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  • Ayton's simple goal: Getting second NBA contract
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The forecasts seemingly all project Deandre Ayton to develop into an NBA star.

    • But the 7-foot-1 center who could go No. 1 overall in Thursday's draft isn't getting too far ahead of himself.

      His definition of NBA success is not having his rookie contract be his last.

      "Definitely getting to my second contract -- that's my success," Ayton told reporters Wednesday during a media availability session in New York.

      The Phoenix Suns own the No. 1 overall pick and are expected to use it on Ayton, who starred at Arizona last season.

      Finances don't appear to be an issue after Ayton signed a four-year multimillion contract with the apparel company Puma earlier this week.

      But the second NBA contract rates of importance to Ayton because he said he will see it as a sign that the team the drafted him has been successful.

      He certainly has the Suns in mind, as he was quick with an answer when the topic of playing with Phoenix star shooting guard Devin Booker was brought up.

      "I can pick-and-pop and Devin is a threat coming off the pick, so that'd be pretty hard to guard," Ayton said.

      Ayton averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds and blocked 66 shots in his one college campaign. He was born in the Bahamas and said the opportunity to be a role model is a big deal for him.

      "Having that chip on your shoulder and carrying a nation behind me," Ayton said. "It's a huge opportunity to show that Bahamian people, we're not just a country of just track and field athletes."

      --Field Level Media

  • Silver understands Warriors backlash but credits team's drafting
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he understands why some fans are upset about the Golden State Warriors' assembly of a superteam with Kevin Durant, but he also gave the team praise for earning the success it has achieved.

    • Speaking on ESPN's Golic and Wingo on Wednesday, Silver was asked about the state of the league and the assertion by many that it lacks parity, as reflected by the Warriors' dominance and the same NBA Finals matchup happening four years in a row.

      "I get it in terms of Kevin Durant [joining the Warriors in 2016]," he said. "It was a bit of an aberration in our system; we had a spike in our [salary] cap, it enabled them to have additional cap room.

      "The Warriors will tell you they would have figured out a way to get it done anyway."

      Before signing Durant, Golden State had secured the 2014-15 NBA championship in six games over the Cleveland Cavaliers and then blown a 3-1 lead to the Cavs in the 2015-16 Finals to narrowly miss out on back-to-back titles. They have since won consecutive titles over Cleveland while going a combined 32-6 in the playoffs, including 8-1 in the Finals.

      Silver praised the team for putting together the other necessary pieces to engineer such a dominant stretch.

      "I've said repeatedly, let's also celebrate excellence," he said. "Ownership, the job Bob Myers has done as a GM, Steve Kerr, of course, one of the great coaches in our league. Steph Curry, drafted. Klay Thompson, drafted. Draymond Green drafted 35th by Golden State Warriors."

      The commissioner added that he hears more complaints about the Warriors' -- and Cavaliers' -- dominance from other teams around the league than he does from fans.

      "The 28 other teams, they're the biggest complainers that these two teams have met four times in a row [in the Finals]," Silver said. "Ultimately, collectively our 30 teams are in charge with what system we have, along with the players. And by the way, the players on 29 other teams want a system regardless of where they are drafted or where they sign to be able to compete for championships, and that's what you want."

      Silver also noted the issue is nothing new, saying "there have been dynasties forever in this league."

      He said the league won't try to break up superteams in order to "force some sort of parity that is kind of unnatural," but he did suggest changes could be explored when the collective bargaining agreement expires -- either after 2023-2024, or a year earlier if either side opts out -- including the possibility of a harder salary cap.

      --Field Level Media

  • Take 5: Five things about top five NBA draft prospects
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    In preparation for the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday, get to know Field Level Media's top five prospects.

    • Bigs with wheels are the prized attractions, from Arizona's DeAndre Ayton and Duke product Marvin Bagley III, to Texas' one-man swat team Mo Bamba and Michigan State's 6-foot-11 Jaren Jackson Jr. All have star potential for vastly different reasons, with backgrounds as close to opposite as one could imagine.

      Less familiar to most NBA observers is slick Slovenian point guard Luka Doncic. With the jump shot to play the 2 and the mind and handle to be a point forward, Doncic can find a spot to fit in the NBA -- no matter a team's roster needs.

      Here are five things to know about FLM's top five NBA draft prospects:

      G Luka Doncic, International

      1. Doncic is 19 but has several years of pro experience, including most recently as the starting point guard with Real Madrid, to whom he was first loaned by Slovenia at the age of 13. He signed a five-year deal and moved to Madrid and debuted as a pro in 2015 (at age 16).

      2. Doncic is the son of a basketball coach (Sasa Doncic) and hurdler (Mirjam Poterbin).

      3. He was named the EuroLeague rising star each of the past two seasons and became the youngest EuroLeague MVP in 2018.

      4. Scouts have compared Doncic to NBA players James Harden, Manu Ginobili and Gordon Hayward.

      5. Doncic said prior to the draft that he wants to see which teams make a mistake on draft night by passing on him. His nickname in Slovenia is "Wonder Boy."

