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Timberwolves waive Shabazz Muhammad (contract buyout)

The Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday waived forward Shabazz Muhammad.

Muhammad appeared in 32 games this season for the Wolves, averaging 3.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 9.4 minutes per game.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “by agreeing to the buyout, Muhammad forgoes a veteran’s minimum player option for next season. He re-signed with the Wolves to $1.6 million veteran’s minimum last fall after he turned down $40 million in October 2016, the same time teammate Gorgui Dieng signed a four-year, $64 million contract. The 14th player taken in the 2013 draft, Muhammad was one of the Wolves’ most active players during training camp in San Diego, but didn’t play well early in the regular season and played less and less as the Wolves played better and better.”

After the Muhammad move, Minnesota’s roster stands at 15 players.

Lonzo Ball’s recent return from injury has been a success. First in very limited minutes, but now playing most of the game. The scoring stars in tonight’s Lakers win over the Heat were Isaiah Thomas, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma. But Ball filled the stat-sheet quite nicely. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

As Lonzo Ball stood at his locker stall, he mumbled about how tired he was.

Despite still feeling some discomfort in his left knee, Ball was back in the starting lineup and had his best game since returning from a sprained left MCL, leaving his fingerprints all over the Los Angeles Lakers’ 131-113 rout over the Miami Heat.

Ball filled up the box score with 8 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and a career-high 6 steals in 34 minutes. It was the most minutes Ball has played in his three games back. He missed 15 games because of his MCL injury.

Six Lakers scored in double figures Thursday night, including Isaiah Thomas (29 points and six 3-pointers) and Julius Randle (25 points, 21 coming in the first half), but Lakers coach Luke Walton said Ball was the best player on the floor despite taking only five shots.

Look. Basketballs get thrown around. To teammates. At the basket. And sometimes they get thrown directly at an opposing player who has been annoying you a bit. Here’s ESPN.com reporting on the closing minutes of the Sixers vs Cavs game:

The final moments of the Philadelphia 76ers’ 108-97 win over the Cavaliers on Thursday took an unexpected turn when Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson threw a ball at Sixers forward Dario Saric’s back and was summarily ejected.

With Philadelphia up by eight points and having an opportunity to run out the clock with the game already in hand, Saric dunked with 12.2 seconds remaining.

Upon collecting the ball after it went through the hoop, Clarkson tossed it at Saric’s back and was called for a technical foul, before being ejected.

“Uh, basketball, that’s it,” Clarkson said of the incident. “Part of the game. If anybody say different, that they wouldn’t have did that, that they’d have did something different or anything else, they lying. Especially if it was at that [point] of the game. They know what’s up. That’s it.”

The Washington Wizards’ Scott Brooks and the Houston Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, respectively, for games played in February.

Brooks led the Wizards to an 8-4 record in February, including a 6-1 mark on the road, as Washington took over first place in the Southeast Division and moved up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Playing the entire month without All-Star guard John Wall, the Wizards defeated five of the seven other teams currently among the top eight in the East.

Washington opened February with a 122-119 home win over the current East-leading Toronto Raptors. The Wizards’ road success featured victories at the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks. For the month, Washington led the East in assists (29.3 apg) and ranked third in field goal percentage (48.6).

Under D’Antoni, the NBA-leading Rockets went 12-0 in February, marking the third time in team history that they have gone unbeaten in a calendar month with at least 10 games. Houston ended the month with a 14-game winning streak, becoming the sixth team in NBA history with two winning streaks of at least 14 games in a season. At 48-13, Houston has its best-ever record through 61 games and a half-game lead over the Golden State Warriors for the best record in the Western Conference and overall.

In February, the Rockets outscored opponents by 14.0 points per game while finishing 8-0 on the road and 4-0 at home. Houston’s month included two victories each over the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Denver Nuggets as well as road wins against the Cavaliers and the San Antonio Spurs.

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month were Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, Denver’s Michael Malone, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, the LA Clippers’ Doc Rivers, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Luke Walton, New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry, Philadelphia’s Brett Brown, Toronto’s Dwane Casey and Utah’s Quin Snyder.

