Rodman being basketball ambassador to North Korea barely makes his craziest Top 10

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Dennis Rodman — Hall of Fame basketball player and Hall of Fame wild personality — is back in the news. Actually, I’m not sure the legendary Piston and Bull (among others) was really ever out of the news. But he’s making headlines again as he is in North Korea?

For fun, let’s take a look at Rodman’s 10 craziest moments (or the ones I picked out of hundreds of options, anyway).

10. Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea as a basketball ambassador. Rodman in a country testing nuclear weapon missiles, I don’t see what could possibly go wrong. This is happening right now, in 2013, as Rodman is there with three Harlem Globetrotters as basketball ambassadors. The idea is to break down barriers by having Rodman teach basketball clinics and play some pick-up games with the North Koreans. All for a Vice Media production to air on HBO in early April. Again, I can’t imagine this going poorly.

9. The movie “Double Team.” If you’ve never seen Rodman’s 1999 action movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme, do not rent it. Stay away. You can do anything short of taking up smoking with those two hours and your life will be better for it. Rodman did win a lot of awards for the film — it was a Razzies hit.

8. Rodman dresses in wedding gown so he can marry himself. To promote the book “Bad As I Wanna Be” Rodman said he was bisexual, dressed in a wedding gown at a book signing and said he was going to marry himself. He said he got $10 million for the book and the stunt, by the way, so think about what you would do for $10 million before casting blame here.

7. MTV’s “Rodman World Tour.” Back in 1996 MTV had this idea that having Dennis Rodman traveling the world and meeting other celebrities would make a great show (this was before MTV figured out it was cheaper and better television to just throw a few unknown a****** in a house together). The show was generally filled with awkward moments and meetings with the likes of Jay Leno, and Whoopi Goldberg.

6. Rodman kicks a photographer in the… groin. There are many moments of Dennis Rodman just losing it on the court, but this moment is one of the most famous and replayed.

5. Rodman dates Madonna. It was short lived, just a few glorious months in 1994, but this was the ultimate strange celebrity couple. It filled the tabloids and would have minted TMZ millions if it existed back then. Rodman said during their relationship Madonna wanted him to get her pregnant. I think we can all be thankful that didn’t work out.

4. Rodman enters the wrestling ring. Back in 1998 he joined Hulk Hogan and whoever else in the rogue New World Order where he wrestled against Karl Malone. Not surprisingly, Rodman was actually pretty good at the fake wrestling thing.

3. Rodman saying Larry Bird was overrated because he was white. This was early, pre-tats, Detroit Pistons Dennis Rodman saying what frankly to this day is strongly believed by some in the African-American community. Of course, Rodman said this after Bird’s Celtics just beat his Pistons in the 1987 playoffs. It’s also not true. Ask Magic Johnson about it. You don’t finish with career averages of 24 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists per game with three rings and three MVPs because of the color of your skin.

2. Rodman headbutts a referee. Nope, you can’t do that. Rodman was with the Bulls in 1996 and was ejected late in the first quarter of a random regular season. And he snaps — he headbutts the referee, rips off his jersey, knocks over a Gatorade container then leaves. Best part of the video is the bemused Phil Jackson.

1. The night Rodman slept in a car in the Palace of Auburn Hills parking lot with a shotgun on his lap. That really happened and he discussed it in his book “Bad as I Want To Be.” Clearly Rodman was and is dealing with serious mental issues in his life and that leads to scary moments like this where he said he contemplated suicide. Rodman was rich and famous but said he felt empty inside. He didn’t kill himself, what he decided that night was he needed to stop being who other people wanted him to be. He was not going to be phony; he was going to be himself. And that led to a lot of the moments above, Rodman being Rodman.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.

How corrosive is tension between James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston?

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Golden State is not going to be contending for a title next season. Sorry Stephen, but you’re just not.

That throws open the doors to the West crown and, eventually, the NBA title, and teams will be lining up to take their shots. The Lakers just added Anthony Davis to go with LeBron James. Denver should improve and is looking for wing help. Utah feels just one playmaker away. The Clippers are big game hunting, and if they land one they become a threat.

Houston, however, should be at the front of that line… if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. Contract extension talks with coach Mike D’Antoni are stalled, and at ESPN Tim MacMahon put together a fascinating inside look at the tension between at his isolation-heavy and at his peak James Harden and the intense but declining Chris Paul.

But Paul noticeably lost a step last season, as evidenced by analytics and the eye test. Paul pushed for more plays and sets in the Houston offense, more screening and deception, despite Harden being in the process of putting together a historically dominant individual offensive season.

“Chris wants to coach James,” says a source familiar with the stars’ dynamic. “James looks at him like, ‘You can’t even beat your man. Just shut up and watch me.'”…

It has reached a point, team sources say, where Paul cherishes the chance to play without Harden on the floor. On several occasions, according to team sources, Paul barked at D’Antoni to keep Harden on the bench while he was running the second unit. Harden simultaneously would lobby — or demand — to check back into the game.

There’s tension there, but is it corrosive to the point of the team unraveling? Or, as GM Daryl Morey and everyone else with the Rockets says, is this just blown out of proportion? Time will tell.

Two things to point out.

First, tension between two stars and alpha personalities is far from new in the NBA (or any other professional sport), and it does not mean a team is in trouble. These things can be worked out, they just flared up more in the wake of the round two loss to the Warriors.

Second, these guys are stuck with each other. Obviously, the Rockets aren’t trading Harden. They would be open to trading CP3, but at age 34 and owed $124 million over three more seasons, there are no takers (unless the Rockets want to throw in a sweetener, which they don’t). The players around them may change, the coach could change, but Harden and Paul have years left together.

This team is so close to a title, it’s hard to envision them really coming apart at the seams next season. These guys are too professional for that… although in wild NBA crazier things have happened.

Report: Bucks trying to trade Tony Snell or Ersan Ilyasova with draft-pick sweetener

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Coming off their best season in decades, the Bucks will send four quality players into free agency – Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic.

How will Milwaukee keep its core intact?

Maybe by unloading Tony Snell ($11,592,857 salary next season, $12,378,571 player option the following season) or Ersan Ilyasova ($7 million salary next season, $7 million unguaranteed the following season).

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

With Bird Rights for Middleton, Brogdon and Mirotic, Milwaukee faces no salary-cap restrictions on keeping just those three. The only cost is real dollars, including potential luxury-tax payments.

It’s trickier with Lopez. Giving him the non-taxpayer mid-level exception (which projects to be about $9 million) – the most they can pay without opening cap space – would hard-cap the Bucks at a projected team salary of about $138 million. That could be a difficult line to stay under.

Unless Snell or Ilyasova are off the books.

Neither player has a desirable contract, which is why Milwaukee is shopping them with a draft pick attached. But both can still contribute. Ilyasova is a smart veteran power forward who shoots well from outside and takes a lot of charges. Snell is also a good outside shooter, and though his all-around game is lacking, there’s a dearth of helpful wings around the league.

The Bucks have the No. 30 pick in Thursday’s draft. They could select on behalf of another team then trade the draft rights. The Stepien rule applies only to future drafts.

Beyond that pick, Milwaukee is short on tradable draft picks. The Bucks have already traded two protected future first-round picks and their next three second-rounders. Dealing another first-rounder would require complex protections. Perhaps, a distant second-rounder is enough.

It’s important for Milwaukee to figure this out. Giannis Antetokounmpo likes this core group, and everyone is watching his level of satisfaction with the Bucks as his super-max decision approaches.