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Hornets’ Clifford throws full support behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hornets coach Steve Clifford emphatically threw his support behind Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on Friday, saying the often criticized small forward is a significant contributor and will continue to start.

The five-year NBA veteran has been widely criticized for his offensive deficiencies and his awkward looking jump shot, but Clifford insists the former No. 2 overall pick makes up for it with his defense and other intangibles. He expects Kidd-Gilchrist to develop into one of the top 10 defensive players in the league this year.

“I think he’s going to have a great year,” Clifford said.

Clifford knows Kidd-Gilchrist’s jump shooting is not his strength in an NBA game where spacing -and good shooting – is vital. Kidd-Gilchrist shot 47 percent from the field last season and only 11 percent from 3-point range.

But Clifford said spacing “is not as important as being competitive, it’s not as important as character, and it’s not as important as just natural talent. He is a talented athlete, he has a feel for the game and he’s a tough guy who cares about the team.”

Clifford said Kidd-Gilchrist’s defensive intensity is something the Hornets desperately need.

“We have enough offense with him on the floor that we can be fine offensively,” Clifford said. “… It’s easy to look at guy who is not a range shooter and say he doesn’t belong in today’s NBA game. But if you can’t guard your guy in this league – and I’m talking about blow-by, being two small, not physical enough, not wanting to put any (effort) into it – you better be 28 or 29 (points per game) or it’s very difficult for your team to win.”

Clifford said Kidd-Gilchrist will start along with All-Star Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams and recently acquired Dwight Howard, He said last year’s starting center Cody Zeller will see extensive minutes off the bench.

Clifford is convinced that lineup and additional depth this year will allow the Hornets to be a playoff team, but wouldn’t put a cap on the team’s full potential.

But the fifth-year head coach said he’ll feel better about his team’s chances once they get two key reserves back on the basketball floor. He has concerns over the team’s depth at point guard with Michael Carter-Williams recovering from a knee procedure and rookie first-round draft pick Malik Monk battling an ankle injury.

Carter-Williams, a free agent pickup who is expected to backup Walker at the point, had what Clifford called a “knee procedure” in August and hasn’t practiced since. Clifford isn’t sure if Carter-Williams will be completely healthy by the regular season opener.

Monk, the 11th pick in the NBA draft, is considered more of a shooter but Clifford is hoping he can play some point guard, too.

However, the team hasn’t been able to get a good look at Monk since he joined the team. Kentucky’s all-time leading scorer missed the entire NBA summer league following an ankle injury he sustained during pre-draft workouts. He recently tried to participate in two optional non-physically demanding workouts, but couldn’t finish them because of fatigue.

“His ankle injury was significant,” Clifford said. “He wasn’t able to have anywhere near the summer that I hoped for or what he hoped for.”

 

Report: Cavaliers signing Kendrick Perkins

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Kendrick Perkins spent fewer than four months with the Cavaliers, including the 2015 playoffs. But nearly a year later after Cleveland let Perkins walk in free agency, LeBron James was still bemoaning Perkins’ absence.

Are the Cavs righting a wrong?

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Kendrick Perkins joined the Cavaliers at LeBron James’ minicamp in Santa Barbara, Calif., and will come to training camp next week, sources told cleveland.com.

The Cavs now have 18 players with standard contracts, and 15 – the regular-season limit – have guaranteed salaries. I doubt Cleveland wants to waive the two without guaranteed salaries, Kay Felder and Edy Tavares, either.

In other words, Perkins is a longshot to stick into the regular season.

Perkins was washed up when with the Cavaliers two years ago. The 32-year-old who sat out last season hasn’t produced on the court in several years. He’s tough and well-liked in the locker room, which might give him a chance of sneaking onto the regular-season roster.

But the Cavs should focus on developing toughness and chemistry among their rotation players. Perkins is just a crutch, most likely one who’ll be yanked away by cut-down day a few weeks from now.

Report: Lakers sell jersey ad for $36M-$42M over three years

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The Lakers are a financial behemoth, though that’s tied to a local-TV deal signed when they were still good.

How do current conditions value their brand?

John Lombardo and Terry Lefton of SportsBusiness Daily

The Lakers have signed a jersey patch deal with S.F.-based e-commerce company Wish. The three-year agreement, according to a source, is between $12-14M annually

That’s the second-richest known jersey-ad deal – behind only the Warriors ($20 million annually) and ahead of the Cavaliers ($10 million annually).

It clearly pays to be Los Angeles, though don’t discount the role of the Lakers’ fantastic history and intriguing future.

Rumor: Carmelo Anthony to accept trade to Trail Blazers if Knicks and Rockets don’t strike deal

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Carmelo Anthony trade talks between the Knicks and Rockets appear to be going nowhere.

Yet, Anthony’s camp is reportedly cautiously optimistic he’ll get dealt by Monday.

This might explain why.

Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports:

Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum have recruited Anthony to Portland. The Trail Blazers have plenty of expendable players who could be aggregated to matching Anthony’s salary – Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis – plus lower-paid players to give New York value. This certainly looks plausible.

It’d make sense for Anthony to hold out as long as possible for Houston, his ideal destination. He can use his no-trade clause to force the Knicks to deal with only the Rockets.

But what if that fails?

I’m skeptical New York, Portland and Anthony all agree to a deal. There are just too many sides to please.

The Knicks will need more than just bad contracts to move Anthony, and the Trail Blazers don’t need more scoring enough to relinquish significant assets. Anthony would also have to approve, and as miserable as the Knicks have been, the New York market still matters.

Again, this is plausible, but I’m doubtful. Either way, we should know soon with training camp around the corner.

LeBron James reportedly “invested” in helping Derrick Rose get next big contract

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Reality smacked Derrick Rose across the face last summer.

Last season, the former MVP made $21.3 million in the final year of a five-year rookie contract extension, and while injuries had slowed his game he was playing better. Combine that with seeing the drunken sailor spending spree the previous summer, and he was hoping for — if not a max contract — still a healthy eight digit one. Instead, he signed a one-year deal at the veteran minimum, $2.1 million, to play for the Cavaliers.

LeBron James wants to see his man Rose get paid again, Dave McMenamin of ESPN said on The Jump.

“I’ve heard that for the first couple of days, Derrick Rose has been ‘killing it.’ I’ve also heard that LeBron is invested in Derrick Rose’s career so that he can get that next contract.”

The first part of that, the “killing it” part, you can just throw out. Maybe Rose looks great at the mini-camp LeBron is hosting for the Cavs in Santa Barbara, I hope he is, but preseason everybody is “killing it” or “has lost/gained 15 pounds and is in the best shape of his life” or “has worked hard and now has an impressive jump shot.” Rose probably does look great in Cavaliers camp against Jose Calderon, let’s see how he looks once he has to go up against real NBA players.

Rose’s next contract will be interesting. Maybe LeBron can set him up to look better this season, but it’s going to be on Rose mostly. Once healthy (whenever that is), Isaiah Thomas will be the starting point guard in Cleveland, plus as always LeBron James will have the ball in his hands a lot. (Which he should, he’s the best player on the planet.) But that means Rose needs to learn to work off the ball with LeBron more, and when LeBron (and eventually Thomas) sit, Rose needs to take over and show he can get a team buckets for a 5-7 minute stretch. Do that and he has a role that will get him some money. I’m not sold Rose can do much more than that at this point in his career.

How much money Rose will get is another issue. It’s going to be a tight market next year where only a few teams have much money to spend, and Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Cory Joseph, and maybe Rajon Rondo (depending on how he does in New Orleans) will be higher on team’s boards than Rose.

But if LeBron is “invested” that could help Rose make a little more green next season.