Shams Charania: Orlando restricted free agent Tobias Harris has reached agreement on a deal to re-sign with the Magic, league sources tell RealGM.
July 29, 2015 | 12:01 pm EDT Update
The Russian basketball federation posted a letter on its website saying it’s been suspended by FIBA due to its management issues, which could impact its Rio 2016 Olympic qualification hopes. The letter, signed by FIBA officials, said Russia can attempt to have its ban lifted at a FIBA meeting Aug. 8-9. That is crucial, given the European Olympic men’s basketball qualifying tournament is in September.
Scott Agness: Never taking himself too seriously, Lavoy Allen had some great one-liners Tuesday after re-signing with the Pacers bit.ly/1LUEW7W For ex.: Allen on the Hickory uniforms, “I don’t know if I loved the uniforms or maybe George Hill just makes them look good bc of the hair”
During the first day of the CJ McCollum Youth Basketball Camp in Tualatin, it was hard to tell if he or the kids were enjoying themselves more. “This is a lot of fun,” McCollum said Tuesday. “It gives me a chance to bond with the kids. Being a professional athlete, you’re in a position where kids look up to you and you can make an impression —sometimes more of an impression than family members. It’s important that you do things the right way and put yourself in a position to help out and give back. My mom always raised me to give back and remember where you come from. This is just one way to do that.”
“My first couple years, I wanted to transition and focus on the floor; I wanted to try to solidify myself in the rotation, solidify myself in the NBA,” McCollum said. “But as we transition to year three, four, five, six, and so on, the community becomes more familiar with me, my personality, and then I get to figure out what I want to do. I want to be active and involved.”
Paul Pierce threw out the first pitch at Tuesday’s Dodgers – A’s game. Pierce seemed to enjoy his reception, though I’m not sure why. A baseball game starting at 7:10 in LA means that there can’t be more than 100 people in the stands. Perhaps he picked out a smattering of boos from unemployed Lakers fans? Either way, he proceeded to ham it up on the mound before bouncing one in the dirt 10-feet in front of the plate.
July 29, 2015 | 7:05 am EDT Update
Jackson still wants to sign a big man, and Carlos Boozer and Washington center Kevin Seraphin are still unsigned. The Knicks have shown tepid interest in Boozer.
Even after the undrafted Ndour agreed to terms with Dallas, the Knicks called Ndour’s camp to see if there was something that still could be worked out. Ndour, however, would not break his verbal agreement with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, according to a source.
“We need to get to the playoffs this year,” point guard Elfrid Payton told Basketball Insiders earlier this month. “There’s no more time for, ‘Next year… Next year…’ The time is now. We need to step up our games and be ready to play.”
Barnes made sure to warn Jordan that things could change between them in the flicker of a cake candle now that Barnes plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. “I told him, ‘Even though we’re good friends, I’m still going to foul the beep out of you when we play,'” Barnes recalled Tuesday during his introductory news conference in Memphis. “That’s just the kind of player I am. There’s no hard feelings.”
It also means a player known for altercations with fans and referees, along with opposing players and team owners, has some reputation-mending to do in his new city. He might start with a young female fan who became irritated during a playoff game between the Grizzlies and Clippers in April 2013, when Barnes kicked a garbage can on his way off the court after a bitter defeat. “It was a close game and I was mad that we lost and I kicked the can,” Barnes said. “I’m looking forward to inviting that young lady back to the first game and letting her know I’m not the guy she thought I was when I kicked the can.”
Festus Ezeli said he advanced quickly in school and was promoted past the fifth and sixth grades by American standards at the private Igbinedion Education Center in Benin City. He actually earned his high school diploma just months from his 15th birthday. “The common knowledge of Africa is poverty, which we do have a lot of,” Ezeli said. “But the affluent and educated exist in Nigeria as well. My parents worked hard enough to send me to an international school. At the school I learned about different parts of the world. I learned to get out of a small-town mentality and to aspire to be great.”
Festus Ezeli arrived to Sacramento standing 6-foot-8 with plenty of room left to grow. While school remained the focus, his uncle believed it made a lot of sense for his nephew to begin playing basketball, too. “[Ndulue] saw my height and said, ‘We could do something with this,’ ” Festus Ezeli said. “I told him that I came to America to be a doctor. He told me, ‘You can play basketball and use basketball to pay for your education.’ We all thought it was a good idea, but we didn’t realize how hard it would be.”
Ezeli actually scored his first basket in his AAU debut in the wrong basket. He took a brief hiatus playing basketball after his frustrations, combined with his teammates’ and coaches’ frustrations, became too much for him. In 2005, he got cut from Sacramento’s Jesuit High School basketball team. “I didn’t like it at all at first,” Ezeli said. “I didn’t understand anything about the game.”
