Kurt Helin

Associated Press

AP source: Pelicans, 2nd-rounder Cheick Diallo agree on 3-year deal

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) A person familiar with negotiations says the New Orleans Pelicans and second-round draft choice Cheick Diallo have agreed to a three-year contract at the NBA minimum, with a team option in the third season.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been announced.

If Diallo plays through the end of the contract, it could be worth about $2.5 million.

The Pelicans traded up in the second round of last month’s draft, sending the 39th and 40th overall picks to the Los Angeles Clippers, to select the 6-foot-9 Diallo out of Kansas at 33rd overall.

Diallo recently played for the Pelicans’ NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas, averaging 10.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in five games.

Jason Terry confirms Rockets told him they will not bring him back next season

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The Jet is going to be landing somewhere other than Houston next season.

The Rockets extended the contract of James Harden this summer, then rolled the dice on Eric Gordon‘s health to get more shooting — but that will soak up most of the minutes at the two guard spot (assuming Gordon and Pablo Prigioni play together off the bench). They will not need the services of Jason Terry, something Terry himself confirmed to Justin Termine of Sirius XM NBA Radio.

Terry has said he wants to play a couple more years then jump into a front office (or maybe coaching) job.

He averaged 12.1 points a game and shot 35.6 percent from three for the Rockets last season, numbers that will likely decline as he turns 39 next season.

Nobody has snapped him up yet, but at the very least he’s the kind of veteran that teams will turn to in training camp or during the season when they are hit by an injury, or a player did not pan out as they expected and they need more guard depth. I’d be surprised not to see him back in the NBA next season.

Thunder’s Enes Kanter posts death threats he recieved online in wake of attempted Turkish coup

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Oklahoma City’s Enes Kanter has long been an opponent of current Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, being outspoken about his dislike for his country’s leader for years. Kanter believes those comments are at the root of his problems with the Turkish national basketball team and why he was left off the team’s 2015 Eurobasket roster (the coach denied this at the time, although the country did not have better power forwards available and did not qualify for the Olympics out of the tournament).

In the wake of the recent failed coup attempt in Turkey, Kanter said he received a series of death threats, and he posted 24 of them (they are in Turkish):

In another tweet in Turkish, Kanter — a devout Muslim — said: “Death threats continue to fall. Prayer does not stand still.”

In the wake of the coup, Erdogan has tightened his grip on power, including firing 15,000 people who could be opponents from civil service jobs, and arresting hundreds in his eyes believed to be tied to the coup, and has discussed re-instituting the death penalty in the country. Kanter has criticized the moves online, making allusions to Hitler’s 1930s power grab in Germany.

Kanter has never been afraid to speak his mind — on Turkish politics, on former teammates, on just about anything. That’s not going to change now.

(Hat tip to ESPN for this story)

Coach K: “Klay (Thompson) is one of the great, complete players on this planet”

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LAS VEGAS — After the USA shooting drills that closed out practice were over Tuesday — drills where Klay Thompson outshined the other guys in his group — Thompson stayed on the court. He wasn’t leaving until he hit 10 left corner catch-and-shoot threes in a row. He got frustrated with himself when he missed, but he kept working at it. His form refined, he eventually hit the number.

It is that work ethic that has Thompson looking like the starting two-guard for Team USA — and getting the praise of coach Mike Krzyzewski.

“Klay is one of the great, complete players on this planet,” Coach K said. “He’s more than a shooter, he’s an outstanding offensive player who loves to play defense — and never really seems to get tired. He has a great motor.”

“Wow, that means a lot,” Thompson said with some genuine surprise. “Coach K’s words, he’s seen so much basketball it means a lot. He’s a joy to play for, especially how prideful he is to be the coach of the USA — he doesn’t have to do this, but he wants to. That pride of will trickles down to everybody else on this team.”

After the end of the NBA season, Thompson said he was exhausted and mused about skipping the Rio games to rest. That didn’t last long.

