LiAngelo Ball Is Being Scouted by the Los Angeles Lakers

Although many people thought it would be impossible, it looks like LiAngelo Ball actually might have a shot at being drafted by an NBA team. According to reports, the middle brother of the polarizing Ball family is being scouted by none other than the team of his older brother Lonzo, the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas provided the scoop on Twitter that the Lakers paid a visit to Lithuania to watch Gelo ball in a contest between his team, Prienu Vytautas, and Nevezis. LiAngelo provided a decent contribution to his team's victory by dropping 12 points and going 3-for-3 from behind the arc.

The 19-year old LiAngelo officially declared for the NBA Draft this past March (and dropped an insane 72 points in a game the same day), but many feel that he is not an NBA-ready prospect.

There are least a few people who believe LiAngelo should be drafted, one of which is his father LaVar. After all, he did say previously how he hopes that all three of his sons will be able to play together rocking the iconic purple and gold. He even claimed Lonzo would not re-sign with the team if it didn't happen. Paul Pierce has also recently said he thinks there is a “good shot” Gelo will make it to the league.  

LiAngelo's draft status still might be up in the air, but the fact the Lakers are scouting him has to be at least somewhat of a good sign. Everyone will have to wait and see if a second Big Baller will make his way into the NBA when the 2018 NBA Draft takes place on June 21. One thing can be guaranteed—he will not be selected No. 2 overall like his brother Lonzo was last year.

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The Cavaliers and Lakers Just Pulled Off a Blockbuster Trade Involving Isaiah Thomas

Things never seemed quite right with Isaiah Thomas in Cleveland. Now, less than six months after the Cavaliers acquired Thomas in a massive deal with the Boston Celtics for Kyrie Irving, Cleveland has flipped the veteran guard in another blockbuster trade.

News of the trade broke Thursday on Twitter, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski sharing details of the swap.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne added that the Lakers plan to hold on to both former Cavaliers players.

All we can say is: WOW. We're sure there's much more to come on this deal.

The bottom line is, the Cavs had to make a move of some kind. Things were falling apart, and they're intent on making a fourth-straight NBA Finals run in what could be LeBron James' final season in The Land. It's likely LeBron had some type of say in this deal.

It will be fascinating to see how this move affects Cleveland's on- and off-court success in the second half of the NBA season. The Cavs are currently in third in the East, behind the Celtics and Raptors.

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Kawhi Leonard’s Injury Rehab Reportedly Straining Relationship With Spurs

There's a joke in here somewhere about Kawhi Leonard actually being made of liquid metal and incapable of human emotion, but this does bear emphasizing: this is not quite a big deal.

Not yet.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Michael C. Wright and Zach Lowe, Leonard's frustrating rehab and possible comeback from a right quadricep injury has had a “chilling impact” on the relationship between the All-Star swingman and the San Antonio Spurs. The report included words like “rift” and “distant” and “disconnected,” which has Spurs fans responding today with their own words, everything from, “Yeah, but remember LaMarcus Aldridge? to “OMFG OMFG OMFG.”

Leonard played just nine games this season before the Spurs shut him down indefinitely last week. In limited minutes, Leonard was still productive, nearly matching his career-high PER from last season and with a usage rate among the league's top 15. However, the team struggled to win just five of those games and the 26-year-old admitted to the team's brass that he didn't feel confident in his body.

“You've got to be confident in your body to go out there and play at the level he's expect to play,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told ESPN at the time. “We didn't feel he was ready. His confidence level wasn't there. So we decided to give it some more time.”

On the eve of the season, we watched as San Antonio announced Leonard would be out for the entire preseason and perhaps more, only to eventually hear Popovich admit he'd never seen anything like Leonard's injury. Then we saw Tony Parker return from a similar, though even more severe injury. Since September, there's been a weird Belichickian mystery surrounding Leonard. The Spurs haven't offered answers. Neither have some of the world's best tendon experts. General manager RC Buford has denied any rift, but he did acknowledge the entire process has been difficult for both sides.

