LeBron James’ hairline looking fuller at Nike event

LeBron James was at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., on Tuesday to play in part in the official unveiling of the new Nike sneaker that bears his name, the LeBron 12. But it isn’t footwear that is causing a buzz on Wednesday — although a lot of attention has been heaped upon the release of […] The post The Mystery of LeBron James and His Seemingly Regenerating Hairline (photos) appeared first on Sportress of Blogitude.

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EJ: Teammate cried while looking at paycheck

Eddie Johnson opens up about NBA players and their salaries.

      
 

 

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What Are LA Lakers Looking for with Final Offseason Moves?

Most NBA teams are settling in after an offseason of change or inaction, introducing new faces, welcoming back old ones, giving little or no thought to forthcoming additions and subtractions.

The Los Angeles Lakers are not most teams.

Blockbuster trades—like that of Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers—are typically the only moves that matter this late into the offseason. August is the month interesting, non-forced NBA storylines go to die. Free-agency signings no longer matter. The ones that do went down weeks ago.

Rare is the team that qualifies as an exception. This year’s Lakers are one of the few.

Whatever moves they make—even if inconsequential by classical measure—are relevant because, well, they’re the Lakers; but also because they’re a team searching for identity and direction after years of having both. And they’re still searching, even now, amid the dog days of summer, sifting through the dregs free agency has left behind, per Sam Amick of USA Today

After missing out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in July, the Lakers held a free agent workout Tuesday in Los Angeles. The workout included forward Michael Beasley; big men Dexter Pittman, Greg Stiemsma, and Daniel Orton; and guards Bobby Brown, Toney Douglas, Ben Hansbrough and Malcolm Lee, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

Beasley, the enigmatic 25-year-old who wasn’t able to make the most of his return to the Miami Heat last season, was working out for the the Lakers for a second time.

None of the above options are transformative names capable of reversing Los Angeles’ current makeshift course. The Lakers are no different than any other team there. Signings this late in the summer won’t change much. They’re mostly ancillary. 

Still, for the Lakers, they are not completely insignificant. 

Just confusing. 

Who and what exactly are they looking for? Amick‘s list of names includes guards, forwards and centers. With two roster spots to spare, the Lakers don’t appear to have zeroed in on any one position. Is this more of a “best players available” search? 

Not exactly.

First and foremost, it’s a “don’t you dare put sand in the potato salad” venture. The Lakers aren’t going to compromise their offseason blueprint, the one that compelled them to ink mostly one-year contracts and maintain maximum financial flexibility over the next two summers. The path they’re paving is temporary, to be sure, but they want to keep it that way as they track toward permanent solutions (i.e. free-agency additions in 2015 and 2016).

Players who might demand multiyear deals—scant as they are this time of year—likely won’t catch their attention. They are instead inclined to look at those who will need nothing more than one-year commitments.

Actual function comes into play beyond financial implications. That the Lakers have worked out Michael Beasley twice is telling, attesting to their need at small forward, which Bleacher Report’s Ethan Norof perfectly painted in under 140 characters:

Talent-wise, Beasley—the second overall pick in 2008—could come in and start at small forward for the Lakers. That’s how bone-thin they are there. He probably wouldn’t start, of course—the Lakers have to play some defense, right?—but he’s an instant offensive upgrade over anyone else they have at that position.

At this stage of his controversy-crammed career, Beasley, like Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley touched on following his first showcase with the Lakers, offers a low-risk, high-reward return:

If he pans out, they have a player to help in the present and the future. He’s capable of creating his own shot, and the 36-year-old Bryant will need someone to help carry the scoring load.

Should Beasley wind up busting more than booming, the Purple and Gold can cut their losses and move on. Outside of serving as a footnote in this potentially tragic basketball story, there’s really no harm done to the Lakers.

Similar sentiments apply to Daniel Orton, the 24-year-old former first-round pick. In him and Beasley, the Lakers can invest very little before losing even less, or gaining even more than the initial risk warrants.

For a team already packed with reclamation projects, redemption-seeking veterans and career nomads—from Wesley Johnson and Xavier Henry, to Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin, to Ed Davis and Jordan Hill—such expenditures are basically win-win.

Interest in other misfits is of little surprise as well.

With Steve Nash’s and Kobe Bryant‘s health in question, looking at guards like Toney Douglas and Bobby Brown makes sense as insurance. Taking a gander at Greg Stiemsma and Dexter Pittman—in addition to Daniel Orton—is of equal importance when the team’s only surefire 5 is Robert Sacre. Neither Hill nor Davis is a true center.

