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Cats in the NBA

Former Kentucky Players in the NBA

DeMarcus Cousins Explains his Draft Night Tweet

demarcus-cousins ngngsports

During last week’s NBA Draft, DeMarcus Cousins took to Twitter after the Kings made a late move.  Sacramento traded away their 8th pick to select a 7-foot Greek center, Georgios Papagiannis, at No. 13.  Boogie didn’t seem to happy to be joined by Papagiorgio.

Boogie is a big fan of cryptic Tweets, leading many critics to see this as the beginning of the end for Cousins in Sacramento, however, he says the Tweet wasn’t attached with a double-meaning.

“Bad timing,” he told Ian Begley of ESPN New York. “It sounds ridiculous, but I was in a hot sculpting class.”

Even though Boogie’s been a fan of hot yoga in the offseason, I don’t think anybody’s buying this excuse.  If you’re going to buy anything of Boogie’s, buy a Team USA jersey.  It should last longer than his time in Sacramento.


Jamal Murray has 12/1 odds of winning Rookie of the Year

NBA: NBA Draft

Before Draft Night, John Calipari predicted that Jamal Murray will lead all NBA rookies in scoring. There’s a difference between being the leading scorer amongst rookies and being voted Rookie of the Year, of course, but right now, Murray — who went seventh to the Denver Nuggets — has the fifth best odds of earning the ROY honor at 12/1.

The rest of the current odds from Bovada:

  • Ben Simmons, Philadelphia: +325
  • Buddy Hield, New Orleans: +550
  • Brandon Ingram, Los Angeles: +650
  • Kris Dunn, Minnesota: +750
  • Denzel Valentine, Chicago: +1200
  • Jamal Murray, Denver: +1200
  • Joel Embiid, Philadelphia: +1400
  • Wade Baldwin, Memphis: +1600
  • Marquese Chriss, Phoenix: +1600
  • Thon Maker, Milwaukee: +1600
  • Taurean Prince, Atlanta: +1600

It’s worth pointing out that Jaylen Brown, who was drafted third by the Boston Celtics, currently has 20/1 odds. Still not sure what the Celtics were up to there.


Skal Labissiere introduced in Sacramento today

Skal Labissiere introduced in Sacramento today

@mr_jasonjones

Skal Labissiere was just introduced to the media in Sacramento along with his new teammates Georgios Papagiannis and Isaiah Cousins. Skal eventually ended up with the Kings as the 28th pick, which was a lot lower than most of us expected him to go, but both Kings general manager Vlade Divac and coach Dave Joerger said they feel like they got a steal.

Skal is the most talented college player this year in the United States, so we’re very fortunate to have him that late,” Divac said. “We thought he was going to be gone long before we got the chance.”

In comments that would make John Calipari smile, Joerger said they plan to use Skal in a variety of ways because the league is — wait for it — positionless these days.

We feel like we’re getting a steal there with the talent and skills he has, the length. The way that the game is being played now, it’s playing small ball, so you’ll be seeing — he’ll be definitely playing the stretch position for us at the forward, and there are times — if you watched the [NBA] Finals, there’s positionless basketball going on. He could play center for us very easily going down the line.”

For his part, Skal’s just happy to have a new home, especially one with three former Kentucky players already on the roster.

“I’m very excited to be here,” Skal said. “I’m very thankful to be drafted here. I have a couple of other Kentucky guys on the team. I’m looking forward to learning a lot from them: DeMarcus Cousins, Willie, Rondo. Like I said before, I’m very thankful to be here.”

And check out that bow tie:

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DeMarcus Cousins shows off his new Team USA jersey

DeMarcus Cousins shows off his new Team USA jersey

Word leaked out that DeMarcus Cousins was part of the final Team USA roster for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio a few weeks back, but this morning, USA Basketball made it officially official. Here’s the final 12-man roster, which will represent the United States in Rio:

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Cousins showed off his new Team USA jersey via Twitter a few minutes ago:

Team USA will begin training camp in Las Vegas from July 18-22 with the help of the USA Select Team, which includes Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, and Julius Randle. From there, they’ll train in Los Angeles July 23-25; Oakland July 26; Chicago July 27-29; and Houston July 30-August 1.

