Green Bay named Horizon League preseason favorite

Green Bay favored to repeat as Horizon League champ; Sykes is Player of Year in preseason poll

      
 

 

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UConn call to Little League star prompts complaint

UConn coach Auriemma says unnamed school complained of congratulations call to Mo’Ne Davis

      
 

 

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Indiana, Purdue open league play on New Year’s Eve

Hoosiers, Boilermakers will open Big Ten conference play on New Year’s Eve

      
 

 

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NBA denies that league asked Toronto Raptors to fire Drake

Earlier this week, there was a report by The Globe and Mail which stated that the NBA had offered to drop a $25,000 tampering fine that had been issued to the Toronto Raptors if the team stripped Drake of his official ambassador title. Drake had gotten into some hot water with the league for “recruiting” Kevin Durant during a concert he held over the summer. Now, the NBA has responded to the report by stating that they never broached the subject of asking the Raptors to relieve Drake of his ambassadorship. “As the Raptors’ global ambassador, Drake must follow our anti-tampering rules,” Tim Frank, the league’s senior vice-president of basketball communications, said in an email to The Canadian Press on Wednesday. “At no point did we suggest his title be removed but we were clear that as long as he acted as a representative of the team, he is subject to the league’s rules.” With as much attention as he brings the Raptors (let’s be real, this is the most national coverage that the Rap…

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WATCH: Every highlight from the Drew League Dunk Contest

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; height: auto; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } This year’s Drew League Slam Dunk Contest featured the likes of Young Hollywood, Jonathan Clark, Airdogg, Chris Staples and Steven Mallory. And while those aren’t household names, the five Drew League players managed to put on a better show than one has seen at the NBA’s slam dunk contest in recent years. Young Hollywood may have won the whole thing but there’s plenty of great dunks to go around. Johnathan Clark’s pump-reverse dunk while splitting his legs was insane as was his flip into a dunk. If I had a vote, it’d probably go to him. Have to give it up for Young Hollywood though. His dunk over a dude standing on a chair was straight-up silly. [Youtube] Article found on: Next Impulse Sports

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Drew League 2014 Results: Tracking Playoff Scores, Updated Bracket from Week 13

With just four teams remaining in the Drew League tournament, Saturday’s semifinal matchups figured to be hotly contested games.

This is a pro-am event, but players of this caliber have a lot of pride. In some instances, bragging rights are almost as important as championships in more established leagues. The rosters are made up of talented current, former and future NBA players, and some who have exclusively taken their talents overseas.

The group has combined to create some exciting moments up to this point.

The semifinals and championship game should create even more excitement.

The first of the two games featured C.O.A taking on Hank’s Cheaters 2. The late game is Cheaters taking on Hank’s Houdini’s All-Stars. Here’s the bracket heading into Saturday’s action.

And here’s the recap for both games.

 

C.O.A Defeats Hank’s Cheaters 2 83-72

Behind a strong and dominant inside presence from Craig Smith, Julian Wright and Jerome Jordan, the No. 2-seeded C.O.A squad avoided the upset and pounded the No. 5-seeded Hank’s Cheaters on the inside. 

Per the tournament’s official Twitter account, Smith’s double-double was instrumental in bringing in the win for C.O.A.

The team is on a roll coming into the championship game. Saturday’s win marked the fourth in a row after a slow start in group play. Overall, C.O.A is 8-3 with just one game separating them from a Drew League championship.

Smith is a 6’7″, 265-pound bull on the inside. He’s a six-year veteran of the NBA and has played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers.

He hasn’t been on an NBA roster since the 2011-12 season. Last year, he played in the NBA Developmental League for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Wright has taken a similar path. He last played in the NBA during the 2011-12 season for the Toronto Raptors but now plays professionally in Russia. He was the 13th overall pick by the New Orleans Hornets back in 2007.

The biggest of all the C.O.A frontcourt players is the 7-foot Jerome James. The former New York Knick plays professionally in Italy. With such a wealth of size and NBA experience, it’s easy to see why C.O.A is on the threshold of a title.

