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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Basketball

Watch: Bill Walton throws out embarrassing first pitch

Bill Walton

Now we know why basketball was Bill Walton’s sport.

The San Diego native threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Thursday’s Padres-Colorado Rockies game. The 7-footer’s throw was lacking in the accuracy department and went wide of home plate by several feet, even missing the batter’s box:

That wasn’t as bad as the brutal pitch we saw earlier this season at a White Sox game, but it wasn’t good. Walton should ask for a shot at redemption. There is no way the former NBA Finals MVP wants to go out like that.

Report: Russell Westbrook changed his pay schedule to facilitate Rockets trade

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook made a change to his payments schedule to facilitate his trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets, according to a report.

The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported on Thursday that Westbrook agreed to amend his pay schedule to make his payouts more team-friendly and less front-loaded.

Westbrook was traded to the Rockets on July 16 in exchange for Chris Paul, two future first-round picks (top-4 protected) and two pick swap rights. He has four years remaining on the 5-year, $206 million contract extension he signed with the Thunder in 2017. He is due $38.5 million next season, then $41.3 million, $44.2 million, and $47 million in his final season.

Stein does not include any further details in his report about how this will be executed, but it seems like this is unrelated to how much money Westbrook will count against the salary cap each year.

In MLB, some players who sign contracts agree to have money deferred and receive their payments over time. Due to inflation, receiving the money in future years would be viewed as less valuable than receiving it all in the present day/during the life of the contract (this is something the Nationals reportedly tried to do with Bryce Harper). Teams sometimes prefer these arrangements because it eases their financial obligations and allows them to meet payroll and avoid other cash flow issues.

Michael Beasley suspended five games for drug violation

Michael Beasley is not currently signed with an NBA team, but if he does join one, he will be facing a suspension.

Beasley has been suspended five games for a drug violation, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Thursday.

The 30-year-old forward played 26 games for the Los Angeles Lakers last season before being traded to the Clippers, who waived him. Beasley averaged 7.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.7 minutes per game.

The No. 2 overall pick by the Miami Heat in the 2008 NBA Draft, Beasley signed in February to play in China. He has twice been involved in marijuana possession incidents.

Trae Young had to withdraw from Team USA due to eye infection

Trae Young

Trae Young has become the latest big name to withdraw from USA Basketball this summer, but his departure is due to a much more unusual reason.

The Atlanta Hawks guard announced on Thursday “with deep sadness” that he was leaving Team USA minicamp to deal with “a minor injury.”

Brian Windhorst of ESPN reported that an eye infection was the cause behind Young’s exit.

The 20-year-old guard, who had a strong chance to make the final cut due to his stellar play combined with Team USA’s lack of backcourt depth, now has about a month-and-a-half to get right before the Hawks begin training camp.

Eye injuries can adversely affect play (as we once saw with another top guard), so it sounds like Young’s decision to withdraw from the team is for the best.

Kelly Olynyk to undergo X-rays after falling in FIBA exhibition game

Kelly Olynyk underwent X-rays on his knee after slipping and falling during a FIBA exhibition game on Wednesday.

Olynyk is playing for Canada’s national team ahead of the FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer. The squad beat Nigeria 96-87 and got 11 points from Olynyk, who exited the contest after slipping on a wet spot in the third quarter:

Olynyk went for X-rays on his knee, according to TSN reporter Josh Lewenberg.

Olynyk, who also plays for the Miami Heat, started in the game for Canada along with Kevin Pangos, Cory Joseph, Melvin Ejim and Khem Birch. The Canadian team is without many of its top athletes, like Jamal Murray, Andrew Wiggins, RJ Barrett, Tristan Thompson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dwight Powell.

The World Cup begins on Aug. 31.

Kevin Durant does not blame Warriors for handling of his injury

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant is setting the record straight about the events that preceded his departure from the Golden State Warriors.

In an interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes on Wednesday, the former MVP discussed his Achilles tear and said that he did not blame the team for it.

“Hell, no. How can you blame [the Warriors]? Hell, no,” said Durant. “I heard the Warriors pressured me into getting back. Nobody never said a word to me during rehab as I was coming back. It was only me and [director of sports medicine and performance] Rick [Celebrini] working out every day.

“Right when the series started, I targeted Game 5,” he went on. “Hell, nah. It just happened. It’s basketball. S— happens. Nobody was responsible for it. It was just the game. We just need to move on from that s— because I’m going to be back playing.”

Durant, who signed with Brooklyn this summer, ruptured his right Achilles in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in June with the injury coming just minutes after he had returned to the court from a multi-week absence with a right calf strain. The Warriors and their medical staff took some major heat for their handling of the situation, and Durant’s own social media activity certainly didn’t help.

The injury may or may not have contributed to the 10-time All-Star’s decision to leave Golden State, but it does not sound like he harbors any ill will towards the team because of it.

Wizards ownership promises to be ‘more involved’

Washington Wizards logo

The Washington Wizards have never been able to break through into the Eastern Conference elite, and owner Ted Leonsis believes that’s at least partially down to him.

Under the previous regime led by general manager Ernie Grunfeld, Leonsis rarely communicated with anyone outside of the GM, using him as a conduit for everyone else in the organization. That will change going forward to align with new GM Tommy Sheppard.

“Our owners are going to be more involved,” Leonsis said, via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “You constantly have to gauge back and forth: is it good to be involved, or is it not good to be involved? Every agent, every player that I’ve talked to said the more they see Raul Fernandez and Laurene Powell-Jobs and me, the more connected they feel to what our vision and what our ultimate plan is.”

The pronouncement comes at a key time for the organization. Star guard Bradley Beal is weighing a contract extension that he appears to have some reservations about signing. John Wall is a long way from recovering from a ruptured Achilles. The new regime is set to inherit a fairly messy situation. Guidance from ownership can’t hurt.