Posted on: June 22, 2011 9:11 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 9:13 pm
2011 NBA Draft prospect Brandon Knight says he's ready to lead a team right now. Posted by Ben Golliver.
NEW YORK, N. Y. -- Brandon Knight isn't looking over his shoulder and he doesn't have any time to waste.
The one and done Kentucky point guard addressed the media on the eve of the 2011 NBA Draft, and it was the verbal equivalent of a rim run: straight, direct, no veering or wavering.
Knight, who averaged 17.3 points and 4.2 assists as a freshman, wants to be picked at the top of the board, he wants to start immediately and he wants to win.
"My competitive nature wants me to go as high as possible," Knight said.
One day before NBA Draft night, Knight is projected to go as high as No. 3 to the Utah Jazz and no lower than No. 7 to the Sacramento Kings. The Toronto Raptors at No. 5 are also a possibility should the Jazz elect to draft Turkish big man Enes Kanter at No. 3.
Knight holds himself to a high standard -- notching a 4.3 GPA in high school -- and is equally demanding in his expectations for his NBA home.
"A place that can use a point guard, a place that wants me, obviously," Knight said. "A place where I can compete. I don't want to go somewhere where they have no chance of winning at all. A place where I know I can compete, where I have great teammates."
The Jazz figure to be the best fit for that description. While they have a starting quality point guard in Devin Harris already in place, Utah certainly has a longer tradition of winning than either Toronto or Sacramento. Utah had made the playoffs four straight years before this season, which saw a trade of franchise point guard Deron Williams and the retirement of longtime coach Jerry Sloan. The Jazz also have a string of making the postseason 20 straight years.
The Raptors, meanwhile, have made the playoffs in just two of the last nine years and arguably have one of the two or three least talented roster in the league. The Kings are far removed from their glory days at the beginning of the aughts, having missed the playoffs in five seasons. A turbulent and tenuous ownership situation only makes seriously competing that much more difficult.
Pressed about his fit with the Jazz, Knight did his best to remain open to all possibilities.
"The draft is inexact," he said. "I might not be taken by the Jazz. I might. I definitely would be comfortable there. I had a great vibe with the coaching staff and front office."
Outsiders might view Utah as a perfect fit. Knight could serve as Harris' understudy, learning the pro game and gradually taking on added responsibilities and minutes. Knight doesn't necessarily see it that way.
Asked if he felt he was ready to step in and assume starting point guard duties from Day One, Knight, who is 19 years old, said, "Yeah, I do." No hesitation. No blinking.
He listed off the attributes he brings to the table in a methodical manner, stripping emotion from the process as if he was reading a boring legal document.
"The ability to shoot, spread a defense, defend other point guards, run a team," he said. "That's something I've got better at this year."
One thing he doesn't bring to the NBA? Second thoughts about returning to Kentucky for a sophomore season.
"Once I knew I might be a top 10 pick," Knight recalled without a trace of regret. "My mind was decided."
For all that readiness and self-assuredness, Knight did admit that one thing has tripped him during the pre-draft process: the travel.
"I've never really lived out of a suitcase before," he said, allowing himself a rare grin.
He'll get used to it.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 9:32 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 9:43 pm
The San Antonio Spurs are reportedly shopping point guard Tony Parker. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Back in May, shortly after the San Antonio Spurs had been eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies, point guard Tony Parker made some interesting comments, telling a French publication that he believed the team's championship window had closed.
Now, it appears that it could be Parker's career as a Spur that is coming to an end.
Yahoo! Sports reports that Parker's name is coming up in trade talks in advance of the 2011 NBA Draft on Thursday.
The San Antonio Spurs are engaged in discussions about trading point guard Tony Parker to secure a high pick in Thursday’s draft, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.Parker, 29, has played for the Spurs for his entire NBA career. He's coming off of an All-Star year in 2010-2011, one in which he averaged 17.5 points and 6.6 assists. The Spurs have another capable point guard in reserve George Hill, who theoretically could take the reins if Parker was traded and play alongside two guard Manu Ginobili.
Parker recently signed a contract extension that carries him through the 2014-2015 season.
The lesson from the Memphis series for San Antonio is that the team needs to retool its front line, adding size, length and bulk. At pick No. 5 or pick No. 7, the Spurs could go the super intriguing route by adding Congolese big man Bismack Biyombo, arguably the best defensive prospect in the entire draft. Otherwise, either Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas should be available at No. 5 and could be available at No. 7. Texas forward Tristan Thompson, also an excellent defender, would be another intriguing option at No. 7.
