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  • 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

  • Report: Cavs enter draft in dark on LeBron's plan
    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.

      Speculation James is leaving Cleveland built throughout the season, rooted primarily in the divide between the face of the team and owner Dan Gilbert.

      James is being linked to teams who might be better equipped to build a contender to challenge the Golden State Warriors, but has given no indication where he might be headed next.

      When James last faced a similar opt out in his contract, he fled Miami to return to Cleveland, and informed Heat president Pat Riley before the draft of his decision.

      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 on the books at $17.5 million, just ahead of JR Smith ($14.7 million).

      If the team considers dealing an expiring contract, the best bet is likely sharpshooter Kyle Korver. Korver is guaranteed $7.6 million for the 2018-19 season.

      Media reports also link Cleveland to veterans who could be available via trade, including Hornets guard Kemba Walker and Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, as the team strives to keep a competitive roster intact, with or without James.

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

      --Field Level Media

  • Stevens: Hayward, Irving should be cleared August 1
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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

      "Kyrie came through earlier this week, said he's feeling fine, and shot and did some things here. But he's not ready to compete yet -- that's still a ways away. The second surgery for Gordon went great, and he's here getting treatment every day. Will be cleared to do all he was doing by the middle of July."

      Hayward, who signed as a big ticket free agent last July, was experiencing pain in the back of his ankle related to a plate that has since been removed. Stevens said the discomfort ended when the plate was removed.

      "He was working really hard in (Indianapolis) and he looked really good," Stevens told the Boston Globe. "Like, he was getting close to being able to do some two-on-two, three-on-three. But he just had a little bit of pain in the back side of his foot and that's why they decided to remove the plate."

      Boston reached the Eastern Conference finals but lost in Game 7 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

      Hayward missed the balance of the season following his injury and Irving opted for surgery with 15 games remaining in the regular season due to threat of an infection around screws previously inserted in the knee.

      --Field Level Media

  • Cavaliers overhaul coaching staff under Lue
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    Three assistant coaches are being replaced by the Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason after the team let Jim Boylan and Phil Handy go this week.

    • The moves come on the heels of post player coach Vitaly Potapenko joining the Memphis Grizzlies.

      Boylan, 63, has been an interim head coach in the NBA -- with Chicago and Milwaukee -- and was part of the Cavaliers' 2016 NBA title coaching staff. He began working in the NBA as a scout for the Cavaliers in 1992.

      Handy was a player development coach.

      According to ESPN, Dan Geriot and Damon Jones are taking on greater responsibilities.

      --Field Level Media

  • Father of Knicks' Kanter charged with 'membership in a terror group'
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, June 19, 2018

    A Turkish court accepted an indictment charging the father of New York Knicks center Enes Kanter with "membership in a terror group," according to the country's official news agency Monday.

    • Prosecutors will seek conviction and a 5- to 10-year prison term after an investigation of Mehmet Kanter, Anadolu Agency said. There is no word when a trial is set to begin.

      The Knicks' Kanter, 26, has said publicly he believes the Turkish government has targeted his father over the player's strong statements condemning the Turkish government and president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

      ESPN reported that Kanter's father is not currently in Turkey, according to Hank Fetic, the manager of the Knicks' center.

      Mehmet Kanter is a former professor who was forced from public service and jailed for five days last summer as one of thousands of Turkish citizens tied to cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government alleged attempted a military coup in 2016.

      The younger Kanter, whose Turkish passport was canceled by Turkish authorities on in May 2017, tweeted Monday to "Keep my family, innocent people in your prayers" with the hashtag "DictatorErdogan." His Twitter account is banned from active status in Turkey.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Cavs, Suns reportedly eyeing Leonard
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 18, 2018

    LeBron James can return to free agency by opting out of the final year of his contract in the next two weeks. With the clock ticking for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team reached out to the San Antonio Spurs to inquire about Kawhi Leonard's availability via trade, per Cleveland.com.

    • A separate report from The Athletic linked the Phoenix Suns to Leonard. However, the Arizona Republic said any interest from Suns general manager Ryan McDonough would not include trading the No. 1 overall pick in this week's draft.

      Reports surfaced over the weekend that Leonard is determined to play elsewhere despite an Express-News report earlier that said a plan was in place for the All-Star to sit down and discuss "any issues or concerns Leonard may have." Per ESPN, Leonard was supposed to meet with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich this week to resolve tension that arose during the All-Star's lengthy absence last season due to quadriceps tendinopathy. The two have reportedly had conversations, but haven't met in person.

