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#pounditFriday, September 24, 2021

Basketball

Report: Sixers will try to convince Ben Simmons to report for training camp

Ben Simmons

If the Philadelphia 76ers had a favorite Beatles song, it would probably be “We Can Work It Out.”

Veteran basketball writer Marc Stein reported on Monday that disgruntled Sixers star Ben Simmons is still expected to no-show training camp, which begins in one week. The Sixers, however, remain intent on trying to convince him to report.

The former No. 1 overall pick Simmons has dug his heels into the sand after requesting a trade from the Sixers. But with four years and $145 million left on his contract, a move will not just happen at the snap of a finger. Simmons is also set to make $33 million next season, which could start to dwindle if he is fined for missing training camp and/or other team activities.

We recently heard some other indications that the Sixers are not willing to capitulate to Simmons’ demands. That means that the stalemate could continue for the foreseeable future.

Rich Paul, Adele appear to confirm relationship on Instagram

Rich Paul Adele

One of the most unexpected celebrity couples of the year now appears to be Instagram official.

Grammy-winning singer Adele posted a series of pictures to her Instagram account this weekend, including a selfie with Klutch Sports agent Rich Paul, her rumored boyfriend. The two had attended the wedding of Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis, who is one of Paul’s clients.

The couple definitely seemed to have a lot of fun at the wedding, especially Adele, who was getting down to some Latin beats on the dance floor.

Rumors first started swirling when Adele attended an NBA Finals game in Phoenix over the summer sitting courtside with Paul and LeBron James. Now the two have taken another important step in their relationship by apparently going official with it on social media.

JaVale McGee has another funny diss of Shaq

JaVale McGee

It may not be as savage as it was in years past, but JaVale McGee is going after his longtime adversary once again.

The new Phoenix Suns center appeared this week on “Club Shay Shay” with Shannon Sharpe. During the episode, Sharpe asked McGee to name his top three NBA rappers of all-time. McGee picked Damian Lillard, Allen Iverson, and Lou Williams. When Sharpe responded incredulously that McGee had left Shaquille O’Neal off his list, McGee got in a funny diss.

“He went platinum off fame,” he replied. “I wouldn’t say, like, lyrics.”

McGee does have a point. O’Neal released four albums in the 1990s, one of which was certified platinum by the RIAA and another that was certified gold. But O’Neal’s elite ability to market himself was likely a much bigger reason for their success than his bars alone. McGee is also well-educated on the topic, having actually been nominated for a Grammy last year.

The two big men obviously a very long history of beef, dating back to when O’Neal used to clown McGee on his “Shaqtin’ A Fool” segment for making boneheaded plays. Their feud once got so heated that their mothers had to get involved to put an end to it. Hopefully, O’Neal does not take McGee’s shot at his lyrical prowess as personally this time.

Julius Randle responds to Trae Young’s WWE cameo at Madison Square Garden

Trae Young smackdown

Trae Young riled up many New York Knicks fans by returning to Madison Square Garden as part of a WWE cameo earlier this month. Now the Knicks’ star player is responding to the episode.

Knicks big man Julius Randle told Ian Begley of SportsNet New York that he was not sweating Young’s latest troll job.

“Honestly, I don’t care,” said Randle. “Obviously, that’s [for] entertainment purposes and all that, so I let people enjoy it. For me, honestly, I don’t care. I honestly didn’t even watch it. Knicks fans, they’re going to make a big deal out of it. They didn’t like it (laughs). But it’s all fun and games and hopefully they enjoyed it.”

Young became Public Enemy No. 1 in New York City after his Atlanta Hawks defeated the Knicks in their first-round playoff series last season. The All-Star guard fed off the energy of the hostile Garden crowd and openly trolled the Knicks faithful throughout the series.

The WWE cameo, which you can see video of here, made for quite the viral moment. While the MSG fans are really not fond of Young, his competition on the court does not seem to be paying his antics much mind.

No, Heat did not disrespect Goran Dragic by giving away his jersey number

Goran Dragic

The Miami Heat were not as callous with one of their beloved former players as it might have seemed at first glance.

The team officially announced on Sunday that newly-acquired guard Kyle Lowry will wear the No. 7 jersey in Miami.

While that is the number Lowry has worn throughout his NBA career, many pointed out that the Heat seem to have done Goran Dragic, the previous No. 7 for Miami, dirty. Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported however that Lowry will be wearing No. 7 with the blessing of Dragic.

The former All-Star Dragic was traded to the Toronto Raptors as part of the package for Lowry. At the time of the trade, Dragic was one of the longest-tenured Heat players as well as a major fan favorite for his loyalty and commitment to the team over the years.

The Heat have not always done right by their franchise legends. But Dragic giving the OK for Lowry to wear his old jersey number means that there was no disrespect here.

Photo: Ailura/Wikimedia via CC BY-SA 3.0 AT

Darren Collison hoping for another chance with Lakers?

Darren Collison

Stop us if you have heard this one before, but the Los Angeles Lakers are being linked to a player who is in his mid-30s.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic reported this week that there is buzz about former NBA guard Darren Collison potentially eyeing a training camp invite from the Lakers.

Collison, who is now 34, retired from the league in 2019 but has flirted with the idea of a return several times since then. The former first-round pick was mentioned in connection with the Lakers as recently as last year, but nothing ever materialized.

