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Anthony Davis joins Lakers with championship plans

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Anthony Davis' year of uncertainty finally felt finished when he stood in the Los Angeles Lakers' training complex and proudly held up his new gold jersey while LeBron James looked on approvingly. After months of upheaval around his departure from New Orleans, the superstar forward is looking forward to years of success and stability on the West Coast. Sure, Davis knows the Lakers are rarely stable, and championships are the only success this franchise understands. The six-time All-Star can't wait for the challenge of winning big in the Hollywood spotlight. "The most difficult part for me was just not knowing," Davis said Saturday (Sunday, PHl time). "When it was announced that I was being traded, I don't want to say it was a relief, (but) it was something that I'd thought about for a long time. Obviously it was tough to leave the city I'd been playing in for seven years, but I think it was best for me. "When I found out I'd been traded to the Lakers, I realized it was an unbelievable opportunity for me," he added. "To be here with a wonderful organization, and then to be able to play alongside LeBron and the players that we have now ... to get the opportunity to do that and come here and play for an organization that's all about winning, and winning championships, and that's the only goal, I think that was the biggest thing for me." The Lakers formally acquired Davis this month in one of the biggest moves of the NBA's tumultuous offseason, but this courtship has been happening for much longer. Davis became determined to leave New Orleans last season, and Los Angeles made an in-season run at Davis before eagerly blowing up its young core to get a second game-changing star to play alongside James. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka introduced Davis as "the most dominant young basketball player in the world." "There is no more complete basketball player in the game," Pelinka added. "There is nothing he can't do. He can shoot. He can make plays. He can defend 1 to 5. He can protect the rim. He can handle the ball. His dedication to his craft is unparalleled. To sit here next to him and think he's going to be on our team and he's going to be a pillar in this franchise for many years is just something we're incredibly proud of." The Lakers gave up Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and a slew of draft picks to land Davis one year before he could become an unrestricted free agent. While Pelinka clearly expects Davis to sign a long-term deal to stay with the Lakers, Davis didn't make a declaration of his intentions right away. "Right now, my focus is on this year, and trying to help this organization become a championship team," Davis said. Davis' new jersey will bear a No. 3 after his plan to take his usual No. 23 from James fell through thanks to rules involving jersey supplier Nike, who had already begun planning for next season with James in the No. 23 shirt. Davis will go back to the number he wore in elementary and middle school, although he jokingly said the denial of No. 23 "was pretty hurtful." Davis and James have been kept up to speed on Pelinka's machinations to build a strong roster around them. Davis strongly endorsed the signing of DeMarcus Cousins, his former teammate in New Orleans — and not just because Davis prefers to play as a power forward instead of a center. "I like playing the 4," Davis said to a laughing coach Frank Vogel. "I'm not even going to sugarcoat it. I don't like playing the 5, but if it comes down to it, Coach, I'll play the 5." Pelinka said the Lakers signed Cousins and re-signed JaVale McGee precisely so that Davis wouldn't wear down his body guarding centers. Davis was asked about load management, and he dismissed it: "I'm playing. I'm 26-years-old. I love the game of basketball. I'm ready to play." Davis also waived a $4 million trade kicker in his contract so the Lakers would have cap room to take their failed run at Kawhi Leonard, a move that Pelinka praised as selfless. "Anytime you're able to acquire a player like Kawhi, I think you have to do almost everything to get a guy like that," Davis said. "It didn't work out for us, but I wanted to make sure I did whatever I could to help the team." Basketball-loving Los Angeles is still buzzing after its two teams were turned into immediate contenders during free agency, but they're hardly alone in a league that might have achieved a measure of parity after years of Golden State dominance. While Leonard and Paul George landed with the Clippers, Davis and James are confident about the future ahead for the 16-time NBA champions, who are exponentially more beloved in their hometown than their local rivals. Davis has lived in Los Angeles during the offseason for several years, and he loves everything about it but the traffic. "It's going to be fun," Davis said of the new-look league with its new crop of superstar pairings. "I'm excited about it. I think the league has grown. I think it's better. (With) all the players teaming up and spreading that talent throughout the league, it's going to be a fun season. I like our roster. I like every player that we have, from one through 14." The Lakers have been the worst team in the NBA during their team-record six consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, but Davis and James expect to end those struggles and drought in the year ahead. They're aiming for much more, too. "I know we'll talk about it and do whatever we can to definitely make this team a championship team next season," Davis said, before correcting himself: "This season.".....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJul 14th, 2019

Lakers ready to showcase a motivated LeBron James, hungry Anthony Davis

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES — On training camp eve, the atmosphere, scene and vibe at the team practice complex suggested the Lakers will welcome two new and bold additions when the season tips off in three weeks. One: Anthony Davis, do-it-all forward, rescued from the depths of the New Orleans Pelicans, desperate for a championship and perhaps in line for the next Kia MVP award, both of which would be his first. Two: LeBron James. Yes, it’s true this is LeBron’s second season with the storied franchise, but does last year truly count? In his mind, no, it doesn’t, because the Lakers and NBA were all deprived of his usual high standard of greatness and astonishing health in 2018-19. The health part betrayed him for the first time in his 16-year career, causing him to miss 27 games, mostly due to a persistently bothersome groin strain. The part about greatness didn’t necessarily and totally disappear; after all, LeBron did average 27-8-8, numbers that even stars would kill for. Except those numbers didn’t translate into a playoff berth, even when he returned from injury and the Lakers still had a chance in the final month. And that, by extension, generated motivation within LeBron to answer the criticism both real (only a scant amount) and imagined (a lot) that LeBron now approaching 35 is no longer the force he was. “Oh, man,” said teammate Kyle Kuzma. “He’s going to be a load this season, more than usual.” “He’s gonna show all those people who are underestimating him,” added Rajon Rondo. “The stuff I saw him do this summer, getting up early in the morning, first one in the gym, working hard, it’s gonna pay off,” Davis said. A changed LeBron? Well, it’s hard to imagine him being a more focused player than before, just as it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that, yes, LeBron could experience a slight drop-off in talent because Father Time shows no mercy to anyone. But it’s also quite possible the 2019-20 LeBron can and will do what last year’s version couldn’t: Push the Lakers to a championship or at the very least, a deep playoff run. He appeared refreshed Friday at media day — as he should with plenty of time off. Stoic at times and totally businesslike, LeBron spoke about the frustration of watching the playoffs — he stressed he “didn’t miss a single game” — from his couch for the first time since 2005. He also shared his anticipation of sharing the floor with Davis. “It’s exciting to have such a beautiful young mind, a beautiful player but also a great leader as well,” LeBron said about Davis, although the 2018-19 Pelicans might quibble with that last part. “I know the caliber of player that AD is. When Rob (Pelinka, the GM) and everyone upstairs did what they had to do to acquire a talent, person as AD, I was obviously truly excited. You saw how much time we spent together in the summer.” True enough, Davis and LeBron have been shadows of one another, with Davis spending time on the set of the “Space Jam” sequel, where LeBron is the star and Davis has a role, and also on the phone with Pelinka when the Lakers made decisions on the rest of the roster. The sight of Davis and LeBron, a pair of generational talents with one of them still in his prime, running the floor and causing problems for the other bench is what LeBron needed but didn’t have last season when the Lakers won just 37 games and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season. LeBron plans to be as deferential as possible to Davis, who’s coming off a bitter end to a six-year run in New Orleans, in order to get the best from his All-Star forward. If that means LeBron must allow Davis to be the focal point of the offense, LeBron says so be it. "If we're not playing through Anthony Davis while he's on the floor, then it makes no sense to have him on the floor," James said. "Because he's that great.” The goal, obviously, is for LeBron to develop the same chemistry with Davis that he had with Dwyane Wade in Miami, and to get similar results — the Heat won a pair of championships and reached the NBA Finals every year with LeBron in the fold. The process is a bit more critical now because the Lakers sacrificed a chunk of their future to get Davis, and LeBron has only three years left on his contract. There’s also the notion that LeBron is in his sunset years although the insinuation, according to LeBron, is that it means he’s lost a step and a place among the league’s great players. While some of this criticism might be generated by his imagination, there was talk this summer — such as comments from David Griffin — that might have bothered him a little bit. Alright alright. Enough is enough. The throne has been played with to much and I ain’t for horseplay. Ether coming soon! ???????????????????????????????????????????? #JamesGang????? — LeBron James (@KingJames) August 1, 2019 “I’m very motivated,” he said, “but right now I’m in 'not talking about it mode.’ I’ve been very quiet this summer for a reason … but there’s some motivation for me. There’s a lot of conversations going on this summer and I’m just very quiet, very quiet. And I’m just going to maintain quiet, My mother always taught me, 'don’t talk about it, be about it.’ So that’s where I’m at. I think as a team, and myself, we need to get the Lakers back to what they’ve been accustomed to over the years. I’m excited about that.” LeBron needs Davis and yet, Davis needs LeBron just as much — the projected 2019-20 LeBron, who’s juiced by motivation, failure, an injury setback and all that chatter that he hears (or doesn’t) about his declining skills. Because without LeBron, Davis wouldn’t be here. Davis would either still be in New Orleans or staring up at the banners hanging from the ceiling in Boston and wondering how to duplicate that. Therefore, until further notice, the fate of the Lakers will rest with how much LeBron can distance himself from last season. The Lakers will require improved outside shooting and better defense (especially from LeBron) and obviously an MVP-level season from Davis to place themselves in the championship conversation. Then, all of the above are realistic. But it ends with LeBron, and isn’t this how it all started, with him? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsSep 28th, 2019

