December 16, 2017

Big moves in the NBA, power centers shifted for NBA 2017-18 Season

In this Quick Bites segment:
Derrick Rose says he’s no longer in a “dark place,” he is happy with the Cavaliers.
Russell Westbrook signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the OKC Thunder and the OKC mayor declared everyday Russell Westbrook Day
• With Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony on the same team, NBA analyst Stephen Jackson said that OKC is the scariest team in the NBA.
Carmelo Anthony is happy being in OKC, he told ESPN, "... From an individual standpoint, I feel born again, feel rebirth, a different type of energy within myself, around the guys, around the organization, around the city. You can feel it."
• And, as we all know by now, Dwyane Wade has joined LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA players, Sean “Diddy” Combs and others stand behind NFL players; Brooklyn Nets Players look forward to new season; Time for safety nets at MLB stadiums

WHAT'S POPPIN'

Donald Trump Uses NFL to Boost his Ratings

Donald Trump injected himself into the NFL players’ protest against rogue police officers killing innocent Black men. Trump said at a campaign rally in Alabama that owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem and that fans should consider walking out in protest “when somebody disrespects our flag.” Trump’s comments touched off a firestorm.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t hesitate to give Trump serious pushback, stating:

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players.”

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association tweeted: “We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports.”

A good number of NFL players took exception to Trump attempting to deny their US Constitutional right to free speech, and being called “sons of bitches”. NBA players and others are standing up, even Sean “Diddy” Combs commented.

Donald Trump Disinvites Golden State Warriors

Speaking of Donald Trump, he rescinded his invitation to the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House because Stephen Curry was hesitating and ultimately decided he did not want to go. “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!,” Trump tweeted. Based on the current climate, the UNC Men’s Basketball team decided its players won’t be visiting the White House either.

Carmelo Anthony Has Left the Building

It took a minute, but a deal that worked for all the parties involved finally got done. Carmelo Anthony is no longer a player for the New York Knicks; he is now signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Anthony joins Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and company.

QUICK HITS

Aaron Hernandez’s attorney says the late football player had extreme CTE and his suing the NFL and the New England Patriots on behalf of his daughter
Floyd Mayweather told TMZ Sports that he has yet to cash his checks from the Pacquiao and McGregor fights.
Carmelo Anthony set up a relief fund for Puerto Rico and he pledged 50 thousand dollars.
• The New York Yankees clinched a wild card playoff spot.

OTHER TOPICS IN THIS EPISODE

Is it time for Major League Baseball to install safety nets at its stadiums

Will fans ever forgive Kevin Durant for his fake Twitter account?

Brooklyn Nets Media Day 2017

With Carmelo Anthony gone, the face of the Knicks is now Kristaps Porzingas

OFF TOPIC

Co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records and Jay-Z’s business partner, Damon “Dame” Dash, is currently selling his coveted sneaker collection on eBay. Hosted on Shoezeum’s eBay shop, the collection is packed with some of the most coveted items from what many would consider to be the golden years of sneaker culture.

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Is OKC a good spot for Paul George and are the Los Angeles Lakers still an option for Paul George in 2018?

Indiana Pacers guard Paul George has left the building and has landed in OKC to play with NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder team.

This move puts the Thunder in a better position to compete in the Western Conference. However, some NBA pundits think OKC still needs another star player or a 1-A player to overcome San Antonio, who beat them in 2017 in the second round of the NBA Western Conference playoffs, or the NBA Champions, the Golden State Warriors for that matter.

Interesting enough, a surprising element of this move is that Kevin Durant gave George encouraging words that helped shape his thinking about the move to OKC.

If the Thunder makes it to the NBA Western Conference championship game, would the Los Angeles Lakers still be an option for Paul George in 2018?

VIDEO DISCUSSION: NBA Free Agency 2017 took NBA fans on a wild ride with expected and unexpected changes

Yes, NBA free agency was in full effect this past week. There were changes that most of us expected and some that very few people saw coming. Let’s talk about the winners and those who didn't win too much.

Winners

Houston Rockets landing Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers, which seemed to come out of nowhere. But rumor has it that the relationship between Chris Paul and Doc Rivers had soured somewhat because of perceived favoritism towards Austin Rivers who is Doc Rivers’ son. The challenge will be how Chris Paul and James Harden will be able to play together.

