Al Horford a big addition for Celtics

The Celtics are saying all the right things, not looking to put too much pressure on new frontcourt addition Al Horford, but it’s reasonable to expect that having him in the mix should bump the team up to the next level in the Eastern conference. They won 48 game last season, and can certainly aim for 50+ wins this coming year.

Here’s the Boston Herald:

Al Horford a big addition for Celtics

After taking another step forward last season, expectations have never been higher for Brad Stevens’ Celtics.

Inking Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million contract has fueled that fire, but Stevens cautioned that they aren’t asking the big man to put the C’s on his back.

“We’re not asking Al to be anything more than him,” Stevens said. “He’s a good fit for how we play on offense. He’s a good fit for the way we play defense. He’s a professional.”

And more from the Herald:

“I took a chance on coming here because I believe in the type of guys we have here in the organization,” Horford said at Celtics media day.

The power forward recounted coming to TD Garden as a rookie, eyes glued to the championship banners in the rafters.

“I couldn’t stop looking at them,” Horford said. “It’s something that’s powerful. It leaves an impression.”

Timberwolves add Rasual Butler, John Lucas III and Toure` Murry to training camp

The Timberwolves finalized the team’s 2016-17 Training Camp roster today by signing forward Rasual Butler and guards John Lucas III and Toure’ Murry.

Butler, 37, has appeared in 809 games over his 13-year NBA career, averaging 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds. In 2015-16, he played in 46 games for the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 2.7 points and 1.2 rebounds in 9.4 minutes per game. Butler, the 53rd overall selection in the 2002 NBA Draft by Miami, has played with the Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and Spurs. Butler played six games under current Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau in Chicago during the 2010-11 NBA season.

In his eight-year NBA career, Lucas III, 33, has averaged 4.8 points, 1.5 assists and 12.3 minutes in 237 games. The 5-11 guard most recently played in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons in 2014-15, averaging 4.7 points and 2.9 assists in 21 games. Lucas has enjoyed NBA stints with the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz and Pistons. Lucas III played under Thibodeau from 2010-12 in Chicago. He is the son of former NBA player John Lucas Jr., who played 14 years in the NBA from 1976-90.

Murry, 26, has played in 56 games with three teams between two NBA seasons, including appearing in 51 contests with the Knicks in 2013-14 where he averaged 2.7 points. Originally undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft out of Wichita State, the 6-5 guard spent 2015-16 in the NBA D-League, starting the season with the Texas Legends before being acquired in a trade by the Sioux Falls Skyforce late in the season. Murry played in 45 games between the two stops, averaging 11.5 points, 4.7 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game. Murry played for the Timberwolves entry in the 2016 Summer League, averaging 6.4 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals in eight games.

Butler will wear No. 12, Lucas III will wear No. 11 and Murry will don No. 23.

Spurs add Joel Anthony, Nicolas Laprovittola, Ryan Richards to training camp

The Spurs training camp roster stands at 20 players, and includes the additions of center Joel Anthony, guard Nicolás Laprovíttola and forward-center Ryan Richards.

Anthony (6-9, 245), a nine-year NBA veteran, spent the last two seasons with the Detroit Pistons. The UNLV product has also played for the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat, where he spent his first six-plus seasons and won back-to-back NBA championships in 2012 and 2013. Anthony has appeared in 471 career games, averaging 2.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.11 blocks in 14.7 minutes.

Laprovíttola (6-4, 180) is a native of Argentina and has played professionally since 2007, most recently splitting last season between Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius (Lithuania) and Movil Estudiantes (Spain). In 20 games with Lietuvos, he averaged 10.3 points, 3.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds before making the move to Movil. In 20 games with Estudiantes, he posted averages of 13.8 points, 4.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds. Laprovíttola is also a member of the Argentinian National Team and competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he averaged 8.2 points, 2.7 assist and 2.2 rebounds in six games.

Richards (6-11, 265) was originally drafted by the Spurs with the 49th overall pick in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft. He split last season between Iran-Super League’s Shahdary Gorgan and Lebanon-Pepsi LBL’s Sagesse-Al Kekmeh Beirut. In 26 games with Shadary, he averaged 20.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 37.6 minutes. After transferring to Sagasse-Al Kekmeh Beruit midway through the season, he averaged 15.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in six games.

