The New York Knicks will reportedly fly to Chicago to watch Michael Porter Jr. work out later this week. But will he be available for them when they’re on the clock?
New York has the No. 9 overall pick in the upcoming draft and Porter currently ranks as the seventh-best prospect in our aggregate big board. Porter did not fall past the eighth selection in any of the mock drafts that experts have most recently published.
One report indicates top-ranking executives for the Knicks, including president of basketball operations Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry, will meet with Porter before the draft.
If they are enamored with him as a prospect but do not believe he will be available when they are picking, there are teams who may help them facilitate a trade.
ESPN’s Ian Begley reported that some teams ahead of the Knicks have “reached out” to ask New York if they want to trade up.
According to Kevin O’Connor, those teams may include the Sacramento Kings and Dallas Mavericks (via The Ringer):
“The offseason hot stove is already burning up just three days after the Warriors’ win. The Kings and Mavericks are open to moving down in the draft, according to multiple league front-office executives. Sacramento is in the asset-stacking business, while Dallas is trying to compete for the playoffs next season.”
The Kings have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft and the Mavericks have the No. 5 overall pick.
After falling in the NBA Finals, LeBron James revealed how he suffered a serious hand injury after Game 1, what factors will go into his free agency decision this summer and why he came back to Cleveland. USA TODAY Sports
One minute the NBA Finals were a drama-free sweep, with Golden State simply superior to LeBron James’ undermanned Cleveland team that had just fallen in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday night. And then in the next, as the Warriors poured champagne at “The Q” for the second time in four years and reporters prepared to pepper James about his forthcoming free agency, a massive and mysterious subplot emerged.
James, as first reported by USA TODAY Sports, had suffered a hand injury after the Cavs’ Game 1 overtime loss back on May 31. In a fit of frustration, he took his wrath out on an innocent whiteboard in the visitor’s locker room at Oracle Arena that night. And just like that, with James suffering a deep bone contusion on his right shooting hand that he feared was a fracture, this already-daunting challenge became Mission Impossible.
“I pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand,” James said as he sat with a softcast on the right hand.
Here was the game’s greatest player, the closest thing to Thanos as there is in today’s NBA universe, and he had done “self-inflicted” damage to his Infinity Gauntlet while playing on the grandest stage.
The timing of the revelation led to all sorts of speculation, with fans and media members suspecting the leak was coming from James’ camp as a way to provide cover for his latest Finals loss. But word of James’ injury did not originate from his camp, and it makes little sense he would be eager to reveal this lapse in judgment.
Yet when James appeared on the postgame podium with his cast, then joked about how all the cameras started snapping when he raised it over the table, it only fueled the fire of faulty assumptions. The assertion from James’ side, however, is he only wore the cast because he had already been told that the news was out.
Where will LeBron play next season? Exploring his free-agency options
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According to a person with knowledge of the situation, James — who was briefed on the latest media reports shortly before coming to the podium — would not have worn the cast if his injury had not already been reported. His teammates and coaches knew what had happened, and it’s a wonder how it didn’t come out sooner. It’s also unclear if James or his associates would have shared the news at a later time, but there were no plans to pull the curtain back that night. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
James, who never came close to matching his virtuoso performance Game 1 during those last three games, didn’t go into detail about how much the injury affected his play. He explained the human side of it all, how the comedy of errors in the series opener put him over the edge.
There was the George Hill missed free throw that would have won it in regulation, then the J.R. Smith brain freeze when he lost track of the score, the timeout that Cavs coach Ty Lue left unused, and the many calls the Cavs didn’t agree with. And then there was James, taking that razor-thin margin of error between the teams and making it even smaller with one painful swing.
“I had emotions on (how) the game was taken away from us; I had emotions of (how) you just don’t get an opportunity like this on the road versus Golden State to be able to get a Game 1,” he said.
The lack of clarity about how all these events unfolded turned the situation into a Zapruder film scenario. A video of him exchanging elaborate handshakes with his sons immediately after Game 4 had some fans crying foul, as did the replay of his two-handed, off-the-backboard dunk in Game 3 that he finished with such force. One fan even superimposed the famous “Crying Jordan” meme on James’ cast.
But then ESPN published side-by-side photos comparing his swollen right hand to his healthy left, and it seemed clear he was hurting. James’ hand was so swollen after Game 1 that the initial MRI didn’t reveal clear results, with a second required later to determine that there were no fractures. As the debate about what it meant raged, it seemed to come down to this: Those who liked James would likely marvel at his ability to still produce at a high level despite being injured, while others would blame him for his blunder.
As for the question of how much James’ injury impacted these Finals? It’s impossible to tell. Only James knows for sure.