Other winners include the Boston Celtics landing Gordon Hayward; OKC obtaining the services of Paul George; Minnesota for adding Jimmy Butler to its roster, the Golden State Warriors because Kevin Durant took a pay cut in order to keep the team intact, and the NBA for continuing to make headlines in mid-July.

Biggest Losers

The Chicago Bulls with the trade of Jimmy Butler to Minnesota Timberwolves by many accounts is the biggest loser in the 2017 NBA Free Agency. 

Also, the Indiana Pacers losing Paul George to OKC, and the Utah Jazz losing Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics. Indiana and Utah are both small market teams who are losing their draw and possibly revenue.

VIDEO: Jimmy Butler and Timberwolves are big winners in NBA Free Agency; Paul George lands in OKC, Brooklyn Nets, Knicks, focusing on young players

Before we get to our discussions of the top sports stories, here a couple of quick bites:

• The NBA fined Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid for foul language after he released a video on Instagram where he said, "F- LaVar Ball"
• Lakers small forward Brandon Ingram will miss the remainder of summer league due to cramping in his right leg
• The Miami Heat officially waived Chris Bosh and plan to retire his jersey. Bosh has since cleared waivers and is now a free agent.
James Harden landed the biggest NBA extension contract in history. The deal, reportedly worth $228 M, would start trickling in 2019-20 at a salary of $37.8M, $40.8M, $43.8M and $46.8M.

NBA Free Agency

NBA free agency was in full effect this past week. And, Keisha and Mike are talking about the winners and those who did not do as well.

Paul George Goes to OKC

Indiana Pacers guard Paul George has left the building and has landed in OKC to play with NBA MVP, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Oklahoma City Thunder team. Has OKC positioned itself to be in better contention to take over the West? Did the Los Angeles Lakers miss the boat on not trading for him?

Lonzo Ball NBA Summer League Outing

As his father, LaVar Ball predicted, NBA Draft stand-out, Lonzo Ball is now in the NBA and playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Lonzo had a rough Game 1, but he managed to right his ship and played clicking on all cylinders for Game 2. Will Lonzo bring “show time” back to the Lakers?

What’s The 411Sports’ Photo of the Week

Our photo of the week is a photo of Markelle Fultz, the 2017 NBA Draft’s #1 pick overall, being helped off the court by his teammates because of an injured left ankle.

What’s The 411Sports’ New York Sports Report

Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets acquired Jarrett Allen in the 2017 NBA Draft at No. 22, and just before the draft, the Nets acquired guard D’Angelo Russell and center Timofey Mozgov from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Brook Lopez and a Nets first round draft pick. Russell attended NBA Summer League and like a good teammate, he cheered on the Nets. However, when the game was over, Russell stayed to watch the Lakers play.

Should D’Angelo Russell have stayed to watch the Lakers summer league game? Will the Nets development culture be able to assimilate D’Angelo Russell?

New York Knicks

Phil Jackson is out as the NY Knicks president and the Knicks inked a four-year deal to bring Tim Hardaway Jr. back after Jackson’s exit. New York Knick fans are crowing about Hardaway’s $71 million four-year deal. Meanwhile, David Griffin, former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager, has turned down the job of general manager of the New York Knicks.

Is this a good move to bring Hardaway back to the Knicks? Who made this decision? Would the Hardaway acquisition have happened if Phil Jackson was still with the Knicks?

The New York Yankees

New York Yankees were in a huge tailspin heading into the MLB All-Star Break.

Will the Yankees turn this ship around and sail into smoother waters?

New York Giants

New York Giant wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr landed on the number 8 spot on the list of Top 100 NFL Players of 2017 as determined by his peers.

Off Topic

LaVar Ball Gets Real

LaVar Ball’s camera-ready persona has reportedly landed the Ball family a reality-show deal. Deadline is reporting that the Ball family will be the focus of a yet-to-be-named docu-series as part of Facebook's push for original video content.

A Woman Uber Driver Gets First-Day Surprise

It was a woman’s first day as a Uber driver and she picked up Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee. How cool is that?

LaVar Ball tells Kristine Leahy to stay in her lane; media nixes Paul George for All-NBA team; Will the Nets fate be determined by a health Jeremy Lin?

New England Patriots’ Concussion-gate?

