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Timberwolves Offer Max Deal to Bledsoe

Timberwolves Offer Max Deal to Bledsoe

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Minnesota Timberwolves have reportedly offered a maximum contract to restricted free-agent Eric Bledsoe in hopes of a sign-and-trade deal with the Phoenix Suns, Bledsoe’s current team. 

The deal is for a reported four years and $63 million, exceeding the Suns offer of four years and $48 million. Bledsoe has told the Suns, as well as other teams, that he would only consider a max contract but would be willing to sign a qualifying offer worth one year and $3.7 million. By signing that deal, Bledsoe would make himself an unrestricted free agent following the 2014-15 season.

Minnesota had inquired about Bledsoe while shopping all-star forward Kevin Love, but trade talks never reached a serious point. The Timberwolves are hoping to pair Bledsoe with Andrew Wiggins, whom they acquired from Cleveland for Love.

Phoenix has already started making possible arrangements for life after Bledsoe. The Suns signed free-agent Isaiah Thomas and drafted Tyler Ennis in the first-year player draft in June. Bledsoe averaged 17.7 points per game for Phoenix last season.

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Team USA Rolls to FIBA World Cup Gold

Team USA Rolls to FIBA World Cup Gold

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(MADRID) — Team USA dominated from the start and repeated as World Champion for the first time, defeating Serbia 129-92 in the FIBA World Cup gold medal game on Sunday.

Kyrie Irving was named Tournament MVP and scored 26 points in the final contest. Irving made all six of his three-point attempts, while the team went 15-for-30 from distance.

“Obviously we didn’t have a very close game all tournament, but for that to happen we had to play hard for 40 minutes and not relax and not give any inch while we were out there,” guard Stephen Curry said.

In total, the U.S. shot 58-percent from the floor in another blowout. The Americans dominated the tournament, posting an average margin of victory of 32.5 points per game. What made the performance more impressive is that it came without the likes of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant. James Harden added 23 points for Team USA as eight different players scored in double figures.

Team USA has now won 63 consecutive games and qualified for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

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Chauncey Billups Announces Retirement

Chauncey Billups Announces Retirement

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The 2004 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, Chauncey Billups, announced his retirement on Tuesday.

“It’s just time. I’m happy, excited. The game was very, very good to me,” Billups told Yahoo! Sports. “I felt like I was equally as good to the game the way I played it and the way I respected it and the way I carried myself through the process.”

Billups played 17 seasons in the NBA for seven different teams, including playing for the Detroit Pistons from 2002-08 and winning a title in 2004.

The 37-year-old averaged 15.2 points, 5.4 assists, and 2.9 rebounds per game throughout his career. Originally drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1997, Billups also played for the Pistons, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Clippers.

Billups rejoined the Pistons this past season, averaging 3.8 points and 1.5 rebounds in only 19 games.

Detroit announced in June that they would not be picking up his option for the 2014-15 season.

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Team USA Advances to FIBA Semifinals

Team USA Advances to FIBA Semifinals

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(BARCELONA, Spain) — James Harden scored all 14 of his points in the second half while Klay Thompson added 20 points, helping the United States pull away from Slovenia in a 119-76 win in the quarterfinals of the FIBA World Cup on Tuesday.

The game was not as easy as the final score suggests, however. Team USA only led 49-42 at the half, with Slovenia closing the gap to as close as five in the third quarter. However, the Americans would reel off a 27-10 run before scoring the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to make it a 96-64 contest.

“We just stick to the program. We know it’s tough for any team to run with us for 40 minutes because of how deep we are and how hard we work on the floor,” said Stephen Curry. “I think we understand we didn’t make many shots in the first half but our defense was pretty solid, and if we kept the pressure on them, things would open up.”

Team USA shot just 36 percent in the first half, but finished the game at 50 percent, thanks in large part to Thompson’s 20 points. The US will play Lithuania on Thursday in the semifinals.

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USA Basketball Dominates in FIBA Opening Game

USA Basketball Dominates in FIBA Opening Game

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(BILBAO, Spain) — The United States began defense of their FIBA Basketball World Cup title with a 114-55 blowout over tournament newcomer Finland on Saturday. The US limited the Finns to just a pair of free throws in the second quarter, holding them to 0-for-17 from the floor.

“Our coaches were encouraging us to keep up that effort by telling us every timeout, every dead ball, they only had two points or whatever,” guard Stephen Curry said. “That’s just motivation to keep doing what we’re doing.”

The dominating effort continued into the third quarter as Finland ended up going 19 consecutive shots before one finally went in. by the time Tuukka Kotta’s basket dropped with 8:48 to play in the third, the Americans had already built up a 62-20 lead.

