Tim Duncan has tallest task of career ahead for stacked Spurs

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Tim Duncan didn’t want to play center, the legend goes, so he measured out at 6-11 barefoot before the 1997 NBA Draft and left it at that, even though most listed heights are with shoes. He was entering a league of dominant centers — Hakeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing were aging, sure, but Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning were in their primes — and likely to be drafted by a team with its own, David Robinson.

So it was that Duncan began his career as a power forward and, through nearly two decades of stubborn resistance to reclassification — Matt Bonner is listed as a center to keep Duncan at the 4 — he now is recognized as the greatest power forward in NBA history.

MORE: Classic photos of Tim Duncan | History of the Spurs’ logo

And that’s where we come to the 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs. And that’s where we talk about perhaps the greatest challenge of Duncan’s career and the first time where a positional label might matter.

The Spurs won this NBA offseason handily. They re-signed Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the exact deals they wanted, ensuring continuity and youth on the wings. They brought in the offseason’s biggest catch, four-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, on a four-year contract that should help keep this long, successful run going. They convinced David West to take a veteran’s minimum salary (about[……]

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NBA Utopia Project: Why a 58-game season would be better for all

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The NBA has turned into an 11-month league with an incredibly active July and training camps opening in September. While August serves as a dead time in the calendar, that downshift in activity also provides an excellent opportunity to consider bigger questions. Hopefully, the NBA Utopia Project can help inspire these conversations.

The concept is to think about, construct and share your ideal for how the league could work in an ideal world. This can take many forms, from tweaks to play on the court to adjustments to the rules governing transactions and structure. While grounding suggestions in reality helps create functional options, it can be both fun and worthwhile to spend some time outside those constraints.

MORE: 2014 NBA Draft’s best bounce-back candidates  | Kill the draft entirely!

That is why we want your help. You can contribute your own ideas, which we will publish in future installments, using the hashtag #NBAUtopia on Twitter or by emailing nbautopiaproject@gmail.com . Or you could write your ideas at another site and send them along for us to check out. Give us any ideas, no matter how far-flung, about how to make the NBA better.

Laying out the full system forces us to think about how all the different components fit together and to consider less common areas for improvement. That is why we are starting the series[……]

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NBA Free Agency Tracker: Updates, signings, analysis, contract details

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Happy NBA free agency, everyone! Now keep up. There’s a lot going on.

Where is LaMarcus Aldridge going to land? Will the Lakers ever get another big-name free agent? We’re keeping our eyes out for all the contract signings, rumors and wheelin’-and-dealin’s so you don’t have to.

MORE: What the top 27 free agents should do | Max contracts never meant less | How free agency affects NBA2K

Here’s what we know so far.

NBA free agency’s reported contract deals:

TUESDAY, JULY 7

— The Clippers, in a surprise turn, beat the Mavericks. DeAndre Jordan, one of the most prized free agents on the market, will stay in Los Angeles on a four-year deal worth $87.7 million, according to CBS. Jordan has led the NBA in field goal percentage and rebounds per game the past two seasons and was a candidate for NBA Defensive Player of the Year last season. The Mavericks will have to figure out a Plan B, and quickly.

— Veteran swingman Alan Anderson will sign a one-year, $4 million deal with the Wizards, Yahoo Sports reports. Anderson averaged 7.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game for the Nets last season.

— The Celtics agreed to take David Lee and his massive contract off the Warriors’ hands in exchange for Gerald Wallace and another player required to balance salaries, according to multiple reports. Lee would have cost the Warriors a ton of money in salary and[……]

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Stephen Curry finds it 'funny' Warriors not favorites to repeat

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Stephen Curry’s megawatt smile often belies his status as a baby-faced assassin and Warrior. The guard is as quick to grin and laugh as he is to pull up and pop a 3-pointer.

But don’t let the word ‘funny’ fool you; this time, he isn’t amused. 

MORE: Some sharp shots of the sharpshooter | Relive Warriors vs. Cavaliers

Curry spoke with CBS Sports at Team USA’s minicamp in Las Vegas, where oddsmakers rewarded Dub Nation’s championship with a diss: They aren’t considered the favorites to win the NBA title in 2016. 