 

Hank’s Houdini All-Stars Defeats Cheaters 86-85 (4 OT)

The championship game will have a tough act to follow after the second semifinal game on Saturday. The Cheaters and Hank’s Houdini All-Stars went through four overtimes before the latter finally emerged with a hard-fought 86-85 win.

The All-Stars’ head coach, Allen Caveness, spoke with Network United’s Law Murray about the championship matchup after the game:

Cheaters came in as the No. 1 team led by former NBA All-Star Baron Davis, but Cory Allen’s 40-point outing pushed his team to victory.

The current University of South Florida guard put on a performance that is sure to make him a Drew League legend moving forward. 

Allen averaged just nine points per game for South Florida last season, but its clear he has the ability to get hot.

Davis had a chance to win it for his team at the buzzer, but he couldn’t convert in the final seconds. The All-Stars will take on C.O.A in the final, and they’ll have to contend with a ton of size and NBA experience.

James, Wright and Smith sounds like a law firm, but Allen and Co. have already proven to be rule-breakers by taking down the tournament’s top seed.

   

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NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz Around the League Surrounding Potential Trades

Blockbuster moves have been bountiful during the 2014 NBA offseason, and on Thursday Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported possibly the biggest of them all—the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed a deal in principle that would allow All-Pro forward Kevin Love to become LeBron James’ new teammate.

The deal cannot be finalized until August 23 due to trade restrictions on No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins—one month must elapse from the time he signs his rookie contract before he can be traded.

Due to this waiting game, more rumors surfaced on the Internet in the aftermath of the news.

On Friday, Mark Perner of the Philadelphia Daily News reported that the Philadelphia 76ers would be a third team involved once the Love deal is finalized:

A source informed the Daily News that the Sixers will be sending veteran forward Thaddeus Young to Minnesota for a package that will include [Anthony] Bennett, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA draft. The deal, which two sources have confirmed to the Associated Press, will not be official until Aug. 23, when Wiggins, this year’s No. 1 draft pick, becomes eligible to be traded.

That deal makes plenty of sense for the Timberwolves, as Young will be an immediate replacement for Love on a team suddenly in dire need of a veteran presence.

However, due to NBA restrictions, this deal may not fly. If a three-team deal with the Timberwolves and Cavaliers doesn’t work out, the Sixers could be left on the outside looking in, according to a tweet from Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times:

After all, according to a report from Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com, league officials are closely monitoring the entire situation:

But sources say the Cavs and Wolves, knowing that league officials are monitoring this transaction closely, have been careful not to make any public acknowledgments that trade details have already been agreed to. That’s because Wiggins remains ineligible to be moved until 30 days pass from the signing of his rookie contract.

Rest assured, the league is paying similar attention to all subsequent deals.

That may not be terrible news for Young. According to an interview with Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com, the forward had no idea of any trade in the works as of Friday:

I know nothing as of right now. I have seen stories, but as of right now I haven’t heard anything. My focus is not on that. It is here at this camp with my son and the rest of the kids at the camp.

I still don’t know if I am leaving Philadelphia. This city has helped me grow and become the basketball player I am today. They let me know when I am doing bad, and they let me know when I am doing well. This city has made me stronger as a basketball player.

While the Sixers’ situation is very much in flux right now, the Cavaliers are continuing to build around their new big three, according to Windhorst and Stein’s report“Sources say the Cavs, meanwhile, are already touting Love’s arrival as a lure in hopes of closing free-agent deals with Shawn Marion and Ray Allen.” 

Allen has been rumored to be considering retirement over the offseason. However, according to a tweet from Chris Broussard of ESPN, the long-time guard could now be thinking otherwise:

Allen last played with James as a valuable role player with the Miami Heat.

As for Marion, Wojnarowski reported that the forward is strongly considering joining the Cavaliers:

Free-agent forward Shawn Marion is leaning toward signing a deal to join LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Marion, 36, has yet to formally agree with the Cavaliers on a deal, but that could come soon, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Last season with the Dallas Mavericks, Marion averaged 10.4 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 48.2 percent from the floor and 35.8 percent from downtown. He’ll prove to be a great addition as a rotational piece in Cleveland.

