Kurt Helin


Rumor: Celtics have real interest in Gordon Hayward in free agency next summer


There are some big names on the free agent radar next summer — Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kyle Lowry, and the list goes on and on — but the guy front offices not only like and think they might land is someone off a lot of fans’ radar:

Gordon Hayward.

Utah’s star wing is a borderline All-NBA level player expected to be at the heart of a breakout Jazz team (once he recovers from the broken finger that will sideline him around six weeks). Among the teams with an eye on him, his old college coach from Butler who has built a quality team in Boston — Brad Stevens. From the brilliant Zach Lowe of ESPN.

There is probably more buzz surrounding Hayward’s impending free agency than about Paul, Griffin, Kyle Lowry and other starrier names. Hayward is 26, in the meat of his prime, killing it at the thinnest position in the league. Utah waited for Charlotte to max him out last time around, and Hayward has a long memory. The Jazz have a ton of guys to pay, and if they down enough beers (just kidding, it’s Utah!), they might convince themselves they have the wing depth to withstand Hayward bolting. His beloved college coach runs a rising team with an easy roadmap to max cap space — and real interest in Hayward, per several league sources.

But if Utah makes a leap, the smart money is on Hayward sticking. The Jazz can offer a winning young core, an extra fifth season, and if the new CBA breaks right for them, a little more cash than home teams can dangle under the current deal.

Utah was ready to make the leap a year ago, but injuries derailed that plan. This year should be different because adding veterans that fit the system — George Hill, Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw — should help keep the Jazz afloat until Hayward returns.

If Hayward decides to look around next summer, there will be a long line of teams outside his door. And not just guys from Boston. He will have plenty of options.

Judge refuses to declare mistrial in Derrick Rose civil rape case, does reprimand plaintiff’s attorneys

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The judge was not happy.

However, with a jury empaneled and the trial well underway, he was not going to dismiss the entire case.

The judge in the Derrick Rose $21.5 million civil rape trial taking place in Los Angeles announced he would not declare a mistrial. However, he did reprimand the plaintiff’s attorney’s for not producing several texts between the now Knicks’ point guard Rose and the woman from that night, and he will allow the defense to recall the accuser back to the stand for more cross-examination if they want.

Here are the details, via the Los Angeles Times:

A federal judge in Los Angeles decided Wednesday against declaring a mistrial in the lawsuit accusing NBA star Derrick Rose and two friends of raping the basketball player’s former girlfriend in 2013.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald faulted the woman’s legal team for not having provided the defense sooner with three text messages she sent to Rose around the time of the alleged assault, but the judge said the failure was not serious enough to call an end to the civil court trial….

Fitzgerald ruled that the woman could be questioned again by Rose’s attorneys and that jurors would be told of the plaintiff’s error.

The texts from the night in question have been used by both sides to try to bolster their case to the jury.

One of the texts in question could be viewed as favorable to Rose and the defense, Rose’s attorneys believe it shows consent to the multi-person sexual encounter (which is at the heart of the case — Rose and his co-defendants say the encounter was consensual, the accuser says she was drugged by the trio and in could not have consented in that condition).

This was the bottom line for the judge.

Dunking, dishing, Russell Westbrook put on a show in exhibition game

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We already showed you how Russell Westbrook got shut down by a rim during an exhibition game in Dallas Tuesday.

But also — like he will every night this season — Westbrook put up some serious highlights.

Any night the guys at SportsCenter think the news cycle is slow this winter, they can just count on Westbrook (and James Harden in Mike D’Antoni’s system) to fill the hour.

Silver: Discussions on NBA labor agreement resume next week

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BEIJING (AP) — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said discussions will resume on the collective bargaining agreement next week after he returns from China, with two months left before a key deadline.

Speaking before the NBA’s second preseason game in China on Wednesday, Silver said he planned to hold meetings next week in an ongoing process that will include several team owners, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts and Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul, the players’ association president.

Silver spoke to Roberts during a recent league visit to Spain, and said he’ll continue to discuss a resolution with the players association that avoids a lockout or any loss of games.

“Both sides have been very engaged and eager to get a deal done,” he said. “When we return home, we’ll pick up where we left off.”

The current agreement between the league and players runs through June 2021, but both sides have until Dec. 15 to express intent to opt out in 2017.

While player salaries have skyrocketed and new TV deals coming into effect have driven up league revenue, there has been optimism that the league and players could reach an agreement and head off a work stoppage.

Silver also announced the NBA would open development academies in three Chinese cities, with coaches and training staff overseeing elite travel teams. The academies are spread out over the country: the eastern cities of Jinan and Hangzhou, and the northwestern city of Urumqi. They are the beginning of a planned effort by the NBA to improve basketball training and competition in various countries.

Since the retirement of Yao Ming, inducted this year into the Basketball Hall of Fame, no Chinese player has reached his level of success in the NBA. Silver said he hopes the academies will create more elite Chinese players and NBA prospects.

Pelicans’ Anthony Davis leaves game after rolling ankle, reportedly out 10-15 days


BEIJING (AP) — New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis left Wednesday’s preseason game against the Houston Rockets after hurting his right ankle.

Davis fell to the court early in the first quarter of Wednesday’s game in Beijing, the last of the NBA’s two exhibitions in China. He re-entered the game briefly, but soon walked to the locker room. The team said he would not return.

Reports the next morning have Davis out for at least 10 days, taking this right up to the start of the season. The Pelicans start the season in 14 days and play three games in four nights to start.

Davis, the first overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, is a three-time All-Star who averaged 24.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game last season.

Pelicans guard E'Twaun Moore also left the game in the first half with a right heel injury.