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NBA Sunday: Time to Share the Blame

Winning is no longer enough, and if a head coach doesn’t work out, management should share the blame, writes Moke Hamilton.

Moke Hamilton

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For as long as we can remember, head coaches and job security have become a combination seldom seen in today’s NBA. The likes of Terry Porter and Maurice Cheeks stand in rare company as coaches who were fired after less than one season on the job—Porter with the Phoenix Suns in 2009 and Cheeks with the Detroit Pistons in 2014. Since then, more head coaches have been hired and fired than one would ever want to count. For perspective, though, consider the following: once next season begins, at least 25 NBA teams will have changed coaches since 2013.

Said differently, across the entire league, only five head coaches have managed to last three or more seasons with their current team. The complete list is as follows: Gregg Popovich (1996), Erik Spoelstra (2008), Rick Carlisle (2008), Dwane Casey (2011) and Terry Stotts (2012).

The contemporary NBA team changes it head coach the way NBA players change their sneakers, and now it has reached the ridiculous point to where seemingly winning doesn’t even protect a head coach anymore. Tom Thibodeau was the the most recent example of an excellent coach whose productive output couldn’t save him, and this past week, we saw Frank Vogel and Dave Joerger join the ranks of the unemployed after Vogel’s contract wasn’t extended by the Indiana Pacers and Joerger was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies.

It seems as though NBA front offices have recently forgotten the most important concept as it relates to assembling a winner: it starts at the top.

* * * * * *

The term “creature of habit” would be an appropriate synonym for “NBA player,” because most of these guys are machines. If you had an opportunity to hang out and converse with your favorite NBA players, you would probably be surprised to hear that Player A has a pair of lucky socks that he wears for every home game or that Player B eats the same meal prior to each game. Some players shoot the same number of jump shots from a particular place on the floor prior to a game while others are remarkably consistent with dietary habits and exercise regimens.

Why then, has the modern NBA front office seemingly lost all patience with the idea of marrying itself to a head coach? Once upon a time in the NBA, the head coach was considered to be the personality of the team in the same regard that Mike Krzyzewski is Duke.

Once upon a time, the general manager of an NBA team was married to his head coach, for better or worse. Yet today, we see coaches removed quicker than Stephen Curry can pull up in transition. What isn’t lost on me is that the teams that tend to perform better are those that have been together for a while. In more recent years, we have seen the likes of Steve Kerr and David Blatt (although he himself has since been removed) come in and immediately have success. What has been lost, apparently, on NBA front offices, though, is that these gentleman are the exception and not the rule. And specifically as it relates to Thibodeau, Vogel and Joerger, the three seemed to have been sabotaged by the very front offices under whom they served. What each of the three have in common is that while their rosters got weaker, they got stronger. As they saw talent walk out through the door, they refused to accept anything less than 100 percent from those that were within earshot.

Still, remarkably, they each found themselves unemployed due to issues not seemingly related to what they were able to help produce on the court.

Expectations are a helluva thing and while it should be pointed out that Shaquille O’Neal’s Lakers needed Phil Jackson to help them get over the top the same way Chauncey Billups’ Pistons needed Larry Brown to do the same for them, a team without a consistent voice and one that is supported by the front office will always come up short. In today’s NBA, the head coach needs to be treated more like a necessary part of the team than an inconvenient spare tire that is tossed aside as soon as he hits a pothole. Not every team has a superstar, but each team should build itself and its offensive system around the top player on its roster. The head coach should be the one to determine who that individual is and it is he who should help the general manager build a team and a system that, in the long run, has an opportunity to be successful.

When Jason Kidd was hired by the Brooklyn Nets, the ink on his retirement papers was still wet. I remember having a conversation with a former NBA head coach who was not coaching at the time and he told me that he wasn’t a bit surprised by the move. According to him, Kidd’s hiring was merely an indicator of the diminution of the perceived value of a head coach. In hindsight, asking Kidd to coach a team featuring Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Joe Johnson seemed doomed from the beginning. According to this former head coach, the prevailing sentiment and ideology amongst front offices back then was that anyone could coach. It seems that the sentiment remains.

