Dan Feldman

Report: Lonzo Ball out of shape for Lakers workout

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Lonzo Ball reportedly didn’t blow away the Lakers in his workout.

What did he leave to be desired?

Mark Medina of The Orange County Register:

Many qualities have made the Lakers impressed with Ball, including his leadership potential, passing and scoring. They are not impressed, however, with his level of conditioning.

Some observers of Ball’s workout last Wednesday thought he came in out of shape. Ball acknowledged that the “drills get you tired, so you got to stay focused.”

Was Ball out of shape at UCLA? If so, that’d actually be encouraging. He played so well anyway. Better conditioning would be a clear path to improvement.

If he fell out of shape after the college season, that’d be more concerning. If he got back in shape by October, it’d be fine. Perhaps, he’s just not good with this once-in-a-lifetime limbo period between college and the NBA. But why he slipped would still raise questions, as well as his ability to respond.

It’s also worth asking: Is Ball actually out of shape? The Lakers appear to be trying hard to sell the idea they’re not set on drafting him. Not everyone is buying it, but this specific rumor could add plausibility.

Kevin Durant claims he hasn’t watched last few NBA Finals despite proof to contrary

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Kevin Durant created a small controversy when he said it was “100 percent falseDraymond Green called him after the Warriors lost Game 7 to the Cavaliers in last year’s NBA Finals – a claim made by Green himself. As Kurt Helin laid out, maybe one of them just misremembers the details of a single phone call a year ago. After all, Green, as he tells it, called Durant “a million times.”

But just before creating that discrepancy, Durant made a more clearly untrue claim in an exchange with Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

  • McMenamin: “Last year in the Finals, as a viewer, do you recall when the series went 3-1? What was going through your mind? Did you feel like Cleveland was still in the series? And what was your impression as the comeback unfolded?”
  • Durant: “I didn’t watch it.”
  • McMenamin: “You didn’t watch any of the Finals? Do you normally do that, not watch the Finals?”
  • Durant: “Yup. If I’m not in them, I don’t watch them.”
  • McMenamin: “So you’ve only watched 2012 and this year?”
  • Durant: “Well, I mean, before then, I was on teams that, we weren’t contenders. So, it’s a little different when you’re a contender, I guess. But I didn’t watch. But you kind of know the pulse of the game, a team being up 3-1. Obviously, if you’re up 3-1 in a series, as a fan – and you’re coming home – you feel as though that the away team got to have a spectacular game in order for you to win. So, last year, I didn’t put it past Cleveland to have a rest of a spectacular series. And that’s what they did.”

Here’s Durant explaining in October why he signed with Golden State, via Anthony Slater of The Mercury News (emphasis mine):

“I was telling one of my friends, Rich (Kleiman, his agent), who’s here, we were watching Game 7. Well, as it started to unfold, it was, ‘No question, no way could you go to this team.’ And I was just like a kid, like, in a candy shop. I’d get wide open 3s, I could just run up and down the court, get wide open layups. I was basically begging him. I was like, yo, this would be nice. So as I was thinking about my decision and who I was gonna play for, this team came to mind. You know, as they lost, it became more and more real every day. You start to think about it even more. To see if I would fit. Then once I sat down with these guys, everything that I wanted to know about them they kinda showed me. But we don’t have to talk about it though because they didn’t get the job done and they came after me and who knows what would’ve happened. But I guess you could say I’m glad that they lost.”

Here’s video – from Durant own documentary, starting at 11:10 mark – showing him watching the Spurs-Heat Finals in 2014, when his Thunder lost in the Western Conference finals (hat tip: reddit user xgobez):

I don’t know why Durant would claim he didn’t watch the last few NBA Finals when that is so clearly untrue. A guess: He didn’t want to discuss the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead, and – being so locked in – he came up with a tactic to end the discussion without realizing how poorly it’d reflect on him.

Report: Spurs getting new secondary logo (picture)

AP Photo/Brandon Dill
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The Spurs filed for a copyright on a new secondary logo, according to SportsLogos.Net’s Condrad Burry, who took the black-and-white image and – using his sources – colorized it:

spurs-alt

This is a pretty sharp departure from the Spurs’ other logos. This new one is minimalist and conforms more with other teams’ logos. San Antonio was one of the few teams that didn’t incorporate a basketball into their logos.

