Luka Doncic

And-Ones: Francis, Doncic, Bosh, G League, Officials

In a powerful piece for the The Players’ Tribune, former NBA player Steve Francis opens up about his life before stardom, growing up in the streets of Washington D.C., where his mother died when Francis was only 18 years old and his father was locked up in federal prison for a robbery conviction.

“Four years before I was on that plane with Hakeem telling me we’re going shopping for cashmere suits together — four years before I was about to go play against Gary Payton — I was on the corner of Maple Ave in Takoma Park, Maryland, selling drugs outside the Chinese joint.”

“My mother had passed away. My father was in a federal penitentiary. We had 18 people living in one apartment. I had dropped out of high school. No scholarships. No GED. No nothing.”

From his respect for legend Hakeem Olajuwon to his interactions with Sam Cassell and Payton, Francis opens up about life beyond basketball as well as the lessons he took away from his time in the NBA and the unlikely route he took to get there.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The Slovenian Basketball Federation, via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, is reporting that top 2018 NBA Draft prospect Luka Doncic is expected to miss two weeks of action with a thigh injury.
  • In another moving piece, Jackie MacMullan of ESPN writes that former All-Star and NBA champion Chris Bosh is still hoping for a return to the NBA and, perhaps more importantly, searching for the feeling he once had when he was playing the game he loved. “I would love,” Bosh says, “to experience that feeling one more time.”
  • The NBA still has some ground to cover in its efforts to make the G League a true “minor league” alternative to college basketball, opines Sean Deveney of Sporting News.
  • Despite ongoing efforts to mend the ever-widening gap between players and officials, at least one NBA player feels the tensions are still an issue, reports Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “Honestly the game is not about the players and the refs,” said Wizards forward Markieff Morris.“We’re playing for the fans, so we’re trying to clean up a whole lot. It’s at an all-time high right now.”
  • LeBron James‘ free agency destination list is reportedly down to four teams. Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today take a look at the best situations for James from a pure basketball perspective, concentrating on the four aforementioned teams – the Cavaliers, Lakers, Rockets, and Sixers – as well as two others – the Clippers and Spurs.

Mavericks Notes: Barnes, Smith Jr., Draft

The Mavericks haven’t lived up to expectations this season and the team’s highest-paid player is taking responsibility for the team’s woes.

“There’s no lying about it, it’s difficult for everybody. It comes down to taking personal responsibility,” Harrison Barnes said (via Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News).

“A lot of that falls on my shoulders. I have the ball a lot. I take the lion’s share of the shots. We’ve been close in a lot of late games. We’ve lost a lot of late games, so I take a lot of blame for that. Obviously, I have to be better, so we can be better.”

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Dennis Smith Jr. sees adapting to the Mavericks‘ system as his biggest challenge at this point in the season, Tim MacMahon of writes. “It’s a systematic team, so I’m trying to convert my game into buying into the system,” said Smith. “Just listen and watch the film. Really, whatever they say, that’s what I’ve got to do.”
  • The Mavericks currently own the second spot in our Reverse Standings, which means there’s a good chance that they end up with a top selection in the upcoming draft. Sefko (in a separate piece) believes the team could end up with the worst record in the league, noting that Dallas has lost games to many of the teams sitting in the league’s cellar.
  • ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla (via The Dallas Morning News) examines which players could go in the top-3 and speculates that the Mavs could be interested in Luka Doncic with their first-round pick.

And-Ones: Doncic, Gee, Mexico City, NBPA

A highlight of Real Madrid star Luka Doncic crossing over former Trail Blazers forward Victor Claver went viral on Thursday, and representatives from a number of NBA teams were on hand to see it in person. According to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link), the Sixers, Suns, Clippers, Magic, Mavericks, Pelicans, Wizards, and others all had officials in attendance.

Of course, given how highly regarded Doncic is, most of these teams are unlikely to have a shot at him in the 2018 NBA draft. In singling out some of the risers and fallers in the latest update to their 2018 big board, Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN (Insider link) explain why Doncic is at the top of their rankings.

