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This seems like a question that doesn’t need an answer, but can the Thunder win a championship with Russell Westbrook?

The might have to if they want to keep newly acquired Paul George beyond the 2017-18 season.

The Thunder did reach the NBA Finals in 2012 with Westbrook as a vital piece. They’ve been to the Western Conference Finals and won 47 games with basically just him last season.

According to my sources, they believe LeBron James had everything to do with news getting out that Kyrie Irving wants to be traded, Smith said. Because Kyrie Irving and his representation and others met with the Cavaliers a couple weeks ago, and not a word got out until recently.

They believe that LeBron James got word of it and was put off by it and leaked it. I’m not going to accuse LeBron of such a thing. I don’t know that to be true at all. But I know that’s what Kyrie Irving believes.

James was reportedly blindsided by the news of Irving’s request, but it remains to be seen whether his emotions would drive him to leak information about Irving’s meeting with Cleveland’s front office. According to Smith, it may not matter what actually happened. If Irving believes James took action, it might do irreparable damage to their relationship.

Once that was over, people were getting in my head about, You’re a traitor, you’re this, you’re that’ after I reopened my commitment, he said. It was kind of tough hearing that. The people who are for you one minute are against you the next minute. But I knew it was coming because that’s how fans are. But it was tough, you know?

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The Knicks are giving Michael Beasley another chance in the NBA.

Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, signed with the Knicks on a one-year deal in a move first reported by Basketball Insiders. The Knicks announced the signing of Beasley, and journeyman guard Ramon Sessions on Tuesday.

Beasley was the Big 12 player of the year coming out of Kansas State but has bounced around the league. He appeared in 56 games, with six starts, last season for the Bucks his fifth NBA team. The 6-9 forward averaged 9.4 points in just under 17 minutes per game.

The teams that likely can make a deal for Irving might be the Suns and the Celtics. Trade rumors have floated around a form of one-for-one deal with Irving going to Boston and Isaiah Thomas coming back to Cleveland, but nothing has come of that just yet. A possible Suns deal for Irving could take Josh Jackson or Devin Booker to get it done, so that may not be logical either.

For now, Altman continues to take calls on Irving, and for what it’s worth, several executives have given Altman props for doing his due diligence in not just taking any trade for an integral part of a team that won an NBA title.

I’ll say this about [Altman], one rival GM interested in Irving told ESPN. He isn’t overwhelmed. He’s showing real poise.

The teams that have made offers for Irving reportedly include the Spurs, Clippers, Suns, Timberwolves, Knicks and Heat.

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We know who the Suns aren’t (so) willing to depart with to acquire Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, who reportedly requested a trade three weeks ago.

Now, we know who they might be willing to give up to gain an asset that would immediately give Phoenix one of the best backcourts in the NBA.

It appears the Suns are holding firm that they won’t include rookie Josh Jackson in any deal to bring the suddenly disgruntled Irving to into the fold, according to myriad reports. The 6-8, 205-pounder out of Kansas has shown why he was worthy of the No. 4 overall draft selection. He wowed spectators in Summer League, averaging 17.4 points on 42.5 percent shooting from the field and 9.2 rebounds in five games in Las Vegas.

Acquiring Beasley won’t cause Knicks season ticket holders to sprint to Madison Square Garden for every home game, but he may be more useful than casual fans realize.

But it’s not just Boston. The Raptors have reconfigured and, they hope, revitalized their rotation. The Wizards took the Celtics to seven games in the conference semis last year. The Heat were among the best teams in basketball in the second half of last season. The Bucks, with budding star Giannis Antetokounmpo, will be angling for a breakout season.

No matter what happens now with Irving — heck, even if he winds up staying and the same roster remains in place — the Cavaliers have spent the past month taking body blows to their team psyche. They’re probably going to come out of this without one of their prime stars, and while having James is always going to make a team a favorite in the East, odds on a return to the NBA Finals are getting longer and longer.

This is almost always the way with modern NBA superteams. They sprout, and they flame out ahead of their time. The Cavaliers are not dead yet, of course. But they’re already limping into next season.

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The Cavaliers held a press conference Wednesday to introduce new general manager Koby Altman, and the main discussion points involved Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. But there was an interesting moment when Altman was asked about a reported Paul George trade by Indiana.

Altman did his best to avoid answering the question directly, and instead opted for a broad response saying, I made 200 phone calls on draft night that weren’t reported on. We were very active. But when he was finished with his response, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert interjected.

The comment was so shocking, Altman couldn’t contain his laughter. After the broadcast aired, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst made a note of it as well.

