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NBA Draft Combine news and notes

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The NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is a big deal, and it isn’t.

For a guy like Kyrie Irving, him basically skipping the event other than to get measured doesn’t matter. He did have 10.2 percent body fat, pretty high for a guard, and that doesn’t matter. He will go No. 1 to Cleveland anyway. Most of the top prospects skipped out on the drills, something that will not impact their draft status if they look good in individual workouts going forward.

But for other guys father down the list, this can move them up in the draft, drop them or get them noticed at all.

After two days of reading Draft Express, watching the ESPN coverage and looking at everything else here are some notes of guys who got noticed at the combine. Follow this link to the full list of measurements from the combine.

• Enes Kanter, center, Turkey: You remember his as the guy who went to Kentucky but couldn’t play because he’d played for a professional team in Turkey at 16. Because he basically hasn’t played anywhere outside of the NIKE Hoop Summit in the last two years, scouts and GMs were watching closely. What they saw was pretty impressive athleticism, good touch, not much on the defensive end. What he did was probably work as hard or harder than any other center out there. That matters.

But there are also a report from Andy Katz of ESPN that Kanter stood up the Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee bucks for interviews. The Jazz are the team with the No. 3 pick. Interesting, and there are rumors he doesn’t want to play for them. Remember that Utah tried to chase Chris Paul around for an interview back in the day, and the fact they got sick of it was part of the reason they took Deron Williams ahead of him.

• Jeremy Tyler, center, he’s been everywhere: You may remember this story, Tyler was one of the leading prep prospects as a junior in San Diego and he skipped his senior year of high school and all of college to play overseas. Where he was almost invisible in Israel and Japan, not impressing in not very good leagues. He’s got size — 6’10” with a 7’5” wingspan — and he just looks like an NBA player. There is some real buzz about him as he showed of a respectable midrange game and worked hard at the combine. That said his skill set seems to need a lot of work and after he floundered in mediocre leagues there should be questions. Might be a good second round pick as a project, he could develop into a rotation player (but expect a year in the D-League for him).

Nikola Vucevic, center, USC: He was the tallest player at the combine, 6’11” and 3/4, plus he showed surprising skill around the basket. Big, NBA ready body. Most people think he was a second rounder going in, but big men tend to move up as the draft gets closer, don’t be shocked to see him late in the first round.

• Marshon Brooks, guard, Providence: 6’5” with a massive 7’1” wingspan, he showed some real athleticism with some big dunks and blocks. But he also seemed to have a real feel for the game and be quite smooth. That should move him up. Then again, according to Jonathan Givony at DraftExpress Brooks referred to himself in the third person during interviews, turning some teams off.

• Kenneth Faried, forward, Morehead State: This guy had the Ronny Turiaf camp — he doesn’t have a lot of skill but he does know who he is on the court and wants to out work everyone. Turiaf was a guy diving two rows into the stands for the ball at Summer League, Faried could be that kind of guy. GMs love those kind of guys. Lots of good buzz, expect him to stay in the first round.

• Jordan Williams, forward/center, Maryland: He measured just 6’9” in shoes so thinking of him as a center isn’t going to work. But, he dropped about 15 pounds since the end of the season, showing he is taking the whole thing very seriously. He’s a second rounder but it’s things like the body transformation that keep him from dropping down and out.

• Klay Thompson, guard, Washington State: The son of former No. 1 overall Mychal Thompson came into the combine thought of as one of the better shooters in the draft and he didn’t disappoint. He knocked everything down. In a draft where teams drafting from 10 to 25 are looking for guys who can help a little, being a guy who can shoot gets you noticed. Think mid first round.

WNBA rescinds fines regarding protest shirts

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 13, 2016 file photo, members of the New York Liberty basketball team await the start of a game against the Atlanta Dream in New York. The WNBA is withdrawing its fines for teams and players that showed support of citizens and police involved in recent shootings by wearing black warmup shirts before and during games. WNBA President Lisa Borders said in a statement Saturday, July 23, the league was rescinding penalties given to the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty, Phoenix Mercury and their players for wearing the shirts–which was a uniform violation. The players started wearing them to show solidarity after shootings in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
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LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and a number of Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets players wore “I can’t breathe” T-shirts in warmups after the death of Eric Garner in New York. LeBron and his then Heat teammates wore hoodies for a photo shoot after the Travon Martin shooting. NBA players have made other protest fashion statements, with no repercussions from the league.

But when WNBA players wore black warmup shirts in support of Black Lives Matter and other anti-violence protests, the WNBA came down with fines for the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury ($5,000) and players involved ($500) for uniform violations. That led to a lot of backlash — including among WNBA players. Some refused to answer basketball questions with the media after recent games.

