This morning's headlines:
- Fultz marvels at Celtics' legacy
- Report: Bucks finalizing list of GM candidates
- Hawks' Howard plans to shoot more 3-pointers
- Horry takes shots at Duncan, Ginobili
Fultz has workout with Celtics -- With a little more than two weeks to go until the NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics are among the lottery teams holding workouts for lottery picks as time whittles away. The Celtics had Washington star Markelle Fultz in for a better look at him yesterday and as Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com reports, Fultz is hoping he'll be the No. 1 overall pick on June 22 by Boston:
Markelle Fultz, the potential No. 1 pick in the June 22 NBA draft, capped a two-day visit with the Celtics with an on-court workout Tuesday, then visited TD Garden, where he marveled at the championship banners and suggested he could envision himself trying to add to Boston's storied history.
"It almost feels like I belong here," Fultz told ESPN's Jeff Goodman during a tour of the arena that included a stop outside the Celtics' locker room, where the former Washington star studied the pictures of Boston legends that line the hallways.
Playfully asked if the Celtics had told him he'd be the No. 1 pick, Fultz said it never came up in conversation.
"No, no, no, they didn't say that. They didn't put that out there. I gotta earn everything," Fultz said. "Just talking to them, we didn't really talk about me getting drafted or anything like that, but more about me being a better young man, no matter where I go. Just what's going to make me the best player I can possibly be."
Fultz endured a series of medical tests and meetings with Celtics staffers on Monday before engaging in a solo workout at the team's practice facility on Tuesday morning. He capped his visit with a film session with Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
"My visit here was great. It was a good experience," Fultz said. "First of all, I came here, did some medical stuff at the doctors, a physical. I went out to eat later that night [with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge], that was a good experience just seeing the food culture here, got a good burger.
"Today, just being able to go up and have a blessed opportunity to play the game of basketball, first of all, then just working out for the Celtics, being able to work out, and show them what I have and at the end we did a nice little conditions test, the three-minute run, and just sitting down and watching game film, and film of myself, and how the team plays defense and offense and just learning more stuff about myself from film. Now, just coming to see the arena, and the city, it's just unbelievable."
Fultz told ESPN that he has not decided if he will work out for any other teams but, contrary to reports, he has not closed the door on the possibility.
Before he caught a flight home, ESPN led Fultz on a tour of the Garden. What would it be like for him to play there?
"I think it would be good if I come here." he said. "The fans here are great. I think that energy is just going to carry over to how I play on the court and just give me a little boost of energy."
When the frenzied atmosphere in the building during Boston's recent playoff run was noted, Fultz said he could tell just from watching.
"You can definitely hear it on TV, too," he said. "When I was watching and you can just see how excited everybody was and everything like that."
And what did he think of those banners?
"There's a lot," Fultz said with a smile. He joked how he used to play as Garnett, Pierce, Ray Allen and members of Boston's 2008 title team in the NBA 2K series as a kid.
Does a visit like the one Fultz had make it easier to decide what to do with the No. 1 pick?
"It helps us to get to know more [about the player]. Sometimes it makes [a final decision] harder, sometimes it makes it easier," said Ainge. "I don't know, we're not done. We're still in the process. We still have other players to see. Time will tell."
Report: Bucks finalizing list of GM candidates -- Last we heard regarding the Milwaukee Bucks and their GM search, Cleveland Cavaliers GM David Griffin was high on their list. Whether he is still in that same spot today remains unknown, but what is know is that the Bucks are whittling down their candidate list to some finalists, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical:
The Milwaukee Bucks are finalizing a list of general manager candidates to meet with ownership early this week in New York, league sources told The Vertical.
Owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens are expected to be part of this round of interviews, league sources said. So far, candidates have talked to a search firm and the initial list of candidates has been pared down, sources said.
Among those expected to formally interview for the opening, league sources told The Vertical, include: Bucks assistant GM Justin Zanik, Minnesota assistant GM Noah Croom, Indiana vice president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie, Detroit assistant GM Pat Garrity, Denver assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas and Memphis VP of player personnel Ed Stefanski.
Zanik remains a strong internal choice for the GM job, with his candidacy gathering significant support inside and outside the organization. He joined the Bucks in 2016 with the expectation that he was a GM-in-waiting, leaving the Utah Jazz after three years as assistant GM.
Howard plans to work on 3-point shot for 2017-18 -- Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard had his best NBA days as a traditional, back-to-the-basket center. Come next season, he may go the route of Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol and work on being an outside scoring threat, too. Gasol ranked fourth among centers in 3-pointers made (104 of them) last season and Howard, in a visit to ESPN's "The Jump", plans to shoot more 3s next season. Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more:
The Hawks center appeared on ESPN’s “The Jump” on Tuesday and said he has been working this offseason with his shooting coach in Atlanta to expand his game.
