Kevin Durant’s Response to Fan Saying LeBron James Is Better: ‘Nah’

Replying to a comment on YouTube, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant had one word in response to a fan who said Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is the better player: “Nah.”

Durant bested James in the 2017 NBA Finals as the Warriors beat the Cavaliers 4-1 to win their second title in three years.

     

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

     

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NBL Teams from Australian League to Play vs. NBA in Preseason Games

Three teams from Australia’s National Basketball League will face NBA squads in preseason matchups this October.

According to ESPN.com, the Utah Jazz will face the Sydney Kings, the Oklahoma City Thunder will take on Melbourne United and the Brisbane Bullets will battle the Phoenix Suns.

The official announcement was made by NBL executive director Larry Kestelman.

Kestelman discussed the impact of such a move during a February interview with James McKern of ESPN.com.

“I think by bringing the NBA to Australia,” he explained, “if done in the right way through the league and Basketball Australia taking it down to the grassroots that will again take our game to the next level of both participation, excitement, interest and so on.”

Australia has already produced several notable NBA players, including Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova.

The Jazz, one of the teams involved in these exhibitions, have both Joe Ingles and Dante Exum representing the country and will likely be key attractions in the matchup against Sydney.

The NBA has brought its teams to other countries for exhibition and regular-season games in recent years, including to China, England, Brazil and more. The league has also created a yearly game in Africa featuring its international talent.

However, the matchups against teams from other leagues could provide yet another avenue to get fans excited about basketball.

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Adidas Apologizes for Removal of Female Referee After LaVar Ball’s Complaints

Last week, LaVar Ball threatened to pull his AAU team off the court if a female referee—who issued him a technical foul during an Adidas-sponsored AAU tournament—wasn’t replaced.

He was controversially granted his request, and on Monday, Adidas apologized for the poor handling of the incident.

“The referee substitutions made during our tournament last week are not in line with our company values,” Adidas said in its statement, per Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. “It was the wrong decision. We regret the situation and are looking into the matter to make sure our standards for sportsmanship, equality and fair play are met in the future.”

          

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

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NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz on Kyrie Irving, Greg Monroe and More

With all the player movement, trade rumors and participation in other leagues, the NBA offseason seems to get shorter every year. 

This summer, in particular, has arguably had more action than the postseason. Chris Paul, Ricky Rubio and Dwight Howard, just to name a few, were all traded. Free agents Gordon Hayward, George Hill and J.J. Redick all switched teams. And then, to cap it all off, Kyrie Irving demanded a trade.

With no resolution on the Kyrie front, the rumor mill has continued to churn. And even though it’s the end of July, his isn’t the only name in there.

      

Asking Price for Kyrie Irving

It’s been almost two weeks since Irving’s trade demand surfaced in a report by ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst. Since then, potential suitors and trade packages from the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and more have been analyzed ad nauseam.

Many of those were based entirely on hypotheticals, though. Thanks to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, a more concrete asking price is has been made available.

“The word is out around the NBA,” Vardon wrote. “The Cavaliers want a veteran starter, a blue-chipper on a rookie contract and a first-round pick for Kyrie Irving.”

On paper, plenty of teams could meet that price. Denver could offer Wilson Chandler, Jamal Murray and a pick. Phoenix could go with Eric Bledsoe, Josh Jackson and a pick. The Utah Jazz could throw their hat in the ring with Derrick Favors, Donovan Mitchell and a pick.

It may come down to which team is willing to add the most on top of that base. For a 25-year-old point guard who’s already made four All-Star teams, expect the bidding war to be intense.

      

Bucks Bigs on the Market

Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe has been on the trading block for what feels like the duration of his time with the team. Despite posting his best box plus-minus since 2012-13, per Basketball Reference, Monroe’s apparently still on the market.

“Say this for the Milwaukee Bucks, they are a persistent bunch,” Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal Times wrote for Woelfel’s Press Box. “According to sources, the Bucks are still actively trying to trade veteran centers Greg Monroe and John Henson, two players who have seen their roles with the team diminish.”