Klay Thompson came off the bench to lead all players with 18 points while Anthony Davis poured in 17 as well. The 59 point margin of victory is just the second highest in USA Basketball history, sitting behind a 79 point win over South Korea in 1990. The Americans will next take on Turkey in group stage play, a rematch of the 2010 world basketball championship gold-medal game.

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Hammon’s Playing Career Ends in Playoff Loss

Hammon’s Playing Career Ends in Playoff Loss

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(SAN ANTONIO) — Becky Hammon’s playing career came to an end on Saturday night as her San Antonio Stars suffered a 94-89 playoff loss to the Minnesota Lynx. The 16-year veteran will now join the San Antonio Spurs as the first full-time woman assistant coach.

The Stars opened the game on a 7-0 run and eventually led 22-4 before the Lynx turned things around. Lindsay Whalen scored 31 points, a career high in the playoffs, while Seimone Augustus added 21.

Hammon had 12 points and four assists in the final game of her career and received a standing ovation from the crowd and players as time ran out.

“I just congratulated her and said that I love her,” Augustus said. “Thank you for everything you did for women and sports.”

The defending champion Lynx advanced to the Western Conference finals where they will face either Phoenix or Los Angeles.

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Derrick Rose Scratched from U.S. Exhibition Game

Derrick Rose Scratched from U.S. Exhibition Game

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Former NBA MVP Derrick Rose was scratched from Team U.S.A.’s 105-62 exhibition game victory over the Dominican Republic Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

Rose originally was going to play in the game even though he missed practice Monday and Tuesday to rest his sore knees.

While this may sound bad for a player who is coming off two knee surgeries in two years, Rose did partake in the shootaround Wednesday morning.

According to ESPN.com, Team U.S.A. coach Mike Krzyzewski held Rose out of the game to allow players who are competing for the final roster spots to have more minutes.

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Shawn Marion and Pacers Meet

Shawn Marion and Pacers Meet

Dallas Mavericks/NBA(NEW YORK) — Shawn Marion met with the Indiana Pacers on Monday and had a face-to-face meeting with the team president, Larry Bird. The sit downs came after Bird urged the free-agent forward to play next year in Indianapolis after losing Paul George to a compound leg fracture.

Marion had been rumored to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers and play with Lebron James, which is still a possibility. The Cavaliers however are restricted to only pay the big man a league minimum salary of $1.4 million per season while the Pacers will be granted a $5.3 million disabled player exemption due to George’s injury.

The All-Star forward has said he wants to play for a contender if he does wind up leaving the Dallas Mavericks, where he has spent the last five seasons. Last season, the 36-year-old averaged 10.4 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game.

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BREAKING: Judge Rules Against NCAA

BREAKING: Judge Rules Against NCAA

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — In a landmark decision on Friday, a federal judge has ruled in favor of former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, and 19 others, saying the NCAA can not stop college football or men’s basketball players from selling the rights to their names and likenesses.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled against the NCAA in a lawsuit that claimed college athletics’ governing body was in violation of the nation’s antitrust laws. 

“The Court finds that the challenged NCAA rules unreasonably restrain trade in the market for certain educational and athletic opportunities offered by NCAA Division I schools,” Wilken wrote in her 99-page decision. 

Wilken went on to say that the NCAA’s defense “do not justify this restraint and could be achieved through less restrictive means”.

There was one minor victory for the NCAA. Wilken did say that a cap could be put on just hoe much money is paid to athletes, putting the limit at $5,000 a year for big school football and basketball players.

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Durant Withdraws from Team USA

Durant Withdraws from Team USA

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Oklahoma City Thunder star forward Kevin Durant withdrew from Team USA, citing “physical and mental fatigue.”

Durant, who is the reigning NBA MVP, broke the news to Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski Thursday.

“This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country,” Durant said in a statement. “I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint.

Durant continued, “I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them.”

Durant joins fellow forwards Kevin Love, Paul George, and LaMarcus Aldridge as players who will not play for the U.S. in the FIBA World Cup in Spain this summer.

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PJ Tucker Sentenced to Three Days in Jail for ‘Super’ DUI

PJ Tucker Sentenced to Three Days in Jail for ‘Super’ DUI

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — P.J. Tucker, forward for the Phoenix Suns, was sentenced to three days in jail and 11 days of home detention on Monday for “super extreme” driving under the influence.

Tucker pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him following a May 10 arrest in Scottsdale.

Authorities say that Tucker’s blood alcohol content was .22 at the time of the arrest and that his speech was slurred and his eyes were bloodshot.

