Category Archives: Basketball

NBA News: The Latest on Derrick Rose, Greg Oden and Al Harrington

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This time of the year is usually slow in the NBA. But even as free agency winds down, Derrick Rose and other impact players have made headlines recently.

Most NBA teams have their rosters pretty much set, but this year has seen some late movement. Whether it’s adding or dropping players, there have still been several intriguing moves made.

Championship contenders have pressure to make sure they are ready to go from the start of the season. Two of the biggest contenders in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, have had some promising news lately.

Ironically, every player on this list is coming off an injury.

Let’s check out some of the recent news around the NBA.

NBA free-agency news roundup: Marcus Camby narrows choices to 3, Mavericks making minor moves

ImageCamby has become a free agent after clearing waivers, and will reportedly decide between the Heat, Rockets and Bulls. Meanwhile, the Mavs waived Josh Akognon and intend to bring back Bernard James, who they recently waived in order to make room for Monta Ellis.

Veteran big man Marcus Camby is officially a free agent after clearing waivers on Sunday, and he has reportedly narrowed his choices down to the Miami Heat, Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls, according to Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Camby, 39, was, to his preference, just bought out by the Toronto Raptors after being traded from the New York Knicks in the Andrea Bargnani deal. He played in just 24 games last season due to foot problems, averaging only 1.8 points and 3.3 rebounds.

Camby is expected to make his decision in the next few days. The Heat tried to sign Camby last season, but the Knicks were able to offer more money. Miami could use some more help in the frontcourt despite already re-signing Chris Andersen.

The Bulls are looking for some center depth behind Joakim Noah, as Nazr Mohammed is currently the team’s only other player at the position. The Rockets have Dwight Howard and Omer Asik in place at center, but Asik could still possibly be dealt and the Rockets could be sensible with Camby making his home in the Houston area.

Mavs waive Akognon, intend to re-sign James

The Dallas Mavericks were forced to waive Bernard James over the weekend to help fit Monta Ellis‘ new contract under the salary cap, and they had to do the same thing with Josh Akognon on Sunday.

Akognon led the Mavs’ Summer League team in scoring, and Dallas would like to bring him back if he clears waivers.

Speaking of James, he has officially cleared waivers, which leaves him free to go back to the Mavs at the minimum. ESPN’s Marc Stein says that Dallas fully intends to bring back the 28-year-old, who would probably see a bigger role than last season.

Kirk Henderson at Mavs Moneyball is pleasantly surprised that James will likely be back:

This was a risky gamble for Dallas because James is a functional big man capable of playing 10-15 minutes a game. He blocks shots, he rebounds, and generally plays hard. There’s really not more you can ask out of a minimum salary player. I’m very surprised an under the cap team didn’t pick him up.

Oden scheduling more meetings?

Free-agent center Greg Oden may meet with the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings this week, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge. The Heat, Mavs and San Antonio Spurs have already met with Oden.

The Pelicans reportedly have been mulling an offer for Oden worth about $6 million over two years. The Heat could make a similar offer, but it’s unclear whether they are willing to make that type of financial commitment to the oft-injured Oden, who hasn’t played a game in the NBA since 2009.

Splitter considered signing elsewhere, but happy in San Antonio

Tiago Splitter admitted that he strongly considered signing an offer sheet elsewhere before re-signing with the San Antonio Spurs for four years and $36 million, according to Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News:

“You feel good that some teams want you, and sometimes you even feel like you’d like to try something new,” Splitter said. “You have that doubt behind your ears.”

The Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers discussed offer sheets with Splitter, but ultimately, the big man was drawn back to the Spurs because of the level of prosperity the team has had in recent years:

“When you have such a successful team, you’ve got to keep what’s working,” Splitter said. “We didn’t win a ring last year, but we were very close, and we went the year before to the West finals. You don’t want to change it.”

Splitter averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds in an increased role during 81 games last season.

5 NBA Big 3s That Can Steal the Miami Heat’s Spotlight in 2013-14

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The Miami Heat have had a stranglehold on the “best Big Three” honor in the NBA the past two seasons.

Teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden (now with the Rockets), and the San Antonio Spurs, with Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, have tried to steal the spotlight, but to no avail.

There are even more teams this season looking to steal LeBron James and Co.’s spotlight. From the Golden State Warriors to the Brooklyn Nets, a number of teams have their eyes set on the “best Big Three” title.

