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Sunday, June 25, 2017

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Rockets reportedly have ‘serious chance’ at landing Chris Paul

Chris Paul
ESPN NBA Insider Chris Haynes appeared on Sportscenter Saturday night and said there is a “serious chance” the Houston Rockets could land Chris Paul in free agency.

Haynes is one of the most plugged-in NBA reporters out there, so when he says there’s a serious chance of something happening, that means it’s probably a real possibility. We had previously heard the Rockets were trying to clear cap space to pursue some of the biggest-name free agents out there, and Haynes reiterated that.

“One of the teams that’s pursuing him aggressively will be the Houston Rockets,” Haynes said. “They are trying to clear enough cap space to be able to bring in Chris Paul to play alongside James Harden. Patrick Beverley is on the trading block and Lou Williams is on the trading block, so that’s a team that I’m hearing has a serious chance of luring Chris Paul away from the Los Angeles Clippers.”

Paul decided to opt out of his contract with the Clippers and become an unrestricted free agent, as Los Angeles learned Friday. The team still hopes to re-sign both Paul and Blake Griffin, who also opted out, to maximum-contract deals. At this point, L.A. may not have any other options.

There is a lot of money on the table for Paul as a free agent. He may very well end up back with the Clippers on a restructured deal, but previous reports have indicated he and the Spurs have mutual interest, and Paul may be set on joining a contender at this point in his career.

Harrison Barnes asked Dirk Nowitzki for advice, got hilariously burned

Dirk Nowitzki has been a fixture in the NBA for a long, long time — 19 seasons, to be exact. He’s made 13 All-Star Games, won an NBA Championship, and claimed an MVP award.

Though it’s been a long time since the “Big Three” era in Dallas, Dirk is still a valuable NBA forward. This season, he averaged 14.2 points and 6.5 boards per game. Fortunately, he’s not ready to retire.

Any NBA player would be lucky to have a career like Dirk’s. Harrison Barnes is looking to have a similar impact. Recently, he asked Dirk about his sustained success, and Dirk in response roasted Barnes.

“I remember one day at practice,” Barnes recalled, “we’re standing on the sidelines on the gym and said, ‘Oh man, Dirk, you’re about to get to 20 years. That’s impressive. Do you think I can get to 20 years?’ He’s like, ‘No way man. You need major skill to get to 20 years.’ So that’s kind of the nature of our relationship.”

That’s true to character for Dirk; he has a hilarious sense of humor. Though he joked with Barnes, he also clearly cares about mentoring young players.

“He’s all about giving back,” Barnes said. “He’s all about people. The biggest thing for me when I came to Dallas was how open and willing he was to work with young guys. Work on the court every day, be willing to talk, have access to. Guys of his status, All-Stars or future Hall of Famers, can kind of be distant, ‘I just want to finish up career and create my legacy.’ But he’s super down-to-earth and that’s what I think helped us last year as far as my transition and me playing better. A lot of that gives credit to him.”

If you remember, Nowitzki also trolled Barnes a few months back, so the two have a unique relationship.

Grandpa Ball reveals LaVar Ball’s childhood nickname

LaVar Ball

Lonzo Ball’s grandfather seems like a genuine guy who’s super proud of his grandson, Lonzo, whom the Lakers drafted second overall in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

TMZ was able to track down LaVar Ball’s father at Los Angeles International Airport. One interesting point of the interview: Grandpa Ball continually referred to LaVar as “Bravo,” a nickname he gave to LaVar as a young man.

“That’s what I named him,” he said. “His name is LaVar, but I keep calling him Bravo because he was always independent.”

Considering LaVar’s mission with Big Baller Brand, you can’t argue with that description.

Grandpa Ball said he did not allow LaVar to play sports until he was a sophomore in high school. LaVar went on to play college basketball and professional football.

“He was quick and he was strong and he was 9 years old, and they wanted him to play with 14- and 15-year-olds, and I said no, so that’s why he got a late start,” Grandpa Ball said.

The grandfather said, although he was not a boisterous promoter for LaVar as LaVar is for Lonzo, the signature Ball family characteristics come from him.

“Does the talent and the mouthpiece, does it all come from you?” the TMZ cameraman asked.

“Yes, it does,” he said with a laugh. “I’ll let Bravo handle all his affairs, and his sons, they can handle all their affairs. They’re good, and God blessed them, so we’re all good to go.”

The family celebrated with a dinner out in New York after the draft Thursday.

“Lonzo is a great kid, and I think he’ll be a big asset to the Lakers,” Lonzo’s grandfather said.

The Lakers are certainly expecting huge things from Lonzo, as evidenced by the comments Magic Johnson made about the No. 2 overall draft pick on Thursday.

Joel Embiid might get a contract extension after playing only 31 career games

Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid has been on the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster for three seasons, but he has played in only 31 career games. Embiid sat out his first two seasons, and he missed the second half of this past year, but his performance in the first half of the season was very promising. Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds in only 25.4 minutes per game. He also shot 37 percent from three-point range.

