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Wilt

Tough-nosed Teammate Remembers Wilt Chamberlain

Every day there are fewer people who can actually remember seeing the Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain who dominated the paint in the NBA to such an extent the league had to widen the lane by four feet to give his opponents a chance. Tough-nosed teammate and NBA All-Star Tom Meschery talks about his friend in this fascinating interview by Ed Odeven in The Japan Times.

In the years after the larger-than-life Chamberlain passed away on Oct. 12, 1999, Meschery remembers his teammate as “the biggest man I’ve ever seen” and “the strongest man in the world. He was amazing.”

“Wilt and I were close. We were friends,” Meschery said. “We played with each other. We were teammates. . . . I don’t allow people to call me Tommy, but he did. (In that game), that’s what he was saying, ‘Say hello, Tommy. Come on, Tommy,’ like I was some kind of little boy, and I was. Compared to him I was a little boy.”

Meschery was there when Chamberlain scored 100 points in a game he admitted  “the Knicks were not a very good team.” However, he remembers the Knicks were doing everything they could to not have played a part on the wrong side in NBA lore.

“Wilt was going to score 100 points, and they beat on him. Wilt was the most beat-on player ever and he never lost his temper except once in his career.”

The old NBA wasn’t like the current rather soft version. In many ways it was more like hockey where truly dirty play and fighting wasn’t just tolerated, it was part of the game. However,  Meschery can only remember one player actually getting Chamberlain to lose control – Clyde Lovellette.

“He was a mean son of a bitch,” he said of Lovellette, “and always was, and dirty. I mean a truly dirty (expletive) player. I really disliked him . . .

“Anyway, Clyde threw one too many elbows at Wilt, and Wilt knocked him out with one punch. And the punch traveled no more than one foot maybe at most. It was just a jab, but the fiercest jab I ever saw.”

The 6’6 Meschery wasn’t a teammate of Chamberlain for his entire career. The forward played four seasons with Seattle and had his own rather embarrassing physical altercation with his friend.

Once while suiting up for the Sonics, Meschery got ticked off at ex-teammate Chamberlain, who was then with the Lakers.

“It was,” he says now. “Looking back at it, I don’t think I was thinking that at the time, but as I was being interviewed and as I’ve kind of come to think of it all my life as . . . it was like a comic book.

“Wilt was literally holding my head. I was trying to hit him and I was of course moving towards him, and so my forward motion was impeded by his hand. So he had his hand on my forehead, so imagine the pictures.

“His hand on my forehead and me wildly swinging and because of course his arm was so long I couldn’t hit him,” Meschery added with a chuckle.

Chamberlain led the NBA in minutes played, points and rebounds as a rookie in 1959-60, winning both Rookie-of-the-Year and Most-Valuable-Player and he continued that unbelievable triple-threat level of dominance for three more years in a row after that. Reaching a pinnacle in 1961-62 when he set the current unassailable NBA record for minutes played (3,882) and points scored (4,029) in a season to average 48.5 minutes, 50.4 points and 25.7 rebounds in 80 games. (Just in case you might be wondering why the NBA had to widen the paint – it was getting embarrassing.)

Chamberlain will always be remembered for his scoring as he averaged over 30 points per game for his first nine seasons, but in an era where his main adversary was Bill Russell, perhaps he should be remembered for being the current NBA record holder for rebounds with 23,924 and rebounds per game of 22.9. In his final season at 36-years-old Chamberlain averaged 18.6 boards.

Yes, the all-time great Hall-of-Famer started filling the NBA record books in his rookie season to an extent never seen before and never approached after, but as Meschery remembers, perhaps the most fascinating side of this larger-than-life figure isn’t found in his stats.

Chamberlain should also be remembered for his physical dominance in an era where throwing elbows and punches were part of the game. Where being tough meant more than playing thru a sore ankle.

If more recent generations had the same level of self control as Chamberlain, maybe today’s game wouldn’t have gotten to the point where it seems like every hard foul is being called flagrant.

Ed Odeven’s article in The Japan Times is just the first of a three-part series about the very interesting life of Tom Meschery. Be sure to check out the entire feature.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA OKC Thunder Paul George

Lakers Get A Slap On The Wrist For Tampering

The Indiana Pacers were livid about what they saw as overt tampering by the Los Angeles Lakers with respect to Paul George and the NBA has confirmed there was enough evidence to fine the Lakers. However, a $500,000 fine for the Lakers is nothing more than a slap on the wrist. It would possible to make a case for the Lakers offering to pay that much for the opportunity to tamper with other players of interest in the future.

