It’s official, Metta World Peace reaches two-year deal with Knicks

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LAS VEGAS — UPDATE 5:45 pm: Metta World Peace himself said it is official — he has reached a deal with the New York Knicks. He confirmed it himself at Summer League speaking to MSG Network then other media. He said the decision was an easy one for him, he wasn’t worried about the money (it’s a minimum deal this year with a player option for year two), he just wanted to go back to his native New York.

And win.

“I want to do things that’s hard,” he said. “That’s the challenged of being challenged. We all know it’s the hardest place to win… Why not take on something that’s hard?”

The Knicks last won a title in 1973, and with two-time defending champs in the East, plus some teams like the Bulls, Pacers and Nets that also will be strong, World Peace is going to get his wish — this is going to be hard. But the Knicks are better with him.

3:59 pm: It looks like Metta World Peace is heading home to New York, and with him hopefully will come some much needed improved perimeter defense.

World Peace has reached a two-year deal to play for the Knicks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The second year of the deal is a player option, a source told Y! Sports. World Peace and his agents met with Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald and coach Mike Woodson on Monday in Las Vegas and agreed to the deal in the meeting, league sources said.

That may be a little premature, but things are certainly headed that way and will be finalized soon. Marc Berman of the New York Post’s tweet sums up the situation pretty well, and Sam Amick of the USA Today texted with him as well.

Dwight Howard apparently rubbed off on Metta a bit. But this New York deal will get done. The Clippers were the other team considered to be in the mix, but World Peace would likely have a larger role with the Knicks. There also were some conversations between World Peace and You Ming’s team in China.

World Peace was a free agent after being amnestied by the Los Angeles Lakers in a move to save money (he then cleared waivers). The Knicks could only offer the veteran minimum this season, but that doesn’t really matter because the Lakers still have to pay his full $7.7 million salary (the Lakers just save the tax price, which for them is more than $14 million).

He is a great fit for the Knicks at the three, bringing some good perimeter defense to a team that scored plenty but struggled to stop people (they were 17th in points allowed per possession last season). World Peace is not the defender and player he was a few years back, but he is still good. Combined with Iman Shumpert on the perimeter and Tyson Chandler in the paint, the Knicks defense should be improved.

The East, with a now improved Knicks team plus an improved Nets squad, Chicago with Derrick Rose back, the Pacers with improved depth and the Heat still on top of the mountain until knocked off, should be really fun next season.

Another LeBron James mural vandalized in Los Angeles

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Most of Los Angeles — and the vast majority of Lakers fans — are fired up that LeBron James is coming to Los Angeles. They see a return to glory for the franchise (well, once they get the rest of the roster right… sorry Lance Stephenson).

However, there is a segment — particularly the die-hard Kobe fans — who are having trouble assimilating to the new reality.

So when an artist did a LeBron James mural near Venice in Los Angeles recently — a really well-done tribute — it was quickly vandalized. Then eventually covered up.

This week another artist did another impressive LeBron/Lakers mural — this one with LeBron looking up at the Lakers’ legends — and once again, it was vandalized.

I’m not shocked by any of this, but it is depressing. If you’re vandalizing art, you are a cowardly buffoon.

There’s no way to really know the motivation behind the second attack, although the smart money is on it being the same as the first one — a few people think they are protecting the Lakers’ brand by not welcoming the best player on the planet to a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in five years. It’s incredibly flawed logic, but frankly flawed logic has become trendy in recent years, it can get you elected to all kinds of offices.

Credit real Lakers fans who showed up to help fix this.

AP Source: Thunder trading Dakari Johnson to Orlando

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder are trading reserve center Dakari Johnson to the Orlando Magic.

A person with knowledge of the details confirmed the move to The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.

Yahoo Sports, which first reported the deal, said Oklahoma City will get guard Rodney Purvis in the deal. Purvis averaged 6.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in 16 appearances for the Magic last season. The Orlando Sentinel said the Thunder also sent cash to the Magic.

Johnson played 31 games last season for the Thunder with six starts. He averaged 1.8 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. The 7-footer averaged 23.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 10 games for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G-League affiliate, last season.

Center Alex Len reportedly reaches contract deal with Atlanta

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Five years ago, the Phoenix Suns had just drafted Alex Len at No. 5 overall and thought he would be the big man in the middle the team would build around. It didn’t work out that way, he never averaged double figures in either scoring or rebounding for a season. While Len has said he thought he was not used correctly, and there has been plenty of change and inconsistency in Phoenix, he never grabbed hold of the top job, either.

When the Suns drafted Deandre Ayton No. 1 last June, there was no chance they were bringing back Len next season. The unrestricted free agent is headed to Atlanta instead, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent center Alex Len has agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Atlanta Hawks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Len received interest from several teams in recent days before finalizing an agreement with the Hawks on Saturday.

Len is not going to space the floor, 73 percent of his shots came at the rim last season, but he’s become an efficient finisher there. He is good as a roll man, will work off the ball, and can post guys up on offense. He’s also strong on the offensive glass and gets points via putbacks. His game is not that of a modern NBA center, but he’s become efficient at what he does.

Len is going to have to earn his minutes in the ATL, rebuilding team or not there is some quality along the front line. John Collins, who made the All-Rookie team last season and was one of the standouts of Summer League, will start up front, possibly at the four with Dewayne Dedmon at the five. The just-drafted Omari Spellman showed potential at Summer League and could be the backup four, which means Len gets the backup center minutes.

Len is getting his new chance on a team that can give him some run, we’ll see if a change of scenery is what he needed.

Gordon Hayward posts new workout video, he is moving pretty well

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Player workout videos on Instagram are a lot like how your life (or, your parent’s life) appears on Facebook — everyone looks their best, is always having fun and doing something interesting, and the daily grime of life has been scrubbed away.

That said, Boston’s Gordon Hayward looks good — he seems to be moving very well — in this latest workout video he posted.

It’s a good sign to see Hayward moving like that in July, months before that reconstructed ankle needs to be put to the test on the NBA hardwood.

With Hayward and Kyrie Irving healthy, the Celtics start the season as the favorites in the East — but Toronto is a sudden, serious challenger if Kawhi Leonard is all the way back and healthy. Philadelphia is talented and in that mix as well if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons can take strides forward with their game.

The top of the East is going to be very interesting next season.