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October 22, 2014 | 08:02 PM ET Update

HoopsHype readers: Play our new daily fantasy basketball game

Daily fantasy basketball with USA TODAY Sports' FantasyScore is almost here. Get a head start with the 50/50 Free Roll​ on October 29: 50 players pick teams, and 25 win real money.

   
October 22, 2014 | 07:00 PM ET Update

The Nuggets have waived forward Jerrelle Benimon and forward Marcus Williams, general manager and executive vice president of basketball operations Tim Connelly announced today. NBA.com

Charles F. Gardner: Timberwolves will not have Andrew Wiggins in lineup due to back injury. Also out are Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Ronny Turiaf, Mo Williams. Twitter @cf_gardner

October 22, 2014 | 05:28 PM ET Update

The Memphis Grizzlies waived forward Earl Clark and center Hassan Whiteside, the team announced today. Both players were signed as free agents on Sept. 25. NBA.com

“J.Crossover”, A Jamal Crawford documentary: The Crossover King Is a True Role Model. We had the pleasure of spending our summer in Seattle with the LA Clippers’ Jamal Crawford as he hosted his annual Seattle Pro-Am league. For two months, we captured highlights and conducted interviews with Pro-Am players like Isaiah Thomas & Tony Wroten as well as Seattle basketball legends like Gary Payton and Brandon Roy who talked to us about Jamal and how committed he is to giving back to his community. We also talked to Jamal about his basketball journey that started at home with a yellow Dr J basketball to playing pick-up games with the original Lob City crew of Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp while Crawford was still in high school to the University of Michigan and then to the NBA where he has been breaking records and throwing lobs to Blake Griffin as part of the modern day Lob City. YouTube

Eric Pincus: Lakers have finally taken Steve Nash off as probable starter - instead, Ronnie Price - team plays tonight vs. Blazers on preseason b2b Twitter @EricPincus

HoopsHype readers: Play our new daily fantasy basketball game

Daily fantasy basketball with USA TODAY Sports' FantasyScore is almost here. Get a head start with the 50/50 Free Roll​ on October 29: 50 players pick teams, and 25 win real money.

   
October 22, 2014 | 03:43 PM ET Update

HoopsHype readers: Play our new daily fantasy basketball game

Daily fantasy basketball with USA TODAY Sports' FantasyScore is almost here. Get a head start with the 50/50 Free Roll​ on October 29: 50 players pick teams, and 25 win real money.

   
October 22, 2014 | 03:24 PM ET Update

HoopsHype readers: Play our new daily fantasy basketball game

Daily fantasy basketball with USA TODAY Sports' FantasyScore is almost here. Get a head start with the 50/50 Free Roll​ on October 29: 50 players pick teams, and 25 win real money.

   
October 22, 2014 | 02:36 PM ET Update

Before Stephenson had committed to Charlotte, his representatives had recognized his successful growth with the Indiana Pacers and a desire to stay. Move a salary off the books, move a player here or there and keep your homegrown talent, Stephenson’s management team urged the Pacers’ front office. With the ability to shed part or all of Luis Scola’s and Donald Sloan’s contracts, people involved in negotiations brought up scenarios to remove those deals to create an increased Year 1 and Year 2 salary for Stephenson in a deal with Indiana. Suggestions went unanswered, without execution. Under the direction of Larry Bird and Herb Simon, the Pacers remained resistant in their contract offer to Stephenson, and lost him. Bird had called Stephenson’s behaviors “disappointing” late in last season’s playoffs, had failed to convince ownership enough of his former second round pick to spike into a luxury tax area, but Stephenson was his guy. He always shielded Stephenson privately and publicly. Away from this partnership, Stephenson understands there’s no turning back now, no grudge to keep. RealGM

The Hornets brought four gritty players into training camp, and so far Jason Maxiell is the leading candidate to be retained for the 15th regular season roster spot, a source said. RealGM

