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AP Source: Detroit Pistons nearing downtown move

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DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Pistons have reached an agreement in principle with the city of Detroit and Olympia Entertainment for the team to move from the suburbs to downtown, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because there had been no formal announcement. Pistons owner Tom Gores is set to appear at a news conference Tuesday with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings.

Gores acknowledged last month that the team was close to a deal to leave The Palace of Auburn Hills and start playing downtown next season. The Pistons have been in talks about playing at the new arena that is being built for the Detroit Red Wings, who are owned by Mike and Marian Ilitch. The arena site is about 30 miles from Auburn Hills.

Olympia Entertainment, a division of Ilitch Holdings, handles business operations for the Red Wings, who are in their final season at Joe Louis Arena before moving to Little Caesars Arena.

The new arena is in the same part of downtown where the Tigers and Lions host their games, and not far from where Gores and Dan Gilbert have been hoping to put a new stadium for a Major League Soccer team.

The Pistons have played in Auburn Hills since 1988 and played at the Pontiac Silverdome for a decade prior to that. The team was downtown when it called Cobo Arena home from 1961-78.

The Palace was built with private funds by William Davidson, who owned the Pistons before his death in 2009. The team won championships in its first two seasons in Auburn Hills and again in 2004. Although the atmosphere slipped in recent years as the team went through a rough stretch on the court, Detroit returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009, and the Pistons appear headed in the right direction in Stan Van Gundy’s third season as their coach and team president.

Gores bought the Pistons from Karen Davidson in 2011. He said last month that if the team did leave the Palace, it was important to remember the success the franchise had in that area.

“I think we have to be really mindful of this community in Auburn Hills and their loyalty in showing up,” he said. “This has been a real community, and I want them to feel the same wherever we’re playing.”

Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister

Dennis Rodman charged with hit-and-run for freeway crash

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SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Former NBA star Dennis Rodman has been charged with hit-and-run for a wrong-way-related crash on a Southern California freeway.

Orange County prosecutors filed misdemeanor charges against Rodman on Monday for a July 20 accident on Interstate 5 in Santa Ana.

Prosecutors say Rodman’s SUV was traveling north in a southbound carpool lane around 12:30 a.m., forcing a sedan to swerve into a dividing wall to avoid a collision.

Rodman’s attorney, Paul Meyer, says the incident occurred on a poorly signed exit ramp. He says Rodman corrected the driving error without the cars touching, stopped and spoke to people in the other car.

Rodman’s also charged with driving across a dividing section and without a valid license, and giving police false information.

He could face two years in county jail if convicted.

NBA report says officials handled clock situation correctly at end of Raptors/Kings

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The question wasn’t “did the officials correctly interpret the clock rules at the end of the Raptors/Kings game Sunday?” They did. Well except for almost a second that is missing from the clock late. Rather, the real question is “why is that the rule in the first place?”

Monday the NBA’s official “two-minute report” looking at the calls in the final two minutes of close games backed the official’s handling of the play.

To recap, in case you haven’t see this (the video is above): The Kings led 102-97 late when Sacramento’s Darren Collison fouled Kyle Lowry on a three-pointer with :27.4 left. Lowry hit two of the three free throws, at which point the Kings got the rebound and the clock said 26.4, although in the arena there was more according to some angles. The Kings tried to run out the clock they didn’t hit the rim on a shot, leading to a :24-second violation, and the Kings got the ball back with 2.4 seconds on the clock. On the ensuing inbound pass at halfcourt, DeMarcus Cousins tips the pass, but the clock didn’t start immediately. Toronto’s Terrence Ross picked up the ball, took two dribbles and nailed the three to force overtime. Except, upon review, the referees said that the clock should have started when Cousins touched the ball and that meant the shot did not get off on time. The officials waived off the shot. Game over.

Here are the two key sticking points. This is straight from the report:

The report says at :27.4 left Collison did foul Lowry on his three, and they consulted with the instant replay center and confirmed the call. All of that is right and proper. Did it take a second for Cousins to get the rebound on the missed shot and time out to be called? Some shots in the arena saying there were 27.2 seconds on the clock, Patrick Patterson pointed that out as well, there is a discrepancy about how much time is on the clock. That extra time would have mattered.

