NBA trade rumors: Clippers inquired about these stars before dealing for Paul George

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

The Clippers landed two stars this offseason.

Los Angeles acquired Paul George in a blockbuster deal with the Thunder earlier this month and also signed free agent Kawhi Leonard, who was named the Finals MVP after leading the Raptors to the championship last season.

But, those weren’t the only top-line players the Clippers inquired about.

Los Angeles looked into potential trades for the Wizards’ Bradley Beal and the Rockets’ James Harden, but neither “was available,” according to a report from The Athletic, which cites unidentified league sources.

The team then went on to add George by sending guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, forward Danilo Gallinari, five future first-round selections and two pick swaps to the Thunder. George has three-years remaining on his contract.

Jerry West, who serves as an advisor in the Clippers’ front office, discussed the impact Leonard and George will have on the team during a recent interview with “The Dan Patrick Show.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it where players can recruit other players and so I guess that’s the modern-day NBA,” West said.” “It’s just so different. Players are free to move around, agents and players contribute where they go. … It really does wonders for a franchise. It’s just hard to describe the excitement within the Clipper organization.

“(Leonard and George) have complete admiration for each other’s game. I try to be completely fair and honest to all the players in this league, but I honestly think they’re the best two-way players in basketball and to get them on one night is pretty remarkable. … But those players talked and I’m not so sure that maybe if Kawhi hadn’t had some influence on Paul that we would’ve been able to make a deal with Oklahoma City. Obviously, we paid a big price.”

Leonard signed a three-year, $103 million deal, which contains a player option in 2021-22, with Los Angeles.

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Lakers keeping roster spot open for Andre Iguodala, report says

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Los Angeles is hoping to add an X-factor to its roster.

The Lakers are keeping a spot open in case Andre Iguodala is bought out by the Grizzlies, according to a report from ESPN. The report states they feel the 6-7 wing could be a valuable contributor to the team in 2019-20.

Memphis acquired Iguodala from the Warriors in a trade earlier this month and aren’t willing to give him up for cheap, so a buyout may be an unlikely scenario. According to an earlier report from the New York Times, the team might head into the regular season with Iguodala if he can’t be dealt for a future first-round pick.

The 2015 NBA Finals MVP has reportedly garnered interest from the Rockets, Mavericks, Clippers and Nuggets, but they all seem reluctant to part with a top pick for the 15-year veteran.

Iguodala has already hinted that he may be retiring soon.

“I have a good idea how much longer I want to play,” Iguodala said earlier this year. “I’m keeping it to myself, but it’s going to be soon. I can play four or five more years. But I won’t.”

The Lakers acquired Anthony Davis in a blockbuster trade with the Pelicans this summer to pair with LeBron James. While they missed out on Kawhi Leonard, who signed with the Clippers, they still added quality complementary pieces in Danny Green and DeMarcus Cousins.

The Lakers are among the favorites to win a title in 2019-20, and landing Iguodala could help improve their odds.

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NBA trade rumors: Celtics’ asking price for Jayson Tatum is ‘insane’

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Jayson Tatum doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

At least one opposing team tried to acquire Tatum this summer, but the Celtics had an “insane” asking price for him, an executive recently told NBA insider Keith Smith at Summer League.

Tatum had a standout rookie season but was inconsistent in 2018-19, averaging 15.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 31.1 minutes per game while shooting 37.3% from 3-point range.

The Celtics’ roster underwent a major overhaul this offseason. They lost Kyrie Irving (Nets), Al Horford (76ers) and Marcus Morris (Knicks) in free agency but signed star Kemba Walker away from the Hornets.

“I don’t know if there’s anything anyone individually necessarily feels like they should have done or could have done (to keep Irving),” Boston coach Brad Stevens told reporters earlier this month, via the Boston Globe. “That’s part of free agency. You can go where you want at the end of the day. I enjoyed Kyrie. I like Kyrie, and I wish him nothing but health and success. … I don’t fault him one bit for choosing to follow whatever he wants to do. That’s his right.”