Along with the jail time, he also agreed to put an interlock device in his car for 18 months, enter substance abuse counseling, and pay fines up to $2,750. Tucker was also placed on probation for up to five years.

“I am truly sorry and I take full responsibility for my actions. No excuses,” Tucker said in a statement. “It is now my responsibility to examine my life and make the changes necessary to ensure this never happens again.”

The details of his punishment and statement were released by his attorney’s after his appearance in court.

Phoenix was aware of the arrest when Tucker signed a three-year deal with $16.5 million in July.

“In considering this matter, we concluded that P.J. was sincere in his remorse and in his resolve to accept the consequences of his actions,” Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby said. “We are convinced that he will take the necessary steps to avoid any such conduct in the future. The Suns do not in any way condone his conduct, but we do support him as he works through this.”

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Paul George Suffers Serious Leg Injury

Paul George Suffers Serious Leg Injury

NBA via Indiana Pacers(LAS VEGAS) — Indiana Pacers forward Paul George suffered what appeared to be a serious right leg injury in the fourth quarter of the Team USA intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas Friday night. 

George was running after James Harden, who was on the other team, when his leg buckled prompting him to slide into the base behind the basket. 

After the play everyone immediately stopped in shock and awe as it appeared George had broken his leg just above his ankle. Coach Mike Krzyzewski, medics and members of George’s family hurried to his side. 

George was treated on the court and had his leg put in an air cast before being taken off in a stretcher to a thundering applause.

The game was stopped after the incident.

“This is a very tough blow,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. “It’s a first for us in USA basketball to have something like this take place. It’s a tough situation for our entire organization, our coaches and players and very, very emotional. There’s no way the game could have gone on under the circumstances.”

George is being treat at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Las Vegas.

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Lakers Offer Byron Scott Head Coaching Spot

Lakers Offer Byron Scott Head Coaching Spot

Chris Chambers/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — It has been almost three months since the Los Angeles Lakers have had a head coach. On Friday, the team reportedly offered the job to Byron Scott and are currently negotiating terms of a contract.

League sources said that a verbal offer was made to Scott after he spoke with Lakers owner Jim Buss on Thursday night. 

Scott played for the Lakers from 1983-1993 and again in 1996-97 season, winning three NBA Championships while playing with Magic Johnson. In more than 13 seasons as a head coach, Scott has roamed the sidelines with the New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers. He was hired in 2010 by the Cavaliers just days before LeBron James left for Miami and spent the last four seasons in Cleveland.

Superstar Kobe Bryant, who played with Scott as a rookie in 1996, gave his endorsement of the hiring. The Lakers have not had a coach since Mike D’Antoni resigned back in April. Scott becomes the fourth head coach for Los Angeles since 2011.

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Michael Cooper Diagnosed with Cancer

Michael Cooper Diagnosed with Cancer

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Atlanta Dream head coach and former Los Angeles Lakers guard Michael Cooper has been diagnosed with early stage tongue cancer. Cooper has taken a leave of absence from the team and will have surgery this week, the Dream said on Monday.

Assistant coach Karleen Thompson will fill in for the 58-year-old, who is expected to miss two weeks. Cooper will have surgery at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta and is expected to make a full recovery.

“I’m fortunate that my condition was diagnosed early, and this episode illustrates the importance of screening and early detection,” said Cooper. “I know the team will be in good hands with Coach Thompson at the helm during my absence, and I look forward to returning to the court soon.”

Cooper won five NBA titles while playing for the Lakers during the “Showtime” era. He also won consecutive WNBA titles as the coach of the Los Angeles Sparks. This is Cooper’s first season with the Dream, which currently holds a 15-6 record.

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Sources: Cavaliers to Sign Top Pick Wiggins

Sources: Cavaliers to Sign Top Pick Wiggins

Christian Petersen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Despite the rumored talks between Minnesota and Cleveland that include trading Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love, sources now say the Cavaliers plan to sign their top draft pick later this week. Those same sources also say the delay in signing Wiggins has nothing to do with the apparent trade talks.

Instead, the Cavs have been reportedly weighing how to use the remaining $1.4 million available to them after signing the Kansas forward. Wiggins’ contract will net him in the neighborhood of a reported $5.5 million as a rookie. Once signed, Cleveland must wait at least 30 days before they can trade him. 

After the Cavs sign Wiggins, they are expected to ink Mike Miller to a two-year $5.6 million deal.

Cleveland has also been rumored to have interest in Ray Allen, a teammate with Miller in Miami. However, the Cavaliers would only be able to give Allen the league minimum of $1.4 million.

All of these front office moves have been to try and build the best possible team around returning forward LeBron James.

