How the Indiana Pacers can sign and trade Ricky Rubio in NBA Free Agency

The Indiana Pacers could be looking at sign-and-trade guard Ricky Rubio in the NBA Free Agency next month. (Author: Gardener)

Ricky RubioThe Indiana Pacers had to open a roster spot late in their 2021-22 season to sign Terry Taylor and Duane Washington Jr. They could have done without guard Ricky Rubio, who was out with a knee injury and with an expiring contract for the season open that spot. Instead, Pacers decision-makers opted for a move from Keifer Sykes, keeping Rubio on the roster despite offering no value to the team on the pitch. Rubio is set to become a free agent later in the summer - the three-year contract he signed with the Phoenix Suns in 2019 expires at the end of this month. The Pacers have his Bird rights, which means that as long as they keep his free agent cap on their paybook, they can offer him any legal contract, even if they're over the salary cap. J. McConnell, Washington and other guards with ball-handling skills on the list, Rubio wouldn't play a big role at blue and gold going forward unless multiple trades took place. Indiana decision makers would be better off putting their money elsewhere on the open hand -- a senior point guard isn't needed on a younger team with backcourt depth. So while the Pacers have the means to keep the Spanish Guard, it's likely they kept his contract on the books this offseason for another reason: sign-and-trade opportunities. Since the Pacers have full Bird rights to Rubio and can sign him on any deal, they could elect to sign him on a deal roughly his market value and then immediately trade him to another roster, who does not have the means to acquire the 11. year per. Under-the-cap teams could just sign the guard without going through the Pacers, but any squad sitting above the salary cap who want to add Rubio without using his mid-level exception, for example, would be a natural fit for a sign-and-trade situation. The Pacers would have to bring back matching salary on a deal unless the team bringing in Rubio has a trade exception of sufficient size for the deal to work. But sending the veteran guard to an over-the-cap team that needs point guard depth could help Indiana earn an asset, maybe a second-round pick — something they couldn't have done if they would have cut him during the season. "To my knowledge he's rehab over there [Spain] and doing well," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said of Rubio during the season. The injury could mean Rubio's league-wide value has dropped. The Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception (MLE), worth around $10.3 million for teams next season, could be enough to take the watch this summer. But if an over-the-cap team used their MLE for Rubio, they couldn't use it for anything else, while Rubio was added to a team via a sign-and-trade, the team would still have access to their entire MLE . So there's value for rival squads to add Rubio via a sign-and-trade, but the fact that the MLE might be enough to bring in the Veteran Guard will take some leverage off the Pacers. Another way a team can include Rubio in a sign-and-trade is by using a traded player exception (TPE). These exceptions effectively count as appropriate salary during a trade. So if a team uses one to acquire Rubio, Indiana wouldn't have to bring back a player and salary in a deal. Six teams currently have a TPE valued at more than $7 million so their TPE could be ideal candidates for a Rubio sign-and-trade: Boston, Brooklyn, Dallas, Los Angeles (Clippers), and Portland Utah. Outside of TPEs, any team wishing to sign-and-trade Rubio from the Pacers would need to return a matching salary in the form of a player. That might not be ideal for blue and gold, but if that player could be valuable to the franchise or a valuable asset is sent with the player, then Indiana might be worth it. Without knowing Rubio's league-wide value, it's difficult to predict what a deal of this nature would look like. In any case, between TPEs and Rubio-for-Player Sign-and-Trades, there are opportunities for the Pacers to acquire capital in exchange for Rubio. That's why they stuck with the guard at the end of the 2021-22 season. Even if Rubio agrees to a deal with a team that has the salary cap required for a contract, the Pacers could still sign-and-trade to generate their own TPE -- the exact move they made with Doug McDermott the Off-season 2021. Outside of sign-and-trades, any team wishing to acquire Rubio would have to sign him directly using an exception or salary cap range. The Pacers would get nothing in return from such a swap, so the Indiana front office will be scouting the league for potential moves in the coming weeks. To make matters worse, Rubio could be signed-and-traded in combination with other Pacers players in a bigger, more dramatic move. If they manage to find a deal, they can purchase an asset in exchange for Rubio, which would be a nice price for the Pacers to receive in exchange for a player who never donned a Pacers uniform.


