We can at least thank the lockout for this much: It pushed the season back and now that the Finals are over – even if they ended much quicker than any of us expected – the NBA Draft is literally right around the corner. And the first round promises are flowing. We already know about Dion Waiters. There are reports Royce White has one from the Celtics. Now, the agent for West Virginia’s Kevin Jones says he has a promise among the first 30 selections, that someone has committed to him in the first round. We can’t say we expected that. Jones was a solid college player, even if his numbers this year made him out to be a beast (20.1 points, 11.1 rebounds) but perhaps he turns into another Taj Gibson. No matter what happens, the draft has changed a lot since our last mock draft early last week … We kinda already know this, but the Bulls are shopping Luol Deng to get into the lottery. Golden State, Sacramento and Toronto are obvious targets, as they’re all on the market for a veteran small forward. But the Warriors are also really interested in Dion Waiters at No. 7, and see him as one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. The Warriors also like Terrence Ross, who may play the same spot as Klay Thompson, but sources say that won’t matter. Golden State will take the best player available if they keep the pick. When so many awful teams converge at the beginning of the draft, no one should be thinking about fit anyways. You ALWAYS take the best player unless there’s some drastic reason not to (star player is at the same spot… you have more than 1.5 head cases, etc.). We can’t wait to see what Washington does. After their big trade last week, everything is lined up for them to take Florida’s Bradley Beal at No. 3. But what if they think Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is just flat-out a better prospect? You were the second-worst team last year. Take him and worry about the fit later … Even as the rest of the Heat continue to party harder than DeShawn Stevenson, Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen combined (Seriously, some of these stories are wild: Gloria James partied with the team until 4 a.m. We’re not touching that… and Pat Riley didn’t even SHOW UP to one party until 3 a.m.), the end is near for a few of them. Sure Micky Arison can probably keep up this pace for the next two months; Arison, Shane Battier and their championship partying ways go way back to Duke. Yep, back when the Blue Devils won the 2001 NCAA Championship, Battier was an annoying player and Arison’s son was a manager on the team. They got after it in Minneapolis (the site of the Final Four). Naturally, they had to find themselves amidst the South Beach wreckage, wrap up each other around the shoulders and say “we have to do this more often.” That’s a duo we’d love to hit the clubs with, just to have our minds blown… But at some point it has to end, and for Mike Miller, it’ll probably end sooner than you think. The Game 5 hero moves like he just came out of six rounds with Chuck Norris, and he says he plans to meet with doctors soon to determine if his injured back needs surgery that includes a lengthy rehabilitation process. If it’s necessary – by going off the eye test, Mike Miller has a long road ahead of him – he might just decide to hang them up. As Jeff Van Gundy pointed out during Game 5, “Yeah, but his back looks great when he’s shooting.” True enough. If only it was that easy … Keep reading to hear which OKC player might be gone …
As for the losers of the Finals, GM Sam Presti and coach Scott Brooks plan to sit down soon and discuss a contract extension. Everyone in OKC seems to love the job Brooks does, even if he’s often scolded for playing Kendrick Perkins too much. While being out-coached on the biggest stage by a guy who looked like a 17-year-old with his snapback on backwards during the trophy presentation is bad, Brooks has held his own and done a good enough job that the Thunder have arrived faster than even we expected. ESPN’s Marc Stein reports the team is willing to pay him more than $4 million annually for two or three years, but Brooks wants a guaranteed deal for a full four years. OKC is such a family-oriented atmosphere that don’t you HAVE to bring him back? On the other hand, we’ve seen teams come close before switching to a higher profile coach to get that last push … Like Mike Miller, offseason surgery seems likely for Kendrick Perkins, who played most of the postseason with a partially torn groin. Perkins is in a little bit of a bind this summer. He has the injury to worry about, as well as the growing statistical evidence that OKC is much better without him, even after he complained about his playing time at points throughout the Finals. Seriously, he might be the only dude alive who doesn’t know the Thunder are Patrick Bateman-like when they go small. Then there’s this: OKC really has to think about using the amnesty clause on him if they want to keep their core together (KD-Westbrook-Harden-Ibaka). In order to stay beneath the tax line in the next year or two – and the Thunder’s brass has maintained they definitely want to – they might have to drop Perk … And in honor of another scoring title, Nike is releasing another special edition of the KDIV this July. These joins are just ridiculously dope … We’re out like Gloria James’ curfew.
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