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  • McCollum, Gordon pull out of U.S. World Cup team
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, July 20, 2019

    Guards CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers and Eric Gordon of the Houston Rockets have withdrawn from playing for USA Basketball in the FIBA World Cup in China, according to published reports.

    • Their departures come after Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis and Rockets guard James Harden withdrew earlier this month.

      Yahoo Sports reported McCollum's withdrawal, citing league sources who say he wants to concentrate on preparing for the 2019-20 seasons.

      The Athletic reported Gordon's decision to remove himself from the roster.

      The possibility continues to loom that Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry will eventually pull out after undergoing thumb surgery earlier this week.

      The World Cup runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15. USA Basketball training camp is set to begin Aug. 5 in Las Vegas.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Korver agrees to one-year deal with Bucks
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, July 20, 2019

    Free agent swingman Kyle Korver has agreed to a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    • Korver, 38, will be entering his 17th year in the NBA and joining his sixth team. He also was traded to both Memphis and Phoenix this offseason, with the Suns waiving him earlier this month.

      Milwaukee also agreed to a two-way deal with guard Frank Mason, according to The Athletic.

      A 42.9 percent career shooter from 3-point range, Korver was widely targeted in free agency.

      He played for Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer for three years in Atlanta, which might have factored into his decision. Korver reportedly picked the Bucks over the Philadelphia 76ers.

      Korver split last season between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz, averaging 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 19.1 minutes per game.

      In 1,174 career games, he has averaged 9.9 points in 25.7 minutes per game.

      Mason, 25, played the past two seasons with the Sacramento Kings. He averaged 5.1 points in 38 games last season after putting up 7.9 per contest in 52 games (two starts) as a rookie.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Buford to move out of Spurs' GM role
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, July 20, 2019

    General manager R.C. Buford has had a huge hand in the San Antonio Spurs' success over the last decade and a half, but he's stepping aside to take a new role in the organization, according to The Athletic's Jabari Young.

    • Assistant GM Brian Wright will replace Buford, who will move into an unspecified role, the report states.

      Wright would continue to report to Buford in the new hierarchy.

      Buford and Spurs coach and president Gregg Popovich have worked together since 1994, when Buford was hired as the team's head scout. The two have won five championships during that time, including four since Buford was named general manager.

      Buford twice was named the NBA's Executive of the Year (2014 and 2016).

      Wright joined the Spurs in 2016, having worked his way up from an intern with the Orlando Magic in the mid-2000s to assistant general manager with the Detroit Pistons.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Harden withdraws from FIBA World Cup
    By Field Level Media / Friday, July 19, 2019

    Houston Rockets star guard James Harden has withdrawn from playing for USA Basketball in the FIBA World Cup in China, according to the Houston Chronicle.

    • Harden has informed coach Gregg Popovich that he won't be participating, according to the report. The event runs Aug. 31-Sept. 15.

      Harden is electing to focus on the Rockets and plans to use the time to adapt to playing with new backcourt mate Russell Westbrook.

      Harden is the second NBA star to pull out in recent days. Los Angeles Lakers power forward Anthony Davis reportedly withdrew last week.

      --The Indiana Pacers added more guard help in the wake of Darren Collison's recent retirement, signing a one-year, $4.8 million deal with free-agent guard Justin Holiday.

      The move unites Holiday with brother Aaron, who figures to see his responsibilities at point guard increase in his second NBA season. The two are also brothers of veteran New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday.

      Justin Holiday, 30, averaged 10.5 points and had 3.9 rebounds in 82 games (77 starts) for the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies last season. The Bulls traded him to Memphis in January.

      --Former Duke and WNBA player Lindsey Harding has been hired by the Sacramento Kings as an assistant coach.

      Most recently a player development coach for the Philadelphia 76ers beginning in April, Harding was the first black woman to become a full-time NBA scout when the Sixers hired her before the 2018-19 season.

      Other female coaches in the NBA include Kara Lawson of the Boston Celtics, Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs, Jenny Boucek of the Dallas Mavericks and Lindsay Gottlieb of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      --The Toronto Raptors announced the signing of guard Matt Thomas, a move that had been in the works for weeks.

      Thomas, who played college ball at Iowa State, spent the last two seasons playing professionally in Spain.

