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  • NBA roundup: Tempers flare as Rockets down Lakers
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, October 21, 2018

    James Harden scored 36 points, and Chris Paul added 28 points with 10 assists as the Houston Rockets spoiled LeBron James' home opener with the Los Angeles Lakers by earning a high-intensity 124-115 victory Saturday night.

    • Three players were ejected with 4:13 remaining after an on-court altercation that started after the Lakers' Brandon Ingram committed a hard foul on Harden. After the whistle, Paul and the Lakers' Rajon Rondo threw punches at each other, with Ingram also joining the fray. Paul, Rondo and Ingram all were ejected.

      James scored 24 points on his new home floor, adding five rebounds and five assists. James, who led the Cleveland Cavaliers to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, signed a four-year, $154 million deal with the Lakers in the offseason.

      The Rockets led 109-108 at the time of the on-court confrontation and put the game away afterward, getting a key 3-pointer from PJ Tucker with 2:31 remaining for a 117-112 lead. Harden added a 3-pointer of his own with 1:12 remaining to give Houston a 120-113 lead.

      Nuggets 119, Suns 91

      Nikola Jokic scored 11 of his game-high 35 points in an early runaway, helping host Denver blow out Phoenix in a battle of teams that had won their NBA openers.

      Jokic hit all 11 of his shots and completed his 17th career triple-double with game highs of 12 rebounds and 11 assists for the Nuggets, who were making their home debut after winning 107-98 in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Wednesday.

      Devin Booker had 25 points for the Suns, who had opened at home with an impressive 121-100 thumping of the Dallas on Wednesday.

      Trail Blazers 121, Spurs 108

      Damian Lillard put on a spectacular offensive display, and host Portland collected 75 points in the middle two quarters in beating San Antonio.

      Lillard scored 29 points and dished out nine assists with no turnovers, sinking 9 of 15 shots from the field, 3 of 6 from 3-point range and 8 of 8 from the free-throw line in just 30 minutes. CJ McCollum added 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting for the Blazers.

      DeMar DeRozan totaled 28 points and nine assists for the Spurs.

      Hornets 113, Heat 112

      Kemba Walker scored 39 points and hit a free throw with 0.5 seconds remaining to give Charlotte a bizarre win at Miami.

      Walker, who surpassed the career 10,000-point plateau early in the third quarter, was fouled as the Hornets played for the final shot with the score tied 112-112. He made the first free throw, then intentionally missed the second to allow the clock to expire.

      Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 21 points. Goran Dragic scored 20, Rodney McGruder 19 and Derrick Jones Jr. and Bam Adebayo had 12 each. The Heat played without four regulars -- Dion Waiters (knee), James Johnson (hernia), Justise Winslow (hamstring) and Wayne Ellington (ankle).

      Mavericks 140, Timberwolves 136

      Dennis Smith Jr. drained a step-back jumper and drew a foul for a three-point play with 6.1 seconds left to break a tie and lead Dallas to a wild win in its home opener against Minnesota, which was playing without the disenchanted Jimmy Butler on the second night of a back-to-back.

      The Mavs, after losing by 21 points at Phoenix in their season opener Wednesday, got 26 points from rookie Luka Doncic, who showed poise down the stretch that included two big baskets late in the fourth. Free agent acquisition DeAndre Jordan provided 22 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.

      The Wolves were led by Karl-Anthony Towns' 31 points and 28 from a rejuvenated Derrick Rose. They were the most points Rose has scored in a game since March 27, 2017.

      Pistons 118, Bulls 116

      Ish Smith made a finger roll with 5.4 seconds remaining, giving Detroit a victory over host Chicago.

      The game-winner came after Chicago scored five unanswered points to tie it. Following a timeout, Smith weaved past defenders and dropped in his layup. Zach LaVine, who led the Bulls with 33 points, then had a 3-point attempt swatted away by Blake Griffin, securing the Pistons' victory.

      Griffin finished with 33 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and one block. Reggie Jackson supplied 18 points and six assists while Smith had 15 points and five assists off the bench.

      Raptors 117, Wizards 113

      Kyle Lowry had 28 points and 12 assists, and visiting Toronto held off a late Washington rally.

      Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka scored 16 points apiece for Toronto, which improved to 3-0. The Raptors, playing the second of back-to-back games, gave forward Kawhi Leonard the night off.

      Washington was without center Dwight Howard (lower back), who missed his second game. Bradley Beal led the winless Wizards with 32 points, and John Wall added 25. Beal was 6 of 11 from 3-point range and passed Gilbert Arenas (868) for the franchise lead in 3-pointers.

      Celtics 103, Knicks 101

      Jayson Tatum scored all six points for Boston in the final minute and finished with a team-high 24 points in beating host New York.

      Tatum also had 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who have won two of three to open the season. Marcus Morris and Kyrie Irving had 16 points apiece for Boston while Aron Baynes and Terry Rozier had 10 points each.

      Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 24 points, and Enes Kanter had a double-double (17 points, 15 rebounds) for the Knicks, who have dropped two of three. Trey Burke added 11 points.

      76ers 116, Magic 115

      JJ Redick's eighth 3-pointer was the decisive basket with 17 seconds remaining as host Philadelphia edged Orlando on a night that saw 76ers point guard and reigning Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons leave in the first quarter with tightness in his back.

      Joel Embiid scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Redick added 31 points as the 76ers won their second straight game following a season-opening loss. Dario Saric added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Robert Covington scored 12 points for Philadelphia, which tied a franchise record with 17 3-pointers.

      Orlando's Evan Fournier made six 3-pointers and scored 31 points, and Nikola Vucevic registered 27 points, 13 rebounds and a career-best 12 assists for his second career triple-double. Aaron Gordon added 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Terrence Ross had 15 points off the bench for the Magic, who made 16 3-point baskets.

      Pacers 132, Nets 112

      Victor Oladipo scored a game-high 25 points -- one of nine Pacers in double figures -- and added four steals as host Indiana crushed Brooklyn.