So what does it take to be the NBA’s best Big Three? Like you always hear, “to be the best, you have to beat the best.”

That applies here, and the following teams are the top five that have a chance at beating the Heat and keeping them from not only their third straight title, but also their lofty position of having the league’s top Big Three.

Extra Time: Bryant supports Milan

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The famous basketball star has claimed he has been a long-time Rossoneri follower upon a visit to the club’s training facilities on Saturday

LA Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant has revealed himself to be a massive AC Milan supporter!

The American, 34, visited the club’s training ground on Saturday to use the facilities as he continues to work his way back to fitness from an Achilles tendon injury.

Having met Milan stars Daniele Bonera and Andrea Poli on Saturday, Bryant revealed his Rossoneri roots and that he has always supported the Serie A club.

“I have always been a Milan fan,” he told the club’s official website. “Back in Los Angeles I have a Milan scarf and shirt hanging up in my locker room.”

Bryant, who was gifted a No.24 shirt upon his visit to the Italian giants, will be hoping that his favourite Italian club will be able to better last year’s third-place finish in Serie A last season.

Kobe Bryant ring auctions for $174K

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Kobe Bryant items brought in big money in an auction that ended early Saturday morning.

A duplicate of his 2000 Los Angeles Lakers championship ring, gifted to his father Joe, sold for $174,184. A version in a smaller size, made for his mother Pam, went for $108,153.

More on the Lakers

For more news, notes and analysis of the Lakers, check out the Lakers Index. Blog

Other items that commanded top dollar in the sale, conducted by New Jersey-based Goldin Auctions, included Bryant’s 2000 NBA All-Star ring ($55,597), and two of his game-used high school uniforms ($50,150 and $41,694).

The items, consigned by his parents, turned into a legal battle when Bryant found out they were selling the nearly 100 items that he said were not theirs to sell. Documents provided to the auction company by the Bryant’s had said otherwise. Eventually, a settlement was reached that resulted in about 90 percent of the items being pulled out of the auction.

When reached early Saturday morning, Bryant said he would have no comment on the sale.

The ring presented to his father commanded great interest partly because it was in the exact size of Kobe’s ring (11½).

Other popular items in the auction including a Jackie Robinson bat that was believed to have been used in his 1949 MVP season ($159,867), a mitt used by Yogi Berra ($61,120) and a pair of Air Jordan sneakers autographed to Mike Tyson ($9,030).

Hornets name returning to Charlotte

LAS VEGAS (AP)

Charlotte is the home of the Hornets once again.

The NBA unanimously approved Charlotte’s nickname change from Bobcats to Hornets on Thursday at the league’s Board of Governors meeting. The original Hornets built a supportive fan base in Charlotte from the time they entered the league in 1988 until they moved to New Orleans in 2002.

But the new owners in New Orleans have changed the team’s name to the Pelicans. That opened the door for owner Michael Jordan to bring the Hornets name back to Charlotte. The change will take place after the 2013-14 season.

“We’re thrilled to bring back the Hornets to Charlotte and the Carolinas,” Jordan said in a statement issued by the team. “The passion and enthusiasm around this name change by fans in this market has been unmatched. They overwhelmingly told us what they wanted, we listened and we couldn’t be happier with the Board of Governors’ approval of the name change. With the young team we are developing on the court, the direction of our business and the return of the Hornets name, we are extremely excited about our future. The buzz is back!”

The city, and the franchise, has been looking for a fresh start. The Hornets were a ticket-selling powerhouse for years, leading the league in attendance eight times and selling out 364 straight games in their turquoise, white and purple uniforms. The city bonded with a charismatic team that included such as stars Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson and fan favorite Muggsy Bogues.

But the franchise fell on hard times under previous owner George Shinn, who took to the team, and the Hornets name, to New Orleans. The NBA brought an expansion team back to Charlotte two years later, a team nicknamed the Bobcats in part due to founding owner Bob Johnson’s name.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

These players have the best NBA nicknames of all time.

The brand never resonated with the people the way the Hornets did, in large part because the team only has had one winning season and one playoff appearance in its first nine years of existence. The Bobcats, with their nondescript orange and grey color scheme, won just seven games two years ago and only 21 last season. So they are hoping the energy brought by the name change, even if it will take another year to set in, will somehow help galvanize a young team.

