Kurt Helin

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 26:  Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Brooklyn Nets in action against the Miami Heat during their game at the Barclays Center on January 26, 2016 in New York City.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Report: Nets’ Bojan Bogdanovic escaped Turkey during failed coup by taking boat to Greece

4 Comments

Brooklyn’s Bojan Bogdanovic was just trying to get in a little R&R. He had helped his native Croatia qualify for the Rio Olympics, so he and his girlfriend went on a little vacation before he had to report to camp and get ready for playing in Brazil.

La Ga No…Par dana odmora prije nastavka misije Rio #sretnanovagodina #elbabo #bzb #rioparty #cacemicopcabana

A video posted by Bojan Bogdanovic (@44bojan) on

That translates as “A few days of rest before continuing the mission to Rio.”

The couple went to the Turkish coastal resort area of the Bodrum Peninsula. Just so happens that’s where Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan was staying at the same time.

Then the attempted coup in Turkey came.

We will let Nets Daily recap what happened next, translating a report Greek sports talk radio station sport-fm.gr.

Turkish air force planes flew low overhead and Erdogan claims dropped bombs on the hotel where plotters believed he was staying.

Time to leave. Eurohoops and sportfm.gr report Bogdanovic got out via boat, crossing the Aegan to the Greek Island of Rhodes with the help of his agent and Greek team officials on the Rhodes end.

The “escape” was arranged via his agent in collaboration with the team manager of the Greek team Colossus, George Gkotzogiannis and a member of the club board. The trip between Bodrum Peninsula and Rhodes takes an hour. The 27-year-old Croatian arrived safe, spend a few hours in Rhodes and then left for Zagreb, the Croatian capital. He heads to South America this week for the Olympics.

Good news that he got out of what is clearly a dangerous situation.

As an aside: Turkey has one of the stronger, better paying professional basketball leagues in Europe, but if you’re an American player would you take less right now to play in a safer location in Europe?

One USA Basketball tradition continues: Blocking our non-Nike shoes in team photo

KD_Shot_13_044_A_43353
3 Comments

LAS VEGAS — USA Basketball has a number of traditions they would like to focus on: Victories, gold medals in the Olympics, getting elite stars to play for their country, great player development.

There is another one that continued in Las Vegas Monday, where USA Basketball’s men’s Olympic team opens training camp. From Nick DePaula of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Never underestimate Nike’s sway with Team USA (the relationship is far deeper than just making the uniforms). There was no way they could keep (or would want to keep) Klay Thompson, Kyle Lowry, and DeMar DeRozan off the team, but they can help limit brand exposure.

Fun question, would Stephen Curry let them do it to Under Armour? Maybe we’ll find out in 2020.

Tyus Jones named Summer League MVP, heads All-Summer League teams

Minnesota Timberwolves' Tyus Jones shoots around Memphis Grizzlies' Keith Steffeck during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
6 Comments

LAS VEGAS — There is only one game left in Summer League, the championship game between the Timberwolves and Bulls on Monday night.

Tyus Jones, fresh off a 29-point performance to get the Timberwolves into the finals, will star in that game.

Jones was also just named the Summer League MVP.  Jones averaged 19.4 points on 45.7 percent shooting, plus 6.3 assists, 4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. He won the award, voted on by select media members.

The list of former Summer League MVPs includes Blake Griffin, John Wall, and Damian Lillard. It also includes Josh Selby and Glen Rice Jr. Last season it was the Spurs’ Kyle Anderson.

Jones, a point guard out of Duke, will be entering his second NBA season after getting in just 37 games for Minnesota last season. With the Timberwolves drafting Kris Dunn — who looked very good in two games in Las Vegas before suffering a concussion — and having Ricky Rubio on the roster, Jones needs to impress to get his minutes next season.

Jones headlines the All-NBA Summer League teams (also selected by the media). Here is who made the teams:

All-NBA Summer League First Team
Tyus Jones (Minnesota)
Jordan McRae (Cleveland)
Bobby Portis (Chicago)
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia)
Alan Williams (Phoenix)

All-NBA Summer League Second Team
Jaylen Brown (Boston)
Thon Maker (Milwaukee)
Kelly Oubre Jr. (Washington)
Norman Powell (Toronto)
Tyler Ulis (Phoenix)

Report: Westbrook hasn’t told Thunder he wants to leave. But can they bet on that?

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 23: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder stands under the hoop prior to the game against the Boston Celtics on November 23, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Getty Images
27 Comments

Talk to people around the league and they are beyond convinced Russell Westbrook is not long for Oklahoma City. Many thought he was more likely than Kevin Durant to leave as a free agent, and that was before Durant bolted for Golden State. Beyond that, teams are convinced the Thunder can’t take the risk of losing Westbrook for nothing, too.

