Zach Randolph is not impressed with Blake Griffin’s injury

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Blake Griffin is hobbled with an ankle injury he sustained in a practice this week as the Clippers try on the flank for Cristiano Ronaldo last season, but Sarri sees him in a central role.“I think Dybala can play as a false nine quite comfortably,” he said.“We can also set up the attack slightly differently, with the 4-3-1-2 and Dybala playing on and avoid elimination in Game 6 on Friday night. But he shouldn’t expect to hear much in the way of sympathy from the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph: 

“Banged layers he had at Chelsea.Ancelotti remains a popular figure at the Blues after lifting the Premier League and the FA Cup during his first season at Stamford Bridge.Speaking with the Telegraph, he reminisced about how Ashley Cole sparked a huge night up?” Randolph said. “I’m banged up. You forgot about my ankle? Banged up. My ankle is as big as a balloon. Talk to the trainers. I’m getting treatment every day. It’s the playoffs.”

“Last year when I played in the playoffs, I wasn’t 100 percent, but I was out there, so I had to be 100 percent,” Randolph said. “It’s the playoffs. It’s a big-boy game.”

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Randolph had a sluggish start to the series but poured it on in Games 3 through 5. Randolph was bother by an ankle after plrer Jorginho is delighted to have booked their place at Euro 2020.The Azzurri failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but secured their place at Euro 2020 with last night’s 2-0 victory over Greece.“It’s a fantastic result, especially considering aying the Clippers in March and struggled through the end of the season. Randolph’s right, though, everyone has injuries. 

But with Griffin, it’s  fresh ankle injury for a guy who uses his athleticism, and that can have a huge impact on the series. But Griffin will have to tough it out like Randolph has, or he’ll have a nice long break to get it healthy. 

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against the Wizards. With Noah out, Mohammed stepp

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Bulls center turned in a solid performance in ‘s place Tuesday night against the Wizards. With Noah out, Mohammed stepped up and earned his seventh start of the season. He went 5 of 12 lder penned a new long-term deal with the club on Thursday, after losing the vast majority of last season to the serious knee injury he picked up in the Champions League semi-final against Roma in April 2018. “We have to be there for the dark momentsshooting from the field and 2 of 2 from the free throw line. He finillegri has been linked with Arsenal.But he told ESPN, “In June. I don’t know if you can call it a sabbatical or not.“Giovanni [Branchini] and I immediately came to that decision. As soon as the relationship with Juventus came to an end, the decisslder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has revealed how his serious knee injury has forced him to change his training routine.Oxlade-Chamberlain missed 364 days of action after he damaged his cruciate ligament during the Reds Champions League semi-final first hed with 12 points and 12 rebounds, including seven offensive rebounds in a 90-86 defeat. Mohammed also chipped in with three assists and a blocked shot while logging 36 minutes of game action.

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The Inbounds: The dangers of the Heat’s winning streak

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So the have rattled off 20 in a row, tying the third-longest winning streak in history. Two more wins, and they’re tied for second-longest with the improbable streak the 2007-08 Rockets went on.

And while winning is always good, I do think the question has to be asked if there’s a concern that the Heat might be peaking too early.

You want to be playing your best basketball in May and June, not March. And while the Heat’s Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi is interesting Roma.Roma are in the market for a new centre-forward and their search has led them to the Belgian.TMW says Roma coach Paulo Fonseca has approved the move – making Batshuayi’s additvote of confidence is “the worst thing you can get as a manager”.Woodward this week gave Solskjaer his public backing, suggesting the pressure is off the Norwegian for the time being.”You hear chairmen come out and say that and then next minute the mion a priority.Fonseca wants him to compete with Edin Dzeko.A loan deal for Batshuayi is favoured by the Giallorosso.best basketball isn’t necessarily what they’ve been playing during this streak (see close wins over Orlando and Philadelphia), bounces are going their way.

There’s a certain feeling of invulnerability that develops when teams go on winning streaks. They feel like everything is going their way. And there’s a comedown when that ends. The Heat don’t want to find themselves sliding into a hangover from the streak too close to the playoffs.

What happens if Miami is so close to the edge that they fail to recover? I mean, we’re not talking a first-round loss here; we’re not madmen.

But you don’t want to stumble in the first round and take longer than necessary, wasting precious rest time, which you’ll need for either ,  or , their likely second-round opponents. There’s no upside in the win streak extending so far that it risks their chances of maximizing their playoff potential.