There is no real precedent for a star player growing frustrated in the vacuum of San Antonio's safe haven. Popovich tried to sign Jason Kidd in 2003, effectively telling Tony Parker thanks, but no thanks. Parker didn't bolt. He's played his entire career with the Spurs. Popovich sent Manu Ginobili to the bench in 2007, even though Ginobili was already an All-Star. Manu embraced it. Tim Duncan took repeated lyrical undressings in practices over the years and never once did he respond with, “Pop, I'm a 15-time All-Star and five-time champ, the undisputed best power forward of all time. I'm allowed to miss one defensive assignment.” Even LaMarcus Aldridge, after asking for a trade last summer, ended up submitting to some weird Pop voodoo. The veteran is now playing perhaps the best ball of his career.

Leonard's camp has since denied the report. Leonard does hold a player option for the 2019-2020 season, which might make things interesting. Knowing the Spurs, though, they'll take Leonard to some off the radar bunker if necessary, sit him down, and not let anyone out until a resolution is found. Until then, everything surrounding one of the NBA's best players will likely remain a mystery.

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Matt Barnes Slams Austin Rivers: ‘He Talks a Lot of Trash and Doesn’t Really Back It Up’

Matt Barnes was never one to mince words, and the former NBA player went in on Tuesday, calling current Clippers guard Austin Rivers “arrogant” while blaming his father and coach Doc Rivers for the demise of the Los Angeles Clippers.

During a guest appearance on Mad Dog Sports Radio, Barnes pointed out that Austin Rivers has always rubbed people in the NBA the wrong way, from coaches and teammates to other players around the league.

“He carries himself like he's a 10-time All-Star,” said Barnes, who played three seasons in L.A. with the father-son Rivers duo, “and he's not that.”

Barnes also pinpointed Doc Rivers for many of the organization's recent failures. He noted that although Rivers initially did well after replacing Vinny Del Negro in 2013, the players didn't respect him. They thought he was fake, a phony who'd tell them one thing and then do something different. Barnes specifically mentioned how Doc Rivers handled his son's contract, giving the young player a three-year deal for $35 million in the summer of 2016 despite Austin Rivers being consistently rated one of the league's worst players by advanced metrics.

It's easy to see why so many within the game feel a certain way about the 25-year-old Austin Rivers. He grew up the son of an NBA player and eventually became one of the country's most hyped basketball prospects. He went to Duke. He came into the NBA with a reputation as a gunner, which only intensified once his father became the coach and president of basketball operations. The “arrogant” accusations will only increase after what happened on Monday night.

During a wild matchup between the Clippers and the Houston Rockets, trash talk and hard fouls quickly turned into something much more serious. After the game, Rockets players Trevor Ariza, James Harden, Gerald Green and Chris Paul attempted to enter the Clippers locker room. They were reportedly so incensed over belligerent trash talk coming from the Clippers bench, Rivers being the key cog in that, that they were ready to take the on-court disagreements to another level. The NBA has since launched an investigation into the events.

Barnes has never had a flowery personality. His issues with former teammates (hello Derek Fisher) run the gamut. However, this isn't the first time we've heard someone call out Austin Rivers for being arrogant. It likely won't be the last time, either.

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Carmelo Anthony Traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder

Carmelo Anthony is getting his wish and leaving New York. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks have come to terms on a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder that will send Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick in exchange for Anthony. 

Wojnarowski reports that Anthony continued to pressure the Knicks front office into getting a deal done with training camp set to begin next week. However, the organization needed to jump through several hoops in order to turn his demand into a reality. First and foremost, the Knicks had to find a team that Melo would deem fit to waive his no-trade clause. 

With the help of Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook and the newly-acquired Paul George, Anthony waived his no-trade clause, as well as his trade kicker, in order to make the deal work. Did Westbrook and George ensure Anthony that they will be staying in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future, even though their contracts are up at the end of this upcoming season? While George-to-L.A. next year seems like the league's worst-kept secret, maybe Russ has been able to get through to PG-13 on the idea of building something special in OKC. 

