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#pounditFriday, September 24, 2021

Basketball

New Lakers guard explains why he chose them over Nets

Wayne Ellington

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets are generally seen as the two favorites to win it all next season. Wayne Ellington chose the West side over the East side though, and now he is explaining what set the Lakers apart.

Ellington appeared this week on Ballislife’s “Noble and Roosh Show” and discussed his choice to sign with the Lakers over the Nets, a team that he was also eyeing.

“There was some teams I looked at,” said Ellington. “Brooklyn was one. But LA was just too good of a situation for me. Obviously, Brooklyn already has some shooters that do some similar things like I do in Joe Harris and a couple of other guys as well that they have. It was an easy decision for me.

“Just the type of interest that [the Lakers] showed stuck out to me way more than any other team,” added Ellington. “I had conversations in the past and before free agency. I had conversations with some of the guys on the team. It just felt like it was a perfect fit at the perfect timing. I felt like what I bring to the table was needed with the roster that was being put together, the roster that they had especially after [guard] Russ[ell Westbrook] came aboard. My shooting and my movement without the ball is something that will definitely be a complement to this roster.”

Ellington, a career 38.2 percent three-point shooter, signed a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Lakers. Eight of the Lakers’ top ten three-point scorers by volume last year are now gone. That means Ellington will play a big role for them and might even start at the 2. His history with the Lakers, having previously played for the team in the 2014-15 season, probably helped too.

There is already a bit of a rivalry beginning between the Lakers and the Nets. Ellington has picked his horse in the race, and time will tell if he chose right.

H/T Silver Screen and Roll

Report: NBPA could hire former Secretary of Education as next executive director

Arne Duncan

The NBA Players Association could be going with a familiar but unexpected name to be their next executive director.

Veteran basketball writer Marc Stein reported this week that Arne Duncan, the former United States Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama, is a candidate to succeed Michele Roberts as NBPA executive director. Roberts’ tenure is coming to an end after eight years.

Stein also mentions former San Antonio Spur Malik Rose, NBA agent Mark Termini, and ex-Minnesota Timberwolves executive Noah Croom as other potential candidates for the position.

Duncan, who served in President Obama’s Cabinet from 2009 to 2016, is the biggest name of the bunch here. He actually played professional basketball in Australia back in the 1990s and has participated in multiple NBA All-Star Weekend Celebrity Games. Obama even gave Duncan credit for discovering one NBA star.

For the NBPA, it has been a year of change with Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum replacing Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul as NBPA president. Picking Roberts’ successor as executive director appears to be next up on their agenda.

Ben Simmons could fire Rich Paul if Sixers power play fails?

Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons is going for broke with his basketball future, and he may have to take drastic measures if things do not work out in his favor.

Philadelphia 76ers writer Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice reported Tuesday that Simmons could potentially fire agent Rich Paul to rectify the situation with the Sixers if his push for a trade ultimately fails. Neubeck cited this as the suggestion of an unnamed team source.

“[Simmons] could just say, ‘My agent talked me into this stupid f—ing strategy,'” Neubeck quoted the source as saying.

The three-time All-Star Simmons is all-in on trying to force a trade from the Sixers. Latest reports say he is committed to never playing for them again. Training camp begins in one week, and Simmons does not plan to attend.

The Sixers may not be willing to give in to the demand so easily though. Paul did help Simmons secure a $177 million max extension from the team. But if their camp ends up losing the game of chicken to the Sixers, Simmons may have little choice but to let Paul go.

Jaylen Brown lobbied for Celtics to hire black head coach

Jaylen Brown

The Boston Celtics hired Ime Udoka this summer to be their next head coach, and their All-Star swingman appears to have had a say in the pick.

Celtics star Jaylen Brown said in an interview this week with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he told Celtics ownership and management that it was important to hire a black head coach after former coach Brad Stevens left his post to become the team’s head of basketball operations.

“They were on board with it,” he said. “They talked about it. It wasn’t like it was just about being African-American. [Udoka is] more than qualified.”

The 44-year-old Udoka has nine years of experience as an NBA assistant. He began on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio and won an NBA title there. Udoka had already been coveted as a head coach even prior to last season.

Spears notes that the NBA had seven African-American head coaches among its 30 teams last season despite the league being approximately 75 percent black. Now there will be 13 African-American head coaches heading into the 2021-22 season. Udoka will be among them, but he is not the first black head coach in Celtics history, as some people apparently believe.

Kevin Durant surprisingly agrees with Isiah Thomas’ take on Nets

Kevin Durant

The Brooklyn Nets have arguably the most talented roster in the NBA, but their three superstar players were rarely on the floor together last season. Isiah Thomas does not see them winning a championship unless that changes, and Kevin Durant agrees.

Thomas emphatically stated this week that the Nets have no chance of winning an NBA title without a healthy Kyrie Irving. You might think Durant and James Harden would be offended by that take, but Durant had a surprising response on Instagram. He called the statement a “fact.”

Durant and Irving are close friends. They chose to team up in Brooklyn together, so it isn’t a huge surprise that K.D. would want to emphasize how important Irving is to the Nets. On the other hand, you could make the argument that a team featuring Durant and Harden should be able to contend for a championship no matter what the rest of the roster looks like.

