Mike Fratello

And-Ones: LaMelo, MVP Votes, Warriors, Fratello

LaMelo Ball doesn’t mind a little campaigning in his effort to be the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, writes Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. The buzz around Ball continues to grow as he strings together impressive performances in Australia’s National Basketball League. Over the weekend, he became the first NBL player since 2005 to post back-to-back triple doubles.

“Most definitely,” Ball responded when asked whether he thinks he should be the first pick. “I believe in myself and I’ve worked hard to get here. The other guys at the top of the draft, James [Wiseman] and Anthony [Edwards], are very talented too. But just in the way I believe in myself, I think I’m the top pick.”

Several scouts were in New Zealand recently to watch Ball go up against another projected lottery pick in R.J. Hampton. Many came away impressed, with one scout saying, “The fact that he’s putting up numbers like this in a league full of former NBA players is forcing every team to look at him as a potential No. 1 pick.” 

Ball addressed rumors that he might end his season early to protect his health for the draft. He insists he’s “committed to the whole season,” even though his team is off to a 3-9 start.

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

  • Roughly a quarter of the way into the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo is in good position to repeat as MVP, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. In a poll of 101 media members, Antetokounmpo received 48 first-place votes and was the only player listed on all the ballots. LeBron James (29 first-place votes), Luka Doncic (14) and James Harden (nine) were next in line.
  • Declining ratings continue to be a concern, and the NBA has started taking action to address the problem. One solution is fewer national TV games for the Warriors, who have the NBA’s worst record after five years as its marquee team. Golden State’s next two scheduled ESPN games have been replaced, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic, who speculates that more are likely to be removed.
  • Former NBA coach and long-time broadcaster Mike Fratello will be back on the sidelines soon, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. Fratello will serve as head coach for USA Basketball in February’s qualifying games for the FIBA AmeriCup.
  • Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the China controversy today, saying a “culture clash” was almost inevitable, tweets Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic. NBA games haven’t returned to China Central Television, the main broadcaster in Mainland China, but they are back on Tencent, which Silver called a “thawing” in tensions (Twitter link).
  • Sources tell Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that March 20 has been set for the debut of the NBA’s Basketball Africa League (Twitter link). The first game will take place in Dakar, Senegal.
  • The NBA will consider allowing corporate investors to hold passive minority stakes in more than one team, tweets Alex M. Silverman of MorningConsult. The measure will be part of the agenda at April’s Board of Governors meeting.

Karl, Fratello Interested In Cavs Front Office Job

3:40pm: Amico cautions that just because the Cavs don’t have designs on reaching out to Karl now doesn’t mean they won’t later, Amico clarifies (on Twitter).

3:18pm: The Cavs have no plans to talk to Karl about any position right now, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (Twitter link).

11:27am: George Karl would love to be considered for the top job in Cleveland’s front office, and Mike Fratello would have interest, too, according to Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Plain Dealer. The job they appear to have in mind would be team president, though owner Dan Gilbert hasn’t indicated whether he wants to create that job to oversee the GM position, which David Griffin currently occupies on an interim basis.

A report in February indicated that the Cavs had interest in Karl, though it wasn’t entirely clear whether they thought of him as a coach or an executive. Karl, last year’s Coach of the Year with the Nuggets, apparently isn’t looking to return to the bench for a rebuilding team, and the Cavs, in the lottery for the fourth straight year, probably fit that description. Still, it appears Karl is eager to get back in the game.

“Being a leader, running a team and organizing a group with the common goal of winning a championship would be the ultimate challenge in my career,” Karl wrote in an email to Boyer.

Karl, like Fratello, is a former Cavs coach, and Fratello still lives in Cleveland, as Boyer points out. He was last on an NBA bench in the 2006/07 season with Memphis, and neither Fratello nor Karl has ever run an NBA front office.

Griffin’s future with the team is unclear, though he made comments this week indicating that he’d prefer to remain with the Cavs rather than jump to the Pistons or Knicks, teams to which he’s been linked. He seemed to give the impression that his job is safe, though he said he didn’t know when he and Gilbert would talk about it.