Lakers will shut down D-League D-Fenders for a season

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D-league.gifThe Lakers were on the cutting edge — they were one of the first NBA team to own and operate a D-League team to use as a farm system for their NBA squad. Jordan Farmar played a handful of games for them, and Coby Karl played there as well.

Now the Lakers are shutting them down for a year.

It’s a financial thing (just like asking Phil Jackson to take a pay cut). The Lakers have the highest payroll in the NBA ($91.3 million, to which you can add nearly $22 million in luxury tax payments) and while they sell out every home game at the highest ticket prices in the league the team still has felt the financial pinch in sponsorships and other areas, just like every franchise. The Buss family business is the Lakers, they cannot afford for it to lose money.

The D-Fenders brought in almost no revenue. They played most of their home games at Staples Center about four hours before Lakers games and only those with Lakers tickets could attend. And the veteran-heavy Lakers were not using the team to grow young players right now (no Lakers spent time on the D-Fenders this season), they had no need.

The Lakers plan is to find the D-Fenders a new home and try to create their own following, once they re-launch in a year. Where they play will be interesting, minor league teams in every sport have a long history of struggling, in the Los Angeles area marketplace. (Minor league baseball teams 50 miles away from Dodger Stadium have done well, but minor league hockey, ABA teams and other baseball teams closer to LA have struggled.)

The Lakers are making this move at a time the rest of he D-League is doing well — there was record attendance this year for the league as a whole, most teams are stable, the league has a television deal with VERSUS and the league had more than 30 players called up to the NBA this season. The model is working.

Briante Weber goes from Warriors to Hornets, signs 10-day contract with Charlotte

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 13: Briante Weber #12 of the Miami Heat looks on during a timeout against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 13, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)
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Backup point guard Briante Weber has signed a 10-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets. This comes after Weber signed two 10-day contracts with the Golden State Warriors earlier in the season. News of the signing was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.

Weber, 24, played his college games at VCU and in his work this season for Golden State was somewhat disappointing. In seven games, Weber put up 9.4 points, 3.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.3 steals per-game. His advanced numbers tell a bit of a different story, where his box plus/minus was -6.1.

Charlotte will look to use Weber in a backup role to Kemba Walker. Ramon Sessions had been playing rotation player minutes for the Hornets until early February when he suffered a left knee injury that could keep him out up to six weeks.

Stephen Curry assist wins Warriors fan $5,000

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Stephen Curry wasn’t just setting up teammates Saturday night, he was helping out a fan.

One of the Warriors in-game entertainment bits is to have basically adult skeeball for cash. One female fan was doing about as well as I do at arcade skeeball when Stephen Curry ran out to give her a little help and win her $5,000.

The Warriors went on to beat the Nets and clinch a playoff slot with the win.

Paul George ejected for arguing calls, Pacers go on to lose to Heat

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Paul George already had one technical in the game (from a double technical situation), when he thought he was fouled and should have gotten a call fairly early in the third quarter of a tight Pacers game against the Heat.

George apparently wouldn’t let up barking at the referees, maybe said some magical words, but whatever happened the officials hit him with a second technical. He was tossed. You can see the reaction above.

The Pacers hung close in the game until the Heat went on a 21-4 run to open the fourth and that was the ballgame. If you’re the undisputed leader of your team — as George is — you just can’t get tossed for things like this.

Warriors first team to clinch playoff slot with win over Nets

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 27 points on a night Kevin Durant missed his first game of the season with a hand injury, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Brooklyn Nets 112-95 on Saturday to clinch a playoff berth.

Klay Thompson added 24 points. Curry converted a four-point play just before halftime to put his team up 62-51 at the break. The two-time reigning MVP had five 3-pointers and five assists.

This is just a first step for these star-studded, NBA-best Warriors (49-9): They want the No. 1 seed in the West. Oh, and a championship.

Durant sat out with a bruised left hand. He injured his pinkie in the first quarter of a 123-113 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, and X-rays were negative. He practiced Friday with his left hand heavily taped and still had some discomfort Saturday.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 16 points in the Nets’ 16th straight defeat.