During an interview with CBS This Morning, Gisele Bundchen, wife of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, stated that her husband has suffered concussions over the years as recently as 2016. Eyebrows were raised after this declaration because Tom Brady was never listed on any of the injury reports as having any type of head trauma. The NFL confirmed this and planned to contact the Players Association to collect more information. Did the Patriots cover up injuries to Tom Brady, their star quarterback? Could we find more cases like this in the NFL?

Landing spot for Kaepernick?

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll publicly stated that Colin Kaepernick is being considered as an option for a backup quarterback to Russell Wilson. While no final decision has been made, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett said that Seattle would be the perfect place for Kaepernick. Would Seattle be an ideal place for Kaepernick? Still, without a football home and in lieu of the recent signings of other quarterbacks, does this further the notion that Kaepernick is being blackballed?

Will the Golden State Warriors Suit up for Court?

A Spurs fan is suing the Golden State Warriors' center Zaza Pachulia and the Warriors organization alleging that Pachulia's play against San Antonio Spur star Kawhi Leonard which caused an ankle injury that left the Spurs without their star for the remainder of the game. Some believe the injury allowed the Warriors to mount a comeback which propelled them to victory. The suit states that Pachulia's play “devastated the quality of the Spurs' chances of being competitive" and diminished "the value of the tickets purchased by plaintiff subsequent to their purchase." Does this fan have a point and do you think this case would move forward?

Paul George not worthy of All-NBA Team Designation

Certain members of the media have responsibility for selecting the All-NBA teams and the NBA MVP selection. Indiana Pacers guard Paul George was left off all of the All-NBA team designation and LeBron James is number four on the MVP list. Who are these media people and what are they thinking? Should decisions related to players’ compensation be in the hands of the media?

Is Lonzo Ball a Slam Dunk for the Los Angeles Lakers?

Will the Los Angeles Lakers and Magic Johnson have the magic to get the second pick in the 2017 NBA Draft? Is it a given that the Lakers will select Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick?

Kristine Leahy, stay in your lane!

LaVar Ball vs Kristine Leahy- Never one to shy away from controversy, LaVar Ball, father of NBA prospect Lonzo Ball, once again finds himself in the middle of a media firestorm after an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. During the interview, Ball refused to speak to Cowherd's cohost Kristine Leahy except to tell her to stay in her lane and to reiterate that he would only address Colin Cowherd. Leahy has since gone on record to state that she has received death threats as a result of the on-air altercation. Do you believe Cowherd’s reason for not addressing Lavar Ball’s sexist behavior?

Combat Crossover Alert: Mayweather - McGregor

We are another step closer to a Mayweather/McGregor fight. UFC President Dana White declared that UFC fighter Conor McGregor's side of the deal is done and White is currently working with Mayweather's team on the remaining terms. Is this fight going to happen?

New York Basketball: Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks

Congratulations to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson; his alma mater The Chester Community Charter School, named its gym The Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Gymnasium in his honor. Speaking of the Nets, what can the team do to upgrade its roster for next season? Meanwhile, what are some names or positions that Phil Jackson should be thinking about as the Knicks prepare for the draft?

On the Bench: Kevin Pillar

Nearly every week, we put someone on the bench, and this week, Mike McDonald puts Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar on the bench for using a homophobic slur against Atlanta Braves pitcher Jason Motte. Pillar apologized profusely, but the Blue Jays still suspended Pillar for two games. Pillar will forfeit approximately $6,066 of his $555,000 salary, with the money donated to charity.

VIDEO: Should the media be involved in decisions regarding NBA player compensation?

Certain members of the media have responsibility for selecting the All-NBA teams and the NBA MVP selection.

Indiana Pacers guard Paul George was left off the All-NBA First team and LeBron James is number four on the MVP list.

Some eyebrows were raised when Paul George, a guard with the Indiana Pacers, did not get a spot on any All-NBA team.

The All-NBA Team honors were given to players based on a vote by basketball media, which struck most people as odd considering that a player's compensation is tied to whether he makes an All-NBA Team.

Little did most be people know this process is part of the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

So the question on the table is should the media be involved in NBA player compensation?

After surrendering two straight to the likes of Washington and a heartbreaker in the city of brotherly love, the Brooklyn Nets failed to enter the win column, dropping their third straight to an Eastern Conference powerhouse, the Indiana Pacers 103-86.

