Kurt Helin

Sixers’ Ben Simmons turns heads in NBA debut despite early injury exit (VIDEO)

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons made his NBA debut at the Utah Jazz Summer League on Monday and showed glimpses of why there are superstar expectations for the LSU product.

He also put a scare into 76ers fans when he left the game in the fourth quarter due to cramps in both calves.

The 6-foot-10, 240-pounder displayed why the 76ers will use him as a point forward at times by grabbing rebounds, pushing the ball up floor and dishing out assists in transition.

Summer league is his first taste of the NBA, but Simmons said he’s not measuring himself against the rest of his class.

“I’m looking at the top guys like (LeBron James) and (Kevin Durant),” Simmons said. “Those are the guys I have to be facing, so I have to get ready for them.

“I respect everybody. I don’t fear anyone. So when we go into every game, I’m willing to put in the work to win. That’s the goal coming in here — just to win every game.”

Simmons’ night ended early after attacking the basket midway through the fourth quarter. Cramps in his right calf began to bother him in the third quarter, but he stretched out on the bench and returned without issue. Simmons hit the floor in the fourth and wasn’t able to get up as play continued. Two teammates helped him up during a timeout and he leaned on both to walk straight to the locker room. Simmons never returned.

“It’s been about four months since I played, that’s the main reason,” Simmons said. “More fluids. It’s just an adjustment. The game’s a lot harder, a lot quicker. It’s just one of those things you have to stay on.

“That’s the worst I’ve ever cramped up. I’m definitely going to stay on that.”

Simmons finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists in just under 24 minutes of play as the Celtics won 102-94. He started the game guarding and being guarded by Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 overall pick in the draft. Simmons first points came off a pair of free throws in the first quarter and his first field goal was an elbow jumper with 7:19 left in the second quarter. He shot 2 for 9 from the field and made all six free-throw attempts.

“Passing, ball-handling, confidence, communication, swagger, enthusiasm, love for teammates,” 76ers Summer League coach Billy Lange said. “It wasn’t about him. I said that yesterday, that was the first thing I noticed. He was just excited to be 19 years old and around a bunch of guys and put that logo on his chest.

“He’s a basketball player. He’s a really good basketball player. … Anyone that’s watched enough basketball sees a skill-set there that’s really exciting.”

Lange said Simmons won’t play against the Spurs tomorrow, but managing minutes has been part of the plan for the entire team. He said they’re taking it game-by-game and doesn’t yet know the plan for Thursday’s game against the Jazz.

“We might have been able to put him back in, but on July 4, we didn’t need to create those fireworks,” Lange said. “We’ve got a long Summer League schedule ahead of us.”

Simmons’ vision was clear throughout the night and that part of his game seems NBA-ready. He wowed the crowd with a slick bounce pass as he sprinted full-speed that ended in a Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot transition layup. That was just one of several passes in traffic that ended in points for teammates.

“It’s hard to stop somebody who’s 6-10 coming at you full speed,” Simmons said. “As long as everybody else is running with me, I think good things can happen.”

Report: Amid massive roster changes, Warriors will keep Shaun Livingston in place

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Harrison Barnes? Gone. Andrew Bogut? Gone. Festus Ezeli? Gone. Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights? Gone.

The Warriors had to get rid of a lot of the depth that was one of their strengths to make room for Kevin Durant on their roster — which is still the right move, he’s Kevin freakin’ Durant. But there’s a price to pay.

One guy who is not going anywhere? Shaun Livingston. Marc Spears of The Undefeated had the details for ESPN.

The decision to retain Livingston had actually been made prior to Durant’s announcement on The Players’ Tribune on Monday. By remaining on the Warriors’ roster as of June 30, Livingston’s remaining $5.8 million became fully guaranteed for next season. The Warriors informed Livingston about their decision to keep him for next season on Monday morning.

Livingston averaged 6.3 points and 3.0 assists primarily as Stephen Curry‘s backup this past season, his second with the Warriors.

The Warriors essentially had to choose between Livingston and Ezeli at that roster price and they went with Livingston, who played a key role in keeping Curry’s minutes in check. The Warriors prioritized players that would fit with the small ball lineups they will roll out most of the time. They filled in the bigs with a $2.9 million contract for Zaza Pachulia.

It’s good to see Livingston, who has seen the ultimate highs and lows in his NBA career, be so highly thought of. That said, a year from now — when Durant opts out to get a new max deal from the Warriors, plus they need to max out Curry — different decisions may be made.

NBA players react to Kevin Durant heading to Golden State

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The NBA world was turned on its head on the Fourth of July.

Kevin Durant announced he was joining the Warriors, and NBA Twitter exploded. Reactions ran from fans ranged from anger to joy — depending on the fan base — but mostly there was shock. Golden State just assembled the best shooting team in NBA history (they arguably had that already) and the team with 73 wins last season looks like the team to beat for a title now.

NBA players had a lot of those same reactions on Twitter.

Detroit’s Michael Gbinije out of summer league with sprained ankle

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Detroit Pistons rookie Michael Gbinije will miss the rest of summer league with a sprained right ankle.

Gbinije, a 6-foot-7 guard drafted in the second round last month by the Pistons, was hoping to play in the Olympics for Nigeria. It’s not clear how this injury might affect those plans; a spokesman for the Pistons said Monday the only thing that’s been determined is that Gbinije will miss the remainder of the Orlando summer league.

Gbinije averaged 17.5 points a game as a senior at Syracuse and helped the Orange to a Final Four appearance this year.

Of course, some Thunder fans are burning Durant jerseys

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Has the burning of jerseys become a cliche?

From the second Kevin Durant announced that he was taking his talents to the Bay Area — although he phrased it better than that — we knew that people would be burning his jersey in Oklahoma City. It just feels like a “look at me” move to get retweets/shares/likes now rather than an act of true passion. Maybe we’ve just seen it too much.

But if you want to look, here are a few people burning Durant jerseys. We start with the guy wearing questionable shorts who made sure to do it safely in a fire pit (and nice Adirondack chairs, those look good).

If you look around social media, it’s not hard to find more. Have at it.