* * * * * *

If we didn’t all make mistakes, then pencils wouldn’t have erasers. Front offices make mistakes with free agent signings, with draftees and certainly with head coaching hires. But we have officially reached the point of ridiculousness somewhere over the course of the past year. Apparently, now, not even winning can keep a head coach in a job, and when that begins to become the norm in the NBA, that’s scary. In professional sports, winning should be the bottom line, but we are now reaching the point where politics, minute restrictions and insecurities are leading to capable leaders being shown the door.

If you give a head coach a contract, you should honor it. Back in 2012, Avery Johnson was fired by the Brooklyn after turning in a 14-14 record over the course of the season’s first 28 games. Johnson took the Brooklyn job having compiled a 264-194 record, which yields of win percentage of .735. He endured some long seasons in New Jersey as the team bided its time prior to the move to Brooklyn, and in the end, after being given rosters devoid of talent and being forced to try to make things work with the trades his front office was pulling off, Johnson got a whole 28 games from his bosses. How kind of them.

Double standards are nothing new in the NBA, but here’s an idea: what if a general manager were only allowed to hire two head coaches over the course of his entire tenure? Because the truth of the matter is that if you scour the league, you will find many more inept general managers holding on to jobs for much longer than they should than you will find a head coach who doesn’t know what he’s doing. And if you, as a general manager, change head coaches as often as you change your underwear, it means that you lack one of the requirements necessary for being a good general manager—choosing a good head coach.

Coaching is one of the most underrated, under-appreciated professions in all of pro sports. You have to not only endure the same travel and scheduling limitations as the players, you spend your off time planning for them and trying to find ways to get them over the top. It’s tough business, and what’s most unfortunate about it is that the trend that we are now seeing is one that says that even success in this role isn’t enough to keep a man in a job.

Let’s hope that moving forward, we will begin seeing the same sort of standard applied to the likes of general managers and team presidents, because mind you, even David Kahn of the Minnesota Timberwolves lasted four years on the job.

And if you think something is wrong with that—you’re right.

Moke Hamilton is a Deputy Editor and Columnist for Basketball Insiders.

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NBA Announces 2018 NBA Draft Early Entry Candidates

The NBA announced the 2018 NBA Draft Early Entry list, including 181 players from colleges and post-graduate institutions and 55 international players.

Basketball Insiders

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NEW YORK, April 24, 2018 – The National Basketball Association announced today that 236 players — 181 players from colleges and post-graduate institutions and 55 international players — have filed as early entry candidates for the 2018 NBA Draft presented by State Farm.

Players wishing to enter the 2018 NBA Draft were required to submit a letter to the NBA to be received no later than Sunday, April 22. Players who have applied for early entry have the right to withdraw their names from consideration for the Draft by notifying the NBA of their decision in writing no later than 5 p.m. ET on Monday, June 11. Under NCAA rules, in order to retain college basketball eligibility, underclassmen who have entered the 2018 Draft must withdraw by Wednesday, May 30.

Following is the list of players from colleges and post-graduate institutions who have applied for early entry into the 2018 NBA Draft, which will be held Thursday, June 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

