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#pounditSunday, August 7, 2022

Basketball

Steve Kerr shares why Warriors are holding roster spot open

Steve Kerr looks on from the sideline

Jan 18, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr stands on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors have become very good at maximizing roster flexibility in recent seasons due to salary demands and the need to surround their star core with competent pieces. That has led to an intriguing situation with their current roster setup.

Golden State has 13 players on guaranteed contracts and intends to use the final spot on the roster for a player who wins a camp battle, or even to leave it empty for salary cap purposes. That leaves one guaranteed spot open, and that is by design. According to coach Steve Kerr, that spot is being held for veteran forward Andre Iguodala in the event he decides to return for another season.

“I leave Andre alone,” Kerr told Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “He knows where we stand. If he wants to come back, we’d love to have him. The one thing we feel strongly about with Andre is we want to give him whatever space and time he needs to make a decision. I’m leaving him alone. Whenever he makes his decision is fine with us.”

With training camp looming in September, Iguodala will have to make his decision sooner rather than later. Clearly, the Warriors are relaxed about that, no matter what he decides.

Iguodala is a bit player at this point, and he only appeared in 31 games for the Warriors during the regular season last year. However, he is an important veteran leader. Reports suggested he was ready to retire last year before the Warriors came in with a late offer, so it would not be a shock if he decides to go out on top now.

LeBron James, Draymond Green appear to poke fun at Antonio Brown in viral clip

LeBron James looking on

Jan 21, 2022; Orlando, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) against the Orlando Magic during the first quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But LeBron James and Draymond Green probably were not doing much flattery in a recent viral clip.

A clip of James and Green hanging out over the weekend in Toronto trended online this week. In the video, the two NBA stars did an interesting dance together, T.Rex-ing their arms to the music. Check it out.

The interpretive dance move was neither original nor coincidence however. Instead, James and Green appeared to be poking fun at infamous ex-NFL receiver Antonio Brown, who did the dance during a performance at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami the previous weekend.

Here is the video for comparison (but beware of bad language in the lyrics).

The 34-year-old Brown appears to be all-in on his rap career after getting himself cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. He even recently shared some big ambitions for his music venture.

The ribbing of Brown here is probably in good fun since he once appeared on James’ HBO show. But James and Green are not the only pro athletes who are roasting Brown over that memeable festival appearance.

Kevin Durant set for showdown with Nets owner?

Kevin Durant looks up

Apr 23, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) looks up at the scoreboard in the third quarter against the Boston Celtics at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

There has been no change with Kevin Durant despite the former MVP asking the Brooklyn Nets at the end of June to trade him. Over a month has passed since then, and Durant remains with the Nets. Now, according to one report, Durant is set to meet with the team’s owner.

Heavy’s Steve Bulpett reported in an article published on Tuesday that Durant is set to meet with Joe Tsai at some point this week. The meeting could help provide clarity regarding the 33-year-old’s future with the team.

One of the biggest reasons why the Nets have not yet traded Durant could be due to the shifting trade market. The Minnesota Timberwolves paid so much to get Rudy Gobert that it set too high of a standard for players deemed more valuable than the center. The price a team would have to pay to get Durant is so great that it could conceivably cripple a franchise and inhibit their ability to contend.

Have the Nets intentionally set their asking price for Durant too high because they don’t want to trade him? Or have they set a reasonable asking price in light of what Gobert fetched, and no team has met that asking price?

Those could be questions Durant wants answered.

Durant has four seasons left on his existing contract. The Nets may be trying to stall because they really want to keep him. But Tsai reportedly does not want Kyrie Irving back, which could make for an interesting conversation with KD.

Kawhi Leonard looks absolutely jacked in new video

Kawhi Leonard in a warmup shirt

Jun 8, 2021; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) warms up prior to game one in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Now over a year removed from surgery to repair his partly torn ACL, Kawhi Leonard appears to be going full “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”

A video went viral Tuesday of the LA Clippers star Leonard walking around in the gym looking like MuscleBob BuffPants. Leonard seemed to have put on significant muscle since we last saw him, especially in the lower body.

