Call from LeBron helped influence Love’s decision

When James agreed to come back to Cleveland, he called Love trying to bring him aboard



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Michigan Basketball: Biggest Takeaways from Wolverines’ Preseason Trip to Italy

The Michigan basketball program recently used a nine-day getaway in Italy to build team chemistry and work on some new things, and the results were, suffice to say, encouraging. Michigan finished with a 4-0 record while averaging 101 points per game and shooting 55.4 percent from the field against a collection Italian all-star clubs.

For a team that lost five major players in Nik Stauskas, Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary (albeit lost early in the 2013-14 season), Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, Michigan needs some time to come together and gel, as it is introducing six true freshmen and one redshirt freshman.

So the trip to Italy was just what the doctor ordered for head coach John Beilein and company, as it got the team to iron out some concerns and issues before the games count for real in November. It was not only a good trip to bond over, but Beilein got a head start in regard to what lineups he may implement in the winter.

Here, then, are the biggest takeaways from the Wolverines’ trip to Italy.

All stats courtesy of


Caris LeVert appears to be fine after foot surgery

After averaging 14.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals on the trip, it’s safe to say LeVert is over his foot injury

As the de facto leader of the team, it was nice to see LeVert play at a high level and give Wolverines fans assurance that he’ll be fine heading into the 2014-15 season. It was also nice to see LeVert expand his game; he rebounded and passed the ball well, playing a well-rounded game in Italy.

Michigan should be in good hands with LeVert being the alpha dog of the group this year, and the ankle injury must now be considered a thing of the past.


Zak Irvin appears ready to break out

After some concerns that Irvin would only be a shooter in Michigan’s offense, he erased some doubt that he is not a complete player by having a fantastic Italian excursion. No MVP was given out for trip, but if there was one, he would have received it.

Irvin averaged 20.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game on the trip while shooting a blistering 68.8 percent from the floor. Don’t worry, Irvin can still shoot from deep, as he shot 66.7 from long range (nailing 12 of his 18 three-pointers). Talk about efficiency!

It seems Irvin took to task the object of making himself a complete player and gave us a glimpse of how special he can be in his sophomore year.


Ricky Doyle could be the rebounder Michigan needs

If there is one thing the Wolverines need, it is a rebounder. With McGary, Morgan and Horford departing, Michigan needs a couple of its big men to step up, and Ricky Doyle definitively answered the bell in Italy.

In four games, Doyle averaged a very respectable eight rebounds a game. Not only that, but Doyle also chipped in 11.8 points per game on the trip.

Granted, the competition in Italy is not what he will face in the Big Ten, but Doyle gave Michigan fans hope that the team will have some good depth down low.


Mark Donnal appears ready to contribute

Doyle wasn’t the only big man to impress during the Italy trip, as redshirt freshman Mark Donnal also showed his worth.

In the four games, Donnal averaged 10.2 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting a sizzling 69.5 percent from the field. Donnal showed he can play a nice role in Michigan’s offense, and he, along with Doyle, can perhaps get the job done down low.

While there may be some bumps along the way, Donnal looks like he’s ready to step into the starting lineup and be a factor.


Great to see Austin Hatch playing

While not expected to be much of a contributor this year, that is not the story here when it comes to Austin Hatch.

For a guy who has lost his mother, father, stepmother and two siblings in two separate plane crashes and was in a medically induced coma as a result of one of them, Hatch is the perfect picture of courage and perseverance. For him to come back from not only the grief that has stricken him, but the life-threatening injuries as well, is nothing short of miraculous and inspiring.

Good stories go beyond the bounds of basketball, and this story demonstrates how we should all appreciate how precious life is.

Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon

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What to Expect from Every Miami Heat Player in 2014-15

Although the Miami Heat lost four-time MVP LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer, the 2014-15 Heat are poised to remain one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.

Miami brought back franchise cornerstones such as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, while also signing nine newcomers this offseason, such as Luol Deng.

But when evaluating how skilled this roster is, it’s important to look at every part of it—from Wade, Bosh and Deng to rookies Shabazz Napier and James Ennisso we’re going to do just that. 

We’ll be taking a look at and making statistical predictions for every player in our projected 15-man final roster

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What the Los Angeles Clippers Need from Chris Paul Next Season

Arguably the top point guard in the entire league, Chris Paul has helped transform the Los Angeles Clippers into one of the league’s elite teams. While Paul has been nothing short of awesome, Doc Rivers needs a more unique version of the elite point guard. Especially if the Clippers are to reach the franchise’s first conference finals.