      Oladipo, who was 10 of 20 from the floor, also had seven rebounds. Kyle O'Quinn finished with 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench, Bojan Bogdanovic and Tyreke Evans each scored 15 points and Myles Turner added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who won their eighth straight over the Nets.

      Joe Harris scored 19 points, hitting 5 of 6 of his 3-point shots, and Caris LeVert also finished with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting for Brooklyn. D'Angelo Russell added 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

      --Field Level Media

  • Knox sprains ankle in third game with Knicks
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 20, 2018

    New York Knicks rookie forward Kevin Knox needed to be helped off the court after rolling his left ankle Saturday against the Boston Celtics.

    • Knox sprained his ankle, but X-rays were negative. He was injured as he drove toward the rim and stepped awkwardly as he prepared to go up for a contested layup and was fouled by Terry Rozier III.

      Head coach David Fizdale didn't know if Knox would need an MRI. Knox's status to make the trip for the Knicks' game against the Bucks in Milwaukee on Monday is unclear.

      "Hopefully his 19-year-old healing body will kick in and he can heal pretty quick," Fizdale said. "Most 19-year-olds heal pretty fast."

      Teammates Noah Vonleh and Mario Hezonja helped to carry Knox off the floor and toward the locker room.

      "I had a real bad feeling in my gut when he went down," Fizdale said. "Where my angle was at I could see the thing basically hit the floor, roll to the floor. I knew right away when he stayed down that it was a [significant] one. I feel for the kid. He's had his fair share of adversity already. ... It's the roller coaster of our league. This is good for him. He's going to learn from this."

      The Knicks selected Knox out of Kentucky with the No. 9 overall pick in this summer's NBA draft. The lanky forward averaged 13.5 points in his first two games.

      Knox played only four minutes before going down against the Celtics. He missed his only field-goal attempt and made one of two free throws for one point.

      --Field Level Media

  • Sixers unsure of extent of Simmons' back injury
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 20, 2018

    Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons left Saturday night's home game against the Orlando Magic in the first quarter with back tightness and didn't return.

    • The extent of the injury wasn't immediately known after the game, but Philly.com reported that the team is expected to provide an update on Simmons on Monday. The 76ers' next game is Tuesday night in Detroit.

      Coach Brett Brown said after the game that he didn't think Simmons had been given an MRI.

      "I was told that his back was sore before the game, and they had manipulated it, just for me to be aware of it so I wasn't surprised," Brown said.

      Simmons, last season's Rookie of the Year, played eight minutes, getting four points and four assists.

      He played 43 and 34 minutes in the 76ers' first two games of the season, a loss in Boston on Tuesday and a home win against Chicago on Thursday.

      Against the Bulls, he put up a triple-double, with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

      "I don't believe it's serious," Brown told reporters when asked about Simmons' injury. "I would say it sways more on precautionary, but I'm just giving my opinion without any information from our doctors. I thought he played OK, but it was clear that something was going on."

      Simmons, 22, the first overall selection of the 2016 draft by the 76ers, sat out a season before taking the court last season, averaging 15.8 points, 8.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds in 33.7 minutes as Philadelphia made it to the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing to the Celtics.

      --Field Level Media

  • Grizzlies F Green (broken jaw) out 4-6 weeks
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 20, 2018

    Memphis Grizzlies power forward JaMychal Green had surgery to repair a broken jaw on Saturday, the team announced.

    • According to ESPN, Green will miss four to six weeks, and he won't be cleared for contact for about a month.

      Green was elbowed in the face during the team's home opener Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks. He finished with six points and five rebounds in 14 minutes after posting nine and seven, respectively, in 25 minutes in the season opener.

      Green already had battled left knee soreness and a sore left shoulder in the preseason. He missed time at the start of last season with a sprained ankle sustained in the 2017-18 home opener.

      The injury opens up a spot in the starting lineup for No. 4 overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr., who had 24 points, seven rebounds and two blocks against the Hawks. The 19-year-old had 10 points, five rebounds and three steals in the season opener.

      --Field Level Media

  • Celtics' Hayward sitting out vs. Knicks
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 20, 2018

    Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward won't play in Saturday night's game against the New York Knicks as the team manages his comeback from last season's broken left ankle.

    • The Celtics said Hayward won't play against the Knicks in the second game of a back-to-back. Boston lost to the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

      Hayward scored 14 points in 24 minutes against the Raptors.

      "I felt like I found a little bit of rhythm there in the second half," Hayward told reporters after the game. "It was a good start for me. Each game will be progress."

      Hayward is averaging 12 points on 10-of-25 shooting in his first two games. He admits that he is searching for his comfort level.

      "There's times where it still feels like I'm not playing like myself. I'm thinking too much out there," Hayward said. "I felt like I was doing that in the first half a little bit."

      Hayward is expected back in the lineup for Monday's game against the Orlando Magic.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: NBA, NBPA one-and-done talks hit snag
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 20, 2018

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver hopes to have an agreement in place with the players union that will allow graduating high school seniors to enter the league again by the 2022 draft, but talks with the players union have stalled over players' medical records, according to ESPN.

    • The "one-and-done" rule, requiring players to be one year removed from their high school graduating class, went into effect in 2005.

      Silver reportedly wants to make sure that agents representing players coming out of high school furnish medical records for their clients to all NBA teams -- not just the teams they want their clients to land with.

      The league also wants players to take part in the pre-draft scouting combine.

      Silver is negotiating with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts to modify the collective bargaining agreement the sides reached in 2016.

      "We're investing millions of dollars into players who we'll now have even less information about coming out of high school, and we should have the right to have all the information available on who we are selecting," an unnamed general manager was quoted saying by ESPN.

      Agents are hoping Roberts holds strong, suggesting the access to medical information is the only leverage the players have in the draft process.

      "Some organizations are run better than others," one agent said. "A lot of success comes from a player getting into the right situation at the right time. If I can do something that influences that, why would I give that up?"

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: Butler jeered, cheered in Wolves win
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 20, 2018

    Jimmy Butler scored 33 points on 10-of-12 shooting during his first home contest of the season to help the Minnesota Timberwolves post a 131-123 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night in Minneapolis.