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in February.

James averaged a triple-double in a calendar month for the first time in his 15-year career, leading the Eastern Conference in scoring (27.0 ppg) and assists (10.5 apg) and adding 10.5 rebounds in 10 games. The 6-8 forward, who tied for the league lead with four triple-doubles, shot 54.6 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from three-point range and finished second in the conference in minutes (37.3 mpg). He helped the Cavaliers post a 6-4 record in February.

On Feb. 27, James recorded 31 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a 129-123 home victory over the Brooklyn Nets. With that performance, the 33-year-old James became the first player in NBA history to accumulate 30,000 points, 8,000 rebounds and 8,000 assists.

Davis averaged 35.0 points (first in the NBA), 13.0 rebounds (third), 2.45 steals (second) and 2.18 blocked shots (second) in 11 games, making him the first player in league history to hit these marks for a calendar month since steals and blocks became official statistics in 1973-74. His scoring average was a personal best for a month in which he appeared in at least five games.

Behind Davis, the Pelicans went 8-3 in February and closed the month on a seven-game winning streak, moving into a tie for fifth place in the Western Conference. In a 124-123 overtime victory against the Miami Heat on Feb. 23, the 6-10 forward became the first player ever to produce at least 40 points, 15 rebounds, five steals and five blocks in a game since steals and blocks were first recorded (45/17/5/5).

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month were Boston’s Kyrie Irving, Golden State’s Kevin Durant, Houston’s James Harden, Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Portland’s Damian Lillard and Washington’s Bradley Beal.

Bucks waive Sean Kilpatrick

The Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday requested waivers on guard Sean Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick was signed to a Two-Way contract with the Bucks on Dec. 18. On Jan. 7, Kilpatrick’s contract was converted to a standard NBA contract. Appearing in 23 games for Milwaukee, he averaged 4.0 points and 1.1 rebounds in 8.9 minutes per game.

Kilpatrick began the season with Brooklyn and played in 16 games for the Nets, averaging 4.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per contest. He was waived by Brooklyn on Dec. 7.

The Bucks roster now stands at 16 players.

The Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons and the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell today were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month, respectively, for games played in February.

Simmons won the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award for the second consecutive month and the third time this season. In February, he led East rookies in scoring (16.0 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) and paced all first-year NBA players in assists (7.7 apg). He also tied for the rookie lead in steals (2.00 spg) and ranked third among that group in field goal percentage (55.0). The 6-10 guard/forward from Australia helped the 76ers to an 8-3 record for the month, the second-best mark in the East.

On Feb. 14, Simmons had a triple-double of 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the 76ers rallied from a 24-point third-quarter deficit to defeat the Miami Heat 104-102 in Philadelphia. In his first game after the All-Star break, Simmons scored a career-high 32 points, made the go-ahead free throw with 5.6 seconds left and added 11 assists and seven rebounds in a 116-115 road win against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 22.

Mitchell earned the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month award for the third month in a row. In February, he averaged a rookie-high 21.4 points to go with 4.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.30 steals in 10 games as Utah went 8-2 with him in the lineup and 9-2 overall. He topped all first-year NBA players with 29 three-pointers made and led West rookies with 29 free throws made.

The 6-3 guard opened the month by scoring 40 points on 14-of-19 shooting from the field (including 7-of-9 from three-point range) in a 129-97 road win over the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 2. With that performance, Mitchell became the first player in Jazz history with multiple 40-point games in his rookie season. He scored at least 24 points in each of his final four games before the All-Star break – all Utah victories.

Other nominees for the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month were Atlanta’s John Collins, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Brooklyn’s Jarrett Allen, Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen, Dallas’ Dennis Smith Jr., the Los Angeles Lakers’ Josh Hart and Kyle Kuzma, Miami’s Bam Adebayo, Phoenix’s Josh Jackson and Sacramento’s Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox.

The Chicago Bulls have signed free agent forward Jarell Eddie to a 10-day contract.