Steph Curry could win even if Warriors loses; Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown Neck and Neck

We'll explore the precedent of a losing player winning Finals MVP and where Curry fits into the conversation (Author: Gardener)

Steph CurryWith the 2022 NBA Finals tied 2-2 returning to San Francisco for Game 5 on Monday, it's a good time to catch the always entertaining Finals MVP race. If the Golden State Warriors win, Stephen Curry is a lock. So far, as we'll discuss, even if the Warriors lose the series, he's made a good case for winning the award. On the Boston Celtics side, it's a tight draw between Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown at the moment. One of those three guys will win Finals MVP. After four games, I see the breakdown of the leaderboard as follows. Curry is the favorite because, on paper at least, Golden State is in a better position as of today to win the championship after reclaiming home field advantage in a three-game streak. Should the Warriors fall short, there is precedent for a player from the losing team to win Finals MVP. Jerry West received the honor in 1969 when his Lakers lost to the Celtics in seven games. If ever a player from a losing team was to become a Finals MVP in more recent times, it would have been, and probably should have been, LeBron James in 2015, when he averaged 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 in Cleveland's loss Assists scored to the Golden State. We know who actually became Finals MVP in this series in 2015: Andre Iguodala. It remains hotly debated, with Iguodala himself recently saying he deserved the award against Stephen Curry, who averaged 26-6-5 for his standards despite some tough games and created so much of the space in which Iguodala and others thrived . This year, Curry, whose missing Finals MVP was hotly beaten to death on an otherwise Mt. Rushmore-worthy résumé, leaves no doubt. Again, if the Warriors win this series, he'll have the hardware in his pocket. The question is: should Curry win the award even if the Warriors lose the series? If Curry lays an egg or two on the final leg of this series, he won't win. For a loser to win MVP, the gap must be large enough to be overwhelming. Nobody in that streak has come close as great as Curry, who is currently averaging 34.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and two steals on 50 percent shooting. Dude shoots 49 percent from 3 to a tick over 12 tries per game. With 25 triples made to date, Curry is the first player in history to have made at least five 3s in four straight finals games. Following his 43-point feat in Game 4, he's also one of three point guards to ever set a 40-point/10-rebound final line, joining Magic Johnson and the aforementioned West. Considering the constant defense he faces and the lack of help he gets from his own team, what Curry is doing right now is superhuman. The Celtics are a better team than the Warriors. They have two elite scorers at Golden State. None of their lineups need to compromise offense for defense or vice versa, while Golden State somehow patches at least one glaring hole every second of this streak. If you're still seeing this Warriors team through the lens of what it used to be, get your eyes checked. These are not the ancient warriors. However, it's Old Curry that's literally the only card Golden State has to play. LeBron had the Cavaliers team leading Mathew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson 2-1 against a 67-win Warriors team. He wasn't as efficient as Curry in that series. But he was by far the best player in that series, and he didn't win the award. Some people would argue that if LeBron didn't get it then, Curry can't get it now. My gut is that I feel kinda weird when a player from the losing team wins Finals MVP, although I usually despise arguments leaning on the old, shaky leg of traditionalism. But if LeBron had won in 2015, I would feel comfortable. To me, LeBron should have set the modern precedent in 2015. But my colleague Sam Quinn challenged me in our chat room to answer a simple question: why misinform the other? As Sam claimed, it's similar to the argument that a baseball player can't be unanimously elected to the Hall of Fame because Babe Ruth or Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle wasn't. So they misunderstood them. Why do we have to keep doing these things wrong? Baseball voters finally broke their stupid code when Mariano Rivera got 100 percent of the vote in 2019. People said the same about Curry, who unanimously won the 2015-16 regular season MVP. Again, two wrongs don't make a right. There was no viable pick to win the 2015-16 MVP other than Curry. They got that right. So again, if he continues at this current pace and the Warriors lose the streak, Curry will surely have a case to win his first Finals MVP. And again, personally, I'm not sure how I would feel about it. Of course it doesn't matter how I feel. All that matters is how the voters feel. I know this: If all the Boston players are up there in their championship hats and shirts announcing Curry as MVP, it's going to set off one hell of a Twitter firestorm. Unless Boston wins the series and Curry doesn't break modern precedent, it's a razor-thin gap between Tatum and Brown right now. It's almost impossible that both have averaged exactly 22.3 points and 7.0 assists so far in the series. Brown's scoring was far more efficient than Tatum's, but I still lean towards Tatum for the style of play. His 7.8 assists per game is twice Brown's. All in all, entering Game 4, Tatum was responsible for 45 percent of Boston's offense, either through his goals or assists. Tatum is the one defended like the Superstar, and Brown, if we're splitting hairs, benefits from the secondary creation opportunities Tatum's gravity provides. Tatum's finishing issues near the rim resurface, but he's hitting 45 percent of his 3s this series. To me, Brown has felt like the best player for Boston so far, in a way that Iguodala has felt like the best player for Golden State in 2015. Curry of 2015 - to let the inefficiency slide and really appreciate the overall impact of the bus driver, as Charles Barkley likes to say. But Brown was great. His style of play, while not at Tatum's level, was significant and it's not like he's not creating much of his own offense. He beat Draymond Green multiple times for one-on-one buckets in Game 4. Both Brown and Tatum play their typically superb defense. This is the race that is far from over. Once again, if Golden State wins, Curry is a suspension. For Boston, these next two or three games will decide the MVP debate between Tatum and Brown. A week from now, if the Celtics have their way, Tatum and Brown will both have played great throughout this series to lead Boston to the trophy he really cares about.


