Kurt Helin

Dunking, dishing, Russell Westbrook put on a show in exhibition game

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We already showed you how Russell Westbrook got shut down by a rim during an exhibition game in Dallas Tuesday.

But also — like he will every night this season — Westbrook put up some serious highlights.

Any night the guys at SportsCenter think the news cycle is slow this winter, they can just count on Westbrook (and James Harden in Mike D’Antoni’s system) to fill the hour.

Silver: Discussions on NBA labor agreement resume next week

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BEIJING (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said discussions will resume on the collective bargaining agreement next week after he returns from China, with two months left before a key deadline.

Speaking before the NBA’s second preseason game in China on Wednesday, Silver said he planned to hold meetings next week in an ongoing process that will include several team owners, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, the players’ association president.

Silver spoke to Roberts during a recent league visit to Spain, and said he’ll continue to discuss a resolution with the players association that avoids a lockout or any loss of games.

“Both sides have been very engaged and eager to get a deal done,” he said. “When we return home, we’ll pick up where we left off.”

The current agreement between the league and players runs through June 2021, but both sides have until Dec. 15 to express intent to opt out in 2017.

While player salaries have skyrocketed and new TV deals coming into effect have driven up league revenue, there has been optimism that the league and players could reach an agreement and head off a work stoppage.

Silver also announced the NBA would open development academies in three Chinese cities, with coaches and training staff overseeing elite travel teams. The academies are spread out over the country: the eastern cities of Jinan and Hangzhou, and the northwestern city of Urumqi. They are the beginning of a planned effort by the NBA to improve basketball training and competition in various countries.

Since the retirement of Yao Ming, inducted this year into the Basketball Hall of Fame, no Chinese player has reached his level of success in the NBA. Silver said he hopes the academies will create more elite Chinese players and NBA prospects.

Pelicans’ Anthony Davis leaves game after rolling ankle, reportedly out 10-15 days

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BEIJING (AP) — New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis left Wednesday’s preseason game against the Houston Rockets after hurting his right ankle.

Davis fell to the court early in the first quarter of Wednesday’s game in Beijing, the last of the NBA’s two exhibitions in China. He re-entered the game briefly, but soon walked to the locker room. The team said he would not return.

Reports the next morning have Davis out for at least 10 days, taking this right up to the start of the season. The Pelicans start the season in 14 days and play three games in four nights to start.

Davis, the first overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, is a three-time All-Star who averaged 24.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game last season.

Pelicans guard E'Twaun Moore also left the game in the first half with a right heel injury.

 

Paul Millsap says he hasn’t decided if he will opt out next summer, become free agent. Riiiiight.

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Next season, Paull Millsap can make $21.4 million with the Atlanta Hawks. All he has to do is opt into the final year of his contract.

However, as a clear max player, if he opts out and becomes a free agent, he can get a four-or-five year deal starting at $33.6 million.

That’s $12.2 million a year. We all know what Millsap is going to do, it’s the choice all of us would make in his shoes — even if we want to stay in Atlanta. He’s going to take the cash. Millsap, however, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Chris Vivlamore he has yet to make a decision.

“I haven’t decided anything, no,” Millsap told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday…

“I think the plan is to see how this season goes and go from there,” Millsap said. “I can’t predict what is going to happen. For me, it’s focus on basketball. Get through this year, try to get a championship for this team first of all. We’ll deal with all that during the summer time when we have all our options on the table.”

Riiight. Millsap may not have formally made his decision, but we all know what it will be. Barring a major injury that would damage his free agent value, it’s nearly impossible to imagine Millsap not opting out. He’s going to take the payday. Even if he wants to stay put (much like Kyle Lowry said he wants to do).

The Hawks did flirt with the idea of a Millsap trade last summer, part of the juggling act as they tried to retain Al Horford and worked to sign Dwight Howard. The Hawks are now committed to the Millsap/Howard front line, and they cannot let Millsap — their best player last season — walk.

For his part, Millsap may wish to spend the rest of his career in Atlanta. The Hawks told the AJC that retaining Millsap would be a top priority — but why wouldn’t he take the extra cash to do that? This is a business.

 

Russell Westbrook gets stuffed by the rim? It happened.

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For years, Russell Westbrook has terrorized rims around the NBA with his explosive dunks.

Tuesday night, the rim in Dallas got a little revenge for his colleagues around the league.

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It can happen to the best of them.

Expect Westbrook to continue his campaign of terror on rims all season long. He still has the upper hand in that showdown.