toronto

It’s official: Toronto to host 2016 NBA All-Star Game

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We told you this was coming last week but now NBA’s commissioner in waiting Adam Silver and the league have made it official:

Toronto will host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.

The announcement came on the 20th anniversary of Toronto being awarded an NBA franchise.

“We are thrilled that Toronto is hosting our first NBA All-Star Game outside the United States,” Silver said in a released statement. “As the site of the first game ever in the NBA, Toronto is an ideal location for this global basketball celebration.”

This came together because of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (which owns the Raptors) CEO Tim Leiweke. He is connected and respected in the league office. Leiweke was the guy who helped get the Staples Center built in Los Angeles (when he worked for AEG) and brought two All-Star Games to Los Angeles. He thanked his predecessor Bryan Colangelo for planting the seed, but he got it across the finish line.

“This will be the first time we played the All-Star Game outside of the United States,” Leiweke said at the press conference, then he turned to address Silver. “We appreciate that you have a vision like we do of the greatness of basketball in Canada and if you look at where we are headed as an organization we are going to help take this sport in Canada… we are blessed the sport is growing like it is in Canada.”

The 2014 NBA All-Star Game will take place in New Orleans, then in 2015 the Knicks and Nets will share the event in New York City.

By 2016 the Raptors will have a new look — not a new name, something Leiweke said, but he added they were teaming with Drake to help give the team a makeover. It could use one.

The goal is to make the 2016 All-Star Game a celebration of Toronto, all of it, both Drake and Leiweke said.

It could use one on the court as well, that job falls to new GM Masai Ujiri. He has already rid the Raptors of the anchor contract and PR disaster that was Andrea Bargnani, which was a step. Now he has to put a team together that can win. No pressure, but you need an All-Star by 2016.

Kings’ Rudy Gay suffers apparent torn left Achilles tendon, would be done for season

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This not only changes the Kings dreams of making the playoffs in the West, it also alters the trade deadline and free agency.

Rudy Gay, the Kings wing and second-leading scorer, has been diagnosed with a torn left Achilles tendon, according to the team. During the third quarter of Wednesday night’s game against the Pacers, Gay drove out of the right corner and, untouched, fell to the floor hard. He had to be helped off the court by teammates.

Team doctors made the initial torn Achilles diagnosis, which will need to be confirmed by an MRI scheduled for Thursday. He would be out not only for this season but likely the start of the next one as well.

Without Gay, a lot more will fall on Matt Barnes and, once he returns from his calf injury in a couple of weeks, Omri Casspi. Those two are a drop off from what Gay brought to the Kings,  and with that team’s playoff chances have taken a hit (they are 1.5 games out of the eight seed after Wednesday’s loss to the Pacers). Don’t be surprised if the Kings look to add a scorer at the trade deadline.

Gay was not happy in Sacramento and said he planned to opt out of the $14.3 million final year of his contract to be a free agent next summer, which made him someone potentially traded before the deadline (although the Kings being in the playoff hunt impacted that). Gay averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds a game for the Kings, and while his game was a little old school — more isolation and midrange shots than teams prefer — he put up points. Enough that he was drawing trade interest heading toward the deadline from Oklahoma City and other squads.

That is all off the table now. At age 30, if Gay does still opt out of his contract for next season this will impact what he would make on the free market.

Zaza Pachulia lays out Russell Westbrook, stands over him (video)

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Kevin Durant playing the Thunder invites extra emotions.

Russell Westbrook felt them – in the form of a flagrant foul by Warriors center Zaza Pachulia, who stood over Westbrook for emphasis.

Pachulia is really embracing his role doing the dirty work for star-studded Golden State.

Report: 76ers’ Ben Simmons sitting entire season still on table

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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That rumor No. 1 pick Ben Simmons won’t play this season?

It just won’t die.

Even after Simmons tried to quash it, even after the 76ers’ CEO outright denied it, even after Simmons returned to practice, even in an otherwise optimistic report.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

76ers rookie forward Ben Simmons could make his much-anticipated NBA debut shortly after the All-Star break, league sources told ESPN.

Barring a setback in his recovery, sources say the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft has a chance to take the hardwood near March. There still remains the possibility Simmons sits the entire season, sources said, but his situation will continue to be thoroughly evaluated throughout his comeback quest.

76ers coach Brett Brown said there’s “no chance” Simmons plays in Philadelphia’s nationally televised game against the Rockets next week. Other than that, there isn’t much clarity.

It mostly sounds as if Simmons is still too far from returning to say something definitive.

Roy Hibbert passes ball into hoop, reacts with perfect facial expression (video)

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The Hornets did so much right in their 107-85 win over the Trail Blazers, even a bad pass went through the hoop.

Roy Hibbert reacted fantastically to blunder/basket (blasket?).