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NBA star Kevin Durant: Meant no offense in comments about India

Basketball star Kevin Durant has issued an apology for saying India is “20 years behind” and for several other comments about the Asian country.

The Golden State Warriors forward tweeted Friday that he’s “sorry that my comments about India were taken out of context.”
NBA star Kevin Durant: Meant no offense in comments about India
Durant said he plans to return to India to run more basketball camps and that he meant no disrespect.

Durant traveled to India recently and spoke about the trip in an interview with The Athletic published this week.

In the interview, Durant marveled at the “cows in the street, monkeys running around everywhere, hundreds of people on the side of the road” and visible poverty.

“It’s a country that’s 20 years behind in terms of knowledge and experience,” he said, adding that his visit to the Taj Mahal was eye-opening and not what he had imagined.

He had expected the monument to be “holy ground, super protected, very, very clean,” but instead, as he drove up, it reminded him of places where he grew up near Washington, D.C., he said.

“Mud in the middle of the street, houses were not finished but there were people living in them. No doors. No windows … stray dogs and then, boom, Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world.”

Golden State Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant hopes Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving finds happiness ‘wherever that is’

Golden State Warriors All-Star Kevin Durant weighed in on the reported trade demand by the Cleveland CavaliersKyrie Irving, saying he hopes the point guard find happiness “wherever that is.”

“I really don’t care about the Kyrie Irving situation,” Durant said at a news conference Friday at the NBA Academy India in Noida. “I just want guys in the league to be happy where they’re playing and have some fun playing ball.

“So, wherever that is, for Kyrie, I hope he finds that. But LeBron James is a phenomenal player. I got a chance to play on his team in the Olympics in 2012, and learned a lot from him.”

Irving recently requested to be traded by the Cavaliers, saying that he wants to play in a situation where he can be a focal point and doesn’t want to play alongside James anymore, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Sources told ESPN that the the San Antonio Spurs are a preferred destination for Irving. The New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves are also potential destinations for Irving, league sources said.

Durant is currently in India on a tour to help further the growing popularity of basketball in that country. On Friday, Durant set a Guinness World Record for leading the world’s largest basketball lesson with 3,459 Indian children. The children were at multiple sites — the NBA Academy in Noida and others participated via satellite from Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins working out together this summer

Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are working out together this summer in an effort to get a head start on training camp and the 2017-18 season.

The New Orleans Pelicans‘ star big men have been working out both in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Cousins played in 17 games for the Pelicans after being acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Sacramento Kings in February. Davis and Cousins had to adjust to each other on the fly and the Pelicans went 7-10 in those games. Their stats in those games gave a glimpse at how potent the pair can be together: Cousins averaged 24.4 points and 12.4 rebounds while Davis averaged 28.3 points and 11.1 rebounds, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are working out this summer after playing in just 17 games together last season.
“We’ve just tried to get in as much work as possible this summer,” Davis told the team’s website. “We didn’t have that much time last season to work out with each other, because we didn’t have training camp or [many practices]. So we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity, where we had time in the summer in the same city and can get in some work in together, because we’ll be playing with each other a lot.

“It’s about trying to get used to each other. Of course we knew what each other can do from when we matched up against each other when he was in Sacramento, but it’s different now, learning where he likes to be and where I can get my shots from, or where he can get his shots. We didn’t want to waste training camp trying to figure that out. We’re going to both use this to be ready and try to improve the team.”

The Pelicans signed point guard Rajon Rondo this offseason and Cousins was instrumental in bringing his former Kings teammate to New Orleans. Cousins’ recruitment of Rondo impressed Davis.

“[Cousins] played with him in Sac, and he definitely knows him very well, as well as from Kentucky,” Davis told the team’s website. “He definitely was a key part in getting Rondo. We’re just happy we got him. It goes back to DeMarcus just trying to help the team in whatever way possible. Helping us to go get Rondo was one of those things.”

Rondo played with Cousins in Sacramento during the 2015-16 season, and the two formed a strong bond.

In their lone season together, Rondo averaged a league-leading 11.7 assists to along with 11.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. He recorded 237 assists to Cousins — his most assists to one player in a single season, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

C Rudy Gobert not mad at Gordon Hayward, but wishes Jazz exit had been better

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert says he isn’t angry at Gordon Hayward for choosing to leave for the Boston Celtics, but expressed disappointment with the manner in which the All-Star small forward’s free-agency decision occurred.

“You cannot be mad at somebody for wanting to play for another team,” Gobert told ESPN while watching the Jazz’s summer league team in Las Vegas. “It’s just the way he handled it, that’s the thing I didn’t like. I’m happy for him at the same time. I hope he’s going to be happy over there and get what he’s looking for.”

The Jazz were left in limbo for the six hours between the time that ESPN’s Chris Haynes broke the news that Hayward intended to sign with the Celtics and Hayward publicly announced the decision to leave the Jazz with an essay published on The Players’ Tribune. In the meantime, Hayward’s camp said that he had not reached a decision. Utah management was not informed that Hayward had chosen to leave the Jazz until minutes before he went public with his decision.

