Suns owner apologizes after Spurs stars skip game

It was a class act.

      
 

 

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Tristan Thompson kisses Cavs sideline reporter after interview (Video)

Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Tristan Thompson wrapped up his pregame interview with sideline reporter Allie Clifton with a kiss on the cheek prior to Friday night’s preseason game against Dallas.Thompson appeared to be in a playful mood and had no ill intentions, but clearly took Clifton a bit off guard. Video via @CJZero. H/T TNLP.
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Steve Nash Injury: Updates on Lakers Star After Hurting Back Carrying Bags

Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Nash just can’t seem to catch a break at this late stage of his career.

The 40-year-old veteran and two-time NBA MVP injured his back Wednesday while carrying bags. Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times reported what Lakers coach Byron Scott had to say on the matter.

“Steve, today, kind of hurt his back,” Scott said. “He had a little bit of a setback, just kind of carrying some bags or something. He [felt] a twinge in his back.”    

Tim Bontemps of the New York Post analyzed Nash’s injury:

The 2014-15 season marks the final year on Nash’s contract, which may very well turn out to be his last in the Association. He’s had an ailing back and other leg injuries since taking his talents to L.A.

Nash and fellow aging superstar Kobe Bryant are going to be counted on heavily for the Lakers this season. If Nash is unable to ultimately play on a consistent basis, the pressure will fall on newcomer Jeremy Lin to fill in at point guard.

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Kobe Bryant gives Stephen Curry respect after a great shot (Video / GIF)

Kobe Bryant showed Stephen Curry some respect after Curry shot a three-pointer over him during the third quarter of Sunday night’s NBA preseason game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors in Ontario, Canada.Bryant was defending Curry all the way up the court, but Curry managed to free himself up to drain the long three. Bryant congratulated him by playfully slapping him on the rear end and telling him “Nice shot”.Curry scored 25 points on 8-11 shooting as the Warriors blew out the Lakers 116-75.Video via NBA.
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Rapper Lil B Mocks Kevin Durant After Injury, Proving the Curse Is Alive

Kevin Durant has to find some way to break the curse that was placed on him by rapper Lil B. If not, the Oklahoma City Thunder star may never achieve everything that he is capable of.

The feud started a few years ago when Durant sent this tweet out about Lil B and his music:

That led to the rapper putting a curse on the NBA star.

Since then, Lil B has put out a KD diss track (Warning: Video contains NSFW language)

After all of that drama, Durant said last month, via CBSSports.com’s Matt Moore, that there is no beef between the two. Given that, there was no reason to believe that there was anything still going on.

That changed recently.

On Sunday, Thunder general manager Sam Presti, per The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry, revealed that Durant will miss some time after fracturing his right foot. That news led to Lil B reminding everyone of the curse.

It looks like the curse is still alive. For Durant’s sake, hopefully he is able to make amends with the rapper and get the curse lifted.

[Twitter, h/t USA Today's FTW]

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Chris Bosh Says LeBron James Cut All Ties After Leaving Miami Heat

They say time heals all wounds but, it doesn’t seem to be the case with the Miami Heat toward LeBron James. Reports continue to surface from the Heat locker room surrounding LBJ’s decision to relocate to Cleveland with the Cavaliers—this time from Chris Bosh. Bosh was asked by reporters if his relationship with LeBron has continued since the breakup; shockingly Bosh replied, “No,” he hasn’t talked to LeBron since the Decision 2.0. The Associated Press reports via ESPN:
As to whether he was looking forward to seeing James on Saturday at the game in Rio de Janeiro, he replied with a lukewarm, “Yeah … I don’t know.” “I’m in the mode where I’m trying to lead my team, help these guys out around here,” he said. “If guys aren’t in this locker room, I don’t have much time for them — if any.”
The championship bromance between the Big 3 seemed to have is diminishing right before our very eyes. Bosh also chimed in on the hoop-la surrounding the highly anticipated Christmas day ma

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Kobe calls out owners for hypocrisy after TV deal

Bryant has spoken out about max contracts and salary caps before.

      
 

 

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Lakers’ Nick Young out 8 weeks after thumb surgery (Yahoo Sports)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young will be out for about eight weeks after surgery on his torn thumb ligament.

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Julius Randle at Center of L.A. Lakers’ Transition to Life After Kobe Bryant

The Los Angeles Lakers have been careful to temper expectations for Julius Randle. On paper, the rookie out of Kentucky may seem an obvious choice to receive the torch that Kobe Bryant‘s carried for years, albeit in large part by default. After all, Randle, the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, is easily L.A.’s most promising young prospect, which says as much about the rest of the roster as it does about the Dallas native.

Fortunately for the Lakers, they appear to be at least two years away from any concrete transition between Bryant and Randle. Bryant’s two-year, $48.5 million extension runs through the end of the 2015-16 season, though he hasn’t ruled out playing beyond that.

“Whether I do or not, we’ll have to see that two years from now,” Bryant said at Lakers media day, via Yahoo Sports’ Marc J Spears. “I don’t know, but I could [play longer]. Physically, I don’t see an end to the tunnel.”

Until then, the Lakers’ proverbial flame will be Bryant’s to carry. As for Randle, he’s got his work cut out for him before he’s ready to be anointed the Next Great Laker.

“Julius is still 19 years old,” general manager Mitch Kupchak said just prior to the opening of training camp, per The Los Angeles Times‘ Eric Pincus. “You wouldn’t know that by looking at him, because he’s really a well-developed, big, strong, athletic kid. Over the years, I’ve never looked at a rookie and said, ‘Hey, this guy’s gonna bring us to the top.’ It doesn’t do any good to have high expectations.”

