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Rubio to stay in Spain?

06.25.09 at 11:50 pm ET
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Leading up the Draft Night there was chatter of Ricky Rubio’s preference to play in a big market. Minnesota certainly isn’t one, and now the flashy point guard may return to Spain.

Rubio’s father, Esteve, told the MARCA.com in Spanish, “With this pick, it is possible that Ricky will play a year or two more in Europe.”

He added, “He can still go, he can stay a year … and until two. Everything is open, although the most probable is continuing in Europe for some time. We have to talk with the people in Minnesota … and to see what happens, because, at this time, we can be in Minnesota or in another place.”

The Timberwolves selected Rubio with the fifth overall pick in Thursday’s draft. They took another point guard, Jonny Flynn, with the following pick.

Rubio noted on his Twitter page, “Ser el #5 del draft es increíble. ¡Estoy muy contento! Be the 5th pick in the NBA draft is incredible. ¡I’m very happy!”

Read More: Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, Ricky Rubio,

Blogging the draft: DeJuan Blair (finally)

06.25.09 at 11:01 pm ET
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Leave it to the Spurs to take the most productive college player this side of top pick Blake Griffin (and in the second round, no less). With the 37th pick, San Antonio selected Pitt’s DeJuan Blair who was merely the best player in the Big East and who dominated No. 2 overall pick Hasheem Thabeet in their matchups.

Blair’s knees gave teams cause for concern, but he never should have fallen this far.

Two other Big East players–DaJuan Summers from Georgetown (Detroit) and Sam Young from Pitt (Memphis)–went just ahead of Blair. Summers also seems like a steal, while Young is one of the oldest players in the draft.

The Celtics pick is No. 58 and we’ll have more when they make their selection.

Read More: NBA Draft,

Blogging the draft: Rest of the first round

06.25.09 at 10:24 pm ET
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– Jrue Holiday was the highest-rated player left in the Green Room, but the UCLA product may have found a perfect fit with Philly, who took him at No. 17. Holiday isn’t ready to step in and start, but Andre Miller is an unrestricted free agent and Holliday may get a chance to be in the rotation and eventually take over if he develops.

– Speaking of great fits, Ty Lawson couldn’t have asked for a better spot then Denver where he will get a chance to learn from Chauncey Billups and run the second team with JR Smith.

– Austin Daye, son of ex-Celtic Darren Daye, could have been a top five pick if he had gone back to Gonzaga and developed his game. The Pistons did well to get him at 15.

DeJuan Blair will make a lot of teams look silly for passing on him. The kid was a dominant force at Pitt. Yes, he’s undersized from a height standpoint, but he’s incredibly strong and his production was off the charts. The Bulls went with two bigs–James Johnson and Taj Gibson and I’d be surprised if either wind up as good as Blair.

– Wayne Ellington at No. 28? Sorry, Jay Bilas. Too high. (By the way, is there any pick the ESPN panel doesn’t like?)

– Free Darko? Mr. Millic might have actually found a home in New York.

– Did Stu Scott really call Shaq the best passing big man in the league? Oy.

Read More: NBA Draft,

Blogging the Draft

06.25.09 at 7:43 pm ET
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– And we’re underway. The Clippers kicked off the 2009 NBA Draft by taking Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin, who is the only sure thing in the draft. Griffin should be an immediate impact player provided the Clips can trade away at least one of the following veteran big men: Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman or Zach Randolph.

– Jay Bilas just added “Beasted” to the lexicon, as in: DeJuan Blair beasted Hasheem Thabeet. Let’s hope he retires that one post-haste. Thabeet is the easy winner for 2009′s awesomest suit award, however. Blinding. So far the draft is unfolding in an orderly manner. This makes me nervous.

– OKC takes James Harden No. 3. Harden is the Blake Griffin of 2-guards in this draft in that he is very likely to be good and in a perfect world could be excellent. Now we begin the Ricky Rubio watch.

– So the Kings are sitting there with both Rubio (whom my girl friend said looked scruffy in a Zac Efron way. I have no idea what that means) and Tyreke Evans from Memphis by way of the Philly suburbs. What to do? The pick is in and it’s Evans. Stu Scott keeps insisting that Evans is a point guard. I’m not so sure about that, but he is a player.

– Ru-bio! Ru-bio! Boy he did NOT look happy to go to Minnesota. Does this mean the Bassy Telfair era is over? Did it ever begin? “I’m Ricky Rubio. I’m not like anybody else.” Quote of the draft so far.

– Ooooh shocker! There’s no way Minnesota is taking Jonny Flynn too. This has to be for somebody else, right? Right? Interestingly, Ric Bucher just said they’re keeping both players. This provides some protection in case Rubio’s buyout gets complicated.

– Booooooooo! Golden State takes Stephen Curry, which leads to a forced Stu Scott joke and lets the New York fans do what they do best on draft night. I know New York fans fixated on Curry, but I’m not so sure he’ll be much more than a 3-point specialist. So who do the Knicks take here? We’ve hit the nobody knows portion of the draft.

Jordan Hill is it. Safe pick. Boooooo!