Best friends become two unlikely (or maybe perfect) lovers (or maybe not) in a reality-based musical Straight Forward

Billy Aberle and Chris Sabol's Straight Forward is an original musical inspired by an article by Mike Iamele that went viral on social media in 2014, explaining how he began developing romantic and sexual feelings for his male best friend Garrett Lech, although both identified as straight. (Author: Gardener)

twoI think it was 1976 when I first saw a Tony Award television show. That was the year that A Chorus Line vs. Sincerity won big, but that was just a sprint. Take a look at the list of long runs on Broadway and you could say Cynicism won the marathon. When people mention their favorite moments in Tony Awards history, they might mention Jennifer Holliday singing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" or Michael Jeter dancing to "We'll Take A Glass Together." One of my favorite moments is a little less well known. It was 1961 and Phil Silvers, who starred in the David Merrick-produced musical Do Re Mi, was hosting the show. Nicknamed "The Abominable Showman" for his ruthless (and hugely successful) production style, Merrick received a special Tony that year for his recent propensity to put together successful shows. But as powerful a businessman as he was, Merrick was a little quieter when he spoke, so Silvers stepped up beside him and said, "Like you told me in Philadelphia, speak up, David." The best way a theater journalist could do it Bringing you to see your new musical, which will have three performances at a remote downtown festival... to schedule an experienced publicist who specializes in off-off-Broadway and indie theater. The next best thing is to hang out at the Don't Tell Mama bar on a Sunday afternoon and strike up a conversation with someone who writes a column promoting cheap theater in New York. Method number two took me to the LATEA theater on Suffolk Street on Friday night for the New York Theater Festival production of Billy Aberle and Chris Sabol's Straight Forward, an original musical inspired by a 2014 social media article by Mike Iamele went viral. He explained how he began developing romantic and sexual feelings for his male best friend Garrett Lech, despite them both identifying as straight. After traveling to Boston to interview the two former college roommates, the authors - who share the book, music and lyrics - developed a warm and sensitive one-act musical for two with an almost through-score, the the story is told with minimal spoken dialogue and narration. There's a believable chemistry between Greyson Riley as Mike, the workaholic whose lifestyle threatens his health, and Andrew King as Garrett, the more reserved and responsible who spends each day caring for his recovering friend despite being in a long ... permanent relationship with a woman. Realizing that the feelings he's developing for Garrett won't go away, Mike reluctantly brings up the subject, and the two simultaneously experience not only exploring how they feel about each other, but also trying to figure out their feelings own identity in relation to sexuality. It's a common observation that love develops quickly in musical theater, but what makes this piece work so well is that the writers take their time and musicalize every important moment; from revealing emotions to first attempts at physical intimacy to how it affects their other relationships. Granted, the attention to detail can slow things down a bit, but there's not a moment that doesn't pull you in, especially when presented by Sofia Shirey's suitably understated direction. General admission tickets for this afternoon's Straight Forward closing performance are $25, but hopefully there will be more opportunities to see this very promising performance in the near future. If it seems insensitive, to call Reisman's Spindle Shuttle Needle a raucous comedy about the vulnerability of women in war-torn countries... ...I'll confidently point out the bursts of laughter that consistently accompanied Thursday night's performance. The second entry of Clubbed Thumb's 25th Summerworks festival, held at The Wild Project, Spindle Shuttle Needle (tickets $25, students $20), is described by its playwright as "a fable about what it means to be too long stuck in his house and how we're going to deal with what's next." Oliva (set) and Dina El-Azize (costumes) contribute fairytale visuals to director Tamilla Woodard's production, delivering a Grimm interpretation of the grim realities endured by four women confined to a tiny cottage making blankets for soldiers , while they shoot guns and cannons blare nearby. Tilda (Mia Katigbak) is the group's badass leader, with the restless Hanni (Zoë Geltman) as their daughter, fathered by a fallen soldier. They feed on the animal carcasses, which they can barter to a slick fleece merchant played by New York stage gem Tina Benko. Seth Clayton, the only male member of the group, plays a hapless soldier who unknowingly helps Hanni in her quest for a better life. And at the end of the war, women have to adjust to a new kind of free market. None of this might sound particularly funny, but Spindle Shuttle Needle is cleverly written with dark humor, skillfully performed by a sizzling ensemble that conveys the message that sometimes tales of woe are best told with humor. It's not that I felt particularly aggressive when I arrived to see playwright/director Stephen Kaliski's The Refugees... ...but when I saw the note on my chair asking me to do a haiku In response to the statement "You haven't done enough," my immediate response was: The play, which runs through June 26 (tickets, $35), has an interesting concept; To discuss contemporary refugee issues in the form of ancient Greek drama, which was often used to debate the issues of the day. As climate change renders neighboring countries inhospitable, Queen Clytemnestra of Argos (a pensive Rachel McPhee) learns that refugees from Athens, Minoa and Thrace have gathered at the border, begging for entry and a chance to work and re-establish themselves . Her handsome daughter Electra (Carolina Đỗ) and son Orestes (Jonathan Nathaniel Dingle-El), a celebrity lifestyle, want to let them all in, but the queen is reluctant to help others if it causes the slightest distress to her own people. So her children insist that she takes them to the refugee camp to meet representatives of all three groups. This is where audience haikus come into play. It's no spoiler that The Refugees leans heavily on its side to welcome anyone who can be helped, and a curtain call urges viewers to donate to Women for Afghan Women on their way out. “I am against identity politics when it deviates from moral greatness and spiritual greatness and integrity, honesty and decency. Well, someone like John Coltrane was as black as he can be in the best sense of the word, but 'A Love Supreme' isn't just about loving black people. Stephen Sondheim, Jew as he can be. One of the greatest musical geniuses before his death. He will touch the depths of your soul as Aretha will touch the depths of your soul she sings "Respect". This is what the quest for moral and spiritual greatness is all about.


