Tag: Russell Westbrook

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant destroys kid at pop-a-shot


It doesn’t matter what kind of shooting you’re talking about, Kevin Durant is good at it.

He was out in Los Angeles and swung by a Dave and Busters — a combination restaurant and arcade, for those of you who only eat in places with a Michelin Star — and decide to play a little pop-a-shot. And he’s pretty good at that, too.

At least he didn’t swat the kid’s shot.

One of the best parts of the next NBA season? Seeing Kevin Durant back on the court for the Oklahoma City Thunder. His foot surgery and Russell Westbrook’s injuries sucked some of the fun out of the West. (Although I’m not sure the other teams in the West feel that way.)

Cameron Payne is the next mid-major point guard to rise from obscurity

NEW YORK - JUNE 24: NBA Draft Prospect, Cameron Payne poses for portraits during media availability and circuit as part of the 2015 NBA Draft on June 24, 2015 at the Westin Times Square 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.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2015 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NEW YORK – Over the past few years, a mid-major guard has worked his way up from the island of misfit schools to the green room at the NBA Draft.

In 2012, Damian Lillard was selected sixth overall by the Portland Trail Blazers after spending four years at Weber State.

In 2013, Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum joined Lillard in the Blazers’ backcourt as he was selected with the 10th pick.

Last year, Elfrid Payton and Elfrid Payton’s hair successfully made the leap from Louisiana-Lafayette to the lottery as he was selected by the Sixers with the 10th overall pick, but was traded while sitting at the interview podium to the Orlando Magic for Dario Saric, a second round pick in this year’s draft, and a 2017 first round pick.

This year it’s Cameron Payne’s turn to ascend from Murray State into one of the first 14 picks in the 2015 NBA Draft. Payne just has to wait a little while longer to hear his name come out of Adam Silver’s mouth and then he’ll be able to walk up to the stage with a gigantic smile on his face, the same smile that was on display during the pre-draft interviews on Wednesday.

It’s a smile that comes from a desire to tell his story with the masses, who are finally interested in learning about where the 20 year old point guard came from. Because when he was on his way to becoming the Ohio Valley Player of the Year as a sophomore in college, no one seemed to care, but now everyone is asking him to share his backstory.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Payne said during the pre-draft interviews. “I really think this happened for a reason. I tell my story to every guy that I talk to.”

This is a whole new world for Payne, who suddenly finds himself navigating through a massive schedule of interviews. “Man at Murray I used to have one or two [interviews] every two weeks on Monday and now every day it’s like you have nine and then [tomorrow] you have three,” Murray said. He noted that he’s dealing with the added media responsibilities “pretty well.”

Payne’s versatile skill set as a point guard and superior basketball IQ have been the catalysts for his rising draft stock, but with the NBA currently in the golden era of point guards, it’s a gigantic plus to have the ability to play off of the ball, especially if he were to wind up next to Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City. Payne showed flashes of being dangerous without the ball in his hands at Murray State, but the Racers needed him to dominate the ball handling responsibilities.

“I can be a combo guard, I don’t need the ball to succeed,” Payne told NBCSports’ ProBasketballTalk. “But I feel my best attributes come from me having the ball, because I put people in the perfect situation to score and I mean perfect. People like playing with me because I can do that and not a lot of players can do that.”

Just watch the tape on Payne and you’ll see exactly what he’s talking about. I’ll wait here while you watch this Draft Express video.

You’re back! Told ya the kid can pass the ball pretty freaking good, but if he ends up in OKC, he’ll get relegated to briefly running the Thunder’s second unit when Durant and Westbrook hit the bench.

Besides the Thunder, Payne has met with the Pacers, Lakers, Kings and Nuggets. Indiana would be an interesting fit if Larry Bird does decide to use the 11th overall pick on him, as Payne could be an immediate replacement for C.J. Watson, Rodney Stuckey, and Donald Sloan, who are all unrestricted free agents. Stuckey says he’s confident that he and the Pacers will work out a deal, but even if Stuckey does come back, Payne could replace the 1,422 minutes Watson played last year and would have a much better chance of running the point with an actual star playing alongside him.

