Archive for the ‘NBA’ Category

The San Antonio Spurs have officially traded Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the Toronto Raptors for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a protected first-round pick, the Spurs announced.

The pick is top-20 protected in 2019, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. If it does not convey next season, it will reportedly become two future second-round picks.

The two sides had reportedly been discussing the framework of a trade for two weeks, the culmination of nearly a year of growing division between Leonard and the Spurs. Amid a prolonged recovery from injury, Leonard made just nine appearances for the team in 2017-18, sitting out the entire postseason.

Since being selected No. 15 overall in 2011, Leonard has blossomed into one of the league’s top two-way players when healthy, averaging 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game over seven seasons. His breakout proved critical to the Spurs’ 2014 championship-winning squad, for which he was named the Finals MVP.

Neither player is reportedly keen on the possibility of moving to their respective potential destinations.

The move directly contradicts the Raptors’ reported insistence to DeRozan he would not be traded when the two sides met in Las Vegas earlier this month. The 28-year-old took to his personal Instagram page early Wednesday morning with messages that appear to allude to the pending trade situation: “Be told one thing and the outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game. Sell you out quick for a little bit of nothing.”

In nine seasons with Toronto, DeRozan has averaged 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game, lifting the franchise to an unprecedented five straight playoff appearances and being named to an All-NBA team twice.

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Kawhi Leonard has “no desire” to play for the Toronto Raptors, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes.

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year is reportedly being exported north of the border along with Danny Green in exchange for a package including four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozanJakob Poeltl, and a protected 2019 first-round pick.

With Leonard a year out from the possibility of hitting free agency, the Raptors have “a very tough sell” on their hands, a source told TNT’s David Aldridge.

A 15 percent trade kicker increases Leonard’s 2018-19 salary to $23.1 million, and though he has a player option worth $21.3 million for 2019-20, there’s little chance he opts in at that below-market figure, barring catastrophic injury. In all likelihood, Leonard will test the open market next summer as an unrestricted free agent.

In addition to a one-year window to change the 27-year-old’s opinion of the organization (and stymie a reported desire to play for the Los Angeles Lakers), the Raptors have one ace up their sleeve. Toronto can re-sign Leonard to a five-year deal in the range of $190 million next summer, whereas he stands to lock in just $141 million over four years should he sign elsewhere.

When a player like DeMarcus Cousins, even the current injury-hampered iteration, becomes available on a below-market contract, you have to try to make the deal work – even if you’re the already-dynastic Golden State Warriors. After all, every other team in the league is trying to better their own roster in one way or another, and similarly, every player is trying to better their life.

To Stephen Curry, it’s the same reason why LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, despite his stranglehold over the Eastern Conference with the Cavs and Miami Heat over the past eight years.

“Every year, every summer, everybody has to figure out, for one, what’s the best interest for you as a person, and your family and where you are in your career and make decisions,” Curry told USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick. “And two, if I was on the other side, and I wasn’t on the team that was the last man standing and holding the trophy, you try to exhaust all efforts to try to figure out how to get better as a team, get in a better situation, whatever the case is. But it also goes both ways, because we’re trying to get better too.”

And what else are the Warriors supposed to do – make their team worse for the betterment of the league? Curry was indignant at the thought.

“So everybody says how we’re ruining the NBA – I love that phrasing; it’s the dumbest phrase ever. We are always trying to find a way to get better. If we were just happy with winning a championship and staying stagnant, we wouldn’t be doing ourselves justice.”

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside struggled to live up to the expectations of his expensive contract last season and speculation ran rampant that his relationship with head coach Erik Spoelstra was severely damaged.

However, despite murmur’s of Miami’s reported inability to trade Whiteside or his perceived broken relationship with the coach, Spoelstra claims that their supposed dispute is much ado about nothing.

“I have absolutely been in touch with Hassan,” Spoelstra said, according to the Palm Beach Post’s Tom D’Angelo.

“We’ve gotten together for lunch, in constant contact on the phone and in texts. Like many things in this league, it’s not what it seems on the outside. It’s pretty normal NBA life. I’m looking forward to the start of the season with a healthy Hassan. I know he’s looking forward to that. And we still have a good part of the summer to get better.”

This is positive news for anyone hoping Whiteside could redeem himself in the upcoming season after struggling to stay on the floor last season, playing his fewest minutes per game since joining the Heat in 2014.

If Miami is shopping Whiteside, it will be difficult to find a taker given that he has a difficult personality and is set to make north $52-million over the next two seasons. To make matters worse, he was borderline impossible to play in situations where he was forced to switch onto guards.

The market for centers has taken a massive hit, with Dwight HowardDeMarcus Cousins, and Brook Lopez taking minuscule contracts compared to their past earnings.

Discovery Channel has brought Shaquille O’Neal on board to host the 30th anniversary of “Shark Week.”

In a promo for the special, O’Neal says he thought he was hosting “Shaq Week,” before adding, “but that doesn’t exist.”

Here’s what Discovery Channel has in store for O’Neal, according to a press release:

In the hopes of securing the ultimate symbol of fame and fortune – your very own week – Shaquille O’Neal inadvertently signed himself up to be thrust into the teeth of the 30th Anniversary of Shark Week. There’s only one problem. Shaq doesn’t do Sharks. To overcome his fear of sharks, he’s going to need some help – enter Ex-Marine and comedian Rob Riggle who will help train him at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas for the big plunge.

Other athletes taking part in “Shark Week” include New England Patriots tight end Rob GronkowskiGreen Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and WWE star Ronda Rousey.

In a flash, the Los Angles Lakers transitioned from rebuilding a storied NBA franchise amid a down period to featuring a potential championship contender by bringing aboard 14-time All-Star LeBron James in free agency.

Head coach Luke Walton knows the pressure to succeed has increased tenfold, and that there’s going to be a new degree of drama surrounding his squad. Nonetheless, he’s ready to face the challenges head-on after going through a similar song and dance during his rookie year with the Lakers when Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined forces with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.

“It’s gonna be completely nuts, but it’s also gonna be awesome,” Walton told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. “The whole city’s gonna be behind us. We’re gonna be on SportsCenter every night. If we lose, it’s gonna be the end of the world. If we win, it’s gonna be wild. But no matter what, it’s gonna be fun.”

Walton also recalled the day he was informed of James’ decision to head to Hollywood, and how he spent roughly eight-and-a-half hours on the telephone after the news broke, which took him away from his Sunday family barbecue.

He chatted with his father, Bill, with Bryant, and even with Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, who helped guide James to two titles in South Beach.

“He (Spoelstra) said, ‘First of all, you’re getting a different LeBron,'” Walton said. ‘”We (the Heat) got him eight years ago when he hadn’t won a championship.’ But he’s like, ‘Dude, he works extremely hard. He’s so knowledgeable about the game. You gotta always be honest and prepared and ready to work hard. As long as you do those things, the relationship should be fine.'”

James has appeared in each of the last eight Finals as part of the Eastern Conference representative, while the Lakers haven’t even qualified for the postseason since 2013.

If NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s latest comments are any indication, it’s just a matter of time until the league gets rid of its controversial “one-and-done” rule, which stipulates that players must either be one year removed from high school graduation or at least 19 years of age to be eligible for the draft.

“My personal view is that we’re ready to make that change,” Silver said Tuesday in Las Vegas, according to the Associated Press’ Tim Reynolds.

“It won’t come immediately. But when I’ve weighed the pros and cons, given that Condoleezza Rice and her commission have recommended to the NBA that those one-and-done players now come directly into the league and in essence the college community is saying, ‘We do not want those players anymore,’ I think that tips the scale in my mind.”

The rule was instituted back in 2006, with Amir Johnson (2005) being the last player to make the jump beforehand. Other noteworthy names to have made the leap include Kevin Garnett (1995), Kobe Bryant (1996), Tracy McGrady (1997), and LeBron James (2003).

Michele Roberts, who was just re-elected for a second four-year term as executive director of the NBPA, said Tuesday she expects there to be an update on the status of the league’s age limit in “the next few months,” according to the Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps.

A memo was reportedly sent out by the NBA last month advising the league’s 30 teams that the one-and-done rule could be gone by 2021 or 2022, but no earlier.

While Silver is seemingly on board, such a move would need to be collectively agreed upon by both the players’ union and NBA owners.