“We want to reach back and grab some of that equity that the Hornets earned in our community,” Charlotte COO Fred Whitfield said. “They did a lot of great things off the court. They were involved in the community. They became very accessible to the Charlotte fans and citizens of Charlotte. We want to reach back and grab some heritage and use it as we move forward to build a brand with our young team that continues to improve.”

The Bobcats’ website hailed the return of “Buzz City” and team officials said 2,000 season-ticket holders turned out at a downtown party that turned into a celebration of the name change. Bogues and other former Hornets including Rex Chapman, Kelly Tripucka, Dell Curry and Kendall Gill attended as well.

Commissioner David Stern said that he had heard pleas from Charlotte basketball fans for years to give them back the Hornets nickname, and he initially brushed those aside with a “get over it” view of the complaining. In time, however, he came to understand how important the name was to the community.

“It stayed there, bubbling below the surface, and there is something to it,” Stern said. “I think that the team is going to receive support from fans who think that this is a step in the direction that the fans have been asking for, and this is an attempt to both satisfy the fans and its accompanied by a kind of very specific market research that allows the Hornets to say, yes, this is what the market is asking for and they’re very much serving their market by making this change.”

The board also gave final approval to several rules changes, most notably expanding instant replay in the final two minutes to help officials with the block/charge call, perhaps the most difficult judgment in the game. If an official reviews a play to see if a defender’s feet were in the restricted area or not on a block/charge, the official can now also review whether the defender’s feet were set for a charge or if his body was still moving for a blocking foul.

“You always try to level the playing field and basically get it right,” said Kiki Vandeweghe, the league’s new vice president of basketball operations. “That’s the main focus is getting calls right.”

Officials now will also be able to review whether an off-the-ball foul occurred before or after a player started his shooting motion on a made shot, or before or after an inbounds pass. And during any review, the referees will also be able to now decide if any unsportsmanlike or “unnecessary” acts, including flagrant fouls, merit further punishment.

Two rules changes were adopted as well:

–It will no longer be a clear path foul if the defender gets ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt before the foul is committed.

–If a player on offense stands out of bounds on purpose to create more spacing for his teammates, the offensive team will lose possession of the ball.

NBA approves Charlotte Bobcats’ bid to become Hornets

The NBA Board of Governors has approved the Charlotte Bobcats’ application to change their name to the Hornets, the league announced Thursday.

The change will not take effect until the 2014-15 season, when the team will update its logo, jerseys and memorabilia to fit the switch. The move represents a return to the name that graced the jerseys of the city’s first NBA team from 1988 to 2002. The first Hornets moved to New Orleans for the 2002-03 season.

Bobcats, er, Hornets owner Michael Jordan knows the wins will keep fans coming back after the buzz dies down. (AP Photo)

MORE: Hornets’ greatest players | History of Hornets name | Nostalgic Hornets photos

Under new owner Tom Benson, New Orleans has taken on the Pelicans moniker, which was first used at an official NBA event at this year’s draft lottery.

In 2003, Charlotte was awarded an expansion team to be run by television mogul Bob Johnson. He named the team after himself. Johnson sold his majority ownership stake to Michael Jordan in 2010.

The Bobcats have struggled on the court, compiling a 28-120 record over the past two seasons and failing to bring in fans. They haven’t come close to matching the popularity of the Hornets, who once sold out 364 consecutive home games.

Perhaps this is a move in the right direction, but Charlotte still has a long way to go to truly bring back the buzz. Jordan said as much when the plans for a name change were announced in May.

“Ultimately we still have to play the game at a high level, which is what the Hornets did for a long period of time,” Jordan said. “Changing the name does not guarantee that we’re going to be a playoff-contending team. We still have a lot of work to do to build that. I’m not walking away from that.”

6 current players join NCAA lawsuit

Led by a pair of Arizona Wildcats, six current college football players from major programs on Thursday joined a federal anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA, significantly raising the stakes in a court battle that challenges the economic model of big-time college sports.

The players are: Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer and kicker Jake Smith, Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham, Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson, and Minnesota tight end Moses Alipate and wide receiver Victor Keise.

By adding their names to a highly contentious lawsuit originally filed in 2009 by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, the players — all from college football’s largest conferences — enhance the chances that damages in the suit could reach into the billions of dollars.

The O’Bannon complaint alleges the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Co., the nation’s leading trademark and licensing firm, violated antitrust laws.

