Vince Carter on Potential Return to Raptors: ‘It’s Supposed to Happen’

Vince Carter returned to Toronto on Sunday as a member of the Sacramento Kings and commented on an eventual return to the Raptors.

“Of course,” he said, per Blake Murphy of the Raptors Republic. “I heard about it. It didn’t happen, I guess. It’s just one of those things, it’ll happen, for sure. Somehow, whether it’s one day or something, it’ll happen. It’s supposed to happen, I think. I can say that now. I’ve had a lot of people say it’s supposed to happen, so now I guess I have to believe.”  

Carter played for the Raptors from his rookie season in 1998-99 to the 2004-05 campaign, when they traded him to the New Jersey Nets.

             

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

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Kobe Bryant Explains His Jersey Numbers Ahead of Lakers Retirement

Kobe Bryant will be the first player in NBA history to have two different numbers retired by the same team when his No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys go into the rafters Monday night.

According to Baxter Holmes of ESPN, his original number came from Adidas ABCD Camp, 143, whose digits add up to 8, as well as the number he wore in Italy. The Lakers star switched to No. 24 in the 2006-07 season, the number he had in high school at Lower Merion.

While he was the same player in both jerseys, the Lakers star explained the different mentality between the two eras.

“When I first came in at 8, is really trying to ‘plant your flag’ sort of thing,” Bryant said. “I got to prove that I belong here in this league. I’ve got to prove that I’m one of the best in this league. You’re going after them. It’s nonstop energy and aggressiveness and stuff.”

The number change became a “clean slate” after Shaquille O’Neal was traded in 2004. With it came a new mindset from the future Hall of Famer.

“Then 24 is a growth from that,” he explained. “Physical attributes aren’t there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater. Marriage, kids. Start having a broader perspective being one of the older guys on the team now, as opposed to being the youngest. Things evolve.”

Bryant had similar statistics in each of the two subsections of his career. He had 16,777 points as No. 8, winning three titles and earning eight All-Star appearances. As No. 24, he had 16,866 points, went to 10 All-Star Games and won his other two titles.

His also won a scoring title while wearing each number.

The success in each stage made it impossible for the Lakers to only retire one of his numbers, giving Bryant double the honors this week.

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Erik Spoelstra Passes Pat Riley for Most Wins in Miami Heat History

Fact: With a 90-85 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra picked up his 455th win with the team, passing Pat Riley for the most in franchise history.

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Source: Miami Heat

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NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on LeBron James’ Free Agency, Possible Paul George Trade

LeBron James made stunning free-agent turns in 2010 and 2014, so it should come as no surprise that questions are already being asked as he gets set to hit the open market again in July.  

It’s anyone’s guess where James could wind up in 2018, but a new report from ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst suggests one high-profile suitor may already be trailing the field in the race for James’ services.

Citing sources, Shelburne and Windhorst reported Thursday that the Los Angeles Lakers—long rumored as a possible landing spot for the three-time champion—are a “long shot” to reach an agreement with James.

So if the Lakers are on the periphery, where could James land?

According to Shelburne and Windhorst, no one has an inkling since James usually plays free agency close to the vest.

On top of that, they noted “the concept that James and [Chris] Paul want to spend their golden years as teammates [is] an overstated assumption.”

It appears a championship-caliber environment is going to be the biggest factor that contributes to James’ decision.

Appearing on the Rich Eisen Show in November (h/t Michael D. Sykes II of SB Nation), James’ business associate Maverick Carter said winning is what “matters most” to James at this stage of his career.

“These days, it doesn’t matter anymore,” Carter said. “The Lakers and the Knicks have been bad—the Knicks for a very long time, the Lakers since Kobe aged out of being one of the best players in the league. You can be known or be a star from anywhere—anywhere in the world. … When you win as an athlete, that matters the most.”

Consider this the beginning of a speculation cycle that’s sure to churn rapidly when the calendar flips to 2018.

