Kevin Martin

NBA overseas roundup: Kevin Martin likely staying stateside

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We told you the big news already — J.R. Smith had a potentially serious injury and AK47 had one that looks painful but will only keep him out a few weeks. But there is other news about NBA players looking overseas, so here is a roundup.

• Rockets guard Kevin Martin is getting overseas options but he doesn’t sound like a guy likely to take them, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo.

• Pacers guard T.J. Ford has reached a deal to play for Croatia to join KK Zagreb, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. There is an NBA opt out to return (the Pacers would probably like him to stay).

• Athletic Rockets swingman Chase Budinger is close to signing with Lokomotiv-Kuban in Russia. He had a few options (including France). He will have an opt-out for when the NBA season starts.

• Turkish club Besiktas has been looking for a big to pair with Deron Williams and set their sights high (Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge) but seems to have come back to Marcin Gortat. Who is still a good fit, but not quite the athlete the other two are.

• Rockets guard Goran Dragic has agreed to terms and will play for Caja Laboral of the Spanish league during the lockout.

• Patrick Mills has left playing for Melbourne in his native Australia to sign with the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers in China. The answer to you next question is money. If the NBA lockout ends and there is a season Mills will be one of the free agent guards available in March when the Chinese season ends, but he likely will not be in the NBA before that.

• Pacers guard George Hill says he will not play overseas during the lockout.

• The Spurs Da’Sean Butler has signed with VEF Riga in Latvia on a two-week “tryout” contract.

• Dexter Pittman said he will play for Atenas de Cordoba in Argentina. He is still under contract to the Heat.

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell

After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.