Magic hope for big things from Aaron Gordon

Magic hope for big things from Aaron Gordon

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting on a key member of the Magic youth movement:

Magic hope for big things from Aaron Gordon

Almost two and a half months have passed since Gordon underwent surgery July 14 to repair his fractured jaw, and the bone now is almost fully healed. Although he has participated in the first four practices of Orlando Magic training camp, he has been forced to sit out full-contact drills and team scrimmages….

The Magic are counting on Gordon, a combo forward, to play a major role in the year ahead. At 6 feet 9 and 220 pounds, and blessed with smarts, elite jumping ability and superb quickness, Gordon arguably has more potential on the defensive end of the court than anyone else on the roster. Skiles envisions Gordon as someone who can guard opponents at four different positions, even point guards.

The team expects Gordon to be cleared for full contact at some point in mid-October — perhaps before the team’s Oct. 17 exhibition in Rio de Janeiro against the Brazilian team Flamengo. Still, even if Gordon plays against Flamengo, there would be little time left before Orlando’s regular-season opener on Oct. 28. Therein lies the concern.

None of this would be a worry if Gordon, now 20, hadn’t been goofing off after the Orlando Pro Summer League with his 25-year-old brother, Drew, who played a bit last season for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Warriors championship core returns

Warriors championship core returns

Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle with a mention of the Spurs before reviewing Golden State Warriors roster changes this offseason, which were relatively minor:

The Spurs made a lot of offseason noise, adding Aldridge and David West while retaining Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, and the Warriors stood pretty much pat. They’ll report to the team’s downtown Oakland facility Monday for physicals and media day with 12 of the 15 players from last season’s championship-winning roster.

“Once the season starts, nobody cares about all of the hype and all of the talk,” Kerr said Friday. “You just go out and play. We’re the defending champs. That’s a feather in our cap, and it should give us confidence, but all of the talk means nothing.”

Gone are David Lee, Justin Holiday and Ognjen Kuzmic. Arriving are Jason Thompson, Kevon Looney and a 15th roster spot that could go to any one of five training-camp invitees.

Lee was traded to Boston for Gerald Wallace and Chris Babb, and Wallace later was swapped to Philadelphia for Thompson. He’s expected to take over Lee’s role, splitting backup minutes at center with Festus Ezeli and at forward with Marreese Speights.
Kuzmic, a developmental center, signed to play in Greece, and the Warriors have a new project in Looney.

Sunset-colored Thunder alternate jerseys

The Oklahoma City Thunder today revealed a third alternate uniform for 2015-16. The team will first wear its new sunset-colored alternates on Sunday, Nov. 1, at Chesapeake Energy Arena against the Denver Nuggets.

The new uniform’s bold color pairs with “OKC” in navy block lettering on the front to showcase the team’s hometown pride and reflect the saturated, blended colors of the Oklahoma skies at sunset.

On the back of the jersey, player names sit below the numbers. The shorts display a sunset base with navy panels down the side showcasing the Thunder logo on each leg.

“This new uniform not only features another of our primary team colors, it also reinforces the strong connection our team has to our hometown and home state,” said Brian Byrnes, Thunder senior vice president of Sales and Marketing. “The ‘OKC’ on the front of the jersey echoes the chant that rings through Chesapeake Energy Arena during Thunder home games. This sunset-colored uniform adds a fresh perspective on the identity our team has built over the past seven seasons.”

The Thunder will wear the sunset alternates for 18 games this season, including all 13 of its Sunday matchups. This marks the fifth Thunder uniform in regular rotation. The home white and road Thunder blue uniforms will remain the team’s primary options, while fans will also see the team in the navy alternates and the sleeved white uniform for select games.

Sixers waive Gerald Wallace

Sixers waive Gerald Wallace

In conjunction with the announcement of the Philadelphia 76ers 2015-16 training camp roster, the team has signed J.P. Tokoto, T.J. McConnell, Jordan McRae and Christian Wood.

In conjunction with these signings, the Sixers have waived forward Gerald Wallace.

Tokoto was selected by the Sixers with the 58th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. An ACC All-Defensive team selection, Tokoto played three seasons at North Carolina and during his junior season, he was one of four players in the ACC ranked in the top 10 in both assists and steals. Over his final two seasons with the Tar Heels, Tokoto averaged nine points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals per game.

McConnell posted averages of 10 points, five assists and two steals over his four-year NCAA career. During his senior season at the University of Arizona, McConnell led the Pac-12 in assists per game (6) and total assists (238) and was also named to the NCAA West Regional All-Tournament Team.

McRae was originally acquired by the Sixers during the 2014 NBA Draft after being selected with the 58th overall pick by San Antonio. He played in 27 games for Melbourne United of the Australian National Basketball League in 2014-15, where he averaged 20 points, five rebounds and three assists per game. McRae then joined the Delaware 87ers of the NBA Development League, where he averaged 18 points, four rebounds and four assists in 13 games.

Wood was an early entry candidate for the 2015 NBA Draft after playing two seasons at UNLV. Wood averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds and blocked 90 total shots in his final season with the Runnin’ Rebels.

Free agency 2016 crucial for Nets

Here’s the New York Post with insight on the Brooklyn Nets, who face an uphill battle this season and like many teams in the league are very well aware how crucial 2016 free agency may be for their future:

The Nets have become a team known for slogans and catchphrases since moving to Brooklyn three years ago.

And though the team already has adopted a new one for this season, here is a helpful suggestion — one already associated with the borough — if they would like to change their minds: Wait ’til next year.

There are 82 games to play until July 1, 2016, but that’s the date the Nets are clearly focused on. That’s when — for the first time since moving to Brooklyn — they will have the ability to shop at the top of the market, thanks to what could be close to $40 million in cap space.

The problem? The Nets still have to get through the 2015-16 season, which begins with training camp Monday, before they can try to strike it rich in free agency. Though many teams in this position, like the Knicks a year ago, could afford to have a rough year and get a high draft pick, the Nets can’t, since their unprotected first-round pick next June is headed to the Celtics as part of the trade that brought Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn two years ago.

Anthony Bennett makes sense for Raptors

Anthony Bennett makes sense for Raptors

Here’s the Toronto Sun on the addition of Anthony Bennett to the Raptors:

Anthony Bennett makes sense for Raptors

Signing Anthony Bennett to a league minimum contract — something that will happen any time now, according to sources in the know — was nearly a no-brainer for the Raptors. For Bennett himself, it was less of a slam dunk, though likely still a pretty easy call. Other than possibly having to drown out some outside noise from the fanbase, Masai Ujiri and the Raptors don’t have much to lose on this low-cost gambit. Power forward is the team’s weakest position, with Patrick Patterson the presumptive starter and veteran Luis Scola slated to back him up. James Johnson and DeMarre Carroll also could see some time there, but Bennett provides another option for Dwane Casey — an above-the-rim, open court threat who starred at UNLV and this past summer for Canada. Bennett will never live up to the expectations of being drafted No. 1 overall, but he definitely has the talent and athleticism to be an NBA contributor, provided he is healthy and engaged, which granted, are not certainties based on past history.

A prove-it year for Rajon Rondo

A prove-it year for Rajon Rondo

Here’s the Boston Herald discussing former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who now finds himself on the the Sacramento Kings, and lower on the league-wide point guard hierarchy than in the past:

A prove-it year for Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo fully had expected to be the object of a free agent bidding war and come out of this offseason with a maximum contract from a marquee team of his choosing.

Instead, the former Celtics point guard has a one-year, $9.5 million deal — a paycut of nearly $3.5 million — from Sacramento and the burden of proof squarely on his slender shoulders.

And maybe that’s the best possible outcome for Rondo under the circumstances.

Things didn’t work out in a colossal crash-and-burn manner in Dallas after he was dealt there last December. And while we’ve reported that a number of league sources lay a portion of blame for that with coach Rick Carlisle, it is incumbent upon Rondo to find a way to make this work with the Kings. That there already have been issues between George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins may not make it easy, but those who decide how to spend their team’s money when the salary cap rises next summer will very much want to know how Rondo navigates these waters.

Emmanuel Mudiay has big goals for Nuggets

Here’s the Denver Post reporting on talented Nuggets rookie guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who appears to have big potential and will be one of the rookies pays consistent attention to as the new season begins:

Emmanuel Mudiay has big goals for Nuggets

Mudiay’s not just talking about having nice seasons. He’s talking titles.

“For sure,” he said. “If you ask that to anybody, anybody is going to say ‘Yeah.’ But I actually really mean it. I’ve always kind of been the first to do certain things, so that wouldn’t be nothing new to me.

“I think if I’m blessed enough to get one here, it’s just going to be addictive. I’m just going to want more championships.”

A busy Nuggets summer, which included trading point guard Ty Lawson, ensured Mudiay will be able to start his — and the team’s — growth toward that goal immediately.

At a fresh-out-of-the-wrapper 19 years old, Mudiay has been handed the keys to the team.

When the season opens Oct. 28 in Houston, Mudiay will be just the second rookie to start at point guard in Nuggets history. Bobby Jackson, in 1997, was the first.