      C DeAndre Ayton, Arizona

      1. Ayton is 7-1 and 250 pounds, and played one season at Arizona, averaging 20.1 points on 61.2-percent shooting to go with 11.6 rebounds.

      2. Ayton hails from Nassau, Bahamas, and never touched a basketball before age 12, when he was introduced to the sport in an island church league.

      3. Projected as a top-three pick, Ayton worked out for only one team before the draft -- the Phoenix Suns, holders of the No. 1 overall pick. After that workout (and still two weeks before the draft), he said "I know I'm going No. 1."

      4. Ayton moved to the United States -- first San Diego, then Phoenix -- with basketball in mind. Ayton said he made enough money working for his stepfather's plumbing business to attend a basketball camp, where he fell in love with the game.

      5. Ayton refuted an ESPN report that surfaced before the NCAA Tournament linking his family to a payment of $100,000 from Arizona.

      C Mo Bamba, Texas

      1. Bamba weighs just 223 pounds, or about five pounds fewer than guard Doncic.

      2. Bamba's 94-inch wingspan is the longest ever recorded in the history of the NBA draft combine. The average doorway measures 34 inches wide. A standard multi-passenger SUV stands 74 inches, road to rooftop. Houston Rockets legend Yao Ming was 7-5. You get the picture.

      3. He was the No. 2 recruit in the nation in the Class of 2017 and was widely believed to be on his way to Duke or Kentucky until head coach Shaka Smart snuck in to convince Bamba to give Texas a listen.

      4. Bamba averaged 3.7 blocks per game at Texas. His standing reach of 9 feet, 6 inches means he can touch the base of the breakaway rim in most college gyms.

      5. On his best vertical jump during a private workout for the Suns, Bamba hit the 12-foot-6 mark to Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough. That would be a few inches above the standard top of the backboard.

      F/C Marvin Bagley III, Duke

      1. Bagley is 6-11, 240 pounds and just turned 19 in March.

      2. An All-American in his only season at Duke -- 21.0 points, 11.1 rebounds per game in 33 games -- Bagley said throughout the draft process he should be the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. "I think I'm the best player in the draft. That's why I feel like I should go No. 1."

      3. Bagley is a self-described artist and rapper. He identifies most with J. Cole, Tupac, Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Logic.

      4. Described by scouts as advanced offensively, Bagley has a lean frame and said teams are looking for him to add muscle.

      5. Regarded as the top player in the 2017 recruiting class, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski expected to have Bagley for just one season. "He's the most unique player we've had here at Duke during my 38 years," said Krzyzewski. "He's going to be one of the great players in the NBA during his time."

      F/C Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State

      1. Jackson is the son of former NBA player Jaren Jackson Sr., who played at Georgetown, was on the 1999 San Antonio Spurs' title team and was a pro for 13 years. His mother, Terri, is the acting director of the WNBA players association.

      2. Jackson Jr. spent one season at Michigan State. At 6-11, 242 pounds, he is regarded as one of the better shooters Tom Izzo has coached. Jackson made 39.6 percent of his 3-point attempts at MSU.

      3. Scouts have compared Jackson Jr. to Boston Celtics All-Star forward Al Horford.

      4. Jackson was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and established a new school record with 106 blocks, averaging more than 3.0 per game.

      5. Spartans teammate Miles Bridges is projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick in the 2018 draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wizards, Knicks will meet in NBA's London game next season
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The NBA unveiled the teams who will play when the league returns to London next season on Wednesday.

    • The New York Knicks, making their third appearance, will take on the Washington Wizards, who are making their London debut.

      This will be the ninth time the NBA has played a game in England's most populous city.

      "We've been playing regular-season match-ups in London for nearly a decade, and over that time the games and the surrounding festivities have grown into the equivalent of an NBA All-Star experience transported to Europe," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a press release from the league. "Fans and partners from across the continent come to celebrate basketball and enjoy the excitement and experience of an NBA game."

      Wizards guard John Wall expressed excitement about going abroad.

      "It will be an honor to represent the Washington Wizards organization as we play our first game in the UK," he said. "I look forward to connecting with our fans in London and using the experience to further bond as a team."

      Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. also expressed happiness about a return trip to England. New York has split the two previous regular-season games it played in London.

      "I am excited to return to London. We had a great experience during our last visit in 2015 playing in front of passionate fans and are looking forward to another trip overseas," Hardaway said.

      The teams will meet at O2 Arena on Jan. 17.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Nets to land Howard for Mozgov
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly agreed to acquire Dwight Howard from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Timofey Mozgov two days after the 31-year-old Russian big man said he reached a "breaking point" with the Nets.

    • Trades cannot be completed until the NBA moratorium on offseason deals is lifted July 6.

      ESPN reported Wednesday that the deal includes two second-round picks from Charlotte and helps the Hornets avoid the luxury tax. The Nets land Howard's $23.8 million expiring contract.

      The second-round picks are No. 45 in the 2018 draft and a 2021 second-round pick, ESPN reported.

      Mozgov has two years, $32.7 million remaining on his contract.

      By unloading Mozgov, the Nets will save more than $16 million against the cap in 2019-20 and thus have room for two "max salary" slots for next summer's free agency period.

