothers, we all love each other and that’s the big reason for our success.”

Minutes earlier, Johnson had thrown down a wicked dunk over Drummond — “that was nasty, right? I cocked that joint back and banged on him,” Johnson said — that was as vicious as it was emphatic.

It had to gall Drummond no end, and when Johnson was going by him a couple of possessions later, the Pistons’ big man floored the Raptor with an elbow.

“On a play like that it could go either way, it was a hard foul,” Drummond said. “He got a dunk the play before and he was feeling good so I was just trying to protect the paint. That’s really it and it turned out to be a hard foul. Emotions were high during the game. It happens, it’s basketball. There were no hard feelings. I have nothing against him.

It immediately started a surge of Raptors towards the Pistons, who basically took a step back as the scrum developed.

Continue reading "Raptors dominate Pistons down the stretch"

Spurs Fan

Spurs picture coming into focus or is it? posted by Spurs Fan

The San Antonio Spurs have always been more than the sum of their parts, but some parts seem to be proving more essential than others.

Reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard's 9.75-inch-long hands are one of those parts.

Unfortunately, he tore a ligament in his right paw during a Dec. 9 loss to the Utah Jazz, dealing the franchise a significant blow amid what's almost certainly its most difficult month of competition.

In turn, San Antonio has lost six of its last eight games without Leonard and six of its last seven overall. 

At the moment, there's no timetable for the fourth-year pro's return. Nor has there been any news that could be construed as particularly good.

Leonard is averaging 15.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.0 steals in 32.2 minutes per contest—all on pace to be career highs. He's also looking for his offense more assertively, attempting 12.3 field goals and 4.1 free throws per game.

Having played 29.1 minutes and taken 9.8 shots per contest a season ago, the additional playing time and touches have had a lot to do with that evolution.

Leonard is the player who seems to tip the scale in making this Spurs squad the best in the organization's history. Even with past players such as Mario Elie, Sean Elliott, Robert Horry and Stephen Jackson, the Spurs have never had a player like Leonard on any of their championship rosters. Leonard turned the Big Three into a Fab Four. It makes them the one Spurs squad that could beat the other championship squads in franchise history if they were to mythically play each other in the Finals. Kawhi 

Continue reading "Spurs picture coming into focus or is it?"

Sac Kings Fan

Clock is ticking on Sacramento Kings’ season posted by Sac Kings Fan

It seems like just yesterday that the Sacramento Kings were 9-6.  They were the talk of the league and for very good reasons but now they’re making headlines for the wrong reasons.

The wheels have fallen off the Kings’ bus.  Michael Malone was relieved of his duties.  The locker room has clearly taken a turn and persistent rumors of coaching changes, roster remakes and quirky additions have this team running on fumes.

Josh Smith signed with the Houston Rockets on Christmas Eve, George Karl is in limbo and the potential trade with the Brooklyn Nets for former All-Star point guard Deron Williams now on life support.  

At 12-16, Sacramento is just one really good stretch away from being back in the conversation. But where does the team go from here?  Do they reignite talks with the Nets for Williams?  Should they hire George Karl and pray he has another fix hiding in his bag?  Should they try for another blockbuster deal or should they just stand pat and let interim head coach Tyrone Corbin try to rescue the team from the spiraling drain?

Tyrone Corbin is a very solid coach that can at least get this team to the end of the season.  The same can be said about Collison as a point guard and Thompson in the paint. But solid isn’t what the Sacramento Kings are looking for.  Solid isn’t what sells tickets or gets this team out of the lottery.

Clearly there’s no plan in place.  And now the ownership and front office have put themselves in a pickle.  They have potentially thrown away a season, the fans are upset and a Hail Mary or two is in order.

Continue reading "Clock is ticking on Sacramento Kings’ season"

Blazers Fan

Damian Lillard leads wild Blazers comeback in Oklahoma City 115-111 in OT posted by Blazers Fan

Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers came out on top in a wild point guard match-up against Russell Westbrook 115-111 in overtime in Oklahoma City.

