The Latest from the NBA draft at Barclays Center in New York (All times local):
History will judge. For those who can’t wait, here’s the winners and losers from Thursday night’s NBA draft.
Team: Minnesota Timberwolves. No, seriously. Last year they fleeced Cleveland to get Andrew Wiggins in a trade for Kevin Love. By taking Karl-Anthony Towns with the top overall pick, they added an equally potent inside threat.
Player: D’Angelo Russell. He walks into sunshine and a franchise — that unlike the 76ers and Knicks — can rebuild in a hurry. And he Should get a lot of love from the glitterati while making make it easier to watch Kobe Bryant ride off into the sunset.
Fashion: Kelly Oubre’s shoes.
Team: Boston Celtics. They had a plenty of picks and a host of small guards already on hand. Naturally, they took another, 6-2 Terry Rozier of Louisville. They better not be done dealing.
Player: Kristaps Porzingis. Somewhere, the ghosts of other European busts — Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Darko Milicic, and Jan Vesely — are groaning.
Fashion: Kelly Oubre’s shoes.
Satnam Singh is the first player born in India to be selected in the NBA draft. He’s headed to Texas after the Dallas Mavericks took him with the 52nd pick.
The 7-foot-2 Singh, who wears a size-22 basketball sneaker, has spent the last five seasons playing at IMG Academy in Florida. He came to the U.S. from India when he was 14.
Singh says, “Now in India I think everyone’s so happy.”
The Mavericks say Singh will sign a D-League contract and develop with the Texas Legends.
Singh wouldn’t be the first Indian to play in the NBA if he makes it to the league. Sacramento’s Sim Bhullar, who was born in Canada and played at New Mexico State, was the first player of Indian descent to play in an NBA game.
Andrew Harrison, half of Kentucky’s starting backcourt the last two seasons and identical twin brother of Aaron — the other half — got to go first.
Andrew was the fifth Wildcat taken in Thursday night’s NBA draft, by Phoenix with the 44th pick overall. After another teammate, Dakari Johnson, went 48th to the Thunder, his brother was the only one of the seven Wildcats who entered the draft still waiting for a call — and the clock is ticking.
The reaction was predictable.
Some of the same people who wanted the Harrisons to enter the draft last year turned around and argued they should return to Kentucky for next year.
There’s no pleasing some people. And their replacements are already in coach John Calipari’s machine.
The highlight of Round 2 so far is the multi-colored blazer the appropriately named Rakeem Christmas of Syracuse wore.
The first senior taken in the NBA draft this year will wind up in Cleveland. But just keeping track of who’s headed where is wearing some folks out, including the coach of the NBA champion Warriors, as this tweet from one of the team’s beat writers, Diamond Leung, noted:
“Steve Kerr to KNBR: “I don’t pretend to know any of these guys. It’s not my job.”
Adam Silver is that rare commissioner who’s actually tall enough (6-foot-3) to look some of his league’s future employees in the eye.
He handled tributes to the late Harvey Pollock, the NBA’s innovative, long-time statistician, and player-turned-general manager-turned league executive Rod Thorn with elan.
Then he turned over Round 2 announcing duties to Mark Tatum, his deputy — no doubt to the chagrin of Twitter users everywhere.
Everything from the commissioner’s demeanor to the size and shape of his ears was debated while Silver was trending.
“Just me or could Adam Silver and this deputy commissioner guy pull off a killer villain duo in a Bond movie?”
Sum up Round 1 of the NBA draft this way:
Four Kentucky Wildcats, three internationals (if you count Emmanuel Mudiay) and the same number of trades, two Dukies, one mid-major (Cameron Payne of Murray State) and one very sharp pair of shoes (Kelly Oubre’s spike-covered white slip-ons).
The biggest gamble was Knicks boss Phil Jackson’s roll of the dice on 7-1 Latvian Kristaps Porzingas. Asked whether he agreed with the assessment by some that Porzingas would be the player picked this night that everyone would remember 10 years down the road, Jackson replied, “Well, we want to believe that.”
Sounds like something a man with a long-term deal in his pocket might say.
And now on to Round 2.
Not all the fashionistas at Barclays Center for the NBA draft are of the very tall variety.
Moziah Bridges, 13, provided some style commentary on ESPN. The teen makes and sells bow ties, appearing on “Shark Tank” last year in search of investors. He now runs a $200,000 company and was especially pleased that No. 6 pick Willie Cauley-Stein donned one of his creations for the draft.
The teen names each design and may just go with Cauley-Stein’s nickname “Trill” for the blue-and-white polka dot creation debuted on draft day.
— Leanne Italie in New York
Gotta be the shoes!
Kansas freshman Kelly Oubre showed off some original, spike-covered, white slip-ons after he was taken with the 15th overall pick in the draft.
When he was interviewed during ESPN’s coverage, Oubre declared: “Whoever gets me is getting a jewel.”
Yep, nothing subtle about this 19-year-old small forward.
Oubre was selected by the Atlanta Hawks, who are shipping him to the Washington Wizards in exchange for the 19th pick, plus two future second-round choices.
— Howard Fendrich in Washington
Frank Kaminsky, the Hornets’ top pick in the NBA draft, may have some ‘splainin’ to do.
In May, 2014, while announcing he’d return to Wisconsin for his senior season, Kaminsky cited attendance at Charlotte games — they were still the “Bobcats” at the time — as an example why he was in no rush to reach the NBA.
