Looming lockout or no, there will still be a draft this June. After that? Good question.

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Yes, we’re still pretty convinced in these parts that there will be a lockout come July 1. Hope we’re wrong, don’t think we are.

But lockout or no, there will be an NBA Draft this June 23. Clippers fans can start debating now whether or not to draft Harrison Barnes with that top pick.

What happens after that, nobody is sure.

Draft picks cannot be signed until after July 1 in any year, according to ESPN’s Collective Bargaining Agreement expert Larry Coon. That means these players will be signed under any new CBA — and if there is a lockout they are locked out. They really have no control over the situation.

The threat of a lockout is not impacting decisions about whether or not to come out or stay in college another year, at least not yet, according to Jonathan Givony, president and director of scouting for Draft Express.

“I imagine at the end of the day players will still enter, except for those rare guys that truly love school and come from the type of background that means they don’t have to worry about financial considerations as much as others,” Givony said via email. “Every year there are a ton of guys who enter without much hesitation at all because they feel like they’ve had enough of college and they are ready to be pros. My opinion is they’ll still enter.”

One interesting side note: As Henry Abbott noted at TrueHoop yesterday, one group that consistently loses in every NBA CBA is young players, particularly those yet to enter the league. To use an easy example, if David Stern wants to push the mandatory one year of college (well, really one year after high school) rule to two years, the players union is likely to go along with that because it means players in the union have fewer people threatening their jobs short term.

That two-year rule will come up in negotiations (whether it is put in or not remains to be seen). But would a rule like that push more players to go the Brandon Jennings route and go to Europe for a couple years?

“Europe could become a more attractive option if that’s indeed the case, but the big-money European teams need to show mutual interest, and right now they aren’t,” Givony said. “Those guys after all really can’t help those teams win games at their level. A lockout will mean more borderline NBA type players will head to Europe, so there will be even less “good jobs” for those high school guys.”

Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.