The ten most intriguing NBA free agents for 2019

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com We knew that the postseason would affect free agency. But the idea was that the success or failure of certain teams would affect what their free agents' thoughts about staying or leaving. Unfortunately, the last two games of The Finals brought devastating injuries to two of the three most coveted free agents on the market. Kevin Durant, arguably the best player in the world, tore his Achilles in Game 5, just 12 minutes into his return from a calf injury. And Klay Thompson tore his ACL in Game 6. The two injuries will certainly have repercussions beyond the two players and the Golden State Warriors. Maybe they already have. With the Western Conference seemingly wide open next season, the Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly made a deal for Anthony Davis, sending a bevy of young players and future picks to New Orleans so they can team the 26-year-old star with 34-year-old LeBron James ... and maybe another star added in free agency. As always, the free agent market and the trade market are tied together. The pending Davis trade could affect the decisions of players and teams come July 1. And if teams miss out on the free agents they're seeking, they could always fill their cap space by making a trade. With all that in mind, the players listed below aren't necessarily the 10 best free agents (or potential free agents). They're the 10 (actually 12) most interesting in regard to where they're going and what kind of contract they get. For players to be on this list, there needs to be some intrigue regarding their (and/or their team's) decision this summer. That's why Thompson isn't included. 1. Kawhi Leonard, Toronto (Player option) Whether he leaves or not, trading for Leonard last summer was well worth it for the Raptors, who won their first championship, with Leonard averaging 30.5 points per game in the postseason. The Raptors' "load management" program (which limited Leonard to just 60 games in the regular season) clearly worked, and director of sports science Alex McKechnie should be seen as a major asset in the quest to keep Leonard in Toronto. There should be a "run-it-back" sentiment for the new champs, with Danny Green also a free agent and Marc Gasol holding a player option this summer. A short-term deal would make sense, unless Leonard is looking for long-term security, having missed almost all of the 2017-18 season with a leg injury. It's all up to Leonard, maybe the toughest player in the league to read. If he takes his two-way talent elsewhere, the Raptors may have to go in a new direction. Number to know: In the postseason, Leonard had a true shooting percentage of 69.1 percent, the highest mark for a player that averaged at least 30 points per game in the playoffs and won the championship. 2. Kevin Durant, Golden State (Player option) Durant's torn Achilles probably won't scare any team, including the Warriors, from paying him as much as possible. As deep and talented as this free agent class is, the top two guys on this list are in a class by themselves. Rumors have long had Durant ready to leave Golden State and even with his injury, he seems more likely than Thompson to find a new home. But an ESPN report had Thompson's father talking about "unfinished business" after overhearing a conversation between the two injured Warriors. Durant could always put free agency off for a year by exercising his player option and remaining on the Warriors' payroll through his rehab. Number to know: Durant was the first player in NBA history to average 30 points per game in at least 10 playoff games while shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free throw line. 3. Kyrie Irving, Boston The disappointment of the Celtics' season, along with Irving's questionable leadership with a group that underachieved, has taken some of the shine off his star. Irving's injury history also must be taken into consideration. But talent is the most important thing in this league and Irving is one of its most talented players. He's still just 27-years-old and he can still get buckets when buckets are needed. A return to Boston appears far less likely than it did six months ago (especially with Davis being traded elsewhere) and there have been a lot of signals that Irving is bound for Brooklyn. Number to know: In the regular season, Irving had an effective field goal percentage of 56.1 percent with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, the second-best mark among player with at least 50 clutch field goal attempts. 4. Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, Philadelphia The Sixers lost to the eventual NBA champions on a Game 7 buzzer-beater that bounced on the rim four times before falling through. They're right there. But their starting lineup, which outscored its opponents by more than 21 points per 100 possessions in 334 total minutes (regular season and playoffs), includes three free agents. In regard to future assets, the Sixers didn't give up as much for Butler as they did for Harris. And of course, Butler has more baggage in regard to accepting his role. But, with his defense and his ability to get his own shot, he's is the most important of the three. Harris struggled a bit in the conference semifinals against Toronto and is the least important of the Sixers' three free-agent starters; J.J. Redick's shooting was clearly more critical in the postseason. But Harris isn't easily replaceable and he appears to be the most likely to leave, with a lot of teams looking for versatile forwards. Number to know: In the regular season, Harris shot 41.3 percent on pull-up three-pointers, the second-best mark among 69 players who attempted at least 100. 5. Kemba Walker, Charlotte Walker has expressed some level of loyalty to the Hornets. But immediately after the Davis trade was agreed to, there was a report that Walker would be a "top target" of the Lakers with their cap space. Walker would be an ideal offensive complement to James and Davis, in that he can play off the ball (though he shot less than 35 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers last season) and take some of the playmaking burden off of James' shoulders. The Hornets, meanwhile, would likely have a tough time upgrading their roster around Walker, with Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Cody Zeller all under contract next season for a total of $85 million. Number to know: Walker led the league with 126 field goal attempts with the score within five points in the last five minutes. That was 43 percent of the Hornets' total (295). His effective field goal percentage on those shots (49.6 percent) ranked 15th among 45 players with at least 50 clutch field goal attempts. 6. D'Angelo Russell, Brooklyn (Restricted) A finalist for the Most Improved award, Russell took a big step forward this season, both in regard to his production and his maturity. He earned himself an All-Star appearance and helped the Nets reach the playoffs with a 14-win increase from last season. He's only 23-years-old and is one of the league's most flammable shooters. But because he doesn't get to the basket or the free throw line very often, Russell is neither all that efficient (his true shooting percentage of 53.3 percent ranked 66th among 94 guards with at least 500 field goal attempts) nor consistent, and he struggled (shooting 36 percent) in Brooklyn's first-round loss to Philadelphia. If the Nets are targeting another ball-handler in free agency (with Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie already under contract), they'll probably let Russell head elsewhere. Number to know: In the regular season, Russell ranked second with 11.4 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions per game. He scored 0.89 points per possession as a pick-and-roll ball-handler, the 26th best mark among 44 players that averaged at least five ball-handler possessions. 7. DeMarcus Cousins and Kevon Looney, Golden State Cousins hadn't made it back to 100 percent from his Achilles tear before he suffered a torn quad in his second career playoff game. He made it back for The Finals from that injury and showed flashes of his old self with 14 important points in the Warriors' Game 5 win and a big bucket in the final minute of Game 6. But he also struggled on both ends of the floor at times, and the Warriors were outscored with him on the floor in seven of his eight playoff games. Now he goes back on the free agent market with teams still not sure of what they're getting. Looney is an unrestricted free agent at 23-years-old, and he was the Warriors' most important center this season. The Western Conference champs have Looney's Bird rights, but they could also be spending a lot of money to retain Durant and Thompson (and possibly extend Draymond Green). Another team might have a larger role and more money for an improving young big. Number to know: In the regular season, the Warriors' lineup of Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Looney scored 121.5 points per 100 possessions and outscored opponents by 18.7 per 100. Those were the best marks for points scored and point differential per 100 possessions among 40 league-wide lineups that played at least 200 minutes together. 8. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee (Restricted) The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the league through the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals. But, with four of their top eight players being free agents (or potential free agents) this summer, they have a lot of work to do if they want to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo surrounded by players who can get it done on both ends of the floor. Brogdon, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez are the three key pieces. They're all due a pay raise and they all belong on this list. Brogdon is the restricted free agent, but he's also the youngest of the three (he'll be 27 in December) and the one that could be projected into a larger role on another team. Number to know: Brogdon shot 47.5 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, the third-best mark among 223 players who attempted at least 100. 9. Julius Randle, New Orleans (Player option) After five years in the league, Randle is still just 24-years-old. So he's not necessarily a bad fit for David Griffin's plans for the future in New Orleans. But the Pelicans might not be ready to commit the money Randle is seeking (should he opt out of the final year of his contract) after averaging a career-high 21.4 points per game. Defense remains an issue, but Randle has expanded his offensive skill set; he was a respectable 34.4 percent from three-point range this season, taking 18 percent of his shots from beyond the arc (up from six percent over his three previous full seasons). Number to know: Randle averaged 13.2 points in the paint per game, seventh most in the league, and he made more three-pointers (67) than all but one of the six players in front of him. 10. Ricky Rubio, Utah According to Rubio himself, he's not Utah's top priority in free agency. He remains a good defender and one of the league's best passers, but the Jazz need to get more potent offensively if they're going to take the next step. At 31.1 percent, Rubio ranked 153rd in three-point percentage among 163 players with at least 200 attempts. There could be as many as 10 teams (not including the Jazz) in need of a starting point guard this summer, and Rubio could have more value on a team more in need of a distributor. Number to know: The Jazz were 5.8 points per 100 possessions better offensively with both Rubio and Donovan Mitchell on the floor (scoring 110.4 per 100) than they were with Mitchell on the floor without Rubio (104.6). John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst 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 NewsJun 17th, 2019

NBA ROUNDUP: Lakers dominate Heat for 2-0 lead in NBA Finals

  The Los Angeles Lakers are just two games away from a record-tying 17th championship following a 124-114 victory over the short-handed Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals in Orlando Friday. LeBron James scored 33 points and Anthony Davis contributed 32 to power the Lakers to a 2-0 lead over Miami. Rajon […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2020

Lakers promote Pelinka to VP of Bball Ops

LA Lakers press release EL SEGUNDO – The Los Angeles Lakers have named Rob Pelinka Vice President, Basketball Operations and General Manager, it was announced today. Pelinka, who was hired as the Lakers General Manager in March 2017, has helped transform the Lakers roster and basketball operations department. Pelinka orchestrated one of the biggest trades in franchise history last offseason, acquiring six-time All-Star Anthony Davis and signing key free agents to the revamped roster. He also retooled the coaching staff, hiring a veteran group with a variety of experiences. During the 2018 offseason, Pelinka made one of the most significant signings in franchise history, with the acquisition of four-time MVP LeBron James. “I’m extremely pleased with the work Rob has done in order to put this franchise in a position for success, “said Lakers Governor Jeanie Buss. “His strong leadership skills, as well as his commitment to building a winning culture, both on and off the court, have brought us one step closer to being a championship-caliber team and I look forward to our continued work together.” Pelinka, 50, joined the Lakers after spending the greater part of two decades representing many of the NBA’s top talent. The Lake Forest, Illinois native earned his B.B.A. from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan with high honors in 1993, before receiving his J.D., Cum Laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1996. While at Michigan, Pelinka earned a 1989 National Championship as a member of the Wolverines basketball team and also took part in three NCAA Final Fours (1989, 1992 & 1993)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 11th, 2020

Lakers Anthony Davis to travel after negative MRI from fall

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Davis plans to travel with the Los Angeles Lakers on their upcoming road trip after he bruised his buttocks in a nasty fall. The Lakers announced encouraging news about their six-time All-Star’s health Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), a day after he left their blowout win over New York with a scary injury. An MRI exam performed overnight on Davis showed no major concerns, and X-rays were negative. Davis was extremely sore, but his injuries appear to be only bruises. The NBA’s sixth-leading scorer is expected to be listed as questionable when the Lakers open a two-game road trip Friday (Saturday, PHL time) in Dallas. Davis was hurt when he fell hard on his back and tailbone after trying to block the shot of New York’s Julius Randle in the third quarter of the Lakers’ sixth straight win, 117-87 over the Knicks on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time). Davis pounded the court in pain and stayed down for about two minutes while his teammates gathered around him. He eventually rose with help and walked off the court slowly, but under his own power. After the game, the Lakers’ Danny Green called it an “ugly fall, man. It’s probably going to take some time, seeing how long it took for him to get up and walk out of here, the way he’s walking out of here.” The news might not be as bad as the Lakers feared, however. The team initially diagnosed the injury as a bruised sacrum — the lower part of the spine. But the Lakers altered their diagnosis to a soft-tissue bruise after the MRI, which likely means the injury is less serious. The Western Conference-leading Lakers (30-7) were off Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). They play the Mavericks on Friday (Saturday, PHL time) and at Oklahoma City on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) before returning to Los Angeles. Davis will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he is widely expected to re-sign with the Lakers. He is averaging 27.7 points and 9.5 rebounds in his first season with Los Angeles after the team traded most of its young core to New Orleans for him. “He’s one of our pillars,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s our present. He’s our future. He’s one of the best players in the world, so obviously he means a lot.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 8th, 2020