So, we’ve only gotten limited glimpses of Embiid, but what we’ve seen has been tantalizing. The 76ers have seen enough to know they want him in the fold for a long time.

Extending Embiid’s contract this summer is a priority for Philadelphia, team owner Joshua Harris said at a press conference.

“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris said, via the Courier Times. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”

If Embiid is not extended, he will be a restricted free agent next offseason. If he stays healthy all year, he will all but certainly be offered a max contract. That deal would likely be five years and roughly $130 million.

Given Embiid’s injury history, however, it’s far from guaranteed that he will stay healthy all year. Embiid is eligible for an extension this summer. The deal would be negotiated now, but it would not kick in until the 2018-19 season. The 76ers may be able to ink Embiid to a five-year deal worth closer to $100 million, and they may even be able to build in some protections (like a team opt-out after four years).

The deadline for Embiid and the 76ers to reach a deal is Oct. 31. Philadelphia clearly wants to hang onto him, and this might be an opportunity for the franchise to make a sound investment and save plenty of cap space down the road.

It’s all a matter of how much Embiid wants to bet on himself and his health.

Kwame Brown says Michael Jordan never made him cry

Kwame Brown has had the misfortune of being labeled a “bust” for much of his life.

The No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft actually carved out a nice NBA career. He played for 12 seasons, and in his third, he averaged 10.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. It’s true that he never became a superstar, but Brown stepped into some tough circumstances.

For example: he had to play with the notoriously rough-around-the-edges Michael Jordan, who came back to the league to play for Washington from 2001-03. Jordan was the G.O.A.T., of course, but if he didn’t like you, your life was not going to be easy.

It’s long been rumored that at one point, Jordan drove Brown to tears.

The following is from a 2003 Sports Illustrated story: “A source told SI that Jordan ritually reduced Brown to tears in front of the team. Brown, whom Jordan took with the first pick in the 2001 draft, showed flashes of brilliance, but his confidence was lacerated by a player who was once his idol.”

Brown was asked about this story during Thursday night’s draft.

“Michael has never brought me to tears,” Brown said. “Did he upset me a lot? Yeah. I mean, he’s a competitor.”

It appears to be an open wound for Brown, who then ripped the media.

“So many people want to make up stories about Michael Jordan. He could have been the greatest guy in the world to me and they still would have made up something,” Brown said. “I watched Richard Sherman talk about the Seahawks locker room, a team that makes the playoffs every year and how they created a story about Russell Wilson not being black enough. So it’s just the media nowadays; they’re going to sell gossip. And it’s sad that it got to this point, but where are the Xs and Os? Where is the numbers at? Everyone says I can’t play, but no one has my numbers when I do play. There’s no outlet that I look at now [where] it’s not about this guy [debating] this guy, this guy talking that loud, this guy’s talking louder. Where are the numbers?”

Brown, along with Ricky Davis, will suit up for the BIG3’s debut Sunday in Brooklyn. Brown will play for the 3 Headed Monsters.

Ricky Davis loves modern NBA: ‘Everyone is chasing triple doubles like me’

It’s easy to forget now, but there was a time when Ricky Davis was one of the most promising young guards in the NBA. He never made an All-Star Game, but he averaged 20.6 points per game in 2002-03 with Cleveland, and he averaged more than 19 two other times in his career.

Davis is perhaps most remembered for shooting on his own hoop, with his team up by 25 and six seconds remaining in the game, in an attempt to register his first career triple-double. Davis had 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. It did not go over well with the Jazz, his competition.

Davis is now one of the most well-known former players competing in the BIG3, Ice Cube’s new three-on-three basketball league. He spoke to Sports Illustrated about the league and said he loves the modern NBA. He says, though he has no plans to make a comeback, he would thrive if he played in today’s era.

“I would have put my head down and gone straight to the basket,” Davis said. “I would have gotten to the line 20 times a game.”

As for the players Davis likes watching the most?

“I enjoy watching Steph Curry, how he’s changed the game,” Davis said. “He actually started this four-point play stuff that Ice Cube’s got going on. I definitely enjoy watching Steph, LeBron. Westbrook is like a freak of nature. It’s just amazing how the game has changed. It’s amazing how everyone is chasing triple doubles like me.”

If you watched Westbrook play this year, you know what Davis is talking about. Westbrook became the second player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season (Oscar Robertson, in 1962, was the other). Westbrook also set the single-season record for triple-doubles with 42.

Westbrook, who some think will be crowned MVP Monday, put up jaw-dropping numbers: 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game. Many who watched him, however, claimed he was intentionally chasing numbers at the detriment of his teammates and his team’s success.

BIG3 will hit 10 cities this summer, starting at Barclays Center in Brooklyn Sunday afternoon.

