Just as NBA teams do their homework on draft prospects, Steven Adams studied NBA teams that might draft him. Safe to say, he’s thrilled with where he landed.
Two days after Oklahoma City selected the 19-year-old New Zealander 12th overall in the NBA Draft, Adams joined fellow Thunder newcomers Andre Roberson and Grant Jerrett at an introductory news conference Saturday and expressed his enthusiasm with his new home.
When he learned he was going to the Thunder, “It felt like my birthday and Christmas put together,” Adams said.
He said the Thunder’s “commitment at both ends” of player development stood out to him during the pre-draft process.
“Players are super-committed to developing their game every day and working hard, but it isn’t just the players,” he said. “Also, the staff, all of them – the management, the office people – they just set a whole new expectation, because they’re real professional.”
Assuming he makes the roster, the 7-foot, 250-pound Adams will be only the fourth New Zealand-born player to play in the NBA – joining Sean Marks, Kirk Penney and Aron Baynes – and was the first to be drafted in the first round.
HOWARD SWEEPSTAKES: Dwight Howard is feeling the California Love.
Dallas, too. Houston and Atlanta, you in the house?
Howard is entertaining all four suitors starting July 1 when the free-agency period begins. He could bolt from the Los Angeles Lakers and join his third NBA team in as many seasons.
The Hawks were fined by the NBA for mentioning Howard in a letter to potential ticket buyers. The Rockets, the first team expected to meet with Howard, reportedly will bring the star-power of Hakeem Olajuwon, James Harden and Kevin McHale to the negotiating table.
“I reached out to him and told him we’d love to have him,” Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki told ESPN.
And the Lakers have put out up billboards and banners in the L.A. area – including Staples Center – with a large photo of Dwight and the phrase “#STAYD12.”
MOVING ON: Andrei Kirilenko is opting out of the final year of a contract that would have paid him $10 million next season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, making him a free agent.
Kirilenko made the decision Saturday, the deadline that was written into the two-year, $20 million deal he signed last summer, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person requested anonymity because an official announcement has not been made.
The versatile forward is hoping to get a little extra security with a longer term deal when the market opens July 1.
PLAYING THROUGH THE PAIN: Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat is revealing that he played through a torn right meniscus throughout the second half of this season, and tells The AP that surgery will take place soon.
Haslem also says he plans to be ready for the start of training camp this fall. He disclosed the injury Saturday in an interview after a promotional appearance where hundreds of fans began lining up five hours before he arrived.