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The below is a guest post by my friend, ESPN’s Nick Borges. Enjoy. Fourteen fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen nineteen twenty twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine. This is harder than it looks so I’ll just actually add real words. I met Nick playing basketball in Yonkers, NY when I was in middle school. He kind of sucked, so I showed him the ropes and made him much better.  He got noticed by some scouts for his amazing skills that I taught him, but then he was hired by ESPN to be a basketball journalist and he is forever in my debt. I think that’s seventy-five but I’m not actually sure.

  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: I haven’t been this excited about something so potentially bad since “Miami Vice” went into syndication. That’s because the Bucks, at least for the short term, have finally gotten it right. Seriously, their ingeniousness is to be applauded. Not only have they accomplished something remarkably healthy by ridding themselves of Brandon Jennings’ immaturity and inaccuracy, they have almost completely turned over the roster with fresh, happy faces in time for one of the NBA’s all-time drafts. With a much-needed change in philosophy, general manager John Hammond has assembled a team of young, willing, hustling souls around Larry Sanders and John Henson that just might finish last in Central Division. But… There will be none of the ego-driven nonsense that destroyed the locker room last season and alienated the fan base during the grim march to another one-and-done playoff experience that added nothing to the Bucks’ growth.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN: NBA power agent Jeff Schwartz will have conversations with Minnesota Timberwolves president of operations Flip Saunders sometime in early 2015. Those talks will center around whether All-Star Kevin Love will opt-out of his 2015-16 contract and choose unrestricted free agency, or sign a more lucrative extension. In other words, Schwartz is someone the Wolves want to maintain a solid relationship with. But that could be compromised with Schwartz also representing Wolves restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic. Saunders was in New York City earlier in the week to meet with Schwartz. Word is it was cordial gathering. But one central issue remains, according to sources: money. The Wolves are offering Pekovic a four-year, $48 million extension. Schwartz wants more. In fact, at least initially, a lot more. One league source said his opening asking price was in the vicinity of $15 million/year.
  • Frank Isola of the New York Daily News: Carmelo Anthony admitted “my window is closing” and that he’s “trying to bring a championship to New York ASAP.” But the clock is ticking on Anthony’s career as well as his time in New York. The All-Star forward can become a free agent on July 1, and he will almost certainly opt out of his contract because it makes financial sense. The Knicks can offer Anthony the most money but the Los Angeles Lakers will be players in the free-agent market next summer and there has already been talk of Anthony joining Kobe Bryant, and even Anthony and LeBron James joining forces in the purple and gold. “As far as ruling anything out, I haven’t even, to be honest with you, thought about anything past today,” Anthony said on Saturday in Queens, where he was hosting a youth camp. “My mind is not even thinking about next season, next offseason right now. I’m just trying to do what I do this offseason to get right, work out, train and get right and prepare myself for this season. When that time comes, I’ll deal with that.”
  • Roderick Boone of Newsday: Paul Pierce bled Celtics green, courtesy of playing 15 years with the franchise that plucked him out of Kansas with the 10th selection in the 1998 draft. He was attached to the Celtics, a part of the team’s fabric. But the proverbial umbilical cord was cut when he was shipped to the Nets in the blockbuster trade that also brought Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to Brooklyn last month. Although the emotional trauma won’t be easy to get over for Pierce, Rivers thinks the move could rejuvenate the 35-year-old forward’s career. “I think in some ways, it may give him more life,” Rivers said Friday after being honored with a Sports Pioneer award at the National Association of Black Journalists convention. “But I just think it’s tough for him personally. Like he said in the press conference, he wanted to stay and wasn’t allowed to, and that’s tough for him.”
  • Staff of The Dallas Morning News: This summer, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban once again failed to land the big fish. But he didn’t go down without fight. On his personal blog, Cuban posted why he decided to go all out for Howard and even revealed his pitch to superstar big man. Here is excerpt from his post and the video created to attract Howard to Dallas. Let me address here the inevitable question of Dwight vs Mavs culture. We saw it as somewhat of a risk, but felt like because Dwight by all appearances and checking we did, is a good guy and with our support systems we believed we could make it work. if not, he was obviously a very trade-able asset. But, as everyone knows, we didn’t sign him. He went to the Rockets. I do have to say the meeting with Dwight was very interesting. He is a smart guy. Much smarter than people give him credit for. He is also a very, very good listener. Unlike most people, he spent far more time listening than talking. And he had the best response to an opening question that I have ever heard from a player, or anyone for that matter. When we asked him what his goal was, his response was very specific ”I want to be Epic” . Which was a perfect lead in to the video we created for him. Although the video is pretty cool, it wasn’t enough to sway Howard to join an aging Dirk Nowitzki and questionable supporting cast. But Cuban says he doesn’t regret his go big or go home attitude as it relates to his pursuit of Howard:
  • Andrew Gilstrap of Alex Len isn’t the only Phoenix Suns center struggling with foot problems. Suns starting center Marcin Gortat returned to the U.S. on Thursday to undergo medical tests on his right foot according to EuroBasket 2013’s website. Gortat had been working out with Poland’s national team as they prepare for the EuroBasket 2013 tournament, which starts Sept. 4 in Slovenia. The six-year NBA veteran took a leave of three weeks from the Polish team. He is expected to return in time for the tournament to start. Gortat suffered an injury in the same foot in early March and didn’t play the rest of the 2012-2013 season for the Suns.