The Nets continue to regress and now sport an overall regular season record of 9-18.

Any time these two teams match-up, a grind it out possession by possession game is to be expected, due to the half-court offensive styles these two teams execute, and that's what occurred tonight...... until Indiana's perimeter swingman Paul George and shooting guard Lance Stephenson decided to end the competitive tango.

Nets and Pacers Keep It Close Early

George and Stephenson combined for 52 points, with George scoring 26 points, grabbing six boards and dishing five assists; while Stephenson enjoyed his Junior's cheesecake, as the Brooklyn native was cooking in his environment recording 26 points, cleaning the glass with seven rebounds and also promoting the fact that sharing is caring dropping 5 dimes, all while establishing that he is one of the best two-way shooting guards in this league.

A close game early, as both teams subjected each other to poor offensive execution ending the first quarter with the Pacers leading by a deuce to the Nets 17; the Pacers took control of this game in the second and put it out of reach in the 3rd, accumulating their highest advantage over the Nets up to 24 points.

At the end of the half the Nets only trailed by six, 39 to the Pacers 45, but the increase in defensive pressure by the Pacers halted the Nets and their offensive success, as they exploded out of the intermission period on a 15-4 run solidifying their control on the game, as well as, hitting the 70 point mark on a 4-foot made jump-shot by Pacers forward Ian Mahinmi with 4:09 remaining in the 3rd period to the Nets 47 points.

If their frustrations weren't conspicuous regarding the overall game itself, Nets forward Paul Pierce's flagrant foul on starting Pacers point guard George Hill served as evidence with 4:22 remaining in the 3rd quarter when Hill stole a bad pass by Nets guard Joe Johnson and embarked on a one man fast-break only to be met by a close line by Pierce targeting Hills neck which ultimately led to his ejection.

To begin the fourth quarter, the Nets announcer addressed the sellout crowd of 17,732 in attendance, engaging and encouraging them to lift the Nets emotionally and "STAND UP," as he articulated through the loud speaker, which served no purpose as the fans stood and the Nets remained seated.

Every opportunity and threat the Nets posed was deflected by stellar defensive play by the Pacers, who accomplished this feat albeit missing their defensive anchor and last line of defense in starting Center Roy Hibbert due to foul trouble.

Nets guards Deron Williams had 9 points and 8 assists; Joe Johnson scored 17 points; and off the bench, guard and journeyman Jason Terry provided a spark totaling 11 points with 8 coming within the 4th quarter.

As Terry connected for two back-to-back three's with 5 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter reducing the Nets deficit to 18 points, 98-77, Stephenson answered with a three of his own pushing the lead back to 21, 98-77.

He was having one of those nights playing in front of his home crowd, an individual home game for Stephenson, as he posed with friends and family for pictures after the match had commenced.

In other words, Stephenson earned his Juniors Cheesecake, in a resounding and resonating fashion.

The return of Williams and Brook Lopez to the Nets lineup brought hope to the franchise which experienced tough times early in this season and the now loss of Lopez for the season creates even more of an uphill climb for the Nets to achieve respectability in a conference that has failed to live up to the hype which revolved around the celebrated pre-season player transactions.

The Nets will have to contribute down low on offense and defense by committee which means larger roles for Forward Kevin Garnett, rookie center Mason Plumlee, and Forward Andray Blatche.

The various injuries the Nets have been obligated to this year, I would think have served as a learning curve for first year head coach Jason Kidd forcing him to make intelligent in-game basketball decisions on a game-by-game basis.

Jason Terry Looking Forward

In the postgame festivities, Terry shared his thoughts on the overall state of the Nets.

"We're together," said Terry to media correspondents in the Nets locker-room.

"It's just a matter of us picking it up. If we have to get kicked in the butt whatever we have to do, we must pick it up," Terry added.

He even suggested their future Christmas day matinee with the Chicago Bulls.

"It's a great opportunity for a team to come up in here like Chicago, who's going to make you play hard each and every possession, all is not lost and we get another opportunity here at home on a special day and what better Christmas present to get than a win against the Bulls," Terry continued.

