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NBA: Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers
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Legendary Celtics center Bill Russell dies at 88

July 31, 2022, 5:49 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Hall of Fame center Bill Russell passed away peacefully on Sunday at the age of 88, according to his official Twitter account.

A five-time NBA MVP and 12-time All-Star, Russell was an 11-time NBA champion as a player with the Boston Celtics. He also was the first Black head coach in North American professional sports history and helped the club win two more titles.

A member of the NBA's 25th, 50th and 75th anniversary teams, Russell was as well known for his commitment to social justice.

"Bill Russell was the greatest champion in all of team sports," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. "The countless accolades that he earned for his storied career with the Boston Celtics -- including a record 11 championships and five MVP awards -- only begin to tell the story of Bill's immense impact on our league and broader society.

"Bill stood for something much bigger than sports: the values of equality, respect and inclusion that he stamped into the DNA of our league. At the height of his athletic career, Bill advocated vigorously for civil rights and social justice, a legacy he passed down to generations of NBA players who followed in his footsteps. Through the taunts, threats and unthinkable adversity, Bill rose above it all and remained true to his belief that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity."

Russell averaged 15.1 points and 22.5 rebounds over 13 seasons (1956-69) with the Celtics. He was first inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1975, then again as a coach in 2021.

His No. 6 jersey is retired by the Celtics.

"But for all the winning, Bill's understanding of the struggle is what illuminated his life," read a statement from his Twitter account. "From boycotting a 1961 exhibition game to unmask too-long-tolerated discrimination, to leading Mississippi's first integrated basketball camp in the combustible wake of Medgar Evers' assassination, to decades of activism ultimately recognized by his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010, Bill called out injustice with an unforgiving candor that he intended would disrupt the status quo, and with a powerful example that, though never his humble intention, will forever inspire teamwork, selflessness and thoughtful change.

"Bill's wife, Jeannine, and his many friends and family thank you for keeping Bill in your prayers. Perhaps you'll relive one or two of the golden moments he gave us, or recall his trademark laugh as he delighted in explaining the real story behind how those moments unfolded. And we hope each of us can find a new way to act or speak up with Bill's uncompromising, dignified and always constructive commitment to principle. That would be one last, and lasting thing, for our beloved #6."

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">An announcement... <a href="https://t.co/KMJ7pG4R5Z">pic.twitter.com/KMJ7pG4R5Z</a></p>&mdash; TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) <a href="https://twitter.com/RealBillRussell/status/1553790050839588865?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 31, 2022</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Russell won two NCAA championships at the University of San Francisco and led the team to 55 straight wins. He also led the United States to a gold medal in men's basketball in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic
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Lakers, LeBron James reportedly talk $98M extension

August 5, 2022, 3:24 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are discussing a two-year extension worth $98 million, according to multiple reports.

James, 37, became eligible for a contract extension on Thursday and met with general manager Rob Pelinka.

He can become a free agent in 2023 if he opts to do so, but ESPN reported the initial talks were "productive."

Uncertainty about James' interest in a new deal exists because of statements he has made about spending his final season on whatever roster his son, Bronny James, winds up on as a rookie.

Bronny James attends Sierra Canyon School in Los Angeles and is currently not eligible for the NBA draft until 2024.

The Athletic reported Bronny James could consider the NBA G League or NBL in Australia -- LaMelo Ball played one year in the NBL -- if he opts against playing one season of college basketball.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks
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Thunder re-sign F/C Mike Muscala

August 4, 2022, 5:26 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Oklahoma City Thunder re-signed forward/center Mike Muscala on Thursday.

The team didn't announce the contract terms, but Spotrac reported the deal is for one year and $2.64 million.

Muscala, 31, originally joined the Thunder before the 2019-20 season on a two-year, $4.3 million deal.

Muscala was limited to 43 games last season. He last played on Feb. 4, and he later had an arthroscopic procedure and additional lateral ligament repair on his right ankle.

In 2021-22, he averaged 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game, while shooting a career-high 42.9 percent from 3-point range.

Originally a second-round draft pick by the Dallas Mavericks in 2013, he has spent nine NBA seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Thunder.

In 432 career games (30 starts), the 6-foot-10 Muscala has averages of 6.2 points and 3.2 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per game.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Brooklyn Nets
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Report: F/C Noah Vonleh agrees to one-year deal with Celtics

August 2, 2022, 1:07 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Free agent forward/center Noah Vonleh has agreed to a one-year deal with the Boston Celtics, ESPN reported Monday.

Details of the deal have not yet been released. Vonleh will attend training camp with the Celtics looking to secure a spot on Boston's regular-season roster.