The L.A. Clippers announced today the team has signed free agent forward Luc Mbah a Moute and forward/center Nikoloz Tskitishvili.

A seven-year NBA veteran, Mbah a Moute has appeared in 466 career regular season games (301 starts) with Milwaukee, Sacramento, Minnesota and Philadelphia averaging 6.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.0 assists in 24.3 minutes. Born in Yaounde, Cameroon, the 29-year-old spent last season with the 76ers, averaging 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds in 28.6 minutes of play over 67 games (61 starts). Mbah a Moute played three seasons at UCLA, where he helped the Bruins reach three straight Final Fours. He was the 37th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Bucks.

The former fifth overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets, Tskitishvili has appeared in 172 career games (16 starts) for Denver, Golden State, Minnesota and Phoenix averaging 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds in 11.3 minutes of play. The Tbilisi, Georgian native has played in Spain, Italy, Iran, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates post-NBA. The 32-year old played for Champville of the Lebanese Basketball League last season.

Mike Dunleavy undergoes back surgery

Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy successfully underwent a low back microdiscectomy procedure earlier today at Rush University Medical Center. Dunleavy had experienced some occasional back discomfort over the summer which had recently worsened. Conservative measures failed to satisfactorily resolve his symptoms, therefore, the decision was made to perform the surgery. The timing is unfortunate, but it was imperative that all conservative measures were exhausted prior to making this decision. He is expected to be out 8-10 weeks.

Wizards add five players to training camp

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed guards Jaron Johnson, Toure’ Murry and Ish Smith and centers Josh Harrellson and Jaleel Roberts.

Wizards training camp begins on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at SECU Arena on the campus of Towson University. The team will hold their first three practice sessions (Sept. 29-Oct. 1) in Baltimore before returning to Verizon Center for the remainder of camp.

Harrellson (6-10, 275) is a three-year NBA veteran who holds career averages of 3.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.8 minutes in 75 career games with New York, Miami and Detroit. He was originally selected by New Orleans in the second round (45th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft and then traded the same night to New York. During the 2014-15 season, the Kentucky alum split time between the Chinese Basketball Association, playing 14 games for Chong Qing, and the Puerto Rican professional basketball league (Baloncesto Superior Nacional), playing 44 games for Guayama.

Johnson (6-6, 205) went undrafted in 2014 after spending two seasons at Louisiana Tech. The Tyler, TX native averaged 9.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 21 minutes per game during his senior campaign in 2013-14. Last season, Johnson appeared in 50 games with Rio Grande Valley of the D-League where he averaged 15.1 points, 1.7 assists and 4.5 rebounds in 29 minutes per game.

Murry (6-5, 195) is a two-year NBA veteran holding career averages of 2.6 points in 7.0 minutes in 56 career games with New York, Utah and Washington. The undrafted Wichita State alum originally signed with the Knicks as a free agent in September of 2013. During the 2014-15 campaign, Murry appeared in five games with Utah and Washington while averaging 1.2 points in 3.6 minutes of action.

Roberts (7-1, 225) went undrafted in 2015 after playing three years at UNC Asheville. Last season as a senior, he averaged 7.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game. Roberts was a member of the Wizards 2015 Summer League roster that competed in Las Vegas.

Smith (6-0, 175) is a five-year NBA veteran who holds career averages of 3.6 points, 2.3 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 12.3 minutes in 246 career games with Houston, Memphis, Golden State, Orlando, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Oklahoma City and Philadelphia. The Wake Forest product was undrafted in 2010 and signed as a free agent with Houston on August 23, 2010. During the 2014-15 season, Smith appeared in 55 games with Oklahoma City and Philadelphia, averaging 6.1 points, 3.3 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 15.1 minutes per game.

The Wizards’ training camp roster currently stands at 20 players.

Celtics complete training camp roster

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have signed guards Levi Randolph and Corey Walden, as well as forwards Coty Clarke and Malcolm Miller. Each contract is likely non-guaranteed and just for training camp.

Randolph played in five contests for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2015 Las Vegas Summer League and averaged 8.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals in 31.2 minutes per game. During his senior year at Alabama, the 6’4” guard averaged a team-high 15.4 points, 2.5 assists and 1.4 steals, while also averaging 5.1 rebounds, in 35.3 minutes per game. Randolph was the first player in the program’s history to be named to the CoSIDA/Capital One First Team Academic All-District Team for three consecutive years. He was also named the 2015 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year and second team All-SEC.

Walden appeared in two games for the Celtics during the Las Vegas Summer League and averaged 2.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 3.5 steals in 16.5 minutes per game. The 6’2” guard out of Eastern Kentucky averaged 18.6 points to go along with 4.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.1 steals in 34.6 minutes per game during his senior year. Additionally, Walden earned a spot on the Lou Henson All-America Team and the first team All-Ohio Valley Conference for the 2014-15 NCAA season.