EARLY ENTRY CANDIDATES FOR 2018 NBA DRAFT

Player  School  Height  Status
Aaron Holiday  UCLA  6-1  Junior
Aaron Menzies  Seattle  7-3  Junior
Abdul Lewis  NJIT  6-10  Junior
Adjin Penava  Marshall  6-9  Junior
Admiral Schofield  Tennessee  6-5  Junior
Admon Gilder  Texas A&M  6-4  Junior
Ahmaad Rorie  Montana  6-1  Junior
Allonzo Trier  Arizona  6-5  Junior
Andrien White  Charlotte  6-3  Junior
Anfernee Simons  IMG Academy  6-4  Post-Graduate
Austin Wiley  Auburn  6-11  Freshman
Barry Brown Jr.  Kansas State  6-3  Junior
Billy Preston  Kansas  6-10  Freshman
Brandon McCoy  UNLV  7-1  Freshman
Brandon Sampson  LSU  6-5  Junior
Brian Bowen II  South Carolina  6-7  Freshman
Bruce Brown Jr.  Miami  6-5  Sophomore
Bruno Fernando  Maryland  6-10  Freshman
Bryant Crawford  Wake Forest  6-3  Junior
Bryce Brown  Auburn  6-3  Junior
C.J. Burks  Marshall  6-4  Junior
Caleb Martin  Nevada  6-7  Junior
Carsen Edwards  Purdue  6-1  Sophomore
Charles Matthews  Michigan  6-6  Sophomore
Chimezie Metu  USC  6-11  Junior
Chris Clemons  Campbell  5-9  Junior
Chris Silva  South Carolina  6-9  Junior
Christian Keeling  Charleston Southern  6-4  Sophomore
Christian Mekowulu  Tennessee State  6-9  Junior
Christian Vital  Connecticut  6-2  Sophomore
Cody Martin  Nevada  6-7  Junior
Cody Riley  UCLA  6-10  Freshman
Collin Sexton  Alabama  6-3  Freshman
Corey Sanders  Rutgers  6-2  Junior
Deandre Ayton  Arizona  7-1  Freshman
DeAngelo Isby  Utah State  6-5  Junior
Demajeo Wiggins  Bowling Green  6-10  Junior
Deng Adel  Louisville  6-7  Junior
Deshon Taylor  Fresno State  6-2  Junior
Devonte Klines  Montana State  6-0  Junior
Dewan Huell  Miami  6-11  Sophomore
Dextor Foster  ASA College (FL)  6-5  Junior
De’Anthony Melton  USC  6-4  Freshman
Dikembe Dixson  UIC  6-7  Sophomore
DJ Hogg  Texas A&M  6-9  Junior
Dominic Magee  Southern Mississippi  6-4  Junior
Donte DiVincenzo  Villanova  6-5  Sophomore
Doral Moore  Wake Forest  7-1  Junior
Drew Eubanks  Oregon State  6-10  Junior
Elijah Bryant  BYU  6-5  Junior
Eric Davis Jr.  Texas  6-3  Junior
Esa Ahmad  West Virginia  6-8  Junior
Ethan Happ  Wisconsin  6-10  Junior
Eugene German  Northern Illinois  6-0  Sophomore
Fletcher Magee  Wofford  6-4  Junior
Fred Sims Jr.  Chicago State  6-4  Junior
Gary Trent Jr.  Duke  6-6  Freshman
Haanif Cheatham  FGCU  6-5  Junior
Hamidou Diallo  Kentucky  6-5  Freshman
Isaac Copeland Jr.  Nebraska  6-9  Junior
Isaiah Moss  Iowa  6-5  Sophomore
Isaiah Reese  Canisius  6-5  Sophomore
Ismaila Kane  Atlanta Metropolitan  6-9  Freshman
Jacob Evans  Cincinnati  6-6  Junior
Jalen Brunson  Villanova  6-3  Junior
Jalen Hudson  Florida  6-6  Junior
Jalen McDaniels  San Diego State  6-10  Freshman
Jalon Pipkins  Cal State-Northridge  6-4  Freshman
James Palmer Jr.  Nebraska  6-6  Junior
Jared Harper  Auburn  5-10  Sophomore
Jaren Jackson Jr.  Michigan State  6-11  Freshman
Jarred Vanderbilt  Kentucky  6-9  Freshman
Jarrey Foster  SMU  6-6  Junior
Jaylen Hands  UCLA  6-3  Freshman
Jaylin Walker  Kent State  6-1  Junior
Jerome Robinson  Boston College  6-6  Junior
Jessie Govan  Georgetown  6-10  Junior
Jon Davis  Charlotte  6-3  Junior
Jon Elmore  Marshall  6-3  Junior
Jontay Porter  Missouri  6-11  Freshman
Jordan Brangers  South Plains College (TX)  6-2 S  ophomore
Jordan Caroline  Nevada  6-7  Junior
Jordan Davis  Northern Colorado  6-2  Junior
Jordan Murdock  Friends University  6-4  Junior
Josh Okogie  Georgia Tech  6-4  Sophomore
Justin Jackson  Maryland  6-7  Sophomore
Justin James  Wyoming  6-7  Junior
Justin Wright-Foreman  Hofstra  6-1  Junior
Juwan Morgan  Indiana  6-8  Junior
Kaiser Gates  Xavier  6-8  Junior
Kalob Ledoux  McNeese State  6-3  Sophomore