From the NBA press release,

The conduct at issue involved communications by Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka with the agent representing Paul George that constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract.  The penalty reflected a previous warning issued by the NBA to the Lakers regarding tampering.

In a statement from the Lakers and their outside counsel, they admitted they tampered.

General Manager Rob Pelinka: “We respect and accept the NBA’s decision regarding this matter.”

Lawyer Adam Streisand of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP: “we can assure the fans that the Lakers will be hyper-vigilant going forward to make sure this is never an issue again.”

There will be complaints made that the Lakers weren’t doing anything that hasn’t happened in the past without the bad publicity and fine, but that doesn’t make what the Lakers organization was doing acceptable.

Small market teams like the Pacers find the playing field unfairly tilted enough already without the big market clubs trying to poach their players before free agency.

If anything the NBA should have come down harder on the Lakers, but at least they have sent a message. No team should be surprised if the same situation were to arise again that the punishment would be more severe.

The “wink-winking” and talking to agents about players under contract with other teams has to stop.

 

  

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving and Boston Celtics Isaiah Thomas

Cavs Talking Trade Kyrie Irving For Celtics Isaiah Thomas

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the Cleveland Cavaliers are in talks to trade Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic.

The big question in this trade is, who got better?

My money is on the Cavs, big time. Who do you got?

 

 

 

NBA OKC Thunder Patrick Patterson

Raptors Masai Ujiri Dodged Another Patrick Patterson Injury

Call it good planning, inside knowledge or just plain blind luck, but Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri dodged another potentially damaging injury situation by allowing free agent Patrick Patterson to sign a “bargain” contract with the Thunder this summer.

The Thunder issued a press release outlining the situation.

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Patrick Patterson underwent a successful arthroscopic procedure today on his left knee…

Patterson will be re-evaluated in 4-6 weeks.

As described on Rotoworld,

we’ll consider him questionable for training camp. He did struggle with his knee last season

Patterson was having an impact season as a player on an expiring contract up until the end of December when he hurt his knee in Phoenix. After sitting out four games, he came back too soon and ended up sitting for six more. He then played for for a week before being forced to sit back down for another six games.

While his stats looked okay after getting back to stay, his play on the court didn’t and he lost minutes to P.J.Tucker before falling completely off the rails in the postseason for the second time in a row.

After failing to step up in the playoffs in successive years, Ujiri had a good enough reason to look elsewhere when making his plans for next season.

Injury prone or not, Patterson wasn’t likely to be re-signed in Toronto despite the fact the Raptors are short on veterans to fill in their bench, but seeing the popular forward continuing to be impacted by knee problems this summer should make losing his services just a little easier to accept.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Orlando Magic Khem Birch

Canadian Shot Blocker Khem Birch Signs With The Magic

The Orlando Magic announced they have signed Canadian big man Khem Birch to a two year contract.

Birch (6’9”, 220, 9/28/92) played in Greece last season, appearing in 37 games (21 starts) with Olympiacos, averaging 7.3 ppg. and 5.6 rpg. in 18.0 minpg., while shooting 62.4 percent from the field.

After playing collegiately at both the University of Pittsburgh and UNLV, Birch declared for the 2014 NBA Draft and spent the 2014-15 campaign with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA G League, where he averaged 11.1 ppg., 9.5 rpg., 1.2 apg. and 1.8 blkpg. in 52 contests. He was named to the Futures All-Star Team in 2015.

A native of Montreal, Quebec, Birch has also played professionally in Turkey (2015-16) and is a member of the Canadian National Team.

Although Birch went undrafted in 2014, he was part of the ever growing wave of Canadian basketball players getting noticed by the NBA.

One of the best shot blockers in all of college basketball in his third season, Birch averaged a double-double with 3.8 blocks per game at UNLV and his collegiate success had a big impact on basketball in his hometown.

“It’s definitely a moment,” Birch said at a Raptors predraft workout in 2014. “The most Canadians ever in the draft, so it’s definitely a moment.

“There are a lot of young guys coming up (who are) my brother’s age of 14 years old and every time I do something, they like everything, so I have made a really big impact on Montreal basketball. I’m proud and hopefully I’ll keep it up. Right now it’s hockey, but watch, in the future, it’s going to be basketball. I can see it’s coming up.”

