Tag: Orlando Magic

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four

Gregg Popovich will coach Team Africa in exhibition against Team World featuring Gasol brothers


We already knew Luol Deng (Team Africa) and Chris Paul (Team World) would serve as captains in the NBA’s first exhibition game in Africa.

Who else will participate in that Aug. 1 contest in Johannesburg, South Africa?

NBA release:

Team Africa, comprised of players born in Africa and second-generation African players, will feature team captain and two-time NBA All-Star Luol Deng (Miami Heat; Great Britain; born in South Sudan), Al-Farouq Aminu (Portland Trail Blazers; U.S.; parents from Nigeria), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks; Greece; parents from Nigeria), Nicolas Batum (Charlotte Hornets; France; parent from Cameroon), Bismack Biyombo (Toronto Raptors; Democratic Republic of the Congo), Boris Diaw (San Antonio Spurs; France; parent from Senegal), Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves; Senegal), Festus Ezeli (Golden State Warriors; Nigeria), Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder; Congo)*, and Luc Mbah a Moute (Sacramento Kings; Cameroon).


Team World, comprised of players from the rest of the world, will feature team captain, NBPA President and eight-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers; U.S.), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards; U.S.), Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets; U.S.),Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies; Spain), Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls; Spain), Jeff Green (Memphis Grizzlies; U.S.), Marcus Smart(Boston Celtics; U.S.), Evan Turner (Boston Celtics; U.S.) and Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic; Montenegro).

Five-time NBA Champion Gregg Popovich will coach Team Africa, with 2014-15 NBA Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer of the Atlanta Hawks and Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams serving as assistant coaches.  Brooklyn Nets General Manager Billy King and Toronto Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri are the Team Africa general managers, with Eric Waters (Washington Wizards) serving as the team’s athletic trainer.

Brooklyn Nets Coach Lionel Hollins will coach Team World, with Boston Celtics Coach Brad Stevens serving as assistant coach.  San Antonio Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford is the Team World general manager, while Keon Weise (Orlando Magic) will be the team’s athletic trainer.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will attend the game along with NBA Global Ambassador Dikembe Mutombo (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria).

There’s a good amount of talent on both teams and coaching staffs – which speaks to just how far basketball has come in Africa and how committed the NBA is to growing it further.

Exhibition games are always hit or miss, but I’m looking forward to watching this one.

Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green among new players invited to play for USA Basketball

Utah Jazz v Chicago Bulls

USA Basketball is holding a minicamp in Las Vegas later this summer, and seven new players have received invitations to participate.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

Sources told ESPN.com that USAB has extended invitations to Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, Memphis ‘ Mike Conley, Golden State’s Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, Orlando’s Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo and Utah’s Trey Burke to its Aug. 11-13 camp on the campus of UNLV.

USA Basketball is run like a college program, and with somewhat of an iron fist. Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski take their responsibilities very seriously, and expect unflinching loyalty and obedience out of the players who want to participate.

More from Stein:

Colangelo stressed that USA Basketball is making attendance at the three-day event mandatory for invited players if they are interested in securing a spot on the Yanks’ 12-man roster for next summer’s Olympics in Brazil, even if the player is rehabilitating from an injury or otherwise not yet cleared to join in on-court activities.

USAB already knows that Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, Indiana’s Paul George and the Cleveland Cavaliers duo of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will not be ready to take part in basketball activities at the camp, because they are recovering from their various serious injuries from the past year. But Colangelo’s view is that “it’s important for everyone to be here as a sign of commitment for ’16.”

This seems like a needless power play, but again, it’s how things are done. And with only so many highly-coveted roster spots to go around for the Olympics in 2016, you can bet that a Vegas trip in the middle of August will be in just about everyone’s plans.

Phil Jackson says Knicks need to be competitive before big-name free agents will consider them as a destination

Phil Jackson

The Knicks didn’t make any splashes this offseason in free agency, at least in terms of adding a big-name talent to the roster.

But the moves they did make are the kind that can build a foundation.

This summer was Phil Jackson’s first chance to make a real impact in re-shaping the New York roster, a process that begun at last season’s trade deadline when he jettisoned multiple players and essentially tanked the remainder of the season to get a high lottery pick in this summer’s draft.

In free agency, the Knicks focused on adding lesser pieces, rather than chasing guys who would be unlikely to sign. And as Phil Jackson explained, that was the necessary path to take when looking to rebuild almost from scratch.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com:

Team president Phil Jackson believes the New York Knicks must prove they can be a winning franchise before they can be considered a destination for the NBA’s premier free agents.

