Kawhi Leonard close to returning

More HoopsHype Rumors
July 5, 2015 | 1:40 am EDT Update
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When you see all the attention LaMarcus and DeAndre [Jordan] have gotten the past few days, have you thought at all about next summer and yourself? Kevin Durant: “No I haven’t thought about it. I hear it all the time but I really am just focusing on rehab. I can’t get there unless I take care of today. That’s the way I look at it even though I hear it from every side, thinking past to next summer. But I’m not even trying to focus on that. I’m excited about our team, our new coaches and just trying to get back right.”
Is next year going to be hard for you, with all the questions about your future? “Man, this is the toughest year I’ve ever been through in my life, as far as basketball is concerned. Just to be back on the floor, all that other stuff doesn’t really matter to me. Everything, all that stuff, from distractions to that type of stuff really don’t matter because I get to do something I love and I can’t wait to get back out there and be fully cleared to play, but to be honest man, my main thing is just getting rid of distractions no matter what and focusing on what I have to do. I just can’t wait to play the game I love again, that’s all I’m focused on.”

Pelicans want to re-sign Norris Cole

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Restricted free agent guard Norris Cole is the top remaining free agent the New Orleans Pelicans are making a push to re-sign, sources said Saturday afternoon. The Pelicans can match any offer Cole receives, but the Pelicans have committed a portion of their $5.5 million mid-level exception after small forward forward Dante Cunningham agreed to a three-year, $9 million deal on Saturday afternoon. The Pelicans also have their full $2.1 million bi-annual exception still available.
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Asked about reports that he has been approached by representatives from Olimpia Milano — imagine Datome on the other side when the Celtics open their exhibition season in Milan against that team on Oct. 6 — Datome dismissed the talk as premature. “It’s very early because (NBA) free agency is so (early),” Datome said via phone from his home in Sardinia last week. “My agent told me that first the big players will sign, and then you have to wait. I’ve waited more than two months to get here, so I can wait two more.” “My agent is listening to proposals from European teams, and right now we’re not saying no to anyone. But I still want to see if anyone in the NBA wants to sign me.”
“I want to thank the Celtics and Coach Stevens because they gave me the opportunity,” Datome said. “I think I showed that I can play at this level. But if I play another year in the NBA, I would like to be one of those guys who plays every night.” Datome understands that he has to wait for these opportunities to take shape. His calls will come later this month. He admits that he can earn more money playing in Europe, where a nightly 35-minute role would be guaranteed. “There are some real opportunities in Europe,” he said. “But right now I am thinking about nothing.”
It’s unlikely that Justin Holiday returns to the defending champion Warriors. The reserve guard, brother of Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, is expected to sign a free agent contract with another club. Holiday was undrafted and on the Warriors’ roster for the entire season, playing 59 games and averaging 4.3 points. The Warriors have so much guard depth, Holiday is forced to look for more playing time elsewhere.
The Jazz still have not signed Lyles, the 12th pick of the June 25 draft, as the team continues to explore transaction options with his lower cap hold and to work on minor contract details with his agent. The Jazz are not commenting on when things might be resolved with Lyles, so it remains uncertain whether he’ll be available for the Utah-hosted summer league, which begins Monday night. Lyles’ cap hold is at 100 percent of the rookie salary scale, which is $1,866,500. He’ll eventually be paid at 120 percent of the rookie scale ($2,239,800), but Utah can use the difference for a trade or a free agent signing before he inks the deal.
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A few minutes ago, I received the following from Aldridge: Dear Rip City, Thank you! Those two words on a page don’t begin to express the gratitude I have for the opportunity the entire Trail Blazers organization, my teammates, the media, and you fans gave me. The past nine years have been a blessing, and I will take all of the valuable memories with me as I head back home.
Smart is 21 years old but speaks as if he is 30 because of his many life experiences. He recalls the impact of being mentored and being the young, impressionable kid at basketball camps vying for his one-in-a-million shot to reach the NBA. “I probably speak for the older guys that are way older than me — I think [participating at the camp] makes them feel younger,” Smart said. “But for me you see yourself in these kids because at one point in time, that was you. You just remember all the things that you went through and all the adversity that you went through to get to where you’re at. You’ve got to stay humble and keep working.”
Another intriguing player will be Rozier, the Louisville product who drew a mixed reaction from Celtics fans after being selected with the 16th overall pick. Rozier is likely to share point guard duties with Smart as the Celtics have a crowded backcourt that also includes Hunter, Young, Pressey, and Thornton. “I don’t want to overdo it on anybody, we’ve played 18 total minutes of scrimmaging; his speed is at the highest level,” Stevens said of Rozier. “Once we started going up and down the full court, he did a lot of things that kind of took you aback. But, at the same time, he’s got a lot to learn and a lot to work on. I know he’ll do that. I’ve got no question about that.”
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You look bigger. Have you put on some weight? Kevin Durant: “Yeah, I think I gotta lose some weight to be honest. But I’ve been putting in a lot of work in the weight room. I haven’t moved at all for 12 or 13 weeks, so last week was really the first time I’ve got on the court and dropped some sweat. I’ve just been working out in the weight room and eating and just resting up, so like I said, last week was really the first time I got on the court.”
Last year was obviously a tough spot for you. Are you in a better place mentally now? Durant: “It was really tough. Looking back on it now, there’s a lot of stuff I would’ve changed but it was necessary to go through what I had to go through, mentally, and I’m in a great space right now. Maybe because I’m closer and closer to playing again but I’m in a great space.” What you mean, what would you have changed? Durant: “Just stuff I said. Sometimes I let a lot of stuff bother me that I shouldn’t have. I read a lot of stuff that I probably shouldn’t have. Lesson learned for me. Trial and error. It is what it is, man. I’m just trying to continue focusing on getting better and rehabbing and killing that part of this journey and hopefully getting ready for next season.”
But first things first: how’s the foot? “We’re close to Phase 3 now,” Durant happily reported. “A three-phase rehab. It’s going well. I’m jumping when I’m shooting. I’m not quite running and cutting yet but I’m almost there. So it’s going well. I’m excited.” Durant said he’s still on track to be cleared for full basketball activities sometime next month, and barring any setbacks the 2014 MVP should be a go by opening night. “We’re doing X-rays every two weeks and it’s looking good,” Durant said. “I’m excited to get back, man.”
Barnes took it all in on the back of a Chevy Camaro during the town’s Fourth of July parade. According to Diamond Leung of the Bay Area Sports Group, he was dubbed the Grand Marshall and brought the Larry O’Brien trophy with him: After the parade, fans got an opportunity to take photos with the Champion. Not only was he the Grand Marshall, the city honored him with the key to the city.
July 4, 2015 | 11:09 pm EDT Update
July 4, 2015 | 9:22 pm EDT Update
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David West turned down $12 million from the Indiana Pacers to play for a contender. The Cavs might just be that team. The Cavaliers are interested in the free agent forward, a league source confirmed. The interest appears mutual, although USA Today reported the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors are also high on West’s list. The Spurs are still in pursuit of West even after landing LaMarcus Aldridge on Saturday. West, who turns 35 next month, averaged 11.7 points and 6.8 rebounds last season for the Pacers. He declined a player option worth $12.2 million for next season because he wants to win.
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