Donald Sterling

And-Ones: Loyd, MVP Race, Bucks, Sterling

Guard Jordan Loyd views his upcoming season in the EuroLeague as an opportunity to showcase his talents before returning to the NBA, Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports. Loyd played on a two-way contract with the Raptors last season and feared he’d get stuck on a similar deal if he stayed in Toronto. The Raptors waived him after he agreed to a one-year contract with Valencia Basket.

“This year, I have a one-year deal, and then try to get back to the league, man. I think it’s gonna help me, honestly,” he said. “I look at it as a year to better myself and to get back to the league. I feel like I am an NBA player, but I’m not naive enough to sit there and let great opportunities pass me by overseas.”

We have more from the basketball world:

  • The Most Valuable Player race for the upcoming NBA season looks wide open, according to a panel of ESPN experts. While reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is favored to win it again, former MVPs Stephen Curry and LeBron James as well as Joel EmbiidAnthony DavisNikola Jokic and Kawhi Leonard are all logical candidates for the top individual award.
  • The Bucks’ biggest challenge will be handling the pressure of high expectations, Malika Andrews of ESPN writes. Not only will they have a target on their backs but it will be a pivotal season in terms of whether they can retain Antetokounmpo long-term. A group of ESPN writers examines the strengths and biggest question marks looming over seven contenders.
  • ESPN took a deep dive into the saga of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was forced to sell the team after making racially insensitive statements. Perhaps the most eye-opening revelation by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne was that the league nearly shut down during the 2014 playoffs until commissioner Adam Silver took swift and bold action. “I was all-in. Like shut down the whole season,” then-Warriors forward Andre Iguodala said. “Maybe that was too far, but as far as that game that day, you can reschedule it, you gotta sort this thing out, because there’s some deep-rooted stuff with him that had to be addressed.”

Clippers Notes: Rivers, Leonard, Harrell, Sterling

On one July night, the Clippers went from a fringe playoff contender to title favorites. Now it’s up to coach Doc Rivers to make all the pieces fit, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. The Clippers won a three-team race to sign Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, and they made it happen by trading for regular season MVP finalist Paul George. Rivers has experience in molding elite talent into a championship team from his days with the Celtics.

“It’s not the superstar power. I don’t care about that,” he said. “It’s about having a team that you really think can compete for a title. Having a team with superstars that you don’t believe can compete for a title is nothing. There’s a difference. Because there are teams we all have seen that, and been around and had, you may have that one superstar but you’re not winning it.”

Rivers has coached a few disappointing teams in L.A., with his “Lob City” groups repeatedly falling short in the playoffs. Even though the new version of the Clippers has little championship experience outside of Leonard, Rivers welcomes the favorite’s role.

“Teams are going to try to come after us,” he said. “I think that’s a good thing. I think we need that. It will teach us hopefully every night you have to be ready.”

There’s more Clippers news to pass along:

  • Rivers tells Washburn that Leonard reminds him of a less-talkative version of Kevin Garnett and he welcomes the challenge of coaching him. “I don’t go into it knowing one way or another,” Rivers said. “My job is to get to know him first and how he plays, what makes him play better and how well he makes the team play better.”
  • Montrezl Harrell is trying to develop into more of a perimeter threat, relays Jovan Buha of The Athletic. All the Clippers received a list of skills from the coaching staff to work on during the summer, and outside shooting was the focus for Harrell and fellow center Ivica Zubac“I feel confident in my game and where I’m at,” Harrell said. “We worked extremely hard on being able to create my shot and knowing my shot.”
  • Tom Ziller of SB Nation examines the most interesting revelations to come out of the new podcast series about former Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Western Notes: Parsons, Sterling, Gibson

Chandler Parsons returns to Dallas tonight, which will be his first visit since departing the Mavericks as a free agent this summer, and while the forward expects to be booed, he believes fan anger is misplaced, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com relays. “Houston, I get it. I said some stupid stuff on the way out of Houston [after three seasons],” Parsons told MacMahon. “Dallas, I don’t understand. It’s like getting mad at somebody for getting in a car wreck and breaking their arm. Like, how in the world can you be mad at somebody for getting hurt? It makes no sense. That’s just so wrong to get mad at somebody for getting hurt, like they want to go through the rehab, want to go through the pain, want to go through the misery of not playing. I can never understand that aspect of it. So when it comes to Dallas, you’re going to get mad at me because Dirk Nowitzki decided to take less money to bring in a really good player and then unfortunately he gets hurt? That’s why you’re mad? Sure, boo.