The problem is, they’re inching toward history. This winning streak gets up to 27, and those guys are going to start looking at that 33 mark of the Lakers. The lure of history is a strong one, and it’s going to reel them right in. You can’t pull your starters with 29 wins, four away from tying the longest winning streak in NBA history. You just can’t.

Is it bad luck to mess with a streak? Maybe. But in these situations, I always think about what Gregg Popovich would do. If his guys needed a rest, as players need once late March comes and Woodward insists he doesn’t sign players.Woodward has been criticised by fans over the last few years as they believe he has too much power when it comes to bringing new players to Old Trafford.He told fanzine United We Stand: “The decisions related we head toward the April stretch run before the playoffs with the top seed secure, he’d give them a rest and say to hell with luck and streaks. The title’s what matters.

The best situation for Miami might honestly be to pass the Rockets, nab win 23 (if they can), and then maybe have Wade out with a “sore calf” or something. Don’t get caught up in the win streak, as fun as it is. It won’t prove anything to anyone; only the rings will. That’s the society that we live in.

It’s the NBA. Any team can knock off anyone in this league. (The Wizards have beaten the Heat, Thunder and Nuggets this season.) So this is all extraneous analysis given the circumstances. Winning five in a row is difficult, let alone 20, and it’s a sign of Miami’s strength. But they’ve already shown it by landing in the top three.

You just have to be careful of the line between pride and hubris. It can come back to bite you.

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r are poised to battle it out with Manchester Unit

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point guard played 23 minutes off the bazzetta dello Sport says Inter are poised to battle it out with Manchester United for Aubameyang’s signature in the event that Lautaro Martinez leaves the Italian club. Arsenal value their captain at around £50million, but know they are in no positiench in Wednesday’s season-opening win over the Nets. Jack was impressive as the leader of the second unit. Jack spelled Kyrie Irving and gave Cleveland some solid play. He went 3 for 6 shooting with a 3-pointer to score 12 points and lead all bench scorers. Jack was 5 of 6 from the line and added three rebounds McCabe have released a statement after a High Court ruling paved the way for HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ay more minutes.Rodgers said Gray “did well” in their FA Cup win on a rare Leicester start but reserved more praise for his fellow winger Marc Albrighton.Against his former club Birmingham, Gray made his first City appearance since a four-minute cameod bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to become sole-owner of Sheffield United.McCabe has been ordered to sell his shareholding in the Premier League club’sand three assists with a steal.

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LeBron James says he’ll never do the dunk contest

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(Getty Images)

The ship has officially sailed. will never dunk.

“No,” . “It’s over with. I’m getting too old.”

LeBron’s reasoning? It’s not worth it. With the risk of injury and more important things to worry about in his career, a silly dunk contest isn’t something he cares about.

“It’s a taxing season,” LeBron said. “A lot of stars play a lot of the bulk of the minutes. So they got to protect their body and understand that they got to do what’s best for them. There were times when I wanted to do it. But I came into All-Star Weekend a few times banged up, and I didn’t want to risk further injury.”

There were times I wanted to do it. But he never did, or will. And with LeBron being maybe the most physically gifted athlete in history, that’s a pretty big disappointment.

The dunk contest has lacked in recent years, with part of the reason being the lack oftoday.Hazard has talked about the keys to the game.He declared, “Your mentality. In a derby that’s key and what’s even more important is your desire. When you’re a football player, you know what derbies are like. You know what you have to do, you jus household names participating. Last season, Kevin Durant called for stars like LeBron and Russ Hodgson says he can quickly clear up whether Bayern Munich are serious about Wilfried Zaha.Bayern have been linked with a bid for the Palace star this month.And Hodgson declared: “Zaha to Bayern on loan? Was it serious? Where did you get it from? Isell Westbrook to save the dunk contest.

“It’s time for LeBron James, Mr. [Russell] Westbrook, Mr. [Derrick] Rose and Dwyane Wade to get in the Dunk Contest,” Durant tweeted.

Last year in Orlando, LeBron said he’d . The year before that, he strongly indicated he’d dunk in front of 100,000 people in Dallas. Except he didn’t.

And now, it doesn’t sound like there will be anymore r for preseason to get underway.The 26-year-old was back in training last week alongside his teammates who were not on international duty this summer but will be joined by a few more of his colleagues on Monday as the team targets their Europa Leaguehints or hopes that LeBron will spoil us with what he could do unguarded. Some of the greatest ever participated, like Michael Jordan, Julius Erving and Kobe Bryant. But the dunk contest is a young man’s event, and like LeBron said, he probably missed his best chance. Back when he was 21 or 22, early in his career and not that concerned with his own health, he should’ve done it.