An alternate approach: If the Spurs were simply looking to take a "Moneyball" approach to the point guard position, they could draft Kemba Walker and pay him a fraction of what they were paying Parker to serve as Hill's back-up.
Parker would represent a home run for either the Raptors or the Kings. Both are saddled with questions marks at the point guard position, and Parker would plug in immediately as a quality floor general capable of making life easier for the young prospects he would be surrounded by.
The question hanging over these discussions: Are the Spurs ready to blow this up? If so, moving Parker is a logical first step.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 8:49 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
So it's come to this for Raymond Felton. From underrated point guard in Charlotte, helping the Bobcats make their first playoff game, to heralded new York Knicks point guard of the future, to Carmelo Anthony trade bait, and now this. Shopped for a lousy draft pick in a lousy draft.
Would the Kings be willing to send the No. 7 pick to the Nuggets for Raymond Felton and the No. 22 pick? The Kings have had interest in Felton but it's probably going to take them giving up the No. 7 pick to get him. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Nuggets grab Jonas Valanciunas or Bismack Biyombo if they could get up to No. 7.via Latest draft buzz: Kings' No. 7 for Felton? - TrueHoop Blog - ESPN.
When Felton landed in Denver, I was positive he was going to start. He'd been a starter for years, was a better defender than Lawson, and would pitch a fit if he was benched for such a young player. But credit to the Nuggets, they knew that Lawson was their guy going forward and they stuck with him. Now Felton wants out, and the Nuggets are happy to oblige him, especially if they can get another young asset to their army of young assets. The No. 7 pick isn't exactly a goldmine in this draft, they'll have a shot at a few high caliber prospects, though you'd have to question if Bismack Biyombo is really the kind of player they want to add to a team that needs substantial help down low besides Nene. The Nuggets would also be in a position of need for a backup point guard if this were to shake out.
Felton is a perfect fit in Sacramento, despite what will probably bum him out in being in a smaller market again, overshadowed by younger players who haven't been around as long. A starting 1-2-3-4 rotation of Felton, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans at a combo 2-3 spot and DeMarcus Cousins gives the Kings a foundation going forward. They've needed a steady hand at point guard and could certainly use Felton's defense.
Maybe it'll work out for Felton, but it's still got to be a disappointment to have gone from the wanted sidekick star in New York under a coach that makes point guards look great to being unable to unseat a younger player on a rebuilding team and getting shopped for a draft pick in a poor class. Someone get the guy a hug. Wait a minute, he got that new contract from New York last summer and Larry Brown is no longer haunting him. Nevermind, he's good.
Posted on: June 20, 2011 1:01 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 1:51 pm
Three GMs have more riding on the 2011 NBA Draft than the others. Posted by Ben Golliver.
For the league’s poorest sisters, it represents hope; for the middle of the road teams, it’s a bit of a crapshoot; for true contenders, it can become almost an afterthought. For rebuilding teams, it’s the center of years of planning; for veteran teams, it can be almost irrelevant. For small market teams, the draft is the best – if not only -- chance they’ll get to land a superstar; for the successful larger markets, it can be just another day on the calendar.
The 2011 NBA Draft carries added importance for three franchises. Whether because of poor on-court performance, endless stagnation, financial implications or potential relocation, the stakes are highest for three teams and their executives. With so much riding on the draft this year, a swing and a miss could prove fatal for these three chief basketball decision-makers.
Minnesota Timberwolves – David Kahn
Let’s start with the Minnesota Timberwolves because articles about GMs potentially getting fired always start with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
President David Kahn has been the laughingstock of the NBA for a few years now, but he recently got in a few chuckles of his own when Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio finally decided to take his talentos to the Great White North. Rubio’s presence addresses Minnesota’s two biggest problems. They lacked a franchise-type point guard and desperately needed a hype factor to get fans in the seats following two seasons that produced a combined 32 wins.
There is a catch: Rubio might not actually be that good and it’s an open question whether Minnesota has the support system and personnel around him to ensure that he succeeds in the short-term.