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Orlando Summer League Schedule 2014: Dates, Times, TV Info and More

In case you weren’t getting enough of the NBA‘s silly season, real, live actual basketball gets back underway this weekend in Orlando, Florida.

A day after we stuff our faces with bratwurst and drink gallons of domesticated adult beverages, some of the game’s most promising young talent descends to Florida for the opening of the 2014 NBA Summer League season.

Orlando is the first and typically the more low-key of the two leagues. Teams that feature two summer league squads typically send their so-called A-team to Las Vegas and their B-team to Orlando. This isn’t without reason.

The Las Vegas proceedings are the NBA’s version of a summer camp. Executives from nearly every team use the league as an excuse for a mid-offseason breather in Vegas, during which you catch up with old friends and maybe make some new ones.

Summer league is like All-Star Weekend with one-fourth of the hoopla and pressure. Getting guys away from the day-to-day grind of the regular-season—and even to a certain extent offseason pressures—is conducive to a more relaxed feel.

In Orlando, though, the focus is intently on basketball. If surrounding aesthetics and late-night gambling sprees are your thing, then Vegas is for you. If you enjoy the more low-key and relaxed lifestyle, then Orlando is a perfect summer league to attend.

Even if making a trip to Florida in early July is not feasible, the NBA is doing a great thing by making all the games available on NBATV and its Summer League Live app. No longer will your days have to be filled pretending to like any other sports. With that in mind, let’s check out the complete summer league schedule and quickly look at why each team is worth watching.

 

Boston Celtics

Notable Faces: Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart, James Young, Phil Pressey

Why They’re Worth Watching: Because the Celtics could have the two best individual performers in Orlando.

Kelly Olynyk had the entire New England area ready for Larry Bird 2.0 whenever he took over last summer. His actual rookie season left a good amount to be desired, but he’s skilled and big enough (7’0″, 238 lbs) that he could trip and fall into a double-double.

Marcus Smart’s performance could go one of two ways. He could use it as a pulpit to begin proving everyone wrong who allowed him to drop to No. 6 in June’s NBA draft. Or it could go the opposite way, with Smart’s jumper failing him, and his brand of lockdown defense not standing out as much on a stage where few care all that much. Let’s hope it’s the former.

(Note: We’d discuss James Young here, but he might not play due to a neck injury he suffered in a predraft car accident.)

 

Brooklyn Nets

Notable Faces: Mason Plumlee, Cory Jefferson, Markel Brown

Why They’re Worth Watching: Because Mason Plumlee will do Plumlee things.

The Plumlee family is built to dominate summer league. They only know how to play at one speed—roughly that of a turbo-charged Air Force fighter jet; I did the math—and that runs counter to the relative noncompetitive spirit of most of these games. It remains to be seen how many of these games Plumlee will participate in, but he’ll drop double-doubles in any contest he gets significant minutes.

Also: Markel Brown in the open court. Anyone who happened to watch SportsCenter’s “Top 10 Plays” segment during the college basketball season knows what this means. Brown was among the best handful of athletes in this year’s draft class, boasting a co-combine-high 43.5-inch vertical leap. Brown’s other skills are a little iffy, but dude can flat-out fly. 

 

Detroit Pistons

Notable Faces: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell, Peyton Siva, Brian Cook

Why They’re Worth Watching: Because, yes, it is THAT Brian Cook of which I speak. The one who was on the Lakers when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were still teammates. The guy who knows firsthand what the Rudy Tomjanovich era was like in Los Angeles. The 33-year-old dude who has not played in an NBA game since April 2012.

He will be participating in Orlando for reasons of which I am not yet sure. 

The Pistons’ entertainment value will otherwise be reliant on players from their 2013 draft class. Second-round pick Spencer Dinwiddie is still recovering from ACL surgery and cannot participate.

