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  • Social media buzzes as reporters defy request, tweet picks
    By Field Level Media / Friday, June 22, 2018

    If you can't stand the tweet, get out of the kitchen.

    • As NBA front-office executives made high-pressure decisions in Thursday's draft, another compelling drama unfolded in front of fans on social media. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Yahoo Sports' Shams Charania defied a reported request by the league to restrict real-time online coverage of the draft.

      The NBA asked its media partners including ESPN, Turner Sports and Yahoo not to tweet draft picks ahead of the televised broadcast, according to the media website Awful Announcing. The NFL has pushed a similar policy in recent years to prevent Twitter and other sites from undercutting TV coverage.

      Despite the request, Wojnarowski and Charania went ahead with their reporting, routinely breaking news about the next pick before TV could keep up. They kept quiet for the first few picks, but both jumped in at No. 4 after Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the first three selections ahead of the broadcast coverage.

      Wojnarowski cleverly tried to find loopholes as he reported each pick. Rather than directly announcing each selection, he said teams were "focused on," "zeroing in on," or "fixated on" specific players.

      "Source: Utah Jazz have no plans to pass on Grayson Allen with the 21st pick," Wojnarowski tweeted with another spoiler alert.

      Others included: "Source: The Lakers are unlikely to resist Mo Wagner with the 25th pick," and, "Source: Boston is tantalized by Robert Williams with the 27th pick."

      The reaction online was overwhelmingly positive as Wojnarowski, who has more than 2 million Twitter followers, appeared to challenge authority.

      Charania was more direct in naming the next pick. Sometimes, only a few seconds separated his scoops from Wojnarowski's.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Spurs will listen to Leonard offers
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 21, 2018

    Kawhi Leonard is not on the block, but the San Antonio Spurs are all ears should any NBA team want to float a trade offer to acquire the soon-to-be-27-year-old All-Star.

    • Leonard and the Spurs are reportedly at odds, and a meeting with coach Gregg Popovich days after reports of Leonard's trade demand sparked speculation that a deal could be imminent. This season, Leonard played in just nine games, averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists.

      However, ESPN reported Thursday that the Spurs will not be contacting teams regarding trade scenarios. Instead, Popovich and general manager R.C. Buford are fielding calls from teams making proposals to acquire Leonard.

      According to ESPN and Yahoo, the Los Angeles Lakers contacted the Spurs, but the conversation was brief and no players were discussed.

      --Dwight Howard isn't interested in playing for the Brooklyn Nets, and the two sides have agreed to work toward a buyout allowing Howard to become a free agent.

      The Nets agreed to acquire Howard from the Charlotte Hornets earlier this week, a deal that doesn't become official until the NBA moratorium on offseason transactions is lifted on July 6. In the trade, the Nets would send Timofey Mozgov to the Hornets.

      But that didn't stop Howard from expressing his wishes to receive a buyout. He has one year and $23.8 million remaining on his current contract.

      --Guard Austin Rivers will exercise his $12.6 million player option to return to the Los Angeles Clippers next season, according to multiple media reports.

      The decision to opt in means that Rivers will bypass an opportunity to test the free agent market this summer. Instead, the 25-year-old will return to Los Angeles to play his fourth full season with his father, Doc Rivers, as head coach.

      Last season, Rivers averaged career bests with 15.1 points, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game in 61 contests (59 starts). He shot 42.4 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Clippers G Rivers to exercise $12.6 million option
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 21, 2018

    Guard Austin Rivers will exercise his $12.6 million player option to return to the Los Angeles Clippers next season, according to multiple media reports.

    • Rivers' decision to opt in means that he will bypass an opportunity to test the free agent market this summer. Instead, the 25-year-old will return to Los Angeles to play his fourth full season with his father, Doc Rivers, as head coach.

      Last season, Rivers averaged career bests with 15.1 points, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game in 61 contests (59 starts). He shot 42.4 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

      Rivers' surge in production corresponded with more playing time. The Clippers created an opportunity for him before the season when they shipped All-Star point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets.

      Los Angeles went 42-40 last season and missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

      --Field Level Media

  • Seeking new heights, Suns draft Ayton No. 1 overall
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 21, 2018

    The NBA's lightweights got the message Thursday: If you're going to compete with the heavyweights, you've got to get bigger.

    • The Phoenix Suns chose 7-foot Deandre Ayton of Arizona first overall and the Sacramento Kings selected 6-11 Marvin Bagley III of Duke second, starting a run on big men at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft. Ayton and Bagley are the tallest tandem of 1-2 picks since 2006.

      In all, five of the first seven selections are 6-10 or taller, with the Memphis Grizzlies grabbing Michigan State's 6-11 Jaren Jackson Jr. at No. 4, the Orlando Magic tabbing Texas' 7-foot Mo Bamba at No. 6, and the Chicago Bulls latching onto Duke's 6-10 Wendell Carter at No. 7.

      The only non-big men among the top seven, coincidentally, were traded for one another when Dallas acquired 6-foot-8 international star Luka Doncic, picked third by the Atlanta Hawks, in exchange for high-scoring Oklahoma point guard Trae Young, selected fifth, and the Mavericks' 2019 first-round choice.

      There was no surprise atop the draft, where Ayton will bring a sturdy, 260-pound frame to the middle of a Suns defense that ranked last in the NBA in points allowed en route to the NBA's worst record during the 2017-18 season. The 19-year-old ranked among the national leaders in rebounds (11.6 per game) and blocks (1.9 per game) last season as a one-and-done freshman.

      A native of the Bahamas, Ayton will begin his pro career right around the block from where he attended Hillcrest Prep Academy before heading 100 miles down the road to Tucson, where he led the Arizona Wildcats to a 27-win season and as high as a No. 2 national ranking.

