Tag: Orlando Magic

Houston Rockets Championship Anniversary Luncheon

Hakeem Olajuwon and Dikembe Mutombo make surprise appearances for Team Africa in NBA exhibition game (VIDEO)


A contingent of current and former NBA players have spent the past week in Johannesburg, South Africa as part of the league’s annual Basketball Without Borders clinic. But this year’s edition of the event is special in that it includes the NBA’s first-ever officially sanctioned exhibition game on the content of Africa. The game features a team of African NBA players including Luol Deng, Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo against “Team World,” which features the likes of Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, Marcus Smart and the Gasol brothers.

Fans in South Africa got an extra surprise during the game on Saturday: two of the most legendary African players in NBA history, and two of the most important ambassadors for the sport in Africa, suited up along with the current players. Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and second all-time leading shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo checked into the game in throwback Rockets and Nuggets jerseys, respectively:

Olajuwon scored on the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic using his patented “Dream Shake”:

And Mutombo got a stop against the Jazz’ Trey Burke:

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week that it’s only a matter of time until the NBA plays a regular-season game in Africa. This exhibition game is just the first step in that direction. But it was cool to see two legends in action alongside current players helping to grow the sport all over the world.

Mario Hezonja had a few Summer League highlights (VIDEO)

Orlando Magic Blue v Los Angeles Clippers

Be careful reading much into any rookie at Summer League — what we see is simply a starting point. The real determining factor of success is how they grow from this benchmark.

The Magic’s Mario Hezonja only played a couple games in the Orlando Summer League before he was injured, but he showed the mixed bag you’d expect from a rookie. On the downside, he shot just 37 percent and had plenty of rough edges.

But he made some plays, too. Like the ones in this highlight package, which should give Magic fans good reason for hope.

Lakers’ coach Byron Scott says Kobe Bryant will “probably” play some power forward

Kobe Bryant, Byron Scott

We knew that with a guard rotation of Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams, the Lakers were going to slide Kobe Bryant over to the three for stretches this season. And when Lakers’ trainer Gary Vitti discussed it with him, Kobe’s reaction was “I can do that.” Which is probably Kobe’s reaction to every question he is ever asked — “Hey Kobe, could you land a 747?” — but in this case he certainly can do it if healthy.

But how about Kobe at as a small four?

Not sure how Kobe feels about it, but Lakers’ coach Byron Scott is thinking about it, he told David Aldridge of NBA.com (hat tip to NBA Reddit).

“The one thing that we wanted to do and accomplish through this draft and through free agency was to try and be a little more versatile, have some versatility. So I think (Clarkson, Russell, Williams) can definitely do that. Kobe can play one, two and three. There’s no doubt in my mind. And there’s some games. against some teams, where he’ll probably play four. With his tenaciousness, the way he guards people and when his mind is set, if I say ‘Kobe, you’ve got him,’ he takes that as a challenge. You know how he is. He’ll compete.”

This is a decent idea, one worth exploring, if it is situational (the Lakers tried it very, very briefly last season).

If the Lakers are playing the Toronto Raptors and they’ve gone small with DeMarre Carroll at the four, the Lakers can match that with Kobe. Same with the Wizards if they go small and slide Jared Dudley to the four. Orlando if they go small with Tobias Harris at the four. There are matchups where this could work for the Lakers — not for long stretches, playing against bigger guys would take a toll on Kobe’s body, but for 5-10 minutes it could work.

However, notice all the teams noted above are in the East. The problem is that in the West most of the teams have fours Kobe would simply not be able to match defensively — Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka (or the Thunder go small with Kevin Durant), LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, Draymond Green, and the list goes on. The West is simply a different animal with the forward spots.

That’s why most of the Lakers’ minutes at the four will be split between Julius Randle and Brandon Bass. Still, I could see a short stretch with three shooters to space the floor, Kobe at the four and Bass at the five. It’s worth taking a look at in preseason and early in the season. Scott is right, versatility matters more and more in the NBA. We’ll see if he puts that plan into action.

Report: Orlando to acquire Shabazz Napier from Miami in trade

Sacramento Kings v Miami Heat

The guy Miami drafted in 2014 because LeBron James wanted him (Pat Riley tried to deny that), then LeBron bolted town. Napier struggled as a rookie in Miami. He averaged 5.1 points, 2.5 assists, 2.2 rebounds a game. He was given a real chance to backup Goran Dragic after the trade deadline, but quickly fell out of favor and had appeared once in the Heat’s last dozen games before he was shut down for the season due to a sports hernia.

Now he is on his way to Orlando. The Magic are finalizing a trade to get Nappier, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic will acquire Miami Heat guard Shabazz Napier for a protected future second-round pick, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Include the luxury tax and the Heat save $5.8 million on this deal, plus they had 17 guarnateed contracts, so now they are only one over the max. That said, the Heat gave up two second rounders to get Napier, now get just one back in this deal.

The Magic are going to give Napier a chance as a third point guard behind Elfrid Payton and C.J. Watson.

They didn’t give up anything of note for him it’s a reasonable gamble for the Magic. And if you want some hope Magic fans, watch this video of Napier in Summer League. (Second-year guys tend to do better there, but still this is a ray of hope.)

[nbcsports_video src=https://www.youtube.com/embed/kVQ4El-8DT8?rel=0 width=620 height=349

Canada beats USA at Pan Am games; Kentucky-bound Jamal Murray looks good

Men's basketball, Semi final round action,

First things first: Canada beat the USA in basketball at the Pan American games, 111-108 in overtime. This is not a big deal, both nations sent second or third tier squads to this event for some experience. The Canadians sent some NBA players — Andrew Nicholson (31 points against the USA) and Anthony Bennett (18). The USA’s best player has been Bobby Brown, who has spent a little time in the NBA but played last year in China.

Canada is closing the gap with the USA on the court, they sent the better team to this tournament, but they are still well back when both teams bring their A-listers.

The guy who has turned heads at the Pan Am Games for Canada is Kentucky bound Jamal Murray, who had 22 against the Americans. You can see his highlights above. Right now Draft Express has him as a bubble lottery pick, but don’t be shocked if he climbs that ladder higher by the time we get to the draft itself. Murray and Skal Labissiere will make the Wildcats title contenders once again (Rob Dauster at CollegeBasketballTalk has them No. 3 in his way-too-early poll for next season).