Kameron Chatman  Detroit  6-9  Junior
Keanu Peters  Salt Lake CC (UT)  6-2  Sophomore
Keita Bates-Diop  Ohio State  6-7  Junior
Kerwin Roach II  Texas  6-4  Junior
Kevin Huerter  Maryland  6-7  Sophomore
Kevin Knox  Kentucky  6-9  Freshman
Khyri Thomas  Creighton  6-3  Junior
Kostas Antetokounmpo  Dayton  6-10  Freshman
Kris Wilkes  UCLA  6-8  Freshman
Ky Bowman  Boston College  6-1  Sophomore
Lagerald Vick  Kansas  6-5  Junior
Lamar Peters  Mississippi State  6-0  Sophomore
Lamonte Bearden  Western Kentucky  6-3  Junior
Landry Shamet  Wichita State  6-4  Sophomore
Leron Black  Illinois  6-7  Junior
Lindell Wigginton  Iowa State  6-2  Freshman
Lonnie Walker  Miami  6-4  Freshman
Luke Maye  North Carolina  6-8  Junior
Makinde London  Tennessee-Chattanooga  6-10 Juni  or
Malik Hines  Massachusetts  6-10  Junior
Malik Martin  South Florida  6-11  Junior
Malik Newman  Kansas  6-3  Sophomore
Marcquise Reed  Clemson  6-3  Junior
Marcus Derrickson  Georgetown  6-7  Junior
Markis McDuffie  Wichita State  6-8  Junior
Marquez Letcher-Ellis  Rice  6-7  Sophomore
Marvin Bagley III  Duke  6-11  Freshman
Matt Morgan  Cornell  6-3  Junior
Max Montana  San Diego State  6-9  Junior
Melvin Frazier Jr.  Tulane  6-6  Junior
Micah Seaborn  Monmouth  6-5  Junior
Michael Gilmore  FGCU  6-10  Junior
Michael Porter Jr.  Missouri  6-10  Freshman
Mikal Bridges  Villanova  6-6  Junior
Mike Amius  Western Carolina  6-7  Junior
Mike Daum  South Dakota State  6-9  Junior
Miles Bridges  Michigan State  6-7  Sophomore
Mitchell Robinson  Western Kentucky  7-0  Freshman
Mohamed Bamba  Texas  6-11  Freshman
Moritz Wagner  Michigan  6-11  Junior
Mustapha Heron  Auburn  6-5  Sophomore
Nick Ward  Michigan State  6-8  Sophomore
Noah Dickerson  Washington  6-8  Junior
Nojel Eastern  Purdue  6-6  Freshman
Omari Spellman  Villanova  6-9  Freshman
PJ Washington  Kentucky  6-7  Freshman
Quinndary Weatherspoon  Mississippi State  6-4  Junior
Quinton Rose  Temple  6-8  Sophomore
Rawle Alkins  Arizona  6-5  Sophomore
Ray Ona Embo  Tulane  6-5  Sophomore
Ray Spalding  Louisville  6-9  Junior
Reid Travis  Stanford  6-8  Junior
Robert Franks Jr.  Washington State  6-7  Junior
Robert Williams III  Texas A&M  6-10  Sophomore
Ronshad Shabazz  Appalachian State  6-5  Junior
Sagaba Konate  West Virginia  6-8  Sophomore
Sedrick Barefield  Utah  6-2  Junior
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander  Kentucky  6-6  Freshman
Shake Milton  SMU  6-6  Junior
Shamorie Ponds  St. John痴  6-1  Sophomore
Shawntrez Davis  Bethune-Cookman  6-9  Junior
Shelton Mitchell  Clemson  6-3  Junior
Takal Molson  Canisius  6-5  Freshman
Tashawn Berry  Dakota College (ND)  6-3  Sophomore
Tavarius Shine  Oklahoma State  6-6  Junior
Terence Davis  Mississippi  6-4  Junior
Terry Larrier  Connecticut  6-8  Junior
Tony Carr  Penn State  6-5  Sophomore
Torin Dorn  North Carolina State  6-5  Junior
Trae Young  Oklahoma  6-2  Freshman
Tramaine Isabell Jr.  Drexel  6-1  Junior
Travis Munnings  Louisiana-Monroe  6-6  Junior
Tremaine Fraiser  Westchester CC (NY)  6-3  Sophomore
Tremont Waters  LSU  5-11  Freshman
Trevon Duval  Duke  6-3  Freshman
Troy Brown Jr.  Oregon  6-7  Freshman
Tyler Cook  Iowa  6-9  Sophomore
Tyler Davis  Texas A&M  6-10  Junior
Tyler Hall  Montana State  6-4  Junior
Tyus Battle  Syracuse  6-6  Sophomore
Udoka Azubuike  Kansas  7-0  Sophomore
Victor Lewis II  West Texas A&M  6-3  Junior
Wendell Carter Jr.  Duke  6-10  Freshman
Wenyen Gabriel  Kentucky  6-9  Sophomore
Yankuba Sima  Oklahoma State  6-11  Junior
Yoeli Childs  BYU  6-8  Sophomore
Zach Hankins  Ferris State  6-10  Junior
Zach Johnson  FGCU  6-2  Junior
Zane Martin  Towson  6-4  Sophomore
Zhaire Smith  Texas Tech  6-5  Freshman