      Mozgov wasn't satisfied with his limited playing time. He ended the season playing in just seven of the final 47 games.

      "I'm very dissatisfied with my NBA season. It was a hard one and really bad," Mozgov said in his personal blog on Scorum, a sports media platform. "The breaking point came quite unexpectedly. The coach just said: ‘This is the situation we have.' There were no transitional periods, just like this: bang!"

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Popovich, Leonard meet in California
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made the trip to San Diego on Tuesday to meet with star forward Kawhi Leonard ahead of Thursday's NBA draft, according to multiple reports.

    • The two had a "good" conversation and "more dialogue" is expected, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News reports.

      Leonard did not want the meeting and has been making himself difficult to reach for the Spurs on purpose, according to ESPN's report.

      Multiple outlets reported last week that Leonard wants out of San Antonio and is determined to play elsewhere. According to ESPN, Leonard is upset with the Spurs' handling of his quad injury and the lack of support he received from the team -- namely Tony Parker and Popovich -- while he was sidelined last season.

      Leonard was reportedly supposed to meet with Popovich last week to resolve the tension, but it never happened. ESPN reports Popovich has tried to set up a meeting for weeks.

      Leonard has his eye on playing in Los Angeles, preferably for the Lakers, according to ESPN. Leonard will reportedly alert teams interested in trading for him that his preference is to sign with the Lakers when he's eligible to become a free agent in 2019.

      The Spurs aren't motivated to deal Leonard to the Lakers, according to ESPN, and have been reluctant to provide guidance to rival teams when it comes to potential packages for a possible Leonard deal.

      Leonard, who turns 27 later this month, has been the subject of trade speculation for months after last season produced extensive tension between him and the team over the handling of his quadriceps tendinopathy, which limited Leonard to just nine games, during which he averaged 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds.

      Various reports over the last few months indicated the sides disagreed about the nature of Leonard's injury, how to treat it and how soon he would be able to return to the floor. An ESPN report in May said the Spurs were worried Leonard's group -- led by uncle Dennis Robertson and agent Mitch Frankel -- intentionally sought to sabotage the team's relationship with Leonard in hopes of getting him traded to a larger market.

      Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, has played all seven of his NBA seasons with the Spurs. He is eligible to sign a five-year, $219 million supermax extension with San Antonio this summer.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Cavs head to draft clueless about LeBron's future
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Entering the 2018 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers must operate without knowing the status of LeBron James, who can opt out of his contract before the end of the month.

    • James, Cleveland.com reported, has been in touch with the team through his representatives. However, James himself is not certain whether he will return to Cleveland, according to the report, and therefore cannot share his intentions with the franchise.

      The Cavaliers hold the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft.

      James has until June 29 to exercise the $35.6 million player option on his contract for next season. Cleveland is well over the luxury tax even without James on the books. Kevin Love is scheduled to make $24.1 million, George Hill's salary for next season in $19 million and Tristan Thompson is set to earn $17.5 million, just ahead of JR Smith ($14.7 million).

      --Sterling Brown filed a lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and its police department, stemming from an incident in which a stun gun was used during an arrest for a parking violation in January.

      Brown, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, is the son of a Chicago police officer. Milwaukee police chief Alonso Morales issued an apology on behalf of the officers he said acted "inappropriately."

      Brown was talking with officers while waiting for a citation for illegally parking in a disabled spot outside a Walgreens. Officers swarmed Brown and took him down because he didn't immediately follow orders to remove his hands from his pockets.

      --Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics are expecting All-Star reinforcements by Aug. 1.

      Kyrie Irving, coming back from knee surgery, and Gordon Hayward, out since his debut with the team Oct. 17 with a fractured left ankle, are progressing toward five-on-five pickup games and should be cleared weeks in advance of the start of training camp, Stevens said.

      "I've been told they'll both be going, if not full tilt, then pretty close to full tilt by the end of July, so August first-ish," said Stevens. "Probably won't be playing five-on-five at that time, but will be real close. When guys start playing pick-up games, they'll be in that mix, if they continue on the path they're on, but there's no indication they wouldn't.

      --Former NBA guard Nate Robinson says the pressure he faced from coaches while playing in the league caused him to experience depression and led him to therapy.

      Robinson, who played for eight teams across his 11 seasons in the league, said in an interview with Bleacher Report that coaches were constantly asking him to tone down his fun-loving personality, which caused him to question himself among other things.

      Last season, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan opened up about his bouts with depression and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love wrote about his experience with panic attacks and anxiety. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue discussed before the start of the NBA Finals his absence from the bench, which was caused in part by anxiety.

      --After Real Madrid clinched the Spanish league championship, Slovenian star Luka Doncic will head to Brooklyn and attend the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night at Barclays Center, according to an ESPN report.

      Per ESPN, Doncic will fly to New York on Wednesday and be joined by his mother, her boyfriend and his grandmother at the draft.

      Once considered a possible contender to go first overall, Doncic could fall out of the top three based on recent reports. The Phoenix Suns are expected to take Arizona's Deandre Ayton at No. 1, and the Sacramento Kings (No. 2) and Atlanta Hawks (No. 3) are not believed to be interested in the Slovenian wing.