However, until the league becomes a true minor league system, with 30 affiliates, we'll continue to see many of the current rules remain in place, restricting how much control the individual clubs can exert in shaping their rosters to the best of their abilities. The league is hesitant to expand too quickly; remember, it foots the bill for the majority of the rosters, and by one source's estimate, it costs the league about $500,000 for every additional team. The D-League relies on NBA subsidy, and although that exact amount is unknown, the league must move closer to self-sufficiency before rapid expansion can take place. ESPN.com

HoopsHype readers: Play our new daily fantasy basketball game

Daily fantasy basketball with USA TODAY Sports' FantasyScore is almost here. Get a head start with the 50/50 Free Roll​ on October 29: 50 players pick teams, and 25 win real money.

   
October 22, 2014 | 01:39 PM ET Update

The league's GMs voted Aldridge the best power forward in the league, along with the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin. Aldridge and Griffin both got 25 percent of the vote in by far the tightest race among the five positions. Aldridge finished fourth in the category the last three seasons. Last year, Aldridge got 6.9 percent of the vote, with Tim Duncan finishing No. 1 at 31 percent. In 2012, he got 10 percent of the vote, which was topped by Love at 30 percent. In 2011, Aldridge got 10.7 percent, with Dirk Nowitzki finishing No. 1 at 41.1 percent. Oregonian

HoopsHype readers: Play our new daily fantasy basketball game

Daily fantasy basketball with USA TODAY Sports' FantasyScore is almost here. Get a head start with the 50/50 Free Roll​ on October 29: 50 players pick teams, and 25 win real money.

   
October 22, 2014 | 12:07 PM ET Update

“My agent and Rob [Hennigan, the Magic’s GM] are working on finalizing everything,” Vucevic said before the Magic began their shootaround minutes ago. “But like I said before, I always wanted to stay here and be a part of the Magic future, so I’m obviously very excited. I’m very happy. I can’t really put it into words, but I still have to wait for everything to be finalized and for me to officially sign it.” Orlando Sentinel

In two seasons with Orlando, the Montenegrin center has averaged 13.6 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. “It means a lot to me that they brought me here first, gave me a chance to play, gave me a chance to prove myself and believed in me through tough times,” Vucevic said. “I’m very happy for that. It means a lot for my confidence. . . . “I’m very excited. I’m very happy. Hopefully, we can finalize everything very soon.” Orlando Sentinel

The ESPN article, quoting anonymous sources, framed Bryant as someone who alienated potential free agents and teammates. After scoring 27 points during the Lakers’ 114-108 overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns at Honda Center in Anaheim, Bryant addressed the story that ran on Monday. “It’s not the first one, it’s not going to be the last one,” Bryant said. “The one thing I’ve come to understand over the years is that you’ll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like it’s the end of the world. It seems like everybody is taking shots at you. Los Angeles Times

“But time goes by, and then you look back and it’s just a Monday. Right? Then have another great story that comes out maybe a month later or something like that and it’s a fantastic story. And then there’s a bad story that comes out a month after that. “It’s a cycle. And things are never as good or as bad as they seem at the moment in time. So you stay focused on the big picture. Things are never really as bleak as they seem at the time. I just kind of roll with it.” Los Angeles Times

The Trail Blazers' backup big man suffered a head laceration when Denver Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov inadvertently gnawed on it during the Blazers' 93-75 victory at Coors Events Center. While playing defense, Kaman backed into Mozgov in an effort to box him out as a Denver player attempted a shot from the perimeter. But as Kaman pushed Mozgov, the 7-foot-1 center toppled on Kaman's back and chomped down on his head with his teeth. "I went back pretty hard and I must've hit him in the chest," Kaman said, retelling the story. "He kind of folded over and his teeth went down on my head." Oregonian

The league's general managers believe that we're going to see James vs. the San Antonio Spurs in The Finals for the third straight June and the fourth time in eight years. But the championship picture is also relatively wide open, as six different teams were picked to win The Finals and a seventh was picked to get there. James was picked to take back the MVP award from Kevin Durant and is still the guy that with whom half of the GMs would most like to start a franchise. But it's becoming clear that Anthony Davis is the next big thing. NBA.com

