Week That Was In The NBA

Anthony Bennett Drafted First Overall

The biggest story in Canadian basketball was the surprising Cleveland Cavaliers decision to select UNLV freshman power forward Anthony Bennett first overall in the 2013 NBA Draft.  James Borbath notes that this is the second time the Cavaliers have shocked Canadians.

“Anthony Bennett who some were claiming was falling in the draft got taken number one by the Cleveland Cavs. This is the second time in the past few years the Cavs have shocked Canada. Many were surprised to see Tristan Thompson now Bennett’s team-mate goes at number 4. At that point the highest a Canadian has ever been selected before last night.”

Fellow Canadian Kelly Olynyk was taken 13th and ended up in a good situation with Boston, however, Myck Kabongo went undrafted.  Kabongo did get a Summer League invite from Miami and there remains hope that he could join the Raptors Summer League team later in July.

76ers, Nets and Celtics Make Big Changes

A blockbuster trade between the Nets and the Celtics announced during the draft stole most of the thunder on Thursday and a trade between the 76ers and the Pelicans completed the upheaval in the NBA’s Atlantic Division.

“The Nets acquired the heart and soul of the Celtics.  Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, three future first round draft picks and enough salary ballast to make the trade work under the CBA.”

“The 76ers sent All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans for sixth overall pick Nerlens Noel and a lightly protected 2014 first round draft pick.”

The Nets are going to be a lot better next season and the 76ers are headed for the basement. 

Raptors Trade Andrea Bargnani To Knicks

Not to be left on the sidelines without an upgrade as their neighbor upped the stakes in the Atlantic Division race, the Knicks grabbed the best talent available to them considering their salary cap situation and limited trade assets.  While Bargnani was on the outs in Toronto, the Knicks could prove to be the big winners in this trade next season. 

“The Knicks are not giving up a lot to acquire a former number one overall draft pick that should be motivated and ready to play long before training camp starts. Players who will probably be bought out, three-point specialist Steve Novak, a first round draft pick three seasons out and a pair of second round draft picks is not a steep price for a franchise that is built to win now and is in desperate need of additional talent after the blockbuster Nets-Celtics trade.”

Steve Novak will be a useful player in Toronto and the three draft picks may prove to be more valuable as trade assets than actual selections.  Raptors President and GM, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri has to be reasonably pleased with his return in this deal.

This trade can’t be completed until after the July moratorium.

Free Agency Opens

Free agency opened fast with Chris Paul telling teams to stop bothering him as he’s signing a new max contract with the Clippers.  Dwight Howard took off for his road show and will apparently talk to anyone who will buy him dinner.  No one really expects Howard to end up anywhere but Houston or with the Lakers.  There is lots of interest in Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala, but it will be tough to do a deal until Howard decides.

You can keep up with the rumor mill on the Hoopsworld Draft Diary, but remember, no one can actually sign a new contract until after the July moratorium ends on July 10.

Raptors Quiet in Free Agency

With no salary cap space and only a couple of exceptions to work with, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that the Raptors have been quiet so far.  Their best opportunities will come after most of the top tier free agents have landed and teams have to start scrambling to accommodate the moves they need to make.  We’ll just have to wait a while longer to see where the Raptors are going in free agency.

“The Raptors appear to be on the same building plan they were following when Colangelo was running the show, just under new management. The biggest difference is Casey will get his “tough guys” to help build a more defensive oriented team and Ujiri likes to fill out the back end of his roster with young players he can develop. Where the team goes in free agency will depend on what opportunities are created by other team’s moves and a little more patience will be required before Ujiri lets us know what the Raptors will look like next season.”

While the Rudy Gay to the Pistons rumor generated a lot of excitement among the members of Raptors Tank Nation, there is almost no reason to believe Gay is on the block.  At least not for what the Pistons can offer.  Raptors can only tank if they are getting back future assets.

“If the rumor had included a couple of unprotected Detroit first round draft picks, it would have carried a lot more weight, … Sadly [Dumars] traded his 2014 first round draft pick to Charlotte for Corey Maggette.”

Look for the Raptors to become more aggressive on the trade and free agent front as the week develops.  The Pacers making Tyler Hansbrough an unrestricted free agent after agreeing to a new deal with veteran power forward David West is precisely the type of opportunity Ujiri will be looking for.

Manu Ginobili Returns

After one of the worst seasons of his career and a disappointing performance in the NBA Finals, 35-year-old Manu Ginobili has re-upped with the Spurs for two more seasons. Manu Ginobili tweeted:

Thrilled to announce that as I always hoped, I'm gonna stay with the @spurs for two more years. #gospursgo.

Ginobili has been a key member of what should be described as the Spurs dynasty.  It is nice to see an organization respect their key veterans even if the team might actually be better off by moving on without him.

Stephen Brotherston has covered the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the ACC since 2009.  A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of ProBballReport.com.  You can follow Stephen on twitter @stevesraptors

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