While he maintains that his first choice was to remain in Dallas, Parsons is happy with his new team in Memphis, MacMahon adds. “I think it’s a perfect situation for me,” said Parsons. “I see so much potential that I can add to this team. It just kind of solidifies that I made the right decision.” Here’s more from out West:

  • Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling has reached a settlement with the NBA in his lawsuit over the $2 billion sale of the team to Steve Ballmer, Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times reports. The suit was filed back in 2014 and alleged that the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver and others engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to remove him as owner of the team, Fenno adds. The details and value of the settlement were not released to the media.
  • Jonathan Gibson, who signed with the Mavericks earlier today, turned down offers to play in China while he awaited an NBA opportunity to materialize, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com tweets.
  • The Nuggets can’t afford to be patient with the disappointing play of Emmanuel Mudiay for much longer if the team hopes to show improvement in the win column this season, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post writes. “Let’s be honest, if there’s a situation where [Mudiay] is not playing well, or anybody else is not playing well, we have the depth to make changes,” coach Michael Malone said. “We want to win games. A big part of last year was culture and development. This year … if we’re healthy, we feel it needs to be about winning, as well, to get our fans back and to feel good about the direction we’re heading in.

Pacific Notes: Looney, Casspi, Livingston

Warriors combo forward Kevon Looney underwent a successful left hip arthroscopy on Friday to repair a torn labrum, the team announced. Looney will begin rehabilitation from the surgery immediately and is expected to be out a minimum of four to six months before returning to basketball activity, per the team. This is the second such procedure that Looney has endured, the first occurring in August of last year. The 20-year-old was the No. 30 overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft and he appeared in just five games for the Warriors this year, averaging 1.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in 4.1 minutes per outing.  Looney also appeared in 12 games for the team’s D-League affiliate in Santa Cruz, posting averages of 9.8 points and 7.4 rebounds in 19.3 minutes.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Kings small forward Omri Casspi lamented the firing of coach George Karl and blamed the players for the team’s woes this season, international journalist David Pick relays (via Twitter). Casspi, who is under contract for $2,963,814 next season, believes he will be a part of the team’s plans moving forward, Pick adds. “The Kings want me back next season, I’m not sure who the coach will be, but I’m adaptable, I’m comfortable in most systems,” Casspi told Pick. “I’m confident I’ll be back in Sacramento next season.”
  • Shaun Livingston, whose $5,782,450 salary for 2016/17 is partially guaranteed for $3MM, wants to remain with the Warriors next season and beyond, notes Diamond Leung of The Bay Area News Group. “I want to stay here as long as I can,” Livingston said. “It’s a unique and special situation. A lot of guys including myself, I want to [be] here for as long as I possibly can depending on the contract situation.
  • Former Clippers team owner Donald Sterling is appealing the dismissal of his $600MM antitrust lawsuit against the NBA and his wife, Shelly Sterling, as Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin had ruled against Sterling, noting that he was “skeptical Sterling suffered any injury at all, let alone an antitrust injury” by the sale of the team for $2 billion to Steve Ballmer, Fenno adds, also noting that the judge called other parts of the lawsuit implausible.

And-Ones: Silver, Simmons, Sterling, Valentine

Commissioner Adam Silver stumped for raising the NBA’s minimum age to 20 and pointed to an agreement with the National Basketball Players Association to shorten this summer’s July moratorium as a sign of a high level of trust between the league and the union, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details. The commissioner made his comments Tuesday while also noting that the moratorium change is only for this summer (Twitter link). “I would say with this executive director [Michele Roberts], I’d say there are a lot of things we work out behind closed doors all the time,” Silver said. “Issues that are not necessarily high profile – we deal with each other on a daily basis.  Again, these are our players.  This is our union.  It didn’t surprise me we worked out [the moratorium issue].”
The league and the union have until December 15th to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement. See more from around the NBA:
  • Elite draft prospect Ben Simmons has confirmed his selection of the Klutch Sports Group as his agency, as he revealed in a video on the Twitter feed for Uninterrupted.com. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports reported last week that the former LSU combo forward would sign with Klutch and agent Rich Paul, who represents LeBron James, among others.
  • A federal district court judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit that former Clippers owner Donald Sterling brought against the NBA in his continued dispute of the 2014 $2 billion sale of the team to Steve Ballmer, as Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times details. The suit, in which Sterling sought more than $1 billion in damages and named wife Shelley Sterling and former NBA commissioner David Stern among the defendants, alleged that the NBA conspired to strip him of the team.
  • The yawning gap between Denzel Valentine‘s superb offensive talents and his glaring defensive shortcomings make him a particularly intriguing draft prospect liable to go anywhere from the late lottery to the end of the first round, observes Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress in a scouting report. Dana Gauruder of Hoops Rumors went in-depth on the Michigan State senior earlier this month.