Boston also added center Enes Kanter while Gordon Hayward is expected to take a step forward after he struggled last season following a devastating leg injury in 2017-18.

The executive added:

“(Tatum’s) going to be an All-Star. If his numbers were down, it’s only because no 19-year-old had been at that level before. Kemba (Walker) is a great addition and (Gordon) Hayward is going to be better, but Tatum is the franchise in Boston.”

The Celtics entered last season as the favorites to win the East but finished with a 49-33 record and were eliminated by the Bucks in five games in the conference semifinals.

NBA to investigate this summer’s free agent frenzy, report says

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

The NBA will investigate how free agency operated this summer, the result of hearing for several weeks from owners with concerns and top agents with questions, ESPN.com reported Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), citing multiple unidentified league sources.

The focus of the investigation will be on some of the earliest reported deals on June 30, the first day teams and free agents’ representatives technically were allowed to speak.

In the first 24 hours after the 6 p.m. ET start to free agency, more than $1 billion in contracts were agreed upon, the length and value of the deals raising questions about how they could’ve been completed so quickly if the parties hadn’t been in contact previously to discuss contract details.

Per the report, NBA officials are expected to start scheduling interviews, but the scope of the investigation and its timetable remain unclear.

Although it’s rare, the league could go as far as docking teams draft picks or even voiding contracts as its severest forms of punishment for breaking free agency rules. More likely, a team or teams could be fined.

From a perception standpoint, there also is the issue of whether players circumvented league rules against contacting one another before the start of free agency. That’s stickier for the NBA because it previously hasn’t punished players for de facto tampering because of the difficulty of monitoring player-to-player communication.

Most noteworthy this free agent season, NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, a pending free agent, and Paul George, under contract with the Thunder, appeared to work together in engineering that both would end up with the Clippers.

The bottom line: The NBA conceivably could end up handing out no punishment for rules broken during this summer’s free agent season but could use the information gathered in its investigation to change those rules in the future.

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Zion Williamson joins Nike’s Jordan Brand

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Zion Williamson has been a pro for one month and is already joining the elite.

The NBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick on Tuesday announced he has joined Nike’s Jordan Brand family.

The Pelicans forward joins the likes of Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in signing with the brand.

“Zion’s incredible determination, character and play are inspiring,” Michael Jordan said in a release. “He’s an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him. We do.”

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“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said in a release. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league and having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had and continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to, and I really can’t express how happy and excited I am for this journey.”

Williamson, who turned 19 earlier this month, was selected first overall by New Orleans in last month’s draft. He averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.8 blocks per game in his lone season at Duke

 

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Damian Lillard pulls out of USA Basketball camp; Jaylen Brown, Julius Randle added

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

When USA Basketball announced a 20-man roster for training camp ahead of the FIBA World Cup, it appeared coach Gregg Popovich would have to make some tough choices to cut down to a 12-man tournament roster.

With less than two weeks to go before camp opens in Las Vegas, though, Popovich and managing director Jerry Colangelo are now trying desperately to hold on to players already committed while recruiting replacements for the ever-growing list of withdrawals.

Damian Lillard is the latest high-profile player to pull out, The Athletic and Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila). He follows James Harden, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Tobias Harris, CJ McCollum and Eric Gordon in withdrawing from the team within the past 10 days.

USA Basketball also had indicated it might elevate No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson from the select team set to provide training camp opposition to the senior team, but the Pelicans’ new franchise player also has pulled out.

The exodus has reached the point that a player who was not on the initial roster released last month, Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan, accepted an invitation from USA Basketball but has since bailed out, The Athletic reported Tuesday.

On the flip side, reinforcements are starting to roll in. Celtics forward Jaylen Brown and Knicks forward Julius Randle have accepted invitations to the Aug. 5-9 camp in Las Vegas, according to The Athletic.

