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Lonzo Ball Prefers Lakers But Prepared To Play For Anyone

Apr 26, 2017 1:52 PM

When Lonzo Ball was younger he would watch footage of Magic Johnson, which symbolized the purity of the game for his family.

“I watched tape on Magic when I was young,” Ball told The Vertical, “and it’s why you can see it in my game. He liked to pass, I like to pass. He was a big point guard, I’m a big point guard. And I feel the way the game is played means a lot to him and me.”

The Los Angeles Lakers could be in position to draft Ball if they keep their pick.

“The Lakers are in L.A., and they’re close to home,” Ball told The Vertical. “This is where all my family is. Hopefully, they have a nice pick and they have a chance to get me. I want this to be realistic. Just being very family-oriented, to play in front of them would mean a lot to me. The Lakers are a young team and they have a lot of young talent.”

While Ball may prefer to stay close to home, he's prepared to play for whichever team selects him.

“I’ll play for anyone, all 30 teams,” Ball told The Vertical. “I want the challenge of helping turn around any team in the league. Just making it to the NBA, that’s my goal.”

Ball's father, LaVar Ball, has become a celebrity in his own right with his outsized personality.

“That’s who he’s been since I was a kid,” Ball told The Vertical about his father.

Ball believes he could change the way free agents perceive the Lakers if he ends up there.

“That’s the culture I want: to enter a situation and help my team win,” Ball told The Vertical. “I’ll do whatever I can for wins. It’s what I did when I was at Chino Hills. It’s what I did at UCLA. It’s what I’ll do again at the next level. Just do what I can to help my team win and make players around me better.”

Ball would love the opportunity to learn directly from Magic.

“I can learn a lot from Magic, and it would be a blessing for me to be able to take after him each and every day,” Ball told The Vertical. “Magic is probably the best guard to ever play the game. The fact that he also played as a big guard, he can show me things.

“I would love to have that sit-down and learn to be the best player I can be.”

 

Shams Charania/The Vertical

Tags: Lonzo Ball, Los Angeles Lakers, NBA, NBA NBA Draft, NBA Draft General

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Russell Westbrook Has Never Complained About Teammates To Front Office

Apr 26, 2017 12:53 PM

Russell Westbrook has never complained about players on the Oklahoma City Thunder, either this season or in the past, a source tells ESPN.

Westbrook prefers to stay out of most front office affairs.

Westbrook is believed to be "very happy with the players on the team and the outlook of the roster."

Westbrook can sign an extension worth approximately $220 million over five years this summer. Westbrook can become a free agent in 2018.

Royce Young/ESPN

Tags: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor

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Thunder Intend To Keep Andre Roberson

Apr 26, 2017 7:56 PM

The Oklahoma City and Andre Roberson were unable to agree upon an extension before their deadline at the beginning of the season and he'll be a restricted free agent.

While Roberson is a liability on offense, he has developed into a very good defensive player. Oklahoma City has moved away from the league-wide trend of valuing shooting and instead want cutting and driving.

The Thunder intend to keep Roberson.

Royce Young/ESPN

Tags: Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA, NBA Signing Rumor, NBA Misc Rumor

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Thunder Complete 2nd Straight 'Season Of Discovery'

Apr 26, 2017 12:50 PM

Sam Presti repeatedly called 16-17 a "season of discovery" for the Oklahoma City Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.

The Thunder had to remake their roster following the departure of Kevin Durant. Presti had envisioned a starting five that featured Durant, Russell Westbrook and Al Horford with Victor Oladipo and Enes Kanter anchoring their bench when he began the 2016 offseason.

Presti used the same language to describe the 15-16 season.

"You have to remember that this team was 7-6 at one time, and the coaches and the players didn't deviate from that process of discovery, evolution and progress that we talked about, and I think they deserve a lot of credit for that," said Presti during his end of season press conference in 2016.

"And we got to the postseason and felt as if we could continue to play and win series, it gave this team more runway to improve and discover itself. And that's one of the things I think that is really important about the year is that I think it really was a season of discovery, of learning, of cohesion, and as a result of the length of time we were able to play, I thought it allowed us to find ourselves, find our voice as a team and continue to embrace kind of this identity of the Thunder, which is versatility, size, length, and a group of guys that at the end of the year were really playing for one another," said Presti after the loss to the Warriors.

While Westbrook is likely to win MVP, the Thunder were eliminated in five games in the first round of the playoffs.

