Kurt Helin

Video shows Lakers’ Nick Young holding firework that bursts

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LOS ANGELES (AP) —  It looks like Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young hasn’t learned much about fireworks safety from New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.

TMZ Sports has posted a Snapchat video of Young holding up a firework in his hand as it explodes. TMZ says the video was taken at a Fourth of July party, and Young wasn’t injured.

The Lakers say they have no comment on it. Young’s agent hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

Pierre-Paul is featured in a public service announcement produced by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission about fireworks safety and released last week. He shows off his mangled right hand in the video. Part of Pierre-Paul’s hand had to be amputated last year following a fireworks accident.

(PBT note: If the Lakers can’t find a trade partner for Young this summer, expect him to be waived and stretched before the season starts.)

Report: Dallas trading former slam dunk contest champion Jeremy Evans to Indiana

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Jeremy Evans can leap out of the building. That’s how he won the Slam Dunk Contest a few years back.

However, his game has never evolved much beyond that. That leaping ability gets him some highlight blocks and a few buckets around the rim, but he struggles to defend fours (too thin, gets muscled) and can’t space the floor on offense. Then he missed a chunk of last season after a shoulder injury.

The Mavericks wanted to move on, so Indiana will roll the dice on Evans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Evans is on a minimum deal, so Indiana isn’t taking much of a risk.

That said, with Myles Turner, Thaddeus Young, and Paul George along the front line (with some depth behind them), it’s hard to imagine Evans getting much run. He’s going to have to take a leap forward now or he will be playing overseas soon.

Charles Barkley ‘disappointed’ Kevin Durant chose to chase ring with Warriors

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Charles Barkley slamming a current player for something he did? We’ve seen it before. We saw it again Wednesday.

Barkley, the crossover star and TNT analyst, went on the Mike and Mike show on ESPN Radio and said this about Durant’s move:

“Kevin is a terrific player, he’s a good kid. But just disappointed with the fact that he weakened another team and he’s gonna kind of gravy train on a terrific Warriors team. Just disappointed from a competitive standpoint. Because just like it meant more to LeBron to win one in Cleveland, it would mean more to Kevin to win one in Oklahoma than it would be in Golden State.”

Plenty of people feel that way. Here’s where the hypocrisy comes in for Barkley: When his relationship soured with the Suns around 1995, he demanded a trade — to a contender. Specifically, he told the Suns to trade him to one of a few teams (and was very public about it) or he would retire.  The Suns relented and sent him to the Houston Rockets with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. One of the few teams considered any kind of threat to Jordan’s Bulls.

Charles Barkley went ring hunting.

Now he calls Durant out for the same thing. We as fans can’t say “rings are all that matter” then question why a guy would make a move that makes it more likely he gets a ring.

Barkley then goes on to speak some truth — the entire “rings” argument and culture rings hollow. Championships are not the only or even best measure of a player.

“We develop this thing where you keep telling these guys, ‘Hey man, if you don’t win a championship you’re a bum.’ I don’t feel like a bum,” he said. “I’m pretty sure Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and John Stockton — we think we’re pretty damn good. We could have played with some of those other guys and kind of cheated our way to a championship. But there is this thing that started with this new generation where these guys feel so much pressure. Everybody wants to win.”

Dwight Howard says he’s motivated after last season, wants to bring title to Atlanta

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The Atlanta Hawks lost Al Horford at center and replaced him with Dwight Howard. Few see that as an upgrade.

Of course, Howard doesn’t see it that way. In an interview with the Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Howard talked about taking the Hawks back closer to the 60-win, conference finals team of a couple of years ago.

“I want to do whatever I can to bring a championship home,” Howard said Tuesday from Philips Arena while attending a Dream game. “I know it’s not going to be easy. I’ve worked extremely hard this summer, every summer. I’m very motivated. I’m really (ticked) off about last season. I’m looking forward to coming back with a different mentality.”

Why was Howard angry last season?

“Losing,” he said. “A lot of people see me with smiles and all that stuff and think I don’t care but I hate losing. I hate seeing other people stand up on the podium and hold up that trophy and I worked so hard for it. That’s the main thing.”

I don’t doubt Howard means that. Of course, he said something similar at every stop on the tour of his career, and let’s just say things have not lived up to the hype.