If we didn’t exist, there would be no University of Arizona football team. There would be no Alabama Crimson Tide football team. There would be no Florida Gator football team. There would be no Texas A&M football team. …
Without us, there is no they.

— Arizona kicker Jake Smith

It accuses the NCAA of fixing at zero the amount that players can receive from video games and other products that use players’ names, likenesses and images. Last year, the plaintiffs amended their lawsuit, asking that current players be included and arguing that players deserve a share of the billions of dollars in television revenues that flow to the NCAA, conferences and member schools.

In June, Judge Claudia Wilken asked plaintiffs in the O’Bannon suit to add a current player to the lawsuit, setting up Thursday’s court filing. Later this summer, she will rule on whether the class of current and former players will be certified, allowing it to pursue its claims as a group instead of as individuals.

Fischer, who led the Wildcats with 119 tackles last season, told “Outside the Lines” that he joined the lawsuit not because of money, but to give players a voice on issues of long-term health and access to a quality education. Like Smith, Fischer suffered an ACL injury playing college football that has healed enough to play again but likely will affect him after he leaves college, with no guarantee of medical care.

“Honestly, I stepped forward for the future well-being, safety and health of student-athletes,” Fischer said. “We have both met a ton of people since we’ve been here who have lingering effects from injuries, not getting a great education, not having all the capabilities or the opportunities that a regular student would have, and honestly, we would just like to try to fix that.”

Fischer and Smith said they informed Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and athletic director Greg Byrne this week that they planned to take part in the lawsuit.

“For me, it’s about the money and the fact that the revenue that’s generated is so vast, and the players are essentially the people that drive the engine that is the NCAA,” Smith said. “If we didn’t exist, there would be no University of Arizona football team. There would be no Alabama Crimson Tide football team. There would be no Florida Gator football team. There would be no Texas A&M football team. Yes, we are a part of the program. I love Arizona and I love my coach, our athletic directors, everybody that’s a part of this program are great.

“However, without us, there is no they, if that makes sense.”

Fischer is on the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award, given to the top defensive player in college football.

Smith is a walk-on who missed last season with a knee injury and is competing for a starting job this season.

“These athletes are incredibly brave. They are well-aware of the risks of standing up to the NCAA, and yet they felt that this was the right thing to do,” Michael Hausfeld, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

Rodriguez told “Outside the Lines” that he supports his players having a voice in the issue, and that more should be done for players financially.

“Jake and Jake came to my house the other day and talked to me about the case and their involvement,” he said. “They’re two conscientious guys, and they’re both really appreciative of playing college ball. It’s not like they’re disenchanted with the system. They love being student-athletes. But with the likeness issue, they wanted to see if they could have a voice for college athletes, and I said I support that.

“I know there’s concerns [in the NCAA] about where this lawsuit will lead. And we need to keep it as amateur status. We already have a pro league, it’s the NFL. Let’s not make college a minor league. I just think we can do a few things, get a couple thousand more [dollars a year] to help out the players.”

Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, said he was both surprised and pleased that Rodriguez and Byrne supported the players’ desire to advocate for their peers.

“The fact that the athletic department is behind them is huge,” Huma said. “[Coaches and ADs] are the people who arguably benefit the most from the system, and yet they see an injustice and feel it’s OK for players to challenge that system. They’re standing up for what’s right, not what benefits them, which means a lot because I’m sure it took a lot of courage for those players to stand up.”

Said Fischer: “I’m not surprised at all. [Rodriguez] has his players’ back, and that’s why we love playing for him.”

Wildcats players have a recent history of activism. Huma said Arizona was one of five schools where athletes signed a NCPA-led petition in 2011 to use new television monies to enhance player benefits. The petition called for rules that would force schools to cover medical bills related to injuries and prohibit them from not renewing the scholarships of players who were permanently injured, he said. It also requested an educational trust fund to give incentive to players to graduate and that they could tap into after their eligibility had expired.

The University of Arizona has been sympathetic to athlete issues. Byrne was among those who supported an NCAA proposal to give schools the option of giving players a $2,000 stipend that would help close the gap between a full athletic scholarship and the cost of attendance for students. Schools in major conferences were in favor of the rule change, but smaller institutions pushed back and held sway.

“We are aware that Jake Smith and Jake Fischer are now plaintiffs in the lawsuit,” Byrne said in a statement. “While we do not support the lawsuit, we support their right to be involved and express their opinion. They are two fine young men and we are glad they are part of our program and University.”