      "The fans out there are amazing, the best fans in the world," Ayton said shortly after the announcement of the selection in New York. "I'm really happy to be a Phoenix Sun and start a winning legacy with Devin Booker and Josh Jackson and all the other guys. We're a young team and we're ready."

      The Cleveland Cavaliers made the most highly anticipated selection of the lower lottery, using the eighth pick, which they acquired from the Boston Celtics (originally owned by the Brooklyn Nets) in the Kyrie Irving trade last August, on Alabama point guard Collin Sexton.

      Sexton wasted little time going on the recruiting trail, sending a message to LeBron James to bypass free agency and return to the four-time defending Eastern Conference club.

      "LeBron, let's do it," the Southeastern Conference's Freshman of the Year pitched when given a chance on ESPN's national telecast of the draft. "I see you need a few pieces. Let's do it. Let's go back to the Finals. Let's do it."

      The New York Knicks took Kentucky forward Kevin Knox at No. 9, followed by the Philadelphia 76ers' selection of hometown product Mikal Bridges of national champion Villanova.

      Bridges' career as a 76er was short-lived, however, as he was dealt to Phoenix for Texas Tech shooting guard Zhaire Smith, the No. 16 selection, and the Miami Heat's 2021 first-round pick.

      The Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers swapped spots at Nos. 11 and 12, with the Clippers moving up one place to lock up Kentucky point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Hornets got Michigan State forward Miles Bridges and two future second-round picks.

      The Clippers added a second new backcourt piece at No. 13, choosing Boston College shooting guard Jerome Robinson, before the Denver Nuggets completed the lottery by ending the slide of Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr.

      Sidelined almost all of last season due to a back injury, Porter insisted the Nuggets will not regret making the selection.

      "I'm going to make sure this pick was the best this organization has ever made," he boasted minutes after his long wait had ended. "I'm just happy to be with a team that believes in me. I'm a winner, and I'm going to help this team win."

      Like the Clippers, the Hawks completed what could be their backcourt of the future with the selection of sharpshooting Maryland guard Kevin Huerter at No. 19 to couple with new point guard Young.

      The Huerter pick followed the selections of Oregon shooting guard Troy Brown by the Washington Wizards at No. 15, Smith by Phoenix (and dealt to Philadelphia) at No. 16, Villanova shooting guard Donte DiVincenzo by the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 17, and Miami shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV by the San Antonio Spurs at 18.

      Minnesota wrapped up the Top 20 with the selection of Georgia Tech shooting guard Josh Okogie.

      The final 10 picks of the first round included a third selection from Duke (shooting guard Grayson Allen by the Utah Jazz at No. 21), the initial picks of the Eastern Conference finalist Boston Celtics (Texas A&M center Robert Williams at No. 27) and the NBA champion Golden State Warriors (Cincinnati shooting guard Jacob Evans at No. 28), and a third member of Villanova's championship team (power forward Omari Spellman by Atlanta at No. 30).

      Also selected in the bottom third of the first round were: Boise State forward Chandler Hutchison (22nd by Chicago), UCLA point guard Aaron Holiday (23rd by the Indiana Pacers), IMG Academy point guard Anfernee Simons (24th by the Portland Trail Blazers), Michigan center Moritz Wagner (25th by the Los Angeles Lakers), Wichita State guard Landry Shamet (26th by Philadelphia), and Bosnia & Herzegovina forward Dzanan Musa (29th by Brooklyn).

      The second round featured fourth selections from Villanova (point guard Jalen Brunson to Dallas at No. 33) and Duke (shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. to Sacramento at No. 37), as well as third and fourth picks from Kentucky (forward Jarred Vanderbilt to Orlando at No. 41 and shooting guard Hamidou Diallo to Brooklyn at No. 45).

      Trent, Vanderbilt and Diallo, in turn, were involved in three of the five trades made during the second round, with Trent going to Portland for two future second-round picks, Vanderbilt headed to Denver for Maryland forward Justin Jackson, selected 43rd, and a future second-rounder, and Diallo moving on to Charlotte for a future second-rounder.

      Also working deals were Atlanta and Charlotte, with the Hornets receiving Kansas point guard Devonte' Graham, the No. 34 pick, in exchange for two future second-round picks, and Philadelphia and Detroit, with the Pistons getting Creighton shooting guard Khyri Thomas, the No. 38 pick, for two future second-rounders.

      The 76ers turned out the lights on the evening with a popular selection: Dayton forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, brother of Milwaukee star Giannis, with the 60th and final pick.

      --Field Level Media

  • Howard, Nets working toward buyout
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 21, 2018

    Dwight Howard isn't interested in playing for the Brooklyn Nets and the two sides have agreed to work toward a buyout allowing Howard to become a free agent.

    • The Nets agreed to acquire Howard from the Charlotte Hornets earlier this week, a deal that doesn't become official until the NBA moratorium on offseason deals is lifted on July 6. In the trade, the Nets would send Timofey Mozgov to the Hornets.

      But that didn't stop Howard from expressing his wishes to receive a buyout. He has one year and $23.8 million remaining on his current contract.

      "I want to be in a situation where I have an opportunity to help a team win," Howard told ESPN. "That's my only goal. All I need is a real chance and a clean slate where it's not people talking about my past."

      Howard averaged 16.6 points, 12.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots last season for the Hornets.

      He said he was stunned by the trade and didn't see it coming.

      "I was just really in total shock because I wasn't expecting it to happen," Howard said. "I thought this season was really good. For one, this is the healthiest I've been and two, my stats this season has been one of the best since I've been in the NBA."

      The 14-year veteran is an eight-time All-Star but he hasn't been named to the team since 2014. He has led the league in rebounding five times but the most recent occasion was the 2012-13 season.