More additions and subtractions to the roster seem likely before then, particularly with Kyle Lowry — who has said he still hopes to play for Team USA — coming off thumb surgery.

The only players remaining on the U.S. camp roster with World Cup or Olympics experience are Lowry, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond and Harrison Barnes.

Following the Vegas camp, the team will relocate to Los Angeles for more practice Aug. 13-15 before playing Spain Aug. 16, and the 12-man World Cup roster will be announced the following day.

After a series of practices and exhibitions in Australia in late August, the U.S. will open group play in Shanghai on Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic.

 

 

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Lakers claim Giannis Antetokounmpo’s brother Kostas off waivers

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

The Lakers have been awarded the rights to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s brother Kostas on a waiver claim.

Kostas Antetokounmpo — the younger brother of the reigning MVP and Bucks superstar — arrives from the Mavericks on a two-way contract.

Initially drafted 60th overall by the 76ers in 2018, 21-year-old Kostas played two games for the Mavericks last season.

Kostas made 40 appearances for the Texas Legends in the G League, averaging 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

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Marcus Morris explains decision to pull out of agreement with Spurs, sign with Knicks

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Marcus Morris has had a whirlwind summer.

The 29-year-old forward, who was a free agent, originally agreed to a contract with the Spurs this offseason. But, he backed out of that deal and inked a one-year, $15 million contract with the Knicks.

Morris discussed that decision during a recent interview with The Athletic.

“I have a good relationship with those guys and I have so much respect for (Spurs coach) Pop (Gregg Popovich), (general manager) RC (Buford) and (assistant GM) Brian Wright,” Morris toldThe Athletic. “The first thing that I did when I knew I would be going another direction, I called and made sure they knew. There was no shade. There’s no disrespect. I had great conversations afterward, and as long as I feel that I’m clear with them and gave them my truth, I feel good about moving forward.”

“I was under the impression that I didn’t have anything left. I thought at the time that the Spurs deal was all that I had. The process wasn’t what I expected and it didn’t go the right way.”

The Knicks had more cap space than originally anticipated after they re-worked the contract of wing Reggie Bullock, who underwent back surgery earlier this month.

“Pop and I had a long conversation about everything, not just basketball,” Morris said. “I have a lot of love for that organization and the opportunity they were giving me to put on a Spurs jersey. That was part of my process. He was the only coach I spoke to besides (Knicks) coach Fiz (David Fizdale).

“Playing close to home, being from Philly, I get to see my family a lot.”

Morris averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 37.5% from 3-point range for the Celtics last season.

In addition to Bullock and Morris, New York also added Wayne Ellington, Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis.

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Tim Duncan returning to Spurs as assistant coach

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

A Spurs icon is returning to the bench in San Antonio.

Tim Duncan has joined Gregg Popovich’s staff as an assistant coach, the team announced Monday (Tuesday in Manila). Will Hardy also has been elevated to assistant coach.

Duncan, 43, spent his entire 19-year playing career with the Spurs and retired following the 2015-16 season.

Now he’ll rejoin the man who has led the franchise since 1996 in attempting to get San Antonio back to the heights it enjoyed during Duncan’s heyday.

“It is only fitting, that after I served loyally for 19 years as Tim Duncan’s assistant, that he returns the favor,” Popovich said in a press release.

Longtime Popovich assistants Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka departed the Spurs for other opportunities this offseason, opening up spots on a staff that has churned out a number of future NBA head coaches over the years — Mike Budenholzer, Brett Brown and Monty Williams among them.

Duncan and Hardy will join Chip Engelland and Becky Hammon on staff for 2019-20.

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Bradley Beal, Tobias Harris latest to pull out of USA Basketball FIBA World Cup pool

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Two more NBA stars have bowed out of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Wizards guard Bradley Beal has withdrawn from USA Basketball training camp because his child is expected to be born in the coming months, according to a report Monday from Yahoo Sports, which cites unidentified league sources.

