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Front-loading of borrowings pushes up state debt-GDP ratio

GOVERNMENT DEBT in proportion to economic output settled at 42.3% in the nine months to September, bigger than the 41.7% recorded in the same period last year, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in an economic bulletin on Friday......»»

Category: financeSource: bworldonline bworldonlineDec 7th, 2018

Front-loading of borrowings pushes up state debt-GDP ratio

GOVERNMENT DEBT in proportion to economic output settled at 42.3% in the nine months to September, bigger than the 41.7% recorded in the same period last year, the Department of Finance (DoF) said in an economic bulletin on Friday......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsDec 7th, 2018

Trump pushes tough immigration stance in Nevada appearance

LAS VEGAS --- Eager to keep the Republican Party in control of the Senate, President Donald Trump pressed his tough anti-illegal immigration stance before supporters Saturday, saying "we have to be very strong" as he sought to help boost the candidacy of a one-time critic. Trump was in Las Vegas to assist Dean Heller, the only Republican U.S. senator seeking re-election in a state that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in 2016. Trump and Heller have papered over their once prickly relationship to present a united front in their shared goal of helping Republicans maintain, if not expand, their thin 51-49 majority in the Senate in November's congressional elections. Heller was among t...Keep on reading: Trump pushes tough immigration stance in Nevada appearance.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

All-Star break works wonders for Blazers, Jazz, Heat

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com The Portland Trail Blazers are doing it again. For the second straight season, the Blazers are the most improved team after the All-Star break. Last year, spurred by the acquisition of Jusuf Nurkic at the trade deadline, the Blazers were 7.8 points per 100 possessions better after the break (plus-5.3) than they were before it (minus-2.5). This year, without a rotation-altering trade, the Blazers have been 9.5 points per 100 possessions better since the break (plus-10.0) than they were before it (plus-0.4). Their 13-game winning streak (which started with their last game before All-Star weekend) came to an end at the hands of James Harden and the Houston Rockets on Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), but prior to that, they were the only undefeated team (12-0) since the break, climbing from seventh place in the West at the break to third place (with a relatively comfortable three-game lead in the loss column over the teams behind them) going into Thursday's (Friday, PHL time) games. Improvement has come on both ends of the floor. The Blazers have been 5.5 points per 100 possessions better offensively and 4.0 points per 100 possessions better defensively since the break. With the league average seeing an increase of 1.3 per 100, that's about even improvement on both ends of the floor. On offense, the Blazers have increased their three-point rate (3PA/FGA) from 31 percent before the All-Star break to 35 percent since, but have seen just a small jump in effective field goal percentage. Improvement has come more from taking better care of the ball and getting to the line more often. Over the last 16 games, Damian Lillard has averaged 9.2 points at the free throw line, 3.4 more than he averaged prior to that (5.8). Lillard has also seen a drop in turnover ratio, from 9.8 per 100 possessions before the break to 7.8 since. That 7.8 is the second lowest (higher than that of only LaMarcus Aldridge) among 14 players with a usage rate of greater than 30 percent since the break. On defense, rebounding has been key. After allowing 12.2 second chance points per game before the break, the Blazers have allowed just 9.5 (second fewest in the league) since. They continue to lead the league in opponent field goal percentage in the restricted area and have been at their best defensively with Jusuf Nurkic on the floor. The defensive improvement may be more impressive, given that six of the Blazers' 13 post-break games have been against the league's top-10 offenses, though that includes games against Minnesota without Jimmy Butler and Golden State without Stephen Curry. It should also be noted that nine of the 13 games have been at home. Of course, the Blazers have been better defensively on the road (103.9 points allowed per 100 possessions) than they've been at home (104.6) this season. We'll see how those numbers (and their post-break improvement) hold up when they play seven of nine on the road after hosting the Boston Celtics on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Does it mean anything? Some teams might want to be playing their best going into the playoffs. But playing better late in the season doesn't necessarily mean anything. In fact, playoff team stats (offensive and defensive efficiency) more strongly correlate with pre-All-Star numbers than with post-All-Star numbers. Over the last 10 full seasons (going back to 2007-08 and skipping 2011-12), the 20 playoff teams that have seen the biggest increase in NetRtg (point differential per 100 possessions) from before the break to after the break have been more likely to underachieve in the playoffs (losing a series in which they had home-court advantage) than overachieve (winning a series they started on the road). The playoff team of the last 20 years that saw the biggest improvement was the 2009-10 Phoenix Suns, who were 8.2 points per 100 possessions better after the break (plus-11.2) than they were before it (plus-2.9). They reached the conference finals as the 3 seed in the West, but did so with home-court advantage in each of the first two rounds (because the seventh-seeded Spurs beat the second-seeded Mavs in the first round). Four of those 20 most improved teams have lost in the first round with home-court advantage, while the 2010-11 Chicago Bulls (4.5 points per 100 possessions better after the break) lost in the conference finals as the No. 1 seed. The overachievers? The 2008-09 Houston Rockets (5.6 points per 100 possessions better after the break) and 2013-14 Washington Wizards (4.8 better) won first-round series as No. 5 seeds without home-court advantage. And finally, the 2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers (who were 4.8 points per possessions better after the break) reached The Finals as a No. 2 seed. With that in mind, here are the teams that have been most improved on either end of the floor since the All-Star break this season. Most improved offenses 1. Miami Heat Like the Blazers, the Heat are doing this for the second year in a row. When they went from 11-30 in their first 41 games to 30-11 in their last 41 games last season, it was on offense where they really turned things around. Last year's turnaround came with increases in both three-point percentage and three-point volume (3PA/FGA). This year, the Heat have shot better from beyond the arc since the break, but they've actually taken a lower percentage of their shots from three-point range than they did prior, so their jump in effective field goal percentage isn't huge. They have gone from the bottom 10 to the top 10 in both offensive rebounding percentage and turnover rate. Hassan Whiteside has grabbed 28 offensive boards in just eight post-break games, though he hasn't seen a big increase in offensive rebounding percentage since the break. The team increase has been more about six different guys grabbing at least 13 offensive boards over the 14 games. On the turnover front, James Johnson has seen a big drop in his individual rate, from 13.7 turnovers per 100 possessions before the break to just 7.3 since the break. Goran Dragic has also seen seen a reduction. The drop in turnovers, along with more second chances and an increase in pace, as provided the Heat with almost six additional shots per 48 minutes. The Heat's post-break offense has been at its best (more than 123 points scored per 100 possessions) with Kelly Olynyk on the floor. Both Olynyk (60.7 percent) and James Johnson (60.6 percent) rank in the top 20 in post-break effective field goal percentage among 157 players who have taken at least 100 shots since the break. Tyler Johnson, meanwhile, has seen an effective field goal percentage jump from 50 percent before the break to 58 percent since the break. The Heat have played a fairly average post-break schedule in regard to opposing defenses. They've picked on some bad ones (scoring 128 points per 100 possessions in three games against the Suns, Nuggets and Knicks) and have played ugly against some good ones (like those of the Sixers and Blazers), but have been strong against the defenses in the middle of the pack. Going forward, they'll play just three of their 10 remaining games against top-10 defenses. Two of those are against the eighth-ranked Thunder, and one of those is Friday (Saturday, PHl time). Six of their other seven games are against bottom-10 defenses. 2. L.A. Lakers Rookies and second year players have accounted for 45 percent of the Lakers' minutes this season. That's the third highest rate in the league and the highest among teams that aren't at least 23 games under .500. So, in-season improvement both critical and somewhat expected. Of course, a vet has been a big part of the Lakers' offensive improvement. Brook Lopez has seen the second biggest increase in effective field goal percentage (behind that of Wilson Chandler) among players who took at least 300 shots before the break and have taken at least 100 since the break (see table below). For Lopez, as well as the team as a whole, it's been about the three ball, both in regard to percentage and volume. Before the break, the Lakers ranked 29th in three-point percentage and 22nd in the percentage of their shots that were threes. Since the break: fifth and fourth. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (46.3 percent) ranks seventh in post-break three-point percentage among 98 players with at least 50 attempts. But the biggest key to the Lakers' post-break offense may be a big jump in minutes for Julius Randle. He's actually seen a drop in usage rate and not much of an increase in efficiency, but Randle has gone from averaging less than 25 minutes before the break to 34 since the break. As a result, he's averaged 21.5 points (on 59 percent shooting) over the 13 games. And in that stretch, the Lakers have scored 14.2 more points per 100 possessions with him on the floor (114.1) than they have with him off the floor (99.9). Most improved defenses 1. Utah Jazz Utah's improvement started with the return of Rudy Gobert from a month-long absence in mid-January. Since his return on Jan. 19 (Jan. 20, PHL time), the Jazz have allowed just 96.2 points per 100 possessions, 6.5 fewer than any other team. Over those nine weeks, the difference between the Jazz and the second-ranked Spurs (102.7) is more than the difference between the Spurs and the 20th-ranked Hawks (109.1). More improvement came with the acquisition of Jae Crowder at the trade deadline. And the Jazz have allowed a paltry 85 points per 100 possessions in 308 minutes with Crowder and Gobert on the floor together, with their opponents shooting just 38 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range. And the Jazz haven't allowed their opponents to do much with all those misses, grabbing 85 percent of available defensive boards (a rate which would lead the league by a wide margin) in those 308 minutes. There is a schedule-related boost here. Since the break, the Jazz have played seven games against the league's bottom-10 offenses (including six against the bottom six) and just three games against the top 10. But in two of those three games (Feb. 27, PHL time vs. Houston and March 12, PHL time at New Orleans), they held their opponent under a point per possession. They've now done that in nine straight games and in 18 of their last 24. Given the state of league-wide offense (this is now the most efficient season in league history), that's pretty remarkable. The Jazz have four games remaining against top-10 offenses, including two against the Warriors. One of those is Sunday at Golden State (next Monday, PHL time). 2. Indiana Pacers The Pacers have improved defensively six of their 14 post-break games having been against teams that rank in the top 11 offensively (the 11th-ranked Wizards have bounced in and out of the top 10). They've gone 3-3, but held those top-11 offenses - Milwaukee (x 2), New Orleans, Washington (x 2) and Toronto - to just 103.4 points per 100 possessions (about four fewer than the league's post-break average) over the six games. The Pacers' post-break defense has been at its best, allowing just 96 points per 100 possessions, with Myles Turner on the floor. Turner has been improved offensively since the break (seeing a sizeable jump in effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage), but his defense has been more important. While Turner has made an impact inside, forcing turnovers has been a big part of the Pacers' defensive improvement. They lead the league in opponent turnover rate since the All-Star break, having forced 17.4 per 100 possessions, up from 15.1 (10th) before the break. Victor has been the league leader in steals this season at 2.2 per game, and has seen an increase (from 2.1 to 2.8) since the break, with Thaddeus Young (2.3) joining him in the top four in post-break steals per contest. The Pacers have also rebounded a little better, grabbing 77 percent of available defensive boards (15th in the league) since the break, up from 76 percent (27th) before it. Things haven't gone so well on the other end of the floor. The Pacers have seen the league's biggest drop in offensive efficiency since the break. They ranked sixth offensively (108.5 points scored per 100 possessions) before the break and rank 26th (101.6) since the break. Oladipo (from 59 percent to 46 percent) and Young (from 54 percent to 45 percent) have seen two of the eight biggest drops in effective field goal percentage since the break among 142 players who took at least 300 shots before the break and have taken at least 100 shots since the break. The improved defense will continue to be tested in the next couple of weeks. The Pacers will play six of their next eight games against top-10 offenses. That includes two games against the second-ranked Warriors and two more against the seventh-ranked Clippers. L.A. is in Indiana on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Most improved shooters Here's a look at the players who have seen the biggest increases in effective field goal percentage since the All-Star break. John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 23rd, 2018