Can’t blame LeBron, though. He has far more important things to worry about, and winning a meaningly popularity contest definitely isn’t something to care much about. Still, it would’ve been great to see, at least just once.

So I guess we’ll just have to settle for fast breaks.

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NBA’s stance on hard fouls and fights borne out of necessity

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This weekend, I watched San Diego Chargers receivers Malcolm Floyd following a brutal hit to the head. It was your average play, a receiver coming over the middle, caught by one defender, hit by another, the receiver slumping to theic at UEFA EURO 2020, with Wales alongside Italy, Switzerland and Turkey in Group A.Germany will face world champions France and reigning European champions Portugal in Group F.The winners of Scotland’s play-off path, which includes Norway, Serbia an ground and lying motionless. It’s a brutal sport. That’s a common assessment, but we’re not here to lay waste to the NFL for its concussion policies or more accurately maybe, our own blood thirst in watching what has become America’s pastime. 

After all, I was the one watching the game, despite being fully aware of the horrific effect it has on those who choose to pursue a career in it. 

But it did bring me to comparisons of the , a limited-contact sport that has dealt with its own bit of in-game violence, and still suffers as critics and old-school purists blast the league for “softening” the sport. NBA TV has been running classic games as it usually does in its programming, and you can’t watch those – battles or see the and go at it in the 90s without noticing the vicious inside play. 

It’s true that the NBA has stiffened penalties and fines for flagrant fouls, ejections and fights. It has taken what critics feel are unnecessarily drastic moves to protect players — and its image and its legal liability. “The NBA will never suffer from the plague of injuries that a full-contact sport such as football does, so there’s no need to overprotect them,” goes the argument. 

And yet the NBA has had to adjust to two concurrent factors in its evolution, elements also in play for the NFL as it deals with its own brutality: Developing medical knowledge to deal with long-term effects of playing a pro sport and the increased speed and athleticism of its participants. 

In days of yore, an NBA fight proved necessary toughness. Players were, and still are to a degree, expected to be ready to fight. Only then, it was part of the game. “OK, you knuckleheads, that’s enough,” was the general response and the punishments were reflective of that. 

It took a long time for the league to come to grips with the ramifications of fights. Other incidents may have revealed signs, but “The Punch” as it came to be known thanks to John Feinstein’s book, took it to another level. Kermit Washington’s full-speed punch into a running Rudy Tomjanovich changed the sport’s outlook towards violence forever. 

In between was a punch that landed with devastating force. It was thrown by a very strong man, pumped up on adrenaline from being in a fight, at a man running full speed right into the punch, completely unprotected. Describing what happened later, doctors likened the collision of Washington’s fist and Tomjanovich’s face to a collision between two locomotives traveling at full speed. The doctor who worked on Tomjanovich later that night, a specialist in head and neck trauma, said the injuries Tomjanovich suffered were not unlike those suffered by someone thrown through the windshield of a car traveling 50 miles per hour.

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Tomjanovich would suffer facial fractures and while being examined at a local hospital, a doctor would very calmly try and inform him that he needed immediate surgery to save his life. Tomjanovich could very well have died in that incident, which would have marked the league forever, maybe beyond repair. Still, fights didn’t stop, as Zach Harper helped chronicle . The players involved in that fight on average were dealt only $500 fines. But the event eventually lead to the tral role for their Carabao Cup win at Manchester United.City defeated United 3-1 in the first-leg of their semifinal.“I enjoyed the role because we won and particularly because it worked,” he said.“Pep (Guardiola) wanted more men in the middle aestablishment of the rule that players cannot come off the bench. Ask the , who lost and , if that rule change had a pretty high cost in the absolute stance the league took. 

The Malice in the Palace stands out as the most important fight of all time, in how the league went ballistic in its approach. That was an entirely different matter, one relating to players going into the stands; something everyone always has understood was a no-no. Stephen Jackson that he did the right thing in coming to the aid of Ron Artest (now ) in the stands, understanding there was a good chance the league would ban everyone involved. 

But the fights continue, and at some level, are an unavoidable facet of putting adrenaline-charged men in a competitive environment for money. Like this fight from last season. 

ran into the skirmish in that fight. Had a player, such as , turned around and clocked him, what happens? 

Fights are considered these isolated incidents, but are a consequence of hard fouls in most cases. Players take exception to plays that seem intent on, or performed without consideration of, causing injury. There’s pride, but there’s also a sense of self-preservation. And that’s where fights and hard fouls intersect in the discussion. 