Eddie (6-7, 218) is currently in his third year in the NBA and has four years of G League experience. He has played in 18 games for Windy City in 2017-18, averaging 16.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.00 steals in 35.1 minutes per game. Eddie has shot .480 from the floor, .475 from 3-point range and .918 from the free-throw line during his time in the G League this season. The four-year Virginia Tech product was also signed to a 10-day contract by the Boston Celtics on Jan. 20 and saw action in two games.

In 2016-17, Eddie played in five games for the Phoenix Suns while on a 10-day contract and averaged 4.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 12.4 minutes per game. He also appeared in 45 contests in the G League for the Austin Spurs and Windy City Bulls. The Tampa, Florida, native played in 26 games for the Washington Wizards in 2015-16, scoring 2.4 points in 5.7 minutes per game, and spent time with the Austin Spurs in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.

Chicago’s roster now stands at 17 players.

Lakers waive Corey Brewer

Lakers waive Corey Brewer

The Lakers have waived Corey Brewer.

“It was a pleasure to have Corey on our team,” said Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka. “Corey’s professionalism and competitive mindset will leave a positive mark on the Lakers for a long time. We appreciate his time with the team and wish him the best of luck for the remainder of his career.”

Brewer appeared in 54 games (two starts) for the Lakers this season, averaging 3.7 points and 1.7 rebounds in 12.9 minutes.

The Lakers roster stands at 15, including two two-way players.

The Spurs are a Western conference 4th best 36-25 this season, a solid record considering they’ve played almost all of it without star small forward Kawhi Leonard. He has played just nine games this season. Leading the Spurs has been LaMarcus Aldridge (22.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg). After Aldridge, it’s mostly been a team effort, as nine other players on the team average somewhere between seven and 11 points per game. As for the latest on Leonard, here’s the San Antonio Express-News reporting:

The injured Spurs star was back in San Antonio, and back in the team’s practice facility Tuesday, less than a week after coach Gregg Popovich said he would be “surprised” if Leonard played again this season.

The 26-year-old did not participate in the team portion of the Tuesday’s workout session, nor is it immediately clear when he might be able to…

Concerned with the slow progress of his recovery, Leonard spent the past three weeks in New York, rehabbing and consulting with additional doctors. He has also been in contact with teammates, letting them know he didn’t consider himself done for the season…

Before Leonard can return to game action, he will need to progress through a protocol that includes 3-on-3 and 5-on-5 action. There is cautious optimism Leonard might be able to play again in March, with a soft target date somewhere on the three-game road trip that begins March 8 at Golden State.

Full article

The Atlanta Hawks, after reaching an agreement on a buyout, today requested waivers on forward Ersan Ilyasova.

According to Yahoo Sports, “Ilyasova and the Hawks had been discussing a buyout over the past several days, and Atlanta was eager to allow Ilyasova to join a playoff team and contend down the stretch of the season. Ilyasova considered several opportunities with playoff teams, including Philadelphia, Golden State, Cleveland, Milwaukee and Toronto.”

In 46 games this season (40 starts), Ilyasova has averaged 10.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 steals in 25.6 minutes (.459 FG%, .359 3FG%, .800 FT%).

In 655 career contests (405 starts), he’s put up 11.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 24.5 minutes (.443 FG%, .366 3FG%, .772 FT%).

Ilyasova re-signed with the Hawks on July 21, 2017 after originally being acquired by Atlanta from the Philadelphia 76ers on February 22, 2017.

Pelicans sign Emeka Okafor for remainder of season

The New Orleans Pelicans today signed forward/center Emeka Okafor for the remainder of the season.

Okafor, 6-10, 252, who was originally signed to the first of two 10-day contracts by New Orleans on Feb. 3, has appeared in six games, including four starts, for the Pelicans, averaging 3.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 16.2 minutes per contest.

New Orleans’ roster stands at 16, including one two-way player (Charles Cooke).

The Dallas Mavericks today signed guard/forward Scotty Hopson to a 10-day contract.