“Mentally and physically it’s a long season, the way it ended was very taxing,” Thompson said. “But you take a couple weeks off, and you’re itching to get back on the court. And this is too great an opportunity to pass up. I always dreamed of playing in the Olympics; I’d rather do it when I’m 26 not 30. I’m fresh, I’m young, and I’m having a lot of fun.”

“Fun” was a word that came up a lot when Thompson spoke — he’s clearly enjoying himself, the camaraderie, and the great players pushing one another.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Thompson said. “It’s fun beating up on the select team because I was in that position years ago, and the Olympic team used to beat the crap out of us every day. So it’s fun to be on the Olympic team and do that to them now and getting each other better.”

Sometimes the biggest challenge for great shooters going from the NBA to FIBA is adjusting to the international ball — it’s made of leather but feels synthetic and slick. When guys get a sweat on it can slide off hands easier. In the words of Kyle Lowry, “you just can’t get a sweat on it.” Thompson, who has played with the ball before as a select team member and on the World Cup team that won gold in 2014. Still, it’s an adjustment.

“I’m used to it by now,” Thompson said. “It takes some getting used to, it’s different from an NBA ball. It’s tough to going from an NBA ball to try and catch and shoot this ball, but it just takes a couple days, and once you get used to it, it feels normal.”

The way he shoots, that’s bad news for the rest of the world when the games tip-off in Rio.

Rumor: Despite big-name dreams, Celtics more likely to land Sixers’ Jahlil Okafor

Associated Press
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The Boston Celtics have been in the middle of the swirling vortex of NBA trade rumors this summer: Danny Ainge has been reaching out to Oklahoma City about Russell Westbrook, the Sacramento Kings about DeMarcus Cousins, the L.A. Clippers about Blake Griffin, and any other star he could pair with just signed Al Horford.

Except, none of those are likely if you talk to people around the league. The Kings are not moving Cousins in the short-term — certainly not before they move into a brand new building, plus they want to make it work and are counting on new coach Dave Joerger to pull the pieces together. The Thunder want to rebuild around Westbrook and bring in another star, they just can’t get him to commit to an extension. The Clippers are a win now team that is only going to move Griffin if they get another star back, someone who will help keep Chris Paul in house next summer when he can opt out.

Despite all their assets, the Celtics do not have the pieces to get those guys right now, despite what some Celtics fans think. The fantastic A. Sherrod Blakely laid out both the reasons and a more likely scenario at CSNNE.com.

“You win with players, not picks,” one assistant GM told CSNNE.com. “Boston has lots of picks and some good players. But there’s not a great player on that roster. And the players you (media) guys keep writing and talking about that they’re interested in, are great players. [Celtics president Danny Ainge] will tell you, it’s not easy making trades. And when it comes to great players, it’s even harder to acquire them no matter how many picks you offer up.”

The consensus among league executives spoken to by CSNNE.com is that the most likely trade for Boston will be one in which they wind up with Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor.

“From the moment Philly drafted Ben [Simmons], everyone around the league knew that they would have to trade a big, either Okafor or Nerlens [Noels],” an NBA scout told CSNNE.com. “Okafor is the better scorer; it’s not even close really. But Nerlens has that ability to run the floor and can protect the rim. Those two qualities . . . you can’t have enough guys in the frontcourt who call those two skills, strengths. That’s why Okafor is the more expendable player.”

That potential and rare skill set are why more teams are asking about — and willing to give up more for — Noel.

Does Boston want Okafor? Depends on the price. The Sixers, if they are not blown away by an offer, may go through training camp and into the season with all those bigs (including Joel Embiid, who is expected to play in the fall), put them together in different pairings, and see what works. Then they will trade the guys that don’t fit as well. The Sixers are not under pressure to get a deal done now.

The most likely big name to move before the season starts is Westbrook, but he also can be a free agent next summer. If he’s not going to commit to the team where he’s traded — whether it’s Boston or Los Angeles or anywhere else — then teams are not going to give up too much for a rental. It leaves Oklahoma City in a tight spot, one where they may well choose to go into the season with him, let Westbrook rack up insane scoring numbers, and try to plot a future with him and another major free agent like Griffin.

All of which means, Boston fans still need to be patient. Which suck for fans, but it’s reality.