      Howard played his first eight seasons with the Orlando Magic before playing for four teams in a six-season span. He played one season with the Los Angeles Lakers, three with the Houston Rockets, one with the Atlanta Hawks and one with the Hornets.

      Charlotte will reportedly also send two second-round picks to the Nets along with the 31-year-old Mozgov.

      The second-round picks are No. 45 in Thursday's draft and a 2021 second-round pick, ESPN reported.

      --Field Level Media

  • Spurs reportedly listening to Leonard offers
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 21, 2018

    Kawhi Leonard is not on the block, but the San Antonio Spurs are all ears should any NBA team want to float a trade offer to acquire the soon-to-be-27-year-old All-Star.

    • Leonard and the Spurs are reportedly at odds, and a meeting with coach Gregg Popovich days after reports of Leonard's trade demand sparked speculation that a deal could be imminent.

      But ESPN reported Thursday, hours before the 2018 NBA Draft, that the Spurs will not be contacting teams regarding trade scenarios. Instead, Popovich and general manager RC Buford are fielding calls from teams making proposals to acquire Leonard.

      There has been no such contact between the Spurs and the Lakers, ESPN reported, a noteworthy item considering reports over the weekend claiming Leonard wanted to be in Los Angeles.

      Leonard played in just nine games this season, averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He was shut down indefinitely after scoring nine points in 28 minutes against the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 13 and never returned despite being cleared to play by Spurs doctors.

      Leonard felt he wasn't physically ready to play despite medical clearance. The two-time All-Star primarily worked out at the NBA Players Association headquarters in midtown Manhattan, with the Spurs sending staffers to observe and assist as needed.

      According to ESPN, Leonard's relationship with the Spurs started deteriorating in 2016 when he parted ways with representative Brian Elfus. Leonard is now partly represented by his uncle.

      Leonard has two seasons -- one a player option -- remaining on the five-year, $90 million extension he signed with San Antonio in the summer of 2015. He is eligible for a five-year, $219 million supermax extension this summer.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Lakers acquire 39th pick from 76ers
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 21, 2018

    The Los Angeles Lakers acquired the 39th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft from the Philadelphia 76ers for a 2019 second-round pick and cash.

    • ESPN first reported the deal, which arms Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka with picks No. 25, 39 and 47 on Thursday.

      Since acquiring the 25th overall pick at the trade deadline in the swap with Cleveland for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. that brought back Channing Frye and Isaiah Thomas, the Lakers have been looking to acquire additional picks.

      The Lakers' original first-round pick, No. 10 overall, belongs to the Sixers as a result of the 2012 trade that brought Steve Nash to Los Angeles.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Grizzlies shopping Parsons, No. 4 pick
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 21, 2018

    The Memphis Grizzlies are reportedly shopping the No. 4 overall pick in Thursday's NBA draft, though any interested teams might need to be prepared to take on Chandler Parsons' contract to facilitate a deal.

    • The Grizzlies are in discussions with multiple teams regarding the pick, according to a report from ESPN. An earlier report Wednesday from 247Sports.com keyed in on the Dallas Mavericks as a suitor that was discussing a trade for the pick and Parsons.

      Other teams interested in the pick include Orlando, Chicago, New York, Denver, Boston and the Los Angeles Clippers, according to ESPN, which adds the Grizzlies don't expect suitors to become serious until they are on the clock Thursday night. The Grizzlies reportedly prefer to move back only a few spots instead of leaving the lottery altogether.

      Parsons, 29, has been limited by lingering knee soreness to just 70 games total over the first two seasons of the four-year, $94 million max deal he signed with the Grizzlies in July 2016. He's owed roughly $49.2 million over the next two years.

      Parsons, a 6-foot-10 forward, averaged 7.9 points in 36 games (eight starts) last season after averaging a career-low 6.2 points in 34 games (all starts) in 2016-17.

      The Los Angeles Lakers swung a deal to acquire the 39th pick in the draft from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for the Bulls' 2019 second-round pick and cash considerations, according to a separate report from ESPN late Wednesday.

      --Field Level Media

  • New Pistons coach Casey bullish on team's outlook
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, June 21, 2018

    New Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey made his expectations for the upcoming season clear while being introduced by the team Wednesday.

    • "I'm telling the guys now: We're not developing, we're not two or three years away," Casey told reporters. "We want to win right now."

      Casey, the reigning NBA Coach of the Year, was hired by the Pistons to replace Stan Van Gundy last week. Casey inherits a roster that has high-profile names in Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, though the team is without a first-round pick in Thursday's NBA draft as a result of the Griffin trade.

      With Jackson only playing 45 games due to injury and Griffin acquired midseason, the Pistons only went 39-43 last season, missing the playoffs.

      "The most important thing is the talent level you have with Blake, Andre and Reggie to start with," Casey said. "They're veteran players and the next level is Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson -- whom I've always admired from afar -- and Henry Ellenson, three very talented young players."

      Casey joins the team after being fired by the Toronto Raptors despite leading them to a franchise-record 59 wins last season. He was let go after a second-round playoff loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      "I can hold my head high for what we built in Toronto," Casey said. "That's part of the journey. This is a new chapter."

      Detroit is also looking for a fresh start after parting ways with Van Gundy, who was also the team's president of basketball operations. Ed Stefanski was hired as a senior adviser and has been tasked with reshaping the team's basketball operations staff in addition to hiring Casey to fill the coaching vacancy.

      "We're going through a process here. We're thinking about, do we want to go a GM route? Do we want to get some younger guys in there and I can mentor them kind of thing? It's fluid," Stefanski said. "I'm going to be very influential in the front office."

      Stefanski said he doesn't see the team making any big moves anytime soon. Casey doesn't believe a splash is needed, instead focusing on better health as the key to the Pistons' success moving forward.