      --Field Level Media

  • Nate Robinson says NBA gave him depression
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Former NBA guard Nate Robinson says the pressure he faced from coaches while playing in the league led him to therapy.

    • "The NBA gave me my depression," said Robinson in an interview with Bleacher Report. "I've never been a depressed person in my life."

      Robinson, who played for eight teams across his 11 seasons in the league, said coaches were constantly asking him to tone down his fun-loving personality, which caused him to question himself among other things.

      "I was trying to change," Robinson said. "Nobody would ever know the real struggles that I had to fight to try to be somebody that I wasn't. ... That was the hardest thing in my career. Not basketball, not working out. Not my children.

      "But the hardest thing in my whole life, of my 34 years in existence on earth, was dealing with 11 years in the NBA of trying to be somebody that [NBA coaches] want me to be."

      In the interview, Robinson specifically singles out Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. While with the Knicks, Robinson, who is listed at 5-foot-9, said Brown referred to him as "the little [expletive]." Robinson said he pleaded with Brown, in tears, to stop demeaning him with the nickname; Brown responded shortly after by calling him the name again in front of the team and sharing with everyone that Robinson had cried about it.

      "I don't have any recollection," Brown said in response to the allegations. "I don't, I don't know ... I don't know what I called him, to be honest with you. If I did that, shame on me. I would feel terrible about that. That's not who I am, but I don't want to dispute Nate."

      Robinson also said tensions between him and coach Tom Thibodeau with the Chicago Bulls were escalating behind the scenes.

      Last season, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan opened up about his bouts with depression and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love wrote about his experience with panic attacks and anxiety. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue discussed before the start of the NBA Finals his absence from the bench, which was caused in part by anxiety.

      In part to address the issue, the National Basketball Players Association appointed its first director of mental health and wellness in May.

      Robinson believes current NBA players are held to different standards from when he was in the league. The former three-time Slam Dunk Contest champion has his eyes set on an NBA comeback, having spent the last several years since his last game in 2015 playing in the G League, Israel and Venezuela.

      "I just need a chance," said Robinson, who will play in the BIG3 and Drew League this summer.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Doncic attending draft after Real Madrid title
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    After Real Madrid clinched the Spanish league championship Tuesday, Slovenian star Luka Doncic will head to Brooklyn and attend the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night at Barclays Center, according to an ESPN report.

    • The 19-year-old probably will not have to wait long to hear his name called. The Atlanta Hawks are high on Doncic and could select the 6-foot-8 guard if he is available with the No. 3 overall selection, according to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

      Per ESPN, Doncic will fly to New York on Wednesday and be joined by his mother, her boyfriend and his grandmother at the draft.

      League sources told Wojnarowski that the Phoenix Suns are expected to select Deandre Ayton with the top overall pick. Meanwhile, the prevailing belief around the league is that the Sacramento Kings will select Marvin Bagley III with the second pick.

      That would leave Doncic on the board along with several other intriguing prospects. The Hawks have had "tremendous intrigue" in Jaren Jackson Jr., Wojnarowski reported, and also could be open to dealing the third pick and moving down in the draft.

      Doncic had eight points, eight rebounds and a pair of assists in 29 minutes as Real Madrid beat Kirolbet Baskonia 96-85 to clinch Game 4 of the ACB Finals. Three of those points came on a one-handed 3-pointer to beat the shot-clock buzzer. Teammate and former NBA player Rudy Fernandez was named MVP of the Finals.

      The ACB title follows Real Madrid's Euroleague championship last month, where Doncic was named MVP of the Final Four. He also claimed MVP honors during the regular seasons in ACB and Euroleague play. Last fall, Doncic helped Slovenia to its first-ever Eurobasket championship.

      The full list of prospects expected to attend the draft:

      Deandre Ayton, Arizona

      Marvin Bagley III, Duke

      Mo Bamba, Texas

      Mikal Bridges, Villanova

      Miles Bridges, Michigan State

      Wendell Carter, Duke

      Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova

      Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky

      Aaron Holiday, UCLA

      Chandler Hutchison, Boise State

      Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State

      Kevin Knox, Kentucky

      Michael Porter, Missouri

      Jerome Robinson, Boston College

      Collin Sexton, Alabama

      Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech

      Lonnie Walker IV, Miami

      Robert Williams, Texas A&M

      Trae Young, Oklahoma

      --Field Level Media

  • Bucks G Brown files suit against Milwaukee, police department
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Sterling Brown filed a lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and its police department, stemming from an incident in which a stun gun was used during an arrest for a parking violation in January.

    • Brown, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, is the son of a Chicago police officer. Milwaukee police chief Alonso Morales issued an apology on behalf of the officers he said acted "inappropriately."

      Mark Thomsen, Brown's attorney, filed the lawsuit in federal court Tuesday alleging excessive force and unlawful arrest.

      Brown was talking with officers while waiting for a citation for illegally parking in a disabled spot outside a Walgreens. Officers swarmed Brown and took him down because he didn't immediately follow orders to remove his hands from his pockets.

      Following the release of video footage of the incident, Brown issued a statement.