The Timberwolves hold the No. 2 pick and have question marks up and down the roster. They’ll need to turn that pick and other fringe assets into multiple rotation players to ensure a smooth transition for Rubio and to keep Kevin Love from grumbling about his lot in life again.
Kahn has essentially staked his job on Rubio’s success as a pro. If the Timberwolves aren’t able to make significant forward progress in the 2011-2012 season, it’s difficult to envision their way too patient owner Glen Taylor letting Kahn have another go-round.
Houston Rockets – Daryl Morey
We’ve reached the point where the theoretical idea of Daryl Morey is far better than the actual Daryl Morey. The Rockets’ famed “Moneyball” style architect has gone years without drafting an impact player in the first round. Try as he might via the trade route, he hasn’t been able to locate a core building block to replace chronically injured center Yao Ming, so the franchise has spun its wheels, missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. The Rockets admitted to themselves that a rebuild was in order this summer, an idea that former coach Rick Adelman apparently didn’t take kindly to. Enter new coach Kevin McHale.
Focusing relentlessly on market inefficiencies can sometimes cloud the bigger picture. Star types win in the NBA, and the Rockets don’t have any. Kevin Martin and Luis Scola both exist one tier below where they need to be to truly build around long-term. The issues facing Houston next season, then, are two-fold: No one is going to get that roster to play harder and produce more than Adelman did, and the No. 14 spot on Thursday will not yield a franchise difference-maker.
To give the franchise some direction, Morey will need to get creative by packaging assets to get a true top end talent. There’s no better time to do that than draft week. Another NBA Draft week with a zero on the board, you would think, would force Rockets owner Les Alexander to change his thinking from “What have you done for me lately?” to “no, really, what have you actually done?”
Sacramento Kings – Geoff Petrie
The Maloof Family is a mess. The Kings’ ownership group is bleeding money, selling off assets, skimping on payroll and hinting that they will try to leave Sacramento again after next season. The NBA had to step in this summer to help conduct the team’s basic business affairs. Sad stuff.
Kings president Geoff Petrie, despite solid picks in each of the last two drafts, has found himself in chopping block rumors for most of the last year. That’s what happens when your team misses the playoffs – and misses out on playoff revenue – for five straight seasons, winning just 66 combined in the last three years.
Sacramento is picking at No. 7 this year but has an ultimate trump card in the form of tons and tons of available cap space to facilitate trades. Of any team with just one first round pick, the Kings have the most flexibility and widest variety of options this week. With Evans and Cousins in place as core blocks, the mandate is clear: put pieces around them that will turn this into a fringe playoff contender.
Petrie isn’t simply drafting to keep his job. His decisions this week could ultimately impact whether the Kings win enough next season to keep the team in Sacramento. Given the shaky state of the Maloof family, the implications of the moves made this week could even extend to the ownership level. How many years of also-ran existence can the Maloof Family sustain before the coffers dry up? The Maloofs have steadfastly denied that they would ever sell the team but there could come a time when they don’t have a choice.
You want to talk about pressure? That’s pressure.
Posted on: June 19, 2011 8:07 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 9:52 am
The Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings, will sell their majority stake of the Palms casino. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Everything you thought you knew about the financial troubles for the Maloof family, owners of the Sacramento Kings, just got confirmed in a major way.
The Sacramento Bee reports that the Maloofs are about to lose majority control of the crown jewel of their portfolio, the luxurious Palms Casino in Las Vegas, and are barely holding on to any stake.
The Maloof family will soon own just 2 percent of the Palms Casino, its trendy Las Vegas property, according to regulatory documents filed in Nevada.The paper notes that the new deal relieves the Maloof family of its debt burden and that the family can potentially buy back in.
The Palms was originally constructed in 2001 with a second tower opening in 2005. Soon after, a national economic recession took place and Las Vegas, which relies heavily on tourism, was hit hard.
The family has made a number of other moves recently to cut back on their holdings. In 2009, the Maloofs sold their beer distributing firm. Also in 2009, they folded their WNBA team and made staff cuts with the Kings.
The Maloofs attempted to move the Kings to Anaheim this year, but the move was met with resistance from Sacramento fans and, ultimately, the NBA. The Maloofs pledged to keep the Kings in Sacramento for another year while efforts to finance a new, more profitable arena continue.
Posted on: June 17, 2011 6:51 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 6:56 pm
BYU guard Jimmer Fredette has reportedly been invited to the green room for the 2011 NBA Draft. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Jimmer Fredette apparently isn't all hype.
