Kendrick Perkins Reportedly Agrees to Contract with Cavaliers’ G League Team

Two days after the Cleveland Cavaliers waived him, Kendrick Perkins agreed to a deal with the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers’ affiliate in the NBA G League, according to ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Wojnarowski reported that Perkins sees the move as a way to prove himself worthy of a roster spot on an NBA team and that he declined an offer to join Cleveland’s coaching staff.

I’m serious and I’m committed to this [opportunity],” Perkins said to Wojnarowski. “I will sacrifice to show the NBA.”

Perkins appeared in three games for the Cavaliers during the preseason, averaging 4.0 points and 3.7 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.

The 32-year-old last played for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2015-16, averaging 2.5 points and 3.5 rebounds over 37 games with the team.

Despite the lack of opportunities last season, he remained working hard for a chance to show what he could do.

“The body feels good, man, I’m just sitting here waiting on an opportunity,” he said in July, per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “Hopefully I can get a training camp invite soon. I want to earn my way. I don’t want nobody to give me nothing. So I’ve been working hard, going two or three times a day, working and grinding. I’m just trying to stay with it.”

Perkins is best known for his time with the Boston Celtics, with whom he averaged 6.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game across eight seasons. He especially excelled on the defensive end, allowing bigger names like Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to handle the scoring on their way to an NBA title in 2008.

He then spent parts of five seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder, starting at center for a team that went to the NBA finals in 2012 before losing to Cleveland.

His 143 playoff games (129 starts) could be helpful both on the court as well as in the locker room.

Playing in the G League represents a step backward for Perkins in terms of the stage on which he’ll be appearing. But starting regularly with the Charge could be a nice showcase for him to demonstrate he can still offer something to an NBA roster.

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Gregg Popovich: Donald Trump a ‘Soulless Coward’ for Comment on Fallen Soldiers

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called the sitting president a “soulless coward” Monday. 

Dave Zirin of The Nation reported the news, noting Popovich’s comments were in regard to Donald Trump claiming former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush failed to call the families of soldiers who had died.

According to Kevin Liptak of CNN, Trump said Monday he wrote letters to and planned on calling the families of four American soldiers who died in Niger in early October.

“Other presidents did not call, they would write letters, and some presidents didn’t do anything,” Trump said, per Liptak.

              

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

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Kyrie Irving Reportedly to Be Honored by Cavaliers on Opening Night vs. Celtics

Despite his ugly departure from the team this summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers reportedly will honor former point guard Kyrie Irving during their season opener against the Boston Celtics.

According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, the team intends to show a video tribute to its fans at some point during the Oct. 17 matchup.

Irving requested a trade out of Cleveland in July and was eventually dealt to the Celtics in August for a package headlined by Isaiah Thomas.

He has since angered even more fans from his old city while praising his new digs.

“[Boston’s] a really major city,” Irving said, per Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “Coming from Cleveland, the Midwest, where the culture is different. And then you move to the East Coast—into Boston—and it’s so real [and] alive. An ongoing, thriving city. Consistently. No matter what hour throughout the night.”

He also admitted on First Take that he didn’t let LeBron James know about his decision and didn’t care if he took it personally, via NBA.com.

Despite the breakup, there is no denying the impact Irving had during his time in Cleveland. The 2011 No. 1 overall draft pick has been a Rookie of the Year and a four-time All-Star, and he’s coming off a career-high 25.2 points per game. Perhaps most importantly, he helped the team reach three straight NBA Finals, including a 2016 championship run where he knocked down the title-clinching shot in Game 7.

The 25-year-old is now the enemy coming into town with the rival Celtics, but at least Cleveland will give fans a chance to appreciate what he did for the organization.

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Report: LaMarcus Aldridge, Spurs Agree to 3-Year, $72 Million Contract Extension

The San Antonio Spurs agreed to a contract extension with LaMarcus Aldridge, ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday. 

According to The Vertical’s Shams Charania, the deal is worth $72.3 million over three years.

Under the terms of his existing contract, Aldridge has a $22.3 million player option for the 2018-19 season. According to Wojnarowski, the extension includes that option:

Wojnarowski also reported the Spurs had included Aldridge in trade discussions with other teams but were unable to find a trade they liked. Wojnarowski added Aldridge and San Antonio saw the extension as a mutually beneficial move:

“San Antonio doesn’t have a better alternative available to them in free agency to partner with Leonard, and Aldridge couldn’t be sure that he’d be able to find this kind of long-term financial score available on the free agent market.”

While this extension resolves Aldridge’s short-term future with the Spurs, it’s somewhat surprising. The five-time All-Star has had an underwhelming tenure in San Antonio over the last two years. 

Aldridge has averaged 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds a game for the Spurs. In his nine years with the Portland Trail Blazers, he averaged 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.

His unsuitability as a No. 2 option behind Kawhi Leonard was abundantly clear in last year’s playoffs as well.

Leonard’s ankle injury was an opportunity for Aldridge to step up and put the Spurs on his back. Instead, San Antonio had a minus-4.8 net rating when he was on the court in the postseason, according to NBA.com. The Golden State Warriors swept the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.

The extension also limits San Antonio’s financial flexibility for the next three years. The Spurs have a little over $38 million tied to Pau Gasol in 2018 and then that same amount in committed to the pair again in 2019 depending on the specifics of Aldridge’s contract.

With all of that said, the Spurs may have had trouble finding a replacement for Aldridge of similar quality at roughly $24 million a year. The Aldridge of the last two years is still a skilled—if somewhat flawed—big man. If Paul Millsap can get $60 million guaranteed for two years—with a $30 million team option in the third year—then $72.3 million over three years for Aldridge is more than defensible.