Oscar Schmidt was the band you loved fiercely and could never convince anyone else was the greatest thing on earth. Oscar Schmidt was indie rock. Kobe’s call? “No question,” he says, “he would have been one of the greatest.” In ’95, after a short, unsatisfying stint in Spain, Schmidt finally came home. He spent his last few years at Flamengo, an all-sports club and a dynasty — the Yankees of Brazil. There, in his forties, he made the best money of his career. How did he manage at such an advanced age? “I don’t waste my energy,” he says. “I start to have more precision.” He smiles. “And I start to defend only in the second half.” Grantland

He’d made some noise over the years about not wanting to take a limited role in the league. His friend Georgi Glouchkov, a Bulgarian forward and the first Eastern Bloc player in the NBA, complained to Schmidt that he couldn’t get touches. And this is Oscar Schmidt we’re talking about: If you’re not gunning, why are you even alive? Greg Dole, a former Brazilian basketball scout, recalls training with Nene before the 2002 draft. “Nene said, ‘If I get drafted in the first round, I’m gonna buy a team in Brazil and sign Oscar,’” Dole says. “‘And order him to pass the ball!’” By the time the international rules changed, Schmidt was 35. “Too old to be a hookie,” he says, swapping his r’s for h’s in the Brazilian style. Grantland

HoopsHype readers: Play our new daily fantasy basketball game

Daily fantasy basketball with USA TODAY Sports' FantasyScore is almost here. Get a head start with the 50/50 Free Roll​ on October 29: 50 players pick teams, and 25 win real money.

   
October 22, 2014 | 08:50 AM ET Update

Shams Charania: The Denver Nuggets are releasing forward Quincy Miller, league source tells RealGM. Miller's deal was partially guaranteed for the season. Twitter @ShamsCharania

Danny Ainge and Mark Bartelstein, the agent for Will Bynum, continued to work yesterday to find a destination for the veteran point guard that might also bring the Celtics something of value in return. “We’re trying to see if there is something we can do,” said Bartelstein, who added Bynum is working out in Chicago, where years ago he was the high school teammate of Tony Allen. Boston Herald

Bartelstein stressed that Bynum has neither been asked to stay away from Celtics training camp nor refused to attend. According to the agent, Bynum has recovered from a strained hamstring that kept him out of preseason games for the Pistons prior to last week’s Joel Anthony trade, and is ready to resume workouts for either the Celtics or another team. Boston Herald

As Isaiah Thomas walked into US Airways Center, he couldn’t help but smile. The Phoenix Suns went all-out during his free agency visit, putting pictures of him in a Suns jersey on the Jumbotron and all over the arena – inside and out. “The Phoenix Suns welcome Isaiah Thomas” read an electronic sign outside of the building. This is exactly what Thomas was looking for entering the offseason. “I went on one visit, with the Phoenix Suns, and they just pulled out the red carpet for me and in the end I just felt wanted,” Thomas told Basketball Insiders. “That was the biggest thing for me, to go to a team that really wanted me for who I was and loved me for what I did – loved me for being a scoring point guard and being a 5’9 point guard. I felt Phoenix was the best destination for me with the style of play, with the coach and with the whole organization there. Everything feels like it’s going forward. I mean, they won 48 games last year, they were one game from the playoffs and it just seemed like the right fit for me.” Basketball Insiders

“Am I surprised Sacramento didn’t bring me back? People always ask that. Actually, I wasn’t. I always felt like they didn’t appreciate me as much as they should,” Thomas said. “I’m not saying the fans – the fans loved me and the city of Sacramento loved me. But it’s a business. They felt like they could get somebody better and I don’t blame them, that’s on them, and it’s their loss. I’m just going to continue to work hard, and worry about the Phoenix Suns. That’s what it’s about now. It’s not about Sacramento. It’s not about me not going back there. I wish them the best, and now it’s about being on the Phoenix Suns and making the playoffs.” Basketball Insiders

