Suns’ Childress doesn’t get NBA players talking Europe

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Josh Childress has been there — when the Atlanta Hawks tried to lowball him, he took a three-year deal to go play for Olympiacos in Greece. Childress has played at Europe in his prime.

He has done what everyone is talking about. He sees a lot of guys — Ty Lawson is the latest, joining Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and others — saying they are open to playing in Europe during the NBA lockout. Deron Williams has a deal to play in Turkey if the lockout lasts into September (and it very likely will).

Childress doesn’t get it. He has four years, $27 million left on his NBA deal and he wouldn’t risk it heading back to Europe. He told that to ESPN’s Ric Bucher (on the site’s pay-per-view Insider):

“No, I wouldn’t,” he says. “And I don’t know why guys would. I understand that guys really want to play. But you sometimes have to look at what you have and treat this as a business. The only way I could see it making sense is if you’re a player from a particular country going back. But for an American player with a good-sized guaranteed deal here, I can’t see why you’d do it.”

The risk is losing out on your deal if you get injured. Williams has two years, $34 million on his deal and is gearing up to opt out of the last year of his deal to get a huge free agent payday (from the Nets or someone else). If he were to suffer a major injury playing in Europe — where the game is allowed to be more physical than in the NBA — he risks all of it. NBA teams can void a contract if a player is injured playing in Europe. But even if he comes back from that injury he may not make near what he would have made before.

NBA contracts cannot be voided if a player is injured playing in a pickup game or in Summer League. Go read Bucher’s well done piece, he goes into it in detail, but the bottom line is every standard NBA contract has a clause that lets players play in the summer in training for the next season. Things like Summer League, pickup games and pro-ams are included on the list of things allowed.

Playing in Europe is not. Barnstorming tours of China are not.

Europe makes sense for Sasha Vujacic or Sonny Weems, guys who were free agents and will make close to their NBA salaries in Europe. Where they know there will be a season.

For stars it is different. It’s a risk — one NBA players with guaranteed deals are taking to make a fraction of their current deal. Childress doesn’t get it. A lot of agents don’t either. Which is why despite players talking big about the idea, when it comes time to sign you will not see many actually put pen to paper.

Childress also adds that it is commercial flights, not five-star hotels and a very different system in Europe than America.

“Here the stars run the show,” Childress says. “Over there it’s the coach, and the coach only. You really have to buy into the system. The style of play is slower, a lot closer to a college style. It’s a lot less reliant on talent and more on tactics and execution. They definitely have a high opinion of how they play the game and view NBA basketball as street ball. You go over there, you’re playing against everyone — other players, fans, referees, everyone. You don’t get calls because you’re stronger, faster and more athletic, so they think you should be able to take it.”

NBA reacts to Suns’ Devin Booker dropping 70 on Celtics

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Devin Booker was the story of the NBA Friday night.

The 20-year-old Suns’ guard — who never scored more than 19 points in a game at Kentucky in college — dropped 70 on the Boston Celtics in a losing effort. He becomes only the sixth player in NBA history to score at least 70 in a game. At the end the Suns were fouling and calling time outs to stop the clock and get the ball back to Booker, but as Phoenix coach Earl Watson said to those who complained, “You got a problem with that? Do something. Simple as that.”

NBA Twitter exploded at what Booker did.

Booker himself responded this way.

Lonzo Ball makes expected official, declares for NBA Draft

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There was no hesitation. None was expected.

After UCLA was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16 by Kentucky, the Bruin’s Lonzo Ball — who is expected to be a top-three pick — declared for the NBA draft this June.

Ball is expected to go second or third in the upcoming NBA draft. Speaking with people around the league Washington’s Markelle Fultz is a clear No. 1, but after that if the Lakers — the team with the second-worst record in the league — have the No. 2 pick they are expected to snap up Ball. Depending on how the lottery shakes out the top of the draft, Ball could fall a little — there are teams that like Josh Jackson — but not much.

Ball is a 6’6″ point guard who averaged 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds a game for UCLA last season. He has fantastic passing vision, impressive shooting range (although he can take some questionable shots), and a great sense of floor spacing and how to run an offense, particularly in transition. However, his weaknesses were exposed in his final game some as De’Aaron Fox of Kentucky completely outplayed Ball. Defensive pressure took Ball (and the Bruins) out of rhythm, forced them to play in the half court (where Ball is not as strong), and it’s one of the things Ball is going to have to adapt to at the next level where everyone is more athletic. Also, he’s going to need to get more consistent defensively.

The potential for Ball to be special is there, which is why he will go high in the draft.

And no, the rantings of his father will not change that. Teams see the father as a distraction that can be handled, they aren’t going to let him get in the way of drafting talent.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).