Odds & Ends: Union, Lucas, Draft, Brown

With the offseason winding down, Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld identified who the real contenders will be in 2013/14.  The back-to-back champion Heat top the list with some of the other usual suspects, including the Spurs and Thunder.  The Bulls should be vaulted back into contention with the long-awaited return of Derrick Rose.  The Clippers are a bona fide contender after re-signing Chris Paul, landing Doc Rivers as coach, and adding J.J. Redick.  The Nets, who now boast the most expensive roster in the NBA by far, hope to be among the league's elite with first-time coach Jason Kidd at the helm.  And of course, the Rockets will be one of the most intriguing teams to keep an eye on after luring Dwight Howard away from L.A.  Here's more from around the Association..

  • NBPA executive committee member Jerry Stackhouse told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that LeBron James' comments about the union felt like a "kick in the stomach".  "I don't think he's had any dialogue with anybody since the All-Star break, but it is what it is," Stackhouse said. "To make that statement about where we are as a union right now, he was misinformed."
  • Point guard John Lucas III was a safe choice for the Jazz, in the sense that he won't threaten Trey Burke or expect to be the main one-guard for the long-term.  However, Utah believes they have more than a capable stop-gap and more than a positive locker room influence in the veteran, writes Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Chad Ford of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) runs down the 2014 NBA Draft and notes that its remarkable depth could make it the best ever.  Ford's latest big board has Andrew Wiggins at the top, followed by Kentucky's Julius Randle, Australian Dante Exum, Duke's Jabari Parker, and Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart.
  • Sean Deveney of the Sporting News gives his immediate and long-term outlook for the league's 13 new coaches.  The list starts with the latest hire, 76ers coach Brett Brown.
  • Jordan Hill's summer assignment is to become the stretch four that the Lakers need, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com.  Hill missed 53 games last year, mostly because of back and hip trouble.

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