If you want the league to return to an era where hard fouls were permitted more regularly, you 23-year-old, who has shown for the Cherries in the Premier League in the first eight games of this season, has not played for his country yet.He is now on his third call up, and he is hoping that it will be the moment that allows him to get on the p also have to accept the consequence that there will be more fights, more blows to the head, more concussions. And the league cannot abide that, from a PR, legal or moral position. 

These things happen without any intent to harm sometimes. Sometimes, these injuries just occur. 

So you can argue they’ll happen anyway, but that only creates a greater burden for the league to protect players however it can. A cynic might suggest the league is simply trying to clean up the “image” of the game, and that’s certainly a factor. But the league’s new concussion policy is almost never seen by the casual fan. You show up at a game, no one’s going to explain why a player isn’t playing that night because he failed the mandatory follow-up concussion test.  

League efforts to prevent these injuries not only helps itself, but players and fans, too. The allowance of hard fouls in the game increases the odds of injury or a fight. It’s fine to pine for the good old days when the league was tougher. But how many of those players suffered, and played through concussions, of which we’re only now learning about the long term effects?

The NFL tried to sweep its epidemic of life-changing injuries under the rug. The NBA on the other hand has adapted and evolved to try and limit and protect its players from them. Be it for selfish reasons or not, we should stop with the outcry over what the game was, and be thankful for a sport that endeavors to protect its players from consequences that can affect the rest of their lives. 

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pions League final with Liverpool.Kane has been st

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The Miami Heat are resting star Big Three players he can make the Champions League final with Liverpool.Kane has been stuck on the sidelines since he suffered ligament damage during a 1-0 win over Manchester City in April.But the England skipper is hopeful of returning for the club’s biggest game o forwards (knee) and (hamstring) and guard (knee) for Monday’s game inegui has called for unity facing Espanyol on Sunday.Lopetegui praised the Catalan team, while he underlined that they have already played several official games in Europe before the start of the 2019/20 campaign.”It will be difficult, because Espanyo Cleveland, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. “These are all legitimate injuries,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Obviously, this is a special place for LeBron, but we’ree for Phil Jones.Moyes managed Jones for a year at Manchester United when he took over from Sir Alex Ferguson.The Englishman has seen his career stall at United, mostly due to his own injury problems.The Mirror suggests that Jones is available for ro focusing on being healthy for the playoffs.”

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Report: Free agent Kyle Korver is ‘in the bag’ for the Brooklyn Nets

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free agent guard is eact talks with Luka Modric.The vet new contract with Real Madrid.Amaro is the grandson of Real Madrid legend Amancio Amaro, who played over 340 games for the club.At 15, Amaro has signed a deal to 2023, in order to commit himself to Real up to his 18th birthday.A left-sided midfieldeeran is now inside the final 18 months of his current deal.AS says he is no longer a first choice in the big games following the emergence of Fede Valverde and he will be two months away from turning 36 when his contxpected to be am in the race to sign Club Brugge striker Wesley Moraes.The Evening Chronicle says the striker is now set to move elsewhere.The 22-year-old had been watched and scouted by United, with a source close to the player claiming that direct contract had beeong the most coveted this offseason as a veteran shooter in his prime. Korver could look for one last big payday and then start ring chasing after this one expires, but instead, a report indicates that the hunt for Korver may already be over. 

that Korver is regarded by one league executive as “in the bag” for the .

The Nets can only offer the mini-mid-level exception granted to teams which are billions and billions over the cap, but if Korver wants his best shot at a title, this may be the best option for him. Korver had talked about how much he wanted to stay with Atlanta. But Korver has a long-term relationship with in Utah. 

So the Nets offer a player Korver trusts, veterans who want to win now, a stacked roster, a big market, and not great money but business opportunities in Brooklyn. Not a bad pitch. Enough to get him “in the bag?” That seems like a stretch. But it’s definitely enough to warrant keeping an eye on in case the Nets land the best pure shooter of this free agency class. 

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Report: Pistons offering Stuckey and Villanueva for Rudy Gay

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The trade magician Masai Ujiri is trying to pull off another one of his tricks. 

, the and are discussing a trade that would send to the Motor City. 

In the proposed deal, the Pistons are offering the expiring deals of and to Toronto for Rudy Gay. 

The Raptors of course acquired Gay midseason last year from Memphis in a blockbuster three-team deal also involving the Pistons. 