Pistons sign Nikola Jovanovic and Trey Freeman to training camp

The Pistons today signed Nikola Jovanovic and Trey Freeman to contracts that bring those two players to training camp.

Jovanovic, a 6-11, 235 played three years at the University of Southern California and averaged 10.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in 98 games for the Trojans. He averaged 12-plus points and 7.0 rebounds in both his sophomore and junior years and shot better than 50% from the field in all three of his collegiate years. A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Jovanovic became the 36th player in USC history to record 1,000-plus points.

Freeman averaged 22.1 points as a senior at Old Dominion University last season. In 135 career collegiate games, he’s averaged 17.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists at Campbell University (2011-13) and Old Dominion (2014-16). A 6-2 guard from Virginia Beach, VA, Freeman earned First-Team All-Conference USA honors in both his junior and senior years.

Nets sign Chase Budinger and Jorge Gutierrez

The Nets today signed free agent forward Chase Budinger and guard Jorge Gutierrez.

Budinger (6-7, 215) has appeared in 407 career NBA games (50 starts) with Phoenix (2015-16), Indiana (2015-16), Minnesota (2012-15) and Houston (2009-12) and holds averages of 7.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 19.7 minutes per contest. The California native was selected 44th overall out of the University of Arizona in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons before being traded on draft night to the Rockets.

Gutierrez (6-3, 195) most recently suited up for the Charlotte Hornets during the 2015-16 season, and has also had NBA stints with the Milwaukee Bucks (2014-15) and the Nets (2013-15). In 47 total NBA games, the Mexico native holds averages of 2.9 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 10.3 minutes per contest.

Gutierrez, who began his professional career playing for Pioneros de Quintana Roo in Mexico (2012-13), has had four stints in the NBA D-League over the past four seasons, all with the Canton Charge. In 2014 he was named to the All-NBA D-League Second Team and was twice named to the league’s all-defensive team (2013, 2014).

Bulls add J.J. Avila, Vince Hunter, D`Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Thomas Walkup to training camp

The Bulls have signed free agents J.J. Avila, Vince Hunter, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Thomas Walkup to round out their 2016-17 training camp roster.

Avila (6-8, 250) played two seasons (2010-11, 2011-12) at Navy before transferring to Colorado State for his final two seasons (2013-14, 2014-15). He saw action in 115 games (103 starts) in his four-year career and posted 15.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 2.8 apg and 1.60 spg in 31.5 mpg. As a senior in 2014-15, he was the only player in NCAA Division I to average better than 16.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.5 apg and 2.00 spg while shooting better than .550 from the floor.

Hunter (6-8, 200) appeared in 32 games for the Reno Bighorns during his rookie season and averaged 21.8 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 1.4 apg and 1.00 spg in 31.9 mpg. During his college career at UTEP, he played in 67 games and averaged 13.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.5 apg and 1.00 spg in 27.1 mpg.

Smith-Rivera (6-3, 215) appeared in 120 games with Georgetown and posted averages of 14.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.0 apg and 1.27 spg in 32.7 mpg. In his final season, he scored in double digits 28 times, 20-plus points eight times and 30-plus points twice, and was named Second Team All-Big East.

Walkup (6-4, 195) appeared in 135 games with Stephen F. Austin and posted 12.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.9 apg and 1.30 spg in 26.2 mpg. In his senior season, he averaged 18.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 4.5 apg and 2.09 spg en route to being named an Associated Press All-America Honorable Mention.

Chicago’s roster now stands at 19.

Celtics add Marcus Georges-Hunt, Damion Lee, Jalen Jones to training camp

The Celtics have signed guards Marcus Georges-Hunt and Damion Lee, as well as forward Jalen Jones to their training camp roster.

Georges-Hunt played in four contests for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League and averaged 2.8 points and 1.0 rebound in 13.3 minutes per game. As a senior at Georgia Tech, the 6’5” guard averaged 16.7 points while shooting 45.4 percent from the field, 3.4 rebounds and a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Georges-Hunt rose to No. 11 on Tech’s all-time scoring list (1,728 points) during the 2015-16 season after beginning the year as 35th.

