Conclusive …..

Conclusive …

In aftermath of the Golden State Warriors’ (3-4) loss in the NBA Finals and the way in which the defending champions relinquished their title, has the sports’ world talking as the newly crowned champions the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-3) hold sway of the NBA world. Finals’ MVP and now a three-time champion , LeBron James now feels vindicated after the franchise’s triumph and the promise of bringing a title to his home state. The Akron , Ohio native fulfilled the promise and now has fans who once taunted for his departure from the Cavaliers now calling him ‘ The King’ once again . For the Cleveland Cavaliers’ team owner Dan Gilbert and his partners have seen the franchise’s value rise over 60% in the last four years, with the biggest increase coming immediately after James rejoined the Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ franchise is now worth in excess of $1.1 billion , though their value places them mid-table among the league’s thirty teams .

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Two consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals and the belief appears to be , Cleveland can now dominate the league , but specifically in the Eastern Conference for years to come. As to how many years is actually dependent upon how long LeBron James will continue his career in the league. I firmly believe the twelve-year veteran is now seeking personal goals , winning at least three more titles, three League MVP’s to add to his tally of four . Yet James’ biggest personal achievement could come from his being biggest earning player in NBA history . Having accumulated an estimated $300 million fortune, James’ business tentacles now stretches across a wide variety of entrepreneurial endeavors. LeBron James will likely become a billionaire before his NBA career has ended , with the player now the highest earning athlete in the league and one of the most recognizable faces in the world of sports. Not since Michael Jordan’s reign over the NBA , has there been a player so enigmatic , as athletic and as dominant in this league. Fans may now be seeking a team and player rivalry which are reminiscent of the intense rivalries seen between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics . I do believe those years are long gone and in our rear view mirrors and they are unlikely to return to the NBA !

Golden State’s fall from the heights of the basketball world to the point where many might now be questioning the heart of this team might well be justified. I firmly believe the title was lost for the Warriors , when the referees interjected themselves in the series far more than fans have come to see in previous NBA Finals . In particular during games four , five and six, when there appeared to be anomaly of outrageous calls favoring the Cleveland Cavaliers when they were in the process of mounting their now historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit . Golden State crumbled, while Steph Curry’s play and leadership continued to falter along with his teammates following in tow. The loss of Draymond Green from game-six , was far more telling than anyone would career to admit, but the player went all out in game-seven , as he fought valiantly in seeking to retain the Warriors’ hold Los their title. Cleveland Cavaliers’ four point 93-89 victory sealed Golden State’s fate and brought a title to Cleveland. Green’s thirty-two points in the contest led all scorers in the game. The defeat now leaves the Golden State Warriors and their fans wondering what might have been and whether or not the chase of the single-season record for regular season wins was actually worth it. To a degree there was a great deal of complacency seen during the NBA Playoffs by the Warriors , but this loss to the Cavaliers came down to who wanted the series’ victory more , without apportioning blame squarely on the shoulders of the referees.

There has to be a great deal of disappointment among the coaching staff of the Golden State Warriors , especially with head coach Steve Kerr . Having been fined $25,000 by the NBA for his criticism of the officials and pointed accusations at LeBron James , the thick skin one might have felt was a shell of invincibility with the Warriors had indeed began to crack. This off-season , there are likely to be some changes among the team’s lineup and I firmly believe Andrew Bogut will no longer be a part of the franchise’s future. Bogut’s best years are now behind him and limited availability in the Playoffs was clearly of no advantage to the team. Yet the biggest decision facing Steve Kerr and Warriors’ GM Bob Myers , is whether not they will allow Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli to become free agents or seek to retain both players who were vital to the team’s success during the regular season. The NBA salary cap will increase significantly this upcoming season rising from the current level of $63 million to a proposed $78 million with the luxury tax set at $92 million . Teams will aggressively seek to sign marquee free agents this off-season , very much in a similar vain witnessed last season and the year previously.

Dustin Johnson claimed the first Grand Slam Major of his PGA career having won the US Open at the Oakmont Golf & Country Club , Oakmont , Pennsylvania by a four-stroke margin . The American saw his rankings move up in the world, while also move up the FedEx Cup standings . However, the controversy which resulted in round four stemmed from the officials of the United States Golf Association (USGA) seeking to penalize Johnson for what they believe was an attempted stroke when the player’s club never actually struck the ball while it was on the green. They were either seeking to add insult to injury or as usual , the USGA and PGA in particular are just showing how truly incompetent they remain. Jordan Spieth , Jason Day and Rory McIlroy never made an impression during the tournament and the final leader-board indicated nothing more than Johnson’s margin of victory and his taking the almost $1.8 million first prize . Golf is in need of a great deal of excitement and it is now being provided by the top three players in the world with Jason Day , Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy leading the way.

Phil Mickelson no longer competes to win , merely turning up for what appears to be a guaranteed paycheck , just as long as he finishes in the top twenty -five of a PGA sanctioned event. Tiger Woods remains missing in action and milk carton’s with the player’s image will soon be going on display . Granted , Woods is now too old to be thought of as a missing and exploited child , but I can’t help but wonder what is next for the former world number one golfer ? It has been over eight months since his last appearance in a PGA event and over eighteen months since his last victory world worldwide . It goes without saying if Woods isn’t competing or winning a Major Grand Slam tournament, then fans of the sport are not necessarily interested in the game.

With golf now being part of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil , it will be interesting to see which of the top-ranked golfers will be competing in the events . The Zika Virus remains at the forefront of the news within Brazil , even with the assurances being given by the Brazilian government. Dilma Rousseff , the country’s President has been deposed , amid claims of corruption , mismanagement of the country’s economy as well a litany of claims not substantiated. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent in Brazil on the staging of the Summer Olympics and IOC President Thomas Bach has now began to assure the world the staging of the event will take place without their being any major setbacks. That is of little assurance to many who believe the country has not dealt with the epidemic appropriately or the possibility that the nation’s security forces are ill-prepared to deal with a possible terrorist attack . If the staging of the games are to be a success then it will be incumbent on the country , the IOC making sure all necessary precautions are taken in safeguarding not only the athletes competing but also the guests entering Brazil to attend the Olympic Games.

Maria Sharapova might well be the best known female athlete to have become embroiled in the use of a banned substance. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has proposed a two-year suspension of the Russian tennis star which seems to have the backing of the ITF as well as the WTA , but the Russian Olympic Federation as well as the country’s President Vladimir Putin have called into question the harshness of the suspension of Sharapova. The tennis star offered her apology to her fans and the WTA when the news first broke of her having tested positive for Meldonium , a prescriptive medication commonly used in the rehabilitation of muscle fatigue. The drug has been on the banned list of substances by the IOC for over two years and Maria Sharapova’s explanation concerning the matter remains ambivalent , making absolutely no sense at all. In the midst of this all the Russian Olympic Federation is now questioning the ban by the International Track & Field Association (IAAF) of the Russian track and field team . Several of the athletes who face a mandatory two-year ban are world-class track stars , several of them ranked among the top-ten in their events and thought of as medal contenders at the upcoming games in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil.

This ban instigated by the IAAF might seem draconian and harsh without flexibility as to the decision rendered. Yet it should be noted the Russian Olympic Federation itself , while admitting no responsibility of any wrongdoing have admitted there has been a breakdown in their testing protocols for many of their track stars and other athletes. From my own perspective , I believe the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have been correct in their stance in stamping down on offenders and the associations who have yet to fallen into line with the testing protocols now in place and mandated by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) ! Russia has been one of the biggest offenders in the blatant use of banned substances in the world of track and field athletics over the past three and a half decades. It remains at the epicenter of the rampant widespread use of banned substances along with several Eastern bloc countries . However, it should be noted a number of US born athletes in recent years have also tested positive for the use of a banned substance. Track stars Tyson Gay , Justin Gatlin , Tim Montgomery and Marion Jones are the most prominent names known the public but the most well-known of all remains former seven-time Tour de France Champion cyclist Lance Armstrong . Ambivalence and hypocrisy remains commonplace within the IOC , IAAF as well as within the numerous federations affiliated with the International Olympic Committee.

Maria Sharapova will likely seek an appeal of the ruling of her suspension by taking her case directly to the Council For The Arbitration on Sports (CAS) based in Lausanne , Switzerland which also happens to be the headquarters for the IOC. Many of Sharapova’s contemporaries have not voiced their opinions publicly , but there is the belief the tennis superstar knew all along her actions were contrary the rules of the WTA and that of the IOC. I certainly hope an appeal by Maria Sharapova will not be upheld, as it would certainly open the floodgates for other athletes seeking to overturn decisions concerning their suspensions which were certainly warranted.

With the NBA season now over and baseball now in full swing the Summer months will now take center-stage with Olympics being the focal point for what will be a billion-plus audience watching this two-week spectacle. While I have always been ardent sports’ fan , in light of the recent political events around the world , there will be more the expected anticipation of the events taking place in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil .

In the aftermath with the events of the NBA Finals , do you believe the end result with the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the title was a satisfying end to the season ? Also, with the heightened alerts now taking place around the world because of the recent terrorist attacks taking place , do you believe the Summer Olympics in Brazil can turn out to be a tremendous success ?

Tophatal …. 2016/06/21

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22 thoughts on “Conclusive …..

  1. I’ve no implicit faith in the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in the lead-up to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil ! The country remains in a a cataclysmic economic turmoil , the government is in complete disarray and they can give no concrete guarantees that the athletes or guests coming to the country will be entirely safe . It is one thing to have a virulent outbreak of a disease they have yet to place under complete control , without the possibility of their having to deal with a terrorist attack within any of their major cities or at one of the large scale venues hosting an Olympic event .

    Tophatal …

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  2. Dustin Johnson , Jordan Spieth , Rory McIlroy and Jason Day are now making golf far more interesting than ever before . Granted, neither of these players have the draw of Tiger Woods , but what we now see, are players who are not likely taint the image of the sport with a negative image .

    The current FedEx Cup standings as well as the world golf rankings makes for an interesting season on the PGA Tour schedule for 2016 .

    No one knows when Tiger Woods (pictured above) will be returning to the PGA Tour schedule and I am now inclined to believe , not many people actually care at this juncture .

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  3. If the rumors are to be believed then the Golden State Warriors are likely to make a formidable push to lure Kevin Durant to sign with the franchise as a free agent this off-season . From my own perspective, I think this is possible , as Durant may not be entirely happy with the situation as they are in , in Oklahoma, with the Oklahoma City Thunder . A great deal of criticism was being leveled directly at point guard Russell Westbrook and what was deemed to be his selfish play during the NBA Playoffs , leading to the team’s elimination in the conference finals . Yet to my mind, the real fault laid in the fact head coach Billy Donovan and the coaching staff chose not to adjust at any point during their series against the Golden State Warriors during the Western Conference Finals , leading to their ultimate demise . It is idiotic to solely point the blame at one player when the coach sits idly on the sidelines , not making any type of adjustments in the team’s play.

    Courtesy of Fox Sports

    Trades Golden State Warriors may consider after NBA Finals defeat, including Kevin Durant, Al Horford

    By Dieter Kurtenbach , Fox Sports

    THE Golden State Warriors didn’t repeat as champions, and therefore, despite a record 73-win regular season, they failed to achieve their goal this season.

    But the Warriors are well positioned to contend for championships for years to come — their three best players, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green — are all young (28, 26, and 26, respectively) and are perfectly suited to succeed in an NBA that is rapidly evolving towards more pacing and shooting.

    The Warriors have almost no threat of losing any of those three core players either: Green has four years remaining on his contract, Thompson has three years left on his team-friendly deal, and Curry is poised to receive a max deal next summer when the salary cap is expected to go above $100 million.

    HOW CURRY HAD WORST NBA FINALS IN HISTORY FOR MVP

    The Warriors’ core is set, but given the disappointment of the worst NBA Finals collapse in history, big moves might be on the horizon — perhaps even a move that would add another start to the team’s already packed lineup.

    The main target is one that, if the Warriors signed him, would turn the league upside down: Kevin Durant.

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    If Durant is allowed to leave as an unrestricted free agent then it leaves Oklahoma City without a vital cog in the team heading into next season. Quite possibly team GM Sam Presti might consider a sign-and trade deal , which would allow the Thunder to get something in return for Durant by way of a possible blockbuster trade . A trade involving multiple players as well as a possible third team to counter any financial imbalances created by such a deal .

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  4. So the NBA Draft will begin in earnest on Thursday night , 23rd June, 2016 at the Barclays Center , Brooklyn , New York. With all of the rumors now flying about in the NBA world , a great deal of which has to been as conjecture and speculation . It will be interesting to see the choices being made by the top-ten teams with picks in the first round of the Draft. In the East and Western Conference it is imperative these teams make the right choice in the first round , rather than an error in judgment which could prove to be costly.

    Sixers’ head coach Brett Brown .

    The Philadelphia 76ers will have the privilege of taking the first overall pick and Ben Simmons is viewed as the consensus number one pick and likely to be taken by the Sixers. Philadelphia’s front office led Special Consultant Jerry Colangelo and GM Ben Falk can ill afford to make the kind of mistakes seen over the last five years by this franchise . Brett Brown still remains on the Sixers’ coaching staff which has now been joined by former Los Angeles Lakers’ head coach Mike D’Antoni . Nepotism also seems to be within the sphere of the Philadelphia 76ers with Bryan Colangelo also on the staff in an inexplicable capacity.

    Jerry Colangelo , left, is seen here with his son Bryan Colangelo.

    Sixers’ team owner Joshua Harris has been an incompetent owner since acquiring the franchise . Yet for all of the idiocy shown a great deal of the satisfaction with Philadelphia must come down to the fact the coaching staff has been incapable of showing any acumen whatsoever. Brett Brown is now a lead assistant on the coaching staff which will be headed by Vince Rozman for the upcoming season. Rozman has no real in-depth background coaching experience, but yet given the fact we saw the ineptitude with Brett Brown last season , it is easy to understand why Jerry Colangelo might want to take a flier on someone without any real experience. No one with any modicum of intelligence would wish to enter the asylum of an NBA franchise completely bereft of intelligence and talent on the playing staff .

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  5. It’s no longer Derrick Rose’s team as the Chicago Bulls have a agreed to a trade which sends the point guard to the New York Knicks . Now while the Knicks’ fans are besides themselves , with a great deal of glee and joy , it should be remembered Rose has spent far more time on the sidelines over the past four seasons than most would care to admit. His production has continued to fall in the years since he was a League MVP , while former teammate Jimmy Butler has blossomed for the team .

    For the New York Knicks and Phil Jackson in particular this trade has to be seen as a major gamble for franchise still beset by ineptitude on and off the court. The hire of Jeff Hornacek as the head coach of the team remains inexplicable , given Hornacek’s record and lack of success as an NBA head coach. Whatever Jackson believes Derrick Rose can add to the roster , is built upon nothing more than a gamble the player can regain the form which made him once a superstar in this league.

    Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune

    3 things about the Derrick Rose trade

    By K C Johnson , Contact Reporter

    The Bulls did the once-unthinkable on Wednesday, trading former most valuable player and homegrown product Derrick Rose to the Knicks in a five-player deal. Here are three observations.

    The Knicks got the best player in the trade

    It feels too early to declare winners and losers in this trade, which can be justified from both franchises’ perspectives. But it feels right to say this with certainty: Despite three knee surgeries, Rose is the best player in the trade.

    Rose is still only 27. He’s coming off his first season without a knee injury or rehabilitation from one since April 2012. He’s heading into a contract year. He still remains, in glimpses, that rare combination of speed and strength, able to solve defenses game-planned to stop him.

    Rose should be invigorated by this trade and change of scenery. While he still cherished playing in his hometown, it had become somewhat of a burden after a certain segment of the fan base turned against him when he chose to sit out the 2012-13 season after surgery to repair his torn left ACL.

    Look for Rose to have a standout season for the Knicks. That said …

    The Bulls felt they had to make this Rose trade

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    The Chicago Bulls’ front office led by John Paxson and GM Gar Forman beyond the impending free agents on the roster will also have to deal with their draft needs and fortifying the lineup in the lead-up to next season. Jimmy Butler for his part has shown that he can lead this team . What now must be resolved is whether or not Fred Hoiberg is the right man as head coach of this Bulls’ group of players.

    If Derrick Rose can co-exist alongside Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porizingis then the New York Knicks could prove to be a formidable team this upcoming season within the Eastern Conference .