Stuckey and Villanueva are both on the books for $8.5 million next season, with Gay set to earn $37 million over the next two years. The Raptors, recently under new management, are looking to possibly wipe the floor clean and begin again. Just a few days ago, the Raptors agreed to a deal sending to New York for , and some picks. 

With a young core in place, the Raptors are hunting more assets and future cap space. Offloading Gay would cin over his Liverpool teammates.The 25-year-old is still coming to terms with the cultural differences of playing in the Premier League, under a demanding manager in Jurgen Klopp.”In the last three months there have been areas which I’m quite happy aertainly help with that. 

The Pistons have been searching for some kind of relevancy for some time now and have been linked to other big names like and this free agency period. They have around $20 million in cap space and are looking to make a splash. 

Gay certainly would be an upgrade on their roster, but it feels like anothere Zidane, has signed with Guti’s Almeria in the Segunda Division.The midfielder made the move in the final minutes of the winter transfer window and only touched down in Spain yesterday.Enzo arrives from Portugal’s Aves, which he joined only last sum likely step to nowhere for Joe Dumars and the Pistons. The team hasn’t been relevant the past few seasons and while making a playoff push is step one, maintaining assetsce.West Ham midfielder Rice came through the ranks at Chelsea with Mount. The pair played together in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Bulgaria.”We’ve obviously known each other for a very, very long time and always speaking about maybe that opportunity of pl, cap space and talent is often the best path to success anyway. 

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Sources: Mavericks fear top free-agent target Deron Williams is Brooklyn-bound

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As executives make their final preparations for the draft and engage in serious trade talk over the next 48 hours, ‘ impending free agency looms large. Four rival executives and a fifth person familiar with Williams’ thinking told CBSSports.com Tuesday that the are becoming increasingly worried that the All-Star point guard will stay with the when the free-agent floodgates open Sunday.

While optimists in the Mavs’ camp are holding out hope that they still have a “50-50” chance of landing Williams, who grew up in Dallas, executives working the phones Tuesday have detected a real concern from the Mavs that Williams will opt to join the Nets in Brooklyn next season. Free agency opens at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday, and Williams will have a very clear financial decision in front of him.

Under new CBA rules, s Karius at the end of the season.Fotospor says Karius has been dealt a new blow as Besiktas don’t want to sign him even if Liverpool cancel his contract.The shot-stopper is currently nearing the end of his second season on loan with the Turks with tthe Nets can offer Williams a five-year deal worth approximately $100 million — one year and aber Tuesday’s Champions League win.Saul Niguez’s fourth minute goal was enough to hand Atleti the advantage in the last-16 tie.Liverpool were left fuming when Diego Simeone’s men celebrated wildly at the final whistle.And on Wednesday Atletico were keout $26 million more than the Mavs, the only other team the All-Star is believed to be considering. 

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The recent vibe executives are getting from Dallas contradicts the word in the sneaker industry only last week. A high-ranking person in that field told CBSSports.com that the feeling among sneaker execs was that Williams would prefer to join his hometown team at a discount rather than stay with the Nets. Such a decision, the person said, would be based on the understanding that Mavs owner Mark Cuban would be able to sway Williams that any lost earnings could be made up via endorsements and by the Mavs being better positioned to reload their roster around Williams and and compete for a championship.

For young stars like Williams and , the year of earnings lost by changing teams is somewhat underrated; barring serious injury, they’d simply get the money back when they extend their contracts or sign new ones. This is perhaps more true for Howard, 26, than for Williams, who turned 28 Tuesday.

Williams’ birthday was not overlooked by the Nets, who sent a truck to Williams’ New York City apartment with a “Happy Birthday Deron” sign and the The gesture has been met with cynical jokes on Twitter and our beloved internet, but it was a nice touch for an organization that has so much invested in persuading Williams to stay.

The then-New Jersey Nets surrendered , and two first-round picks in the trade with that landed Williams in February 2011. The deal came only days after CBSSports.com reported that Williams was angling to team up with in New York when he became a free agent in 2012. In theiThe agent of Udinese winger Rodrigo de Paul has revealed Napoli’s interest.De Paul is expected to be on the move this summer.“Napoli are keen on De Paul, but other clubs are also after him,” Leandro Pereira told Radio Kiss Kiss.“For now, we’re weighing up the best solution, from both a sporting and financial point of view.“Based on those two things, we’ll opt for the most beneficial track.”r final weeks in New Jersey, the Nets doubled down on the D-Will plan by sending a first-round pick (No. 6 overall) to for , who also will become a free agent Sunday.

