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Reports of labor deal being struck premature, talks continue

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Former NBA executive Dave Checketts — the former GM of the Jazz and a guy once up the corporate ladder at Madison Square Garden — went on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City and said that he has heard the NBA owners and players have reached framework deal for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. That lit up twitter with a frenzy that we finally will have hoop.

But before you pop that champagne, everyone on the ground at the lockout hotel says they have been told that is not the case. Multiple reports out of the negotiating room say no deal yet. The sides are still talking going into their fifth hour Wednesday.

A tweet from Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated sums up the sentiment of many:

Source says a deal hasn’t been reached between NBA and @TheNBPA, but reasons 4 optimism continue. And I haven’t been the optimistic type.

However, there are other reports saying there has been no real progress toward a deal since Wednesday night.

Checketts is no longer in the NBA — he is the owner or Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. While he certainly has NBA contacts you want to take anything he says with more than a few grains of salt. He is not in the loop.

That said, he’s not a guy that has a reputation for leaking wild stories or being a loudmouth. There is a lot of optimism that a deal is close.

But it’s not that yet.

UPDATE 6:14 pm: Here is exactly what Checketts said in his radio interview (via Eye on Basketball):

“The rumblings coming out of both the players side and the owners side are suggesting that there is a deal,” Checketts said. “They were together for 11 hours yesterday, they met again this afternoon, I think that they are trying to finish this up.  I think this changed pretty dramatically when the owners set a deadline.”

“I’ve received a couple of phone calls from friends who are very close to the process who say, ‘We have a deal and it’s now a matter of getting everything straightened out.’ If that is the case, this will be a very big story.”

Report: Bulls hire North Carolina State’s Bobby Lutz as D-League head coach

WORCESTER, MA - MARCH 18:  Charlotte 49ers coach Bobby Lutz looks up in the first half a game against the N.C. State Wolfpack during the first round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship at the DCU Center March 18, 2005 in Worcester, Massachusetts.  (Photo By Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Bulls are one of the teams getting a D-League affiliate franchise this season. The Windy City Bulls will play in the suburb of Hoffman Estates, and now they have a head coach: North Carolina State assistant Bobby Lutz.

Via Upside & Motor‘s Chris Reichert:

Lutz was previously linked to the Bulls’ D-League job in July but there was confusion as to whether he would actually get the job. Now, it appears he has. And he has familiarity with the coaching staff, having served as an assistant coach at Iowa State under Fred Hoiberg in 2010-11, prior to going to NC State.

Evan Fournier pokes fun at his ‘NBA 2K’ likeness

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 07:  Evan Fournier #10 of the Orlando Magic dribbles the ball against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 7, 2016 in Oakland, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The release of NBA 2K17, the latest edition of the popular 2K video-game series, is less than a month away. Players are starting to get their likenesses in the game, as well as their player ratings, and tweet them out. Magic forward Evan Fournier wasn’t too happy with the way his came out.

Fournier’s countryman Rudy Gobert got in on the fun, too, changing his Twitter avatar to Fournier’s screenshot and encouraging others to do the same. He even created a hashtag for it.

At least they’re having fun with it.

Report: Sixers expected to waive Tibor Pleiss after trade with Jazz

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Tibor Pleiss #21 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 30, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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 Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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On Friday, the Jazz traded German center Tibor Pleiss to the Sixers along with two second-round picks for Kendall Marshall. The big draw of the trade for Philly was the picks, and Pleiss is not expected to stay with the Sixers, according to Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia’s Jessica Camerato.

Pleiss had a forgettable season with Utah, and the Sixers have a glut of bigs including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. It would have been virtually impossible for Pleiss to crack the rotation, and it’s unlikely another team picks up his contract, which has $3 million guaranteed this season.

Jordan releases new Russell Westbrook ad, may include a shot at Kevin Durant

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 28:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder (L) and Russell Westbrook #0 look on during a press conference after the Golden State Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-101 in game six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 28, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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As a Jordan Brand athlete, Russell Westbrook is under the same Nike umbrella as former teammate Kevin Durant. But his latest Jordan spot, released Friday, has a very pointed tagline: “Some run, some make runways.”

Given the circumstances, it’s hard to interpret that as anything other than a reference to Durant signing with the Warriors and Westbrook signing an extension with the Thunder.