Make no mistake, Paul’s talents are a major reason for the Clippers’ turnaround over the past three seasons. However, the postseason results have been disappointing. Paul needs to refine his game and adjust his tendency to dominate the ball.

Last season Doc Rivers proved to Paul that increasing the tempo and limiting his control over the ball improved the team. Mainly, because Blake Griffin was ready to help Paul carry the load offensively.

Paul’s talents are remarkable, but even the most talented players need help getting to the top. The fire that burns within Paul’s competitive soul help make him a fearless leader, but talent, chemistry and a little bit of luck are what win titles. The talent is now available but one last thing is missing; a change in philosophy.


Paul’s Past

Despite Paul’s immense talents he has never led his team past the second round of the playoffs. Widely regarded as one of the 10 best players in the league for years, his playoff results are underwhelming. Some of that blame can be placed on his supporting cast, but the common denominator is Paul.

According to, Paul’s playoff averages of 20.6 points, 9.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.4 steals are extraordinary. Unfortunately, the underlying theme behind those statistics revolve around his penchant for dominating the ball.

Again, his ball dominance ties in with his lack of a superior supporting cast. The main problem has always been the lack of another high-usage scorer.

The chart above tells all. David West was Paul’s highest usage sidekick until arriving in Los Angeles. West has never been mistaken for someone that can create his own shot, let alone set up his teammates for baskets.

Those not listed include 46 games of Marcus Thornton, Jarrett Jack, Jannero Pargo, Peja Stojakovic again. The picture is pretty clear, Paul needed help.

Even after joining the Clippers in 2011, not much changed. Paul finally had someone who could create offense and score 20 points per game, but needed to be fed the ball in certain areas on the floor to score. That mean a ball dominant Paul had to take control of the offense, especially in the playoffs.

Much like with the New Orleans Hornets, defenses were able to key on Paul, taking away his passing lanes and forcing the 6’0” point guard to win games nearly single-handedly. Yet again, Paul has been unable to advance out of the second round. For all of Paul’s talents, it would be nearly impossible for him to win multiple playoff series each season on his own.


A New Paul

The arrival of Doc Rivers provided instantaneous legitimacy for the franchise. Rivers is passionate, sensible and brutally honest. Chris Paul found this out immediately, according to Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears.

As professional athletes, you always want someone to push you and motivate you, Paul said. The first meeting I had with Doc, he pretty much told me I wasn’t anything. He told me I hadn’t done anything in this league, and he was right. You don’t always want somebody that’s going to tell you what you want to hear.

Reflecting on this quote brings clarification to the entire 2013-14 Clippers season. Rivers needed to breakdown the undesirable habits and attitudes of the players on his new roster. He needed to mold their talents into a new system that took pressure off Paul, gave Blake Griffin more offensive responsibility, kept the floor spread and featured DeAndre Jordan as the defensive anchor.

Paul seemed hesitant early, as Rivers preached tempo, speed and sharing the ball. It was not until Paul missed a month of action with a separated shoulder, that he fully appreciated what Rivers was preaching. Largely, because he was able to see the offense excel without him.

According to, from January 4 until Paul’s return on February 9, the Clippers were second in the league in scoring and had a plus-8.1 scoring differential. Rivers’ system was dynamic and lethal, because the team was playing fast and spreading the floor around Griffin.

Every game Paul missed, the league’s best point guard had a front-row seat to Rivers’ explosive offense despite his presence on the floor. The more the team pushed tempo and shared the ball, the more difficult the offense was to defend.

Paul now completely understood his role in the offense and the transition upon his return was seamless, mentioned ESPN’s J.A. Adande.

He still has the ball in his hand a lot, Rivers said. We want him to have the ball; he’s the best player in the league with it. But we also feel like it’s harder to guard him when he gives it up and comes back, and then they can’t load up.

So how do the Clippers improve upon last season? It starts with Paul. The lessons he learned during his first season with Rivers are vital to the success the team seeks this season.

Griffin has proven that he can carry the load along with Paul. No longer will there be a need for Paul to create every shot after pounding the ball into the floor for 15 seconds, waiting for someone to come free for an assist.

