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#pounditFriday, June 24, 2022


Video: Jabari Smith had tough reaction to being passed in draft

Jabari Smith reacts

Jabari Smith entered Thursday’s NBA Draft as the betting favorite to go No. 1 overall to the Orlando Magic. Instead, he wound up going third.

The former Auburn forward was pretty disappointed upon realizing that he wouldn’t be going in the top two picks. Take a look at his reaction after the Oklahoma City Thunder selected Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 pick.

The Magic took Paolo Banchero with the first pick, stunning many people, including the former Duke star. Then, even with Smith still available, Oklahoma City took Holmgren. The Thunder’s choice of Holmgren was not too surprising given all the reports about the situation.

That left Smith to go No. 3 overall to Houston.

Based on his comments and attitude, Smith may be entering the NBA with something to prove. Perhaps slipping to No. 3 will serve as a motivational tool for the Rockets rookie.

Report reveals how unlikely Orlando Magic’s pick of Paolo Banchero was

Paolo Banchero holds a ball

Nov 12, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) looks to pass during the second half against the Army Black Knights at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Orlando Magic pulled a bait-and-switch at the top of the NBA Draft, and they apparently showed a serious level of commitment to the ruse.

Shams Charania of The Athetic reports that the Magic did not have a formal workout or meeting with top prospect Paolo Banchero during the predraft process (though he did informally meet with them at the Draft Combine). Nevertheless, the Magic went on to pick Banchero No. 1 overall.

The former Duke star Banchero indeed sounded pretty stunned during his post-announcement interview with ESPN that he went with the top pick.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said Banchero. “I can’t believe what just happened, honestly. I never would’ve thought that this would happen. I wanted to be in the NBA, but I didn’t know I would be here. I really, honestly didn’t. This is unbelievable, and I can’t speak right now.”

Even earlier in the day on Thursday, it was being reported that the Magic were leaning towards a different player with the top overall pick. But an enormous overnight betting odds shift in favor of Banchero going No. 1 proved in hindsight to be a sign that something was up.

The 19-year-old Banchero now joins an ascendant Orlando team where he should get a chance to start right away next to fellow ex-Duke star Wendell Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. At least Banchero had the foresight of showing up to the NBA Draft dressed like a No. 1 overall pick.

LaMelo Ball roasts Chet Holmgren over draft outfit

Chet Holmgren pointing

Oct 31, 2021; Spokane, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs center Chet Holmgren (34) points to the guy he was covering during a game against the Eastern Oregon Mountaineers in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Bulldogs won 115-62. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Chet Holmgren’s draft day look definitely ain’t it for one current NBA star.

The former Gonzaga star showed up to Thursday’s NBA Draft wearing an all-black suit. Holmgren explained his outfit in a video posted to the NBA’s official Twitter page. Namely, Holmgren touched on the chain that he was wearing — a pair of dice set to three and four because Holmgren wore No. 34 in college and No. 7 for Team USA (three plus four equaling seven).

Charlotte Hornets star LaMelo Ball was not feeling Holmgren’s fit though and roasted Holmgren in a tweet.

“he actin up,” wrote Ball. “i kno tht ain’t a 7 on his neck.”

The seven-footer Holmgren ended up going No. 2 overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder, meaning Ball will only have to play him a couple times a year.

Though it is unclear if Ball was referring to this, you actually do not want to roll a seven if you are shooting craps because it means the end of your turn. When it comes to the sense of fashion though, you can be the judge of if Ball has a better one than Holmgren does.

Jabari Smith uses NBA Draft suit to take shot at SEC rival

Jabari Smith in his Auburn uniform

Nov 25, 2021; Nassau, BHS; Auburn Tigers guard Wendell Green Jr. (1) and forward Jabari Smith (10) celebrate the win against the Loyola Ramblers in the 2021 Battle 4 Atlantis at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Jabari Smith is expected to be the No. 1 draft pick Thursday, and he gave a hint about the attitude he’ll be bringing to the NBA with the suit he wore.

Smith arrived for the draft in a custom suit, with a number of meaningful images depicted on the inside of the jacket. Smith went to great pains to point out one of the pictures, which shows him, in his words, “beating up on Kentucky.”

Smith only spent one season at Auburn, but it’s pretty clear that the school made an impression on him. He fully bought into the rivalry with Kentucky as well. By the looks of it, the picture was strategically chosen to make sure the scoreboard was in the background. Smith scored 14 points in that game, an 80-71 Auburn victory.

By the looks of it, Smith might have had some of his college coach’s attitude rub off on him. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

Report: Clippers shopping surprising player

Tyronn Lue looking on

Nov 19, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; LA Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue looks on against New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Jerry West’s ruthlessness may be on full display once again this summer.

Sean Deveney of reported this week that the LA Clippers are shopping sharpshooter Luke Kennard on the trade market. Deveney adds that the Clippers will look to move Kennard in July if they cannot trade him by the NBA Draft.

That is a bit of a startling development considering the season that Kennard just had for the Clippers. He shot a scalding 44.9 percent from three (which led the league) for a dependable 11.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game. Kennard is also just 25 years old and is owed a modest $28.5 million over the next two seasons (with a club option for 2024-25).

But most of Kennard’s production did come while the Clippers’ star trio of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Norman Powell were all injured. With the Clippers expected to be at full health next year, Kennard might only be able to scrap out 10 to 12 minutes per game off the bench. Complementary pieces like Terance Mann, Robert Covington, and Nicolas Batum (all of whom are better defenders) could shut Kennard out of closing lineups as well.

If the Clippers want to sell high on Kennard, there may be no better time for them to do so. The former Duke star might not be the only bucket-getter on the roster in danger of being traded either.