      The deal is reportedly for three years, though official terms were not disclosed.

      --Tommy Sheppard will have the interim title pulled off and be named general manager of the Washington Wizards, the Washington Post reported.

      Sheppard, who joined the organization in 1994, has been serving as the interim general manager since Ernie Grunfeld was fired in early April.

      Sheppard was the team's senior vice president of basketball operations for most of the 2018-19 campaign. He handled the salary cap and contract negotiations while in that role.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Sheppard to be named Wizards' GM
    By Field Level Media / Friday, July 19, 2019

    Tommy Sheppard will have the interim title pulled off and be named general manager of the Washington Wizards, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

    • Sheppard, who joined the organization in 1994, has been serving as the fill-in general manager since Ernie Grunfeld was fired in early April.

      Sheppard was the team's senior vice president of basketball operations for most of the 2018-19 campaign. He handled the salary cap and contract negotiations while in that role.

      The Wizards were just 32-50 last season after making the playoffs in four of the previous five seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • Kings hire ex-WNBA player Harding as assistant coach
    By Field Level Media / Friday, July 19, 2019

    Former Duke and WNBA player Lindsey Harding has been hired by the Sacramento Kings as an assistant coach.

    • "Lindsey is a rising star and I'm so excited to have her join our incredibly experienced team of coaches," Kings coach Luke Walton said. "Her basketball IQ and proven success on the court will be a valuable addition to our growing team as we work together to build a winning culture for many years to come."

      Most recently a player development coach for the Philadelphia 76ers beginning in April, Harding was the first black woman to become a full-time NBA scout when the Sixers hired her before the 2018-19 season.

      Other female coaches in the NBA include Kara Lawson of the Boston Celtics, Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs, Jenny Boucek of the Dallas Mavericks and Lindsay Gottlieb of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      In a nine-year WNBA playing career, Harding had stints with the Minnesota Lynx (2007-08), Washington Mystics (2009-10), Atlanta Dream (2011-12), Los Angeles Sparks (2013-14), New York Liberty (2016) and Phoenix Mercury (2016). She averaged 9.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.1 steals and 28.7 minutes in 270 career games.

      She was the first overall pick in the 2007 WNBA Draft. Playing four seasons at Duke, Harding won the 2007 Naismith College Player of the Year award and, in 2018, became the third women's basketball student-athlete to be enshrined in the Duke Athletics Hall of Fame.

      Walton was hired as head coach of the Kings in April after he parted ways with the Los Angeles Lakers. He earlier hired former Phoenix Suns coach Igor Kokoskov as an assistant.

      --Field Level Media

  • Pacers add second Holiday brother, sign G Justin
    By Field Level Media / Friday, July 19, 2019

    The Indiana Pacers added more guard help Friday in the wake of Darren Collison's recent retirement, signing a one-year, $4.8 million deal with free-agent guard Justin Holiday.

    • The move unites Holiday with brother Aaron, who figures to see his responsibilities at point guard increase in his second NBA season.

      Justin Holiday, 30, averaged 10.5 points and had 3.9 rebounds in 82 games (77 starts) for the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies last season. The Bulls traded him to Memphis in January.

      Justin Holiday, a product of Washington, is heading into his seventh NBA season and has an 8.1 career scoring average. Aaron Holiday, 22 and a product of UCLA, averaged 5.9 points and 1.7 assists in 50 games with the Pacers last season after he was drafted No. 23 overall.

      The two are also brothers of veteran New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Harden pulls out of FIBA World Cup
    By Field Level Media / Friday, July 19, 2019

    Houston Rockets star guard James Harden has withdrawn from playing for USA Basketball in the FIBA World Cup in China, according to the Houston Chronicle.

    • Harden has informed coach Gregg Popovich that he won't be participating, according to the report. The event runs Aug. 31-Sept. 15.

      Harden is electing to focus on the Rockets and plans to use the time to adapt to playing with new backcourt mate Russell Westbrook.

      Harden is the second NBA star to pull out in recent days. Los Angeles Lakers power forward Anthony Davis reportedly withdrew last week.

      The status of Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is also in doubt after he had thumb surgery earlier this week.