Front Page: SONA pushes select bills, warns miners

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte yesterday asked courts not to block development projects and pressed the Senate to approve the first of up to five tax reform packages in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) that also had strong words for miners......»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsJul 24th, 2017

Opinion: My Cup Of Liberty -- Bienvenido S. Oplas. Jr.: "Dissecting Dutertenomics' spending plan"

During the BusinessWorld Economic Forum held last May 19, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno showed two interesting charts: (1) sustained overspending and borrowings, budget deficit/GDP ratio from -0.9% in 2015 to -2.7% in 2016 then -3.0% from 2017-2022. And yet (2) debt/GDP ratio was expected to decline from 44.8% in 2015 to 40.2% in 2017 and further down to 36.7% in 2022......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsMay 29th, 2017

Front Page: Spending spurs deficit closer to plan

STATE MOVES to crank up spending in a bid to spur economic growth to a higher plane pushed last year's fiscal balance closer to the program -- and the deficit-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to its highest in six years -- even as most targets were missed, official data showed......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsMar 2nd, 2017

Government to rely less on borrowings next year

STATE BORROWINGS will decline by nearly a tenth to P631.294 billion next year as the government works to reduce the budget share of debt payments through the six years of the Duterte administration......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsAug 16th, 2016

Today’s Front Page February 18, 2019

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR DIGITAL EDITION. PLEASE CLICK HERE Advertisements Advertisements Advertisements Advertisements Loading… Advertisements Advertisements Advertisements Advertisements Loading... The post Today’s Front Page February 18, 2019 appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

