Charles sends Chiefs to 41-14 rout of Patriots (Yahoo Sports) - KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- It made sense that Andy Reid spoke in baseball metaphors after Kansas City whipped the New England Patriots on Monday night, with the Royals poised to end a long playoff drought just across the parking lot from Arrowhead Stadium. Raiders fire coach Dennis Allen (Yahoo Sports) - ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Raiders fired coach Dennis Allen on Monday night four games into his third season. AP source: Raiders fire coach Dennis Allen (Yahoo Sports) - ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- The Oakland Raiders have fired coach Dennis Allen four games into his third season. Chiefs lead Patriots 17-0 at halftime (Yahoo Sports) - KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Jamaal Charles returned from a sprained right ankle to score two touchdowns Monday night, helping the Kansas City Chiefs to a 17-0 halftime lead against the New England Patriots. Chiefs lead Patriots 7-0 after first quarter (Yahoo Sports) - KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Jamaal Charles pronounced himself healthy in his return from an ankle injury, scoring from a couple yards out and giving the Kansas City Chiefs a 7-0 lead over the New England Patriots after the first quarter on Monday night. Clarke 'hiding' over black managers - What next for 'genius' Lionel Messi? - Shot ex-boxer feared for his life - Former European champion Jamie Moore admits he feared for his life after being shot four times in Spain. AJ Hinch hired to manage Astros (Yahoo Sports) - HOUSTON (AP) -- A.J. Hinch has been introduced as the new manager of the Houston Astros. Pardew expects talks with Ashley - Newcastle manager Alan Pardew expects to have "serious conversations" with owner Mike Ashley after the 1-0 defeat at Stoke.

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Erik Spoelstra almost passed up his first job with the Miami Heat for a Grateful Dead show [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 4:30 am]
Most introductions to Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra note his impressive rise up the ranks of the organization. He took a job as a video coordinator in 2005 after spending some time in Germany, became assistant coach a few years later, and was promoted to the head coaching job after the 2007-08 season when Pat Riley retired from the sidelines. He worked his way up, proved himself at every level, and did enough to earn two championships as a head coach and one as an assistant. According to Spoelstra, though, he almost turned down his interview for his first job with the franchise. And he would have passed up that opportunity of a lifetime for a Grateful Dead show. From a new profile by Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated (via PBT): Beneath Spoelstra’s bold speeches is a fear of failure that was not always easy to conquer and channel. He accepted the job as head coach at Sherwood (Ore.) High but backed out a week later so he could return to Germany. He only applied for the Heat’s video coordinator position in 1995 as part of a bet with his German teammates. When a club official called with a date for an interview, Spoelstra was inclined to pass because he had tickets to a Grateful Dead concert. Even after landing the gig, he was ready to turn it down until his sister called and asked if he’d lost his mind. It's possible that this story is a little overblown, because it's somewhat common for people (particularly the anxious-minded) to hesitate momentarily when considering a great offer simply because they already have competing plans. I've certainly so before coming to my senses and realizing that it was impossible to turn down. Sometimes it takes a second to figure it out. On the other hand, if you mentioned this story to serious Deadheads then they would probably think Spoelstra made a terrible mistake. If we assume that the Portland native was set to go one of the two shows in the city on May 28 and 29, 1995, then he would have been present at one of the b

Roy Hibbert watched 'ninja movies' with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during their instruction sessions [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 2:41 am]
It is no secret that Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert had a trying end to the 2013-14 NBA season. After earning All-Star honors and emerging Defensive Player of the Year favorite over the first few months, Hibbert sputtered after the break and into the postseason, enduring four zero-point performances in the playoffs and a lot of criticism. Hibbert entered the offseason hoping to reclaim his once lofty status and called upon Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to serve as a personal instructor. Kareem, who helped Andrew Bynum during his best days with the Los Angeles Lakers, figured to help Hibbert develop post moves and increase his chances at becoming a more dependable scorer for a Pacers team in need of added firepower. All evidence indicates that he did just that. But Hibbert also said at Pacers Media Day on Monday that they watched 'ninja movies' together (via PBT): Hibbert said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also helped him mentally. Kareem joined Roy at his home for ninja movies. Seriously.— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) September 29, 2014 I think we can assume that Hibbert means kung fu movies in the style of Bruce Lee and similar martial artists. If that's the case, then it was a good idea for both Hibbert and Abdul-Jabbar to go in this direction, because kung fu movies are awesome. Have you seen "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin"? Come for the Wu-Tang Clan connection, stay for everything else. Or maybe KAJ had more complicated lessons to impart to his young apprentice. In the late '70s, Abdul-Jabbar took a part in the unfinished Bruce Lee vehicle "Game of Death," in which he plays a sunlight-averse fighter. Hibbert is no stranger to film and TV either, having guest-starred on NBC's "Parks and Recreation". It could be that Abdul-Jabbar wanted to teach him about the things a seven-footer can do in film. You don't have to play yourself! Of course, we can guess that Kareem wasn't much interested in telling Hibbert how to respond to critics. Otherwise he would've shown him that