Hayward did not inform Gobert or other teammates before announcing that he was leaving for Boston.

“To all his teammates, all the guys that he competed with for years, guys that sacrificed for him and for the team, not necessarily tell us but make sure as a team we can keep going forward if he leaves,” said Gobert, who traveled to San Diego along with Ricky Rubio, Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood the previous day for the Jazz’s pitch to Hayward. “I think that wasn’t the best way to do it, but I’m over it now. I’m just focused on the team.”

In the wake of Hayward’s announcement, Gobert posted a video on Instagram of him singing along with Chris Brown’s “Loyal.” However, Gobert would not acknowledge that the video was a shot at Hayward’s perceived disloyalty.
"It's just the way he handled it, that's the thing I didn't like," Rudy Gobert said of former teammate Gordon Hayward's exit out of Utah.
“I was just listening to music,” Gobert said, suppressing a smile. “I always do that. I always listen to music in my car and put up videos.”

Gobert, 25, who was a second-team All-NBA selection and the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, was adamant that he remains encouraged by the direction of the Jazz’s franchise despite Hayward’s departure following a 51-win season and first-round playoff victory.

Gobert, who is entering the first year of a four-year, $102 million contract extension, pointed to the trade for Rubio, the addition of lottery pick and summer league star Donovan Mitchell and the anticipated continued development of the Jazz’s young players as reasons for optimism.

“When you see the young guys and Ricky joining us, I’m very excited,” Gobert said. “We might end up being better than last year. Who knows? I think we’re going to keep getting better every year. The goal is to keep getting better and keep competing. The goal is still the same: win a championship in the close future.

“Watching summer league, watching the guys, I’m very confident. I’m excited for our team. Obviously, we lost Gordon, but we are still a very good team. We’re going to show people that we’re a good team.”

Free-agent guard Dion Waiters agrees to terms on 4-year deal to return to Miami Heat

Free-agent guard Dion Waiters has agreed to terms on a four-year deal to return to the Miami Heat, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Waiters, 25, turned down a player option worth a little more than $3.2 million to test free agency.

Last season, his first in Miami, Waiters averaged 15.8 points per game, the second-best mark of his career. He also posted career highs in assists (4.3) and rebounds (3.3) per game, as well as 3-point percentage (.395).

Waiters was selected fourth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2012 draft and was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a three-team deal in January 2015.

Oklahoma City gave him a $6.8 million qualifying offer in the summer of 2016, but rescinded it later in July after losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors, giving Waiters the opportunity to sign elsewhere.

He eventually agreed to a $2.9 million deal with the Heat with a player option for 2017-18.

Veteran guard Jamal Crawford preference is to play for Lakers

Veteran guard Jamal Crawford‘s preference would be to join rookie Lonzo Ball with the Los Angeles Lakers if he can get bought out of his contract, a source told The Undefeated’s Marc Spears.

The source said Crawford’s preference is to be waived by the LA Clippers to become a free agent.
Jamal Crawford averaged 12.3 points per game in the playoffs this season.
With his family based in Los Angeles and a solid relationship already in place with Ball, Crawford would like to sign as a free agent with the Lakers.

The Lakers have strong interest in signing Crawford as well, a source said, and have the money to do so. The Lakers will have $17.2 million in room if the cap holds of Thomas Robinson, Tyler Ennis, Nick Young and Metta World Peace are released.

Crawford could possibly start at shooting guard for the Lakers and be a big help as a mentor and shot-maker for the assist-creating Ball.

While Crawford is intrigued by playing for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors, they don’t have much left to offer financially. All they have to offer a free agent is a $5.2 million midlevel exception.

Crawford is slated to make $14.2 million on his contact next season and $3 million is guaranteed on his $14.5 million contract for the 2018-19 season.

Sources: LA Clippers close to 3-way sign-and-trade to acquire forward Danilo Gallinari

The LA Clippers are finalizing a sign-and-trade agreement to acquire free-agent forward Danilo Gallinari on a three-year, $65 million contract, league sources told ESPN.

Los Angeles, Denver and Atlanta are working out the final details of a deal and executives involved in the talks do not anticipate any snags that could derail the completion of the trade, league sources said.

The Clippers will send Jamal Crawford, Diamond Stone and a future first-round pick — likely its 2018 pick recently acquired in a deal with Houston — to the Atlanta Hawks, league sources said. Denver will minimally receive a second-round pick in the trade for Gallinari, who played the past six seasons for the Nuggets.

The proposed deal is poised to move the Clippers’ payroll to $110.4 million in 2017-18, a salary figure based upon 10 players under guaranteed contracts. The Clippers will move into the financially punitive repeater tax if the team’s salary rises over $119 million.