I’m going to be honest with you, the thing that happened in this press conference that made my eyes go open the most was Dan Gilbert taking a shot at the Indiana Pacers for what they got for Paul George, saying openly, he thinks they could have done better, Windhorst said on air. That was a pretty shocking moment, that’s not something you’re going to see at too many press conferences.

Apparently the former UCLA star was Jackson’s attempted end game, according to longtime NBA analyst Peter Vecsey. He said as much on the HoopsHype podcast.

Phil was angling for to try to trade Porzingis for the the No. 1 pick to Boston, and he would have taken Ball, Vecsey said. That’s who he was after.

What was the plan after that, though? With Ball in the fold and Porzingis out of it, was the plan to trade Carmelo Anthony for a couple of other young contributors, or to buy out Anthony and use the money to pick up some lower-cost free agents?

That remains unclear, but what is clear is Jackson did have a plan even if it often looked like he didn’t. This trade didn’t work out, though, so we’re all left wondering ‘What if?’

Ball, of course, was eventually taken by the Los Angeles Lakers No. 2 overall and the Knicks took Ntilikina.

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John Wall is staying in Washington.

Friday the Wizards signed the All-Star point guard to a lucrative four-year contract extension worth $170 million, ESPN reported on Friday. The team officially announced the signing Wednesday.

Wall, who has two years and $37 million left on his current contract, confirmed the deal later Friday night in a video tweeted by the UNINTERRUPTED and assured fans you know I wasn’t going anywhere.

I just had to think it out with my family and friends and make a decision, Wall said. Y’all know where I wanted to be at. I’m happy I’m coming back another four years to be a Washington Wizard. Y’all know what I’m going for. Definitely gonna bring y’all the championship, that’s my ultimate goal, and I won’t stop till I get it.

An avid golfer, Curry will compete against tour pros in an official event for the first time after previously participating in the last five American Century Championship celebrity events. He finished fourth at the most recent AACC in Lake Tahoe last month. While the odds of him winning aren’t exactly favorable at 3,000-1, Curry is just thrilled to be invited to play and will give the tournament all he’s got.

I’m staying realistic, Curry said. First goal is just to get off the first tee on Thursday. If I can do that, I’ll be off and running.

These guys dedicate their life to the game and are grinding every week to make it to the PGA Tour, so I understand how hard it is out here. Myself as a casual professional golfer in my head, not in real life, I just want to have fun, make some birdies. The cut would be if I can just give myself a chance, like go into Friday with a realistic chance to make it that would be amazing. I want to know what that adrenaline rush is like, because for me, that would be like winning the tourney.

Curry is scheduled to tee off Thursday at 11:55 a.m. ET and will be paired with Sam Ryder and defending champion Stephan Jaeger in each of the first two rounds.

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Speaking at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame over the weekend, newly elected member Tracy McGrady addressed critics who point out the lack of an NBA championship on his resume.

You have to have a great team and some luck to get a ring, right? Unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with that, he said (via But I go back at them with this: Anybody can win a championship. Everybody can’t get in the Hall of Fame.

Irving might fancy himself as the next Kobe (Bryant) or (Russell) Westbrook alpha dogs who became MVPs after their co-star left the picture but you can’t just ignore Irving’s losing track record as the No. 1 guy. The more realistic expectation is that he’s another Lillard, Haberstroh wrote.

Lillard does have a point. Aside from a tough rookie year in 2012-13, the Trail Blazers have had a winning record each season since. They have also frequented the playoffs during Lillard’s tenure.

From an individual standpoint, Lillard is one of just three players (Oscar Robertson and LeBron James) who has recorded more than 1,500 points and 400 assists in their first five years in the league.

Isn’t that exactly why Irving wants out of Cleveland? From Irving’s point of view, he will never be the bus driver as long as James is standing next to him. Wouldn’t joining one of those other teams add some competitive balance to the league? Inserting Irving into the starting five for the Spurs or Timberwolves likely wouldn’t allow either of those teams to eclipse the Warriors, but it would make the Western Conference race more interesting.

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Phil Jackson reportedly wanted to trade Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft with hopes of getting Lonzo Ball.

Leading up to the draft the Lakers had been linked to both Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith, so the consensus was they wanted a player to run their system, but Ball’s name was never really thrown out there as a possibility.

Gilbert’s comments likely stemmed from the fact the Cavs missed out on George. He was a major target of theirs, and they felt they were close to landing him. An ESPN report claims Indiana general manager Kevin Pritchard backed out when the Cavs were just starting to celebrate.

The deal, which involved the Nuggets, would have sent Kevin Love to Denver, George to Cleveland and players such as Gary Harris and the 13th pick in the draft to Indiana. Instead, the Pacers ended up with Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis from the Thunder.