      "My experience in January with the Milwaukee Police Department was wrong and shouldn't happen to anybody," Brown said. "What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by the unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and tased, and then unlawfully booked. This experience with the Milwaukee Police Department has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future.

      "Situations like mine and worse happen every day in the black community," the statement continued, in part. "... The common denominator in all of these situations has been racism towards the minority community, the abuse of power, and the lack of accountability for officers involved. The lack of repercussions for the police officers involved in so many of these cases is offensive."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Cavs enter draft in dark on LeBron's plan
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Entering the 2018 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers must operate without knowing the status of LeBron James, who can opt out of his contract before the end of the month.

    • James, Cleveland.com reported, has been in touch with the team through his representatives. However, James himself is not certain whether he will return to Cleveland, according to the report, and therefore cannot share his intentions with the franchise.

      Speculation James is leaving Cleveland built throughout the season, rooted primarily in the divide between the face of the team and owner Dan Gilbert.

      James is being linked to teams who might be better equipped to build a contender to challenge the Golden State Warriors, but has given no indication where he might be headed next.

      When James last faced a similar opt out in his contract, he fled Miami to return to Cleveland, and informed Heat president Pat Riley before the draft of his decision.

      James has until June 29 to exercise the $35.6 million player option on his contract for next season.

      Cleveland is well over the luxury tax even without James on the books. Kevin Love is scheduled to make $24.1 million, George Hill's salary for next season in $19 million, and Tristan Thompson is on the books at $17.5 million, just ahead of JR Smith ($14.7 million).

      If the team considers dealing an expiring contract, the best bet is likely sharpshooter Kyle Korver. Korver is guaranteed $7.6 million for the 2018-19 season.

      Media reports also link Cleveland to veterans who could be available via trade, including Hornets guard Kemba Walker and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, as the team strives to keep a competitive roster intact, with or without James.

      The Cavaliers hold the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • Stevens: Hayward, Irving should be cleared August 1
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics are expecting All-Star reinforcements by August 1.

    • Kyrie Irving, coming back from knee surgery, and Gordon Hayward, out since his debut with the team Oct. 17 with a fractured left ankle, are progressing toward five-on-five pickup games and should be cleared weeks in advance of the start of training camp, Stevens said.

      "I've been told they'll both be going, if not full tilt, then pretty close to full tilt by the end of July, so August first-ish," said Stevens. "Probably won't be playing five-on-five at that time, but will be real close. When guys start playing pick-up games, they'll be in that mix, if they continue on the path they're on, but there's no indication they wouldn't.

      "Kyrie came through earlier this week, said he's feeling fine, and shot and did some things here. But he's not ready to compete yet -- that's still a ways away. The second surgery for Gordon went great, and he's here getting treatment every day. Will be cleared to do all he was doing by the middle of July."

      Hayward, who signed as a big ticket free agent last July, was experiencing pain in the back of his ankle related to a plate that has since been removed. Stevens said the discomfort ended when the plate was removed.

      "He was working really hard in (Indianapolis) and he looked really good," Stevens told the Boston Globe. "Like, he was getting close to being able to do some two-on-two, three-on-three. But he just had a little bit of pain in the back side of his foot and that's why they decided to remove the plate."

      Boston reached the Eastern Conference finals but lost in Game 7 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      Hayward missed the balance of the season following his injury and Irving opted for surgery with 15 games remaining in the regular season due to threat of an infection around screws previously inserted in the knee.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cavaliers overhaul coaching staff under Lue
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Three assistant coaches are being replaced by the Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason after the team let Jim Boylan and Phil Handy go this week.

    • The moves come on the heels of post player coach Vitaly Potapenko joining the Memphis Grizzlies.

      Boylan, 63, has been an interim head coach in the NBA -- with Chicago and Milwaukee -- and was part of the Cavaliers' 2016 NBA title coaching staff. He began working in the NBA as a scout for the Cavaliers in 1992.

      Handy was a player development coach.

      According to ESPN, Dan Geriot and Damon Jones are taking on greater responsibilities.

      --Field Level Media

  • Father of Knicks' Kanter charged with 'membership in a terror group'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    A Turkish court accepted an indictment charging the father of New York Knicks center Enes Kanter with "membership in a terror group," according to the country's official news agency Monday.

    • Prosecutors will seek conviction and a 5- to 10-year prison term after an investigation of Mehmet Kanter, Anadolu Agency said. There is no word when a trial is set to begin.

      The Knicks' Kanter, 26, has said publicly he believes the Turkish government has targeted his father over the player's strong statements condemning the Turkish government and president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

      ESPN reported that Kanter's father is not currently in Turkey, according to Hank Fetic, the manager of the Knicks' center.

      Mehmet Kanter is a former professor who was forced from public service and jailed for five days last summer as one of thousands of Turkish citizens tied to cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government alleged attempted a military coup in 2016.

      The younger Kanter, whose Turkish passport was canceled by Turkish authorities on in May 2017, tweeted Monday to "Keep my family, innocent people in your prayers" with the hashtag "DictatorErdogan." His Twitter account is banned from active status in Turkey.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Cavs, Suns reportedly eyeing Leonard
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 18, 2018

    LeBron James can return to free agency by opting out of the final year of his contract in the next two weeks. With the clock ticking for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team reached out to the San Antonio Spurs to inquire about Kawhi Leonard's availability via trade, per Cleveland.com.