Hopson (6-7, 200) went undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft and began his professional career overseas with Kolossos Rodou in Greece. He also played for Hapoel Eilat in Israel and Anadolu Efes in Turkey before signing his first NBA contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 31, 2014. Hopson saw action in his only two games with the Cavaliers.

Most recently, Hopson spent the 2017-18 season with Galatasaray in the Turkish league. In 13 games, he averaged 11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 21.8 minutes.

The Hopkinsville, Ky., native was a three-year player at Tennessee and, as a junior, was named All-SEC First Team averaging 17.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assist. He played 103 games (98 starts) as a Volunteer and had career collegiate averages of 12.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.3 rebounds and 26.8 minutes per contest. As a senior at University Heights Academy, Hopson was named a McDonald’s All-American and rated the No. 5 recruit in the country by Rivals.com.

Hopson will wear number 32 for the Mavericks.

Jimmy Butler suffers knee injury

According to the Minnesota Timberwolves, an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) taken this afternoon on Wolves forward Jimmy Butler’s right knee revealed a meniscal injury. The evaluation and MRI was conducted by Team Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Diane Dahm at Mayo Clinic. Further updates as to Butler’s progress will be issued when more information becomes available.

The injury occurred during last night’s 120-102 loss to the Houston Rockets.

In 56 games this season, Butler averaged 22.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “the team has not yet announced what this prognosis means, in terms of whether Butler will require surgery or if his season is over. Still, it is a more optimistic prognosis than a torn anterior cruciate ligament would have been. What remains clear is that Butler, at the very least, will be out for an extended period. And that means the Wolves will have to survive – indeed thrive – without him in order to stay a factor in the NBA’s Western Conference playoff race.”

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed Naz Mitrou-Long to a second 10-day contract.

Mitrou-Long (6-4, 218, Iowa State) has appeared in 34 games (29 starts) for the Jazz’s exclusively owned and operated G League team, the Salt Lake City Stars, this season averaging 17.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.1 steals in 34.7 minutes per contest. He originally signed his first 10-day on Feb. 11 and before that, a two-way contract with the Jazz on Dec. 23, appearing in one game with Utah, tallying three points against Denver on Dec. 26, before being waived on Jan. 13. Additionally, Mitrou-Long spent training camp with the team this year, playing in two preseason games, averaging 4.0 points and 1.0 assists in 7.0 minutes per contest.

A four-year collegian at Iowa State, he averaged 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season with the Cyclones, earning 2017 All-Big 12 Second Team honors. The guard also shot 47 percent from the field and led the conference with 2.8 three-point field goals per game, also connecting on a team-high 98 three-point attempts, which was the third highest in a single-season in school history.

Over his four years at Iowa State, Mitrou-Long appeared in 131 games (83 starts) averaging 9.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists, helping to lead the Cyclones to three Big 12 Championships. He would finish his collegiate career with 260 three-point field goals, the second most in school history, in addition to becoming just one of 11 players ever for Iowa State to tally 1,200 points, 300 rebounds and 200 assists over his career.

Born in Ontario, Canada, Mitrou-Long played high school basketball at Findlay College Prep in Henderson, Nev.

Ricky Rubio returning to action for Jazz

The Jazz are red-hot and about to get point guard Ricky Rubio back in action. Here’s the Deseret News with the latest:

As the Utah Jazz look to continue their hot streak after the All-Star break, a familiar face will return to the lineup.

After missing the last three games with left hip soreness, point guard Ricky Rubio will return to action tonight at 7 p.m. against the Portland Trail Blazers in Vivint Arena.

Utah (30-28) is looking to extend its win streak to 12 in a row.

“Being out for a couple weeks, I couldn’t do much, so it’s going to be hard for that, but I’ve been doing a pretty good job to stay in shape,” Rubio said. “When you have a good momentum like that, it’s hard to know when to go out there and be aggressive, but I think I just have to be me.”

The Washington Wizards today signed guard Ramon Sessions to a 10-day contract.

“We’re very familiar with Ramon,” said Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld. “He’s a veteran who can play both guard positions and will add depth to our backcourt.”