Clarke, a 6’7” forward, spent the 2014-15 season playing for Hapoel Kazrin in Israel and averaged 19.4 points and 9.4 rebounds in 30.7 minutes per game over that span. As a senior at the University of Arkansas, he averaged 9.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game.

Miller appeared in seven games for the Celtics during summer league play and averaged 4.0 points and 1.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game. The 6’7” forward was named to the All-Patriot League second team and averaged 14.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.6 blocks in 31.7 minutes per game during his senior year at Holy Cross.

Kobe Bryant minutes-per-game should decrease this season

Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News reporting on the Lakers, who must decide how much to use Kobe Bryant this season. The squad is mostly about the future. But Kobe’s still on the roster. And despite being close to the end of his career, he’s is still a big draw. Fans want to see him be Kobe. Which will only happen if he stays healthy.

Kobe Bryant minutes-per-game should decrease this season

[Lakers general manager Mitch] Kupchak maintained “there hasn’t been any formal discussions” with Lakers coach Byron Scott, trainer Gary Vitti, Lakers president Jeanie Buss and Bryant himself on a number of things surrounding Bryant’s workload. Kupchak said the Lakers have not decided Bryant’s minute and practice limitations as well as if he will sit in any of the team’s 17 sets of back-to-back games. Kupchak only sounded certain that Bryant would sit out in portions of any of the Lakers’ two-a-day sessions in training camp beginning next Tuesday in Hawaii.

Kupchak sounded aware that Bryant played only 41 games in the past three years amid season-ending injuries to his left Achilles tendon (April 2013), left knee (Dec. 2013) and right shoulder (Jan. 2015).

“It’s important for us to keep that in mind and see how he progresses and how he responds to training camp,” Kupchak said. “I would imagine he would not practice twice a day every day. He’s earned the right to really progress in training camp at a certain pace that works for him and works for us.”

Still, Scott has said he hopes to play Bryant in the mid 20-minute range and rest him on back-to-back games, a contrast to last season when he averaged 22.3 points on a career-low 37.3 percent shooting in 36.4 minutes.

Change of scenery may help Deron Williams

Change of scenery may help D-Will

Here’s the Dallas Morning News commenting on the Mavericks’ addition of Deron Williams and departure of Monta Ellis:

Change of scenery may help Deron Williams

Fan question: What does Deron Williams have left in the tank? Does he stay after this season?

Columnist Eddie Sefko: “That’s one of the many ifs we mentioned earlier. He signed for two years, so I’d say that will be a fair amount of time to see if he can revert to the kind of player he was a few years back. Perhaps this change of scenery will serve him well. But he’s been a curious player for a couple years and he’s never been the easiest player to coach. Perhaps this is a perfect situation for him because there won’t be a ton of pressure since this team doesn’t have championship aspirations at the moment.”

Fan question: Why did the Mavs let Monta Ellis get away? He was playing great before the Rondo trade.

Sefko: “He was scoring great. I’m not going to say he was a great player. He has holes in his game. But the Mavericks needed his scoring. You’re right about that. I think the biggest problem with Ellis is that he was the Mavericks’ best player. And if he’s your best player, the first round of the playoffs is probably your ceiling. If he’s your third-best player, then you can talk about deep playoff runs.”

Lakers have interesting mix of players

Built around Kobe Bryant, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, Lou Williams, Julius Randle, Brandon Bass and Roy Hibbert, the Los Angeles Lakers should be far more interesting this season than last. Making the playoffs in an extremely difficult Western conference is a very tough goal to achieve, but this squad has young talent worth watching. As for expectations? Here’s ESPN Los Angeles reporting:


The Los Angeles Lakers strive to win championships, and any season that doesn’t end with champagne is considered a failure. Such is their success.

But after missing the playoffs for two straight seasons and coming off a franchise-worst 21-61 mark last season, expectations are different entering the 2015-16 campaign.

“There’s always going to be pressure to win a championship — and every year that’s going to be our goal,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said at the team’s facility here Thursday, a few days before the Lakers head to Hawaii to open training camp next week.

“But we’re realistic in who we are and we do feel we do have an interesting mix of older players and younger players and we think we can win a bunch of games and hopefully be in the mix somewhere down the line.”