The offense can flow through Griffin, forcing the defense to shift to Paul coming of rubs and screens. Griffin’s much-improved jumper now gives Paul one of the best pick-and-roll/pop partners in the league.

Most important of all, Paul has a leader on the sidelines. Someone to hold everyone else accountable so he can focus on playing basketball. Someone for the team’s heart and soul to believe in. A man that Paul respects.

Finally, Paul needs to do a little less, so everyone else can do a bit more. A more balanced offense and a commitment to defense will be the key to this season. His old tendencies are sure to re-emerge, but it is time for Paul to trust the others around him and stick to Rivers’ system.

The talent and structure Paul needs is now firmly in place. He just needs to take advantage of it.

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What’s Keeping Title from Los Angeles Clippers’ Grasp?

New Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer has always been the ambitious type, and his foray into professional basketball promises to be no different.

According to the Los Angeles TimesEverett Cook, he was recently asked by a long-time ticket holder how the next 26 seasons would differ from the last 26.

I’ll boldly say that the Clippers will win many, many, many, many more Larrys in the next 26 than in the last 26!” Ballmer replied, referencing the Larry O’Brien Trophy awarded to NBA champions.

After describing his $2 billion purchase to reporters as, “an L.A. beachfront price,” it reasons that the former Microsoft CEO is expecting big things. And with two All-Stars and a title-winning head coach leading the way, the optimism is well-founded.

If anything, it’s a bit surprising these Clippers haven’t done even better since point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin joined forces.

Since Paul joined the team for the 2011-12 campaign, Los Angeles has twice advanced to the conference semifinals—losing to the San Antonio Spurs in 2012 and to the Oklahoma City Thunder last season. In 2013, the Memphis Grizzlies ousted the Clippers in a six-game opening-round series.

After having gone five seasons without a playoff appearance, the CP3 era has been a relative success.

The question is whether it’s underachieved.

This is a club that has a way of eliciting optimism.

On the brink of last season’s playoffs, Sheridan Hoops’ Chris Sheridan wrote, “The Clippers have their weak points, but their offense can be spectacular. If it holds, the Clippers should start dusting off a shelf for their 2014 NBA championship trophy.”

Instead, the franchise battled the Donald Sterling sideshow, even as it somehow managed to survive a seven-game, first-round marathon against the Golden State Warriors

The Thunder that followed were a battle-tested operation with two All-Stars of their own. While the Clippers were a deeper team in theory, Griffin and Paul were no match for their star counterparts.

After a season in which he finished third in MVP voting, Griffin was solid against OKC—averaging 23.8 points and even exploding for 34 points in a Game 3 loss. But the man who finished first in that MVP voting was transcendent, averaging 33.2 points and 9.5 rebounds against the Clippers.

A similar story unfolded at point guard.

Paul’s 22.5 points and 11.8 assists per game in the series were impressive. But the longer, hyper-athletic Westbrook responded with 27.8 points and 8.8 assists of his own. The matchup arguably resulted in a draw, but it was a draw the Clippers could ill-afford.

They needed someone to outplay his OKC rival, to control the game on both ends of the floor. 

That didn’t happen.

This is a solid roster, but it doesn’t have the defensive pedigree to outlast especially potent opposition. 

As’s Matt Moore wrote of last season’s rotation, “They had a bevy of wing shooters but few who can create or defend, and they were perilously short on frontcourt defense.”

Absent an arsenal of two-way role players, Los Angeles needs virtually flawless performances from its big names—which increasingly includes center DeAndre Jordan, who averaged just 6.7 points in those conference semifinals.

One historically bothersome factor has been health—not catastrophically damning injuries, but the kind of nagging wear and tear that have limited Paul and Griffin. Griffin battled a debilitating ankle injury in 2013 and a knee injury the year before that. Paul dealt with a groin strain in 2012 and hamstring issues last season.

Though it’s difficult to find a direct culprit for that kind of misfortune, it wouldn’t be surprising for Rivers to watch minutes a bit more closely this season.

Even with the capable likes of Darren Collison around to spell Paul last season, the 29-year-old still played 35 minutes per game—up from the 33.4 minutes he averaged in 2012-13. For his part, Griffin played 35.8 minutes per contest a season ago, well above the 32.5 minutes he averaged the season before that.