For Anthony, the move allows him to settle into a role more suited for his style of play. The Westbrook-to-Melo drive-and-kick it out potential is enough to give the rest of the league fits. Add George into that equation, and you have a serious contender at dethroning the Goliath of the NBA, the Golden State Warriors. 

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The Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas Trade is Reportedly in Jeopardy

Tuesday’s blockbuster NBA trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics has technically not been finalized, and according to multiple reports the proposed deal is hitting a snag due to concerns about Isaiah Thomas’ hip injury. 

Thomas missed several games as the Cavs and Celtics faced off during last season’s Eastern Conference Finals after re-aggravating a right hip injury he suffered during Game 6 of the Celtics’ second-round series against the Washington Wizards. While some reports referred to that injury as a hip strain, both the exact nature of the injury and when Thomas originally hurt his hip are unclear.

NBA bylaws require both teams participating in a trade to disclose in writing all information held by the respective team’s players relevant to the player’s health and ability to play basketball. The players are also required to take physical examinations, which Thomas completed Friday.

Perhaps more telling were statements Celtics general manager Danny Ainge made earlier this week about Thomas’ health impacting the trade.

“There’s gonna be probably a little bit of a delay for Isaiah as he starts the season this year, but I think that Isaiah should be fine and healthy as the season goes along,” Ainge said. He also confirmed that Thomas’ health concerns played “some” role in trading the star point guard after he put up one of the more efficient high-volume scoring seasons in league history.

“Uncertainty over the fitness of his injured hip has Cavaliers officials evaluating the results and considering possible ramifications to the blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics earlier this week,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

Kyrie Irving is reportedly scheduled to take his physical with the Celtics Saturday, and the All-Star point guard comes with his own injury concerns. Irving’s college career at Duke was limited to 11 games due to a foot injury. In three of Irving’s six seasons in the NBA, he has played less than 60 of a possible 82 games due to injuries. 

In June of 2015, Irving left Game 1 of an NBA Finals matchup against the Golden State Warriors with a fractured kneecap. The injury required season-ending surgery and led to him missing a portion of the following season while recovering.

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James Harden Has Reportedly Inked Biggest Contract Extension in NBA History

James Harden has just signed a record-breaking contract with the Houston Rockets.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, the shooting guard has agreed to a four-year extension deal that will earn him $228 million through the 2022-23 season. 

Though the Rockets did not reveal the financial terms of the contract, officials did confirm the four-year extension.

“It's my pleasure to announce we've reached agreement with James Harden on a long term contract extension. Since he arrived in Houston, James has exhibited the incredible work ethic, desire to win, and passion to be the best that has made him one of the most unique and talented superstars in the history of the game,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, said in a press release. “Additionally, the commitment he has shown to our organization, the City of Houston, and Rockets fans all over the world makes him a perfect leader in our pursuit of another championship. I'm very happy for James, his mother Monja, and their family on this exciting day.”

The megadeal will start in the 2019-2020 season, starting with an annual salary of $37.8 million with an 8 percent increase each following year. The total value of the extension is $170 million.

Last summer, Harden signed a four-year extension with the Rockets that was reportedly worth $118 million. ESPN reports the NBA star was able to add four more years to his deal thanks to a new CBA rule that allowed extensions for “superstars.” (Harden became eligible after making the NBA All-Star team last season.)

Harden still has two years remaining and about $58 million owed in the original deal.

“Houston is home for me,” Harden said in a press release. “Mr. Alexander has shown he is fully committed to winning and my teammates and I are going to keep putting in the work to get better and compete for the title.”

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Nick Young Signs One-Year Deal With Warriors, Old Tweet of Him Bashing Their Fans Resurfaces

On Wednesday, Nick Young agreed to a one-year, $5.2 million deal with the Golden State Warriors, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The move will get Young incredibly close to capturing his first NBA title, but it will also unite him with the fanbase he bashed on Twitter last year. 

