Ujiri could have seriously downplayed the reports that Leonard is unhappy to be coming to Toronto and started to try to rehabilitate the (perhaps momentary) hit his reputation has taken. He didn’t. The most Ujiri could say is that he has talked to Leonard and his representatives. “That’s my job, and I think that’s why I’m in this seat, is to try and figure that part out,” Ujiri said of selling Toronto on Leonard, a free agent in 2019 who apparently only has eyes for Los Angeles. “I’ve had conversations with Kawhi, with his agent, with his uncle and everything has gone well. I’m looking forward to meeting with them face-to-face. … Our responsibility is to figure it out and to make them as comfortable as possible and, on his part, hear more on what he wants in our team, in the future, and go from there. I take responsibility for that and I’m confident. I think we have a good game plan and we’ll see how that goes.”
August 19, 2018 | 9:59 pm EDT Update
Leading the charge with Joel Embiid will be Ben Simmons and the Aussie is backing down from the challenge. “We’ve got to get past Boston, those are the guys at the top right now. Beating them, that’s our next goal,” Simmons said. “Obviously getting further than the second round and winning the Eastern Conference Finals and then moving on to the Finals.
Simmons crossed Rookie of the Year honours off of his list after claiming the award last season, but he’s now setting his individual sights on a bigger goal. “I knocked off one of those (RoY), the next one is MVP.”
James Harden, the NBA’S Most Valuable Player in 2018, said Sunday he and his Rockets teammates will get together in the Bahamas the first week of September for about a week of bonding, basketball and fun.
“It’s extremely important,” Harden said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “I think last year it was great for us because we kind of built our chemistry up before training camp, and then obviously adding Chris (Paul) and adding PJ (Tucker), we got a year under our belt. Bringing other guys in, James (Ennis) and ‘Melo (Carmelo Anthony), just got to get them acclimated before training camp starts, something we need.”
Mark Berman: Mayor @SylvesterTurner says it’s time for Houston to honor the NBA’s MVP in 2018 with a James Harden Day in Houston. Mayor Turner wants to get it done “before the season officially starts.”
Chris Kaman will join a special club this year: He’s being inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame. Kaman played basketball for Tri-Unity Christian High School, then Central Michigan University. He was drafted to the NBA in 2003 and spent 13 years there. “I think I was just blessed,” Kaman said. “I always dreamed of it … I did not know I was any good at basketball until my third year of college when we played Michigan at Michigan and we beat them. I had a really good game and everybody was talking about it. I wouldn’t have thought I could go to the NBA.”
He said it never occurred to him who the scouts who started showing up at games were there to watch. “My teammates were like, ‘They’re coming to watch you, you idiot,'” he said. “Then I started to click and put things together.”
August 19, 2018 | 7:44 pm EDT Update
In the weeks leading up to the NBA’s February trade deadline, Andrew Bogut was widely rumoured to be signing on with a contender for the playoffs, after being waived by the Los Angeles Lakers. “I had offers. I had an offer straight away, a ten-day offer immediately after I was waived, but I didn’t take that,” Bogut revealed. “That team was pretty consistent in trying to get me to come over.”