Cavs’ Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman dance around Kyrie Irving trade talks

Kyrie Irving met with Cavaliers brass after the season was over and something was said. It has been widely reported that Irving asked for a trade, and what may be more telling than anything is the Cavaliers are not denying that.

In Koby Altman’s introduction as the Cavs general manager Wednesday, the very first question asked was about Irving’s reported request for a trade. The answer was veiled but telling and it certainly appears that Irving asked for a trade. Neither Altman nor owner Dan Gilbert denied it.

Valentine has played in just three of 10 games since scoring 19 points Jan. 10 against the Wizards. He scored just eight points in that stretch and even spent a game in the Developmental League.

Hardly a happy story for a lottery pick.

However, Valentine remains upbeat about his playing prospects in the NBA — and his career in general.

“It gets tough sometimes, especially the third or fourth game of a (did not play by coach’s decision) stretch,” Valentine said, via the Chicago Tribune. “But after the game I just think to myself that there are worse things going on in the world. I still have a dream job.”

Valentine, a 6-6 shooting guard, is behind Dwyane Wade at shooting guard on the depth chart, but fellow guards Rajon Rondo, Jimmy Butler and Michael Carter-Williams are also ahead of him in the rotation.

“I can’t get mad,” Valentine said. “It’d be easy to be negative, but I’m going to be positive and keep working.”

Valentine may get more opportunities soon if the Bulls are unable to work as a team and start winning some games.
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LeBron James has a message for LaVar Ball: ‘Keep my kids’ names out of your mouth’

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Don’t mess with LeBron James’ family.

The Cavaliers big man sent an angry message to LaVar Ball, the father of UCLA star Lonzo Ball, about talking to the press about James’ children.

Keep my kids’ name out of your mouth, keep my family out of your mouth, James told reporters Tuesday, via ESPN.com. This is dad to dad. It’s a problem now.

Coaches understand that resting players can impact the league’s business, Pop said.

I think keeping owners informed about what’s going on is mandatory, and having input is fine, he said. But I think there has to be an understanding that coaches and GMs have brains also, and we know who pays the bills.

Popovich is willing to work with the league to find a solution and said one concept that makes sense to him is resting players during home games instead of on the road, where fans have limited opportunity to see visiting teams’ players.

Wendel Clark Game Jersey If we rested Kawhi (Leonard), if there’s a way we could do it at home, that seems like a logical thing to me, he said, a reasonable thing that a coach or GM should think about, rather (than) that one time somebody’s gonna watch him play someplace else, if you can do it. Sometimes the schedule dictates differently.

And not one to miss a chance to deliver a backhanded comment to President Donald Trump, Pop concluded of the issue, It’s complicated … kind of like health care.

We will not know until early July which team correctly answered the core question of whether Noel will be worth his next contract

Part of the fun of free agency is that despite the ability to make informed predictions, surprises can always come. Last summer, both Seth Curry and Dewayne Dedmon’s prior teams withdrew their qualifying offers while Crabbe received that monster offer sheet from the Nets. In the case of Noel, Dallas could argue that two second-round picks bought them both the ability to make an informed decision and the possibility that the talented center’s market dries up.

The 2017 free agent process will be very different than 2016 in no small part due to the out of control spending last summer. Fewer teams will have enough cap space to make a nightmare offer, and many of those will not be interested in a center, a group that presumably includes the Sixers. Philadelphia had full knowledge of the possibility that the process could work in their favor as well, but the presence of Embiid puts them in a completely different position — though Noel has enough talent to be a part of their future at a reasonable price. That said, Dallas possesses a greater need for a center of the future, fewer other means by which to add that center and a different system for Noel to play in.
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Authentic Kids Donald Penn Jersey We will not know until early July which team correctly answered the core question of whether Noel will be worth his next contract, and the time between now and then will be absolutely fascinating.

Nurkic scores the bulk of his points out of the pick-and-roll, making him a perfect fit with Lillard, who ranks behind only James Harden and Kemba Walker in pick-and-roll scoring. Nurkic scored 1.14 points per possession as the roll man in Denver to rank in the 75.9 percentile, though he can be a volume scorer in those situations. His agility and soft touch at his size makes him incredibly tough to stop when he’s diving to the basket.

Draymond Green deflects Isiah Thomas claim Warriors were ‘scared’ to play Spurs

Draymond Green didn’t take a foot to Isiah Thomas’ backside, figuratively speaking, but the Warriors forward did make sure to strike back when Thomas questioned the Warriors’ courage Monday night.

Green, appearing on TNT’s Players Only version of Inside the NBA, was asked by Thomas why the Dubs were scared to play the Spurs in San Antonio on Saturday when they rested Green, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala.

Authentic Kids Tim Anderson Jersey Why’d y’all forfeit the game? Zeke asked as he needled Green (per the Mercury News).

