Kurt Helin

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Seven

Jamal Crawford, other NBA stars take court for Seattle Pro AM vs. Drew League (VIDEO)

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This would have been fun to attend, a little showdown between the Seattle Pro AM and the Los Angeles-based Drew League.

It attracted plenty of NBA talent: Jamal Crawford, Zach LaVine, Isaiah Thomas, Stanley Johnson, Trevor Ariza, Baron Davis, Nate Robinson, Malcolm Thomas, Dorell Wright, Bobby Brown and Spencer Hawes were among the ballers. And when you turn those guys loose in a world with no defense, you get a show.

Enjoy, we’re still a couple of months away from NBA games that matter so this can be a little fix.

Report: Eric Moreland leaning toward Pistons contract; Lakers, Kings still in mix

Sacramento Kings v Denver Nuggets
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Eric Moreland played all of two minutes total across three games for the Kings’ last season before suffering a labral tear in his shoulder that ended his season (he did get paid his full $507,336 salary because of that, though). Then this summer, with a pretty full roster, the Kings waived the undrafted 6’10” forward rather than guarantee his deal.

So where does he land now? Maybe Detroit, reports Shams Charania of RealGM.

Free agent Eric Moreland has multiple deals to compete for a roster spot in NBA training camp, with the Detroit Pistons as frontrunners, league sources told RealGM. The Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings are strong under consideration for Moreland, sources said, and their front offices expect the 6-foot-10 forward to settle upon a destination once the final offers are presented.

This would be a camp invite, make-good contract with maybe a little guarantee. Could he make the roster in any of those places? That’s an uphill climb.

Detroit has 17 guaranteed contracts and already is going to have to cut a couple of them. They also have a front line with Ersan Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver at the four, then three centers in Andre Drummond, Aron Baynes, and Joel Anthony. Not sure where Moreland fits in there.

The Lakers have 12 guaranteed deals but a pretty stacked frontcourt, Mooreland would need to beat out someone like Tarik Black (whom the Lakers like). The Kings have 14 guaranteed contracts and already waived him this summer so he wouldn’t be a guaranteed deal on their books, plus they have Willie Cauley-Stein in his young, shot blocker role.

Mooreland likely chooses whoever gives him the biggest guarantee. It’s about the money.

Nigeria beats Angola to win AfroBasket, qualify for Rio Olympics

Olympics Day 10 - Basketball
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Try this on for size:

Al-Farouq Aminu is headed back to the Olympics.

Barring injury it will happen in Rio because Aminu’s Nigerian squad pulled away in the second quarter then held off a late charge from Angola to take the AfroBasket title game, 74-65. With that comes a ticket punched for the 2016 Olympics. This will be the second straight Olympics for Nigeria, which in 2012 had to get in through the Olympic Qualifying Tournament weeks before the games (Aminu was part of that squad, if you remember Carmelo Anthony dropped 37 on them).

Aminu, who plays for the Trail Blazers, had 11 points on a rough 2-of-10 shooting night (he did get to the line 11 times and had a nice and-1 dunk). Nigeria was led by Chamberlain Oguchi as the veteran of European leagues had 19 points, and former Barcelona player Olaseni “Shane” Lawal, who had a dozen.

This makes four teams that have qualified for the Rio Olympics basketball tournament: The USA (winners of the World Cup), Brazil (host), Australia (winners of FIBA Oceania) and now Nigeria. The EuroBasket tournament that starts next week will add two more teams to that list.

Will Robert Upshaw be in training camp for the Los Angeles Lakers?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers
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There were reports that the Lakers and Robert Upshaw had reached a training camp deal way back in July during Summer League — but that turned out to be premature, the contract has never been formally offered. The Lakers put the undrafted Upshaw — an imposing, physical, shot-blocking seven-foot center who was dropped from two college programs — on their Summer League team. He looked like a project Las Vegas, one who may be years from being a rotation player, but one with some promise (he set good screens, for example). He’s the kind of player that teams bring to training camp so they can get a closer look.

But will Upshaw be at Lakers’ training camp?

Upshaw seems to think so. After a Seattle Pro-Am game Upshaw spoke with Scout.com about it — as found by our friend Darius Soriano at Forum Blue and Gold — and said he expects to be at Lakers’ training camp if he does the things he needs to do.

Eric Pincus of the LA Times tweeted something similar.

It’s unlikely Upshaw makes the Lakers’ roster. They will start Roy Hibbert at center and bring Robert Sacre in off the bench, plus they are pretty stacked at the four spot with Julius Randle, Brandon Bass, Tarik Black and Larry Nance Jr. Difficult to imagine Upshaw in that mix right now. This may be something where the Lakers would love to get him on their D-League team and have him work on his conditioning, his offense and game skills, plus show he’s got his life in order.

But first he’s got to get his life on track, and then get to training camp.

Shaq to Kobe on podcast: “I just want people to know that I don’t hate you”

Los Angeles Lakers' center Shaquille O'Neal (L) la
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Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant couldn’t work together just a little more than a decade ago, and with that the core of a Lakers’ team that had won three titles in a row went supernova in a very public fashion. All because of the oversized egos of those two men.

A decade later, they get along fine and look back at themselves from that era as immature kids. Kobe knows he was a little too headstrong and pushy, Shaq knows he should have worked harder.

That’s the core of what Shaq and Kobe get into on The Big Podcast with Shaq, which drops Monday. We’ve brought you other quotes from that, but Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times got a listen and had more details in a story Sunday.

“I just want people to know that I don’t hate you, I know you don’t hate me. I call it today a ‘work beef,’ is what we had,” said O’Neal, who retired after the 2010-11 season. “I was young, you was young. But then as I look at it, we won three [championships] out of four so I don’t really think a lot was done wrong. So I just wanted to clear the air and let everybody know that, no, I don’t hate you. We had a lot of disagreements, we had a lot of arguments. But I think it fueled us both.”

Kobe said that the beefs were one thing, but both of them taking their fight to the press made things worse. People’s positions became entrenched, and feelings were hurt. Kobe also said he was young and headstrong and was not going to back down — even if it meant fighting Shaq.

“In ’99, I think Shaq realized that this kid is really competitive and he’s a little crazy,” said Bryant, who is heading into what could be his final NBA season. “And I realized that I probably had a couple of screws loose because I nearly got into a fistfight and I actually was willing to get into a fight with this man. I went home and I was like, ‘Dude, I’ve either got to be the dumbest or the most courageous kid on the face of the Earth.'”

Shaq also said that Phil Jackson — despite the fact he later wrote Kobe didn’t listen and was hard to coach — was fair.

“He was really fair,” O’Neal said. “He only got fed up one time and he came in and said, ‘Both of ya’ll need to cut it out.’ And that’s the only thing he said.”

I look forward to hearing the entire podcast. It will be two guys looking back at their youth and shaking their heads, which is something we can all relate to.