But around Oklahoma City, there is still optimism — maybe guarded optimism, but optimism — that Westbrook stays, something most recently reported by Anthony Slater at The Oklahoman.

Westbrook has given the Thunder no indication that he currently wants out. To the contrary, one source described him as ticked off about the Kevin Durant departure, determined for this new challenge and eager for the season to start: “He’s ready.”

Does anyone doubt the fierce competitor that is Westbrook plans to take advantage of the situation, play like a beast, put up crazy numbers (he’s a smart bet to lead the league in scoring) and take OKC as far as he can while he’s there? Of course he will.

That’s not the question, the dilemma facing Oklahoma City: Not saying you’re leaving is not the same as saying you are staying.

The Thunder would love for Westbrook to sign a contract extension, but he’s not going to do that — even if he wants to stay with OKC playing this season, becoming a free agent, then re-signing nets him two more guaranteed years and more than $75 million more guaranteed dollars.

The problem for the Thunder is this: Even if he wants to stay right now (and that’s up for debate), his mind could change. Or maybe he heads into free agency next summer like Durant did this one: He probably stays, but he just wants to listen to what other teams have to say. The Thunder can’t take that risk; they can’t lose two Hall of Fame level players for nothing.

Of course, trading Westbrook is not that simple, either. Westbrook can still be a free agent next summer. A source speaking to Celtics’ Blog laid it out perfectly:

“No team is going to pay a hefty price without getting a commitment from Westbrook,” the source said. “Someone may pay a cheaper price without a commitment, but OKC probably doesn’t do a deal like that.”

Westbrook probably wants to leave his options open for next summer. Which puts the Thunder in a bind. But hypothetically let’s say Westbrook’s agent finds a team that wants him and where he wants to be, and they privately assure said team Westbrook will re-sign: Then the question is the price it takes to get Westbrook. Think Carmelo Anthony leaving Denver — he got where he wanted to go, but the team was gutted, notes Slater at the Oklahoman.

But that’s where the Carmelo case serves as a cautionary tale for Westbrook. He’s hyper competitive and obsessed with winning. Forcing a trade could inhibit the future of his future team.

Let’s take the Lakers for example. He’s from Los Angeles and many have speculated about his desire to live and play there. The Lakers have a batch of young pieces that would intrigue any trade partner — such as DeAngelo Russell and Brandon Ingram. But wouldn’t Westbrook prefer to join a Laker team with them, not one that just gave them up? He could opt to wait until next offseason.

For Westbrook, if he is going to leave, it would be better to do so via free agency. Which comes back to the bind the Thunder find themselves in — move him now for less than he’s worth, or roll the dice that he stays. There are no easy answers.

But the sense around the league is the Thunder are most likely to move him before the season starts, if they are going to do it at all.

Tyus Jones, Denzel Valentine set up T-Wolves-Bulls Summer League final

Minnesota Timberwolves' Tyus Jones shoots around Memphis Grizzlies' Keith Steffeck during the second half of an NBA summer league basketball game Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
Leave a comment

A look at the two semifinal games Sunday in the Las Vegas Summer League:

TIMBERWOLVES 93, SUNS 83

Tyus Jones fought through an injured left wrist and thumb to lead Minnesota to the final of the tournament with 29 points, six assists and three rebounds. Jones had 18 points in the first half, but was injured when he landed hard on the court before halftime. The 2015 No. 24 pick came out of the break heavily bandaged, but continued to play as the Timberwolves outscored the Suns 24-18 in the third quarter to take a 67-66 lead. Jones’ floater kicked off a 12-3 run to start the final quarter that effectively put things away.

Adreian Payne, the 2014 No. 15 pick, had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota. Troy Williams led the Suns with 24 points and six rebounds, and Askia Booker had 19 points off the bench. Tyler Ulis was held to 11 points on 5-for-21 shooting after hitting the winner Saturday night.

No. 4 pick Dragan Bender and All-Rookie first-team Devin Booker did not play for the Suns.

BULLS 85, CAVALIERS 79

Denzel Valentine banked in a 3-pointer that started an 8-0 run to go to give Chicago an 80-75 lead with 1:14 remaining that the Cavaliers never recovered from. The 2016 No. 14 pick finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Cristiano Felicio led the Bulls with 18 points, and Bobby Portis added 16 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Chicago needed a 10-1 run in the third quarter to get back in the game after trailing 46-36 at halftime.

Kay Felder continued to impress with 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting as he pushes for a backup spot being Kyrie Irving. He did a little bit of everything throughout the game, including handing out five assists, but got out of control and missed a wild layup trailing 80-77 with 27.9 seconds remaining, forcing the Cavs to foul to extend the game. Jordan McRae was the only other Cavs player to reach double digits. He ended the night with 16 points and five rebounds, but shot 6 for 16 from the field.