A glance at Magic training camp

A glance at Orlando Magic training camp

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel with insight on Magic training camp, which is set to open:

The team will have 19 players in training camp, although two of them could be limited early on. Gordon is still recovering from a fractured jaw that he suffered in mid-July and likely won’t begin participating in full-contact, 5-on-5 drills until mid-October. Magic officials recently learned that Fournier tweaked one of his ankles during France’s final game in EuroBasket 2015, and the team could proceed cautiously with him.

On Thursday, the Magic announced the signing of four new players who will attempt to earn a roster spot: point guard Keith Appling, center Nnanna Egwu, guard Jordan Sibert and center Greg Stiemsma.

Appling will compete against newcomer Shabazz Napier for the role as Orlando’s third point guard, while Egwu, Sibert and Stiemsma likely will compete against forward Melvin Ejim for the 15th spot on the roster.

Guard Tyler Harvey, whom the Magic drafted late in the second round in June’s draft, will not attend training camp and instead will spend the season with the Magic’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. The Magic will retain Harvey’s draft rights.

Some key Mavs still recovering from injury

Some key Mavs still recovering from injury

With NBA training camps opening soon, preseason around the corner, and the regular season beginning in late October, some key Dallas Mavericks are coming off major surgeries. Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting:

Some key Mavs still recovering from injury

With the NBA regular-season opener a mere 34 days away, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban isn’t sure if two of his starters will be in the opening-day starting lineup when his squad plays at Phoenix on Oct. 28.

Shooting guard Wesley Matthews underwent surgery to repair a left torn Achilles tendon on March 11 while he was playing for the Portland Trail Blazers. Matthews signed a four-year, $70 million free-agent contract with the Mavericks on July 9.

Small forward Chandler Parsons had surgery on May 1 to address a cartilage injury to his right knee. Parsons signed a three-year, $46 million free-agent contract with the Mavericks in the summer of 2014.

The Mavericks are expecting both players to be leaders in their quest to help the team recapture its glory years. But will they be available for the season opener against Phoenix?

“They’re on schedule, so there’s a chance,’’ Cuban said Thursday afternoon. “But we’re not going to rush them.

Here’s the New York Post with a fun feature on 7-3 Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis, who took a stroll around NYC and joked to one young fan that he’ll “be 8-feet by the end of the season.”

“Since I’ve been like 15, I can’t really hide, you know?” Porzingis says. “I always stand out. At one point, you’re just like, ‘I can’t be hiding my whole life. I gotta get used to this.’ Now I’m enjoying it.”

He is wise beyond his 20 years and a 7-foot-3 cutup. As he stares straight ahead and smiles for a photo with a short young man named Adam Eliassof, he startles him by telling him, “I’m gonna be 8-feet by the end of the season.”

Before more stargazers and curiosity seekers can flood the Seventh Avenue entrance to his next basketball home, Porzingis, with his older brother Martin and Knicks staffer Gregg Schwartz and several security men in tow, begins walking through the 33rd Street Plaza, where a man shouts out: “Kristaps, I need you to put on some weight.”

Truth be told, Porzingis already has bulked up, to 240 pounds, likely on his way to 250. He sneers at the stereotypical perception of European players as soft and uses it to fuel the fire that burns within him to be great. He doesn’t intend to let stronger, meaner opponents bully him.

Doug Christie joins Kings broadcast team

Here’s the Sacramento Bee with news on the Kings broadcast team:

Doug Christie joins Kings broadcast team

Former Kings guard Doug Christie, who played 15 NBA seasons, has joined Comcast SportsNet California as an analyst for the team’s pregame and postgame shows.

Christie will team with returning anchor Guy Haberman and analyst Bobby Jackson, another former Kings guard.

A glance at new Clippers additions

The Los Angeles Clippers will be deeper this upcoming season. It’ll be interesting to see how the chemistry develops. Here’s the Orange County Register reporting:

A glance at new Clippers additions

Joining fellow newcomers Lance Stephenson and Paul Pierce, and holdovers Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford, [Josh] Smith gives the Clippers a versatility they’ve lacked.

“The whole goal was we needed multiple positions,” Rivers said. “I wanted the second unit to be guard-less, meaning Austin isn’t a point guard, Lance isn’t a point guard, Jamal’s not a point guard. But all of them can dribble. Josh can dribble. That was our goal. We wanted four (guys). If we could somehow come up with five in the second unit where they literally could all bring the ball up, the versatility they create for that unit … We can play a unit of Josh and Paul at four and five and Lance, Jamal and Austin.

“That’s just chaotic. Who do you guard? Paul will just stand out by the 3 and dare you. Jamal can do his things. Austin and Lance are downhill players. We had a vision of how we wanted to play. That always helps when you’re building a team. We thought, this year, the pool of players you could go after was so much larger than the year before that we had a chance to accomplish our goal.”

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