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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Basketball

Report: Former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett invited to Rockets’ training camp

Anthony Bennett

Anthony Bennett is getting another shot at the NBA.

Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2013 NBA Draft, agreed to a non-guaranteed deal with the Rockets, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen said that Bennett is being invited to the team’s training camp.

Bennett has only played 151 career games in the NBA. His last stint came in the 2016-2017 season with the Brooklyn Nets, when he averaged 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes per game.

Just being invited to training camp on a non-guaranteed deal doesn’t mean a whole lot. The same happened with Bennett two years ago with the Suns, who ended up playing him just a few minutes in the preseason before waiving him. David Griffin has even admitted his mistake in drafting him.

Media winners and losers from Kawhi Leonard free agency reporting

Adrian Wojnarowski

Kawhi Leonard’s free agency was the biggest sports story of the summer. For a story of that magnitude, there was surprisingly little information about the subject. Leonard is notoriously private, and his team reportedly told the franchises that were in contention to sign him that they didn’t want any leaks. The combination of the two factors resulted in a dearth of information, leading to several unsatisfactory sources trying to step in and fill that void. In the end, some people proved to be ahead of the game with their information and reporting, while others were completely embarrassed by their ill-informed predictions and “inside scoops.”

Here is a look at the media winners and losers from the Kawhi Leonard free agency reporting.

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Report: Heat would need to be ‘overwhelmed’ to take Chris Paul contract

Chris Paul Rockets

The Miami Heat have frequently been linked as a possibility to take Chris Paul’s contract off Oklahoma City’s hands, but new reporting indicates that possibility is remote.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat will do “due diligence” on Paul, but their interest is not strong and they would have to be “absolutely overwhelmed” to take on the remaining three years and $124 million on his contract. According to Jackson, the Heat would be enticed if the Thunder took on multiple bad contracts while also sending Miami multiple first-round picks. With Oklahoma City more interested in stockpiling draft picks, this possibility appears very unlikely.

The Heat have serious concerns about Paul’s age and ability to stay healthy, and are not interested in spending big sums of money on aging stars.

Indications are the Thunder want to unload Paul, and would like to pass him on to the Heat. With Miami not sounding very interested, that may not be an option at this point.

Watch: Reporter hilariously mistakes Raptors’ Stanley Johnson for Pat McCaw

Toronto Raptors

The changing faces in Toronto are apparently throwing off even the media.

New Raptors wing Stanley Johnson was speaking with reporters Friday when he got a question about what it was like to win three straight championships. It turns out that the reporter had hilariously mistaken him for teammate Patrick McCaw, who was on Toronto’s title-winning team last year as well as the back-to-back champion Golden State Warriors the two years before that.

Johnson played it off well though and said that winning three straight titles was a good thing to be mistaken for. Check out the funny video.

The 23-year-old Johnson was previously on the New Orleans Pelicans and Detroit Pistons, so it’s safe to say that he was pretty far from winning three consecutive championships. All things considered, this is probably the most amusing case of mistaken NBA identity since back in 2014.

Lakers’ Avery Bradley says he has lost 40 pounds since last year with Clippers

Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley is about to enter the new NBA season almost half the man that he used to be.

Speaking with reporters Friday, the new Los Angeles Lakers guard said that he is now in better shape and has lost 40 pounds since last year when he was with the rival LA Clippers, according to Chris McGee of Spectrum SportsNet.

The 28-year-old Bradley, a two-time All-Defensive Teamer, was lousy on the Clippers last season, posting 8.2 points per game on 38.3 percent shooting. He battled various knee and ankle injuries though (which may explain the weight gain) and picked up his play once he was traded to Memphis in February.

Officially listed at 180 pounds, Bradley agreed to a two-year, $9.7 million deal with the Lakers earlier this summer. He is not their only new signee to have slimmed down considerably either.

76ers GM counting on Harris, Simmons to take big shots

Ben Simmons

The Philadelphia 76ers watched as emotional leader Jimmy Butler departed this summer, but the team’s general manager has players in mind to fill the void.

GM Elton Brand revealed that he is expecting guard Ben Simmons and newly re-signed forward Tobias Harris to step up and fill the leadership void both on and off the court.

“We are making those bets on those perimeter players,” Brand told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps on Friday. “Of course we’re going to bet on Joel [Embiid] when it’s time to bet on him.

“But I envision they will. I envision them stepping up, for sure, and rising to the occasion when it is crunch time, for sure.”

Butler was looked towards to take the big shots in close games, and he did so successfully in his brief time with Philadelphia. His departure leaves no obvious option for the Sixers in that regard, but there’s a clear confidence that Simmons and Harris can do it, or at least an expectation.

Rob Pelinka says Lakers are in championship-or-bust mode

Rob Pelinka

The Los Angeles Lakers remain confident in their ability to compete for a championship in an increasingly crowded Western Conference.

General manager Rob Pelinka asserted Friday that the organizational mindset is title-or-bust this season, and anything short of an NBA championship constitutes a failure for the organization.

Pelinka is certainly trying to reassert the mindset from the team’s most successful days, when it always seemed like an upset if the Lakers ever lost. It’s also an organization trying to remind everyone that they have LeBron James and Anthony Davis, even after a pursuit of Kawhi Leonard ended in disappointment. However, Pelinka will know that in a loaded Western Conference, it will be tougher than ever to live up to those expectations.