The 10-man rotation, starring Jason Kidd's laughable practices [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 10:20 pm]
A look around the league and the web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C: The Brooklyn Game. Joe Johnson can’t hide his giggly-face when asked about the difference between Lionel Hollins and former Net coach Jason Kidd’s practice schedule: PF: New York Times. Kobe Bryant and Arianna Huffington go out for lunch, on record, and the result is shockingly self-serving and ponderous. SF: SB Nation. A look at some of the new faces in new uniforms as Media Day churns along. SG: New York Post. Derek Fisher is not Phil Jackson’s puppet, dammit. Marionette, maybe, but not a puppet. PG: Discussing Becky Hammon’s future with the Spurs as she enters her first year as assistant coach. 6th: Charlotte Observer. Taking a look at Charlotte’s Lance Stephenson, as he readies to enter the most important year of his career. He also “has ambitions of doing more songs.” 7th: USA Today. Thankfully, the Los Angeles Clippers seem appropriately cheery and enthused about the 2014-15 season. 8th: Boston Globe. Baxter Holmes’ fascinating feature on Marcus Smart. Read this. 9th: Wall St. Journal. Russell Westbrook discusses a whole bunch of fashionable accessories that you probably can’t afford. 10th: SB Nation. Tom Ziller talks up three head coaches on the hot seat as 2014-15 rears its head. - - - - - - - Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @KDonhoops

LeBron James' much-talked-about hairline seems to be fluctuating a bit these days (Photos) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 10:01 pm]
Here's a photo of LeBron James during the 2014 NBA Finals back in June: Here's a photo of LeBron James during a Nike event in Beijing, China, in July: Here's a screencap of LeBron during his interview with Rachel Nichols that aired on CNN on Friday, Sept. 26: And here are photos of LeBron participating in the Cleveland Cavaliers' first training camp practice on Saturday, Sept. 27, as captured by the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Photo of @kingjames this past weekend practicing with @dionwaiters3. Where did LBJ's new hair go?— NBA Courtside (@NBACourtside_) September 29, 2014 The photo below was taken the other day. @KingJames, we don't know what happened to your hair, just cut it off bro.— ShowMeKicks (@ShowMeKicks) September 29, 2014 I guess LeBron really is serious about getting thin all over these days. Observations of and resultant jokes about LeBron's receding hairline are nothing new, of course, but there does seem to be some mischief afoot with the shifting borders of James' forehead that suggests he might be dabbling in something like the Bigen treatment, if not quite as blatantly and absurdly as Carlos Boozer did once upon a time. Far be it from me to tell LeBron how to wear his hair/paint-like hair product; I'm not exactly a stylist, as my hair/beard/mustache choices clearly proves. You might want to think about picking a path and sticking with it, though, Mr. James, if for no other reason than it'll make it easier for you to remember which gauge of headband you need to grab on any given night. One less thing to worry about, right? Hat-tip to Deadspin's Kyle Wagner. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL, "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Thunder center Steven Adams grew a mustache just for his media guide picture (Photo) [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 8:58 pm]
Here is what Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams looked like in mid-August: Here is what the rising sophomore bruiser looks like now, as captured at Thunder Media Day on Monday afternoon: Hmmm. Something's different. Can't quite put my finger on what, though. Maybe if I take a closer look. Oh, right — the mustache. Pretty impressively '70sy, Mr. Adams. Very "Orange is the New Black," too, which is a bonus. So to what do we owe the pleasure, Steven? And can we count on you hanging onto the flavor-saver throughout each of OKC's many high-definition, nationally televised tilts this season? Adams says the mustache is just for the media guide picture: "So that when someone opens up the book, stache."— Royce Young (@royceyoung) September 29, 2014 On one hand, it's a bummer that Adams won't be keeping his lipwarmer around for the duration of the 2014-15 season. On the other, it's pretty flippin' fantastic that he grew one in the first place for the express purpose of giving anyone who looks at the Thunder media guide a smile. It's like the old proverb says: "Don't cry because the mustache is over. Smile because the mustache happened." It's also worth giving (theoretical) credit where it's (probably not) due. In this case, that means dapping up Royce Young of Daily Thunder: Also, I maintain Steven Adams needs to grow a Selleck-esque mustache. Just 'cause.— Royce Young (@royceyoung) January 18, 2014 Way to "The Secret" this one into the world, Royce. Bravo. With that in place, then, I guess there's just one thing left to do: Compare Steven Adams' mustache to my own, as I did with Kevin Love lo those many moons ago. So, 'stache-wise, who ya got? The first-round draftee likely to become the starting center on a title contender before too long? Or the hardscrabble, livin'-by-his-wits underdog from the mean streets of a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn? Let us know in the comments, and also, please, please pick me. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don'

