Lakers, Pistons, Knicks Among Teams Interested in Luke Kennard

Duke guard Luke Kennard scored a career-high 19.5 points per game in 2016-17 for the Blue Devils and has reportedly landed on the radar of multiple NBA teams heading into the draft.

On Thursday, Chad Ford of ESPN.com said of Kennard “in recent weeks he’s moved up fast” and noted the Duke product has already worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons.

“Right now it looks like the Pistons at No. 12 are Kennard’s floor,” Ford wrote. “But he could go higher. The Knicks, according to a team source, are seriously considering taking him at No. 8. And a Lakers source said he’d be a favorite if the team ends up with a second pick in the top 10.”

A general manager with a late lottery pick said, “There’s no way he gets to us,” per Ford. “I don’t think there’s any way he’s out of the top 10. We think he’s the best shooter in the draft.”

Perimeter shooting is as important as ever in today’s NBA game with teams such as the champion Golden State Warriors often playing lineups featuring five players who can connect from deep to spread the floor and create mismatches.

Golden State’s NBA Finals opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers, led the league in three-point percentage during the regular season, another testament to the relation between outside shooting and winning in the current iteration of the game.

Kennard drilled 43.8 percent of his triples last season at Duke and is versatile enough to play off the ball or create as a ball-handler. He is also accustomed to playing in the spotlight after lacing it up for the high-profile Blue Devils the last two seasons and should theoretically be comfortable playing under NBA scrutiny.

His profile is apparently enough to warrant a top-10 selection at this point.

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Boston Celtics Reportedly Considering Josh Jackson with No. 1 Overall Pick

The Boston Celtics are reportedly considering taking Kansas Jayhawks swingman Josh Jackson with the first pick in the NBA draft. 

“We like him a lot,” a Celtics source told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford on Thursday. “But we like several guys a lot. We’ve got a week to figure it out.”

The same source told Ford the Celtics are “strongly considering” options other than Washington combo-guard Markelle Fultz—who has long been considered the favorite to be the draft’s top pick. 

 

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Paul George Says He Plans to Play Out Contract with Pacers Despite Trade Rumors

Paul George told reporters Thursday he plans to play out the remainder of his deal with the Indiana Pacers before he becomes a free agent in the summer of 2018, according to the Indianapolis Star‘s Nate Taylor

“I’m a Pacer,” George said, per Taylor. “I’m under contract for next season.”

    

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Warriors Championship Parade 2017: Twitter Reaction, Photos, Videos and More

For the second time in three years, the streets of Oakland filled with raucous Golden State Warriors fans celebrating an NBA championship.

The Warriors held their championship celebration parade Thursday, and it was filled with your typical array of adult beverages, memorable quotes and some not-so-subtle jabs at the Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Much in the same way LeBron’s Ultimate Warrior shirt he wore a year ago drew headlines, the same can be said for the T-shirts at the Warriors parade. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green both had the Twittersphere buzzing with their apparel choices:

Curry’s shirt was an obvious ode to his “Make That Old” campaign with Under Armour from the preseason, which highlighted his team’s desire to make its 3-1 collapse in 2016 a thing of the past.

“I remember exactly where I was this time last year, and it wasn’t a great feeling. But everything that we went through as a team, individually, as an organization, makes this day so much sweeter,” Curry said

Green’s, meanwhile, was classic grade-A shade. The “Q” in “quickie” uses the same font as Quicken Loans Arena and makes reference to Golden State’s relatively breezy five-game romp over LeBron and the Cavs.

Not that LeBron stayed quiet during the parade. After debuting a new bald look earlier in the day, the four-time MVP took to Instagram and responded to Draymond with some ether of his own:

(For the record, yes, Russell Westbrook did like that picture. And, yes, that is hilarious.)

Then there was a complete petty war that continued to go down during the parade, and it was wonderful:

“Sometimes I get tired of doing the humble thing, I want to be more like Draymond,” coach Steve Kerr said. “I think we all wish we could be Draymond sometimes—look at his shirt. I love Draymond. We got a team full of humble Warriors, and then we got one guy that’s just going to stir up the pot every day. And thank God we do, because we need that pot stirred.”