      "The talent base is there. The No. 1 nemesis is health. We've got to work and find a way to make sure we stay healthy, whether it's being innovative and creative with our training methods to work and stay healthy," Casey said. "(Injuries have) been a nemesis for us, but it's part of the NBA."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Porter Jr. latest to sign with Puma
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    Former Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. became the latest top NBA prospect to sign an endorsement deal with Puma, according to an ESPN report on Wednesday.

    • As part of a sudden foray back into the sport of basketball, Puma has already signed Arizona's Deandre Ayton, Duke's Marvin Bagley III and Texas Tech's Zhaire Smith. The company also announced rapper and business mogul Jay-Z as its new president of the basketball division earlier this week.

      Ayton is expected to go first overall in Thursday's draft to the Phoenix Suns, while Bagley is considered a top-five prospect and Smith could land in the lottery.

      After missing most of his lone college season due to injury, Porter went from being a possible No. 1 overall pick to a likely top-10 selection, although projections have varied significantly on where he will go. Porter canceled his second pro day workout due to hip soreness, prompting reports that teams are worried about his long-term health, but he said earlier this week he is fine and would accept invitations for private workouts in the days before the draft.

      Puma's sudden commitment to men's basketball is its first action in the sport since it signed Vince Carter to a 10-year deal in 1998, though that deal lasted only two years.

      The company re-signed perhaps its most famous basketball player from past eras, Walt "Clyde" Frazier, to a lifetime contract earlier this week and launched a modernized version of Frazier's old shoe from 1973. Puma released images of its first true basketball shoe in 20 years on Wednesday, calling the shoe "Clyde Court" and featuring "1973" on the back above the heel.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Hawks' Dedmon exercises $7.2M player option
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    Atlanta Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon has exercised his $7.2 million player option for 2018-19, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports late Wednesday night.

    • Dedmon, who turns 29 in August, averaged career highs of 10.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 62 games (46 starts) last season.

      Dedmon, who joined the league undrafted out of the University of Southern California, has played for five teams in his five NBA seasons. He appeared in a career-high 76 games with the San Antonio Spurs in 2016-17.

      Dedmon has averaged 5.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for his career.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Knicks' O'Quinn declines $4.2M player option
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    New York Knicks center Kyle O'Quinn has declined his $4.2 million player option for the 2018-19 season and will become an unrestricted free agent, according to a report from ESPN on Wednesday night.

    • O'Quinn, 28, is coming off a career year, his sixth in the NBA and third with the Knicks. The 2012 second-round pick by the Orlando Magic averaged 7.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 77 games (10 starts).

      O'Quinn has career averages of 5.8 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game.

      Knicks starting center Enes Kanter has an $18.6 million player option for next season that he's yet to make a decision on, though he told reporters in April that he's leaning toward opting out in search of a long-term deal, either with the Knicks or elsewhere.

      Teams can begin negotiating with unrestricted free agents beginning July 1.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Cavs reportedly intend to keep Love
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't offering Kevin Love in any trade offers and intend to have him on the roster next season regardless of any decision LeBron James may make, ESPN reported Wednesday.

    • Love has two seasons remaining on his deal with the Cavaliers and is owed just more than $49.7 million. The second year is a player option. Speculation has been rampant that Cleveland would look to deal Love if James leaves as a free agent.

      Retaining Love, who turns in 30 in September, would leave the franchise with at least a short-term standout to reload around. Love averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in 59 regular-season games last season.

      Love has career averages of 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds over 10 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cavaliers. He twice averaged 26 or more points during his six seasons in Minnesota.

      --The Los Angeles Lakers recently held a meeting warning all employees about possible tampering ahead of the opening of NBA free agency on July 1, according to an ESPN report.

      Per the report, co-owner and governor Jeanie Buss called the meeting, and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson led it. Some employees also received written notice that termination could be possible for anyone who might violate NBA rules.

      The Lakers were fined $500,000 last August after general manager Rob Pelinka made a prohibited form of contact with the agent of Paul George while the forward was with the Indiana Pacers. That came after the team had been warned following Johnson's public comments about George. L.A. was also fined $50,000 in February for Johnson's public comments praising the play of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

      --NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he understands why some fans are upset about the Golden State Warriors' assembly of a superteam with Kevin Durant, but he also gave the team praise for earning the success it has achieved.

      Speaking on ESPN's "Golic and Wingo," Silver was asked about the state of the league and the assertion by many that it lacks parity, as reflected by the Warriors' dominance and the same NBA Finals matchup happening four years in a row.

      Silver said the league won't try to break up superteams in order to "force some sort of parity that is kind of unnatural," but he did suggest changes could be explored when the collective bargaining agreement expires -- either after 2023-2024, or a year earlier if either side opts out -- including the possibility of a harder salary cap.

      --The forecasts seemingly all project Deandre Ayton to develop into an NBA star, but the 7-foot-1 center who could go No. 1 overall in Thursday's draft said he defines NBA success as not having his rookie contract be his last.

      Ayton averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds and blocked 66 shots in his one college campaign. He was born in the Bahamas and said the opportunity to be a role model is a big deal for him.

      "Having that chip on your shoulder and carrying a nation behind me," Ayton told reporters during a media availability session in New York. "It's a huge opportunity to show that Bahamian people, we're not just a country of just track and field athletes."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Lakers warn staff about tampering
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The Los Angeles Lakers recently held a meeting warning all employees about possible tampering ahead of the opening of NBA free agency on July 1, according to an ESPN report Wednesday.

    • Per the report, co-owner and governor Jeanie Buss called the meeting, and president of basketball operations Magic Johnson led it. Some employees also received written notice that termination could be possible for anyone who might violate NBA rules.

      "We are under incredible scrutiny with everything, so Jeanie and [Johnson] had to make this crystal, crystal clear to everyone," a Lakers source told ESPN, referencing recent violations of the league's anti-tampering rules.

