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Adrian Wojnarowski on M&M: NBA Owners ‘want rollbacks on current contracts’ 07.01.11 at 2:52 pm ET
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Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday to discuss the NBA lockout. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Wojnarowski got right to business, making it clear that both sides of the lockout — the owners and the NBA Players Association — are prepared to dig in for the long haul.

“I think there’s a real chance that they lose a whole season with this lockout,” Wojnarowski said. “I don’t claim to be an expert on the NFL labor dispute. I’m not sure I’m an expert on the NBA’s yet, but I don’t think they’re looking to change the structure of things in the NFL. In the NBA, they’re changing the structure, and really the whole system. That’s not going to come easily. I think the comparison is what happened in hockey, where they tried to put the hard cap, and they lost the full season in ’04-’05. I think that’s where we may be headed with this stoppage. There’s no doubt in my mind they will miss games, and they’ll be where they were in ’98, where it’s either going to be a shortened 50-game regular season, or they cancel the whole thing.”

On the timing of the lockout:

“I think the NBA’s in a different place than the NHL was then,” Wojnarowski said. “The NBA is at the height of interest and popularity.”

He added: “The game’s never been more popular, watched certainly globally, but here the interest from what happened last year in free agency with LeBron, whether people love him or hate him they all watched. Boston has been good, your marquee markets have been very good again. Boston, L.A., Chicago, New York is having a bit of a revival. I think it’s a dangerous time for the league. I think the players are going to have to give. I think they know they’re going to have to give back, but I think right now, to me, there are so many organizations in the NBA, so many bad owners, poorly run franchises who want to blame competitive balance on the fact that they don’t do their jobs very well.  There are enough small-market examples — San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Detroit for a very long stretch without a superstar player, who have shown you can do it. While I understand there’s got to be some tightening up here, there’s no question, I think a lot of this the owners, they’re looking to have the players dig them out of a hole that in many instances, they’ve created for themselves.”

Concerning how current contracts will be handled:

“They want rollbacks on the current contracts. They want rollbacks. This is my feeling on contracts in the NBA. I think that star players, the elite players, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, even like a Blake Griffin who comes in the league and is selling out arenas on the road in his first year. What Clippers games have ever sold out anywhere? This year I live in Jersey and I was going to take my son to a Nets-Clippers game because he wanted to see Blake Griffin and it was sold out. And I said, ‘How could a Clippers-Nets game be sold out? Wow, Blake Griffin.’ Those guys, generally are to me underpaid for what they do for television, for the interest.

“And I think a lot of probably the middle class might be overpaid. A lot of those guys are probably more interchangeable than they want to believe they are. They don’t put people in stands. What will happen is while their salaries are going to go down, the superstar player is probably going to be very underpaid compared to what they’re worth for these franchises. But, what they do want is rollbacks on the current deals. What the owners proposed right now, they’re looking at 25 percent, 20 percent rollbacks on an existing deal you already have now. That’s going to be hard to swallow for guys, not just on your next deal, but on your current deal. You’re going to lose money on a deal you’ve already agreed to.”

The owners have announced that 22 of 30 teams lost money last season. Both Wojnarowski and the players association aren’t sold on that number.

“I’m not an economist and I don’t have access to their books, but I know on the players’ side, they feel like a lot of these numbers get cooked,” Wojnarowski said.

Added Wonjnarowski: “I know the union doesn’t believe there are 22 teams losing money, not with the way teams have spent. You know you look at free agency, I was talking to a GM last night and he said he was watching actually the lockout press conference and he started going through every deal done last summer and said, ‘I counted about $220 million in bad contracts done in our league last summer.’ So all the owners are crying poverty. They’re still spending money. And it certainly leads you to believe, and not necessarily wisely, I don’t believe there are 22 teams losing money in the NBA. Now, are there a few? Yeah. And if you’re going to look at places with arenas empty, Minnesota or New Jersey, but half the places they’ve not run their franchises very well either. It’s not just because they can’t spend like the Celtics or Lakers or other teams. It’s because they haven’t done a good job drafting, making deals, hiring coaches and yet you never hear them take accountability for that because like I said, we’ve seen the Spurs do it, we’ve seen the Thunder do it, we’ve seen a bunch of small-market teams be able to do it.”