And according to Curry, that’s some “funny” nonsense.

“We obviously are the champs, and you’ve got to think that we’re gonna be a better team next year with our experiences that we’ve had, and we’re not the favorites,” Curry told CBS Sports when asked about the odds slight. “Obviously there’s been a lot of noise, teams retooling and trying to boost their lineups. You have teams that haven’t set foot on the floor yet and are heavily favored to kick us off our throne.”

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Unsurprisingly, it’s a king usurping that throne in Vegas’s eyes — King James, that is.

Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook puts LeBron and the Cavaliers at +200 to take the title, with[……]

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WNBA All-Star wears special shoes for people with special needs, including her sister

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The WNBA All-Star game doesn’t have the same level of hype as its masculine counterpart, but for one teenager, the game couldn’t mean more.

Matthew Walzer is a 19-year-old who has spent the past three years working with Nike to develop a shoe that would make it easier for people with disabilites to tie their shoes.

MORE: Maya Moore makes a dream come true | The WNBA deserves more | WNBA legends

Chicago Sky All-Star Elena Delle Donne heard about Walzer’s shoe and immediately felt a connection as her sister, Lizzie, has cerebral palsy and is both blind and deaf. 

The journey started three years earlier when Walzer wanted a shoe that could fit both form and fashion. He soon began working with Nike designers, eventually coming up with the Nike Zoom Soldier LeBron Flyeasy.

Delle Donne sent Walzer a congratulatory video on the shoe launch.

“With my sister I know just how difficult it is to get her shoe on and just to tie her shoe,” Delle Donne told USA Today’s For The Win. “Right now she wears a Ve[……]

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Hornets unveil new 'Buzz City' uniforms

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A couple minutes before the 2015 NBA Draft, the Hornets were already shaking things up.

Charlotte unveiled new uniforms with “Buzz City” written on the chest. 

MORE: Pick-by-pick draft analysis | Draft photos: Dig the outfitsFRANK THE TANK!

It’s an enticing new uniform for the team’s draft picks to look forward to wearing.

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JaVale McGee agrees to deal with Mavericks

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Journeyman JaVale McGee is no DeAndre Jordan, but the veteran center can still provide some size in Dallas after signing a two-year minimum deal with the Mavericks, the team announced Thursday.

McGee has played in just 28 games over the last two seasons while battling leg injuries, but with time to recover and get his legs back under him, he could potentially return to a much-needed rebounder and shot blocker — something Dallas desperately needs with the departure of Tyson Chandler.

MORE: All-time greatest Mavs | Free agency winners and losers | McGee mocked, hilariously

In his last full season, 2012-13 with the Denver Nuggets, McGee played in 79 games and averaged 9.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. 

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Paul Pierce opts out of Wizards contract, set to enter free agency

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Paul Pierce decided not to exercise the final year of his contract with the Wizards Saturday, and is set to become a free agent for the second straight year, according to multiple sources.

The veteran forward was due to make $5.5 million next season. But by opting out of his contract, Pierce can negotiate a deal for up to $6.6 million with the Wizards or explore other opportunities with different teams.

MORE: Tobias Harris seeks max deal | Nets expected to re-sign Lopez, Young | Wolves looking to add Euroleague star

A Los Angeles native, Pierce has reportedly been considering a reunion with Clippers coach Doc Rivers. The pair spent nine seasons together in Boston and won the NBA champtionship in 2008, which Pierce was named Finals MVP. The Clippers are expected to give the 10-time All-Star a competitive offer after they failed to reach a deal last season due to financial limitations.

Pierce, 37, averaged career lows in points (11.2) and minutes (26.2) per game last season and shot 38.9 percent from three-point line, though he did average 14.6 points in 29.8 minutes in 10 playoff games. He also hit the game-winning buzzer beater in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Hawks.

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Highly touted draft pick Cameron Payne reportedly breaks finger

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With the NBA Draft less than a week away, former Murray State guard Cameron Payne has hit a bump in the road. 

