First ever NBA Finals virtual reality highlight packages will be free to fans

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You are not Drake. You will not be sitting courtside when the NBA Finals tip-off Thursday.

However, you can get the perspective of being courtside for every Finals game through a unique virtual reality highlight package available for free to fans this year.

“This is the first time ever, the NBA has done a full slate of highlights for the Finals like this,” said Danny Keens, Vice President of Content at the NBA’s virtual reality partner NextVR told NBC Sports. “And it’s available globally, for anyone with a VR headset.”

NextVR worked with the NBA to produce one game a week this past NBA season in virtual reality — the NBA was the first professional sports league to do that. They did the same thing with the All-Star Saturday night events. Next VR brings special cameras to the game — there will be six at the NBA Finals — ones that are located courtside or on the stanchion behind the basket. The result is the view usually reserved for the one percent — the world’s greatest athletes pushing the ball up court or seeming to crash right into your lap as they attack the rim or throw down a monster dunk.

It works like all VR does — if LeBron James drives and kicks it to Kevin Love in the corner for a three, you turn your head to follow the ball and the field of vision pans with you.

“The incredible thing about watching sports in VR is fans are stepping into the TV to watch the content, removing the fourth wall as it were and unlocking the screen,” Keens said. “It’s a transformational change in how people can watch the game…

“We saw our audiences continued to surge as we went throughout the year, but it’s also that the broadcasts got better as the year went on. We learned a lot in our first year.”

Now there will be a specially-produced highlight package for each NBA Finals game that fans can download and watch the following morning — complete with its own play-by-play calls (not the national broadcast, the VR package has its own team calling the plays). You may well have watched the games, or at least seen the conventional highlights, but this will change the perspective of what you witnessed — just how deep Stephen Curry took a three or just how fast Kyrie Irving was end-to-end with the ball.

To watch requires a Google Daydream View or Samsung GearVR headset, along with a compatible smartphone. Then just download the free NextVR app from the Google Play Store for Daydream or the Oculus Store on GearVR users. There is a special NBA Finals channel now in the NextVR app where the highlight packages will be.

“What’s great about our technology is it transports the fans to these really great seats,” Keens said.

It’s not quite a courtside seat, but it’s the next best thing, and you get to do it from the privacy of your own home.

Report: Wizards signing Donald Sloan

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The Wizards look like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Tim Frazier.

But they also looked like they solved their backup-point-guard problems with Trey Burke and then Brandon Jennings last year – and look how that turned out.

So, even after trading for Frazier, Washington is still trying to increase stability behind John Wall.
CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The Wizards added some depth to their backcourt on Thursday by signing veteran guard Donald Sloan to a one-year deal, CSN’s Chris Miller confirmed on Thursday night.

The 29-year-old Sloan has played for the Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, Cavaliers, Pacers and Nets in a five-year NBA career. He spent last season in China.

Sloan isn’t much of a scorer, and he’s only a decent distributor. But he makes up for it with all-around adequacy, highlighted by his rebounding for his position.

The veteran will compete with second-year Sheldon Mac, whose salary is just $50,000 guaranteed, to be Washington’s third point guard.

Report: Knicks sign Nigel Hayes to partially guaranteed deal

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Nigel Hayes became a cult hero at Wisconsin for bringing a “BROKE COLLEGE ATHLETE ANYTHING HELPS” sign to GameDay and soliciting Venmo donations, challenging the stenographer in a press conference and “accidentally” calling a stenographer beautiful in front of a hot mic.

After going undrafted, Hayes and his colorful personality are headed to New York, where Knicks fans are starving for fun.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Could Hayes stick into the regular season? The Knicks have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, leaving one more spot for a player on an standard contract. Chasson Randle has an unguaranteed salary that becomes partially guaranteed around the time training camp opens. The Knicks could also sign other players, though they’re down to just minimum exceptions.

Hayes – a 6-foot-8 forward – has a chance, but he’s most likely ticketed to New York’s minor-league affiliate after being waived by the parent club.

Who is betting favorite to win Rookie of the Year? Lonzo Ball? Ben Simmons? Depends.

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The Rookie of the Year race is wide open heading into next season.

It’s that way every year — if you had predicted Malcolm Brogdon was going to win a year ago, you would have been laughed out of the building — but this coming season has a lot of talent at the top of the board who could win. Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Jayson Tatum all have a real shot — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Who is the better favorite? Depends on where you do your betting.

The William Hill’s Nevada sportsbook (which works with a number of Las Vegas casinos, such as the SLS), has this (hat tip ESPN):

Lonzo Ball 9-5
Ben Simmons 5-2
Dennis Smith Jr. 4-1
Markelle Fultz 13-2
De'Aaron Fox 8-1
Jayson Tatum 8-1

The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has Simmons as the betting line favorite at 9-4

The online betting site Bovda.lv has this line

Lonzo Ball 9-4
Dennis Smith 3-1
Ben Simmons 5-1
Jayson Tatum 5-1
Markelle Fultz 8-1

Traditionally, Rookie of the Year goes to a guy who has the ball in his hands, is aggressive, and puts up raw numbers. It celebrates scorers.

This year a whole lot of guys can fit that bill, more than are mentioned here. It’s going to be a wild ride.

Check out the first NBA 2K18 trailer (VIDEO)

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The NBA season is coming… and that means NBA 2K18 also coming.

To whet the appetite of you gamers out there, check out the first trailer for the upcoming game, with music by Mobb Deep.

You can pre-order the game now.