Tagged in: NBA

Warriors´Draymond Green returns from 3 game absence

Another healthy body sure helped the Golden State Warriors, especially when that guy coming back was Draymond Green — an emotional, vocal leader of this young group who brings it on both ends.

Eric Paschall scored 25 points and the Warriors emphatically closed out a tight game after their failure two days earlier, holding off the Chicago Bulls 104-90 on Wednesday night for just their second victory at new Chase Center.

“Having Draymond back was a big deal. He settled us down,” coach Steve Kerr said. “Having nine instead of eight, it matters. You just have more to work with and more options.”

The latest injury news for the Warriors involved their coach.

Kerr cut his right hand breaking a clipboard. It happens at least once a season.

“It’s a mere flesh wound. I broke a clipboard. It’s one of two. I’m allotted two a year. This was No. 1,” Kerr said. “It always cuts in the same place. This was a little deeper one, I was a little more upset. I’m day to day. No stitches yet but we’ll see tomorrow.”

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Alec Burks added 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in just the second victory in 12 games for Golden State, which squandered a late lead Monday night in losing 100-97 to Oklahoma City while allowing the Thunder to score the game’s final 13 points. The Warriors snapped a three-game losing streak.

Green returned from a three-game absence because of a sore right heel and contributed seven points, eight assists and five rebounds in nearly 24 minutes.

Zach LaVine had 36 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Bulls, who now will try to avenge a 117-94 home defeat to the Trail Blazers on Monday night when they travel to Portland to play Friday.

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Kawhi Leonard misses third straight game for Clippers

Kawhi Leonard is missing his third straight match for the Los Angeles Clippers, again delaying his on-court pairing with new teammate Paul George.

George was in the lineup Monday night versus his former team, Oklahoma City, which traded him to the Clippers in the off-season.

Leonard bruised his left knee in a loss at Houston last Wednesday and didn’t play at New Orleans or versus Atlanta last week. Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers says it was “very possible” Leonard was going to play Monday. Rivers has displayed little concern that Leonard will be out long.

“I just know it’s going to happen,” he said of Leonard and George playing together for the first time. Leonard has missed five of the Clippers’ 14 games. When he’s been in the lineup, he’s averaging 26.8 points.

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George has helped mitigate Leonard’s absence, scoring 70 points in 44 minutes in his first two games back. He recorded 18 points on Monday, including a 3-pointer with 25.9 seconds left to put the Clippers up for good.

Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Leonard is day-to-day after further evaluation on the knee revealed nothing serious.

This all comes shortly after the debate over Leonard’s load management briefly consumed the NBA when the star sat out a nationally televised matchup versus Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Just a few days later, Leonard suffered his injury versus the Rockets.

Leonard was initially listed as questionable heading into the game, but the Clippers might be treating his injury as conservatively as possible. His next opportunity to play will come Wednesday, for a marquee matchup versus the Boston Celtics. At the end Los Angeles Clippers fans are going to have to wait a few more days to finally see Kawhi Leonard and Paul George playing together.

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Suns’ Deandre Ayton tests positive, gets 25-game ban

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton released an apology for what he labeled an “unintentional mistake” after the NBA handed down a 25-game suspension to the second-year player on Thursday evening for violating the terms of the league and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) anti-drug program.

According to the league’s statement, Ayton tested positive for a diuretic, which is banned by the league as diuretics can be used to hide or cleanse the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

“I do understand the unfortunate impact that this has on so many others, and for that, I am deeply sorry,” Ayton said in a statement. “I’m extremely disappointed that I’ve let my team down.”

With the 25-game suspension, Ayton will lose roughly $2 million in salary.

Ayton, 21, entered the season expecting to earn approximately $116,620 per game in 82 regular-season outings, which totals about $9.5 million for the 2019-20 season.

According to ESPN, the NBPA is planning to appeal Ayton’s suspension with the thinking this occasion falls under the “unintentional ingestion” provision of the collective bargaining agreement.

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“On behalf of the Phoenix Suns organization, (coach) Monty Williams and I are disappointed in the actions by Deandre Ayton that led to his testing positive for a banned diuretic and subsequent suspension by the NBA,” Suns GM James Jones said in a statement. “This does not uphold the standards and principles we have set for the team.”

