Apparently everybody loves Avery Johnson, or at least a lot of GMs do

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Thumbnail image for Ajohnson.jpgThe Little General has options.

Avery Johnson is apparently a popular choice among general managers around the league and could be the guy in New Orleans or New Jersey, according to reports.

The New Orleans Times Picayune reports that he is a frontrunner for that head coaching vacancy — however to return to his hometown he wants more. Johnson is said to want the dual role of head coach and vice president of basketball operations. He wants to be the man, the big cheese, the head honcho.

If true, that could cost him the job. The Hornets have not indicated they want someone in both roles. (Maybe Johnson realizes he’s not getting the job, so asking for too much is a way to save face. Who knows? Just thinking out loud.)

The pace of the head coaching search in New Orleans has slowed because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Seriously. Incoming owner Gary Chouest is an oil man in the Gulf and while it was not his company nor pipeline that burst, he has been devoting almost all his time to helping contain and clean up the spill. Very important work that takes precedence over a basketball coach in everyone’s mind. Well, except the mind of some basketball coaches.

Chouest also has not taken full control of the team. Reports are Johnson — like David Stern before him —  is frustrated with the pace of the sale. Lawyers involved have said it’s just a matter of a few minor details but that this is going forward. Soon. As will the coaching hire.

Johnson may not wait, he has options. Like in New Jersey, where he is the leading candidate for the Nets head coaching job, according to the Daily News. Which is interesting, as he doesn’t interview with them until next week.

The Nets just had an ownership change as well and are in the first stages of job interviews for their head coaching gig. But for the record, they are set at VP of basketball operations.

Johnson also has interviewed for the Atlanta Hawks job.

Ex-financial adviser gets 4 years in federal prison for defrauding Tim Duncan

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) An ex-financial adviser to retired San Antonio Spurs player Tim Duncan has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for defrauding the former NBA star of millions of dollars.

Federal prosecutors say 49-year-old Charles Banks of Atlanta was sentenced during a court hearing Wednesday in San Antonio.

A judge also ordered Banks to pay $7.5 million in restitution.

Banks had pleaded guilty in April to one count of wire fraud.

Investigators say Banks manipulated Duncan -who retired last year after five NBA championships with the Spurs – into guaranteeing payment of a $6 million debt related to a merchandising business.

Prosecutors say Banks failed to disclose commissions and loans he received in the deal.

Banks is set to report to federal prison as early as Aug. 28.

Lakers exercise David Nwaba’s $1.3 million contract option

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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers have exercised their $1.3 million contract option on guard David Nwaba for the upcoming season.

The Lakers announced the move Wednesday.

Nwaba earned a job with the Lakers after they called him up from their D-League affiliate on Feb. 28. The rookie averaged 6.0 points and 3.2 rebounds per game while impressing Luke Walton’s coaching staff with his hustle and defensive play.

The Lakers signed him to a new contract with a multi-year component just three weeks after his NBA debut.

Nwaba is a local product, attending University High School in West Los Angeles and Santa Monica College before finishing his college career at Cal Poly.

Stephen Curry to play Web.com Tour’s Ellie Mae Classic

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HAYWARD, Calif. (AP) — Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry is set to test his golf game against the pros.

The Web.com Tour said Wednesday that Curry, coming off his second NBA championship with the Golden State Warriors, will play in the Ellie Mae Classic at TPC Stonebrae on Aug. 3-6.

It’ll be the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event for Curry, who has competed in various celebrity events and pro-ams. The top 25 on Web.com Tour’s regular-season money list will earn PGA Tour cards.

Curry will maintain his amateur status, competing on an unrestricted sponsor exemption in the event that benefits the Warriors Community Foundation.

Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice played in the event in 2011 and 2012. He missed the cut in 2011 with rounds of 83 and 76 and withdrew in 2012 after playing 27 holes in 23 over.

Also Wednesday, Nissan’s upscale Infiniti brand announced that Curry would be its new global brand ambassador. The point guard will be featured in ads for the Q50 sports sedan beginning this summer.

Report: Clippers never committed to offer Chris Paul five-year max contract

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The Clippers projected to be able to offer Chris Paul a five-year, $201 million contract that would have culminated with a $46 million salary in his final season.

Did they offer that much before sending him to the Rockets?

Just as one side is trying to pin all the Clippers’ problems on Doc Rivers and Austin Rivers, the Clippers surely want to spin Paul’s exit to another way – that they shrewdly chose when to part ways rather than that they lost the best player in franchise history due to nepotism.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

If Paul really wanted that five-year max, he could have pushed harder for it by bringing counter offers to the Clippers in July rather than engineering his way to Houston before free agency even began.

Would the Clippers have eventually relented and offered the five-year max? We can never know for certain.

But it’s pretty clear why the Clippers would want this version out there. Accurate or not, it makes them seem far more on top of things and is less likely to taint them with free agents they covet in 2018.