If you click “play” on this video, you will see Utah Jazz sophomore throwing down a pretty nice windmill dunk over teammate Earl Watson. It’s a solid throwdown, but probably won’t be enough to get Evans, who is currently averaging 2.4 points in 6.8 minutes per game this season, an invitation to the dunk contest Orlando. Still, a nice little distraction for your Tuesday afternoon or evening.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Magic Johnson can already see LeBron James‘ impact on the young Los Angeles Lakers before they’ve even had a regular practice together.
After just a few weeks of unusually competitive offseason scrimmages, the Lakers’ basketball boss can’t wait to see how James’ leadership will translate into real success.
Magic and general manager Rob Pelinka on Thursday pronounced themselves thrilled with the offseason progress made by their revamped roster and James, their prize free-agent acquisition. The Lakers have been working out together informally at the club’s training complex ahead of the start of training camp Tuesday, and Johnson likes what he sees so far.
“Just to see all of them together playing a pickup game, oh my goodness,” Johnson said. “It’s something to watch. I’ve watched LeBron from afar. I’ve been at many of his games. But to watch him in the gym is a whole different thing. How much he makes everybody better, but also how he raises everybody’s level of play. His basketball IQ and his leadership ability, it’s all on display.”
Lonzo Ball won’t be on display in every workout at the start of camp, however. The Lakers’ second-year point guard had knee surgery two months ago, and Pelinka said Ball will be held out of five-on-five scrimmages when camp begins, even though he has been fully cleared for all basketball activities.
Johnson and Pelinka praised Ball’s offseason work to improve his awkward jump shot by adjusting his shooting mechanics. They also realize Ball has plenty of work to do.
The Lakers are determined to allow Ball to grow into his role as a playmaking leader, and Johnson believes Rajon Rondo will play a mentoring role. Along with James, the Lakers also acquired Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley to form a new veteran core for a 16-time NBA champion franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2013.
The Lakers’ disparate collection of talent will need plenty of time to gel, but Johnson is already seeing it happen in those scrimmages.
“I mean, they are going hard,” Johnson said. “It’s physical. It’s tough. There’s trash talking. It’s just a lot of fun, and also a lot of teaching at the same time. It’s really great to see these young guys getting a chance to learn from champions.”
And as if he needed any reminder, Johnson has witnessed the singular skills of the 33-year-old James, who agreed to a four-year, $154 million free-agent deal.
“LeBron comes in, and he’s already in midseason form and shooting fadeaways and 3-pointers from almost half-court,” Johnson said with a broad grin. “And you’re sitting there saying, `Man, thank God we signed him.”‘
Along with blending their new additions, the Lakers must adjust to the loss of Julius Randle and Brook Lopez. Johnson and Pelinka aren’t worried about filling the space left by the departures of those two big men, believing they’ve got more than enough height to guard anyone.
“We feel we have two players at every position – a starter and then a backup to that person,” Johnson said.
Added Pelinka: “A lot of people have said this is one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, and that is an extreme strength to us.”
Inking Kristaps Porzingis to a max five-year, $158 million extension to his rookie contract seems like a no-brainer for the Knicks. Porzingis is more than the best player on the Knicks, he is where the fans have placed their faith. Yes, he’s coming off an ACL tear that will keep him out for at least part of this coming season, but he is the Knicks’ cornerstone to their rebuild. The man should get paid.
And he will the Knicks say… just not this summer.
Team president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry said at a press conference they talked with Porzingis about paying him as a restricted free agent next summer to preserve cap space to land more talent to play alongside him. From Marc Berman of the New York Post.
The Knicks hope to re-sign Porzingis when he is a restricted free agent in 2019. That way, the team could climb over the salary cap. An extension now would take up precious cap room. Doing it next summer would open up $10 million in cap space.
“Our philosophy is that we’re going to stay connected with [the Porzingis camp],” Perry said. “It’s a long-term thing. Obviously, you mentioned the point of the cap space in July. But we just feel like we’re in a real good space with him, as well as he is with us. And we’re going to do the right thing by him and this organization.”
“He’ll never feel like he’s not a cornerstone part of what we’re trying to do here,” Mills said. “He understands that. We make that crystal clear to him and his representation.”
The Knicks are going big game hunting next summer and Kyrie Irving is reportedly at the top of their target list. Jimmy Butler also could be an option (the Knicks are on his short trade list, but the team made it clear they are not giving up assets to get a player they can land in free agency).
What the Knicks are doing with Porzingis has been done before by teams, most notably the Spurs with Kawhi Leonard (and that move is not part of the ill-will between the sides that led to the trade to Toronto). It can work — if the player fully understands this is simply a cap/flexibility move and is not offended by the “snub.” The question is how does Porzingis and his camp feel about it? We will find out down the line.
Either way, the Knicks will be able to keep Porzingis, they can offer the same extension next summer, and can match any offer another team might make to poach the star big man. However, to get to that point Porzingis would have had to sign that offer sheet from another team, a sign of discord between the sides. The Knicks cannot let it get to that. They cannot allow bad blood build up. New coach David Fizdale flew to Latvia this summer to talk to Porzingis and get him on board with the plan. The energy seems good between them, the Knicks can’t let money get in the way of that.
At the press conference, the Knicks’ brass also refused to put a timetable on Porzingis’ return from the ACL surgery last February. He is expected to miss much of the season, not returning until around Christmas at the earliest and maybe closer to the All-Star break in February. Or later. The Knicks are not going to pressure him.
LeBron James may be a Los Angeles Laker now, but JR Smith is still with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Media day is right around the corner, and so NBA players are trickling in to their respective cities from their offseason locations.
Thankfully for us, Smith is already in Cleveland.
On Thursday night, the Cleveland Browns of the NFL won their first regular season game since Dec. 24, 2016. In attendance was none other than Smith, and lo and behold he was once again shirtless.
Just the way we like him.
Smith was famously shirtless in 2016 during the Cavaliers’ championship parade (and seemingly for much of that summer) after they beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Someone even printed out a shirt you could wear that turned you into a shirtless JR.
There probably won’t be much celebrating in Cleveland for Smith this season, and therefore not many reasons for him to get shirtless on everyone. The Browns winning a Thursday night game seems like an appropriate arena for this type of thing now.
Along with Michael Jordan, several other NBA players, teams, and the league have decided to team up in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Relief for the eastern seaboard, specifically the Carolinas, has been the subject of many charitable efforts thus far.
All three players are natives of North Carolina, with Curry being from Charlotte, Wall being from Raleigh and Paul being from Winston-Salem. The three are the public face of an effort to raise $500,000 to help aid in post-hurricane relief.
The damage from Florence has been significant. According to one report from NBC News, home losses in the town of New Bern, NC (pop: 30,101) have reached an estimated $32 million.
Moody’s Analytics released a report that said that a conservative estimate of total damage caused by Florence is in the range of $17 billion.
Video from the North Carolina Department of Transportation published on social media this week confirmed how great the flooding was just in terms of visual scale.
If you’d like to help donate to the effort, you can do so by clicking the link in Curry’s tweet or following the link here.