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Toronto Raptors [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 8:51 pm]
The Toronto Raptors weren’t supposed to win last season. They weren’t designed to fail, but they weren’t far off. In fairness they weren’t designed at all by general manager Masai Uriri, who was lured from Denver after the 2012-13 season concluded to replace former GM Bryan Colangelo. Working without a first round draft pick and much trade leverage, Ujiri still managed to dump Andrea Bargnani and his contract on the New York Knicks for a cadre of draft picks, but by and large his Raptors looked very much like the squad Colangelo had put together in hopes of making the playoffs the year before. Search any 2013-14 season preview roundup, though, and you’ll find Toronto’s name listed squarely amongst those that were expected to more or less sit out the season during the NBA’s Great Tanking Scourge of the Long Winter. The Raps may have featured a playoff-level payroll, nearly dishing out the luxury tax last year, but Toronto was supposed to battle with the 76ers, Celtics and Magic in the race for more and more ping-pong balls in the draft lottery. Rudy Gay’s value was at an all-time low, and he would be later dealt for a series of rotation parts that didn’t even provide immediate salary cap relief. Coach Dwane Casey was in the final year of a contract that Ujiri didn’t sign him to. Guard Kyle Lowry, the reason for that missed draft pick in 2013, was coming off of a year full of grousing and expected to be dealt to his third team in three years midseason. DeMar DeRozan, even at just 24 years of age, appeared to be working on a plateau. Then, the team just stopped losing. Stuck at 7-13 two days after the Rudy Gay deal, Casey and Lowry led the Raptors to a 41-21 finish, showcasing sound instincts on both ends of the floor in spite of some dodgy late-game play. Toronto not only made the playoffs, it won the second Atlantic Division title in the franchise’s history. It probably should have made the second-round, too, had Kyle Lowry’s much-rued potenti

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Chicago Bulls [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 8:12 pm]
Every year, as the injuries pile up, Tom Thibodeau invokes the mantra: "We have enough to win." This time, that might actually be true. After grinding out a first-round win before a gentleman's sweep in Round 2 without their leader, the Chicago Bulls entered the 2013-14 season hoping for a return to prominence helmed by Derrick Rose, finally healthy following his April 2012 left ACL tear. Just 10 games later, though, Rose was back on the shelf after tearing the meniscus in his right knee, and Thibodeau was back to scratching out wins one stop at a time. The Bulls did, of course, because that's what they do. They play five-men-on-a-string defense, smothering pick-and-rolls and making you do things you don't want to do. They finished second in the league in defensive efficiency, allowing a miserly 97.8 points per 100 possessions, despite trading away longtime talisman Luol Deng midseason, and despite playing Carlos Boozer and D.J. Augustin for nearly 4,000 combined minutes. That happened because the Bulls employ Joakim Noah, the Defensive Player of the Year, and Taj Gibson, whom some thought defended even better than Noah, and Jimmy Butler, who's become a premier wing stopper. And, of course, because of Thibodeau, whose strong-side overload zone is the gold standard of NBA defense, and whose coaching has coaxed career-best work out of many lightly regarded defenders. Without Rose to run the offense, Chicago relied heavily on Noah as a high-post initiator. He responded by averaging a team-high 5.4 assists per game, by leading all NBA bigs with 12.3 points created via assist per game, and by becoming just the fifth player 6-foot-10 or taller to assist on more than a quarter of his teammates' baskets, according to Whether picking out cutters or running the break, Noah helped conjure enough points to win 48 games; combined with his stellar defense, it was enough to earn him a fourth-place finish in MVP voting. It wasn't, however, enough to g