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  6. Thursday night 23rd June , 2016 won’t be a night to go down infamy of NBA history as the NBA Draft took place . Ben Simmons was taken number one overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round . In descending order the top five picks following Simmons would be , Brandon Ingram to the Los Angeles Lakers , third , Jayden Brown , Boston Celtics , fourth, Dragan Bender to the Phoenix Suns and fifth , Kris Dunn to the Minnesota Timberwolves .

    The top-ten picks taken in comparison in the choices made in 2015 doesn’t provide us with any real insight other than to suggest the teams simply are making choices made on their presumptive needs . If there was a major surprise to be found on the opening night of the NBA Draft other than the news of the trade of Derrick Rose leaving the Chicago Bulls and being acquired by the New York Knicks . Then it would have to be the deal which saw Serge Ibaka leave the the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic .

    Team USA Basketball will be without two of its biggest stars for the Rio Olympics in Brazil after both James Harden and LeBron James gave notice they will be opting out of competing for the National Team in the Men’s Basketball Tournament . As the reigning Olympic champions this narrows the chances somewhat of the US making a successful defense of their title where they are still likely to remain favorites overall.

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  7. So a fire-sale of sorts has begun , with the Orlando Magic sending Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Serge Ibaka . Clearly, there’s an intent by Oklahoma City to keep Kevin Durant rather than letting him go as a free agent .

    Serge Ibaka (left) and Victor Oladipo .

    Here is what the clueless fans of the Orlando Magic should need to know and it is the fact Oladipo was not the best player on the Magic’s roster last season as Nikola Vucevic was by far their best all-round player .

    Nikola Vucevic .

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  8. So Brett Brown of the Philadelphia 76ers believes the fortunes of the franchise got significantly better after the drafting of Ben Simmons as the number one overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft .

    Well, if it’s pragmatism and rhetoric you’re going for , then Brown has just fed the fans with the words they want to hear. Yet if it’s the reality they want, then they will have to dig deeper and then realize the franchise is still a long way from where they need to be. Last season was indication of that, with the team’s record , lack of consistency and the very fact Brown and the coaching staff were completely out of their depth. Yet, we have the idiocy of analysts and fans alike trying to suggest the Sixers are heading in the right direction. If there is an improvement this upcoming season with Philadelphia , it will unlikely be a major step , where we see them in contention for their division much less being a top-ten team within the Eastern Conference.

    Ben Simmons, right , is seen here with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on the night of the NBA Draft. Simmons was taken as the number one overall pick.

    76ers coach Brett Brown compares Ben Simmons to two NBA legends

    76ers coach Brett Brown had some strong, strong words when he was asked about Ben Simmons on Wednesday.

    By Aaron Torres
    May 18, 2016 at 4:48p ET

    Since even before Ben Simmons arrived at LSU last summer, the comparisons of his game have become the stuff of legend. At their absolute tamest, Simmons was said to be a better version of Lamar Odom, as a fluid, 6’10” ball-handler and brilliant passer. And at their wildest … well, you know where I’m going with this. Some called Simmons the closest thing to LeBron James at the prep level, since LeBron was there himself over a decade ago.

    Those comparisons cooled throughout the winter as LSU struggled with Simmons in their lineup, but on Wednesday they picked back up.

    A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons25) on Mar 31, 2016 at 3:32pm PDT

    That’s because with the 76ers holding the first pick in the NBA Draft, Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown appeared on The Herd with Colin Cowherd on Wednesday. And when Colin asked Brown who Simmons best compared to, here’s what he said:

    I feel like you said the one that most people come up with first, and it’s true. You know, he’s got a hint of Magic. At times you can see like, a younger LeBron, where you’re not sure what position he is. At one moment you think he’s a four, maybe he’s a three, he looks comfortable handling the ball. When you say what is your ‘identifiable NBA elite skill’ most people will immediately go to passing.

    You know, you take that collection of comments and you add it into a 6’10” frame, the comparisons to those two players you know, could be a little bit reckless, could be a little bit ambitious. But there’s no denying that he comes to the draft with a very unique skill package.

    76ers coach Brett Brown thinks Ben Simmons has hints of LeBron – ‘The Herd’

    Again, those comparisons aren’t totally surprising given that we’ve heard them before.

    However, what is surprising is the source where they came from. After all, it’s one thing to argue with friends over the Simmons/LeBron comparison, and it’s even another to read a report on the internet. It’s something entirely different altogether though to hear someone who actually works in the NBA make them as well.

    We’ll find out if Brown is right in the coming years.

    But it’s safe to say that Philly fans have to be excited about hearing their coach talk about a potential future 76er that way.

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    Team owner Joshua Harris has now lost the goodwill built up when he purchased the Philadelphia 76ers and his now bringing in both Jerry Colangelo and his son, Bryan Colangelo as special consultants , is being compared to the Golden State Warriors’ hiring of Jerry West . Neither of the Colangelo’s have any playing experience , though their business acumen cannot be questioned. Yet for all sense and purpose, it has been years since Jerry Colangelo put together a winning product on an NBA basketball court. His greatest successes in recent years has been with the US Men’s National Basketball Team and their gold medal winning runs at the FIBA (World Championships) and Summer Olympics .

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  9. So with Derrick Rose now in New York with the New York Knicks and the franchise’s draft class looking rather good , it remains to be seen what other rabbits can be pulled out of his proverbial hat by Phil Jackson and the rest of the idiots within the organization’s front office .

    The New York Knicks will undertake Derrick Rose’s $20.5 million owed for the upcoming season while hoping to get a full season out of a player who has only averaged thirty games a year over the last three years for his former team the Chicago Bulls . Anyone who believes it’s a risk worth taking while the Knicks remain a team which plays mediocre defense clearly has no clue as to what they’re talking about when it comes to the NBA .