Considering how dominant he had been at the start of the series, scoring a playoff career-high 51 points (59.3% overall; three of seven threes) to go with eight assists and eight rebounds, the gap between the before-and-after numbers is stark enough to make this the NBA’s latest what-if scenario.
- In the final three games, he averaged 28.3 points (49.2% shooting overall and 27.3% from three-point range on just 3.7 attempts), 10.7 assists, and 8.7 rebounds. In between, the Warriors’ best option for defending James, veteran Andre Iguodala, had returned from a left leg injury in Game 3 after missing the first two games.
- James’ Game 4 performance — 23 points (seven of 13 shooting), eight assists, seven rebounds and six turnovers — was the strangest of them all. He attempted just one three-pointer and took three shots in the second half (17 minutes). It didn’t take long for the criticism to come. TNT analysts Charles Barkley, Chris Webber and Grant Hill were all highly critical of James on NBATV before the news of his hand had been revealed.
“I let the emotions get the best of me,” James had said.
As for whether he might have gotten the best of the Warriors if he never took that swing, we’ll never know.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick on Twitter @sam_amick.
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The average NBA player’s career lasts only 4.8 years, about the same time it takes for a drink packet to decompose or the lifespan of a guinea pig. Players who choose to endure the relentless mental pressure and physical pounding for 15 or 20 years are rare. Only seven NBA players have made it to 20 or more seasons, myself among them. Those of us who were still playing in our mid-30s faced the endless speculation about whether we were still fit enough, strong enough, and skilled enough to continue to be an imposing force in the game. Every news article or commentary about us was guaranteed to include the qualifier “for his age”. Ageing athletes are treated like terminally ill patients, with everyone speculating when our demise will finally come. LeBron James, 33 years old and finishing his 15th season, continues to break records, including my own all-time field goal postseason record, as he gets ready to play in his eighth straight NBA finals.
I often get asked about LeBron. How does his play now compare to when he was younger? How long can he keep playing? What does it take to stay in the game so long? Is he the best player who ever lived?
LeBron is a much better player today than he was when he was younger. Few can dispute that he was the catalyst who drove the Cavaliers to defeat the Celtics in the playoffs. Having that power isn’t just a matter of skill, it’s a willingness to take on the responsibility of rallying the team and of having the respect of the team as a leader, not just a player. Seizing that responsibility shows a man of confidence, maturity and inner strength. Earning the team’s respect shows a man who is knowledgeable about the game, dedicated to the team as a whole and cares about players as individuals. LeBron is a great individual player, but he’s an even greater team member. And that’s what wins championships.
Based on the fire inside him that we witnessed during the playoffs, LeBron could probably play another seven or eight seasons, during which time he might also break my record and become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. If he does, my reaction will be the same as when he broke my postseason scoring record: good for him. Any time someone breaks a record, everyone benefits because the limits of what a person can accomplish have been nudged just a little further. The real question isn’t can he, but will he want to continue playing that long. He has nothing left to prove to himself or anyone else. If he walked away today, he would still be considered one of the finest players in history.
Playing professional sports in your mid- to late-30s is not for the faint-hearted. As The Eagles say in After the Thrill Is Gone: “Half the distance takes you twice as long”. When I played at that age, I had to make a conscious effort to stay in shape all year round. I lifted weights for strength, jumped rope for cardio-vascular, and practiced yoga for flexibility. Younger players might be able to fall off the training wagon during off-season, then jump into an intensive fitness regimen before the season to get back in playing shape. That doesn’t work for older players. Will LeBron want to continue with that unrelenting routine for five to seven more years? Especially given the level of his achievements, his wealth, and his young children at home. His skills will eventually deteriorate and there is some nagging frustration at not being able to play at the level you used to, even if it’s at a higher level than most other players.
Fans love to speculate about who’s the greatest player ever. Is LeBron greater than Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant? Am I better than Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell? While this might be a fun pastime for fans and sports journalists, most players find this kind of alternate universe pondering to be fairly boring, somewhere along the lines of who would win in a fight: Hawkeye or Green Arrow? Aquaman or Sub-Mariner?
In sports, a player develops his style, his skills, his sensibilities based on the time period he grew up in. The way basketball is played today is different to what it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Then along come game innovators – whether players or coaches – and the sport evolves. LeBron is one of the best players now and his intelligent combination of team leadership, brawny lay-ups, dominating rebounding, and surgical passing is elevating the game to its next level. Just as Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and others did. In fact, for those paying attention to the playoffs: Bill Russell went to eight NBA finals in a row, and his teams won all eight.
Basketball may be the only sport in which fans are guaranteed to see an amazing feat of athleticism every minute or so. On Thursday, LeBron James will once again demonstrate why he deserves to be a living legend as he leads his team, regardless of whether they win or lose, further into greatness.