    • Butler was heartily booed in pregame introductions, stemming from his trade request and vow not to re-sign with the Timberwolves. He hit all 12 of his free throws -- later receiving "M-V'-P" chants while he was at the line -- and also contributed seven rebounds and four steals in 36 minutes.

      Andrew Wiggins added 22 points and Taj Gibson had 13 points for Minnesota, which shot 50.6 percent from the field and made 33 of 35 free throws. Four other players scored in double digits: Karl-Anthony Towns and Derrick Rose each scored 12 points, and Gorgui Dieng and Anthony Tolliver had 11.

      Kevin Love had 25 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists for the Cavaliers. Cedi Osman recorded 22 points and eight assists, Jordan Clarkson scored 19 points while Collin Sexton and Tristan Thompson (10 rebounds) had 14 points apiece.

      Raptors 113, Celtics 101

      Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points -- 22 in the second half -- and added 10 rebounds to help Toronto defeat visiting Boston.

      Serge Ibaka added 21 points for the Raptors while Kyle Lowry had 15 points, Danny Green 14 and Fred VanVleet 11.

      Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 21 points, and Jayson Tatum added 16 points with nine rebounds. Al Horford had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Boston while Gordon Hayward also scored 14 points and Jaylen Brown had 13.

      Warriors 124, Jazz 123

      Jonas Jerebko tipped in a missed basket by Kevin Durant with 0.3 seconds left to help visiting Golden State escape with a win over Utah.

      Jerebko's basket capped a rally from a 16-point third-quarter deficit for the Warriors. Durant scored 38 points, collected nine rebounds and dished out seven assists to lead the way. Stephen Curry added 31 points and eight assists.

      Joe Ingles scored 27 points, Donovan Mitchell added 19 and Jae Crowder chipped in 17 off the bench for the Jazz. Utah made a franchise record 10 3-pointers in the second quarter.

      Pelicans 149, Kings 129

      Nikola Mirotic scored a career-high 36 points as New Orleans set a franchise record for scoring in winning its home opener against Sacramento.

      Mirotic led eight double-figure scorers for the Pelicans, who opened the season with a 131-112 win against Houston on Wednesday. They have started 2-0 for the first time since 2011-12.

      Anthony Davis had 25 points, 10 rebounds and six assists; Jrue Holiday had 15 points, 10 assists and three steals; Elfrid Payton scored 11; and E'Twaun Moore 10 as all five New Orleans starters had at least 10 points. Willie Cauley-Stein led the Kings in scoring for the second consecutive game, totaling 20 points.

      Bucks 118, Pacers 101

      Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 26 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and dished out five assists as Milwaukee opened up its new home, Fiserv Forum, with a win over Indiana.

      Antetokounmpo recorded a double-double in the first-half, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds as the Bucks took control after a shaky start and never looked back. The Bucks' starting backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon combined for 27 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists.

      Victor Oladipo scored 25 points to lead the Pacers.

      Nets 107, Knicks 105

      Caris LeVert scored 15 of his career-high 28 points in the fourth quarter and hit the tiebreaking layup with one second remaining as Brooklyn made its home opener a success and beat New York.

      LeVert snapped a 105-105 deadlock by showing some quickness and a strong finish at the rim after getting the inbounds pass from Joe Harris. He began his drive above the 3-point line at the top of the key and drove around former University of Michigan teammate Tim Hardaway Jr.

      After New York called timeout, the game ended when Hardaway's long 3-point attempt clanged off the rim. Hardaway and Enes Kanter led all scorers with 29 points.

      Clippers 108, Thunder 92

      Tobias Harris scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Danilo Gallinari also scored 26 as Los Angeles started fast but still needed a second-half rally to beat visiting Oklahoma City.

      The Clippers came back from a nine-point deficit in the second half for the victory, after roaring out to a 16-0 lead to open the game. Lou Williams scored 17 points off the bench for the Clippers while Marcin Gortat had 12 rebounds.

      Paul George scored 20 points, and Steven Adams added 17 points with 18 rebounds to lead the Thunder, who were without Russell Westbrook for the second straight game. Westbrook, who underwent a knee procedure, could possibly be available for Sunday's home opener against Sacramento.

      Hornets 120, Magic 88

      Kemba Walker scored 26 points, all in the first three quarters, and Charlotte continued its mastery over host Orlando with a rout.

      The victory was the Hornets' first of the season and the first for new coach James Borrego. It came at the expense of Magic coach Steve Clifford, who coached the Hornets the last five seasons before being let go last spring.

      Charlotte has now beaten Orlando 12 straight times dating to 2015, a franchise record for the Hornets against any opponent.

      Grizzlies 131, Hawks 117

      Garrett Temple scored 30 points and helped Memphis set a pair of franchise scoring records in its rout of visiting Atlanta.

      The Grizzlies broke the previous franchise record of 117 for most points scored in a home opener. They broke the franchise mark for points in a first half when they scored 77, besting the previous mark by three points.

      Temple went 10-for-11 from the field and 5-for-6 on 3-pointers and added four rebounds. Rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. came off the bench to add 24 points -- shooting 8-for-12 -- with seven rebounds in his home debut. The Hawks got 28 points on 10-for-15 shooting from Taurean Prince and 20 points and nine assists from rookie Trae Young.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wolves fans jeer, cheer Butler in home opener
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, October 20, 2018

    Timberwolves fans greeted Jimmy Butler with hearty boos before Minnesota's home opener on Friday night, a 131-123 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they were chanting a different tune not long afterward.

    • Butler, who has demanded a trade amid reports of dissatisfaction with some of his younger teammates and is making it known that he won't re-sign with the team, scored 33 points and added seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.

      By the midpoint of the second quarter, fans were chanting "M-V-P" when Butler came to the foul line.

      "I knew it was going to happen," Butler told reporters postgame. "I knew they were going to switch up on me. It's part of it. I think there's probably some more boos to come one of these days."