Hours later, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported 76ers forward Tobias Harris also has pulled out of the camp, choosing instead to focus on preparing for the upcoming NBA season.

The pair join a growing list of top talent stepping away from international play this summer. Within the past week, James Harden, Anthony Davis, CJ McCollum and Eric Gordon also have pulled out of the upcoming USA Basketball training camp in Las Vegas.

Coach Gregg Popovich still has quality young players like Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell and Kyle Kuzma in the fold, as well as proven veterans like Kemba Walker and Damian Lillard.

The 12-man U.S. roster will open World Cup play in Shanghai on Sept. 1.

Beal was an All-Star for the second straight season in 2018-19 and averaged career highs in points per game (25.6), rebounds per game (5.0), assists per game (5.5) and steals per game (1.5). But his team posted a 32-50 record and missed the playoffs. It also lost its other star John Wall to a season-ending Achilles injury in February, which will likely keep him sidelined for a majority of 2019-20.

A little rest might be the best thing for Beal, as he probably will have to carry a heavy load in Washington this year.

The Heat are reportedly interested in dealing for Beal and Wall, but the Wizards aren’t entertaining offers at the moment, as they can offer Beal a sizable extension on July 26. He could reject that to explore his options.

“I’d be naive to say I wouldn’t be (interested in extension talks),” Beal told The Washington Post  last month. “Washington is where I’ve been the last seven years, going on eight. It would be great to play in one place forever. But at the same time, you want to win and make sure you’re in a position to do so.”

The well-traveled Harris arrived in Philadelphia at the trade deadline in February and opted earlier this month to stay with the Sixers on a five-year, $180 million deal.

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Wizards tab Tommy Sheppard as GM, add Sashi Brown to front office

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Former Georgetown coach John Thompson III also will be part of the new leadership structure for the Wizards.

Ted Leonsis got his hockey championship when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018. Now he’s reorganizing his basketball operations department in an effort to get the Wizards to the same point.

Leonsis on Monday announced the formation of Monumental Basketball, a new collective with oversight of not only the Wizards but also the WNBA’s Mystics, the G League’s Capital City Go-Go, and the Wizards District Gaming esports operation.

The revamped organization will be led by Tommy Sheppard, who will serve as general manager of the Wizards after holding down the interim role since Ernie Grunfeld was fired April 2.

While Sheppard’s promotion was reported late last week, a couple of other familiar names joining the group were revealed Monday.

Former Cleveland Browns executive vice president Sashi Brown has been named chief planning and operations officer for Monumental Basketball, while former Georgetown coach John Thompson III will lead the organization’s athlete development and engagement department. Monumental also added Daniel Medina from the 76ers as chief of athlete care and performance.

“We have formed a new leadership team with a forward-thinking structure to adapt to the ‘new NBA’ that requires every possible strategic advantage to compete and win,” Leonsis said in a release. “We are building a leadership brain trust with deep Wizards/NBA experience and with sports professionals from inside and outside the NBA to challenge our thinking and adapt to an ever-increasing competitive environment.”

While Sheppard is a longtime fixture in the Wizards front office, having worked there the last 16 seasons, Brown is the name that likely will draw the most attention.

The Harvard-educated attorney previously worked as a lawyer in Washington before serving as senior vice president and general counsel for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2005-12.

The Browns hired him away in a similar capacity in 2013, and he was put in charge of the team’s football operations in January 2016, lasting just under two years on the job before being fired near the end of the 2017 season. Cleveland went 1-27 during his tenure.

While the Wizards haven’t been nearly that hapless, mediocrity has been the rule since Leonsis, a former AOL executive, took control in June 2010 (he has owned the Capitals since 1999). The Wizards have missed the playoffs in five of the nine seasons since, but did finish first in the Southeast Division in 2016-17 before falling to the Celtics in the second round of the playoffs.

Washington went 32-50 last season, losing star guard John Wall to an Achilles injury in late December and seeing marquee free-agent addition Dwight Howard play in only nine games due to back troubles.