Sky Sports presenter cast doubt on Middlesbrough's Djed Spence over Tottenham Hotspur rumors

Middlesbrough defender Djed Spence is on a high after securing promotion to the Premier League with loan club Nottingham Forest. Middlesbrough allowed Spence to go on a season-long loan last summer after then-manager Neil Warnock felt the requirements were redundant. With the emergence of Isaiah Jones, Spence fell down the pecking order and a move to Nottingham Forest looked to suit all parties. (Author: Gardener)

Sky SportsMiddlesbrough allowed Spence to go on a season-long loan last summer after then-manager Neil Warnock felt the requirements were redundant. That was certainly the case as the right-back starred for Steve Cooper's side as they achieved promotion in the play-off final last weekend. He also earned a spot on the division's Team of the Season and so his form has seen him begin to attract a great deal of interest in the top flight. The likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Brentford and Nottingham Forest have been linked, but Tottenham Hotspur are believed to be in pole position. "We saw him everywhere he went, Conte - he signs players aged 26 and over who have proven themselves at European level and in the elite league," he said. "I would be incredibly surprised if a player like Djed Spence came to Tottenham. "I think someone like Thomas Meunier is a more likely option, to be honest, than Djed Spence. "I think he'd rather open the doors to 29/30-year-old full-backs and full-backs who have been at the highest level and have done it consistently." Spence has only played a handful of seasons in the Championship since his debut and has never been before represented in the Premier League. Tottenham Hotspur have been linked with a number of other players capable of playing at right-back and as such, Antonio Conte will be weighing his options.


Hailstorm, high winds uproot trees, shake cars on roads in Delhi-NCR

Hailstorm accompanied by strong winds slammed across Delhi and the national capital region on Monday evening. The thunderstorm, accompanied by gusty winds, uprooted many trees and brought traffic to a standstill in many places. (Author: Gardener)

DelhiNEW DELHI: Hailstorm accompanied by strong winds battered Delhi and the national capital region on Monday evening. The thunderstorm, accompanied by gusty winds, uprooted many trees and brought traffic to a standstill in many places. Images posted to Twitter by residents of Delhi, Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad show damage to several old buildings and vehicles as trees fell on them. In the aftermath of a thunderstorm in Delhi, the air conditioner fell off its hinges and dangled dangerously from ITO's Express Building. Air conditioner parts dangle precariously from Express building, ITO Also read – Fire breaks out at Jain Hospital in Delhi, 5 firefighters rushed to site Parts of Delhi and Noida also witnessed trees uprooted amid heavy rain, that hit the state capital region. #CLOCK | Delhi is witnessing trees uprooted amid heavy rains that have hit the national capital. Pictures posted by Delhi residents also showed cars swaying on the streets, propelled by the high wind speed. City experiences hailstorm and thunderstorm, Flights affected, Wind shakes cars on streets, Several trees uprooted, Cars damaged, Heavy traffic jam in city. #DelhiRains Bright evening skies amid the intense heatwave, and according to the Regional Weather Forecasting Center (RWFC), dust storms and thunderstorms began in the state capital from 4.30am, bringing the temperature down and providing relief from the scorching heat. For breaking news and live news updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Read more about the latest Delhi news at


Vick Hope arrives from Ibiza to launch the ITV chat show

The BBC Radio 1 DJ said she has just returned from the Balearic Islands, where fiancé Calvin Harris owns a farm, in the first episode of her new ITV chat show on Sunday morning (Author: Gardener)