Dying days of caliphate in Syria as IS fighters trapped

BAGHOUZ, Syria -- Jihadist fighters defending the last dreg of the Islamic State group's "caliphate" Saturday were holed up in half a square kilometer of a village in eastern Syria. President Donald Trump had announced that the fall of the IS proto-state would be declared Saturday, but a Syrian commander said his US-backed forces slowed down their advance to protect civilians. The jihadists declared a "caliphate" in large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, but have since lost all but a tiny patch of territory in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border. Hundreds of meters (yards) from the front line in the village of Baghouz, an AFP reporter heard artillery fire and two...Keep on reading: Dying days of caliphate in Syria as IS fighters trapped.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2019

Jordan s weight reaches farther than court in NC

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com CHARLOTTE -- Unlike Mark Cuban and James Dolan, the host of the 2019 NBA All-Star Game was voted in 14 times to participate and played in 13. Quite different from Micky Arison and Glen Taylor, the team owner whose arena and city will be the center of All-Star 2019 averaged 20.2 points in those 13 All-Star appearances, was named MVP three times and posted the first triple-double in the game’s history (1997). And not at all like Steve Ballmer and Joe Lacob, the guy most often credited with making Charlotte All-Star worthy this weekend ignited the annual Slam Dunk Contest with his takeoff from the foul line in 1988. He also regularly irritated former NBA commissioner David Stern into a series of fines for golfing when he should have been sitting through mandatory Friday media sessions. With a level of celebrity as arguably the game’s greatest player ever, morphed now into an off-radar role as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan remains as famous, as popular and as successful as any or all the active All-Star participants who’ll cavort at the Spectrum Center in the city’s Uptown business district. Ain’t no other NBA owner who can say that. “You think about all these wealthy, successful owners in our league,” said Hornets president Fred Whitfield, “no one knew who any of them were, really, until they bought their team. Everybody in the world knew who Michael Jordan was before he bought his team.” Jordan’s place in the All-Star galaxy in the coming days is reflective of his unique position among those who oversee the NBA’s 29 other franchises. His impact on the team, on its fans, on their city and on the state in returning to his native North Carolina -- he grew up in coastal Wilmington before attending college in Chapel Hill -- to anchor and lend stability to the Hornets will be on full display, even if he’s hard to spot this weekend. It’s all a reminder, too, of the old movie line from a remarkably blessed character, wondering “What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?” Most don’t dare to imagine playing in an All-Star Game, never mind hosting one as the owner of the local team. “No,” Jordan told some Charlotte reporters Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time), coming forward for one of his few appearances of the week. “As a kid growing up here in North Carolina, the first thing [was] playing basketball. And then things evolved from there -- from the University of North Carolina to Chicago. Obviously you know the history from that. “[The] opportunity to represent North Carolina in an All-Star Game from a different seat is truly amazing. It tells the path that I have taken. It gives me great pleasure to give that back to the community. It’s been a long-traveled road.” The celebration of the league’s brightest stars, and the ubiquitous banners and signage devoted to it will make it even harder than usual to visibly spot signs of Jordan’s ownership of the Hornets. For a typical regular season game, you might spy a flag emblazoned with his well-known “Jumpman” logo. Occasionally he’ll watch part of the game, rarely all, from seats at the end of his team’s bench, though he’s as likely to retreat to his suite atop the arena’s lower bowl. An in-game, timeout scoreboard video meant to stoke the crowd includes shots of GM Mitch Kupchak (“Architect of Champions”) and coach James Borrego (“Elite Pedigree”) but ends right about the time you expect some dramatic silhouette of His Airness to appear. It’s as if Jordan is as protective of his brand in running the Hornets as he is in maintaining its exclusivity in the marketplace. Doesn’t matter, though. His fingerprints are all over the franchise, as a basketball team, as a business enterprise and as a member of the community. On court, Jordan trusts his team Jordan’s greatest notoriety as an owner in a basketball setting may have come in December, when he was courtside for a tense game against Detroit. Guard Jeremy Lamb drained a 22-foot jumper with 0.3 seconds left, sending reserves Malik Monk and Bismack Biyombo onto the floor in celebration of what would be a 108-107 home victory. Trouble was, that sliver of time on the clock. Too many men. The Hornets were whistled for a one-shot technical foul and Jordan impulsively smacked Monk lightly, twice, on the back of the head. Any other owner does that, the player’s agent might file a grievance with the players union. Jordan does it and, thanks to his in-the-trenches, in-the-fraternity credibility, it comes across as a goof. “A tap of endearment,” Jordan called it later in a statement. “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!" Said Monk: “Big, big, big brother. But it was nothing. He was just playing.” The arc of Jordan’s career and his reputation as a stone-cold competitor make it OK if he wants to vent -- or swipe -- when things don’t go the Hornets’ way. Doesn’t matter that Jordan, who will turn 56 on All-Star Sunday, is old enough to be any of his players' dad. He still carries himself like an athlete, and their frame of reference remains, “That’s Mike.” “I’ve seen kids come up through camps,” said Buzz Peterson, Charlotte’s assistant general manager under Kupchak. “You could say Julius Erving, you could say Larry Johnson, Karl Malone, whatever, and the kids’ eyes are like, ‘Who?’ But you say Michael Jordan, they’re gonna know. That’s the separation there.” Peterson is among Jordan’s closest friends -- he beat him out as North Carolina’s prep player of the year in 1981, won an NCAA title with him as a Tar Heels teammate and is described by those who know both as someone who can disagree with the boss while staying comfortably in the inner circle. For Borrego, Charlotte’s first-year coach, interviewing to run Jordan’s team could have been intimidating. “We’re all human beings -- there’s a presence that comes with ‘Michael Jordan’ when he’s around,” Borrego told NBA.com in January. “But it’s healthy. He comes with a competitive spirit that you feel. “Michael was straight with me from Day 1. When I interviewed, he said, ‘I’m going to give you space to do your job. Whatever you need, you come to me. I’ll give you the resources you need.’ He has not tried to interfere one time. I feel his full support. … We’re starting to speak each other’s language, which is pretty healthy for us now.” Jordan keeps the coach apprised of his interactions with players, Borrego said. Other coaches should have such a resource at the ready. Hornets guard and 2019 All-Star starter Kemba Walker probably has benefited most from Jordan’s counsel. They text frequently, a pinch-me arrangement to this day for Walker. “I grew up wearing Jordans, grew up wanting to be like Jordan,” Walker said recently. “So for me to get this opportunity to be on his team means the world to me. He’s the one who believed in me -- I had no idea where I was going to go on draft night and he traded up for me. I’ve always heard the story, he was the one who actually drafted me. So it’s unbelievable. “He’s such a good dude. He understands what it is to be good. His delivery is always good. Only in a positive way, honestly.” Said rookie wing Miles Bridges: “You think there’ll be a lot of pressure having MJ as an owner. I’d seen how he got on his teammates when he played. So I was nervous, thinking if I had a bad game, he’d go at me like, ‘What’re you doing?’ But after meeting him and bonding with him, I feel like he’s the coolest owner out there. I don’t feel any pressure, I feel like he wants the best for us.” Big man Frank Kaminsky typically sits at the end of the bench, which puts him cheek to cheek with Jordan when he’s courtside. “He’s talking about what he’s seeing out on the court. Talking to the refs,” Kaminsky said. “Things other players don’t necessarily see. He still thinks the game. “You see things on the court that he sees. One game, the roll, pocket-pass, skip to the corner was open. He was saying that. We made an adjustment in a timeout, but he saw it a couple plays before that. At the end of that game, we had a big play that was a roll, pocket-pass, into the corner that put the game away. It worked the way he’d seen it.” The Hornets’ struggles during Jordan’s tenure as owner wouldn’t suggest it -- the last time this organization won a playoff series (2002), Jordan still was a player -- but there is a prestige to playing for his team. It’s not unlike being welcomed onto the list of elite athletes who endorse Jordan Brand. “I’m one of the lucky ones who’s in both,” Kaminsky said. “You’re talking about the most iconic player in sports history -- I might be biased because I grew up in Chicago -- but when you have his approval, it means a lot. You have it in the back of your mind that he wants you here.” Head smack or no head smack. Jordan grows as owner, businessman Basketball is a zero-sum game and the NBA is full of stars, even if none shines quite as brightly as Jordan. But business has room for negotiation and compromise, and deals get struck daily that leave both sides happy. There, Jordan has been beyond clutch. Funnel down everything he’s accomplished -- six NBA championships, the league’s highest career scoring average (30.1), five MVP awards, six Finals MVP, 10 scoring titles, nine All-Defensive team nods -- and it invariably ends with clammy hands. The “wow” factor is real and the Hornets are extremely careful about leveraging it. “It gives our organization a certain cachet,” said Whitfield, another longtime friend who goes back more than 35 years with Jordan. “For him to be majority owner, for him to do it in his home state as a local hometown hero, and to be able to come back and not just lead the team and the rebranding from the Bobcats to the Hornets, but his commitment to the community in giving back, it’s something that’s so special.” That’s a lot to unpack. When Jordan initially signed on with the Hornets, he did so as head of its basketball operations in 2006, purchasing a small minority stake in the team. The team was bad, the business was worse and trending down. “Back in ’08-09, the economy was in the tank and I was mandated to ‘displace’ 42 of our executives here on the business side,” Whitfield said. “When Michael bought the team, we were losing $30 million a year.’ Brought back into the league in 2004 two years after the original Hornets (1988-2002) were moved to New Orleans by reviled owner George Shinn, the Charlotte expansion team was owned -- and nicknamed -- by Bob Johnson, a co-founder of the BET television network. The Bobcats excelled only at losing and were 122 games under .500 in their first five seasons. The front office was understaffed, Spectrum Center (then known as Time Warner Cable Arena) needed renovations almost from its inception and there was a real sense that, if a buyer with deep pockets and a commitment to the area weren’t found, the franchise could be moved. In March 2010, Jordan ponied up the cash to become majority owner. But it says something that the deal stands as one of the few, if ever, instances of an NBA franchise being sold at a discount. Johnson paid $300 million for the team; Jordan purchased it for $275 million. Forbes.com recently had Charlotte worth $1.25 billion -- which ranks 28th. And Jordan reportedly has one of the biggest stakes of all NBA owners, with his share estimated at upwards of 90 percent, possibly as high as 98 percent. That’s a lot of success in nine years, despite the basketball team’s mostly middling performance. “With MJ being with the team, you got instant credibility in the marketplace,” said Pete Guelli, the chief operating officer who started on the job about 10 months before Jordan took ownership. “There had been a lot of uncertainty previously, but with his brand and his resources and his commitment, that just dissipated immediately. It was much, much easier to walk in the door and tell people about our vision for this franchise.” Rebranding the team as “Hornets” gave the franchise an existential boost -- it suddenly had a history again, complete with records, archives and true alumni. The arena got a makeover and, per Guelli, is credited for events there that generate an alleged $1 billion in revenues for local businesses. “Fortunately, we’ve been profitable pretty much since [Jordan took over],” Whitfield said. “That’s huge, especially since we haven’t gotten where we want to be on the basketball side.” Closing a new kind of game now It’s hard to overstate Jordan’s added value, not so much as some corporate or financial whiz but as a presence who brought instant motivation and energy to the staff. He imported executives with whom he had developed relationships at Nike or in other ventures and, after taking early criticism for an uncertain level of involvement, has been more diligent in recent years. “I love seeing him sitting at the end of the bench encouraging his players when he attends a game” said Charles F. Bowman, Bank of America’s market president for Charlotte and North Carolina. “And as a business person what impresses me is that he has empowered his management team to focus not only on the court but also on building bridges with the community. “He had a vision for where he was taking the team and a clear plan to get there. He has hired good people, gives them latitude to make decisions and he expects them to perform. Michael is unique -- the best player ever who is determined to keep getting better year over year as an owner.” The NBA has gotten a taste of Jordan’s growth and transition at some pivotal times. This is the legendary voice of the players who, during rancorous negotiations in the 1998 lockout, countered Washington owner Abe Pollin’s gripes about losing money by telling Pollin to sell his team. By the lockout of 2011, Jordan had moved to the other side of the table. But several members of the National Basketball Players Association’s executive committee saw him not as an opponent or turncoat but as a role model: someone who had transformed himself from employee to employer at the game’s highest level. “The players understood, he had been in their shoes,” Whitfield said. “He’s not forgetting what it meant to be a player. He was in the process of learning what it meant to be an owner.” When the current collective bargaining agreement was negotiated with commissioner Adam Silver and union director Michele Roberts leading the talks, Jordan was an active, powerful voice. He is an influential member of the NBA’s labor relations and competition committees. One Charlotte insider spoke to Jordan’s clout with his fellow owners in getting this weekend’s showcase -- jeopardized by a political squabble in 2017 -- back onto the league’s short list. “There’s no All-Star Game here in Charlotte if it’s not for MJ,” the person said. Last summer in Las Vegas, Silver lauded Jordan for his ability to straddle the basketball and business worlds. “He brings unique credibility to the table when we're having discussions [with the players],” he said, “and even just among the owners, he's able to represent a player point of view… Michael can say, 'Well, look, this is how I looked at it when I was a player, and these are the kind of issues we need to address if we're going to convince players that something is in everyone's interest.’ ” Jordan’s powers of persuasion apparently have been even more impressive in Charlotte and North Carolina. The executives are careful about relying on him too often -- Jordan’s most precious commodity, now that his net worth is estimated to be upwards of $1.7 billion -- is his time. But when they need Mariano Rivera to walk in from the bullpen, he is lights out. “We’ve had corporate sponsors at a golf outing, and he’s been there, maybe stayed at one hole to tell off with everybody,” Whitfield said. Or they’ll invite certain corporate sponsors to one of a few games each season in which “Club 23” is up and running at the Spectrum Center, a private club built for such purposes. They get a chance to visit, talk with and pick Jordan’s brain on the Hornets and much more. “We’ve closed all those deals,” Whitfield said. Then there was the time a local CEO wanted to finalize a sizeable sponsorship deal with the team, and had his No. 2 invite Jordan over to their headquarters for the meetings. Whitfield told the tale: “This guy says, 'You have to come to our office. Our CEO is the man in our business.' But we’re like, 'Nah, typically, CEOs come and meet in Michael’s office or in ‘Club 23’ over here.' He said no, that wasn’t going to work for them. “So Pete Guelli said, 'Let’s make a deal: We’ll take your CEO and drop him off in Beijing. And we’ll drop off Michael in Beijing. Then we’ll see who more people gravitate to. Whoever gets the least people, he has to come to the other guy’s office.'” Point made. Point taken. Said Whitfield: “The guy says, ‘You know what, I got it. We’ll be over 10 o’clock Friday morning.’” A community he calls home The Michael Jordan who once seemed determined to float above cultural and political frays as the most prudent way to serve commerce has not held back in recent years from making his presence felt. He has been more philanthropist than activist and, let’s face it, in times of the most dire need, cash beats talk every time. Charity and investing in the community can be good for business, sure. Making that a priority after Guelli’s arrival and Jordan’s purchase helped the Hornets build bridges with fans and merchants that Shinn and the original franchise’s departure had torched. More than that, though, giving back for Jordan and his team at this point in his life was the right thing to do. And do, and do, and do. The list of charitable and civic efforts Jordan and the Hornets have undertaken is long, with few outside the region or state aware of most of it. Among the highlights: - Donating $2 million to relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Florence, particularly meaningful because of the damage it did in Jordan’s hometown of Wilmington. - Dedicated $7 million in partnership with Novant Health to fund two Michael Jordan Family Clinics, set to open in Charlotte in 2020. - Serving as Make-A-Wish’s Chief Wish Ambassador since 2008, while donating more than $5 million to the organization. His relationship with Make-A-Wish began more than 30 years ago. - Contributing $5 million as a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. - Addressing the issue of police shootings and community policing in 2016 by donating $1 million each to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. After the hurricane in September devastated so many homes and businesses in and near Jordan’s roots, he wanted to do more than to stroke a fat check. In a meeting covered by The Associated Press, he met with Stephanie Parker and her family, including four young children, after they lost their apartment in two feet of flooding. A call from the director of the Cape Fear chapter of the Red Cross brought them together. The meeting took place at a Lowe’s home improvement store. “I look around the corner, and it’s Michael Jordan. ‘Oh my God!’" Parker said. “I look at my kids, ‘It’s Michael Jordan!’ I’m not going to lie, some tears came in my eyes, because the first thing that went through my mind was when I was younger, his last game when he was on the Chicago Bulls team, and that flashback just came right in my mind.” Afterward, Jordan was coaxed by the Charlotte Observer to talk about why that disaster resonated so deeply for him. “You gotta take care of home,” he said. “Wilmington truly is my home. Kept thinking about all those places I grew up going to … You don’t want to see any of that anywhere, but when it’s home, that’s tough to swallow.” There’s basketball, there’s business and then there’s real life, which sometimes intrudes in the most desperate ways. “We didn’t know how many people in our community were hungry,” Whitfield said. “There are people in dire need, and it’s special to have that hometown hero have in his heart that ‘This is where I can help.’ “It gives not only him as a person but our organization a platform to really speak out. That commitment is what has made him a special owner, and why he’s even more beloved in our community.” Winning title No. 7 drives Jordan now To date, Jordan’s greatest achievements have come elsewhere, at least since his baseline shot as a freshman propelled North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. Those Bulls championships, the “Dream Team” magnificence, his partnership with that sneaker company in Beaverton, Ore., his Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame induction, shooting “Space Jam,” all of it -- his legacy has been crafted with others, for others, mostly far from home. (For the record, Jordan, his wife Yvette and their two daughters own a mansion outside Charlotte and an estate in south Florida). “Look, this has always been home for him,” Whitfield said. “Even though he was drafted by Chicago, WGN became a very popular station. And he just continued to elevate, so people in this state were proud to say, even though he’s a Bull, we love him. When the Bulls would come here and play at the old Coliseum, these fans who were avid Hornets fans were all pulling for Michael Jordan. “He’d score, they’d cheer loudly. The Hornets would score, they’d cheer loudly. North Carolina always felt like he was their native son who went off and achieved greatness.” Coming back first to head the franchise’s basketball operations and then as owner, Jordan’s role -- in light of the modest results on the court -- has been custodial. Yes, the club’s improved financial stability is important. But for this driven winner and NBA owner unlike all others, custodial isn’t going to cut it for long. “He did an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine a while back,” Peterson said, “and the question was asked, ‘What would you like to do?’ And he said, ‘Win a seventh championship. Win as an owner.’ So for me, every day, I’m thinking, here’s a close friend and you want to make your friends happy, right? So each day I think, do the best you can to reach this goal for him.” Said Hornets wing Nicolas Batum: “I understand. He wants to win. He wants to compete since he was born.” It hasn’t been for lack of trying, although Jordan has made sure to keep fiscal responsibility high on every agenda. The team’s payroll for 2018-19 is approximately $122.3 million, which ranks near the middle of the NBA pack. “That Michael Jordan is one cheap dude,” said an impassioned cab driver on a recent airport run. “He’s only going to spend so much and the players they get shows it.” The Hornets never have spent into the league’s luxury-tax, and if Walker is retained when he hits free agency this summer, he’ll likely become the first Charlotte player to sign a full maximum-salary contract (though the five-year, $120 million deal Batum landed in 2016 came awfully close). Injuries and dubious moves have taken a toll, a situation that Kupchak, Borrego and their staffs have been tasked with fixing. Jordan, by all accounts, is engaged yet patient, with a playoff berth and potentially a record above .500 within reach. “I’m sure he feels like,” Whitfield said, “if he were still 30 years old and could lace ‘em up and get out there, he’d help us get over the hump. I think he would cherish it as much or more than the first six. Because I think he realizes how hard it is to get it done. “But it doesn’t bother us if the fans see his frustration sitting next to our bench. It’s important to us that they see he’s not only invested, he’s vested in what our team is trying to do. They can relate to him because they’re feeling that same frustration.” Jordan is theirs again and that’s what matters. For basketball, for business, for community and in time, just maybe, in championship. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 16th, 2019