While we don’t know why the Pacers didn’t go with the pre-draft trade, Windhorst mentioned Monday on The Lowe Post the Cavs weren’t interested in a deal the Pacers initiated.

I know that around the draft and in the Paul George talks, the Cavs were not willing to make Kyrie Irving available for Paul George, he said.

Zach Lowe added: The Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving. That’s a thing that happened, according to people that we’ve talked to.

When it’s all said and done, though, it was pretty remarkable to hear Gilbert openly mock the Pacers’ haul for George during Wednesday’s conference. He wasn’t asked a question about it, and instead decided to give his response, unprovoked.

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Brandon Jennings’ career has come full circle.

The former top prospect who decided to skip college and instead opted to play overseas when he graduated from high school is once again going to take his talents out of the country, only this time he will be playing in China, according to ESPN.

Jennings has accepted a one-year deal worth $1.5 million to play for China Shanxi.

Jennings spent time in 2016-17 playing with the Knicks for half a season before asking to be traded to a contender. He then ended up in Washington with the Wizards but never really fit with John Wall.

That’s a positive. But the more enticing prospect than 2012 Anthony is Olympic Anthony. We don’t see that guy much in the NBA — last year, he was the roll man in pick-and-roll scenarios on just 2.5 percent of his possessions. That’s not going to work in Houston’s offense. If he can be a guy whose function is to set screens for Paul and Harden, line up on the perimeter for open 3s and take advantage of isolation scoring opportunities when they present themselves, he will be a really good offensive complement to his backcourt mates.

Heck, take a look at what the offense did for Anderson last season. In all, he took a career-high 7.0 3s per game, and amazingly, 5.7 of those were open, catch-and-shoot attempts (fourth-most in the league, despite playing just 29.4 minutes). He knocked down 40.3 percent of his 3s, and 42.7 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts.

There’s no reason Anthony can’t have similar success simply by being part of the offense and letting the ball handlers do the work — he shot 42.6 percent on catch-and-shoot 3s last year, but only saw 3.5 of those per game.

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Kevin Durant recently went on a trip to India to help spread the game of basketball across the country. He even entered the Guinness Book of World Records for holding the world’s largest basketball lesson in multiple venues.

He recently got back from his trip, and spoke with The Athletic’s Anthony Slater about his trip. One of the questions was about how Durant viewed the country, and some of his comments were viewed as critical by people who live there.

Here’s what Durant said:

The whole LeBron leaving the next year, to be honest that didn’t bother me that much, Billups said in an interview with Altitude Sports 950 AM in Denver Tuesday (via Here’s why: When you have an opportunity to really put something together and put your imprint on it — rebuilding is a beautiful thing if [they’re] going to have the patience with you. What bothered me more than if LeBron left or not was that I didn’t think they had great assets if you have to do a rebuild. It was more that than ‘Bron. ‘Bron and I have always had an amazing relationship.

If Irving stays and LeBron leaves, Irving will be left with a roster with an average age of 29.75 years. The last time the Cavs selected a player in the draft was 2015.

Odds are also that players on the Cavs’ current roster like Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon, Jeff Green and Kyle Korver could all be gone. But J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson will be there, but they’ll be without LeBron James.

That’s not exactly the most appealing roster situation and Billups passed on it. It’s not surprising, especially to Billups, to hear Irving may not want to play with that roster.

[Irving’s trade request] didn’t surprise me. I knew as [the Cavs] were doing their due diligence on me I was doing the same thing on them, Billups said.

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The NHL draft lottery has set the order for the first 15 picks of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, so it’s time to start planning when and where you’ll be watching the 53rd edition of the event in June.

While there’s not a supreme talent like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews in this year’s NHL draft, there are some future All-Stars who could change the course of a franchise.

According to Tallon, the 46-year-old Boughner showed up to the interview with two stacks of detailed information, one focused on his coaching style and philosophy, the other filled with analytics and notes on the team he hoped to one day coach.

It was incredible, very impressive Tallon said of how prepared Boughner was. He blew us away. We made up our minds a couple weeks ago. We got the right guy.

An assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks the past past years, Boughner brings an impressive all-around resume to his first National Hockey League head coaching gig. Boughner appeared in 630 games as a rugged defenseman for six teams in an NHL career that spanned ten seasons, earning the nickname The Boogey Man along the way. Since retiring as a player, he was an owner, president and head coach of the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL, guiding his club to consecutive Memorial Cup championships in 2009 and 2010. He captured the OHL and CHL coach of the year awards two years running beginning in 2007-08.

Boughner also served as an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2010-11. Current Panthers captain Derek Mackenzie played with Columbus that year, impressed on many levels with Boughner.

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