Lee appeared in six games for the Miami Heat during the Las Vegas Summer League and averaged 10.8 points and 2.5 rebounds in 21.3 minutes per game. The 6’6” guard played for the Louisville Cardinals during the 2015-16 season, where he averaged 15.9 points on 42.8 percent shooting from the field, 1.9 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 33.6 minutes per game. Prior to playing at Louisville, Lee attended Drexel University and was the nation’s fourth-leading scorer as a junior while averaging 21.4 points per game.

Jones played in five contests for the Toronto Raptors during the Las Vegas Summer League and averaged 3.2 points and 2.0 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game. During his senior year at Texas A&M, the 6’7” forward averaged 15.3 points on 42.5 percent shooting from the field and 7.2 rebounds. Jones earned first-team All-SEC honors from both the league’s coaches and the Associated Press for the 2015-16 season.

A glance at the Grizzlies

Here’s the Memphis Commercial Appeal with the big picture on the 2016-17 Grizzlies, who as usual enter the season looking like a squad who should continue to make the playoffs, but not compete for a championship:

marc gasol, grizzlies

This week, the Grizzlies’ longtime “core four” of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Tony Allen will embark upon their seventh season together, during which they’ve never missed the playoffs, an active post-season streak that only the San Antonio Spurs and Atlanta Hawks can top.

That continuity could be due for some disruption this season. Versatile, sweet-shooting forward Chandler Parsons, whom the Grizzlies lured over the summer with a four-year max contract, is the biggest free agent signing in franchise history and will immediately challenge the team’s pecking order. When he plays, that is.

Parsons will partner with Conley and Gasol in what the Grizzlies hope will be a new kind of core going forward, one predicated on more shooting, versatility and offensive skill level than that to which the “grit and grind” Grizzlies have grown accustomed.

This shifting style will be led by a new coach in David Fizdale, the former Miami Heat lead assistant, whom the team tapped after dismissing Dave Joerger, a successful coach who was never quite on the same page with the team’s front office.

Josh Richardson making progress in recovery

Here’s the Palm Beach Post Blog with an update on a key young member of the Heat:

Josh Richardson making progress in recovery

Josh Richardson is making progress.

The 23-year-old guard suffered a partially torn MCL in his right knee in a voluntary workout on Sept. 9 and said he expected the injury to keep him out for six to eight weeks. Richardson is now entering the next phase of his recovery, as he had his knee brace removed Friday just in time to travel to Knoxville to watch Tennessee, his alma mater, defeat the Gators on Saturday.

“The update is his brace was removed on Friday and he was able to go to the Tennessee-Florida game on Saturday,” coach Erik Spoelstra said at media day on Monday. “After that win, I immediately texted him saying you better not even think about charging that field. But he was able to move around. He’s excited to get the brace off.”

Clippers sign Xavier Munford and Dorell Wright to training camp roster

The Clippers announced their 2016-17 training camp roster today. The team signed free agents Dorell Wright and Xavier Munford to complete the roster with 17 players.

Munford, a 2016 D-League All-Star, spent last season with the Bakersfield Jam and the Memphis Grizzlies. Undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft out of Rhode Island, Munford appeared in 51 games for Bakersfield in 2014-15, averaging 11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.0 steals per game.

Wright, the 19th overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat, has spent 12 seasons in the NBA with Miami, Golden State, Philadelphia and Portland. In 549 career games (222 starts), the Los Angeles native has averages of 8.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Wright spent last season in the Chinese Basketball Association playing for the Beikong Fly Dragons before signing with the Heat to close the season. In 37 games for the Dragons, he averaged 24.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Wright’s best statistical NBA season was in 2010-11 as a member of the Warriors when he averaged career-highs of 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds. 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals in 82 games (all starts).

The Clippers’ training camp roster currently stands at 17 players.

Pistons enter season with very young roster

The Pistons are built around Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond. A good, fun group. And a very young squad. Here’s Michigan Live reporting:

The Detroit Pistons enter training camp Tuesday one of two NBA teams with everyone on the roster under the age of 30.

Now, there are benefits to that, like team-friendly contracts and getting players on the upswing of their careers. When it’s difficult to land a big-name free agent, like it is for Detroit, you go with youth.