Leonard, now 31, missed all of last season as he continued to recover from his injury. Fans did get the chance to see Leonard during the occasional warmup session though, and he was definitely a lot skinnier than that.

The multi-time Finals MVP Leonard is officially listed at 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds. The Clippers look poised to compete for a title next year, and they could be getting back a version of Leonard that is far bigger than the one that they previously had.

Lakers owner explains what happened to her Twitter account

Jeanie Buss looking on

Nov 20, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers President Jeanie Buss before the game against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center. Bulls won 118-110. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss explained on Tuesday what happened with her Twitter account.

Some odd activity took place on Buss’ Twitter account Monday, leaving users suspicious that her account had been hacked. Buss’ account tweeted that she was doing a giveaway for the videogame console PS5.

On Tuesday morning, the Lakers shared a quote from Buss saying that her account had been hacked.

“Lakers Fans, my Twitter account has been hacked. Please do not engage with it or send any money. These are NOT legitimate offers. The Lakers will alert you when I am back in control of my account,” Buss said in her statement.

Hopefully nobody tried to score the PS5 through the tweet sent from Buss’ account.

By later on Tuesday, the spam tweet had been removed from Buss’ account. Only Lakers and basketball-related tweets remained.

For her next act, maybe Buss will be tweeting about a Russell Westbrook giveaway.

Magic Johnson calls for NBA to do 1 major thing in honor of Bill Russell

Magic Johnson looking on

Mar 23, 2018; Omaha, NE, USA; NBA former player Magic Johnson watches during the first half between the Clemson Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks in the semifinals of the Midwest regional of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at CenturyLink Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Magic Johnson wants to see the NBA pay tribute to Bill Russell in a big way.

The retired Hall of Famer Johnson posted a tweet on Tuesday calling on the league to retire the late great Russell’s No. 6 jersey across the NBA.

Johnson’s message comes just days after Russell passed away at 88. Russell wore the No. 6 jersey throughout his storied NBA career, and it has already been retired by Russell’s longtime team, the Boston Celtics, in his honor.

But around the NBA, No. 6 is still in fairly heavy circulation. LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers, Kristaps Porzingis of the Washington Wizards, and Kenyon Martin Jr. of the Houston Rockets are among the players who currently wear it. A leaguewide retirement of the No. 6 could hypothetically be grandfathered in though (similar to the way MLB’s retirement of Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 was grandfathered in with players like Mariano Rivera still continuing to wear No. 42 through the end of their respective careers).

Before Johnson did so, some NBA journalists, most notably Marc Stein and Dan Woike, had also suggested the league universally retire Russell’s jersey.

Few will dispute that Russell is worthy of such a high honor. He was a true pioneer and foundational figure of the sport as well as its greatest winner with a never-to-be-surpassed 11 NBA championships in 13 career seasons. As for Johnson, he now joins the chorus of NBA legends paying tribute to Russell since Russell’s passing.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer reuniting with notable former player

Mike Budenholzer looking on

Mar 9, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer during the second half against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It is not quite Slash reuniting with Axl, but Mike Budenholzer is still having a noteworthy reunion of his own.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports reported Tuesday that the Milwaukee Bucks coach Budenholzer is adding one of his former players to his coaching staff — retired forward DeMarre Carroll.

Carroll himself confirmed the news in a subsequent Twitter post.

Carroll, now 36, played for Budenholzer on the Atlanta Hawks from 2013 to 2015. They had a successful partnership, as the Hawks won 60 games in 2014-15 (still a franchise record) and also made the Eastern Conference Finals that year. Carroll would go on to make four more NBA stops (with Toronto, Brooklyn, San Antonio, and Houston) but has been out of the league since 2020.

