Devin Booker nodded his head when being asked about Deandre Ayton saying he and Monty Williams haven’t spoken since Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Phoenix lost to Dallas. He’s heard about it, but doesn’t see it as a possible distraction moving forward. “No,” Booker said after Wednesday’s practice. “Guys look good to me.”
December 9, 2022 | 3:22 pm EST Update
Dave McMenamin: LeBron James, following a one-game absence to rest his left ankle, will return to the lineup tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers (7:30 pm ET, ESPN), sources told ESPN. Anthony Davis is listed as probable to return as well after being out with a cold.
The Nike Hoop Summit is adding a women’s matchup for the first time. The summit an annual event that pits top U.S. high school players against a team of International players age 19 and under. The next summit will be in Portland on April 8.
December 9, 2022 | 2:32 pm EST Update
Eric Walden: Jazz PG Mike Conley, on if he’s expecting to play tonight: “I am, yeah. I was hopeful to play tonight regardless, but with (Collin Sexton) out, obviously, it kinda helps make the decision a little bit easier.”
Luol Deng is president of the Republic of South Sudan Basketball Federation and is also on its coaching staff. South Sudan is one win away from qualifying for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which would be a first for Africa’s youngest country. The Bright Stars need to win just one of three games against other African countries from Feb. 24-Feb. 26, 2023, in Egypt to qualify for the tournament showcasing the world’s top men’s basketball teams. Qualifying for the World Cup could also eventually open the door for the first Olympic berth for war-ravaged South Sudan.
Deng says that South Sudanese basketball fans are very fond of Bol Bol, the son of their beloved late legend Manute Bol. The 7-foot-2 Bol Bol is having a breakthrough season with the Magic, averaging 12.8 points and 7.5 rebounds. “Bol Bol told me he wants to play,” Deng said. “Obviously, this window in February, he’s still in the NBA. So, when we make it to the World Cup, then we can come to Bol Bol and knock on his door again. But in the past, he wanted to play badly. I remember he got hurt, but he wanted to play. But for Bol Bol, for him to [play], he needs to understand that his father’s legacy was for Bol Bol to play. He doesn’t understand how much he’s loved, and I think he will as he gets older. But his dad is loved so much that right now Bol Bol is getting everybody in the country so excited. His games are being watched by every kid.”
Deng will be in Chicago on Friday where he used to play for the Chicago Bulls to host a private fundraiser for the Luol Deng Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that “creates pathways to opportunity through sport and development,” according to its website, in Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The foundation also has charitable programs that aid youths in education and sport, people with disabilities, people with mental health problems, poor people and men’s and women’s basketball programs in South Sudan.