So while the Lakers’ list of available talent is contrived from convenience, it’s also out of necessity. They still have needs to satisfy and holes to fill. And with the goal being to remain as competitive as possible, they’re (mostly) looking at those who have been around the block a time or two and stand to contribute if and when called upon.

“I expect us to compete every night,” head coach Byron Scott told The Dan Patrick Show,via Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times. “[The Lakers are] going to play a tough, physical brand of basketball and we’re going to play defense.”

Overly ambitious defensive standards aside, the Lakers’ late-summer actions reflect that of their primary aim: competing now without compromising their fate later .

Signing Beasley, Douglas, Pittman, Orton or any of the other players they’re currently evaluating won’t make the Lakers a juggernaut, or even a legitimate playoff contender. Bryant has stated his intent to keep the Lakers in the playoff hunt, but the Western Conference is too brutally constructed for this roster—last-minute additions and all—to vault itself into the top eight.

The Lakers ranked 28th in defensive efficiency last season, per NBA.com, and aren’t built to drastically improve, or improve at all. Their 25-win offense—that ranked 21st in efficiency—is tightly tethered to the mortality-marred Bryant as well as a coach who has routinely implemented below-average attacks. 

Surprising people, turning some heads, is not out of the question. Remain healthy, see Bryant and Nash contribute at close to high levels, and the Lakers will win some games they otherwise wouldn’t. Should Boozer and Lin exceed expectations, the Lakers will look that much more competent on the offensive end. If Julius Randle proves to be more NBA-ready than thought, the Lakers will be that much deeper.

This, more than anything, is what their offseason has been about: arming themselves against the unknown, against the inordinate number of “ifs” that are attached to their roster and future.

Nothing has changed now that the summer is winding down. The Lakers are still after cheap, floor-familiar players and in the business of potentially employing question marks who might yield short- and long-term gains.

 

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Report: Suns looking to trade Eric Bledsoe

TweetThe free agency stand off between restricted free agent guard Eric Bledsoe and the Phoenix Suns may be nearing an end soon. According to a report from Fox Sports 910 host Jude LaCava, the Suns are very much open to the idea of trading Bledsoe: “I’ll tell you this, and I think this is the first time it’s reported,” Jude LaCava said on Tuesday. “I do believe in my NBA sources. You can take this to the bank, so to speak, the Suns are now discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe.” “That’s the new chapter to this and I wouldn’t back off of that information. I think it’s 100% correct.” Phoenix offered Bledsoe a fair market contract earlier this summer valued at $48 million over 4 years, which Bledsoe rejected. The athletic yet injury-prone guard has been seeking close to a max contract, but hasn’t been able to secure an offer mostly due to his injury history as well as the Suns ability to match any offer he received. The Suns landed Bledsoe in a three-team trade with the Clippers

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What Is Carmelo Anthony Really Looking For?

When NBA players talk about free agency, it’s typically in laudatory terms: freedom of movement, the thrill of fielding offers and—perhaps most of all—having one’s talents validated.

For the first time in his career, Carmelo Anthony is about to experience all of it.

But like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, Anthony must come to grips with that other, uglier side of the coming summer frenzy: No matter what his decision, he’s doomed to be hated and doubted.

So what, exactly, is Anthony looking for?

That depends on whom you ask.

It began with comments he made during an All-Star weekend press conference, wherein the high-scoring small forward stated in no uncertain terms he’d be more than willing to take a pay cut if it meant helping New York take the next step:

Without a doubt. Any opportunity I have to build that up in New York, I’d do it. I told people all the time, always say, ‘If it takes me taking a pay cut, I’ll be the first one on [Knicks owner] Mr. [James] Dolan’s steps saying take my money and let’s build something strong over here.

Ever since, newly-minted team president Phil Jackson has made it a point to hold those words—fairly or unfairly—over Anthony’s head, something he did most recently during a pre-draft press conference (from ESPN’s Marc Stein):

The perception is we want Carmelo to be as interested in winning. When saying he’s competitive and wants to be on a competitive team to also being able to demonstrate that, if push comes to shove, in a situation where he may have to take a little bit less and we’re more competitive to bring in another player to help us bring this concept along.

The problem for Jackson is that while Anthony may indeed be willing to scale back on his financial windfall, doing so stands to take a back seat to another, equally crucial concern: winning his first NBA championship.