      Butler added that he enjoyed being the villain. During pregame introductions, he walked past owner Glen Taylor, who was greeting the team's other players.

      "I love it. I love it," Butler said. "I think people kind of love to hate me sometimes. Say whatever you want to say, but it really makes me smile, what people think about me. But no matter what, you gotta respect my effort."

      In the past week, when Butler has had heated arguments with teammates at one practice and continued his verbal criticism against the front office, he even encouraged fans to express their dissatisfaction with him over his dispute with the team.

      "Jimmy doesn't care," teammate Tyus Jones said. "He handles his business when he's on the court. Boos, cheers, whatever."

      In the Wolves' season-opening 112-108 loss to San Antonio on Wednesday night, Butler began filling in the stat sheet, finishing with 23 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.

      Afterward, he said that if a trade "comes to be, it comes to be, there's nothing I can do about that." Butler added, "In the meantime, I've got to figure out a way to help us win some games."

      While still with Bulls in 2016, Butler signed a five-year, $92.3 million contract that has two more years remaining. He can opt out after this season.

      "You're allowed to dislike me, but you can't say I'm a bad person and I don't play to win," Butler said. "That's all that matters. You all don't get the juicy parts of the story. The part you do get, you all do a great job of making me seem like the bad guy, by the way. But it is what it is."

      --Field Level Media

  • OKC's Westbrook ruled out Friday vs. Clippers
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 19, 2018

    Russell Westbrook will be on the bench again Friday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder meet the Los Angeles Clippers.

    • Westbrook had a tough individual workout after the team's shootaround at UCLA on Friday, then met with the Thunder's medical staff. It was agreed that he would delay his season debut until at least Sunday against the Sacramento Kings.

      Westbrook continues to recover from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee and missed the season opener Tuesday, a 108-100 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

      He underwent the procedure on Sept. 12.

      Prior to Tuesday, Westbrook had missed just four games total over the past three seasons. He holds career averages of 23.0 points, 8.2 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game in 748 games, averaging a triple-double in each of the past two seasons and winning the 2016-17 MVP award.

      Westbrook turns 30 in November.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: LeBron loses Lakers debut at Portland
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 19, 2018

    Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 49 points, and Nik Stauskas matched his career high with 24 points in his first appearance in a Portland uniform, leading the Trail Blazers past the visiting Los Angeles Lakers 128-119 Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.

    • LeBron James collected 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in his first game as a Laker. Josh Hart had 20 points for the Lakers, who got 13 points and 11 assists from Rajon Rondo in his team debut. Los Angeles shot 48.4 percent from the field but was only 7 of 30 on 3-point attempts.

      Lillard scored 28 points, McCollum chipped in 21, and Jusuf Nuric added 16 points and nine rebounds in just 17 minutes for the Trail Blazers. Portland won its home opener for an NBA-record 18th straight time and ran its streak of consecutive victories over the Lakers to 16 dating to 2013.

      Heat 113, Wizards 112

      Kelly Olynyk followed up Dwyane Wade's miss with 0.2 seconds remaining, and Miami pulled out a win at Washington.

      Wade's 22-footer over John Wall bounced high into the air, and Olynyk (nine points) went up in a crowd, came down with the rebound and laid it in. Wall's inbounds pass was deflected as time expired, and the Heat prevailed in a game that featured 21 lead changes.

      Josh Richardson led Miami, which lost its opener Wednesday night, with 28 points. Rodney McGruder added 20. Wall led the Wizards with 26 points and nine assists in their opener. Bradley Beal scored 20 despite being limited by foul trouble.

      76ers 127, Bulls 108

      Ben Simmons produced a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, and eight Philadelphia players scored in double figures during a win over visiting Chicago.

      Joel Embiid scored 30 points and swept 12 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double for the 76ers, who responded after a season-opening, 18-point loss Tuesday in Boston. Robert Covington added 20 for Philadelphia.

      Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 30 points while Bobby Portis added 20 points and 11 rebounds.

      --Field Level Media

  • Riley: Heat 'pulling the plug' on Butler trade talks
    By Field Level Media / Friday, October 19, 2018

    Miami Heat president of basketball operations Pat Riley told the team's players that he is "pulling the plug" on trade talks involving Jimmy Butler, multiple media outlets reported Thursday.

    • Butler, the disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves star, requested a trade before finally reporting for the start of his final season before he hits free agency. Discussions between Minnesota and Miami reportedly hit a snag last week.

      Riley reportedly updated the Heat players on the situation Sunday.

      Heat point guard Goran Dragic told the Miami Herald regarding Riley's comments, "It calms you down, for sure, a little bit. Of course, everybody is talking, including me. I just want to focus on my job. But deep down, it affects you a little bit.

      "I want to stay here. I like it, really. So when Pat came after practice and sat us down and we had a small meeting, he told us that (the trade talks are off), and you can feel a little bit of relief. But that doesn't mean in the near future it can't happen. So we still need to do our job. We still need to be professionals."

      Riley also refuted media reports that indicated he cut off his talks with Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau in a profanity-laced tirade.

      In a statement issued Thursday, Riley said: "As to what has been reported in the past 24 hours, I have too much respect for Tom Thibodeau and all that he's accomplished in this league. Our conversations have been nothing but cordial and I have never used that kind of language in negotiations."

      The Heat lost 104-101 at Orlando in their season opener Wednesday, then won 113-112 at Washington on Thursday.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wizards C Howard (back) to miss season opener
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 18, 2018

    New Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard will miss the team's season opener against the Miami Heat due to a lower back injury.

    • "He's close, but we don't feel like he is quite there yet," Wizards coach Scott Brooks told reporters before the game Thursday.

      Ian Mahinmi replaced Howard in the starting lineup.

      Howard missed all of training camp and the team's exhibition games before returning to practice on Monday.

      The Wizards host the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.

      Howard, a 14-year veteran, signed with the Wizards for two years and $11 million with a player option for the second year. The 32-year-old has averaged 17.4 points, 12.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in his career, though his numbers have dipped in recent years.