Authentic Kids Gavin Escobar Jersey Green, with a smile and a chuckle, of course said he’s never been scared of anything and was confident the Dubs’ subs could beat the Spurs’ subs once it was known San Antonio would be without Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker.

Neither Isaac nor Florida State closed the regular season, and that’s certain to cause teams to think twice before spending a top-10 pick on him. He has the build (6-10 with a 7-1 wingspan)and the instincts to be a shutdown defender in the NBA, but he sometimes fails to make much of an offensive impact.

He averaged 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds, shooting 35.3 percent from the 3-point line this season, none of which screams top 10. During FSU’s lackluster 4-4 finish, Isaac shot just 41.9 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from the 3-point line, averaging 8.6 points. Even as a 3-seed, the Seminoles have a tough first-round matchup against Florida Gulf Coast. Isaac will be a lottery pick, but an early ouster won’t help his cause.

Cavs’ J.R. Smith held back by security at end of loss to Heat

J.R. Smith didn’t handle his team’s loss to Miami so well.

The injured Cavaliers guard was held back by Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue and escorted off the court by security after yelling at several Heat players following Saturday’s 120-92 loss to Miami.

Smith, out with a fractured right thumb, wasn’t particularly pleased with Heat guard Rodney McGruder for dunking on and shoving Cavs center Channing Frye with just over a minute remaining in Miami’s eventual blowout victory.

“We got J.R. off the floor,” Lue said, via ESPN. “He’s fiery. He’s feisty. He’s ready to get back on the floor. It happens throughout the course of a game. It’s nothing, though.”

The Cavs will surely seek redemption when they host the Heat on Monday at Quicken Loans Arena, though Smith will still be sidelined. On the upside, the veteran guard is expected to return sometime in the next two weeks.

It’s also how Harden has put up numbers this season we’ve only ever seen from Oscar Robertson. By making him a point guard in a pick-and-roll-heavy offense which focuses on pushing the tempo and shooting more 3-pointers than we’ve ever seen before, Mike D’Antoni has simplified the game for Harden to the point where he’s become a walking triple-double. He’s scoring as well as he always has, only now he’s leading the league in assists while pulling down seven rebounds per game.

It takes a unique player to be able to do what Harden has done this season — someone who can score 30 points per game efficiently while also having the vision to get double-digit assists — but there are a number of players who would thrive in their own way if they were in the same situation. From LeBron James to Klay Thompson, let’s look at seven in particular who could have similar individual success if they took over Harden’s role in Houston this season.
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The rumor season got a whole lot better when Frazier was scratched from the White Sox’s lineup Tuesday

Elite Kids Derek Watt Jersey Let’s be honest: The Mets need to sell like a grandma selling Super Nintendo games at a yard sale. Their chances of a playoff spot are slim, and if they keep fighting against injuries, things won’t get any better. Duda is an interesting trade chip: He’s in the middle of a pretty good season — he has 14 homers at the All-Star break — and he could offer a team a decent power threat at first base or DH. The fact that the Mets reportedly are willing to deal him to the Yankees is even more interesting, but the cost will be the question.

The rumor season got a whole lot better when Frazier was scratched from the White Sox’s lineup Tuesday, followed by conflicting reports (both real and fake) that the Red Sox and Yankees were close to acquiring him and late-inning relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from Chicago in some sort of blockbuster deal involving prospects. From the looks of the pertinent Twitter timelines, Chicago and Boston got close to a deal, and then New York came over the top.
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Both teams desperately need a corner bat like Frazier’s (16 home runs), and controllable bullpen arms like Robertson and Kahnle are always in high demand. Which AL East contender will win this? What possible set of prospects could get this done? The White Sox know the Red Sox’s system extremely well after last winter’s Chris Sale trade; they’ve also scouted the Yankees’ system, of course, and know the minor league depth the Bombers have accumulated.

Nationals’ Anthony Rendon may be baseball’s best-kept secret

Max Scherzer doesn’t understand it. How can a guy so valuable not be an All-Star?
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It’s really hard for me to swallow that he’s not up here at the table right now, the right-handed pitcher said at a recent news conference recognizing his and four of his Washington Nationals teammates’ selection to the 2017 National League All Star team. I just think he’s had that type of year.

Game Dominique Wilkins Jersey The man to whom Scherzer was referring is Anthony Rendon, the Nats’ third baseman and perhaps baseball’s best-kept secret.

I just remember as a kid seeing Tim Raines going ‘oh my God,’ and now I get to stand next to him, said McGwire, the current Padres’ bench coach who went 0-for-3 in the 1987 All-Star Game. All you did was see them on TV and then you really get to see them and stand next to them. That’s when you get the ‘wow’ factor.

Today, the wow factor takes place on a daily basis. The starting pitchers in the 2017 Midsummer Classic, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer, have each opposed a team in the other league twice this season.

