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Reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook has signed a contract extension to stay with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team's Executive Vice President Sam Presti said on Friday.
Terms were not disclosed but several media outlets reported the extension was worth $205 million.
The contract begins with the 2018-19 season, running through the 2022-23 campaign, and gives Westbrook the biggest guaranteed contract in the NBA.
There had been speculation about Westbrook's future with the Thunder given the movement of players throughout the league.
Oklahoma City, however, enjoyed a strong off-season that landed All Stars Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
Westbrook displayed his happiness with the new contract by posting a picture of himself on his Instagram page, wearing an orange Thunder jersey with his arms raised, and the caption of: "WHY NOT?? WHY NOT??"
"Russell's commitment to the Thunder organization since its inception in 2008 has helped propel us to great heights and stare down great challenges over our first decade," Presti said in a statement.
" We are extremely fortunate to have an athlete, competitor and person such as Russell wear the Thunder uniform."
The 28-year-old Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists and set an NBA record with 42 triple-doubles last season.
He joined Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson (1962) as the only players to average a triple-double over an entire season.
The six-time All-Star also won his second scoring crown.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday he expects players to stand during the U.S. national anthem, which has long been a league rule, rather than follow the lead of NFL players who have been kneeling in protest.
The controversial issue of kneeling during the anthem has become more prevalent in the NFL in a gesture intended to call attention to what protesting players see as a pattern of racism in the treatment of African-Americans by U.S. police.
But Silver does not anticipate such gestures on the NBA's hardwood courts when the 2017-18 season begins next month.
"On the anthem specifically, we have a rule that requires our players to stand for the anthem. It’s been a rule as long as I’ve been involved with the league, and my expectation is that our players will continue to stand for the anthem," Silver told a news conference after the NBA's Board of Governors meetings.
"Last year many of our teams locked arms during the anthem, which I felt was a respectful show of unity. Many of our players have spoken out already about their plan to stand for the anthem. And I think they understand how divisive an issue it is in our society right now."
The gesture was initiated last season by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and has since caught the attention of U.S. President Donald Trump, who last week called for NFL owners to fire those who refuse to stand.
Two days after Trump's comments, NFL teams staged a show of solidarity on Sunday by kneeling, linking arms or staying off the field during the U.S. national anthem.
"It’s disheartening to me to see so much disunity in our society. I think that sports historically, and in the NBA in particular, has been a unifying force," said Silver.
"While there’s always been disagreements in society, sports arenas have been places where people from all walks of life have come together and for a common experience."
While Silver acknowledged that freedom of expression is a core principle of the United States he said that given the platform NBA players have, whether through engagement with the media or social media, that they have those opportunities for their voices to be heard.
Silver did not say what would happen if any NBA players refused to stand during the "Star-Spangled Banner," simply adding: "All I can say is if that were to happen, we’ll deal with it when it happens."
If you look at the Spanish national team’s roster competing in Eurobasket 2017, you’re bound to notice the star power. That’s because Spain is loaded with six NBA players, including both Marc Gasol and Pau Gasol, Willy Hernangomez and Juancho Hernangomez, Ricky Rubio and Alex Abrines.
But as dominant as Spain’s roster looked on paper, they stood no match for Slovenia on Thursday in the semifinals of the tournament. Led by Goran Dragic and top 2018 NBA prospect Luka Doncic, Slovenia pounded the Spaniards, 92-72.
Slovenia will advance to play the winner of Russia vs. Serbia in the Eurobasket Final, while Spain will face the loser for a shot at bronze.
Doncic was unstoppable
After putting up 27 points and nine rebounds against Kristaps Porzingis and Latvia in the quarterfinal, Luka Doncic added on a near triple double that proved the 18-year-old belongs on the same court as seasoned NBA veterans.
Doncic finished with 11 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, shining through a 30 percent shooting night to lead Slovenia to a win on Thursday.Doncic is currently in the mix as a top-5 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Depending on the ping pong balls, that means he could land in either Phoenix, Philly, Boston, Los Angeles, Orlando or even Cleveland. The NBA has had a tanking issue, and commissioner Adam Silver is exploring measures to prevent teams from doing so for lottery incentives.
That plan isn’t set to affect the 2018 draft, though, and if Doncic continues playing at this level, we may see more and more teams shutting down the vets in the second half of the season.
Spain may be washed
There was a time Spain was the one country Team USA didn’t want to run into in the Olympics. That’s because they had more NBA talent than any country outside of the United States.
But Spain’s firepower wasn’t enough for Doncic, Dragic and Anthony Randolph. Marc and Pau Gasol combined for 28 points. Ricky Rubio added 13 on 5-of-12 shooting, and Willy and Juancho Hernangomez brought 12 points of their own.