But being distinctive is nothing compared to selling more merchandise.

Kyrie Irving saves his best for when Cavs face Finals elimination

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Whether it’s his lightning quick dribble, supreme confidence that doesn’t seem to waver or ability to score from almost anywhere on the court, Kyrie Irving seems to be at his best when things look the bleakest for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

LeBron James said his teammate is built for the drama of an NBA Finals elimination game, a trait the Golden State Warriors have learned all too well these past two years.

Whether it’s extending a season with a pair of 40-point performances or hitting the series-deciding 3-pointer in a Game 7 win last year, Irving’s already stellar game has risen to another level whenever the Cavs have faced elimination.

“It’s a time to definitely show everything that you’re made of in those moments,” Irving said Sunday on the eve of another elimination game with Cleveland trailing the Warriors 3-1 in the NBA Finals.

“You never want to be in those moments of elimination games, but when you are, you want to be as prepared as possible. And regardless of any situation, I always feel like if I do a great job of giving confidence in my teammates and remaining calm in the situation.”

Cleveland has won four straight Finals elimination games, rallying from a 3-1 series deficit to win the championship last year and then winning 137-116 in Game 4 on Friday night to extend this series.

Irving scored 40 points in the Game 5 win at Golden State last year, hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer in the final minute of Game 7 and scored 40 more on Friday, raising his average in those elimination games to 32.5 points per game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, there have been only seven times a player scored at least 40 points to win when facing elimination in the Finals and Irving and James have each done it twice the past two years. Elgin Baylor did it twice in the 1960s and Wilt Chamberlain did it in 1970 for the Lakers.

“We love how aggressive Kyrie’s been, and it’s been great for our team, obviously, with his individual ability to make shots and to take big shots and to knock them down,” James said. “That’s been key for our team. And for the rest of us, we have to do everything else.”

Irving played just one game before injuring his knee in the first Finals meeting between these teams in 2015. He has been the barometer for Cleveland the past two years around the constant greatness from James.

Irving has scored nearly seven more points per game in Cavs wins than losses in the past two Finals with the biggest difference being his long-range shooting; he is shooting 27 percent in the six losses and 53 percent in the five wins.

That was especially evident in the Game 4 win when Irving hit seven of Cleveland’s record-setting 24 3-pointers.

“That’s a big difference,” Golden State guard Klay Thompson said. “When he’s getting 39 points off 2s, you can live with that. When he’s extending the floor and hitting those 3s, it opens the floor for everybody. We can’t let him do that again. We have to limit that number to two or three. Seven is too many.”

Thompson has spent most of the series chasing Irving around the court like a yellow lab who keeps chasing a ball, at least that’s how it looks at times to coach Steve Kerr. Thompson frustrated Irving early, holding him to 40 percent shooting the first two games.

But after getting moved off the ball at times, Irving played much better in the two games at home. He scored 38 points in the Game 3 loss before his big Game 4 performance.

“I think that in Game 1 and 2, as well as part of 3, just definitely got caught up in trying to find that rhythm with the basketball in my hands,” Irving said. “But as long as collectively as a group that everyone feels good, then my opportunities will come on breakdowns from their defense and offensively and things that we can be sharper at. I have to be implementing in those opportunities, and the way to do that is just being an open screener, being just a willing sacrificer, and the opportunities will come.

“And when those opportunities come, then you kill it.”

 

44-year-old Chris Webber finally a dad after ‘many years of trying’

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Retired NBA star Chris Webber, 44, has become a dad after what he says was “many years of trying.”

Webber posted a picture of himself holding twin newborns on Instagram earlier this week. He says he and his wife, Erika, suffered “more than a few heartbreaks” on their way to becoming parents, but it was worth the wait.

Erika Webber posted a family picture and wrote, “7 years waiting for our family to grow, and we were double blessed. Never underestimate the power of prayer, even when `they’ tell you it’s impossible.”

 

The couple didn’t say when the babies were born.

Webber played for the Sacramento Kings and four other teams over a 15-year NBA career.