Stern was a big-city guy and a friend to the small markets

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — David Stern had been NBA commissioner for barely a year when the Knicks won the 1985 draft lottery, sending Patrick Ewing on the way to New York. Skeptics cried conspiracy, that the league rigged the result to bail out the faltering franchise in its largest market. Stern would shrug it off, knowing he wouldn’t do anything illegal to help the Knicks, or any of the big boys. He did far more for the little guys. Cities like Sacramento and New Orleans needed Stern more, and his efforts helped them retain teams that might otherwise have been playing elsewhere. In New Orleans’ case, that even included running the organization at the same time as running a league. “I used to think that he just showed up on draft day and shook hands, but then I got to work with him when I was in New Orleans when the NBA took over the Pelicans. I was amazed how much he did,” said Phoenix coach Monty Williams, who was coaching the team when the league stepped in to run it until new ownership could be found. Tributes flowed for hours Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) after Stern died at 77, from grateful players and teams who benefited from his 30 years of leadership. Most focused on his vision that led to the NBA’s massive worldwide growth, but some had more personal stories to tell about closer to home. Like the Kings, who at times appeared ticketed for Seattle, Southern California, Las Vegas or some other city before Stern rejected the team’s plans to bolt and gave Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson the chance to put together plans for local ownership and a new arena that kept the team in California’s capital city. A street is named in Stern’s honor there. “David will always be remembered as Superman in Sacramento,” owner Vivek Ranadivé said, adding that Stern’s “fierce support of the team and this community is the reason why the Kings stayed in Sacramento. David’s enthusiasm for our city and belief in our fans will never be forgotten.” The Kings played a tribute video Thursday (Friday, PHL time) acknowledging Stern’s role in their revival before their home game against the Memphis Grizzlies, another team in a minor market that’s struggled at times to fill its building after the team relocated there from Vancouver. “David will always be remembered as Superman in Sacramento." In Memoriam - David J. Stern ???? pic.twitter.com/g8cdh2sr14 — Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) January 1, 2020 Business may have boomed better in other places, but one move for the franchise was hard enough. Stern had no interest in another. “Commissioner Stern’s support of Memphis as an NBA market and the resulting arrival of the Grizzlies franchise in 2001 forever changed the trajectory of our city,” the Grizzlies said. “His continued support in standing alongside the Grizzlies organization in its creation of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Game in Memphis reflected his commitment to using the power of sport to transform lives.” The NBA loves its big stars and benefits from them being in the biggest markets, from Magic Johnson to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, and now LeBron James being in Los Angeles, or Michael Jordan playing in Chicago. But Stern and the league admired the parity of the NFL, where small-market squads such as Green Bay, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis have thrived. A better chance of achieving that was a driving force that led to the 2011 lockout, with the league hoping a more favorable salary structure and improved sharing of revenues would give any well-managed team a chance to compete, no matter its location. Teams such as Oklahoma City, Portland and Utah have since been relatively consistent winners, and Milwaukee currently sports the NBA’s best record. Occasionally, it took a larger effort from the league, especially in New Orleans. The NBA has never proven over the long term it will flourish in the city after moving from Charlotte, with Chris Paul and Anthony Davis both eventually seeking to be traded. But even though the Hornets were well-supported in Oklahoma City after playing home games there following Hurricane Katrina, Stern felt it was important to return the team to New Orleans when it was ready to host games again, then sent the 2008 All-Star Game soon after. Later, he had the league take ownership of the franchise from George Shinn until it could find an owner who would keep the team in the city. That situation became uncomfortable when Stern had to make the heavily criticized decision to kill a trade that would’ve sent Paul to the Lakers, but the Pelicans are still there nearly two decades after arriving. “Mr. Stern was a catalyst in professional basketball returning to New Orleans in 2002,” the team said. “His commitment to the New Orleans community and the Gulf South region was further shown when he guided the franchise through an ownership transition to Tom Benson in 2012.” Stern couldn’t win all the fights, failing to convince local leadership to approve arena funding that could have kept the SuperSonics in Seattle, a city whose fans were strong supporters. They moved to Oklahoma City, where the Thunder have been a small-market success. Just the kind Stern liked. ___ AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2020

Davis, James lead Lakers to a 113-110 win over Heat

By The Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 33 points, LeBron James had 28 while coming within a rebound of a triple-double and the Los Angeles Lakers held off the Miami Heat 113-110 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). James had 12 assists and nine rebounds and Davis grabbed 10 rebounds for the Lakers. They improved to 23-3, extended the second-longest road winning streak in franchise history to 13 games and rallied from a double-digit deficit to win for the eighth time already this season. They also dealt Miami its first home loss of the season, after an 11-0 start. Jimmy Butler led Miami with 23 points, Derrick Jones Jr. had 17, Kendrick Nunn added 16 and Kelly Olynyk had 15. Bam Adebayo had 12 points and 12 rebounds, The Lakers outrebounded Miami 50-34, and the last of those was the biggest. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a free throw with 8 seconds left to keep the Heat within two, but Miami couldn’t get the rebound. Caldwell-Pope went back to the line with 4.2 seconds left, made one of two again and the Lakers’ lead was pushed to three. Butler took the last shot for Miami, a 3-pointer with about a second left. It hit the rim and bounced off, the Heat argued that he was fouled to no avail, and the Lakers survived in James’ lone trip this season to the city where he won championships in 2012 and 2013. ROCKETS 130, MAGIC 107 ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — James Harden scored 54 points, hitting 10 of 15 3-pointers and 19 of 31 shots overall, in Houston’s win over Orlando. Harden scored 50 or more for the fifth time this season and the fourth time in the last seven games. He also had seven assists, five rebounds and two steals in 36 minutes. Russell Westbrook added 23 points for Houston. The Rockets were 22 of 39 from 3-point range. The Rockets pulled away in the second quarter, with Harden scoring 18 points, including Houston's last 11 for a 59-49 lead. Evan Fournier led Orlando with 27 points. Aaron Gordon added 21. The Magic have lost three straight after winning four in a row. 76ERS 116, PELICANS 109 PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Tobias Harris scored 31 points, Ben Simmons had 24 points and 11 assists, and Philadelphia survived a late scare and beat New Orleans. Joel Embiid finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds in Philadelphia’s fifth straight victory. It was also the 14th consecutive home victory for the 76ers, the franchise's longest streak to start a season since winning 22 straight home games in their NBA championship season in 1966-67. Brandon Ingram scored 32 points and J.J. Redick had 19 for the Pelicans, who have lost 11 in a row. PACERS 110, HAWKS 100 ATLANTA (AP) — Malcolm Brogdon had 19 points and 12 assists, Domantas Sabonis had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Indiana beat Atlanta. T.J. Warren scored 18 points as all five Indiana starters finished in double figures. The Pacers improved to 5-2 this month and 17-9 overall. They are eight games over .500 for the first time this season. Trae Young had 23 points, but missed 21 of 30 shots from the field, as Atlanta lost for the 14th time in 16 games. DeÁndre Hunter scored 21 and Jabari Parker 20 for the Hawks. HORNETS 83, BULLS 73 CHICAGO (AP) — Devonte’ Graham scored 16 points, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington each had 13 and Charlotte bounced back after squandering an early 15-point lead, beating Chicago for its third straight win. Zach LaVine and Ryan Arcidiacono each had 12 points, Thaddeus Young and Lauri Markkanen added 10 apiece as Chicago lost for the fourth time in five games. It was the lowest offensive output of the season for both teams. Charlotte shot 38% from the floor, but the Bulls were even worse at 30% in a sloppy game between sub-.500 teams. Bismack Biyombo had 12 points for the Hornets. BUCKS 127, GRIZZLIES 114 MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 17 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to help Milwaukee pull away for its 17th straight victory. The Bucks overcome Jaren Jackson Jr.’s career-high 43 points. He scored 26 in the third quarter to give Memphis a 95-90 lead heading into the fourth. But Milwaukee outscored Memphis 37-19 in the final period to improve its record to 23-3, keeping pace with the Los Angeles Lakers for the best in the league. The 17-game winning streak is second-longest in franchise history, trailing only a 20-game run in the 1970-71 season. Antetokounmpo converted 12 of 23 shots and had 11 rebounds for Milwaukee, which has not lost since Nov. 8 against Utah. Khris Middleton added 26 points for the Bucks, while Eric Bledsoe finished with 12 before leaving in the third quarter with an injury. Dillon Brooks had 19 points for Memphis, while Jae Crowder had 15 points. Memphis played without star rookie Ja Morant, who took the night off for injury maintenance on a bad back. JAZZ 114, WARRIORS 106 SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic hit a career-high eight 3-pointers and scored 32 points and Donovan Mitchell added 28 points in Utah’s win over Golden State. Rudy Gobert added 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Jazz. Joe Ingles chipped in 13 points and eight assists, and Royce O'Neale added 14 points. Alec Burks scored 24 points and Damion Lee added 21 for the Warriors. D'Angelo Russell added 18 points. Golden State lost despite outscoring Utah 52-12 in bench points. CLIPPERS 124, TIMBERWOLVES 117 MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George scored 46 points, Kawhi Leonard had 42 and Los Angeles held on to beat Minnesota for its fourth consecutive victory. It was the highest combined scoring output of the season for the Clippers' new superstar duo. Leonard and George's previous high came Dec. 1 (Dec. 2, PHL time) when they combined for 65 points against Washington. They became the first set of teammates in Clippers' history to each score 40 points. It was the 21st time in NBA history it has happened. Karl-Anthony Towns had 39 points and 12 rebounds for Minnesota, which lost its seventh in a row. Towns had 14 points, including a 4-point play, in a 22-6 fourth-quarter run that trimmed a 21-point Los Angeles lead to five. Andrew Wiggins added 34 points for the Timberwolves. KNICKS 103, KINGS 101 SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Elfrid Payton had seven of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, Marcus Morris scored off an offensive rebound with 9.1 seconds left and New York rallied from 16 down to beat Sacramento. Julius Randle had 24 points and nine rebounds, Mitchell Robinson added 14 points and nine boards, and Damyean Dotson scored 11 points. The Knicks (6-20) won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Buddy Hield scored 34 points and had a career-high 11 rebounds for Sacramento. Harrison Barnes had 18 points and Nemanja Bjelica added 12 points and seven assists. The Kings had won their previous three......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 14th, 2019

LeBron James, Anthony Davis bring new Heat to L.A.

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com The relationship they formed, nurtured and maximized to the championship fullest was captured in all its glory nine years ago this month on a sensational play that took maybe six seconds. Dwyane Wade grabbed a loose ball and ran up court, leading a rather routine fast break and then, chemistry happened. He gently tossed a short, no-look bounce pass that for a microsecond went to a ghost, at least until LeBron James, trailing the play in full sprint, appeared and scooped the ball. Wade didn’t see LeBron behind him … he just knew. LeBron didn’t call for the ball … he just knew. As LeBron elevated and cupped the ball for a tomahawk dunk, Wade kept running forward and spread his arms before the crowd, as if to say: This is how we do it. That finish was immortalized by an Associated Press photographer seated underneath the rim named Morry Gash. The image instantly went viral, causing witnesses to gasp at the image’s snarky, arrogant and amazing glory. Mostly, though, that sequence symbolized the blossoming bond between LeBron and Wade early in their time together with the Miami Heat. 9 years ago today. #L3GENDARY pic.twitter.com/Yc7iQDezlM — Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 6, 2019 And, it suggests what’s currently percolating in Los Angeles with the Lakers. LeBron has a new basketball boo, and the process with Anthony Davis is starting to look strikingly familiar. Theirs is an already devastating combo that has the Lakers scorching through the early NBA season with the best record in the West. ‘Bron and The Brow are both entertaining and effective, a combination that certainly works in L.A. (which expects both). This is more of the peanut butter-and-jelly variety than fingernail meets blackboard in terms of two forces blending in beautifully. They share the same ideas about how to play the game as one, when to defer (and when take over) and why there’s no need for ego or one-upmanship. It’s a tag-team, your-turn-my-turn type of existence, sprinkled with an ability to recognize each other’s tendencies. Oh, and it helps that they like each other as people. Longtime Laker witnesses might feel the urge to compare this to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, but a more apt linkage is LeBron and Wade, whose on-court kinship spilled over into their personal lives, and to this day they still refer to each other as brothers from other mothers. “We had something special,” James said. And now, with Davis? “Everything’s coming along great, maybe even quicker than we thought.” As the Lakers prepare to play Friday in Miami (Saturday, PHL time) -- the site of so many LeBron-Wade connections -- the NBA’s new combo is just getting ramped up. No All-Star duo in the league is generating more wins, sizzle and per-game production than LeBron and Davis, who average a combined 53.6 points, 15.8 rebounds and 14.1 assists per game. They’re durable, too: LeBron has played in every game while Davis has missed only one. Much of this was expected when the Lakers traded for Davis and gave LeBron someone who was arguably his equal in terms of talent. The pairing seemed ideal because Davis is a low-maintenance star who doesn’t always demand the ball and keeps his ego hidden -- necessary tools when one plays in LeBron’s orbit. They also tend to cover each other’s weaknesses. For example, Davis is a superior defender while LeBron, who turns 35 in a few weeks, picks his spots defensively. Davis took the Pelicans to the semifinals once, while LeBron has played in eight of the last nine Finals. One other critical element worth noting is this: LeBron is anxious to grab at least another title here with his third team, which would be unprecedented. Davis is hungry for his first. They share the same quest, then, but approach it from different angles. Given where they are in their careers, there was a hunch they were made for each other. After 25 games, this notion has proven correct. “They hit the ground running right from the start of training camp,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “Both on and off the basketball court, their chemistry has been seamless.” LeBron seemed determined to make this work after his first season in L.A. lacked a true co-star and was slowed by a groin injury. His basketball relationship with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland took a sharp turn three years ago when Irving demanded a trade, mainly to escape LeBron’s enormity and strike out on his own. LeBron, like almost everyone else, was stunned as to why someone was so willing to bail on an all-time great. That raised this issue: while LeBron is one of the most accommodating superstars in NBA history, other stars in their prime would rather be the lead singer on another team. Davis seems cut from another cloth, however. And besides, when LeBron eventually retires (he has two seasons left on his contract), Davis will become a solo king if he so desires. This process was months in the making as LeBron made a point to align himself with Davis off the court since last summer. He welcomed him into his home, inviting him to events and generally magnetizing himself to Davis, who in turn did the same. This same approach worked for LeBron and Wade in 2010, but back then, LeBron was joining Wade’s team and was careful not to overstep any boundaries. “What I’m seeing here is how much time they spent together away from the court last summer and how that has impacted what’s going on right now,” Vogel said. “Even in film sessions the two are always together. They’re just building that friendship that LeBron and Dwyane had. LeBron has done everything in his power to make sure he’s going out of his way to make Anthony comfortable.” Wade and LeBron became fast friends because their personalities were similar and therefore clicked. Wade admitted that, at times, it was difficult to ride shotgun that first season together. But he respected LeBron’s talents too much to make that an issue. It all worked as they won two championships and made four Finals together. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra recognizes what’s developing in L.A. and says about LeBron: “He’s able to morph into whatever he needs to be to bring out the best from other players. This just fits like a glove with LeBron and AD, the way they work well together. Their skill sets compliment each other.” The Bron-Brow combo is causing defensive hell for teams: Which one gets a double team? Do you put a big player on LeBron and a shorter one on Davis or vice versa? Last Sunday (Monday, PHL time), the two combined for 82 points against the Timberwolves, which came two nights after they dropped 70 on the Blazers. Scoring only tells so much, but the way they compliment each other is nearly perfect. LeBron handles the ball, Davis impacts the rebounding and defense. They can almost sense where the other is without looking. Together, their sneaker prints are all over the floor. “The more time you spend together, if you have the same goals in mind and you have the same drive, then organically it happens,” LeBron said. Much of this is new to Davis, who only got a half-season’s worth of playing time with an All-Star (DeMarcus Cousins) his six seasons with New Orleans. He welcomes the change of synergy because playing next to LeBron ups his championship odds. “I mean, he’s a tremendous teammate, great talent and takes a lot of pressure off not only me, but everyone else,” Davis said. “It’s fun to be on the floor with him.” That’s evident from everyone who has watched this relationship take root and grow. “It’s there, and I think it’s genuine, too, from what I can see,” said former Lakers great and James Worthy, now a TV analyst for the club. “They’ve known each other for a while now, and they have that same drive and vision about the game and how it’s played. I think they know how to monitor each other and the team constructively to where the cohesiveness remains tight.” What’s frightening is the process hasn’t even reached a half-season. The wavelength LeBron and Wade once enjoyed can be matched with Davis, and it’s on pace to be fully maximized by the playoffs. The better it gets for Bron and Brow, the better it is for their supporting cast. “For me and AD, it starts with us,” LeBron said. “If we’re on the same page it makes it easier for the rest of the ball club.” There’s an important duplication taking place in Los Angeles, from LeBron-Wade to LeBron-Davis. The initial results are decisively promising. If this all keeps up, might multiple championships also follow? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsDec 12th, 2019