As for how Young will fare in Steve Kerr's pass-heavy offense, he's already given us a glimpse into his thoughts on running that type of gameplan in the past as well. 

Now, people are confused trying to understand how Young could go from hating Warriors fans to joining their team one year later.

Hopefully, time heals all wounds. 

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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Remember When Kevin Durant Ruined the Fourth of July?

When Kevin Durant signed a five-year, $86 million contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder on July 7, 2010, he did so without any of the pomp and circumstance that came along with the decision that LeBron James would make on The Decision just one day later. Unlike LeBron—who infamously sat down for a live TV interview with Jim Gray to discuss his decision to leave the Cavaliers in order to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat—KD didn’t make a big deal out of his announcement. He revealed that he would be staying put in OKC through at least the 2015-16 NBA season by sending out this simple, straightforward, no-frills tweet, spelling and grammatical errors and all:

And when The New York Times tracked KD down later that same day to ask him why he decided to go that route as opposed to broadcasting his decision in a more spectacular fashion, he seemed confused by the question. “What’s there to really talk about?” he said, before explaining why he was so low-key when it came time to tell the world that he was going to stay in OKC for another five years. “I just told everybody I wasn’t talking about it, really. I just kept it to myself. That’s just the type of person I am. I don’t like the attention around me.”

At the time, KD was applauded by many NBA fans and members of the media for using social media to announce his contract extension rather than dragging the process out like LeBron did. KD’s method was seen as a breath of fresh air at a time when the NBA free agency period was starting to turn into a much bigger storyline than it had been in the past, due to the sudden growth and popularity of social media. “Kevin Durant didn’t need a one-hour special on the World Wide Leader,” Darnell Mayberry, a writer for The Oklahoman, wrote at the time. “The Thunder’s star was satisfied with just 140 characters.”

But sometime between July 2010 when he signed his contract extension with the Thunder and July 2016 when he became a free agent, KD’s attitude towards free agency seemed to change. The NBA free agency period continued to become more and more of a circus every year, with NBA reporters like David Aldridge of NBA.com, Marc Stein of ESPN, and of course, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tracking the every move of NBA free agents the moment the clock struck midnight on July 1.

Players like Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, and LeBron—who became a free agent again in 2014 and announced his decision to return to the Cavaliers by penning a letter to the city of Cleveland in Sports Illustrated—took full advantage of it by meeting with as many teams as they could and hearing as many pitches from executives as possible once they became free agents. And as KD’s own free agency started to get closer and closer, he seemed to embrace the idea of going through the process just as players like Williams, Howard, and LeBron had.

By early 2016, there were reports about how KD wanted to be courted once he officially became a free agent. Much to the chagrin of all the Thunder fans out there, it didn’t sound like KD was going to announce that he was re-signing with the Thunder through another tweet. Rather, Yahoo Sports reporter Chris Mannix reported that KD was looking forward to being wined and dined by different NBA teams. Sources told Mannix KD’s free agency was going to be a much bigger production than it had been in 2010:

Durant is looking forward to being recruited, to being courted, to being treated like the biggest free-agent prize since LeBron James six years ago. The chances of Durant sending a simple tweet again announcing his return are virtually nonexistent, but the Thunder remain hopeful that his decision, regardless of how this season ends, is the same.

KD downplayed all of the various reports about him entertaining offers from other NBA teams during free agency throughout the 2015-16 NBA season. He said all the right things about the Thunder organization and his teammates, and he never really gave any indication that he was going to seriously consider leaving OKC once July 1 hit.

But by late June, it was clear that KD was going to, at the very least, listen to what other teams had to say. According to ESPN, KD’s representatives scheduled meetings with the Warriors, Spurs, Celtics, Heat, Clippers, and Thunder. Teams like the Knicks, Wizards, and Lakers reportedly tried to get time with KD, too. It seemed like it was exactly what KD was looking for, based on the earlier reports.

