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Thunder GM Sam Presti statement on Paul George: ‘He should be remembered fondly’

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It’s official: Paul George is a member of the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Oklahoma City did very well in getting a haul in return for George, one that helps jumpstart a rebuilding process just getting underway, but it’s still a punch to the gut that the trade happened. A year ago Paul George didn’t even meet with the Lakers and chose to stay in OKC with Russell Westbrook. It was a win for a small market that bet big. One year later, George was forcing his way back to Southern California to team up with another superstar – a power move star players can pull off, but it stings in OKC nonetheless.

Thunder GM Sam Presti handled it with class in the statement he made announcing the trade.

“From the time that Paul and his representation made us aware of what had been transpiring and their subsequent request, our focus as an organization was identifying the best paths for our future,” said Presti. “Resiliency has been a staple of our city and our franchise, and this challenge provided us with another opportunity to demonstrate that. Our goal with this transaction was to create value both in the short and long term and help reposition and replenish the organization’s future platform. We are thrilled to welcome two extremely talented and efficient players in Shai and Danilo. Moving forward, we will continue to utilize the method that has helped us create the foundation for the last 11 seasons of Thunder basketball.

“The Thunder thanks Paul for his contributions to the organization and our community. We are proud that Paul is a part of our history as an organization and that some of the best basketball of his career was in Oklahoma City. He should be remembered fondly; we wish him and his family the best.”

A couple of quick thoughts here:

The phrasing “made us aware of what had been transpiring and their subsequent request” is a subtle dig at Kawhi Leonard and tampering. George was under contract, Leonard recruited him and convinced him to come. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver read the mood of his owners in Las Vegas and they are bothered by how free agency negotiations have gone, and there could be changes coming. That said, good luck stopping players from recruiting one another.

On another front, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst drew a comparison to how Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert handled LeBron James leaving the first time.

Paul George, for his part, said a classy goodbye to the fans of OKC on Twitter. That’s not going to stop him from getting booed next year, but he seemed to genuinely like the city, fans, and organization.

Watch Trae Young drop 31 at Drew League, lose to Montrezl Harrell who has 46

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The Drew League in Los Angeles is one of the premiere — for my money the best — summer pro-am basketball league in America. There is some serious talent getting run on that court.

But drop in NBA talent and it’s another level.

That’s what happened Saturday in Los Angeles. Atlanta’s Trae Young showed up, went head-to-head with the reigning Drew League MVP Frank “Nitty” Session (who has embarrassed guys like Denzel Valentine in Drew games), and dropped 31.

But Young’s team lost because Clippers’ stud  Montrezl Harrell dropped 46.

You can see the highlights above thanks to BallisLife.

 

Manny Pacquiao says he has thought about buying part of NBA team when he retires

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At age 40, Manny Pacquiao is not retiring. Even if you and some boxing pundits think he should. Tonight (Saturday) he fights Keith Thurman at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and is expected to pull down about a cool $26 million for his trouble. If you’re getting paid like that, why retire exactly? He has said he wants to fight another five years or so.

After that, he’d like to buy part of an NBA team.

That’s what he told TMZ in a pre-fight interview.

He said he has thought about buying a piece of an NBA team after he retires. Pacquiao, a basketball nut who uses the sport as part of his training, owns an entire semi-pro league — the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League — in the Philippines (one of the most basketball-crazy nations on earth). Pacquiao said he thinks his experience with that league would help him as an NBA owner, that some of the skills will translate, which is likely true. Pacquiao said it’s about finding the right opportunity.

Forbes estimates that Pacquiao will have earned, after Saturday’s fight, more than $500 million in his career. Various websites estimate his net worth in the $200 million range. He’s got the money to jump in as a part owner.

In an NBA that loves personalities and characters — and one always trying to gain more traction in Asian markets — don’t be shocked if this happens someday.

Once Pacquiao retires.

C.J.McCollum, Eric Gordon both withdraw from USA Basketball for World Cup

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First Anthony Davis. Then James Harden.

Now add C.J. McCollum and Eric Gordon to the list, as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Don’t be surprised if a couple of new players are added to the USA roster for training camp.

The loss of those four stars strips the Team USA of some international experience. As pointed out by John Schuhmann of NBA.com, now only four members invited to USA camp have played in the World Cup or Olympics: Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, and Kyle Lowry — and Lowry just had thumb surgery and is questionable for the playing in China.

USA Basketball can still roll out this starting five:

Damian Lillard
Bradley Beal
Khris Middleton
Tobias Harris
Andre Drummond

Then off the bench have Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Kevin Love, Brook Lopez.

That’s still enough talent, coached by Gregg Popovich, to win the World Cup. The USA remains the heavy favorites for a reason.

USA Basketball is scheduled to begin its pre-World Cup camp in Las Vegas Aug. 5, with an intrasquad exhibition game at the T-Mobile Arena on Aug. 9. Then the team heads to Southern California for more training followed by an exhibition against Spain on Aug. 16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Then the team heads overseas for the World Cup, which begins in China on Aug. 31.

James Harden reiterates it was ‘false talk’ he and Chris Paul were at odds

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The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.

Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.

The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.

People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.

Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.

We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.