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Wayne Ellington returning to Miami on one-year deal

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LAS VEGAS — Wayne Ellington is returning to the Miami Heat, after nearly two weeks of waiting and wondering if he would get his wish to be back with the club for a third season.

A person with direct knowledge of the terms said Thursday night that Ellington accepted a $6.3 million, one-year offer that exactly matches his salary from last season. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been signed.

Keeping Ellington was a top priority for the Heat this summer, and the veteran guard made clear that he wanted to be back in Miami. On Day 12 of free agency, a deal finally got struck.

“I feel great here in Miami,” Ellington said. “I’ve built very strong relationships with a lot of people. These guys that I go to war with every night, we’ve gone from strangers to teammates to brothers. This is where I wanted to be.”

Ellington set a Heat record with 227 3-pointers last season, and established career highs of 11.2 points and 26.5 minutes per game.

When he was good, Miami was really good a year ago. Ellington appeared in 77 games – the Heat went 29-13 when he made at least three 3-pointers, and went 13-22 when he failed to connect on at least that many.

And he made it clear many times, both during the season and even in the offseason, that he wanted to remain with the Heat.

Miami was the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, falling to Philadelphia in the first round. Miami’s roster, for now, is fairly similar to what it was last season – though the Heat are still waiting to see if they will be bringing back veterans Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, two players whose status for 2018-19 remains unclear.

“I don’t think we showed everything we were capable of last season,” Ellington said. “Already this summer, guys have been working. Guys have improved. That’s what it’s about. You’ve got to get better from within, from inside your team. And naturally, I think we’ll continue to get better.”

Miami is Ellington’s seventh team, and just the second club that he’s been with for 100 games. He was changing addresses annually for a five-year stretch before arriving in Miami – his career started with three seasons in Minnesota, followed by short stints with Memphis, Cleveland, Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn that preceded his signing with the Heat in 2016.

“I feel like this is home now,” Ellington said.

Arizona State leading scoring Remy Martin declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Arizona State junior Remy Martin has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot point guard took on more of scoring role in his third season with the Sun Devils than he had in his first two seasons. Martin averaged 19.1 points per game on 43.2% shooting from the field. Martin also dished out 4.1 assists per game, after averaging 5.0 assists as a sophomore.

Arizona State’s leading scoring may just be testing the waters, as he’s expected to go undrafted. NBA scouts have concerns over Martin’s size at the NBA level. One concern is his ability to hold up defensively, as NBA point guards are trending bigger and bigger in recent years.

As a smaller guard, Martin was one of the players who could have benefited from the traditional pre-draft process. With in-person workouts on hold, and potentially cancelled entirely, players have limited opportunities to improve their draft stock. Teams may be drafting off previous in-person scouting and off of tape.

NBA players reportedly to take part in televised NBA 2K tournament Friday

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If we can’t watch NBA players on the court, at least we can watch them control their digital selves and teammates in a live basketball tournament.

ESPN plans to broadcast an NBA 2K tournament with only NBA players at the controllers, a story broken by Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports. The hope is to have it air Friday, with the players competing from their homes around the country.

The NBA is planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament that will feature the league’s sharpest video gamers and it will be broadcast on ESPN, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Players competing against their peers in the comfort of their own homes could offer a distraction for fans who are missing the game and a little competition.

Esports are incredibly popular and growing as a spectator sport, both in person and on Twitch and other platforms. With there being a pent-up demand for sports programming, this seems a smart attempt to draw eyeballs. Even people who are non-esports viewers could tune in just to check it out, because it’s that or rewatching Tiger King.

You can bet that if it works, we will see a lot more of it in the future.

(Inside baseball note: I would love to see the emails/texts flying around ESPN about Yahoo breaking a story about what is coming in their network.)

 

Shaquille O’Neal: I had no idea what was happening with Joe Exotic of Tiger King

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On a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq” former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal said that “he had no idea” what was happening at the zoo run by Joe Exotic. Joe Exotic was recently made famous through the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.

Footage of O’Neal appeared in the first episode of the show and was shown taking photographs with the animals.

The documentary also showed a cut of O’Neal on TNT saying “Shoutout to Exotic Joe. I got two more tigers.”

On his podcast, O’Neal explained:

“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe. We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that. We take pictures with (the) tigers. We went back a couple times. Then we go back another time and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of 19 different charges. Those charges included murder-for-hire plot, illegally selling endangered species and other animal-related offenses.

O’Neal clarified that he never bought any animals, but often donates to charities that help animals. He also made it clear that he’s not friends with Joe Exotic, nor anyone involved in the trade of endangered species.

“I don’t harm tigers,” O’Neal said. “I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers. Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but, again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”

Report: Brooklyn Nets looking to hire a blue-chip head coach

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When the Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in early-March, the team installed Jacque Vaughn as the interim head coach.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that’s a short-term appointment. On his podcast “Brian Windhorst and The Hoop Collective”, the reporter said the Nets are looking to hire a coach with a track record of NBA success.

“One of the things that has been expressed sort of the grapevine, that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators, is that Durant and Irving would like a blue-chip coach. I don’t know what this says about the way they thought about Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”

Names linked to the Brooklyn opening are Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson, and both Jeff and Stan Van Gundy.

Atkinson leaving Brooklyn was a surprise, considering he had led the Nets back to the playoffs in 2019. That success came after a three-year rebuild. That process was kicked off when general manager Sean Marks hired Atkinson to lead the on-court development. Under Marks and Atkinson, the Nets developed several players who had been given up on by other teams.

Brooklyn was 28-34 when Atkinson was let go. The Nets had gone 2-0 under Vaughn before the NBA suspended play in mid-March.