“I’ve been working on my 3’s, really trying to add some range to my game,” Howard said. “Which is going to be weird for people to see, I guess. They are used to seeing me in the paint battling. But in order for me to play longer, I have to expand my game. The game is not just back to the basket, get the ball in the post and go to work. It’s more stepping away from the basket, setting screens, popping, shooting 3’s and stuff like that. People haven’t seen me do that. It’s going to be an adjustment for me, but also the fans. I think it’s going to be fun.”
Howard noted that he and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan likely are the only remaining traditional centers in the NBA. The league is now focused on spreading the court and shooting 3-pointers – even the power forwards and centers.
There were many games last season, including in the playoffs, when Howard was not on the floor in the fourth quarter as the Hawks looked for more floor spacing to generate 3-point shots. It was an issue and one Howard was not pleased with during his exit interview following the Hawks’ first-round playoff series loss to the Wizards.
“I think we have been left out to a certain extent,” Howard said of the traditional center. “The way the game has evolved, it’s really tough for traditional centers to get great playing time and be effective. So, we do have to change our game. … For us to stay in this league and be successful, we’ve got to be able to handle the basketball. We’ve got to be able to shoot the ball. Be able to play pick-and-roll against some of these guards.
“We have to be able to change our game or less we are going to be extinct.”
Howard related a story of guarding the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol this season to emphasis the difference in the league.
“I’m used to guys setting a screen and rolling to the basket. I get up and pressure the ball. I turn around to go to the basket and Marc is over there. By the time I turn around, he’s shooting the 3. Coach is like ‘Dwight!’ I’m like ‘Coach!’ It’s tough to guard, but that’s the way the game is moving forward.
“I came in guarding (Shaquille O’Neal), Alonzo Mourning, Jermaine O’Neal, all these big guys who want to wrestle. I’m used to wrestling. Now, I’ve got to get used to playing against guys who don’t want to wrestle, they want to get to the 3-point line.
Horry calls out former teammates Duncan, Ginobili -- As one of the best role players in NBA history, Robert Horry was a part of seven NBA championship teams in his career. The last two rings he won came courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs, where he was a vital cog in a group led by Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. Horry, though, took some shots at Duncan and Ginobili in a recent appearance on ESPN's "The Jump". USA Today has more on what Horry said:
Robert Horry had an awesome career, as awesome as any role player could hope for. These days, he gets asked about the great players and teams and coaches of his past. And apparently, he’s decided to make his bed with the mid-1990s Houston Rockets — as was first evident when he said Rudy Tomjanovich was a better coach than Gregg Popovich or Phil Jackson.
But things got weird Monday when he went on ESPN’s The Jump. While discussing whether those Rockets teams would have won in 1994 and ’95 had Michael Jordan not retired the first time, Horry took an unprompted turn to praise Olajuwon and his ability to draw double-teams.
“When we played San Antonio one time and Tim was killing me in the block, Phil refused to double-team Tim to get the ball out of his hands,” Horry said. “And Dream was 20 times better than Tim Duncan.”
Keep in mind that Duncan wasn’t even part of this discussion. Everyone on the show stopped in their tracks, particularly fellow former Spurs role player Stephen Jackson, a longtime Duncan acolyte. But Horry only doubled down. Here’s the transcript of what came next, with Horry, Jackson and host Rachel Nichols:
Horry: “I’ve played with both. I know the work ethic of both. I’ve seen it live. You know —”
Nichols: “Wait, did you just take a shot at Tim Duncan’s work ethic?!”
Horry: “No, I’m just saying. Like, Kobe’s was the best ever. And I’ve seen these two guys in the gym. I know what Dream brought to practice. I know what Tim brought to practice. I know Tim, he brought work ethic to practice, but it’s an extra level. When you’re a superstar, you have to go the extra level. Not saying Tim’s not a superstar. But what Dream brought to the game is amazing. I don’t think people understand how good Olajuwon was because, here’s the thing, I always tell people to judge a player by what they cannot do. Who would you want on the line at the end of the game, Dream or Tim Duncan?”
Jackson: “Tim Duncan.”
Horry: “You going to go with 85% or you going to go with 70% from the free throw line?”
Nichols rightly seemed stunned by the dig on work ethic; Duncan was known for his first-one-in, last-one-out attitude and setting an example for the Spurs throughout his career. So she called on Paul Pierce, the third panelist, to weigh in. And — Horry only dug in further.
Nichols: “Truth, you want to weigh in with the truth here?”
Pierce: “Listen, Dream was awesome. Dream was awesome, unbelievable. But he was not 20 times better than Tim Duncan. Not 20 times!”
Horry: “I’m saying you would rather have Dream at the free throw line at the end of a game, and you’re down.”
Pierce: “Dream is lucky Jordan retired. You would only have five rings if Jordan didn’t retire.”
Horry: “Let me just say this: You got yours because, if Manu Ginobili would have did the things he was supposed to do, I would have had like 10 championships.”
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Why the Cleveland Cavaliers can't afford to play at a slower pace in The Finals ... Baron Davis can still get it done (in the Drew League) ... Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard plans to shoot more 3-pointers next season ... Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr gave praise to former coach Mark Jackson for the team's defensive ways ... A closer look at Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams ...