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David T. Foster III

Three practices into the Charlotte Hornets’ training camp at Spectrum Center, some minor injuries have cropped up.

Forward Treveon Graham suffered a left hamstring injury Wednesday. Also, center Dwight Howard experienced lower-back tightness that limited him in the morning session at the Hornets’ practice gym.

Prior to that, the only injury limitation was backup point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who hasn’t been cleared for contact, following Platelet-Rich Plasma procedures on both knees over the summer.

Graham, who can play either small or power forward, had a strong week in Orlando summer league games in July. However, his salary for the coming season – about $1.3 million – is not yet guaranteed under his contract.

That means if the Hornets were pinched for a roster spot, Graham could be cut without ramifications on the team’s salary cap. He played 27 games (a total of 189 minutes) for the Hornets last season.

“I’ll approach it how I’ve approached it the last year: focused and ready to do whatever it takes to make the team,” Graham said of this preseason. “My contract isn’t guaranteed, so it’s (important to) go into training camp with confidence, know I belong, and play my game.”

Graham played in the G-League before the Hornets signed him as a free agent in July 2016.

At 6-foot-5, Graham’s natural NBA position is small forward, but he’s rugged enough to occasionally play power forward:

“Mostly wing, but depending on the lineup situation, I do believe I can move to (power forward) depending on the game.”

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Lonzo Ball


Lonzo Ball

The 2017-18 NBA regular season may start on Oct. 19 for the Los Angeles Lakers as they play host to the Los Angeles Clippers, but Monday’s Media Day is the first day of the marathon 2017-18 NBA season for players, coaches, staff and just about everyone else involved in producing the next year of Lakers’ basketball.

And yes, the NBA is a marathon.

For players, the season will end in mid-April at the earliest, end sometime in May for the optimists and conclude in June for the fans so delusional that they deserve respect for their beliefs in the face of all reason.

For the first time ever, Media Day for the Lakers will be held at the newly built UCLA Heath Training Center, and Monday is bit of a grand opening for the facility that means to spoil players with every convenience. The Lakers are looking to attract big time free agents in the Summer of 2018, and a brand new practice facility designed to cater to a modern player’s every training desire is an overt move to assist in that recruiting mission.

Media Day begins with general manager Rob Pelinka addressing the assembled media and sharing his vision for the first team the former super-agent has assembled, working hand-in-hand with new Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

From there, Media Day turns into a noisy circus where fully uniformed players are paraded through a maze-like circuit of activities. For many, this is like the first time they’ve dressed in their brand new jerseys with the Nike logo on one chest and the WISH company logo on another. The circuit of activities include taking photos for team photographers, recording messages for sponsors and the in-arena entertainment and providing various live interviews with television and radio partners, along with the hoards of assembled local and national media.

As the name suggests, the day generates a great deal of media as players will be asked about the usual details of their summer preparations, their expectations for the upcoming season and also, inevitably, about current newsworthy events like the protests that have engulfed sports across the country.

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A season ago, the Lakers decided to lock arms for the national anthem to show support for the kneeling protest aimed at fighting for racial equality and social justice. Whether the team will continue that action, expand it or step away from the protest is yet to be determined, though the last of those three options seems extremely unlikely given that the protests have undoubtedly gained momentum in recent days.

Though the aforementioned subject is sure to be brought up, the majority of the day is lighter in nature and focuses more on the start of a new season and players and coaches’ expectations of the upcoming training camp and season.

Undoubtedly, the central attraction on the day will be Lonzo Ball, as the no. 2 pick in the draft and the new face of the franchise experiences his first go around as the star attraction at Media Day. The point guard turned heads during NBA Summer League and has the fan base and fellow teammates energized.
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Ball is not known for being a big talker, but his every word will be dissected and cut up to find its way onto newscasts and into newspapers. The day should feature no shortage of quotes about the new Lakers’ point guard from teammates, the general manager and Lakers coach Luke Walton.

With a full season of separation from Kobe Bryant’s retirement, Ball expects to fill the void left by the Lakers’ retired super star–at least until the team signs those targeted free agents in the summer of 2018.

From Monday until the Lakers’ season opener on Oct. 19 is a straight shot that features four days of training camp, six preseason games and twenty-five total days until the official start of the Lakers’ 58th season in Los Angeles.

Lakers Finish Roster, Reportedly Signing Andrew Bogut

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ISTANBUL — Slovenia won its first European basketball championship on Sunday by defeating Serbia 93-85 behind 35 points from Goran Dragic. Dragic’s 35 points in the title game were the most in a single game in EuroBasket 2017. They were also the most in a EuroBasket Final since Pau Gasol had 36 in 2003.