    • A separate report from The Athletic linked the Phoenix Suns to Leonard. However, the Arizona Republic said any interest from Suns general manager Ryan McDonough would not include trading the No. 1 overall pick in this week's draft.

      Reports surfaced over the weekend that Leonard is determined to play elsewhere despite an Express-News report earlier that said a plan was in place for the All-Star to sit down and discuss "any issues or concerns Leonard may have." Per ESPN, Leonard was supposed to meet with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich this week to resolve tension that arose during the All-Star's lengthy absence last season due to quadriceps tendinopathy. The two have reportedly had conversations, but haven't met in person.

      An ESPN report said Leonard has his eye on playing in Los Angeles, preferably for the Lakers. It added that the Boston Celtics -- who made trade overtures for Leonard before the trade deadline -- are expected to be a major suitor.

      --Puma is making a major play to get back in the world of basketball, and the company took a big step by inking possible No. 1 overall draft pick DeAndre Ayton to an endorsement deal.

      Ayton, who is considered the favorite to be the Suns' choice with the first overall pick in Thursday's draft, said part of the company's appeal to him was its presence in the Caribbean, where Puma-signed stars Usain Bolt (Jamaica) and Rihanna (Barbados) are from, and where Ayton (Bahamas) was born and lived until age 12.

      "Puma is pretty popular in the Bahamas," Ayton said, per ESPN. "I've always seen the brand growing up. [Bolt] is one of the first people I saw with the brand. It's important to me that someone I identify with and admire as an athlete is with the same brand."

      --Michael Porter Jr. is willing to accept invitations for workouts with NBA teams unconvinced the former Missouri forward has overcome health concerns.

      Last week, Porter canceled a second pro day workout designed to show teams his physical progress. Porter said Monday in an ESPN Radio interview that reports about his health following the cancellation were overblown, adding he's good to go physically and willing to showcase his health to any team that asks.

      "I feel good," Porter said. "I got evaluated. I let the doctors come in and do all their tests on me. I'm feeling good. I think the teams are comfortable but I might get a couple workouts in. ...I was just sore and I wanted to take a couple of days off. So that's all that was."

      --Rudy Gay will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Spurs to enter free agency, according to an ESPN report.

      Gay was scheduled to earn $8.8 million in 2018-19.

      Entering his 13th season, Gay turns 32 in August. He played primarily off the bench last season for the first time in his career, averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 57 games (six starts).

      --Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford declined a $4.5 million player option for next season and will become a free agent in July, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

      Crawford joined the Timberwolves last season after considering returning to the Los Angeles Clippers while also drawing interest from the Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.

      The 38-year-old averaged 10.3 points per game in 20.7 minutes per game with Minnesota last season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Puma signs Ayton, names Jay-Z president of basketball division
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 18, 2018

    Puma is making a major play to get back in the world of basketball, and the company took a big step on Monday by inking possible No. 1 overall draft pick DeAndre Ayton to an endorsement deal.

    • Ayton, who is considered the favorite to be the Phoenix Suns' choice with the first overall pick in Thursday's draft, said part of the company's appeal to him was its presence in the Caribbean, where Puma-signed stars Usain Bolt (Jamaica) and Rihanna (Barbados) are from, and where Ayton (Bahamas) was born and lived until age 12.

      "Puma is pretty popular in the Bahamas," Ayton said, per ESPN. "I've always seen the brand growing up. [Bolt] is one of the first people I saw with the brand. It's important to me that someone I identify with and admire as an athlete is with the same brand.

      "...As I've been in the States, I've seen what they do with entertainers and always liked that. I see someone like Rihanna recently -- who is a lot like me, we have a similar background -- and she's putting her stamp on the brand. That's something that appeals to me from a creative side. Eventually I want to be a part of bringing this new style of Puma to my people."

      The news of Ayton's signing comes three days before the 2018 NBA Draft kicks off in Brooklyn, a few days after fellow top prospects Marvin Bagley III and Zhaire Smith signed with Puma, and on the same day that the company announced rapper and business mogul Jay-Z as its new president.

      Jay-Z, who founded the agency Roc Nation in 2013, is expected to play a major role in marketing and pursuing players as future endorsers.

      Puma's sudden commitment to basketball is its first action in the sport since it signed Vince Carter to a 10-year deal in 1998, though that deal lasted only two years. The company also re-signed perhaps its most famous basketball player from past decades, Walt "Clyde" Frazier, to a lifetime contract earlier this week and launched a modernized version of Frazier's old shoe from 1973.

      "We're making a serious statement about the entry of the category, that we want to be a performance brand, but then also very culturally focused," Adam Petrick, the company's global director of brand and marketing, told Complex.

      Bagley and Smith have each signed multi-year shoe deals with Puma, and the company is expected to pursue other top prospects as well as established NBA players after inking Ayton.

      Bagley is considered a likely top-three pick on Thursday, while Smith could be a lottery selection.

