San Van Gundy

Stan Van Gundy adjusting to wearing multiple hats as Big Kahuna in Detroit

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CHICAGO — As Detroit Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy addressed media members in the hallway at the Quest Multisport in Chicago during Friday’s NBA Draft combine, an alarm went off on his phone.

Since Van Gundy is wearing so many hats in his new role with the Pistons, he had a radio interview to attend to as the former head coach of the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat attempts to juggle all of his new responsibilities as a member of the front office.

Asked if he was nervous with his new responsibilities as president of basketball operations, Van Gundy laid out how he plans on handling the new role in Detroit.

“I know I’ll get help on that, that doesn’t bother me,” Van Gundy said of his new role as president on Friday. “I don’t want to say, ‘makes you nervous.’ Now there’s so many balls in the air and so many different things to do. Like that’s why I have the alarm set, (I’m afraid) that I’ll miss an interview or something that I’m supposed to do because so much is going on that I’ll forget to do something. Once I get more people on board, once we’re set in place, I think I know a lot of great people in this business and there’s a lot of talent out there. You get the right people and I’ll be less nervous.”

To get better acclimated with the Pistons in an organizational sense, Van Gundy would enjoy the chance to sit down with the San Antonio Spurs brain-trust of R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich sometime this offseason, a franchise that has certainly enjoyed considerable success.

“I spent a couple of minutes with R.C. today — not much because he’s got work to do,” Van Gundy said. “But I would love to — if those guys would do it — sit down with them after the season. We’re in a good situation because right now nobody is going to look upon us as a threat, certainly not San Antonio, and they’re in the Western Conference. So maybe they’ll do it and sit down with us. I’d love to. Just how they structure things and also just the dynamics of the relationship in the (organization).”

Learning the NBA Draft process is also a work-in-progress for Van Gundy. As president of basketball operations, Van Gundy now has to account for scouting and breaking down film on the NBA Draft hopefuls that he didn’t have to do before as only a head coach.

“All year, watching games, breaking down film, doing all of that work and then a coach comes in and watches one workout and says, ‘Oh, I think we should draft the guy.’ I would go crazy and I never wanted to do that,” Van Gundy said. “And I knew I never had the knowledge, so I sat back and watched the draft. That was it. We got involved one year in Miami because the (year we got Dwyane Wade) we were out of the playoffs, we were done early, and (they) had us watch a lot of film.”

Van Gundy certainly has an uphill battle, as he takes over a Pistons team that struggled to a 29-53 record for the second consecutive season despite the offseason signing of forward Josh Smith to a max contract and a trade to acquire point guard Brandon Jennings from the Milwaukee Bucks. The 54-year-old Van Gundy takes over as president of basketball operations from former Pistons guard Joe Dumars and Van Gundy will replace Maurice Cheeks as head coach.

Scott Phillips is a regular contributor to CollegeBasketballTalk at NBCSports.com.

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.