And-Ones: Hunter, Doncic, Sterling

Attorneys for former NBPA executive director Billy Hunter filed an amended complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday, seeking a jury trial on four breach of contract claims related to his 2013 termination, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. The new complaint removes claims against former NBPA president and current Knicks coach Derek Fisher and his business manager and also clarifies the compensation claims, Berger continues. The amended complaint, obtained by CBSSports.com, includes a copy of Hunter’s 2010 contract, which called for him to be paid the balance of his salary and benefits through the end of the contract term if fired without cause, and through the end of the applicable calendar year if fired for cause. The complaint alleges that Hunter has not been paid since his termination, Berger adds.

In other news around the league:

  • Luka Doncic has carved out a role with European power Real Madrid and the 16-year-old forward could be a high lottery pick when he’s eligible, according to Bleacher Report’s international expert David PickHawks overseas scout Himar Ojeda told Pick that the 6’8” Doncic will be the best European of his age group when he enters the draft.
  • A California appeals court on Monday rejected former Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s attempt to reverse the $2 billion sale of the team, Brian Melley of The Associated Press reports. The court ruled that Sterling failed to show that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge who approved the sale last year committed any legal error. Sterling’s estranged wife sold the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
  • The Spurs assigned small forward Jonathon Simmons to their D-League affiliate in Austin, the club announced via press release. Simmons made his NBA debut on Saturday, playing nine minutes against the Sixers. Simmons has played in 94 games with Austin over the past two seasons.

Clippers Notes: Rivers, Stephenson, Smith

The specter of the Donald Sterling saga hurt the Clippers in free agency last summer, Doc Rivers says, but after this past offseason, one in which Rivers had owner Steve Ballmer behind him, the onus is on Rivers the coach to deliver on what Rivers the executive set up, writes Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times.

“The first summer was tough. We didn’t have an owner in place. Recruiting was near-impossible,” Rivers said. “You go in and talk to free agents and their agent would say, ‘Well, we don’t even know who’s going to own your team. Why would we commit to you guys?’ That was a hard summer for us.”

Ballmer’s riches didn’t play too much of a role this year, since Paul Pierce taxpayer’s mid-level exception deal was the only outside signing for more than the minimum that salary cap rules allowed the Clippers to make, but Rivers also made noise via trade, as we examine more closely amid the latest on the Clips:

  • Rivers still held out hope that his Spencer Hawes signing from 2014 would pan out and didn’t want to mess with his team’s strong play at the time when he passed on a deal that would have brought in Lance Stephenson midway through last season, according to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Rivers ultimately traded Hawes in this summer’s deal for Stephenson.
  • Clippers offseason signee Josh Smith is enthusiastic about what Stephenson can do for the team, calling him a “walking triple-double” who was simply misplaced in Charlotte, as Woike notes in the same piece. “I think it was the wrong fit,” Smith said of Stephenson on the Hornets. “It’s all about a player being comfortable and happy in a situation. Me in Detroit, it was kind of a similar situation. I think he looks at this as a breath of fresh air.”
  • The Clippers were the first team to contact Smith in free agency this summer, and that helped impress upon him that the Clippers wanted him more than the Rockets, who also made an offer, Smith said, according to Rowan Kavner of Clippers.com. Persistence from GM Dave Wohl also paid dividends, according to Rivers. “I give Dave credit,” Rivers said. “He didn’t stop. He called every single day, like 21 days in a row. He kept calling, and Josh called Dave and said, ‘I’m coming.’ Then Dave called me. That’s how we got the news. I just think the opportunity, he looked at our team and what we had, and I think that’s what sold him.”

And-Ones: Durant, Conley, Sterling

Kevin Durant plans to to participate in USA Basketball’s workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday during its minicamp in Las Vegas, Durant’s agent Rich Kleiman of Roc Nation Sports, and manager Charlie Bell informed Sam Amick of USA Today. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony could also participate in Tuesday’s workout, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. Durant will not participate in the team’s showcase game on Thursday, Amick adds. Thunder GM Sam Presti released a statement on Monday night saying that Durant had reached the stage where he could participate in non-contact drills, according to ESPN.com’s Royce Young (Twitter link). Durant played just 27 games last season because of a fracture in his right foot which required three surgical procedures. Anthony was limited to 40 games because of a knee injury.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Not many people think Mike Conley will leave next summer, when he’s set to hit free agency, according to TNT’s David Aldridge, who writes in his Morning Tip column for NBA.com. Marc Gasol hinted last month that Conley assured him he’ll be just as committed to the Grizzlies as Gasol was during his free agency process this year.
  • Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling has filed a lawsuit against V. Stiviano and the website TMZ over the infamous recording made by Stiviano that led to the sale of the team, Dan Woike of the Orange County Register reports. Sterling and his attorneys maintain the recording in which Sterling made racist remarks was obtained illegally and without his knowledge, Woike adds. Sterling has also filed a $1 billion federal suit against the league.
  • The league has pushed back its schedule release from Tuesday to Wednesday, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).

