Report: Kevin Durant reaches huge deal to stay with Nike

Darren Rovell and ESPN.com is reporting that Nike believes they will be able to keep Kevin Durant in tow after Nike has countered Under Armour’s offer. Looks like they will keep Kevin Durant. Story coming from @ESPNSteinLine and I. — darren rovell (@darrenrovell) August 31, 2014 According to the report, Nike officials told Durant and his team at Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports that it would do what was needed to come close to the $325 million offered by Under Armour. While the exact Nike offer for Durant isn’t known, sources told ESPN that Durant should make more — in base and royalties — than the Thunder will pay him over the next two seasons ($41.2 million). That’s why fans in Oklahoma City were nervous about a possible move to Under Armour, which could have steered him more to returning to his local roots to play for the Washington Wizards when he becomes a free agent after the 2015-16 season. Analyst Omar Saad, senior managing director of ISI’s luxury, apparel and footwear team, who …

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Coach K made a huge mistake in snubbing Lillard

What is Coach K thinking?

      
 

 

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Would Cutting DeMarcus Cousins Be Huge Mistake for Team USA?

There’s an old saying in sports that goes something like this: It’s when you’re thinking about hurting yourself that it’s most likely to happen.

We can’t be sure whether DeMarcus Cousins was thinking about Paul George when the Sacramento Kings center injured his right knee after falling awkwardly during a Team USA scrimmage Thursday afternoon, per USA Today’s Nancy Armour.

Still, to even have that scare—tests showed Cousins suffered no structural damage—might be reason enough to reevaluate whether playing in next week’s FIBA Basketball World Cup is even worth it.

However, it might be Team USA pulling the plug for him.

For his part, Cousins told the Sacramento Bee’s Ailene Voisin as recently as August 8—just one week after George’s gruesome injury—that he’d be “crushed” if coach Mike Krzyzewski didn’t keep him on the 12-man roster.

“Everyone knows how much I want to do this,” Cousins said. “This is my third year here (two with Select Team), and I don’t run from any challenge. I would be crushed, but I’m not a quitter. I would come back and try again.”

With Kevin Durant having withdrawn from the competition, Krzyzewski can use all the offense he can get. And Cousins, with his excellent passing and deft touch around the rim, certainly provides that.

But with a team bursting at the seams with perimeter firepower—Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard being just the team’s point guard crop—it’s possible Krzyzewski will adhere more to a “four out” offensive system bolstered by more traditional paint protectors like Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond and Mason Plumlee.

SI.com’s Jeremy Woo underscored precisely this point on Friday:

Coach K has been hinting we might see a lot of three-guard lineups, and without Durant that became a near-certainty with this team now highly backcourt-centric. Expect Team USA to open its games with the high-scoring Rose-Curry-Harden trio to drive much of the offense. Curry’s shooting ability will play well off the ball, Rose continues to display a much-improved perimeter game and Harden is the best pure scorer on the roster. As a group, they’ll cause a lot of problems for opponents.

For all his undeniable offensive talent, Cousins has never been a reliable defensive presence.

Whether that alone will be reason enough for Krzyzewski to give the mercurial big man the proverbial axe—particularly with pivot-laden teams like Brazil and Spain on the horizon—will be an interesting development indeed.

As Cousins himself admitted in the Voisin interview, being cut wouldn’t deter him from trying his hand again two years from now, when Team USA will try and snag its third straight gold medal at the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.

Still, it’s worth wondering whether bringing a player into the international fold this many times only to bid him bitter adieu once again might make for a crisis of confidence.

This is a player, after all, known for pinning heart to sleeve.

Sometimes, the results are positively inspired. When Cousins is at his apex, it’s hard to not see him as the best all-around center in the NBA.

Other times, you wonder how many more tantrums or sideways scowls it’ll take before Cousins loses it for good.

His reputation has long preceded him, and this summer’s showcase was no different. However, it didn’t take long for Krzyzewski to notice what many in NBA circles had long taken note of: Cousins is growing up.

“All the coaches were really pleased with DeMarcus and how he played,” Krzyzewski said during an August 5 teleconference. “Look, his attitude is tremendous because he wouldn‘t keep coming back to be a part of Team USA if it didn‘t mean something to him. We recognize that.”

Laudatory as Coach K’s comments were, one can’t help but read a tinge of guardedness in those last two sentences. No coach conducting a tryout wants to tip his hand, of course—particularly at this level.