The Blazers comeback would not have been were it not for a boneheaded series of plays from Westbrook. Westbrook was the biggest reason the Thunder were winning but a useless personal foul in the backcourt coupled with a technical allowed the Blazers to cut the lead to seven with no time coming off the clock.

Then Lillard came down and hit a deep three off a screen. In the blink of an eye the lead went from 10 to four.

Aldridge and Lillard combined for 32 of Portland’s final 42 points.


Another key to Portland’s success late was head coach Terry Stotts decided to match the Thunder’s 3-guard line-up with Steve Blake and bring in more athleticism in Dorell Wright. Wright didn’t play since his crucial role in Friday’s 3OT win against the Spurs.

Wright didn’t have the 3-point barrage he had against San Antonio but grabbed some crucial rebounds and had a nice tip in in overtime to give the Blazers breathing room.

The Blazers capped off an incredibly successful trip with wins against the Spurs, Pelicans and Thunder without Robin Lopez and getting two of those without Nicolas Batum. The Blazers are nearing the end of a grueling December which had 10 of 16 games on the road.

The Blazers are succeeding when schedules and injury continue seem to say they shouldn’t.

And with 7 of the next 10 days off, the Blazers have earned a considerable amount of rest. They are banged up and sick and certainly need it. Although Lillard and Matthews have played every night, you could tell with the amount of miscommunications the Blazers had tonight they were running out of gas.

Continue reading "Damian Lillard leads wild Blazers ..."

Sixers Fan

Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets posted by Sixers Fan

With the game already put away and the Pheonix Suns looking at a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, rookie Zoran Dragic came into the game amounting to a missed 3-pointer and a couple sprints up and back on the Staples Center floor last month.

That is all most people have seen of Suns rookie Zoran Dragic, who has spent nearly the entire season on the inactive list except for that two-minute cameo in mop-up duty against the Clippers.

It’s not necessarily surprising given that he is a rookie. In fact it was expected but perhaps not to Zoran, younger brother of Sun Goran Dragic, who played for ten years as a pro and starting for their national team on the way to the World Cup quarterfinals last summer.

Yet Zoran is keeping a positive attitude about the whole thing, or at least that’s what he’s telling himself and reporters. He says he has no regrets about negotiating a buyout from Spanish club Unicaja Malaga to come to the NBA, even if it means not seeing the floor and being relegated to developing through individual work and rare practices.

"I know it's my rookie year and that's how it is," Zoran said. "I must be patient and practice hard. When I get an opportunity, I need to show what I have.

"I am happy. Everybody basketball player's dream is to come to the NBA but my dream was to come here and stay in the NBA."

Zoran's first two weeks in the NBA were difficult. He came to the U.S. on the weekend before training camp and had to leave the country later to get a work visa. He was having difficulty adjusting to the culture and the league but living with his brother helped smooth the process.

Continue reading "Suns' Zoran Dragic playing without regrets"

Sixers Blog

76ers Missing a Clear-Cut Building Block posted by Sixers Blog

Is there a surefire star in Philly? The Philadelphia 76ers certainly hope so.

All of the losses this team has suffered the past two seasons (63 in 2013-14, 23 and counting this time around) have essentially produced Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.

European forward Dario Saric could eventually be a part of this puzzle, but he may not come stateside before 2016 at the earliest. And promising rookie K.J. McDaniels' unique one-year deal means he will already hit restricted free agency next summer.

So, without knowing what future drafts will hold for the Sixers, Carter-Williams, Noel and Embiid make up the bulk of hope for this forward-thinking franchise. Each offers a certain amount of intrigue, but none remotely qualifies as a guaranteed star.