Here’s a schedule of their exhibition games:

  • July 22 / 6 p.m. PDT: USA vs. Argentina, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • July 24 / 5 p.m. PDT: USA vs. China, Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
  • July 26 / 7 p.m. PDT: USA vs. China, Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
  • July 29 / 8 p.m. CDT: USA vs. Venezuela, United Center, Chicago, Illinois
  • August 1 / 7 p.m. CDT: USA vs. Nigeria, Toyota Center, Houston, Texas

From there, they’ll head to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics, which run from August 6-21.


Vote to Get Karl-Anthony Towns Slimed

Vote to Get Karl-Anthony Towns Slimed

Jordan Johnson/Getty Images

Jordan Johnson/Getty Images

Karl-Anthony Towns has been nominated for the “Best Newcomer” award at Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Sports Awards. So let’s all do Karl a favor and helped him win (and get slimed).

You can vote for Karl here.

The Kid’s Choice Sports Awards will be help on Sunday, July 17 at 8pm on Nickelodeon.

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No way Karl can lose.


Matt York, AP (via Kentucky.com)

Suns GM has high praise for Calipari

Suns Rookie Presser

 

When the Phoenix Suns held a rookie introductory press conference to give basketball fans in the desert their first look at the newest crop of NBA talent, it was no surprise that John Calipari’s name was mentioned. After drafting 5-foot-9 guard Tyler Ulis in the second round (No. 34 overall) of last Thursday’s NBA Draft, the Suns added to their collection of former Kentucky guards that already included Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, Archie Goodwin, and Devin Booker.

 

“There’s nobody doing it any better in college basketball in terms of recruitment, player development,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said. “With Coach Calipari and his staff, they’re well coached, they’re well prepared.”

 

With the 26th, 27th, and 28th overall selections of the Calipari era, UK was the only school to have three different players chosen in the 2016 NBA Draft.

 

“I don’t mean this as an infomercial for Kentucky, but they really have a good thing going,” said McDonough.

 

Watch the entire rookie introductory press conference below.

 

 

UK Logo (Conclusion)

 

@Condre_3000


Kyle Wiltjer signs with Houston Rockets

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After going undrafted in Thursday’s NBA Draft,  Alex Poythress will play for the Orlando Magic in Orlando summer league and it looks like fellow former Wildcat and Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer has  signed with the Houston Rockets.

Wiltjer, who also didn’t hear his name called Thursday’s night, agreed to a three-year deal with the Rockets shortly after and confirmed the news with his family on Twitter.

Coach Calipari congratulated his former player on Twitter and praised Houston Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni.

Wiltjer told Washington news outlets he signed a contract as an undrafted free agent with Houston, in which  50 percent of his first-year salary is guaranteed. The Portland, Ore., native will have the chance to play for the Rocket’s summer league team which begins July 8 in Las Vegas.

The 6-foot-10 forward, who spent his first two seasons at the University of Kentucky before transferring to Gonzaga,  worked out for 15 teams before the draft but ultimately was not selected.

At Gonzaga, Wiltjer was named to the All-West Coast Conference first team both his junior and senior season and shot 43.7 percent from behind the three-point line as a senior. His impressive shooting helped lead the Bulldogs to their sixth Sweet Sixteen in program history. While at Kentucky, he was part of the 2012 national championship team and won the Southeastern Conference Sixth Man of the Year award his sophomore year.

Wiltjer will now join fellow Portlander and former teammate Terrence Jones, who was drafted by the Rockets in Round 1 in the 2012 NBA Draft.

 

 

 


8 Notes from My (Fan) Experience at the NBA Draft

8 Notes from My (Fan) Experience at the NBA Draft

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The NBA decided KSR wasn’t important enough to get a media credential for last night’s Draft, so my husband and I went to the event decked out in our Kentucky gear instead. What happened? I’m glad you asked.

