Luol Deng, Alonzo Gee

Luol Deng-Andrew Bynum trade could backfire on both Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers in short term

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The Luol Deng-Andrew Bynum trade signaled two teams hoping to go opposite directions in the short term.

The Cavaliers clearly want to make the playoffs. Dan Gilbert has said so, and the franchise’s moves reflect that goal.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying the Bulls clearly want to miss the playoffs, but when you have a 14-18 record, you don’t trade one of your top players for only draft picks unless you’re at least comfortable in the lottery.

But it’s very possible, perhaps bordering on likely, the Cavaliers miss the postseason and the Bulls make it – a twisted reality that adds a little more intrigue to this deal if you, like me, enjoy a little chaos.

Every trade poses long-term risk. The Bulls don’t yet know how they’ll be able to use their new financial flexibility, and the Cavaliers don’t yet know how valuable the picks they surrendered will become. Those far-reaching ramifications are difficult to predict, and although they’re essential to every trade, it can be excusable when teams incorrectly project the distant future.

But the rest of this season? That should be in sharper focus.

At face value, this trade seems to have relatively simple short-term ramifications. The Cavaliers add a good player, so they’ll get better. The Bulls lose a good player, so they’ll get worse.

However, the current standings complicate just what that those two effects will mean on the playoff race.

Chicago is sixth in the Eastern Conference and holds a two-game buffer for its playoff spot. Cleveland, in 13th place, is three games out of the last postseason spot.

That doesn’t seem like much for either team to overcome in each direction, but it is. We’re 70 days into the season, and at this point historically, a large majority of playoff spots are already settled.

Of course, some teams are so far ahead, there’s practically no chance they’ll slip out of the postseason picture. Other teams are so far behind, they definitely won’t make a run.

But even focusing on teams like the Cavaliers and Bulls, teams closer to the line, doesn’t suggest a flip in the standings is likely. In the last five 82-game seasons, two-thirds of teams within three games either side of the playoff cutoff 70 days into the season have remained on the same side of the cutoff when the season ended.

Simply, the Bulls have their work cut out for them to get better lottery odds, and the Cavaliers face an even tough task in making the playoffs. Swapping Deng will help, but these aren’t the only teams to make a mid-season trade in the last five full seasons. Playoff shakeups this far into the season just aren’t common.

Craig Sager to skip Rio Olympics to fight leukemia

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16:  Legendary TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager talks with Game 6 of the 2016 NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena on June 16, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Sager is on a one game assignment for ESPN. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Craig Sager’s fight with leukemia will prevent the basketball sideline reporter form covering the Rio Olympics for NBC.

NBC said Thursday in a statement that the 65-year-old Sager is preparing for a third bone marrow transplant at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Sager was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and announced in March that he was no longer in remission.

The Rio Games would have been Sager’s fifth Olympics.

Sager has worked for Turner Sports for 34 years. At the ESPY Awards this month, Vice President Joe Biden presented Sager with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at Democratic National Convention (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar speaks at the South Los Angeles Get Out The Vote Rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at Leimert Park Village Plaza on June 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. The presidential hopeful is attending a series of campaign stops on the eve of the California presidential primary election, where polls indicate a close divide between Clinton supporters and those of Democratic rival Senator Bernie Sanders.   (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
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With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”

You can watch the video of his speech below:

Kevin Durant denies report he told Russell Westbrook he was returning to Oklahoma City

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.

“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.

“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”

So that settles that.

Report: Spurs agree to two-year deal with free agent forward David Lee

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 01:  David Lee #42 of the Dallas Mavericks during the first half at American Airlines Center on March 1, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.   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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Lee will have a player option in the second year of his deal, which will be worth the veteran’s minimum.

Lee, 33, considered more lucrative deals elsewhere, but committed to the Spurs’ opportunity to win a championship and play a backup role to LaMarcus Aldridge andPau Gasol.

General manager “R.C [Buford] and coach [Gregg] Popovich put a lot of time and energy to give David a visual of how much they wanted him and would use him,” Bartelstein told The Vertical. “A lot of people talk about taking less money, and not many people do it, so the Spurs get a lot of credit for selling David on joining their organization.”

After winning a championship with the Warriors in 2015, Lee was dealt to Boston last offseason, where he fell out of the rotation quickly. He was bought out midseason and signed with the Mavericks. He was solid in Dallas, but at his age and with almost no defensive ability, he didn’t draw much interest on the market. In San Antonio, he likely won’t have a big role, but he’s a solid veteran scorer in the frontcourt off the bench in limited minutes.