Expecting to go late in the second round of the NBA draft, Birch ended up with the D-League Sioux Falls Skyforce and then headed to Europe for the next two seasons. However, in hindsight, it was apparent before he left that he’d fit in today’s NBA style of play.

“Khem, he is so athletic and he’s got the length and the shot blocking and the rebounding,” Raptors director of scouting Dan Tolzman said in 2014. “He is an intriguing player because he is the type of player that the NBA is going to more – athletic, nimble types of bigs and he is right in that group.”

Josh Cohen in the Orlando Magic Film Room illustrates what Birch could potentially bring to the NBA today.

With his speed, athleticism and aggressiveness, Birch chases down opponents in transition and swats shots away. He also is a terrific help defender and will often slide over from the weak side to block shots.

Birch fits in very well in small-ball lineups because he has the lateral foot speed to stay in front of smaller, quicker perimeter players. In pick-and-roll scenarios, Birch doesn’t get intimidated by opponents trying to break him down off the dribble. He has the body of a power forward but the game of a center.

An intriguing prospect when he left college, the 24-year-old gets his second chance at making an NBA roster (he played six preseason games with Miami in 2014) after an impressive run to the Euroleague Final Four last season.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Andrew Nicholson Magic Wizards Nets and Trail Blazers

Canadian Andrew Nicholson Becomes An NBA Free Agent Again

Canadian forward Andrew Nicholson was drafted 19th overall by the Orlando Magic in 2012 and after a less than inspiring four years, it must have felt like he hit the jackpot when the Wizards signed him as a free agent to a four year $26 million contract last summer.

It all fell apart in Washington, however, as he had only played in 28 games by the All-Star break when he was traded to Brooklyn for Bojan Bogdanovic in a multi-player deal. Only seeing action in 10 games with the Nets wasn’t a good sign either and he’s become trade ballast in yet another deal, this time headed to Portland for Allen Crabbe.

Luxury tax savings was the only thing on the Trail Blazers minds and Nicholson will be stretched and waived for the big time savings.

All this means is Nicholson still gets his money and will be a free agent once again this summer who can sign with any team that will have him in the NBA or overseas.

The 6’9 250 lb forward averaged 6.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 15.1 minutes in 247 games with the Magic and steadily improved his three-point shooting to 36 percent on 2.0 attempts per game in his fourth season.

The move to Washington was a disaster, but someone should give this potential stretch-four a second chance.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

ESPN Draft Express

ESPN Acquires Draft Express

And another top flight site bites the dust. Jonathan Givony has provided 14 years of reliable independent information about the NBA Draft and draft prospects from North America and around the world. However, he’s moving to ESPN and the site, DraftExpress.com will no longer be updated

We’re proud to announce that Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz will be joining ESPN as NBA Draft analysts. DraftExpress.com will remain on the web with all of our existing archive, but will not be publishing any new content moving forward. All articles, rankings, mock drafts and event recaps moving forward will be published on ESPN.com. Thanks to everyone that has contributed to DraftExpress, and the millions of readers who have visited our website diligently over the past 14 years.

Hopefully ESPN allows Givony the freedom to keep doing what he’s been doing and not drown him in corporate politics.

 

 

 

NBA Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving

Cavs Kyrie Irving Wants Out Of Cleveland

Brian Windhorst, ESPN Senior Writer reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving wants to be traded.

Kyrie Irving is ready to end his run with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as league sources told ESPN that the guard has asked the team to trade him.

“Kyrie and I had a meeting with Cavs leadership where we discussed many different scenarios in reference to Kyrie and his future with the team,” Irving’s agent Jeff Wechsler told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “The basis of those discussions and what went on in those discussions are between the Cavs and us. We are respectfully going to keep those private.”

James was informed of Irving’s request and was blindsided and disappointed, sources said.

ESPN reports that this may be connected to the loss of general manager David Griffin last month whom Irving had a good relationship with and a long standing desire by Irving to have “his own” team.

If Irving is traded, the change has the potential to dramatically shift the power structure in the NBA East. It definitely has implications for LeBron James’ pending free agency next summer.

 

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini

 

NBA Boston Celtics Jae Crowder and Utah Jazz Gordon Hayward

Celtics Pursuing A Sign And Trade For Gordon Hayward

The Celtics still don’t have enough salary cap space to sign Utah Jazz free agent Gordon Hayward to the max contract they promised, so they’ve been running around looking for someone to take on Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and/or Avery Bradley and leave them with enough room to complete the deal as reported by Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN One of the better options, if the Jazz and Hayward will agree, would be a sign and trade for one of the players they are trying to move and possibly some of the other “assets” the Celtics could be forced to dump.

