After Sixers land 3rd pick, Josh Harris shouts: 'Thank you, Sam Hinkie!'

After Sixers land 3rd pick, Josh Harris shouts: 'Thank you, Sam Hinkie!'

NEW YORK — This was Josh Harris as you've never seen him. This was a man who had finally discovered a way out of the basement, who was stepping into the sunlight after years of darkness.

And basking in the warmth.

"I want to be done with this building, man," the Sixers' principal owner said after Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery in the Hilton Midtown. "I'm ready to be, like, playing [in the playoffs]."

Harris usually speaks softly, and often relies on business jargon in his public utterances. ("ROI" — i.e., "return on investment" — is a biggie with him.)

But not on this occasion. Not after his team's fifth straight trip to the lottery netted the third overall pick, the fourth straight year the Sixers have landed at No. 3 or higher.

He was uncharacteristically animated, all but bursting at the seams.

"I'm really ready to be done with [the lottery]," he said. "It's a great event, but time to move on, other than if it's someone else's pick. I want to be where Wyc (Grousbeck, the Boston owner) was today. I want my team playing and I'm up here, like, doing this."

The Celtics, poised to face Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals, earned the top overall pick courtesy of a 2013 trade with Brooklyn.

The Sixers, who will also choose after the Lakers, benefited from a similar bit of largesse — a 2015 deal with Sacramento that allowed them to swap first-rounders with the Kings (see story). That that deal was engineered by former general manager Sam Hinkie was not lost on Harris.

"Thank you, Sam Hinkie!" he said, again all but shouting for the rooftops. "You set us up well. I'm going to text him tonight, and give him a big kiss over text."

President of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo was no less upbeat.

"I think we're in a pretty good position, as there is some turnover on the horizon (on the part of the conference's top teams), to ultimately be a power in the East," he said.

He added that there is no telling how long that might take, and any number of routes they can take to get there. They can follow what he called a "measured, organic growth path" and continue to build through the draft, or hasten things along via free agency and trades.

"We're going to look at both," he said.

But certainly Tuesday represented another step in the right direction. The Sixers, with the league's fourth-worst record, nudged up another spot (see story). And now they have a promise of unprotected first-rounders from the Lakers next year and the Kings in 2019.

This year's pick should yield a backcourt partner for Ben Simmons, already anointed the point guard by coach Brett Brown despite his 6-10 frame and the fact that, you know, he has yet to play an NBA game.

Joel Embiid, the team's representative on the lottery set, is supposed to be back on the court soon, after undergoing surgery to repair the torn meniscus that limited him to 31 games this past season. Dario Saric is also back, and others (Robert Covington, T.J. McConnell, et al.) have shown promise.

Remember how the team adopted a slogan of "This Starts Now" heading into the 2015-16 season? It appears that it really starts now.

"With the talent that's available in the third spot in this draft, we're going to have a choice that we're going to arguably take what I would say is a combination of both the best player and the best fit," Colangelo said.

Could be Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox or Malik Monk — the first a blur, the second a knock-down shooter. Could be UCLA's Lonzo Ball, though he seems likely to remain in Los Angeles. Could be NC State's Dennis Smith. (One guy it probably won't be is Washington point guard Markelle Fultz. He's the consensus No. 1.)

The point is, it's gonna be hard to screw this up. (Stop that snickering.)

"We would have been happy with anything we came out with tonight, because we knew we had a top pick, and as Josh said earlier, we've paid our dues to get here, to this point," Colangelo said. "We don't want to be here again, on our merits. We want to be here on the merits of others."

It was here that Harris cut in.

"Bryan will be here with the team when the playoffs open," he said, "and I'll be here, hopefully, because one of the other teams doesn't do well. That's our goal."

"Because we're in the second round or maybe the conference finals," Colangelo said. "I'd like that a lot more."

Hope springs eternal, now that Harris and Co. have stepped out into the sunlight.

Report: Lonzo Ball, Sixers considering pre-draft workout

Report: Lonzo Ball, Sixers considering pre-draft workout

It may be time for Sixers fans to start setting money aside for some Big Baller Brand gear.

Sources tell ESPN’s Chris Haynes that Lonzo Ball is considering working out for the Sixers, who hold the No. 3 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

“A final decision will be made once Ball's agent, Harrison Gaines, and Sixers general manager Bryan Colangelo have had an extensive conversation centered on the identity of the team, sources told ESPN,” Haynes said.

