Dante Exum

Dante Exum downplays report he’s angling to be drafted by Lakers

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The NBA Draft Combine began in Chicago on Thursday, and perhaps the most attention on day one was paid to Australian prospect Dante Exum.

The 6’6″ point guard hasn’t been seen by many decision makers in person, and his appearance at the combine and willingness to go through the process speaks to the mystery surrounding him, as well as his hope of rising even further up NBA draft boards.

That would seem to be a strategy that would do anything but help the Lakers select him.

Exum signed on with Kobe Bryant’s agent Rob Pelinka, and has been working out in Los Angeles since just after the All-Star break. It was reported that he may try to force his way to L.A., even though that’s not something that would deter other teams from drafting him in the slightest. But he downplayed that in speaking to reporters.

From the Associated Press:

Exum attended several Lakers games this season and got to meet Kobe Bryant, but he downplayed a report that he would prefer to play for them. He insists he’s most concerned about the fit when it comes to who drafts him.

“Obviously the Lakers are a great organization,” he said. “But I’m in this draft to go to a place I feel best at, that is a good fit for me.”

Simply showing up to the combine makes Exum easy to believe, as the only reason to do so would be to impress teams and to generate a buzz that could help him emerge as one of the top few picks.

Most mocks have Exum going somewhere in the top five, and if the lottery goes according to statistical probability, that would leave the Lakers on the outside, as they would be slotted for sixth. But as Exum has seemed to make clear, he hopes to be selected much higher than that.

Report: Bulls’ Cristiano Felicio ‘strong favorite’ to replace Anderson Varejao on Brazilian Olympic team

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 19: Cristiano Felicio #6 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on February 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 116-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Warriors center Anderson Varejao will miss the Rio Olympics due to a back injury.

Where will Team Brazil turn now?

Likely to Bulls center Cristiano Felicio.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Felicio came on strong late last season. He puts his 6-foot-10, 275-pound frame to good use protecting the paint and rebounding. He showed potential as passer and mid-range shooter, too.

At age 24, he’s a candidate to break out in the Olympics.

If he’s not ready, Brazil can turn to a steady veteran at center, Nene.

Report: Equipment staffer punched by Blake Griffin no longer works for Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin stands on the court as equipment manager Matias Testi, left, stands behind the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Los Angeles. Griffin broke his hand last month when he punched Testi in the face. The Clippers won 105-86. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Blake Griffin broke his hand punching Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi in January.

Make that former Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi.

TMZ:

The L.A. Clippers equipment staffer who was punched in the face by Blake Griffin during a fight in Toronto earlier this year is off the team — and will NOT be back for the ’16/’17 season … TMZ Sports has learned.

We spoke with a rep for the Clippers who confirmed Matias Testi “no longer works for the team.”

#Family

Writer recants report of Kevin Durant telling Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with Thunder

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 03:  Kevin Durant #35 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder talk to head coach Billy Donovan during their game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on March 3, 2016 in Oakland, California.  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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The report that Kevin Durant told Russell Westbrook he’d re-sign with the Thunder before choosing the Warriors?

Never mind.

Royce Young of ESPN:

I misspoke in saying that Durant specifically told Westbrook he was coming back.

Warriors/Brazil center Anderson Varejao to miss Olympics with back injury

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Dan Clark #13 of Great Britain shoots over Anderson Varejao #11 of Brazil in the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match between Great Britain and Brazil on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Center Anderson Varejao will miss the Olympics for host Brazil because of a herniated disc in his lower back.

The Golden State Warriors announced the injury Wednesday and say that Varejao should be ready for the start of training camp but will not be healthy enough to play in the Olympics. Varejao recently experienced back pain while training with the Brazilian National Team and returned to California to be examined by Dr. Robert Watkins earlier this week.

Varejao averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 22 games after signing with the Warriors on Feb. 22. He re-signed with the team earlier this month.