Who is the mystery "deal to go to Vegas" team? (Not Detroit)

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UPDATE 7/16, 11:40 am: Thumbnail image for LasVegasSign.jpgWell, you can cross the Detroit Pistons off the list (and they were the team mentioned in the original article. The Pistons released a statement on this issue:

“Our ownership group has absolutely nothing to do with any proposal that would move the team to Las Vegas.”

As we said, Detroit makes little sense anyway, as the owner has both the team and the building they play in. To split them up and sell those two independently would lower the value of both. They will be sold as a unit (and not moving).

7/15, 3:26 pm: An NBA team moving to Vegas?

Players love the idea. The NBA itself is lukewarm on it but money talks and if a new state-of-the art arena were built and could generate enough revenue it would likely lure a team. Money would buy off all the moral qualms. Man, isn’t capitalism grand?

An investment group in Las Vegas trying to get an arena built (International Development Management LLC) says it has an NBA team “under contract” to sell if they can get help financing an area from the city through tax increment.

What team? We’ve been asking that around Summer League in Vegas.

And more people think this is an overstatement by the investment group than it is an actual deal. Most people we spoke with were not very familiar with the group or the story (and these people follow these things if they are serious).

Nobody knows for sure, but more people here think the group got a “we agree to have a serious conversation with you if you get your arena built” rather than any kind of agreement to sell.

International Development has motive to overstate its case — they are trying to get public financing build an arena (through tax increment, read the story here) in a political climate where that is very unlikely in Las Vegas. Having a deal with a team would give the plan a boost (and even then likely not enough of one). So saying there is a deal even if it isn’t that much of a deal makes sense.

Still, what team could it be?

What we do know it is not the Sacramento Kings. Despite what one email promoting the original story in the Las Vegas Sun was saying, the Maloof brothers are not the guys. Yes, they own the Palms hotel and are Vegas people, but they are set right now. Here is what Joe Maloof told the Sacramento Bee:

“No,” Maloof said. “I don’t even know what that (deal) is.”

The team speculated about in the original story is the Detroit Pistons. And they are for sale, owner Karen Davidson wants to sell the team as she took over when her husband Bill died. Bill was passionate about the Pistons, Karen not so much. She said she hoped to have the team sold by the end of the summer.

But she owns both the Pistons and their building, the Palace at Auburn Hills. She could break them apart and sell them separately, but their value goes down. Most bidders will want both. A Las Vegas investment group would not (the value of the building would fall once the Pistons were out). It just seems unlikely.

Sources speculated some about maybe it being New Orleans or Minnesota, but then said those were just kind of teams where the owner might sell. George Shinn is New Orleans is actively trying to sell but is supposed to have a buyer and deal (plus pulling a team out of New Orleans now could be very bad Karma). Indiana is a name that came up, but they just struck a deal with the city to stay. Buy the Pacers now and you can pay a $30 million premium to leave.

Bottom line, not a lot of the execs in Vegas were not very familiar with the story or the investment group. Which made them skeptical of the entire thing.

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below:

Report: Clippers’ Austin Rivers has broken hand, out 4-6 weeks

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores on a layup past D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 105-93 win at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the next few weeks as he recovers from a broken hand stemming from an altercation with an equipment manager. Now, the Clippers have lost backup point guard Austin Rivers to the exact same injury, albeit not in the same circumstances, obviously.

The loss of Rivers isn’t as devastating as the loss of Griffin, but given the Clippers’ lack of depth, it’s certainly not ideal. Now, Chris Paul‘s only backup is Pablo Prigioni.

Warriors hold off late Thunder run to remain undefeated at home

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For once, a marquee matchup involving the Golden State Warriors lived up to its billing. Their much-hyped meetings with the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs were anticlimactic blowouts nearly free of drama. And for the first half on Saturday night’s 116-108 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, it seemed like the defending champions were headed for another snoozer. They led by as much as 20, and completely outmatched the Thunder on both ends of the floor.

But the Thunder rallied behind a surprising defensive effort in the second half and some solid play from Enes Kanter. Plus, you know, Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 40 points and gave the normally unflappable Draymond Green fits defensively. They tied the game at 104 before Golden State pulled away.

Despite the huge first-half lead, the Warriors weren’t their usual selves. Stephen Curry shot 1-for-8 from behind the three-point line, and triple-double machine Draymond Green scored just nine points. Golden State’s most consistent player was Harrison Barnes, who has probably read the speculation that the Warriors would have to dump him to land Durant this summer. He hit three three-pointers and shot 8-for-14 overall on the way to 19 points.

The Warriors’ bench carried them for stretches, outscoring Oklahoma City’s reserves 42-17.

Despite the Thunder’s late run, this was a statement win for the Warriors. They sent the message that, even when they aren’t in total control from start to finish, they can still pull away from other elite teams. The Thunder have given them the toughest challenge of any team they’ll likely have to face in the late rounds of the playoffs this spring, and it’s to their credit that they took the first-half punch and came back to make it a game. But the Warriors are on a different level from the rest of the league, and they showed that clearly on Saturday.

Kevin Durant brushes off free-agency speculation: “Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision”

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 05:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives on Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 5, 2015 in Oakland, California.  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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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It goes without saying that with the Thunder and Warriors playing each other for the first time on Saturday night, Kevin Durant free-agency talk has been at an all-time high. The hot rumor this week is that the Warriors are the frontrunners to land Durant this summer, which would shake up the league like nothing since LeBron James going to Miami.

Obviously, all parties were going to be asked about it before the hotly anticipated game. And obviously, all parties were going to downplay it. That’s exactly what happened.

Here’s what Durant said, via the San Francisco Chronicle‘s Rusty Simmons:

“Once that time comes, I’ll make that decision. I’ll sit down and talk to my closest friends and family and figure it out, but right now, I’m just trying to be the best basketball player I can be every single day. I have to be at a high level to lead every day at practices, shootarounds and games, and that’s a tough task. I can’t focus on anything else, other than that.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also downplayed the speculation:

“I don’t know why anybody would talk about anything but the fact that we’re 45-4 and have a hell of a team,” said Kerr, who hasn’t addressed rumors about Durant favoring the Bay Area as a future destination with his players. “Why would anybody talk about some different team, future stuff and other players?

“Focus on our team. We’re pretty good.”

On both sides, that’s the appropriate way to respond publicly. Not that this is going to go away anytime soon. They play each other two more times this season, once in Oklahoma City and once more in Oakland, and this is going to get brought up then, too. And just like Saturday, nobody will give a definitive answer. Nor should they. Nobody will know anything until July 1. But until then, it will be impossible to quiet the chatter.