Hornets first-round pick Vonleh out 6-8 weeks (Yahoo Sports)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets say rookie forward Noah Vonleh will be out for six to eight weeks after surgery to repair a sports hernia.

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Tracy McGrady Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation Surrounding NBA Star’s Comeback

Now that he’s officially retired from the diamond, Tracy McGrady is apparently headed back to the hardwood.

In an email exchange with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, McGrady confirmed he’s currently working out with Kobe Bryant in hopes of seeing whether his body could handle an NBA comeback next season.

“Yes, I was working out with K.B. to get in shape and see how my body feels,” McGrady said.

McGrady, 35, retired after 16 NBA seasons last August. He last played with the San Antonio Spurs during the 2013 postseason, failing to score a point while missing all seven of his shot attempts. Before joining San Antonio, McGrady spent most of the 2012-13 campaign with the Qingdao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association.

His last meaningful NBA stint came with the Atlanta Hawks in 2011-12, where he averaged 5.3 points per contest in 53 games off the bench.

After retiring, McGrady briefly pursued a baseball career with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League, an independent outfit that was once the home to Roger Clemens.

He retired from baseball after recording a strikeout in the league’s All-Star Game, giving up five runs in his 6.2 innings pitched for the Skeeters.

It will be interesting to see whether McGrady’s comeback proves successful. In Atlanta and San Antonio, McGrady looked like a broken-down version of himself who was hanging on for one more check (with the Hawks) and a possible ring (with the Spurs).

Never an elite shooter and with his knee injuries having long since sapped his formerly prodigious athleticism, one has to wonder what McGrady could possibly offer an NBA team.

Wojnarowski‘s report noted that McGrady’s representatives touched base with two teams attempting to drum up a market. Both declined interest.

McGrady himself isn’t even sure how much interest he has in returning to the day-to-day NBA grind. He told Wojnarowski no official decision will be made about his basketball future until at least October, when he’ll return from a trip to China.

“The comeback will not happen, unless I have the drive whenever I get back,” McGrady said.

Ultimately, a return to China might be McGrady’s best bet if he wants to keep playing basketball. While his team didn’t have much success during his season in Qingdao, his individual numbers were in-his-prime great. He was named to the All-CBA third team and remains a well-liked figure.

It’s possible that he might even make more money in China than he would in the United States, where NBA teams are unlikely to offer much more than a non-guaranteed minimum contract.

Stephon Marbury is just one of a handful of former players who have found something nearing a home in China. McGrady is a much more accomplished NBA player and might perform even better in a second Chinese go-around knowing it’s not just a stopgap before a return home.

No matter his desire, odds are we’ve seen the last of McGrady playing basketball in the U.S.

Unless a team is desperate for a veteran voice to mentor young players—think Chauncey Billups on last year’s Pistons or Derek Fisher basically anywhere for the past half-decade—he’s going to have a tough time earning a gig on his own merit.

Of course, this is a shame to anyone of a certain age who remembers McGrady soaring to superstardom in Orlando.

There was once a time when “Kobe versus T-Mac” was a legitimate debate. Now, Bryant’s gearing up for a comeback to widespread fanfare, and Spotrac indicates he will make $23.5 million in 2014-15. McGrady will be lucky to get a tryout opportunity.

 

Follow Tyler Conway on Twitter @tylerconway22.

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Timofey Mozgov: I want to play with LeBron

Recently, in a Russian media interview, Timofey Mozgov was inquired about the possibility of playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers to join forces with LeBron James. Although, the Russian native commended James, as well as head coach, David Blatt, he never demanded a trade or expressed a desire to actually play for Cleveland. “Of course, it would be interesting to play for David Blatt’s team. I know his coaching philosophy well, after working with him on the Russian national team,” said Mozgov. “I would like to play with LeBron. But even though playing for a contender is cool, you got to understand that I want to be a part of the team and not just join a contender and ride the coattails, being a burden.” As expected, these comments in addition to the Cavs need for rim protection sparked a media frenzy. Obviously, the networks had a field day with this quote, sparking all sorts of rumors, despite Mozgov not demanding a trade. “So far all the talks about trade to Cleveland are just rumor…

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NBA teams will play 9 home games vs. international teams

The games will take place in October as Euroleague teams tour NBA cities

      
 

 

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Derek Fisher’s First Season with NY Knicks Will Reflect Directly on Phil Jackson

As the New York Knicks embark upon the first full season of Phil Jackson‘s reign as president of basketball operations, they’ll have a permanent reminder of the Zen Master’s presence stalking the sidelines.