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Lisa Leslie to be Inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame

Lisa Leslie to be Inducted into Women’s Hall of Fame

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) — WNBA All-Star Lisa Leslie will headline a class of six inductees into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. The announcement came Saturday during the WNBA All-Star Game.

Leslie will join former Houston Comet Janeth Arcain, University of Georgia standout Jannet Harris, former Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke, former Duke and University of Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors and Oregon City High School coach Brad Smith. The 17th Hall of Fame class will be inducted on June 13, 2015 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

A four-time Olympic Gold medal winner, Leslie won two WNBA titles with the Los Angeles Sparks prior to retiring in 2009. Arcain won four WNBA titles with the Houston Comets and was an icon on the Brazilian national team. A three-time Kodak All-American, Harris became the first NCAA women’s basketball player to record 2,500 points and 1,250 rebounds.

Budke will be inducted posthumously after passing away in a plane crash, along with assistant coach Miranda Serna, in 2011. After becoming an icon on the junior college level, Budke helped build Oklahoma State into a powerhouse team in the Big 12 conference.

Goestenkors won at least 30 games in seven consecutive seasons while with the Blue Devils, appearing in four Final Fours. Smith retired in 2006 with a career record of 629-87 in 27 seasons. He was given the Morgan Wooten Award for lifetime achievement for coaching high school basketball by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

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Jimmer Fredette Heads to the Pelicans

Jimmer Fredette Heads to the Pelicans

Jed Jacobson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The New Orleans Pelicans have found a new sharpshooter. The team agreed to terms with Jimmer Fredette on a one-year deal on Thursday, worth the league minimum.

Fredette, who was drafted by the Sacramento Kings, finished last season with the Chicago Bulls after earning his release from the Kings. The guard played sparingly in eight games with the Bulls, spending time on the roster during their playoff run.

Fredette’s best season came in his rookie year, 2011-12, when he averaged 7.6 points per game and shot 36.1 percent from beyond the arc.

The Pelicans hope that the former Brigham Young star will replace the production lost when Anthony Morrow signed with Oklahoma City. 

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Lakers Claim Boozer off Amnesty Waivers

Lakers Claim Boozer off Amnesty Waivers

Christopher Trotman/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Los Angeles Lakers added to their wealth of big men on Thursday, claiming forward Carlos Boozer off amnesty waivers. The Lakers won a blind bid against nine teams, putting up $3.25 million to garner Boozer’s rights, according to reports. 

“We’re very pleased to have won the bidding process and to have gained his rights, and look forward to his contributions next season,” Mitch Kupchak, Lakers general manager, said in a news release.

Boozer was released via the amnesty clause by the Chicago Bulls just over a week ago, making it possible for Chicago to sign free agents Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic. The Bulls still must pay the remaining $13.6 million on his 2014-15 contract, but by utilizing the amnesty clause, the contract comes off the books for salary-cap and luxury-tax purposes.

Los Angeles has already signed a pair of power forwards, reaching agreements with both Ed Davis and Jordan Hill. Boozer averaged 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in 76 contests for Chicago last season.

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Paul Pierce Joining the Wizards

Paul Pierce Joining the Wizards

Claus Andersen/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Paul Pierce will don new colors next season. On Saturday, the small forward signed a two-year deal worth $11 million with the Washington Wizards.

Pierce, who spent the 2013-14 season with the Brooklyn Nets, signed a contract that includes a player option for next summer. The Wizards went after Pierce once swingman Trevor Ariza signed a deal with the Houston Rockets.

The ten-time All-Atar averaged just 13.5 points per game, playing only 28 minutes per contest last year with the Nets. Pierce had also garnered interest from such teams as the Dallas Mavericks, Rockets, and Los Angeles Lakers. 

Pierce, 36, joined Brooklyn as part of a mega-trade with the Boston Celtics that included Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry.

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Vince Carter to Join Grizzlies

Vince Carter to Join Grizzlies

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Not to be lost in the madness that was LeBron James’ announcement, Vince Carter is also reportedly on the move. Sources say the veteran shooter spent Friday finalizing a three-year deal to join the Memphis Grizzlies.

Sources say the contract is worth $12.2 million per year, luring Carter away from the Dallas Mavericks. Memphis had attempted to get the shooting guard via a trade in 2013 but ended with Tayshaun Price after Dallas backed out of the talks. The Grizzlies were also hoping that Mike Miller would re-sign, but the small forward informed the team that he would not return for next season.

The Mavs were hoping to re-sign Carter by utilizing the cap-room exception owrth $2.7 million per year. Reports say that Carter had told Dallas that he would return to the team for a two-year deal worth $8 million. However, that number would only be possible if the Houston Rockets chose to match the offer give to Chandler Parsons.

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