Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson to sign deal with Besiktas Cola Turka

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Last we heard, our dear friend Allen Iverson was negotiating a potential contract with Besiktas Cola Turka, an Istanbul-based team of the Turkish Basketball League. “Penalties” embedded in the contract were the reported hang-up between Iverson and Turka but something had to give for A.I. to play basketball in Europe next season, and give it did. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports, Iverson has agreed to a two-year, $4 million deal that will put him in the TBL next season.

Iverson has fallen from grace in slow motion. As a once-heralded MVP and leader of an overachieving Philadelphia 76ers team that made it all the way to the 2001 NBA finals, Iverson was a household name. His crossover was ubiquitous. His reputation hardly sterling, but a needed component of his creation myth. Iverson changed the game and its culture with his style and his swagger, while many dared not question the effects of his inefficient scoring style on the teams he supposedly championed.

The rest, as they say, is history. Iverson wore out his welcome in Philly, wore out his welcome in Denver, wore out his welcome in Detroit, wore out a welcome he probably never should have had in Memphis, and returned to Philly only to split shortly thereafter. All the while, Iverson as basketball revolutionary faded into the background, and what that revolutionary stood for on the hardwood itself took center stage. You can represent Iverson’s game in any number of ways, but at this stage in his career, he’s less efficient than ever, even more flawed as a defender than he was in his gamble-happy glory days, and forever tied to his own self-conception. Iverson’s ego, his work ethic, and his selfishness are no longer drowned out by the volume of his high-scoring game. He might still be good for a few spins of the turnstile (a fitting turn of phrase given AI’s status as a ticket draw and a notorious defensive dupe), but NBA owners and managers clearly don’t see him as being worth the hassle.

He’s still worth some hassle to someone, though. Iverson had offers to play in Turkey and China, and ultimately decided on Besiktas. Spears reports that Iverson’s deal will have an opt-out clause after the coming season, should he look to make an NBA return or perhaps jump to another league, but his deal will have no mid-season escape clause should a better offer come along. Iverson will be playing in Turkey this season. It’s a strange landing spot for a distinctly American basketball icon, but this is where Iverson’s path, ever unpredictable, has taken him.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee go make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 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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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.

Rudy Gay, Vlade Divac clear the air

Rudy Gay
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Rudy Gay expressed displeasure with how the Kings were handling trade rumors. Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac retorted that Gay had his phone number.

Apparently, Gay found it.

Sean Cunningham of ABC 10:

Following those comments, Gay told ABC10 on Thursday afternoon that he had since spoken with Divac.

“I have talked to Vlade,” Gay said from his Nike Skills Academy at Hardwood Palace in Rocklin. “I can’t say since Monday stuff has changed, but I just feel like we have a little bit of time to start changing things.”

Gay, who will be entering his 11th NBA season, has insisted he hasn’t demanded a trade and should he remain a member of the Kings by the time training camp opens in October, he says he’ll report and be ready to go.

“At this point in my career I just want to be happy,” said Gay. “I talked to Vlade and we’re trying to make that happen.”

Even if he hasn’t demanded a trade, it sure sounds like Gay would welcome one. I doubt the Kings would mind moving on, either.

But it takes another team to trade for Gay, and so far, one hasn’t emerged.

In the meantime, tensions appear to be eased. Open communication usually helps.