The following is the list of international players who have applied for early entry into the 2018 NBA Draft:

Player  Team/Country of Team  Height  Status
Adam Mokoka  Gravelines (France)  6-4  1998 DOB
Aleksander Dziewa  Slask Wroclaw (Poland)  6-9  1997 DOB
Amine Noua  ASVEL (France)  6-8  1997 DOB
Antonios Koniaris  PAOK (Greece)  6-4  1997 DOB
Arnoldas Kulboka  Capo d丹rlando (Italy)  6-10  1998 DOB
Berkan Durmaz  Tofas (Turkey)  6-9  1997 DOB
Berke Atar  Bandirma Kirmizi (Turkey)  6-11  1999 DOB
Blaz Mesicek  Brindisi (Italy)  6-6  1997 DOB
Darel Poirier  Charleville (France)  6-9  1997 DOB
Dzanan Musa  Cedevita (Croatia)  6-8  1999 DOB
Elie Okobo  Pau Orthez (France)  6-2  1997 DOB
Emanuel Cate  Prat (Spain)  6-9  1997 DOB
Erxhan Osmani  Bandirma Kirmizi (Turkey)  6-9  1998 DOB
Etienne Ca  Chalon (France)  6-11  1997 DOB
Filip Zagrajski  Beli Manastir (Croatia)  6-4  1997 DOB
Gabriel Galvanini  Bauru (Brazil)  6-8  1998 DOB
Georgios Kalaitzakis  Panathinaikos (Greece)  6-6  1999 DOB
Goga Bitadze  Mega Bemax (Serbia)  6-11  1999 DOB
Ibrahima Faye  Poitiers (France)  6-10  1997 DOB
Isaac Bonga  Fraport Skyliners (Germany)  6-9  1999 DOB
Issuf Sanon  Olimpija (Slovenia)  6-3  1999 DOB
Jean-Marc Pansa  Nanterre (France)  6-10  1997 DOB
Karim Jallow  Bayern Munich (Germany)  6-7  1997 DOB
Laurynas Beliauskas  Neptunas (Lithuania)  6-4  1997 DOB
Laurynas Birutis  Siauliai (Lithuania)  7-0  1997 DOB
Leon Kratzer  Wuerzburg (Germany)  6-11  1997 DOB
Leonardo Tote  Verona (Italy)  6-10  1997 DOB
LiAngelo Ball  UCLA/Vytautas (Lithuania)  6-5  1998 DOB
Louis Olinde  Brose Baskets (Germany)  6-9  1998 DOB
Luka Doncic  Real Madrid (Spain)  6-7  1999 DOB
Marcel Ponitka  Asseco (Poland)  6-5  1997 DOB
Martynas Echodas  Lietuvos Rytas (Lithuania)  6-9  1997 DOB
Martynas Varnas  Pieno Zvaigzdes (Lithuania)  6-5  1997 DOB
Matas Jogela  Zalgiris II (Lithuania)  6-6  1998 DOB
Matur Maker  CIBA (Canada)  6-11  1998 DOB
Melvyn Govindy  Cholet (France)  7-0  1997 DOB
Michael Uchendu  Bauru (Brazil)  6-9  1998 DOB
Michal Kolenda  Trefl Sopot (Poland)  6-7  1997 DOB
Muhaymin Mustafa  Anadolu Efes (Turkey)  6-5  1999 DOB
Rihards Berzins  Liepaja (Latvia)  6-11  1997 DOB
Rodions Kurucs  Barcelona (Spain)  6-9  1998 DOB
Romaric Belemene  Oviedo (Spain)  6-9  1997 DOB
Shekinah Munanga  Monaco (France)  6-7  1997 DOB
Sigfredo Casero-Ortiz  GET Vosges (France)  6-1  1997 DOB
Stephane Gombauld  Lille Metropole (France)  6-9  1997 DOB
Tadas Sedekerskis  Nevezis (Lithuania)  6-8  1998 DOB
Tryggvi Hlinason  Valencia (Spain)  7-1  1997 DOB
Vanja Marinkovic  Partizan (Serbia)  6-6  1997 DOB
Vasileios Charalampopoulos P  AOK (Greece)  6-9  1997 DOB
Viny Okouo  Unicaja (Spain)  7-1  1997 DOB
William McDowell-White B  aunach (Germany) 6  -5  1998 DOB
Williams Narace  Nancy (France)  6-8  1997 DOB
Xabier Lopez-Arostegui  Joventut Badalona (Spain)  6-6  1997 DOB
Yago Dos Santos  Paulistano (Brazil)  5-10  1999 DOB
Yoan Granvorka  Monthey (Switzerland)  6-7  1997 DOB