“Deandre has expressed his deepest remorse,” Jones continued. “While he is suspended we remain committed to his growth and development on and off the court. His actions are not taken lightly, and we are committed to ensuring that Deandre understands the profound impact it has had on the team, organization, and Suns community.”

Drafted No. 1 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the Suns, Ayton, a former University of Arizona standout, ended with 18 points and 11 rebounds in his season debut, helping the Suns beat the Sacramento Kings, 124-95 earlier this week. In his rookie season, Ayton averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in 71 games.

Ayton’s suspension will start Friday as he will miss the Suns’ contest against the Denver Nuggets. As of now, he will be eligible to return to the lineup on Dec. 17 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

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76ers top Celtics in 1st battle of East Favorites

Joel Embiid was popped in the mouth by an elbow that drew blood, rattled teeth, and stunned the Sixers’ big man.

Embiid shook off the knock after a short stint on the bench, then Philadelphia took off and secured the first round in a bruising matchup between two teams expected to fight for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Embiid had 15 points and 13 rebounds, Ben Simmons scored 24 points and the 76ers beat the Boston Celtics 107-93 on Wednesday night.

The season opener had a May feel from the opening tip.

Boston and Philly roughed up each other, combining for more than 60 fouls. They each showed off their prized free agent assets.

But it was the Sixers who turned in a leading fourth quarter.

”It felt like a playoff atmosphere, already,” Philadelphia guard Josh Richardson said. ”It was ready to pop from the jump.”

Philly’s superstars can only do so much, and the other Sixers were clutch in the fourth when they needed them. Furkan Korkmaz and Tobias Harris buried consecutive 3-pointers – after the Sixers had missed 21 of 24 through three quarters – to stretch the lead to 10.

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Even without that scrutinized jumper in play, Simmons was smooth and sensational as he attacked the hoop for easy baskets. He used a nifty spin move in the paint to hit Kyle O’Quinn for a basket that made it 90-74. The packed house went wild as the backups, a weak spot in the postseason, put the Sixers on the decisive run. Simmons also had nine assists and eight rebounds, though he played his 161st career game without a 3.

”I’m skilled, I’m gifted, I’m pretty good at what I do,” Simmons said.

Gordon Hayward guided the Celtics with 25 points. Jayson Tatum had 21.

Kemba Walker scored 12 points on 4-of-18 shooting in his Boston debut, and Al Horford had 16 points in his first game with the 76ers. Horford spent the last three seasons with the Celtics and was one of the few defenders that gave Embiid fits. Horford signed a four-year deal to come to Philly and quickly became a popular teammate. Walker was signed to a four-year, $141 million deal, the most Boston could offer, but $80 million less than the Charlotte Hornets could have paid him over five seasons.

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Jaylen Brown agrees to 4 year deal with Celtics

Negotiations may have been contentious, but Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics succeeded to get on the same page before Monday’s rookie contract extension limit. 

Brown agreed to a four-year, $115 million contract extension with the Celtics, his agent Jason Glushon confirmed. That deal is a far cry from the four-year, $80 million pact Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Boston was offering. The sides typically start far apart on negotiations like this, but bridging such a large gap so close to the deadline is an impressive feat. Brown’s deal includes no player or team options. 

This is the first rookie extension that Boston has signed any player to in a decade. The last Celtic to extend prior to hitting free agency was Rajon Rondo in 2009.  Brown is now locked in through the 2023-24 season with the Celtics. Assuming Jayson Tatum re-signs next offseason as intended, Boston will have Brown, Tatum, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart signed for at least three more years in total. For a Boston team that has experienced significant roster turnover during the last several seasons, that kind of continuity is going to be critical. 

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Brown’s numbers declined last season from their heights during the 2017-18 campaign.

His points, assists and rebounds per game all fell along with his 3-point and effective field goal percentages. But Brown was forced to the bench for much of the season in a locker room whose chemistry was notably poor. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated reported in June that Brown did not have a strong relationship with Kyrie Irving, and in January he openly refuted comments Irving made that were critical of teammates. 

