Ricky Davis Among Former NBA Stars In Action During Day 2 Of D-League Showcase

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The 2012 NBA Development League Showcase started off solidly on Monday in lovely Reno, Nev., as it included a little bit of everything — the first in-season call-up of the season, standout performances from several players around the league and everyone’s favorite NBA executive — Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets  — sounding excited about the what lies ahead for the next three days. For anyone that missed the first day of action, Tuesday offers yet another opportunity to watch some of the best basketball players outside of the big leagues.

Tuesday’s action begins at 1 p.m. ET live on NBA TV with a game between the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Maine Red Claws. Neither team is doing so hot as far as the standings are concerned, but the recent wave of players entering the Development League has made it a game to watch nonetheless.

The Red Claws are led by former NBA stalwart Ricky Davis as he takes his triple-double getting talents to the D-League while looking for a second chance at the NBA. Considering he’s only 32 and once averaged better than 20 points in the big leagues, he should be a shoo-in, but that unfortunately hasn’t looked to be the case thus far as he’s averaging just six points on 32 percent shooting through his first six games back in the states. The Skyforce have a familiar name leading their squad, too, with Anthony Mason averaging over 17 points per game for the South Dakota based team.  Mason, the junior of the former Knicks forward with the same name, scored a season-high 26 points in Sioux Falls’ last game to lead all scorers.

Tuesday’s other NBA TV game features Mike James and the Erie BayHawks facing off against the San Antonio Spurs’ Austin Toros.

James, a veteran of 528 NBA games, looks like he might be able to add to that total if he’s able to build on a standout performance in the BayHawks’ first game on Monday. In the first game of the Showcase, the 36-year-old scorer led his team to a two-point victory over NBA-assignee Armon Johnson and the Idaho Stampede as he tallied 23 points, five rebounds and five assists — all while not looking a day over 30ish. The Toros have quite a few players with NBA talent, but the one to keep an eye on Tuesday will be rookie guard Cory Joseph. The Spurs assigned the former Texas Longhorns guard to the D-League to get some seasoning against NBA players and James should be a solid test.

Following the pair of games on NBA TV, the D-League’s website will stream a contest between the Texas Legends and Tulsa 66ers followed by the Dakota Wizards taking on the Canton Charge. The Legends-66ers game should be especially interesting to watch considering former Utah Jazz center Greg Ostertag will likely need to prove he’s in some sort of shape this week if the 38-year-old ever plans to return to the big leagues after a six-year basketball absence.

Brad Stevens says Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward should be fully cleared by Aug. 1

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Everyone watching the Boston Celtics in the playoffs kept thinking the same thing: Add Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back into this lineup next summer and — bang — instant contender.

That leads to the question: Just where are Irving and Hayward on their recovery tracks? Glad you asked.

That’s a good sign for the Celtics. And for fans of good basketball.

One word of caution: Progression when adding stars into a system is not necessarily linear. Or, to put it more plainly, throwing superstars who need the ball in their hands into the mix comes with its own set of adjustments and challenges, things do not always go smoothly or as planned. There could be some fits and starts as the Celtics figure things out next season. (And that’s not even getting into the Kawhi Leonard rumors, which are legitimate but also a long way from reality as of today.)

If you were going to trust one coach to figure it out and get guys to buy in, Brad Stevens would be your guy. The Celtics are rightfully going to enter next season as the bar to clear in the East (free agency depending). Just don’t expect things to go smoothly from day one, because that’s just not how basketball or life work.

Michael Porter Jr. says his injury situation “got exaggerated a lot”

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If healthy, Michael Porter Jr. might be as talented as anyone in this draft. He’s a 6’11” wing or small ball four who can shoot from the NBA three-point line and has the athleticism to get up and down the floor then finish with authority.

But health is a concern. There was the back injury which forced a microdiscectomy surgery that forced Porter to miss all but three games last season. Back injuries in big men are tricky things and can linger. Then last week there was an off-again-on-again workout and medical evaluation with the pause due to a hip issue. Was that soreness tied to the back issue?

In an interview on ESPN radio, Porter played down the injury concerns.

Former Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr., who had issues with his hip and back, said Monday that he’s “feeling great” and wouldn’t dismiss the idea of working out for teams this week ahead of Thursday’s NBA draft.

“It’s a possibility,” Porter said on The Will Cain Show on ESPN Radio. “I feel good. … I got evaluated. I let the doctors come in and do all their tests on me. I’m feeling good. I think the teams are comfortable, but I might get a couple workouts in.”

As for last week’s hip issue.

“It was just a little sore, so I told [my agent] my hip was kind of sore and he just wanted to shut it down for a couple of days,” Porter said. “And then people took that and kind of ran with it, saying, you know, my hip was injured, I couldn’t get out of bed. … None of that was really true. I was just sore and I wanted to take a couple of days off. So that’s all that was.”

Porter is the mystery man in this draft — and those guys always seem to rise and have someone fall in love with them. It’s hard to imagine Porter going lower than eighth, but he has been linked to teams as high as the Kings at No. 2.

Porter is the kind of player that some team lower in the draft may fall in love with and be willing to trade up to the top five to snag him. The health is the question. An NBA front office member who has seen Porter’s medical reports described them to NBC Sports as “fine.”

There are also concerns about Porter’s grit and toughness. He has the reputation of having been insulated and having been a bit of a diva, what happens when he gets to an NBA team where he is not the first (and, at first at least, maybe not the second) option. What happens when he has to play more of a role and have it not be about him and his touches? Teams are asking about that.

Despite the concerns, there will be a team taking him in the first half of the lottery. It could be a home run. Or… that’s what makes the draft interesting.

Report: As expected, Jamal Crawford declines $4.5 million player option with Minnesota

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Jamal Crawford wants a bigger payday, and after a solid season scoring 10.3 points per game for Minnesota last season, he might get it despite a tight market. That’s why what happened on Monday was expected.

Crawford opted out of the final year of his contract with the Timberwolves, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford has declined his $4.5 million player option for next season and will become a free agent, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Crawford, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, will become one of the top reserve scorers on the open market after facing Monday’s deadline to decide on his option.

The concern for teams is that Crawford is 38 and already showing some decline in his skills and game. Crawford can still be productive, but teams will be leery of offering more than two years guaranteed on his contract. And for a guy who comes off the bench — even a three-time Sixth Man of the Year — teams are not going to spend big.

Crawford may also just be looking for a new team chemistry and role, something at this stage in his career he should be able to get.

Enes Kanter’s father sentenced to 15 years in jail in ongoing political dispute

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The dictatorial Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant for Knicks big man Enes Kanter because he is an outspoken opponent of Turkey’s current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter is not foolish enough to go home to be arrested (and likely tortured), he may never see his homeland again.

Kanter’s family had to disavow their son and his beliefs. That apparently was not enough. Kanter’s father, Mehmet Kanter, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Turkey for “membership in a terror group,” the country’s official news agency reported Monday.

Enes Kanter believes to be a politically motivated attempt to go at him. Kanter released this statement.

The Turkish government’s shots at Kanter are not new. Last summer the Turkish government revoked Kanter’s passport while he was abroad, forcing American diplomats (with some help from the NBA) to step in and prevent him from being sent back to his native country and arrested.

All of this is because Kanter is a follower of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Turkish president Erdogan — who is essentially a dictator now, and runs a country where human rights abuses are rampant — blames Gulen for masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, and used that as an excuse for a crackdown and consolidation of power.

Using or dividing family members to try to gain political advantage or make a political statement is abhorrent, anywhere it happens. Unfortunately, Kanter is caught in the middle of it and there is little he can do.