It wasn’t enough.
The national team was missing a few usual suspects. Ex-NBA guard Rudy Fernandez didn’t compete in Eurobasket, nor did Nikola Mirotic, Jose Calderon or Sergio Llull (Team USA competed in and won the FIBA Americup with a G-League team coached by Jeff Van Gundy, so it’s customary to send the B-team this early).
But getting handled by Slovenia is not a good look for Spain, no matter who showed up.
Doncic vs. Rubio was one-sided
The last time Europe sent a star to the NBA, it was Ricky Rubio who wowed American crowds with his flashy passing. Rubio’s had a rough go in the NBA — he hasn’t been able to stay healthy, nor has he added a consistent perimeter jump shot to his repertoire — and finds himself on a new team this year.
(You can argue Kristaps Porzingis as a star from Europe, but we didn’t know what we were getting out of KP on draft night. We knew what Rubio was capable of.)
Doncic looked light years better than Rubio at only age 18.
It’s early, and it isn’t against legitimate NBA competition (though Spain’s roster says otherwise), but Slovenia has a star on its hands. And if Doncic can seal the deal and deliver Slovenia a Eurobasket championship on Sunday, the case for him as not just a top-five pick, but possibly the No. 1 pick in 2018, may have another point.
Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander shocked the NBA recently when he announced that the team he has owned since 1993 was up for sale.
Earlier this year the Rockets were valued at $1.65 billion by Forbes Magazine, which was the eighth highest of the 30 NBA teams, but it was reported in recent weeks that Alexander had multiple $2 billion offers.
Tuesday morning he accepted one of those offers, selling the team to Galveston, Texas native and Houston resident Tilman Fertitta for $2.2 billion, which is the most an NBA franchise has ever been sold for.
The Rockets released a statement on the sale, and Fertitta commented on what it means to him to buy the team he grew up rooting for:
“I am truly honored to have been chosen as the next owner of the Houston Rockets. This is a life-long dream come true,” said Fertitta, a native of Galveston and life-long resident of the Houston area. “Leslie Alexander has been one of the best owners in all of sports, and I thank him immensely for this opportunity. He has the heart of a champion. Lastly, out of respect for the NBA’s approval process, I can say no more other than I am overwhelmed with emotion to have this opportunity in my beloved city of Houston.”
Fertitta is the owner of one of the largest restaurant corporations in the country, Landry’s, Inc., in addition to owning the Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels.
Included in the deal is the Rockets arena, the Toyota Center in Houston and Fertitta did not have any other partners in the deal so he is the sole owner of the team.
Alexander bought the team for $85 million, so the value of the franchise increased by more than 25 times the amount he paid for it in 24 years.
While many teams are able to acquire star players through trade or free agency, the most likely opportunity for many teams to get their hands on a young star is through the NBA Draft. It is because of that, that many teams who are far from championship contention begin ‘tanking’ in hopes of getting better odds of landing the top draft pick.
This strategy has been criticized by many and the NBA has explored some ways to prevent this from happening. Now according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver are considering serious NBA Draft Lottery reform.
Among those changes, according to Wojnarowski, would be the league evening the odds of the three worst teams to land the top pick:
Currently, the teams with the three worst records have an ascending chance of winning the No. 1 pick, including (No. 3) 15.6 percent, (No. 2) 19.9 percent and (No. 1) 25 percent.
The NBA’s proposal would flatten those odds, and give the three teams with the worst record the same percentage of earning the No. 1 overall pick, league sources said. Now, the worst record to the fifth worst record has a gap of 25 percent to 8.8 percent, but new legislation would tighten that difference significantly, league sources said.
Another potential change, that isn’t in the initial proposal, but could still be considered is teams not being allowed to pick in the top-3 in consecutive years:
Another idea born out of the Competition Committee itself that could gather support, league sources said: No team can pick in the top three of the draft in consecutive years. For example, if Minnesota wins the No. 1 pick and drafts Karl-Anthony Towns, it can pick no higher than No. 4 in the next lottery. For now, that idea is outside of the league office’s proposal but is expected to be considered in the upcoming committee meeting, sources said.
These would be huge changes for the league if they were to go into effect. While it is impossible to guess what kind of effect these changes would have across the league, teams would have to change their entire re-building strategies.
Commissioner Silver has been very proactive in trying to fix the issues he sees with the NBA, such as trying to prevent teams resting healthy players. Working on the draft lottery is another big change as Silver is undoubtedly making his mark on the league.
BOSTON: Kyrie Irving, who requested a trade out of Cleveland in July, said Friday that he has not spoken to LeBron James since he joined the Boston Celtics.