The lanky 6'6" Carter-Williams stuffs a stat sheet well, but his career .404/.264/.690 shooting slash may limit him to being a quantity-over-quality producer. Noel has already shown to be a disruptive defender (1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks), but his offense needs plenty of work. Embiid could have the highest ceiling of all three, though injuries might prevent him from realizing his potential.

the Sixers are not short on hope. They are, however, painfully thin on sure things. And a growing pile of future draft picks is not going to change that.

"You can't assure yourself of anything in the lottery," former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said, per David Gelles of The New York Times. "And you can't assure yourself when the next LeBron James or Tim Duncan is going to come along."

Continue reading "76ers Missing a Clear-Cut Building Block"

Magic Fan

Magic Hang Tight With Cavs Before Falling Short posted by Magic Fan

Midway through Friday’s second quarter, the Magic were in possession of a feel-good 10-point lead on the star-studded Cleveland Cavaliers, confetti inexplicably starting falling from the rafters.

It was a case of premature celebration considering LeBron James’ propensity for taking games over late and the Magic’s struggles in the clutch in recent weeks.

Orlando started strong and matched the Cavs blow for blow most of the night only to see James come alive in the fourth quarter as the Magic went cold at the wrong time. James ended up with 29 points – one more than the Magic over the final 12 minutes of the game – to lead Cleveland to a 98-89 victory that wrecked Orlando’s hopes of capturing a signature win.

``You just watch the film on the game and you will see two different teams. One from the first three quarters and one from the last quarter, especially the last five minutes of the game,’’ frustrated forward Tobias Harris said.

``A big part of this league is at the end of the game having the ability to put the basketball in someone’s hands and that person makes a play,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``How many possessions at the end of the game was the ball in LeBron’s hands? He made the plays for himself and for his teammates.

``We’re still growing and understand where we want the ball and in whose hands,’’ Vaughn continued. ``And we’re still learning how to finish once the ball is in that person’s hands.’’

Continue reading "Magic Hang Tight With Cavs Before Falling Short"

NBA Basketball News

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Judging who should and shouldn't have been asked to attend the NBA draft lottery (Ball Don't L