The knock on Monroe has generally been about his defense. But in 2016-17, the Bucks surrendered the same 106.4 points per 100 possessions, whether he was on the floor or the bench, per NBA.com. And if he can be a net neutral as a defender, his offense should be enough to attract some suitors. Since joining the Bucks, he’s averaged 18.8 points per 36 minutes, while shooting 52.7 percent from the field.

As for Henson, he’d almost certainly bring back a smaller haul in a trade, but it’s not hard to see how he can still fit in today’s NBA.

For a center who doesn’t shoot threes, the ideal role for him is a rim-running paint protector. Henson struggled with the first part last season but was in the 70th percentile as the roll man in 2015-16, per NBA.com. And among players with at least as many minutes, Henson’s career block percentage ranks seventh all-time, per Basketball Reference.

He may just need a new situation where he can display his abilities on a more consistent basis.

       

Josh Jackson Untouchable?

Jackson, the No. 4 pick in this summer’s draft, has yet to suit up for a single regular-season game for Phoenix. But the team already sounds high on his potential.

Arizona Sports 98.7’s John Gambadoro first tweeted out a potential package for Irving that fit the criteria laid out above, but then added that the Suns won’t part with Jackson:

In the NBA, the intrigue of the unknown often outweighs the security of the known. Jackson, a 6’8″ combo forward, has the size and athleticism to perhaps one day be the next Shawn Marion on defense. If he can figure out how to shoot, he might even make some All-Star teams.

Irving is already a star, though. And while his defensive issues are real, his talent on the other end is undeniable. In tandem with Devin Booker, Phoenix would have one of the most explosive young backcourts in the league.

Sure, it’d get torched on the other end, at least in the near future. But there’s plenty of time to teach those two how to defend and fill out the roster with players who can help them on that end.

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Allen Iverson Reportedly Seen Gambling in Casino Night Before BIG3 No-Show

Allen Iverson, current coach and captain of the BIG3’s 3’s Company team, reportedly was seen gambling at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois, well into Sunday morning, according to TMZ Sports.

The former NBA superstar was scheduled to appear in Dallas with 3’s Company on Sunday for a game against Team Power but never showed up.

The BIG3 is investigating Iverson’s absence from Sunday’s game.

Meanwhile, TMZ reported Iverson was also seen at the Sugar Factory restaurant in Rosemont, Illinois, on Sunday night, wearing the same clothes he had on at the casino. 

The former NBA MVP was the cornerstone superstar of Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league, which features former NBA players in a three-on-three format.

But per the Associated Press, Iverson “hasn’t been playing very much—he didn’t play at all in his much-hyped return to Philadelphia—and the league says in a statement it had no advance notice that Iverson wouldn’t attend the game Sunday.”

DerMarr Johnson, 3’s Company’s co-captain, took over as the team’s coach for the contest in Dallas. 

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Daryl Morey Talks Eliminating NBA Awards After Russell Westbrook Wins MVP

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has taken issue with the voting for this year’s NBA MVP award, given to Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook over Rockets guard James Harden, citing inconsistencies in the criteria that sportswriters use to decide the vote.

“We thought James was the MVP, but there were a bunch of very good, deserving candidates,” he said in an interview with Ben Golliver of SI.com. “I didn’t like how a different MVP criteria was used this year, compared to the last 55 years, to fit more of a marketing slogan. People thought a different criteria for selecting the MVP this year was the way to go.”

Morey added: “I don’t know if this is a good process. The ones that are decided by players or executives or media, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I honestly don’t think there’s a good process. You could argue for eliminating the awards altogether. I don’t really see a good way to do it that doesn’t have major issues. I like clean answers. If there’s not going to be a set criteria and there’s going to be issues with how it’s structured, for me it might be better to not have it.”

         

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

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Lakers News: Latest on Jordan Clarkson, Thomas Bryant’s Contract and More

The Los Angeles Lakers have nearly filled out their roster for this upcoming season, but they appear to be looking well past this year.