As for the final play, here is what the report said:

The on-court referees noticed a clock malfunction on the inbounds play and correctly triggered an instant replay. After communicating with the Replay Center, it was determined that the clock should have started when Cousins (SAC) tips the ball and run to 0:00.00 before Ross’ (TOR) shot was released.

Again, the question isn’t did the referees get it right, as much as is that a fair rule? For the guy taking the shot, he has to go by the clock on the court that he is looking at, and Ross did that. Could Ross have gotten off that shot more quickly if the clock started on time? Maybe not, but now we are getting into speculation about what would or would not have been different, that was not the reality at the time.

The fact is that the referee/clock operator messed up and the Raptors paid the price. That’s not good optics for the NBA.

The fair thing here would be to allow a replay of the final 2.4 (or more accurate 3.4) seconds of the game. That’s not the rule right now, but it should be.

Nerlens Noel, Brett Brown meet to lay out roadmap upon his return


Nerlens Noel, who has been out since October following knee surgery, is getting close to returning to action.

It’s going to be a different front line than the one Noel played in last season — Joel Embiid is now on the court and looking like a franchise cornerstone at center. There is Ersan Ilyasova starting at the four, Jahlil Okafor is getting run off the bench, Dario Saric is showing promise (and will ultimately be a stretch four), and at some point this season the Sixers hope to need to fit Ben Simmons into the rotation (maybe as a big three). Brett Brown is trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together, and where Noel is in that mix.

Noel and Brown sat down and talked about that, reports Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“First, (I want Noel) just embracing the team aspect of everything,” Brett Brown said after practice. “To come into this and to try to draw his own line in the sand and reclaim minutes that he will want. This is going to be on a deserved basis. We have a lot of people at that spot. We will help him. I will coach him. I will put him in an environment where he can succeed and get him back in shape and integrate him with the team….

“He’s different than all of our five men,” Brown said. “He’s probably more like Richaun (Holmes) than he is anybody else. He’s an elite roller. He gets out of pick-and-rolls quick. He is a big lob guy …  I think that defensively he’s very disruptive in his pick-and-roll defense. … He can make plays at the rim, he’s an elite shot blocker.

“It’s just Nerlens being Nerlens. Notice I haven’t said anything about just becoming a really reliable 18-foot jump shooter or really becoming a 90 percent free throw shooter. It’s just effort, athleticism, fitness, energy stuff.”

Noel used that energy to get 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game last season. This season he’s going to have to carve out a bit of a different niche — he struggled at the four last year but he’s not starting over Embiid. That energy could make him a good backup, but if he wants a bigger role than that he needs to carve it out. Can he do that?

If Noel plays well upon his return — and likely even if he doesn’t — his name is going to come up in trade talks. The Sixers are going to need to move some from that logjam in the front court, and athletic rim protectors are in demand around the league. Teams have concerns about his maturity (it’s something discussed around the league) but that potential is hard to overlook. That said, teams will want to see him healthy and playing before they do anything.


Miami Heat to retire Shaquille O’Neal’s number Dec. 22

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Pat Riley says that trading for Shaquille O’Neal is the biggest move in Miami Heat franchise history.

I think we can debate that — drafting Dwyane Wade in 2003 would top my list, and signing LeBron would be ahead of Shaq, too — but no doubt bringing in Shaq in a trade with the Lakers (that sent Lamar Odom and others West) was huge. The 2006 NBA championship banner doesn’t hang in Miami without him.

Which is why on Dec. 22, the Heat will retire Shaq’s No. 32.

As they should. This is fitting. He is only the third Heat player to have his number retired, along with Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway. The Heat also have retired the number of Michael Jordan for reasons nobody quite gets, and they have the No. 13 of Dan Marino also hanging in the rafters.

Shaq only played three-and-a-half seasons in Miami but is the franchise leader in field goal percentage (.596), is third in points per game average (19.6), is sixth in blocks (384), is ninth in double-doubles (84), and is 11th in total rebounds (1,856).

The ceremony, which will involve Riley and others, will take place when another of Shaq’s teams — the Los Angeles Lakers — are in town.