Here’s what $50 at the Barclays will get you

That’s Section 225, Row 18, Seats 10 & 11. And yes, it was that high up.

Sixers fans were EVERYWHERE

We made peace with our nosebleeds after meeting the Sixers fans around us. At first, they were extremely entertaining, doing various chants and mocking every other fan that climbed into our section. Hilariously, most wore Nerlens Noel jerseys while clamoring for Nerlens to get traded to the Celtics for the third pick.

Regardless, they all seemed happy when Simmons joined the fam:

Their charm quickly wore off. After a few crude and unoriginal jokes about Calipari (“Hey, Jamal, how much did that car Cal got you cost?”), we made our way farther down in the section.

I was pretty much the only female fan there

It takes a special type of fan to attend the NBA Draft, so I wasn’t surprised that 99.9% of the crowd was male. I spotted maybe five other female fans at the Draft, most of which shared the same eye-rolling expressions I did at their male counterparts. There are sausage fests, and then there’s the NBA Draft, apparently.

But hey, no bathroom lines.

Drunk NBA Draft fans are the most obnoxious of them all

I’ve seen plenty of drunk, obnoxious fans in my day. (Hell, some days I’ve been one of them.) I thought drunk, angry NFL fans took the cake until I went to a NHL game and witnessed drunk, happy hockey fans; however, when it comes to levels of inebriation and obnoxiousness, drunk NBA Draft fans take the cake. You know what’s a great idea? Putting a bunch of drunk Philadelphia fans next to a bunch of drunk New York and Boston fans. Yeah, that won’t end in a brawl. Never.

God bless that cop.

Waiting for Skal to get drafted was painful

Going in to last night, Skal Labissiere was projected by most to go eleventh to the Orlando Magic. That didn’t happen. In fact, Skal didn’t go until the 28th pick to the Sacramento Kings (via Phoenix). The hour or so it took for that to happen was excruciating. Obviously, we were very far away from the Draft floor, but even in the rafters, the tension from Skal’s table as he, his family, and Calipari waited for his name to be called was palpable. Skal’s year at Kentucky didn’t go as planned, but you couldn’t help but hurt for the kid as name after name was called other than his. Calipari was clearly agitated, pacing to and from Skal’s table on the floor. Even though Skal is with fellow former Cats in Sacramento, that organization is so dysfunctional you wonder if it will stick.

After a day in which there was so much positive spin for Kentucky basketball, watching Skal slide to the end of the first round was jarring.

I’m going to need a Phoenix Suns jersey

The wait for Tyler Ulis was also tough, but at least he’s going to Phoenix to reunite with Devin Booker. The pure joy that emanated from Ulis’ camp in Chicago when his name was called was the best part of the night:

There was also joy in our camp, to the point that my husband bought tequila shots, a move I definitely regretted this morning.

Everyone loves Karl

@ESPNNBA

Karl has been my favorite since I first met him in the Bahamas, and after an historic rookie season, the rest of the world is catching on to what an awesome guy he is. Karl joined Calipari on various ESPN shows yesterday, but he really shined as a correspondent on last night’s Draft telecast. They played ESPN’s coverage on the big screens at the Barclays Center, and every time Karl came on, the fans around us stopped and listened, kids especially. The BBN is accustomed to Karl’s charm, but after last night, it’s clear the league is under his spell and determined to put him front and center.

Clearly, there was no media space for KSR

The NBA turned down KSR’s credential request due to “high demand and limited working space.” One of the benefits of our birds-eye view was being able to see all those empty chairs in the media work areas:

Thanks, NBA. I had more fun anyways.


Booker told Ulis: “I’m the reason you’re in the NBA”

Booker told Ulis: “I’m the reason you’re in the NBA”

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Today, Tyler Ulis said he’s happy he fell to the Phoenix Suns. After all, it pairs him with his bestest friend in the whole wide world, Devin Booker, who doubled as his agent last night.