Currys excited for mini family reunion at All-Star weekend

By Steve Reed, Associated Press CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Dell Curry looks forward to those nights when he can open a bottle of wine, take a seat on his recliner in front of the fireplace alongside wife Sonya and watch their NBA sons play basketball simultaneously on two large-screen television sets in his living room. Those are the nights he has to pinch himself realizing how blessed his family is. Everyone in the Curry clan has been pinching themselves lately; the family has been downright giddy about NBA All-Star Weekend. “It’s going to be incredible,” said Curry, a former NBA player and color commentator for the Hornets TV network who still lives in Charlotte. “It’s going to be a mini family reunion.” There will be plenty of fellowshipping in Charlotte, including family dinners and group outings. Of course there also will be a little basketball. Stephen and Seth Curry will be returning to their hometown for the festivities. Stephen, a two-time league MVP, will join younger brother Seth in the 3-point shootout Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time) at the Spectrum Center and then play in his sixth straight All-Star game Sunday (Monday, PHL time). “This just has the feel of the Curry family All-Star weekend,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. The fact that Seth is involved makes it extra special. Stephen said that the family group text was “buzzing” when everyone learned Seth was invited to compete in the 3-point contest. The Currys have been prepping for this weekend for months. Sonya is taking care of the family’s logistics, including tickets, travel plans and hotel reservations. On top of the invite list are the boys’ grandmothers, who haven’t been to an All-Star weekend since Dell competed in the 3-point shootout in Orlando in 1992. “It was very important to us that they were here to see this,” Dell said. Former coaches including Davidson’s Bob McKillop and other family friends will be there, too. The NBA is accommodating the Currys with extra tickets, knowing how big of a weekend it is for the family. Stephen has his own guest list — separate from the rest of the family — and hopes to limit it to 30 people. “I want you to write that loud and clear so you can help me keep the list small,” Stephen said with a laugh. Most of the out-of-towners will be staying in a downtown Charlotte hotel, and Dell and Sonya are considering bunking there, too, so they can be close to everyone and not miss a minute. “I want to see my grandchildren as much as possible,” Dell said. Stephen and Seth arrived Thursday (Friday, PHL time) together in Charlotte after Seth’s Trail Blazers hosted Stephen’s Warriors on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) in Portland, Oregon. Their families came here, too. Stephen is married to Ayesha and the couple has three children. Seth has a child with Callie Rivers, the daughter of NBA coach Doc Rivers. And the players’ sister, Sydell, who recently married Stephen’s Warriors’ teammate Damion Lee, a two-way player with Golden State, will be in town, too. The Curry family has a community event planned in Charlotte in association with Stephen’s partnership with Under Armour. “We want to give back and remind people, hey, this is where they were raised,” Dell said. “We want to make this a special weekend.” One of the highlights of the Curry family reunion weekend might be the 3-point shootout where the highly competitive brothers will square off against each other on a national stage. Trash talking is almost sure to be part of the event. Dell doesn’t know what to expect once his sons take the floor. He said both are equally competitive, whether it’s on the golf course or at family get-togethers. “At my daughter’s wedding we played Liar’s Dice for about two hours and that was the most competitive thing I have seen in a long time,” Dell said with a laugh. “Anytime there is a game that somebody has to win or lose, you can’t give anyone the edge as to who is more competitive. We all are competitive.” Added Seth: “I’m trying to win it, so I’m going to target everybody. It should be very entertaining to watch us both shoot out there. But I gotta beat everybody, not just him, to win it.” Warriors All-Star guard Klay Thompson said he decided not to participate in the 3-point shootout this year simply so he could just sit back and “be a fan” and watch the Currys go at it. For Stephen, the whole idea of the amped-up circus-like atmosphere that is looming has him excited about the weekend. “It will be a packed house with our family supporting us for sure,” Stephen said. “It’s rare when we are all together during basketball season,” Seth said. “So to have everyone there, it’s always fun. It’ll be a good weekend.” ___ AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco, California, and Anne Peterson in Portland, Oregon, contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 15th, 2019

Jokic, Beasley lead Nuggets past Heat 103-87

By Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets snapped a three-game skid with a 103-87 win over the Miami Heat on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time) behind 23 points and 12 rebounds from Nikola Jokic and 20 points from Malik Beasley. The Nuggets swept the season series from the Heat for the first time since 2008-09 and improved to 18-1 when holding opponents under 100 points. This marked the first time they did that since a 105-99 win at New Orleans on Jan. 30 (Feb. 1, PHL time). Denver pulled away in the third quarter to avoid matching a season-worst four-game skid it had in November before recovering in a big way to soar into the upper echelon on the Western Conference. The Nuggets struggled with three-point defense in their losses at Detroit, Brooklyn and Philadelphia last week, yielding a combined 48 percent success rate from long range in their East Coast swing. And the Heat were coming off a heartbreaking two-point loss at Golden State on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) in which they sank 18 three-pointers. "I hope they got all their makes last night and left that in San Francisco," Nuggets coach Michael Malone cracked before tip-off. The Heat did go cold from long range, finishing 9-of-23 for a 27-percent clip. The Nuggets regained their shooting touch, sinking 16 three-pointers including four in a 16-0 run they used to build a 75-57 lead with Will Barton and Jamal Murray each hitting two from behind the arc. Jokic had a pair of three-pointers as he scored Denver's final eight points before the break, helping the Nuggets take a 54-49 halftime lead. Justise Winslow led Miami with 15 points. VINDICATION Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn't want to harp on the Heat's 120-118 loss at Golden State a night earlier after the NBA said the Warriors' Kevin Durant should have been called for a discontinued dribble in his team's final possession. Golden State made a pair of free throws on that possession, the final points of the game. The league, in its Last Two Minute Report that is released after close games, said it reviewed multiple video angles to determine that Durant's dribble was not interrupted by the ball making inadvertent contact with the foot or shin of Winslow and "a discontinued dribble should have been called on Durant." The NBA also opted not to fine Spoelstra for his postgame comments about the officiating and he emphasized that he wasn't blaming officials for Miami's loss. "It's a double-dribble. Everybody can see it," Spoelstra said after the game. "Those are tough calls to make, but everybody saw it. It's right there in front of everybody. That should be a violation and you can't miss those calls. But we had our chances. Like I said, it was back and forth. The officials — so let's be clear about it, so I do not get fined — that's not why we lost." TIP-INS Heat: Miami, the league's only team with more wins on the road than at home, fell to 14-14 on the road. ... Spoelstra looked at the silver lining of facing the Western Conference's top two teams on back-to-back nights, saying before the game: "What do you want as a competitor? You want to be challenged, you want to be pushed. You want to find out what you're about collectively as a team. Can we bounce back? We've had two tough losses on the road. I prefer these times where you have a tough loss and can bounce back 24 hours later, rather than wait and stew and brew." Nuggets: The Nuggets honored the late Irv Brown during a first-quarter timeout with a video tribute to the former University of Colorado baseball coach, NCAA referee and longtime Denver sports broadcaster who died Feb. 3. ... In the first quarter, Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig both missed breakaway dunks. ... The Nuggets improved to 24-4 at home. UP NEXT Heat: Visit Dallas on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Nuggets: Host the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2019

