League sources said Saturday night that Kirilenko — if he and his $3.3 million contract clear waivers as expected — is eyeing a potential return to European basketball as opposed to resuming his NBA career. There are a handful of teams stateside still interested in pursuing him, sources say, but Kirilenko has not yet made it clear whether he’s prepared to consider fresh NBA offers.
October 7, 2015 | 11:42 am EDT Update
Before James and Blatt set the tone for the 2015-16 season by vowing to feature Love more prominently this year, they privately assured the 27-year-old forward the same this summer. “I expect, at least from a comfort level, things to be different this year,” Love said. “On and off the court, everybody has been making a big effort to make this thing start off really great.”
Rather than focus on those frustrating moments, Love owned up to his responsibility in contributing to them. “Naturally there were times last year where I didn’t feel as if I was always in the right spot or I was second-guessing myself where I should be out there on the floor,” Love continued. “So, I think as far as a comfort standpoint, I feel a lot better on how things stand as far as where to be in the offense and playing off of these guys.”
When Love showed up to camp, not only was he about 15 pounds lighter than he was at the start of last season, but several team officials noted how much stronger his legs appeared. In taking care of his shoulder, he seemed to have transformed his whole body.
Love said his ill-timed injury in the playoffs left him “very upset” and “down” and pretty helpless as he was reduced to a spectator of his own team. “What was the hardest part was obviously having to sit there and watch,” Love said. “Be in a suit and be in a sling and knowing that I could be out on the floor helping or doing different things and be at a way higher capacity than cheering helping the team. So, it was that … I really started to feel comfortable in what we were doing and then I hurt my shoulder. So, it was tough. Even if Kyrie had been healthy, who knows? But if I would have been healthy, who knows? It becomes a lot of what ifs.”
Oladipo’s first choice, of course, is to be selected to play for USA Basketball – the heavy favorites to win a third straight gold medal – in the Summer Olympics. However, if Oladipo is bypassed by USA Basketball, he could opt to play for Nigeria because of his parents’ heritage with the African country.
“Playing in the Olympics is definitely a dream, but I’ll worry about it when the time comes. Right now, the focus is on winning games for the Orlando Magic,’’ Oladipo said on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, whatever (Olympic) opportunity appears on the table, it will be about making the right decision that’s best for me.’’
Oladipo is very proud of his Nigerian heritage and he said that his mother is very aware that her son could play for her native country. Nigeria, the 2015 Africas champion, still must qualify for the Olympics next summer. “My mom obviously knows because she pays attention to stuff like that, but she’s never mentioned anything to me about it,’’ Oladipo said with a chuckle. “I just go out there and play basketball. Whatever decision comes, I’ll make that decision when I need to.’’
October 7, 2015 | 11:05 am EDT Update
“[When I was first traded to Denver], I didn’t know if I wanted to come here,” he admitted. “I wanted to stay on the East Coast with my family. I had conversations with the GM, my agent, but also with my wife. I was like ‘I don’t want to go.’ I’ve never been in that situation. You don’t know what you’re going to do until you’re in that situation. I gave myself about 10 minutes to think by myself and I’m like, ‘Well, there’s no reason for me not to go. I’m a professional. This is my job, and they’re giving me an opportunity to play.’
And when he arrived in Denver last season following trades from Dallas and Boston, he entered a fractured locker room playing for a coaching staff that was on its way out. It would have been very easy to just check out, collect the checks, and get through the year. But Nelson didn’t do that. Instead, he invited his new teammates and coaches to his home in Philadelphia to try to mend fences and get the team back on the same page. His mom even cooked for them. “When I got here, I could see some kind of disconnection,” Nelson says. “Was it basketball, was it outside of basketball, I don’t know, I wasn’t here long enough to see that. Who am I to judge? But me being who I am, a leader, to try and help other people out, I felt we all needed to get together and do some things, laugh and joke outside of basketball. “When you’re on the court, it’s business. It should be. I just felt like it was a thing where we were going back to Philly, and I just happen to have a house there, and my mom can cook pretty well. So I just had everybody come over.”
And he remembered that Okafor, who finished with 12 points, hit a couple tough shots. That, he said, he won’t forget and he voiced his displeasure, quickly shifting from fan to foe. “One thing is sure: He’s on my list right now,” said Gortat, who scored seven points in Washington’s 129-95 win. “The next four games, I’m coming. I’m coming. So I hope he’s going to read that. I’m coming. I’m coming for him.”
It’s only practice, but for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s a start in the right direction. Head coach David Blatt announced on Wednesday that power forward Kevin Love will make his first full practice debut on Saturday. The three-time All-Star has been rehabbing ever since undergoing shoulder surgery in May.
