Warriors host kids from Stoneman Douglas for practice

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MIAMI (AP) — Stephen Curry would ordinarily be getting off his feet as fast as possible after a morning shootaround practice, saving his legs for the looming game that night.

Wednesday, however, wasn’t ordinary.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr invited some students – including ones from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, the school in Parkland where 17 students and staff were killed in a massacre on Feb. 14, 2018 – into the Warriors’ game-morning practice in Miami. And long after the session was over, Curry was throwing alley-oop lobs and engaging in 3-point contests with kids who couldn’t believe they were hanging out with stars from the two-time defending NBA champions.

“You hate that you have these opportunities because of what happened at our school,” said Jeff Foster, a teacher and former coach at Stoneman Douglas. “But at the same time, it’s nice to have these contacts and meet people and coach Kerr has been at a few of the events with our kids … you’re always glad to sit around and talk to him, whether it’s about basketball or politics. And we just spent time doing both.”

While Kerr was chatting with teachers, some of the boys and girls got onto the court with the Warriors. Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Kevin Durant and Curry were among those who stuck around after shootaround for about an extra half-hour, posing for photos and talking about basketball.

“It’s special having them here,” Curry said as he watched the kids playing on the same court where the Warriors would visit the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. “They’ve done so much in the wake of the shooting, speaking out, using their platform that they have, the entire student body. They come to just have fun, enjoy themselves. I know that means a lot.”

Matt Fisher won’t forget it anytime soon.

Fisher is among the captains of Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ boys team, which lost its district championship game in quadruple-overtime and then fell in the first round of the state tournament. He plans to play college basketball at Division III’s Washington University in St. Louis next season, but if that doesn’t work out at least he can say he caught a lob from Curry for a dunk.

“This is just a surreal opportunity that I really appreciate,” said Fisher, who talked Curry into having a 3-point contest against him. It was briefly tied at 1-1 before Curry prevailed.

Kerr invited the students into the practice, and makes no secret about his desire for gun reform. Kerr was 18 when his father Malcolm, then president of American University of Beirut, was murdered. He’s followed the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and their “March For Our Lives” organization’s efforts closely.

“The fortunate thing is the young people leading this drive are going to be much more impactful than old people like me,” Kerr said. “It’s true. Older people have been trying to do something but they haven’t made the impact. But the next generation, the country belongs to them. So I’m really proud of what they’re doing.”

Report: Lakers claim Kostas Antetokounmpo off waivers

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is a 24-year-old MVP playing in Milwaukee and heading toward a super-max decision that could have him hit 2021 unrestricted free agency.

Big-market teams are licking their chops.

That probably has something to do with the Lakers adding his brother, Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Kostas Antetokounmpo was the last pick in last year’s draft. He spent the season on a two-way contract with the Mavericks, who just waived him. He’ll remain on a two-way deal with the Lakers. The 21-year-old was alright in the NBA’s minor league, but he’s not a tantalizing prospect.

Except for his connection to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Giannis Antetokounmpo said he could never see himself playing for Los Angeles. But maybe he’d change his mind if someone close to him has a positive experience there. That must be the Lakers’ hope, at least.

It’s worth a shot, and the Lakers aren’t the only team trying this angle. The Bucks also signed Thanasis Antetokounmpo this summer.

Harden on fit with Westbrook: ‘When you have talent like that, it works itself out’

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It was the question everybody asked about 30 seconds after they heard Russell Westbrook had been traded to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul (after the initial shock of the deal wore off):

Do Westbrook and Harden, two of the most ball-dominant, isolation heavy players in the NBA, actually fit together?

Harden says yes. Of course, what else is he going to say, but he was earnest about it in comments to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle at the Adidas and James Harden ProCamp event last Friday.

“When you have talent like that, it works itself out. You communicate. You go out there and compete possession by possession. You figure things out. Throughout the course of the season, you figure things out. That’s just what it is. When you have talent, you have guys with IQ, you have guys willing to sacrifice, it always works itself out.”…

“It works,” Harden said. “It’s that trust factor. I trust him; he trusts me. And with the group that we already have and the things we already accomplished, it should be an easy transition for him to be incorporated right in and things are going to go.”

That is essentially is what Mike D’Antoni said, and what Rockets GM Daryl Morey is betting on.

Will Westbrook, and to a lesser degree Harden, be willing to make sacrifices and adjust their games? It is the question that will define the Rockets’ season.

My prediction: The duo works it out on offense and becomes one of the hardest teams to stop in the NBA. They will work it out. However, having to play Harden and Westbrook together on defense for extended stretches will cost Houston in the playoffs earlier than they planned.

George King, Suns two-way player last season, signs to play in Italy

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For players on the fringe of the NBA, there is a choice to be made at some point:

Keep the NBA dream alive and close by making less money (the base salary for most is $35,000 a year) and play in the domestic G-League, where teams have ties to NBA organizations and scouts are watching. Or…

Go overseas, where the money gets better (six figures for most, seven figures for the best) and they will be one of the best players on a team, putting up big numbers and playing a starring role.

George King, who spent last season on a two-way contract with Phoenix — but played just six total minutes with the Suns — has chosen overseas.

George spent most of last season in the G-League with Northern Arizona, where he averaged 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists a game. He was on the wrong end of a numbers game on the wing with the Suns at the start of the season, but when injuries hit he had not earned enough trust with the coaches to get a real opportunity.

So he went where there is an opportunity.

Same with former NBA player Tyler Cavanaugh, who spent most of last season with the Salt Lake G-League team and is now headed to Berlin.

Plenty of players spend time overseas then come back and are ready for the NBA — Patrick Beverley was in the Ukraine and Greece before coming to the NBA, for example — while others find a very good career playing overseas.

James Harden broke one of his youth camper’s ankles (VIDEO)

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It’s around the time of summer when NBA players (and coaches, and college coaches, and a whole lot of other people) are holding youth basketball camps.

I went to them as a kid (John Wooden’s was the best) and like me, these youth will have the memories of a lifetime, even if they move away from playing hoops someday. Especially this boy, who will forever be able to look back at this video from camp of James Harden breaking his ankles. (Via Houston Rockets Instagram)

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Meanwhile at @jharden13’s camp…😅

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Meanwhile, over at Dwyane Wade‘s camp, he was reminding some young children he is the best shot blocking guard of all time.