Herein lies the precarious push-and-pull: If Anthony wants to put himself in the best possible position to win, even if it means a smaller paycheck, the Knicks most certainly won’t cut it.

On June 12, ESPN’s Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst first broke word that the Miami Heat were considering recalibrating the contracts of James, Wade and Bosh in an attempt to lure Anthony to South Beach—the logic being that the four might be willing to sign new deals beginning somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 million each.

Given that the Knicks are in a position to offer him a maximum five-year deal worth close to $129 million, Anthony signing with Miami could mean leaving tens of millions on the table.

With a core four of James, Wade, Bosh and Anthony, Miami would undoubtedly enter the 2014-15 season as the clear-cut favorites to notch the franchise’s fourth banner in 10 years.

There’s just one small catch: Anthony—having chosen glory over loyalty—would forever be the bane of Knicks fans everywhere.

Re-up with New York for more than Miami might offer, on the other hand, and he’ll be labeled as money-grubbing, the perfect poster child for all that’s wrong with modern athletes.

At this point, it seems the only decisions at Anthony’s disposal that don’t guarantee a public persecution are to take an enormous pay cut to stay in New York—multiples less than his worth, no doubt—or retiring outright, either for religious reasons of fabricated health concerns.

Remind us again why free agency is fun?

Indeed, even Anthony, expressed in an interview with Vice Sports, is beginning to bristle at the notion that this offseason foray comes down to a simple calculus of costs and benefits:

The average person sees the opportunity to say, ‘Melo should go here; Melo should go there; he should do this; I think he should do that. They don’t take in consideration the family aspect of it. Where are you going to be living at? Do you want your kids to grow up in that place or that city? Do I want to stay the rest of my career in that situation and city? All that stuff comes into play.

Jackson understands all this, of course. Which is why, for the sake of both his and the franchise’s future, the smartest thing would be to take the money option off the table entirely, something Bleacher Report’s own Howard Beck hammered home in a recent column:

And really, Anthony might not be sacrificing much if he leaves. Jackson has said he wants Anthony to take a pay cut to stay, so he won’t be making the max in New York either. For the Knicks to gain any significant flexibility, that pay cut has to be at least a few million per year.

This is, by the way, the only sane position for Jackson to take. If the Knicks are ever going to contend, they cannot afford to devote 35 percent of the salary cap to a single-minded scorer who doesn’t play defense, doesn’t elevate his teammates and will soon be moving out of his prime years.

If Jackson has any chance of both bringing Anthony back and keeping the Knicks on the strategic straight and narrow, he has to take the money factor off the table entirely. Instead, any negotiation—either face-to-face or through the press—ought to be couched within one thing and one thing only: legacy.

Winning a title in Miami would certainly elevate Anthony’s place in the NBA pantheon. Jackson’s job, then, is to convince Anthony that the costs of rolling the dice on another Knicks rebuild pale in comparison to the beatific benefits of bringing a banner back to New York—to show that he won is less important than where he did it.

As such, maybe Jackson—who didn’t earn the nickname Zen Master for nothing—has a better chance than we think. Because the art of negotiation is less about figuring out what someone wants and more about convincing them you both want the same thing.

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Toronto Raptors Looking to Acquire the No. 22 Pick in Upcoming NBA Draft

The Toronto Raptors are in talks to acquire another first-round pick in the upcoming NBA draft on Thursday.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), Toronto is engaging in trade dialogue with the Memphis Grizzlies that would see the Raptors acquire the Grizzlies’ 22nd overall pick.

Going back the other way would be Raptors swingman John Salmons and the 37th pick. Stein reports that Toronto would also have to take back Grizzlies small forward Tayshaun Prince in the trade.

Trading the 34-year-old Prince—who has one year left on a contract that will pay him $7.7 million next season—would be a salary dump for Memphis. He averaged 6.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 76 games for the Grizzlies last season.

Salmons, also 34, averaged 5.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 60 games with the Raptors last season. He was acquired by Toronto last December as part of the Rudy Gay trade.

Memphis would be interested in Salmons because the contract that would pay him $7 million next season can be bought out for $1 million if he is waived before July 30, 2014. This gives the Grizzlies a chance to create significant salary space on their roster in order to make other moves.

If this trade goes through, it would give the Raptors the No. 20 and No. 22 picks in the draft.

Toronto has been linked to Canadian point guard Tyler Ennis in the past, and Ennis has already gone on record saying that he “would love to play in Toronto,” per Doug Smith of thestar.com.

Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez were the two main point guards for the Raptors last season, but both are currently free agents. This means that drafting Ennis would give Toronto some insurance if one of Lowry or Vasquez leave town.

Aside from Ennis, the Raptors also have interest in Swiss big man Clint Capela, according to Holly MacKenzie of Raptors.com. Toronto was impressed with Capela during his predraft workout with the team and likes his length and agility.

According to SLAM Magazine’s Jake Fischer (via Twitter), Capela’s camp already believes that the Raptors will be selecting him with the No. 20 pick.

Having two first-round draft picks would give Toronto the flexibility to make some other moves as well. It’s even possible that Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri could try to move up in the draft by using those two picks in another trade.

 

*All stats are from basketball-reference.com

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Rumor: Knicks Already Looking to Trade Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks just acquired Shane Larkin and Samuel Dalembert in a deal that also included Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler heading to the Mavericks.  Shane Larkin was easily the most valuable piece in this deal.
Dalembert also could draw interest from some teams as a rim protector, and while he’s not a veteran minimum guy, he also isn’t making a ton of money, currently making only 3,877,282 dollars.
@SportsSpotNet, formerly @NYSportsSpot, and insider for New York sports was one who reported this rumor via Twitter:
Report: Knicks are attempting to trade Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin. Already.
— Sports Spot (@SportsSpotNet) June 25, 2014

Their are some rumors that Phil is already looking to deal them elsewhere.   What the Knicks would get in return is entirely unknown, but with a team who’s best player is Amare Stoudemire or J.R. Smith, pretty much any talent or value in a pick would make sense in a deal.
This team looks like they’re ready for an overhaul,

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Bulls looking like favorite to land Carmelo Anthony?

Carmelo Anthony is exploring the possibility of joining the Chicago Bulls as the deadline approaches for the New York Knicks star to opt out of his contract, league sources told ESPN.com on Sunday. According to the report, Anthony has spoken with a high-profile person living in Chicago about what the city is like. The Bulls have inquired about Anthony as well, as head coach Tom Thibodeau has reportedly contacted some of Anthony’s past coaches to speak with them about the 12-year veteran, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “I even told Tom that there may be days that he will want to blow his own head off when it comes to Melo’s defense, but he keeps saying he knows he can make it work,” one of former the coaches said. “It’s not that Carmelo can’t play defense, it’s just how often. And he knows every trick in the book on getting around that.” The New York Daily News reported Saturday that Bulls center Joakim Noah has called Anthony numerous times, though the 2013 NBA scoring champion…

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Report: Bulls looking to trade for Arron Afflalo

TweetAccording to reports, the Chicago Bulls are in talks with the Orlando Magic to acquire shooting guard Arron Afflalo. The potential trade was first reported by Yahoo! Sports’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Chicago has long been searching for a scorer to complement franchise player Derrick Rose (when Rose is healthy, of course). Afflalo had a career year as the Magic’s top scoring option last season, averaging 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. The 6’5″ swingman has increased his scoring average in each of his seven pro seasons and shot .427 from three-point range in 2013-2014. Afflalo is also a plus perimeter defender, a skill that fits perfectly into the Bulls style. The Bulls have a couple of first round picks in this year’s draft that they can use as incentive to land Afflalo from the rebuilding Magic. Orlando drafted combo guard Victor Oladipo second overall last season and are almost certain to draft a point guard this year — only $2 million of veteran starting PG Jameer Nelson’s

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Ex-Marquette star James looking to make new name for himself

ACWORTH, Ga. — Dominic James was a star point guard at Marquette, an All-American and a former Big East Rookie of the Year; Dominic Wright is an entrepreneur, selling balloons in a box.
The two men are one in the same.
James, who plans to legally change his surname to Wright — the last name of his once estranged father, Greg — has launched a company called Pulloons, which, per the Web site “are celebratory gift boxes that contain candy and a balloon that automatically inflates when the decorative Pulloon Ribbon is lifted up.”
“Inflate a smile,” James says, grinning as he recites the start-up’s tag line, while sitting outside a coffee shop in metro Atlanta, where he currently resides.
James, 27, and his business partner, his wife Angela Phillips, a former Kentucky/Indiana State point guard-turned-model (they married last year, but she is waiting to change her name until James completes the task of doing the same) are waiting for a call back to shoot an episode of ABC’s ‘Shark

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