Booker made the push to get Ulis to Phoenix on draft night and throughout this past season. Suns head coach Earl Watson said he saw most of Ulis’ games at Kentucky because Booker would text him and tell him to turn them on to watch Ulis.

Ulis is thankful, but knows it comes with a price. He said, “I have to hear for the rest of my life — he told me earlier, ‘I’m the reason you’re in the NBA.'”


Tyler Ulis introduced to Suns, Devin Booker introduced as his agent

Tyler Ulis introduced to Suns, Devin Booker introduced as his agent

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Today’s press conference in Phoenix kicked off with an introduction to Tyler Ulis; his mother, Kelly Reed; his father, James Ulis; his agent, Leon Rose; and his other agent, Devin Booker.

Ulis said Booker told him he would become a member of the Suns, two picks ahead of the moment his name was called, and that his mom almost choked him as they celebrated the news.

**UPDATE**

Ulis asked for a step stool while standing next to Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss for a rookie photo op.


Tyler Ulis made it to Phoenix

@akaSD

Tyler Ulis made it from his draft party in Chicago to the Suns facility in Phoenix today. He and the other two new Suns, Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, will be introduced to the media in a press conference in about 30 minutes.


AP Photo | Frank Franklin II

10 Quotes from Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere on draft night

AP Photo | Frank Franklin II

AP Photo | Frank Franklin II

Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere did a lot of talking after hearing their names called in the first round of last night’s draft. You’ll find some of what they each had to say, below:

 

Jamal Murray

1.) On the Mile High city…

“Never been to Denver other than a connecting flight. But no, I have very good breathing. I know how to control it. I know what to do when I lack air. I think I’ll fit perfectly. I’ll just get better, even my meditation with that.”

2.) On what Coach Cal taught him…

“He taught me a lot of 2-guard stuff, coming off screens, the angle to come off of, shot selection, the different reads that are going to be there when you get to the paint. Just a lot. A great college decision, the best school in the NCAA, and the best coach.”

3.) On playing with Emmanuel Mudiay…

“Me and Mudiay, we played in the Hoops Summit together for one year. So I kind of got to see what he’s like. He’s a great player and he’s a great guy. Family person, and we’ll be a good team. We’ll be working together and playing off each other.”

4.) On what he brings to the Nuggets…

“Play-making, making that option that can pass for others and get others open with my shooting. Just going to be an all-around player, the player that you can’t leave open, the player you’ve got to pay attention to on the court at all times.”

5.) On falling to No. 7 in the draft…

“You know, what every player waits on, you’re just waiting for your name to get called. You don’t know what’s behind the scenes, you don’t know the trades, you don’t know when the clock runs out what happens. You’re just waiting for Adam Silver to make the announcement. So I was just patiently waiting, and I got picked up by a great team.”

Skal Labissiere

1.) On his fall down the draft…

“It was tough at first, but one thing about the league, one thing about all of us now, everything starts over for all of us. We all start over once we get to that level. I’m excited to get to work. I know I have a bright future ahead of me.”

2.) On how he fits in Sacramento…

“I think it’s going to be a good fit learning from DeMarcus Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein is there and I know him pretty well. Rajon Rondo, who’s a really good point guard. I think they’re going to help me a lot.”

3.) On the biggest challenges ahead…

“The biggest learning experience, I think that will be for every rookie, getting used to the speed of the game, the physicality of the game. I’m going to work really hard to put weight on, get stronger. That won’t be a problem for me. Those two things I would say.”

4.) On what he brings to the Kings…

“My versatility. I’m very versatile. I can do a lot of different things on both ends of the floor, and I’m ready to go to work. So I’m not going to shy away from it.”

5.) On how prepared he was for the draft and how it played out…

“I was prepared for anything. Anything could happen. I could have got picked earlier and got traded to somewhere else. But everything happens for a reason. I firmly believe that.”


Photo Gallery: Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere go in first round

Photo Gallery: Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere go in first round

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Brad Penner | USA Today

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Brad Penner | USA Today

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Mike Stobe | Getty Images

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Mike Stobe | Getty Images

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Brad Penner | USA Today

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Brad Penner | USA Today

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Brad Penner | USA Today


Next Morning Takeaways From The NBA Draft

Next Morning Takeaways From The NBA Draft

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Good morning, y’all.