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  10. Manu Ginobli has decided to opt out of the final year of his contract likely seeking free agency . The Argentinian veteran has been an integral piece to the San Antonio Spurs’ recent championship victories alongside future Hall of Fame teammates and fellow veterans Tim Duncan and Tony Parker . San Antonio has gotten younger in terms of its core roster with the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge , the rise of Kawhi Leonard as an elite player in the league along with the growing presence of Patty Mills .

    From left to right , Tim Duncan , Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobli.

    As a franchise San Antonio’s GM RC Buford and head Gregg Popovich know that the Spurs have to transition with a view to their long-term future in preparation for the retirements of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. From my own perspective I believe Manu Ginobli will return for one more season with the San Antonio Spurs signing a deal for possibly in excess of $5 million a year !

    The NBA Draft proved to be something of a blessing for the San Antonio Spurs with the front office getting the players they sought . The rookies should prove to be helpful having undergone their usual time in the D League with the Spurs’ affiliate the Austin Spurs (Toros) .

    Kawhi Leonard has now become the latest player to opt out of competing for Team USA at the upcoming Rio Olympics , because of the uncertainties surrounding the Zika Virus. Despite the assurances and guarantees it is becoming abundantly clear the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) cannot guarantee the safeguard of the athletes in spite of the steps taken.

    Courtesy of USA Today

    Kawhi Leonard joins group pulling out of Rio

    In the past few days it appeared Kawhi Leonard might be a lock for the Team USA roster for the Rio Olympics.

    But Thursday, the San Antonio Spurs forward released a one sentence statement pulling his name from consideration for the team.

    “This was a very difficult decision. It’s an honor to have been considered for the team and I hope that in the future I will have the chance to represent my country by playing for USA Basketball,” it said.

    Because some names like LeBron James, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and LaMarcus Aldridge had already pulled out for various reasons, he two-time defensive player of the year had less competition to make the team.

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    With LeBron James and Kevin Durant already insisting they will not be Rio bound , the US will have somewhat of a depleted roster when Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching staff land in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil for the beginning of the Olympic tournament.

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  11. From the sublime to the ridiculous as another mundane tournament comes to an end this past weekend on the PGA Tour . It’s pretty much safe to say the week in and week out the absurdity of the PGA Tour remains a demonstration of sheer mediocrity. Unless there is a Grand Slam Major being played or a tier-one tournament with ranking points for the World Golf rankings or FedEx Cup standings then PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem should be looking at other ways to attract fans to the game . Tiger Woods remains a non-starter on the Tour for this season and winning for the former world number one golfer now appears to be a major obstacle for the player.

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  12. With free agency now set for midnight 30th June , NBA players who opt for free agency can start to negotiate with teams as they seek new contracts . Two prominent stars who seem to be weighing up their options are Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade . Durant could be leaning towards leaving the Oklahoma City Thunder and it is noticeable the forward has been willing to listen to overtures from several teams , including the San Antonio Spurs .

    Courtesy of USA Today

    Durant will be seriously courted by several teams

    By Sam Amick, USA Today Sports

    Know this much about the Kevin Durant free agency sweepstakes that has already unofficially begun: He wouldn’t be taking a single meeting outside of Oklahoma City if he already knew what jersey he planned to wear next season.

    Kevin Durant

    If Durant is anything, it’s genuine. Love him or hate him – and really, how in the world could you hate this guy? – the Thunder star it not in the business of being inauthentic.

    So on July 1 when the Thunder, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat start to come his way to discuss the prime years of his career, he will be all ears. The man isn’t one to waste anybody’s time.

    Yet while that might be enough to keep Thunder general manager Sam Presti up for a few torturous nights, the prospect of Durant returning on a two-year deal (with a player option in the second) to the only franchise he has ever known remains as likely now as it did on the night his latest season ended in that Western Conference Finals Game 7 loss at Oracle Arena. And yes, that’s still the case after the Thunder’s shocking draft night trade Thursday.

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    In the case of Wade who is now in the twilight of his carer the days of a multi-year , multi-million deal are now long gone. I certainly don’t believe he is likely to be signed for deal in excess of two years at this stage of his career. Were he to leave the Miami Heat , it would leave the franchise in a rather unenviable situation. Chris Bosh , given his health issues is no longer a dominant player and we know Pat Riley is keen to resign Hassan Whiteside who was pivotal for the Heat this past season.

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  13. Though we shouldn’t read anything at all into it , with LeBron James opting out of the final year of his contract the player is providing the Cleveland Cavaliers’ front office with the additional leeway sought to bolster the team’s roster for the upcoming season. James can resign with the franchise for a two or three-year deal , of no more than $ 25 million per year , allowing GM David Griffin the chance to pick up one or two free agents . While there might have been one or two deficiencies on the roster of this past season the Cavaliers were clearly the best team in the Eastern Conference and off course during the NBA Finals where they came from behind to have an improbable 4-3 series’ victory over the Golden State Warriors .

    Courtesy of USA Today

    LeBron James opts out of contract with Cavaliers, will become free agent

    By Jeff Zillgitt , USA Today

    Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James opted out of the final year of his contract and will become a free agent on July 1, a person familiar with the decision told USA TODAY Sports.

    The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the situation.

    The choice to opt out was not unexpected, and James, MVP of the 2016 NBA Finals, told USA TODAY Sports a week ago that he had no intention of leaving the Cavaliers following their championship season.

