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It sounds as if Nikola Mirotic vetoed Bulls-Pelicans trade

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Nikola Mirotic reportedly wanted Chicago to trade him after after a preseason practice fight with teammate Bobby Portis left Mirotic hospitalized. And the Bulls appear ready to satisfy that request.

They even neared a deal with the Pelicans that would have netted a first-round pick (and come with the burden of accepting Omer Asik‘s contract).

Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago:

Mirotic signed a two-year, $25 million contract with a team option last offseason. But because that option hasn’t been exercised, it’s technically a one-year contract right now. So, as someone on a one-year contract who’d have Bird Rights next summer, Mirotic automatically gets the right to veto any trade.

One way around that: Chicago – with New Orleans’ blessing, of course – could exercise Mirotic’s team option. That’d turn his contract into a two-year deal and nullify his trade-veto power.

But it sounds as if the Pelicans won’t accept Mirotic with his $12.5 million salary next season guaranteed and he won’t accept a trade to New Orleans unless it is.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Wojnarowski doesn’t outright say Mirotic exercised his veto power. But that’s what I infer.

It’s also possible the deal fell apart for other reasons and someone is trying to scapegoat Mirotic.

Mirotic can’t be sure New Orleans will exercise that option after the season. But he can’t be sure Chicago will, either. Presumably, he’d rather spend the rest of this season with the playoff-contending Pelicans than the lottery-bound Bulls, especially with Portis still in Chicago.

But Mirotic has leverage. He can wait for more favorable destinations – places he’d prefer to New Orleans the rest of this season and/or teams willing to guarantee his 2018-19 salary now.

Of course, that could backfire. More desirable suitors might not emerge. The Bulls could become less cooperative and keep him. The Pelicans might move on, as they try to reinforce their roster with DeMarcus Cousins injured.

New Orleans is probably wary of how expensive its roster would get with Mirotic and a re-signed Cousins. But the way Mirotic has played so far this season, maybe the Pelicans could flip him for value next summer. That’s a risk, though, and Cousins is probably still the priority.

It’s hard enough for two teams to agree on a trade. When a player must also consent, it gets far more complicated.

Watch Carmelo Anthony’s first bucket as a Trail Blazer

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That Carmelo Anthony started the first game he played for Portland speaks to why they signed him in the first place — this team is so shorthanded along the front line that the guy they just signed got thrown into the fire.

Anthony responded with a solid level of play. His first bucket was a wing three where both defenders went to CJ McCollum and left ‘Melo wide open.

Anthony played 12 minutes in the first half and had 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, and three fouls. The team was looking to keep him at around 20 minutes for his first game back.

Portland led New Orleans 54-53 at the half.

How a single computer folder and dogged HR official exposed former Kings executive’s $13.4M embezzlement scheme

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Just how close did Jeff David come to getting away with embezzling $13.4 million from the Kings while working for them? He already secured a new job with the Heat and was in the process of moving from Sacramento to Miami.

Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN:

On this Monday, walking through the Davids’ new front door is a dizzying procession of cable guys, utility workers and movers. Amid all of this, Jeff receives a phone call from a former co-worker with the Kings. Her name is Stacy Wegzyn, and she works in HR. Jeff last remembers sitting in her office in Sacramento just months earlier, being told that the Kings were going to eliminate his position. After a few pleasantries, she gets down to business. She tells Jeff she’s been going through his old files, and in doing so she found one labeled “TurboTax” that references an entity called Sacramento Sports Partners.

“I was just curious what that is and if those are documents that should go to somebody else,” Wegzyn says.

It’s a seemingly innocuous inquiry from an HR lifer. But it’s one that will dictate the rest of Jeff David’s life. If he knows that — or senses it — he doesn’t let on.

“No, no, no,” Jeff responds. “That was a … man, this is taking me back. Maybe 2015?”

Wegzyn presses on. She asks Jeff whether the documents contain anything that anyone with the Kings needs to see. Jeff assures her they can trash them because the entity isn’t around anymore. A few minutes after he hangs up, his mother-in-law, Nancy, is standing at the front door when an FBI investigator appears, asking to speak to Jeff.

If you like the NBA or true crime – let alone both – I HIGHLY recommend reading Arnovitz’s full piece. It’s riveting!

Warriors Kevon Looney cleared for on-court basketball work, will return soon

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At least someone on the Warriors is getting healthy.

Big man Kevon Looney, who played opening night and has since been sidelined with a sore hamstring and neuropathy (what the team described as “nerve-related symptoms”), has been cleared to return to on-court basketball activities, the team announced Tuesday. From the official press release:

He will participate in select practice sessions with the Santa Cruz Warriors this week and will re-join the Golden State Warriors over the weekend. We will continue to monitor his progress and will provide another update on his status on Sunday.

Looney has already been officially assigned to Santa Cruz.

This is good news for the Warriors, who have been starting Willie Cauley-Stein but desperately need more shot blocking and depth up front.

Anyone getting healthy is good news for a Warriors team that is 2-12 and has the worst net rating in the NBA (-10.4).

Carmelo Anthony to start first game for Portland, apparently thinks he’s wearing number infinity

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Carmelo Anthony will wear No. 00 with the Trail Blazers.

Why?

Apparently because 00 kind of looks like ∞.

Anthony:

Somewhere, Kyrie Irving is nodding in support.

In terms of numbers that make sense…

Marc J. Spears of ESPN:

That’s a sizable role for a 35-year-old in his first game in more than a year. But Portland needs scoring with Damian Lillard sidelined, and – at last check (though, again, a while ago), Anthony was accustomed to big minutes.

Besides, we all want ample opportunity to see Anthony back on the court after his lengthy absence.