The Boston Celtics have been aggressively trying to create enough salary-cap room … by discussing trades involving Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley

The Jazz and Celtics discussed on Wednesday the possibility of including Crowder in a sign-and-trade agreement for Hayward

The amount the Celtics are short could be as low as $300,000 if they can jump thru enough less painful flaming hoops than giving away one of their players that has actual real trade value.

even if the team renounced the rights to Jonas Jerebko, James Young and Gerald Green, waived Jordan Mickey, left 2016 first-round pick Guerschon Yabusele in Europe this season and traded Demetrius Jackson’s partially guaranteed contract and Terry Rozier, Boston … is still about $300,000 short of his max.

From a practical standpoint, when teams know you are trying to dump a contract to create room to complete another deal, they are going to take advantage, but Boston does have the assets to grease just about anything if they want to.

A trade with a third team to create space or a sign and trade with the Jazz can accomplish the same thing. This will just come down to finding the “best” way to get it done.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Boston Celtics Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward Admits He’s joining The Celtics

So what we were waiting for was Utah Jazz free agent Gordon Hayward to write a thank you piece in The Player’s Tribune. Hayward and his agent could have saved all of us a lot of grief if they just said this upfront instead the, in hindsight, bizarro response that was handed out.

After seven years in Utah, I have decided to join the Boston Celtics. – Gordon Hayward

Would it have been so hard to say we’ve made a decision and will be announcing it later today?

Okay, that’s done. Maybe this unlocks a few more options and gets free agency and the trade market into full swing.

 

NBA center Amir Johnson former Pistons Raptors Celtics

Former Raptors Big Amir Johnson Gets Paid Again

No one in Toronto blamed Raptors fan favorite Amir Johnson for taking $24 million from the Boston Celtics two years ago and the popular big man has found himself another big pay day this summer. The Philadelphia 76ers have used some of their excess cap space to give Johnson another $11 million for next season.

Johnson saw his minutes decline in Boston last season to average just 20.1 while his production dropped to 6.5 points and 4.6 rebounds. However, the 30-year-old is known as a great teammate, community ambassador and willing mentor, so he should fit in well on a very young 76ers team.

76ers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo had traded for Johnson in 2009 when he ran the show in Toronto. Johnson has played for the Pistons, Raptors and Celtics.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

Indiana Pacers Paul George

Thunder Win, Paul George Heads West

In hindsight it’s obvious, the Pacers didn’t want Paul George to stay in the Eastern Conference, so it’s off to the Oklahoma City Thunder in return for guard Victor Oladipo and second-year big man Domantas Sabonis.

In effect the Thunder have managed to trade the assets they got for Serge Ibaka last summer from the Magic for George this summer. Thunder general manager Sam Presti knows how to deal.

 

 

 

NBA analyst Adrian Wojnarowski

NBA News Breaker Adrian Wojnarowski Goes Dark

The NBA’s leading news breaker Adrian Wojnarowski has gone dark pending the start of his new relationship with ESPN that starts at midnight on July 1st as reported by Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch.

Adrian Wojnarowski has gone dormant since Thursday at 3:29 p.m. ET. This is intentional. SI.com has learned that Wojnarowski will not report any new NBA information until the start of his ESPN contract, which comes at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday. No trades, no signings, no speculation until then.

The last WOJ tweet was,

As Wojnarowski is almost always the first to report on anything NBA, may his twitter feed start humming again real soon.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

ESPN Wasting No Time To Forget Toronto Exists

It took no time at all for ESPN to forget Toronto even exists as they forecast the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors will meet in the NBA Finals again next year.

Sure the Cavs and the Dubs are heavy favorites no matter what any other team does this summer, but what the ESPN Forecast panel is predicting can only be called bizarre and insulting.

The third place 51-win Raptors don’t even get a sniff ahead of the Bucks team (4.4%) they eliminated from the playoffs, a 49-win Wizards team (2.2%) who they took two of three games from during the regular season or the dysfunctional Pistons (2.2%) who didn’t even make the playoffs.

This panel are either making a ton of assumptions about the inability of Raptors president Masai Ujiri to keep the key pieces of his roster together or, more likely, they just forgot Toronto has an NBA franchise.

The assumptions required to believe the Celtics will win the East next season are not any easier to make happen than those required for the Raptors to be back in the top three of the Eastern Conference.