Former Celtic Nenad Krstic recently signed a two-year deal to play in Europe for CSKA Moscow. Wojnarowski expects others to follow.

“I think you’re going to see that,” he said. “The problem right now is that a few years ago overseas was a big threat and then the euro crashed. There aren’t as many teams in Europe as there were a few years ago. There was a couple years there where, you know, Josh Childress had a $6 million a year deal in Europe. Those deals aren’t there anymore for those kind of guys. If a front line NBA guy wants to go over there, he can get a good contract. The middle-of-the-road, the middle-class guys who were going over there and really getting paid well, getting paid more than they could get with say the veterans minimum here or even like a $1.8, $2.2 million deal, they could get a little better over there. That money isn’t really there anymore. So you will see more guys go over there. Now for Krstic it was easy because he’s from Europe and he has a comfort level there. But I think you’ll see a few more guys sign up like that, fringe guys, but the guys who are under contract and aren’t free agents right now, they’re going to have to ride it out.”

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Celtics take Purdue guard E’Twaun Moore in second round 06.24.11 at 12:45 am ET
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The Celtics had three players targeted in the first round, and they got one of them in Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson. The Celtics also had the No. 55 selection, but the talent pool at that point was very shallow. With a strong 2012 draft class, there was speculation that the Celtics would try to trade the pick for one next year.

The Celtics drafted Purdue guard E'Twaun Moore with the No. 55 pick. (AP)

Instead, they chose Purdue shooting guard E’Twaun Moore. Moore, who like Johnson played four collegiate seasons under coach Matt Painter, averaged 18 points per game on 44.7 percent shooting his senior year with the Boilermakers. Moore is much more effective driving to the rim than spotting up on the perimeter. His outside stroke is something he’ll need to improve on if he wants to hang around in the association.

Celtics president Danny Ainge did not intentionally draft two players from the same school.

“No connection,” Ainge said when asked if the picks were related. “Just independently they were the best guys on the board for us when we were drafting. I didn’t even realize that we were picking two kids from Purdue until Doc was on the phone with JaJuan, and he had just heard that we drafted E’Twaun, and I think that made him more excited than the fact that he was drafted. That was just pure coincidence.”

Listed at 6-foot-4, 191 pounds, Moore will have a hard time matching up against some of the bigger shooting guards in the NBA. His skill set is geared to that of a shooting guard, so a transition to the point does not seem likely.

Ainge explained that Moore can make up for his lack of size with his length and a scoring ability evidenced by his 38-point performance in a win over No. 2 Ohio State. Moore drained seven 3-pointers in the game.

“He’s played strictly a 2, but he can handle the ball some,” Ainge said. “He’s a scorer. He’s only 6-3 but he’s extremely long, has long arms, terrific scorer.”

Ainge said both players will have a chance to compete for playing time next season.

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2011 NBA draft recap 06.23.11 at 8:11 pm ET
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The Cavaliers surprised a lot of people taking Texas forward Tristan Thompson with the No. 4 pick. (AP)

Below is a list of picks in the 2011 NBA draft. This list will be updated throughout the night as each pick is made.

No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers selected Duke PG Kyrie Irving with the first pick of the draft. Irving played just 11 games in his only season with the Blue Devils.

No. 2 Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves selected Arizona SF/PF Derrick Williams with the second pick of the draft. Williams will join Spain’s Ricky Rubio as rookies next year in Minnesota.

No. 3 Utah Jazz: The Jazz selected Turkish PF/C Enes Kanter with the third pick of the draft. Kanter was suspended by the NCAA his only collegiate season at Kentucky.