Lehmann criticises ‘directionless’ Arsenal

I’m happy with our Japan trip – Lampard

Arsenal are at a crossroads and need to win a trophy soon to get back on track, according to their former player Jens Lehmann.

The Gunners finished fifth in the Premier League last season, meaning they will play in the Europa League for the third consecutive campaign.

Arsenal have only signed teenage Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli so far during the close season, while fan groups have joined together to call for major shareholder, Stan Kroenke, to reinvigorate the Gunners following what they see as a decade of decline.

Lehmann, who played for the Gunners between 2003 and 2008 before returning for a short spell in 2011, agrees with the fans’ view and has accused the team of drifting.

“The club is certainly in a situation right now where no-one knows the direction in which it is supposed to be going,” he said.

Lehmann believes Unai Emery has an impressive squad at his disposal but says they need to win a trophy soon in order to get back on track.

 

“All the guys playing for Arsenal are good, but they need to win something,” he added.

 

“They were in the Europa League final last season and lost [to Chelsea]. Obviously, it would have been good if they had won it.

 

“The finish to the Premier League season was disappointing, as well. They had the chance to secure fourth or even third, but they didn’t.”

Arsenal has started their pre-season campaign in good form, registering wins against Colorado Rapids, Bayern Munich and Fiorentina.

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Griezmann sees Barcelona signing Neymar as ‘difficult’

‘Griezmann needs to learn a lot’ – Valverde

Antoine Griezmann believes it will be difficult for Barcelona to re-sign Neymar and form a star-studded attack with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Barca sealed a €120million move for Griezmann this month and are reportedly keen to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain, who signed him for a world record €222m in August 2017.

The World Cup winner is unwilling to contemplate lining up alongside the Brazilian until a deal is done, with the Catalan giants reportedly offering €100m and two of Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti, Nelson Semedo, Ivan Rakitic, and Malcom in exchange.

Griezmann thinks it will be tricky for Barca to get a move over the line and stated they already have sufficient talent to challenge on multiple fronts.

“We have to get it done first because it is a difficult transfer,” he told Sky Sports.

 

“But he is a great player, he’s had a couple of injuries but is at an incredible level.

 

“We also have Dembele, Coutinho and Malcom who are also important players for us and let’s hope we can achieve great things with them.

 

“I hope I will have an important role, I want to be an important player for the team and help in whatever way I can.

 

“As long as I enjoy playing with my team-mates and give it all on the pitch, it doesn’t matter.”

 

 

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Anthony Davis on playing for hometown Bulls at some point: ‘I’d definitely consider it’

Toronto Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard nails nine 3’s in a row!

Anthony Davis may be starting this upcoming season with the Lakers but he hasn’t ruled out a future option.

Davis recently joined the Lakers after a blockbuster deal that sent Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, three first-round picks and a pick swap to the Pelicans. The star will be a free agent next summer.

While Davis could re-sign with Los Angeles, he would “definitely consider” returning to his hometown of Chicago.

“I mean, (this is) definitely (my) hometown,” he said, via the Chicago Tribune. “If the opportunity ever presents itself and when that time comes, I’d definitely consider it.”

Davis recently returned to the city to speak at a Nike Rise camp at Kenwood Academy, and later spoke to the Tribune about his connection to the community.

“A lot of these kids are from the same neighborhoods that I’m from. And so to have someone come back that they can relate to, I think that’s a huge impact on them,” he said. “It’s fun to come back to where you’re from and help the youth. These kids are amazing. They’re fun to hang around and they listen. They want to learn. There’s some good talent. … I’m excited to give my knowledge and experience and spend this time with them.”

Davis still remains focused on the 2019-20 season.

In addition to the 6-foot-10 forward, the Lakers also landed Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Alex Caruso and Avery Bradley. Davis likes the team’s chances in the West.

“We stand great,” Davis said of his current team. “I feel very confident in our team and our roster. I’m excited about it.

“The league is going to be fun this year.”

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