Peter Socotch of CSNNW.com: The NBA Social Media Awards concluded Monday and Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has been announced as this year's Social MVP, an all encompassing award that stretches across platforms to a player's social networking pages including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The Portland point guard was up against big-name players LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Kevin Durant in the voting. Dame was also in the running for the "Best Social Media Post." Lillard's Facebook page just surpassed 1.6 million LIKES, while his Twitter account has grown to over 452k followers. While Lillard is very good at engaging his fans across all platforms, his desire to become a recording artist fueled his social media MVP status.
George Willis of the New York Post: If Carmelo Anthony is indeed looking that far into the future then his best bet is to stay with the Knicks, trust Jackson and hope it leads to a championship in two or three years. There are no guarantees anywhere he goes. The only guarantee is if he takes less money he will have done his part. It will be up to Jackson to do the rest. In a way Jackson will be Anthony’s buffer more than any player could be this side of LeBron. At least he won’t be the only one blamed if things go bad. Jackson needs to keep Anthony after losing Steve Kerr and not being able to keep Anthony from opting out. Maybe the third time is the charm and both sides can agree on not being maxed out. It’s a win-win.
Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: Let's all hope the Orlando Magic's Rob Hennigan isn't like most of the other GMs in professional sports because most of the other GMs are stealing money. Most of you have been led to believe that GM stands General Manager, but I'm here to tell you today that it stands for Guess Master. You will see it once again in a few days when the NBA draft commences and these shysters in their $5,000 suits and shiny loafers will convince us that all of their complex research and sabermetric technology has led them to choose the next LeBron James. In reality, they will be pulling off the biggest heist since Jesse James. Why? Because professional general managers — much like Skip Bayless — get paid millions of dollars to mostly be wrong. All you have to do is check out the first round of the NFL and NBA drafts, where more than half the draftees traditionally turn out to be non-entities. I firmly believe I could be as good a GM as many holding down those lucrative jobs in professional sports. That's not being a braggart; that's just being a realist.
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com: And while the Sixers are putting out feelers about being "very interested" in Embiid, there's a growing sense that their interest is a smokescreen to acquire more assets (i.e. draft picks) from teams looking to move up and are willing to take on the risks involved in drafting the injury-plagued 7-footer. "Philly's saying all the right things, about those two forming a Twin Towers kind of frontcourt in the future," said one league executive, referring to pairing Nerlens Noel with Embiid. "But think about it. Nerlens Noel didn't play at all this year. And don't forget about the whole Andrew Bynum fiasco! Do they want to risk going through all that again? I don't think so. If they draft Embiid, it won't be to keep him." Although the Milwaukee Bucks (No. 2 pick) have said they have no interest in drafting Embiid, there are a number of teams besides the Boston Celtics that still have Embiid near the top of their draftboard.
Derek Wetmore of 1500ESPN.com: Will Kevin Love be traded before, during or after the NBA draft? That seems to be the question. But so far, it's anyone's guess. Late last night, ESPN's Chris Broussard said the Warriors are not willing to part with Klay Thompson to the Wolves or to the Lakers. A game of chicken, it seems, that is being played out through the media. And while that's wonderfully entertaining, it's hard to believe anonymously sourced information when we're so close to the NBA draft. That's not to blame media that uses unnamed sources. Indeed, that agreement is at times imperative to get any information at all. But basically everyone understands that sources all have an agenda, and will release information that will help further than agenda. ... Thursday might be an important day. Even if Love isn't traded on draft night, every team will have a better of its assets. Things could always heat up quickly. Or this could be a slow burn. When you consider the stakes and the leverage tactics, we probably won't know until we know.
Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: The preference of this veteran scribe is for the Bucks to land Parker, who has an impeccable reputation as a player and person. He possesses an exquisite inside-outside game and can flat-out score. Anyone who witnessed last season’s train wreck knows the Bucks need a prime-time scorer in the worst way. Wiggins isn’t a bad booby prize, though. He also has good character and has the potential to be the most exciting player in franchise history. His hops are ridiculous and he runs the floor as fast and gracefully as, ah, a buck. Oh, and his game is pretty darn good, too. Wiggins or Parker? Parker or Wiggins? For the Bucks, it’s a win-win situation.