Minnesota Timberwolves hire ex-Lakers guard Mike Penberthy as Ricky Rubio's shooting coach [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 27, 2014, 2:42 am]
NBA fans know three things about Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio. Two are good, one is bad. The good ones are that he has amazing court vision and strong skills as a defender. The bad is that he can't shoot at all. In his three seasons with the Wolves, Rubio has shot only 36.8 percent from the field (topping out at 38.1 percent last year) and 32.3 percent from beyond the arc (with a high of 34 percent as a rookie). Defenses don't really have to respect his jumper, and that makes him a tough player to build around despite his considerable gifts as a facilitator. With Kevin Love now in Cleveland, Minnesota is counting on Rubio to serve as the team's leader. To help him become more of a scoring threat, they have hired one-time NBA guard Mike Penberthy to help as a shooting coach. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune has more information: The Timberwolves today made it official, with training camp now just five days away: They have hired L.A.-based Mike Penberthy as a shooting coach to work with [the] team, particularly Ricky Rubio, who has struggled in that area in recent years. A former Laker who played 56 NBA games more than a decade [ago], Penberthy worked with Rubio, Chase Budinger and others over the summer. He will move back and forth from his Los Angeles-area home to work with players. "I don't even want to pigeon-hole him as a shooting coach because i think there are other things he'll be able to help us with," Wolves coach/president Flip Saunders said. "That will be his main emphasis. Ricky enjoyed working with him, even though it was only for a week. I think if Ricky had a chance to spend a month with him or six weeks, I believe we could have seen some good changes. We'll let his role evolve. It's important for him to see how we want to play and where guys are going to get shots and how he can incorporate that into our shooting." The team's press release presents Penberthy as a coach in player development, so it's not as if he's expected to work sol

Charlotte Hornets bar Jeff Taylor from team activities following domestic violence charge [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 27, 2014, 12:03 am]
The NBA has clearly learned something from the NFL's recent issues regarding the proper way to handle charges and allegations of domestic violence. Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor was arrested early Thursday morning in East Lansing, Mich., and charged with domestic assault, assault, and malicious destruction of property. With training camp set to begin early next week, the franchise wasted little time in deciding to keep Taylor off the court and away from team activities. Steve Reed of the Associated Press has the report: Hornets forward Jeffery Taylor will not be participating in any team-related activities during an NBA investigation into his arrest on domestic assault charges, the team announced Friday. ''As an organization, we understand and appreciate the seriousness of this matter, and will assist the NBA and law enforcement in any way we can until this comes to an acceptable resolution,'' the Hornets said in a statement Friday. ''We have spoken with Jeffery and his representatives and they fully understand our position.'' NBA spokesman Mike Bass said that the league supports ''the Charlotte Hornets' decision to separate Jeffery Taylor from the team during the investigation.'' [...] The Hornets open the preseason on Oct. 8 in Philadelphia, the same day Taylor has a pre-trial court date at East Lansing District Court. It's worth noting that this announcement only concerns an ongoing NBA investigation, not legal proceedings. We don't yet know how long the league's investigation will take, so it is perhaps best to consider Taylor's time away from the Hornets as indefinite until more information is known. For now, it appears to be the case that he will not be with the team until at least that Oct. 8 court date. What is clear, though, is that the NBA and its teams do not want to repeat the mistakes of the NFL over the past weeks and months. While the NFL's insufficient response to the Ray Rice case has garnered the most attention, the league has had several o

The 10-man rotation, starring how Erik Spoelstra will go about plugging the biggest hole ever [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 11:00 pm]
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C: Sports Illustrated. Lee Jenkins hits another moonshot, this time detailing Erik Spoelstra's rise from "The Dungeon" to the highest points of NBA success, the fear of failure that drives him, and the process he'll take to rebuild the Miami Heat after losing LeBron James in free agency. Phenomenal detail and openness from Spoelstra. PF: Brian Windhorst on what the return of an "all-business" version of LeBron means for his new teammates and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers organization: "He is going to live up to his end of the bargain. If anyone with the Cavs doesn't live up to theirs, and that starts with owner Dan Gilbert and goes right down to the ball boys, James is not going to let them get away with it." SF: Variety. In less serious LeBron news, you'll be able to watch the first two episodes of his new Starz sitcom, "Survivor's Remorse," for free on a few different platforms this weekend, if you just can't wait until the series' broadcast premiere on Oct. 4. SG: Bleacher Report. Howard Beck on how the NBA's "no conviction, no suspension" punishment policy on domestic violence cases represents a no-longer-acceptable "stance that has left the league looking passive and ineffectual." PG: Talking Points. Extended comments from Steve Kerr on how the Golden State Warriors' offense might look, the importance of taking advantage of Andrew Bogut's playmaking skills, Stephen Curry's defense and much more. 6th: Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta Hawks head coach — and, now, general manager — Mike Budenholzer on where his team slots into the shuffled-up, post-LeBron-back-to-Cleveland conference hierarchy: "I think there are fans out there that know more about the East than I do. Hopefully I know more about the Hawks than they do." 7th: Eye on