RealGM Staff Report

Tags: Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA

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'Nobody Saw The Real John Wall' Due To Left Knee Issues

Apr 26, 2017 1:23 PM

John Wall began suffering pain in his left knee in 2013 with it escalating in 2014 and becoming unbearable in 2015.

“I’ve been in pain for the past three years,” Wall told Scott Brooks when he became head coach of the Washington Wizards.

Wall was quietly going through three hours of treatment for patellar tendinitis in his left knee on a daily basis. 

“Three years of misery,” Wall said. “I couldn’t do extra practice, couldn’t take extra shots, couldn’t improve my craft.”

In January 2016, Wall left agent Dan Fegan for Rich Paul of Klutch Sports Group, who had been following him for years. “I think you have another level,” said Paul, who is based in Cleveland. “I don’t think you’re right.”

Paul took Wall to see Dr. Richard Parker, who removed a five-millimeter bone spur from Wall's left knee. Wall keeps a photo of the prehistoric saber tooth looking spur on his phone. 

“Nobody saw the real John Wall,” said Wall.

Wall became the first player ever to average at least 20 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, two steals and .5 blocks. 

“Some people get their success early,” Wall said. “Some get theirs late. I feel like my time is just beginning.”

Lee Jenkins/Sports Illustrated

Tags: John Wall, Washington Wizards, NBA, NBA Injury

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Shabazz Muhammad Hires Rich Paul As Agent

Apr 26, 2017 1:00 PM

Shabazz Muhammad has hired Rich Paul to represent him.

Muhammad will be a restricted free agent in the offseason. Paul also represents Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who will also be a restricted free agent.

Muhammad was previously represented by Rob Pelinka.

Shams Charania/The Vertical

Tags: Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA

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Doc Rivers Unlikely To Leave Clippers Regardless Of Playoff Result

Apr 26, 2017 10:30 AM

Doc Rivers is unlikely to leave the Los Angeles Clippers this offseason regardless of the result.

Rivers is owed more than $22 million over the next two seasons and still has the confidence of Steve Ballmer. 

The Clippers also recently promoted Lawrence Frank on a long-term deal to be executive vice president of basketball operations.

Ballmer, Rivers and Frank have rebuilt the Clippers' front office and scouting department.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical

Tags: Los Angeles Clippers, NBA, NBA Misc Rumor

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NBA Investigating Leslie Alexander For Yelling At Ref During Game 5

Apr 26, 2017 11:57 AM

The NBA is investigating Tuesday's incident where Leslie Alexander left his courtside seat to yell at Bill Kennedy during the first quarter of Game 5.

Alexander has owned the Rockets since 1993.

As Kennedy stood watching a play, Alexander got up from his seat next to the national television table. Hakeem Olajuwon tried to grab the owner's arm, but he kept walking. Alexander stood behind Kennedy for less than five seconds before walking away.

Alexander is typically mild mannered during games.

Alexander said at halftime that he "can't talk about it" and that he was "upset, really upset."

James Harden didn't see the incident back backed Alexander.

"He's just the coolest guy on Earth,'' Harden said. "I would have probably ran over there and tried to help him.''

Calvin Watkins/ESPN

Tags: Houston Rockets, NBA, NBA Fines

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LeBron James Left McDonald's Endorsement Deal For Upside Of Blaze Ownership

Apr 26, 2017 3:28 PM

LeBron James declined an option in 2015 to extend his endorsement of McDonald's that would have paid him approximately $14 million over four years.

James instead followed the idea of Maverick Carter to put his marketing efforts behind Blaze. James owns 17 Blaze franchises and more than 10 percent of the company. Company sales hit $185 million in 2016 and could hit $1.1 billion by 2022.

"When we started to look at our endorsement deals as partnerships, that is when a lot of it started to click for me," James tells Carter.

Regarding Blaze, James says, "We get to build this. If it doesn't become successful, I can only blame myself."

Kurt Badenhausen/Forbes

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA

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LeBron James' Body Feels Worse When He Doesn't Play

Apr 26, 2017 3:21 PM

LeBron James averaged 43.7 minutes per game in the Cleveland Cavaliers' first round series against the Indiana Pacers.

"I don't understand why people make a big deal out of his minutes," Tyronn Lue said. "He had a week off before the series started. We won four straight games and then he had a week off again. So next he might play 48 minutes. ... 'Bron today just said he feels worse when he doesn't play."

The amount of rest given to players has become a frequent topic of discussion amongst those in the game as well as the media and fans.