Pacific Notes: Clarkson, Sterling, Thompson

Jordan Clarkson credits his D-League assignments during the first part of this past season for helping him emerge as a breakout performer at the NBA level as the season wore on, he tells Brian Kotloff of NBADLeague.com. The Lakers guaranteed the point guard’s minimum salary for the coming season when they kept him on the roster through this past Saturday.

“I’m focused on always working on my game,” Clarkson said to Kotloff. “Early in the year, I wasn’t getting much time with the Lakers. Sometimes I would ask Coach [Byron Scott] to just go let me play. I love to hoop and you can never get better just by sitting on the bench. Going to play in those [D-Fenders] games definitely helped me to work on stuff that I could transfer over when I got time in the [NBA]. The game is a little different between the levels, but it helped slow the game down for me and it sped up my process of becoming a good player in [the NBA].”

The Lakers have a geographic edge with their D-League affiliate, since the D-Fenders play their home games in the same facility where the Lakers practice. See more from around the Pacific Division:

  • Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling has filed for divorce from his wife, Shelly, and he’s also filed a petition for an accounting and distribution of the proceeds of the $2 billion new owner Steve Ballmer paid to purchase the team last year, reports Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. Half of that money is frozen in escrow pending Donald Sterling’s $1 billion lawsuit against the NBA, Woike notes. Shelly Sterling controls the family trust into which the other half of Ballmer’s payment went, so Donald Sterling, who’s estranged from his wife, hasn’t seen any money from the sale yet, notes Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com (Twitter links). Shelly Sterling said she’s paid $600MM in taxes and fees on the sale proceeds so far, Shelburne adds.
  • Jason Thompson is a better fit with Warriors tempo, a proficient rebounder, and an upgrade defensively over David Lee, whose role he inherits, as SB Nation’s Tom Ziller argues in a look at Golden State’s trade with the Sixers. Thompson’s presence is particularly valuable for the Warriors given his success guarding LaMarcus Aldridge and, to a lesser degree, Blake Griffin, as Ziller examines.

And-Ones: Love, Union, Sterling

Kevin Love earlier today dismissed a report linking him to the Lakers, and he also told reporters Friday that his offseason visit to Boston wasn’t a fact-finding mission to see if he’d like to play for the Celtics, notes Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com.

“The fact is, my agent [Jeff Schwartz] is a big Red Sox fan,” Love said. “I’d been planning on that for a long time to come in and check out not only the city, but a Red Sox game and we had a great time and we plan on coming back. It’s tough because I wasn’t a free agent last summer. I have potential to be a free agent this summer or next. It’s just one of those things. It’s obviously a tremendous city. People love it here [in Boston]. Basketball and sports in general are huge here, but it’s been fantastic being a part of the Cavaliers now. We have a team that’s formidable, has a big presence and we see a lot of you guys [in the media] on a daily basis.”

Love makes it clear that he has affection for Boston, but that it doesn’t necessarily mean he wants to play there. Here’s more from around the league:

  • Union executive director Michele Roberts explains why she doesn’t think eliminating maximum salaries would hurt the players who aren’t making the max in the full text of her interview with Pablo S. Torre of ESPN The Magazine. Snippets of their Q&A that ESPN released earlier this week caused a stir and prompted a response from commissioner Adam Silver. The full interview reveals that Roberts is having regular talks with Silver and that players have expressed their support for a team in Europe.
  • Donald Sterling named Adam Silver, David Stern and former Clippers interim CEO Dick Parsons among 18 witnesses he may call to the stand in a trial to resolve his $1 billion federal lawsuit against the NBA, reports Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times. A recent court filing revealed that Sterling lawyer Maxwell Blecher had begun talks with the NBA about a possible dismissal of the suit, but Blecher has withdrawn from representing Sterling, Fenno writes. Blecher tells Fenno that he’s unaware if any such talks are currently proceeding.
  • It’s “widely anticipated” that the NBA and the D-League will someday implement contracts that will allow players on NBA rosters to be paid D-League salaries while on D-League assignment, writes Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Currently, all players on D-League assignment continue to draw their NBA salaries, which are at least some 20 times greater than the maximum $25,500 D-League salary.