Warriors

NBA Draft Lottery 2019: Pelicans win Zion Williamson draw for No. 1 pick

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AP

NBA Draft Lottery 2019: Pelicans win Zion Williamson draw for No. 1 pick

In all likelihood, Zion Williamson will begin his career in the Big Easy.

That's because the New Orleans Pelicans won Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery. The Duke superstar is expected by many to be the top pick in next month's draft, and the Pelicans will be able to call Williamson's name at the podium June 20 in Brooklyn. New Orleans had the seventh-best odds of the 14 teams in the lottery, with a six percent chance of winning. 

Here are the full results of Tuesday's draft lottery. 

1. New Orleans Pelicans
2. Memphis Grizzlies
3. New York Knicks
4. Los Angeles Lakers
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Atlanta Hawks
9. Washington Wizards
10. Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas Mavericks)
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
12. Charlotte Hornets
13. Miami Heat
14. Boston Celtics (via Kings)

The Kings would've picked No. 14 overall in this draft, but forfeited their pick after trading former first-round pick Nik Stauskas to the Philadelphia 76ers in order to pursue free agents in the summer of 2015. The 76ers then traded that pick to the Boston Celtics at the 2017 NBA Draft, moving back from the No. 1 spot while Philadelphia moved up to pick former University of Washington guard Markelle Fultz. Both the Kings and Sixers probably are kicking themselves for said trades, as either team would have been able to add a cost-controlled player to their roster ahead of pivotal summers.  

[RELATED: Watch Dell, Sonya flip coin to see who roots for Steph, Seth]

The Knicks won't be able to pick Williamson, and that's good news for the Warriors. Kevin Durant might or might not have his heart set on going to New York this summer -- depending upon who you ask -- but the Knicks' ability to surround Durant with talent just got more difficult. New York still has more salary-cap space than anyone else, but a trade package for disgruntled Pelicans star Anthony Davis won't be as enticing with Williamson already in New Orleans. The Knicks can still easily sign another star with Durant, but their path to NBA Finals contention won't be a straight line. 

The Lakers did not land Williamson, but they will be able to add a young cost-controlled player to their lineup to play with LeBron James. Depending on who they select at No. 4 -- NBC Sports California's James Ham predicts they'll select Jarrett Culver out of Texas Tech -- they might even have a more enticing trade package to land disgruntled Davis in a trade. Whether the Warriors lose Durant or not, a James-Davis combination would pose problems for the reigning champions.

The Kings, meanwhile, would then have yet one more team in a loaded Western Conference to fend off as they try to return to the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2006. The Lakers' pick is no guarantee that Davis is headed to Hollywood, but the possibility at least has to be considered. 

The worst news for the Warriors and Kings, though, is that they'll play Williamson at least three times a year for the foreseeable future. The Warriors' stranglehold on the Western Conference could loosen if Durant walks in free agency, while the Kings would have another up-and-coming team to contend with as they try to return to the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2006. 

Rockets send absurd James Harden tweet after Giannis wins 2019 NBA MVP

Rockets send absurd James Harden tweet after Giannis wins 2019 NBA MVP

On the day the Raptors held their championship parade, the Golden State Warriors took out a full-page ad in the Toronto Star congratulating the franchise on its first NBA title.

Classy gesture by a classy organization.

You know which franchise isn't classy? The Houston Rockets.

Shortly after Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was voted the 2019 NBA MVP on Monday night, the Rockets’ official account sent a tweet that was an attempt to congratulate The Greek Freak. Really it was just a thread trying to make the case that James Harden should have won the award.

The voting had been tabulated and the award had been handed out, yet the Rockets still we’re trying to argue for their guy. They couldn't even get a simple congratulatory tweet right.

This seems par for the course coming from a franchise that cried for a "fair chance" during the second-round playoff series with the Warriors and sent a memo to the NBA claiming the refs cost them the NBA title in 2018.

Oh, and let's not forget about owner Tilman Fertitta's epic rant after the Rockets' Game 6 loss to the Warriors, in which he said his team should have cut the Warriors’ throats in Game 5 when Kevin Durant suffered a strained right calf.

[RELATED: CP3 refutes trade request rumors]

Considering how much losing the Rockets have done over the last few years, it's surprising they haven't figured out how to lose with class.

This should have been Giannis' night. Instead, the Rockets again tried to make it about themselves.

Warriors draft pick Alen Smailagic eager to prove he's ready for NBA

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USATSI

Warriors draft pick Alen Smailagic eager to prove he's ready for NBA

OAKLAND -- The Warriors have a timetable for the development of Alen Smailagic that seems reasonable for the 18-year-old rookie from Serbia.

Give him two years, and maybe he’ll be ready.

But if you bring that timetable to Smailagic, he pounces and swats it into the fourth row.

“I don’t think so, that it’s going to take me two or three or four years,” he said Monday after a news conference introducing the team’s rookies. “I think I’m going to do good this year. I already told them that I don’t want to just wear the jersey. I really want to play.”

He gets points for confidence. Smailagic (pronounced Smile-a-GEECH) sees the Warriors trying to fill a roster with a plethora of openings and visualizes himself pulling on his jersey, No. 6, and jogging onto the floor at Chase Center next October.

The Warriors, after all, could use a skilled 6-foot-10, 225-pound forward/center that plays hard and has a high basketball IQ. Smailagic flashed those assets last season, while playing 818 minutes, spread out over 47 games, for the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz.

That that he accomplished that as the youngest player in G League history persuaded the NBA Warriors, fearing another team may come after their secret stash, to move up and use the first of two second-round picks (39th overall) to select him. Because Smailagic was 17 at the time of the 2018 NBA Draft, he was ineligible to be chosen. To play pro ball in America, the G League was his only option.

“They didn’t disrespect me because of my age,” Smailagic said of his experience in Santa Cruz. “They really wanted me to play and they reacted to me like I’m a professional.”

Though Smailagic was projected to go late in the second round, somewhere between pick Nos. 50 and 60, the Warriors heard enough from Santa Cruz coach Aaron Miles and general manager Kent Lacob that they didn’t want to risk losing him.

Indeed, there is a firm belief within the organization that he has considerable potential, perhaps enough to be a starter, if not a true impact player. That potential, however, is years away.

“He’s going to be a player in the league,” one Western Conference scout told NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday. “He can be really good if his body continues to mature. There is no question about his desire or his skill.

“But I think he’s a couple years away.”

If Smailagic can make the roster as a two-way player -- a distinct possibility -- that would be a triumph for someone much more uncertain about his command of English than his game, and whose previous experience was in the European junior leagues.

Smailagic, nicknamed Smiley for obvious reasons, says as he grew and gravitated toward basketball, he studied Warriors superstar Kevin Durant -- “He’s really tall and he can jump, he can dribble, he can shoot. He can do everything” -- and also Kings forward Nemanja Bjelica, another native of Serbia.

[RELATED: Warriors' Jordan Poole ready to capitalize on opportunity]

Asked if he cared to pattern himself after Durant or Bjelica or anyone else, Smailagic wasted no time replying.

“No. I didn’t have that kind of mindset, because I want to play how I play.”