Irving is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets, but having Brown go into the season without a long-term contract could have proven just as destructive in the locker room. Now that he has been taken care of financially, the Celtics have every reason to believe that their team’s camaraderie will be enriched this season. If he returns to the starting lineup on a full-time basis, which will likely be the case with Marcus Morris and Al Horford gone, Brown’s numbers should bounce back. 

If they do, Boston’s bright future is back on track. It may have been a tumultuous year, but with Brown and Tatum in place, the Celtics should be able to contend for a long, long time. 

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Lakers Kyle Kuzma to miss season opener against Clippers

The team declared Sunday that Kuzma will miss opening night versus the Los Angeles Clippers. A statement from the Lakers that came earlier this month disclosed that Kuzma was still not cleared to take the floor after the left foot injury he sustained during his time with USA Basketball.

“There’s still progression to be had,” said Vogel. “He was very limited with what he did today, and it was all non-contact in limited duration. It’s going to take some time for him to get his legs under him and build up to the point where he’s playing live with contact, and then some time where we want to see him perform in that and respond well to that before we clear him to play.”

Kuzma played in just one exhibition game in late August with Team USA before sitting out the remainder of the summer in order to heal.

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The lingering nature of the injury isn’t ideal for the Lakers, who are entering their first season with Frank Vogel as head coach and obtaining Davis — and making a plethora of other moves over the offseason — and they expect Kuzma, 24, to play a major role in their success this season. Thus, they would obviously like to have him healthy and out on the floor during camp to gain familiarity with the system and his new teammates. 

Kuzma averaged 18.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33.1 minutes of action per game for the Lakers last season. 

The Clippers will be without superstar forward Paul George as well, making opening night an unusual battle of attrition.  Kuzma is in his third NBA season after being drafted out of Utah in 2017. The Lakers declined to trade him this summer when they acquired Anthony Davis from New Orleans, and Kuzma is now the only player drafted by the Lakers before 2019 to remain on the team.

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Zion Williamson to miss Pelicans’ preseason finale with knee soreness

The New Orleans Pelicans stated Thursday that rookie Zion Williamson will miss his team’s final preseason game versus the New York Knicks on Friday.

The forward is dealing with knee soreness, but this will give him an opportunity to rest up for the regular season, which initiates for the Pelicans next Tuesday on the road versus the defending champion Toronto Raptors.

Williamson enters his first season with high expectations as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 draft, and so far he hasn’t disappointed.

After scoring 16 points in his preseason debut versus the Atlanta Hawks this month, the Duke product has been on fire. Williamson has appeared in all four of the Pelicans’ preseason games, averaging 23.3 points and 6.5 rebounds while playing 27.3 minutes. He also shot an extremely impressive 71.4 percent from the floor. 

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On a team featuring veteran players like Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick as well as other promising players like Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, Williamson is already establishing himself as a go-to option offensively.

However, the latest knee problem could raise concerns if it forces him to miss more time. The 19-year-old didn’t travel with the team and is set to undergo further testing, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

Nicolo Melli, a 29-year-old rookie and nine-year Euroleague veteran, could see extra playing time with Williamson unavailable.

Williamson hadn’t missed any time in training camp and was seen walking around Pelicans practice on Wednesday afternoon.

While at Duke last season, Williamson suffered a mild right knee sprain when his sneaker gave out seconds into a game versus North Carolina. He missed six games total. New Orleans opens the regular season Tuesday in Toronto versus the defending champs.

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Nets’ Irving suffers facial fracture in pickup game

Brooklyn Nets star point guard Kyrie Irving suffered a left-side facial fracture after being elbowed in the face during a workout at the team’s practice facility, the team announced Wednesday.

Brooklyn sent Irving to the hospital for further evaluation Tuesday after he was injured during a pickup game. League sources told the New York Daily News that Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson accompanied him to the hospital following the injury.

The Nets signed Irving in July after two seasons with the Boston Celtics.

He had to wear a protective mask during games to protect a previous facial fracture, including early in the 2017-18 campaign after he was elbowed by former teammate Aron Baynes.