The NBA’s draft lottery takes place on Tuesday, May 19. Representatives of the 14 NBA teams that will take part in the lottery were announced on Thursday, and as tends to happen, several mistakes were made. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Minnesota Timberwolves Who they chose : Glen Taylor, owner Why : There are rumors that an ownership group cobbled together by both Timberwolves president/coach Flip Saunders and Kevin Garnett could try to purchase the team from Taylor, so this might be his last go-round in the lottery. Not because the Timberwolves will get any better any time soon, but because he could decide he’s had enough with a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004. On the bright side, Taylor still carries that membership card from that Chipotle he likes outside the lottery studios and he’s about to get his 10th click and I think that means a free burrito but he’ll still have to pay extra for guacamole. Guacamole costs extra. Who they should have chosen : Kevin Garnett Why : The Wolves have the best odds at the top overall pick, and after they slide into the top three ESPN would ask Garnett to come over to the stage for the final unveiling and he’d decide to take a 45-minute shower first and make them wait and then the show would be delayed and then the entire ESPN schedule would be delayed and then your dumb roommate Phillip’s DVR of ‘First Take’would be screwed over the next day and it would be so sweet. New York Knicks Who they chose : Steve Mills, general manager. Why : Because Phil Jackson is a rich baby-boomer, and rich baby-boomers are notoriously averse to taking responsibility for the mess they’ve created. Come on, people now. Smile on your brother. Who they should have chosen : Don Henley, Eagle, former perm-haver . Why : Because the manager of the Eagles helped put Phil Jackson in charge of the Knicks, because the Knicks are the worst, and because the Eagles are the worst. It’ll be a nice distraction before Isiah Thomas represents the team at the 2016 lottery oh wait they traded away that pick for Andrea Bargnani my bad. Yeah, go with Henley. He’s down with the culture, there. Philadelphia 76ers Who they chose : Nerlens Noel, player. Why : Cool hair, better gap-tooth. Subject to be replaced pending league approval of the four-team deal that will send Noel to Oklahoma City for OKC’s 2021 first-round draft pick (top three protected, could turn over into an unprotected 2022 first-round pick if unclaimed in 2021). Who they should have chosen : Burt Young, famed star of stage and screen. Why : The man who played Paulie Pennino in all 12 ‘Rocky’features achieved Hollywood immortality by attempting to deny the titular character a chance at both the heavyweight championship and also the hand of the woman he loved. The character is loathsome and outside of an affinity for both canned beer and robots, devoid of any redeeming qualities. All he wanted was for all of Philadelphia to be as unhappy as him. This is right up the 76ers’alley. Los Angeles Lakers Who they chose : Byron Scott, head coach lol. Why : Because I need something to write about the next day. Who they should have chosen : Kobe Bryant, shooting guard. Why : Glen Taylor needs to be told he shouldn’t be celebrating too much, and that it’s just a top overall pick and nothing like FIVE RINGS. Steve Mills needs to be told that he doesn’t even have Phil Jackson’s secret-secret cell phone number and hell no Kobe’s not giving it to him. The guy from ‘Rocky’needs to be told that he’s not even making the top six names in the Leonard Maltin Game . And when the Lakers fall out of the top five and lose the pick to Philadelphia Kobe gets to say “good man I didn’t even want to play with some punk kid get me Caron Butler that’s someone I can go to war, with, man, I’m a WARRIOR MAMBA OUT.”Orlando Magic Who they chose : Alex Martins, CEO. Why : This is what CEOs get to do, I guess. Get on TV for a bit as your pick slides from fifth to eighth and all the free bobbleheads you can find and hey look here’s a picture of me and Dr. J. did you know Michael Jordan bet me fifty bucks I couldn’t knock in this 20-foot putt and I totally nailed, man, totally nailed it. Who they should have chosen : A selected fan participant, the winner of a “why I remain an Orlando Magic fan”essay contest. Why : Because it would have been hilarious to see which d-bag Laker fan the essay winner would sell his ticket to. Sacramento Kings Who they chose : Vlade Divac, President of the Sacramento Kings and maybe coach. Why : Vlade Divac once played basketball for the Sacramento Kings. As such, he has earned the right to run the Sacramento Kings for five months. Who they should have chosen : Peja Stojakovic, President of the Sacramento Kings and maybe coach. Why : You didn’t hear? Check your Twitter. Denver Nuggets Who they chose : Josh Kroenke, inheritor, bon vivant, and man about town. Why : He’s rich, he played basketball, and he can park wherever the hell he likes. Who they should have chosen : Ron, Wal-Mart greeter. Any Wal-Mart greeter. Why : Why? Have you seen those dudes? They are adorable . They don’t look at you funny when your only purchases include a George Jones CD, a three-pack of boxer shorts, some almonds and a tire