Giannis Antetokounmpo to play for Greece in September?

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January 25, 2020 | 8:59 am UTC Update

Damian Lillard reaffirms commitment to Portland

Do the Blazers have to make a big move before the deadline to keep his commitment in Portland? “That don’t have nothing to do with my commitment to the team,” Lillard said. “I mean, it’s not like we are going to do something that is going to take us to the championship at this point. I think it’s more important for us to protect the assets we have, the guys who are going to be here and who are going to help us going forward. I don’t think it makes sense to sacrifice that just to make a desperate play. “It’s been a tough season, but the season is not over. We can make something of this season as we are, but it’s not worth, you know, saying ‘OK, let’s force something and go do something that at the end of the day doesn’t make sense.’ But that has nothing to do with my commitment. I said it after last game (Golden State): I feel like I can find a way. I can weather the storm. I can go through hard times.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 32 more rumors
On the NBA Africa League… Giannis: “I didn’t know much about it – it’s amazing! I heard about it earlier in the season and being able to watch games in Africa is amazing. We were able to play in the NBA Africa Game in 2015 and the people in Africa love basketball – there’s so much talent in Africa. I’ve spoken with Masai [Ujiri] and he’s going to do some big things – I’m sure he’s part of this league so I’m really excited to find out more things about it and hopefully we can play a regular season game in Africa as well.”
Speaking of the Lakers (36-9), they would happily welcome Iguodala if he’s eventually bought out, but L.A. doesn’t have a clear path to the 2015 NBA Finals MVP and his $17.2 million salary, with no first-rounders to offer and valuable contributors Danny Green and/or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope necessary to make a trade cap-worthy. “We’re not buying him out,” an executive with the Grizzlies said. “We will trade him, period.”
Storyline: Andre Iguodala Buyout?
“My first day on the job as general manager, we traded Paul George. It was literally my first day and I remember thinking, ‘Oh man, this GM position is going to be tough!’” Buchanan said with a laugh. “I flew to Orlando because we were playing in the Orlando Summer League. Kevin and Peter [Dinwiddie] were at the hotel and they were like, ‘Get your a** over here! We’re getting close to a deal; we have a couple of options.’ When I got over to the hotel, we met in Kevin’s room. We were bunkered up in there to look at some different options. We spent all day in that hotel room.”
“Here’s what happened: When Victor was in [OKC’s offer] and they said, ‘Okay fine, we’ll put Sabonis in too,’ in my mind, the deal was done,” Pritchard said. “When I heard Domantas’ name along with Victor’s name, I felt like that was enough. You can be really, really greedy in this business. But I felt like Sam [Presti] made a really honest, good offer and it was what I wanted to hear. I felt good about it.”
“After we did the trade, we were thinking, ‘Okay, you ready for this avalanche?’” Pritchard said. “I knew that there was going to be some harsh criticisms: ‘Why didn’t you get another pick? Why didn’t you leverage longer? Why didn’t you go [talk] to Boston? Why didn’t you go to all these other teams?’ I knew it was going to come, but I didn’t know it was going to come that hard. It came hard from the community, it came hard nationally.” In the face of all that criticism, Pritchard said he received tremendous support from Pacers owner Herb Simon, who called every day to check in and share his optimism about the move. “You’re not on an island,” Simon said, according to Pritchard. “When he said that, I could breathe,” Pritchard recalled.
Hield responded with a team-high 21 points in Sacramento’s 98-81 win over the Chicago Bulls to end their six-game losing streak. After the game, Hield told The Athletic his sunny disposition before the game was how he dealt with the talk that he was at fault for the Kings’ struggles the last five-plus weeks that saw the Kings go from 12-14 (going 12-9 after an 0-5 start) before stumbling to 15 losses in the next 19 games. So Hield, who never seems to be down, kept smiling and kept with his usual pregame routine before heading to chapel as he always does.
Storyline: Sacramento Kings Turmoil?
“Stuff like that, they don’t start you and after that everybody says, ‘Oh, he’s the problem,’” Hield said. “You just let everybody know what the fuck is going on. That’s what I’ve been doing and God he knows what I’m doing, I know what I’m capable of doing. “Nobody was saying that when we had a 12-14 record, it was, ‘He’s carrying the team,’ stuff like that. When we start losing, it’s a big problem. It is what it is, I’ve just got to stay confident, stay locked in and be ready and professional. That’s what it is, man. If I’m happy or not happy, I’m not going to show it out on the court. I’m going to go out and play my minutes.”
“I asked our players a trivia question,” Buchanan recalled. “I said, ’Name the player: He’s a combo guard who spent his entire 13-year career with one team, won 60 percent of his games and earned All-Defensive honors twice. His career-high in assists was higher than his career-high in points, and he once had 25 assists in a single game. He was never a full-time starter and he never took more than 15 shots in a single game (but he grabbed eight or more offensive rebounds as a guard on two different occasions). Who is it?’” Players shouted out guesses ranging from John Stockton to Lou Williams, which amused Buchanan. Finally, he revealed the answer: Nate McMillan.
When Victor Oladipo joined the Pacers, he was impressed by the front office’s communication with players and willingness to listen. “I haven’t played on many teams, but based on the teams I have played on, it’s pretty rare for upper-management to take the players’ input and opinions to heart and really try to apply those things throughout the entire program,” Oladipo explained. “For them to do that, it just shows what kind of people they are and it shows what kind of organization we’re trying to build.”
“What you saw the other night is a taste of what you’re going to see going forward,” Jordan said. “He’s still got a lot to do, but I think his passion for the game is coming through the way that he plays. That’s great for the league.” Ultimately, the Pelicans lost 121-117 to the San Antonio Spurs in Williamson’s debut. Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, finished with 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists. He also made all four of his 3-point attempts.
In the past, such comments could have been construed by the NBA league office as violating its tampering rules; fellow NBA legend Magic Johnson was fined multiple times for comments about players on teams other than the Los Angeles Lakers. In October, however, the league said in a memo that it had changed its tampering rules so that “isolated public comments by team representatives praising another team’s player will no longer be regarded as violations of the anti-tampering rule, unless aggravating circumstances are present.” Aggravating circumstances would include things like saying a team wanted to sign or trade for a specific player, for example. In this case, Jordan has not done that, and a league official said his comments were fine under the new rules.
The “We want Zion!” chants once again filled the Smoothie King Center as Williamson sat on the bench at the end of the fourth quarter in a 113-106 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry again said he understood the frustration of the fans but said they should understand where the team is coming from. “It’s the way we’ve decided, it’s best for him right now and that’s what we’re going to stick to,” Gentry said. “I know everybody gets real excited, and I hear every night that I’m the dumbest coach in the world about why would I take the guy out in the game of the last 5 minutes or 6 minutes? So I’ll live with that knowing that we’re doing the right thing.”
January 25, 2020 | 2:33 am UTC Update
January 25, 2020 | 1:50 am UTC Update
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