The Nets host the Bulls on Christmas Day and what follows is a pre-determined schedule that could influence the Nets franchise to make some drastic changes. After the Bulls, the Nets will host a winnable game against the Milwaukee Bucks, and then the plot thickens the day after the Bucks match, at Indiana, at the San Antonio Spurs and at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

So long to the team who posed a possible threat to the Miami Heat; now they must modify the dreams of the front office and its billionaire owner from Russia with love, Mikhail Prokhorov. With their injuries, stars failing to perform at the highest level, and a first year coach struggling to find his way on Flatbush and Atlantic Avenue, the Nets need more than hope they need luck, in the toughest place to find it especially in the city that never sleeps, as everyone else is up searching for their own.

Brooklyn Nets could not contain the fiery Paul George

Paul George and Jeff Teague were the tag team that carried the Pacers to a 106-97 win over the Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center on Friday night. In the loss, the Nets dropped eight straight and 11 consecutive losses at home.

Brooklyn trailed for the entire game before taking its first lead 85-83 with 8:37 left on a 3-pointer from Quincy Acy, who just signed a multi-year contract with the Nets. Acy scored his eight points in 12:33 minutes. Although Acy was signed for his defensive skills and physicality, his 12 minutes were in the fourth quarter.

On the other hand, Caris LeVert, who only scored four points, saw 29:42 minutes.

“I thought we needed his defense really at the end,” Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said about LeVert at a postgame presser. “I know we struggled offensively, but I feel very comfortable with having him out there. Defensive end, we knew that they were going to go to that one-three pick and roll, so putting him on (Jeff) Teague – turned out he got on Paul George after the switch and really did a good job – Paul hit a great shot with a hand in his face. So it was really defensively. And then offensively, sure, they’re young guys and sometimes they do too much and I think that’s our job. We have to rein them in a little bit and again improve our execution, help them make the simpler play, keep defining their roles and what we are looking from them offensively.”

George and Teague led all scorers with 24 points each and George added to his tally 11 rebounds. Helping out Indiana were Myles Turner and Aaron Brooks both with 11 points, and Thaddeus Young chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds.

In the loss, Brook Lopez scored 23 points and six rebounds for the Nets. Sean Kilpatrick had 18 points, Joe Harris added 15 points, and Spencer Dinwiddie chipped in 13 points.

The Nets have had several close losses, even if they bounce back the next day, right after the loss you can tell it hurts.

“It’s not for lack of effort or lack of trying,” said Lopez after the Nets loss to the Pacers. “We just have to really get over that hump. It’s just going to take all of us being on the same page and working and believing we can do it in the last five or three minutes of the game.”

The Nets play Toronto on Sunday at 12 noon at the Barclays Center.

Brook Lopez, Jeremy Lin, and Sean Kilpatrick lead Nets in victory over Pacers, final score Brooklyn 103; Indiana 94

The Brooklyn Nets kicked off its first home game of the season on Friday night with a check mark in the win column. Taking on the Indiana Pacers, the Nets showed the home crowd at the Barclays Center that they are trying to live up to their marketing slogan, We Came to Play.

With only four players in double digits, versus the Pacers five players, the Nets hammered the Pacers 103-94.

“Man, I’m just happy for that group in there,” said an elated Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson. “They’ve been working their tails off, and I was happy with our defense. Just a great job, great job by our guys.”

Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez led all players with 25 points and five rebounds. The “big man” even grabbed a steal. Nets starting point guard Jeremy Lin notched 21 points and just missed a triple-double in his Nets home debut with nine rebounds and nine assists. Nets shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick, who was a great pickup for the Nets last season, came off the bench with 18 points and five rebounds. Additionally, Kilpatrick hit consecutive 3-pointers during the decisive fourth-quarter. Forward Trevor Booker didn’t disappoint, he turned in 10 points and 11 points.

Coach Atkinson didn’t miss heaping praise on Kilpatrick.

“Sean was great,” Atkinson said. “Listen, Sean has had a fantastic summer. He played great in Summer League, and he has just worked so hard. So it’s great to see him have a good night.”

Pacers point guard Paul George led all Indiana scorers with 22 points and nine rebounds. Former Brooklyn Nets player Thaddeus Young, who now wears the gold and blue, scored 19 points and 8 rebounds for the Pacers. CJ Miles came off the bench and scored 15 points and six rebounds.

It goes without saying that the fans left the Barclays Center in a state of euphoria.

The next home game is on Monday, October 31 (Halloween) against the Chicago Bulls; things could get scary!

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