Kaminsky wrote in a blog, “I know the NBA has their crazy fans and all, but if you look at all of their games, there are games when teams like the Bobcats get hardly any fans, and it looks flat out boring.”
He deleted the item a day later.
Make nice, Frank, make nice.
— Steve Reed in Charlotte, North Carolina
Kentucky coach John Calipari is one of the busiest men at the NBA draft, and he says it’s all about the kids.
When Devin Booker went to Phoenix at No. 13, it marked four Wildcats taken in the lottery during a single draft. It tied the record set by North Carolina 10 years ago.
And it also gave Calipari another line in his recruiting pitch to next year’s class of McDonald’s All-Americans.
Just before hugging Booker, Calipari stood still long enough to be interviewed.
The Kentucky says, “Results matter and we want to win. But not at the expense of these kids.”
Or at least not until every college graduate makes what NBA first-round picks do.
There may be more hugging for Calipari with three more Wildcats still waiting to hear their names called.
Philadelphia president Sam Hinkie is known for pulling off draft night surprises. Trading Jahlil Okafor won’t be one of them.
The Sixers picked Okafor, the talented Duke center, with the third overall pick of the draft.
Okafor, 6-foot-11, 270-pounds, joins a frontcourt already stocked with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. Embiid was the No. 3 pick last year and missed the entire season with a broken right foot.
A Sixers official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team was not publicly discussing their plans, told The Associated Press the team expects to keep Okafor and not use him as draft night trade bait.
Embiid quickly welcomed Okafor on Twitter, saying: “Aye my boy is in philly with me #AfricanConnection.”
Embiid is from Cameroon, while Okafor was born in Chicago with a grandfather who immigrated to the United States from Nigeria.
— Dan Gelston in Philadelphia
An estimated 10,000 people filed into Target Center to watch the long-suffering Timberwolves make the first overall pick in the NBA draft, and they didn’t go home disappointed.
When Commissioner Adam Silver announced Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns, everyone was on their feet. With reigning rookie of the year Andrew Wiggins, Ricky Rubio returning healthy and slam dunk champ Zach LaVine already on the roster, Towns’ arrival has finally given these worn out fans some reason for hope.
Wolves president and coach Flip Saunders addressed the crowd after making the pick, and they put Towns on speakerphone to speak to the masses.
Saunders asked Towns if he had anything to say to those in attendance. Towns replied quickly “We’re going to the playoffs!”
They haven’t been there in 11 years. And next year may be asking a lot. But for the first time in a long, long time, it doesn’t sound completely impossible.
— Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis
If you’re counting, Frank Kaminsky is the eighth player that owner Michael Jordan has a hand in selecting. To say it’s an undistinguished group is an understatement.
Kaminsky will be wearing the team’s new uniforms, the fourth they’ve unveiled since changing their name back to the Hornets last season.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, one of MJ’s better selections, did the unveiling honors this time around during a draft party at the team’s downtown arena. The mostly black uniform has the words “Buzz City” written across the front with the numbers in teal.
At some point, Jordan will run out of crayons. Whether he improves as a talent assessor remains to be seen.
__ Steve Reed in Charlotte, North Carolina
Phil Jackson’s philosophy as a coach was to under promise and over deliver. As the Knicks mastermind, he’s taken the opposite tack.
Getting picked No. 4 pick in the NBA draft already made Kristaps Porzingis, a 7-1 Latvian by way of Spain’s pro league, a marked man. The locals let him know about that.
“BOO!” the crowd at the Barclay’s howled. “BOO!”
He might be the next Dirk Nowitzki. But he might be Frederic Weis, too.
Can’t say he wasn’t warned.
Porzingis says that’s how it is in New York, “and I’m ready for it.”
Well, that didn’t take long.
The Lakers pulled off the first surprise, albeit a somewhat mild one, and went small with D’Angelo Russell out of Ohio State, arguably the most dynamic player available. He’s not short on wattage, either. Good thing, since he’ll be cast as the understudy to LA’s current star, 37-year-old Kobe Bryant.
That opened the door for Philadelphia to grab the draft’s other consensus talented big man, Jahlil Okafor out of Duke. Never mind that the 76ers already have two big men in need of minutes — Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel — and a third, Dario Saric, stashed in Europe until 2016.
Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie has a reputation for being unconventional. But this time, he took the best player available.
Red, or some shade of it, appears to be the “in” color this year.
So much so that the green room at the NBA draft is starting to look like a Vegas card table. There was Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell in Buckeye red … er scarlet. Jahlil Okafor and Kristaps Porzingis went with maroon.
The other dominant look around the Barclays Center is blue — that of the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. Knicks fans filled the plaza outside the arena a couple of hours before the start. The draft used to be held inside Madison Square Garden, and at times Thursday it looked like it still was.
New Magic coach Scott Skiles is already working the media, with an assist from his wife, Kim.
When members of the media arrived for the draft night they found a tray with homemade cookies from the Skiles.
The cookies were wrapped with basketball print ribbon and two tags: “From the Kitchen of Kim Skiles” and “A Gift From Kim and Scott.”
Well played, coach. Well played.
The Magic are slated to pick fifth and 51st tonight and has lots of needs to fill. The coach has already taken care of buttering up the reporters.
— Kyle Hightower in Orlando, Florida
Litke contributed from Chicago; AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report in New York.
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