Jared Dudley: Going from a contender to a team that’s rebuilding ‘doesn’t really matter’

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Jared Dudley came to the Clippers last summer in the three-team deal that also involved J.J. Redick and Eric Bledsoe, and it seemed like he’d be a nice pickup for the Clippers at the time.

Dudley had proven to be a smart perimeter defender and capable shooter during his time in Phoenix, and a good locker room guy, as well.

But it was a bit of a down year for Dudley in Los Angeles. His shooting percentages dipped as did his overall level of production, and by the time the playoffs rolled around, he was a fringe player in the rotation, averaging just 6.4 minutes per game in seven postseason appearances.

The Clippers are trying to compete for a title, and obviously decided that roster spots were more valuable than what Dudley would be able to give them moving forward. They traded him to Milwaukee for two players that L.A. immediately waived, and while leaving a contending team in Los Angeles to play for a rebuilding one in Milwaukee might seem disastrous to some, Dudley sees things differently, and is taking a more positive approach.

From Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The 29-year-old small forward arrived in Milwaukee on Tuesday and said he sees an opportunity after last week’s trade sent him from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Bucks.

“Going from a contender to a team that’s rebuilding, to me that really doesn’t matter,” Dudley said. “As a professional, you’ve got to come in with the right mind-set and play in the right way.

“The way I’ve conducted myself throughout the league, that will be the same thing here. This team has a lot going good for them with Jabari Parker coming in here and what he can potentially do for this franchise. That’s a huge upside.”

Another interesting tidbit in this piece is Dudley explaining how he wasn’t right physically, and told Doc Rivers as much at one point during the season. But Rivers pressed him into action anyway, which may have had something to do with Dudley’s lower level of production.

“I remember around November or December I basically told coach (Doc) Rivers I couldn’t go,” Dudley said. “We had so many injuries. J.J. (Redick) was out; Matt Barnes was out. Basically he (Rivers) wanted me to fight through it.

“I told him I could; I just wouldn’t be 100%. I think what I did was give him a body to hold the minutes down until those guys got back. For me personally, I might have suffered. But from the team standpoint we were able to get that three spot (playoff seeding) we needed to have.

“When you look back, would I have done it different? Maybe. But that was just me trying to give my body for a new team and a new coach.”

That’s about as professional as it gets, and as silly as it may seem to try to convince us that playing in Milwaukee is just as good as playing in L.A., we’ll give Dudley the benefit of the doubt here under the circumstances.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s first points as a Laker (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES — Lonzo Ball‘s welcome to the NBA was a bit rough. Patrick Beverleyas he said would happen before the game — was in Ball’s space and physical with him from the start. Clippers defenders got back and cut off those push the ball ahead passes Ball loves. In his first quarter as a Laker Ball 0-of-3 from the floor, missed two free throws, and didn’t pick up an assist.

But in the second quarter, Ball got his first bucket as a Laker. After Beverley and Blake Griffin miscommunicated on a screen, Ball got a clean look at a three and knocked it down. The Staples Center crowd erupted.

It was a rough first night for Ball in the NBA, with the defense focused on him. He’s got game, he can adapt, but there are going to be some rough learning experiences this season.

Fake Klay Thompson, James Harden, and Kobe Bryant emerge (PHOTO)

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Tuesday night was the start of the new NBA season and with the games came more of what we love from the NBA sphere: weird stuff you only see from the best fans on earth.

During the Golden State Warriors’ home opener against the Houston Rockets, a fan behind the bench came dressed as Klay Thompson complete with uniform, beard, and haircut.

This did not go unnoticed on social media, and Steve Kerr was even asked about the doppelgänger after the game. For the record Kerr said, “I thought it was a perfect metaphor for our conditioning level.”

Yikes, sweet coach burn.

In case you missed it, this is what that fan looked like:

Warriors would have won if coach put me in the game.

A post shared by Daws (@bigdawstv) on

That is YouTuber Big Daws, who of course was given free tickets to the game by SeatGeek. That video now has more than two million views and comes complete with a SeatGeek discount code. As is everything in 2017, even something you think is just a fun Halloween costume is actually an ad.

Culture begets culture and soon followed a new doppelgänger in Sacramento. Again, the Rockets were involved in this one as as a fan came dressed up as Houston guard James Harden. No word yet on whether this guy has a popular YouTube channel or what his offer code is, but here’s what he looked like:

This cultural phenomenon had folks looking for other NBA lookalikes around them this week, and someone came up with this Kobe Bryant twin:

This really is the best league. I can’t wait for that Big Daws guy to shave his goatee and cosplay as Ryan Anderson at a Rockets game.

Anyway, please stop by in the comment section below to get 15% off your next visit to NBCSports.com/NBA by using the code DOPPELGÄNGER at checkout.

LeBron James: “I’m out of shape” (VIDEO)

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LeBron James looked good in the opening night ceremony against the Boston Celtics. The Cleveland Cavaliers star put up a stat line of 29 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists in the win over the Eastern Conference rival.

That doesn’t mean that James is done dealing with a nagging ankle injury that kept him out of all five of Cleveland’s preseason games. Speaking to reporters after practice on Thursday, The King said that he will indeed play on Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks, but he won’t do it under the circumstances he prefers.

Specifically, LeBron said that because of his injury, he’s been unable to get into the kind of shape he’d like to be in heading into the season.

Via ESPN:

“I just want to get to where I should be,” James said after participating in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ practice Thursday. “The ankle and the foot injury just kind of kept me out and set me back further than I would like, but I got some time now along the course of these games that we got. We got two back-to-backs coming up, so that’s going to help and we have some opportunity to get some practice time in as well.”

“I’m out of shape, very out of shape for my expectations,” James told TNT’s Kristen Ledlow during his on-court postgame interview Tuesday.

No doubt it will be tough to keep one of the most durable stars in NBA history out of of the regular season games they need to start this season off right. However, this is the kind of thing that slows down the careers of aging stars, and if I can play devil’s advocate here for a minute, this is what we’ve been looking for from James for some time.

I’m not saying this is the beginning of the end for LeBron, but it is an important enough thing to note and to keep a pin in for future reference.

Meanwhile, James is still doing great stuff off the court like this:

Aww.

Lakers without Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for opener due to DUI suspension

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LOS ANGELES — This isn’t new news, but a lot of NBA fans forgot it.

Last June the NBA suspended then Pistons now Lakers guard two games for “pleading guilty to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, in violation of the law of the State of Michigan.” Those were to be the first two games of next season — the Clippers game Thursday followed by the Suns Friday.

Lakers coach Luke Walton played it close to the vest, not revealing who would start at the two in KCP’s place. The most logical answer may be Jordan Clarkson, but Walton likes him creating shots with the second unit. Other options are limited, Luol Deng is possible, they could go small with backup point guard Tyler Ennis or bigger with Corey Brewer. (Josh Hart might have been the best call, but the rookie is out with a sore Achilles.)

Whoever starts it will be a blow to the defense-starved Lakers to be without their best perimeter defender.

This summer, after landing Avery Bradley, the Pistons chose to renounce the rights to Caldwell-Pope, setting him free into what was a difficult market. Even for a good wing defender who hit 35 percent from three last season, when the market dried up so did the chance for a decent multi-year deal. The Lakers grabbed him for one-year at $18 million.

Caldwell-Pope’s agent is Rich Paul, who happens to be LeBron James‘ agent (and he’s a free agent next summer), but whatever the ulterior motives this was a good signing by the Lakers. If KCP works out this season for them they would be in the driver’s seat to re-sign him next summer (although the Lakers would not have his Bird rights).