Masai Ujiri on Raptors losing Kawhi Leonard in free agency: 'There's no time to go out and cry'

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Raptors president Masai Ujiri isn’t losing any sleep over losing Kawhi Leonard in free agency. 

In his first public comments since Leonard reportedly signed with the Clippers on a three-year, $103 million contract in free agency, Ujiri expressed the utmost confidence in his organization as he reiterated Toronto will be fine without one of the league’s best players.

“This is the NBA and this is how it works. I always say there’s no time to go out and cry,” Ujiri told reporters. “You can’t hide under a table and cry. Honestly, I’ve lost no sleep, I’m not disappointed. It’s on to the next.

“I’m telling Raptors fans and everybody: Don’t lose one day of sleep, one second of sleep. We’re gonna be just fine.”

Ujiri explained that he was confident that Toronto would retain the NBA Finals MVP through free-agency negotiations, but also said that he’s not naive to how the process works.  

“Free agency doesn’t change. He definitely has our blessings. He gave it everything while he was with us and we really appreciated that,” Ujiri said. “I communicated with him afterward and it was very good. We got a great deal out of this, we won a championship so we’re happy.

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Worst contracts of 2019 NBA free agency: Hornets, Kings weren't only teams to hand out bad deals

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Early in the 2016 NBA offseason, it became clear teams were passing out crazy contracts to average-at-best players. That’s what happens when the league sees an unprecedented salary cap spike.

Over the past three years, some general managers have gotten smarter with roster-building. Teams like the Clippers and Nets smartly positioned themselves to chase game-changers like Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant. Other rebuilding organizations have used cap space to acquire draft picks or prospects as part of trades for unpleasant contracts, serving as NBA dumping grounds.

But not everyone learned from the lessons of the past.

During the 2019 free agency period, there were surprisingly lucrative deals given to a few players who don’t quite reach superstar status. 

MORE: Here are the best contracts of 2019 NBA free agency

Terry Rozier, Hornets (three years, $58 million)

This signing feels worse because of the decisions that led to it. The Hornets didn’t seriously look at moving Kemba Walker ahead of the past two trade deadlines, then didn’t offer him a max contract this offseason. He left for Boston, and Jeremy Lamb, coming off a caree[……]

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Dirk Nowitzki: 'Crazy' NBA offseason is 'good for the business'

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Dirk Nowitzki has never known anything like this offseason’s “crazy” NBA free agency frenzy, which he believes is “good for the business.”

NBA Finals MVP Kahwi Leonard is among the high-profile stars to have moved on, leaving the champion Raptors to join the Clippers.

Kevin Durant swapped the Warriors for the Nets, and Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul swapped places as the former left the Thunder to link up with the  Rockets ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis are among the other stars to have moved on to pastures new.

Nowitzki, the retired Mavericks great from Germany, has found it hard to keep track of all the deals but says they will be great for the competition.

“It’s definitely crazy. I was very surprised,” said Nowitzki, who played in a charity soccer match in his homeland over the weekend.

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Did Kawhi Leonard lead the Lakers on? 'They didn’t have to wait for me'

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Kawhi Leonard is setting the record straight.

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sports after his introductory press conference Wednesday, the Clippers star addressed the idea that he led the Lakers on before signing with the other Los Angeles squad.

“If they didn’t want to wait for me, they didn’t have to,” Leonard said. “They had a big opportunity to sign me. [The Lakers] were close, but I ended up on the other side.”

Leonard told ESPN he was “very close” to joining the Lakers or going back to the Raptors, but ended up choosing the Clippers after they acquired his friend and fellow star Paul George in a trade with the Thunder. He had also been linked to the Knicks and Nets, though it was widely believed the Southern California native would return home.

“I didn’t lead anyone on,” Leonard continued. “I took my time in free agency, as I should, to make sure I made the best decision for myself and my family. I feel like some of[……]

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FIBA World Cup 2019: Team USA has 'become close in a short period of time,' Gregg Popovich says

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Coach Gregg Popovich is pleased with how well Team USA has come together heading into the 2019 FIBA World Cup. 

“They’ve become close in a short period of time,” Popovich said (via ESPN). “The camaraderie has blossomed, and I think that will bode well for us.”

USA Basketball announced the final roster last weekend with the final cut coming when Kyle Kuzma left the team because of a foot injury. The ultimate roster was different than many expected as several star veterans withdrew their invitations in the months leading up to the tournament. 