The reigning champion Spurs remained fresh in 2014 on account of a radically egalitarian distribution of minutes. No one on San Antonio’s roster played 30 or more minutes per game. Point guard Tony Parker led the way averaging just 29.4 minutes.

On paper, the Clippers have enough depth to approach that kind of equilibrium—especially with the acquisition of big man Spencer Hawes bolstering Rivers’ interior rotation.

Beyond the management of playing time, the other consideration for Griffin is his playing style. Exploding to the basket with gravity-defying liftoff makes for brilliant highlights, but it also increases the risk that the 25-year-old will land awkwardly or otherwise succumb to injury-inducing collision. 

A still-developing mid-range game could afford Griffin the luxury of adopting slightly more conservative tactics.

There’s no science to categorically avoiding injury, but the Clippers need every advantage they can get.

This is a team that needs its superstars at full strength at season’s end. It also needs to find its rhythm at the right time. The margin for error in a top-heavy Western Conference is slim.

It probably doesn’t seem fair for Griffin and Paul to shoulder all the responsibility, not when pivotal contributors like Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick were equally responsible for last season’s shortcomings. 

But there’s nothing fair about the demands of a championship season. The Clippers were built to rely on two larger-than-life superstars, and Ballmer‘s high hopes ultimately rest with them. 

They’ll have to stay healthy, and at times they’ll have to outplay MVPs.

Those “Larrys” won’t settle for anything less.

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Kyrie Irving on his first three years in Cleveland: ‘I didn’t really have help from anybody’

The Cavaliers guard spoke about the changes in leadership and his own role.



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Cavaliers acquire Kevin Love from Timberwolves

The Cleveland Cavaliers have officially acquired forward Kevin Love in a three-team trade that sends guard Andrew Wiggins and forward Anthony Bennett to Minnesota and a protected 2015 first round pick (via Miami) to Philadelphia. As part of the three-team trade, Minnesota will also acquire forward Thaddeus Young from the 76ers, while Philadelphia receives forward Luc Mbah a Moute and guard Alexey Shved from the Timberwolves. OFFICIAL: #Cavs acquire Kevin Love – [MORE]: RT to show the love & welcome @kevinlove to #CLE! — Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) August 23, 2014 “Kevin joining the Cavaliers represents a very special and unique opportunity for our team. At only 25, Kevin has already firmly established himself as one the NBA’s elite players and his talent, versatility and fit are major parts of our team’s vision for success,” said 

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What Should New York Knicks Expect from Carmelo Anthony After Offseason Changes?

Through the tumult of the New York Knicks’ disappointing 2013-14 season, it was easy to see past the sequoia-thick silver lining of Carmelo Anthony authoring arguably the best season of his 12-year NBA career.

That was hardly consolation for Anthony himself, who very nearly wound up bolting for the more championship-ready Chicago Bulls, before finally agreeing to terms on a fresh, five-year, $124 million deal to stay in New York.

Despite a slew of mostly lateral moves, the Knicks are by no means seen as a conference powerhouse heading into the 2014-15 slate. Still, Phil Jackson has managed to improve his team on the fringes, while the addition of Jose Calderon alone gives Anthony the pure point-guard playmaker he’s never had.

So should Knicks fans expect an encore performance from their franchise cornerstone?

One thing we can count on is a drastic change in offensive philosophy, from the isolation-heavy sets that defined the Mike Woodson era to Jackson and head coach Derek Fisher’s triangle-inspired system.

Indeed, Jackson spoke to precisely this point during a July press conference, relayed here by ESPN New York’s Fred Katz:

If we’re still going to sit and rely on Carmelo to do everything and put that load on him, that’s not going to happen. Sometimes it means buying into the system and giving yourself into a process.

One of the things about the offensive system is you can’t try to score every time you catch the ball. You have to participate and you also have to have guys who are strong enough to know that there’s a whole offense to run.

Yet, while Anthony’s reputation as a shameless gunner has become something of a basketball gospel, his career assist mark—3.1 per game, to go along with a wholly respectable 15.8 percent assist rate—imparts some hope that a change of schematic scenery could do wonders for the All-Star forward’s all-around game.

Assuming, of course, that Anthony sees vessels worthy of his trust around him. That, in the end, might be Jackson and Fisher’s biggest test.