According to Givony and Schmitz, who refer to Doncic as “the most productive European prospect of all time,” the 6’8″ guard could have a legit chance to win the EuroLeague’s MVP award this season. Some scouts worry about his athleticism, his defense, or his ability to create shots, so it’s not a lock that he’ll go No. 1 in June. But Doncic, at age 18, is already one of the best scorers and facilitators in Europe, in the eyes of Givony and Schmitz.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran NBA swingman Alonzo Gee is headed to the G League, according to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days, who tweets that the Heat‘s affiliate (the Sioux Falls Skyforce) has claimed Gee off waivers. The 30-year-old, who has appeared in regular season games for six NBA clubs, last played for the Nuggets in 2016/17.
  • After reporting last week that the NBA intends to establish a G League franchise in Mexico City, Marc Stein of The New York Times takes a deep dive into the issue and outlines why the league is more seriously considering the viability of eventually expanding to Mexico — not just with a G League team, but with an NBA club. The fact that Mexico City shares a time zone with so many current NBA clubs is a major plus, as commissioner Adam Silver observes.
  • The players’ union and former NBPA executive director Billy Hunter have reached a settlement in their legal battle, according to Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter links). After the NBPA fired Hunter in 2013, the longtime executive director sued the union for $10MM+, and the union counter-sued. Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed, but Hunter said in a statement that he’s happy about “moving forward after years of hard-fought litigation on both sides.”

And-Ones: NBA Draft, International Play, Oliver

The NBA Draft is seven months away but that doesn’t mean hoops writers can’t weigh in on what Sam Vecenie of The Athletic refers to as a year-round process. The scribe’s initial mock draft does a fine job weighing in on the biggest prospects on the draft radar while digging admirably deep for a comprehensive 60-pick projection.

Expected to fall in the No. 1 slot is the much-hyped Slovenian star, Luka Doncic. The Real Madrid swingman has shown a remarkable feel for the game at a young age and could make an impact for a team like the Bulls, who currently sit most likely to land that top spot come next June.

It’s after the first pick where Vecenie’s mock gets particularly interesting. The writer opts to put Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton in the No. 2 spot, ahead of the likes of Marvin Bagley III and Michael Porter Jr.

With analysis for each of the first 30 projections, the early look at the draft can’t be missed. Especially considering that he has college basketball’s biggest villain, Grayson Allen, falling directly into the laps of the world champion Warriors.

There’s more from around the league:

  • The number of fringe NBA players who opt to sign overseas in international leagues following NBA training camps has dropped precipitously. Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype writes that the trend can be attributed to a depressed European economy and the leaps and bounds that the G League has made over the course of the past 10 years.
  • The fifth edition of FIBA’s 3×3 World Cup will take place June 8-12, the governing body’s official site says. This year the competition will take place in the Philippines.
  • A Rockets training camp invitee has been picked up by the G League affiliate of the Bucks. Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days tweets that the Wisconsin Herd have claimed Cameron Oliver off waivers.

Central Notes: Portis, Doncic, James, Antetokounmpo

Bulls forward Bobby Portis issued a public apology today for the punch that injured teammate Nikola Mirotic, relays K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. The altercation left Mirotic with a concussion and two fractured facial bones that will sideline him for about a month. Portis received an eight-game suspension, cutting further into Chicago’s frontcourt depth.

Portis expressed regret for the punch and said he hopes Mirotic will heal quickly. He has tried calling and texting his teammate, but Mirotic hasn’t responded. There’s a possibility that Mirotic will take legal action, which could extend the story through the rest of the season. “Going forward, I want to make sure that me and Niko are cool and that we can be teammates again,” Portis said. “I’m pretty sure we can. We just have to repair the relationship.”

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • If Chicago winds up with the top pick in the draft, former Bulls center Pau Gasol knows who they should take, Johnson writes in a separate piece. Gasol, who was in town with the Spurs for a game tonight, offered a hearty endorsement of Slovenian star Luka Doncic, whom he faced in this year’s Eurobasket semifinals. “He’s a very, very talented player. It’s really rare how well this guy plays at his age [18]. He just continues to grow,” Gasol said. “It’s the right path. You see a guy who has done really well so far and is an exceptional young player with great size, great fundamentals, great composure, great poise to his game for his age — for any age for that matter.”
  • Friday’s matchup between the Bucks and Cavaliers was the latest opportunity for Giannis Antetokounmpo to show he’s on LeBron James‘ level, notes Vincent Goodwill of Bleacher Report. Although Antetokounmpo outscored James, 34-24, the Cavs claimed a decisive victory. The “Greek Freak” is posting MVP numbers through the first week of the season, and at age 22 he seems destined to someday become the best player in the league. “You understand the magnitude of it, and you still wanna claim your throne as well,” said Cleveland guard Dwyane Wade. “You don’t want them to push you off it. It was a great matchup watching those two guys do everything that’s needed for their team.”
  • J.R. Smith believes offseason moves have given the Cavaliers the league’s deepest team, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN.  “You can go around from 6 through 12 or whatever and mark it up against anybody else’s bench, and by far, we got the best bench,” said Smith, who became part of that reserve unit when the Cavs signed Wade. “And we have more experience too.”

