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NBA

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Associated Press
Andrew Wiggins, whose father, Mitchell Wiggins, was suspended from the NBA in the 1980s because of drug use, was the first player taken in Thursday’s NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was introduced to the Cleveland media Friday.

Son’s ascent gives closure to Wiggins’ dad

Cocaine use sidetracked elder Wiggins’ NBA career

M. Wiggins

– As his talented son, Andrew, was presented with his new wine-and-gold Cavaliers jersey, Mitchell Wiggins finally let go of some painful memories.

This is it, he thought, his second chance, another shot at an NBA career broken in a haze of cocaine abuse.

His son is the No. 1 overall pick, and Mitchell Wiggins is now unburdened by guilt, embarrassment and disappointment.

“It just gives me closure,” said Mitchell Wiggins, who was suspended for two full seasons with Houston in the 1980s for drugs. “I’m able to let go of maybe some of the things I was feeling when I left the league and I can sleep better now.”

The Cavaliers introduced Andrew Wiggins on Friday, one day after they selected him out of Kansas.

“I just want to come in, create an impact right off the bat, offensively and defensively, bring the team to the next level and just be a good teammate, be a good part of the organization,” he said. “I want to be on the All-Defensive team, be Rookie of the Year, make the All-Star team, all that type of stuff.”

Now, other stories from the draft …

Philadelphia

As word spread through NBA inner circles that Kansas prospect Joel Embiid suffered a foot injury, the Philadelphia 76ers wondered whether his misfortune was just the break the downtrodden franchise needed.

“I sniffed opportunity,” said Sam Hinkie, the team’s president and general manager.

After Milwaukee took Jabari Parker, Embiid, a 7-foot center, was pounced on by the Sixers even though he could miss up to a full season because of a broken foot. Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 pick in 2013, sat out all of last season because of a torn ACL.

“Guess what our approach will be?” Hinkie said. “We’ll focus on the long-term health of the player.”

Croatian forward Dario Saric, the 10th overall pick, signed a three-year deal last week to play in Turkey. The Sixers hold the rights to the 6-foot-10, 230-pounder for the next three years, and it could be that long until he plays for Philly.

Indiana

Larry Bird is looking at the big picture. Indiana is tight on money, so the Pacers’ president of basketball operations sent the team’s single draft pick to the New York Knicks for cash.

The Pacers selected Louis Labeyrie, a 6-foot-10 forward who last played for Paris-Levallois in the French ProA league, with the 57th pick.

Bird, who wants Lance Stephenson back in Indiana, said: “I’ve got a certain amount I’m going to pay him, and I’m not going over that, I do know that.”

Free agency begins Tuesday, when Bird will begin discussing a contract with Stephenson, whose behavior at times seemed like a distraction.

“Some of the things he did at the end of the year concerned me, and I just want to make sure we’re on the same page going forward,” Bird said.

Charlotte

Hornets guard P.J. Hairston, the 26th pick, said he “fully regrets everything that happened” around benefits and eligibility issues while playing at North Carolina.

“I’ve some bumps in the road that I had to overcome, and I feel like I’ve done that,” Hairston said.

North Carolina decided in December it would not seek reinstatement from the NCAA for Hairston, ending his college career and sending him to the D-League.

The Hornets also selected Indiana’s Noah Vonleh with the ninth pick, which shouldn’t preclude them from attempting to re-sign Josh McRoberts, who opted out of his contract. Cody Zeller, the No. 4 pick in 2013 out of IU, showed good progress as a rookie.

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