Antonio Martin Guirado: Goran Dragic thinks his national teammate Luka Doncic will jump to the MVP next season
First things first when it comes to the NBA draft prospects of USC’s players. Forward Chimezie Metu would probably be taken in the first round if he decided to forgo his senior season and enter the draft, one NBA Western Conference scout told The Times on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss college players. “To me, it’s kind of simple with him,” the scout said of the 6-foot-11 standout who is averaging a team-leading 15.9 points and 7.4 rebounds a game. “He’s got the physical tools, but he’s also added skill every year to become more well-rounded.”
Of the 28 players selected for the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, 11 entered the draft as one-and-done prospects. “We’re really not equipped to develop them at the NBA level,” one Eastern Conference scout told SN. “We would have to invest much more into the G League staff to do the same work. We take for granted what they get taught in college.”
The Pacers were active at the trade deadline, seeking to leverage their cap room as part of three-way trades, willing to take on a bad salary in exchange for draft picks. Nothing panned out, but they will continue to explore using their cap room in trades at the draft and during this summer. If that does not pan out, the Pacers will be in position to compete for free agents to bolster Oladipo in 2019. The hope is that young players like Sabonis, Myles Turner (who has had a disappointing year) and T.J. Leaf develop quickly and give the team the makings of a promising young roster around Oladipo. That would enable the Pacers to sell themselves — and their cap space — two summers from now.
When Altman visited with James in the Cavaliers’ practice facility a week ago, he let him know that there were still talks alive with the LA Clippers on a Jordan deal. What’s more, there was significant progress: Altman had ownership approval to send the Clippers Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert and the Cavs’ 2018 first-round pick for Jordan. The Clippers were willing to accept the trade, but on one significant condition. Clippers general manager Michael Winger explained to Altman that LA didn’t want another shooting guard. He hoped to find a third team that would take Shumpert and his $21 million with draft compensation, and have the Clippers get a center back. Altman and Winger agreed to make more calls to try to find a third team to make the deal work. Winger wondered whether Altman would let him talk to Shumpert’s agent about a possible contract buyout, but Altman wanted trade talks to be further along before granting that permission.