The Wizards largely face the same challenges this summer that they faced last summer to take another step.

The Bucks are an up and coming team, but do they break thru next year?

The Pistons? Stan Van Gundy wouldn’t predict his team wins the East next year.

It might not be easy for the US based ESPN to remember “We The North” exists, but they could at least look at last year’s standings for some background info before forecasting next year.

There is no one in Toronto that shouldn’t take the Pistons being given a better chance than the Raptors to win the East as anything but a huge insult. Even the Hawks, Bulls, Pacers and Heat should be questioning how the Pistons are getting more respect from ESPN than they are.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBA D-League Mississauga Raptors 905 Edy Tavares

Cavs Grab Shot Blocker Edy Tavares From Raptors 905

A Cleveland Cavaliers team that has been searching desperately for any kind of big man help is about to sign the Toronto Raptors D-League affiliate 905 center Edy Tavares to a multi-year deal.

Tavares is coming off a first round playoff game with the Raptors 905 where he blocked 8 shots on the Cavs D-League affiliate Canton Charge.

“(Edy Tavares) has unbelievable talent,” Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse said after the game. “The way he protects the rim for us. For the most part he just went up there and used his length. He has unbelievable timing.”

Shams Charania reports,

Tavares, a 7-foot-3 center, plans to sign a three-year contract with the Cavaliers on Wednesday, league sources said. Tavares has been a critical part of the Raptors 905’s championship contention in the D-League, averaging 10.9 points and 7.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks for the season.

Raptors 905 have advanced to the NBA D-League East Finals, but in the process they lost Alex Toupane to the New Orleans Pelicans after he scored a franchise record 41 points in the 905’s first ever playoff game. Now they are about to lose their starting center to the Cavs.

 
 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll PJ Tucker Serge Ibaka Patrick Patterson collage

Magic Have Four Raptors On Their Radar This Summer

In the oops of all oops, an agent of an Orlando Magic player inadvertently tweeted out a list of the guys the team would like to target this summer by trade or in free agency and it looks like four current Toronto Raptors players are squarely in their sights.

CBS Sports NBA captured the image before the Magic realized what they’d done and Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported on the team’s embarrassment.

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan said the lists are “not indicative of plans” and were “simply listing options, including some of which other teams have inquired about.”

Orlando Magic tweet

Included on the lists are the Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll, P.J. Tucker, Patrick Patterson and Serge Ibaka.

This lists are long and undoubtedly very preliminary, but they do give an idea of what the Magic could be going after in draft day deals and in July. This isn’t April 1st, are we sure this was an accident?

 

 

 

NBA Sacramento Kings DeMarcus Cousins Kings DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins Would Flourish In The Right Place Says DeRozan

It’s a question that crosses the mind of nearly every NBA GM, coach and fan, would the Kings DeMarcus Cousins get his act together in a better environment than Sacramento? ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz goes into detail about Cousins and his checkered history with the Kings. It’s worth the read.

IF THE FATAL flaw of the Kings is instability, nowhere is it more evident than in the vibrant lazy Susan of coaches. Cousins was drafted in June 2010, which means all before his prime — and without changing teams — he has already played for Paul Westphal, Keith Smart, Mike Malone, Ty Corbin, George Karl and now Dave Joerger.

From a Toronto Raptors perspective, his Olympic teammate DeMar DeRozan believes Cousins would flourish in the right place and that’s tantalizing information to receive right before the NBA trade deadline.

“You put him in the right type of environment, a winning environment in the right organization, he would flourish without a doubt,” Olympic teammate DeMar DeRozan says. “Even in the position he’s in now, he hasn’t been to the playoffs, but he’s still the best big man in the league. Sometimes the other chips just don’t fall into place for you to take off when you want to take off. I think he’s going to get to that point once he gets in the right situation.”

Once again Cousins is a hot trade topic ahead of the NBA trade deadline and if DeRozan is to be believed, maybe pursuing the “best big man in the league” shouldn’t be something to be afraid of.

 

 

 

NBA Sacramento Kings DeMarcus Cousins

Sacramento Kings DeMarcus Cousins May Be In Play

Warm up all those fantasy trade rumors, according to Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee, the Kings are sending out mixed messages about the availability of everyone’s favorite trade target at center DeMarcus Cousins. He is most definitely in play.

Within the past two weeks, three different team executives complained the Kings once again were sending mixed signals. Divac was receptive to moving Cousins, while Ranadive was still meddling and still leaning toward keeping Boogie.