The Nets continue to hold out hope they can work out a trade for Howard in the coming days or even months, with restricted free agent the presumed centerpiece of such a deal. But while Orlando will have many prime assets to tempt them in the coming days — including a draft pick-rich offer is preparing to make, even without a long-term commitment from Howard — new GM Rob Hennigan might prefer to avoid making a hasty decision.

If Hennigan, 30, exerts the kind of patience his mentor, Sam Presti, did in building a championship contender in , waiting will give him the benefit of trading Howard for actual players instead of draft picks with potential. Such an approach, however, would come at a price, as high-ranking members of the organization have no more appetite for the Howard histrionics that played out last season all the way to the trade deadline and beyond.

If the Nets don’t land Howard now, they could do much worse than retaining Williams and pairing him with a front line of Lopez, Wallace and a free-agent swingman such as Andrei Kirilenko or Mirzan Telotovic, a 26-year-old, floor-spacing forward from Bosnia who the Nets are eyeing. (Scouts compare him to , for what it’s worth.)  also has expressed a desire to join one of the New York teams as a free agent and has endorsed the notion of serving as Williams’ backup next season, when he turns 40. Kidd and Williams are represented by the same powerful agent, Jeff Schwartz.

But as Howard taught us, it’s foolish to draw conclusions about what a player is going to do with such a decision until it comes time for the player to make it himself. All signs pointed to Howard being dealt to the Nets at the March 15 trade deadline, but he got cold feet and opted in with Orlando for the 2012-13 season at the 11th hour.

What will Williams do when he’s on the clock at 12:01 a.m. ET Sunday? Only Williams knows. But it’s clear that the Mavs now view themselves as a dark horse as opposed to the favorite. Maybe the next time the Nets back up a truck to Williams’ apartment, it’ll be filled with $100 million.

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Celtics’ Paul Pierce out Monday against Timberwolves

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The will be without against the  on Monday night, .

Though Pierce was considlla on Wednesday. Goals from Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount on either side of Trezeguet’s equaliser were enough for the Blues to clinch a 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge.After missing Saturday’s loss to West Ham with a hip injury, Abraham proved his imered doubtful with a sanuel Pellegrini is considering dropping Roberto for Saturday’s clash with Chelsea. The veteran Spaniard has conceded a shocking 20 goals in eight appearances since replacing Fabianski in September.Fans want him out of the goal as soon as possible, aprained ankle suffered Sunday against the , he is out for what is listed as “personal reasons.” He did not travel with the team.

Without bohing pad for bigger things.Having achieved a club record Premier League points tally in their first season under Spaniard Gracia – the ninth managerial appointment in seven years under the Italian Pozzo family – these are good times for Hornets fans.th Pierce and , who is still out with a sore left ankle, the Celtics will likely start , and in their frontcourt.

Pierce, 35, is averaging 18.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists.

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2013 Las Vegas Summer League: What to watch on Day 7

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The first day of the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League tournament is over. We saw some incredible finishes (the ‘ close victory over the and the overtime thriller between the and ), and we saw some big-time blowouts ( trounced the by 38 and the destroyed the by 47). With six teams advancing and the 10 first-round byes getting to gear back up after a day of rest, we have a full slate of eight games.

Here are the storylines for Thursday’s action:

Is the new Spurs’ gem? With , , and on their summer squad, ng Liverpool out of the Champions League last night.Atletico took the round 16 tie into extra time before eventually winning the second-leg 2-3 – and the tie 4-2 on aggregate.“What I have to say, and will be saying at the next UEFA coaches’ meetingthe Spurs have plenty of talent at their disposal as their turn in the Las Vegas Summer League tournament happens. With the 58th pick in the 2013 , the Spurs might have just selected their latest draft-night diamond in the obscure with Thomas. So far in the summer league, he has shown ademy coaching staff.Neil Redfearn will take up the role of Under-23s head coach at the club’s Little Benton Academy. Redfearn will replace Ben Dawson in coaching the young Magpies, who reached the Premier League 2 division two play-off final and Premn incredible understanding of spacing and when to go for his own shot. He already looks indoctrinated into the Spurs’ way of playing basketball, and his skill set (17.0 ppg, 28.7 mpg, 54.1-percent FG, 50.0-percent 3FG) has proven to be a great weapon early on. How do these guys keep doing this?

is really good. The second-year Bucks player often had to deal with a crowded frontcourt during his rookie season. But in the summer league, where spacing is at a premium and often disastrous, he’s having to deal with crowds around him in the paint. He has both flourished and suffered with the chaos closing in on him in the low block. But overall, you’ve seen the talent that makes so many scouts, fans, writers and front-office people so enamored with his game. In his two games with the Bucks, he scored 28 points, grabbed 28 rebounds (10 offensive), turned the ball over 11 times and blocked six shots. He has also made half of his shots. If they don’t keep him out of action for the tournament, we’ll get to see him fly around the court and eat up space of his own on defense.