      --Field Level Media

  • Raptors sign former Iowa St. G Thomas
    By Field Level Media / Friday, July 19, 2019

    The Toronto Raptors announced the signing of guard Matt Thomas on Friday, a move that had been in the works for weeks.

    • Thomas, who played college ball at Iowa State, spent the last two seasons playing professionally in Spain.

      The deal is reportedly for three years, though official terms were not disclosed.

      Thomas, 24, shot 48.5 percent from beyond the arc and 51.1 percent overall in 29 games for Valencia Basket last season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Nike files countersuit against Leonard over 'Klaw' logo
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, July 18, 2019

    Reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard took full charge of his free-agency status in his stunning move to the Los Angeles Clippers earlier this month.

    • He's trying to claim control of his famous "Klaw" logo, but he is facing some aggressive defense by Nike.

      After Leonard launched a lawsuit aimed at the shoe and apparel conglomerate last month, claiming the company is taking credit for creating the logo that appeared on his Nike-endorsed apparel, Nike returned serve by filing a countersuit against Leonard, according to multiple reports.

      The former Toronto Raptors star, who endorsed Nike until his contract expired last fall and eventually teamed with New Balance, contended in his original suit that he designed the logo based on sketches he drew before becoming a professional. Per his suit, Leonard claims gave Nike permission to place "on certain merchandise" during his endorsement deal with the company. He said Nike, during Leonard's time partnered with Jordan Brand, did not have his OK to apply for the copyright registration.

      Nike countered in its Wednesday filing, which was done in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California -- the same court where Leonard filed his suit.

      "In this action, Kawhi Leonard seeks to re-write history by asserting that he created the 'Claw Design' logo, but it was not Leonard who created that logo," said Nike in its countersuit. "The 'Claw Design' was created by a talented team of NIKE designers, as Leonard, himself, has previously admitted.

      "In his Complaint, Leonard alleges he provided a design to NIKE. That is true. What is false is that the design he provided was the Claw Design. Not once in his Complaint does Leonard display or attach either the design that he provided or the Claw Design. Instead, he conflates the two, making it appear as though those discrete works are one and the same. They are not."

      Nike confirmed the Leonard shared a design with the company while he was in college, but claimed that the sketch and the finished logo have unique differences while asserting ownership of the "Klaw," which Leonard continued to use and wear on apparel after his Nike deal had expired. The company sent him a cease-and-desist letter late lasy year as a result of the dispute.

      The New York Times reported last month that the Los Angeles Clippers -- who ultimately won the Leonard fee-agency sweepstakes and signed him to a three-year, $103 million maximum contract earlier in July -- had "quietly looked into the feasibility of purchasing the portion of the rights to Leonard's 'Klaw' logo that is still owned by Nike."

      --Field Level Media

  • Rockets' Harden buys minority share in Houston soccer teams
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, July 18, 2019

    Superstar James Harden has made an investment in his NBA city, buying a minority stake in the group that runs the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, the Houston Dash of the National Women's Soccer League and BBVA Stadium, where the soccer teams play.

    • "I'm very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future," the Rockets' All-NBA guard said in a statement posted to the Dynamo website.

      "Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I've been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose."

      Front Office Sports said Harden bought a 5 percent stake in the properties, which the outlet said is valued at "at least $475 million."

      Harden, who turns 30 in August, signed a guaranteed four-year, $171 million contract extension last summer that kicks in with the upcoming season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Raptors G Lowry undergoes thumb procedure
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, July 18, 2019

    Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry underwent a procedure to repair a tendon in his left thumb, but he still plans on being available for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, ESPN reported.

    • Lowry is not expected to miss USA Basketball's mini-camp to be held Aug. 5-9 at Las Vegas. He last played for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics and is one of 20 players invited to the mini-camp for the current team.

      Lowry, 33, scored 14.2 points with 8.7 assists for the Raptors in the 2018-19 season and scored 15.0 points with 6.6 assists in 24 games during the postseason on the way to an NBA title.

      The 32-team FIBA World Cup is scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 15 in China.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Thunder to keep Paul for now
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 17, 2019

    The Thunder's discussions to trade newly acquired Chris Paul have stalled, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday, increasing the odds that the point guard begins the season in Oklahoma City.

