Charles Barkley says he did not get Suns tickets for Cam Newton

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UPDATE 11:27 pm: As expected, Charles Barkley went on a rant, something done at halftime of the Thunder/Mavericks game. We have transcribed it for you to make your life complete:

“There was a report out today by some idiot, and I don’t know his name because I don’t blog at all, he accused me of breaking NCAA rules. That I gave Cam Newtown tickets to the Lakers game…. This guy is an idiot, I hope he doesn’t have any kids. Because if the parents are idiots, you follow the kids, the kids are going to be idiots too. But, I did not give Cam Newton tickets to the game.”

“First of all, if [Newton] had called me, I would have got him tickets to the game. The guy won a Heisman Trophy and he’s one of the greatest jocks I’ve ever seen at Auburn. He’s right after me and Bo Jackson. He’s right with Frank Thomas right now.

But listen, dude, you can’t just get on your blog, I don’t read that crap, but I had to respond to it publicly today, you can’t just come out and say what you want to. I did not get him tickets, I have never met Cam Newton, but if Cam Newton had called me I would have put him in the Laker locker room if he wanted to go.”

As said in the story below, it was not a blog but a tweet from a respected Birmingham journalist that started this whole thing, but we knew this is how it would go.

4: 07 pm: You’re going to hear about this when you tune in to TNT tonight — Charles Barkley is going to go off on a Lewis Black-like rant — so we want to give you the background, to help you understand what Barkley is talking about. As much as that is humanly possible.

Last night players from both the Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks were in attendance at the Lakers victory over the Suns in Phoenix (both teams are in town for next Monday’s BCS title game). Heisman trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton was there in the lower bowl and was interviewed both on the ESPN national broadcast and the KCAL 9 broadcast back to Los Angeles.

Remember that Barkley is an Auburn alum and former Suns player. We’ll let the always entertaining Sports by Brooks tell the story from there:

During the game, prominent Birmingham TV personality and WJOX-FM radio host Jim Dunaway Tweeted, “Hanging at Lakers-Suns… Pugh and most Auburn players in upper deck…Cam in lower bowl. Thanks Barkley for the tix.”

That Tweet along with courtside interviews that Newton did during the telecast was part of a chain reaction on Twitter and message boards across the country of people wondering if Newton had indeed gotten special treatment at the game that might amount to an NCAA violation…

Barkley told Dan Patrick this morning that he did not provide tickets to Newton. On his radio and  FSN/Direct TV show, Patrick said:

“I called (Charles) Barkley and asked him, ‘did you get Cam Newton the tickets for the Suns game?’

“Barkley said, ‘Tell those people who are writing this to kiss my ass. I did not get him those tickets. But if he wanted tickets I would’ve gotten them for him.’

“He (Barkley) said, ‘I’m going to mention more on this on TNT tonight. This bothers me that they’re trying to throw me in there. I didn’t have any contact with the kid.’”

Dunaway later tweeted he was thanking Barkley for getting his tickets, not that Barkley got Newton tickets.

Brooks checked with others at the game and learned the players from both teams were spread throughout the arena, both in the upper and lower bowls. Newton was one of the players in the lower bowl, but that was not some special treatment or gift no other player got.

Barkley will be talking about this tonight on TNT, probably blaming all that new-fangled technology — all of which streams beautifully on those T-Mobile 4G phones Barkley endorses — for what happened. As usual, the problem is not the technology but people.

Report: Markelle Fultz was available in trade packages on draft night

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The Philadelphia 76ers are saying all the right things about Markelle Fultz — they are patient, they believe in his work with his new trainer to rebuild his jump shot, and they see him as part of the future. Plus, his handles look sharp.

That doesn’t mean the Sixers are not willing to trade him in their pursuit of a star player. In fact, he was available on draft night in packages, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Sixers say they aren’t shopping him. However, there was a report that they had internal discussions about packing him with Nos. 10 and 26 picks to move up into the Top 5 in Thursday’s draft. And multiple league sources have said that Fultz was available to be traded.

But it’s hard to get equal value in return for trading someone relearning how to shoot. The Sixers know that. They also know that if things do come together, Fultz will be a special player. He has the potential to become the type of player they would regret trading away.