But it also leaves a void in the locker room, one the Pistons are trying to figure out, president-coach Stan Van Gundy said Friday during a media luncheon at the Palace.

“We don’t have a guy that has ever been in that situation in the league, a guy that people look to,” Van Gundy said. “We don’t have the old, grizzled veterans.”

Timberwolves basketball staff hirings

Timberwolves basketball staff hirings

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced additions to the team’s basketball staff for the 2016-17 NBA season, naming Noah Croom as Assistant General Manager, Brian Pauga as Director of Player Personnel and John Carideo, Jim Eyen, Drew Nicholas, Scott Roth and Jim Todd as Scouts. The team also named Matthew Duhamel as Director of Athletic Therapy, Pierre Nesbit as Assistant Athletic Trainer and Troy Sutton as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach.

The team also announced the following staff have been appointed to various positions within the organization: Calvin Booth as Director of Pro Personnel, Matt Bollero as Pro Personnel Scout, David Crewe as Head Strength and Conditioning Coach/Assistant Athletic Trainer, Emmanuel Rohan as Director of Basketball Administration, Todd Checovich as Manager of Basketball Operations and Rachel Saunders as Manager of Team Services.

Croom comes to Minnesota after serving as Legal Counsel and Agent for Goodwin Sports Management (GSM) since 2002. Prior to joining GSM, Noah held positions at Latham & Watkins, a New York City based law firm, the National Basketball Association and the Vancouver Grizzlies. He served as Assistant General Manager and Legal Counsel for the Grizzlies, where he negotiated all player and coach contracts and represented the team in its dealings with the NBA league office.

Pauga spent the last nine seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, including taking over as Director of Scouting in 2012 and General Manager of the NBA D-League’s Austin Spurs in 2013. He started with the Spurs as a Basketball Operations Intern in July 2007 before earning a promotion to Basketball Operations Assistant in 2008. Before joining San Antonio, he worked as a student manager with the Michigan State men’s basketball team from 2003-07, including the Spartans’ 2005 Final Four squad.

Carideo has served as a Scout for NBA teams since 2001, including stops with the Denver Nuggets (2001-09), Charlotte Bobcats (2009-10) and New Orleans Pelicans (2010-16). Before joining the NBA, Carideo spent time as the Head Coach for the Trenton Shooting Stars of the IBL and was an Assistant Coach for various IBL and USBL teams, including winning the 1999 USBL Championship with the Atlantic City Seagulls.

Eyen has more than 26 years of NBA experience with over 30 years of combined coaching, consulting and scouting experience. He most recently served as an Assistant Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2014-16, his second stint with the Lakers. He has also coached with the Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings.

Nicholas won the NCAA National Championship with Maryland in 2002 and reached the Final Four twice in his collegiate career. He played professionally for 10 years internationally, including winning the Euroleague Championship in both 2009 and 2011. His international career saw him play in a number of countries, including Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain and Turkey before his retirement in 2013. Since retiring as a player, Nicholas has served as an analyst for a variety of media outlets and coached youth basketball.

Roth returns to Minnesota as a Scout after playing for the Timberwolves in 1989-90, the team’s inaugural season. As a coach, he has served as an assistant on five NBA coaching staffs: Dallas, Detroit, Golden State, Memphis/Vancouver and Toronto as well as stints with four different national teams. Roth had a three-year NBA playing career with stops in Minnesota, San Antonio and Utah before playing internationally until 1994.

Todd has worked as an Assistant Coach for six different NBA teams over 15+ years, most recently as an Assistant to Mike Woodson with the New York Knicks from 2012-14. Todd’s career has also included stops with the Atlanta Hawks, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors.

Duhamel joins Minnesota as Director of Athletic Therapy after spending six years with the Minnesota Vikings as an Assistant Athletic Trainer/Physical Therapist. Prior to his time with the Vikings, he worked as an Intern with the New England Patriots’ medical staff. Duhamel earned his undergraduate degree in Athletic Training from Northeastern University where he worked with the football and men’s basketball teams, before earning his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Boston University.

Nesbit begins his first season with the Timberwolves as Assistant Athletic Trainer. Prior to coming to Minnesota, he most recently worked as a Seasonal Assistant Athletic Trainer for the New England Patriots during the team’s run to the 2016 AFC Championship Game. Nesbit received his Bachelor of Science in Athletic Training from Purdue University in 2013 before graduating from Auburn University with a Masters of Education in Exercise Science with an emphasis in Biomechanics in 2015.