Mike Helfgot, special to the Chicago Tribune: Reports that Jabari Parker has gained weight and tanked his workout with the Cavaliers on Friday are not true, according to his father. Sonny Parker called the persistent reports of Jabari’s weight gain “made up” and scoffed at an ESPN report that claimed Jabari purposely didn’t put his best foot forward for the Cavaliers because he hopes to play for the Bucks instead. “He would never do that,” Sonny Parker, an NBA first-round draft pick himself in 1976, said. “His character is different. He plays the same way regardless. He is very thankful to be in this situation. I’m sure he likes certain teams over other teams, but whoever picks him, that’s where he’s going to go. When you’re picking a school, you can do that. Now he can’t control it. He has too much character and respect and love for the game to tank so they won’t pick him. That is not him.” The Cavaliers have the No. 1 pick in Thursday night’s draft, followed by the Bucks. Parker, a 6-foot-8 forward out of Duke and Simeon, hasn’t worked out for any other team.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: As the Spurs showed in the Finals in beating Miami, a deep bench is never a bad thing. The NBA is a copycat league, and with the Bulls severely short-handed the past few years, well, more bodies are definitely required. ... Best-case scenario: Afflalo is acquired for a pick, the Bulls add Adreian Payne with their other pick, Mirotic waits one more season, while Shawn Marion and Devin Harris come on the cheap thanks to Boozer being amnestied.
Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun: But again, the priority on draft night will be best available player, period. If that player happens to match the Raptors needs, that’s gravy. Ujiri will not be thinking about covering himself on draft night in the event his starting point guard Kyle Lowry, a very-soon-to-be unrestricted free agent, doesn’t return. “We’re going full force after Kyle Lowry and if there’s a talented point guard in the draft we know that it’s going to be tough to come and contribute to where our team is off the bat, but we’ll go for talent in the draft, but Kyle Lowry is our target and we’ll try to get that done,” Ujiri said. In other words don’t rule out a player like Ennis, even if you’re 100% convinced Lowry will be back.
Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: Tyronn Lue impressed the Cavs during his two interviews with his fresh approach to the game. Players and coaches all over the league raved about him. He is reportedly signing a three-year guaranteed contract that makes him the league's highest-paid assistant. He'll make $1.25 million in 2014-15, $1.5 million in 2015-16 and $1.75 million in 2016-17. The fourth year on the contract is a team option - identical to Blatt's deal.
Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: The Mavericks’ trade to acquire Lamar Odom from the Los Angeles Lakers in December 2011 should have left a permanent scar so deep that team owner Mark Cuban and president Donnie Nelson would be justified in never talking to the Lakers again. The acquisition of Odom was sold as a heist, yet it soon turned out Lam Lam was a Trojan horse dressed as a Kardashian. The Lam Lam fiasco was so big, reality TV may not have believed it. Now, it is 2014 and, according to various reports, the Mavericks are pondering the possibility of adding another forward the Lakers no longer want — free agent Pau Gasol. Pau is Spanish for “done.” If the Mavs want to do right by their best assets — Dirk, Rick Carlisle and Monta Ellis— they are better off to add a player rather than a name. This includes passing on Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, whom even Dirk has conceded won’t come here when he tests free agency.
J. Michael of CSN Washington: In the the last week the trade and free agency rumor mills have churned at full-speed with talk of Kevin Love, Rajon Rondo, Klay Thompson, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony being in play. Some of it will come to fruition. Most of it won't. Any chatter of the Wizards being in that mix, or being able to make a dent, isn't realistic. First, they have six unrestricted free agents, two restricted free agents and options on two more. John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene aren't going anywhere. They're not breaking up their backcourt of the future and Nene, with his extensive injury history, is owed $13 million in each of the next two seasons. That leaves unproven Otto Porter and Martell Webster, who is coming off a sub-par season, and No. 46 pick with which to barter. These markets are fluid and always subject to change, but the Wizards likely are better off letting the chips fall after the draft and picking their spots wisely in free agency. And that starts with Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza.