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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Basketball

Kyle Kuzma thinks Lakers are being underestimated

Kyle Kuzma

Despite the addition of LeBron James and Co. this offseason, few have the Los Angeles Lakers as legitimate threats in the Western Conference next season. Kyle Kuzma, on the other hand, is of a different opinion.

In an interview with ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk on Tuesday, the Lakers forward said that he has been working out with James this offseason and added that he thinks the team is being underestimated.

“We are both definitely excited about the roster and the pieces that we have,” said Kuzma. “And we think that a lot of people are underestimating us. It is definitely going to be fun playing with all these new guys.

“I don’t know why people kind of just rule us out because we are young,” the 23-year-old continued. “We are hungry. We are competitive. Anybody that watched us play last year, we were in a lot of games. Having one of the greatest players of all time is going to raise what we do, raise our level of focus and the team to a higher level. I don’t really see why [there is a need to be] so patient.”

Kuzma, who averaged 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.1 threes per game as a rookie last season, figures to be a core complement to James on the Lakers’ roster in 2018-19. That roster will also include an intriguing blend of other youngsters such as Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram as well as wily, playoff-tested veterans like Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson.

James himself also seems to believe that they can outperform expectations, so Kuzma’s confidence here is definitely far from just youthful exuberance.

Jazz waive John Stockton’s son

Utah Jazz

David Stockton will not have an extended stay with the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz on Tuesday waived Stockton, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Stockton, 27, is the son of Hall of Famer John Stockton. He played college ball at Gonzaga like his dad and briefly played with the Jazz last season. He appeared in three games, scoring 10 points with Utah.

Stockton will play for Medi Bayreuth in Germany next season.

Ice Cube has approached Kobe Bryant about playing in BIG3

If Kobe Bryant ever wants to get back to playing competitive basketball again, one prominent fellow Angeleno may have just the opportunity for him.

In an appearance Monday on FOX Sports Radio’s “The Rich Eisen Show,” entertainment mogul Ice Cube said that he has pitched Bryant on playing in his BIG3 basketball league. Ice Cube did add though that the retired 18-time All-Star has turned down all of his overtures but also that he would continue trying, per Ryan Ward of ClutchPoints.

Bryant will be turning 40 years old later this month. He has been retired for the last two years now after playing 20 seasons in the NBA.

As for the BIG3, a three-on-three halfcourt league, it has already seen notable cameos from other retired NBA players, including this ex-Bryant teammate.

Jimmy Butler hits back at Instagram user who questions his leadership

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler has averaged 0.5 blocks per game for his NBA career, but he may have just upped that number with a well-timed swat on a fan this week.

On Monday, the Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star took to Instagram to post a picture of himself walking ahead of three other men. In his caption, Butler wrote, “One job of a leader is to show the lost ones the way. Every last one of these idiots behind me look hella lost smh.”

One wise fan decided to drop a comment in response to Butler’s post that read, “So show [Karl-Anthony] Towns and Wiggs [Andrew Wiggins] the way then instead of crying about them.”

Not long after, Butler hit back with a profane response, saying, “I don’t cry about s—. Imma grown a– man. You show them since you have the answers.”

Reports emerged this summer that Butler, who is entering his second season with the Wolves, had some issues with his aforementioned young teammates. The 28-year-old also rejected a four-year extension from the team in July.

Butler can be a free agent next summer, and it’s hard not see the reference to “idiots” looking “hella lost” (and his subsequent comment confirmation) as a shot at his teammates as much as it was a shot at the Instagram user.

Rockets GM reveals how long team has pursued Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony officially joined the Houston Rockets on Monday, and it was apparently the culmination of four years of effort.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey showed off artwork done by Deadpool creator Robert Liefield — at Morey’s request — of Anthony in a Rockets uniform all the way back in 2014.

At the time, Anthony had opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks. He ultimately re-signed with the team on a five-year deal despite a heavy push from Houston. Four years later, Morey’s goal has finally come to fruition, and it’s fair to say Houston is much closer to a championship now than they were then, so it all worked out.

Report: Bruce Bowen out as Clippers analyst after Kawhi Leonard criticism

Bruce Bowen was hired as a TV analyst for the Los Angeles Clippers roughly two years ago and was expected to sign an extension this offseason to remain in that role, but some critical comments he made about Kawhi Leonard led to a sudden change of plans.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Clippers have “withheld approval” on Fox Sports West signing Bowen to a contract extension. The decision was directly related to Bowen calling out Leonard back in June.

“I think there’s nothing but excuses going on,” Bowen said of Leonard during a June 22 appearance on Sirius XM Radio. “First, it was, ‘Well I was misdiagnosed.’ Look here: You got $18 million this year, and you think that they’re trying to rush you? You didn’t play for the most part a full season this year. And you’re the go-to guy, you’re the franchise, and you want to say that they didn’t have your best interest at heart? Are you kidding me?

“I think he’s getting bad advice. I think what you’re starting to see now is an individual given a certain amount of advice and it’s not the right advice. Here it is: You were protected in San Antonio. You were able to come up during a time where you still could lean on Tim (Duncan), Tony (Parker) and Manu (Ginobili).”

The Clippers are one of the teams that plan to make a run at Leonard when he becomes a free agent next summer, and Wojnarowski reports that Leonard prefers to sign with either them or the L.A. Lakers. The Clippers apparently felt that having Bowen — a three-time NBA champion who had his No. 12 jersey retired with the San Antonio Spurs — call their games could be viewed negatively by Leonard.

We have seen other members of the media say worse things about Leonard than what Bowen said, but the Clippers clearly aren’t willing to take any chances.

Report: Carmelo Anthony will compete for starting job with Rockets

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony has started in every single game he has played in during his 15-year NBA career, which is the longest active streak in the league. While it’s possible that streak could come to an end with the Houston Rockets, it is apparently not a given.

On Monday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that Anthony is expected to come off the bench during the 2018-19 season. That was noteworthy because Carmelo said when he was still with the Oklahoma City Thunder back in April that he would not be willing to accept a bench role, but Wojnarowski later clarified that Anthony still has a chance to start in Houston.

Woj also changed the wording in his story about Anthony signing with the Rockets to make it more consistent with what he tweeted.

It’s tough to envision a scenario in which Anthony, James Harden and Chris Paul could all share the basketball efficiently, which is probably why it makes the most sense for Carmelo to come off the bench. Anthony met with Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and GM Daryl Morey over the summer, so he is obviously comfortable with the situation. Even if he’s not on the floor to start games, he will still get plenty of minutes. Judging by what D’Antoni recently said about the upcoming season, it’s safe to conclude he has a vision for Anthony that he believes is going to work.

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