Kevin Durant wears hilarious cupcake hat

Now that he’s officially an NBA champion and a Finals MVP, Kevin Durant is letting the petty flow through this veins.

Durant attended Golden State Warriors teammate JaVale McGee’s charity softball game on Saturday wearing an apparently custom-made hat featuring a cupcake with a championship ring on top instead of a cherry.

Of course, the cupcake theme had been a major part of the anti-Durant rallying cry this past season thanks to this now-famous Instagram post from ex-Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook. The Oklahoma City fans also embraced it to the fullest when Durant returned to Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time as a Warrior last February.

But with Durant now looking down at the rest of the basketball world from the top of Championship Mountain, it’s probably a good time to recall the old saying of “He who laughs last laughs best.”

H/T For The Win

#LeBronJamesChallenge is new viral social media craze

LeBron James bald

LeBron James didn’t wait long after the NBA Finals to get back on social media — or back in the gym. Three days after the Warriors finished off the Cavaliers in Game 5, LeBron posted an Instagram video of himself working out and celebrating his new bald head.

Bald head nut!! #IHearEmPrayingOnMyDownfall #CantStopWontStop #striveforgreatness

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

James danced and sang along to Tee Grizzley’s track, “First Day Out.” The video was funny for a number of reasons: James’ bald-headedness, his shirtless dancing and singing, and the fact that he seemed so unbothered by the Warriors’ Finals victory.

It was such an odd and hilarious video, in fact, that others weren’t content with letting it fade away. They decided to mimic it and post their own versions.

This Twitter user saw it coming:

And now the #LeBronJamesChallenge is in full swing. The Antetokounmpo brothers drew awareness to it when they posted their own video Friday.

This guy has easily the best one we’ve seen so far:

There have been more than a few entries worthy of an “honorable mention” distinction.

LeBron is probably getting a good laugh out of this, too. Judging by his frequent social media posting this offseason and his lighthearted response to Draymond Green’s “Quickie” shirt, James is having a fun offseason, despite the way the season ended.

LaVar Ball’s college coach Kelvin Sampson roasted him in 1988 newspaper article

LaVar Ball has cemented himself as a well-known figure in sports. As ESPN’s Darren Rovell pointed out, Ball and his son, Lonzo, were two of three most-tweeted-about people during Thursday night’s NBA Draft.

LaVar has made some pretty audacious claims about his playing ability. Though he was by all accounts an average college player, he talks as if he could still get buckets in the NBA today. He’s even made some ridiculous comments about what would happen if he played Michael Jordan one-on-one.

Ball averaged 2.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game in his lone year at Washington State. That season was Kelvin Sampson’s first as the Cougars’ head coach. And, according to an old newspaper excerpt that surfaced on Twitter Friday, Sampson didn’t think much of Ball’s offensive game.

“We could lock LaVar in a barn for two hours and I don’t think he’d score 20 points,” Sampson said in Jan. 1988. “His role is not to score points.”

The excerpt comes from the Lewiston Tribune, a small daily newspaper that covers Idaho and Washington.

Ball didn’t get much love from the writer of the piece, columnist Jeff Spevak.

“LaVar Ball, now there’s a prime example of a role player,” Spevak wrote.

Ball was invited after college to a football tryout, and he went on to have a brief professional football career. He made the Jets’ and Panthers’ practice squads.

Sampson, who was only 32 at the time he made the above comments, went on to become the head coach of Oklahoma and Indiana. He’s now the head coach of the Houston Cougars.

Kings’ pick of De’Aaron Fox helped Sacramento fan score date with crush

De'Aaron Fox

Sacramento fans probably would’ve been happier with the Kings’ draft if the team had taken sharpshooter Malik Monk at No. 10, but Sacramento instead traded down to snag snag Portland’s picks. They got Justin Jackson at No. 15 and Harry Giles at No. 20, but all in all, the Kings had a very solid night Thursday. They walked away with Jackson, Giles, Kansas’ Frank Mason, and – most importantly – De’Aaron Fox.

Fox, a guard from Kentucky, was perhaps the fastest-rising prospect in the draft. He’s lightning quick, he has a relentless motor, and he has drawn frequent comparisons to Russell Westbrook. Kings fans were fired up to land Fox at No. 5.

Before the draft, one Sacramento fan promised if his team selected Fox, he would ask his crush on a date.

The Kings’ savvy social media team spotted the tweet and made sure the fan followed through.

And he actually did it – he asked his crush on a date. And the person on the other end said yes!

Fox was glad to have played a role in the budding young romance.

Twitter even took notice and captioned the Moment, “De’Aaron Fox helped a fan get out of the friend zone.”

The Kings fan is clearly in his glory.

Sacramento fans are hoping Fox can lead the franchise out of its 11-season playoff drought. That may take a while, but this is a good start, De’Aaron.

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