The plan of attack should be obvious by now. General manager Vlade Divac should be immersed in conversations with those of his peers intrigued by Cousins and burning up his cellphone battery working over the skeptics. Celtics. Lakers. Cavs. Mavs. Suns. Magic. The list surely will expand before Feb. 23, with Boston, L.A. and Phoenix armed with an array of young assets to facilitate a prudent, deliberate, long overdue Kings rebuild.

This is the way big deals get done. The Kings have to maximize their return in any deal for Cousins as they know, on the right team, Cousins could be the difference between pretender and NBA Finals contender. He is that talented, so teams will bid against one another to get him.

As painful as it will be to part ways with Cousins, Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive and Divac must surely know by now that all the salary cap space in the world isn’t going to bring a max free agent that could take their team into contention. Not with a revolving door coaching policy, a decade in the NBA Draft Lottery, and all that bad press their organization seems to get from just about every NBA player that’s been fortunate enough to escape to another team.

While the Kings could tear this thing down to the wood and do a total rebuild through the draft, that may not be necessary. If the Kings have proven anything over the past decade it’s they aren’t very good at picking and developing talent.

Yes they will absolutely want first round draft picks, but more importantly, the players they get back in any trade for Cousins had better be young, proven, NBA level talent. They need players with potential who can be inserted into a starting lineup right now. It’s not like they don’t need upgrades at every single position outside of Cousins.

Any deal has to be a homerun.

The biggest problem the Kings will have in trying to extract full value for Cousins is his ridiculously low $17 million salary, but it won’t be hard to find parts to add in order to get that number up.

While a broken down Rudy Gay might be challenging to pawn off on another team, Arron Afflalo and his $12.5 million deal is only guaranteed for $1.5 million next year and he’s a guy another GM could be talked into taking. Divac has pieces he can use.

So NBA GMs should start looking at their starters, key rotation players, rookies and draft picks to see if they’ve got enough to make Ranadive and Divac feel like winners as they let the “best center in the game” walk out their door and in all likelihood help some other team become an NBA Finals contender. Rationally they can’t say no to a good deal and they shouldn’t have any trouble convincing other people that Cousins was never going to fulfill his promise in Sacramento anyway.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

FIBA Team Canada Anthony Bennett

Canadian Anthony Bennett To Join Fenerbahce In Turkey

Former number one overall NBA draft pick from Canada Anthony Bennett will join FIBA club team Fenerbahce In Turkey after bring cut by the Brooklyn Nets earlier this week as reported by Sportando.

Bennett was originally drafted by the Cavaliers in 2013 and traded the next summer along with Andrew Wiggins to Timberwolves for Kevin Love as part of a three-team deal. He was waived by Timberwolves the next summer and signed as a free agent by the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors waived him in March and he was signed as a free agent by Brooklyn in July.

Bennett played in 23 games with the Nets before being waived on January 9, 2017. He had played in 151 games and 1,905 total minutes averaging 4.4 points and 3.1 rebounds in the NBA over parts of four seasons.

As a freshman at UNLV in 2012-13, Bennett averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds.

The biggest winner out of this move may be Canada Basketball as Bennett will learn the FIBA game ahead of this summer’s international play.

 

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James

ESPN Favors Toronto To Represent The East In The NBA Finals

Apparently last year’s 56-win season and trip to the Eastern Conference Finals by Toronto wasn’t an aberration, it was just part of a trend as the Raptors led by their two All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have continued the journey this season and are presently favored to represent the East in the NBA Finals this year by ESPN.

ESPN’s Ben Alamar writes,

The Raptors have ridden their offensive prowess to the No. 2 spot in ESPN’s Basketball Power Index and currently have the best chance to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals at 48 percent.

After playing their final game of calendar 2016, ESPN projects the Raptors to win 58 games this season, one fewer than the Cavs, but their Analytics team gives Toronto a 12.1 percent chance at an NBA title compared to just 8.9 percent for Cleveland. The Warriors continue to dominate projections with a 64.3 percent chance of winning it all this year.

While LeBron James and the Cavaliers will have a lot to say about how the rest of this season and the playoffs play out in the East, to this point Toronto has the top two offensive rated five-man units and the first and third best net rated five-man units in the entire league. So just maybe the objective analytics at ESPN is on to something.

 

Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
Instagram:  @fylmm.lifestyle and  @paul_saini