Green continued to stir the pot when addressing the crowd, mocking James’ claim he’d never been part of a superteam:

A fan rocking a LeBron jersey in plain sight had no qualms about making his way through the parade crowd:

While some Warriors spent the day hanging out on social media and documenting the festivities, Zaza Pachulia, uh, did not. He went full old-school with the video camera:

Mike Brown, who is currently still cashing checks from his time as Cavaliers head coach, also seemed to be enjoying the glow of winning a ring: 

Kevin Durant, who won Finals MVP after scoring 30-plus points in all five games of the series, once again brought his mother along to bask in his celebration. Wanda and Kevin Durant spoke of their experience on the journey to the championship with NBA TV:

Durant was also the recipient of some new, hilarious nicknames before he addressed the crowd:

Not subdued? Ian Clark. The Warriors guard broke out some surprising gymnastic moves while Curry filmed:

A number of celebrities and Bay Area sports legends were also in attendance. Bay rappers G-Eazy, Mistah F.A.B., E-40 and Too $hort were all along for the ride, as were former baseball stars Rickey Henderson and Barry Bonds. If you ever wanted Too $hort and Warriors Dance Mom in the same photo, this was your day:

In case you’re wondering, yes, Toaster Guy was also in attendance: 

In a nutshell, it was everything you could possibly want from a team’s championship celebration. There was pettiness to the fullest, a drove of people in the streets and celebrities galore.

It’s become a bit cliche, but it’s fair to say this parade was greater than anything we’ve seen before. Your move, rest of the NBA.

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‘The Full 48’ Podcast: Kevin McHale Talks Superteams, LeBron’s Legacy

Kevin McHale joins Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck and Jordan Brenner to discuss the concept of superteams, what the Cleveland Cavaliers need to better challenge the Golden State Warriors and why a team like the LA Clippers needs to be all-in when it comes to contending right now. He also discusses what it would take to get him back on an NBA bench as a coach.

Afterward, Beck and Brenner look back at the Finals and ahead to the offseason.

Subscribe to The Full 48 on iTunes here.

 

Highlights

On what made Golden State so special this season

There’s a lot of different things you can do that can make up for some of that talent gap. And I didn’t see a team in the league that was as tied together as Golden State, that was willing to make the extra pass as much as Golden State was willing to make the extra pass, willing to cover up for each other defensively.

 

On the formula to taking down a superteam

They’re gonna hit you with these 15-4, 18-5 runs. You’ve gotta be able to fight through those runs; you’ve gotta bounce back after that. It’s just gonna take a team with an unbelievable amount of mental toughness—and talent, you have to have talent. But the willingness to keep moving the ball, defend every single possession.

Again, not to pick on Cleveland, but they were the team that was supposedly gonna give Golden State a run for their money. How many layups did you see Steph drive from the three-point line and get a layup? You can’t have that. … man, it takes a ton of discipline and a ton of mental toughness.

 

On Kyrie Irving growing as a defender

Kyrie’s still a young guy. You’ve gotta get to that point where you think, ‘man I’ve gotta get better defensively.’ I’m not sure Kyrie’s ever gonna be the best defender in the league, but he can get better. You’d like to see him take one big jump defensively, that’s staying in front of people, that’s awareness, that’s rotating.

 

On the Clippers needing to contend now

If your best player is 30, 31, 32, you’d better be thinking—if you’re the Clippers—you’d better be thinking about now. … There’s always something missing there, for me; I never could really actually just put my finger on it because they check all the boxes … but if you’re talking about that team, they’ve gotta add some dynamic pieces. And it’s hard, but they’ve got to make a run—their window’s short.

 

On Superteams

I look at them and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a great team. Like right now, everybody out there is setting their bar at the Golden State Warriors’ level. … I think that’s a hell of a lot better, if you ask me, than having eight really ratty teams that you look at and one of those eight teams wins a championship where everyone goes, ‘huh, well, somebody had to win it.’

 

On LeBron James‘ 3-5 Finals record impacting his legacy

I’m not buying that crap.

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De’Aaron Fox Says His Motivation in Sweet 16 vs. UCLA Was to Shut LaVar Ball Up

Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox had the best game of his college career in the Sweet 16 against Lonzo Ball and UCLA. Apparently, one of his primary motivations was to quiet the biggest talker in the team’s corner. 

When asked about his 39-point effort against the Bruins, Fox said he wanted to “shut Lavar Ball up,” per Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated.

“In the last year, he became relevant for some reason,” he said of Lonzo Ball’s father, Lavar. “When I knew Lonzo in high school, I’d never seen his dad before. He went crazy this year. I guess when your son a lottery pick, that gives you a lot of confidence.”

While UCLA topped Kentucky during the regular season, Fox helped avenge the loss in the NCAA tournament with 39 points on 13-of-20 shooting as part of an 86-75 Wildcats win. He was also the primary defender on Ball while holding him to just 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field.

Now the two will battle as individuals while trying to be taken as early as possible in the 2017 NBA draft.

Although Markelle Fultz is widely expected to be the first overall pick to the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers are doing their due diligence with the second pick. Ball went in for a second workout this week, but the team also hosted Fox.

No matter where these two top prospects land, this rivalry of elite point guards appears to just be getting started.

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Lakers Trade Rumors: Team Reportedly Shopping No. 2 Pick in 2017 NBA Draft

The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly remain active in their efforts to shop the second overall pick ahead of the 2017 NBA draft on June 22.

On Thursday, Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reported a source said the Lakers are “taking and making calls about trading the pick.”

 

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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