The good news for the Nets is that the injury doesn’t seem too serious, and Irving shouldn’t miss any significant period of time. Still, you never want your best player dealing with a broken face a few days before training camp is about to begin. That’s not a good way to get the season started. 

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However, even if Irving has to miss a few days of practice, the signing is already paying dividends for the team. During a press conference on Tuesday, which was already scheduled before the incident, Nets GM Sean Marks praised Irving’s professionalism and commitment to the team, saying the “leadership, the work ethic and the competitive nature that he has brought to the group has been terrific.”

The Nets will start training camp on Sept. 28, a few days earlier than most teams due to their preseason trip to China. They’ll be playing two preseason games against the Los Angeles Lakers in Shanghai and Shenzhen on Oct. 10 and 12. Assuming no further complications, Irving should be ready to go for those contests.

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Wizards’ Brown out for a month with hurt calf

When players report early to build chemistry with their teammates ahead of training camp, it is usually a good thing. For the Wizards this summer, it has led to an unfortunate string of bad injury luck.

First Isaiah Thomas tore a ligament in his left thumb, on his shooting hand, and required surgery that will keep him out of all of the preseason and likely the start of the regular season as well. Now, as the Wizards announced on Tuesday, Troy Brown Jr. is dealing with a left calf strain. His timeline is four weeks.

That will put the start of the regular season in jeopardy for Brown as well.

The news broke four weeks and one day before the Wizards’ first game, on Oct. 23 at the Dallas Mavericks. These injuries are on top of forward C.J. Miles’ foot surgery in July. He was at a Mystics’ playoff game last week still in a walking boot, which is not a great sign for his availability in training camp, which begins Tuesday. When he had the surgery on July 25, the Wizards said he would be re-evaluated in six weeks. It has now been two months.

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Thomas, Brown, and Miles are three rotation players. The Wizards are also missing John Wall, who remains sidelined as he rehabs from a ruptured Achilles. The injuries are piling up and they haven’t even held their media day.

Brown’s injury is extra pertinent because he figures to be in the same position mix as Miles. If you are filling out a starting lineup for the Wizards, those are probably your two best choices at small forward. And the Wizards don’t exactly have a lot of depth behind them.

Up next could be Justin Anderson, who is a roster-fringe journeyman at this point. Second-round pick Admiral Schofield is probably not ready for important minutes. First-round pick Rui Hachimura seems more suited to play the four. And Jordan McRae seems to be a better fit at guard.

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Andre Iguodala to stay away from the team as Grizzlies look for trade

Andre Iguodala will not report to the Memphis Grizzlies’ training camp as he and the team continue to work toward his expected exit.

The Golden State Warriors traded Iguodala and a protected first-round draft pick to Memphis on July 7 in exchange for forward Julian Washburn.

Multiple media outlets have reported that the Grizzlies do not intend to buy out the $17.2m that Iguodala is owed this year in the final season of his three-year, $48m contract, instead looking to find another team willing to trade for the three-time NBA champion and 2015 NBA Finals MVP.

The 35-year-old veteran will continue to work out separately from the Grizzlies but might remain on their roster into the regular season, according to the Daily Memphian. Iguodala told NBC Sports Bay Area on Monday regarding his status with Memphis: “We’ll see. OK, maybe I shouldn’t say we’ll see. But we’re trying to figure out things on both sides. They’re trying to figure out some things, and I’m trying to figure out some things.

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As of today, we’re on the same page.

Camp opens the next week. We’ll see. We’re on the same page, though.”

He added: “At this point, the only buyout that makes sense – if I’m speaking on someone else’s behalf, thinking as an agent – is you don’t leave money on the table. Especially in this league. Because you’ll never get it back, no matter what people say.

“Negotiations are a tactic, so you’ve got to be careful how you approach it, or how you verbalise what you would do going forward. But you can’t leave anything on the table.”

Iguodala, an All-Star in 2012 when he played for the Philadelphia 76ers, was part of five consecutive NBA Finals teams with Golden State. Last season, he averaged 5.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 68 games (13 starts). For his career, he is averaging 12.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 1,108 games (779 starts).

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