      The Lakers were fined $500,000 last August after general manager Rob Pelinka made a prohibited form of contact with the agent of forward Paul George while he was with the Indiana Pacers. That came after the team had been warned following Johnson's public comments about George.

      L.A. was also fined $50,000 this past February for Johnson's public comments praising the play of Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

      The Lakers, who have the cap flexibility to sign two players to max-level contracts, are expected to be among the league's most active teams in free agency, particularly in pursuit of star-level talent like George -- who has voiced desire to play for the Lakers -- and LeBron James.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Cavaliers intend to keep Love next season
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't offering Kevin Love in any trade offers and intend to have him on the roster next season regardless of any decision LeBron James may make, ESPN reported Wednesday.

    • Love has two seasons remaining on his deal with the Cavaliers and is owed just more than $49.7 million. The second year is a player option.

      Speculation has been rampant that Cleveland would look to deal Love if James leaves as a free agent.

      Retaining Love, who turns in 30 in September, would leave the franchise with at least a short-term standout to reload around. Love averaged 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in 59 regular-season games last season.

      The five-time All-Star has helped the Cavaliers reach four straight NBA Finals. Cleveland lost three of them to the Golden State Warriors.

      Love has career averages of 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds over 10 seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cavaliers. He twice averaged 26 or more points during his six seasons in Minnesota.

      Love told WKYC TV in Cleveland last week that he would love to play the rest of his career alongside James.

      He also is well aware of the rumors involving himself and reiterated that he would love to remain in Cleveland.

      "Anything is possible," Love said of the trade speculation. "People have been saying that for the past four years. I knew that question would come, but I like to be here. I've always said that. Always wanted to win here."

      The Cavaliers hold the eighth overall selection in Thursday's NBA draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • Ayton's simple goal: Getting second NBA contract
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The forecasts seemingly all project Deandre Ayton to develop into an NBA star.

    • But the 7-foot-1 center who could go No. 1 overall in Thursday's draft isn't getting too far ahead of himself.

      His definition of NBA success is not having his rookie contract be his last.

      "Definitely getting to my second contract -- that's my success," Ayton told reporters Wednesday during a media availability session in New York.

      The Phoenix Suns own the No. 1 overall pick and are expected to use it on Ayton, who starred at Arizona last season.

      Finances don't appear to be an issue after Ayton signed a four-year multimillion contract with the apparel company Puma earlier this week.

      But the second NBA contract rates of importance to Ayton because he said he will see it as a sign that the team the drafted him has been successful.

      He certainly has the Suns in mind, as he was quick with an answer when the topic of playing with Phoenix star shooting guard Devin Booker was brought up.

      "I can pick-and-pop and Devin is a threat coming off the pick, so that'd be pretty hard to guard," Ayton said.

      Ayton averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds and blocked 66 shots in his one college campaign. He was born in the Bahamas and said the opportunity to be a role model is a big deal for him.

      "Having that chip on your shoulder and carrying a nation behind me," Ayton said. "It's a huge opportunity to show that Bahamian people, we're not just a country of just track and field athletes."

      --Field Level Media

  • Silver understands Warriors backlash but credits team's drafting
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he understands why some fans are upset about the Golden State Warriors' assembly of a superteam with Kevin Durant, but he also gave the team praise for earning the success it has achieved.

    • Speaking on ESPN's Golic and Wingo on Wednesday, Silver was asked about the state of the league and the assertion by many that it lacks parity, as reflected by the Warriors' dominance and the same NBA Finals matchup happening four years in a row.

      "I get it in terms of Kevin Durant [joining the Warriors in 2016]," he said. "It was a bit of an aberration in our system; we had a spike in our [salary] cap, it enabled them to have additional cap room.

      "The Warriors will tell you they would have figured out a way to get it done anyway."

      Before signing Durant, Golden State had secured the 2014-15 NBA championship in six games over the Cleveland Cavaliers and then blown a 3-1 lead to the Cavs in the 2015-16 Finals to narrowly miss out on back-to-back titles. They have since won consecutive titles over Cleveland while going a combined 32-6 in the playoffs, including 8-1 in the Finals.

      Silver praised the team for putting together the other necessary pieces to engineer such a dominant stretch.

      "I've said repeatedly, let's also celebrate excellence," he said. "Ownership, the job Bob Myers has done as a GM, Steve Kerr, of course, one of the great coaches in our league. Steph Curry, drafted. Klay Thompson, drafted. Draymond Green drafted 35th by Golden State Warriors."

      The commissioner added that he hears more complaints about the Warriors' -- and Cavaliers' -- dominance from other teams around the league than he does from fans.

      "The 28 other teams, they're the biggest complainers that these two teams have met four times in a row [in the Finals]," Silver said. "Ultimately, collectively our 30 teams are in charge with what system we have, along with the players. And by the way, the players on 29 other teams want a system regardless of where they are drafted or where they sign to be able to compete for championships, and that's what you want."

      Silver also noted the issue is nothing new, saying "there have been dynasties forever in this league."

      He said the league won't try to break up superteams in order to "force some sort of parity that is kind of unnatural," but he did suggest changes could be explored when the collective bargaining agreement expires -- either after 2023-2024, or a year earlier if either side opts out -- including the possibility of a harder salary cap.

      --Field Level Media

  • Take 5: Five things about top five NBA draft prospects
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    In preparation for the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday, get to know Field Level Media's top five prospects.

    • Bigs with wheels are the prized attractions, from Arizona's DeAndre Ayton and Duke product Marvin Bagley III, to Texas' one-man swat team Mo Bamba and Michigan State's 6-foot-11 Jaren Jackson Jr. All have star potential for vastly different reasons, with backgrounds as close to opposite as one could imagine.