ITVVick Hope arrives from Ibiza to launch ITV chat show after fiancé Calvin Harris' appearance BBC Radio 1's DJ said she has just returned from the Balearic island, where fiancé Calvin Harris owns a farm, in the first episode of her new ITV Sunday Morning Chat Show Thank you for subscribing! We've got more newsletter Show me viewers praised Vick Hope for her first ITV chat show on Sunday morning (12 June). The BBC Radio 1 DJ, 32, launched the series with musicians Kate Nash and Aitch and romance novelist Jojo Moyes. It's Hope's first new project since her engagement to Dumfries DJ Calvin Harris last month. According to The Sun, Harris is said to have proposed on his farm in Ibiza. Hope presented the recorded program after they had just returned from the Balearic island in the Mediterranean. Describing the drink as "summer in a glass," Hope added, "I'm always in Ibiza, mate." Goodman is the creator of The London Cocktail Club. Just hours before the launch of the ITV show, Vick shared videos of the crowd at Calvin Harris' event at Ushuaia Ibiza, where he has a residency every Friday during the summer. She then shared clips of an Ibiza beach in the sun on her Instagram Stories: "I'm so excited to be here and to be with you so enjoy because for the next eight weeks I'm bringing you some cheery Sunday vibes. ] Me got everything from what to read to what to drink and all with a sprinkling of games, giggles, adorable guests and loads of alliteration it seems Viewers have been commenting on the show on social media and praised Hope for her first chat show performance. Dawn said: "@VickNHope an excellent show today, just what Sunday morning needed". Kev added: "It's a lovely little Sunday morning show, VH is very personable and positive and obviously gorgeous." Good for you on your first breakfast show on ITV! Before joining Jordan North on BBC Radio 1 Drivetime, Hope spent three years hosting the Capital Breakfast Show in London. The Vick Hope breakfast show resumes next Sunday at 8.30am on ITV and the ITV Hub.


Conte suggested dropping Djed Spence's interest and switching to Dortmund instead

Tottenham have been advised to abandon the planned move of Middlesbrough right-back Djed Spence in favor of a swoop for Borussia Dortmund star Thomas Meunier. (Author: Gardener)

ConteTottenham have been advised to abandon the planned move of Middlesbrough right-back Djed Spence in favor of a swoop for Borussia Dortmund star Thomas Meunier. However, having secured promotion to the Premier League on loan at Nottingham Forest, the 21-year-old is now being advised to make a permanent move to the City Ground. He believes Conte should instead go after a more experienced player like Meunier, not Spence. Thomlinson told Football Daily's Sunday Vibes: "We've seen him everywhere he's gone, Conte - he's signing players over 26 who have proven themselves at European level and in the elite league. I would be incredibly surprised if a player like Djed Spence arrived at Tottenham. "I think someone like Thomas Meunier is a more likely option, to be honest, than Djed Spence. "I think he would rather open the doors for 29/30 year old full-backs and full-backs who have been at the highest level and have done it consistently." Conte has shown confidence in youngster Ryan Sessegnon in the closing stages of the season. However, with Perisic seemingly being tricked into covering left-back, Conte decides he wants a more youthful option on the right. That would open the door to Spence or any other connected player in Max Aarons. Sessegnon could even go that side if Emerson Royal or Matt Doherty are shown the door. Meunier remains a good player, scoring two goals and providing five assists for Dortmund last season. Perisic, despite being 33, still has that Meunier isn't fast in any way. With that in mind, a Spence or Aarons move still seems more likely than Meunier.


Bryan Abasolo shows off washboard abs in posed photos

Bryan Abasolo flaunts his washboard abs shirtless, and Bachelor Nation fans couldn't get enough of it. (Author: Gardener)

Bryan AbasoloBachelor Nation first met Bryan Abasolo on season 13 of The Bachelorette starring Rachel Lindsay, the franchise's first-ever Black Bachelorette. Since the show, Rachel has become an advocate for racial diversity. She is a television personality while Bryan is a co-host with Mike Johnson for the podcast Talking It Out with Bachelor Nation. In his most recent Instagram post, Bryan posed shirtless and his abs were bursting. Along with his washboard abs, Bryan showed off his muscular arms and showed off the waistband of his Calvin Klein underwear band with his unbuttoned black jeans and partially unzipped. Bryan captioned the photos, "Casual Sunday (sunshine emoji) #Sunday #Love #SundayFunday #Weekend #Sundayvibes #vibes." The first person to comment was Eric Bigger, a fellow cast member of The Bachelor season Rachel when he wrote, "Waiting for AB class bro (muscle emoji)." Bryan's co-host for her podcast, Mike Johnson, gave him a flame-fire emoji and said, "Flex on em." Other fans gave more heart-shaped emojis, flames of fire emojis and hands-up emojis as they said, "Perfection and stop the madness." One woman even asked, "Um, do you have 0% body fat?" Additionally, two fans commented on his caption, as they wrote: "Bring your lazy Sunday to us every day" and "Very lazy it seems. Not that we mind, Dr. Abs." Recently, Bryan and Rachel spoke about having a family in the future and how difficult it is to balance work and home, especially since the two are so involved in their careers at this point. It seems Bachelor Nation doesn't mind seeing photos of Bryan Abasolo's abs and toned physiques, and wouldn't mind seeing more in the near future.