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OAKLAND, Calif. — Rockets star Chris Paul is receiving treatment “around the clock” on his injured right hamstring and coach Mike D’Antoni hopes it will only be a matter of days before he is healthy enough to play again.
The timeline remained unclear whether Paul might be fine to play a possible Game 7 if the Rockets lost Saturday night’s Game 6 and had to return to Houston to face the Golden State Warriors again Monday night. Eric Gordon started in Paul’s place Saturday at Oracle Arena.
“I think he’ll play as soon as he can,” D’Antoni said before the game Saturday. “It’s just not a question of trying to outsmart. He’s going to play. As soon as he’s able to walk and run, he’ll do it. There was no shot at it today.”
Golden State forward Andre Iguodala was out for a third straight game this series after he sustained a bone bruise in his left knee during Game 3. Coach Steve Kerr said Iguodala continues to have pain when running, so he’s still listed as day to day.
“It’s a bone bruise, and those are hard to predict,” Kerr said. “Until he’s able to really run without pain, then he can’t play.”
Paul’s presence at Oracle Arena still meant plenty.
“He’s devastated. He has to be. We’re all devastated for him. At the same time, we’ll rally and do what’s right,” D’Antoni said. “He’s so integral in what we do and the spirit of the team. And him being here is a big deal, and him being on the bench is a big deal. He’ll will us through, if he can.”
Kerr felt terribly for Paul — and others who have gone down.
“More than anything, I feel bad for Chris. The guy is a phenomenal player and competitor, and pretty much willed his team the last two games. He’s just been haunted by these types of injuries in his career, and it’s a shame,” Kerr said.
“I hate when anybody gets hurt. I hate when Andre got hurt. I hate to see Kevin Love last night, Kyrie [Irving]. These guys train so hard and they’re here and they’re competing, and you want everybody to be healthy, but just the reality is it usually doesn’t work out that way. So you’ve just got to keep playing with whoever’s there and keep going.”
Second-year Golden State guard Patrick McCaw, who had been out since a scary back injury at Sacramento on March 31 when undercut by Vince Carter, was available to play after earlier being upgraded to questionable. He wasn’t expected to contribute key minutes given the injury and time missed.
“It would be a tough spot to put him in, in the meat of the game, with not having played for a long time. But at this point, it’s all hands on deck, obviously,” Kerr said. “You never know how the game’s going to play out. I had teammates who literally played one play in a playoff game and made a play and helped us win a game. So you just never know.”
Shortly before the start of the league year, the Philadelphia Eagles turned down a potential trade that would have sent Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles to the Cleveland Browns for the 35th overall pick in the 2018 draft, according to three sources familiar with the talks.
Before rejecting the deal, two sources said, the Eagles ran the scenario by Foles, who said he preferred to remain in Philadelphia. In April, the Eagles and Foles agreed to a re-worked contract that gave him a $2 million bonus for 2018 and allowed him to earn up to $14 million in incentives, while creating a “mutual option” for him to remain with the team in 2019. (Basically, Foles is free to leave if he pays back the $2 million.)
The Browns, meanwhile, turned their attention to former Buffalo Bills starter Tyrod Taylor, who they acquired for a third-round pick on March 10. Cleveland later selected former Oklahoma star Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick of the draft, though coach Hue Jackson has declared that Taylor will be his unequivocal starter for 2018. With the 35th pick — the second of their two second-rounders — the Browns selected Georgia running back Nick Chubb.
The decision not to trade Foles reflected the Eagles’ immense regard for his abilities, which were showcased during the team’s NFC championship game blowout of the Minnesota Vikings and again in the epic Super Bowl triumph over the Patriots. It was also based on the uncertainty regarding the status of third-year franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, who tore his ACL in a December victory over the Los Angeles Rams and theoretically might not be ready for the team’s Sept. 6 regular season opener against the Atlanta Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field — though the team is optimistic that Wentz will be able to meet that timeline.
It’s also possible that Foles could still be sent elsewhere before the start of the 2018 season, or at any point up to the Tuesday, Oct. 30 trade deadline.
Two Septembers ago, five days after Vikings starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a severe knee injury in practice, the Eagles dealt starter Sam Bradford to Minnesota for first- and fourth-round picks — a move that allowed Wentz, then a rookie, to ascend to the top of the depth chart just before the start of the regular season. If a similar scenario were to present itself this summer, the Eagles could possibly be open to parting with Foles, especially if they were offered a first-round pick in return.
It’s also possible that Foles could be dealt shortly before the trade deadline, especially if Wentz has established that he is fully healthy. Last Oct. 30, the Patriots sent promising backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick.