The projected first-round pick broke the ring finger of his non-shooting hand during a workout with the Nuggets on Monday. The good news is the fracture is a clean break, so it won’t require surgery. The bad news is Payne will sit out for three weeks as a precaution.

MORE: Pangos hopes to join Canada’s NBA revolution | Latest NBA Mock Draft

“Cam continued to work out even after suffering the injury in Denver, and he could probably play in a meaningful game tomorrow if he needed to,” his agent Travis King told DraftExpress.

Payne will consult a specialist next week for further evaluation. Aside from the Nuggets, he worked out with the Lakers, Kings and Pacers. He also visited the Thunder, Jazz and Celtics.

 

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NBA free agency buzz: Rajon Rondo focuses in on Kings

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Certainly, when point guard Rajon Rondo envisioned the start of the 2015 free agency period, he imagined a lot more attention than he’s received so far. But that could change quickly, a source told Sporting News, as Rondo is in the process of arranging a meeting with the Kings that could soon yield a deal.

The only reason Rondo could not meet with the Kings immediately was because he was traveling.

MORE: What the top 27 free agents should do | Max contracts never meant less | How free agency affects NBA2K

Rondo is coming off a year in which he averaged 8.9 points and 7.9 assists, shooting 40.3 percent from the field. A rift between Rondo and Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle effectively ended his tenure with the Mavericks, who acquired him from the Celtics in a trade in December.

The Kings can offer a deal starting in the $10 million range and would do so on the hope that Rondo can return to the form of three seasons ago, when he was an All-Star and led the league in assists. While it appears that Rondo’s options have dwindled, the source said there are, “a few other situations,” that could yet yield a deal for Rondo. For now, though, the Kings are the focus. 

Celtics stay low-key

Celtics president Danny Ainge had tamped down the expectations of fans heading into the league’s free agency period, and while Boston did not manage to get i[……]

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Raptors 905 joins NBA D-League as Toronto affiliate

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The Toronto Raptors acquired a NBA Development League team Monday.

What’s cool about the new club is its name — Raptors 905 – in honor of Toronto’s area code.

MORE: Kings interested in Bledsoe | Miami parts ways with Beasley | LeBron opts out

According to a team news release, the Raptors become the ninth NBA franchise to fully own and operate its D-League affiliate.

Raptors 905 will play in Mississauga, Ontario, which is about 20 miles from downtown Toronto.

There were seven NBA players last season who grew up in Toronto’s 905 area code, including Tyler Ennis (Bucks), Cory Joseph (Spurs), Anthony Bennett (Timberwolves), Andrew Nicholson (Magic), Nik Stauskas (Kings), Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers), and Andrew Wiggins (Timberwolves).

Raptors 905 is also Canada’s first D-League team.

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Cavaliers spend $190M on Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson

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LeBron James has to be happy to see a couple of big names stay on the Cavaliers’ roster. Both of Cleveland’s primary power forwards, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, agreed to major new contracts, according to ESPN reports.

Love announced via the Players’ Tribune he’ll stay in Cleveland.

I’m going back to Cleveland.

After Game 1 of the NBA Finals, that’s when it really struck me. Sitting on the sidelines, I never wanted to play in a game more than that one. I had dreamed of playing in the NBA Finals and I just wanted to help my guys win. I couldn’t have been prouder of them as they poured their blood, sweat and tears onto the court.

Yeah, of course I’ve heard the free agency rumors. But at the end of the day, and after meeting with my teammates (it turns out pools are great meeting places) and with the front office, it was clear Cleveland was the place for me. We’re all on the same page and we’re all in. We have unfinished business and now it’s time to get back to work.

MORE: What the top 27 free agents  should  do | Max contracts never meant less  | How free agency affects NBA2K

ESPN is reporting Love’s deal will be a five-year, $110 million contract extension.

In addition to Love, the team will also be keeping Tristan[……]

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LeBron James reportedly opts out of final year of contract, will enter free agency

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LeBron James has notified the Cavaliers that he intends to opt out of his contract and become a free agent, according to ESPN.

The move was expected, as James has said he wants to see what the team does in free agency before re-signing, which he reportedly plans on doing.