MNLF freezes Moro state petition

The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) had suspended efforts before the United Nations (UN) to acquire recognition for the Bangsa Moro Republik (BMR), which comprises Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan and Malaysia’s Sabah and Sarawak, due to the earnest effort of President Rodrigo Duterte to seek a dialogue with MNLF chairman Nur Misuari. The decision of Duterte’s […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsFeb 11th, 2019

DBP exec pushes for Islamic banking

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/9 February) – A top executive of the state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) called on Mindanawon lawmakers to pursue the proposed framework on Islamic banking in the Philippines for the development of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). “We have not heard much about the initiatives, and probably since […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanewsRelated NewsFeb 9th, 2019

Markkanen leads Bulls to 125-106 rout of Nets

By DENIS P. GORMAN,  ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK (AP) — Lauri Markkanen scored 31 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 125-106 rout of the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Markkanen scored at least 30 points in his third straight game, while Chicago scored more than 100 points for the 17th straight game. Zach Levine added 23 points, Otto Porter Jr. had 18 in his first game with the Bulls, Robin Lopez and Kris Dunn each had 12, and Wayne Selden Jr. finished with 11. The win snapped a two-game skid for the Bulls. Chicago has still lost three of five, seven of nine, and 16 of 19 dating to Dec. 30. D'Angelo Russell, named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team earlier in the week, led the Nets with 23 points but Brooklyn dropped to 29-28 with its third loss in five games. Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris each finished with 19 points. At first glance, the game seemed liked a mismatch. The Nets have been one of the NBA's surprise stories as they find themselves in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, while the Bulls are in a heated race with Atlanta, Cleveland, Phoenix and the New York Knicks to be in the best position to win the NBA draft lottery and potentially select Duke power forward Zion Williamson. But, the Bulls led 55-48 at halftime. Chicago's biggest lead in the first half was 10 at 40-30, but the Nets used 17-6 run spanning 6:28 to go up by 1 at 47-46, before the Bulls ended the first half by outscoring Brooklyn 9-1. Chicago made 21 of 44 shots from the field in the first half, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range, while the Nets struggled at 16 for 43 overall, and 5 of 17 from beyond the arc. Chicago extended its lead to as many as 14 in the third quarter, and had a 93-80 advantage going into the fourth. Among the keys to the Bulls strong third quarter was the play of their starting front court of Robin Lopez, Markkanen and Porter, who combined for 25 of the Bulls' 38 third-quarter points. The lead grew to 18 in the fourth after Timothe Luwauw-Cabarrot made two free throws with 8:09 left. TIP-INS: BULLS: The win snapped Chicago's six-game losing streak to Brooklyn, and its four-game losing streak at Barclays Center. The Bulls had lost the three previous meetings this season. NETS: About 45 minutes before the opening tip-off, Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks spoke to reporters about the state of the team. While he spoke cautiously, Marks was unquestionably proud of how his team has played through the first 56 games. "I give our players a heck of a lot of credit for how they've handled this first, you know, over half of the season," he said. "It's really been led by them. They took the reins of this thing and they've been pushing and believing." COMEBACK CARIS Third-year guard Caris LeVert played for the first time since suffering a subtalar dislocation of the right foot in the Nets' 120-113 loss to the Timberwolves in Minnesota on November 12. He had missed 42 games. Nets coach Kenny Atkinson announced after Thursday's practice LeVert would play, and the third year guard finished with 11 points in 14:56. LeVert checked in for the first time 1:21 into the second quarter and received a nice ovation from the 15,267 in attendance, and he scored his first basket on a floater with 5:15 left before halftime, which prompted chants of "Welcome back!" from the crowd. BULLS CALLED ON PORTER: The Nets weren't the only team welcoming a fresh body. Friday's game was Chicago's first since trading Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a 2023 protected second round pick to Washington for Porter on Wednesday. Porter started at small forward. "I think we'll have a limited package when he's in there," Bulls coach Jim Boylen said before the game. "We're not going to add anything for him. I met with him last night (when) we got in and met with him at our walkthrough. We'll try to get him up to speed as fast as we can." UP NEXT: Bulls: Host Washington on Saturday night. Nets: Visits Toronto on Monday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 9th, 2019

What Is the Debt to Income Ratio Needed to Qualify for a FHA or Conventional Mortgage?

Your debt-to-income ratio is a very important figure to know, since it will determine whether you can qualify for loans or not. In fact, your debt to income ratio for FHA and Conventional to get an approval is key. It helps you to see where you stand with your finances. What is this magical number? What are the requirements for different loans? Here is your guide to the debt-to-income ratio. Debt-to-Income Ratio   The debt-to-income ratio is a figure that shows the relationship between your debts and your income, expressed as a percentage. It shows the percentage of your income that is taken up by debt payments. All debts are included in the ratio. Existing loans, credit...Keep on reading: What Is the Debt to Income Ratio Needed to Qualify for a FHA or Conventional Mortgage?.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 4th, 2019

Trapped in shrinking Syria holdout, ISIS turns to human shields

BAGHOUZ, Syria –  On a rooftop near the front line with the Islamic State group's collapsing caliphate in eastern Syria, a US-backed fighter and his comrades sip tea as they await orders to restart the battle. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) halted their ground assault on ISIS's final shreds of ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsFeb 3rd, 2019