Phil Jackson's bullish on his Knicks: 'We believe we're going to be a playoff team' [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 10:03 pm]
The dates on the calendar change, but year in and year out, the song remains the same: Hope springs eternal at Media Day, the unofficial kickoff of each NBA team's season. When the New York Knicks welcomed reporters to their Westchester practice facility on Friday, it was team president of basketball operations Phil Jackson's turn to sound the hopeful note — after a disappointing 37-45 record and ninth-place finish a season ago, he sees his team making a return to the postseason. From Ian Begley of ESPN New York: "We believe that we're going to be a playoff team and then we don't know how far we'll be able to go," Jackson said Friday. "We're hoping for the best." [...] Jackson says he is asked daily by Knicks fans about the team's prospects for the coming season. Jackson was a player on the Knicks' last championship team in 1972-73. He understands that there is a sense of urgency to snap the 40-season title drought. "[They] want to know how long do we have to wait? We hope it's expedient; we have it right next door," Jackson said in reference to the New York Rangers' appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals last season. "It's a step-by-step process. Usually teams come into the playoffs, learn from being in the playoffs and gradually assume capabilities of carrying out the championship. ... This team has not got a personality — over 35 percent of the team has changed. "So we still have to kind of come together in a bonding way that creates trust, teamwork, identity, some things like that. So we're about going through this process and enjoying the process and the journey that we go through." Well, I mean, James Dolan's not paying Phil $12 million a year to be pessimistic. Jackson's comments come several weeks after star forward Carmelo Anthony, whom the Knicks re-signed to a five-year, $124.1 million contract this summer, said he "absolutely" believes the Knicks will return to the playoffs after finishing one game behind the No. 8-seeded Atlanta Hawks last season. The

Kevin Garnett admits to contemplating retirement more and more as the years drag on [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 10:03 pm]
If we’re honest, there never was any question as to whether or not Kevin Garnett was returning to the Brooklyn Nets for the 2014-15 season. For one, Garnett is a competitor, and even if he continues to decline this season after 2013-14 tough go of things, just the mere chance for one strong comeback is enough to motivate such a return. Secondly, he was never going to be traded anywhere. His value on the trade market, sadly, is at an all-time low. This is also a guy with a no-trade clause that had to be convinced to be dealt from the pitiful Minnesota Timberwolves to a champion-in-waiting with the Celtics back in 2007 after four lottery trips. He may have waived that trade clause to join Brooklyn in 2013, but KG’s not exactly a three-teams-in-13-months sorta guy. Last? There’s that $12 million he’d have to leave on the table in walking away. Garnett’s never been about the money, he leaves it out there more than anyone, but $12 million is $12 million. Garnett’s also a thoughtful guy, though, so it’s no surprise that he came clean about at least considering walking away from it all this summer. From Stefan Bondy at the New York Daily News: "(The thought of retirement) is always somewhere in there, especially when you come up short for your goal for the year. But I must admit these last three years, I've thought about life and where basketball is as far as priority," Garnett said at Brooklyn's Media Day, which segues into the start of training camp Friday. "So yeah, in the back of your mind, you think about it. "But the decision is either yes or no. It's not like 50-50 I'm in the middle of the road or gray area. I'm a person that when you commit to something, you commit to it. It's that simple." Garnett is like that, but even with his esteemed status as a go-to workhorse and eventual first ballot Basketball Hall of Famer, there are not many gray areas for anyone deciding for or against returning to the game on the final year of your contract. You come

