The economic crunch continues to take its chunk out of NBA staffs. One Eastern Conference executive earlier tonight told me that he knows of nine assistants whose jobs effectively will be eliminated on July 1. The biggest cutback seems to be affecting advance scouts, or those men whose jobs consist of non-stop traveling and preparing reports for their respective teams' upcoming opponents. If the trend continues, how will coaches prepare their players for the next opponent? Retro it is. Teams will probably spend more time watching video and breaking down their foes' tendencies off tape, a la the old days, rather than relying on an advance scout's up close and personal report
The Big Game
The upcoming week is my favorite time of the year, for a few reasons. It's always fun to try to determine which scout/agent/general manager is telling the biggest whopper as the NBA Draft approaches, and it's almost as much fun trying to figure out which of these people actually know what they're doing. Most don't. The draft is a ridiculously inexact experience, but some franchises historically are more organized, detail-oriented and therefore better prepared before making their selections, those players from both here and abroad. For example: San Antonio's Gregg Popovich could probably tell you what Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the year leading up to their selection by the Spurs. I'd love to swap frequent flyer miles with Popovich and R.C. Buford, as well.
So what to believe?
Nothing. These next few days will be all about misdirection plays, and no one should be fooled by who is meeting with whom, or who is (or is not) working on where (with few exceptions). This particular draft is more intriguing than usual, mainly because except for Blake Griffin's selection by the Clips at No.1, there is universal disagreement on the ensuing Lottery picks. From what I am hearing, the Kings are among the many teams whose scouts and personnel experts are all over the place - say, five votes going for five different players. Ultimately, Geoff Petire makes the decision, and his draft record is excellent. All of which makes me wonder whether the front office's disagreement about Ricky Rubio's value means anything. In other words, I find it hard to believe that a team president who appreciated the entertainment value of drafting Jason Williams isn't secretly enamored of the 6-foot-5 Spanish star.
Today's best picks
The practice facility will be buzzing this morning. Even without Rubio, the cast of auditioners is impressive, led by Jonny Flynn, Stephen Curry and Tyreke Evans.