As always with Howard there are two key questions. First, can he stay healthy? Second, will he buy into the Hawks’ team first concept? Will Howard focus on defense and rebounding, then willingly move the ball on offense rather than demand a bunch of post touches that drag down the Hawks’ ball movement? He’s saying the right things, but he’s said that before.

Big shoes: Brandon Ingram not daunted by taking Kobe’s spot

Associated Press
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) Until a couple of months ago, Brandon Ingram‘s new locker at the Los Angeles Lakers’ training complex was occupied by Kobe Bryant.

The 18-year-old rookie sees the daunting symbolism in literally taking the place of the most prolific scorer in franchise history, and he greets it with a smile.

“I did see where my locker was, and I definitely knew it was Kobe’s locker,” Ingram said. “(General manager) Mitch (Kupchak) told me I had some big shoes to fill when I came in here, but I liked it. I like the pressure that’s on me right now. Of course it’s going to motivate me to do good things on the court. It’s all good pressure for me.”

Ingram put on those shoes for the first time Tuesday at a practice for the Lakers’ Las Vegas summer league team. The No. 2 overall pick in last month’s draft then joined fellow Lakers selection Ivica Zubac in a tour of the complex, posing in front of owner Jeanie Buss’ collection of championship trophies before receiving their new gold jerseys – No. 14 for Ingram, No. 40 for Zubac.

The Lakers believe Ingram is a centerpiece of their next great roster. They’re starting nearly from the bottom after the worst season in team history and the retirement of Bryant, who won five titles and became the NBA’s third-leading scorer during his 20-year career.

Ingram could be two decades away from approaching those achievements, but the smooth-shooting forward hasn’t flinched under the weight of comparisons to Bryant – or to Kevin Durant, another lanky shooter who transformed a struggling team. Just over a year after graduating from high school in tiny Kinston, North Carolina, Ingram is shouldering those burdens with apparent ease.

“He never talked about (being compared to Durant),” said Ingram’s father, Donald. “He definitely has similar tools on the court, but he’s never showed that he feels the pressure. Even here, with people talking about filling Kobe’s shoes, he’s just going to pave his own way. He’s going to be Brandon.”

Ingram is already determined to build chemistry with Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and fellow No. 2 pick D'Angelo Russell, the Lakers’ point guard. His primary goal is to become a more vocal player after Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski impressed the importance of communication on him last season.

“I was ready for this first practice,” Ingram said. “Just getting on the floor with those guys, and just seeing how he (Russell) wants to play, and of course how the coach wants to play. Connecting with those guys is really important to see what they want to do to be a contender in this league.”

Ingram’s cool is even impressing Zubac, the 7-foot Bosnian teenager chosen with the 32nd overall pick. Zubac grew up an enormous Lakers fan, but he wouldn’t want Bryant’s locker.

“He can have that pressure,” Zubac said, drawing a laugh from his new teammate.

Ingram will have plenty of support in his rookie season, starting with Luke Walton and the Lakers’ new coaching staff. Los Angeles also signed fellow Duke product Luol Deng as a free agent, and Ingram intends to stick close to his fellow 6-foot-9 Blue Devil.

He’ll also have support from family and friends, including Jerry Stackhouse, his longtime mentor and fellow Kinston native.

Donald Ingram is a veteran basketball referee who has also run a recreation center back home in Kinston. He raised his sons with a healthy respect for the game’s rules and fundamentals, putting Brandon into ball-handling drills as a child. Donald was determined to prevent his sons from falling into what he calls “the AND1” mentality of flashy, highlight-driven play.

“He’s always been a player that listened, even when the adults were playing,” Donald Ingram said. “That’s part of being coachable, his ability to listen. He’s a kid that’s willing to learn.”

Ingram’s 25-year-old brother, Bo, played at the University of Texas before getting drafted by the D-League and playing professionally in Mexico. Bo will be out on the West Coast with Brandon after summer league, looking for a place to live before getting to work in September.

“We’re from the East Coast, and he’ll be 19 years old,” Donald Ingram said. “We want to make sure he has somebody with him, and he’s living as close to the facility as possible. It’s a big concern, and that, to me, is more of a concern than his ability to make an impact with the Lakers.”