Marc J. Spears
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports1 day ago
CLEVELAND – Prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers' first practice of the preseason, LeBron James surprised his teammates by telling them to join him in a meeting room. New coach David Blatt was anxious to get practice started, but gave James his blessing to have the players-only meeting before a ball was bounced. For about the next 30 minutes, James told every player from fellow All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to the guys just hoping to make the team what was expected during the upcoming season.
"I was looking like, 'Wow.' That's crazy that he broke down every individual thing he wants guys to do," Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters told Yahoo Sports. "He wrote down every player from the guy in training camp who may be here or may not be here. …It was unbelievable. It was great."
Said Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao: "He used to talk individually to the players before, but not like that."
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports3 days ago
The Dallas Mavericks have been shopping point guard Gal Mekel and center Bernard James in trade talks, sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Mavericks would prefer to keep one or two of their 15 roster spots open entering this upcoming season, the sources said. No trade for either player is currently imminent, a source said.
Dallas currently has 20 players on its preseason roster.
Mekel averaged 2.4 points and 2.0 assists in 31 games as a rookie with Dallas last season. James has averaged 2.1 points and 2.3 rebounds during the past two seasons with the Mavericks.
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- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
CINCINNATI – LeBron James wouldn't mind a shortened NBA schedule. But he isn't a fan of the league's upcoming experiment to shorten games to 44 minutes.
The Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics will play a 44-minute preseason game on Sunday as part of the NBA's experiment. The exhibition will be four minutes shorter than the NBA's standard 48-minute game with four 11-minute quarters, one minute less each than usual. James thinks fewer games would be better for the NBA in the 82-game regular season rather than fewer minutes in a single game.
"It's not the minutes, it's the games," James said. "The minutes don't mean anything. We can play a 50-minute game if we have to. It's just the games. We all as players think it's too many games in our season.
"Eighty-two games are a lot. But it's not the minutes. Taking away minutes from the game isn't going to shorten it at all. Once you go out and play on the floor, it doesn't matter if you're playing 22 minutes … or you play 40 minutes. Once you play, it takes a toll on your body."
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant could miss up to eight weeks with a right foot fracture that typically requires surgery.
Durant told the team after practice on Saturday that he had discomfort in his right foot, the Thunder said in a statement. Following imaging studies, the Thunder determined the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player had a Jones fracture, which is a fairly common fracture of the fifth metatarsal in the foot. Based on the time-frame, if Durant has surgery he could return to action some time between mid-November and early December. The Thunder are still determining what course of action to take for Durant.
"We are in the process of collaboratively evaluating the most appropriate next steps with Kevin, his representatives, and Thunder medical personnel," Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. "Until a course of action is determined, we are unable to provide a timeline specific to Kevin's case."
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports19 days ago
LOS ANGELES – After missing all but six games last season, Kobe Bryant understood why reporters asked question after question about how he felt Wednesday following his first scrimmage of training camp. But that didn't mean Bryant was too excited about answering them.
Bryant made two of four shots, all midrange jumpers, and dished two assists in one full quarter of action during the Los Angeles Lakers' scrimmage. After being peppered with many questions about how he played and felt, Bryant finished his nearly 11-minute media session by saying: "I feel fine. You guys got to work on your [expletive]. You guys are killing me."
Bryant hasn't played in an NBA game since Dec. 18 when he injured his knee playing against the Memphis Grizzlies. He has played in five-on-five scrimmages recently in the offseason, but this was the first time he played in a structured scrimmage in a Lakers practice since the injury. Bryant said he felt physically fine after his second practice and that he had some normal soreness and heavy legs.
"It feels good being out there to compete," Bryant. "It's fun. …I understand the level of curiosity. But I just do what I do."
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports19 days ago
LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant sat in a chair taking a breather at the end of Tuesday's practice while the majority of his teammates ran wind sprints. With teammate Jordan Hill looking tired, Bryant sounded like a coach as he yelled, "Push it J. Hill."
First-year Lakers head coach Byron Scott plans on using Bryant "like another assistant coach" in Bryant's 19th NBA season. But Scott doesn't see Bryant joining himself, Pat Riley, Magic Johnson, Derek Fisher, Brian Shaw and Michael Cooper as former Lakers turned NBA head coaches after he retires.
"He's too tough," Scott said after the Lakers' first practice on Tuesday. "He would probably be a whole lot more demanding than Pat Riley, myself and guys like that. It would be tough. Plus, he would expect guys to play like him, to have that type of passion that he has for the game. And to have the love for the game that he has and to have that commitment.
"Guys today just don't have that like he does. He's just a dying breed. I don't think he would bode well if he wanted to coach."
- Marc J. Spears at Yahoo Sports20 days ago
LOS ANGELES – Kobe Bryant watched on television as Derek Jeter walked off the field at Yankee Stadium for the last time last week. The Los Angeles Lakers guard hopes to eventually walk away just like Jeter did. But he also hopes to delay that day by a couple years.
"The biggest key for anybody in retirement is you always want to retire by choice," Bryant told Yahoo Sports. "Hopefully, I will be fortunate enough to have that option. You don't want to see another catastrophic injury or something like that. When you walk away, you want to feel like you walked away on your terms."
Bryant, 36, will be entering the 19th season of his career after playing in just six games last season because of injury. He missed 19 games while recovering from Achilles tendon surgery and another 57 with a fractured left knee that ended his season. Bryant's last appearance in an NBA game was Dec. 17 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Bryant sees no reason why he won't play in Monday's preseason opener against the Denver Nuggets in San Diego. More than anything, he's motivated prove to himself he can still be an elite player.
Free-agent center Ryan Hollins has agreed to a one-year, fully guaranteed contract with the Sacramento Kings, a source told Yahoo Sports.
Hollins averaged 2.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 7.5 minutes per game with the Los Angeles Clippers last season. The 7-footer also received interest from the Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs, according to the source. The Kings, who like Holllins' shot blocking ability, could use him alongside forward-center DeMarcus Cousins in a big lineup, the source said.
Cousins, Hollins and undrafted rookie Sim Bhullar (7-5, 355-pounder) are the only true centers on the roster.
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Chauncey Billups, the 2004 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and former Detroit Pistons star, told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday he is retiring after 17 NBA seasons.
Billups became an unrestricted free agent when the Pistons declined the second and final year of a contract option that would have paid him $2.5 million next season. The five-time All-Star had interest in playing with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers after a workout this offseason and said he had "a couple of opportunities to play" if he wanted to continue. But after missing 185 games the past three seasons, Billups decided it was time to retire a little more than two weeks before his 38th birthday.
"It's just time. I know when it's time," Billups told Yahoo Sports. "My mind and my desire is still strong. I just can't ignore the fact that I haven't been healthy for three years. I can try again and get to a point where I think I can go, but I just can't sustain. Me not being able to play the way that I can play, that's when you kind of know it's that time.
The Los Angeles Clippers have signed free agent forward-center Ekpe Udoh to a one-year deal paying $1 million, a league source told Yahoo Sports.
Udoh averaged 3.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and one block with the Milwaukee Bucks last season. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls and Sacramento Kings also expressed interest in Udoh, but the source said he was attracted to playing for Clippers coach Doc Rivers in a winning organization and on a team with a defensive mentality.
Along with Udoh, the Clippers also signed forward-center Spencer Hawes and re-signed forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis to play behind All-Star Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan.
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