The good news: Even Anthony admitted, during an interview with Raul Alzaga of, that this season could be another somewhat painful prelude to bigger and better things. He said it would take time to be a championship team, and that’s not a realistic expectation for this season, although he’s very much invested in the process (translation h/t to Brett Pollakoff of Pro Basketball Talk).

For Jackson, that process involves outfitting the Knicks with more triangle-conducive pieces. Calderon, whom New York acquired in a predraft trade that sent Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Dallas Mavericks, being the opening salvo to that strategic symphony.

In Calderon, Anthony will have the ideal triangle complement: a player who, for all his defensive shortcomings, possesses both the poise and playmaking ability to keep the offense humming harmoniously along. And the 41 percent career three-point rate doesn’t hurt, either. Pablo Prigioni, meanwhile, gives the Knicks an equally triangle-friendly backup.

As for the rest of the roster, question marks abound. For all their offensive skills, Andrea Bargnani and Amar’e Stoudemire don’t exactly fit the mold of the playmaking triangle center. Ditto Samuel Dalembert and Cole Aldrich, two centers likely to round out the team’s post depth.

And while New York’s wings could prove a strength—J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. all being capable shooters, albeit with varying degrees of pass-aversion—how Fisher manages those minutes looms large in terms of the team’s on-court chemistry.

Still, taken as a whole and considering the offensive makeover afoot, Anthony has to feel far better about his team’s prospects now than he did even a few short months ago.

Conceptually, the triangle—by virtue of its built-in dynamism—will allow Melo to both operate as a playmaker from the elbow, while affording him ample open looks from the wings (although he was considerably more efficient from the left than the right last season, per Vorped).

All the while, baseline cutters (Shumpert and Hardaway could be dangerous in this regard) and spot-up shooters (the aforementioned wings, as well as Calderon, Prigioni and perhaps even rookie Cleanthony Early) should spare Anthony the burden of relying too heavily on his role as basketball bully.

Writing at Bleacher Report, Sean Hojnacki emphasized that, for Anthony, thriving in the triangle is less about reinventing himself than it is about readjusting his approach:

There will be an adjustment period, to be sure. A whole host of new players have joined the team, chief among them the new starters in center Samuel Dalembert (who has not averaged more than 22.2 minutes per game in any of the last three seasons) and point guard Jose Calderon, both of whom will be 33 years old when the season begins.

The triangle will benefit greatly from Calderon’s three-point shooting (44.9 percent, 191 threes made) in addition to Pablo Prigioni’s marksmanship (46.4 percent from downtown last season), which placed both of them in the top five among all three-point shooters for 2013-14.

However, the jewel in the crown will be Melo’s play in the pinch post. It will be up to Anthony to become the prototypical scorer from that floor position, where he is uniquely capable of thriving.

Even if Anthony’s scoring goes down, his efficiency and assist rate could be poised for career clips. On the flip side, reducing Melo’s raw shot attempts mean fans should expect his rebounding (he registered a career high 8.1 per game a season ago, 1.9 of them on the offensive glass) to take a bit of a hit.

Defensively, it’s likely Anthony will remain what he’s always been: mostly passable, with dashes of lock-down aggressiveness and flagrant nonchalance sprinkled in.

Being the all-world talent Melo is, the statistics will take care of themselves. More important from Jackson and Fisher’s perspective is whether their hardwood warhorse can become the leader New York needs, not only for this team this season, but through the rebuild to come as well.

Judging by his well-publicized recent weight loss—part of the goal of which, a source told the New York Post‘s Marc Berman, was to “be a facilitator in the triangle”—Anthony seems committed to assuring that’s not a faith placed in vain.

With the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers looking like the lone sure things in a still-inferior Eastern Conference, the Knicks are one of many teams whose fortunes could veer in wildly different directions.

For New York, much hinges on Fisher’s ability to make his team’s triangle transition as seamlessly as possible, along with the players’ willingness to both buy into the system and pay out something resembling their potential worth.

With so many X-factors in play, next season guarantees to be a complicated calculus for the Knicks. Good thing, then, that they can still count on one of the game’s steadiest and most spectacular constants.

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What to Expect from the NBA’s 2nd-Year Coaches

Last season, the NBA received an influx of new coaching talent. Nine first-year head coaches entered the league, and now with one season under their belts, it’s time to see what year two holds.

Only three of these second-year coaches will be returning to playoff teams. Steve Clifford in Charlotte, Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta and Dave Joerger in Memphis will all be trying to reach the postseason once again. Jason Kidd, who guided the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs, will try to do so with his new team, the Milwaukee Bucks.