James leads Lakers past struggling Spurs, 114-104

By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LeBron James had 33 points and 13 assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers won in San Antonio for the second time this season with a 114-104 victory Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). The Lakers (15-2) have one game remaining against the Spurs on Feb. 4 (Feb. 5, PHL time) in Los Angeles but have already won the three-game series against their longtime rivals in the Western Conference. Anthony Davis added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers in his final game before returning to New Orleans on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points and DeMar DeRozan added 22 for the Spurs. San Antonio fell to 6-12 after its 11th loss in 13 games. Aldridge started the game 3 for 4, including his 10th 3-pointer of the season, while primarily being defended by James. It was one of the few times the Spurs got the best of James. Showered with “MVP! MVP!” chants by a large contingent of Lakers fans at the AT&T Center, James put on a vintage performance against the Spurs. Trey Lyles blocked Davis’ short jumper in the paint with 20 seconds left in the first half. Dejounte Murray collected the block and sprinted downcourt for a layup but James ran down the Spurs’ speedy point guard and blocked his attempt from behind. The play was reminiscent of James’ block of Golden State’s Andre Iguodala with less than 2 minutes remaining in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals, which the Cleveland Cavaliers won. James would hit consecutive step-back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter that produced a 93-85 lead and followed it up with a drive and alley-oop pass to JaVale McGee for his 10th assist of the evening. James finished 13 for 24 from the field and 4 for 7 on 3-pointers in 35 minutes. San Antonio remained in the game early by going 7 for 14 on 3-pointers in the first half. Bryn Forbes and Lyles hit back-to-back 3-pointers that gave the Spurs a 44-40 lead. TIP-INS Lakers: Danny Green, who played eight seasons in San Antonio including the 2014 championship season, received a huge ovation during starting lineup introductions. Green is 3-1 against the Spurs since his departure, averaging 6.5 points and 4.5 rebounds. … Los Angeles is 83-89 against the Spurs in the series history. … Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is averaging 14 points and shooting 5 for 10 on 3-pointers against the Spurs this season. … Dwight Howard picked up his fifth foul with 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Howard finished with no points and a rebound in 18 minutes. Spurs: San Antonio opted to start Derrick White over Murray. White started at point guard last season after Murray suffered a knee injury during the preseason. Murray started the first 12 games he was active for but was replaced by Patty Mills and White in two games since while battling turnovers and inconsistency. … White joined Willie Anderson and Alvin Robertson as the only players in franchise history with 800 points, 300 rebounds and 300 assists in their first 100 career games with the Spurs. UP NEXT Lakers: At New Orleans on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time). Spurs: Host Minnesota on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2019

The NBA’s West race should be incredibly good this season

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Stephen Curry knew roster change was inevitable. That being said, Curry and the Golden State Warriors aren’t changing their expectations. The five-time defending Western Conference champions aren’t the popular pick to represent their side of the league in this season’s NBA Finals, understandable after losing the likes of Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala. But Curry said the Warriors will strive to remain what they’ve been over the last half-decade — “a team that’s feared across the league.” “Look at every era of basketball,” Curry said. “For a team to sustain this type of level of play and this greatness, it doesn’t happen that often. And when you need to retool, it may look different, but the great teams, great players figure it out as they go.” Thing is, there are so many great players — and potentially great teams — in the West this season. The Los Angeles Clippers are the prohibitive favorite to win the NBA title, at least according to oddsmakers in Las Vegas, after landing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Los Angeles Lakers still have LeBron James, and added Anthony Davis. Houston reunited James Harden with Russell Westbrook. Denver and Utah bring back strong cores. Portland might have the league’s best backcourt. “You just can’t take it for granted,” Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti said. “It’s really, really hard to win games in the NBA, especially the Western Conference, the way it is now.” Maybe harder than ever. “We want to maintain the culture that we’ve built, but we want to make sure our players are put in the best position to succeed, and the last four years we pretty much knew exactly what that meant,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We don’t really know what it means this year. That’s why we have a lot of work ahead, but it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to it.” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said the West will be great for fans and the league — not so much for coaches, players and owners. “Somebody is probably going to come in ninth and get fired when they shouldn’t because they did a great job,” D’Antoni said. “But that’s the way it is.” A look at the West, in predicted order of regular-season finish: PLAYOFF BOUND 1. Denver — The team that few are talking about, for puzzling reasons. They’re young, they already know how to win and the Nuggets’ win total has risen in each of coach Michael Malone’s first four seasons there. No reason to think that won’t continue. 2. Houston — James Harden is entering his 11th season. Russell Westbrook is entering his 12th. Mike D’Antoni is entering the last year of his contract. It sure seems like title-or-bust time in Houston, and the wide-open West could be for their taking. 3. L.A. Clippers — When Paul George gets back from his recovery from shoulder surgeries to join Kawhi Leonard on the new-look Clippers, this is going to be a team with frightening potential on defense. They’ll peak toward the end, and could win it all. 4. L.A. Lakers — This is absolutely not to say they’re the fourth-best team in the West. LeBron James knows it’s all about April, May and June, and he certainly isn’t going to care where the Lakers are seeded as long as they’re in the playoffs. 5. Utah — Donovan Mitchell is just starting to come into his own, Rudy Gobert is still the defensive player of the year and Joe Ingles is better than people realize. The addition of Bojan Bogdanovic was big, as was adding Mike Conley — if healthy. 6. Golden State — The five-time defending West champs lost Durant, Iguodala and Shaun Livingston — plus won’t have Klay Thompson for most of the season. But the Warriors still have Curry. Relax. They’ll be fine. 7. Portland — This is way too low, but that’s life in the West right now. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are elite, Terry Stotts is underrated and don’t be surprised if the Blazers tweak the roster after Jusuf Nurkic returns to take a title shot. 8. San Antonio — LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan lead a team that features a young core of Lonnie Walker IV, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White. Oh, and Gregg Popovich is still there. Count the Spurs out at your own risk. IN THE MIX 9. Dallas — Dirk Nowitzki is gone, but the new star-duo pairing of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis has enormous potential. The Mavs haven’t won a playoff series since the 2011 NBA Finals, but this season will see them get closer. 10. Minnesota — Ryan Saunders’ first full season will lead to improvement, but even a five-game leap to .500 won’t get it done as far as a West playoff berth this season. But if Karl-Anthony Towns plays 82 games at his potential, who knows? 11. Sacramento — Rick Adelman took the Kings to their last playoff appearance in 2006. Luke Walton is the team’s 10th different coach since; he has Harrison Barnes, De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield, yet still faces a tall task. 12. New Orleans — Zion Williamson’s knee is already a concern, not a good sign for the No. 1 overall pick. Lonzo Ball’s shot is better and J.J. Redick has never missed a postseason. But if Williamson isn’t full-go, it may be tough sledding for New Orleans. FACING LONG ODDS 13. Oklahoma City — There is a lot of talent on this team: Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams. If all goes right, the Thunder will contend for a spot. Or will they make more trades and collect more picks? 14. Phoenix — Devin Booker is entering his prime. But the Suns have averaged 22 wins over the last four seasons, are on their fourth coach — Monty Williams — in a span of 24 months and still seem overmatched in the loaded West. 15. Memphis — The Grizzlies’ first-round pick in 2020 is top-six protected or else it conveys to Boston. The Celtics might not want to plan on getting this one. This year’s goal for the Grizzlies? Simple: Get Ja Morant settled into his new job. WHAT TO KNOW Three-Team Ring Circus Kawhi Leonard has a chance to win a ring with a third different team if the Clippers win the title. LeBron James and Danny Green would do the same if the Lakers win it all. The only players to win a championship with three different franchises: John Salley and Robert Horry. Spurs Streak San Antonio is bidding for a 23rd consecutive playoff appearance, which would give the Spurs outright possession of the NBA record. They’re currently tied with Philadelphia with 22 straight playoff trips (the 76ers’ franchise did it from 1950 through 1971, that span starting when they were the Syracuse Nationals). Wide Open The league’s general managers have wildly different views on which team will win the West. In NBA.com’s annual preseason polling of GMs, six different West teams — the Clippers, the Lakers, Golden State, Houston, Denver and Portland — got at least one vote as the conference’s best. LeBron Milestone LeBron James has 993 games of 20 or more points, third-most in NBA history. When he gets to 1,000 of those, he’ll be the last to hit that milestone for many years. Kevin Durant may be the next; he’s got 720. Good Sign With James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Houston becomes the sixth team to have two players who each won an MVP in the last three seasons. Of the other five, four — the 1959 and 1960 Boston Celtics, the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers and the 2017 Golden State Warriors — won an NBA title. The other was the 1984 76ers......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 19th, 2019