"With him playing the minutes he played during course of the regular season, it has helped him in the playoffs," Lue said. "Now he is able to play those 42, 43 minutes. Because he's used to it. His body can take it, so, I'm not worried about what outside people say."

Lue went so far as to say other teams "are suffering because they listen to what the media is saying about guys playing minutes," and "some teams should play some guys more minutes, and it would've been different (playoff) series."

Joe Vardon/Cleveland Plain Dealer

Tags: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA

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Russell Westbrook Hasn't Thought About Extension But 'Loves' Being With Thunder
Russell Westbrook can sign a five-year extension this offseason with the Thunder worth more than $200 million.

Ryan Aber/Oklahoman

Les Alexander Fined $100,000 By NBA For Confronting Referee
Les Alexander has fined $100,000 by the NBA for confronting a referee during live game action.

RealGM Staff Report

Rajon Rondo Ruled Out For Game 5
Rajon Rondo still hopes he could play in Game 6.

Jay King/Boston Herald

Dunc'd On: UTA/LAC, HOU/OKC, MEM/SAS Game 5s, Playoff MVP So Far
A trio of Tuesday Game 5s featuring Rockets/Thunder, Spurs/Grizzlies and Jazz/Clippers.

RealGM Staff Report

Thunder Were +5 In Series When Both Westbrook, Harden Were On Floor
The Thunder were +15 when Russell Westbrook was on the floor and -58 with him on the bench in their five-game series

Matt Moore/CBS Sports

NBA Announces 182 Early Entry Candidates For 2017 Draft
Players who have applied for early entry have the right to withdraw their names from consideration for the Draft by notifying the NBA of their decision in writing no later than June 12.

RealGM Staff Report

Blazers Won't Bring Back Festus Ezeli
Festus Ezeli underwent an experimental knee surgery in March.

Joe Freeman/Oregonian

Gordon Hayward 100 Percent Recovered From Food Poisoning
Gordon Hayward's wife picked up a sandwich from an unnamed establishment that led to the food poisoning.

Andy Larsen/KSL

Rajon Rondo Shoots At Practice, Could Return For Boston Series
Fred Hoiberg has already ruled out Rajon Rondo for Game 5.

Jay King/Boston Herald

Hornets To Wear Jordan Brand Next Season
Michael Jordan became controlling owner of the Hornets in 2010.

RealGM Staff Report

Damian Lillard: Defeating Warriors Becoming An Obsession
Damian Lillard has compared trying to beat the Warriors to the struggles Michael Jordan had against the Pistons in his career.

Chris Haynes/ESPN

Pat Riley Wishes He Would Have Given Dwyane Wade Max In 2014 Instead Of Chris Bosh
When LeBron James left the Heat for the Cavaliers, the camp of Chris Bosh wanted to reopen a deal they had just finished

Wright Thompson/ESPN

Pat Riley Wanted To 'Say Something Like Dan Gilbert' After LeBron Left Heat
When the Heat met with LeBron James that offseason, Pat Riley felt it wasn't sincere.

Wright Thompson/ESPN

Dunc'd On: TOR/MIL, WAS/ATL, GSW/POR, Could Non-Playoff All-Stars Beat GSW?
A wrap-up of Monday's playoff action.

RealGM Staff Report

Kevin Durant Returns To Warriors Lineup For Game 4
The Warriors won both Games 2 and 3 without Kevin Durant.

RealGM Staff Report

Magic Johnson To Represent Lakers At Lottery
While Magic Johnson will handle the televised portion of the event, Rob Pelinka will represent the team in the back where the lottery combinations will actually be drawn.

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All-NBA Teams To Be Announced Prior To June 26th Award Show
Because certain players will become eligible for supermax extensions due to the rule, teams will need time to make offseason preparations.

Tim Bontemps/Washington Post

Magic Johnson Didn't See Player Worth Building Around On Lakers' Roster
While D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram still have promise as young players, none are certain future All-Stars.

Open Run Podcast (via Anthony Irwin/Silver Screen and Roll)

Kristaps Porzingis Declines To Comment On Why He Skipped Exit Meeting
Kristaps Porzingis was asked on Monday if he sees himself with the Knicks after his rookie contract expires.

Ian Begley/ESPN

Austin Rivers Expected To Return For Game 5
Austin Rivers has missed 11 games with a hamstring injury.

Adrian Wojnarowski/The Vertical