And-Ones: Lottery, 2018 Draft, Doncic, Hood

The NBA’s Board of Governors will vote next week on whether or not to institute draft lottery reform starting in 2019, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has followed up on the proposal with a few more details. As Wojnarowski explains in his piece, the league’s efforts to rework the draft lottery system are a response to fan feedback on tanking — many fans have indicated that frequent tanking makes them less interested in the NBA.

Previous reports indicated that the top three lottery seeds will only have a 14% chance each at the No. 1 pick. According to Wojnarowski, the odds for the bottom lottery seeds (the teams that just miss the playoffs) will still be very long, so the NBA isn’t worried about teams tanking out of a playoff spot in the hopes of landing a top lottery pick.

Notably, teams in the seven to nine range in the lottery standings would benefit from the NBA’s reform proposal, with their chances of landing a top-three pick increasing by 8-9% apiece.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • With the 2018 NBA draft still nine months away, Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) has published a new mock draft, featuring Luka Doncic shooting up the No. 1 spot after a terrific EuroBasket performance. Michael Porter, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Ayton, and Mohamed Bamba round out the top five behind Doncic, who was recently profiled by ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe identifies six players who he’ll be keeping an eye on this season, while Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer singles out three players who may be in line for breakout years. One player who shows up on both lists? Jazz swingman Rodney Hood.
  • In an interesting piece for ESPN, Darren Rovell and Bobby Marks break down how much the league’s top earners will actually take home in 2017/18 after taxes, agent fees, and other deductions.
  • Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders examines how many teams currently at or above the luxury tax line will be genuine contenders in 2017/18.

And-Ones: Diaw, Silver, Contract Years, Doncic

Having signed to play for a team in France, Boris Diaw explains in a YouTube video (French, with English subtitles) why he made the decision to join Levallois Metropolitans for the 2017/18 season after 14 years in the NBA.

“This decision wasn’t about the money,” Diaw said. “It was about joining a club that could benefit from my presence, where I could help guide and teach the younger players. It was about bringing them my experience, my advice. It was also about staying fit. It provided me with an opportunity to play at a high level and stay physically fit while waiting for a potential offer from an NBA team that might need me during the season.”

As we wait to see if Diaw makes his way back to the NBA at some point in 2017/18, let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • While commissioner Adam Silver hoped NBA owners could reach on gentlemen’s agreement on policing the rest of healthy players, team owners – led by Robert Sarver of the Suns – encouraged Silver to institute concrete rules and potential punishments in order to curb the issue, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Wojnarowski’s piece examines Silver’s role in addressing the DNP-Rest problem, and looks at the commissioner’s push for lottery reform.
  • In a piece for HoopsHype, Bryan Kalbrosky identifies a number of players who may end up exceeding expectations in contract years. Of course, many of the players on Kalbrosky’s list – including Gary Harris, Rodney Hood, and Jusuf Nurkic – are eligible for extensions until opening night, so 2017/18 may not end up being a contract year for some of them.
  • Sasa Doncic, the father of young Real Madrid star Luka Doncic, called his son a unique talent who “plays in a magical way,” but acknowledged that he’d like to see him improve his shot a little (link via; translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Doncic is expected to be one of the first players to come off the board in the 2018 draft.

Knicks Notes: Anthony, Porzingis, Doncic, Value

Whether we’ll see it during the season remains uncertain, but Carmelo Anthony, James Harden and Chris Paul were all on the same team Monday. The three stars joined forces in a pickup game in New York, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who links to some video of the event. Other NBA players such as Russell Westbrook, Enes Kanter, JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried were also involved, but the focus was on Anthony, Harden and Paul.

Anthony has made no secret of his desire to join the two All-Star guards in Houston, reportedly telling Knicks management that he will only waive his no-trade cause if he can join the Rockets. New York’s front office tried to accommodate him, but talks have slowed recently. The Rockets have been unable to find an additional team to facilitate a deal to the Knicks’ liking, and it appears Anthony may not be traded before training camps open in two weeks.