The dots weren't hard to connect, even though Lawson later tried to convince the world that he didn't mean it as a slight. This Harden-can't-defend fire continued to be fed. "For whatever reason, it has taken on a life of its own," Morey says about the criticism about Harden's defense. "You've got people doing a 10-minute YouTube clip that everyone references, and I just ask anyone, 'Take your worst 10 minutes from your job the last year and just take those worst 10 minutes and put them in a YouTube clip.' I'm guessing it wouldn't come out very well for anybody. That, to me, was completely unfair. That bothered me in a big way. Without context, you can grab 10 minutes of anyone and make them look like (expletive). I think reality TV proves that." USA Today Sports

"It's not a matter of whether I can or can't play defense," Harden says in an interview with USA TODAY Sports. "It's just a matter of me focusing for 48 minutes throughout a game and making sure that I'm always alert on both ends of the floor … It's up to me to go out there and show my leadership, to show that I can play both ends of the floor at a high level and just do it. If I have that approach, we're going to go a long ways." USA Today Sports

So can they pick up the pieces enough to contend for a title? "Definitely," Harden says without hesitation. "It's all about chemistry. Whatever team it is, chemistry is the most important thing. You look at the Spurs, and they have a structure and they have a chemistry, and they're all on the same page, no matter what's happening. "If we can build that chemistry during the season, even when things are going bad to still have great chemistry, then we'll be great." USA Today Sports

In his first time speaking to media after an ESPN The Magazine article suggested that he played a significant role in the Lakers' recent slide over the last few years, Bryant, known for speaking candidly, responded with a seemingly diplomatic answer. "It's not the first one and it won't be the last one," Bryant said following the Lakers' 114-108 preseason overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday. "One thing I've come to understand over the years is that you'll have a bad story that comes out on a Monday and it seems like it's the end of the world and it seems like everybody's taking shots at you. But time goes by and then you look back on it and it was just a Monday. ESPN.com

Bryant continued, explaining his rationale behind remaining upbeat despite the current state of the Lakers franchise. "Stay focused on the bigger picture and things are never as bleak as they seem at the time," Bryant said. "I just kind of roll with it." ESPN.com

NBA stars LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki reacted to the league's decision to schedule a 44-minute game saying it's the regular season, not the games, that should be shortened. Is that a widespread opinion among players? We asked 28 NBAers to find out. Result: They are split on the debate with 42.9 percent saying regular season should stay at its usual 82 games and 57.1 suggesting that's too much. HoopsHype

Lottery reform, as reported by multiple media outlets, is likely to pass with at least the 23 (of 30) votes needed. The changes essentially will broaden the lottery’s sweet spot, giving more teams a better shot at landing the No. 1 pick and therefore, presumably, discouraging teams that might be inclined to “tank” their way to a rebuilding strategy. NBA.com

Minnesota Timberwolves home games offer the best family fan value in the NBA. That's according to a new study by financial and credit card website Nerdwallet, which calculated that a family of four would spend about $350 to buy four Target Center tickets on the resale market, four hot dogs, two 16-ounce beers, two 16-ounce soft drinks and parking. That's the lowest price in the NBA, which averaged $654. A family of four in Cleveland would pay about $1,505 to see the Cavaliers, the priciest team in the league. Business News

NBA Hall of Famer Mitch Richmond has a very clear message for Michael Sam -- don't give up -- telling TMZ Sports that he hopes Sam does everything he can to keep his NFL dream alive. Richmond was out in Calabasas when our camera guy asked the 6-time All-Star and Cowboys fan about Sam being cut from the 'Boys practice squad to make room for another player. TMZ.com

 

THE TOP 50 PLAYERS IN TIMBERWOLVES HISTORY

Kevin Garnett remains unquestionably the No. 1 player in franchise history with only another Kevin threatening that position.

   

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