Sutton enters his first year with Minnesota as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach after most recently serving as the Assistant Director of Sports Performance at Northwestern University over the last four years. Sutton’s professional experience also includes time at Ohio State University, Arizona State University and Ohio University. Sutton received his Bachelor of Science in Sport and Leisure Studies from Ohio State University in 2004 before earning his Master of Science in Health and Human Sciences from Ohio University in 2005.

Timberwolves hire Andy Greer and Rick Brunson as assistant coaches

The Timberwolves on Sunday announced additions to the team’s coaching staff for the 2016-17 NBA season, naming Andy Greer and Rick Brunson as Assistant Coaches, Peter Patton as Shooting Coach, Daisuke Yoshimoto as Special Assistant to the President of Basketball Operations and promoting Vince Legarza to Player Development Coach. Ryan Saunders will also continue in his capacity as Assistant Coach.

Greer joins the Timberwolves after spending last season as an Assistant with the Toronto Raptors under Dwane Casey. Before joining the Raptors, Greer spent five seasons on Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s staff in Chicago. Greer’s NBA resume also includes Assistant positions with the Memphis Grizzlies (2007-09), Houston Rockets (2003-07) and New York Knicks (2001-03), and Scout for the Portland Trail Blazers (2009-10).

Brunson is entering his third season coaching under Coach Thibodeau, previously serving as an Assistant Coach in Chicago from 2010-12. He got his start in the NBA coaching ranks as an Assistant with Denver in 2007 before stops in Chicago and Charlotte (2012-13). A nine-year NBA veteran, he played with seven different teams from 1997-2006, including playing in New York (1998-2000) and Houston (2005-06) when Thibodeau served as an Assistant Coach.

Legarza is entering his second season with the Timberwolves, originally joining the team prior to last season as Player Development Assistant/Player Development Video Coordinator. A San Francisco native, he spent two seasons in the Atlanta Hawks’ Basketball Operations/Player Development departments before coming to Minnesota. Prior to joining the NBA ranks, Legarza spent five years playing at Miami University, including serving as Captain of the squad for three seasons.

Patton has been teaching basketball for over 20 years, including learning the craft of shooting under San Antonio Spurs Assistant Coach Chip Engelland. A four-year graduate at DePaul, Patton never missed a game in college and set the DePaul single-season three-point percentage record as a junior (54.1%), a mark that still stands.

Yoshimoto joins the Timberwolves after spending last season in Denver as Video Coordinator. Before joining the Nuggets, he spent four seasons in Chicago as Video Coordinator under Thibodeau. Prior to starting his career with the New Jersey Nets, Yoshimoto served as Video Coordinator for the Ukraine National Team under the direction of Head Coach Mike Fratello.

Suns add four to training camp

The Suns on Sunday signed center Gracin Bakumanya (pronounced Gra-SOH BAH-koo-MAHN-yah), forward Derek Cooke Jr., guard Shaquille Harrison and forward Derrick Jones Jr., bringing the club’s roster to 19 players.

Bakumanya, a 6-11, 220-pound center, went undrafted in 2016 as an international early entry candidate. A native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the 19-year-old played the 2015-16 season with Antibes Espoirs, the training center for Antibes Sharks of LNB Pro A, the top-tier league in France. He averaged 14.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in 30 games with Antibes Espoirs, in addition to playing in two games with Antibes’ Pro A team. At NBA Summer League 2016, Bakumanya saw action in two contests with Houston.

Cooke, a 6-9, 220-pound forward, spent the 2015-16 season with the Suns’ NBA D League affiliate, then the Bakersfield Jam. In 47 games with the Jam, he averaged 4.8 points and 7.0 rebounds, including 3.1 offensive boards which tied for sixth in the league, in 23.4 minutes. Cooke was also a member of the Suns at NBA Summer League 2016, appearing in three games in Las Vegas. Prior to going undrafted in 2015, Cooke played three seasons at the University of Wyoming where he helped the Cowboys to a Mountain West Conference tournament title and NCAA tournament berth in 2014-15. As a senior in 2014-15, he averaged 8.1 points on 72.0 percent shooting and 5.8 rebounds.