Will dominate and foul out? Valanciunas has looked stellar in this summer-league stint, throwing his newly bulked-up body around as he learns to play a more physical brand of basketball. But in the process, his fouls have been increasing. Last time out, he was called for nine fouls and probably committed about 16 throughout the game. The Sacramento Kings bench was harassing the officials to call Valanciunas on the elbows that he was throwing around. With more and more complaints about his physicality, it could cause him to foul out with 10 fouls at some point soon.

Are the Bobcats finally the favorites for a postseason run? Granted, this isn’t exactly the NBA playoffs, but a tournament is good enough at the moment. has been stellar and dominant in his time in Vegas. He has averaged 21 points in 31.0 minutes while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from downtown. has been working on his scoring efficiency while averaging 10.7 points on 54.2-percent shooting. is averaging 9.7 rebounds in 26.3 minutes. And has impressed in his debut summer league with 15.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. The Bobcats have more NBA talent on their roster than most other teams do; they just have to keep working toward making them have a big impact regardless of the setting.

Were the Blazers playing possum in the preliminary rounds? They have seven players from their NBA roster on their summer-league roster, making them appear to be the overwhelming favorites to win championship hats. However, that hasn’t been the case. The Blazers have struggled to get their young guys on the same page and lost their first three games. With , , , , ,  and at their disposal, you’d think they’d dominate. They finally pulled out a victory on Wednesday, just in time for the tournament, when they outlasted the Hawks in overtime. Perhaps they were just lying in the weeds and waiting to pounce by becoming the first 19-seed in tournament history to win it all?

Has Stefhon Hannah turned enough heads? The D-League Select team went undefeated in the preliminary round, and Hannah was a huge reason for that. He’s not only turning heads with the fans and writers checking out the action, but you’re starting to hear murmurs and first impressions from coaches whom you talk to about jusident contract talks with Napoli will run smoothly.The 32-year-old winger comes off contract in June.“Napoli presented us their proposal for a contract renewal three months ago,” agent Manuel Garcia Quilon told Radio Kiss Kiss.“The situation is it how tough he is to deal with on the court. He’s averaging 16.3 points on 55.6 percent from the field and 40.0 percent from downtown. He has been deadly with the basketball in his hands and is exactly what you’d want from a backup point guard running your second unit. It would be foolish for an executive to let this go unrewarded, even with his down year in 2012-13. 

Does need to do more than score? We know Goudelock can score. We’ve seen it from him in the D-League. We even saw it from him in a couple of games against the Spurs during the first round of the NBA playoffs when the Los Angeles Lakers were desperate for some offense. But there is the question of “what else does Goudelock do for you?” It’s a valid question, considering a guy off the bench who just fires up shot after shot is a valuable weapon, but you need the threat of the ball moving to other players as well. The scoring binge (68 points in three games) has been impressive from the summer league’s scoring leader, but it might behoove him to start moving the ball a bit more (just six assists) to show executives that he can also be a team guy.

The point-guard experiment. The Warriors have a bit of a backup point-guard issue with the departure of Jarrett Jack to the Cleveland Cavaliers. While Andre Iguodala can handle some ball-handling duties for the Warriors, the idea of finding a role for backup guard Bazemore, in order to get his length and defense on the court, seems to be a priority. He has played some point guard for the Warriors’ summer team so far, and the results are mixed but promising. He has shown an all-around game with 15.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. The assists and the defense in the backcourt have been encouraging to say the least. He still misses some passing opportunities on various plays, but you can see more of a comfort level with him running the point throughout the process. 

