Festus Ezeli working on his game, confident money will come to him

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If you’re looking for a top candidate to get a head-scratching contract extension, thanks to the coming flood of money from the new NBA television deal, look no further than Festus Ezeli.

The Warriors backup big man is eligible for a contract extension this summer (before Nov. 1) and he is looking for one, but he’s not too concerned about it, according to Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com.

Ezeli will earn $2 million next season but can become a restricted free agent next July. It has been speculated that Ezeli could be in line for a deal averaging as much as $10 million….

“I deal with playing and training and getting ready for next season,” Ezeli said. “In terms of that stuff, I’m not really worried about it. The Warriors are committed to their players. They love our team. We’re going to be winning for a long time. It’s a young group.”

Talk to Warriors management and they see Ezeli as part of their future. It makes sense. He came into the league with a lot of athletic talent and real defensive potential, but he had a ways to go and this habit of dropping the ball. Manos de piedra. But his hands have gotten better and his defensive awareness has started to blossom.

“It’s never been about my hands,” he said Thursday, as he prepared to meet with about 150 boys and girls at a team-sponsored basketball camp. “It’s kind of weird, because I always hear people talking about my hands…

“It’s more of an issue of the game slowing down. The more I play, the more I get to see the game and it slows down. I get to have a feel for what to do and how to respond.”

In an old-school NBA that is nowhere near worth $10 million a year. But the new TV deal changes everything — the salary cap is going to jump by $40 million in two seasons.

For Golden State, seeing if they can reach a three-year extension averaging around $8 million a season could be a steal. Ezeli could start to take on more defensive load off the bench behind Andrew Bogut, who has two seasons left at $26.4 million total, and physically can only play limited minutes. The Warriors could have Ezeli for a couple seasons after Bogut at an affordable deal if they are willing to bet on his development.

There are going to be some crazy extensions coming in the next couple months, and they are all going to be similar — a team looking at the cap and betting on the player, thinking this could be a steal in a couple years. These teams have to spend 90 percent of the cap anyway — that is the salary floor — so if you have young player you like, why not bet on developing him?

 

French NBA stars (and others) react to France World Cup win

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For the second time in it’s history, France is the World Cup champion.

Celebrations erupted all over France, and in French enclaves around the world — and the celebrations spilled over to social media. NBA players from France were posting their joy, as you’d expect.

Other NBA players, international and domestic, also were in on the party.

Even some NBA teams got in on the online congratulations party.

Watch best of Wendell Carter Jr. at Summer League

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I will own my mistake: Coming into the NBA Draft I was not high on Wendell Carter Jr., particularly how well he would defend at the NBA level.

I missed on that one — he has impressed me and everyone else in Las Vegas at Summer League. While nobody should ever read too much into Summer League perormances, he has shown potential on both ends of the court. Check out his highlights above

His offensive game is everything that was advertised — versatile and polished. He has nailed turnarounds in the post, can score with either hand, has a jump shot with real range, and he is a smart and willing passer. Defensively he has been physical, works hard and uses his athleticism to be dispruptive.

We will see how he fares against NBA-level competition (and how he pairs with Jabari Parker and the rest of the Bulls frontcourt), but the work ethic and tools are there. The Bulls may have something in Carter Jr.

Stephen Curry nailing putts, doing shimmy at American Century Championship

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If there’s one thing Stephen Curry loves as much as draining a 28-foot three over the outstretched arms of a defender, it’s golf. Curry is a golf fanatic.

Which is why he never misses — and always has fun at — the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. And when he makes a putt, he will do a little shimmy, as you can see above.

Curry is currently tied for 19th in the tournament. The highest NBA player on the leaderboard is retired sharpshooter Ray Allen at seventh, and on top of the leaderboard heading into the final day is San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski.

You can watch the final round live on NBC at 3 ET Sunday.

Here’s Curry and his father Dell talking a little golf and family.