The Nets took the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks to seven games in the second round of the playoffs despite injuries to Harden and Irving. Durant nearly led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals by himself. Harden has already made a bold statement about the 2021-22 season, and it’s safe to assume Durant agrees with him.

Report: Ben Simmons will never show up to work with 76ers again

Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers are trying to convince Ben Simmons to show up to training camp while they work to trade him, but it does not sound like the former top overall pick is listening.

Simmons is committed to never playing for the Sixers again and will not report to training camp next week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. He reportedly has not spoken with anyone from the organization since a meeting last month in which he formally asked for a trade.

The desire for a divorce is mutual, but the Sixers likely want Simmons to show up to training camp so they can give other teams the impression that the situation is not quite as ugly as it seems. Simmons, however, has no interest in helping to rebuild his own trade value.

Simmons has four years and $145 million left on his contract. He is coming off a postseason in which his offensive play cost the 76ers, but the team has not backed off of its high asking price. While there has been some interest in Simmons on the trade market, the Sixers appear intent on trying to utilize leverage that they no longer have.

Lakers announce new jersey logo patch sponsor in $100 million deal

Lakers logo

The Los Angeles Lakers gathered the media together at their practice facility on Monday night for an announcement. The announcement pertained to a new sponsorship deal.

The Lakers unveiled their first global sponsorship with Bibigo, a Korean foods brand.

Bibigo is owned by CJ Group, a massive conglomerate. The deal reportedly is for $100 million over 20 years.

Bibigo will be the jersey patch sponsor for the Lakers, with their logo appearing on the upper left part of the jersey, opposite Nike’s logo.

In 2017, the NBA unfortunately began allowing teams to put sponsor logos on the upper left part of the jersey. Keeping the jerseys ad-free was one of the things that major US pro sports leagues did differently from foreign leagues. It kept the jerseys clean, pure and unsullied. Unfortunately, the NBA has ruined that and likely isn’t going backwards, especially after netting such large deals.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Video of Drake’s terrible basketball skills goes viral

Drake playing basketball

Drake may be a certified lover boy, but he still has a long way to go before becoming a certified baller.

The Canadian rapper went viral this week after a video of him playing one-on-one in Miami with fellow rapper Tory Lanez surfaced on social media. The video was posted to Instagram by Duke Deuce, another rapper.

In the short clip, Drake can be seen losing the handle on attempted behind-the-back dribble before throwing up an airball from three. Take a look at the video (but beware of some bad language).

Drake is a big-time basketball enthusiast and serves as a global ambassador for the Toronto Raptors. He is also tight with a lot of NBA stars and even got one of them to appear in his latest music video.

But when it comes to his own basketball skills, Drake is not exactly “Steph Curry with the shot” as he once proclaimed to be on one of his songs. This is not even the first time that we have seen him go viral for his terrible game.

Warriors players could lose this much money by being unvaccinated

Golden State Warriors logo

Some Golden State Warriors may be facing a conundrum as the 2021-22 NBA season approaches.

Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area reported Monday that unvaccinated Warriors players could potentially lose a lot of money pursuant to the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s new policy governing entrance into venues such as the Chase Center. The policy holds that, by October 13, hosts of “indoor Mega-Events and Large Indoor Events” must require proof of full vaccination to be shown before allowing entrance into their facility. These provisions will apply to all employed staff, including players, but do not apply to players or performers who are not employed by the host.

Poole mentions Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins as one player who previously announced his intention to avoid all COVID-19 vaccines unless he was “forced” to take it. If Wiggins does not show proof of full vaccination by Oct. 13, he will be denied entrance to the Chase Center for home games. That would cost him his game check (with a pre-tax value of about $360,000) for every contest that he misses.

Opposing players, though they need not provide proof of full vaccination, will still be subject to strict guidelines while inside of the Chase Center if they do not provide such proof. These include keeping six feet away from all members of the public, giving proof of a recent negative test, and wearing a mask at all times except when actively playing.

The most likely scenario is that Wiggins and the rest of the Warriors will get fully vaccinated before the start of the new NBA season on Oct. 21, if they have not yet done so already. That way they will not jeopardize their team’s success as well as their own individual paychecks. Still, the Chase Center will pose a unique situation for unvaccinated players this season, just like we have seen in other sports.

New Lakers assistant jokes about taking revenge on LeBron James

LeBron James

Nine years after getting humiliated by LeBron James on national television, John Lucas III is finally getting his chance for revenge.

Lucas, who was just hired by the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant coach, made a funny reference to his history with James in an Instagram post this weekend. Lucas was on the receiving end of a James poster in 2012. It was a particularly vicious one, as James jumped clean over Lucas for the dunk.

The now 38-year-old Lucas posted a picture of the moment and joked that he was going to make James run extra laps in practice.

“Man it just hit me that I will be coaching @kingjames the very man who jumped over me in a game,” Lucas wrote. “He going to have to do extra laps in practice for this.”

The four-time MVP James has put many a man on a poster in his 18 years in the NBA. Perhaps the Lakers should hire this guy as an assistant next so he can get his revenge on James as well.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.