The much ballyhooed guard was a national sensation as a senior at BYU, but many questioned how his game and physical tools would translate to the NBA level.
The early indications are that Fredette will translate at the lottery-pick level.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Fredette has been extended an invite to the green room for next week's 2011 NBA Draft.
Former Brigham Young guard Jimmer Fredette has been invited to the famed green room for the 2011 NBA Draft, which is scheduled next Thursday in Newark, N.J.A green room invite isn't a total guarantee that you'll be picked in the first half of the first round, but those invites aren't handed out lightly.
This news will certainly fuel speculation as to where Fredette will land. Teams that have reported interest in him include the Sacramento Kings at No. 7, the Utah Jazz at No. 12, the Phoenix Suns at No. 13 and the Indiana Pacers at No. 15.
At this point, given all the buzz surrounding his draft workouts, it would be very difficult to see him falling past the Pacers, and the public pressure for the Jazz to take him at No. 12 is immense.
Posted on: June 16, 2011 6:09 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 6:45 pm
Sacramento Kings forward Jason Thompson suffered a fracture in his right big toe. Posted by Ben Golliver.
The Sacramento Kings announced on Thursday that forward Jason Thompson has suffered a bone fracture in his right big toe that will keep him off the court for at least a month.
X-rays taken (Wednesday) at the UC Davis Sports Medicine Clinic revealed that Sacramento Kings’ forward Jason Thompson has a non-displaced sesamoid bone fracture in his right great toe. He will wear a walking boot for approximately four to six weeks, at which time Thompson will be re-evaluated.Shortly after the announced injury, Thompson posted an optimistc message on his Twitter account. "I will be back in no time... Better now then later!!... My work ethic will get me back into things sooner than Later... Let's go."
Thompson is right. Given the timing of the injury, this should be a minor bump in the road in what's already been an up and down three-year career.
In the three seasons he has been in Sacramento, the Kings have won just 66 combined games. While Thompson has started a fair number of games in each of his three NBA seasons, he's yet to make an impact that keeps him in the starting lineup on a permanent basis.
In 2010-2011, his numbers took a hit across the board, as he averaged a career-low 23.3 minutes per game and put up just 8.8 points and 6.0 rebounds in those minutes.
Thompson, 24, is on the books for $3.0 million next season.
Posted on: June 10, 2011 8:47 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 9:37 pm
Is UK point guard Brandon Knight's stock dropping? Posted by Ben Golliver.
On Thursday, we noted that BYU point guard Jimmer Fredette was taking a pro-active stance with his pre-draft workout strategy, essentially challenging UK point guard Brandon Knight and UConn point guard Kemba Walker to work out against him head-to-head.
We applauded that strategy, noting that Fredette really has nothing to lose. Knight and Walker, on the other hand, lose a bit of face publicly if they don't agree to work out against him -- or potentially risk slipping down the board should Fredette convincingly best them in a head-to-head setting.
SI.com reports that Fredette isn't the only thing that Knight needs to worry about. Until now, he's participated in a limited number of tightly controlled workouts. The site notes that the strategy is rubbing some people the wrong way.
Sources say the Kentucky point guard could be risking his chance to go third overall to Utah by refusing to work out against competition. Knight has an open invitation to join Connecticut's Kemba Walker, BYU's Jimmer Fredette and UCLA's Malcolm Lee in a June 15 workout with the Jazz, but sources close to both sides said he has yet to decide whether to take part.Griping from NBA executives whose jobs hinge on their ability to evaluate talent is pretty commonplace this time of year. Imagine if your job was on the line and you didn't have much control during the most important decision-making time of the calendar year? That would be rough, so the complaints are legit.
But the top prospects have all the leverage every year. As long as they don't go out of their way to be rude, flaky or controversial, players who are regarded as top-5 picks are free to set the terms of their workouts and meetings with teams. It's a classic limited supply, loads of demand scenario that tips the balance in the players' favor.
Now, as for Knight specifically. His personality is top-notch. He's a hard-working, team-first, high-IQ point guard who developed his game during his one year of college and has been regarded as an elite NBA prospect for years. He manages to enjoy the big moment without having a big ego.
Any team that passes on him because he is playing his hand wisely is nuts. But if they want to grumble because they can't see more of him? Totally understandable.