Ice Cube Says He Wants Kobe Bryant to Play in BIG3 Next Season

Ice Cube is dreaming big when it comes to the future of BIG3. 

Appearing on KTLA in Los Angeles on Thursday morning (via TMZ Sports), the face of the league said he’s eyeing Kobe Bryant as a possible addition to the three-on-three ranks. 

“I hope so, one day,” Ice Cube said of Bryant having interest. “I hope his competitive juices get the itch in him and he wants to, you know, come in the league and score 50 and win the game. We hope he’ll play one day. But if not you know we still got some great players. Still competitive guys that want to play.”

Bryant, to this point, has not made any indications publicly that he intends to suit up again in the near future. 

However, the recently retired Paul Pierce suggested in July he would like to link up with the five-time champion and a former Boston Celtics teammate to form a superteam of sorts. 

“You never know. I might try to convince KG, Kobe and we might try to set up our own team,” Pierce said on a BIG3 FS1 broadcast

BIG3 play will resume in Los Angeles on Sunday before the playoffs get underway Aug. 20 in Seattle. 

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NBA Schedule 2017-18: League Releases Opening-Week and Christmas Day Games

The NBA on Thursday announced its national television broadcast schedule for the opening week of the 2017-18 season as well as this year’s full slate of Christmas Day games. 

The new campaign tips off Tuesday, Oct. 17, on TNT with a doubleheader featuring the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers (8 p.m. ET) in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch at Quicken Loans Arena before Chris Paul, James Harden and the Houston Rockets square off against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena (10:30 p.m. ET).  

Opening week continues Oct. 19 on TNT. The New York Knicks will headline the evening’s early action when they meet the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena (8 p.m. ET)a matchup that precedes Lonzo Ball’s Hollywood debut in an intracity tilt between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET). 

The NBA’s annual Christmas Day spectacular will begin at 12 p.m. ET (ESPN) when the Knicks host the Philadelphia 76ers in an Atlantic Division duel at Madison Square Garden. 

That meeting will be followed by the Cavaliers and Warriors at Oracle Arena (3 p.m. ET, ABC) and Washington Wizards at Celtics (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC). The Rockets will then meet the Thunder in Oklahoma City in the night’s penultimate game at 8 p.m. ET (ABC). 

Holiday festivities conclude on the West Coast when the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves travel to Staples Center for a clash with the Lakers on TNT at 10:30 p.m. ET. 

The NBA also announced several other opening-week tilts. 

On Oct. 18, the action will shift from TNT to ESPN, with Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons slated to make their NBA debuts in the nation’s capital against the Wizards (7 p.m. ET).

The San Antonio Spurs will then open their Southwest Division title defense at AT&T Center against the Timberwolves (9:30 p.m. ET) in the nightcap. 

Two days later, ESPN will play home to showdowns between the Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks (7 p.m. ET), and Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans (9:30 p.m. ET). 

The NBA has yet to confirm when its complete 2017-18 schedule will be released, but USA Today‘s Jeff Zillgitt reported Wednesday he’s “hearing” it could drop as soon as Monday, Aug. 14, or Tuesday, Aug. 15. 

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Carmelo Anthony Trade Talks Reportedly Restarted by Knicks, Rockets

The Carmelo Anthony trade discussions could be picking up again, as the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets are reportedly in talks about a deal involving the 10-time All-Star. 

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks and Rockets have “re-engaged on trade talks” involving Anthony, and the Rockets are “canvassing third-team trade partners” to help facilitate a deal. 

Wojnarowski added that Anthony is “steadfast” that he will only agree to waive his no-trade clause for a deal to the Rockets. 

As trade rumblings involving Anthony started to pick up in July, the Cleveland Cavaliers were also mentioned as a possible destination. However, Marc Berman of the New York Post reported on July 31 the circus involving Kyrie Irving‘s trade request meant Anthony wouldn’t accept a deal to Cleveland. 

Wojnarowski noted the Rockets and Knicks have not been able to iron out details on a trade, in part, because new Knicks general manager Scott Perry is being “far more particular” about the deal he wants for Anthony than former team president Phil Jackson was. 

There also remains a “real scenario” in which Anthony opens next season with the Knicks and a deal comes together during the regular season, according to Wojnarowski. 

The Rockets already have two stars on their roster after acquiring Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers to pair with James Harden. Anthony, who averaged 22.4 points per game last season, would be a formidable third scorer in the lineup if a deal can be worked out. 