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers selected Texas PF Tristan Thompson with the fourth pick of the draft. Bucks scouting director Billy McKinney compared him to “a pit bull who hasn’t been fed in about a year and you’ve got pork chops in your pocket.”

No. 5 Toronto Raptors: The Raptors selected Lithuanian C Jonas Valanciunas with the fifth pick of the draft. Valanciunas led the EuroLeague in rebounds per minute last season and has a 7-6 wingspan.

No. 6 Washington Wizards: The Wizards selected Czech SF/PF Jan Vesely with the sixth pick of the draft. Vesely has drawn comparison’s to Utah’s Andrei Kirilenko and is known as the “European Blake Griffin.

No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats (via Sacramento Kings): The Bobcats selected C Bismack Biyombo of the Congo with the seventh pick of the draft. Though many are skeptical of his age, there’s no denying his physical capabilities (6-9, 243, 7-7 wingspan, less than 5 percent body fat).

No. 8 Detroit Pistons: The Pistons selected Kentucky PG Brandon Knight with the eight pick of the draft. Knight is one of the better all-around point guards in the draft class.

No. 9 Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats selected Connecticut PG Kemba Walker with the ninth pick of the draft. Walker led UConn to an NCAA championship and an undefeated record in single-elimination tournament games.

No. 10 Sacramento Kings (via Milwaukee Bucks): The Kings selected Brigham Young PG Jimmer Fredette with the 10th pick of the draft. Fredette is the first senior taken and one of the best scorers in NCAA history.

No. 11 Golden State Warriors: The Warriors selected Washington State SG Klay Thompson with the 11th pick of the draft. Thompson becomes the highest-ever WSU pick. His father, Mychal Thompson, was the No. 1 pick in the 1978 draft. Read the rest of this entry »

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NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Cleveland State G Norris Cole 06.23.11 at 8:25 am ET
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Cleveland State's Norris Cole is a jack of all trades who is looking to break into the first round. (AP)

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Norris Cole

Position: Guard

School: Cleveland State

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 174 pounds

Stats: 21.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.3 apg, 2.2 spg

What he brings: There isn’t much Cole can’t do. His thin build combined with the fact that he played at a mid-major school allowed him to fly under the radar. However, as the draft approaches, his stock has been steadily rising, and for good reason. Cole is one of the most complete point guards in the draft.

He can score from anywhere on the court, including the charity stripe. Cole averaged 7.4 free throws per game his senior year and converted 85.3 percent of them. Defensively, he is a superb 1-on-1 player. Cole rarely gets beat of the dribble, and he managed to tally over two steals per game his senior year. He is an adequate passer and a willing rebounder.

Some mocks now have Cole going as high as the first round. However, with Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley under contract in Boston, seeing Cole in green and white isn’t very likely.

Where the Celtics could get him: First or second round

What they’re saying: “Given the right opportunity, he can compete with anybody at that level. He’s really out to prove to people that can happen. … If Norris went to Kentucky or Duke, he’d be a lottery pick. He’s that good.”  — Former NBA guard Sedric Toney

Notes: Cole was named 2010-11 Horizon League Player of the Year. He has been rocking a flat top haircut since senior year and joked that Chris Mullin told him it was “the best flat top in the country.”

Video:

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NBA mock draft: Will Celtics trade out of first round? 06.22.11 at 6:02 pm ET
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Arizona forward Derrick Williams almost certainly will be taken No. 2 overall, but by which team? (AP)

The 2010-11 NBA season is over. Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks denied LeBron James a ring as Dallas ousted Miami in six games. Now everyone (excluding DeShawn Stevenson) appears focused on the draft.

Brazilian prospect Lucas Nogueira withdrew from the draft. Nogueira was slated to be picked by Portland at No. 21 in our first mock. No other high-profile players have pulled out. The pre-draft workouts have helped teams get a closer look at the prospects, but very few players who are expected to go in the draft lottery (first 14 picks) have played against other lottery-caliber players.