    • The Thunder have been working with Paul's agent on a suitable trade since acquiring him from the Houston Rockets last week in a deal for Russell Westbrook and two first-round picks, but Wojnarowski reports nothing is materializing. The report adds that Oklahoma City believes trade talks could improve after Dec. 15 -- when players signed this offseason can be included in deals -- or after the 2019-20 season.

      The Miami Heat have been widely reported as a potential suitor for Paul, but the sides have been unable to agree on compensation.

      The Miami Herald reports the Heat are only willing to take on Paul's burdensome contract -- which has three years and $124 million remaining, including a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22 -- if they also receive their own 2021 and 2023 first-round picks, which the Thunder acquired via other trades.

      --A day after officially signing him as a free agent, the New York Knicks announced forward Reggie Bullock had surgery in New York for a cervical disc herniation.

      The team said the surgery was successful and that an update on his rehab and progress would be provided around the start of training camp.

      On Tuesday, SNY reported Bullock was expected to miss at least a month of the regular season with a previously unknown medical issue, which led to a reworking of Bullock's original two-year, $21 million free agent agreement with the Knicks. Bullock wound up signing for two years and $8.2 million, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

      --The Toronto Raptors agreed to a two-year deal with free agent point guard Cameron Payne, The Athletic reported.

      Payne, who turns 25 next month, joins his fourth NBA team since the Thunder picked him 14th overall in the 2015 draft out of Murray State.

      He split the 2018-19 season with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 6.3 points and 2.7 assists in 40 games (13 starts). Payne has posted career averages of 6.0 points, 2.5 assists and 16.0 minutes in 153 games (28 starts).

      --Free agent forward Cheick Diallo agreed to a two-year contract with the Phoenix Suns, ESPN reported.

      The 6-foot-9 Diallo became an unrestricted free agent when the New Orleans Pelicans declined to tender him a qualifying offer.

      Diallo played in 133 games over the past three seasons for the Pelicans, producing averages of 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds. He averaged 6.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 64 games (one start) last season.

      --Former Suns lottery pick Dragan Bender has agreed to play for CSKA Moscow, Yahoo Sports reported.

      Yahoo said that Bender's agreement allows him to look for NBA deals "for a little while longer," which matched a story from Eurohoops.net that said the 7-foot-1 forward will sign a multiyear deal with the Russian club unless he receives "an interesting" offer from an NBA team.

      The 21-year-old Croatian averaged 5.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 18.0 minutes in 46 games (27 starts) for the Suns in 2018-19.

      --The Detroit Pistons claimed center Christian Wood off waivers from the Pelicans, according to The Athletic, two days after New Orleans waived him.

      Wood, 23, impressed in an eight-game stint (two starts) with the Pelicans late last season, averaging 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 23.6 minutes per game.

      He has career averages of 5.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game across 51 appearances with four teams since entering the NBA undrafted out of UNLV in 2015.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Suns agree to deal with F Diallo
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 17, 2019

    Free-agent forward Cheick Diallo agreed to a two-year contract with the Phoenix Suns, ESPN reported Wednesday.

    • The 6-foot-9 Diallo became an unrestricted free agent when the New Orleans Pelicans declined to tender him a qualifying offer.

      Diallo played in 133 games over the past three seasons for the Pelicans with averages of 5.5 points and 4.6 rebounds. He averaged 6.0 points and 5.2 rebounds in 64 games (one start) last season.

      Phoenix also officially announced the signing of forward/center Frank Kaminsky to a multiyear deal. The 7-foot Kaminsky spent his first four seasons with the Charlotte Hornets and has averages of 9.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in 282 games (23 starts).

      "Frank is an exceptional shooter who will help us space the floor and give our guards more room to operate," general manager James Jones said in a news release. "His size and strong decision-making skills are also a great fit for the team we are building, so we are excited to welcome Frank to Phoenix."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Paul trade talks stall, could play for Thunder
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 17, 2019

    The Oklahoma City Thunder's discussions to trade newly acquired point guard Chris Paul have stalled, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Wednesday, increasing the odds that he begins the season with the team.

    • The Thunder have been working with Paul's agent on a suitable trade since acquiring him from the Houston Rockets last week in a deal for Russell Westbrook and two first-round picks, but Wojnarowski reports nothing is materializing. The report adds that Oklahoma City believes trade talks could improve after Dec. 15 -- when players signed this offseason can be included in deals -- or after the 2019-20 season.

