With new contract, Stephen Curry vows to do more off court

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WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (AP) — A rich new contract in hand, Stephen Curry is more determined than ever to give back both his time and financial resources wherever he is needed in the Bay Area.

The Golden State Warriors superstar has yet to even make a major purchase for himself since finalizing the $201 million, five-year contract late last month. Oh, while on vacation last month in the Turks and Caicos the day his new deal became official he did have a little fun flying his drone over the hotel to get some special photos.

“I don’t want to get too deep into it but for the last couple years trying to figure out how I can make the most impact off the court on a consistent and impactful basis,” the 29-year-old Curry said Monday, going on two months after winning another NBA title. “Going forward and obviously keying in on the Bay Area specifically to hopefully leave a lasting impact for all the good that has happened in my life and my family here since I’ve been here the last eight years. Obviously over the next five to really impact the community for the better and use my platform, not only just dollars but my platform and connections and ideas to make that happen. The contract puts more of a responsibility to make that happen and I’m obviously aware of that. And I have a great team around me that’s going to help me do that.”

This week, the two-time NBA MVP is hosting his fourth annual SC30 Select Camp with about two dozen of the top high school players at The John Muir Ultimate Fieldhouse before a showcase event Tuesday night at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco. He dazzled the prospects with his shooting routine, provided coaching and even took part in some 3-on-3 right along with the campers.

Curry said not much surprises him anymore when it comes to NBA drama such as Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving‘s request to be traded and no longer play alongside LeBron James. They won a championship together in 2016 before the Warriors won the June rematch.

“I don’t know the ins and outs of what conversations are going on. It’s obviously surprising, but at the end of day nothing’s really surprising when it comes to story lines and things like that from year to year,” Curry said. “It’s just kind of the nature of the beast. I’m sure if something does happen I’ll be able to talk about it more but right now he’s still on Cleveland’s team.”

While Curry received his hefty new deal, Warriors general manager Bob Myers kept nearly the entire title team intact for another championship chase.

“It’s huge because we have great potential and opportunity to do some amazing things and win more championships,” Curry said. “When you have that chemistry, you don’t want it to end. You don’t want to have to kind of start over. I wouldn’t necessarily say rebuild, just take advantage of the camaraderie and the chemistry and the vibe that we’ve created around the Warriors organization.”

It’s another whirlwind summer for Curry, who made an impressive appearance in last week’s Web.com Ellie Mae Classic golf tournament before missing the cut in the tournament, which is one step below the PGA Tour.

Two championships in three years is pretty special, and he never forgets that.

“I think about it every day and it kind of helps me put things in perspective, how blessed I am to be able to do what I’m able to do on and off the floor, the opportunities I have to even run a camp like this. Because I used to go to the camps of guys who played before me and learn from them and just be kind of awe-struck and eyes wide open trying to learn as much as I could,” he said. “Fast forward to these last few years and now I’m on the other side of that equation giving back to the next generation of players. All of that is very surreal but it’s humbling just to be in that position. It actually helps me stay motivated to keep working because I don’t want the ride to end.”

 

James Harden on recruiting Chris Paul from LA: “He didn’t seem happy”

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One of the most interesting storylines of the first month of this upcoming NBA season will be the Houston Rockets.

The team has paired MVP candidate James Harden with one of the greatest point guards of all time in Chris Paul, but it remains to be seen whether the two will be able to work together with the kind of efficiency that Mike D’Antoni’s team had in 2016-17.

Harden has been the subject of some chatter already this offseason after a photo of him surfaced on Instagram. In it, Harden looked to have added a significant portion of muscle this summer, which may help him as he moves back to a more off-ball style of play with Paul in the fold.

Harden was also the subject of significant scrutiny at the end of last season, where he failed in the playoffs in spectacular fashion against the San Antonio Spurs.

In a recent interview with Sam Amick of USA Today, Harden said his newfound weight gain has been part of his plan to combat late-season fatigue. Harden has also introduced yoga and pilates into his workout routine.

Perhaps more interesting information from Harden’s interview with Amick revealed just how much impact he had recruiting Chris Paul in the trade from Los Angeles Clippers, and Paul’s attitude at the end of the season toward his former team.

Via USA Today:

Harden, who signed a four-year extension this summer and will earn a combined $228 million by the end of the 2022-23 season, had everything to do with the move.

“I just knew that in the summertime obviously (Paul) was a free agent, and I wanted to see where his head was,” Harden said of Paul, who will now be a free agent next summer. “He didn’t seem happy, so after that we just took it from there.

“Obviously Golden State has been in the Finals and won two out of three, so that’s what everybody is trying to build up against. But we’re right there. We’re right there. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do, but it definitely puts us in a better chance.”

It certainly makes sense that after years of perpetual playoff failure by the Clippers that Paul would want to move on. Harden and CP3 seem to enjoy each other at the moment, and a pairing does seem to make sense on paper. We will see how that plays out over the course of next season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo announces he will not play for Greece in Eurobasket

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Giannis Antetokounmpo said had big plans to play for the Greek national team this summer, taking his country back to the top of the European ladder at EuroBasket (they had won the tournament a dozen years ago).

Instead, a sore knee will keep the Greek Freak out of EuroBasket. He made the announcement on his Facebook page.

Antetokounmpo had missed all but one of Greece’s early EuroBasket tune-ups due to a sore knee. That, understandably, concerned the Bucks, especially with his four-year, $100 million contract extension about to kick in next season.

Antetokounmpo is in China promoting shoes, but said he on Facebook he took a physical while there and was not able to complete the exercises due to pain.

“It is by far the biggest disappointment in my career. I must deal with the problem,” Antetokounmpo said in the Facebook post (written in Greek).

Within hours of the post going up, the Greek basketball federation released a statement slamming the Bucks and Antetokounmpo, saying they had done an MRI of his knee and found no damage.

“The simultaneous report by the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo himself, by phone and social media from faraway China, and not by the appropriate official manner, of his inability to join the national men’s team saddens us … but is not surprising… A series of indications … had convinced us of the existence of an organized and well-staged plan by (the Bucks), with the full knowledge if not encouragement of the NBA that put the athlete on the spot and forced him to announce today that he is no longer part of the men’s national team.”

Great, just what the world needs, another conspiracy theory.

While NBA teams generally are not huge fans of their stars playing in national team tournaments (due to the injury risk), teams cannot stop a healthy player from playing. Antetokounmpo said this was his decision because he is in pain and has to think about the upcoming NBA season.

Whatever the Greek Federation believes internally, slamming the player and his team publicly like this is one good way to make sure he will not want to play for them in the future. He’s got knee pain, they are saying “you’re fine, walk it off, ” and that must have Antetokounmpo and the people around him wondering if the Greek Federation has his best interests — or theirs — at heart.

Akron store already selling “Stay Home 23” shirts, hats as LeBron decision looms

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We’ve seen this movie before.

There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.

The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.

Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.

Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Marshall Plumlee gets camp invite, partially guaranteed contract from Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).

That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.