All the same, it seems not even a dearth of positional power has made Cousins’ spot safe.

At 24 years old, Cousins still has plenty of time to make hay with Team USA. If he can somehow continue to improve—a scary thought, given the numbers he put up in his fourth NBA season—he might even have a pair of Olympic appearances ahead of him.

Then again, Thursday’s injury, regardless of its extent, could make the whole exercise moot.

With Cousins already confirmed out of Friday’s exhibition showdown with Brazil, calls for him to withdraw are bound to get louder. And not just from Kings fans, either.

That Team USA offers up-and-coming stars a chance to hone their games against the globe’s best is, 22 years after the Dream Team’s marauding march to Barcelona gold, a practical truism. For all the extra wear and tear, the collaboration and competition of international play—like any study-abroad program—is bound to yield a fuller basketball perspective.

That, in turn, is good for the NBA. And so the cycle continues, with more regular competition contributing to better play, better players and, most important of all, a better, more dynamic game.

Can Team USA survive without Cousins? It’s possible. Should it lose, it certainly wouldn’t be for his loss alone.

Still, if/when he’s fully cleared to play, Cousins stands to gain as much as anyone—in knowledge, team-building experience and tricks of the international trade—over the next month.

Even if he remains a mostly bench-bound spectator, the sheer act of osmosis would pay tangible and lasting dividends, both for the Kings and Team USA itself.

For as much as we criticize some stars for skirting FIBA for the sake of quadrennial gold, Cousins gives us an endlessly compelling counterpoint: a player long lambasted for his on-court antics doing everything in his power to prove he belongs, USA emblazoned across his chest, with the game’s best.

Even in injury, Cousins is willing to take a chance. It’s time for Team USA to respond in kind.

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Schedule shows LeBron’s huge impact on his teams

LeBron James is impacting the TV schedule in a major way.

      
 

 

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Lakers reportedly offer Carmelo Anthony huge deal

The Los Angeles Lakers met with New York Knicks free agent forward Carmelo Anthony for nearly three hours on Thursday and apparently offered him a max contract during that meeting. Reports now claim that the Lakers offered the 30-year-old a four-year, $97 million deal. While details are still emerging about what the team’s plans are to build around Anthony and star guard Kobe Bryant, it’s clear the Lakers are serious about trying to land the Syracuse product. Bryant is scheduled to meet with Anthony Thursday night and the two have long been close friends. Whether Kobe can sway Melo to come to Los Angeles is completely unknown at this point. Reports earlier on Thursday suggested that Anthony was actually interested in returning to the Knicks and bringing Lakers free agent big man Pau Gasol with him. While the actual logistics of making that happen could be difficult, Gasol does have ties to the Knicks as his former head coach (Phil Jackson), point guard (Derek Fisher) and assistant …

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Nowitzki stays with Mavs for huge pay cut

Dirk Nowitzki’s latest contract will take him through three more years.

      
 

 

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Is Tyronn Lue Worth His Historically Huge Assistant Coaching Contract with Cavs?

It’s not often that one’s most memorable NBA moment involves getting burned worse than a briquette and subsequently stepped over by Allen Iverson, as was the case for the Los Angeles LakersTyronn Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals.

Little could Lue know then that, 13 years later, he’d be an NBA household name for an entirely different reason: becoming the highest paid assistant coach in the history of professional sports.

Question is, is he worth it?

First, the facts, courtesy of Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski:

To leave Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers to join coach David Blatt‘s staff with the Cavaliers, Lue agreed to a four-year, $6.5 million deal, sources said. The contract’s final two years will pay Lue $1.75 million and $2 million, league sources said. The fourth year of the deal is a team option, sources said.

Lue will be an important part in helping [David] Blatt transition from a decorated coaching career in Europe to the NBA.

Cavaliers management grew fond of Lue during the interview process for the head-coaching job that ultimately went to Blatt and immediately pursued him for the associate head-coaching job. Rivers didn’t want to lose Lue from his Clippers staff, but the Cavaliers’ historic financial commitment made it impossible to turn down, sources said.

On June 20, the Cavs officially named David Blatt, a Euroleague legend just one month removed from leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to an unlikely championship win over Real Madrid, to be their next head coach (per Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today)—a deal purportedly worth $20 million with incentives.

As for Lue, his payday is bound to raise some eyebrows, both within the NBA ranks and beyond.

But should it?