And here is Curry talking a little golf before the tournament.

NBA Summer League down to elite 8 in tournament format

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NBA Summer League has its elite eight.

The quarterfinals were set by the end of play Saturday, and include a few surprises.

Philadelphia and Toronto, the two lowest seeds in the 30-team tournament, both pulled out close games Saturday to stay alive. Toronto, the No. 29 seed that was winless in the preliminary round, has put together two straight wins in the tournament and will face 12th-seeded Cleveland and rookie Collin Sexton, who like Lonzo Ball last year is a highly touted point guard trying to win a summer title.

No. 27 Memphis is next up for Philadelphia. Detroit, the No. 25 seed, is also still alive.

The top-seeded Lakers and No. 2 Portland had byes into the quarterfinals. No other single-digit seeds remain in the field.

Saturday’s results:

76ERS 91, BUCKS 89

Furkan Korkmaz scored eight of his 19 points in the final 40 seconds, including the go-ahead points on a three-point play with 3.6 seconds left for the No. 30 seed 76ers (2-3).

Jonah Bolden added 13 points and eight rebounds and Isaiah Miles scored 12 points for Philadelphia.

Christian Wood had 27 points and 12 rebounds for the 14th-seeded Bucks (2-3). Sterling Brown added 15 points, Trae Bell Haynes scored 13 and Tim Quarterman 12.

The 76ers will play the Grizzlies in the quarterfinals.

CAVALIERS 92, ROCKETS 87

Collin Sexton shook off a 5-for-17 night to score 17 points for the Cavaliers (4-1). The No. 8 pick in the draft had scored 25 in the first round of the tournament.

Scoochie Smith also scored 17, Jamel Artis had 13 and Billy Preston 12 for Cleveland.

Danuel House finished with 30 points for the fifth-seeded Rockets (4-1) in their first loss of the summer.

RAPTORS 87, HORNETS 84, OT

Rawle Alkins made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 32 seconds left in overtime and finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Raptors (2-3). Rookie Malachi Richardson added 14 points.

Dwayne Bacon had 28 points and rookie Miles Bridges added 18 points and 11 rebounds despite shooting just 5 for 20 from the field for the Hornets (3-2).

CELTICS 74, HEAT 72

Pierria Henry scored 15 points and Guerschon Yabusele had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the 10th-seeded Celtics (4-1).

They advanced to meet second-seeded Portland.

Boston turned to its defense again, limiting Miami to fewer than 20 points in all but the fourth quarter, when the Heat scored 22.

Derrick Walton Jr. finished with 15 points for the Heat (2-3), but missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the No. 6 seed to the quarterfinals.

PISTONS 72, BULLS 66

Henry Ellenson scored 21 points and No. 25-seeded Detroit (3-2) advanced to a quarterfinal matchup against the top-seeded Lakers.

Antonio Blakeney scored 24 points for the Bulls (2-3). Rookie Chandler Hutchison had 11 points for the No. 24 seeds.

Rookie lottery pick Wendell Carter Jr. grabbed 16 rebounds but shot just 1 for 8 for six points.

GRIZZLIES 92, JAZZ 86

Second-round pick Jevon Carter had 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists and two steals for Memphis (3-2). Markel Crawford scored 19 points, hitting 5 of 8 from 3-point range, and first-round pick Jaren Jackson Jr. had nine points, nine rebounds and seven blocks for the No. 27 seed Grizzlies. Kobi Simmons added 13 points.

Georges Niang led 22nd-seeded Utah (2-3) with 18 points and nine rebounds, Trey Lewis was 4 of 6 on 3-pointers and finished with 16 points. Naz Mitrou-Long scored 14.

Jackson made a layup and then Crawford and Carter hit back-to-back 3s to spark an 11-2 run that gave Memphis a 91-81 lead with 24 seconds left.

The Grizzlies will play No. 30 seed Philadelphia in the quarterfinals.