    Since James returned to Cleveland in 2014, he has signed two short contracts, opting out after the first season of each one to take advantage of an escalating salary cap.

    James could once again sign a two-year deal worth $56.3 million and opt after next season to once again take advantage of the rising salary cap, which is projected at $107 million.

    If James opts out following the 2016-17 season, Cleveland will have full Bird rights and can sign James to a long-term deal approaching $160 million. The Cavs will be the only team that can offer him 7.5% raises next July. The contract would start at $35.2 million for 2017-18 and keep rising until it hit $43.1 million for the 2020-21 season.

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    Cleveland are are in a decent position with regard to the salary cap and will not be impeded from a positional standpoint , once they make a move in free agency . Players opting for free agency can begin negotiating with a potential new team as of midnight (12:00 am) Wednesday . Contracts can then be signed anywhere after 1st July.

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  14. Well , the silly season has now began in the NBA during its rather short off-season . The regular season will resume on the October 25th , 2016 and end April 12th , 2017 with the NBA All Star Game to be played at the Time Warner Cable Arena , home to the Charlotte Hornets .

    With unrestricted free agents as well restricted free agents having hit the open market , some of the dices have begun to fall . Cleveland Cavaliers’ center Timofey Mozgov has signed a lucrative deal with the Los Angeles Lakers . Mozgov averaged 6.3 points per game and a mere 4.4 rebounds per game during the regular season and fared not much better during the NBA Playoffs for the newly crowned champions .

    Courtesy of The Washington Post

    Timofey Mozgov’s Lakers deal isn’t as big a mistake as you think

    By Neil Greenberg, Washington Post

    The Los Angeles Lakers went into free agency needing a star center, and when the clock struck midnight they got it at least half right, reportedly reaching a verbal agreement with Timofey Mozgov on a four-year deal worth $64 million.

    [ Timofey Mozgov’s insane Lakers contract inspires incredulous reaction ]

    Acquired from the the Denver Nuggets in January 2015, the Cleveland Cavaliers sent two first-round picks for his services, and while he performed admirably in his first half season with Cleveland, he crashed and burned the very next year.

    In 2014-15, the 7-foot-1 center averaged 10.6 points and 6.9 rebounds in 46 games for the Cavaliers, production worth 2.2 wins above replacement. He then seemingly put the NBA on notice with his breakout performance in the playoffs, scoring 10.6 points with 7.3 rebounds per game. But it wouldn’t last. The following season he averaged 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds during the regular season (worth 0.8 wins above replacement) and scored a mere 15 points in 76 minutes during Cleveland’s title run.

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    Not considered to be an elite center , Timofey Mozgov is being paid what the market forces believes is fair for a player of limited ability .

    Center , Timofey Mozgov , formerly of the Cavaliers , signed a four-year $64 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers .

    The Los Angeles Lakers for their part will enter this upcoming season without Kobe Bryant , who has since retired . Yet during this off-season , GM Mitch Kupchak and the entire front office will be looking to bolster the roster by way of signing a marquee free agent. The acquisition of Mozgov is seen as only the start of the franchise’s perceived big moves as the newly installed head coach Luke Walton will be looking to begin a new chapter for the franchise .

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  15. Though officially all deals cannot be finalized until 7th July, free agency transactions now seem to be moving along at a quick pace . New York Knicks’ GM Steve Mills in conjunction with fellow front office executive Phil Jackson have now brought two Chicago Bulls’ stars in the the fold with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah having joined the franchise. This now provides head coach Jeff Hornacek with a team which is functional from an offensive standpoint , but still genuinely lacking a real defensive presence. Unfortunately , this idiotic reliance on the Triangle Offense has never worked for the Knicks since Phil Jackson began his executive role with the organization.

    Courtesy of ESPN

    Sources: Knicks, Joakim Noah agree to 4-year, $72 million deal

    ESPN.com news services

    Free-agent center Joakim Noah and the New York Knicks agreed on a four-year, $72 million deal, league sources told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

    Joakim Noah , who spent much of this past season sidelined due to a shoulder injury .

    Phil Jackson, Steve Mills, Jeff Hornacek and several other front-office members of the Knicks met with Noah at an Orlando-area hotel for about three hours on Friday night before reaching an agreement that will bring Noah to his hometown.
    “Dream come true” is how a source close to Noah described his feelings of playing for the Knicks.

    The Knicks were eager to land a center this offseason, and Noah, a former All-Star, fits the bill. The Knicks have prioritized the position in free agency after sending Robin Lopez, last season’s starting center, to Chicago in the Derrick Rose trade.

    Rose said last week that he would like Noah, who was his teammate on the Bulls, to join him in New York.

    “Good talk with him. He’s excited, ” said Hornacek, the new Knicks head coach.

    Hornacek would have at least $12 million in remaining cap space to fill up his roster after agreeing with Noah.

    Noah, 31, is coming off a 2015-16 season filled with injury. He suffered two significant shoulder injuries that limited him to 29 games last season. He missed almost a month with a left shoulder tear and had season-ending surgery to repair a left shoulder dislocation in January. He has spent a portion of his summer at The Peak Performance Project in Santa Barbara, California. One source familiar with Noah’s rehab believes his shoulder has healed well.

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    A mid-table record might well have been an improvement over the previous season , but when it was all said and done the Knicks failed to make the NBA Playoffs much less played a decisive role in trying to win their division .

    Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah will add some offensive presence to the New York Knicks , but the team remains weak on defense and there appears to be no clear leader on the roster. Carmelo Anthony remains a one-dimensional player whose offensive skills cannot be denied , but whose presence on defense is more of a liability than an asset. This will have to be addressed Jeff Hornacek and his coaching staff in the lead-up to the preseason and then the regular season as well . I have no doubt Steve Mills and Phil Jackson will be making more moves to bolster the team’s roster . In doing so Jackson knows it will provide the organization with the best opportunity of trying to make inroads into the dominance of the Cleveland Cavaliers within the Eastern Conference. I would certainly like to think the match-ups between the two teams can be more competitive than we have seen over the last three seasons .

    NBA news and New York Knicks news

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  16. Yes folks, we have reached that point again where we can now say for sure the general managers and franchise owners around the NBA have completely gone off the reservation for good . Some of the ludicrous deals now being announced for several players are completely without merit, but we are likely to hear the constant idiocy this is what the market can bear. Personally, this should have nothing at all do with market economics , but more to do with common sense , something we know was never at the top of the table when David Stern was the NBA Commissioner and little has been shown by his successor , Adam Silver or anyone within the league hierarchy .

    NBA news

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  17. Well, the wait is now over and the biggest NBA free agent is now off the market having agreed in principle to move , signing a deal with the Golden State Warriors . Former Scoring champion , League MVP , Kevin Durant was sold by an impressive persuasion of the Golden State Warriors’ front office staff , and several leading players on the team to join the 2015 NBA champions . Leading the sales’ pitch were Steph Curry , Klay Thompson , Draymond Green alongside GM Bob Myers and Jerry West . The biggest influence on this all might well have been NBA legend Jerry West , who Durant is known to have the deepest respect for.

    Bob Myers (left) and Jerry West.

    The fallout within the Warriors’ organization has been the departure of Andrew Bogut who has joined the Dallas Mavericks an ailing franchise which is now getting older by the second in terms of the makeup of the core parts of the Mavericks’ roster . The best years of both Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams are now behind them . Mavericks’ GM Donnie Nelson has done very little to improve the roster either by way of the NBA Draft or through free agency over the past five years .

    There will be tremendous fallout with the departure of Kevin Durant from the Oklahoma City Thunder the team’s GM Sam Presti must now address the situation as to why he , head coach Billy Donovan , the coaching staff and several of Durant’s teammates were not convincing enough to persuade the player to remain with the organization. Economic reasons or not, the departure of James Harden was one thing , but the loss of Durant will now set this franchise back several years. For team owner Clay Bennett and his partners , this places them in unenviable situation of having an NBA franchise without a major attraction on the roster. Granted , they do still have Russell Westbrook , but it would appear only a matter of time before the point guard might be traded as the franchise seeks to rebuild.

    From left to right Clay Bennett , Kevin Durant (center), Jeff Green and Sam Presti .

    Durant’s reign with the Thunder ran the gamut of highs and lows , but I believe the loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals was indeed the straw that broke the camel’s back and led to this decision by Kevin Durant. There was never a single moment where the coaching staff sought to effect changes in the team’s play in the series and Billy Donovan’s inexperience was there for everyone to see along with that of his coaching staff.

    NBA news

    Golden State Warriors news and Oklahoma City Thunder news

    Tophatal …………….

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  18. Now that the whining @ss wipe that he is bitches and whines about Kevin Durant having gone to the Golden State Warriors . Stephen A Smith and now former NBA great Charles Barkley , proffering up his opinion with Barkley, claiming Durant is cheating his way to a title . Have both Smith and Barkley forgotten the recent travels of LeBron James and how he claimed his first two NBA titles ? It’s at times like this, when you have to question how fu#king dumb Stephen A Smith and Charles Barkley just happen to be. Their opinions are often asinine and outlandish , but it should be expected when the duo have the collective IQ of a bucket filled with fecal matter with flies hovering around for a meal .

    Gender identity issues ? Charles Barkley , left and Stephen A Smith.

    Tophatal …………

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  19. The Dwyane Wade era in Miami is now over as the former Finals’ MVP and three-time NBA champion leaves the Miami Heat to join the Chicago Bulls , his hometown team. Wade played his college career at Marquette University and is of-course a Chicago native. The Heat were the only franchise the All Star ever played for , he established himself as Miami’s best player for a number of years before the arrival of LeBron James . Having not been able to negotiate a long-term or even a short-term deal with the Miami Heat , it was thought best to move on and fill out the final years of his career at a destination where he could be of great use for a franchise in need of a player of his caliber. Miami Heat team President Pat Riley might well have fell out of favor with Wade but at the end of the day , this was perhaps the best move possible .

    Courtesy of USA Today

    Dwyane Wade agrees to deal with Chicago Bulls

    By Jeff Zillgitt , USA Today Sports

    Dwyane Wade seemed part of a dwindling number of players — right there with Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki — who would spend their entire NBA career with one team.

    Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat are synonymous. Or at least were.

    After 13 seasons and three NBA championships, Wade has decided to leave the Heat and join the Chicago Bulls, a person familiar with the deal told USA TODAY Sports.

    It’s a two-year, $47.5 million deal for Wade. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the signing had not been made public.

    It is a stunning decision, considering Wade’s connection to Heat fans, the city and South Florida. In a note to the Associated Press, Wade wrote, “I look back with pride and amazement at all that we accomplished.”

    To create cap space to sign Wade, the Bulls plan to send guard Jose Calderon to the Los Angeles Lakers and send guard-forward Mike Dunleavy to the Cleveland Cavaliers, two people with direct knowledge of the those deals told USA TODAY Sports. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the discussions.

    Wade joins a Bulls team that includes Rajon Rondo, Jimmy Butler, Robin Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott, Bobby Portis and 2016 first-round draft pick Denzel Valentine.

