Hornets’ draft pick P.J. Hairston exchanges punches with high school player in pick-up game

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P.J. Hairston got drafted in the first round in spite of having been kicked out of North Carolina during college for rule violations in part because teams thought he had matured. Talk to the people around his D-League team and they glowed about his work ethic and how he had wanted to move forward and create a new image of himself.

Then Sunday happened.

Hairston got into an incident with a high school player at a pick-up game, something confirmed by his agent to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer.

Juan Morrow, who represents the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Hairston, said his client was playing in a pickup basketball game when tempers flared.

“The other guy pushed (Hairston) and he pushed back. Both shoved each other,” Morrow said in a telephone interview. At that point the altercation escalated into punches, the agent said.

“He swung at P.J. and P.J. swung back,” Morrow said adding that “both connected.”

That’s not how the student saw it

The Hornets released this statement:

“The organization is aware of an incident this afternoon involving P.J. Hairston. We are in the process of gathering additional information and will have no further comment at this time.”

According to some reports it was Barkley, a high school senior, who was the instigator. It might be easier to sort out who started a 2 a.m. bar fight than this incident, especially second and third hand.

But it is irrelevant if the youth started it, Hairston has got to walk away. Yes, tempers can get heated on the court, even in a pickup game. Doesn’t matter. He’s the pro, he’s the guy with everything to lose.

Plus, if a high schooler can get under his skin, what happens when Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett and frankly 400 other guys who talk smack during the games start going at him? And after this you can be sure they will go at him.

The question with Hairston was never his game but rather his mentality. This isn’t helping that perception.

Bulls claim PG Kay Felder off waivers

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The Bulls’ point-guard position is a quagmire.

Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne are both injured (and not necessarily good). Jerian Grant is maybe an adequate backup pressed into starting. Ryan Arcidiacono is on a two-way contract.

Enter Kay Felder.

Bulls release:

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has waived forward Jarell Eddie and center Diamond Stone, and claimed guard Kay Felder off waivers.

Felder was waived by the Hawks, who acquired him in a salary-dump trade from the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Felder No. 54 last year, but ran out of roster spots this year.

Felder is only a moderate prospect. He impressed in the D-League, but at 5-foot-9, he has significant limitations. (His size also makes him incredibly fun to watch when he gets rolling.)

For Chicago, he’s a quite-noteworthy addition.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.