Vonleh, 26, played for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association last season, where he averaged 15.0 points and 9.9 rebounds while shooting 44.6 percent from the field.

Before heading overseas, Vonleh spent seven seasons in the NBA. He has had stints with the Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Portland Trailblazers and Charlotte Hornets after being drafted by Charlotte with the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

His most recent NBA experience came with Brooklyn during the 2020-21 season, when he appeared in four games.

Vonleh now has the chance to suit up for his hometown team, as he is a native of Salem, Mass., which is just more than 20 miles northeast of Boston.

--Field Level Media

NBA: New York Knicks at Dallas Mavericks
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Report: NBA probing Knicks over Jalen Brunson signing

August 1, 2022, 3:39 PM

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The NBA is investigating the New York Knicks for alleged tampering in their signing of Jalen Brunson, Yahoo Sports reported Monday.

The league wants to know if the Knicks made contact with the former Dallas Mavericks point guard before the start of free agency, per the report.

Brunson, 25, signed a four-year, $104 million contract with New York on July 12.

A second-round pick out of Villanova in 2018, Brunson averaged 16.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game with the Mavericks in 2021-22.

He enjoyed a breakout postseason with averages of 21.6 points and 4.6 rebounds, emerging as a go-to scorer in a first-round series against the Utah Jazz while star Luka Doncic was sidelined.

Brunson has career averages of 11.9 points, 3.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 277 games (127 starts), all with Dallas. He is a 37.3 percent shooter from 3-point distance.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz
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Timberwolves sign F Eric Paschall to two-way deal

July 30, 2022, 6:43 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves signed forward Eric Paschall to a two-way contract.

The team did not announce terms of the deal on Saturday.

Paschall, originally a second-round pick of the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Draft, spent last season with the Utah Jazz. He averaged 5.8 points and 1.8 rebounds per game in 58 games (three starts).

Following his first season in 2019-20, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie team after he averaged 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists -- all career highs.

After a sophomore slump, the Warriors traded him to the Jazz for a future, protected second-round draft pick in August 2021.

In 158 career games (31 starts), the 25-year-old Paschall has averages of 9.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Summer League-Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers
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Nuggets G Collin Gillespie has surgery for broken leg

July 30, 2022, 4:08 PM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets guard Collin Gillespie is recovering from surgery to repair a fracture to his lower left leg.

The team said the injury happened earlier this week and the operation was performed Friday night in Philadelphia.

"He will be out indefinitely and updates will be provided when necessary," the Nuggets said Saturday.

Gillespie, 23, signed a two-way contract with Denver on July 3 after he was not selected in last month's draft.

Gillespie played five seasons at Villanova, averaging 11.9 points, 3.1 assists and 2.9 rebounds in a school-record 156 games (125 starts). The two-time Big East Conference Player of the Year helped the Wildcats win a national championship as a 2017-18 freshman.

He sustained a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee on March 3, 2021, and missed Villanova's run in the NCAA Tournament that year.

--Field Level Media

NBA: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers
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Report: NBA investigates 76ers for possible free-agent tampering

July 30, 2022, 1:00 AM

Photo Credit - USA TODAY Sports

The NBA has begun an investigation into the Philadelphia 76ers' moves in free agency searching for possible tampering violations, ESPN reported Friday night.

The inquiry revolves around James Harden, who was open about his decision to decline a $47 million player option for next season and take a pay cut to allow the 76ers more cap room to improve their team.

According to ESPN, it would have been a violation of the collective bargaining agreement had the 76ers and Harden formed a "handshake agreement" for Harden's new two-year, $68 million deal before he declined the option and briefly became an unrestricted free agent.

With the savings, Philadelphia general manager Daryl Morey signed forward P.J. Tucker and guard/forward Danuel House. Both Tucker and House spent time playing for the Houston Rockets when Morey worked in that front office.

Harden's new deal also includes a player option for the second year, so the superstar could opt out if he becomes unhappy with the Sixers.

But Harden was open about his desire to try to help Philadelphia make moves to help their championship ambitions.

"I had conversations with Daryl, and it was explained how we could get better and what the market value was for certain players. I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over," Harden told Yahoo Sports earlier this month. "This is how bad I want to win. I want to compete for a championship. That's all that matters to me at this stage. I'm willing to take less to put us in position to accomplish that."

The NBA is not shy about doling out punishments for tampering. The league stripped second-round picks from both the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat in the 2022 draft after determining the teams had made early contact with then-free agents Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry, respectively.

--Field Level Media