Now Carroll is set to be an assistant for a Budenholzer-led Bucks team that will have championship ambitions in 2022-23. This news also comes just a couple of weeks after another ex-Budenholzer player landed a job with a different NBA team.

Heat linked to former All-NBA big man

Erik Spoelstra looks on

Feb 20, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra on the sideline against the Atlanta Hawks in the second quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat could be trying to help compensate for the loss of 37-year-old PJ Tucker by bringing in [checks notes] … another 37-year-old.

Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney spoke recently with an unnamed NBA executive who indicated that the Heat may be a potential landing spot for veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who remains unsigned in free agency.

“Miami needs that one piece, that one big guy to push them over the top,” the exec said. “Aldridge could take some of PJ Tucker’s minutes, though he is obviously not on the same level as a defender. But he can shoot it. Miami needs depth there. He’s not going to be a starter, but he can help.”

Despite his advancing age, Aldridge, a seven-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection, still put up respectable numbers last season for the Brooklyn Nets. He averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game, shooting a career-high 55.0 percent from the field. Aldridge can give Miami a new dimension as a big body who can either post up down low or spot up from 15 to 20 feet.

In addition to Tucker signing with Philadelphia, the Heat have also (to this point) declined to bring back Markieff Morris in free agency. That may help explain why they have been linked to Aldridge and other frontcourt pieces.

Report reveals Cavaliers’ stance on LeBron James reunion

LeBron James in a purple Lakers sweater

Dec 9, 2021; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) warms-up prior to the game against the Memphis Grizzles at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James is entering the final year of his current contract, and there remain questions about how he will handle his next deal. One possible scenario that has been tossed around, however, seems unlikely.

The Cleveland Cavaliers do not have any expectation that James will want to return to the organization for a third time, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. While the Cavaliers would theoretically have the cap space to bring James in next summer, James and his family are happy in Los Angeles, and a return to Ohio seems unlikely.

James sparked speculation in February when he left the door open to an eventual return to Cleveland, where he won an NBA title in 2016. Even then, however, it was said that the Cavaliers simply were not that eager to make that happen again, partly to avoid disrupting the established young core led by Darius Garland.

Even recently, James has been somewhat nostalgic for his Cleveland days. For now, nostalgia appears to be all it will be.

Enes Kanter implies he is being blackballed by NBA over China criticism

Enes Kanter smiling

Nov 22, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter (11) before the game against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Enes Kanter has not played in the NBA since February, and he suggested that he is being blackalled by the league.

Kanter played 35 games for the Boston Celtics last season. They traded him to Houston in February, and the Rockets quickly waived the big man.

Not only was Kanter not picked up by another team for the rest of the season, but he was not signed in free agency this summer. Kanter told Israeli outlet Walla that he believes his criticism of China has prevented him from being signed.

Here is a Google Translate translation of what Kanter said:

“Free agency is open for one month. Normally, I should have already received offers. This summer I did not receive one single offer. The reason is that I spoke out against what is happening in China in recent months. The Chinese market is a big part of the NBA business. So, they will allow talking freely about anything you want until it hurts them financially. As soon as you do that, they will cut you. It is very sad and unacceptable.”

Kanter said he does not regret his outspoken ways.

“I knew there was a price to pay. And I don’t regret my actions. These things are bigger than me, bigger than the NBA, and bigger than basketball. While I am playing in the USA, people are being killed all over the world or imprisoned or tortured in prisons. If this is the sacrifice I need to make, I am ready to live with it,” Kanter said.

Kanter’s opinion should not come as a surprise. In December, the big man said the NBA begged him not to wear anti-China shoes. Some audio that was leaked in July showed that teams did not want to upset China.

Kanter averaged 3.7 points and 4.6 rebounds in 11.7 minutes per game with the Celtics last season. The season before that, Kanter averaged 11.2 points and 11.0 rebounds in 72 games with Portland.

H/T Euro Hoops