Harrison, a 6-4, 185-pound guard, went undrafted this past summer following a successful four-year career at the University of Tulsa. A starter in all 133 games in his four years, he averaged 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals for his career, finishing second in program history with 461 career assists and third with 244 steals. As a senior in 2015-16, Harrison averaged career-highs of 15.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists as he was named the American Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Scholar Athlete of the Year. Harrison earned All-AAC Second Team honors in both his junior and senior seasons at Tulsa.

Jones, a 6-7, 190-pound forward, went undrafted in 2016 after playing one season at UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels’ second-leading scorer in 2015-16, he averaged 11.5 points on 58.9 percent shooting and 4.5 rebounds in 30 games during his freshman season. Jones recorded four double-doubles at UNLV, including a career-high 26 points to go with 10 rebounds against Chaminade at the Maui Invitational. The 19-year-old was named the 2015 Southeastern Pennsylvania Player of the Year following his senior season at Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor, Pa.

Big expectations for Mavs this season

On paper, the Mavericks look pretty nice on both ends of the floor coming into the 2016-17 season. New small forward Harrison Barnes on offense is still learning his way, but on defense both he and new center Andrew Bogut know what they’re doing. Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram with more:

Big expectations for Mavs this season

Bogut and Barnes won an NBA title with Golden State in 2015, and were part of the Warriors’ contingent that set a single-season league record with 73 wins last season before ultimately losing to Cleveland in the NBA Finals. The Mavericks signed Barnes to a four-year, $94 million contract in July and acquired Bogut in a trade.

In effect, Bogut will replace Zaza Pachulia and Barnes will replace Chandler Parsons in the Mavericks’ starting lineup. Pachulia (one year, $2.9 million) and Parsons (four years, $94 million) eventually signed free-agent contracts with the Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies, respectively.

“Zaza and Chandler gave us a real nice presence at the center and small forward positions,” said Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks’ president of basketball operations. “But I think it was imperative for us to be younger and a little bit more athletic and defensive minded, and that’s certainly something that both Harrison and Andrew Bogut bring to the table.” …

Barnes (6-8, 225) will also have a refreshing change in that he’ll finally escape the shadows of Warriors’ All-Stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The Mavericks are banking on that escape propelling Barnes — who won an Olympic gold medal last month — and his game to a new level.

With Dwyane Wade gone and Chris Bosh still out indefinitely due to health concerns, there’s every chance in the world for point guard Goran Dragic to rise up and do big things. Considering how young the rest of the squad’s key players are, Miami needs Dragic to exceed all expectations. Here’s the Miami Herald with more:

Lots of pressure on Goran Dragic this season

Goran Dragic made it clear from the start that when the Miami Heat traded for him 19 months ago he was only around to support Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, not step on their toes.

Dragic, 30, obviously doesn’t have to worry about playing backup singer to anyone on the Heat anymore. With Wade, a 12-time All-Star, gone to Chicago in free agency, and Bosh, an 11-time All-Star, out for the foreseeable future after failing a physical this week in his continuing battle with blood clots, the Heat is as much Dragic’s team now as it is Hassan Whiteside’s.

“I’m ready,” Dragic said Saturday afternoon between signing autographs and taking photos with fans who lined up by the dozens at the Heat store inside Dolphin Mall in Sweetwater to meet the 2014 All-NBA third team point guard.

Victor Oladipo has big Thunder goals

The Thunder are a very different team coming into this season. Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka are gone, and Victor Oladipo and a lot of question marks are in their place. Russell Westbrook is a star, and the team has some capable big guys. As for Oladipo, there’s an opportunity for him to do big things, even as he shares the backcourt with Westbrook. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Victor Oladipo has big Thunder goals

“I don’t just want to be a three-point shooter. I don’t just want to be a defensive stopper,” Oladipo said at Thunder media day. “I want to be one of the best players in this league, and in order to do that, you have to affect the game on both ends and do multiple things.”