Dragic, the Miami Heat guard who was voted MVP of the tournament after the game, watched the final four minutes from the bench due to cramp. He had been visibly tiring, missing all three shots and the one free throw he took in the final quarter.

With Dragic out, Serbia briefly took the lead at 79-78 and again at 82-80 with 3:37 to go. But Slovenia, which upset pre-tournament favorite Spain 92-72 in the semifinals, refused to fold. It went on a 12-0 run, during which guard Klemen Prepelic scored the go-ahead basket, 84-82, with 2:20 to go.

After a balanced first quarter, which ended with Serbia ahead 22-20, Dragic scored 20 of Slovenia’s 36 points in the second quarter to help give it a 56-47 halftime lead.

“We gave them a lot of transition points. They brought the NBA speed on the floor,” Serbia coach Aleksandar Djordjevic said.

“We are an uptempo team … the importance of the game shouldn’t change what we do,” said Slovenia’s Serb coach, Igor Kokoskov.

Djordjevic responded by taking out his 2.21-meter (7-foot-3) center, Boban Marjanovic of the Detroit Pistons, in favor of more mobile players, who managed to slow the pace in the third quarter at the 16,000-seat Sinan Erdem arena. Dragic still managed to score nine points, and Slovenia stayed ahead 71-67 but lost young star Luka Doncic with a sprained ankle.

Dragic finished with 22.6 points per game during EuroBasket 2017, which is the fourth-highest in the tournament. He trailed only Alexey Shved (24.3), Dennis Schroder (23.7) and Kristaps Porzingis (23.6).

Kokoskov, also the assistant coach for the Utah Jazz, gave a nod to his boss, coach Quin Snyder.

“He is my dear friend, my boss. He told me, ‘Be prepared for the press conference and say something deep and smart.’ Well, I can’t say anything.”

Dragic might be a nine-year NBA veteran, but Kokoskov, the first European to be a full-time assistant coach in the league, has spent 17 seasons there after a brief stint at college level. He and Dragic worked together at the Phoenix Suns for four seasons (2008-11 and 2012-13).

Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is set to join the Sacramento Kings next season, led Serbia with 22 points.

Earlier, Spain defeated Russia 93-85 to take third place, with 51 points coming from the Gasol brothers, Pau (26) and Marc (25). Alexey Shved led Russia with 18.

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Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook, the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, will look to continue to establish himself as one of the league’s top global superstars, inking a 10-year extension with Nike’s Jordan Brand that will be the most lucrative total endorsement deal for a Jordan athlete to date, according to industry sources.

After first signing a five-year endorsement deal in 2013, Westbrook has been positioned as the face of the brand and the annual Air Jordan model each subsequent season. During that stretch, he also elevated his game yearly as the franchise point guard of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The new shoe deal extension, negotiated by the Wasserman agency and Westbrook’s longtime agent, Thad Foucher, is in advance of the initial deal’s expiration next fall. The increased pay rate will also retroactively apply to his 2016-17 MVP season, according to sources. Westbrook wore Nike sneakers during his first four years in the NBA, before the company aligned him with Jordan, in order to have a dual-brand presence alongside Nike signature athlete and then-teammate Kevin Durant.

This past season, the 6-foot-3 star not only led a retooled OKC roster to the postseason after Durant’s departure, but did so while averaging a triple-double — 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists — a first in the NBA since Oscar Robertson’s feat in 1962.

The long-term extension will link the 28-year-old Westbrook with Jordan Brand through as long as the 2025-26 NBA season. The deal will also include both on- and off-court signature sneakers, new territory for Westbrook. As he has continued to be the face for the Air Jordan game shoe each season, the brand launched two off-court-geared silhouettes, dubbed the Westbrook 0.1 and 0.2, but held off on designing him a performance signature shoe for the hardwood.

Now that the decade-long deal has been locked in, the process is underway to begin developing an on-court Westbrook signature shoe. The shoe is expected to highlight his flashy and unpredictable fashion lens — “unlike anything that Jordan Brand has done before” — according to an industry source. There’s also been a distinct separation in his tastes for game and lifestyle sneakers, as he prefers deconstructed and simplified casual shoes off the court, versus highly sculpted, molded and responsive basketball shoes.

As for the delay in creating a signature model for the league MVP during the rise of his prime, there’s a bit of a case study in place from the brand’s recent history. After Dwyane Wade joined the Jordan roster of endorsers before the 2009-10 season, the then-Miami Heat star led the Air Jordan 2010 and 2011 campaigns, before debuting his own Fly Wade signature series. As Wade’s endorsement deal was set to expire in 2012, he left the brand for equity in Chinese company Li-Ning, making his Jordan signature series short-lived, with just two models being released in stores.