New head coach Derek Fisher instantly becomes the most tangible symbol of the Jackson era, a very visible litmus test by which Knicks fans will judge the new regime. To be sure, the 39-year-old would have been a natural choice for any front office.

The career-leader in playoff games (with 259) has an esteemed reputation as a leader and teacher. An 18-year-veteran who finished his career as a valuable bench piece for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Fisher knows a winning culture. He claimed five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, and contributed to three deep postseason runs with OKC—playing the role of a savvy backcourt shooter with a knack for timely plays.

The former National Basketball Players Association president knows what it means to succeed at the highest levels on and off the floor.

But Fisher’s selection wasn’t just about his credentials. It was about his philosophy and—more importantly—his familiarity with the kind of system Jackson wants to implement in New York.

In short, it was about keeping things in the family.

“In his nearly three months as team president, Phil Jackson has made it very apparent—in word and deed—that he wants to rebuild the Knicks by relying on his own network of associates and alliances,” wrote The New York TimesScott Cacciola in June. “He has gone so far as to underscore the importance of his ‘inner circle,’ although it might make more sense to refer to his inner triangle.”

Fisher spent the majority of his playing career with the Los Angeles Lakers, making him abundantly familiar with Jackson and his Triangle Offense.

Cacciola adds, “Choosing Fisher can easily be perceived as a gamble by Jackson, but he has always been clear about his preference to hire a young coach whom he could mentor. Fisher fits the bill.”

Indeed, choosing Fisher registers as a gamble in several respects.

First, Jackson could have gone with a more experienced candidate, perhaps even pulling ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy away from the broadcast booth. He could have snagged player-favorite Mark Jackson after the Golden State Warriors parted ways with him. Settling for a first-time coach translates into ready-made criticism in the event New York gets off to a slow start.

Second, Fisher reasons to be even more of a reflection on Jackson that other candidates would have been. Though his relationship with Jackson will officially be labeled one of “mentorship,” more cynical perspectives will view Fisher as a puppet.

In turn, everything Fisher achieves—or fails to achieve—will be a reflection on the guy pulling strings behind-the-scenes.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

There are plenty of reasons to believe Fisher will turn the Knicks around, perhaps sooner rather than later. Though the roster won’t undergo significant restructuring until next summer, New York’s culture may be subject to immediate change.

“Fish’s career lasting until he’s almost 40 years of age is a remarkable feat,” Jackson said during an MSG Network special, per the New York Post‘s Marc Berman. “He talked about the fact that he never was the quickest, never could jump the highest, never was the tallest. He always was kind of in an underdog role, but he was so well prepared. He spent the offseason working on what he had to do, and he’s going to bring that mentality to our players.”

And this is really important for this group particularly here with the Knicks. They have to embrace the fact that this profession requires a total dedication, it’s a total thing, and to do that it’s an immersion,” Jackson added.

Fisher’s fresh perspective and winning pedigree may well rub off on his players. 

But those kind of transformations are rarely instantaneous—even as New York’s collective patience wears increasingly thin. A more experienced coach may not be more equipped to effect overnight improvement, but more accomplished resumes typically elicit longer leashes.

Perhaps Fisher deserves some time, as well.

Having just walked out of Oklahoma City, Fisher now walks into a situation that, despite the Knicks’ bloated payroll, will come with low expectations as New York waits for several highly paid players…to come off the salary books,” notes The Wall Street Journal‘s Chris Herring (subscription required).

Then again, are low expectations even possible under the New York spotlight?

After a 37-45 season that wasn’t good enough to crack the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, the organization needs to demonstrate progress. 

Writing for Forbes, David Lariviere observed that, “It’s a market where fans want to see immediate results, which will make it difficult for Fisher.”

And yet, the real pressure remains on Jackson. If Fisher isn’t ready to take the helm in New York, that’s something Jackson probably should have seen coming.

Moreover, one can’t expect Fisher to work miracles. He’s only going so far as this roster takes him, which again means the onus is on Jackson. His ability to surround seven-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony with an elite supporting cast will define his front-office legacy just as much as the Fisher hire.

That task just became a lot taller with the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ recent consolidation of superstar talent (including LeBron James’ return to the franchise and the organization’s subsequent acquisition of forward Kevin Love via trade).