Sessions returns to the Wizards after playing one-and-a-half seasons in Washington (2015 and 2015-16), appearing in 110 games (eight starts) while averaging 9.2 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds. He was originally acquired from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Andre Miller at the 2015 trade deadline.

In his 11th season, Sessions (6-3, 190-pounds) has averaged 10.4 points, 4.1 assists, and 2.7 rebounds for the Bucks, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Lakers, Bobcats/Hornets, Kings, Wizards and, most recently, the Knicks, where he played 13 games (three starts) earlier this season. The Myrtle Beach, SC, native was originally selected by Milwaukee in the second round (56th overall) of the 2007 NBA Draft.

The Utah Jazz submitted today a formal bid to the NBA to host the 2022 or 2023 NBA All-Star Game. Civic and community partners in the bid include the State of Utah, Salt Lake City and County, Utah Sports Commission, Utah Office of Tourism and Visit Salt Lake.

With a “Game Elevated” theme emphasizing guest experience, innovation, and arts and education, the Jazz submitted an electronic application to the league as well as shipping a custom-made box with an iPad of the presentation.

“On behalf of the State of Utah, we are committed to the hard work of bringing the NBA All-Star Game to Salt Lake City,” said Gov. Gary R. Herbert. “We know this about the Miller family, Utah Jazz organization, and our state — the NBA All-Star Game will be above the rim and the NBA family will fall in love again with the great people of our state.”

“We are very excited and well prepared to bring back the NBA All-Star Game to Vivint Smart Home Arena,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “We are a vibrant, diverse and culturally rich community that knows how to celebrate the experience of sport. Our 2002 Olympic Winter Games remain the standard against which all other Olympic Winter Games are measured.”

The proposed site for the NBA All-Star Game is Vivint Smart Home Arena, the 18,306-seat home of the Utah Jazz, with ancillary events at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Huntsman Center on the University of Utah campus, and The Complex entertainment venue.

Other bid attributes are the availability of 6,000 hotel rooms in the heart of downtown, the billion dollar expansion of the Salt Lake International Airport and the city’s big event experience with the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and annual Sundance Film Festival.

The 2023 All-Star Weekend would be the 30th anniversary of the 1993 game in Salt Lake City when Karl Malone and John Stockton were the co-MVPs.

“The 1993 NBA All-Star Game was memorable for many reasons. Our new arena was just two years old, and we were so proud to welcome the NBA family into our new home,” said Greg Miller, NBA Board of Governors member. “It is with great excitement and anticipation that we now invite the NBA to return this celebration of our sport back to Salt Lake City for a game elevated.”

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard Marcus Thornton to a 10-day contract, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today.

Thornton will be assigned to the Canton Charge before tomorrow night’s Charge game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in Canton.

Thornton (6-4, 190) has played in 37 games (32 starts) this season with the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers’ exclusively owned and operated NBA G League team, averaging 18.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting .408 from three-point range in 36.1 minutes per game. He was recently selected to the USA Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team that will participate in the upcoming FIBA World Cup Qualifying first round.

Thornton spent the 2016-17 season with Consultinvest VL Pesaro in the Italian LBA, averaging 13.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 28.5 minutes over 30 games (21 starts). He also appeared in 12 contests with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA G League and 28 games with the Sydney Kings of the Australian NBL in 2015-16.

The 6-4 guard played four years collegiately at William & Mary and was originally selected by the Boston Celtics with the 45th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

The Atlanta Hawks today signed guard Antonius Cleveland to a 10-day contract.

Earlier this season, Cleveland was on a two-way contract with Dallas, appearing in 13 games with the Mavericks. In seven NBA G League games this season (six with the Austin Spurs and one with the Texas Legends), he’s averaged 13.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 steals in 26.6 minutes (.547 FG%, .500 3FG%, .826 FT%).

Cleveland played four years at Southeast Missouri State (2013-17) and in 33 starts as a senior, put in 16.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals in 32.9 minutes. He finished his high school career at Faith Baptist Christian Academy in Ludowici, GA after beginning at Overton High School in his hometown of Memphis, TN.

He will wear jersey No. 0.

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