For two seasons, Andre Roberson started 135 regular season games for the Thunder as the heir to Thabo Sefolosha at shooting guard. While Roberson provides length and athleticism on defense at 6-foot-7, he’s a below-average perimeter shooter and shot creator, scoring just 22.8 percent of his baskets unassisted last season. In contrast, Oladipo scored 51.5 percent of his baskets unassisted last season, which would have ranked fourth on the Thunder behind Westbrook, Cameron Payne and Dion Waiters.

Defensively, Oladipo could improve simply by playing with better teammates. Roberson and Adams proved to be elite defenders in the postseason. Westbrook, when focused, can be a terror. Westbrook thinks he and Oladipo can be the best defensive backcourt in the league. Oladipo agrees…

Last season, Oladipo’s shooting struggles came mostly as a bench player, a role that saw him shoot 27.1 percent from 3 over 20 games. But in 52 games as a starter, Oladipo shot 36.8 percent from 3-point range.

Jeremy Lin in spotlight for Nets

Entering the upcoming season, center Brook Lopez is considered the best player on the Nets. But on a global level, new point guard Jeremy Lin will get the most attention. Here’s the New York Post with more:

Jeremy Lin in spotlight for Nets

Jeremy Lin isn’t just the Nets’ new point guard, but their biggest (only?) drawing card and most fascinating figure, one whose reach and interests go beyond basketball.

Harvard-educated and socially conscious, he has more than 3 million Facebook fans, 2 million Twitter followers and 500,000 subscribers on YouTube. A superstar in Asia, he is in the top five among NBA players in an index score by MVPindex, which calculates follower counts, engagement and online sentiment.

Oh, and the Nets aren’t just expecting marketing, but leadership.

“He came off the bench in Charlotte and did a heckuva job, but this is a different deal. Now, you’re the quarterback, the Eli Manning,’’ [new head coach Kenny] Atkinson said. “There’s a different level of responsibility. It’s new to him.”

This was the biggest Knicks summer in years. Roster moves were made with the clear intention of winning now. And while Phil Jackson is expected to run things for years more, he actually can elect to opt-out after this upcoming season should he choose to move on. Here’s ESPN NY with more:

Phil Jackson has opt-out option after the season

“The proof is in the pudding” was a phrase Jackson used on Friday when asked to assess his presidency thus far. “Fiscally, I’ve been very responsible as a president,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve really had an opportunity to do a lot with the personnel, but we’ve been successful in getting it to a position where we can operate as a basketball team. That’s been our first goal and to eat some dung in the process, we had to do that and live with it.”

If the Knicks struggle this season — or even if they don’t — there will likely be plenty of speculation about Jackson’s future in New York. He has an opt-out in his clause after the season. Jackson said on Friday he hasn’t thought about the option.

“I’ve just been going straight ahead. That really hasn’t been an item for me to think about,” Jackson said. “The fact that I had a clause put in the contract, that in case there was a lockout, that it might be a way to step away from the team or a job that doesn’t have any work action going on for a period of time. So that was one clause. That hasn’t affected what I’m doing now.”

New Kings arena is high-tech

These are just some of the details (see article for more), but the new Kings arena in Sacramento sounds like all sorts of fun. Here’s the Sacramento Bee reporting:

New Kings arena is high-tech

Golden 1 Center, built for an eye-popping $557 million, will be one of the most high-tech sports facilities anywhere. Fans will speed through “smart turnstiles” to enter and tap their cellphones to find their seat. Tweeting and posting photos to Instagram should be a breeze; the arena comes with enough bandwidth to support a stadium four times as big. And don’t worry about getting a headache from staring at the world’s largest indoor video scoreboard; it was designed by a Walt Disney Co. engineer to minimize eye movement.

Opening with a pair of Paul McCartney concerts Oct. 4 and 5, the downtown arena is an extension of Ranadive’s worldview. An electrical engineer by trade, he is fascinated with the newest, greatest and most advanced. Golden 1 is state of the art, and then some…

Even the stuff that seems low-tech at first blush fits into Ranadive’s obsession with bigger and better. Take the 40-foot-high aircraft hangar doors that loom over the arena’s main entrance, which can be left open during games and concerts. Though the Kings haven’t decided when to deploy them – plenty of details have to be worked out first – Ranadive loves the idea of several thousand spectators watching an event from the exterior of what Ranadive calls the world’s first “indoor-outdoor arena.”

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