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HBO Developing LeBron James-Produced Comedy About Sneaker Store

HBO and SpringHill Entertainment, the company run by LeBron James and business partner Maverick Carter, reached a development deal on a comedy series about a sneaker store.

Nellie Andreeva of Deadline reported the news, which comes as part of SpringHill‘s developmental deal with Warner Bros.

SpringHill and Warner Bros. inked a partnership in 2015, which will include a long-discussed sequel to Space Jam.

“LeBron James has one of the most powerful, well-known brands in the world and we are excited to be in business with him and his partner, Maverick Carter, and SpringHill Entertainment,” Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros, said in a 2015 statement.

“The combination of LeBron’s global media presence and Warner Bros.’ unmatched production and distribution expertise is a big win for fans everywhere. We’re excited to welcome LeBron and Maverick to the Warner Bros. family and look forward to partnering on incredible projects that will connect with consumers across a variety of platforms.”

The HBO show “centers on two best friends and their wild employees at an up-and-coming sneaker shop outside L.A., where they take on the insane and obsessive world of sneaker culture.”

It will be written by Shawn Wines and Lemon Andersen, with Wines serving as a co-executive producer with James and Carter. 

There is no word on when the show may air. This developmental deal likely means the show will at least get a pilot, but there is no guarantee it will be made into a series.

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What Does Being on a Perennial Contender Mean for Warriors’ Forgotten Youth?

Feeling sympathy for the Golden State Warriors is an unconscionable affront to competitive decency—not unlike worrying about how poor Godzilla’s scaly feet might get splinters from all those buildings he’s stomping on.

It’s immoral to feel sorry for the league’s most talent-rich organization while it’s in the midst of a dynastic run.

But maybe, with great effort and a clear mind, we can at least muster some mild concern by focusing on the plights of young players stuck on the fringes of a championship-chasing rotation. These are the guys surely deriving some benefit from the culture and environment but who simply aren’t in line for enough minutes to shine on the floor.

And yes, while there are several such prospects down toward the end of Golden State’s bench, this is mostly about Patrick McCaw.

As a rookie last year, McCaw played in 71 games and started 20, averaging just over 15 minutes per contest. Quietly, he averaged 9.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per 36 minutes on 54.0 percent true shooting—seemingly modest stats until you realize that only about one 21-year-old per season has managed those rates since 1975.

McCaw may not be ticketed for greatness like so many of the other 21-year-olds who previously produced those stats (the list includes LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and just about every modern wing star you can think of), but we can at least acknowledge his rookie achievements were rare.

The high-functioning system in Golden State helped, as did Andre Iguodala‘s mentorship. Spending many of his minutes with at least one attention-drawing MVP on the floor probably didn’t hurt either.

After stepping in for Iguodala and scoring 18 points in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, McCaw highlighted the breadth of positive influences around him, telling reporters: “For me as a basketball player, I take bits and pieces from everybody’s game. I take it as a compliment to be compared to Andre, but I not only take stuff from Andre, I take stuff from Klay (Thompson), I take stuff from Draymond (Green), all the players on our team.”

But in addition to eye-opening numbers, McCaw also flashed several equally tantalizing “unteachables”: terrific hands, slithery athleticism, unselfishness, start-stop change of pace and an advanced feel for the game. Add to that his buckets in critical moments of an NBA Finals game, and you can include “shocking composure” among McCaw’s tools.

A player like this, immediately hailed as a draft steal (38th overall pick in 2016) and then delivering on that assessment, would be in line for a starting gig and a major role on most other teams. He’d be viewed, rightly, as a major piece of that organization’s future core. Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress agreed:

Not on the Warriors, though.

Iguodala and Livingston are back. Even if they sit out games or see their minutes further reduced, it’s difficult to imagine McCaw’s role changing in a significant way. The Warriors could push the bounds of player preservation, resting Iguodala as often as possible, but the addition of Nick Young (and to a lesser extent Omri Casspi, who’ll mostly see time at the 4) means the 6’7″, 185-pounder has yet another wing in his way.

Maybe McCaw will make a such a leap forward that he forces Golden State to give him 20-something minutes per game. Having spent several paragraphs lauding his talent, we can’t rule that out. But chances are, he’ll sit somewhere around fifth on the wing depth chart.