For the rest of the coaches, it’s time for their teams to show some improvement. Coaching leashes seem to get shorter and shorter by the year in the NBA, and so the second season is critical both to a coach’s reputation and his future job security.

With all that in mind, let’s break down what to expect from all nine of these coaches in their second years in the league.



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NBA Rumors: Latest Whispers from Around the Association as Season Approaches

It’s only a matter of time before Kevin Love is officially a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Andrew Wiggins is on the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the specifics of what appears to be a three-team trade are still being worked out. 

Specifically, the Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers are still discussing terms and players.

However, that’s not the only rumor circulating around the league. Kevin Durant likely has big money and sneakers on his mind, and Dante Cunningham could be joining Minnesota as well.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the latest rumors from around the NBA.


Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves Talking Shop

All indications are that the 76ers are going to be the third team in the Love trade, and Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun has an update:

This is a very fluid situation with a number of names being thrown around, but Wolstat and Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune kept up with the developments as of Thursday evening:

From Minnesota’s perspective, it would have to be classified as a win if it could keep Thaddeus Young, Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. The Timberwolves aren’t going to trade Wiggins, but the thought was that Bennett would be involved in acquiring Young. That is apparently no longer the case.

Yes, Bennett disappointed in his rookie season, but he was a No. 1 pick and is still only 21 years old. Combining the last two No. 1 picks with 26-year-old Young is a major step in the right direction toward building a competitive and young core.

Minnesota is not going to win a title in the near future, which is one reason it is getting rid of Love, but those three pieces and Ricky Rubio, who is still only 23 years old, represent potential. If everyone fulfills that potential, this could be a team that makes the postseason relatively quickly. 

From Philadelphia’s perspective, Joel Embiid is a critical cog for the future. It makes sense to acquire a mentor in Luc Mbah-a-Moute if it helps Embiid develop, even if Bennett has a higher ceiling than the former UCLA Bruin.


Kevin Durant

Darren Rovell of provided an update on the endorsement battle for Durant:

Kevin Durant’s representation Roc Nation Sports informed Nike on Wednesday that he has a deal on the table with Under Armour worth between $265 million and $285 million over 10 years, sources told

The deal includes Under Armour stock and other incentives, such a community center built in his mother’s name, whose exact worth will not be known for some time.

Nike, which saw its signature business related to the Oklahoma City Thunder forward grow to roughly $175 million at retail last season, will have the right to match, which is a condition of Durant’s current contract with the brand. Durant can still choose Nike if it doesn’t match but can’t legally choose Under Armour if Nike does.

Rovell also notes that the potential deal would represent Under Armour’s largest sponsorship ever and that nearly 10 percent of the current annual marketing budget would be directed toward Durant.

It’s really not that surprising that Under Armour is targeting Durant with so much money. The forward grew up in Maryland, and the Baltimore-based company is known for sponsoring local teams and athletes. The Maryland Terrapins, Michael Phelps, Navy and the Baltimore Ravens come to mind.

What’s more, Durant is still only 25 years old.

LeBron James may be the king of basketball right now, but he is older than Durant and has more mileage on his legs. If Durant was to win a title within the next couple of years as James gradually exits his prime, he could be the face of the league. 

Under Armour certainly hopes so if this deal goes through.


Dante Cunningham 

Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News and noted that the Timberwolves could bring back a piece from last year:

Wolfson also hinted as to why the two sides are even having discussions in the first place:

Cunningham discussed the charges, their impact on his free agency and his reaction to the boos he heard last season before he was cleared, according to The Associated Press (via 1500 ESPN): “That’s been the most nerve-racking thing, knowing there were teams interested but they couldn’t make any offers. I just hated the fact of getting booed. I just hated my fans not knowing the truth.”

Cunningham played the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons for the Timberwolves and appeared in 161 games in the process. If nothing else, he is a durable piece that can serve as a solid forward in a deeper rotation.

On his career, Cunningham is averaging 6.2 points and 3.9 rebounds a game, and he played more than 20 minutes a night the past two years in Minnesota. He is a stretch forward with athleticism and length that help on the defensive end. 

With his skill set, it would be surprising if he didn’t find a landing spot somewhere in the NBA if the Timberwolves ultimately look elsewhere.


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