Check out the latest Basketball Insiders Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects.

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NBA Daily: Deep Bench Stays Ready for the Pelicans

Though out of the rotation, DeAndre Liggins and Jordan Crawford are staying ready to step up and contribute for New Orleans, writes David Yapkowitz.

David Yapkowitz

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As DeAndre Liggins is standing by his locker talking about what his next move might be in terms of free agency, he gets a ringing endorsement from the New Orleans Pelicans’ franchise guy, Anthony Davis.

“He ain’t going nowhere,” Davis shouts from across the locker room. “He ain’t going nowhere.”

Liggins pauses for a moment, lets out a laugh and then turns back.

“I don’t know, I’ll have to talk to Dell [Demps],” Liggins told Basketball Insiders with a grin.

With the NBA playoffs in full swing, there are always those guys on the fringe — players who may not always know when they’ll have a chance to get into a game. It can be tough sitting on the bench and watching the rest of the team partake in the postseason.

For players like Liggins, however, they’re just as much a part of the team as the guys in the rotation. They do bring value to the team. And they patiently await their turn, however long that may take. Even if he doesn’t get to play in an actual playoff game, Liggins believes he understands the atmosphere.

“It started off in Orlando, a playoff team. OKC was a playoff team. I’ve been in the playoffs twice,” Liggins told Basketball Insiders. “I haven’t experienced playing minutes, but I know what the feeling is like, I know what the vibe is like. It’ll be great going into the playoffs, we’ll be ready.”

Liggins has never spent more than one season with any team. He’s spent the past seven years shuffling between the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami HEAT, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks and now New Orleans.

He had a bit of a breakthrough with Cleveland where he emerged as one of the better perimeter defenders on the team. He started 19 games for the Cavaliers last season and shot 37.8 percent from the three-point line. It’s been that 3 and D calling card that’s allowed him to latch on from team to team despite never really playing major minutes.

“Just bringing that defensive energy. I do all the little things like take charges, all the intangibles,” Liggins told Basketball Insiders. “I was the same way at Kentucky. You got to stick to what you know, what you do, and play a role. Especially when you’re in the league and being on this type of team.”

Liggins has a non-guaranteed contract for next season. It’s too early to know what the Pelicans front office will decide to do. He isn’t focused on that right now though. Right now, the focus is helping New Orleans make a deep playoff run even if he isn’t on the court that much.

He joined the Pelicans around mid-season after being cut by the Bucks. Although he hasn’t been on the team for very long, he’s already noticed the competitiveness and togetherness of this group. They rallied around each other following the season ending injury to DeMarcus Cousins.

“We just clicked and gelled when [Cousins] went down,” Liggins told Basketball Insiders. “I think we lost three or four in a row then after that we just started changing the way we play.”