      The Miami Heat have been widely reported as a potential suitor for Paul, but the sides have been unable to agree on compensation.

      The Miami Herald reports the Heat are only willing to take on Paul's burdensome contract -- which has three years and $124 million remaining, including a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22 -- if they also receive their own 2021 and 2023 first-round picks, which the Thunder acquired via other trades. The Herald adds that the Heat were more interested in acquiring Westbrook than Paul, and could instead pursue Washington guard Bradley Beal.

      A nine-time All-Star and four-time league assists leader, Paul averaged 15.6 points, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 58 games last season in Houston.

      He played his first two NBA seasons (2005-07) in Oklahoma City, when the New Orleans franchise was temporarily relocated after Hurricane Katrina.

      The NBA active leader in assists (9,181) and steals (2,122) whose career totals rank seventh and ninth all-time, respectively, Paul was the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 2005-06 season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Knicks' Bullock has surgery, could miss a month
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 17, 2019

    A day after officially signing him as a free agent, the New York Knicks announced forward Reggie Bullock had surgery Wednesday in New York for a cervical disc herniation.

    • The team said the surgery was successful and that an update on his rehab and progress will be provided around the start of training camp.

      On Tuesday, SNY reported Bullock was expected to miss at least a month of the regular season with a previously unknown medical issue, which led to a reworking of Bullock's original two-year, $21 million free agent agreement with the Knicks. Previous reports said Bullock had gained significant weight during the offseason and failed his physical with the team.

      Bullock wound up signing for two years and $8.2 million, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

      The 28-year-old averaged 11.3 points in 63 games (60 starts) last season, split between the Detroit Pistons (44 games) and the Los Angeles Lakers (19). He has a career average of 6.8 points over 272 games (119 starts) in six NBA seasons.

      Known as a sharpshooter, Bullock hit 44.5 percent of his 3-point attempts in 2017-18 before dipping to 37.7 percent last season. His career average is 39.2 percent.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Raptors reach 2-year deal with PG Payne
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 17, 2019

    The Toronto Raptors agreed to a two-year deal with free agent point guard Cameron Payne, The Athletic reported Wednesday.

    • Payne, who turns 25 next month, joins his fourth NBA team since the Oklahoma City Thunder picked him 14th overall in the 2015 draft out of Murray State.

      He split the 2018-19 season with the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, averaging 6.3 points and 2.7 assists in 40 games (13 starts).

      Payne has posted career averages of 6.0 points, 2.5 assists and 16.0 minutes in 153 games (28 starts).

      He played for the Mavericks during the 2019 NBA Summer League, averaging 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.7 steals in three games.

      He is the third point guard on the reigning NBA champion Raptors' roster, joining Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: F Bender agrees to leave NBA for Russian team
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, July 17, 2019

    Former Phoenix Suns lottery pick Dragan Bender has agreed to play for CSKA Moscow, Yahoo Sports reported Wednesday.

    • Yahoo said that Bender's agreement allows him to look for NBA deals "for a little while longer," which matched a story from Eurohoops.net, which said the 7-foot-1 forward will sign a multiyear deal with the Russian club unless he receives "an interesting" offer from an NBA team.

      The 21-year-old Croatian averaged 5.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 18.0 minutes in 46 games (27 starts) for the Suns in 2018-19.

      Bender, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has played in 171 games (64 starts) for Phoenix and has career averages of 5.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists.

      Last October, Phoenix declined Bender's fourth-year option for $5.8 million.

      --Field Level Media

  • 76ers G Simmons confirms: No World Cup
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, July 16, 2019

    Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons on Tuesday confirmed on Twitter what many were recently expecting: He will not play for Australia in the FIBA World Cup that runs Aug. 31-Sept. 15 in China.

    • "I will still be heading back home to Australia to host my camps as well as train and play with the Boomers in the upcoming Exhibition Games," Simmons wrote on Twitter, referring to contests against the United States in Melbourne next month. "I'm really excited about the talent we have on the Boomers squad, especially moving closer to 2020 where I will be honored and humbled to represent my country on the world's biggest sporting stage at the Olympics in Tokyo.