I’m back in my chair for another long day of KSR bloggin’ (I put in 17 consecutive hours in one spot yesterday with two pee breaks) and we have a lot of NBA draft talk to get to as the three Wildcats arrive in their new cities. But before we do, here are some morning thoughts from last night.

 

Skal Labissiere’s slide was hard to watch.

ESPN and DraftExpress.com projected Labissiere ninth overall to the Toronto Raptors in their final mock drafts prior to the actual draft. Then we saw that ninth pick come and go; then the 11th with Orlando; the 12th to Utah; and so on. The green room cleared out, but Labissiere remained, as his agent and John Calipari frantically made phone calls. And then, finally, the Sacramento Kings swooped in at No. 28 and made him a first-round pick, while adding a fourth Kentucky Wildcat to its roster in the process.

Labissiere said of his fall, “It was tough at first, but one thing about the league, one thing about all of us now, everything starts over for all of us. We all start over once we get to that level. I’m excited to get to work. I know I have a bright future ahead of me.”

Jamal Murray fell behind Buddy Hield and Kris Dunn in the guard race.

Most know-it-alls believed Murray would go before Buddy Hield, but the New Orleans Pelicans had other plans. The Pelicans selected Hield over Murray at sixth, leaving the Kentucky sharpshooter to the Denver Nuggets at seventh. BBN’s dream duo of Murray and Anthony Davis? Gone. The Pels passed that up and now Murray has teamed up with Emmanuel Mudiay in the Mile High city.

Murray said he will use the Dunn and Hield picks as inspiration moving forward.

The Kings made what is — without question — the worst pick in the history of the draft.

It’s hard being a Kings fan, you guys. Sure, they added Skal Labissiere to the roster, but that does not excuse what happened earlier in the first round. Sacramento traded its ninth overall pick to Phoenix and dropped down to No. 13. Okay, fine. We’ll see what happens. But then Sacramento selected Georgios Papagiannis, who averaged five points per game in Greece, with that pick. WHAT?!!! Papa Georgio? The guy we used to write about on KSR??? WHAT??!!!

ESPN’s coverage is pretty worthless. (Thanks, Twitter.)

It’s tough to go against Twitter when Adrian Wojnarowski is two picks ahead with his scoop, but ESPN could still do a little bit better of a job. Michael Wilbon has no business talking about college basketball players. He’s clueless.

Tyler Ulis going to Phoenix is better than Tyler Ulis going to Chicago.

We all wanted Tyler Ulis to the Bulls at No. 14, but Tyler Ulis to the Suns, where he teams up with his best friend, is the perfect scenario.

They’re definitely going to live together, right?

(More Booker-Ulis fun coming throughout the day.)

Four of the Suns’ last six picks have been Kentucky Wildcats.

2015: Devin Booker
2015: Andrew Harrison
2016: Dragan Bender
2016: Georgios Papagiannis
2016: Skal Labissiere
2016: Tyler Ulis

I’m convinced some of those first-round picks were fictional people.

Someone in the back was banging random keys on the keyboard and handing the card to Adam Silver.

They say a record 14 international players were selected in the first round, but I think they used made-up names.

 

More draft talk all day…

 


Calipari’s closing comments on draft night

Calipari’s closing comments on draft night

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Take it away, Cal:

It was another nerve-wracking night waiting for draft picks to be made. I always wish the guys were drafted in better positions, but we got three in the league and all with good organizations. Although Alex didn’t get drafted, I’m proud of the position he’s put himself in after what he went through a year a half ago. I’m confident Alex will get a contract just like Aaron Harrison last season.

At the end of the day, it was still a life-changing draft for several of our players and their families. I’m just so proud of the guys. They’ve all earned this and have chased their dreams. I know they’ll all be ready for more.

The new season starts tomorrow, right? Isn’t that how this works?