“We need to win, be a competitive team,” Jackson said Monday at the Las Vegas Summer League in his first public comments since the Knicks signed center Robin Lopez, shooting guard Arron Afflalo, and forwards Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn in free agency. “I think we showed agents and players around the league a serious nature of what we’re trying to accomplish. People who know basketball will recognize that, and we’ll have people who want to come here.” …

“We made a defensive attempt in free agency to really kind of solidify our team and give ourselves a basis from which we can work from,” Jackson said. “I think everything went according to how we thought it would go. There were some long shots out there that we took, but the reality was, we wanted what we got.

The Lakers might want to pay attention here.

The reality in today’s NBA is that All-Star caliber players are no longer willing to sign up to play in large markets like New York or Los Angeles simply because they’re desirable cities in which to live. Winning matters, especially when the money can be similar at so many different destinations.

This will become even more true in advance of the 2016-17 season, when the salary cap will spike upwards of 30 percent, and literally every team will have money to spend.

Jackson has done a good job making the necessary moves that can provide a significant increase to the team’s win total from last season. And if things go as expected, that will go a long way in making New York an exciting place for free agents to realistically consider — possibly as soon as next summer.

Report: Blazers acquire Magic forward Moe Harkless for future second-rounder

New York Knicks v Orlando Magic

Since the offseason began, the Blazers have been collecting young players on cheap rookie deals from other teams: first Noah Vonleh, then Mason Plumlee, and now Moe Harkless, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

After a promising first two seasons in the league (including a 2013-14 season in which he shot 38.3 percent from three-point range), Harkless largely fell out of the rotation in Orlando last season. He had a down season statistically last year, and it’s clear the Magic don’t have much use for him going forward after bringing back Tobias Harris on a max deal and investing a No. 4 pick in Aaron Gordon last year. But he’s only 22 and still has upside at both ends of the floor. As the Blazers enter their rebuild without LaMarcus Aldridge, they could do a lot worse than to take fliers on young players like Harkless and hope some of them pan out.

Nominees for first ever NBPA “Players Awards” are out

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five

Michele Roberts is giving the players what they want as the new executive director of the National Basketball Players Association  (the NBA players’ union). She knows she needs their loyalty during the looming 2017 lockout, so she’s trying to build up good will now. She’s doing the little things that resonate with players. Like questioning why there are media in the locker rooms before games. Or pushing back against the owners on the age limit.

Or giving the players their own chance to vote on the big NBA awards (most postseason awards, such as MVP or Rookie of the Year, are voted on by the media).

The first ever “Players’ Awards” will take place July 19 at the Rio hotel in Las Vegas (and be broadcast on BET July 21). Every NBA player was given the opportunity to vote in a variety of categories, and Thursday the list of nominees was released.

Here they are:

Best Rookie
Jordan Clarkson
Zach LaVine
Elfrid Payton
Andrew Wiggins

Best Defender
Tony Allen
Jimmy Butler
Anthony Davis
DeAndre Jordan

Global Impact Player
Pau Gasol
Kyrie Irving
Dirk Nowitzki
Tony Parker

Clutch Performer:
Stephen Curry
James Harden
LeBron James
Russell Westbrook

Coach You Most Want to Play For
Mike Budenholzer
Rick Carlisle
Steve Kerr
Greg Popovich

Hardest to Guard
Stephen Curry
James Harden
LeBron James
Russell Westbrook

Best Home Court Advantage
AT&T Center (San Antonio)
Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City)
Moda Center (Portland)
Oracle Arena (Golden State)

Player You Secretly Wish was On Your Team:
Stephen Curry
Anthony Davis
Tim Duncan
LeBron James

Most Valuable Player:
Stephen Curry
James Harden
LeBron James
Russell Westbrook

That list looks pretty similar to the media awards, upon first glance. Save for no Kawhi Leonard or Draymond Green as best defenders. Also, no LeBron James or Kobe Bryant in the category naming the players with the greatest global impact?

Whether you think these awards are more fair or accurate than the traditional media ones largely will depend on whether your guy wins in his category. For example, don’t be shocked if James Harden wins the Players Award MVP, so if you were a Harden guy you will think the players got it right after the media screwed it up.

I’ll just say this: Don’t think they are less biased than the media. Players have a lot of agendas — they will vote for guys with the same agent, AAU buddies, their friends, and on down the line. There is plenty of bias to go around.