Aside from Liggins, the Pelicans also feature Jordan Crawford who is in a similar situation right now. Their career beginnings may be a bit different, Crawford was a regular rotation player for playoff teams in the past, but as playoff rotations have tightened up, Crawford has also found himself on the outside looking in.

He was on the Pelicans roster to begin the season but was cut in favor of Jameer Nelson when an injury to Rajon Rondo precipitated the need for point guard help. He had been a key player in the rotation but upon his return near the end of the season, he found himself mostly glued to the bench.

Crawford initially was a bench scorer for the Pelicans, capable of getting hot quickly and putting up a flurry of points on the board. He was nicknamed ‘Instant Grits’ by Cousins due to his penchant for scoring. He’s a little bit unsure though of what he’s going to be asked to do this time around.

“I have no clue. I’m going to try to find out,” Crawford told Basketball Insiders. “I’m going to work my way through, do what I got to do to make the coaches happy and stuff like that. But I don’t know my role yet.”

When Crawford signed with the Pelicans earlier this month, his contract was only for the duration of the regular season and playoffs. He too will be entering free agency this summer, and due to his lack of postseason playing time, he might have to rely on past performances to secure that next contract.

He also isn’t too concerned about that right now. While he is anticipating the summertime, he’s just thrilled to be back with a familiar team, even if the playing time is scarce right now.

“I’m looking forward to the summer, definitely looking forward to the offseason,” Crawford told Basketball Insiders. “I’m happy I accomplished getting back on the team for the season. That’s good right now, I’m satisfied with that for right now.”

Although he was cut despite having initially carved out an important role on the team, Crawford always remained positive and believed things would eventually fall into place. He wasn’t sure if that place would be New Orleans, but he’s glad that it was them who came calling once again.

“I didn’t think I’d be back here. They did stay kind of connected with me, talked to me,” Crawford told Basketball Insiders. “I did have a good time while I was here, so it wasn’t no bad attitude, hard feelings or nothing. It always could’ve worked and by not having a bad attitude it allowed it to work again. It’s been a blessing.”

They stayed in contact with him and made him feel like a part of the team again. And for players like Crawford and Liggins, players who may not know who their next contract is coming from or when their next minute on the court might be, sometimes that makes all the difference

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 4/24/18

The deadline for early entry into the 2018 NBA Draft has passed, so Basketball Insiders Publisher Steve Kyler offers up another 60-pick Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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The Deadline for early entry into the 2018 NBA Draft was April 22, however, the NBA hasn’t yet released the full list of eligible players. There appear to be more than 153 underclassmen that have declared to “test the waters” according to reports. By way of comparison, last year there were 137 players from college and an additional 45 from international basketball that declared early, with 73 of those players pulling out after going through the process.

The 2018 Draft class could be shaping up to be one of the biggest, especially when you consider the volume of highly draftable seniors.

There are still some dates to keep in mind:

The NBA Draft Lottery will be held in Chicago on May 15. The annual NBA Draft Combine will get underway on May 16, also in Chicago. In any given draft year, roughly 70 percent of players invited to the Combine end up being drafted into the NBA, so a Combine invite is a significant draft milestone.

The NCAA requires all players wishing to maintain their college eligibility, without penalty, to withdraw from the NBA Draft by 11:59 pm on May 30. That is an NCAA mandated date, not related to anything involving the NBA, and that notice must be delivered in writing.

The NBA’s draft withdrawal date is June 11 by 5:00 pm ET. The NBA’s date allows a prospect to remain NBA draft eligible for future NBA drafts and is not related to any NCAA rule or date. There are ways for college players that did not accept benefits to return to college, however, they may be subject to NCAA penalties.

Here is this week’s 2018 NBA Mock Draft, based on the final pre-draft lottery draft order:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections. Based on the final regular-season standings should convey to Philadelphia if the draft lottery holds true to the standings.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and would convey if the draft lottery holds true to the standings.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the final NBA standings.

The Phoenix Suns were owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick would only convey if the Bucks pick landed between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the final NBA standings did not convey. The Suns will now receive the Bucks 2019 first-round pick assuming it falls between the fourth and 16th pick.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey to Atlanta based on the final NBA standings.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey based on the final NBA standings.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick was top-five protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick was lottery protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects – http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

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