– Here come the freshmen. The Raptors took DeMar DeRozen who could be really, really good or really, really meh. Bilas is trying to equate DeRozen with Amare Stoudemire because they both went No. 9, which is a huge reach. It’s a good fit for DeRozen though because the Raps have no one on the wing.

– Milwaukee takes Brandon Jennings, who I wrote about the other day. Right now Jennings is interesting because of his circumstances, i.e. skipping college and playing in Europe. Jeff Van Gundy just made a good point that Jennings is fortunate to play for Scott Skiles, who is not the easiest coach to play for but that’s probably what he needs right now. Wonder what this means for Ramon Sessions?

Read More: Add new tag, NBA Draft,

Vince Carter to Magic?

06.25.09 at 4:55 pm ET
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Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Nets are in what he calls “advanced discussions” to send Vince Carter to Orlando for Rafer Alston, Tony Battie and Courtney Lee.

The only real prize for the Nets would be Lee who impressed a lot of people with his performance in the playoffs. Battie and Alston are, of course, free agents after the 2010 season, while Carter has three years and over $50 million still coming to him (the last year is a team option).

For all of his many quirks, Carter would be an interesting pickup for the Magic, who would bid adieu to Hedo Turkoglu if this goes down. Carter can shoot and he can create his own shot–two qualities the Magic need from their wing players–but he’s not exactly a defensive stopper. Carter, who is from Orlando, has also been a consistent performer with New Jersey since he was traded by Toronto in a messy divorce.

Funny how none of the trades that have actually happened ever made it to the rumor stage (the Shaq deal being the exception).

Read More: Magic, Nets, Vince Carter,

Shaq to Cavs: Genius move or desperation?

06.25.09 at 1:32 pm ET
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The news that the Cavaliers are set to send Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic to Phoenix for Shaquille O’Neal is not shocking. The deal had been rumored near the trade deadline and it was clear almost from the moment he arrived in Phoenix that the Shaq-Steve Nash marriage just wasn’t going to work. The question now is: Will the Shaq and LeBron union be better, or just another shotgun wedding?

At first glance this seems like a no-brainer for the Cavs. Wallace and Pavlovic were infrequent contributors and Wallace seems to be nearing the end of his career. In O’Neal they get a true center who had something of a bounce-back season in 2008-09. (Phoenix’s motives are entirely clear. This was a straight salary dump and considering they didn’t make the playoffs with O’Neal, it was an obvious move).

But upon further reflection, this seems like a classic overreach on the part of the Cavs. By any objective measure Cleveland was the best team in the league last season. The Cavs blew through the first two rounds of the playoffs without breaking a sweat, and everyone was geared up for the Kobe-Lebron marketing wet dream. But then Cleveland ran into Orlando, which presented three problems.

First, that the Cavs had no one to match up with Rashard Lewis, which is hardly unique. Few teams have that ability, as the Celtics found out without Kevin Garnett. Second, that their interior defense was suspect against an athletic center like Dwight Howard. Again, not a unique circumstance. Finally, a seven-game series is unforgiving, and as Billy Beane once famously remarked, “My (stuff) doesn’t work in the playoffs.”

While it’s true that baseball is an imperfect comparison because of how much control pitching has over the outcome, Beane’s point is that it’s human nature to over-react to a short series and one shouldn’t lose their perspective. The Cavs lost to Orlando not only because of the matchups, but also because Mo Williams and Delonte West suffered through horrible shooting slumps, Howard uncharacteristically became a competent free-throw shooter, and Lewis made brilliant shot after brilliant shot. The Cavs also blew a huge lead in Game 1 and suffered an excruciating overtime loss in Game 4. Turn any of those factors around and we might not be having this conversation.

That’s a whole lot of what-ifs to consider making such a drastic move. Again, the Cavs didn’t really give up anything to get Shaq, but as the Suns found out, having the Big Fella on the roster means altering your strategy to accommodate his presence. Ironically, the better move for Cleveland might have been working out a deal for Shawn Marion–the man Phoenix traded to get O’Neal–using Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring contract, but we’ll never know for sure.

It’s true that LeBron James has never had the luxury of playing with a superstar center, but neither did Michael Jordan, and it’s not at all clear that O’Neal is still a superstar center or if he will be much of a help in defending the pick and roll. This is a go for broke move by Danny Ferry designed to win a championship with LeBron now, but we shall see if O’Neal’s presence is a benefit or a hindrance.

Read More: Cavs, Shaq, Suns,

Report: Suns agree to send Shaq to Cavs

06.25.09 at 12:39 am ET
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Yahoo! Sports reported the Cleveland Cavaliers have reached an agreement in principle to acquire Shaquille O’Neal from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Ben Wallace, Sasha Pavlovic, the 46th pick in Thursday’s draft, and cash. According to ESPN, the trade is awaiting final approval from the Cavs’ and Suns’ owners.

This move adds depth to the Cavaliers front court, which stands to lose Anderson Varejao to free agency this summer, and gives LeBron James protection in the paint. O’Neal has a career average of 25.4 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in 35 games against the Celtics.

Read More: Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Shaquille O'Neal,
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