    The Heat and Wade had done this song and dance before — as recently as last season — only for the two sides to come to terms on a deal. Listening to Wade and Heat president Pat Riley after the season, one was inclined to believe they would reach another deal and continue the longstanding partnership.

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    Dwyane Wade .

    The emphasis for the Heat now is to move on and build for the future. In that context Riley felt it best to build around players such as Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow . Youth and experience will a basis for the roster and coaching staff led by Erik Spoelstra .

    As things now stand , while I believe the Miami Heat to be a good team , I am not so sure they are good enough to be considered one of the main contenders within the Eastern Conference for this upcoming season !

    For the Chicago Bulls this brings about a new chapter in their history with the arrival of Dwyane Wade and what it is envisaged he will bring to the team . Bulls’ GM Gar Forman and Head of Basketball Operations John Paxson might well have reinvigorated the fans of the franchise. The departure of Derrick Rose to the New York Knicks has to be seen as a wise move , given Rose’s injury woes over the last three seasons and the very fact his productivity had become sporadic. With the Bulls also having lost Pau Gasol with his joining the San Antonio Spurs . One has to wonder how Chicago will fare this upcoming season with the loss of Gasol, Derrick Rose and also Joakim Noah . Yet the addition of Dwyane Wade and other moves made by the front office might well set the franchise on the path they are seeking.

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  20. James Harden and the Houston Rockets have agreed to a deal which will tie the player to the franchise for next four seasons. Harden has been by far the best player on the team since being acquired by the Rockets from the Oklahoma City Thunder . With the incoming Mike D’Antoni coming as the new head coach along his own staff of coaching assistants , it will be interesting to see if there will be a change in the style of play with the Houston Rockets . Team GM Daryl Morey has been given the go-ahead by owner , Leslie Alexander to do whatever it takes to make this a competitive team . Having delved into free agency without being overzealous , Morey has been able to assemble a group of players he believes will be able to compete this upcoming season . Beyond that, the NBA Draft provided the Rockets with some good talent which should be of benefit for Houston as they move forward.

    Courtesy of Yahoo Sports


    Sources: James Harden agrees to $118M renegotiation

    By Adrian Wojarnowski , Yahoo Sports

    James Harden (13) and Klay Thompson .

    Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden has agreed to a four-year, $118 million renegotiation that could keep him under contract through 2020, league sources told The Vertical.

    The deal assures the Rockets of one additional year of Harden under contract in 2018-19 because of a player option that could return him to free agency in 2019, sources said.

    Rockets owner Leslie Alexander made the surprise announcement at a news conference in Houston on Saturday, where the Rockets had planned to introduce the new free-agent signings of Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon and Nene.

    “There’s no indecision,” Harden said at the news conference. “There’s no doubt. There’s new life.”

    A provision in the collective bargaining agreement allows Houston to use its own salary cap space to renegotiate the final two years of Harden’s contract – and add two additional years onto the deal.

    For Houston, it is a coup to have Harden secured past 2018, allowing the franchise to continue to build around him for the long term. Harden has bought into coach Mike D’Antoni’s vision and wanted to make a longer commitment to the franchise.

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    One thing was abundantly clear with the Houston Rockets last season was the very fact Dwight Howard contributed nothing at all which would be deemed beneficial . The former League Defensive Player of the Year left the Rockets during the off-season to sign with the Atlanta Hawks , while getting another ludicrous contract when Howard’s best years are now behind him .

    Houston Rockets news

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  21. It’s time for the likes of LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick to either put up or simply shut the fu#k up when it comes to talking about social issues and political unrest . These two professional athletes are damn hypocrites and idiots ! James led his fellow NBA players in a rather sedate and pedantic protest to show their support of the Martin family after the death of teen Trayvon Martin . Since the young man’s death , not much has been achieved other than the fact , more black men and women are dying at the hands of law enforcement officers at an alarming rate, without us delving into the ‘Black on Black crime ‘ taking place in the city of Chicago , the ineptitude by the city’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel or the fact the incumbent President Barack Obama sheds crocodile tears while both the FBI and US Justice Department show themselves to be inept and most certainly corrupt.

    LeBron James (left) and Colin Kaepernick (right) .

    LeBron James might well be providing kids with scholarships and handing out bicycles at Christmas to those in the greater Akron , Ohio area , but when it comes to real social activism , he pales in comparison to the likes of Muhammad Ali , Dave Bing , Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , Jim Brown and Bill Russell . James hasn’t got the guts to question the work practices of his biggest contracted endorsee Nike , whose contractual obligations with workers in the Far East have been well chronicled , with child slave labor and exploitation being well-known .

    Colin Kapernick for his part, remains vocal , yet in all honesty , this has been a player who has fallen short of the expectations of the San Francisco 49ers , having shown little leadership as being one of the premiere players on the team.

    Emotional as Kapernick now appears to be , there is an even greater disconnect when you consider the fact , this has been the first time he has spoken openly on any social issue , while seeking to be heard on a national platform. Far too many professional athletes in North America in particular seem to be more concerned with their earning power, endorsements , than they are about speaking out on numerous social issues. These individuals , such as Tiger Woods , Kaepernick , LeBron James and even Michael Jordan , though retired , are not emboldened enough or tough enough to deal with such issues over the long haul, but would rather come out with rather inane platitudes and sound-bytes , than actually getting something done . It is bad enough when you have a verbose idiot such as Charles Barkley voicing his support for a racially bigoted Donald Trump as the GOP Presidential nominee continues with his divisive rancor and idiocy. Yet, now we have Barkley calling for African-Americans to show tolerance within their communities ?

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