Garnham led Vanderbilt with seven sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss last season.

Robinson has started six games in each of the past two seasons for the Tigers, though his season was cut short last year by an ankle injury in October.

Keise played 14 games over three seasons for the Gophers. Alipate has not played at Minnesota in four seasons, including a redshirt year.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said the NCAA would reserve comment until it has had time to read the amended complaint filed Thursday.

If certified as a class-action, thousands of current and former athletes will enter the lawsuit unless they opt out. Such a ruling would be a significant legal victory for the players and place pressure on the NCAA to settle the lawsuit as a means to avoid potentially huge damages tied to television revenues, which account for more than 90 percent of the money at stake in the dispute. The plaintiffs now demand the NCAA find a way to give players a cut of the billions of dollars earned from live broadcasts and memorabilia sales, along with video games.

The move to add current student-athletes to the suit comes a day after the NCAA announced that it would no longer allow EA to use its name and logo in video games.

Hausfeld called the NCAA’s decision to break ties with EA “petty and arrogant.”

“It’s admission of a practice that goes to the heart of the contention that the NCAA believes it is above the law,” he said late Wednesday.

Osburn responded that the NCAA’s business relationship with EA only pertained to the logo and name.

“Student-athletes were never a part of this relationship and plaintiffs’ attorneys know it,” she said in a statement. “Further, the $545,000 paid annually to the NCAA for the use of the logo and name goes right back to support student-athletes across all three divisions.”

Huma said recent developments make him wonder how long NCAA member schools will support the NCAA’s approach to football and basketball athletes. On Wednesday, SEC commissioner Mike Slive, another proponent of optional stipends for athletes, called for a re-examination of the NCAA’s governance to better meet the needs of major programs.

“With all the dissension among conference commissioners and schools unhappy with the NCAA, and the stakes so high, are the schools going to trust the NCAA to make the right call in terms of how far they’re going to go in defending this lawsuit?” he said. “Are they going to gamble and take this to trial? Or are the schools going to want to have a voice in crafting a settlement that they can live with?”

Charlotte Hornets back in 2014-15

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The Charlotte Hornets are back.

The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved changing the Charlotte Bobcats name back to the Hornets beginning for the 2014-15 season during its summer meeting Thursday in Las Vegas.

The Hornets brand became available when the New Orleans Pelicans officially gave it up earlier this year as part of their own name change. The Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans in 2002, and the Bobcats joined the league as an expansion team in ’04. Commissioner David Stern said Bobcats owner Michael Jordan has been in discussions to get the Hornets name back since he bought the team in 2010.

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“We’re thrilled to bring back the Hornets to Charlotte and the Carolinas,” Jordan said in a statement. “The passion and enthusiasm around this name change by fans in this market has been unmatched. They overwhelmingly told us what they wanted, we listened and we couldn’t be happier with the Board of Governors’ approval of the name change. With the young team we are developing on the court, the direction of our business and the return of the Hornets name, we are extremely excited about our future. The buzz is back!”

The Hornets led the NBA in attendance for seven consecutive seasons in Charlotte, but the Bobcats have not been as successful in the market, which spurred the movement to return to the name.

“It is so true that it was a subject of conversation for the last couple of years,” Stern said. “Fans of the old Hornets would say, ‘Please give us back our Hornet name.’ I laughed at it initially. But it stayed there bubbling below the surface, and there’s something to it.”

The Bobcats’ website hailed the return of “Buzz City,” and team officials said 2,000 season-ticket holders turned out at a downtown party that turned into a celebration of the name change. Fan favorite Muggsy Bogues and other former Hornets including Rex Chapman, Kelly Tripucka, Dell Curry and Kendall Gill attended as well.

The Name Game

One good reason for Charlotte to ditch the Bobcats — it ranks second-worst all time in terms of win percentage by team nicknames. Here’s a look:

Team Pct. Record
Steamrollers .274
Bobcats .346 (250-472)
Clippers .370 (1,044-1,778)
Grizzlies .383 (547-881)
Wizards .392 (495-769)
— Minimum 100 games
— Elias Sports Bureau

“We want to reach back and grab some of that equity that the Hornets earned in our community,” Charlotte COO Fred Whitfield said. “They did a lot of great things off the court. They were involved in the community. They became very accessible to the Charlotte fans and citizens of Charlotte. We want to reach back and grab some heritage and use it as we move forward to build a brand with our young team that continues to improve.”