gauge. He’ll always check your receipt when you get ice andit’s like come on Ron I’m not going to steal ice. Detroit Pistons Who they chose : Jeff Bower, general manager. Why : He’s tall, he’s respected, he is well-groomed and he is the general manager. He has perfect handshake timing, never lingers too long, and he understands that these days you prefer text to voicemail. Who they should have chosen : Jeff Bower, general manager. Why : He is the team’s general manager. Charlotte Hornets Who they chose : Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 500 jumpers a day. Why : It is May. It is warm. Michael Jordan has played 27 holes and made over 1200 untaxed bucks before you even decided to check if Lawrence Funderburke was just named president and maybe coach of the Sacramento Kings. Who they should have chosen : I guess we’re going all in on this whole stupid 1990s nostalgia thing so, I dunno, Larry Johnson? Why : LJ is pretty cool . If he’s unavailable we can just see who’s trending or who’s on Fallon’s show tonight so probably Lisa Turtle or the woman that sang ‘Zombie’or TV’s Wayne Knight or Joe Isuzu or ‘Air Bud’just kidding ‘Air Bud’is totally dead by now. Miami Heat Who they chose : Alonzo Mourning, Miami Heat family member for life unless he wants to sign with another team . Why : Well, in 1993 Larry Johnson signed a massive 12-year, $84 million contract, the largest NBA deal of its time. When Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn declined to offer a similar deal to the clearly superior Mourning in 1995, Alonzo made it known that he would leave the Hornets without compensation in the summer of 1996. Looking to circle the wagons, Shinn and the Hornets dealt Alonzo to Miami just before the 1995-96 season for a package that included center Matt Geiger. Days later, Geiger would break Shaquille O’Neal’s thumb in an exhibition game on a hard foul, clearing the way for Penny Hardaway to have the best season of his career and reportedly creating some resentment from O’Neal’s camp as Hardaway was discussed amongst MVP candidates. There, that's what I paid attention to in the 1990s. Can I get on Fallon, now? Who they should have chosen : Dwyane Wade, superstar guard. Why : Wade was the team’s representative in 2008 when the squad grabbed the second round pick, wasted it on two crummy seasons of Michael Beasley, then traded Beasley for cap space that was used on signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Let’s fail upward all over again, Miami! Indiana Pacers Who they chose : Larry Bird, three-time three-point shootout champion, 1979 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament runner-up. Why : Larry Bird demands that you remain accountable for your organization’s actions, even if bad luck put you an undesirable place, and he’s not going to shirk away from responsibility in spite of potential embarrassment. Besides, there is no embarrassment in working to the best of your abilities and putting in an honest effort even if the cards don’t come your way. He demands you sit up straight and make eye contact, and he’s going to cough loudly and ask to have a word after you tell the server you want yours prepared “medium well.”Who they should have chosen : Whoever the hell decided that our LGBT brothers and sisters can be discriminated against based solely on how their maker created them, and whoever the hell decided that you can’t buy beer on Sunday in Indiana. Why : It’s the same guy. Utah Jazz Who they chose : David Lindsey, general manager. Why : All-around good guy. Picked Tyler up at the airport when the kid was coming back from college and they sent me to Knoxville for some meeting that we could have done over the phone. Lent me a pair of dress shoes when Carol packed them in the wrong bag and I had to give a presentation right after getting off the airplane. Fixed a hitch in my swing. Who they should have chosen : You’re telling me there’s a better person to choose than David Lindsey? Why : Gave an absolute beaut of a toast at Michael’s wedding. Absolutely nailed the Gordon Proposal back in 2009, took the pressure of the whole damn department. His wife Erin really is great, gets along with Carol and isn’t like the rest of them. Never seen him get out of line with Ian at HR, though I don’t know how he keeps his patience with that dingbat. Makes more than most of us but you wouldn’t be able to tell by his Acura. Phoenix Suns Who they chose : Alex Len, center. Why : Nobody on the Phoenix Suns likes each other, save for the set of twins that allegedly like to slap the noise right out of your mouth . Who they should have chosen : Alice Cooper, singer of ‘Clones (We’re All),’not really named “Alice.”Why : America needs to be reminded that you can still retire to a sober life in Arizona, play golf all day, and still be the best. Oklahoma City Thunder Who they chose : Russell Westbrook, dunker. Why : Dude just dunked on Alex Len. Who they should have chosen : Russell Westbrook, dunker. Why : Dude just dunked on the guy from Price-Waterhouse. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at KDonhoops@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Minnesota Timberwolves win 2015 NBA draft lottery, Lakers leapfrog Knicks to No. 2 (Ball Don't