That leaves Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a somewhat important opportunity to remind folks why he was a first-round pick last year. Caldwell-Pope suffered through a miserable rookie campaign, displaying none of the elite shooting ability Detroit had hoped for. He’ll need to get on the right track quick with Dinwiddie and Jodie Meeks in the mix.

Like Brown and Aaron Gordon, Tony Mitchell will be around to dunk in people’s faces. Looking forward to it.

 

Houston Rockets

Notable Faces: Nick Johnson, Jahii Carson, Jabari Brown

Why They’re Worth Watching: Because they have two of the best undrafted players from this year’s class. It’s still unfathomable to me—at least for reasons other than size—why Jahii Carson (5’10″) went undrafted. Carson, like the umpteen diminutive but talented guards before him, displayed an innate ability to attack off the rim and a solid long-range jumper.

There is real, mineable talent here that I feel can and will make its way onto an NBA bench someday. He’s going to be a breakout star this summer in large part because he needs to be.

Jabari Brown is an athletic, smooth 2-guard who can really stroke from three-point range, as he shot .410 from deep last year. His decision to leave Missouri was a little curious, though understandable given the turmoil in that program. He’s going to take double-digit shots in games where he gets significant minutes and has a 30-point breakout performance inside him. 

It will be interesting to see if the two undrafted guys play better than the one Houston thought enough of to take in the second round (Nick Johnson).

 

Indiana Pacers

Notable Faces: Solomon Hill, Lavoy Allen, C.J. Leslie, Donald Sloan

Why They’re Worth Watching: Because, umm, I’m struggling here. Perhaps because it’s weird that Lavoy Allen is working out with the team despite being a free agent? Or that it will be nice to see C.J. Leslie back on a basketball floor? 

Oh, I got it! Solomon Hill. The guy for whom Larry Bird decided to cartwheel out on the tree’s thinnest branch for. That guy. You may have forgotten about him because he played exactly one playoff minute last season. Bird sold the public on Hill as a three-and-D guy, someone who could help prop Indiana’s perpetually terrible bench unit. The clock is already ticking on that selection.

 

Memphis Grizzlies

Notable Faces: Jordan Adams, Jamaal Franklin, Scottie Wilbekin, Jarnell Stokes

Why They’re Worth Watching: Because the Grizzlies made two really interesting picks in this year’s draft. Neither Jordan Adams nor Jarnell Stokes is the most athletic player at his respective position, but both are damn good basketball players ready to contribute right away.

Adams, the No. 22 overall selection, is a natural-born scorer, able to stretch the defense with his three-point range and create space for himself despite his below-average athleticism.

Stokes was a steal at No. 35. He and Julius Randle were the two best rebounders in this group of players, and Stokes showed in workouts that there was more to his game than meets the eye. Superstardom probably isn’t in his destiny, but he’ll be a solid bench big for eight to 10 years.

Jamaal Franklin is an interesting piece because he was the Memphis player last year whom everyone thought was a steal. Franklin struggled to get himself off the bench, and his skill-set overlap with Tony Allen makes his path treacherous. I’m curious to see if he’s added any offensive wrinkles since the season ended.

 

Miami Heat

Notable Faces: Shabazz Napier, James Ennis, Justin Hamilton

Why They’re Worth Watching: Because Shabazz Napier. The Final Four Most Outstanding Player is the only piece on this roster who is going to make people turn their heads even once. The Heat are infinitely more invested in keeping their Big Three together than anything that happens in Orlando or Las Vegas. (They are one of a handful of franchises with teams in both cities.)

Seeing Napier play for the first time since his scintillating NCAA Tournament run makes a moribund roster look, well, less so. Otherwise? Meh.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Notable Faces: Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams, Mitch McGary, Josh Huestis, Andre Roberson

Why They’re Worth Watching: Because, as per usual, the Thunder look like they’ve assembled a juggernaut. Minutes distribution will obviously play a factor, as it seems unlikely that Steven Adams, Jeremy Lamb or Perry Jones get significant time. Whether Mitch McGary will be an actual participant or one in name only because of his back injury also remains to be seen.