A few GMs reportedly believe a decent chance exists the NBA draft will expand beyond two rounds once the D-League has 30 teams, but Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has an idea for a different sort of draft entirely, as he explained when Hoops Rumors asked him what he would change about NBA free agency. “I would have a supplemental draft every summer for undrafted free agents of the current and previous 3 years,” Cuban wrote in an email to Hoops Rumors. “If you are more than 3 years out you are not eligible and just a free agent.”
October 7, 2015 | 8:30 am EDT Update
Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings, still rehabbing his ruptured left Achilles, got up some jump shots at the conclusion of today’s shootaround in preparation for tonight’s exhibition opener against the Indiana Pacers (7:30, WMGC-FM (105.1)). He got good lift and appeared not to be favoring the leg he injured in late January. He still isn’t participating in drills, but coach Stan Van Gundy thinks he’s getting close. “He can do a lot of shooting,” Van Gundy said. “He can do a lot of that. He’s getting himself ready, but that’s where he is right now. We’re hoping next week, the week after or whatever, that he’ll be able to do some drill work. But we’re not at that point yet.”
Byron on whether he could ever see Kobe Bryant playing for another NBA team (After New York Knicks’ president Phil Jackson raised the possibility, Bryant – who will be a free agent next summer and isn’t sure yet whether he’ll retire – told Yahoo! Sports that he has no interest in playing for any NBA team other than the Lakers). “I can’t see it. I mean I can’t see it. I really can’t,” he said. “I think just like Magic Johnson, even MJ (Michael Jordan), who went to Washington (after two years out of the game at the age of 37), but still when you think of MJ you think of the Chicago Bulls. When I think of Kobe, I don’t care what happens, I think everybody will always think of him as a Laker and one of the greatest Lakers to ever play the game.”
It speaks volumes about Bryant’s state of mind that he has no muse for this particular moment. He has spent recent years seeking inspiration from all corners, be it the Arianna Huffington and Anna Wintour types in the business world or his widely known basketball North Star, Michael Jordan. In this instance, however, he has yet to find someone who can truly relate to this particular path. “This is uncharted territory,” he said. “My 37 (years old) isn’t MJ’s 37 (when he returned after taking two seasons off to play for the Washington Wizards), you know what I mean? Nor is it the same team or the same system that he was playing in. It’s much, much different. There’s really no barometer, no (precedent) for training physically, for recovery. It’s uncharted territory.”
“I think he’s at a point in his career that he’s mature enough to accept certain things, and accept uncertainty,” said the Bulls’ Pau Gasol, one of Bryant’s closer friends and his Lakers teammate from 2008-14. “Probably earlier on in his career, he wouldn’t have dealt with it as well. But I think he understands they have a pretty young group — with some talent, for sure. But he also understands he’s in his 20th year in his career. He hasn’t had a full, healthy year for the last three years, pretty much. I think he’s just looking forward to having a healthy year and to compete and have fun and be the player he is, and we’ll see where the team goes.”
Hibbert had little to say about his scuffle with Jazz forward Trevor Booker. But compared to his adversary, Hibbert was downright voluble. Booker, who was ejected, did not address the media. The play, which occurred in the third quarter, came about after Randle fouled Booker and Booker retaliated with a push. Hibbert, in turn, came after Booker. “We play together,” Hibbert said. “I’m not going to speak too much about that play. Like I said, (Randle’s) the face of this team for the future and, one through 15, I’d step up for anybody, anybody in the starting five to the guys at the end of the bench. We play as a team and I have everybody’s back.”
Vogel also made adjustments. The Pacers, unlike Saturday against the Pelicans, were more willing to switch on defense, which allowed George to guard the Pistons’ small forward. “I knew what the struggle was going to be,” George said of his new defensive responsibilities as a power forward. “It’s an adjustment. We did some things that we changed up. We had Solomon (Hill) on the fours and C.J. (Miles) on the fours and I was able to play my natural position defensively.”
Anthony Bennett made history by becoming the first Canadian to be named the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. Now a little more than just two years later, and on his third team, the new Toronto Raptors forward is back home with hopes of removing a far less flattering title from his résumé: bust. “Lots of ups and downs,” Bennett told Yahoo Sports prior to the Raptors preseason game against the Golden State Warriors. “There a couple [things] you got to avoid. There are also a lot of people you have to have in your circle, like family and friends, who tell you to keep your head up. That’s pretty much what I’ve been going through.”
Walton compared Livingston’s situation to one of his former teammates on one of the Los Angeles Lakers’ championship teams. Trevor Ariza after hardly attempting any 3-pointers at the start of his career gradually developed one in Los Angeles and now continues to shoot them at a high volume. Walton smiled and says he has a bet with Livingston that the 30-year-old owes push-ups when he has an open look at a 3-pointer and doesn’t shoot.