Clippers, Bucks lead NBA.com 2019-20 GM Survey

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com Included in all the player movement of this past summer was the last two Finals MVPs leaving the two teams that met in the 2019 Finals. And with more balance in the distribution of superstars, the race for the 2020 NBA championship appears to be wide open. There are favorites, of course. But with so many good players in new uniforms, we don't know how all the pieces are going to fit. We still asked the league's decision-makers to take their best guesses. And in the 18th annual NBA.com GM Survey, 46 percent of general managers have picked Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to lead the LA Clippers to their first NBA title. Leonard was not only named the offseason acquisition that would make the biggest impact, but is also the first player not named LeBron James to be named the league's best small forward since 2005. In the Eastern Conference, the league's GMs like Giannis Antetokounmpo (the player that 86 percent of them would start a franchise with) and the Milwaukee Bucks, who were named the top team in the East by 76 percent of the respondents. Zion Williamson isn't only the pick to win Kia Rookie of the Year and be the best of his class in five years, but he was also named the league's most athletic player … before suiting up for an official NBA game. The GMs responded to 50 different questions about the best teams, players, coaches, fans, and offseason moves. General managers were not permitted to vote for their own team or personnel. Percentages are based on the pool of respondents to that particular question, rather than all 30 GMs. * * * PREDICTIONS Which team will win the 2020 NBA Finals? 1. LA Clippers -- 46% 2. Milwaukee Bucks -- 36% 3. Los Angeles Lakers -- 11% Also receiving votes: Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers Last year: Golden State – 87% Rank the top four teams in the Eastern Conference 2019-20 GM Survey, Eastern Conference rankings Last year: Ninety percent picked Boston to win the East. Order after the Celtics was Toronto, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Indiana, Washington and Miami. Rank the top four teams in the Western Conference Last year: Ninety percent picked Golden State to win the West. Order after the Warriors was Houston, Oklahoma City, Utah, L.A. Lakers, Portland/San Antonio, and Denver. PLAYERS Who will win the 2019-20 Kia MVP? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 52% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 10%     Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers -- 10%     Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 10% 5. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Damian Lillard, Portland Last year: LeBron James – 30% If you were starting a franchise today and could sign any player in the NBA, who would it be? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 86% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 7%     Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7% Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 30% Which player forces opposing coaches to make the most adjustments? 1. James Harden, Houston -- 48% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 17%     LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 17% 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14% 5. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 3% Last year: LeBron James -- 60% Which player is most likely to have a breakout season in 2019-20? 1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 19% 2. Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis -- 11%     Jayson Tatum, Boston -- 11% 4. Brandon Ingram, New Orleans -- 7%     Jamal Murray, Denver -- 7% Also receiving votes: Bam Adebayo, Miami; Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Devin Booker, Phoenix; Wendell Carter Jr., Chicago; Zach Collins, Portland; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers; Dejounte Murray, San Antonio; Julius Randle, New York; Tomas Satoransky, Chicago; Pascal Siakam, Toronto; Zion Williamson, New Orleans Last year: Jamal Murray -- 20% Who is the best point guard in the NBA? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 90% 2. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 7% 3. LeBron James, LA Lakers -- 3% Last year: Stephen Curry -- 57% Who is the best shooting guard in the NBA? 1. James Harden, Houston – 86% 2. Paul George, LA Clippers – 7% Also receiving votes: Jimmy Butler, Miami; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: James Harden -- 73% Who is the best small forward in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 62% 2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 24% 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 14% Last year: LeBron James -- 57% Who is the best power forward in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 59% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 28% 3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 10% 4. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio -- 3% Last year: Anthony Davis --  37% Who is the best center in the NBA? 1. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 48% 2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia -- 28% 3. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 17% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Last year: Anthony Davis -- 40% OFFSEASON MOVES Which team made the best overall moves this offseason? 1. LA Clippers -- 82% 2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 11% Also receiving votes: Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz Last year: L.A. Lakers – 70% Which one player acquisition will make the biggest impact? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 67% 2. Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers -- 21% 3. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 12% Last year: LeBron James -- 97% What was the most underrated player acquisition? 1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 36% 2. Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah -- 14% 3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 11%     Jerami Grant, Denver -- 11% 5. Tomas Satoransky, Chicago -- 7% Also receiving votes: Lonzo Ball, New Orleans; Derrick Favors, New Orleans; Danny Green, L.A. Lakers; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City; J.J. Redick, New Orleans; Josh Richardson, Philadelphia Last year: Tyreke Evans -- 13% Which team will be most improved in 2019-20? 1. Los Angeles Lakers -- 38% 2. Dallas Mavericks -- 21% 3. LA Clippers -- 10% 4. Atlanta Hawks -- 7%     Brooklyn Nets -- 7%     Chicago Bulls -- 7%     New Orleans Pelicans -- 7% 8. New York Knicks -- 4% Last year: L.A. Lakers -- 80% What was the most surprising move of the offseason? 1. Paul George trade to LA Clippers -- 52% 2. Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade -- 28% 3. Nikola Mirotic to FC Barcelona -- 7% Also receiving votes: Malcolm Brogdon to Indiana; Al Horford to Philadelphia; Kawhi Leonard to Clippers, Marcus Morris decommitting from San Antonio Last year: DeMarcus Cousins to Golden State -- 35% ROOKIES & INTERNATIONAL Who will win the 2019-20 Rookie of the Year? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 29% 3. Darius Garland, Cleveland -- 4% Last year: Luka Doncic -- 43% Which rookie will be the best player in five years? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 68% 2. Ja Morant, Memphis -- 18% 3. Cameron Reddish, Atlanta -- 7% Also receiving votes: Jarrett Culver, Minnesota; Darius Garland, Cleveland Last year: DeAndre Ayton & Jaren Jackson Jr. -- 27% Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft? 1. Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17), New Orleans -- 32% 2. Brandon Clarke (21), Memphis -- 21% 3. Goga Bitadze (18), Indiana -- 11% 4. Bol Bol (44), Denver -- 7%     Tyler Herro (13), Miami -- 7% Also receiving votes: Darius Bazley (23), Oklahoma City; Nicolas Claxton (31), Brooklyn; Daniel Gafford (38), Chicago; Darius Garland (5), Cleveland; Nasir Little (25), Portland; Cameron Reddish (10), Atlanta Last year: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- 27% Who is the best international player in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 79% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 14% 3. Luka Doncic, Dallas -- 7% Last year: Giannis Antetokounmpo -- 73% Who is the best international player NOT in the NBA? 1. Nikola Mirotic, FC Barcelona -- 55% 2. Nando de Colo, Fenerbahce -- 21% 3. Sergio Llull, Real Madrid -- 17% Also receiving votes: Deni Avdija, Maccabi Tel Aviv; Jan Vesely, Fenerbahce Last year: Sergio Llull -- 39% DEFENSE Who is the best defensive player in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 45% 2. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 28% 3. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 10% 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 7%     Paul George, LA Clippers -- 7% 6. Anthony Davis, LA Lakers -- 3% Last year: Rudy Gobert & Kawhi Leonard -- 37% Who is the best perimeter defender in the NBA? 1. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 59% 2. Paul George, LA Clippers -- 21% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; OG Anunoby, Toronto; Jimmy Butler, Miami; Jrue Holiday, New Orleans; LeBron James, LA Lakers; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: Kawhi Leonard -- 60% Who is the best interior defender in the NBA? 1. Rudy Gobert, Utah -- 93% Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Joel Embiid, Philadelphia Last year: Rudy Gobert -- 80% Who is the most versatile defender in the NBA? 1. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 38% 2. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 31% 3. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 21% Also receiving votes: Anthony Davis, L.A. Lakers; Paul George, LA Clippers; Pascal Siakam, Toronto Last year: Draymond Green -- 53% Which is the best defensive team in the NBA? 1. LA Clippers -- 52% 2. Utah Jazz -- 24% 3. Milwaukee Bucks -- 17% 4. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7% Last year: Utah -- 45% COACHES Who is the best head coach in the NBA? 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 55% 2. Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 17% 3. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 10% 4. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 7% Also receiving votes: Steve Clifford, Orlando; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Quin Snyder, Utah Last year: Brad Stevens -- 47% Which head coach is the best manager/motivator of people? 1. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 41% 2. Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 31% 3. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 17% Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Mike D'Antoni, Houston; Terry Stotts, Portland Last year: Gregg Popovich -- 47% Which head coach makes the best in-game adjustments? 1. Rick Carlisle, Dallas -- 28% 2. Brad Stevens, Boston -- 17% 3. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 14% 4. Steve Clifford, Orlando -- 10%     Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 10% 6. Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7% Also receiving votes: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee; Michael Malone, Denver; Doc Rivers, LA Clippers; Erik Spoelstra, Miami Last year: Brad Stevens -- 53% Which head coach runs the best offense? 1. Steve Kerr, Golden State -- 38% 2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 14%     Mike D'Antoni, Houston -- 14%     Terry Stotts, Portland -- 14% 5. Michael Malone, Denver -- 7%     Nick Nurse, Toronto -- 7%     Quin Snyder, Utah -- 7% Last year: Steve Kerr -- 40% Which head coach has the best defensive schemes? 1. Quin Snyder, Utah -- 28% 2. Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee -- 24% 3. Nate McMillan, Indiana -- 7%     Gregg Popovich, San Antonio -- 7%     Doc Rivers, LA Clippers -- 7%     Erik Spoelstra, Miami -- 7%     Brad Stevens, Boston -- 7% Also receiving votes: Kenny Atkinson, Brooklyn; Dwane Casey, Detroit; Steve Clifford, Orlando; Nick Nurse, Toronto Last year: Quin Snyder -- 33% Which new or relocated head coach will make the biggest impact on his new team? 1. Monty Williams, Phoenix -- 43% 2. Frank Vogel, L.A. Lakers -- 21% 3. Luke Walton, Sacramento -- 18% 4. John Beilein, Cleveland -- 11% 5. Taylor Jenkins, Memphis -- 7% Last year: N/A Who is the best assistant coach in the NBA? 1. Dan Burke, Indiana -- 11%     Chris Finch, New Orleans -- 11%     David Vanterpool, Minnesota -- 11% 4. Darvin Ham, Milwaukee -- 7%     Alex Jensen, Utah -- 7%     Igor Kokoskov, Sacramento -- 7%     Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers -- 7%     Nate Tibbets, Portland -- 7% Also receiving votes: Ron Adams, Golden State; Chip Engelland, San Antonio; Chris Fleming, Chicago; Adrian Griffin, Toronto; Phil Handy, L.A. Lakers; Jason Kidd, L.A. Lakers; Keith Smart, New York; Ime Udoka, Philadelphia Last year: Ron Adams -- 17% Which active player will make the best head coach someday? 1. Mike Conley, Utah -- 26% 2. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 19% 3. Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana -- 15% 4. Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 11% Also receiving votes: Jalen Brunson, Dallas; Jared Dudley, L.A. Lakers; Andre Iguodala, Memphis; Kyle Korver, Milwaukee; C.J. McCollum, Portland; Doug McDermott, Indiana; Garrett Temple, Brooklyn; Lance Thomas, Brooklyn Last year: Chris Paul -- 25% MISCELLANEOUS Which team is the most fun to watch? 1. Denver Nuggets -- 31% 2. New Orleans Pelicans -- 21% 3. Golden State Warriors -- 17% 4. Milwaukee Bucks -- 10% 5. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Houston Rockets, LA Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings Last year: Golden State -- 60% Which team has the best home-court advantage? 1. Denver Nuggets -- 38% 2. Utah Jazz -- 24%     Golden State Warriors -- 24% 4. Portland Trail Blazers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors Last year: Golden State -- 50% Which team has the most promising young core? 1. New Orleans Pelicans -- 28% 2. Denver Nuggets -- 24% 3. Atlanta Hawks -- 17% 4. Sacramento Kings -- 10% 5. Philadelphia 76ers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies Last year: Philadelphia -- 47% Which player is the most athletic? 1. Zion Williamson, New Orleans -- 41% 2. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 28% 3. Aaron Gordon, Orlando -- 7%     Derrick Jones Jr., Miami -- 7%     Mitchell Robinson, New York -- 7%     Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 7% 7. Zach LaVine, Chicago -- 3% Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 48% Which player is the best pure shooter? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 86% 2. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11% 3. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 4% Last year: Stephen Curry -- 73% Which player is the fastest with the ball? 1. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento -- 64% 2. Russell Westbrook, Houston -- 25% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Last year: Russell Westbrook -- 50% Which player is best at moving without the ball? 1. Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 43% 2. J.J. Redick, New Orleans -- 25% 3. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 21% 4. Kyle Korver, Milwaukee -- 7% 5. C.J. McCollum, Portland -- 4% Last year: Klay Thompson -- 53% Which player is the best passer? 1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 57% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 32% 3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7% 4. James Harden, Houston -- 4% Last year: LeBron James -- 50% What bench player makes the biggest impact when he enters the game? 1. Lou Williams, LA Clippers -- 79% 2. Montrezl Harrell, LA Clippers -- 7%     Fred VanVleet, Toronto -- 7% Also receiving votes: Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn; Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Last year: Lou Williams -- 41% Who is the toughest player in the NBA? 1. Steven Adams, Oklahoma City -- 32% 2. Draymond Green, Golden State -- 18% 3. P.J. Tucker, Houston -- 14% 4. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Aron Baynes, Phoenix; Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers; Udonis Haslem, Miami; Joe Ingles, Utah; Damian Lillard, Portland; Kyle Lowry, Toronto; Marcus Smart, Boston; Klay Thompson, Golden State Last year: Steven Adams -- 33% Which player is the best leader? 1. Damian Lillard, Portland -- 41% 2. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 37% 3. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 15% Also receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee; Chris Paul, Oklahoma City Last year: LeBron James -- 30% Who is the most versatile player in the NBA? 1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee -- 46% 2. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 39% 3. Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7% Also receiving votes: Paul George, LA Clippers; Nikola Jokic, Denver Last year: LeBron James -- 63% Which player has the best basketball IQ? 1. LeBron James, L.A. Lakers -- 64% 2. Nikola Jokic, Denver -- 11% 3. Chris Paul, Oklahoma City -- 7%     Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; Al Horford, Philadelphia; Andre Iguodala, Memphis Last year: LeBron James -- 70% Which player would you want taking a shot with the game on the line? 1. Stephen Curry, Golden State -- 44% 2. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn -- 11%     Damian Lillard, Portland -- 11%     Klay Thompson, Golden State -- 11% 5. Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn -- 7%     Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers -- 7% Also receiving votes: James Harden, Houston; LeBron James, L.A. Lakers Last year: Kevin Durant -- 40% What rule (regarding play, Draft/Lottery, playoff format, etc.) most needs to change? 1. Playoff seeding (1-16) -- 18% 2. Draft (Better combine or more medical info) -- 11%     Draft Lottery -- 11%     Free agency (Before Draft or no moratorium) -- 11%     Schedule (Fewer games, no back-to-backs) -- 11% Also receiving votes: Conference realignment, Draft one-and-done rule, Eliminate tanking, Extra foul in overtime, FIBA goaltending, Increased control of G League players, Instant replay, Midseason tournament, No FGA for half-court heaves, Roster size, Tampering Last year: Playoff seeding – 18%.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 18th, 2019

