Charlotte guard Lester leaves basketball team

Charlotte guard Shawn Lester leaves 49ers basketball team to pursue professional career

      
 

 

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Marquis Teague Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation on Nets Guard

For the second time in his three-year NBA career, 2012 first-round pick Marquis Teague appears to be on the precipice of being shipped out of town. The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers are closing in on a deal that will send the former Kentucky star to Philadelphia, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Brooklyn is not expected to receive “anything of significance” in return. NBA rules prohibit assets to be traded without compensation, so the likeliest outcome is a conditional or highly protected draft pick or a non-guaranteed contract that can be easily waived.

Teague, 21, was drafted No. 29 overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2012. He left after only one up-and-down season at Kentucky, with the Bulls hoping Tom Thibodeau could mine the talent that made Teague a highly touted prep star.

The relationship did not work out. Teague struggled mightily on both ends of the floor and was excised from the Bulls rotation to the point he was relegated to D-League duty. He played in only 67 games with Chicago before the team cut bait, sending him to Brooklyn in exchange for Tornike Shengelia.

“It just wasn’t clicking with Thibs the right way,” Teague told reporters in January. “Just trying to figure out the system was kind of tough for me. The way they play isn’t really my style, so it’s kind of difficult for me.”

The Nets experience went a little better for Teague, as he averaged 3.0 points and 1.4 assists per game on 41.5 percent shooting in 21 appearances. But Brooklyn’s offseason acquisition of Jarrett Jack leaves Teague without much chance at playing time.

His only extended preseason audition came in Wednesday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics, where he scored 10 points and made four assists (with six turnovers) in 24 minutes. In four other appearances, Teague had a total of 13 points in 37 minutes played.

Moving on allows Brooklyn to shave Teague‘s $1.12 million salary and its subsequent luxury tax costs off the books. The Nets have well north of $90 million in guaranteed contracts on their books, per Sham Sports, putting them well above the $76.83 million luxury tax. In 2013-14, Brooklyn paid an NBA record $90.57 million in luxury taxes.

The Sixers, far under the salary cap as they continue their rebuilding effort, can absorb Teague‘s contract without sending salary in return. Philadelphia is likely willing to give Teague a shot due to Michael Carter-Williams’ expected absence. The reigning Rookie of the Year has set a Nov. 13 target date for his return following offseason shoulder surgery, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

Tony Wroten will likely start at point guard while Carter-Williams is injured. Adding Teague may spell the end in Philadelphia for Casper Ware, a second-year guard who is on a non-guaranteed contract. Ware was impressive during his summer league run, but Philly’s flirtation with adding a point guard may signal a dissatisfaction with the guard rotation.

Or it may just be Sam Hinkie rolling the dice on a former first-round pick available for pittance. You never know with this team.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Caris LeVert aims to be next Michigan guard to step up

LeVert looks to continue at the level set by Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas.

      
 

 

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Shabazz Napier Forcing Way into Miami Heat Point Guard Conversation

Shabazz Napier once seemed like another reason for LeBron James to remain with the Miami Heat.

No way u take another PG in the lottery before Napier,” King James tweeted in April.

Team president Pat Riley denied that James actively had anything to do with the organization’s decision to acquire Napier (by trade on draft night), telling reporters, “The point is, if LeBron and I have the same taste in talent, so be it.”

The 23-year-old’s addition didn’t ultimately persuade James to stick around, but it may nevertheless have an immediate impact on a club in desperate need of some playmaking.

Riley got Napier just weeks after starting point guard Mario Chalmers flopped in the Finals, averaging 4.4 points and 33.3 percent shooting in five games against the San Antonio Spurs. Miami ultimately elected to keep Chalmers—a free agent this summer—but it’s become no secret this team needs improved play from its floor general.

Chalmers and reserve point guard Norris Cole have had solid, if uneven, preseasons. 

Napier has been the story instead, making an increasingly strong case for heavy minutes in Miami’s rotation this season—perhaps starting from day one.

The Connecticut product has averaged 16.8 points through his last four preseason contests, a marked improvement over the nine combined points he scored in the first two games.

As the Miami Herald‘s Joseph Goodman recently noted, “With each passing preseason game, Heat rookie point guard Shabazz Napier is providing more and more proof that LeBron James’ skills as an evaluator of talent might be better than previously thought.”