Outside of a handful of superstars, every player in the NBA is available in a trade, at least in theory. Fultz is no different. The question in his case is what do they see as an upgrade vs. his potential?

Kawhi Leonard would be an upgrade, unquestionably. Fultz could be part of a package to land Leonard in a trade (Fultz, Robert Covington, the Miami 2021 first rounder, and probably more picks would be a starting point). Once the Spurs get serious about a potential Leonard trade (they are not there yet) how enticing that offer might be comes down to what they think of Fultz and his potential.

The Sixers are not shy about their desire to land an established All-Star to pair with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. If they don’t get Leonard, they will be looking at the next All-Star who becomes available, and Fultz could be part of those deals, too.

Fultz is not playing in Summer League for the Sixers, but if he comes back this fall trusting his jumper and starting to look like the player who was drafted No. 1 that trade value goes way up (and the Sixers may be less inclined to move him).  It may be then before the Sixers can get a respectable return on any Fultz trade.

Report: Indiana to retain Bojan Bogdanovic, he could start again next season

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Bojan Bogdanovic is the kind of floor spacing shooter the Pacers need next to the attacking Victor Oladipo. He started 80 games for the team, scored 14.3 points per game and shot 40.2 percent from three.

Bogdanovic is due $10.5 million next season, but the Pacers can buy him out before next Friday (June 29) for $1.5 million.

They’re not going to do that, the Pacers are going to retain Bogdanovic, reports Ben Gibson at the Pacers site 8points9seconds.com.

The Indiana Pacers currently plan to retain Bojan Bogdanovic — whose contract is only partially guaranteed for next season — and would be comfortable going into next season with him as a starter, according to a source familiar with the Pacers offseason plans.

There’s no surprise here, it was expected. Bogdanovic provides genuine value to the team — they need him on the court as a shooter, he averaged the second most threes per game on the squad. And, as an expiring contract, he could be used in any potential trades for another star.

The Pacers also have a decision to make on Darren Collison, who is owed $10 million next season but has a $2 million buyout by July 1. They will probably keep him around.

Al Jefferson is owed $10 million next season but can be bought out for $4 million before next January 10. Expect the Pacers to exercise that option and buy him out well before that date.

Carmelo Anthony sends message to haters: ‘Take A Step Back… And Enjoy Life’

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When the expected became official and Carmelo Anthony opted to take the $27.8 million contractually owed him next season, there were groans from the Thunder faithful.

It was Anthony’s right — and everyone knew he was going to take the cash (we all would have done the same) — but his value on the court has shrunk and that’s what eats at the OKC faithful. Anthony’s response on Instagram was, essentially, “relax, it’s just basketball.”

It will be interesting to see if Anthony is back with the Thunder next season, or if he gets bought out. If he does return, how do they better fit him in the offense?

Anthony’s defense has long been a concern, but his offense used to be efficient enough, and his ability to create shots important enough, that teams lived with the defense. However, his efficiency has slid in recent years and, as we saw in the playoffs in April, it’s not enough anymore. The Thunder played better with other lineups. To which Anthony responded he has to get back to his old style of play more.

It’s going to be a wild summer in OKC. Whatever happens.

Suns to sign French point guard Elie Okobo to first-round style contract

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The Suns have an impressive young core four: Devin Booker at the two, Mikal Bridges at the three, Josh Jackson at the four, and Deandre Ayton at center.

The hole: Who will be the point guard?

The Suns like Elie Okobo of France a lot. They drafted him 31st overall, the top pick of the second round, but they will give him a first-round style contract with two guaranteed seasons and two team options after that, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Suns hinted they were going to do this, and it’s a smart move at a fair price if they can develop Okobo (even as a backup).

Okobo has potential. Last season, at the highest level of the athletic French league he averaged 13.2 points on 57 percent shooting (38 percent from three) plus 4.4 assists per game. Okobo is an NBA level athlete who has all the tools to be a good NBA point guard — and he already knows how to score (he had 44 points in a playoff game this season). He’s going to have to round out his game and adapt to the NBA style, but the Suns think they have something.

And they are betting they have with a nice sized contract.