There’s more basketball news from New York City:

  • ESPN’s Chris Herring examines whether Anthony should still be considered an elite player at age 33. He finished 64th in the network’s rankings of the top 100 NBA players that were released today, dropping 33 spots from a year ago. Anthony’s rating has been hurt by four straight non-playoff seasons, Herring explains, and the Knicks’ desire to trade him and build around Kristaps Porzingis.
  • Knicks officials were very interested in today’s EuroBasket matchup that pitted Porzingis’ Latvia team against 18-year-old Luka Doncic and Slovenia, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Knicks have a large group of scouts and other representatives at the game and have a strong interest in Doncic, a 6’7″ forward who is considered among the top prospects for the 2018 draft.
  • The Rockets sold for a record $2.2 billion last week, but the Knicks could easily top that if they ever hit the market, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. One analyst has estimated the team’s worth at $3.5 billion.
  • The Knicks are doing the right thing by rebuilding around young players, but there’s not much hope for the upcoming season, according to the staff at Basketball Insiders. In their season preview, all five writers forecast New York to finish fourth or fifth in the Atlantic Division.
  • Earlier today, we passed along details on Charles Oakley‘s civil suit against James Dolan and MSG.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Doncic, Lottery Reform, Brown

Fans shouldn’t put much stock in a report that Joel Embiid won’t play five-on-five until he gets a maximum contract extension and might hold out if that doesn’t happen, according to Derek Bodner and Mike O’Connor of The Athletic. The Philadelphia-based writers address that rumor and other Sixers topic in a podcast, saying it would be unprecedented for someone with so little NBA experience to hold out for a max deal.

The Sixers have until October 16, the day before the regular season opens, to negotiate an extension with Embiid, who would become a restricted free agent next summer if a deal can’t be reached. Bodner speculates that Embiid’s representatives may relax their demands as the deadline gets closer, settling for a lower dollar amount or a provision to tie guaranteed money to the number of games Embiid can play. Bodner adds that a holdout seems unlikely because Embiid has shown so much dedication to the franchise.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • Bodner and O’Connor also discussed Luka Doncic, an 18-year-old Slovenian who is currently starring in the EuroBasket tournament and may be a top three pick in next year’s draft. O’Connor sees him as the best fit for the Sixers based on his elite passing and outside shooting. The Sixers are expected to be a playoff contender this year, but will receive the Lakers’ pick if it falls at No. 1 or between sixth and 30th.
  • The Sixers and former GM Sam Hinkie shouldn’t get all the blame for the league’s proposal to reform the draft lottery, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. He notes that tanking has been an issue for years in the NBA, which tried similar reforms in 2014 but couldn’t get enough votes from owners to approve them. Even so, Pelton notes that a successful season from Philadelphia could reinforce the perception that tanking is an effective strategy.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown will conduct his annual Coach the Coaches Clinic on Tuesday, writes Kevin Callahan of This is the third year for the event, which is open to coaches from grade school up to college. More than 200 coaches attended last year and more are expected this year.

Draft Notes: Fultz, Ball, Hutchison, 2018

The Knicks currently have the sixth-best odds in the NBA draft lottery, which would give them a modest 6.3% chance to land the first overall pick. Despite those fairly long odds, potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz has considered the possibility of playing for New York, and was in attendance on Sunday at Madison Square Garden to take a first-hand look at the team and its triangle system.

As Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News details, Fultz said it would be “amazing” to be drafted by the Knicks, and didn’t express any reservations about the triangle.

I think I could play in any system,” Fultz said. “I’m very versatile, so it was cool to see that. It’s a lot of openings and stuff like that, so that’s why I came to see that in person.”

Let’s round up a few more draft-related items…

  • Former UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball is the biggest threat to Fultz for that No. 1 pick, but if he had to choose between being drafted first overall and being selected by the Lakers, Ball would opt for the Lakers, he recently told ESPN (video link). Ball also made the case for why clubs should draft him over Fultz, suggesting that he’s more capable of leading a team than the Washington point guard is.
  • Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison will enter his name in the 2017 NBA draft pool, but won’t hire an agent, according to an announcement from the school. “Our coaches have informed me that NBA teams are expressing interest, and I feel that I need to take advantage of the opportunity to be evaluated and find out where I truly stand,” Hutchison said in a statement. The junior shooting guard, who isn’t considered a top prospect by DraftExpress or ESPN, will have until May 24 to decide whether to withdraw his name and return to Boise State.
  • Much has been made of the strength of the 2017 draft class, but as Chad Ford of writes in an Insider-only piece, the 2018 class projects to have several elite prospects at the top too. However, it won’t be as deep as 2017’s class. “[The 2017] class was one of the most talented and deepest I’ve ever seen,” one NBA GM said. “[For 2018], I love three or four guys and that’s about it.” Michael Porter Jr. (Missouri), Luka Doncic (Real Madrid), and DeAndre Ayton (Arizona) are the three players at the top of Ford’s 2018 board.
  • Former Green Bay power forward Kerem Kanter, who was said to be testing the draft process before potentially graduating and transferring, has committed to Xavier, tweets Jeff Goodman of As such, the brother of Enes Kanter figures to postpone his pro career for another year.