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Will Barton Carried Off Court After Suffering Ankle Injury in Practice

Denver Nuggets swingman Will Barton suffered an injury during practice Monday and needed to be carried off the court, BSNDenver.com’s T.J. McBride reported.

According to McBride, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone believes Barton injured his ankle.

The injury comes two days before Denver opens the 2017-18 regular season on the road against the Utah Jazz.

Barton appeared in all 82 games during his breakout 2015-16 campaign, but he was hampered by persistent ankle issues last year. Appearing in 60 games, Barton averaged 13.7 points on 44.3 percent shooting from the field and a career-best 37.0 percent shooting from three.

With Barton banged up, the Nuggets should lean on Gary Harris and the ascendant Jamal Murray to do the heavy lifting on the wing alongside small forward Wilson Chandler. Malik Beasley, a first-round pick in 2016, could see an increased role as well.

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Lakers News: Latest on Andrew Bogut, Brook Lopez Comments and More

Preseason is over for the Los Angeles Lakers, which means the team is hunkering down and preparing for the long grind of the regular season. 

The Lakers are a young team with some key veteran additions, and they’re looking to make strides after going 26-56 last season for the third-worst mark in the NBA

Los Angeles whittled down the squad over the weekend, but there are still some question marks heading into Thursday’s season-opening tilt against the Los Angeles Clippers. Here’s some of the latest Lakers news with preseason wrapped up. 

   
Andrew Bogut Plans to Be Ready for Season Opener

After the debacle that was the Timofey Mozgov signing, the Lakers are turning to other veterans to lock down the center position alongside youngsters Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant. Brook Lopez is in line to be the starter, but he will need an understudy if the Lakers don’t think Zubac or Bryant have progressed enough to take on substantial playing time. 

Enter Andrew Bogut. The Lakers signed him to a one-year deal in September in the hopes that he can provide capable veteran help at the 5 spot. 

Bogut has yet to appear in the purple and gold while dealing with an injury, but he has told the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Roy Ward he will be ready for the start of the season: “Bogut, who will wear No.66, hasn’t suited up this pre-season after tweaking his groin when he slipped at training camp, but he is certain he will play in the Lakers’ season-opener.”

The 32-year-old Australian played in 26 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season and less than a minute for the Cleveland Cavaliers before breaking his leg, so Bogut needs to be floor-ready as soon as possible if he is to prove he can stick in the NBA. The Lakers took a minimal risk with his contract and could jettison Bogut if they believe he is surplus. Of course, they might also find they need his veteran leadership if they are to develop the young big men on the team.

Lest anyone think Bogut is with the Lakers to collect a final paycheck, the center has also been hard at work on re-inventing his jump shot in order to contribute on offense again, per Ward:

“With his leg in a cast, Bogut went to work on his shooting, blocking out the pain in his elbow and working on his ball flight and release day in and day out.

“The product of those hours of work is a softer, more European-looking shot, which Bogut showed off during his workout. Both his free throws and mid-range shots look better than they have in years.”

Perhaps the Lakers will get lucky and have a cadre of big men with improved shots. While Bogut works on his jumper, Zubac is reportedly looking to improve his hook shot this summer. 

    

Brook Lopez Comments on Larry Nance Jr.

While Bogut is looking at a reserve role, Lopez is looking forward to who will be sharing the frontcourt with him in the Lakers’ starting 5. 

Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. have been locked in a battle for the starting power forward role this season, with Kyle Kuzma also making himself known—though he is perhaps too green

Nance appears to be in line to win the starting job after taking on that role for much of the preseason, though Randle did outshine him with 15 points and seven boards in just 12 minutes in the Lakers’ 111-104 win over the Clippers on Friday and played well for much of the summer and early fall. Nance had just four points in 21 minutes and turned the ball over three times.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Lance Pugmire noted Nance is the “front-runner” and Lopez is excited about how he pairs with the athletic, tenacious 24-year-old.

“It’s been great. We definitely contrast each other very well,” Lopez said, per Pugmire. “A lot of differences that make us good individual players makes us an even better tandem.”

Nance is known for his hustle, rebounding, shot-blocking and sky-high dunking while Randle crashes the boards and can be more creative on his own offensively. If Lopez wants to concentrate on scoring while Nance flies around and does the dirty work, that could be a fruitful pairing for the Lakers.

Nothing is set in stone with the season opener a couple of days away. According to Pugmire, head coach Luke Walton is “planning an ‘intense’ scrimmage this week that should affirm starting assignments.”

It will be interesting to see how Randle fares this week, as he did leave Friday’s game with back spasms. Any lingering effects could give Nance the starting role in the very near term even if Walton intended for Randle to pick up the starting mantle.

Lakers fans might be disappointed to see Randle in a reserve role, considering he was the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, but Walton has shown that he likes to spread the minutes around and use various platoons to get the entire team involved.

No matter who ends up with the starting role, the backup at power forward will likely see plenty of court action and figure heavily into the team’s success this year.

    

Season Opener Notes

The Lakers season opener against the Clippers is set for 7:30 p.m. PT at the Staples Center. The Clippers will be the home team in this one. The game will air live on TNT. 

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JR Smith on Celtics: ‘I Don’t Think They Really Pose a Big Threat to Us’

JR Smith has seen the moves the Boston Celtics made this offseason, but his faith in himself and the Cleveland Cavaliers is unwavering.

“I don’t think they really pose a big threat to us,” Smith told reporters Monday, a day ahead of the Cavs’ season-opening matchup against the Celtics.

Boston added Kyrie Irving via trade from Cleveland and Gordon Hayward in free agency this summer, creating a Big Three with Al Horford.

         

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

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