MORE: LeBron won’t make pitch to Love | Draymond Green rips Cavs | LeBron’s career in photos

Still, the move is scary for Cavaliers fans, as they’ve watched their local hero leave them for greener pastures before. It seems unlikely James will go somewhere else before bringing a title to Cleveland, but with Kevin Love already opting out of his deal and Tristan Thompson expected to get a max-contract, the salary cap-riddled Cavaliers might not make the moves James wants.

James was set to make a little over $21.5 million this year, and just over $22.6 million next year, but will now have a new contract when he presumably re-signs with the Cavaliers at the end of the summer.

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Kendrick Perkins signs with Pelicans, will mentor Anthony Davis

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Kendrick Perkins has lost more than a step or two since he started at center for the 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics. But an NBA franchise on the rise is hoping that championship pedigree and experience can translate to mentorship, if not minutes.

According to Cleveland.com, Perkins, a free agent and former Cavalier, has signed a one-year deal with the Pelicans at the veterans minimum. On Wednesday morning, ESPN’s Marc Stein confirmed the report, adding that the Pelicans see Perkins playing a role in superstar Anthony Davis’s development, serving not only as a backup center, but a mentor.

MORE: Free Agency winners and losers | Affordable free agents that could make an impact

The 12-year veteran, though just 30, has seen his production slow in recent seasons. His minutes and points per game peaked in his two final, full seasons with the Celtics (2008-2010), when Perkins averaged 9.3 points and 7.9 rebounds per game in 28.6 minutes played. But Perkins’ value always resided in his defense down low, where his less quantifiable presence provided strength in the post for the Celtics, and later, the Thunder.

Even when Perkins’ defensive skills waned with the Thunder, he still seemingly served as a spiritual centerpiece of Oklahoma City’s young nucleus — a nucleus that seemed poised for a run after making the NBA Finals in 2012. Not unt[……]

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Rising Stars game snubbed better American players to fit U.S. vs. World format

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NBA Basketball The NBA unveiled its rosters for the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend, but not without some controversy.Last year, the league announced that the event would have a new format this season that “pits first- and second-year NBA players from the United States against first- and second-year NBA players from around the world.” MORE: NBA scout breaks down top rookies | Towns should be All-StarThe two teams feature 10 players each and include four guards, four frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. Each team also has a minimum of three first-year players and three second-year players among its 10 spots. Let’s take a look at what the NBA decided:Rosters for the #BBVARisingStars at @NBAAllStar Released: https://t.co/fndCqQrgBp #NBAAllStarTO pic.twitter.com/JXyikouXIi— NBA (@NBA) January 27, 2016Some obvious players made the list, such as Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns, but there w夜网论坛ere some players left off that raise some questions. Perhaps the most controversial was the absence of Suns guard Devin Booker.Booker’s season numbers don’t jump out, but the 19-year-old has been playing extremely well of late, averaging 16.9 points in January. His minutes have increased by more than double since the start of the season, and he’s starting to make an impression in the l[……]

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Paul George, Marcus Morris get physical in closing seconds of Pistons-Pacers game

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NBA Paul George refused to turn down the intensity with only a few seconds remaining. Marcus Morris didn’t like that. As Saturday night’s contest between the Pacers and Pistons came to a close, George tried to steal the ball off Morris despite Indiana holding a 12-point lead. Morris gave George a hard shove in the back as both players went for the loose ball, and then things nearly 夜网论坛spun out of control. MORE: Bold NBA predictions for 2016 | Best Pacers ever | All-time Pistons  Paul George and Marcus Morris mix it up a little at the end of the Pistons vs. Pacers game. pic.twitter.com/MoCobEEKJW— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) January 3, 2016 Mark your calendars for Feb. 6. That’s the next time George and Morris will cross paths.[……]

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Jazz's Derrick Favors blames his back issues on how he sleeps