The NBA owners handled several other pieces of business at the meeting, including:

• They voted to expand the use of instant replay to include reviews on block/charge calls in the restricted area, better known as the “no-charge zone.” Officials now can stop the game to check whether a defender was in the restricted area on such a call.

“You always try to level the playing field and basically get it right,” said Kiki Vandeweghe, the league’s new vice president of basketball operations. “That’s the main focus is getting calls right.”

Stern said the move could add time to games, and the league was continuing to look at creating a centralized replay system in which offsite officials would judge replays to speed up the game. He said the league might add a fourth referee to the playoffs next season to act as replay official on the sideline.

• Officials also will be able to use instant replay to review whether a player had started his shooting motion on shooting fouls and whether a foul was committed before a ball was inbounded.

• Instant replay also can be used during any instant replay situation to assess penalties for flagrant fouls observed during the review.

• It will no longer be considered a clear-path foul if the defender who commits the foul is ahead of the offensive player in the frontcourt at any point before the foul.

• The controversial flopping policy the league instituted last season will be left alone for the 2013-14 season. Stern hinted during the NBA Finals that flop warnings followed by $5,000 fines for second offenses were not enough of a deterrent. No player was given a fine for a third offense last season. The league’s competition committee recommended no changes.

• It will now be a violation and an automatic turnover if an offensive player stands out of bounds and doesn’t immediately return to the floor. This addresses a recent trend in the league of players standing out of bounds under the basket in an attempt to pull defenders out of position or hide from the defense. There will be no penalty for extenuating circumstances such as injuries or saving a loose ball.

• The league had hoped to have an agreement on human growth hormone testing before next season. Stern, however, said the process has been delayed because the players’ association is without an executive director after Billy Hunter was forced out earlier this year. The owners haven’t given up on getting a plan in place, but it seems highly unlikely it could be agreed on before next season.

• The board agreed to reimburse the Oklahoma City Thunder part of Kevin Durant‘s 2010 contract extension, according to The Oklahoman. Durant received approximately $15 million in additional salary due to a change in the collective bargaining agreement ratified in December 2011, but a league source told the newspaper the reimbursement is not for the full $15 million. The full extension will still count against the Thunder’s salary cap and luxury tax, The Oklahoman reported. Durant’s salary has helped limit the Thunder’s financial flexibility.

Kobe Bryant ahead of schedule

The Los Angeles Lakers not only expect Kobe Bryant to be back by the start of the regular season but believe he could be back by the preseason.

Lakers vice president Jim Buss told NBA TV on Thursday that Bryant is ahead of schedule in his recovery from the torn Achilles tendon he suffered in April. Buss expects Bryant to play in a preseason game.

SportsNation: Kobe back by preseason?

SportsNation Jim Buss says Kobe Bryant might recover in time for preseason. How will Bryant fare in 2013-14? Cast your votes!

“Well, we’re in Vegas, and I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in preseason,” Buss said during the Lakers-Milwaukee Bucks game at the Las Vegas Summer League. “He’s real sharp in taking care of himself and he’s not going to rush anything just to get back and prove a point. He’s going to come back when he’s right. He’s a machine. He’s inhuman. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can’t believe how much he’s progressed so far.”

Bryant previously had said he was ahead of schedule and would begin getting more active in his rehabilitation next month heading into training camp, which begins in October. The initial timetable for his recovery was six to nine months, and six months would have Bryant back sometime during training camp.

When Bryant does come back, he will be returning to a Lakers team without Dwight Howard, after the Lakers’ pursuit of the All-Star center fell short when he decided to sign with the Houston Rockets.

Buss said Howard’s decision will not set the Lakers back for long and the focus has quickly shifted toward making a big splash in free agency next summer.

More on the Lakers

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“When we traded for him, we basically knew we were renting him for a year,” Buss said. “We were prepared. [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak] and I, we had quite a few meetings. If he leaves, this is what’s going to happen, this is what we’re going to do, and if he stays, this is what’s going to happen, this is what we’re going to do. It’s not like I didn’t want him to stay, but we were very prepared, so it wasn’t a shock to our system or the Lakers’ fans or the Lakers’ organization that if he left, he would put us in a bad spot. We were OK either way, because we prepared for it.”