The Lakers do make sense for Collison, who played at UCLA and was even teammates there with new Lakers guard Russell Westbrook. If the two sides once again fail to link up though, there is another enticing destination in play for Collison.

H/T Silver Screen and Roll

Michael Porter Jr. explains why he is happy the Clippers passed on drafting him

Michael Porter Jr

The LA Clippers passing on Michael Porter Jr. in 2018 is one of the greatest whiffs in recent draft history. But Porter himself thinks that it all worked out for the best.

The Denver Nuggets forward appeared this week on JJ Redick’s “Old Man and the Three” podcast. Porter explained during the episode why he was happy that he did not end up on the Clippers.

“To be honest with you, it might have been a God thing,” said Porter. “You know how crazy L.A. is, who knows? Living in L.A. as a rookie doing just strictly rehab without even playing? I might have gotten into some stuff. So I am where I’m supposed to be.”

The 23-year-old Porter also said he has no bitterness towards any team.

Heading into the 2018 draft, Porter had major injury concerns with his back that caused him to slide from the potential No. 1 overall pick to the back of the lottery. The Clippers had picks No. 12 and 13 that year, choosing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson over Porter. Gilgeous-Alexander was an excellent selection who ended up being a centerpiece of the team’s blockbuster trade for Paul George the next summer. But Robinson lasted just three seasons in the league, averaging 4.5 points per game (though the Clippers acquired a quality veteran in Marcus Morris Sr. by trading him).

As for Porter, he went to the Nuggets with the very next pick at No. 14. He ended up missing his entire rookie season after undergoing a second back surgery. But Porter has since blossomed into a strong all-around forward, averaging 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds last season on a scorching 44.5 percent from three.

Porter did seem to have some ill will towards the Clippers when the Nuggets faced them in the 2020 postseason. But he got his revenge on them as Denver won that series, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to combust the Clippers. Thus, any hard feelings appear to be gone now.

Shaq takes hilarious shot at Nets

Shaquille O'Neal

The Brooklyn Nets are the target of a lot of ire these days, but Shaquille O’Neal is clowning them for something that happened back when they still played in New Jersey.

The retired center great appeared this week on “Scoop B Radio” with Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson. During his appearance, O’Neal roasted the Nets for putting up minimal resistance against him in the 2002 NBA Finals.

“It was boring,” said O’Neal of facing the Nets in the Finals that year. “I actually got mad when we were playing in Jersey. You think [then-Nets center] Todd MacCulloch is going to stop me at the crib in Jersey in front of my grandma and grandpa? S–t! No. Stop it.”

O’Neal, who was born in Newark, N.J., played for the Los Angeles Lakers at the time. Their Finals series against the Nets was one of the most lopsided in NBA history. The Lakers won it in a sweep, and O’Neal put up some all-time numbers of 36.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game. The Diesel absolutely ragdolled the Nets’ center rotation of MacCulloch, Jason Collins, and Aaron Williams, notably fouling out Williams in just seven minutes of play during Game 3.

Besides the relocation, the Nets obviously look a lot different nowadays. But O’Neal just can’t stop ridiculing their players, be they past or present.

Bulls not in danger of losing Zach LaVine?

Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine is already the longest-tenured player on the Chicago Bulls, and he may be sticking around for some time longer.

David Kaplan of ESPN Chicago said this week that LaVine has indicated he wants to stay with the Bulls, despite his contract being up after next season.

“He has told people that I know, ‘Hey man, if they want me here, I’m not going anywhere,'” said Kaplan. “‘I’m building this thing. I’m the first guy in the door. I wanna be part of this.’”

Kaplan’s co-host, Jonathan Hood, added that LaVine was out recruiting for Chicago in free agency this offseason, as the team signed the likes of Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Alex Caruso.

The All-Star LaVine, who is entering his fifth season with the Bulls, is one of the NBA’s most dynamic guards. He has become a legitimate 25-5-5 guy and finished seventh in the league last year in scoring, ahead of players like Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum.

But instead of extending LaVine this summer, Chicago moved to upgrade the roster around him instead. Now the 26-year-old will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason and some top teams already have interest. Still, as long as the Bulls are willing to do what it takes to keep him, which will likely mean offering a max contract, LaVine sounds like he is in Chicago to stay.

H/T NBA Reddit

Jewell Loyd ties WNBA record with 22-point quarter

Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd tied a WNBA record on Friday, scoring 22 points in the first quarter.

The high-scoring outburst matched the record set by Diana Taurasi in 2006 and later tied by Brittney Sykes in 2019. It was also the most points ever scored in the first quarter of a WNBA game.

Loyd got hot immediately after tip-off and reached double-digits within the first two minutes of the contest.

Five and a half minutes into the game, Loyd hit a three-pointer to give her 22. However, she didn’t get another bucket over the remaining 4:21 of the opening quarter. Her 28 points by halftime were the most by a WNBA player this season, and the team’s 61 total points at the half tied a franchise record.

Loyd finished the game with a career-high 37 points and helped give the Storm a 94-85 victory over the Phoenix Mercury, clinching a first-round playoff bye.

“Coming into the game, I was trying not to think,” Loyd said, via the Seattle Times. “I was zoning out during the pregame talks and just trying to let my mind be clear. My teammates were hyping me up. I like when they’re happy so I was just trying to get us going early and that helped us get a win.”

In 31 games this season, Loyd averages 31 minutes per contest and 17.9 points per game.