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Philadelphia 76ers [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 8:45 pm]
We’re just two years removed from the Philadelphia 76ers nearly knocking off the Boston Celtics for a shot at the Miami Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, and not a single player remains from that roster. Gone is every pick predating Michael Carter-Williams, and yet the Sixers’ brass is banking on a rebuilding strategy that will rely heavily upon new-ish general manager Sam Hinkie’s draft success. It’s not such a bad bet gambling on Hinkie, especially since he’s enjoyed a bit of good fortune the past two years. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s former right-hand man landed last year’s Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams, with the No. 11 pick when draft duds littered the top 10, and he came away with perhaps the best player in this past June’s draft, Joel Embiid, at No. 3. Throw in possibly the best player from the 2013 NBA draft (Nerlens Noel), the potential steal of this year’s edition (Dario Saric), and a couple more first-round selections in 2015, and Philadelphia seems to have a solid foundation for the future. Then again, we said that back in the 2011-12 season, too. Little of this helps the 76ers this season. Of Philly’s top-four scorers during a miserable 19-63 campaign in Brett Brown’s inaugural season as coach, Carter-Williams is the lone returnee. He’ll have one-time AAU teammate Noel at his side, although the former is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and the latter hasn’t played a meaningful game since tearing an ACL as a college freshman on Feb. 12, 2013. Meanwhile, Embiid could miss anywhere from 2-5 months (or more), and Saric remains overseas for another two years. The rest of the roster is reflected in a fitting series of headshots on the team’s official website that features an NBA logo where Casper Ware’s face should be, a non-existent photo in Vasilije Micic’s stead, two players in suits and another nine still wearing the uniform of his former team. Ladies and gentlemen, your

LeBron James admits there would have been 'a greater chance' for a Miami return had the Heat won again [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 8:37 pm]
The morning of June 9must have felt pretty, pretty good for Miami Heat fans, a crew that is noted for its doggedness in its support for the Heat no matter how slim the chances for winning look. The Heat had not only managed to overcome a frustrating Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals, competing without a cramping LeBron James down the stretch as San Antonio’s AT&T’s air conditioning unit broke down, but the two-time defending champs had stolen home court advantage from the Spurs with a Game 2 win. Miami seemed ready for their third consecutive championship, and for good reason. They had made the Eastern Conference look foolish by comparison in the weeks prior, the team had been careful in resting Dwyane Wade and to a lesser extent James all season, it boasted the home court advantage in the potential best-of five Finals, and top-heavy teams tend to do better in Finals series’ in comparison to deeper squads like San Antonio. Even some of the smarter Spurs fans I follow on Twitter were predicting doom and gloom as Sunday night’s Game 2 loss turned into Monday morning’s realization that the end could be near, at the hands of the Miami Heat for the second straight season. We know how things turned out. The Spurs took three consecutive games and the championship, in borderline one-sided fashion. Suddenly, the absolute certainty behind LeBron James’ free agent return to Miami – where he could make more money, raise his kids in a state they’re more recently familiar with, playing for and with known commodities – seemed in peril. Heat fans, what’s left of them, probably don’t know how close they were to getting him back. Just three more wins. From a recent interview with CNN’s Rachel Nichols: The transcript: "It's a greater chance, for sure. It’s gonna be hard to leave back-to-back-to-back championships and try to go for four. But obviously you really can't live and think of what may have happened. I've always been a person kind of live in the moment.

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: New York Knicks [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 6:51 pm]
After winning their first Atlantic Division title in two decades, the New York Knicks entered the 2013-14 season with championship expectations. (Well, their owner did, at least.) Things fell apart quickly, though, as the Knicks lost 13 of their first 16 games, digging a hole out of which they couldn't climb. The offseason trade for Andrea Bargnani worked out as poorly as everyone expected, with gaffe after gaffe eliciting boos from the very start of the year through his season-ending injury. J.R. Smith signed a new contract, then promptly had knee surgery and got suspended for testing positive for marijuana; in the biz, we call that "foreshadowing," as J.R.'s season proved equal parts tumultuous and disappointing. Tyson Chandler's leg broke, and then his spirit did, which happens when you're constantly cleaning up the messes of a roster full of terrible defenders. Raymond Felton was perhaps the NBA's worst starting point guard last season. Expected to break out, Iman Shumpert stayed shackled. The veteran frontcourt (Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin, Metta World Peace) proved injury-prone and ineffective, and New York's reserves offered little respite on either end of the court. That placed the burden for keeping the Knicks competitive squarely on Carmelo Anthony's shoulders. Despite the All-Star's best efforts — 27.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in a league-leading 38.7 minutes per game, a 40.2 percent mark from 3-point land, a Knick-record 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats — they fell short. New York won 16 of its final 21 to briefly re-enter the playoff picture, but finished one game behind the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 8 seed, the first postseason miss of Anthony's career. Anthony's back after testing free agency. (For the last time, he says.) With a new head coach and a shuffled supporting cast, 'Melo has tempered expectations, but still expects to return to the postseason. Is that wishful thinking in a deeper East? Or can a