The new front office of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka has not been shy about its desire to make a massive splash to bring the Lakers back to prominence. Whether that be through free agency or the trade market, the brass is determined to bring star power back to Tinsel Town. 

With that in mind, let us take a look at the most recent developments in Los Angeles’ rebuild.

        

Paul George Package Revealed

The move to bring Paul George from the Indiana Pacers to the Oklahoma City Thunder was the most high-profile transaction of the NBA offseason, and it appears the Lakers were in the mix to land the All Star forward.

Per Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles offered up a pretty strong package for George despite him being a free agent in a year.

“In June, the Lakers offered [Jordan] Clarkson or fourth-year forward Julius Randle and their No. 27 and 28 picks to Indiana for Paul George,” Medina wrote (via the Orange County Register). “The Pacers declined before trading him to Oklahoma City for guard Victor Oladipo and center Domantas Sabonis.”

Clarkson and Randle are valuable young assets who seemingly could have provided Indiana with a better return than an average starter in Oladipo and an unproven player in Sabonis, who averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 20.1 minutes a night as a rookie.

Clarkson, 25, is a slasher who can contribute in other areas offensively. He put up 14.7 points per game to go with 3.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists a game last offseason. With the Los Angeles backcourt starting fill up with the additions of Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, it is no surprise that Clarkson often hears his name in trade rumors. Still, he is doing his best to ignore the buzz, per Medina.

“The only thing I can worry about in terms of stuff like that and trade rumors is myself and continue to work,” Clarkson said. “If I were to be traded, I just have to be ready to play. But I’m here in L.A. and am ready for the season. I’m excited.”

Meanwhile, Randle, only 22, is a strong post player, averaging a double-double just two seasons ago and missing out on one last season by 1.4 rebounds per game. It seems odd that the Lakers would also make him available in a trade offer for a player with one year left on his contract, but the front office is desperate to add superstars. Pelinka affirmed the notion Thursday that the team’s plan is to land such a player within the next year, per The Dan Patrick Show:

George has been linked to the Lakers as a free-agent destination for quite some time, so he may land there regardless. If that is the case, then Los Angeles is lucky Indiana passed on its offer. It allows the team’s young foundation to remain in place while still having cap space for 2018 free agency. The Lakers now also still have solid pieces in place in the event that George opts to spurn Los Angeles and sign elsewhere.

        

Lakers Add to Frontcourt

Roster spots are becoming a premium for the Lakers, and the team wrapped up one more position last week.

Per The Vertical’s Shams Charania, Los Angeles agreed to a deal last week with second-round pick Thomas Bryant, with the team confirming the move Saturday night. Charania provided details of the contract:

The guaranteed contract all but locks up a roster spot for Bryant last season, who was selected No. 42 overall in last month’s NBA draft. For a team that is not expected to seriously compete for anything more than a surprise playoff berth, this a smart bet.

Bryant moves well at 6’11” and he has the talent to become a contributor in the frontcourt in the modern NBA. He led the nation with a 68.3 percent field-goal percentage as a freshman before posting a solid 12.6 points per game last season as a sophomore. He also shot 38.3 percent from three last year, which could give him added value as an athletic big man who can stretch the floor. 

Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation certainly seems sold on Bryant and his potential with an excellent passing point guard in Ball:

The key for Bryant will be properly harnessing that energy on a consistent basis. Despite usually being among the two or three most talented players on the court in every game he played in, Bryant would become invisible for long stretches at Indiana. He was often seen hovering around the three-point line during these lulls, which took him out of rhythm and forced him to take bad shots when he finally got the ball.

Bryant is most effective when running the floor and using his energy well, which can be seen in this impressive transition play last season, courtesy of the Big Ten Network:

The opportunity is there for Bryant to carve out a role in the Lakers frontcourt. He should thrive on the fast break and in the spacing system head coach Luke Walton is implementing, so there is no reason to doubt that Bryant will contribute next season.

        

Statistics are courtesy of Basketball Reference. Contract information is courtesy of Spotrac.

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