It was unclear how long it was going to take KD to make his final decision, though. He had so many meetings set up that it didn’t sound like he was going to get around to letting the world know where he would sign for at least a week once NBA free agency started. One Oklahoman report even suggested KD might hold off until July 9 to sign with a team, which would have meant nine days worth of speculation surrounding what he was ultimately going to do. But once free agency officially started, Wojnarowski revealed that July 4 looked like the day KD would make his announcement:

During the first few days of July, it was difficult to keep up with all of the KD news that was coming out. There were reports about how his initial meeting with the Thunder on July 1 “went well,” according to ESPN sources. But there were also reports about how a subsequent meeting with the Warriors went “very well,” which seemed to trump the earlier report about his OKC meeting:

There were other meetings with the teams listed above on July 2 and July 3, too. But after two days, it seemed like the Thunder and Warriors were leading the pack and had the best chances of signing KD to a deal. KD met with the Thunder for a second time on July 3 to conclude his scheduled free agency meetings:

And then, he stepped back from the process to weigh his options, with many reporters close to the situation—like ESPN’s Royce Young—reporting that he was close to picking either the Thunder or Warriors:

The stage was set for July 4 to be the day KD would announce his decision:

July 4 would end up being one of the most agonizing days in recent history for NBA fans, players, and reporters. When LeBron made his decision in 2010, there was a lot of hype surrounding it, but there was also a definitive day and time when everyone would be able to tune in and see which team LeBron was going to pick. The Decision would air at 9 p.m. on ESPN, and shortly thereafter, we would all know where LeBron was going to play the following season.

It wasn’t like that for KD. While most people suspected his decision was going to come down on July 4, KD himself hadn’t confirmed or denied the reports about it, and he also later admitted that when he woke up on July 4, he still hadn’t made a definitive decision as to which team he was going to sign with. So the world waited—and oddly enough, poked fun at KD’s old BlackPlanet page—while he mulled over the decision on the morning of July 4.

To KD’s credit, he didn’t keep us waiting for very long. At right around noon on July 4, KD took to Twitter for the second time in his NBA career to announce what he planned to do in free agency. But this time, it took more than 140 characters to get his message across. He tweeted out a link to a post he had written for The Players’ Tribune called “My Next Chapter”:

And in the post, KD shared some stunning news: He was leaving the Thunder to join the Warriors.

The news sent shock waves through the NBA community, and it ruined a lot of people’s Fourth of July. Thunder fans were obviously upset about the fact that KD was leaving the team, just six years after he had committed to OKC and told fans that he planned to stay there for a long, long time:

Other NBA fans were disappointed with KD’s decision as well. Many reacted to the news about KD signing with the Warriors by pointing out that there wouldn’t really even be a reason to play the 2016-17 NBA season since the result seemed like a foregone conclusion:

The words “Damn KD” started trending on Twitter:

And within just minutes of KD making his announcement, Stephen A. Smith was all over ESPN ripping him for it. He was one of many media members upset with the way KD’s free agency period ended:

NBA players also chimed in and seemed just as shocked as fans. It was surreal to see what some of them had to say:

In the end, not everyone had their days ruined. There were plenty of Warriors fans out there who were thrilled to hear about KD’s decision. Golden State was just a few weeks removed from blowing a 3-1 lead to lose to the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. So KD signing with the Warriors was exactly what they needed at the time.

But for most people outside of the Bay Area, July 4, 2016—a day that should have been all about beer, burgers, and fireworks—was anything but a celebration. It was a shocking jolt to the system that proved the NBA was about to change dramatically during the following season. It was also a disappointing end to what seemed like a fun free agency period for KD.

It was basically everything that July 7, 2010 wasn’t. Back then, KD was just looking to work out a deal with as little fanfare as possible. But by 2016, that had all changed—and there were so many people who resented and still resent KD for it. And they're not going to forget about it anytime soon.

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