      An ESPN report said Leonard has his eye on playing in Los Angeles, preferably for the Lakers. It added that the Boston Celtics -- who made trade overtures for Leonard before the trade deadline -- are expected to be a major suitor.

      --Puma is making a major play to get back in the world of basketball, and the company took a big step by inking possible No. 1 overall draft pick DeAndre Ayton to an endorsement deal.

      Ayton, who is considered the favorite to be the Suns' choice with the first overall pick in Thursday's draft, said part of the company's appeal to him was its presence in the Caribbean, where Puma-signed stars Usain Bolt (Jamaica) and Rihanna (Barbados) are from, and where Ayton (Bahamas) was born and lived until age 12.

      "Puma is pretty popular in the Bahamas," Ayton said, per ESPN. "I've always seen the brand growing up. [Bolt] is one of the first people I saw with the brand. It's important to me that someone I identify with and admire as an athlete is with the same brand."

      --Michael Porter Jr. is willing to accept invitations for workouts with NBA teams unconvinced the former Missouri forward has overcome health concerns.

      Last week, Porter canceled a second pro day workout designed to show teams his physical progress. Porter said Monday in an ESPN Radio interview that reports about his health following the cancellation were overblown, adding he's good to go physically and willing to showcase his health to any team that asks.

      "I feel good," Porter said. "I got evaluated. I let the doctors come in and do all their tests on me. I'm feeling good. I think the teams are comfortable but I might get a couple workouts in. ...I was just sore and I wanted to take a couple of days off. So that's all that was."

      --Rudy Gay will opt out of the final year of his contract with the Spurs to enter free agency, according to an ESPN report.

      Gay was scheduled to earn $8.8 million in 2018-19.

      Entering his 13th season, Gay turns 32 in August. He played primarily off the bench last season for the first time in his career, averaging 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in 57 games (six starts).

      --Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford declined a $4.5 million player option for next season and will become a free agent in July, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

      Crawford joined the Timberwolves last season after considering returning to the Los Angeles Clippers while also drawing interest from the Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.

      The 38-year-old averaged 10.3 points per game in 20.7 minutes per game with Minnesota last season.

      --Field Level Media

  • Puma signs Ayton, names Jay-Z president of basketball division
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 18, 2018

    Puma is making a major play to get back in the world of basketball, and the company took a big step on Monday by inking possible No. 1 overall draft pick DeAndre Ayton to an endorsement deal.

    • Ayton, who is considered the favorite to be the Phoenix Suns' choice with the first overall pick in Thursday's draft, said part of the company's appeal to him was its presence in the Caribbean, where Puma-signed stars Usain Bolt (Jamaica) and Rihanna (Barbados) are from, and where Ayton (Bahamas) was born and lived until age 12.

      "Puma is pretty popular in the Bahamas," Ayton said, per ESPN. "I've always seen the brand growing up. [Bolt] is one of the first people I saw with the brand. It's important to me that someone I identify with and admire as an athlete is with the same brand.

      "...As I've been in the States, I've seen what they do with entertainers and always liked that. I see someone like Rihanna recently -- who is a lot like me, we have a similar background -- and she's putting her stamp on the brand. That's something that appeals to me from a creative side. Eventually I want to be a part of bringing this new style of Puma to my people."

      The news of Ayton's signing comes three days before the 2018 NBA Draft kicks off in Brooklyn, a few days after fellow top prospects Marvin Bagley III and Zhaire Smith signed with Puma, and on the same day that the company announced rapper and business mogul Jay-Z as its new president.

      Jay-Z, who founded the agency Roc Nation in 2013, is expected to play a major role in marketing and pursuing players as future endorsers.

      Puma's sudden commitment to 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 also re-signed perhaps its most famous basketball player from past decades, Walt "Clyde" Frazier, to a lifetime contract earlier this week and launched a modernized version of Frazier's old shoe from 1973.

      "We're making a serious statement about the entry of the category, that we want to be a performance brand, but then also very culturally focused," Adam Petrick, the company's global director of brand and marketing, told Complex.

      Bagley and Smith have each signed multi-year shoe deals with Puma, and the company is expected to pursue other top prospects as well as established NBA players after inking Ayton.

      Bagley is considered a likely top-three pick on Thursday, while Smith could be a lottery selection.

      --Field Level Media