      Less familiar to most NBA observers is slick Slovenian point guard Luka Doncic. With the jump shot to play the 2 and the mind and handle to be a point forward, Doncic can find a spot to fit in the NBA -- no matter a team's roster needs.

      Here are five things to know about FLM's top five NBA draft prospects:

      G Luka Doncic, International

      1. Doncic is 19 but has several years of pro experience, including most recently as the starting point guard with Real Madrid, to whom he was first loaned by Slovenia at the age of 13. He signed a five-year deal and moved to Madrid and debuted as a pro in 2015 (at age 16).

      2. Doncic is the son of a basketball coach (Sasa Doncic) and hurdler (Mirjam Poterbin).

      3. He was named the EuroLeague rising star each of the past two seasons and became the youngest EuroLeague MVP in 2018.

      4. Scouts have compared Doncic to NBA players James Harden, Manu Ginobili and Gordon Hayward.

      5. Doncic said prior to the draft that he wants to see which teams make a mistake on draft night by passing on him. His nickname in Slovenia is "Wonder Boy."

      C DeAndre Ayton, Arizona

      1. Ayton is 7-1 and 250 pounds, and played one season at Arizona, averaging 20.1 points on 61.2-percent shooting to go with 11.6 rebounds.

      2. Ayton hails from Nassau, Bahamas, and never touched a basketball before age 12, when he was introduced to the sport in an island church league.

      3. Projected as a top-three pick, Ayton worked out for only one team before the draft -- the Phoenix Suns, holders of the No. 1 overall pick. After that workout (and still two weeks before the draft), he said "I know I'm going No. 1."

      4. Ayton moved to the United States -- first San Diego, then Phoenix -- with basketball in mind. Ayton said he made enough money working for his stepfather's plumbing business to attend a basketball camp, where he fell in love with the game.

      5. Ayton refuted an ESPN report that surfaced before the NCAA Tournament linking his family to a payment of $100,000 from Arizona.

      C Mo Bamba, Texas

      1. Bamba weighs just 223 pounds, or about five pounds fewer than guard Doncic.

      2. Bamba's 94-inch wingspan is the longest ever recorded in the history of the NBA draft combine. The average doorway measures 34 inches wide. A standard multi-passenger SUV stands 74 inches, road to rooftop. Houston Rockets legend Yao Ming was 7-5. You get the picture.

      3. He was the No. 2 recruit in the nation in the Class of 2017 and was widely believed to be on his way to Duke or Kentucky until head coach Shaka Smart snuck in to convince Bamba to give Texas a listen.

      4. Bamba averaged 3.7 blocks per game at Texas. His standing reach of 9 feet, 6 inches means he can touch the base of the breakaway rim in most college gyms.

      5. On his best vertical jump during a private workout for the Suns, Bamba hit the 12-foot-6 mark to Phoenix GM Ryan McDonough. That would be a few inches above the standard top of the backboard.

      F/C Marvin Bagley III, Duke

      1. Bagley is 6-11, 240 pounds and just turned 19 in March.

      2. An All-American in his only season at Duke -- 21.0 points, 11.1 rebounds per game in 33 games -- Bagley said throughout the draft process he should be the top pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. "I think I'm the best player in the draft. That's why I feel like I should go No. 1."

      3. Bagley is a self-described artist and rapper. He identifies most with J. Cole, Tupac, Kendrick Lamar, Drake and Logic.

      4. Described by scouts as advanced offensively, Bagley has a lean frame and said teams are looking for him to add muscle.

      5. Regarded as the top player in the 2017 recruiting class, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski expected to have Bagley for just one season. "He's the most unique player we've had here at Duke during my 38 years," said Krzyzewski. "He's going to be one of the great players in the NBA during his time."

      F/C Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State

      1. Jackson is the son of former NBA player Jaren Jackson Sr., who played at Georgetown, was on the 1999 San Antonio Spurs' title team and was a pro for 13 years. His mother, Terri, is the acting director of the WNBA players association.

      2. Jackson Jr. spent one season at Michigan State. At 6-11, 242 pounds, he is regarded as one of the better shooters Tom Izzo has coached. Jackson made 39.6 percent of his 3-point attempts at MSU.

      3. Scouts have compared Jackson Jr. to Boston Celtics All-Star forward Al Horford.

      4. Jackson was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and established a new school record with 106 blocks, averaging more than 3.0 per game.

      5. Spartans teammate Miles Bridges is projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick in the 2018 draft.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wizards, Knicks will meet in NBA's London game next season
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The NBA unveiled the teams who will play when the league returns to London next season on Wednesday.

    • The New York Knicks, making their third appearance, will take on the Washington Wizards, who are making their London debut.

      This will be the ninth time the NBA has played a game in England's most populous city.

      "We've been playing regular-season match-ups in London for nearly a decade, and over that time the games and the surrounding festivities have grown into the equivalent of an NBA All-Star experience transported to Europe," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a press release from the league. "Fans and partners from across the continent come to celebrate basketball and enjoy the excitement and experience of an NBA game."

      Wizards guard John Wall expressed excitement about going abroad.

      "It will be an honor to represent the Washington Wizards organization as we play our first game in the UK," he said. "I look forward to connecting with our fans in London and using the experience to further bond as a team."

      Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. also expressed happiness about a return trip to England. New York has split the two previous regular-season games it played in London.

      "I am excited to return to London. We had a great experience during our last visit in 2015 playing in front of passionate fans and are looking forward to another trip overseas," Hardaway said.

      The teams will meet at O2 Arena on Jan. 17.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Nets to land Howard for Mozgov
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    The Brooklyn Nets have reportedly agreed to acquire Dwight Howard from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for Timofey Mozgov two days after the 31-year-old Russian big man said he reached a "breaking point" with the Nets.

    • Trades cannot be completed until the NBA moratorium on offseason deals is lifted July 6.

