Kurt Helin

Good news for Lakers’ Larry Nance Jr.: MRI shows only sprain, no fracture in hand

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This is great news for the Lakers and young forward Larry Nance Jr.

An MRI Friday on his injured right hand showed only a sprain, no fracture as the Lakers had said was probable.

Nance averaged 5.5 points and 5 rebounds a game for the Lakers last season, showing promise as a rookie forward. At Summer League he averaged 8 points and 7 boards a game, shooting just 44.4 percent.

No physical break means not much time off from training and working on his game this summer, which is a good thing for a young player. Plus, no surgery, which is a great thing.

Cavaliers trade Sasha Kaun to Sixers (who waive him); Cleveland signs Chris “Birdman” Andersen

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We had told you before that Chris Andersen was headed to the Cleveland Cavaliers to be a backup center.

But Friday a little salary cap maneuvering had to happen for the Cavaliers to pull that off. From Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Free agent Chris “Birdman” Andersen agreed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, league sources told The Vertical.

To clear the roster spot for Andersen, the Cavaliers sent center Sasha Kaun and cash to Philadelphia on Friday. The Sixers plan to waive Kaun, league sources said. Cleveland also gets a $1.33 million traded-player exception for the Kaun deal, a source said.

To put it simply, the Cavaliers sent the Sixers cash to use their cap space. The cash the Cavs sent to the Sixers certainly covers Kaun’s $1.3 million salary, plus a little. Also, the Sixers got the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum.

Andersen is a lower cost replacement for Timofey Mozgov (who was overpaid by the Lakers). The way Lue wants to play, smaller and faster, the backup center spot is going to get limited minutes anyway, and at this price Andersen will be a good fit.

76ers sign prospect Dario Saric two years after draft-night trade

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers have signed international prospect Dario Saric two years after they acquired his rights on a draft-night deal.

Saric was originally drafted by the Orlando Magic with the 12th overall pick of the 2014 NBA draft and he was quickly traded to the Sixers for Elfrid Payton.

“We are thrilled to finally announce the highly anticipated signing of Dario Saric to an NBA player contract with the Philadelphia 76ers,” said Sixers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo in a statement. “Our basketball team stands to benefit from both the on-court development and physical maturation of Dario as a professional player in Croatia and Turkey over the last few years.”

The 22-year-old Saric, a 6-foot-10, 243-pound power forward, played the last two seasons with the Turkish team Anadolu Efes. He was named MVP of the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament after averaging 14 points, 10 rebounds and two assists for his native Croatia.

Saric and fellow 2014 draft pick Joel Embiid have yet to play for the Sixers. Embiid should make his debut after missing the last two seasons with foot injuries.

Saric and Embiid join a roster that includes fellow lottery picks Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Ben Simmons.

Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue defends Kevin Durant’s move to Warriors

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Deep down, Tyronn Lue has to be a little frustrated with Kevin Durant.

Lue just led the Cavaliers to an NBA title, his team beat the Golden State Warriors in seven games (twice on the road) and gained confidence that could carry over into next season. Then Durant goes and makes the Warriors much better. Lue’s life got harder. The Cavs aren’t in a position to make big roster moves to counter KD, they need to do it with internal improvement.

But when asked about it by Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, Lue put on his former player hat and backed Durant’s right to choose.

“People get mad about what he did, but to me, I’ve been a player and I’ve been a coach. When you’re free, that means you’re free. You can do what you want to do. He opted to go to Golden State. That’s his choice,” Lue said. “But they don’t say anything or get mad when guys get cut or they trade guys. Nothing is said about that. But as soon as a guy picks a team he wants to go to, it’s a big deal. I don’t understand it. I like KD. I support him in whatever he wants to do.”

Lue makes a point a lot of players make — guys have no control over where they get drafted, over trades, and players lower down on the food chain from Durant get cut and waived all season long. The one time players get control over their working environments is free agency, and they want to take advantage of it. Just like the rest of us would with our jobs.

Adam Silver may not like what it does to competitive balance. Fans may turn on the Warriors and see them as villains. But Durant had the hammer and made the choice he felt was best for him and most likely to get him rings — you can’t judge a player by how many rings he gets then question him making a move to improve his chances of getting one.

Guys who played — like Lue — get that.

 

Steve Ballmer says not to expect NBA return to Seattle for a couple of years, at least

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Seattle still has great basketball fans. Just ask Nate Robinson, Jamal Crawford, and the other players who have come out of that area — the city loves hoops.

And it wants an NBA team again.

But that’s not going to happen for a few years, at least, according to Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft CEO who lived a large part of his life in Seattle (and was part of the group trying to buy the Kings and move them up there a few years back). Ballmer is in Seattle for the Geek Wire Sports Technology Summit and was asked by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times if an NBA team could be on its way to Seattle soon (hat tip Dan Devine at Ball Don’t Lie):

“It’s just not likely to happen,” Ballmer told those attending the conference. “There has been no discussion about expansion since I have been involved with the league. So, I don’t think that will happen. The league has really moved to favor teams staying in their current markets. You’d have to find a team that’s at the end of their (arena) lease, where it looks hard to build an arena and where they’ve tried really hard to build an arena.

“And you’d have to show that an arena can get built in Seattle,” he added. “Because unlike most other cities that build an arena before they have a team, I don’t think an arena is going to get built here before a team comes here unless it gets done in the context of hockey.”

A couple of years may be optimistic, Ballmer was likely just being nice. Even with the explosive growth in television revenue, there seems to be no appetite among the owners to divide that revenue pie up into thinner slices. Balmer is far from the only one to say this, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has echoed the point recently as well. Expansion remains off the table for now.

Seattle’s best hope for a while may have been the Milwaukee Bucks, but after threats of leaving the state government caved and pitched in $250 million, making the deal possible. The Bucks broke ground on their new arena downtown last month. Nothing imminent is on the horizon with teams that are likely to consider a move.

Sorry Seattle.

And don’t ask about Ballmer’s Clippers.

“The Clippers are not going anywhere — ever,” he said. “I will die owning the L.A. Clippers.”