The Minnesota Timberwolves won the 2015 NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night, earning the right to make the first overall selection in the NBA draft for the first time in franchise history. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] The Timberwolves, who finished last season with a league-worst 16-66 record, entered the lottery with a 25 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, the best odds among any of the 14 teams in the running. But actually coming away with the top spot is something of an upset — only three times in the previous 21 lotteries had the team that entered with the highest likelihood of taking the No. 1 spot actually come away with the first pick, and it hadn't happened since the Orlando Magic won the opportunity to select Dwight Howard back in 2004. "It's very important to us," Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said after his team's lottery victory. "We have a very young team, and one more outstanding young man will really help us." Taylor demurred when asked which hole on the Minnesota roster he believed the No. 1 pick might fill. "We just want a young man that's got a great heart and a great mind," he said. Team president and head coach Flip Saunders, too, said there was not yet any consensus on which player the Wolves plan to take first overall: Flip adamant they haven't decided who they are taking No. 1. — Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) May 20, 2015 "We're in this for big stakes," Saunders said, according to The Associated Press . "The big thing about this is getting good talent that can blend together. This is another big step." All that "big" talk might betray Minnesota's likely path, as many observers expect the Wolves to look for size at No. 1 overall. Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke's Jahlil Okafor profile as the top two big-man prospects in the draft, with Okafor considered the more refined offensive player when it comes to scoring and facilitating out of the low post, and some evaluators pegging Towns as the superior defensive player and thinking he might have the higher ceiling of the two. Whichever player Saunders and company identify as their preferred target, the fans assembled at Target Center on Tuesday night sure seemed thrilled by the opportunity to add this year's No. 1 pick to add to last year's No. 1 overall selection, Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, as well as Minnesota's 2014 first-rounder, the electric Zach LaVine, and passing-savant point guard Ricky Rubio — plus, we are contractually obligated to mention 2013 No. 1 choice Anthony Bennett — in a talented young core that may or may not get to learn under future Hall of Famer and Minnesota legend Kevin Garnett: . @TargetCenterMN as #1 pick is announced. #NBADraftLottery pic.twitter.com/gGsSwDPhjP — Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) May 20, 2015 And, judging by the reaction of Saunders and his staff in the Minny war room, those fans aren't alone: We'll just let Flip and his staff sum up how excited we are about that No.1 spot... #NBADraftLottery #EyesOnTheRise https://t.co/Q3dfceFBsI — MN Timberwolves (@MNTimberwolves) May 20, 2015 The Los Angeles Lakers, who came into the lottery with an 11.9 percent chance of picking first, moved up from their fourth-place spot into the No. 2 slot in June's draft. In so doing, they will hang onto their 2015 pick, which could have gone to the Philadelphia 76ers, by virtue of a pair of past trades involving L.A.'s '15 first-rounder. Now, not only do they keep their selection, but they'll have an even wider array of top-flight prospects from which to choose in making their pick. This result clearly pleased Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who was none too thrilled about having to suffer through an injury-plagued season and watch his once-proud franchise flounder with the likes of the also-rans down at the bottom of the standings in search of some lottery luck: We played like crap all season so it's only right we get the #2 pick HA #lakerluck #goodday — Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) May 20, 2015 (Also, he made a poop joke.) With Bryant back in the fold for his 20th pro season, their 2014 lottery pick, power forward Julius Randle, healthy after suffering a fractured right tibia during his first NBA game, surprising All-Rookie First Team point guard Jordan Clarkson providing a jolt of youth and athleticism in the backcourt, and a boatload of money to spend in free agency, the Lakers' stay in the depths of the Western Conference's dungeon could be short-lived. The 76ers' own selection, which had a 15.6 percent shot of landing atop the draft board, slotted in at No. 3. Philadelphia will wind up making only its own pick in this year's draft, as both the Lakers and the Miami Heat (whose first-rounder would have landed in Pennsylvania had it fallen outside the top 10) held onto their protected picks. Despite their #OneSixEleven dreams failing to materialize, Philly fans seem psyched at the prospect of adding the No. 3 pick — perhaps a point guard, like Emmanuel Mudiay or Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell, or a wing player like Duke's Justise Winslow — to a young core that already features a pair of highly touted bigs, 2013 first-rounder Nerlens Noel and 2014 first-rounder Joel Embiid: PROCESS pic.twitter.com/Vzc6ZC4PJf — Andrew Sharp (@andrewsharp) May 20, 2015 The New York Knicks entered the lottery with a 19.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, and a 55.8 percent chance of selecting in the top three. Instead, they dropped down to No. 4 when the Lakers rose up. They were the only one of the 14 teams in the lottery to fall below their initial odds in the final drawing. The response from Knicks fans, as you might expect, was disappointment : UGGGGGGGHHHHHH pic.twitter.com/s4RCFKjKeF — Desus Nice (@desusnice) May 20, 2015 Knicks Lottery viewing party reaction: pic.twitter.com/oHiR8zJlX5 — Abe Schwadron (@abe_squad) May 20, 2015 Judging by his response on the draft dais, that's precisely what Knicks general manager Steve Mills was feeling, too: The NEW YORK KNICKS have the 4th Pick… pic.twitter.com/5vgkjzhrr9 — Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) May 20, 2015 Yeah, that seems about right. (This is where we remind downtrodden Knicks fans that diamonds are often found outside the top three of the NBA draft, and that winding up with one of the draft's most highly regarded point guards, two-way perimeter players or even a defensive-minded big man like Kentucky's Willie Cauley-Stein might not be the worst thing in the world. Deep breaths, New York. Deep breaths.) Here's the full video of the pre-broadcast lottery drawing itself, in the event you still believe these things are rigged: The full first-round order is now set: 1. Minnesota Timberwolves 2. Los Angeles Lakers 3. Philadelphia 76ers 4. New York Knicks 5. Orlando Magic 6. Sacramento Kings 7. Denver Nuggets 8. Detroit Pistons 9. Charlotte Hornets 10. Miami Heat 11. Indiana Pacers 12. Utah Jazz 13. Phoenix Suns 14. Oklahoma City Thunder 15. Atlanta Hawks (via Brooklyn Nets, in a pick-swap included in the Joe Johnson trade back in 2012 ) 16. Boston Celtics 17. Milwaukee Bucks 18. Houston Rockets (via New Orleans Pelicans, as part of last summer's Omer Asik trade) 19. Washington Wizards 20. Toronto Raptors 21. Dallas Mavericks 22. Chicago Bulls 23. Portland Trail Blazers 24. Cleveland Cavaliers 25. Memphis Grizzlies 26. San Antonio Spurs 27. Lakers (via Rockets, as part of last summer's Jeremy Lin trade) 28. Celtics (via Los Angeles Clippers, as part of the 2013 deal that allowed Doc Rivers to leave Boston to coach in L.A.) 29. Nets (via Hawks, on the other end of the Johnson pick swap) 30. Golden State Warriors The 2015 NBA draft will take place on Thursday, June 25, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. More NBA draft coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