McCaw will still enjoy valuable practice time and veteran tutelage in an optimal team environment, but with big-minute opportunities so limited in games, it’s fair to wonder if his growth will be stunted.

Not every Warriors reserve is as worth fretting over as McCaw. Kevon Looney’s bad hips never allowed him to tantalize. James Michael McAdoo, now gone, didn’t hint at greatness in his three-year stint.

But what about Damian Jones, theoretically a Festus Ezeli clone taken with the No. 30 pick in 2016? With Zaza Pachulia, David West and JaVale McGee all coming back on the cheap, he’ll be buried on the bench again, technically fifth on the center pecking order when you also factor in Draymond Green’s minutes at the 5.

And don’t forget Jordan Bell, basically this year’s version of McCaw—complete with all the “draft steal” labels and obvious fit in Golden State’s increasingly positionless and athletic frontcourt. The presence of so many high-priced vets meant the Warriors could only sign him to a two-year deal, meaning his chance to prove his worth will be even more abbreviated than most second-rounders.

For McCaw, Jones and Bell, the damage this roster situation could have on their earning potential is real. All the upside in the world may not generate big offers down the line if there’s not enough of an on-court record to judge. Worse still, this isn’t a temporary issue for Golden State’s youth. These guys aren’t in a “wait your turn” situation because as long as the Warriors stay title favorites, they’ll keep attracting ring-chasing vets.

Whenever West, Pachulia, McGee, Young, Casspi and others are through contributing, there’ll be another queue of 30-somethings waiting to sign on for the minimum. There always are.

The downside to all this for the Warriors, even if nobody cares, is the possibility of losing someone like McCaw without truly knowing how great he might have become. Maybe this means that once this era of stars is finished in Golden State, there won’t be a bridge to the next one.

Then again, the Warriors may find themselves profiting from the lack of opportunities for McCaw and friends. Lack of playing time drives down prices, and the Dubs could retain these valuable assets at rates well below market value.

It says a lot when one of the key detriments facing the organization is so easily spun into another competitive advantage.

That’s life for the defending champs these days.

        

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference or NBA.com.

Follow Grant on Twitter and Facebook.

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Kevin Durant Discusses Decision to Take Pay Cut with Warriors

Over a month after re-signing with the Golden State Warriors on a below-market deal worth $53 million over two years, Kevin Durant said he took less money, in part, to keep the team’s core together. 

Speaking to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, Durant had this to say about his decision:

“Well, I’m a smart guy and I want to keep this thing going and looking at Andre [Iguodala] and Shaun (Livingston) and Steph (Curry) — they all should make the most money that they can make and get what they deserve. Because they were all underpaid and I knew at some point they’d want to get what they deserve. So I just took a step back and let the chips fall where they may. Then I took it in my hands. I wanted to keep the team together and I thought it was going to help the ownership bring all the guys back. And on top of that, it’s my money. It’s my decision. I can do what the hell I want with it.”

Slater reported on July 3, after Durant agreed to his new deal, that his $25 million salary for the 2017-18 season is $6.8 million less than expected and $9.5 million less than the maximum. 

Albert Nahmad of Heat Hoops reported Durant’s decision saved the Warriors approximately $25 million in salary and luxury-tax money. 

The Warriors had a busy offseason, as general manager Bob Myers negotiated a five-year supermax deal with Stephen Curry and three-year extensions with Iguodala and Livingston.

Durant’s two-year deal includes an opt-out after the 2017-18 season that will allow him to work out a long-term max extension with the Warriors next summer. 

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NBA Reportedly Expected to Approve Rules to Cut Back on Resting Healthy Players

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reported Thursday the NBA is expected to approve rules meant to limit teams’ ability to rest healthy players during regular-season games.

The rules are expected to be enacted for the 2017-18 season, and there will be repercussions for teams that do not follow them.

Specific regulations and punishments aren’t yet clear, but Zillgitt said teams may be dissuaded from resting top players during nationally televised games.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed such situations in April: “When we do have marquee network games, we the league office can do a better job at looking at obviously, the prior night in terms of back-to-back, but also the several days leading up to that game so that players are at peak performance for those games.”

Last season, a nationally televised game between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs made headlines when both teams sat most of their best players.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, rested their “Big Three” in a national game against the Los Angeles Clippers in March.

In an attempt to limit the need for rest, the NBA issued a memo Tuesday stating that back-to-back games and one-game road trips will be lessened during the 2017-18 season, per ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst.

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