Kurt Helin

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Having eight free agent complicates Hornets’ decisions in draft


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets aren’t sure who they’re going to be able to re-sign in free agency, making it difficult for owner Michael Jordan’s team to know who they’re going to select with the 22nd pick in next week’s NBA draft.

“With eight free agents, I don’t know what is going to happen,” general manager Rich Cho said Friday. “So we’re just going to try to add depth (in the draft) to the team and try to get guys that can play in our rotation. It’s a hard question to answer (what we need most) because we have so many free agents and we don’t know how it’s going to play out.”

So the Hornets are keeping an open mind when it comes to the pick.

“We are looking at a number of options – moving up, moving back and moving out of the draft altogether,” Cho said.

Four Hornets starters from last season are set to become free agents in July – Nicolas Batum, Courtney Lee, Al Jefferson and Marvin Williams. Top reserve Jeremy Lin will also hit the free agent market after opting out of his contract.

Cho said that uncertainty makes it difficult for the Hornets to zero in on addressing one particular need in the draft.

The Hornets could certainly use a rim protector, something they’ve missed since the departure of Bismack Biyombo to Toronto last year, but it’s unclear if such a player will still be around so late in the first round.

What they truly need is a difference maker, but those rarely fall to No. 22.

The only positions that are currently set for next season are point guard with Kemba Walker and small forward with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who missed most of the 2015-16 season following two shoulder injuries but is on the mend.

Cho said this year’s draft is deep at wing and with big men, but lacks quality point guards.

The Hornets have had a top 10 draft pick in each of the past five seasons, making this year a little more difficult after a successful season a year ago in which they finished tied for the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

Cho has been balancing draft preparation with laying out “abut 80 different potential scenarios” in free agency. Unlike the NFL, the NBA draft happens before free agency begins.

Cho is expecting a hectic free agency period.

He reiterated that re-signing Batum – who is expected to command more than $20 million per season – is the team’s top priority in free agency, which begins July 1.

Metta World Peace uses whiteboard to explain how NBA Finals are not rigged

Associated Press

You can’t argue with this logic.

And there is no way this would have been near as effective without the whiteboard graphics and the slightly dying black dry-erase pen.

Metta World Peace is the best.

Hat tip to super dad Matt Moore and CBS’ Eye on Basketball.

Kings’ Darren Collison charged with two counts of domestic violence

Associated Press

This is the last thing a Kings team trying to turn a corner — new coach, new arena, new uniforms — needed.

Sacramento point guard Darren Collison has been charged with two counts of domestic violence stemming from a May 30 incident in Placer County, just north of Sacramento. Collison has been charged with two misdemeanors: domestic violence and domestic battery.

This is from the Placer County District Attorney’s release, via CSNBayArea.com.

Our office additionally requested and received photographs of the victim’s injuries in the case and a copy of the 911 call made by the victim on May 30th, 2016. After review of the all the above evidence we have concluded there is sufficient evidence that will allow our office to file and prove this criminal case against Mr. Collison beyond a reasonable doubt.

Details from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page: “Deputies found that the woman had visible injuries and they arrested Collison on a charge of domestic violence. He was booked at the Placer County Jail in Auburn. He was additionally booked for two misdemeanor warrants, totaling $7,500, for driving on a suspended license. The name of the female victim will not be released as she’s a victim of domestic violence.”

The Kings have said that they are aware of the situation and looking into it as well. Traditionally teams and the league like to let the legal system play out before adding any punishments of their own.

That said, the NBA and other professional sports leagues have come down with longer suspensions on players found to have committed domestic violence in recent seasons. As they should, this behavior should not be tolerated. For example, the Hornets’ Jeff Taylor was suspended 24 games. Collison likely will get more than just a slap on the wrist if he pleads of is found guilty.

Collison is under contract for $5.2 million next season, and may be in line to see increased minutes next (depending on the team’s free agent moves). How this impacts the Kings’ and what they do with Collison remains to be seen.

It’s official, Brandon Bass opts out of Lakers’ contract to be free agent

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It what was an unusual locker room — in part due to the Kobe Bryant farewell tour — Brandon Bass was a true professional. The kind of rock solid pro the Lakers hoped would rub off on their young stars and show them what it takes to last in the NBA. Bass could fit in anywhere.

Bass is going to count on that landing him a nice contract elsewhere — he has officially opted out of his contract with the Lakers and will be a free agent this summer. Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times has the details.

Bass would have earned $3.1 million next season if he had not opted out of his contract. Bass, an 11-year veteran, would like to return to the Lakers if the team wants to bring him back, his agent said.

Bass averaged 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20.3 minutes in the 66 games he played in last season for the Lakers.

Bass will make a little more money, and likely will opt for more of a playoff team than the rebuilding Lakers. He could be a solid big off the bench for a team in that situation.

LeBron has heartfelt exchange with Craig Sager after win


CLEVELAND — After taking down one of the best teams in NBA history, LeBron James had a heartfelt moment with one of the game’s most popular sideline reporters.

James was interviewed by Craig Sager after Cleveland’s 115-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 tied the NBA Finals at three games apiece.

It was Sager’s first NBA Finals in 34 years on the job. His employer, TNT, worked out a deal with ABC, the network that broadcast the game, to get Sager on the air.

Sager was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 and has been in a fight for his life over the last two years. After asking James several questions about the game and his 41-point performance, Sager congratulated him on the victory.

“First of all, let me ask you a question,” James said with a wide grin. “How in the hell do you go 30-plus years without getting a finals game? That don’t make no sense.”

Decked out in one of his trademark colorful suits, this one a black number with blue and silver flowers, Sager beamed as James continued his salute.

“I’m happy to see you, man,” James said. “Much love and respect. I’m happy I was able to witness it in front of these fans. We really appreciate you.”

Sager replied, “Thanks for entertaining me.”