Payne’s best chance to start immediately would be in Denver, but the Nuggets would have to find a trade suitor for Ty Lawson (George Karl is jumping up and down raising his hand) and receive another pick in the first round (George Karl is now doing jumping jacks). The Nuggets would fill one of their many holes with the first pick and then use the other on Payne as the replacement for Lawson.

Regardless of what happens on draft night, Cameron Payne has followed the path of success by following the advice of a mid-major trail blazer who helped pave the way for him.


Twitter – @ScottDargis

Jordan Brand unveils retro lineup for Spring 2016 release (PHOTOS)


Jordan Brand is able to essentially print money with its continuous releases of retro edition sneakers, with every season’s lineup hotly anticipated by both collectors and casual fans alike.

We’ve already seen what the company has in store for later this year, and the iconic brand has recently unveiled what’s on deck for a Spring 2016 release.

The theme is three legacy collections this time around, all of which are meant to pay homage to some of Michael Jordan’s personal moments of greatness.

The Poster Collection

The Air Jordan II pays tribute to the “Wing It” ad campaign that coincided with the shoe’s original release in 1986, while the Air Jordan XII is inspired by Jordan’s “The Master” poster.





The Alternate Collection

Inspired by on-court colorways that were previously player exclusives, this group features the Air Jordan II, Air Jordan IV and Air Jordan V Low all bathed in Bulls-based colors.



The Dunk From Above Collection

This one’s all about Michael Jordan’s ability to fly. The Air Jordan 1 Nouveau was the first to feature the wings logo, the Air Jordan IV introduced the word “Flight” onto a shoe (and into the brand’s lexicon), and the Jordan V Low takes design inspiration from a World War II fighter plane.


Check out the slideshow below to view plenty of additional, detailed photos.

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going to need a pair of those IVs.


Jordan Brand unveils All-Star shoes for Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook

Inside Jordan Brand’s Pearl Pavilion NBA All-Star experience

Reviewing the Air Jordan XX9, after testing the shoes at Michael Jordan’s house

Chris Paul hoops with media at launch of his Jordan Brand CP3.VIII

Report: Melvin Hunt remains guy expected to get Denver coaching job

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers

The Denver Nuggets have gone all over the map with their coaching search. They interviewed the godfather of the modern run-and-gun offense in Mike D’Antoni. Twice Denver has interviewed a defense and discipline guy in Mike Malone.

But interim coach Melvin Hunt remains the guy most people around the league think will get the gig.

Marc Stein of ESPN tweeted this Monday.

Hunt would be a good hire and could be part of the culture change needed in Denver. The Nuggets players responded to Hunt when he was tapped to replace Brian Shaw midseason. The Nuggets went on a run, so much so that management told him to start resting guys to make sure they didn’t lose their draft position (yes, tanking).

Stein had one other interesting coaching note, this one pertaining to the staff for Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City.

Remember Cheeks was an assistant coach in Oklahoma for Scott Brooks the last time the Thunder went to the Finals. He has a good relationship with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. That would be a good get for OKC.

Super agent Arn Tellem to join Pistons as executive

arn tellem

Arn Tellem is the star agent of the powerhouse Wasserman Media organization, which represents Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis, and the two biggest free agents on the market this summer: Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Actually, we should say Tellem was the star agent for Wasserman.

He is leaving his role as an agent to become a powerful force in the Pistons front office and business side, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Wasserman Media Group’s Arn Tellem, one of the most powerful and prominent player agents in the history of the NBA, is finalizing an agreement to become vice chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Detroit Pistons, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Tellem will answer directly to billionaire owner Tom Gores, but will not become the ultimate authority on the Pistons’ basketball decisions, sources said. That responsibility will remain with president and coach Stan Van Gundy, who signed a five-year, $35 million deal a year ago.

If you believe that Tellem will be able to keep his hands off of basketball operations, well, I have a little bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Tellem does have ties to Michigan, having gotten his law degree at the University of Michigan. And as the face of ownership with the Pistons he’s going to have a lot more to do than simply deal with the basketball side of things. He will spend more time on the business side.

But this is a change in the power structure in Detroit, which could have a lot of ramifications down the line.