The best example of this has been the elite point guards. Brandon Knight, Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette have been scheduling and rescheduling workouts for various teams as their agents don’t want any of them to hurt their stock. For the same reason, sure-fire No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving doesn’t even need to work out for teams.

The Blazers appear eager to trade up in the first round (possibly for Walker), while the Celtics are believed to be looking to trade out of the first round. All that and more in our NBA mock draft 2.0.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving, Duke, Fr., PG, 6-2, 180

Trade rumors and speculations have been swirling about every pick except this one. The Cavaliers reportedly are interested in acquiring the No. 2 overall pick to draft Derrick Williams. Regardless, expect Cleveland to take Irving here and build its future around him.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

Derrick Williams, Arizona, So., SF/PF, 6-9, 241

The question that should be asked regarding the No. 2 overall pick is not who will be picked with it, but rather who will take Williams, the top forward in the class. Minnesota already has an overloaded frontcourt and general manager David Kahn is no stranger to draft-day deals. However, assistant general manager Tony Rozone indicated the Wolves may keep the pick. This may be due in part to Ricky Rubio’s decision to come over from Spain.

Read the rest of this entry »

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NBA Draft’s potential Celtics: Latvian F Davis Bertans 06.22.11 at 4:20 pm ET
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Latvia's Davis Bertans has one of the sweetest strokes in this draft class.

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

Davis Bertans

Position: Forward

School: Latvia (International)

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 210 pounds

Stats: N/A

What he brings: At age 18, Bertans is one of the younger players in the draft. He brings a smooth jumper with NBA range and the ability to square up and fire very quickly. Bertans can shoot off the dribble, but he excels in catch-and-shoot situations.

He  isn’t overly athletic but can finish strong at the rim. An above-average passer, Bertans works hard at both ends of the court However, he needs to add muscle and improve his foot speed to play against the stronger, faster players in the NBA.

Nike International director Rich Shoebrooks called Bertans the best shooter to play on the Hoop Summit International squad since Dirk Nowitzki.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round

What they’re saying: “My best part of the game is shooting 3-pointers. I can shoot when I’m open, I can shoot in defender’s face, I can shoot even in transition. I run fast breaks, and I can also pass well.” Bertans, when asked to describe his game

Notes: Bertans won a bronze medal at the 2010 U-18 European Championships. Bertans indicated that he would pull out of the draft without a first-round promise.

Video:

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NBA Draft’s potential Celtics: Purdue F JaJuan Johnson 06.22.11 at 11:12 am ET
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Purdue's JaJuan Johnson has a 7-2 wingspan on his 6-10 frame. (AP)

WEEI.com continues to provide daily insight and analysis on the 2011 NBA draft. This is one in a series of profiles of players who might be available for the Celtics to select with one of their two picks (25th and 55th overall).

JaJuan Johnson

Position: Forward

School: Purdue

Height: 6-foot-10

Weight: 220 pounds

Stats: 20.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.3 bpg

What he brings: One of the better athletes in this year’s draft class, Johnson is an impressive leaper who excels in the open court. He is an above-the-rim player and scores a lot of his points on dunks.

Already tall for 6-10, Johnson brings a 7-2 wingspan and excellent shot-blocking ability. He also appears to have put on 5-10 pounds of muscle since finishing his senior year. Johnson has an adequate jumper and can knock down open shots. He will have to put in extra work to extend his range to the NBA 3-point line.

He needs to improve on his post game. Though he has developed a right-handed hook, Johnson is much more threatening with the ball driving towards the rim than in the low post.

Where the Celtics could get him: First round

What they’re saying: “He’s come a long way. He started out as just a skinny kid that could jump. Now he can score. He can rebound. He can block shots. He’s improved every part of his game.”  Illinois center Mike Tisdale

Notes: Johnson was a 2011 consensus first team All-American, the Big Ten Player of the Year and the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He also won the Pete Newell Big Man Award.

Video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPzSTWi_jd4&feature=fvsr

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