Something seems to be clicking for the 24th overall pick.

After a woefully inefficient performance during NBA Summer League play, Napier is now demonstrating a steadier shot while adding some passing, defense and a knack for getting to the free-throw line (where he made 12 of 14 attempts in a preseason meeting with the Spurs).

Napier chalked up the rough Summer League debut to the basketball.

“I just want to continue to get better at everything,” Napier told reporters in August. “But my biggest thing is getting comfortable with that basketball. That’s one of my biggest problems and it’s kind of ironic, because it’s a basketball. But it’s different than a college basketball.”

Sounds plausible enough. 

“The funny thing is, I never really touched an NBA ball until I left school,” he added. “I told myself I never wanted to. I felt like it was superstitious, like something bad was going to happen, like I had to earn it. I never touched it and it’s definitely different. This ball is leather and the biggest thing for me now is getting comfortable with it.”

It just one of the learning curves for the young pro. While a small sample size of preseason work may inspire optimism, head coach Erik Spoelstra hasn’t been convinced of much—even after Napier’s 25-point outburst against San Antonio.

“He just needs to keep working,” Spoelstra told reporters this week. “That’s the only message I’ve given him. We have seen a residual from all the time he has put in, but we’re not drawing any conclusions at this point.”

It’s a conservative approach made possible by Chalmers and Cole, both of whom are already familiar with Spoelstra’s system.

There’s not yet any guarantee Napier cracks the rotation, much less the starting lineup. But four seasons at UConn and a national championship may have prepared him to seize a moment like this and compete for minutes at a position of renewed importance in Miami.

Without James’ leadership on the floor, the Heat’s platoon of point guards will be responsible for running the offense.

“We’re going to be reliant on those guys to handle the ball a lot more for us,” forward Chris Bosh explained to media this week. “Before, we had the luxury of having LeBron be that big point guard and get us into our sets, and [Cole and Chalmers] could kind of take it off a little bit and get in the corner and make plays.

“But now they’re going to have to be the ones calling the plays, getting everyone set, making that extra pass and making the game easier for everybody else.”

Napier has shown flashes of those playmaking instincts during the preseason, tallying seven assists against the Cleveland Cavaliers and twice recording four dimes. That’s the kind of poise and production that could make playing time at the 1 spot a three-man race.

Chalmers is going into his seventh season with the club, coming off of a largely successful campaign in which he averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 assists in 29.8 minutes per game. He made a career-high 45.4 percent of his field-goal attempts, solidifying his status as a reliable role player and earning himself a new contract worth two years and $8.3 million.

He started in all 73 of his games a season ago and remains the favorite to retain that status in 2014-15.

Cole averaged a career-high 24.6 minutes per contest last season (his third), but he’s done little to secure a more prominent role. The 26-year-old adds some energy and a change of pace, but problems with efficiency have persisted to the tune of 41.4 percent shooting a season ago.

So there’s a real opportunity for Napier to prove himself an upgrade over Cole, perhaps even a rival for Chalmers’ starting minutes.

If not now, then soon.

Belief in Napier’s ability isn’t simply a matter of reading preseason tea leaves. There’s a reason James and others have praised his upside.

As the South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman recently put it, “There is something about Napier when it comes to having the ‘it’ factor.”

“I know it’s cliche, but the kid is a winner and carries himself on the court as someone who is comfortable no matter the pressure or surroundings,” Winderman wrote. “I’m not sure he will be a classically consistent scorer, but he has shown time and again the ability to step up to the moment, with his late 3-pointer against the Warriors another of those moments, albeit an exhibition moment.”

Sooner or later, those kind of intangibles could force Spoelstra to make some decisions about his rotation.

“He’s a heady player,” Spoelstra told reporters this month. “He’s playing with more confidence now, playing off his instincts more than he was this summer. I think it was overwhelming this summer. To his credit, he put in a lot of time after that. He rolled up his sleeves and got to work. That’s all we need of him.”

With that hard work and a little opportunity, Miami may get exactly what it needs. In a season that will be defined by what it could have been, Shabazz Napier is one reason to imagine all it still could be.