      --Field Level Media

  • Mizzou's Porter open to draft week workouts
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 18, 2018

    Michael Porter Jr. is willing to accept invitations for workouts with NBA teams unconvinced the former Missouri forward has overcome health concerns.

    • Porter missed all but three games of his freshman season at Missouri after injuring his back last November, which required him to have surgery on his L3 and L4 spinal disks. He returned in March and went 9 of 29 from the field.

      After the NCAA Tournament ended for the Tigers, Porter said he put basketball aside and focused on rehab, strengthening his core and slowly working his way back onto the court.

      But the top college recruit in the country last summer continued to face health concerns. Last week, just one week before the 2018 NBA Draft, Porter was forced to cancel a second pro day workout designed to show teams his physical progress. Porter's agent, Mark Bartelstein, decided to cancel the session, per reports.

      Porter said Monday in an ESPN Radio interview that he's good to go physically and willing to showcase his health to any team that asks.

      "I feel good," Porter said. "I got evaluated. I let the doctors come in and do all their tests on me. I'm feeling good. I think the teams are comfortable but I might get a couple workouts in."

      The NBA draft will be held Thursday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Porter turns 20 on June 29.

      Porter said the soreness in his hip last week that led to the cancellation of his pro day was overblown.

      "It was just a little sore, so I told [Bartelstein] my hip was kind of sore and he just wanted to shut it down for a couple of days," Porter said. "And then people took that and kind of ran with it, saying, you know, my hip was injured, I couldn't get out of bed. ... None of that was really true. I was just sore and I wanted to take a couple of days off. So that's all that was."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Gay to opt out of San Antonio deal
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 18, 2018

    Rudy Gay will opt out of the final year of his contract with the San Antonio Spurs to enter free agency, ESPN reported Monday.

    • Gay was scheduled to earn $8.8 million in 2018-19.

      Entering his 13th season, Gay turns 32 in August. He played primarily off the bench last season for the first time in his career, averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 57 games (six starts).

      The Spurs face uncertainty across the roster with the futures of Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili up in the air.

      Shooting guard Danny Green could also leave San Antonio. Green's contract includes a player option for next season worth $10 million.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wolves G Crawford reportedly declines option, to hit free agency
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 18, 2018

    Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford declined a $4.5 million player option for next season and will become a free agent in July, Yahoo Sports reported Monday.

    • Crawford joined the Timberwolves last season after considering returning to the Los Angeles Clippers while also drawing interest from the Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.

      He averaged 10.3 points per game in 20.7 minutes per game with Minnesota last season.

      Crawford, 38, said he had interest from the Lakers last summer but he opted not to wait for the team to make a decision. Crawford's family remains in the L.A. area

      Crawford, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, is likely to draw considerable interest as a scorer off the bench.

      The Clippers were able to fill Crawford's spot with Lou Williams, who turned in a better-than-expected season and averaged 22.6 points per game.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Cavs, Suns in mix for Spurs' Leonard
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 18, 2018

    LeBron James can return to free agency by opting out of the final year of his contract in the next two weeks.

    • With the clock ticking for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team reached out to the San Antonio Spurs to inquire about Kawhi Leonard's availability via trade, per Cleveland.com.

      A separate report from The Athletic linked the Phoenix Suns to Leonard. However, the Arizona Republic said any interest from Suns general manager Ryan McDonough would not include trading the No. 1 overall pick in this week's draft.

      Reports surfaced over the weekend that Leonard is determined to play elsewhere despite an Express-News report earlier that said a plan is in place for the All-Star to sit down and discuss "any issues or concerns Leonard may have. The goal is to hopefully come to a decision" about a possible five-year, $219 million supermax extension with the Spurs that the two-time first-team All-NBA guard is eligible to sign this offseason.

      Leonard was supposed to meet with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich this week to resolve tension that arose during the All-Star's lengthy absence last season due to quadriceps tendinopathy, which limited him to just nine games. The two have reportedly had conversations, but haven't met in person.

      The ESPN report says that Leonard has his eye on playing in Los Angeles, preferably for the Lakers. It adds that the Boston Celtics -- who made trade overtures for Leonard before the trade deadline -- are expected to be a major suitor.

      A widely held opinion from NBA observers is James is ready to leave Cleveland in free agency for a second time.

      Because of a trade deadline deal with the Cavaliers, the Lakers have enough cap space to absorb two "max" slots, and are interested in Paul George and James.

      McDonough appeared to backpedal on his stated intention to push Phoenix into a rapid turnaround after the Suns scored the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery. McDonough initially said he was open to trading the pick, but Phoenix now appears locked in on using the selection. This is the first time the team has ever had the No. 1 pick in the draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • Arson suspected at bar where Randolph's brother was killed
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, June 17, 2018

    One day after the brother of Sacramento Kings star Zach Randolph was killed in a shooting outside a Marion, Ind. bar, a fire at the establishment early Sunday morning was caused by arson, authorities said.

    • Randolph's 35-year-old brother Roger was found dead Saturday shortly before 5 a.m. at Hop's Blues Room. Police have not provided details about suspects or a motive, but they do not believe the shooting was a random act.