Davis, James begin Lakers partnership with sky-high hopes

By Greg Beacham, Associated Press LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anthony Davis doesn’t raise a brow at the high expectations he’s accepting with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 26-year-old superstar engineered his move from New Orleans to Hollywood knowing that championships are the only acceptable result to the Lakers’ legions of demanding fans. After spending his entire NBA career struggling to lift the underdog Pelicans, he welcomed the chance to play for a team and in a city where every game means something big. And Davis doesn’t have to carry his new team, either. LeBron James is here to share the work. “We’re going to feed off each other tremendously,” Davis said. “I think we’re two guys who are very selfless and just want to win. When we have two guys like that, it makes both of our jobs easier.” James has spent his entire adult life facing championship pressure, and his chances of meeting those expectations for a fourth time got exponentially better when the Lakers put these two superstars together. James looks forward to finding chemistry with Davis to create an immediate winner — and to persuade Davis to stick around when he hits free agency next summer. “We’ve got a brand-new coaching staff and brand-new players coming to our system, but we do all know how good Anthony Davis is,” James said. “If we’re not playing through Anthony Davis while he’s on the floor, then it makes no sense to have him on the floor, because he’s that great.” This 16-time championship franchise is currently mired in a record six-year postseason drought, but everything is different and everything is possible this winter. The buzz around the Lakers never truly dissipates in LA, but it hasn’t been this loud since 2012. “When your starting point of your roster is two of the best players in the universe, that’s a really strong starting point,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said. Frank Vogel is spending his first few months as the Lakers’ coach figuring out how to mold a cohesive team around his two superstars. He’ll experiment with lineups, rotations and rest while the Lakers figure out how to play together in a season they expect to last well into the spring. “The belief is strong in what we can be as a team,” Vogel said. “Everybody is looking at their teammates, and there’s a healthy respect going into the season. When the belief is strong at the outset, it’s just about focusing in on the work.” Here are more things to watch in a tantalizing season in Lakerland: KUZMA STAYS Kyle Kuzma is the only component remaining from the Lakers’ talented young core after Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart were shipped to New Orleans for Davis. Kuzma didn’t participate in training camp while dealing with a stress injury in his leg, but he should be ready soon. The high-scoring forward’s skill set could fit well alongside the Lakers’ two superstars, and Kuzma realizes he has a golden opportunity. “I’m looking forward to reaching the next level with my own game,” he said. “This is a great chance for me to reach my potential.” DWIGHT’S RETURN The Lakers’ decision to re-sign Dwight Howard might have been the most shocking development of the entire offseason. The mercurial center spent one season with the Lakers in 2012-13 before clashing with Kobe Bryant and then fleeing town as a free agent. Howard has been booed mercilessly at Staples Center ever since, but he became the Lakers’ backup plan in the middle after DeMarcus Cousins tore a knee ligament shortly after signing with LA. Howard campaigned for a spot with the Lakers, and they gave him a non-guaranteed contract. If the newly humbled Howard recaptures his game, the Lakers will have an enormous asset at a minor cost. SUPPORTING ACTORS The Lakers supplemented their roster with an intriguing mix of veterans, including newcomers Danny Green, Jared Dudley, Avery Bradley, Troy Daniels and Quinn Cook. Vogel will look for perimeter scoring to complement James’ drives and Davis’ inside play, with Green and Daniels particularly expected to provide 3-point shooting proficiency. Every signee probably will get ample opportunity to play their way into a regular rotation spot while competing with holdovers Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Rajon Rondo. VOGEL’S FLOCK When they replaced Luke Walton after three straight losing seasons, the Lakers chose the 46-year-old Vogel over Tyronn Lue, who landed down the hallway with the Clippers instead of reteaming with James. Vogel got impressive results with limited resources in Indiana, but he has never coached stars of the Lakers’ dual magnitude. He also has a coaching staff including Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins, two former NBA head coaches. The early results from this arranged marriage are promising, with James praising Vogel’s attention to detail. LA TAKEDOWN James wasn’t joking when he labeled Staples Center as the true winner of the NBA’s offseason moves. The Lakers and the Clippers both created probable title contenders, and their shared arena will be the center of basketball for much of the winter, with 82 sold-out games a distinct possibility. Out-of-towners shouldn’t get it twisted about which team is preferred in their shared hometown, however: The Lakers’ fan base wildly outnumbers the Clippers’ faithful, to the point where Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have already been booed while attending other sports events around Los Angeles. The teams meet Tuesday in their season openers, and again on Christmas......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 16th, 2019

All media events before, after Lakers-Nets in Shanghai cancelled

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press In response to the NBA defending Daryl Morey’s freedom of speech, Chinese officials took it away from the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets. All of the usual media sessions surrounding the Lakers-Nets preseason game in Shanghai on Thursday — including a scheduled news conference from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and postgame news conferences with the teams — have been canceled. It’s the latest salvo in the rift between the league and China stemming from a since-deleted tweet posted last week by Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets. “There will be no media availabilities for tonight’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers,” the NBA said in a statement Thursday, released a few hours before the game. The game was to proceed as scheduled. “I understand that there are consequences from that exercise of, in essence, his freedom of speech,” Silver said at a news conference in Tokyo earlier this week. “We will have to live with those consequences.” And this move was one of those consequences. Morey’s tweet expressed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, and sparked fallout that has completely overshadowed the NBA’s annual trip to China — which typically takes on a celebratory tone. Not this year. Most events in advance of the game, such as NBA Cares events to benefit educational causes and the Special Olympics, were called off, as was a “fan night” where Lakers and Nets players were to interact directly with some Chinese ticketholders. Signage in Shanghai to promote the game — huge photos of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and other players — was ripped down, and mentions of the game were scrubbed from the arena website. All that comes as many Chinese corporations suspended their business ties to the NBA. China state broadcaster CCTV said it was not going to show the Lakers-Nets games on Thursday or in Shenzhen on Saturday, and NBA broadcast partner Tencent also said it was changing its coverage plans for the league. Silver said earlier this week that Rockets great Yao Ming, a Basketball Hall of Famer and now the president of the Chinese Basketball Association — which has also suspended its ties with Houston as part of the Morey tweet fallout — is angry as well. “I’m not sure he quite accepts sort of how we are operating our business right now, and again, I accept that we have a difference of opinion,” Silver said. “I also think that as part of our core values, tolerance is one of those as well. I think tolerance for differing societies’ approaches, tolerance for differing points of view and the ability to listen. Certainly I don’t come here, either as the commissioner of the NBA or as an American, to tell others how they should run their governments.” In the U.S., there was governmental reaction as well leading up to the game. On Wednesday in Washington, a bipartisan group of lawmakers — including the rare alignment of Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — sent a letter to Silver saying the NBA should show the “courage and integrity” to stand up to the Chinese government. They asked the NBA to, among other things, suspend activities in China until what they called the selective treatment against the Rockets ends. “You have more power to take a stand than most of the Chinese government’s targets and should have the courage and integrity to use it,” the lawmakers told Silver. The Rockets were extremely popular in China, largely because of Yao. But the team’s merchandise has been taken off e-commerce sites and out of stores selling NBA apparel in the country, murals featuring the team’s stars and logo were painted over and even the Chinese consulate office in Houston expressed major displeasure with Morey and the Rockets. Morey has been silent on the matter since a tweet Sunday where he attempted to make some sort of amends with the Chinese. “I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention,” he wrote Sunday. “My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2019