In the meantime, Foles remains the NFL’s highest-profile backup quarterback — a role with which he is clearly comfortable, given his preference that the Eagles reject the Browns’ overtures.
The Golden State Warriors began a playoff series on the road for the first time since 2014, but they had no trouble getting a win, as they took down the Houston Rockets, 119-106 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. It was an exciting, entertaining first half that featured both teams going back and forth before entering the break tied at 56-56. But coming out of the locker room, the Warriors used one of their patented third-quarter bursts to take control of the game. The Rockets kept things from getting out of control, and had things within striking distance for much of the rest of the way. But the Warriors were never really in danger of losing their lead, and held on for the win.
Kevin Durant was simply unstoppable in this one, finishing with 37 points on 14 of 27 shooting, while Klay Thompson added 28 thanks to six 3-pointers. As for the Rockets, Harden led the way with 41 points and Chris Paul scored 23.
Game 1: Warriors 119, Rockets 106
It didn’t take long for the action to pick up in the first half, as Draymond Green was hit with ajust a minute into the game for shoving James Harden.
Besides that altercation, it was a fun half, filled with nice plays and some strong shooting from the outside.
James Harden led all scorers with 24 points in the first half, while Kevin Durant had 17 for the Warriors, as the two sides went into the break tied at 56-56.
After halftime, the Warriors came out and took control, as they often do in the third quarter.
The Rockets kept battling, and had things within striking distance, but were never able to get over the hump in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Durant finished with 37 points to lead the way for the Warriors, while James Harden scored 41 to pace the Rockets.
An arrest warrant was issued Wednesday for New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson after he failed to appear for a court date in Florida.
According to Broward County court records, Anderson was due Wednesday morning for his arraignment stemming from a misdemeanor charge of reckless driving in January. Bond was set at $500 for Anderson.
Ed O’Donnell, Anderson’s Florida-based attorney, did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment. According to several published reports, O’Donnell said he was never notified of a court date and planned to try to resolve the issue Thursday.
The charge stems from an incident in Sunrise, Florida, on Jan. 19 when Anderson was charged on nine counts. The original felony charge of fleeing and eluding police with lights and sirens active was reduced on April 7 to misdemeanor reckless driving — for which Anderson was due in court Wednesday, according to court records. A felony charge of threatening a public servant or family member had been dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
This is the latest legal trouble for Anderson, who was arrested last May at a Miami music festival and charged with felony resisting an officer with violence. Anderson’s trial for that case is scheduled to begin on Aug. 6, in the middle of training camp for the Jets.
The league was investigating both incidents, and Anderson could face punishment from the NFL under its conduct policy.
Anderson set career highs with 63 catches, 941 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in his second NFL season. He was a bright spot in the team’s 5-11 season and appeared on his way to a 1,000-yard campaign until starting quarterback Josh McCown went down with a broken left hand in Week 14.
The MVP race is on, and, truly, Russell Wilson is amidst it. For those out there who reliably say I can’t give the Seattle Seahawks quarterback his due, I offer this: Wilson ought to be second right now to New England’s Tom Brady in the race for MVP.
Wilson has been uncommon this season, conveying a group with a terrible hostile line, no running diversion and real wounds on resistance to a 8-4 record and second place in the NFC West.
Would we be able to truly say that considering the way things have played out? The division is a wreck at this moment, with three 6-6 groups tied at the best and every one of the three having had times of shocking play AFC West this season.
The Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs by one means or another get themselves fixing with a month to go, despite the fact that the Chiefs began 5-0 and the Chargers began 0-4.
The last a month will be fun, beginning this week in Kansas City when the Chiefs play host to the Raiders. Kansas City has lost four straight amusements, including the last three to strong Giants, Bills and Jets, as it tries to clutch the best spot.
The offense was to be faulted for a significant part of the Chiefs’ tumble from the quick begin, however the barrier has been a noteworthy issue throughout the entire season. That unit should venture up against the Raiders this week, regardless of whether Oakland’s offense hasn’t verged on resembling the 2016 unit.
The Chargers will have the Washington Redskins this week, which is an amusement the Chargers should win, setting up a fun three-diversion extend keep running in the AFC West.
I figure the Raiders will beat the Chiefs this week since that Kansas City safeguard is so awful right at this point. Which of the three groups is the scariest for potential playoff adversaries? It’s obviously the Chargers, who have a big deal passer in Philip Rivers and a dynamic match of pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
The Chiefs would be third on my rundown now. In any case, a triumph over Oakland could change their way. In the event that they don’t win this week, that 5-0 open to the season will appear to be such a long time ago you’d think Len Dawson began those diversions.