      The fire, which caused an estimated $20,000 of damage, happened less than 24 hours later. Authorities did not say if they believe fire is related to Randolph's death.

      Roger Randolph was sentenced to three years in prison in 2005 in connection with a nightclub shooting.

      The family grew up in Marion, where Zach Randolph led his high school to a state title in 2000. Randolph went on to play for Michigan State before being selected in the first round (No. 19 overall) of the 2001 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.

      Zach Randolph, 36, is a two-time All-Star who has averaged 16.6 points and 9.1 rebounds a game in 17 NBA seasons. He signed with the Kings last year after spending the previous eight seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies.

      --Field Level Media

  • Thunder cut ties with announcer suspended during playoffs
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, June 17, 2018

    The Oklahoma City Thunder won't bring back television play-by-play announcer Brian Davis next season, the team announced this week.

    • Davis was suspended for Game 1 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs for an on-air comment he made during the team's regular-season finale.

      During that game, against Memphis, Davis said point guard Russell Westbrook was "out of his cotton-pickin' mind" after Westbrook tallied an assist en route to averaging a triple-double for the second consecutive season.

      The term is viewed by many as offensive as picking cotton was a primary duty of black slaves in the South. Davis is white and Westbrook is black.

      "The Thunder has made a decision to go in a different direction. We greatly appreciate Brian's contributions to the Thunder organization over the past 10 years and we wish him well in the future. In conjunction with Fox Sports Oklahoma, the Thunder will now begin the search for a new play-by-play announcer," the team's statement read.

      Davis had been the play-by-play announcer for the Thunder on Fox Sports Oklahoma for the last 10 years.

      Michael Cage, the analyst on the broadcasts since 2014, is staying in his position.

      --Field Level Media

  • Shaq's advice to LeBron: Don't chase rings
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, June 17, 2018

    Shaquille O'Neal says he hopes LeBron James doesn't make the same mistake he did in the back end of his career.

    • Namely, don't go team-hopping in search of more championships.

      "My problem toward the end of my career was I was trying to shut everybody up and I was greedy (to win more titles)," O'Neal said to ESPN on Friday.

      "After I got to three, everybody was saying I couldn't get another. So I got four. After I got the fourth, they were saying I couldn't get another one. So I was trying to make quick stops to get it. Phoenix, Cleveland, Boston."

      O'Neal's final title came in 2006 with the Miami Heat. He won three in a row with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2000-2002.

      James, who can opt-out and become a free agent this summer, reached the NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007 only to be swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

      He famously left Cleveland for the Heat in 2011 and proceeded to reach the Finals in four straight seasons, winning two of them.

      Since returning to Cleveland, he's reached the Finals the last four seasons and won one championship. He's faced the Golden State Warriors each of those four years.

      Shaq says that LeBron's legacy is set whether he adds any more titles or not.

      "Somebody told me a long time ago -- they said your book is already set. You can add index pages toward the end, but your book is already set. So LeBron's book is already set," O'Neal said in the interview. "He done already passed up legends; he done already made his mark -- he has three rings. His mentality now is probably: I want to get four before Steph (Curry) does. That's probably his mentality now. But if I was him, I wouldn't be trying to get four, five and six because it ain't going to matter. It's just something else to talk about, something else to add to the pages. He's a legend, talked about as who is the best between he and Michael Jordan, so he's set."

      James has until just before midnight on June 29 to make a decision on whether to opt out. Cleveland can offer him $205 million over five years, while other teams can offer him $152 million over four years.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Only college players expected to attend NBA draft
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, June 16, 2018

    None of the 19 prospects invited to attend the first round of Thursday's NBA draft at the Barclays Center in New York City are foreign-league players, ESPN reported Saturday.

    • Highly regarded Slovenian Luka Doncic , regarded as the top non-collegiate player available and a potential No. 1 pick, is in the midst of the Spanish ACB playoffs with Real Madrid and would not be able to attend season unless his team is eliminated Tuesday.

      Arizona center Deandre Ayton, widely projected to go to the Phoenix Suns with the first pick, and the Duke duo of Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr., both likely to go in the first 10 picks, highlight the list of players expected to attend Thursday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Police: Randolph's brother killed in shooting
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, June 16, 2018

    The brother of Sacramento Kings forward Zach Randolph was shot and killed early Saturday outside of a bar in Marion, Ind., police said.

    • Roger Randolph was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting, which happened just before 5 a.m. outside of Hop's Blues Room. He was the only brother of Zach Randolph, who also has two sisters.

      The family grew up in Marion, where Zach Randolph led his high school to a state title in 2000. Randolph went on to play for Michigan State before being selected in the first round (No. 19 overall) of the 2001 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.

      Police have not provided details about suspects or a motive, but they do not believe the shooting was a random act. Family members gathered near the scene Saturday morning and consoled one another.

      Roger Randolph was sentenced to three years in prison in 2005 in connection with a nightclub shooting.

      Zach Randolph, 36, is a two-time All-Star who has averaged 16.6 points and 9.1 rebounds a game in 17 NBA seasons. He signed with the Kings last year after spending the previous eight seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies.

      --Field Level Media