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Judge denies request to block funding tied to Detroit arena

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DETROIT (AP) A federal judge has denied a request to block some public funding for Little Caesars Arena and the Detroit Pistons’ move from the suburbs.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued his decision late Monday, saying a requested injunction would cause “catastrophic damage” to Detroit.

The lawsuit says Michigan law prohibits spending school property tax revenue on the projects because a tax voters approved in 2012 was to be used exclusively for Detroit’s public schools. It said a vote from city residents was needed first.

Activist Robert Davis and D. Etta Wilcoxon, who is running for City Clerk, had sought to block the Detroit Downtown Development Authority from using the money.

The arena, which will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings and the NBA’s Pistons, opens this fall.

CEO: Timberwolves’ jersey ads will ‘change the way teams evaluate these types of deals’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves are getting into the jersey advertisement game with a Fitbit patch in a three-year deal.

The Timberwolves announced the marketing collaboration for the team’s first jersey patch on Tuesday. Fitbit also will be featured in the newly renovated Target Center, with the team exploring ways the wearable technology can help players, employees and fans track their health and fitness during practices, games and everyday activities.

Timberwolves CEO Ethan Casson said the team sees the partnership as more than a small patch in the corner of newly designed jerseys unveiled later this summer. The Timberwolves were among four other teams bidding for Fitbit’s business.

“This is going to change the way teams evaluate these types of deals and relationships going forward,” Casson said. “This is different than anything I’ve seen before.”

The Wolves plan to use Fitbit’s technology throughout the organization, including logging the new concession offerings at Target Center into the Fitbit food section to help fans make healthier choices at the games. The wearables will be used with the Iowa Wolves, the Des Moines-based development league team recently purchased by the Timberwolves, as a test for performance enhancement that might be incorporated with the NBA team. Areas of interest include sleep, recovery from workouts and nutrition.

“They weren’t just looking at this as a jersey sponsorship,” Fitbit chief marketing officer Tim Rosa said. “They were looking at it as an opportunity to tell a bigger story around innovation and health and wellness.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau is on board, Casson said.

Jersey patches are just starting to take hold in the NBA. Boston, Sacramento, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Cleveland are among the teams to announce deals with various sponsors. The Wolves have been exploring potential deals for months.

They considered local companies and had conversations with several Chinese companies after John Jiang joined the team as the NBA’s first Chinese minority owner. In the end, they chose San Francisco-based Fitbit for its recognizable brand and the company’s ability to partner with the franchise on several health and wellness fronts.

“We think we’re going to evolve weekly with the types of things we’re thinking of doing and capable of doing,” Casson said. “We’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

Rosa said Duluth, Minnesota, ranked first on the company’s “Fittest Cities” list in 2017 while Minneapolis ranked second in 2016. Fitbit also has business relationships with several prominent Minnesota companies that do business with the Wolves, including UnitedHealth Group, Target, Best Buy and the Mayo Clinic, which partners with the Timberwolves on their practice facility.

The Iowa Wolves will wear a Fitbit jersey patch, and the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx will use the wearable technology. The Lynx feature the Mayo Clinic and Verizon on the front of their jerseys.

“The ability to work with a team and work on specific things around sleep or activities in the offseason, it’s pretty exciting,” Rosa said. “It’s a mutual benefit that a team has access to all of this plyometric data. There’s a lot of room for improvement and understanding your body and how to enhance performance.”

 

Kristaps Porzingis’ brother: ‘Despite how the Knicks are treating their players, Kris wants to stay in New York’

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The Knicks are reportedly willing to trade Kristaps Porzingis after a contentious start to his offseason.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

No one from the Knicks organization has been in touch with Kristaps Porzingis since he skipped exit meetings. Porzingis’ brother, Janis, is frustrated by the lack of communication. “Despite how the Knicks are treating their players, Kris wants to stay in New York. He loves the city and he loves the fans and he wants to win with this team,” Janis Porzingis told ESPN. “If he’s going to be traded, he’s going to play out his contact and decide his future on his own.”

“Despite how the Knicks are treating their players.”

“Despite how the Knicks are treating their players.”

“DESPITE HOW THE KNICKS ARE TREATING THEIR PLAYERS.”

What a statement!

Janis isn’t holding back, and considering how the Knicks have also treated Carmelo Anthony, can you blame him? Phil Jackson is turning all his players into sympathetic figures.

Report: Phil Jackson willing to trade Kristaps Porzingis, who’s drawing immense interest

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When Kristaps Porzingis skipped his exit interview, teams called the Knicks with trade offers for the promising big man.

Is Phil Jackson listening?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

There’s a HUGE difference between being willing to trade a player and actually trading a player. Jackson might be holding out for a return so great, even the most skeptical Knicks fans find the deal justifiable.

Lauri Markkanen and Porzingis have overlapping skill sets and might not ideally complement each other. But their shooting in tandem could be a dangerous weapon, especially if Porzingis grows into enough of a rim protector.

If the Knicks believe Markkanen is the best prospect available at No. 8, they should draft him. Likewise, if they get offered a package for Porzingis that is more valuable than him, they should trade him. Those decisions should be mostly divorced from each other.

What will Jackson do? That’s difficult to predict, especially when there’s some animosity between the sides.

Report: Dwyane Wade leaning toward opting in with Bulls

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The Bulls reportedly expect Dwyane Wade to opt in to the final year of his contract, which would pay $23.8 million.

He’s apparently on the same page.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade is leaning toward picking up his $24 million player option to remain with the team next season, league sources told ESPN.com.

Wade has until June 27 to inform the Bulls of his decision.

Wade isn’t going to make that much money anywhere else. At age 35, he might want that final huge salary.

He also wants to play for a good team, and the Bulls will have a hard time climbing into the NBA’s upper echelon next season. But as long as they keep Jimmy Butlera question – that probably makes them good enough for Wade to take the payday.

Wade can take another week to watch the Butler trade market, but barring Butler getting dealt, it’s hard to see something changing Wade’s mind at this point.