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Knicks Guard Iman Shumpert Wears Hat with a Clock on It

New York Knicks wing Iman Shumpert doesn’t wear this hat during games because the only time that matters is game time.

After Monday night’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Shumpert was in the locker room wearing this hat with a clock on it. You can see another picture of the hat below.

I wonder if the ticking gives him a headache. 

[Twitter]

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Bulls guard Butler sprains left thumb

Bulls guard Butler sprains left thumb, leaves preseason game against Hornets

      
 

 

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Milwaukee Bucks: Point guard depth changes player rotation

A good backup point guard is under-valued in the NBA. When the most reliable starters need a rest, a good point guard can take control of a game. They can keep or change the game tempo and even help settle down a rattled team. Good bench production is the kind of thing that helps win championships.
While Brandon Knight is the obvious starting point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, it will be interesting to see how head coach Jason Kidd distributes playing time to the rest of the backcourt.
Second-year player Nate Wolters will hope to build upon a solid rookie year. Wolters was put into the starting lineup at the beginning of the year last season due to a Brandon Knight injury. He played well as a rookie, and should greatly benefit from a full season in the NBA. Wolters didn’t do anything extremely impressive his rookie year, but he proved he can be a reliable backup point guard with the talent to grow into a consistent starter later in his career. Wolters can score, pass well and is even a decent rebounder. W

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LeVert aims to be next Michigan guard to step up

LeVert looks to continue at the level set by Trey Burke and Nik Stauskas.

      
 

 

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Lakers News: Rounding Up Latest Buzz Surrounding Point Guard Position

The Los Angeles Lakers are attempting to rebound from the worst season in franchise history, and as we saw last season, the team’s health will play a crucial role in that endeavor once again.

Things didn’t exactly begin in flawless fashion for the team in 2014, as Nick Young suffered a thumb injury that required surgery. Here’s a look at the cast he’s currently wearing on his shooting hand, courtesy of the LakersScene Instagram account:

While that injury is a bit unsettling for Lakers faithful, there’s more recent injury news that could potentially shake up the team’s starting lineup.

Veteran Steve Nash was once expected to start at the point guard position for the Lakers this season after an injury-plagued 2013-14 campaign in which he only saw action in 15 games (10 starts). Well, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, the guard is still dealing with the same ailment:

Those injuries began to affect Nash’s status in the preseason. Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported the guard asked to be held out of Sunday’s contest against the Golden State Warriors.

With Nash already missing time on the floor, we’re already seeing shades of last season, and that’s not exactly comforting.

Luckily, the Lakers made a very smart decision to bring in Jeremy Lin over the offseason.

Since Lin arrived in Los Angeles, he’s taken on the role of Kobe Bryant‘s understudy and has been attempting to soak in as much knowledge as possible from the all-time great. During an interview with Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, Lin spoke of what he’s learned:

He cares about all the little things. It’s like the stuff that he talks to me about, I didn’t ever think about it. Little stuff. I’m, like, ‘Oh, OK. That’s one way to look at it.’ He’s challenging me to expand my perspective. I think that’s really important, and that’s something that I love doing. It’s a blessing that he’s here in the same locker room.

It’s apparent that Lin is improving under Bryant’s tutelage. Through two preseason games, he’s scored 15 points, accumulated 14 assists, seven boards and just two turnovers. He’s handling the ball better than he ever has, and he’s shown the ability to facilitate effectively.

Perhaps those performances is all head coach Byron Scott needed to see, as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported a potential switch on the depth chart:

That may be a brilliant decision. While Nash (when healthy) is a great option due to his lengthy experience, ability to see the floor and skill at creating shots for his teammates, a role on the bench could be very beneficial in regards to maintaining his health throughout the season.

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News spoke with the guard and tweeted what he had to say about a possible change in his role:

It certainly appears as though the writing is on the wall. Nash’s health continues to deteriorate, Lin has shown reasonable improvement over the offseason, and Scott is considering a switch at the position.

Bryant could wind up benefiting greatly from mentoring Lin, as it looks like he may be starting in the backcourt with his pupil this season.

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Mavericks sign Japanese guard Yuki Togashi (Yahoo Sports)

DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks have signed Japanese guard Yuki Togashi after he played on their summer league team.

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