Paolo Banchero has funny reason for wearing purple to NBA Draft

Paolo Banchero holds a ball

Nov 12, 2021; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) looks to pass during the second half against the Army Black Knights at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

None of Paolo Banchero’s likely destinations feature purple prominently in their color scheme, but that did not stop the potential top-three pick from wearing the color to the NBA Draft on Thursday.

Banchero arrived at the draft wearing an eye-catching purple suit, and the choice was apparently intentional. The Seattle native admitted that his parents had wanted him to go to Washington, where they had both attended college. Banchero instead wound up at Duke, and his decision to wear Huskies colors on draft night was “like a I’m sorry.”

Banchero’s parents got a pretty good compromise out of this. Sure, Banchero will be remembered as a Duke player, but all his draft night photos will feature him in Washington colors.

Based on reports, we already know where Banchero is set to wind up Thursday. The purple won’t fit anymore, but he’s getting the most out of it on draft night.

D’Angelo Russell likely to be traded by Timberwolves?

D'Angelo Russell warming up

Mar 1, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell (0) warms up before the start of the third quarter during a game against the Dallas Mavericks at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

One of the big trade pieces that could be on the move this offseason is Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell. A new report suggests that trade is both increasingly likely and potentially imminent.

Timberwolves beat writer Dane Moore reported Thursday that the chances of a Russell trade appear increasingly likely. A move could happen as soon as Thursday during the NBA Draft, and if not then, the first week of July.

The Timberwolves will be motivated to move Russell in large part due to his contract. He is entering the final year of his deal and is owed $31.4 million, a hefty price for a player that Minnesota might see as more of a luxury option at this point. If the team is committed to building around Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, there is a lot of incentive to ship Russell out for a player who better complements the current core.

Russell has consistently popped up in trade rumors since the end of the season. The 26-year-old looks to be a safe bet to be moved, perhaps quite quickly.

Nets owner Joe Tsai ‘likes’ curious tweet amid Kyrie Irving drama

Joe Tsai looking on

May 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; Taiwanese businessman Joe Tsai (left) looks on during the second half of the preseason WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the China National Team at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets are providing yet another “oof” moment in a week that has already been chock-full of them.

Nets owner Joe Tsai “liked” a curious post to Twitter on Thursday. The tweet that Tsai “liked” read, “Just drove by [Nets GM] Sean Marks exit on my way to work. I didn’t see white smoke. But I know that man is cooking. IN SEAN MARKS WE TRUST. Team and culture > any one player. Excited to get back to Nets basketball.”

The “like” is still visible on Tsai’s page, and you can see it for yourself here.

The timing of it all is interesting to say the least. The Nets are in some major turmoil right now thanks to star guard Kyrie Irving, who appears to be in the process of pursuing a trade. The uncertainty over Irving’s situation is now looking like it could cost the team Kevin Durant as well.

While the tweet that Tsai “liked” was also showing support for Marks and the Nets, the “Team and culture > any one player” part of it read like a clear shot at Irving, especially amid this week’s drama. Some social media users also pointed out that the account it came from has a history of bashing Irving and even mentions Irving in a negative light in its bio.

We know that Tsai has reportedly been fed up with Irving for a while. Now it looks like Tsai is beginning to show his disgust in some very public ways too.

Talk of Kyrie Irving going to Lakers heats up with latest rumors

Kyrie Irving wearing his Nets uniform

Feb 1, 2020; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second half against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving is facing an uncertain future with the Brooklyn Nets, and the Los Angeles Lakers are viewed as one of the teams that could land him if he leaves. Some are skeptical that he would want to play with LeBron James again, but it sounds like the star point guard is very open to it.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on “First Take” Thursday that Irving has already been calling LeBron to discuss the possibility of reuniting.

“He’s calling LeBron already. He’s calling LeBron,” Smith said, via Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post. “Remember that dude that he left, that he didn’t want to be a sidekick or little brother to? Remember that? … I happen to know he’s calling LeBron these days. Isn’t it beautiful how the world turns? There was once a soap opera called ‘As the World Turns.’ It’s ‘As Kyrie Turns.’ That’s the soap opera. We’re gonna hold onto that one all summer long. This is where he’s at.”

Irving has until June 29 to decide if he will exercise his $36.9 million player option for next season. The Lakers don’t have the salary cap space to sign him, but a sign-and-trade is a possibility. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said Thursday that he would not rule out Irving taking the midlevel exception, which is around $6 million, to join forces with LeBron in L.A.

Irving and James won an NBA title together with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving then decided he did not like being the second option behind LeBron. Though, Irving later came to appreciate how difficult it is to lead a team and apologized to LeBron.

The idea of James and Irving teaming up again seems farfetched, but the Lakers are on Irving’s reported list of teams he would want to play for if he leaves Brooklyn.

Suns could part ways with another key starter?

Monty Williams on the sideline

Jan 10, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams against the Orlando Magic at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Deandre Ayton may want to save an extra seat on the flight out of Phoenix.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported this week that the Suns have called rival teams to gauge the trade value of forward Jae Crowder.

Crowder, who will turn 32 next month, is under contract for one more year at $10.2 million. He has served as an anchor for Phoenix the last couple of seasons as their primary starting 4 during their 2021 Finals run and their 64-win effort this past season. But Crowder did shoot less than 40 percent from the field in 2021-22 and is behind Mikal Bridges as the Suns’ most important defensive forward.

Phoenix is already expected to lose Ayton this summer, perhaps to this Eastern Conference team. Now it turns out that Crowder might not be far behind either, especially with the Suns reportedly interested in trading for this notable shot-maker.