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.

Russell Westbrook triple-double keys OKC in 3OT thriller vs 76ers

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Russell Westbrook had 27 points, 17 rebounds and 15 assists, and Oklahoma City and the Philadelphia 76ers went basket-for-basket in a three-overtime thriller before the Thunder pulled out a 119-117 victory on Friday night.

Andre Roberson scored the winner with 10 seconds left for the Thunder. But one of the early contenders for NBA game of the year belonged to Joel Embiid and Westbrook as they drove, blocked and rebounded their way toward one big play after another.

Embiid scored 34 points in 48 minutes with an achy back and rallied the Sixers from a 17-point hole.

Embiid, Philly’s franchise center and social media star, grabbed his lower back when he took a hard foul on a drive to the basket in the fourth quarter. Embiid grimaced during timeouts on the bench and trudged into position a few times.

Embiid sucked it up and carried the Sixers in the fourth and the first overtime. His feed to a charging Ben Simmons on the baseline for a two-handed dunk tied the score at 94-all with 53 seconds left in the quarter. The Sixers closed the fourth on an 11-0 run.

Embiid scored the first bucket of OT and the Sixers led for the first time in the game. The Sixers’ five-point lead with 1:20 left in overtime was wiped out on Paul George‘s 3-pointer and a Westbrook bucket that made it 102-all. The Sixers blew their final possession on an ill-conceived 3 for Dario Saric.

Round 2 was just as fun.

Westbrook and Robert Covington exchanged 3s and George tied it at 109 on a driving layup. Westbrook and Embiid swapped buckets that kept it even and the Sixers had one more chance to win it with 1.2 seconds to go in the second OT.

Embiid and Westbrook combined to score eight straight points in the third overtime, and Embiid even waved goodbye as the crowd went wild when Steve Adams fouled out of the game.

But Embiid seemed gassed at the end and there’s no telling how the heavy workload may affect his availability the rest of the week.

The Sixers were featured on ESPN on Friday as part of Philadelphia All Access, and Sixers’ related content was aired throughout the day on all platforms.

“I’m not a fan,” coach Brett Brown said. “I like living behind closed doors.”

But Brown understood the exposure would help build the brand and serve as a recruiting pitch of sorts to any free agents intrigued about becoming part of The Process. The Sixers put on a show in the fourth until Embiid gave them a scare.

Embiid’s health woes have dogged him since his college career at Kansas and every slip, ache or bump throws Sixers fans into a panic. Embiid has been banged-up lately but he calmly went to the line and made both free throws. He fell again when he tripped over Adams, who earned a foul, and sank two more free throws to make it 78-72.

 

After Thunder win, Russell Westbrook trolls Joel Embiid, waves goodbye, tells him to “go home”

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Joel Embiid was making friends all over the court on Friday night.

First, he got into a jawing match with Carmelo Anthony. Also during the first overtime, Embiid blocked Russell Westbrook‘s driving attempt at a game winner.

After the Thunder won in triple overtime, Westbrook trolled Embiid by waving goodbye to the Sixers’ center, who was yelling back at him.

When asked about it, Westbrook said Embiid was talking a lot so he told the Sixers center to go home.

That can have some serious connotations — Embiid was born in Cameroon. Westbrook may have meant “go to the locker room” or “go to where you live,” but considering Embiid is an immigrant it comes off very poorly for Westbrook.

Embiid threw a little fire back at Westbrook.

The league office is going to be looking into this one.

DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t expect Pelicans to trade him at the deadline

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The New Orleans Pelicans have a decision to make as they approach the trade deadline: Do they think they can re-sign DeMarcus Cousins next summer to stay in the Big Easy with Anthony Davis?

If the answer is no, then they have to consider trading Cousins at the deadline to at least get something back. There is a lot of context, however, that makes this seeming binary trade/keep decision far more complicated.

Cousins himself doesn’t think he is going anywhere, as he told Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.

While the Pelicans have a lot to consider with the unrestricted free agent, Cousins says he is confident that he will still be playing for New Orleans after the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“I am confident in my team,” Cousins said. “I am starting to understand this business a lot more than I did before. You can kind of tell when things are about to come about. We’re a very competitive team. A talented team. I don’t think that will be the case at all….

“A.D. hits me with little jabs about free agency all the time, but he also understands,” Cousins said. “It was Jrue in that situation last [offseason], and we understood his situation. Of course, they throw their little jabs. They throw their little jokes. But they are serious at the same time. They are respectful about it at the same time.

The Pelicans are 15-14 and the seven seed in the West entering Friday night’s games, and if New Orleans has a shot at the playoffs come the deadline there is no way he gets moved. Ownership and management want a playoff appearance. They have greenlit adding one of the game’s top centers (Cousins) to go next to Davis, and last summer they paid big to keep Jrue Holiday at the point in New Orleans. If the Pelicans don’t make the playoffs (and possibly even if they do squeak in and get swept out in an ugly fashion), everyone in the organization expects a housecleaning. They have been on edge all season. With jobs on the line, they are not trading Cousins and getting worse short term even if you could argue it was the right basketball move long term.

Will Cousins re-sign with the Pelicans next summer? That will be about the money — what the Pelicans offer, and what other teams will offer in what is expected to be a tight free agent market, especially for centers.  DeAndre Jordan will be on the market as well, not to mention second-tier guys who will be more affordable for teams such as Brook Lopez. In that market, Cousins may want to stay where he likes his teammates and seems happy.

But first he has to get past the trade deadline.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience. After the game he said this.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.