               

Could Paul George Be on the Block Again?

It’s no secret the Oklahoma City Thunder have stumbled out of the gates after flanking Russell Westbrook with perennial All-Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony over the summer.

Naturally, those early-season struggles have precipitated a question: Could Paul George find his way back on to the trading block?

It’s an interesting proposition.

George will be an unrestricted free agent in July, and the Thunder could entertain trade offers in an attempt to recoup some value for the stud swingman if they think he’s liable to walk in the summer.

And according to ESPN.com’s Royce Young, teams across the league are starting to wonder whether OKC’s PG-13 experiment will be cut short.

On Wednesday, Young reported the Thunder “have caught the attention of many around the league, with rival executives already wondering whether George could potentially find his way back on the trade block if things don’t improve.”

USA Today‘s Sam Amick added “executives will be eager to exploit the situation” as more and more offers start to roll in, also saying: “The league is watching the George situation very closely, and there’s a general belief that the Thunder will have to act if they haven’t significantly improved a few months from now.”

However, Amick noted OKC’s “lack of leverage” given George’s contract is expiring means it “could compel the Thunder to see this through until the summertime.”

And with optics already working against the Thunder now Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis are flourishing with the Indiana Pacers, they will have to tread lightly if they continue to pile up losses at concerning rates over the next two months.

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James Harden Says Knee Injury ‘Can’t Get Worse’; Will Play Through Pain

Houston Rockets guard James Harden confirmed he suffered a bruised right knee Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs that nearly kept him out of Saturday night’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

“I wasn’t feeling well at all, but the doc came in and just told me that there’s going to be pain for a bit, but you can play through it,” Harden said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. “It can’t get worse, but it’s going to be pretty painful until obviously you give it some time. Once he said that, I was like, ‘Let’s go.'”

Harden has been durable throughout his career. The only time he failed to play at least 73 games in a season since he entered the league in 2009 was the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign.

Losing Harden long term would of course be devastating for Houston’s title chances. The five-time All-Star directs the offense with his ability to hit from three, drive the lane, finish through contact and find open teammates when defenders collapse.

He averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds a night as one of the best players in the league in 2016-17. He’s arguably been better this season, posting 31.5 points, 9.1 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game.

The Rockets do have other pieces in the backcourt who will be asked to shoulder more of the load should Harden’s knee issue eventually force him to miss time. Chris Paul can handle the ball and score as a fellow All-Star, while Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson can hit shots on the wing.

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Steve Kerr Says Warriors Will Watch Lakers Retire Kobe Bryant’s Jerseys

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he’ll keep the team on the floor during halftime Monday night when the Los Angeles Lakers retire Kobe Bryant‘s No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys at the Staples Center.

“Just the experience in seeing one of the greatest players in the history of the game getting his jersey retired, and we happen to be there,” Kerr said Saturday, per Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. “I’m not going to keep them in the locker room to watch tape of the first half. The players would look at me like I was nuts. There’s something interesting going on the floor. Let’s go out there.”

           

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

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LeBron James Wants to Change Narrative on Players’ Primes Ending Early

Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James said Saturday he hopes he can change the perception of when a player is in his prime given his own longevity, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com:

“Team success is always the No. 1, but along the way if you’re able accomplish some individual awards, individual achievements, it would mean a lot. I feel good. This is my 15th year, but this is one of the best years I’ve had as far as how I feel, and I want to continue that. I want to kind of try to break the mold for the next generation. So just take the narrative out of, ‘OK, you’re past your prime when you get [to] 31, or you’re past your prime in your 12th year in the league, or whatever the case may be.’

“Hopefully I can break the mold, so when the next guy comes, he can still get $200 or $300 million and be 33 years old. I’m serious. You guys are laughing, I’m serious. This is the mold I’m trying to break. It’s not just about me, it’s for the next crew, as well…I’ll be 33 in 15 days. This is my 15th season, and this is the best I’ve felt in my career. I want it all.”

           

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

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