Ezeli received 27 scholarship offers before narrowing his field to Boston College, Connecticut, Harvard and Vanderbilt. Ezeli’s parents thought it would be a dream come true for their son to get a Harvard education. In hopes of getting the best combination of school and basketball though, a strong-willed Ezeli chose Vanderbilt. “I didn’t think it was the best decision because I thought Harvard would give him the greatest opportunity in life,” Patricia Ada Ezeli said. “Most parents would think that for their children. But when he kept insisting about basketball, school and being able to play at the highest level of the sport, we said to ourselves, ‘School is always there. He can try it and if it doesn’t work out he can go back to school.’ “
Ezeli is scheduled to depart from South Africa back to the United States on Aug. 6. He says his trip to Africa won’t be complete until he finally steps foot back in Nigeria. “Even if I can’t go right now, the fact that I can go back to Africa is exciting to me,” Ezeli said. “There are a lot of things I want to do in the world. With the trouble in Nigeria and things like that, I want to be able to help my country in some way. I don’t know how it’s going to be, but I want to help my country. But to be able to give back to the continent, this is an exciting first step.”
A security detail has accompanied the group throughout their travels to Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, a restaurant near the northern border with Syria and Lebanon, the Holocaust Museum, and a basketball clinic for Israeli and Palestinian youngsters. The itinerary includes another youth clinic and a breakfast meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We were a little nervous about going to Jerusalem,” Casspi said by phone early Tuesday morning, “but we had a great time. Thousands of people followed us when we walked around the Wall and the shops. DeMarcus was like a rock star. Everybody wanted to be around him.”
This week, columnist Dave Zirin of The Nation wrote an open letter to the players who accompanied Casspi, urging them to investigate Adelson’s background. Zirin further alleges that Casspi organized the delegation in response to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement, a Palestinian-founded campaign designed to isolate and financially cripple Israel.
“You sit around a locker room, and you talk about your home,” Casspi said. “I always tell my teammates, ‘Come see my side of the world. I go to your house when we go to Washington. Come meet my parents, my brother, my sister.’ It’s literally as simple as that. On CNN, all you see is war. My thought is, ‘Come see for yourself.’ Sheldon … is a Republican; our president (Barack Obama) is a Democrat. Good, bad, whatever. It doesn’t matter. We have to work on our relationship.” While the NBA’s involvement is limited to providing a clinician and T-shirts for the campers, league officials have long encouraged coaches and players to conduct clinics – usually in conjunction with the U.S. State Department – in war-torn countries such as Lebanon, Iran and Iraq. During the Cold War, the Atlanta Hawks toured the former Soviet Union and fostered lifelong friendships among the players, coaches and members of the respective basketball federations.
Contacted by The Post, Hodges said Houston called him two weeks ago with the news his contract would not be renewed. “My only comment is I was thankful for the opportunity. It was their decision to make,’’ Hodges said. “I feel we could’ve done better. We didn’t get Thanasis [Antetokounmpo] to the level we should have.’’
“I take everything very serious,” Towns said during an appearance at the Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Sports Matter panel Tuesday. “For me, making sure that I had great grades at Kentucky was a very key component of my freshman year. It’s going to be every year. Just wanted to make sure I could play and be the best I could be, especially in the classroom, and I’m glad I came out with a 4.0 GPA.”
Well, we can go one better. The man who had the most to do with making it all possible — the player on whom the clutch “Jimmy Chitwood” character was based — doesn’t have any problem with Milan being remembered by the celluloid stand-in of “Hickory.” “I just think it’s great,” Bobby Plump, 78, told NBA.com in a phone interview Wednesday. “It’s wonderful that somebody thought about honoring the movie ‘Hoosiers’ and the Milan story. It would never have dawned on me to do that, but I’m certainly very proud.”
Cuban took to his Cyber Dust messaging app this week to congratulate Trump, referring to the Republican presidential candidate as “probably the best thing to happen to politics in a long, long time.” “I don’t care what his actual positions are,” Cuban wrote. “I don’t care if he says the wrong thing. He says what’s on his mind. He gives honest answers rather than prepared answers. This is more important than anything any candidate has done in years.”
Trump issued a tweet to his more than 3 million Twitter followers, thanking Cuban for the “nice words.” Trump added that he was rapidly becoming a Dallas Mavericks fan. “I think people are tired of politics as usual,” Cuban told ESPN Radio last week. “We’re tired of everything being scripted, we’re tired of every comment being politically correct. And, you know, even though Donald has to spend a lot of time pulling not just his foot but the toenails and the stuff that falls off his cuticles out of his mouth, at least it’s refreshing to have somebody who is just gonna say what’s on their mind and give an honest, if not insensitive, response to a question. To me, it’s great.” So would Cuban vote for Trump? “No, but I don’t know that I’d vote for any of the other 14 candidates and I don’t know that I’d vote for the Democratic candidates right now either,” Cuban said.
Recently retired Kenyon Martin doesn’t have any plans to return to the basketball court after a 15-year career, but the former power forward is making a comeback in the real estate world. After knocking $50,000 off the price, Martin recently put his Woodland Hills, CA, home back on the market. Built in 2006 and listed for $1.8 million, the Mediterranean-style home has four bedrooms and a separate guesthouse.
A Beijing court has dismissed a trademark case brought by US basketball superstar Michael Jordan against a company using a similar name and logo to his Nike-produced brand, a report said. The former Chicago Bull is arguably the most popular international basketball star in China and is known in the country as “Qiaodan”, a Chinese version of his name.