Haynes also states that the main concern between Ball and the Sixers would be how the former UCLA point guard would fit in on a team that plans to feature 2016 No. 1 pick Ben Simmons as the primary ball handler.

This news comes after Ball declined to work out for the Boston Celtics, who own the top pick in June’s draft.

"We don't deal with [Ball's camp] all that much,” Celtics president Danny Ainge said on 98.5 The Sports Hub radio during The Toucher and Rich Show Thursday. “They didn't show up at the combine, which is very common -- many of the top 10 or 15 players don't show up for the combine. ... We just tried to get him in for a workout and they politely said no."

Ball’s father, LaVar, has previously stated several times that his son would only work out for the Lakers, who will select at No. 2. Plus, Lonzo Ball has said he would rather be drafted by the home state Lakers instead of going at the top of the draft.

“I’m a family dude,” Ball said during an interview on ESPN last month. “All my family is in L.A. So, to be able to play in front of them, I think that would mean more to me.”

Even with all the pre-draft posturing and the outspoken nature of his father, Lonzo Ball has proven to be a top-tier talent. The 6-foot-6 Ball averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds as a freshman at UCLA as he was named a consensus first-team All-American.

We previously looked at how Ball would blend with the Sixers, which one analyst called a “perfect” fit.

The Sixers may be having similar thoughts.

NBA Notes: Cavs staying humble with chance to close out Celtics

NBA Notes: Cavs staying humble with chance to close out Celtics

BOSTON -- It took 10 games and halfway through the third round of the NBA playoffs before the Cleveland Cavaliers finally encountered their first true dose of resistance this postseason.

After cruising to a 2-0 Eastern Conference finals lead over Boston, the Cavs were humbled at home in a Game 3 loss, and needed a 42-point night from Kyrie Irving to battle back from a 16-point hole and win Game 4.

The chatter about an NBA Finals' matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn't backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.

"The closeout game is always the hardest.and Boston is going to make it even harder," said LeBron James, who rebounded from a playoff-low 11 points in Game 3 to score 34 in Game 4.

James had been saying that he felt like the Cavs needed to go through some adversity after a blistering 10-0 start to the postseason.

The way they responded Tuesday night -- particularly on the defensive end -- is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday (see full story).

NBA: Charlotte awarded 2019 All-Star Game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NBA All-Star game will be coming to Charlotte in 2019, two years after the city was to host the event.

The NBA announced Wednesday the game will be played at Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.

The All-Star game had been set for Charlotte last February, but the NBA moved the game to New Orleans because of the state law restricting the rights of LGBT people.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a release that while he understands the concerns of those who say the repeal of the HB2 law didn't go far enough, "the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law."

The All-Star weekend festivities in Charlotte are set for Feb. 15-17, 2019.

Bucks: GM search opening up after Hammond exit
Boasting a budding star and an impressive roster of young talent, the Milwaukee Bucks are opening up their search for a new general manager to lead them into contention in the Eastern Conference.

After longtime GM John Hammond left to join friend Jeff Weltman in the Orlando Magic front office, the Bucks are bringing in respected league executive Rod Thorn to help with the search for a replacement, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bucks were not publicly discussing their search.

Assistant GM Justin Zanik was believed to be the heir apparent to Hammond when he left the Utah Jazz to join the Bucks. Zanik, a promising young executive who was an agent before spending three years under Dennis Lindsey in Utah, will get the opportunity to interview for the position, but outside candidates will also be considered. ESPN first reported the details of Milwaukee's search.

The job figures to be an attractive one for prospective executives. Giannis Antetokounmpo enjoyed a breakout season this year, earning a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team and cementing himself as a franchise player.

Milwaukee also has Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker to go with Jabari Parker, a former No. 2 overall pick who is recovering from his second torn ACL.

The Bucks are building a new arena and have enjoyed a revival in the city under new owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens and coach Jason Kidd.

Whether it is Zanik or someone else, it will be a critical hire to help the Bucks move from a team that lost in six games to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs to one that is ready to challenge the Cavaliers and Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference (see full story).

Lakers: Celebrity trainer Peterson hired
LOS ANGELES -- A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers' new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.

Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.

Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.

The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.