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NBA null Basketball null After missing 16 games with back soreness earlier this season, Utah Jazz power forward Derrick Favors is back in action. But he has an unus夜网论坛ual explanation for why he missed so many games.”[I need to] try not to sleep on my stomach basically,” he said via The Salt Lake Tribune. “I think that’s what caused it. I try everything, man. Just try to stay on my back. If I feel like I’m turning over, I try to wake up. Just stay on my back.” MORE: Jazz’s bright future could be costly | 15 most overpaidThe 24-year-old also bought a new mattress, citing that as an issue. “I’m in the process of of changing my mattress now,” he said, adding that he was looking for something firmer. “It wasn’t soft, but it was kind of outdated. I had it for a couple of years.”IN-DEPTH: Derrick Favors finds home — in Utah, as in AtlantaWhatever the reason, the most important thing for Utah is having its star back on the court. Favors is averaging 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game this season and provides a nice high-low game with small forward Gordon Hayward.[……]

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Bulls' Jimmy Butler out with knee strain, Pau Gasol takes All-Star spot

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NBA The only All-Star on a team skidding down the Eastern Conference standings is out for the rest of the month.Jimmy Butler has a left knee strain, the Bulls announced Tuesday. He will not require surgery after being hurt in Friday’s game against the Nuggets. The All-Star shooting guard is expected夜网论坛 to miss three to four weeks. MORE: Ranking every NBA All-Star | Why Hoiberg’s offense is failingThe injury is bad news for the Bulls, who have gone 3-7 in their past 10 games and lost three in a row. Butler is their most dynamic offensive player and top perimeter defender, a rare player who has emerged over the past two seasons as arguably the NBA’s best shooting guard. There is a slightly positive side for one teammate: Bulls forward Pau Gasol will replace Butler in the 2016 NBA All-Star Game. Gasol has averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds per game and will play in his sixth All-Star Game.[……]

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Harrison Barnes saves Warriors, Meek Mill keeps losing

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NBA Put your hand up if you believed Saturday’s contest between the Warriors and Sixers would be close. … OK, you’re all liars.Golden State needed some late heroics from Harrison Barnes to avoid an embarrassing loss in Philadelphia. The Warriors were up six with less than a minute to go, but a four-point play by Isaiah Canaan followed by a steal and dunk by Ish Smith tied the game at 105. That’s when Barnes stepped up to the plate. MORE: Greatest Warriors ever | Fans go fishing (literally) for Curry’s autograph That’s about as Warriors as you can get. Stephen Curry reads the double team, finds Draymond Green rolling to the basket and Green hits an open Barnes in the corner. Game over.Apologies to Meek Mill, who just can’t stop taking losses.Meek Mill standing and laughing right next to Warriors b夜网论坛ench/huddle. No player looked pleased with him. To put it nicely.— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) January 31, 2016 Barnes hits go ahead 3. …Meek Mill now leaving arena w/ .4 seconds left. So much for that.— Rosalyn Gold-Onwude (@ROSGO21) January 31, 2016 Someone please do something nice for the people of Philly. Gift certificates to Olive Garden, perhaps?[……]

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Carmelo Anthony is doing for Kristaps Porzingis what no one did for him

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NBA 夜网论坛 null Basketball Latvian basketball sensation Kristaps Porzingis has taken the NBA by storm after being drafted by the Knicks. And his most high-profile teammate, Carmelo Anthony, is loving every minute.Anthony, an eight-time All-Star, has accepted the role of Porzingis’ mentor as he begins his career in the New York pressure cooker. MORE: Could both Carmelo and Kristaps make East All-Star team? | Who makes the West?“When things are going good, they put you way up there,” Anthony told Yahoo Sports about New York media as it pertains to Porzingis. “When things are going bad, they kick the chair from underneath you. Those are experiences that he is going to have to go through. But if I can be there and be that guy who can grab him up and say everything is going to be all right, I’m going to do that … “I support him 100 percent. In New York they can run you in the ground with all that attention. I’m there to just let him know that when it’s good, it’s great.”Porzingis is averaging 13.6 points and 8.4 rebounds in 27.3 minutes per game, so the media in the Big Apple is all about the 7-3 sensation, but Anthony is also reaping the benefits, saying “because of him I’m getting wide-open looks.” And we all know Anthony loves to shoot.MORE:[……]

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