How OKC could blaze a trail to dispute

What Combination of 2022 Draft Picks Could Bring OKC Closer to NBA Relevance? Jonathan Giveny outlines a best-case scenario. (Author: Gardener)

OKCWith four picks to make June 23 at the Barclays Center (8 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN app) and three first-rounders — including the No. 2 overall pick — The Thunder have a chance to make their franchise more than any other team to change on draft night. General manager Sam Presti and coach Mark Daigneault are at the helm of an organization with a number of young talented figures to build around - most notably backcourt phenomena Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey - and the players who make OKC Supplement selects will provide a window into the direction of the franchise and show how quickly a passionate fanbase can expect the team to be in contention for a playoff spot or, later, a Western Conference or NBA title. In an exercise similar to the one we did with the Spurs, we looked at a plausible list of potential players who would represent a best-case scenario for Oklahoma City in the 2022 NBA draft. The Thunder rode through a rotating cast of big men throughout the season, using undersized players like Isaiah Roby, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Mamadi Diakite and Jaylen Hoard, as well as experienced stopgap players Derrick Favors and Mike Muscala. Neither of these players looks like a long-term starting caliber solution, making this a perfect opportunity to use the #2 to dramatically upgrade the OKC frontcourt in what stands as one of the best big man designs we've seen in some have time - four of the top five prospects in the class are either Power Forwards, Centers or Project to play both spots. If the Magic picks Jabari Smith at #1, as expected, it means the Thunder will see what we think have the best prospects of the draft falling right into their laps in Holmgren. He effectively guards pick and roll in a variety of different schemes with his ability to hedge, catch, drop or switch and contain smaller players by adopting a low, agile stance and rotating his hips to get away from turning to one side of the suit another, and used his 7-foot-6 wingspan and quick instinct to challenge jumpers and layups and usually be the first to get off the ground for defensive rebounds. The Thunder showed some defensive potential while healthy last season and have significant room to spare with a backcourt comprised of oversized point guards Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and one of the league's toughest perimeter players in Lu Dort Growth. Adding those three with Holmgren along with a role player who brings a strong lead and knows how to influence victory, such as Kenrich Williams, could make for an exciting lineup at either end of the floor. Holmgren, who worked with Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard, two of the best high school seniors in college sports, played supplemental roles for Gonzaga last season, primarily as a ground spacer, rim runner, cutter, offensive rebounder and pick-and- roll finisher. Still, Holmgren can clearly shift gears at this end of the stage, particularly as a ball carrier and passer where he hasn't been used very often on a team, than running through international player of the year candidate Timme. and a battle-hardened point guard at Nembhard. Holmgren's ability to turn defense into offense by repelling the glass is one of his most appealing traits, as he's a fluid ball handler with excellent body control and long strides that make him a terror to opposing big men he teams up with can measure the resignation situations. On the halfcourt, Holmgren will benefit from NBA distance and the opportunity to increase his assertiveness as a shot creator, even in pick-and-roll or isolation situations. As a cutter or pick-and-roll finisher, he provides his guards with an excellent lob target while effectively keeping the ground at a distance. The Thunder ranked last in the NBA in offensive efficiency last season, had the lowest percentage of 3-pointers in the league (32.3%), and rarely made the free-throw line. Sharpe runs competitive 3v3 workouts for most but not all teams that finish in the top 10, with his bottom likely being that spot for the Thunder who gets a visit and has studied it more closely than anyone team in the NBA. Not every team that plays in the 5-10 range has a good understanding of what Sharpe's game is, and not all would be willing to give him the freedom and repetition he needs to learn on the fly and that missed To catch up on experience by skipping his senior year of high school, deciding not to play in Kentucky and going straight to the NBA. Sharpe's camp doesn't seem overly concerned about where he's picked either, preferring to steer him into an advantageous long-term developmental situation where he can maximize his considerable potential and become an All-Star, with the Thunder in on it at the top of their list. For the Thunder, picking a talent like Sharpe would be a no-brainer as he is one of the most physically gifted wingers in the class while also possessing exceptional skill with his polished footwork, lithe ability to generate attacks for himself, dynamic shooting and long reach, giving it one of the biggest advantages of any player in the draft. Sharpe's ability to play both wing points with his 7-foot span allows him to see minutes alongside Giddey, Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort, the big three of Thunder, while absorbing some touches and shots on one or more bench units the above player is seated. Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault looks like an ideal mentor for young Sharpe at this stage in his career. Daigneault has a proven track record of handing the reins to highly acclaimed talent while giving them the structure and accountability they need to maximize their development while still remaining competitive game to game. Though Sharpe probably won't be the most efficient offensive player early in his career and will certainly need to make a transition onto defense, and with his level of intensity, the Thunder are the kind of forward-thinking team that sees the benefits of taking the early clumps and hoping to build those later To reap the rewards as Sharpe enters his 20s. This selection could provide a glimpse of how Thunder Brass sees their team and where they are likely to go next season and beyond. Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort patiently endured a two-year rebuilding process that saw the team lose more than 70% of their games. How will they feel about a third year of heavy losses and chasing lottery balls - with a potential generation player in Victor Wembanyama on the horizon should the team be lucky enough to finish No. 1 in 2023? There, a fan favorite and one of the NBA's best bargains at $1.9 million a year, is eligible for an extension this summer before becoming an unrestricted free agent next year. Are the Thunder rewarding him now, which would certainly ease any potential tensions, or do you wait and see how a backcourt of Giddey, Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort fares with a full NBA season under Giddey's belt? There can't be more than a $58 million 4-year extension signed there, according to ESPN's Bobby Marks, which might be a bit low for him on the open market, but could well provide the kind of security that has a 23-year contract An old player who hasn't made that much money up to this point in his career could very well covet. Giddey, despite being only 19 years old, is probably not the type of player who will enjoy being in a losing situation for an extended period of time. Giddey, SGA, Dort and Holmgren could be a centerpiece capable of getting in the Western Conference play-in game if surrounded by the right kind of role players and veterans. He's exactly the kind of experienced floorspacer the team is likely to want if winning is a priority next season, and the same can be said of Kenrich Williams, who also qualified for overtime this summer. An All-ACC player in his third season of college basketball, he was an efficient goal-scorer, displayed excellent passing skills, and was highly fickle on defense with his excellent instincts, intensity, and awareness that made him appear ready to put minutes in an NBA game in the not too distant future. On the other hand, LaRavia is only 20 years old, nearly as old as newcomers like Holmgren and TyTy Washington Jr., and still has some potential left to exploit if his physique improves, his speed and explosiveness are maximized, and his assertiveness is maximized as the outside shooter and overall scorer increases. Surrounding the Thunder core with more shooting is a key goal, whether in draft or freehand, and while LaRavia isn't a sniper in terms of quantity from brands like Ochai Agbaji, AJ Griffin, or Jabari Smith, its is All-around versatility and modern qualities make him an interesting candidate for the team's roster. One thing the Thunder will be aware of on draft night is the low number of roster spots available at this point, given that the team already has 15 contracts with four draft picks on the books. Assuming the team decides to sign the aforementioned Muscala, the young and prolific Isaiah Roby, and 20-year-old French point guard Theo Maledon, who has plenty of untapped potential and in whom the team has already invested over 2,600 NBA minutes . Those 15 contracts don't include draft rights, which OKC holds on 28-year-old Vasilije Micic, arguably the best point guard in Europe who intends to make his way into the NBA, a source told ESPN, but isn't an ideal fit with the Timeline of Thunder given the abundance of young talent the team already has in the backcourt. The Thunder could be a big player on draft night, using his four draft picks, Micic's rights, another 13 picks they've put together for future years, and a figure nearly $32 million below the salary cap, giving them the opportunity to absorb a large contract in one trade if they choose. With that in mind, it wouldn't be surprising if the Thunder chose to consolidate picks #30 and 34 to get into the 20s to select a player who surprisingly slipped out of the Green Room or simply as Players with a huge are considered good or a great fit for their makeup and schedule — LSU's Tari Eason, for example. Should the team decide not to strike a deal and remain pat, recruiting an international player like Diop could make a lot of sense. Diop could play in the NBA Summer League and then be brought straight to the NBA depending on how free agency and the rest of the Thunder roster fare, or hidden in Europe for another season to retain flexibility. Diop is in great development in Spain with Gran Canaria competing in the Spanish ACB and EuroCup and will only be more attractive with another year of experience in Europe's top competitions next summer. The Thunder played some undersized lineups and sometimes struggled with the size and physicality of opposing frontcourts, something a player like Diop, 7ft tall and with a chiseled 250-pound frame, was able to alleviate. Diop has improved significantly this season, culminating in a strong performance in the ACB playoff quarterfinals against an elite European side in Barcelona, ​​recording 32 points and 12 rebounds in three games in 55 minutes. He's mobile, plays with impressive intensity, and thanks to his timing and the strong coaching he's received, brings superb versatility with the dexterity he shows defending pick and rolls in a variety of ways - be it switching, hedging , trapping or dropping to that point and the considerable experience he has gained by earning game time in one of the most challenging leagues that any prospect in this draft has entered this season. While Diop isn't the most skilled or polished big man in this class, he knows his role and should be able to prove a strong target for Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander, shielding them and rolling them to the edge on purpose. He's a solid finisher who's averaged a dunk every 16 minutes he's been on the court this season, which is a clear need for the Thunder, and could be an advantage when alongside a thin-framed big man like Holmgren who will likely need some time to adjust to the strength and physicality of the NBA frontcourts.