“In order to compete with Cleveland, Jackson will have to spend the Knicks’ cap space wisely in free agency in 2015 and/or 2016,” writes ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley. “The challenge for Jackson will be to build a team centered around Carmelo Anthony that can compete with the LeBron-Love-Irving trio. And to do so while taking advantage of Anthony’s prime years.”

Of course, it will take some time before we can issue a final verdict on Jackson’s personnel decisions.

Until then, Fisher’s debut is all we have to go on.

As the New York Daily NewsMike Lupica put it, “This is all about faith now for Knicks fans.”

For his part, Anthony is keeping that faith.

“I don’t think we will have another season like we had last year,” Anthony told reporters in August. “When I say, ‘I believe that we will make the playoffs,’ that’s where I’m coming from. I think we will have a much better season than we did last year.”

Should Melo’s prediction come to fruition, Fisher will deserve plenty of the credit.

And by extension, so will Phil Jackson.

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Ranking the Dallas Mavericks’ Offseason Acquisitions

The Dallas Mavericks had one of the most surprising offseasons of any NBA team, bringing in multiple impact additions through a variety of means.

By being active in the trade market and exploiting the rules of restricted free agency and offer sheets, Dallas may be re-entering the title picture once again.  

Michael Pina at Sports on Earth broke that down here:

No team — save the Cleveland Cavaliers, for obvious reasons — has had a more pleasantly surprising offseason than the Dallas Mavericks. They filled a glaring hole, added a rising star and filled the margins with cheap, veteran production.

With Dirk Nowitzi still hanging on as a dark horse MVP candidate and Rick Carlisle functioning as the second best coach in the league, Dallas is perhaps once again on the brink of another title run.

There’s a lot of room for optimism in Dallas, but which offseason acquisition should have the biggest impact this season?

Based solely on what they should be able to provide on both ends this season, we’ll rank the Mavericks’ top five pickups this offseason.

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Miami Heat: Trading For Rajon Rondo Make Sense

Rajon Rondo is looking to leave Boston and taking his talents to South Beach might be the best fit for him – unless he kills one of his new teammates first. Let’s take a step back and look at the latest news surrounding the Celtics point guard. In case you haven’t heard, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan […]
Miami Heat: Trading For Rajon Rondo Make Sense – Hoops Habit – Hoops Habit – Analysis, Opinion and Stats All About The NBA

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Slovenia alone atop group at basketball worlds (Yahoo Sports)

United States's Anthony Davis, dunks during the Group C Basketball World Cup match as New Zealand's Casey Frank, reacts, in Bilbao northern Spain, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. The 2014 Basketball World Cup competition take place in various cities in Spain from last Aug. 30 through to Sept. 14. United States won 98-71. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)

Goran Dragic got Slovenia out of the kind of trouble that Lithuania couldn’t escape.


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Biggest Takeaways from Tuesday’s FIBA World Cup of Basketball Play

What Day 4 of the 2014 FIBA World Cup lacked in thunderous highlights or shape-shifting upsets, it more than made up for with some stellar individual efforts.

Team USA once again took care of business, riding a breakout performance from Anthony Davis to its third straight win and holding steady atop the Group C Standings.

A couple of NBA staples helped Australia survive a second-half rally from the always formidable Lithuanians, while a double-double from Gustavo Ayon propelled Mexico to an easy win over Angola.

Led by backcourt brethren Goran and Zoran Dragic, Slovenia shook off a shaky first-half performance to dispatch a winless South Korea. Meanwhile, in arguably the day’s most exciting game, Ukraine scored a minor upset over the No. 7-ranked Turkey.

In the day’s final tilt, the Dominican Republic—led by Anthony Davis’ former backup at Kentucky, Eloy Vargas—squeaked by Finland to jump to 2-1 in round-robin play.

With the field finally starting to round into shape, the next few days will go a long way in determining who amongst the FIBA crop stands a real chance of upsetting heavy favorites Spain and the U.S.

First, let’s break down a bit of what we saw Tuesday afternoon.

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Young Minnesota Timberwolves Will Be Worth Watching

It is fast becoming a new era in Minnesota. With the trade of franchise centerpiece Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Minnesota Timberwolves have invested heavily in their future. The trio of Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young mightn’t be the most experienced but they are energetic, exciting and they are the new, […]
Young Minnesota Timberwolves Will Be Worth Watching – Hoops Habit – Hoops Habit – Analysis, Opinion and Stats All About The NBA

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