Report: FIBA clears Kenyon Martin to play in NBA now

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Kenyon Martin has making the rounds talking to teams — the Clippers, the Heat and more teams than we realized (more on that below) — but we thought he couldn’t play until Feb. 15 at the earliest. That’s because when he left the Chinese Basketball Association after signing there during the lockout the contract said he could not leave mid-season. When he left mid-season anyway the deal was he couldn’t sign with another team until the Chinese season ended (two weeks, but if his team made the playoffs it could go another month).

China was not going to grant him a letter of clearance. But FIBA did.

That’s what Adrian Wojnarowski is of Yahoo Sports is reporting on twitter.

After China failed to respond to request for Letter of Clearance for Kenyon Martin, FIBA made surprising decision to grant it, sources say…. Belief was China wouldn’t issue OK to let KMart play in NBA until Chinese season was done; FIBA ruled it OK in last 24 hours, sources say….

Because of FIBA clearance, KMart selection process will move faster, sources say. Scenario: Weekend decision, physical w/ team on Monday.

Martin is a quality big man who can change the title hopes for teams. Where is he going to land? More from Wojnarowski.

Kenyon Martin is on visit to Atlanta today, intrigued w/ significant role he could play w/ Hawks, sources say. Clips, Heat high on list too… Martin’s list of suitors also includes Knicks, Lakers, Spurs. NBA may make a Denver sign-and-trade an unlikely scenario, sources say.


Howard Beck of the New York Time
s says the Knicks interest is modest, which makes sense since they need guards not front court help.

If it is minutes he wants, he might get the most with Atlanta. But if it is a ring, hanging with the Clippers or Heat for a few years seems like it would give him a legitimate chance.

Of course, the big issue is always money and years.

We’ll see what is important to Martin, probably by this weekend.

Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge nails three from one knee during warmups (VIDEO)

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Take that Stephen Curry.

Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.

If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.

Stephen Curry drains shots from near half court during warmups like they’re layups

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Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.

Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.

We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.

Gregg Popovich makes it official: No Kawhi Leonard for Game 4

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This was expected. It still sucks to hear.

Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.

Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.

San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.

Report: Orlando hires Toronto GM Jeff Weltman to be president of basketball operations

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In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.

Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.

Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.

Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.

Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.

That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as

Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.

Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.

He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.