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Liberty Links: Magic hire Jeff Weltman as President of Basketball Operations

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Weltman was the Raptors’ general manager.

Verizon Slam Dunk Contest 2017 Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

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Sources: Magic hire Jeff Weltman as president of basketball operations - The Vertical

Jeff Weltman had been serving as Raptors general manager under the smart basketball mind of Raptors president Masai Ujiri. He will hire a general manager to work underneath him. I would bet he bans white boards in the front office.

Trusting Pop’s Process - The Ringer

Come for the Process-related headline. Stay for Gregg Popovich’s ability to turn David Lee from a turnstile into a factor on defense:

David Lee was making an impact in the first quarter of Game 3 against the Warriors. Read that sentence again. Luxuriate in the whipsaw incongruity of Lee, 34, a noted career defensive nonfactor, crushing spot minutes in the Western Conference finals against the greatest assemblage of talent in modern NBA history. That Lee’s nova-burst backlit the ongoing dissolution of LaMarcus Aldridge’s game — 6-foot-11 and getting smaller every minute — only made it more impressive.

Sources: Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap opts for free agency - The Vertical

Never heard of this guy, but apparently he made the All-Star team in the Eastern Conference this year.

The Lakers Should Draft De'Aaron Fox, Not Lonzo Ball - Sports Illustrated

Enemy of The Process Andrew Sharp makes the case for why the Lakers should draft Kentucky’s De’Aron Fox with the second pick in next month’s draft:

The Lakers should take De'Aaron Fox. He is worlds better on defense. His jumper remains a work in progress, but his speed will allow him to drive defenses crazy in the meantime. He plays incredibly hard, and with his athleticism, it feels like he's only scratching the surface of what he'll be in five years.

I won’t lean too heavily on the two UCLA-Kentucky games this year with respect to Ball, but if nothing else they said a lot about what Fox can do. He got the better of Lonzo in the first matchup, and he flat out roasted him in the second.

Fox also fits with the other pieces L.A. already has in place. He's not a pure scorer, but the plan is to get that scoring from D'Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and/or a max free agent that comes later. In the meantime, while Russell has shown real promise as an off-ball scorer, defense is still very much an issue—and Fox can help mitigate the damage.

Enes Kanter Return Should Be The Example, Not The Exception - Sports Illustrated

Thunder big man Enes Kanter was detained in Romania over the weekend after the Turkish government “cancelled” his passport due to his opposition to the current regime in Turkey:

Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose regime has tilted toward authoritarianism since his election in 2014. Kanter has called Erdogan the “Hitler of our century,” and the president’s tenure has been tenuous at best.

SI writer Rohan Nadkarni brought some much-needed perspective to Kanter’s difficult situation in light of the current social issues plaguing the United States:

With all the complicated political factors in play, it’s remarkable Kanter made it back to the U.S. safely. What’s fascinating is how the treatment of Kanter stands in stark contrast to the treatment of thousands of other Muslims and Americans who were detained because of the president’s Muslim ban earlier this year.

Cavaliers Need to Trade LeBron James and Build Around Tristan Thompson - The Big Lead

The Cavaliers are going to have some tough decisions to make this offseason. LeBron James turns 33 next season and has a year left on his current contract. Thompson is locked up through 2020 and has played his entire career in Cleveland. There’s no reason to suspect he would ever leave. Besides, what player wouldn’t want to play with Tristan Thompson? You can have all the shots you want because Thompson doesn’t need ’em. Doesn’t want ’em. He’ll get his when the team needs it. And because of LeBron James, the Cavaliers need it now.

He’s right. LeBron James may never score another point in the NBA. Sad!