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Lakers GM: Kobe Bryant could retire after next season (Ball Don't Lie)

It's been a topic of conversation for years now . With so many accolades, championships and miles on his now twice -surgically- repaired legs —and a surgically repaired shoulder thrown in —when will Kobe Bryant decide to hang up his high tops and begin the long and well-deserved walk to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame? According to Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, the Mamba himself has said he expects to begin that journey after this coming season. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] Kupchak shared as much during a Thursday radio interview, according to ESPN.com's Baxter Holmes : "He has indicated to me that this is it," Kupchak said Thursday in a radio appearance with SiriusXM NBA Radio. [...] "I think first and foremost, he's on the last year of a deal," Kupchak told SiriusXM NBA Radio. "There have been no discussions about anything going forward. I don't think there will be." [...] "A year from now, if there's something different to discuss, then it will be discussed then," Kupchak said of Bryant potentially playing beyond next season. "I talk to him from time to time ... and he is recovering. He's running. He's getting movement and strength in the shoulder. We expect a full recovery, but yeah, he's much closer to the end than to the beginning." "I think it is clear," Kupchak said. "He's on the last year of his deal. There have been no discussions [about playing beyond next season]. He hasn't indicated that he wants to continue to play." Kupchak's comments, while noteworthy, are not necessarily new. He struck a similar note during a conversation with NBA.com's David Aldridge back in December: "All indications are, to me, from him, that this (two-year contract) is going to be it," Kupchak said. "If somebody's thinking of buying a ticket three years from now to see Kobe play, I would not do that. Don't wait. Do it this year." (Always be selling, kids.) Kobe offered a "no comment" sort of comment on the matter via Twitter on Friday evening: My thoughts on next season being my last season are the same as the last time the media asked me last season #nadanew —Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) May 22, 2015 When he faced questions about the prospect of retirement back in March, Bryant offered nothing definitive beyond saying there's no question he plans to play this coming season. From Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times : "As I sit here right now, do I want to play after next year? No. That could change," Bryant said [...] "After three years of dealing with this crap, you kind of understand why I don't want to deal with it anymore," he said. "This is much more encouraging [than the Achilles' tear]," said Bryant, who said he expects to start running over the next two weeks. "I can move around ... my spirits are much higher." [...] Bryant is past the initial shock and sloughed off any notion he'd walk away from the game until after next season. "Who the hell said I'm retiring?" he asked. "It was never a question of if I was going to play next year." Bryant, who has missed 123 games over the past two seasons and suffered three consecutive season-ending injuries, will be 37 years old when the 2015-16 regular season begins in October. He'll be on the back end of the two-year, $48.5 million extension he received in November 2013, completing two full decades in forum blue and gold, with his spot among the three highest scorers in NBA history already established. He's joked in the past that he's "70 in basketball years," after rolling up 55,414 combined regular- and postseason minutes in the NBA, with an awful lot of those minutes having seen Kobe bear a disproportionate amount of responsibility for carrying the Lakers offense —which, of course, he's been more than happy to do, sometimes to a fault . The current model of the Lakers, featuring 2014 lottery pick Julius Randle, whichever teen prospect Kupchak and company select with the newly won No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA draft and 2014-15 All-Rookie First Team point guard Jordan Clarkson, doesn't seem to be one built for the league's preeminent greybeard; barring a shocking worst-to-first turn this coming season, it doesn't seem likely that the Lakers will resume contending in the brutal Western Conference for at least a couple of seasons. [ThePostGame: LeBron James wants to be Batman ] Given that, and given Bryant's previously stated opposition to going someplace else to try to ride younger stars to more NBA titles , and given the utter impossibility of Kobe allowing himself to be just another guy on someone else's team so that he can stick around into his early 40s, it seems entirely reasonable that he would walk away after one last lucrative lap around L.A. As ever, though, we won't totally believe we've seen the last fadeaway jumper and jaw-jut until the man himself speaks the words, walks off the court and starts making his way for Springfield, Mass. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Lakers star Bryant expected to step away after next season (Reuters)

(Reuters) - Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak created some buzz by saying future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant had told him that next season would be his last with the Lakers, but the team said on Friday that was no surprise. "He has indicated to me that this is it," Kupchak said about Bryant told SiriusXM NBA Radio on Thursday. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Lakers GM says Bryant done after next season (AFP)

Kobe Bryant will make next season his last with the Los Angeles Lakers after 20 years that have produced five NBA titles, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said. "He has indicated to me this is it," Kupchak told SiriusXM NBA Radio. The 36-year-old guard has played for the Lakers for his entire NBA career, but has been nagged by injuries in recent seasons and unable to display the form that made him a 17-time All-Star, two-time NBA scoring champion and two-time Olympic champion. [read full article]

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