“I think because of the circumstances that brought this team together, I feel like the players have a little bit of a chip on their shoulder,” Jerry Colangelo, who helps put the roster together, said (via The Athletic). “There’s this sense of, ‘Hey, we’re not chopped liver,’ and I think that’s the glue that holds this group together. There’s a good feeling between everyone in that way.”[……]

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Nene planning to re-sign with Rockets, report says

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It appears Nene will remain with Houston in 2019-20.

The big man plans to re-sign with the Rockets after spending 夜网论坛his last three seasons with the team, according to The Athletic.

Houston has an undersized frontcourt that features 6-7 PJ Tucker and 6-8 Gary Clark as its only power forwards. 

Signing 6-11 Nene will give the Rockets more length and bring back an experienced veteran that knows their system, even if he did play sparingly in 2018-19.

Nene only appeared in 42 games last season and averaged 3.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest. However, his real value lies in his physicality and ability to make the most of his limited athleticism.

Houston assembled what’s arguably the best backcourt in the NBA by moving Chris Paul to the Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook this offseason, but this year’s frontcourt rotation should be similar to last year’s.

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76ers star Joel Embiid eyes MVP after heartbreaking season; Ben Simmons ready to shoot

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Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid wants to win the NBA’s MVP award and lead his team to the Eastern Conference top seed following a heartbreaking season.

The 76ers fell agonizingly short of a conference finals berth after succumbing to Kawhi Leonard’s stunning Game 7 buzzer-beater and eventual champions the Toronto Raptors in May.

Embiid — who dealt with injury and illness throughout the playoffs — was left in tears after the game but the All-Star is setting huge goals in 2019-20, having been haunted by the loss to the Raptors.

“Last year I played the most games I’ve ever played, 64. This year I see myself playing over 70 games,” Embiid told ESPN.

“That’s going to be good for us because we’re trying to get the number one seed and we’re trying to win over 60 games. It’s going to help me because I need that team success if I want to win be able to win MVP or Defensive Player of the Year.”

“Last year I started off too high, playing 35-36 minutes a game and then I started slowing down,” said Embiid, who averaged 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds during the regular season.

“This year, we’re going to st[……]

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Breaking down Damian Lillard's coldest lines in Shaq diss track

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Damian Lillard has taken aim at Shaquille O’Neal’s rap skills, his choice in women and more in a new diss track.

Notable lines from Damian Lillard’s Shaq diss:

“Shootin’ need work like your free throws … and Kobe won you them rings, though.”

O’Neal has a career 52.7 free throw percentage. He won three of his championships as a member of the Lakers (2000-02) with Kobe Bryant and one more with the Heat (2006).

MORE: Listen to Shaq’s track that started the rap beef

“Nursey rhyme spittin’, small car sittin’, Icy Hot poster boy, TNT snitching.”

This is in reference to O’Neal’s rap lyrics being (mostly) rated PG. He is an analyst for “Inside the NBA” on TNT. He has also been endorsing Icy Hot for the past 10 years, and the Lakers legend was filmed getting into a smart car in late August.

“New school got new hits, ‘Space Jam’ not ‘Blue Chips,’ Hangman yo shoes s—, Dame 6 I’m too lit.”

This is a reference to Lillard starring in the “Space Jam” sequel and Shaq’s role in the 1994 movie “Blue C[……]

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NBA charity events in China canceled; Lakers-Nets games next?

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Two charity events and another for NBA fans in China have been canceled amid reported growing concerns that this week’s preseason games between the Nets and Lakers might also be called off as fallout continues from Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s since-deleted tweet supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

Two NBA Cares events, one Tuesday involving the Nets at an education center and another Wednesday with the Lakers to benefit Special Olympic夜网论坛s, were canceled. The fan event also was scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled.

The league would only say that canceling the events was not its decision.

The NBA subsequently postponed the Lakers’ and Nets’ scheduled media sessions Wednesday in Shanghai, citing the “fluidity of the situation,” according to The Associated Press, which noted that “it remains unclear if the teams will play in China this week as scheduled.”

Commissioner Adam Silver, speaking Tuesday in Tokyo, said he and the[……]

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Nicolas Batum injury update: Hornets guard fractures finger in win vs. Bulls, report says

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The Hornets kicked off their season with a victory over the Bulls on Wednesday, but lost one of their key players in the process.

Charlotte’s Nicolas Batum broke his middle finger during the team’s 126-125 win over Chicago, the team announced Wednesday.

Batum was expected to be one of Charlotte’s go-to scorers this season after Kemba Walker left for Boston in free agency this summer.

The 30-year-old came off the bench and played just 11 minutes in Wednesday’s win before exiting the game due to the injury. He recorded zero points, four rebounds and two assists.

Charlotte (1-0) hosts Minnesota (1-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.

[……]

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