Hoop – There It Is
With the start of the 2020-21 season less than a month away, the NBA was in hustle-mode as it tried to make up for lost time. On Wednesday of last week, the wait was finally over for many young hopefuls as the NBA draft took place, five months later than expected. Days after, free agent frenzy came storming through as players jumped around the league looking for new homes and riches.
It was a crazy week in which 22 of the 60 players drafted ended up being traded, Gordon Hayward rejected a one-year/$34 million player option with the Celtics, and Dwight Howard tweeted out that he was coming back to the Lakers before deleting the tweet and signing with Philadelphia.
And those were barely the highlights.
- ADJUSTING TO THE PRO GAME – The NBA draft was conducted virtually last week, allowing fans a glimpse into the modest lives of the young athletes before life-changing money comes their way. Some players came from the tough inner-city streets, others from war ridden third-world countries, and then there is Cole Anthony. Upon hearing the news of his selection, Anthony, the son of former New York Knick great Greg Anthony, joyfully tried to avoid getting tears on a $20,000 couch while family friend, director Spike Lee, jumped in the shot to congratulate him.
- IT’S ALL RELATIVE – Cole Anthony wasn’t the only draftee with NBA family connections. LaMelo Ball (#3 to Charlotte) has a brother that plays for the New Orleans Pelicans, Tre Jones (#41 to San Antonio) has a brother that plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, and Kenyon Martin Jr. (#52 to Sacramento) has a father that was selected with the first overall pick back in 2000. Later in the week, Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers decided to pass on signing his free agent son, Austin Rivers, and instead traded for Seth Curry, the brother of Steph Curry. Seth Curry happens to be married to Callie Rivers, the coach’s daughter.
- BETTER LATE THAN NEVER – The New York Knicks selected Obi Toppin with the eighth overall selection and talk about a late bloomer. Toppin claimed that he really didn’t start dunking a basketball until his senior year in high school, due to the fact that he stood only 6’2 as a high school junior. Colleges still weren’t impressed as Toppin received zero scholarship offers at the division I level. The moral of the story is that hard work, perseverance, and growing another seven inches to 6’9 can help anyone reach their dreams.
- EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION – The Washington Wizards selected Deni Avdija one pick after Toppin. The 6’10 playmaker from Israel credits the teen sitcom iCarly for teaching him the English language. With Avdija (Israel), Rui Hachimura (Japan), Isaac Bonga (Germany/Congo), and Davis Bertans (Latvia) all penciled in as starters, the Wizards continue to span the globe to search for talent. Too bad they weren’t spanning back in 2013 when they chose Otto Porter with the third overall pick, instead of Giannis Antekokounmpo (Greece) who ended up going fifteenth to Milwaukee.
- YOU BIG STUD – Anthony Edwards, the basketball player, went to the Minnesota Timberwolves with the top pick in this year’s NBA draft. It was a position of need for the T’wolves as Edwards adds speed to the lineup while showing a nice feel for the game. Anthony Edwards, the actor, played Goose, a Naval Flight Officer in the movie Top Gun along with fellow actor Tom Cruise. Their motto was, “I feel the need, the need for speed.” Rumors of being traded to Dallas, and thus an Anthony Edwards – Maverick reunion, were unsubstantiated.
- MISSING A BANK SHOT – The Los Angeles Lakers filled a giant void when they signed the reigning Sixth Man-of-the-Year, Montrezl Harrell to a two-year contract worth around $9 million-a-year. Harrell averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds, while shooting 58% from the field. But apparently, numbers aren’t that important to Harrell’s agent. More than a dozen free agents, including journeymen like Rodney Hood, Meyers Leonard, and Derrick Jones Jr. have already signed deals worth more than Harrell’s.
- HOUSTON – WE HAVE A PROBLEM – Coach Mike D’Antoni leaves the organization after not being offered a contract extension and takes a position with Brooklyn as an assistant. General Manager Daryl Morey tells Houston that he plans to step down in order to spend more time with his family, and then accepts the GM position in Philadelphia. James Harden turns down a two-year/$103 million contract extension and demands a trade fueled by the political views of owner Tilman Fertitta. And Russell Westbrook asks to be traded as well, stating he was uneasy about the team’s accountability and culture. – That’s an understatement.
Images via houstonchronical.com, republicworld.com, clutchpoints.com, daytondailynews.com, obsev.com, screenrant.com