      When he gets on the court for Washington, Howard will be playing for his fourth team in four seasons and the sixth team of his career.

      Last season, Howard appeared in 81 of 82 games, all starts, in his lone season with the Charlotte Hornets. He averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game.

      Selected first overall in the 2004 draft by the Magic, Howard spent eight seasons in Orlando before he began bouncing around the NBA. He played one year for the Los Angeles Lakers, three for the Houston Rockets and one for his hometown Atlanta Hawks before landing in Charlotte.

      --Field Level Media

  • New city, same goal for LeBron: a championship
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 18, 2018

    LeBron James had a message for his new coach, Luke Walton, after the Los Angeles Lakers' shootaround Thursday morning: He doesn't want to rest.

    • "I'm always fresh," James said in advance of the team's season opener in Portland, per ESPN. "All my coaches want to figure out a way of how to lessen my minutes. I keep telling them I'm strong enough to play most minutes."

      James, who turns 34 in December, is entering his 16th NBA season. Walton said earlier this week that James would see a "reasonable" amount of court time for the Lakers. Last year, with Cleveland, he led the NBA with 36.9 minutes per game.

      "LeBron will play a lot of minutes, yes," Walton said Thursday. "It will be a consistent theme for us this year."

      Walton said James isn't showing signs of slowing down.

      "I told him ... that his legs seem to be getting younger as training camp goes on," Walton said. "It normally works the other way. But he's jumping higher, he's moving quicker the more we get out there and play. So it's like I said: There's one game tonight. We're obviously excited to be playing regular-season games now, but he looks very good."

      The Lakers aren't thought to have much of a chance to surpass Golden State or Houston in the NBA's Western Conference. Still, James said he is looking for a fourth NBA championship ring.

      "It's just my goal. It's always been my goal ... maybe the last 10 or 11 years where I felt like it's championships," James said. "I want to win championships, and putting my mind into that and thinking about it. I think when you have championship habits, you have championship thoughts, and things come into fruition.

      "Obviously there's only one champion at the end of the road, and you can't dictate wins and losses, things of that nature, but you can approach every day like a champion. And if you do that, you put yourself in a position to be successful. Either individually or as a team, or whatever the case is."

      --Field Level Media

  • Bulls PG Dunn absent for 'personal matter'
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 18, 2018

    Chicago Bulls point guard Kris Dunn will miss the team's season opener Thursday night at Philadelphia to attend to a "personal matter," coach Fred Hoiberg announced.

    • That means the Bulls will be without two-fifths of their starting lineup. Forward Lauri Markkanen sprained his elbow in training camp and isn't expected back until late November.

      Hoiberg did not say how long Dunn, 24, is expected to be away from the team.

      "Yeah, obviously we've been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,'" Hoiberg said. "They come up and you just have to adjust the best you can. We're still going to go out there and hopefully play with great effort, great intensity. It's going to have to be what we do if we want to have a chance in this game against Philly in their home opener.

      "It's going to be electric in here, and they're going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That's who they are and we have to be ready for that. It's a little bit of shock and awe with this team where you've got to weather that first storm, and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.''

      Cameron Payne will start in place of Dunn.

      "Obviously, this is a big opportunity for me," Payne said. "I'm just going to play my hardest every night, do the best I can."

      The Bulls acquired Dunn before the 2017-18 season as part of the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. In 52 games (43 starts) with the Bulls last season, Dunn averaged 13.4 points and 6.0 assists in 29.3 minutes.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA roundup: DeRozan leads Spurs past Butler, Wolves
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, October 18, 2018

    DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 28 points in his San Antonio debut, and four of his teammates scored in double figures as the host Spurs held off the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-108 Wednesday in one of 11 of the night's season openers.

    • DeRozan, acquired in the offseason trade that sent Kawhi Leonard to Toronto, scored the final four points of the game after Minnesota rallied for a 108-108 tie on Jimmy Butler's 3-pointer in the final minute.

      LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 points and a game-high 19 rebounds for the Spurs, who also received 18 points from Rudy Gay.

      Butler, who was away from the team for much of the preseason after requesting a trade, was in the starting lineup and scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 31 minutes. Jeff Teague led the Timberwolves with 27 points, and Andrew Wiggins added 20.

      Raptors 116, Cavaliers 104

      Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his Toronto debut in defeating visiting Cleveland.

      Kyle Lowry had 27 points and eight assists for the Raptors. Fred VanVleet added 14 points, Pascal Siakam had 13 points and Danny Green chipped in with 11. Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 12 rebounds. Leonard and Green were acquired by Toronto from the Spurs in a July trade.

      Kevin Love scored 21 points and added seven rebounds for the Cavaliers, and Cedi Osman had 17 points and 10 rebounds. George Hill and Jordan Clarkson each added 15 points, and Rodney Hood scored 12.

      Pelicans 131, Rockets 112

      Anthony Davis had 32 points and 16 rebounds, and Elfrid Payton had a triple-double as retooled New Orleans routed host Houston.

      Payton, one of two key offseason acquisitions, had 10 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, and the other key pick-up, forward Julius Randle, had 25 points off the bench. Nikola Mirotic added 30 points, including 6 of 8 3-pointers, and 10 rebounds, E'Twaun Moore scored 21 points and Jrue Holiday had 10.

      Eric Gordon came off the bench to lead the Houston with 21 points, and PJ Tucker and Chris Paul had 19 points each. James Harden (18 points, 10 assists) fell a rebound shy of a triple-double. Carmelo Anthony finished with nine points off the bench in his Houston debut.

      Bucks 113, Hornets 112

      Giannis Antetokounmpo came within two assists of a triple-double as Milwaukee, in Mike Budenholzer's first game as coach, held on to defeat host Charlotte, with James Borrego debuting as its coach.

      Antetokounmpo, who finished with 25 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists, hit two free throws with 23.7 seconds remaining to give the Bucks the lead for good at 113-112. The Bucks then held on as Charlotte's Kemba Walker missed a short jumper and Nicolas Batum missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

      The Bucks led by as many as 20 on several occasions in the first half but had to come from behind in the final minute after Walker, who scored 41 points, rallied the Hornets. He hit two free throws with 36.3 seconds left for a 112-111 Charlotte lead.