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Nightly Grades: Thunder, Jazz take care of business

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TeamGradeAnalysisAThe just did what they’ve done this year, took care of a team at home. Beat the stuffing out of the Kings and clinched the No. 1 seed in the West. was athletic, was quietly tremendous, and the defense did its work. Pretty great seasoelerate his match fitness.The Nigerian joined from Shanghai Shenhua after four seasons in the Chinese Super League. But because it was the club’s off season Ighalo did not arrive fully fit.Asked if he would start against Club Brugges in United’s Euron after the Harden trade supposedly buried them.A still has quite a few tricks in his post bag. He delivered big time for the , who had their backs against the wall. The Jazz are going to take this thing down the wire on Wednesday.C+They pass. But, man, was it ugly. A sloppy win vs. the Bucks. But in doing so, the clinched home court in the first round. They missed a ton of layups, gave dumb fouls, had bad turnovers. But they got the win, on a back-to-back, without two of their starters at the end of the season and has agreed a one-yNela has revealed they rejected the chance to sign Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland at a cut-price €4m.The talks were held as Haaland was considering his options at Molde – he would eventually move to RB Salzburg.“Roma were offered the chear deal with Carlisle.”He fits the profile of the kind of player I’m looking for in that he’s young, ambitious and hungry at what is a pivotal moment in his career,” said Carlisle boss Steven Pressley.due to injury. Good teams find a way to win when they play badly. Denver did it when they played badly and badly needed a win.B-They beat the Cavaliers with and starting. Sometimes having a winning culture rubs off on players. And for a young guy like Cole, coming one assist shy of a triple-double, missing the clinching free throws, then stripping Kyrie Irving to win the game is a pretty good sign it’s rubbing off on him. Even when the don’t need good wins, they get them.FCould have moved themselves into prime position to avoid OKC and possibly get the sixth seed. Instead, they fall apart and the Suns make them pay. They’re fighting to avoid OKC on Wednesday. No rest for the .AHow about the smoking the Spurs’ B-team at home and pushing their way to the sixth seed again? Huge game, and is one three away from the record for threes in a season. Monster year for the Warriors.

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Manu Ginobili hints that he’s not definitely sure about playing next year

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(US Presswire)

The time is coming for the ‘ championship stars. is 35,  is 36. There are a lot of miles on those legs. So Monday, a ve lost his rag with reporters over questions about Paul Pogba.Zidane has made it no secret this summer of his admiration for the Manchester United midfielder as Real push to sign the World Cup winner.But asked yesterday for an update about negotiationry casual comment by Ginobili raised some eyebrows. 

“If I’m going to play next year, it’s highly li night’s clash with Tottenham.The Manchester Evening News says United are hopeful McTominay will be fit for the visit of Tottenham on Wednesday but are set to be without Paul Pogba again.McTominay has sat out the last three games against Sheffield Unkely it’s going to be here,” he said. “So I really don’t care about this being a contract season.”

via .

That “If” there City’s standards have slipped this season.Ancelotti is preparing to take his Everton side to the Etihad to face City on New Year’s Day after taking maximum points from his first two games as manager at Goodison Park. “Liverpool have won all of the gis the key part, if you missed it. Ginobili has talked before about playing in Argentina to finish his career, and as he said at media day Monday, he’s got nothing left to prove and money’s not an issue. Ginobili, by all accounts, will walk away when he thinks it’s the right time. 

But that could point to why the Spurs made such a big move to acqure in the draft last year, and why they’ve set him up to be groomed as the next real star on the Spurs. 

Duncan’s also made it clear that the end for him is in sight, but then turned around and . It’s not a lock that he’ll play all three years, but it is clear that this deal was the last contract he’ll sign as a player. 

So while it’s not likely, it’s possible this could be the last year of Ginobili’s career. Last year’s playoffs showed that the next generation is creeping up on him, with out-dueling (and out-flopping) him in the Western Conference finals. Ginobili’s also had injury problems the past two years. You have to think how his body holds up will be the biggest factor in whether Ginobili decides to give it a go in the future. 

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e Grizzlies Thursday, in exchange for and the 55t

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The Denver Post reports the Nuggets have agreed to trade center to the Grizzlies Thursday, in exchange for and the 55th pick in the draft. Koufos started for the Nuggets last season, but the team has msucceed him when he eventually leaveNeco Williams for his performance against Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup.Critchley says the right-back was one of the most “dangerous” players on the pitch during the 1-0 victory. “It was a brilliant bit of play [for the goal] but that’s Neco,” Critchs his post at Anfield.Reds legend Gerrard is the current Range Maurizio Sarri saw improvements after their 2-1 defeat of SPAL.Cristiano Ronaldo scored the opener, on target for the 11th Serie A game in a row, with Aaron Ramsey’s lob before an Andrea Petagna penalty.“It’s the same situation we had in the last rs boss, and has guided the Glasgow club to second in the Scottish Premiership, three points behind bitter rivals Celtic.”Kenny (Dalglish) and Stevie haade it well know that is expected to be the starter moving forward.

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