Rather than invest resources into designing, developing and marketing another possibly short-lived signature line, Jordan Brand wanted to first ensure that Westbrook would be with the company for the long haul. Just after agreeing to the extension, Westbrook and Jordan embarked on a multicity, rapid-fire tour of China, with Westbrook again supporting the newest Air Jordan model. He’s expected to lead the XXXII for this upcoming NBA season.

While he’s looking forward to accelerated creative control on his upcoming signature footwear and clothing in the near term, there’s another element to the deal that Westbrook is equally proud of: Jordan Brand will contribute an annual donation to Westbrook’s “Why Not?” Foundation, which aims to launch even more “reading rooms” and other educational and athletic initiatives for kids in Westbrook’s two home bases of Oklahoma City and Southern California. As the two sides look to continue their partnership beyond the prime of his career, the deal also includes a rare “ambassador clause,” providing Westbrook with appearance opportunities and additional Jordan Brand legacy potential even after he retires from the NBA.

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Stephen Curry responded to Kevin Durant’s recent shots at Under Armour, telling the Charlotte Observer that the teammates had a conversation and the issue won’t affect the Golden State Warriors’ chemistry.

Durant, a Nike spokesperson, told The Ringer on a podcast last month that “nobody wants to play in Under Armours.” No athlete has generated more revenue for Under Armour than Curry, who left Nike for Under Armour in 2013.

“Where we were four years ago and where we are now — you can’t tell me nobody wants to wear our shoes,” Curry told the Observer. “I know for a fact they do.”

Despite some of the stir caused by Durant’s comments, Curry said he wasn’t angered by them.

“There is nothing that is going to put a wrench in our locker room,” Curry said.

An Under Armour spokesperson declined to comment on the story.

For the 2015-16 season, revenues for UA shoes and apparel associated with Curry reached $200 million before dropping off last year because of the lack of success with the Curry 3 signature shoe.

Durant was very close to representing Under Armour when the company offered a deal worth at least $265 million over 10 years when he was a sneaker free agent in the summer of 2014. Nike, at the 11th hour, matched and eventually exceeded the offer.

Curry, who signed a five-year, $201 million deal with the Warriors this offseason, also told the Observer that he intends to play beyond his current deal.

“When I came into the league, that’s the only thing I did say — I want to play 16 years just because my dad did,” said Curry, in reference to his father, Dell Curry. “I’ve always had an appreciation of what that meant. But now — having done eight years and understanding the work that it takes and whatnot — playing eight more years somewhere near the level I’m playing now would be solid.”

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HOUSTON — Rockets point guard James Harden says he will donate $1 million to the city of Houston to aid in Hurricane Harvey recovery.

Harden made the announcement Saturday with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. They spoke at a news conference at the NRG Center, which has housed evacuees since Harvey swamped the Houston area more than a week ago.

Harden went to high school in California and college in Arizona but said Houston is his home.

He posed for photos with fans and said the money would go to people who need it.

The Rockets gave Harden a four-year extension in July, with sources telling ESPN at the time that it is a supermaximum extension that will guarantee him $228 million through the 2022-23 season.

Oscar winners Sandra Bullock and Leonardo DiCaprio also have pledged $1 million to charities helping with Harvey relief.

President Donald Trump also pledged a $1 million donation, but it’s unclear who will get the money. The donation is expected to come from his personal fortune.

Trump also visited evacuees Saturday in Houston.

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The Boston Celtics will formally introduce their two summer All-Star acquisitions in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on Friday morning at TD Garden.

The Celtics’ offseason roster overhaul was highlighted by signing Hayward to a four-year, $128 million contract in July and landing Irving in a blockbuster trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers this month.

While the Celtics and Cavaliers originally agreed to their league-shocking swap on Aug. 22, the trade wasn’t officially completed until Wednesday night when the Celtics added a 2020 second-round pick (via the Miami Heat) to a package that featured Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

The Celtics got a commitment from free-agent Hayward on July 4 but, because of roster shuffling, didn’t formally announce his signing until July 14. Hayward engaged in a conference call with Boston reporters that day but never had an introductory news conference.

Boston is set to return just four players — Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier — from a team that won 53 games and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said the Celtics needed more top-line talent after Boston got bounced from the East finals in five games by the Cavaliers. Ainge was able to land two star players in Irving and Hayward but had to overhaul much of the rest of the roster in the process. The Celtics must replace four starters and will have at least five rookies on their roster this season.

Celtics co-owners Wyc Grousbeck and Steve Pagliuca, along with Ainge and coach Brad Stevens, will also be part of Friday’s introduction of Hayward and Irving.