      Knicks 126, Hawks 107

      Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 16 of his game-high 31 points during host New York's 49-point second quarter in an easy win over Atlanta.

      Hardaway led a whopping seven players in double figures for the Knicks. Enes Kanter (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Noah Vonleh (12 points, 10 rebounds) had double-doubles while Trey Burke, Mario Hezonja and Allonzo Trier had 15 points each. Rookie first-round pick Kevin Knox added 10 points on 4-for-16 shooting in his NBA debut.

      Taurean Prince led the Hawks with 21 points, Kent Bazemore and rookie Trae Young added 14 points apiece and 41-year-old Vince Carter, the oldest player in the NBA, chipped in 12 points. Jeremy Lin, the one-time Knicks phenom, scored eight points in his return to Madison Square Garden.

      Pistons 103, Nets 100

      Andre Drummond totaled 24 points, 20 rebounds and came up with a significant defensive play in the final seconds as Detroit held off visiting Brooklyn to make a winner of new coach Dwane Casey.

      Drummond produced his 52nd career 20-20 game, but it was his defense that gave the Pistons a win in Casey's debut with the team. With 15 seconds to play, the Pistons held a 101-100 lead and the Nets had a chance to go ahead, but Drummond forced a turnover.

      After Drummond's defensive stand, Reggie Jackson hit two free throws with 6.2 seconds left. The Nets' Joe Harris missed a well-contested 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Blake Griffin secured the rebound. Griffin led the Pistons with 26 points while adding eight rebounds and six assists, while Brooklyn's Caris LeVert led all scorers with 27.

      Pacers 111, Grizzlies 83

      Indiana held Memphis to 18 points in the first 17 minutes of its season, running off to a big lead and coasting to victory in Indianapolis.

      Bojan Bogdanovic hit his first six shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, en route to a team-high 19 points, and Victor Oladipo added 16 as the Pacers blew out a Grizzlies team they had struggled to sweep in the two-game season series last year.

      Despite missing nine of his 11 shots, Marc Gasol led Memphis with 13 points.

      Magic 104, Heat 101

      Aaron Gordon had 26 points and 16 rebounds, leading host Orlando past Miami.

      With the Heat trailing by one point and just 2.3 seconds left, Miami's Josh Richardson stepped out of bounds while trying to make a baseline drive, allowing Orlando to hold on for the win.

      Gordon made 9 of 18 shots from the floor, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Magic backup center Mohamed Bamba, the sixth player selected in the 2018 NBA Draft, had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in his league debut.

      Jazz 123, Kings 117

      Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points while Joe Ingles added 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, lifting Utah to a victory at Sacramento.

      Rudy Gobert added 19 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks for the Jazz. Derrick Favors chipped in 18 points and nine rebounds. Utah overcame a 16-point first-half deficit behind 39 bench points -- 13 apiece for Alec Burks, Dante Exum and Jae Crowder -- and 48.1 percent shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.

      Willie Cauley-Stein scored 23 points to lead the Kings. De'Aaron Fox added 21 points, Buddy Hield chipped in 19, and Nemanja Bjelica had 18.

      Suns 121, Mavericks 100

      Devin Booker poured in 19 of his game-high 35 points during the crucial fourth quarter, including 14 in a row, as host Phoenix staved off Dallas. The new-look Suns trailed just once in the game, 2-0.

      Phoenix's Deandre Ayton started his NBA career with a double-double, notching 18 points, on 8-of-11 shooting, and 10 rebounds while adding six assists and a steal. Free agent signee Trevor Ariza scored 21 points and drained five 3-pointers as the Suns hit 19 of 34 from beyond the arc.

      Dallas, just 10 of 33 from behind the arc, was led by reserve forward Dwight Powell's 16 points. His eight fourth-quarter points finally sparked the Mavs, who trailed 99-94 with five minutes to play before getting outscored 22-6.

      Nuggets 107, Clippers 98

      Nikola Jokic scored 21 points, including a tiebreaking put-back with 1:24 left, and Denver rallied to win at Los Angeles.

      Gary Harris had 20 points, and Will Barton scored 19 for the Nuggets, who scored eight straight points in the final 90 seconds to pull away for the victory.

      Tobias Harris led the Clippers with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Boban Marjanovic scored 18 points, and Danilo Gallinari finished with 16 points before fouling out.

      --Field Level Media

  • Nuggets, coach Malone agree to contract extension
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    Michael Malone, who was about to head into the final year of his contract as the Denver Nuggets' coach, gained some job security Wednesday.

    • Before the Nuggets played their opener against the Los Angeles Clippers, they handed Malone a contract extension. The team didn't announce the terms of the deal, but multiple media outlets reported it is for two years, putting him under contract through 2020-21.

      "As these conversations have been ongoing, I never let it affect my approach," Malone said Wednesday morning, according to the Denver Post. "Whether I have an extension or I don't have an extension, I'm not going to coach any differently. I only know one way.

      "I'm fully committed, I'm excited to be here, and I want to be here and to have an ownership group and a front office that feels the same way is great. And as I mentioned, humbling is the best word I can come up with. Now it's OK, taking care of business."

      Denver forward Paul Millsap told the Post of Malone, "I'm very happy for him. He definitely deserved it for what he's done over the course of the years. Now practices won't be as tough. But to see a smile on his face this morning, to see how amped he is about the season, it makes you want to get out there and win games for him. You want a guy like that to succeed."

      The Nuggets barely missed the playoffs last season, finishing ninth in the Western Conference at 46-36. That was Malone's third year on the job, after he guided Denver to 33 wins in 2015-16 and 40 in 2016-17.

      Malone, 47, previously had a 39-67 record in 1 1/2 seasons as the Sacramento Kings head coach. He also had stints as an assistant for the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, New Orleans Hornets and Golden State Warriors.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wolves owner on Thibodeau: 'I have faith in him'
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    After a rocky preseason that included sparring for control with coach Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor extended an olive branch.