But the four time NBA all-star Irving said there are no bad feelings and that the reason he wanted to end his partnership with the James-led Cavaliers was so he could optimize his game.
“I can’t wait to get on the floor and maximize my potential,” Irving said at an introductory news conference at the Boston Garden arena on Friday.
“I just want to be around those incredible coaches and those incredible minds and those incredible individuals. I feel like in doing that, Boston came right at the exact time and it was meant to be that way. I trust in that, and I’m glad to be here.”
The 25-year-old point guard praised his former superstar teammate James, describing his three seasons with James as “awesome” and told reporters that “I learned so much from that guy.”
The Celtics introduced Irving on Friday after the blockbuster trade sent Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic, the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick and the Miami Heat’s 2020 second-round pick in exchange for Irving. Irving was asked about his decision to leave Cleveland and the status of his relationship with James.
“I haven’t spoken to (James) and my intent (in asking for a trade), like I said, was for my best intentions,” Irving said.
“To look back at the amount of ground we covered in the last three-year span. To really realize how special that was and how much stuff happened in that amount of time, I’d be sitting up here and telling you guys a lie if I didn’t tell you I learned so much from that guy.”
Irving averaged a career-high 25.2 points on 47.3 percent shooting and 5.8 assists last season. He has three years and $60 million remaining on his contract.
After over a month of whispers and rumors about where superstar point guard Kyrie Irving might end up, the Cleveland Cavaliers decided on a deal with the Boston Celtics. With Gordon Hayward and Al Horford as his new running mates, Irving will have an immediate opportunity to challenge LeBron James and the Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference throne.
While news of Irving’s trade stole the offseason, the Toronto Raptors had a solid summer. They were able to re-sign Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, indicating that they are all-in in competing with the Cavaliers and Celtics. However, the key to Toronto’s success may be DeMar DeRozan as he has improved every season in his eight-year career. When asked about the Irving deal in an interview with Cari Champion of ESPN, DeRozan gave his thoughts on Irving’s trade to Boston:
It’s great as long as he’s happy,” DeRozan said in an interview with ESPN’s Cari Champion. “It’s going to be interesting to play against.
The Raptors were swept in the semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs by James and the Cavaliers, but now the team has to contend with two juggernauts atop their conference now. While Toronto has continuity on their side, they will struggle to match the offensive firepower Boston and Cleveland possess.
Regardless, DeRozan should once again improve after another offseason of training. The swingman has shown his mastery of the mid-range game, but we may be in store for something else this coming season.
Isaiah Thomas says his hip injury will not prevent him from being the player he was, but the Cavs should not let him return to playing too soon.
The blockbuster trade sending guard Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and a 2018 first-round pick of the Brooklyn Nets was completed on Aug. 30 when the Celtics agreed to add a 2020 second-round pick acquired from Miami in the deal.
Now the question becomes when Thomas will be ready to play, because his injured hip is what held the trade up for a week in the first place.
“I am not damaged,” Thomas told ESPN. “Maybe I’m not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be the same player again.”
Cavaliers training camp opens on Sept. 25. The first regular season game is Oct. 17 at Quicken Loans Arena against the Celtics.
There is no reason for the Cavaliers to rush Thomas into playing before he’s healthy, and if that takes the first two months of the season, or even into January, so be it. The bigger concern is Thomas trying to return too quickly so he can cash in on a big contract with the Cavaliers or another team next summer. The Cavs might have to rein him in.
You can count on Thomas complaining if his minutes are restricted early in his return because he will see that as affecting his chances for a better contract. He can make up for that with a dynamic effort in the playoffs.
Stephen Curry has agreed to a record five-year, $201 million 'super-max' deal to stay at the Golden State Warriors, according to several reports on Friday.
The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 on Monday to win their second NBA championship in three seasons and cap a near-perfect run through the playoffs.
The Warriors, who beat Cleveland in the 2015 Finals only to lose to them last year after squandering a 3-1 series lead, went a record-setting 15-1 in the playoffs, their only loss coming in Game Four of the best-of-seven championship.
Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors hoping to win an elusive title and on Monday he not only reached his goal, but was also named the unanimous Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals.
Durant, in his first season with the Warriors, led the way in a 4-1 series win over the Cavaliers to capture his maiden NBA title.
The 28-year-old American averaged 35.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists in the best-of-seven Finals, which the Warriors wrapped up in five games.
To win his first NBA title, Durant had to overcome Cavaliers forward LeBron James, whose former Miami Heat team defeated Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 Finals.
"He's the only person that I was looking at since 2012," Durant said after the game.
"I knew it was going to be a battle I just tried to challenge him ... you can't stop the guy. But we battled.
"I told him we're tied up now and we're going to try to do this thing again but I'm going to celebrate this one tonight."