WHERE ARE YOU NOW? The players were drafted ahead of Steph Curry in the 2009 NBA Draft

Not all picks were misses, but some were head scratchers. (Author: Gardener)

Steph Curry* The 2009 NBA draft was a deep class with several future MVPs and several players likely to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. * But the draft's class turned out to be Stephen Curry, despite being passed over six times, including a team who drafted two point guards without the Curry name. * While it's not uncommon for a top NBA draft player to miss the first pick, it's odd that a talent like Curry isn't drafted until six other players have dropped out. * Below we take a look at the teams that passed on Curry, who they chose instead, and where those players are now. What was said at the time: "Griffin has some holes. He's not the most robust in the low post, as he has a tendency to fall left or right if he should be jumping straight for jump hooks. Dude's a stallion." — Yahoo Sports' Kelly Dwyer Where he is now: Not all picks before Curry were misses. There are a few who have made no mistakes at all, including Griffin, who was an All-Star six times in nine seasons. After 7.5 seasons with the Clippers, Griffin played for the Pistons and most recently for the Nets. What was said at the time: "I'm not a huge fan of Thabeet, but I understand why the Grizzlies went down this route. Ricky Rubio wasn't cooperating, and Thabeet can help the Grizzlies, who needed a big, athletic shot blocker. He's offensively limited , but he can change the game on defense." —'s Chad Ford Where he is now: Thabeet played for four NBA teams in five seasons, and that doesn't include his two stints in the D-League. Thabeet has not played in the NBA since the 2013-14 season and was last ruled out of a Summer League game. The 7-foot-3 center worked for several NBA teams in 2019 to make a comeback. Now he's playing in China. What was said at the time: "While I thought maybe the Thunder could use Ricky Rubio as a trade asset, it's hard to fault Sam Presti. Harden fits better in the back with Russell Westbrook” —'s Chad Ford Where he is now: After being traded to Houston, Harden thrived on offense for the Rockets. He was the 2017-18 MVP and is a two-time scoring champion. However, after a falling out with the Rockets, Harden is struggling to fit into the Nets and now the 76ers. What was said at the time: "Evans is a talented guy and one of the most NBA-ready guards in the draft, a great, physical slasher who knows how to hit...Ricky Rubio was a better fit than Evans, who isn't a point guard." —'s Chad Ford Where he is now: Despite all the other big talents in that draft, it was Evans who won the Rookie of the Year title. However, after averaging 20.2 points as a rookie, his scores went down a bit back and wobbled a bit. After stints with the Pelicans, Kings and Grizzlies, he last played in the NBA in 2019. Most recently he played with Wisconsin in the G League, which at the time meant: "Works the game one step ahead of everyone else. Excellent ball driver. " - With doubts about Stephen Curry being able to play the point in the NBA, the Timberwolves drafted Rubio, a good passer and solid defender but not a good shooter. He also spent two more years re in Europe before coming to the NBA. After six seasons with the Timberwolves, he switched to jazz. He's played with multiple teams since, most recently being traded to the Pacers midseason after just 34 games with the Cavs. What was said at the time: "Rubio and Flynn were maybe the top two point guards in the draft. —'s Chad Ford Where he is now: The Timberwolves doubled down to point guards who weren't named Stephen. Flynn was demoted to the D-League midway through his sophomore season and has not played in the NBA since the 2011-2012 season, when he made 18 appearances for the Portland Trail Blazers. He was last seen for a team in Italy in 2014. What was said at the time: "Curry may or may not (rumored to be the latter at this point) be headed to Phoenix for a deal that would land Warriors Amar'e Stoudemire. It doesn't matter that Monta Ellis might be unhappy with Golden State picking a player with a similar frame to his. Curry can play. You'll find out the rest later. — Yahoo Sports' Kelly Dwyer Where's Curry Now. All-NBA team: 1st team (four times), 2nd team (three times), 3rd team (once) Where he is now: Curry is now one of the greatest basketball players in the world. He has won two MVP awards and helped lead the Warriors to six NBA Finals and three championships. Curry said during an interview with Bill Simmons that he heard the Timberwolves were afraid to draft him because they feared he would do poorly if he couldn't play much golf in the cold northern climate. What was said at the time: "The fans were booing but Hill is a great value here, a real power forward who is an upgrade from Al Harrington at the position. Where he is now: We're including Jordan Hill here because of belief became." The time the Knicks wanted to draft Stephen Curry and Curry wanted to play for the Knicks. Instead of acting, the Knicks made the mistake of staying put, only to see Curry make a pick before they were on the board. Hill was later part of the trade that sent Tracy McGrady to the Knicks. Hill later became a good role player off the bench, playing with five teams in eight seasons but never becoming a regular starter. He last appeared in the NBA with the Timberwolves in 2017.