    • Taylor said Thibodeau has his full support and his job is not on the line this season.

      Taylor and Thibodeau disagreed over whether to trade disgruntled star Jimmy Butler, with Thibodeau trying to reconcile with Butler and Taylor demanding to trade him. In a wide-ranging interview Tuesday with the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis, which Taylor also owns, he cleared the air about Thibodeau.

      The Timberwolves have yet to find a trading partner for Butler, though efforts are continuing. Taylor was asked how he thought Thibodeau had dealt with the situation.

      "Well, I'm OK with it," Taylor said. "Initially, when Butler told [Thibodeau] he wanted to leave, you know Tom did everything he could to try to keep Jimmy here and I understand that. They have a close relationship.

      "Thibs brought him here so that he would stay here. But eventually I think that in listening to Jimmy, Thibs and I are lined up on this. We need to be looking at a trade."

      The Timberwolves open the season tonight at San Antonio, and Taylor said that's where the focus should be for Thibodeau. who has three years remaining on a five-year contract worth about $40 million he signed in April 2016. He said he has no regrets.

      "He is a good coach and I have faith in him," Taylor said.

      In Thibodeau's first two seasons, the Timberwolves finished 31-51 in 2016-17 and 47-35 last season. As the No. 8 seed in the playoffs, the Timberwolves lost to Houston in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

      --Field Level Media

  • Warriors receive reversible title rings
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    The latest batch of Golden State Warriors championship rings, handed out Tuesday before the team's season opener, feature a flashy new gimmick.

    • The top of each ring is reversible, allowing the wearer to decide whether to display 74 blue sapphires or 74 white diamonds. The number represents the Warriors' win total in 2017-18, regular season and postseason combined.

      When the top is unscrewed to facilitate the sapphire-diamond flip, the team's "Strength in Numbers" logo is unveiled in the middle.

      The player's name and number are on one side that bears 56 stones, symbolic of the team's number of years spent in the Bay Area. The top, in addition to the sapphires or diamonds, has the player's number and a depiction of the Bay Bridge.

      The sides also bear the numbers 4-1, 4-1, 4-3, 4-0, the scores of Golden State's four playoff series wins last spring.

      The players got their hardware ahead of a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, with NBA commissioner Adam Silver participating in the ceremony.

      Star guard Stephen Curry said to the crowd, "Last year was an unbelievable journey for Golden State and we can't thank you enough for your support. All year long, we do it for you guys. So let's celebrate it to the fullest."

      Curry also presented a ring to director of team operations Eric Housen, who has been with the Warriors for 30 years but wasn't awarded the jewelry after the club's previous title seasons.

      The Warriors, who swept the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals this year, have won three of the past four NBA championships.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wolves owner: Butler to play hard while awaiting trade
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, October 17, 2018

    Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and disgruntled swingman Jimmy Butler have reached something of a truce.

    • Speaking Tuesday to the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune, which he also owns, Taylor said he assured Butler that the team would continue seeking to fulfill the player's request for a trade, and that Butler agreed he would play hard for the Timberwolves as long as he is with the club.

      "The latest is he is going to be going to practice every day, which he has been, and plans to play in games," Taylor told his newspaper. "He will be a regular team player. What I said to him in the meantime is our GM, Scott Layden, will be talking to other teams to see if there is a trade that works."

      As for playing with full effort, "(Butler) said that is the only way he knows how to do it," Taylor said.

      Butler can be a free agent next summer, but Taylor doesn't anticipate the 29-year-old Marquette product remaining in Minnesota through the entire season.

      "That is not part of the plan, but as you know, things can change," Taylor said. "But that is not what we have agreed to."

      The Timberwolves reportedly were close to a deal with the Miami Heat last week, but negotiations broke down, according to multiple media outlets.

      After six seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Butler joined the Timberwolves last season. He appeared in 59 games in 2017-18, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals.

      For his career, Butler has averages of 16.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 steals in 458 games (353 starts). He is a four-time All-Star and a four-time NBA All-Defensive team selection, and he was selected the league's Most Improved Player in 2014-15.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Westbrook out for opener
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was ruled out for the Tuesday night opener at the Golden State Warriors as he continues to recover from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

    • Westbrook underwent the procedure on Sept. 12 and was slated to be re-evaluated in four weeks, which was last Wednesday, but coach Billy Donovan told reporters Tuesday the seven-time All-Star would miss the opener. Dennis Schroder likely will start in Westbrook's absence.

      Meanwhile, big man Steven Adams also could miss the opener due to lower back stiffness, which kept him out of practice Monday. Donovan indicated Adams would be a game-time decision in Oakland, Calif.

      Westbrook, who turns 30 in November, has missed just four games total over the past three seasons. He holds career averages of 23.0 points, 8.2 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game in 748 games, averaging a triple-double in each of the past two seasons and winning the 2016-17 MVP award.

      --Brooklyn Nets forward DeMarre Carroll underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle, the team announced.

      No timetable was revealed per Carroll's recovery period. Coach Kenny Atkinson said Carroll would be sidelined indefinitely.

      Carroll has been bothered by soreness in the ankle, and an MRI exam led to the decision to have a procedure now as opposed to having him attempt to play through it. The 32-year-old posted career-best averages of 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds last season in his first campaign with the Nets.

      --WNBA All-Star Kristi Toliver has landed a pretty solid offseason job: assistant coach for player development of the Washington Wizards.

      The Wizards announced Toliver's hiring as part of a staff revamping two days before they open the NBA season against the Miami Heat on Thursday.

      Toliver, 31, just completed her 10th WNBA campaign and helped the Washington Mystics reach the WNBA Finals before losing to the Seattle Storm. The two-time All-Star has career averages of 12.3 points and 3.4 assists during her WNBA career.

      --The Los Angeles Lakers exercised 2019-20 team options on Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, the team announced.

