76ers

NBA Notes: Kyrie Irving says trade request was about his potential

ap-celtics-kyrie-irving.jpg
AP Images

NBA Notes: Kyrie Irving says trade request was about his potential

BOSTON -- Kyrie Irving didn't try to hide his giddiness Friday when he was introduced as the newest addition of a Boston Celtics franchise he grew up watching.

"It's about to be crazy, G," Irving said in the ear of fellow new Celtics teammate Gordon Hayward as they sat on the dais two days after Boston's blockbuster trade with the Cavaliers was completed.

Boston sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and two draft picks to Cleveland for Irving. Hayward signed as a free agent in July.

Hayward and Irving smiled and bantered like old friends as they posed for pictures holding their new Celtics jerseys.

But not lost on Irving is that he's joining one of the league's most-storied teams because of his trade request from the team that drafted him and made him an NBA champion.

Irving acknowledged he wanted to leave the Cavaliers and his partnership the past three seasons with LeBron James. But he said the decision was about maximizing his own potential and not because of any specific issue with the Cavs or any individual (see full story).

Pelicans: Team gets Majok draft rights as part of trade
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Pelicans say they will receive the draft rights to overseas professional Ater Majok as part of a trade that is sending veteran small forward Quincy Pondexter, a second-round draft choice and cash to the Chicago Bulls.

The portion of the trade sending Pondexter and a second-round draft choice to Chicago was agreed upon Thursday and confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the move who spoke on condition of anonymity because it hadn't been announced.

Friday afternoon's announcement details that New Orleans is receiving in return.

The 6-foot-10 Majok is Sudanese by birth and grew up in Australia. The 30-year-old most recently played for Homenetmen Beirut of the Lebanese Basketball League.

For the Pelicans, trading Pondexter increases salary cap flexibility for a club that could use another small forward following Solomon Hill's offseason hamstring tear.

Rockets: Convicted killer of Paul’s grandfather parole-eligible
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A North Carolina man convicted in the death of NBA star Chris Paul's grandfather has become eligible for parole after a judge's ruling.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David Hall granted a motion Thursday to resentence 29-year-old Rayshawn Denard Banner to life with the possibility of parole. That means he will be eligible for parole in 12 years.

Prosecutors opposed the resentencing.

Banner was 16 when a jury convicted him in 2004 of first-degree murder in the November 2002 death of Paul's grandfather, 61-year-old Nathaniel Jones. Banner was sentenced to life without parole, as was his brother.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judges cannot give mandatory life sentences to juveniles. In 2016, the court decided that ruling would be applied retroactively.

Report: Sixers still eyeing trade up, but reluctant to include Robert Covington or Dario Saric

uspresswire-sixers-covington-saric.jpg
USA Today Images

Report: Sixers still eyeing trade up, but reluctant to include Robert Covington or Dario Saric

We’re counting down the hours now until the 2018 NBA draft, which means all of the chatter surrounding teams is heading into overdrive.

That includes the Sixers, who are reportedly still attempting to move up the draft board.

Per a report Tuesday by Sports Illustrated’s Jake Fischer, the Sixers are continuing to make calls about moving into the top five. However, “they have offered packages of picks, but have thus far rebuked including oft-mentioned Robert Covington and Dario Saric,” according to the report.

There has still been no mention of exactly which prospect the Sixers are interested in trading up for since former Cavaliers GM David Griffin made the claim during a radio interview last week (see story).

With six total selections in Thursday’s draft, including Nos. 10 and 26 in the first round, it makes sense that the Sixers would offer draft picks first in any potential trade.

However you feel about the streaky Covington, the team was high enough on the All-NBA defender last season to lock him into a long-term deal while Saric has proven to be a rock-solid contributor that keeps improving every day.

We’ll see if the Sixers ease off those demands as we get even closer to the draft.

NBA draft profile: Miami G Bruce Brown Jr.

usa_bruce_brown_jr_miami.png
USA Today Images

NBA draft profile: Miami G Bruce Brown Jr.

Bruce Brown Jr.

Position: Guard

Height: 6-5

Weight: 195

School: Miami

After his freshman year, Bruce Brown Jr. would have been a no-brainer first-round pick and most likely a lottery selection. Now, it would be a big surprise to see him go in the lottery, and even the first round is far from a sure thing.

There are two main reasons for Brown’s stock falling, the first of which is the regression in his play as a sophomore, especially his shooting. Brown’s three-point percentage dropped from 34.7 percent to 26.7 percent and his free-throw shooting went from 74.4 percent to 62.9 percent. The second reason is the left foot injury Brown suffered in late January, which caused him to miss the second half of the season.

There don’t appear to be any serious concerns about the injury for Brown, who worked out with the Sixers Wednesday. But questions about his shot and why he couldn’t build upon an impressive freshman year are certainly lingering.

Strengths
Brown is an outstanding athlete and competitor. He bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times at the combine, the most by any guard, and that's not at all surprising given the strength with which way he plays. He’s an intense, physical defender with a knack for turning defense into offense. For a guard, he’s an exceptional rebounder, posting 7.1 boards per contest in 2017-18. Offensively, Brown is a solid passer who’s comfortable in pick-and-rolls, which he ran a lot at Miami. He looks capable of being a secondary NBA ball-handler.

Weaknesses
His sophomore shooting dip is obviously a major worry. That 62.9 percent free throw percentage and the fact Brown made only 7 of 46 attempts from NBA three-point range last season are ominous signs. Like his teammate Lonnie Walker IV, Brown was inconsistent on offense. In 19 games last season, he shot 50 percent or better from the floor nine times and 25 percent or worse seven times. Brown has a variety of dribble moves, but his handle isn’t the most tight or fluid. His pull-up game, in terms of shot selection, rhythm and balance, has a lot of room for improvement.  Given how talented an athlete he is, Brown isn’t a great finisher (he shot 58.5 percent at the rim last season) and he doesn’t seem to like using his left hand.

NBA comparison
Brown has said he models his game after Russell Westbrook. He definitely has a little bit of Westbrook in him, especially with his intensity and explosiveness. He also seems to have some Westbrook-like confidence – he thinks he’s the best guard in the draft. And like Westbrook, Brown left college after his sophomore season without a great offensive résumé.

All that said, it’s not fair (or at all realistic) to compare Brown to a player who has averaged a triple-double in back-to-back seasons. Lance Stephenson is a much better comparison. Like Brown, Stephenson is a strong defender, excellent guard rebounder and subpar shooter. It’s important to note, however, that Brown won’t come with any of Stephenson’s notorious, ear-blowing antics.

How he’d fit with Sixers
On the defensive end, Brown will help any NBA team immediately. With his ability to guard one through three at a high level, he’ll have a role off the bench. There’s no doubt Brown’s defense and rebounding would make the Sixers better in two areas where they’re already strong. His athleticism would also be a boost for a second unit lacking in that department last season. 

Draft projection
Because of his injury history and disappointing sophomore campaign, Brown has a slightly wider range than most prospects. He’s expected to be taken in the late first or early second round. He could be an option at No. 26 for the Sixers, or he could be a potential steal at No. 38 or No. 39.  

More on the Sixers