  • J. Michael of CSN Washington: A primary benefit of moving so fast in the off-season for the Wizards is that they have their ducks in a row almost two months before training camp begins. John Wall’s $80 million extension could’ve dragged on until Oct. 30, but they worked out a five-year deal with him in three weeks. Free agents Eric Maynor, Martell Webster and Garrett Temple were secured in the first three days of the signing period. Coach Randy Wittman couldn’t be happier, and he let his feelings be known on what he thought president Ernie Grunfeld and CEO and majority owner Ted Leonsis should do -– and why. “I expressed to him my beliefs. I got to do that,” Wittman said of his conversations with Leonsis. “I’ve got to be willing to express my beliefs.”
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: To appreciate what the Heat could be getting in new addition Greg Oden, consider that the last time he played (21 games in 2009), he had the NBA’s eighth-best efficiency rating and also had per-48 minute averages of 22.2 points, 17 rebounds and 4.6 blocks. “Heat fans have to be even more excited. Low risk, high reward,” TNT’sReggie Miller tweeted. “He just has to clog the lane and block shots.” With 13 guaranteed contracts and a looming $19 million tax bill, the Heat has told people it feels no urgency to make any other veteran pickups, though Mo Williams at the minimum cannot be ruled out. Some assuredly will lobby for a Heat roster spot, including guardDeShawn Stevenson, of all people. Stevenson, who once calledLeBron James overrated, tweeted Saturday night: “Miami Heat Where I Wanna Go!!! LeBron Make It Happen.” Stevenson was waived by Atlanta this week.
  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: Badly misunderstood in certain instances, having made heinous mistakes in others, Delonte West has run the gamut of experiences in his NBA career. He’s 30 now, married and a new father, and he’s looking to return to the NBA, hoping teams can overlook his past troubles and provide him with a sliver of an opportunity. West, who last played for the Mavericks, said he will accept a nonguaranteed deal, just hoping to impress a coach and make a roster. He was waived by Dallas last October after a dispute with coach Rick Carlisle, then played briefly in the Development League. West, who has had a pair of stints with the Celtics, said the time away has been rewarding and therapeutic. “This, in a way, has been the biggest blessing of my life,” he said. “This has given me time to grow. I’m just looking for answers, and all of the things I have been searching for, as a man, not as an athlete, to complete me. In that time period I met my wife and have had a beautiful son, and it’s like everything is falling in place. Back in December or January, I stopped trying to trust in man and fight these battles by myself. I just handed the keys to the man upstairs and let him drive. It’s been the biggest blessing of my life. I have so much to be grateful for, thankful for, and I have a lot to play for now.” West said fatherhood has changed him.
  • Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press: A year into what looks like a potentially long NBA career, Draymond Green already has given and taken away some strong impressions. Biggest trash talker? He gives the nod to Pistons free-agent pickup Josh Smith. Rival? Houston, after Green was tossed from a February game with the Rockets. He put a hard foul on Patrick Beverley to prevent Houston from setting a single-game three-pointer record, and jawing and the ejection ensued. “It is what it is now,” Green, a Saginaw native and former Michigan State All-America forward who is entering his second season with the Golden State Warriors, said Saturday after some pickup basketball at Lansing Everett High. “They hate me. I dislike them.” The difference between MSU coach Tom Izzo and Golden State coach Mark Jackson? Jackson is as low-key as Izzo is high-volume, Green said.
  • Paul Jones of It didn’t end the way Damon Stoudamire wanted it to, and he wishes it had been different. Stoudamire, the first ever collegiate player selected by the Toronto Raptors has made it known every chance he has had since he left Toronto in a huff and was traded to Portland in February of 1998. It was turbulent time in Toronto for the neophyte franchise. Ownership of the team was in limbo thanks to a shotgun clause that was enacted forcing one of the two owners to either cede their share of ownership or put up the money to buyout the other side. Unfortunately for Mighty Mouse, he was on the side with minority owner Isiah Thomas who couldn’t put the cash together in time to buy the entire franchise. … But it’s history that the diminutive guard wishes would have taken a different course. “I was young,” said Stoudamire with a smile. “Basketball is a business and as you get older it’s more about building relationships and that’s more important than the selfishness in which I left here. For me, I wish I could have done that over again because it just wasn’t done the right way.”
  • Chris Haynes Longtime NBA assistant Elston Turner has accepted a lead assistant position with the Memphis Grizzlies, a league source relayed to The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Turner was the No. 1 option for newly crowned Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger. Turner, 54, is considered to be one of the great defensive minded coaches in the profession. He also had talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves in regards to rejoining Rick Adelman’s staff. Turner has been a top candidate for several head coaching vacancies over the last few years. He most recently interviewed for the Charlotte Bobcats this offseason before they eventually hired Steve Clifford.

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