The Clippers sold Gallinari, 28, on a frontcourt that includes him and All-Stars Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Gallinari could’ve waited until Gordon Hayward made his decision, expected on Tuesday, and had the opportunity to sign with the Boston Celtics if Hayward passed on them. Nevertheless, Gallinari passed and moved in the past 24 hours toward a deal with the Clippers.
The Clippers, Nuggets and Hawks are working on a three-way sign-and-trade to send Danilo Gallinari to Los Angeles on a 3-year, $65 million deal, league sources tell ESPN.
Los Angeles is trying to reboot its roster post-Chris Paul, and Gallinari is a floor-spacing shooter whom the Clippers have coveted for several years.

Atlanta is moving toward a complete rebuild and Crawford will likely be waived before the season, allowing him to become a free agent. Stone was a 2016 second-round pick out of Maryland.

Crawford’s preference would be to join rookie Lonzo Ball with the Los Angeles Lakers, a source told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears. Crawford has no interest in playing with the Hawks and he prefers to be waived to become a free agent. The Lakers have strong interest in signing Crawford as well, a source told Spears, and have the money to do so.

Gallinari became expendable for the Nuggets once they agreed to a deal with Atlanta forward Paul Millsap.

Free agent Patrick Patterson agrees to 3-year deal with Thunder

Free agent forward Patrick Patterson has reached agreement on a three-year, $16.4 million contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, league sources told ESPN.

The deal includes a player option for the third year, league sources said. The Thunder used their full tax payer mid-level exception on the agreement.

For Oklahoma City, Patterson, 28, is the ideal replacement in the starting lineup for Taj Gibson, who left for Minnesota in free agency.

Patterson leaves Toronto for Oklahoma City, where GM Sam Presti sees Patterson as floor spacer alongside the NBA’s MVP Russell Westbrook and new All-Star forward Paul George. Patterson chose the Thunder as an opportunity to stay with a contending franchise and play along All-Star players, which he did with Toronto for the past four years. In seven NBA seasons, Patterson has averaged 7.9 points and 4.7 rebounds.

Heat waive Chris Bosh; plan to retire No. 1 jersey

Chris Bosh missed the entire 2016-17 season due to medical issues.

Chris Bosh‘s time with the Miami Heat is officially over.

Weeks after the sides came to a final agreement on how to part ways and more than a year since his last NBA appearance because of blood-clot issues, Bosh was waived by the Heat on Tuesday.

The move was a formality.

It gives Miami access to $25.3 million in salary-cap space for this coming season, which the Heat will use to sign free agents starting Thursday. Bosh still gets that salary, plus $26.8 million for next season, and in theory could continue his career – if another team declares him fit to play.

It’s unknown if that will happen.

But at least there’s finally closure on his Miami era, and the Heat announced his No. 1 jersey has been retired.

“Chris changed his life and basketball career when he came to Miami,” Heat President Pat Riley said. “And he changed our lives for the better, in a way we never would have imagined when he joined the Miami Heat. We will forever be indebted to CB for how he changed this team and led us to four trips to the NBA Finals and two NBA championships.

“He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise.”

Bosh signed a five-year deal to stay with the Heat in 2014, shortly after LeBron James left Miami for a return to Cleveland. James, Bosh and Dwyane Wade went to the NBA Finals in all four of their seasons together in Miami, winning titles in 2012 and 2013.

Bosh’s last Miami deal was worth $118 million. For that, he was only able to play in 97 games.

“You always want what’s best for Chris, whatever that is,” Heat captain Udonis Haslem said earlier this year. “I know how difficult this has been for him.”

Bosh appeared in 44 games in 2014-15, his season ending at the All-Star break when the first known clot episode started. A year later, he played in 53 games and – in an eerie similarity – his season again ended at All-Star weekend, when another clot was found shortly after he landed in Toronto for the 2016 All-Star Game.

Bosh hasn’t played since, missing Miami’s last 125 games.

“I’m kind of getting the taste of retirement now,” Bosh said in January.

He wanted to return last season, but failed a preseason physical and the Heat made clear that they were moving on without him in their plans. Because of the sensitivity of Bosh’s medical situation, the Heat never could provide specifics – under league rule, any matter that would rise to the level of being possibly life-threatening cannot be discussed openly by teams without the player’s consent.

Even the team’s release on Tuesday announcing the waiving made no reference to Bosh’s health issues, or status.

Bosh has played in 13 NBA seasons, seven with Toronto and then six with Miami. He was part of Miami’s massive free-agent haul in 2010, where the Heat not only kept Wade but landed James to form something that team president Pat Riley felt could turn into something dynastic.

Bosh had a huge role in perhaps the biggest play in team history – with Miami down by three late in a win-or-else Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals against San Antonio, he grabbed an offensive rebound and tossed the ball to Ray Allen to set up a corner 3-pointer that tied the game with 5.2 seconds left.

The Heat would win that game in overtime, with Bosh blocking a shot by Danny Green as time expired, and then would prevail in Game 7 for the third title in franchise history.

Bosh, a certain future member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, has averaged 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds in his career.

“We can’t wait to someday hang his jersey in the rafters,” Riley said. “Today, we are both moving on but we wish Chris, Adrienne and their family nothing but the best. They will forever be part of the Miami Heat family.”