From a purely on-paper standpoint, Oklahoma City should rampage through to the championship game. When we said the same thing a year ago, the Thunder failed to lose a game and captured the crown in Orlando with a decisive win over the Rockets. This year’s crop returns many of the same players, each a year older and (ostensibly) a year better.

It’s a matter of how hard the organization wants to push its young guys.

 

Orlando Magic

Notable Faces: Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo, Seth Curry

Why They’re Worth Watching: Because I honestly kind of want to see whether the Magic actually play Victor Oladipo. Often players are listed on summer league rosters as a just-in-case gesture. Maybe Oladipo plays one game—at max two—but it seems like an unnecessary risk to have him out there. Getting him and Elfrid Payton a little experience working together is the only positive gained there. 

More likely, Orlando’s entertainment value comes from the two rookies. Payton and Gordon should run amok in the open court with their combination of quickness and athleticism. If there is not at least one alley-oop from those two, they will have failed America and the proud tradition of the Orlando Summer League.

Do not fail America on this, the weekend of our nation’s birth. Dunk hard and dunk long, Mr. Gordon.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

Notable Faces: Nerlens Noel, Pierre Jackson, Jerami Grant, Aaron Craft

Why They’re Worth Watching: The bright side of the Sixers having roughly six players worthy of being in the NBA is that most of them are young enough to still require summer league seasoning. The dark side to that is Philly is sending players to both Orlando and Vegas—meaning we’ll have to see how minutes are divided before getting too excited.

The big deal for most Sixers fans is Nerlens Noel (kind of) making his debut. Noel, the No. 6 pick in last year’s draft, sat out all of last season while recovering from an ACL tear. He’s been healthy enough to play for a long time, but rust will undoubtedly be a factor for at least the first game. 

Philly will also be antagonizing opposing defenses with explosive scorer Pierre Jackson and its own fans by bringing in Aaron Craft. The former Ohio State guard was one of the more polarizing figures in college basketball last season—mostly through no fault of his own. He’ll attempt to make an NBA roster after going undrafted last month.

 

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Former NDSU standout playing in NBA Summer League

Former North Dakota State University standout Taylor Braun playing in NBA Summer League

      
 

 

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NBA Free Agency 2014: Latest Rumors and News Updates Around the League

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are clearly the two best free-agent forwards, but it could be argued that Trevor Ariza is next on the list.

The 28-year-old is coming off his best year as a professional. With the Washington Wizards, Ariza averaged 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He shot 45.6 percent from the field and 40.7 percent from three-point range.

Ariza talked about the past season and his future in the video below:

Even with his solid offensive performance this past season, his perimeter defense is his best attribute. He won a championship with the Lakers in 2009, and Los Angeles is reportedly interested in bringing him back. 

ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tweeted:

The Lakers are also interested in acquiring LeBron James and/or Carmelo Anthony. If they are able to get one but not the other (or neither), Ariza would be an decent consolation prize.

 

Utah Jazz Serious About Keeping Gordon Hayward

Despite the fact that the team didn’t sign Hayward to an extension during the season, the Jazz are apparently serious about keeping the 24-year-old swingman in Utah.

Per Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, the Jazz are willing to match offers for their restricted free agent.

Coming off a season where he averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game, Hayward will be coveted by a few teams. The Jazz are daring a team to offer Hayward a max contract.

If they can call Hayward suitors’ bluff, the Jazz could hold on to him for less than market value.

 

Nikola Mirotic Looks to Be Headed to Chicago

The Chicago Bulls and their fanbase have been waiting for the time when Mirotic would arrive from Spain. It seems as though that time is coming sooner than later.

Joel Brigham of Basketball Insiders tweeted:

The 23-year-old sharpshooter is by many accounts the best European prospect. Last season for Real Madrid, the 6’10″ forward averaged 12.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and made 46 percent of his threes.

He’d be an excellent sixth man for the Bulls, especially if the team is able to lure Anthony in free agency. There are high expectations for rookies like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, but you can bet Mirotic figures in the Rookie of the Year voting if he joins the Bulls this season.

 

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