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Boston Celtics [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 6:01 pm]
Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is a competitor, and he’s a bit privileged. He’s not excited at the thought of topping out at 50 or even 55 wins. He grew up as a player with banners, he delivered another banner as an executive in Boston in 2008, and he’s not about to sell out his team nor his current team-building exercise by shooting for an easy trip to the first round. He’ll tell you as much. From ESPN Boston: Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge was asked Tuesday to size up the Eastern Conference for the upcoming 2014-15 season and pegged Cleveland, Chicago, and Washington as the three top squads. "You left out the Celtics," a reporter noted. Responded Ainge: "I did. Good observation there. But I do believe the extraordinary is possible." Before extraordinary hits, though, an extraordinary team has to be built. And in this comment, Ainge is telling Celtics fans that they’ll have to wait another year, possibly two more seasons, before such a team will start to take shape. Boston isn’t tanking, the team’s roster and coaching staff is filled with too much potential for that, but this will be a year filled with more losses than wins. And this can’t be fun for Celtics fans, who have dealt with quite a bit over the last quarter-century, following forty-plus years of fun. The Celtics were considered aging, Eastern also-rans in the years following Detroit’s sweep of the team in 1988 and Larry Bird’s 1992 retirement. From there, the franchise swapped trips to the lottery with the odd first-round exit. A trip to the Eastern Conference semis in 2002 was thrilling, if briefly, but the team bottomed out (1997, 2007) twice as many times as it made it to May. That all changed in the summer of 2007, when Ainge was allowed to take years’ worth of assets and turn them into Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, while retaining Paul Pierce and two killer mid-first round draft picks in Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo. Five glori

BDL's 2014-15 NBA Season Previews: Brooklyn Nets [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 6:56 am]
When Nets general manager Billy King added Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Andrei Kirilenko to the roster in the summer of 2013, he appeared to have assembled a (ludicrously expensive) team that could give the Miami Heat a legitimate challenge for Eastern Conference supremacy. The results were decidedly less impressive than that best case scenario. After a horrific start to the season, head coach Jason Kidd and his veteran group improved enough to win 44 games and earn the No. 6 seed, from which they defeated the Toronto Raptors in the opening round of the playoffs. However, that achievement obscured the extent to which the Nets really weren't a player in the East. We found that out especially clearly in the next round, where they were dispatched by the Heat in five games during which the favorites didn't even look especially engaged. Like many teams in the East's half of the playoff bracket, the Nets were present without ever looking especially strong. It's arguable that things just went especially poorly for a team with plenty of talent to contend for a conference championship. Deron Williams regressed from perennial All-Star to a player capable of going scoreless in a big playoff game, Garnett battled injuries and was tasked with too many defensive responsibilities once Brook Lopez was lost for the season, Lopez was lost for the season after 17 games, Kirilenko never seemed to integrate himself into the side well enough to thrive, and Kidd often seemed not to have a decided tactical advantage. Now that Kidd is gone — along with the petty power struggles that defined his lone season in the job — and former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins is in, it's possible to envision the 2014-15 Nets as a far superior defensive team that can improve steadily on offense with a return to form from Williams and a healthy season from Lopez. They're not that far from becoming one of the conference's top teams. The problem with that scenario is that believing a revers

Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor has been charged with domestic assault [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 5:26 am]
Several recent cases involving NFL players have made domestic violence one of the most talked about issues in the world of sports. The NBA now has its own incident to assess. Police in East Lansing, Michigan announced Thursday that they have charged Charlotte Hornets forward Jeff Taylor, a college star at Vanderbilt who was born and raised in Sweden, with domestic assault, assault, and malicious damage to property. Steve Reed of the Associated Press has the few current details: The police department said in a release Thursday that the 25-year-old Taylor was charged with one count of domestic assault, one count of assault and one count of malicious destruction of property. His bond was set at $5,000. East Lansing Police Lieutenant Steve Gonzalez declined to provide further details about the arrest when contacted by The Associated Press. According to the release, police officers responded to an incident at the East Lansing Marriott at University Place around 1 a.m. Thursday. The Hornets say they are aware of the incident involving the third-year forward and are gathering more information. A release from the team stated, ''This is a matter that we take very seriously.'' It is as yet unclear how the NBA will decide to handle Taylor's case and potential punishment. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, the league can suspend a player for a minimum of 10 games for a first offense involving a conviction for any violent felony. However, commissioner Adam Silver said Monday that the NBA would review its domestic violence policies. From Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press: ''We learn from other leagues' experiences,'' Silver said. ''We're studying everything that's been happening in the NFL. We're working with our players' association. We've been talking for several weeks and we're going to take a fresh look at everything we do.'' [...] ''We have in place the appropriate mechanisms for discipline, although we'll take a fresh look at those as well,'' Silver said

The 10-man rotation, starring Eric Bledsoe's payday in Phoenix [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 25, 2014, 7:40 pm]
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C: Sports Illustrated. Rob Mahoney on how giving Eric Bledsoe a five-year, $70 million contract affords the Phoenix Suns both security and flexibility. PF: The Hook. Tom Ziller on what the Suns' decision to come off their initial four-year, $48 million offer says about the nature of the market in the NBA. SF: The Triangle. Zach Lowe on why footing a $14 million per year bill for Bledsoe was the right call for Phoenix: "Bledsoe could be something special, and teams that don’t get meetings with every superstar free agent have to take chances on guys with that kind of potential." SG: NetsDaily, twice. Reed Wallach with a two-part look at how an aged Kevin Garnett and a healthy Brook Lopez might fit together on both ends of the floor with the Brooklyn Nets this season under new head coach Lionel Hollins. (Not super sure about the whole "there's no reason why [Lopez] can't average more than 22 points per game" thing, though.) PG: The Hook, again. I really enjoyed Ziller's consideration of the potential virtues of building a roster around an elite one-way player (like James Harden) rather than a more well-rounded but lower-wattage two-way player (like Paul George): "When you're run by one-dimensionals, there's a well-defined path to the top of the mountain: fill your holes. When you feature a well-rounded star, you start further up the mountain, but there's no defined route to the top." 6th: Triangle Offense. Russ Bengtson celebrates Scottie Pippen's 49th birthday by detailing how the Hall of Famer wound up becoming his all-time favorite member of the Chicago Bulls: "Jordan’s flash got me into the game, but Pippen’s all-around brilliance really helped me understand it." 7th: CelticsHub. Brad Stevens has a message for anyone trying to predict the Boston Celti

Steve Ballmer wants to make Clippers a Microsoft organization, will 'probably' get rid of iPads [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 25, 2014, 4:43 pm]
Before he plunked down a cool $2 billion to become the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Ballmer rose to prominence as one of Microsoft's longest-tenured employees. The boisterous brand salesman — who's gonna make you himself sweat 'til you he bleeds — rose from business manager to chief executive officer over the course of a 34-year career with the Redmond, Wash.-based computing giant that included both monstrous successes and serious missteps. Sure, Ballmer stepped down as CEO in February, but he's still Microsoft's largest individual shareholder; the company's in his blood, and he's apparently going to do his level best to make it part of his new franchise's DNA, too. From Mary Milliken and Eric Kelsey of Reuters: The mobile experience is something Ballmer knows intimately and he acknowledges that under his leadership at Microsoft it was something he did not get right. Competitors such as Apple Inc and Google Inc seized the mobile revolution and put pressure on Ballmer to innovate. He stepped down as CEO in February after 14 years. "And do I wish a higher percentage of today's mobile devices were ours and we had birthed that category?," he mused. "Yes, of course I do." [...] It should come as no surprise, then, that the Clippers will be a Microsoft organization. The son of a Ford Motor Co manager, he's always been a company and product loyalist, banning his own family from using Apple's iPhones. "Most of the Clippers are on Windows, some of the players and coaches are not," Ballmer said. "And [head coach] Doc [Rivers] kind of knows that’s a project. It's one of the first things he said to me: 'We are probably going to get rid of these iPads, aren’t we?' And I said, 'Yeah, we probably are.' But I promised we would do it during the off season." The eventual transition won't necessarily be hard on everybody; new Clippers assistant coach Mike Woodson is already using Encarta to prepare opposition scouting reports. Sure, that's not super helpful sin

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