      "Ultimately, we decided it was best that I used the time in September to return to Philadelphia to acquaint myself with my new teammates and prepare for the upcoming NBA season."

      Simmons and the 76ers agreed Monday to a five-year, $170 million maximum contract extension, which was confirmed by his agent Rich Paul. The Sixers also made an official announcement Tuesday while not disclosing the terms.

      Simmons opened his Twitter post by writing, "I want to say thank you to everyone who reached out to congratulate me on the extension with the 76ers. Philly means so much to me, and I'm already excited for next season."

      Simmons, who turns 23 on Saturday, is coming off an All-Star season in which he averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists in 79 games for the Sixers.

      He was born in Australia and lived there until he moved to the United States in 2013 to play high school basketball. He was the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and the winner of Rookie of the Year honors in 2017-18 after sitting out a season due to injury.

      Simmons talked after last season about playing in upcoming events for the Australian national team, known as the Boomers.

      Team Australia will compete in four warmup games, including two against USA Basketball, in Melbourne in August ahead of the World Cup.

      The Boomers finished fourth in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

      --Field Level Media

  • Thunder officially welcome Paul, bid adieu to Westbrook
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, July 16, 2019

    The Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul trade became official Tuesday, when the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets spread the news in press releases.

    • In the deal reported by multiple outlets Thursday, Westbrook was sent to the Rockets for Paul and a pair of first-round draft picks. The Thunder will receive the Rockets' first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 and the option to swap first-round selections in 2021 and 2025.

      "We recently had conversations with Russell about the team, his career, and how he sees the future," Thunder executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti said in the release. "Through those conversations we came to the understanding that looking at some alternative situations would be something that made sense for him. As a result, and due to his history with the Thunder, we worked together to accommodate this. ...

      "Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the brief history of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has left an indelible mark on this team, city and state. None of us could have anticipated the player he has become, and we are all deeply proud of what he has contributed to the success of the franchise and to our community."

      The move reunites Westbrook, 30, with former Thunder teammate and reigning NBA scoring champion James Harden. They played together for three seasons from 2009-12, making the playoffs all three years and reaching the NBA Finals in 2012.

      Paul, 34, returns to Oklahoma City, where he played his first two NBA seasons (2005-07) when the New Orleans franchise was temporarily relocated after Hurricane Katrina.

      An eight-time All-Star and two-time NBA scoring leader, Westbrook averaged a triple-double for the third straight season in 2018-19 with 22.9 points, 11.1 rebounds and a league-high 10.7 assists in 73 games. He has four years and $171.2 million remaining on his contract, including a $47.1 million player option for 2022-23.

      The fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Westbrook led the Thunder to the third-best record in the NBA during his 11 seasons in Oklahoma City.

      "I have a great deal of respect for Russell and there is no way to adequately describe our appreciation for what he has meant to Oklahomans," Thunder chairman Clayton I. Bennett said in a prepared statement. "His legacy here is immense, and he will be honored by the team for all he has done."

      A nine-time All-Star and four-time league assists leader, Paul averaged 15.6 points, 8.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 58 games last season. He has three years and $124.1 million remaining on his contract, including a $44.2 million player option in 2021-22.

      The NBA active leader in assists (9,181) and steals (2,122) whose career totals rank seventh and ninth all-time, respectively, Paul was the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 2005-06 season.

      "Getting a player of Chris' caliber gives us another experienced playmaker and leader, while the additional draft picks continue to allow us to further commit to the long-term vision that we are embarking on for the Thunder," Presti said. "We welcome Chris back to Oklahoma City where as a member of the Hornets he helped to pave the way for the Thunder's arrival in OKC."

      --Field Level Media

  • Plea deal by Grizzlies F Jackson includes diversion program
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, July 16, 2019

    Forward Josh Jackson, acquired by the Memphis Grizzlies in early July, entered into a diversion program as part of a plea deal to settle a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

    • The charge stemmed from Jackson fleeing police at the Rolling Loud music festival in Miami Gardens, Fla., in May.

      Jackson was arrested at the music festival on a felony charge of escape and a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest without violence after trying to enter a VIP area several times without a proper pass. Handcuffed by the police, he ran from the officers before being detained, according to the police report.