Mitchell and Conley pairing could give Jazz offense a lift

By John Coon, Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah changed the entire dynamic of its backcourt after acquiring veteran point guard Mike Conley from the Memphis Grizzlies in July. Will it be enough to turn the Jazz into an NBA championship contender? That’s what Utah is banking on heading into the 2019-20 season. Conley joins rising star Donovan Mitchell to form what could be one of the league’s more potent backcourt duos in the season ahead. Mitchell averaged 23.8 points and 4.2 assists in his second season, but struggled at times with his scoring efficiency. Conley promises to relieve some of the playmaking burden that Mitchell felt at times as an NBA sophomore. “Mike Conley is an elite point guard,” Quin Snyder said at the team’s media day on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). “When I say elite that manifests in a lot of different ways. Certainly on the court, some of the things he does and the feel he has for the game and for players around him is really unique. He impacts the game.” Conley is one of the league’s most efficient point guards in the pick-and-roll and a reliable shooter. He scored a career-best 21.1 points per game in his final season in Memphis while also averaging 6.4 assists per game. Mitchell anticipates seeing Utah’s offense open up thanks to Conley’s patience and court vision. “He’s a guy who goes at his own pace and that’s one of the things I’m really starting to learn,” Mitchell said. “It’s not really always about getting in there and scoring. He’s creating and finding guys who are open.” For his part, Conley is savoring the potential of joining Mitchell in the backcourt and playing with a talent-laden roster that also includes two time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. “We have a team, with our depth and guys who play both sides of the ball, that allows us to get into a lot of different schemes that the other team might not be able to do, which is exciting,” Conley said. “It’s exciting when you have that versatility.” Other things to know about the Utah Jazz heading into the 2019-20 season: INTERNATIONAL FLAVOR Six of the 20 players on Utah’s training camp roster come from outside the United States. Two of those players, Gobert (France) and Joe Ingles (Australia), played key roles in driving their national teams to success in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Gobert credits the NBA with making big strides in growing the game globally with the influx of international players playing for the Jazz and other teams in the league. The league plans to broadcast multiple games during prime time in Europe this season, including three Utah games. “Twenty years ago, it was harder for those kids to think they were going to be NBA players,” Gobert said. “Now, anywhere in the world, you can have that goal and I think it’s great for the game.” VETERAN PRESENCE The Jazz signed multiple veteran free agents to help boost their offense and defense during the offseason. Bojan Bogdanovic was the highest profile free agent to join Utah, signing a four-year, $73.1 million deal in July. Bogdanovic averaged a career-best 18.0 points for Indiana last season and shot 42.5% from 3-point range. Utah also added Jeff Green, Ed Davis, and Emmanuel Mudiay on shorter deals in July. Davis gives the Jazz a defensive specialist who can spell Gobert in the middle when needed. Green adds additional scoring punch on the wing. “We have it all on paper,” Green said. “We have to translate it on court when the season starts.” HEALTHY AGAIN Mitchell was limited in his offseason training last summer when he suffered a foot injury at the end of his rookie season. The third-year guard had no such issues this summer, playing for Team USA in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and getting plenty of time in the gym to workout with teammates like Conley and Royce O’ Neale. “I could go to the gym whenever I wanted to shoot,” Mitchell said. “That’s one of the things you really miss when you get hurt.” PROVING GROUND Green signed a one-year deal with the Jazz in July — his fourth consecutive year on a one-year contract. He is with his sixth team in five seasons after posting 12.3 points per game on 47.5% shooting for Washington last season. Utah views him as a potential starter or sixth man. For Green, joining Utah is equally about playing for a championship contender and proving his value to the rest of the league. “I’m never satisfied,” Green said. “I think when you are, that’s when you have an early exit.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 1st, 2019

New-look Clippers ready to level up beyond Best Team in L.A.

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com LOS ANGELES -- It was almost exactly a year ago when the Clippers welcomed the media on the same day the Lakers debuted LeBron James, and Patrick Beverley told the half-dozen or so reporters who must’ve made a wrong turn: “We’re the best team in L.A.” That bit of bravado went unnoticed and unheard, partly because of the Laker noise, partly because few -- if anyone -- bought it. Of course, Beverley was ultimately proven wise when the Clippers scrapped their way to 48 wins and a pair of first-round wins against the Warriors while LeBron and the Lakers almost literally collapsed from a kick to the groin. With a swell of attention now being paid to presumptive title favorites, who added Paul George and Kawhi Leonard while retaining much of the supporting cast, Beverley was given the chance Sunday (Monday, PHL time) to double down on his prophecy. He toned it down. “We’ll see,” he said. Yet his sinister grin was plain to see, and it reflected the swagger and internal expectations of a franchise not known for through-the-roof projections. Such is the new world order in Los Angeles, and perhaps the NBA, in 2019-20. These are unprecedented times for the Clippers, who’ve had winning teams before but none with this much title twinkle headed into the season. “We know what we’re capable of doing,” said Beverley, and so does everyone else. You don’t add the reigning NBA Finals MVP and another who finished third in the regular-season Kia MVP balloting without shaking up the establishment, even if you’ve never won a championship in franchise history. But there’s a long wait between now and next spring's playoffs, and a shorter one to see George on the floor. The 29-year-old swingman is still in the mending stage after off-season surgery on both shoulders. He said “I’m not sure” when he’ll be ready to play, even with opening night against the Lakers a little over three weeks away. George said he hasn’t had any complications or setbacks, but won’t engage in any contact work in camp and coach Doc Rivers said George will not appear in any games until he does. “There’s no problems,” George said. “I’m just going to do light work and drills for now.” The other issue as it relates to health is Leonard’s usage. Last year in Toronto, still smarting from a persistent quad injury that led to his stormy exit from the Spurs, Leonard didn’t play on consecutive nights during back-to-back games. Rivers said there are no such restrictions this season, or demands from the player, although the coach wants to reserve the right to monitor and change the approach if necessary. "Last year, I was going in with an injury that I was dealing with the year before, still was lingering, and we knew that I had to be healthy going throughout the season and making it to the playoffs,” Leonard said. "This time, I'm feeling good. I’m feeling way better than I was at the start of last season. There really was no plan laid out to discuss with everyone." Rivers also noted that the Clippers’ depth will allow for rest periods for George and Leonard; both players are joining a team that prospered without an All-Star last season, a team that will probably once again bring reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell off the bench. In due time, the Clippers will be complete, and that’s the most important takeaway from their first official gathering. The level of enthusiasm is “sky-high,” said Williams. Rivers has flexibility with Leonard and George, widely considered among the most elite two-way players in basketball. On offense, George and Leonard are top-10 league scorers (26.6 points last year for Leonard; 28.0 for George). Playing those two alongside Williams, who averaged 20 points last season in just 26 minutes off the bench, should cause matchup headaches. “We’ll force a lot of defenses to make a lot of hard decisions,” said Williams. And the options afforded to Rivers might even be richer on the other end. Rivers thinks pairing two newcomers plus Beverley -- who guarded Kevin Durant in the playoffs, while giving away seven inches -- can be “special.” Utilizing three players who can legitimately guard multiple positions, the Clippers’ defense could be epic, if not historic. George said: “It’s going to be scary … we’ve really got a chance to do something special on the defensive end. Watching Pat get out there and picking somebody up 94 feet, that's going to get me going. It's going to get Kawhi going. It's just going to become contagious on a nightly basis. I honestly think, for the first time, people are going to be excited to watch the defensive end as opposed to watching the offensive end.” The makings of a unique season, then, is on deck for the Clippers. It became realistic when Leonard, fresh off a title in Toronto, chose George and the Clippers over LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the Lakers — which, in itself, seems un-Clipper-like given the club’s former reputation and history, when superstars were once allergic to L.A.’s "other" basketball team. But these are new times. “We actually wanted to be teammates for a long time,” said George. “This was always in the works to happen at some point.” From the top of the organization to the bottom, everyone knows the potential and just the same, would rather allow a scenario to play itself out than speak it into existence. That’s why Beverley provided the most unexpected news of camp by playing it coy. But you knew where he stood. “Can’t wait to get started,” he said, echoing the thoughts of a locker room thinking big. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. 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 NewsSep 30th, 2019

Mystics top Aces 94-90, reach WNBA Finals; LeBron courtside

By W.G. Ramirez, Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Washington Mystics are heading back to the WNBA Finals, and this time they believe they have the depth and versatility to win it all. Elena Delle Donne scored 25 points, and the Mystics earned a return trip to the championship round, outlasting the Las Vegas Aces 94-90 to close out their semifinal series on Tuesday night with LeBron James sitting courtside. The Mystics, who eliminated the Aces in four games, will host the Connecticut Sun in Game 1 of the Finals on Sunday. Last season, Washington was swept in three games by the Seattle Storm. Emma Meesseman bounced back from her six-point performance in Game 3 by scoring 22 for Washington. Kristi Toliver added 20 and Natasha Cloud chipped in with 11. "Beating a team like that to get to the Finals, we had to earn it," Washington coach Mike Thibault said. "I thought they had some great performances tonight, and obviously we did, too." Thibault said three keys for his team were Meesseman returning to her role as a reserve, LaToya Sanders for "absorbing the beating that she had to take defending someone like Liz (Cambage)," and Delle Donne for defense on A'ja Wilson, who had a career-low four shot attempts. "That's what makes a championship team, that's the makeup, it's everybody doing their part," Toliver said. "Everybody knows their role. Not everybody can be a chief, we gotta have Indians, too. And we got a great group of Indians — the best in the league." Cambage, who suggested the Mystics needed to "get in the weight room" to deal with her physical play, led the Aces with 25 points and 12 rebounds. WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby had 18 points and 11 rebounds while Kelsey Plum scored 17. But it was the absence of Wilson's opportunities that hindered the Aces in key moments, including the fourth quarter, when she didn't attempt a shot. Las Vegas erased a seven-point deficit and closed the third quarter on a 15-7 run that included five points each from Plum and Hamby and gave the Aces a 68-67 lead. League MVP Delle Donne and Meesseman took over in the fourth quarter. They scored 21 of Washington's 26 points in the period to seal the win. Hamby had a chance to tie the game with 3.4 seconds left but missed a 3-pointer from the corner. "Our main focus was just to get defensive stops and we know our offense goes from there," Meesseman said. "That was pretty much the only thing we were saying in the huddles." The Mystics held the Aces to 9 of 20 shooting in the fourth quarter. Washington shot 10 of 19 from the field in the fourth, with Delle Donne and Meesseman combining to make 9 of 12. "When you have to be a big-time player in big-time games, the more times you do it, the better you get," Thibault said. "I thought we stayed calm down the stretch. We got up seven, they made a great run, came right back at us, gave up a lead twice in the second half and we stuck with it. ... To win these kinds of games you gotta have guts and you gotta have emotion, but you've also gotta have some calmness when everything is crazy. "I thought we showed some calmness late in the game." Las Vegas built a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter, but the Mystics quickly turned things around. Toliver, Delle Donne, Cloud and Meesseman scored consecutive buckets to ignite a 16-4 run that closed the half and gave the Mystics a 45-43 lead at the break. Washington carried its momentum into the second half when Toliver opened the quarter with a 3-pointer in front of the Aces bench and went on to score 10 of the Mystics' first 15 points in the third. TIP-INS Mystics: It won't show on the stat sheet, but Aerial Powers gave Washington the support it needed, including a spark just before its second-quarter run. Powers, who finished with seven points and five rebounds in 16 minutes, stood her ground against a driving Hamby and took the charge on the baseline with 5:40 left, with the Aces leading 34-27. The Mystics outscored Las Vegas 18-9 from there. Aces: Kayla McBride, who averaged 7.5 points over the last six games of the regular season, came in averaging 14.7 on 50% shooting in the playoffs. But she went just 2 of 10 from the floor Tuesday night, including 1 of 5 from 3-point range. NBA INVASION James, Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, Kyle Kuzma and Quinn Cook of the Los Angeles Lakers watched the game courtside. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green also attended. UP NEXT Washington will host Connecticut in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 26th, 2019