      ESPN reported Wednesday that the deal includes two second-round picks from Charlotte and helps the Hornets avoid the luxury tax. The Nets land Howard's $23.8 million expiring contract.

      The second-round picks are No. 45 in the 2018 draft and a 2021 second-round pick, ESPN reported.

      Mozgov has two years, $32.7 million remaining on his contract.

      By unloading Mozgov, the Nets will save more than $16 million against the cap in 2019-20 and thus have room for two "max salary" slots for next summer's free agency period.

      Mozgov wasn't satisfied with his limited playing time. He ended the season playing in just seven of the final 47 games.

      "I'm very dissatisfied with my NBA season. It was a hard one and really bad," Mozgov said in his personal blog on Scorum, a sports media platform. "The breaking point came quite unexpectedly. The coach just said: ‘This is the situation we have.' There were no transitional periods, just like this: bang!"

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Popovich, Leonard meet in California
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made the trip to San Diego on Tuesday to meet with star forward Kawhi Leonard ahead of Thursday's NBA draft, according to multiple reports.

    • The two had a "good" conversation and "more dialogue" is expected, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News reports.

      Leonard did not want the meeting and has been making himself difficult to reach for the Spurs on purpose, according to ESPN's report.

      Multiple outlets reported last week that Leonard wants out of San Antonio and is determined to play elsewhere. According to ESPN, Leonard is upset with the Spurs' handling of his quad injury and the lack of support he received from the team -- namely Tony Parker and Popovich -- while he was sidelined last season.

      Leonard was reportedly supposed to meet with Popovich last week to resolve the tension, but it never happened. ESPN reports Popovich has tried to set up a meeting for weeks.

      Leonard has his eye on playing in Los Angeles, preferably for the Lakers, according to ESPN. Leonard will reportedly alert teams interested in trading for him that his preference is to sign with the Lakers when he's eligible to become a free agent in 2019.

      The Spurs aren't motivated to deal Leonard to the Lakers, according to ESPN, and have been reluctant to provide guidance to rival teams when it comes to potential packages for a possible Leonard deal.

      Leonard, who turns 27 later this month, has been the subject of trade speculation for months after last season produced extensive tension between him and the team over the handling of his quadriceps tendinopathy, which limited Leonard to just nine games, during which he averaged 16.2 points and 4.7 rebounds.

      Various reports over the last few months indicated the sides disagreed about the nature of Leonard's injury, how to treat it and how soon he would be able to return to the floor. An ESPN report in May said the Spurs were worried Leonard's group -- led by uncle Dennis Robertson and agent Mitch Frankel -- intentionally sought to sabotage the team's relationship with Leonard in hopes of getting him traded to a larger market.

      Leonard, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, has played all seven of his NBA seasons with the Spurs. He is eligible to sign a five-year, $219 million supermax extension with San Antonio this summer.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Cavs head to draft clueless about LeBron's future
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Entering the 2018 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers must operate without knowing the status of LeBron James, who can opt out of his contract before the end of the month.

    • James, Cleveland.com reported, has been in touch with the team through his representatives. However, James himself is not certain whether he will return to Cleveland, according to the report, and therefore cannot share his intentions with the franchise.

      The Cavaliers hold the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft.

      James has until June 29 to exercise the $35.6 million player option on his contract for next season. Cleveland is well over the luxury tax even without James on the books. Kevin Love is scheduled to make $24.1 million, George Hill's salary for next season in $19 million and Tristan Thompson is set to earn $17.5 million, just ahead of JR Smith ($14.7 million).

      --Sterling Brown filed a lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and its police department, stemming from an incident in which a stun gun was used during an arrest for a parking violation in January.

      Brown, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, is the son of a Chicago police officer. Milwaukee police chief Alonso Morales issued an apology on behalf of the officers he said acted "inappropriately."

      Brown was talking with officers while waiting for a citation for illegally parking in a disabled spot outside a Walgreens. Officers swarmed Brown and took him down because he didn't immediately follow orders to remove his hands from his pockets.

      --Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics are expecting All-Star reinforcements by Aug. 1.

      Kyrie Irving, coming back from knee surgery, and Gordon Hayward, out since his debut with the team Oct. 17 with a fractured left ankle, are progressing toward five-on-five pickup games and should be cleared weeks in advance of the start of training camp, Stevens said.

      "I've been told they'll both be going, if not full tilt, then pretty close to full tilt by the end of July, so August first-ish," said Stevens. "Probably won't be playing five-on-five at that time, but will be real close. When guys start playing pick-up games, they'll be in that mix, if they continue on the path they're on, but there's no indication they wouldn't.

      --Former NBA guard Nate Robinson says the pressure he faced from coaches while playing in the league caused him to experience depression and led him to therapy.

      Robinson, who played for eight teams across his 11 seasons in the league, said in an interview with Bleacher Report that coaches were constantly asking him to tone down his fun-loving personality, which caused him to question himself among other things.

      Last season, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan opened up about his bouts with depression and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love wrote about his experience with panic attacks and anxiety. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue discussed before the start of the NBA Finals his absence from the bench, which was caused in part by anxiety.

      --After Real Madrid clinched the Spanish league championship, Slovenian star Luka Doncic will head to Brooklyn and attend the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night at Barclays Center, according to an ESPN report.

      Per ESPN, Doncic will fly to New York on Wednesday and be joined by his mother, her boyfriend and his grandmother at the draft.

      Once considered a possible contender to go first overall, Doncic could fall out of the top three based on recent reports. The Phoenix Suns are expected to take Arizona's Deandre Ayton at No. 1, and the Sacramento Kings (No. 2) and Atlanta Hawks (No. 3) are not believed to be interested in the Slovenian wing.