If nothing else, Randle seems to have a strong grasp of the company line as it pertains to his present and future. “I’m just a 19-year-old kid, making the adjustment to the NBA,” he said at media day, via the Los Angeles Times. ”When you’re coming into the NBA as a rookie, you have to prove yourself. I know that, and that doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t want anything given to me in the first place.”

Good thing, too. So far, Randle hasn’t proved much in camp, other than that he’ll need time to adjust to his new situation. He’s already gotten his comeuppance from Bryant, who’s been schooling his supposed successor in conditioning drills, despite being 16 years older and coming off a season lost to Achilles and knee injuries.

That’s not a good look for the newcomer, to say the least, even though it’s coming in contrast to one of the most maniacally competitive and acutely conditioned athletes the NBA has yet seen. Fortunately for Randle, the Lakers aren’t counting on him to play big minutes or shoulder a significant share of responsibility for the team’s success out of the gate. He’s not even likely to start during the Lakers’ preseason opener against the Denver Nuggets:

In truth, Randle’s relegation to bench duty might be what’s best for everyone. The Lakers want to bounce back from from a bad season in a big way, in part to ensure that the best efforts of Bryant and Steve Nash won’t be wasted entirely.

As unrealistic as a return to postseason play may seem for L.A., it almost certainly won’t be in the cards if the team has to count on Randle to handle the starting spot at power forward. At present, the league is littered with frontcourt players (i.e. Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Dirk Nowitzki, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Zach Randolph, Serge Ibaka, Pau Gasol, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins) who could probably pick on the 6’9″ greenhorn with something approaching impunity.

Not that Carlos Boozer, a notoriously porous defender, will fair that much better, but at least the 12-year veteran has been around long enough and enjoyed a measure of success therein to hold his own more reliably than his understudy might. Hypothetically speaking, with Boozer doing the heavy lifting at power forward, Randle can acclimate himself to the NBA game more comfortably while learning the ropes from a seasoned veteran.

“We didn’t decide, ‘Well, [Randle isn't] going to help us this year, let’s get a veteran,’” Kupchak added. “We got [Boozer] to help us win games this year. Whatever Julius gets, he’s going to have to earn.”

It may be a while before Randle earns his keep, but that might not be so bad. Once upon a time, a certain precocious teenager spent 150 of his first 157 games as a Laker on the bench.

His name? Kobe Bean Bryant.

This isn’t to suggest that Randle is or will ever be on Bryant’s level as a player. Rather, if Bryant began his journey to greatness as a reserve, Randle could stand to do the same.

Above all, it’s incumbent upon the Lakers to take every precaution, necessary and otherwise, to ensure that Randle is brought along properly and elevated in due course. Barring another complete and utter collapse in the months to come, L.A. won’t get to select another blue-chip prospect in next year’s draft; the Phoenix Suns own their 2015 first-round selection (top-five protected) as recompense for the 2012 Steve Nash trade.

The Lakers will have their own pick to play around with in 2016, but Bryant might already be gone by then. Moreover, if Kupchak and executive vice president Jim Buss are going to convince a star free agent or two to soak up the cap space that Bryant will leave behind, they’ll have to be able to lay out a clear plan to return the franchise to championship contention.

In all likelihood, that blueprint will begin with Randle. At least, it’ll have to if the Lakers are going to regain, much less retain, relevance post-Mamba.

Historically speaking, transitions like the one for which the Lakers are preparing don’t often go smoothly. The Chicago Bulls suffered through a franchise-worst six-year playoff drought following Michael Jordan’s second retirement. The Lakers won just two postseason series in the six years after Magic Johnson began his battle with HIV. Larry Bird’s departure preceded a stretch of eight seasons with but one playoff appearance among them for the Boston Celtics.

Go back even further through the annals of NBA lore, and you’ll see the Lakers struggling to regain their footing after Jerry West called it quits, and the C’s doing the same without Bill Russell in the early 1970s and without John Havlicek later that same decade.

None of this should come as a shock. Great players are exceedingly difficult, if not nigh on impossible, to replace. There’s only so much any franchise can do to prepare for the departure of a crucial cornerstone, especially one like Bryant, who has spent half of his life in purple and gold.

The Lakers, though, are fortunate to have at least one potential star to bridge the gap between their glorious past and what they hope will be a similarly bright future. Randle showed off some studly upside while averaging 15 points and 10.4 rebounds as a freshman at Kentucky. Rebounding tends to translate well to the NBA—just ask Kenneth Faried, the NCAA’s all-time leading rebounder who’s soon to be the proud owner of a five-year, $60 million extension, per Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

But Randle, like Faried, isn’t without clear shortcomings as a player, as Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman noted:

He’s going to need to develop a jumper in the pros to complement his face-up game in the mid-range and inside game down low.

Between Randle’s defensive limitations and questionable style of play, his transition to the NBA might not be as smooth as his pro-ready body suggests it should be.

The chances of Randle seamlessly assuming Bryant’s role in Lakerland are slim, even with no fewer than two years to develop before then. But if the Lakers play their cards right and don’t heap too much on the rookie too soon, they just might be able to weather the storm they’re in right now and the more dangerous one that figures to follow, thanks in no small part to Randle.

 

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NCAA autonomy structure moves forward after avoiding override

The NCAA said 27 D-I members voted to override the board, far less than the 75 required.

      
 

 

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