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NBA Summer League returning to Las Vegas

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After a lockout-induced one-year hiatus, the NBA’s Summer League will return to Las Vegas this July 13-22 at the Thomas & Mack Center and the COX Pavilion on the campus of UNLV. From the official release:

“Launched in 2004 as the Las Vegas Summer League, the inaugural event featured six NBA teams (Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards) playing a 13-game slate. The NBA joined forces with the original event organizers in 2007, and the summer showcase has expanded exponentially since its inception.

“During the most recent competition in 2010, 22 NBA teams, including 11 playoff teams, competed in a 58-game schedule that featured 10 of the topm14 picks in the 2010 NBA Draft. Fans that weren’t able to experience the action in person were able to tune into NBA TV or log on to NBA.com and see every play, including Jeremy Lin’s breakout performance for the Dallas Mavericks. Matched up against John Wall and the Washington Wizards on July 15, 2010, Lin scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks mounted a furious comeback after trailing from the opening buzzer, to come within six points of victory, before falling, 88-82. …

“Exciting games featuring the NBA’s newest talent have always been a staple at NBA Summer League. Five of the last six NBA Rookie of the Year award winners have joined their teams in Las Vegas including: Chris Paul (New Orleans Hornets, 2005-06), Brandon Roy (Portland Trail Blazers, 2006-07), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City, 2007-08), Tyreke Evans (Sacramento, 2009-10) and Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers, 2010-11).”

Summer League is loved by bloggers for the casual atmosphere and increased access to players and front office personnel. It’s also loathed by many traveling beat writers, who aren’t all that interested in racking up the extra Marriott points after the long grind of the season just to cover some practice games for players who, for the most part, won’t be making an immediate impact in the league any time soon.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.

Russell Westbrook: ‘Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—’ (video)

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Did Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant talk during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night? Westbrook said no, though video and first-hand accounts indicate otherwise.

Even more clearly: Westbrook – who walked near teammates Enes Kanter, Anthony Morrow and Jerami Grant – didn’t want someone talking to someone as they left the floor after the game. ESPN caught Westbrook saying, “Don’t say what’s up to that b— a—.”

You will never convince anyone Westbrook is referring to anyone but Durant.

Russell Westbrook commits epic travel (video)

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Between getting laid out by Zaza Pachulia and apparently talking with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook committed a travel for the ages.

The Thunder guard took an inbound pass against the Warriors and just started walking up court without dribbling. The violation was so blatant, NBA officials even called the travel.

And it’s not as if they’re inclined to blow a whistle in that situation. Before Westbrook, Kemba Walker set a high bar last season, but he got away with this walk:

Are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant on speaking terms after apparent conversation? Westbrook: ‘Nah’ (video)

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Russell Westbrook deleted Kevin Durant‘s goodbye text and, months later, told the whole world they still hadn’t talked.

That apparently changed during the Warriors’ win over the Thunder yesterday – though not if you ask Westbrook.

Westbrook dunked in the third quarter, and according to ESPN commentator Mark Jackson, Westbrook told Durant, “Don’t jump.” Anthony Slater of The Mercury News also wrote of the same quote.

ESPN’s telecast caught Durant clearly speaking to Westbrook shortly after. It appears Westbrook is talking back, but his back is to the camera.

After the game, Westbrook denied the exchange:

 

  • Reporter: “Are you and KD on speaking terms?”
  • Westbrook: “Nah.”
  • Reporter: “You guys had a little exchange in the third quarter.”
  • Westbrook: “What exchange?”
  • Reporter: “You and KD said something to each other.”
  • Westbrook: “Oh. You gotta maybe sit closer to the game. You maybe didn’t see clearly.”

This is so Westbrook – stubborn to the point of denying reality.

That approach worked for him when everyone rightly told him he was a significantly lesser player than Durant. Westbrook ignored that fact until it became false.

I suspect he wants to forget this exchange so he can maintain a cold animosity toward someone he prefers to resent.