It’s Labor Day weekend, and that means that NBA training camps are just a few short weeks away. While you wait for them to kick off, we’ve still got you covered with all the latest news from the basketball world. Check out Sunday’s Tweet of the Day from Mike Fratello, which deals with actual basketball being played in remote outposts, and definitely give a look to A.J. Mitnick’s extensive update on the qualifying for Eurobasket ’13.
If you haven’t already, you should also check out Chris Bernucca’s previews of the playoff pictures in the Western and Eastern Conferences, and Moke Hamilton’s column on which NBA teams still have exception money to work with.
Here’s the latest news from the NBA:
- Dwight Howard may be gone from Orlando, but contrary to what you might have thought from his months-long trade demands, he still loves the city –or so he says. Howard took out a full-page ad in today’s Sentinel to profess his love for Orlando. The text of the ad is as follows (click through above to see it as it appeared in the newspaper): “To play the game of basketball in the NBA is a blessing and to have had the opportunity to play before the Orlando fans for eight years was truly a privilege and an honor. Words cannot express the love that I have for Orlando. With your support we have done great things in this city from hanging banners to impacting our youth. Although my career with the Magic has come to a close, my love for the city and the people that make it beautiful will never end.”
- Included at the bottom of this Gary Washburn piece for the Boston Globe is a note on Mickael Pietrus: “Among the free agents remaining on the market is former Celtic Mickael Pietrus, who does not want to play for the league minimum. The Bucks had expressed interest in Pietrus but he remains without a team. The Celtics still have their $1.95 million biannual exception remaining but are expected to wait until close to the regular season to use that, perhaps on a player waived by another team.”
- One of the players who turned a lot of heads at the Olympics was Russia’s Alexey Shved, who is also set to make the jump to the NBA with the Timberwolves. RIA Novosti talked to his former coach with CSKA Moscow, who gave some insight into what American fans can expect from Shved this year and in the future: “New Minnesota Timberwolves signing Alexey Shved has the skills to succeed as an NBA guard but needs to bulk up to cope with the league’s physical demands, his former CSKA Moscow coach Ettore Messina has told R-Sport in an interview. Messina, who spent last season on Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike Brown’s staff, coached Shved when he first broke into the CSKA team, and has now returned to the 19-time Russian champion team. ‘Alexey has for sure the talent to play there. He’s probably at a good age to go there,” Messina said. ‘I think they will ask him to use his creativity on the floor. At the same time, I think they will ask him to become stronger physically because contact is a very big factor in the NBA. If he manages to, let’s say, play through the high level of contact that there is in the NBA, for sure he has the talent to be a very, very interesting player at that level.’ ”
- IAmAGM.com reports that there is a rap album in the works that will feature several well-known rappers collaborating with NBA players: “The rap album is titled, “Full Court Press Vol. 1.” NBA players that will be featured include Juwan Howard, Baron Davis, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Carlos Boozer, Glen Davis, Shawn Marion, Josh Smith and others. Rappers expected to be on tracks include Rick Ross, Trina, Snoop Dogg, Birdman, The Game, T-Pain, Bun B, Twista and Soulja Boy.”
- On a similar topic, rapper Lil B released a music video for his song “Warm Ups” off his new mixtape, Based Jam. At the end of the video, Lil B calls out Kevin Durant, saying he’s “ready for their game”. Durant responded by saying Lil B would have to come to Oklahoma City to play against him, and, hilariously, Lil B appears to be taking him up on the offer:
Pierce Watson of VladTVhas an excellent recap of this bizarre situation: “Lil B has been trying to play Kevin Durant one-on-one ever since Durant called him a wack rapper on Twitter back in May. Following the release of Lil B’s “Warm Ups” video, which calls out Durant, the Thunder star decided to respond. Durant got on Twitter and basically asked Lil B to leave him alone. One tweet simply read, “@LILBTHEBASEDGOD Yo shut up”. His next tweet read, “Yo leave me alone lol, if you wanna play me you gotta come to OKC I’m not coming to Oakland.” Hilariously, Lil B tweeted back at Durant about 20 minutes later and had no intentions of backing down saying, “So book a ticket to OKC for this Monday? @KDTrey5 I WILL BE THERE FLIGHT IN THE MORNING, AND PREP.” If this one-on-one game actually happens, it will certainly be David vs. Goliath. Kevin Durant is 6′ 9”. Lil B is 5′ 6”.”