      The expected moves put Ball, Kuzma and Hart under contract through their third NBA seasons and Ingram through his fourth.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wizards hire WNBA player Toliver as assistant coach
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    WNBA All-Star Kristi Toliver has landed a pretty solid offseason job: assistant coach for player development of the Washington Wizards.

    • The Wizards announced Toliver's hiring on Tuesday as part of a staff revamping two days before they open the NBA season against the Miami Heat on Thursday.

      "This is the opportunity of a lifetime," Toliver told reporters. "When it came about, I wanted to be involved in any capacity that I could."

      Toliver, 31, just completed her 10th WNBA campaign and helped the Washington Mystics reach the WNBA Finals before losing to the Seattle Storm. The two-time All-Star has career averages of 12.3 points and 3.4 assists during her WNBA career.

      She admits it is different being a coach, particularly since she is used to having the ball in her hands as a player.

      "I'd much rather be playing, I know that," Toliver said. "But it's good to think the game in a different way and from a different point of view."

      Washington coach Scott Brooks liked what he saw of Toliver when she was serving as a coach during scrimmages. The loss of two assistant coaches in the offseason helped open a spot for Toliver.

      "She's a special talent," Brooks told reporters. "She's going to be moving through the ranks pretty quick."

      The Wizards also officially named former NBA player Robert Pack and Ryan Richman as assistant coaches.

      --Field Level Media

  • Thunder's Westbrook out for opener; Adams uncertain
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook was ruled out for Tuesday night's opener at the Golden State Warriors as he continues to recover from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

    • Westbrook underwent the procedure on Sept. 12 and was slated to be re-evaluated in four weeks, which was last Wednesday, but coach Billy Donovan told reporters Tuesday the seven-time All-Star would miss the opener. Dennis Schroder will likely start in Westbrook's absence.

      Meanwhile, big man Steven Adams could also miss the opener due to lower back stiffness, which kept him out of Monday's practice. Donovan indicated Adams will be a game-time decision against Golden State.

      Westbrook, who turns 30 in November, has missed just four games total over the last three seasons. He holds career averages of 23.0 points, 8.2 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game in 748 games, averaging a triple-double in each of the last two seasons and winning the 2016-17 MVP award.

      Adams, 25, averaged 13.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game while starting 76 games last season.

      The Thunder's second game of the season is Friday at the L.A. Clippers.

      --Field Level Media

  • Nets F Carroll sidelined after ankle surgery
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    Brooklyn Nets forward DeMarre Carroll underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle Tuesday, the team announced.

    • No timetable was revealed per Carroll's recovery period. Earlier Tuesday, coach Kenny Atkinson said Carroll will be sidelined indefinitely.

      Carroll has been bothered by soreness in the ankle, and an MRI exam led to the decision to have a procedure now as opposed to Carroll attempting to play through it.

      "I don't think it's a huge thing," Atkinson said of the surgery. "It was something where we could go back and forth or get this thing cleaned up and get him feeling 100 percent, so, you know, it is what it is.

      "I think we have a deeper roster this year. I think we can cover during his absence, but just not great news for DeMarre or us, but we've got to push forward."

      Carroll, 32, posted career-best averages of 13.5 points and 6.6 rebounds last season in his first campaign with the Nets.

      He won't be the only player sidelined when the Nets open the season on the road against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. Swingman Allen Crabbe (ankle) and point guard Shabazz Napier (hamstring) will also miss the contest.

      Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) is a game-time decision. He missed the entire preseason due to the injury he suffered in early August.

      "Rondae is to be determined," Atkinson said. "I think still we're going to give him a last run tomorrow morning and see what that looks like, so I'm not going to make a determination on that."

      --Field Level Media

  • Lakers exercise options on Ball, Ingram, Hart, Kuzma
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    The Los Angeles Lakers exercised 2019-20 team options on Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Brandon Ingram, the team announced Tuesday.

    • The expected moves put Ball, Kuzma and Hart under contract through their third NBA seasons and Ingram through his fourth.

      Ball was a second-team All-Rookie selection despite missing 30 games due to injury, after averaging 10.2 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds in 34.9 minutes per game.

      Kuzma, who was taken 25 picks after Ball at No. 27 overall, was a first-team All-Rookie selection after averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 31.2 minutes per game across 77 games (37 starts).

      Hart averaged 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds in 23.2 minutes per game as a rookie last season. He was named Summer League MVP for his performance in Las Vegas in July.

      Ingram, the second overall pick in 2016, took a leap in his sophomore season, averaging 16.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists after figures of 9.0, 4.0 and 2.1, respectively, as a rookie.

      --Field Level Media

  • Knicks free up 'max' cash by delaying Porzingis extension
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    When the New York Knicks go shopping for the best of a prime free agent class in July, general manager Steve Mills will have a few extra zeroes available by delaying a contract extension for Kristaps Porzingis.

    • Porzingis could get an extension next summer, when he will be a restricted free agent and the Knicks are projected to have just more than $30 million available under the salary cap.

      New York is within striking distance of a max contract, which would command $32.7 million in cap space for a player who has 7-9 years experience.

      The 2019 free agent crop currently includes Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, Golden State Warriors teammates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler and Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard. Irving has said he wants to sign a long-term deal to remain in Boston.

      As for Porzingis, he might not play until February as he continues to recover from a left knee injury.

      "I'm hungry," Porzingis said at the team's media day. "I want to be on the court as soon as possible. It's good that I have a good team around me, holding me back when I need to be held back, telling me I need to be patient. It's a long process, already 7 1/2 months.

      "I'm getting itchy. But it won't happen until I am 110 percent and medically cleared."

      The 7-foot-3 Latvian wouldn't rule out missing the entire season, offering only "it's hard to say" when asked about the possibility.

      Porzingis injured his knee in February and missed the remainder of last season. The team has been steadfast about not rushing him back, and team president Steve Mills reiterated that stance last month, saying, "We're not taking any risks with him."

      The 23-year-old Porzingis said he is not thinking about a potential contract extension.

      In 48 games last season, Porzingis averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Entering his fourth season, he has career averages of 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.