LeBron back in fold, but other issues still on Lakers minds

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com Well, scratch one name off the Los Angeles Lakers’ wait list. LeBron James has finally reported for duty, and who would’ve thought he’d beat Anthony Davis to the team’s lineup? Five weeks felt like forever to the franchise as they sweated out LeBron’s 17-game absence from a groin injury. It was the first injury of any concern in his 16-year career, and given his workload over such time, maybe that will serve as one of the more amazing feats by LeBron. A sense of normalcy crept back into the Lakers’ season if only for a night when LeBron suited up Thursday (Friday, PHl time), played 40 minutes without a hiccup, and -- on the surface anyway -- all seemed well. That doesn’t mean all is well. All is very confusing. The Lakers are juggling a pair of sensitive uncertainties: Davis and whether they can swing a deal to acquire the New Orleans Pelicans’ All-NBA player … and the Western Conference playoff chase. The Davis dilemma has the more urgent expiration date. Thursday’s (Friday, PHl time) deadline means one way or another, the Lakers will have clarity on one of the more uncomfortable scenarios in recent memory. And when there’s finally a verdict, and no matter what it is, there will be a sense of relief (to an extent). That’s because the young core of the Lakers are essentially being held hostage while the club enthusiastically tries to pawn one of two or all of them off in order to get Davis. Imagine being Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and/or Josh Hart now and figuring out what they’re going through. This Davis trade request is in their heads. They don’t know if by next week they’ll be passing the ball to LeBron or … E’Twuan Moore. They don’t know if they’ll be playing in L.A. or … La. They don’t know if LeBron, whose agency also represents Davis and is helping to orchestrate his New Orleans exit, has their back or is sticking a fork in it behind the scenes. There’s so much at work here, so many moving parts, so much head scratching. By all indications, there are exploratory conversations between the Lakers and Pelicans about what it will take to land Davis. The Lakers are dangling young players and Draft picks, and that might not be enough. Meanwhile, the Pelicans are dealing with their own prickly situation. The trade request caused a measure of saltiness and the front office doesn’t appear to be warm to the idea of having Davis around. The Pelicans scrubbed him from their pre-game video intros, as though he doesn’t exist anymore. He’s still on the team bench during games but it’s a weird optic. Davis is with a team he doesn’t feel is good enough for him anymore. In a perfect world, the Pelicans would take their time and weigh considerable offers from other teams, but that may stretch until this summer. Davis’ contract only runs one more season. If he tells other teams he won’t sign an extension with them, he can sabotage deals. Why would those teams surrender assets for a one-year rental? The stare-down continues as the weekend approaches and LeBron returns to face the league-leading Golden State Warriors in Oakland on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time). “With LeBron back, we have to adjust again as to how we play,” said coach Luke Walton. “But he looked fine to me.” He was initially on a 25-minute restriction Thursday (Friday, PHL time), but played the entire overtime in the Lakers’ win. He was feeling and looking stronger as the game progressed, finishing with 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. “I’m about 80 (percent) right now,” James said. “It’s going to take me a while to get my rhythm back. We got a lot of games coming up. I want to see how my body feels tomorrow after playing tonight. Toughest stretch of my career. I worked my butt off to get back to this point. “I wasn’t positive every day throughout this process. There were times when I felt great and thought I could come back faster. It wasn’t reacting the right way so I had to be patient. I’d never been injured before like that. I didn’t come here to put on a suit everyday. I came here to put on a jersey, when you see your team struggle and you can’t help them in a suit and tie, that was frustrating.” The Lakers went 6-11 without LeBron and dropped games to the likes of the New York Knicks, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers and two to the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was unsightly and discouraging at times, and the losing -- combined with LeBron’s sense of mortality -- perhaps kick-started the Davis chase. Perhaps team president Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka (with input from LeBron) decided it’s time to get into the express lane, at the expense of youth, and quicken the process. “I’m excited about being back out there with my guys,” James said. “We’re ready for the challenge. We want to get back into a groove and get a playoff spot. That’s what I’m here fore, that’s what we’re here for.” The playoff chase begins in earnest for any team in the West with those aspirations. To reach 48 wins, which should be enough for a playoff spot, the Lakers need to win 21 of their last 30. And given the stiff competition out West, that likely means LeBron will need to play meaningful games in April -- a time which normally would call for rest -- and perform at a high level, too. Keep in mind if the Lakers are gutted to get Davis, the supporting cast around the two stars will be depleted. In such a case, the real pursuit of the Warriors wouldn’t realistically begin until next season. Even that depends on what else the Lakers can do this summer with their salary-cap surplus. Remember, LeBron is 34 … and just sat for the longest stretch of his career. When you sign LeBron, the end game is a championship or at the very least, a reasonable chase. The Lakers are getting him on the back end, so in this situation, there’s a clock and the Lakers are on it. Time is ticking on their chances of getting Davis this season in what would be a major shakeup. And time is also ticking on their playoff pursuit, which if it fails, would be a major letdown. Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 2nd, 2019

California governor pushes for fund to help asylum seekers

  SAN DIEGO --- California Gov. Gavin Newsom praised San Diego County for providing a shelter for asylum seekers and said Thursday he wants the state to set up an emergency fund of $25 million to address what he has called an humanitarian crisis created by the federal government. Speaking during a visit to San Diego on Thursday, Newsom told reporters that $5 million should be made available this year - mostly to help San Diego's shelter. He said his proposal is worded "loosely" to allow for flexibility in the spending but he believes the money is needed for a problem that will not be going away in the near future. The most immediate needs for now are in San Diego Cou...Keep on reading: California governor pushes for fund to help asylum seekers.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 1st, 2019

Towns powers Timberwolves to 120-105 win over Lakers

By Dan Greenspan, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 12 rebounds to help the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Lakers 120-105 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Andrew Wiggins added 23 points and Jerryd Bayless scored 16 off the bench for the Timberwolves, who have won three straight. Rajon Rondo had 15 points, 13 assists and six rebounds in his first game since injuring a finger on his right hand at Golden State on Christmas (Dec. 26, PHL time), but the Lakers lost their third in a row. Brandon Ingram had 20 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13. The Timberwolves were ahead 84-82 after three quarters. The Lakers scored the first four points of the third, but Minnesota used an 11-1 run to regain the lead with Towns getting seven points, including a three-pointer to put the Timberwolves back in front. Los Angeles committed seven turnovers in the third, leading to 11 points. Rondo went right to work after missing 14 games because of a sprained finger that required surgery, getting eight points and four rebounds in the first quarter. TIP-INS Timberwolves: Rookie G Jared Terrell scored 10 points after totaling nine in his first four career games. . F Jeff Teague missed his second straight game because of soreness in his left foot. . Minnesota went 3-1 in the season series. The Timberwolves are 15-8 over their past 23 games against the Lakers following a 22-game losing streak. Lakers: Coach Luke Walton said he would not update a timetable for the return of LeBron James, who missed his 15th straight game because of a groin strain. "I'm not going to throw out weeks or day," Walton said after James returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). "He knows what he's doing, he's taking care of his body, and when he's ready to go, he'll go." . Los Angeles shot 50.6 percent from the field despite going 8-of-28 from three-point range. UP NEXT Timberwolves: Visit the Utah Jazz on Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Lakers: Host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday (Monday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 25th, 2019