      According to online court records, Jackson went into the program on July 2. If the diversion program is successfully completed, the misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest will be dismissed. The felony charge of escape after his arrest on May 10 had been previously dismissed by the state attorney.

      The Phoenix Suns dealt Jackson to the Grizzlies on July 3.

      Jackson, 22, was drafted fourth overall out of Kansas by Phoenix in 2017. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 11.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 79 games (29 starts) last season, with two categories (13.1 points and 4.6 rebounds) slightly down from his averages for 2017-18, when he made the All-Rookie second team.

      Jackson previously agreed to enter a diversion program in 2017 to settle a misdemeanor count of criminal property damage following an incident with a Kansas women's basketball player in 2016.

      Also, last month, the mother of Jackson's 4-month-old child accused Jackson of using marijuana and getting the baby high, according to ArizonaSports.com, which cited court documents. Jackson denied the accusation through his attorney.

      --Field Level Media

  • Knicks finalize deals with Bullock, Morris
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, July 16, 2019

    The New York Knicks finalized contracts with free agent forwards Reggie Bullock and Marcus Morris on Tuesday.

    • The team announced that the deals were completed but did not reveal contract terms.

      According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Bullock landed to a two-year, $8.2 million deal with a team option for the second season. The two sides initially agreed to a two-year, $21 million pact, but unspecified medical issues forced them to rework the numbers, per Wojnarowski.

      Morris' deal is for one year and $15 million, according to multiple reports.

      "With Reggie and Marcus, we are adding two more versatile, hard-nosed and accomplished players to an already improved roster," Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a press release. "We value both players' perimeter shooting ability and their strong presence on the court and in the locker room. We're excited to have them in New York and are confident they will excel playing for this team under Coach (David) Fizdale."

      Bullock, 28, averaged 11.3 points in 63 games (60 starts) last season, split between the Detroit Pistons (44 games) and the Los Angeles Lakers (19). He has a career average of 6.8 points over 272 games (119 starts) in six NBA seasons.

      Morris spent the past two seasons with the Boston Celtics and averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in 75 games (53 starts) in the 2018-19 season.

      He originally agreed to join the San Antonio Spurs this offseason but changed his mind, choosing the Knicks instead.

      Morris, 29, has career averages of 11.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 545 games (292 starts) over eight NBA seasons.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Warriors GM saw no way to retain Durant
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 15, 2019

    Golden State general manager Bob Myers was hopeful his team would retain Kevin Durant since it could offer a five-year, $221 million contact but said Monday that there wasn't anything the Warriors could have done to keep the star forward with the team.

    • "He felt like it was something inside of him and his heart that he wanted to try something different," Myers told reporters at the team's practice facility. "There was nothing wrong about it. I'm at peace about it. I hope our fans can be, too. He's one of the best athletes we've ever seen come through our city and certainly this organization."

      Durant accepted a four-year, $164 million free agent deal from the Brooklyn Nets. He could end up missing the entire first season of his new contract as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles sustained during the NBA Finals in June.

      The Warriors and Nets engineered a sign-and-trade deal involving Durant, and Golden State ended up with All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell, who agreed to a four-year, $117 million contract. Myers refuted speculation that the Warriors are willing to ship Russell for multiple assets to help in their reloading process.

      --Point guard Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers agreed to a five-year, $170 million maximum contract extension, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported.

      Agent Rich Paul confirmed the deal, Charania said. Simmons, who turns 23 on Friday, made his first All-Star team in the 2018-19 season and averaged 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.4 steals in 79 starts.

      The 6-foot-10 Australian was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and won NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 2017-18.

      --Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $50,000 by the NBA for leaking information from a recent Broad of Governors meeting to a reporter, ESPN reported.

      Cuban was disciplined because league rules prohibit discussing Board of Governors information with reporters or other outsiders. The league office released a memo to inform teams of the fine but didn't announce it publicly, according to ESPN.

      "I appreciate the irony of your reporting on a fine that someone should, but won't, get fined for leaking to you," Cuban told ESPN. He reportedly admitted to leaking information about the league's decision to allow coaches the ability to challenge referees' calls.

      --The Milwaukee Bucks locked up veteran shooting guard Wesley Matthews with a two-year, $5.26 million contract, The Athletic reported.