      --Field Level Media

  • Nate Robinson says NBA gave him depression
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Former NBA guard Nate Robinson says the pressure he faced from coaches while playing in the league led him to therapy.

    • "The NBA gave me my depression," said Robinson in an interview with Bleacher Report. "I've never been a depressed person in my life."

      Robinson, who played for eight teams across his 11 seasons in the league, said coaches were constantly asking him to tone down his fun-loving personality, which caused him to question himself among other things.

      "I was trying to change," Robinson said. "Nobody would ever know the real struggles that I had to fight to try to be somebody that I wasn't. ... That was the hardest thing in my career. Not basketball, not working out. Not my children.

      "But the hardest thing in my whole life, of my 34 years in existence on earth, was dealing with 11 years in the NBA of trying to be somebody that [NBA coaches] want me to be."

      In the interview, Robinson specifically singles out Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. While with the Knicks, Robinson, who is listed at 5-foot-9, said Brown referred to him as "the little [expletive]." Robinson said he pleaded with Brown, in tears, to stop demeaning him with the nickname; Brown responded shortly after by calling him the name again in front of the team and sharing with everyone that Robinson had cried about it.

      "I don't have any recollection," Brown said in response to the allegations. "I don't, I don't know ... I don't know what I called him, to be honest with you. If I did that, shame on me. I would feel terrible about that. That's not who I am, but I don't want to dispute Nate."

      Robinson also said tensions between him and coach Tom Thibodeau with the Chicago Bulls were escalating behind the scenes.

      Last season, Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan opened up about his bouts with depression and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love wrote about his experience with panic attacks and anxiety. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue discussed before the start of the NBA Finals his absence from the bench, which was caused in part by anxiety.

      In part to address the issue, the National Basketball Players Association appointed its first director of mental health and wellness in May.

      Robinson believes current NBA players are held to different standards from when he was in the league. The former three-time Slam Dunk Contest champion has his eyes set on an NBA comeback, having spent the last several years since his last game in 2015 playing in the G League, Israel and Venezuela.

      "I just need a chance," said Robinson, who will play in the BIG3 and Drew League this summer.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Doncic attending draft after Real Madrid title
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    After Real Madrid clinched the Spanish league championship Tuesday, Slovenian star Luka Doncic will head to Brooklyn and attend the 2018 NBA Draft on Thursday night at Barclays Center, according to an ESPN report.

    • The 19-year-old probably will not have to wait long to hear his name called. The Atlanta Hawks are high on Doncic and could select the 6-foot-8 guard if he is available with the No. 3 overall selection, according to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

      Per ESPN, Doncic will fly to New York on Wednesday and be joined by his mother, her boyfriend and his grandmother at the draft.

      League sources told Wojnarowski that the Phoenix Suns are expected to select Deandre Ayton with the top overall pick. Meanwhile, the prevailing belief around the league is that the Sacramento Kings will select Marvin Bagley III with the second pick.

      That would leave Doncic on the board along with several other intriguing prospects. The Hawks have had "tremendous intrigue" in Jaren Jackson Jr., Wojnarowski reported, and also could be open to dealing the third pick and moving down in the draft.

      Doncic had eight points, eight rebounds and a pair of assists in 29 minutes as Real Madrid beat Kirolbet Baskonia 96-85 to clinch Game 4 of the ACB Finals. Three of those points came on a one-handed 3-pointer to beat the shot-clock buzzer. Teammate and former NBA player Rudy Fernandez was named MVP of the Finals.

      The ACB title follows Real Madrid's Euroleague championship last month, where Doncic was named MVP of the Final Four. He also claimed MVP honors during the regular seasons in ACB and Euroleague play. Last fall, Doncic helped Slovenia to its first-ever Eurobasket championship.

      The full list of prospects expected to attend the draft:

      Deandre Ayton, Arizona

      Marvin Bagley III, Duke

      Mo Bamba, Texas

      Mikal Bridges, Villanova

      Miles Bridges, Michigan State

      Wendell Carter, Duke

      Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova

      Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky

      Aaron Holiday, UCLA

      Chandler Hutchison, Boise State

      Jaren Jackson Jr., Michigan State

      Kevin Knox, Kentucky

      Michael Porter, Missouri

      Jerome Robinson, Boston College

      Collin Sexton, Alabama

      Zhaire Smith, Texas Tech

      Lonnie Walker IV, Miami

      Robert Williams, Texas A&M

      Trae Young, Oklahoma

      --Field Level Media

  • Bucks G Brown files suit against Milwaukee, police department
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Sterling Brown filed a lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and its police department, stemming from an incident in which a stun gun was used during an arrest for a parking violation in January.

    • Brown, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks, is the son of a Chicago police officer. Milwaukee police chief Alonso Morales issued an apology on behalf of the officers he said acted "inappropriately."

      Mark Thomsen, Brown's attorney, filed the lawsuit in federal court Tuesday alleging excessive force and unlawful arrest.

      Brown was talking with officers while waiting for a citation for illegally parking in a disabled spot outside a Walgreens. Officers swarmed Brown and took him down because he didn't immediately follow orders to remove his hands from his pockets.

      Following the release of video footage of the incident, Brown issued a statement.

      "My experience in January with the Milwaukee Police Department was wrong and shouldn't happen to anybody," Brown said. "What should have been a simple parking ticket turned into an attempt at police intimidation, followed by the unlawful use of physical force, including being handcuffed and tased, and then unlawfully booked. This experience with the Milwaukee Police Department has forced me to stand up and tell my story so that I can help prevent these injustices from happening in the future.

      "Situations like mine and worse happen every day in the black community," the statement continued, in part. "... The common denominator in all of these situations has been racism towards the minority community, the abuse of power, and the lack of accountability for officers involved. The lack of repercussions for the police officers involved in so many of these cases is offensive."

      --Field Level Media