The NBA has experienced something of a coaching revolution in recent years, with first-time skippers being handed the reins at an unprecedented rate. But while such a trend means more opportunities for longtime assistants who’ve cut their teeth beneath the coaching elite, it also means higher turnover and—as a consequence—an added incentive for teams to have a competent, trusted replacement at the ready.

Paying Lue this kind of money isn’t just about rewarding a top-notch assistant; it’s about owner Dan Gilbert cleverly hedging against a very real short-term outcome: that Blatt, for all his basketball gifts, might not pan out.

International success aside, even Blatt couldn’t help but acknowledge, during his introductory press conference, that the overseas transition was bound to be a trying one (via ESPN.com):

Absolutely it’s a challenge. But I’ve got to tell you, the game is not so different as people think it is. It’s a little bit longer here. Perhaps the level of athleticism and speed all around the court is different. But it’s not like playing baseball and soccer. It’s still the same game.

In Lue, Blatt boasts an assistant whose all-facets knowledge of the NBA game will only help accelerate the new head coach’s learning process.

That, certainly, is worth something.

Indeed, what’s really the bigger risk: shelling out $20 million to a guy who’s never had so much as run an NBA video room, or giving $6.5 million to a Doc Rivers disciple with 16 years of experience in the league—a guy who very nearly won the job outright, no less?

To suggest paying Lue a little over $1.6 million a year amounts to some kind of ruinous front-office Rubicon is simply absurd. This is a league, after all, where Gilbert Arenas can earn $22 million a year after being cut.

Putting Lue‘s payday into further perspective, the top-earning assistant coach during the 2012-13 season, Mike Malone—who took over as head coach of the Sacramento Kings prior to this season—earned $750,000, according to Crystal Henderson of TheRichest.com.

Basically, Lue will be making a little more than double than what Malone commanded as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.

But double what, exactly?

According to Forbes’ most recent report, the Cavaliers are currently valued at upwards of $515 million, a full 19 percent increase from a year ago. Not a single NBA team has lost value in that span.

If paying your top assistant one fifth of one percent of the team’s total value is a risky endeavor, what does that say about how the league values its assistant coaches, many of whom have pulled much longer tenures than even Lue?

Clearly the Cavaliers see Blatt as well worth the risk. To hedge against the potential pitfalls, they’ve chosen to pay an experienced assistant big bucks to help bring his boss along what promises to be a steep learning curve.

Could Cleveland have handpicked another, more seasoned assistant to do the same job, possibly on the cheap? Probably. But then they wouldn’t be getting the one quality that Lue brings to the table, something with which we in the NBA fanosphere are all to familiar: youth and upside.

If the NBA isn’t going to tolerate superstar contracts that run 30 times higher than that of a reasonable replacement or facsimile, why should they do so within the coaching ranks?

That, in the end, is what this is about: Paying assistants now just for what they could be, but for what they’ve been all along—indispensable cogs in a greater basketball machine.

Lue’s contract may be unprecedented. But if ever there was a coaching record meant to be broken—stepped over, even—this is it.

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LeBron James Hits Go-Ahead Layup, Chris Bosh Preserves Win with Huge Block

LeBron James dropped in a tough left-handed layup to put the Miami Heat ahead by two in the closing seconds of their Monday tilt against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Just before time expired, Chris Bosh sealed the victory by stretching way above the box to turn away Damian Lillard‘s attempt to tie the game.

The struggling Heat notched a 93-91 win, but it took back-to-back acts of heroism to do it.

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Blowout loss inspired Virginia’s huge turnaround (Yahoo Sports)

Duke's Jabari Parker, right, has his shot blocked by Virginia's Akil Mitchell, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the championship of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, March 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

The worst game of Virginia’s season was also the one that sparked the Cavaliers’ turnaround. Virginia got pounded 87-52 at Tennessee on Dec. 30 – and the drubbing was on national television. The Volunteers scorched Virginia’s defense, making 11 of 18 3-point shots, led by 22 points at halftime and kept pouring it on. In the Cavaliers’ locker room afterward, the chatter about what to do began.


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Patrick Beverley Jams Huge Dunk over Chris Bosh vs. Miami Heat

Patrick Beverley is known primarily as a defensive stopper, but he stole the show against the Miami Heat with a nasty throwdown Sunday afternoon. 

As the second quarter of the Houston Rockets‘ showdown with the Miami Heat neared a close, Beverley hit LeBron James with a quick crossover before bolting down the lane and slamming with authority in the face of Chris Bosh

 

 

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