Saturday, the WNBA rescinded the fines. As they should have.

The women’s players’ union supported the move, via a statement from the director of operations Terri Jackson.

“We are pleased that the WNBA has made the decision to rescind the fines the league handed down to the players on the Fever, Liberty, and Mercury. We look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with the league to ensure that the players’ desire to express themselves will continue to be supported.”

I want a league — for men or women — where player’s individuality and statements can be made — I don’t want the NBA to be the button-down, cookie cutter NFL. Let the players be themselves. And if players want to weigh in on the biggest social issue of our time, they should. Without fear of repercussion.

Good on the WNBA for coming around to that.

Meyers Leonard says he hopes to be ready by start of Blazers’ season

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 8: Meyers Leonard #11 of the Portland Trail Blazers takes credit for a foul call during the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on December 8, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Meyers Leonard could be poised for a big season in Portland. His minutes jumped last season because he provided spacing. With Portland adding Evan Turner on the wing to go with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, any big who can stretch the floor is going to get run, and Leonard has turned himself into a stretch four.

Leonard just hopes he can show what he can do at the start of the season — he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery. Here is what he told the Associated Press.

“My hope is to be ready right around the start of the season,” he said. “It’s a progression, first introducing rebounding, grabbing stuff overhead, then one-on-one, three-on-three, extending to the full court. We’ll see. You just never know.”

Leonard had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in April (they could have used him in the playoffs), and the timeline then was to have him back around the start of the season. Before he was shut down, he proved enough to get a four-year, $41 million contract extension with the Trail Blazers this summer.

The Trail Blazers will start Al-Farouq Aminu at the four, and Moe Harkless can certainly play there too (I’m far less sold on the future of Noah Vonleh). Leonard wants to get back before someone starts to steal any of his minutes.

Pelicans sign Jones for 1 year, Frazier for 2 years

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 21:  Terrence Jones #6 of the Houston Rockets reacts to a play as Cody Zeller #40 of the Charlotte Hornets looks on during their game at Toyota Center on December 21, 2015 in Houston, Texas. 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Pelicans say they have signed free-agent forward Terrence Jones and re-signed guard Tim Frazier.

A person familiar with the negotiations says Jones, a four-year veteran, signed a one-year deal Friday for the NBA minimum of about $1.14 million, while Frazier has signed a two-year deal worth about $4.1 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not released contract terms.

The 6-foot-9 Jones, who was Anthony Davis‘ teammates on Kentucky’s 2012 national championship team, has spent his first four NBA seasons with Houston, posting career averages of 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.

Frazier played in 16 games for New Orleans late last season, averaging 13.1 points, 7.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 29.3 minutes per game.

Deron Williams says he is recovering well from sports hernia, will be ready to go at camp

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 01:  Deron Williams #8 of the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at American Airlines Center on March 1, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.   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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Deron Williams will be back with the Dallas Mavericks next season — and be ready to go by the start of the season.

He’d like to say he’d be back for the next few seasons, but coming off a Sports Hernia injury his options were a little limited. However, his recovery is going well he told NBC Dallas in an interview from American Century Championships celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe (which you can watch this weekend on NBC).

“Feeling really good. It’s healing pretty well, I’m doing a lot of work on and off the court. I haven’t got the full-go clearance yet, but that’s coming soon. I’ll be ready to go definitely by the time training camp rolls around.

“I’m running, I’m jumping a little bit. I’m just not going crazy. I kind of have to wait for August 1 for that, to go see the doc and get the go ahead. But it’s not much restriction right now.”

Williams averaged 14.1 points and 5.8 assists per game for the Mavericks last season and was solid at 32. His efficiency slipped a little (to be expected as he is on the wrong side of 30 and has plenty of miles) but he played well for Dallas.

Dallas signed him to a one-year, $10 million deal. Williams was hoping for a little more security.

“I was happy to come back. Would have liked a little longer deal but I’m back for one year and hopefully can build on last year and improve. I think there’s room for a lot of improvement. Hopefully I can stay healthy. I think that’s the biggest key but I’m excited about this year and this team.”

The one-year deal is more about Dallas than Williams — they could see a significant shift in plans when Dirk Nowitzki steps away (he inked a two-year deal but the second year is only $5 million guaranteed, so he could be in his final run if he wants).

Dallas added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Warriors to a starting five that also includes Nowitzki, Williams, and Wesley Matthews. If they can stay healthy — no little thing with that group — it’s a quality starting five that coach Rick Carlisle is going to love.