All-Decade Team: Some names to watch in 2020s

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com Picking the best players of the past decade can be a delightful process, a walk down memory lane that highlights the best of the NBA’s best from the most recently completed era. We took care of that for you earlier this week with NBA.com's All-Decade Team for the 2010s. Data and established success provide the context needed to make a strong case when you're looking back. But you can't rely on those conventions when trying to decide what, and perhaps more appropriately, who, comes next. Questions linger for the big stars of the 2010s who would normally transition into the next decade with similar status. How will Kevin Durant look when he comes back from a season lost to an Achilles injury? What will Klay Thompson’s game look like post-ACL injury? There’s no saying how the summer’s superstar free agent and trade shuffle will impact career trajectories for older stars like Durant (going from Golden State to Brooklyn) and Russell Westbrook (going from Oklahoma City to Houston). Young stars just entering the league (or still finding their way) are bound to emerge in the coming years. On the other hand, established veterans will see the inevitable fading of their star status. That uncertain future for so many is part of what makes today’s exercise so much fun. We are peering into our crystal ball and projecting the future, identifying the stars who, a decade from now, might find their names on the best-of-the best list for the 2020s. * * * * = players who made a 2010s All-Decade Team Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks * "The Greek Freak" finished off the 2010s with his first Kia MVP and should be poised to compete for more this decade. He’s only scratched the surface of his immense potential and should be in the thick of the race for best player of the decade. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors * One half of the sweetest shooting backcourts in NBA history, Curry and his fellow Splash Brother, Thompson, could make the next All-Decade Team, too. That would require them to prove they’re still playing championship-level basketball in the Bay Area post-Durant. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers * Davis is finally positioned to chase championships and will do so as he enters the physical prime of his career. With Davis and LeBron James leading the way, the Lakers begin the next decade poised for a return to legitimate contender status. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks The reigning Kia Rookie of the Year gave us all a preview of what’s to come. Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are the foundational players expected to fuel the Mavericks the way Dirk Nowitzki did the past two decades. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers If Embiid stays healthy, he’s good enough to challenge for the unofficial title of best player of the 2020s. His availability is the most critical component for a Sixers organization that believes it is on the cusp of championship contention. Paul George, LA Clippers * George has fully bounced back from his devastating leg injury in 2014, earning a place among the NBA’s elite by finishing third in the Kia MVP voting to close out the 2010s. The only thing left on his to-do-list is to make the championship dreams of Clippers fans a reality. James Harden, Houston Rockets * Finding a new groove alongside Westbrook will determine the Rockets’ championship fate and perhaps Harden’s legacy. Harden’s Hall of Fame status is secured. He just needs a title to complete his trophy case.   LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers * Could he win a Kia MVP in three different decades? LeBron has broken the mold in just about every way imaginable to this point of his career, so it would be foolish to doubt him. He’s also got a chance to add to his title haul in the next decade as well. As for Father Time … what does that matter? Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets After winning a title as the supporting star in LeBron’s homecoming story in Cleveland, Irving hopes to revisit that magic in Brooklyn once Durant is healthy again. While Irving has some repair to do to his reputation after his final season in Boston, his talent remains undeniable. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets Some would argue that Jokic (and not Embiid) finished the decade as the NBA’s best big man. The Nuggets are banking on it, as they’ve built their operation around the triple-double versatility of the 24-year-old All-Star known as “The Joker.” Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers * Leonard load managed his way to a title in Toronto but has already declared himself ready to play without limitations as he attempts to bring a championship parade to his hometown. He’s at the height of his powers right now and, with good health, will be for the foreseeable future. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Lillard was noticeably absent from the 2010s All-Decade Team, but he shouldn’t have to worry about that happening in the 2020s. The face and soul of the franchise in Portland, Lillard knows that the next step for he and CJ McCollum is a Finals berth. Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz If the addition of veteran Mike Conley has the impact Utah’s braintrust expects, Mitchell is primed to rise any ranking of the West’s (and NBA’s) top players. Don’t be surprised if he snags a scoring title (or two) in the next decade. Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics With Kyrie Irving gone, Tatum and the Celtics can get back to the performances he provided during the 2018 playoffs as a rookie. The Celtics have refused to trade Tatum for a reason. He’s got the array of skills that a team values in a wing scorer. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks Any pre-Draft trepidation about Young was overturned after his strong finish to his rookie season. A splendid passer with Splash Bros.-type range, Young will grow and mature physically into the leader of a franchise revival in Atlanta. Sekou Smith is a veteran NBA reporter and NBA TV analyst. 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 NewsAug 8th, 2019

Summer League winds down, and now, maybe, some NBA rest

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press They'll hand out T-shirts to the Summer League winners following the championship game between Memphis and Minnesota in Las Vegas on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time), and then things will finally slow down a bit in the NBA. Maybe. And probably not for long. It's been a hectic month since Toronto won the NBA championship and the so-called offseason commenced. Already this summer, 18 current and former All-Stars have changed franchises, and that number will rise to 19 if Vince Carter finds a new home for his final season. Recent NBA Finals MVPs Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala all were among those on the move. And another three past finals MVPs — Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki and Tony Parker — all retired. So when next season begins, very little will look the same. "I think there's going to be a lot of parity," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. "That's my gut." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expected this summer to be loaded with player movement, and wasn't complaining about so many big names — Durant, Leonard, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Jimmy Butler and many more — needing to file change-of-address cards. "At the end of the day, it's positive for the league," Silver said. "I will say, though, I'm mindful of this notion of balance of power, and I think it applies in many different ways. An appropriate balance of power between the teams and the players ... at the end of the day, you want to make sure you have a league where every team is in a position to compete." There were some clear winners in free agency: Brooklyn (who got Durant and Irving), the Los Angeles Clippers (who got George and Leonard) and the Los Angeles Lakers (who got Davis) were among them. It could be argued that the Oklahoma City Thunder won as well — no, they won't be as good this season as they were this past season after trading George and Westbrook, but general manager Sam Presti has enough draft picks now to enjoy flexibility for years. The losers are clear as well: Toronto lost Leonard and Danny Green and Golden State lost Durant, so last season's finalists certainly aren't favorites to be this season's finalists. It's also easy to say that New York lost after coming up empty on the big-name free agents, but the Knicks got plenty of good players on deals that ensure the team will have money again next summer. A lookahead at what's coming, and some notes on what's gone down: SO NOW WHAT? Any NBA withdrawal will really only last about three weeks, until roughly three dozen players return to Las Vegas for USA Basketball's training camp leading up to the FIBA World Cup in China that starts on Aug. 31. San Antonio's Gregg Popovich is coaching the Americans, assisted by Golden State's Steve Kerr, Atlanta's Lloyd Pearce and Villanova's Jay Wright. Zion Williamson, knee permitting, may take part in camp as one of the young players brought in to help the more-established pros get ready. If Williamson impresses, he may get a shot at joining the varsity club. Also, this season's NBA schedule is likely to come around the second week of August, if recent years are any indicator. WHO'S LEFT? Plenty of free agents remain unsigned, and that'll still be the case even in September as training camps get ready to open. It's still hard to see the Thunder keeping Paul, acquired in the Westbrook trade to Houston, so expect at least one more blockbuster trade before too long. Or can a player who is owed $121 million over the next three seasons be bought out? Stay tuned. Carter wants to come back for a 22nd NBA season, which would be a league record. If he gets into a game after Jan. 1, he'll also become the first NBA player to appear in four different decades. Jamal Crawford remains out there as well, and contenders should be calling him. LOADED WEST Philadelphia, Boston, Brooklyn, Indiana and Miami all likely got better in the East. Milwaukee kept most of its team that won an NBA-best 60 games. The East will be good. The West might be bloody. The Clippers, the Lakers, Houston, Golden State, Denver, Utah, Portland and San Antonio could end up as the eight playoff teams in the Western Conference. It's plausible; they're probably the most realistic eight picks right now. But at least four of those teams — most of them with superstar duos that are all the rage now — won't be in the second round of next season's playoffs. LONGEVITY AWARD For now, Golden State's Stephen Curry is the longest-tenured player under contract to one team. He's entering his 11th season with the Warriors. With Nowitzki (21 seasons with Dallas) retired, Mike Conley (12 seasons with Memphis) traded to Utah and Westbrook (11 seasons with Oklahoma City) traded to Houston, no current player has had a longer uninterrupted run with one team than Curry. But if Udonis Haslem re-signs with Miami, it'll be his 17th season with the Heat. THE NUMBERS Including the $196 million extension for Portland's Damian Lillard, a $170 million extension for Denver's Jamal Murray and another in-the-works $170 million extension for Philadelphia's Ben Simmons, NBA teams have committed to spend roughly $4 billion in new deals that were struck in the last three weeks alone. And that's with 100 more signings to come, at least. That $4 billion figure is twice what the total payroll was a decade ago for every team in the league, combined......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2019

Davis confident Lakers roster can go up against anybody

    LOS ANGELES, USA – Anthony Davis said the Los Angeles Lakers will be capable of challenging for the NBA championship immediately next season as the six-time All-Star was formally unveiled by the organization on Saturday, July 13 (Sunday, July 14, Philippine time). The 26-year-old superstar is set to form a potent ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 14th, 2019

It s a new day in the NBA, and a welcomed change

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press LAS VEGAS (AP) — There is no favorite. This is what the NBA wanted. And needed. The biggest piece of valid criticism about the league in recent years has been its predictable. Golden State got to the last five NBA Finals. LeBron James had made it there eight years in a row, four with Miami and then four more with Cleveland. Brooklyn used to be the 'other' team in New York, and the Clippers used to be the 'other' team in Los Angeles. No more. Welcome to a new NBA. If you think the Clippers can win it all next season, or the Lakers, or Utah, or Philadelphia, or Milwaukee, or Houston, or Denver, or even Golden State and maybe a few others, you're right. Get your first look at the NBA’s top Rookies during NBA Summer League LIVE on NBA League Pass! Technically, there is a favorite: The sports books in Las Vegas, after hearing the news that Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are heading to the Clippers, listed them as the best bet Saturday to win the 2020 NBA championship. Yes, the Clippers. A team that has won exactly four playoff series since moving to Los Angeles in 1984. A team that had 12 consecutive losing seasons a generation ago. There wasn't much NBA intrigue at this time last year. The Warriors were adding DeMarcus Cousins to a team that won the last two championships and were seemingly locks to win a third consecutive title. Everyone knows it didn't work out that way. Toronto took care of that. It was just more proof that what seems obvious at this time of year doesn't always come to fruition. This year, though, the newfound balance of power — dare we say "parity" — seems like a done deal. The East still has a 60-win team in Milwaukee returning the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and shooting guard Khris Middleton, so the Bucks may be the favorite right now on that side of the league. Philadelphia lost JJ Redick and Jimmy Butler, adding Josh Richardson and Al Horford to a team that looks be dominant defensively. No one will count out Boston, because of Brad Stevens and now Kemba Walker. Miami got better even after losing Dwyane Wade with the addition of Butler — and the Heat might throw their hat in the ring if Russell Westbrook is indeed available following the George trade to the Clippers. Brooklyn gets Kyrie Irving this season and now knows it'll be adding Kevin Durant next season, once he returns from his Achilles rehab. Atlanta's young core may be the most promising in the NBA. And let's not forget the East also has the reigning NBA champion Raptors, albeit without Leonard and Danny Green.) But the West ... wow. The Clippers kept Patrick Beverley, have an amazingly talented bench led by Lou Williams, a coach everybody wants to play for in Doc Rivers and now gets two of the very best players in the game with Leonard and George. The Lakers still have James, added Anthony Davis, kept JaVale McGee and Rajon Rondo, signed DeMarcus Cousins and Green — and might be in the market for another shooter. Portland went to the West final last season and have an elite backcourt in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Utah had a brilliant summer, giving Donovan Mitchell more good players like Mike Conley to surround himself with. Houston still has James Harden and Chris Paul. Dallas figures to be better if Kristaps Porzingis is healthy to run alongside Luka Doncic. The Lakers are almost certainly coming for someone's playoff spot out West. Same goes for the Heat in the East. And before long, New Orleans with Zion Williamson and David Griffin at the controls, Atlanta with that core led by Trae Young and Kevin Huerter, potentially Memphis with the Ja Morant era set to begin, it'll be their turn at the playoff table. It's been a top-heavy league for a long time. Only five different franchises have represented the West in the NBA Finals over the last 20 years. In the East, it's five over the last 15 years. Right now, the odds-makers in Vegas are predicting next June it'll be Clippers vs. Bucks. A couple days ago the Lakers were the betting favorites. A new day is here in the NBA. ___ Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at treynolds@ap.org.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2019