      The deal includes a player option for the 2020-21 season, according to the report. Matthews, 32, played for the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers last season and averaged a combined 12.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 69 games (68 starts).

      Matthews played with the Utah Jazz (2009-10) and Portland Trail Blazers (2010-15) before spending three-plus seasons with Dallas. He has made at least 150 3-pointers in eight of the past nine seasons, including a career-high 201 with the Trail Blazers in 2013-14.

      --The Cleveland Cavaliers waived veteran JR Smith in order to stay below the NBA's luxury-tax threshold.

      The Cavaliers were unable to find a trade partner to take on the 33-year-old shooting guard scheduled to make $15.7 million next season -- of which just $4.3 million is guaranteed. Smith would become a free agent if he clears waivers.

      ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Smith is unlikely to be reunited with former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James, as the Los Angeles Lakers are unlikely to make a run at the pending free agent. Smith has averaged 12.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 971 career games (395 starts) with New Orleans Hornets (2004-06), Denver Nuggets (2006-11), New York Knicks (2011-15) and Cleveland.

      --Lakers forward Anthony Davis is pulling out of participation in Team USA and the FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer.

      Davis, acquired by the Lakers this month in a trade from the New Orleans Pelicans, said he would not participate in the USA Basketball training camp and FIBA Basketball World Cup to focus on the upcoming NBA season, per multiple reports.

      Davis, 26, won gold medals with Team USA at the 2012 Olympics in London and at the 2014 World Cup in Spain. He reportedly is still interested in playing in the 2020 Olympics.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Mavs owner Cuban fined for leaking info
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 15, 2019

    Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $50,000 by the NBA for leaking information from a recent Broad of Governors meeting to a reporter, ESPN reported Monday.

    • Cuban was disciplined because league rules prohibit discussing Board of Governors information with reporters or other outsiders.

      The league office released a memo to inform teams of the fine but didn't announce it publicly, according to ESPN.

      "I appreciate the irony of your reporting on a fine that someone should, but won't, get fined for leaking to you," Cuban told ESPN.

      According to ESPN, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive expressed concern that information about the vote to allow coaches' challenges was being reported while the meeting was in session. Cuban reportedly immediately admitted that he was the source of the leak.

      --Field Level Media

  • Warriors GM Myers: No way to keep Durant
    By Field Level Media / Monday, July 15, 2019

    Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers was hopeful his team would retain Kevin Durant since it could offer a five-year, $221 million contact.

    • But during a two-hour conversation on the day that Durant announced his decision to join the Brooklyn Nets, Myers could see where things were headed. He said Monday that there wasn't anything the Warriors could have done to keep the star forward with the team.

      "He felt like it was something inside of him and his heart that he wanted to try something different," Myers told reporters at the team's practice facility. "There was nothing wrong about it. I'm at peace about it. I hope our fans can be, too. He's one of the best athletes we've ever seen come through our city and certainly this organization."

      Durant accepted a four-year, $164 million free-agent deal from the Brooklyn Nets. He could end up missing the entire first season as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles suffered during June's NBA Finals.

      Myers said that he and the 30-year-old Durant discussed more than basketball during the conversation on June 30. He also said the two parted on good terms.

      Myers said he is looking forward to seeing Durant back on the court whenever his recovery period is over. He said he will cherish Durant's time with the club, which included two NBA titles and this past season's NBA Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors.

      "I love basketball, and just to watch him play was a treat for me," Myers said. "Just to watch him practice, to work out. ... I'll miss that just as a basketball fan because guys like him don't come along too often. His skill set, his ability is so unique. I got to see him up close for three years of my life and I'll always remember that."

      The Warriors and Nets engineered a sign-and-trade deal involving Durant, and Golden State ended up with All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell, who agreed to a four-year, $117 million contract.

      Russell's name has been percolating in trade rumors with the speculation being the Warriors are willing to ship him for multiple assets to help in their reloading process.

      Myers has heard the chatter and he said it is false.

      "We didn't sign him with the intention of just trading him," Myers said. "We didn't even see him play in our uniform yet. Yet a lot of people already have us trading him. That's not how we're viewing it."

      Russell, 23, averaged a career-best 21.1 points with 7.0 assists last season, his second with the Nets and fourth season overall. He spent his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.

      --Field Level Media