A generation ago, All-Stars and fans alike would have spent all day wondering whether Brewers closer Corey Knebel, who has struck out at least one batter in all 43 appearances this season and leads all relievers with 75 whiffs, would get a chance to face Yankees rookie phenom Aaron Judge, who leads baseball with 30 homers.

But the matchup happened Sunday, when Knebel struck out Judge with a 97 mph fastball in the ninth inning of the Brewers’ 5-3 win.

Will De’Aaron Fox be the bane of Lonzo Ball’s NBA career?

Authentic Jason Kidd Jersey A groin injury kept Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball out of Monday night’s summer league game against De’Aaron Fox and the Kings. A least, that’s what the team said.

Authentic Cameron Payne Jersey Fans of basketball had different theories as to why Ball might sit Monday night. Despite recording a triple-double in his second summer game, Ball has shown some weaknesses in his game — namely shooting — that may have forced the Lakers to be cautious with their first-round pick.

Montana thinks the shake-up, at least in part, is due to the distraction Kapernick caused last season with his national anthem protest.

I think changes were necessary there, he said. I think it will take a year or so to get those guys understanding the system, how it works. I think there was a lot of loss for the game over the past few years with all the distractions, with Colin and all those things.

They needed to clean house, (get) a different atmosphere in that building.

I’m not sure, I think there’s an injury somewhere he probably gets in, Montana said. In most cases, you look at Tim Tebow — a great guy and everybody was talking about him. But what it comes down to is 40 percent completion or even in the low 50s, you can’t win in the league with that. You won’t be in the league very long. It comes down to his play as much as anything.

Everyone thinks it is the stance he took; one of the things you don’t look for is distractions in the locker room. You can go back to Bill Walsh and as soon as there were guys that weren’t fitting in what he was looking for, it didn’t matter how good you were. You weren’t on the team for very long. You have to have people who want the same thing, fighting for the same thing and willing to put in the time.

our Stud honor goes to the league’s star among stars.

What’s gotten into John Wall, anyway? We are accustomed to Wall as an ultra-quick ballhandler capable of barreling to the basket through a sea of defenders, but Wall’s weak spot — perimeter shooting — has been a strength in the postseason. He shot 47.4 percent from behind the 3-point line in six games against Atlanta, averaging 29.5 points and 10.3 assists. He has been just as good with his midrange game, making nearly 50 percent from 16 feet out to the 3-point line.

On a Sunday replete with excellent performances from a variety of NBA stars, our Stud honor goes to the league’s star among stars. LeBron James had 35 points, nine rebounds and six assists in leading the Cavaliers to a 109-102 Game 4 win over Toronto to complete his NBA-record 11th playoff sweep.

James can now sit back and relax while the Wizards and Celtics battle for the right to play his Cavs in the East finals. As for his preferred opponent, James deadpanned, “It doesn’t matter.”

He’s probably right: James’ seventh straight NBA Finals appearance feels like a forgone conclusion, regardless of his next opponent.

While Tony Parker has been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs, the Rockets are dealing with an injury to key player of their own. Center Nene left Game 4 in the first quarter with a groin injury and was taken to a hospital for an MRI. His status for Game 5 is not promising.

The series may be tied, but none of the games have been close. In fact, the Spurs’ 11-point win in Game 3 marks the narrowest margin of victory yet.

Hopefully, fans will be treated to more excitement when the teams meet Tuesday in San Antonio.
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NBA playoffs 2017: Cavs make history, Bucks obliterate Raptors, Grizzlies take Game 3

Thursday night’s NBA playoff games gave us one of the greatest comebacks in postseason history, a brutal blowout and a classic visit to the Grindhouse in Memphis. You know, standard stuff.

The Pacers suffered a demoralizing loss at home in Game 3 against the Cavs and are on the verge of getting swept. The Bucks destroyed the Raptors to take a 2-1 lead in the East’s 3-6 matchup. As for the late game, the Grizzlies fought back in Game 3 for their first win of the series, but the Spurs still hold a 2-1 advantage.

These fans are great, Rondo said Tuesday, via ESPN.com. I wouldn’t expect anything else. A couple nice words were said when I walked out of the tunnel, but that’s Boston. They’ve been doing that for me for nine years while I was here, so I don’t expect it [another way].

From 2006-15, Rondo played with the Celtics and was on the 2007-08 team that won the NBA title. After bouncing to the Mavericks and Kings, he landed a two-year, $27.4 million dollar deal with the Bulls last summer.

Despite his three-year absence from wearing a Celtics jersey, he said many folks have been kind to him outside of TD Garden.

Limited Kids Ricky Romero Jersey I’ve been walking the streets the last couple of days, he said. It’s a pretty good welcoming back 鈥?[people ask] for autographs and pictures, so they have to boo me [later]. Obviously I’ve got on a red jersey, so it’s part of it.
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Let’s take a look at what happened in each playoff game, along with the turning points and X-factors that helped shape the final scores.