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  • Embiid: Ayton 'about to get a-- kicked'
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    Philadelphia 76ers star power forward Joel Embiid doesn't much like it when this year's top pick in the NBA draft, Phoenix Suns rookie center Deandre Ayton, is compared to him.

    • Embiid made the point again on Friday, saying that Ayton, whom Embiid repeatedly has criticized for a lack of defensive effort, is "about to get his a-- kicked this year."

      Even while acknowledging that Ayton is "going to be good" and has "a lot of potential," Embiid is calling any comparison between the two players premature.

      "But when you talk about, ‘He looks like Joel Embiid', I play on both sides of the court. I think I'm a good offensive player, good defensive player. I do it on both ends of the floor. I watched him play and he's got a lot of work to do," Embiid, 24, said on ESPN's "The Jump" at the 76ers' media day event at training camp in Camden, N.J.

      In June, Embiid went on Twitter to say that unlike Ayton, Embiid plays "DEFENSE."

      Embiid, the 76ers' third pick overall in the 2014 draft, didn't play until the 2016-17 season because of injuries, but in just his second season, he led the 76ers to the Eastern Conference semifinals before they fell to the Boston Celtics in five games.

      Last season, Embiid averaged 22.9 points and 11 rebounds in just over 30 minutes per game. He played in 63 games.

      Ayton, 20, was named Pac-12 Player of the Year last season after averaging 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds per game as a freshman with the Arizona Wildcats.

      He shot 61.2 percent from the field, blocked 66 shots and recorded a school-record 24 double-doubles.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Wolves owner wants Butler trade; Thibodeau doesn't
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    In the days since Minnesota guard Jimmy Butler reportedly requested a trade, the Timberwolves have been fielding calls from teams looking to add the four-time All-Star.

    • The message from Minnesota's front office has been the same each time -- the Timberwolves intend to keep their star forward, according to ESPN. Head coach and team president Tom Thibodeau -- who oversees general manager Scott Layden -- does not want to trade Butler.

      But ESPN also reported that owner Glen Taylor is expected to be involved in any discussions about a potential trade, and is far more willing to unload Butler than the front office. ESPN reported later Friday that Taylor told others at the Board of Governors meeting that Butler is available and inquiries should come through Taylor, if necessary.

      "The owner's trading him," a Board of Governors attendee told ESPN. "That was made clear. It's just a matter of when."

      --Dirk Nowitzki has come off the bench 31 times in 20 NBA seasons. The future Hall of Famer could more than double that number this season.

      The 40-year-old Nowitzki is accepting of a reserve role with the Dallas Mavericks, and saw it coming when the team signed free agent center DeAndre Jordan in the offseason.

      "When we signed DeAndre, it was pretty much clear in my head that I'm coming off the bench," Nowitzki said at the Mavericks' media day. "It's all about winning, at the end of the day. Whatever puts us in the best position to win is what we're going to roll with. ...If that's the case, and I'm coming off the bench, we better keep (an exercise) bike ready and keep a couple of massage therapists in the back, and I'll be ready to go."

      --Three rules changes were approved by the NBA Board of Governors.

      Beginning with the 2018 NBA preseason, the shot clock will reset to 14 seconds in offensive rebounding situations, as opposed to 24; the clear-path foul rule will be simplified; and the definition of a "hostile act" will be expanded for purposes of triggering instant replay review.

      The shot clock goes to 14 seconds following offensive rebounds, a measure aimed at increasing shot attempts particularly late in close games. The shot clock reset to 24 seconds anytime the ball hit the rim in previous seasons.

      --NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a memo to all 30 teams urging them to hire, promote and protect women in the workplace.

      The memo comes one day after the findings of an investigation into sexual harassment and workplace misconduct with the Dallas Mavericks. Silver asked teams to review the investigative findings and adhere to portions of the demands in place for the Dallas organization.

      "Respect and integrity are core NBA values," Silver wrote in the memo, published by ESPN. "And we must all work to ensure that they are reflected in the culture and workplaces of our organizations."

      --Field Level Media

  • Mavericks' Nowitzki slated for reserve role
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    Dirk Nowitzki has come off the bench 31 times in 20 NBA seasons.

    • The future Hall of Famer could more than double that number this season.

      The 40-year-old Nowitzki is accepting of a reserve role, and saw it coming when the team signed free-agent center DeAndre Jordan in the offseason.

      "When we signed DeAndre, it was pretty much clear in my head that I'm coming off the bench," Nowitzki said at the Mavericks' media day on Friday. "It's all about winning, at the end of the day. Whatever puts us in the best position to win is what we're going to roll with, and coach (Rick) Carlisle has obviously shown over his time here that he's willing to try anything. If that's the case, and I'm coming off the bench, we better keep (an exercise) bike ready and keep a couple of massage therapists in the back, and I'll be ready to go."

      Nowitzki, who ranks sixth in NBA history with 31,187 points, averaged 12.0 points last season in 77 games. The average was the second lowest of his career with only his rookie campaign (8.2) being lower.

      He also is recovering from ankle surgery and hopes to be ready to play at some point during the preseason.

      Carlisle said he plans to play rookie Luka Doncic as the starting power forward next to Jordan. The other projected starters are small forward Harrison Barnes, shooting guard Wesley Matthews and point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

      "It's pretty obvious at this point -- and Dirk knows this, and we've talked about it -- that we have to move the franchise forward the right way," Carlisle said. "Dennis and Matthews and Harrison and Luka and DeAndre right now look to me like the best team to start games. We need Wes out there to guard the best wing player, the best perimeter player. We need DeAndre out there to be our center. And I think the other pieces fall into place."

      The Mavericks were just 24-58 last season -- representing their most losses since a 20-62 record in 1997-98 -- so trying something different seems to be a prudent approach, particularly with Nowitzki no longer one of the NBA's biggest stars.

      "Look, for 20 years, he's been a starter," Carlisle said of Nowitzki. "We're going to have to really work on the best way to get him prepared to go into the game if this is going to be the way that we go.

      There will be constant dialogue. We're going to have a lot of communication about it."

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA Board approves rules changes
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    Three rules changes were approved by the NBA Board of Governors on Friday.

    • The NBA announced adjustments, unanimously recommended by the league's competition committee, were unanimously approved.

      Beginning with the 2018 NBA preseason, the shot clock will reset to 14 seconds in offensive rebounding situations, as opposed to 24; the clear-path foul rule will be simplified; and the definition of a "hostile act" will be expanded for purposes of triggering instant replay review.

      The shot clock goes to 14 seconds following offensive rebounds, a measure aimed at increasing shot attempts particularly late in close games. The shot clock reset to 24 seconds anytime the ball hit the rim in previous seasons.

      The change to the clear-path foul erases some of the judgment calls for referees by requiring only that the offensive player is ahead of all defensive players and in control of the ball or ready to receive an already released pass. The previous rule included more nuance about the defender's specific positioning and opportunity to make a play. The new language removes the requirement for the play to start in the backcourt, since transition plays can begin in the frontcourt.

      The third rule adopted relates to any "hostile act" that triggers the use of instant replay to include not just player-to-player interactions but also any hostile interaction between a player and a coach, referee or fan.

      --Field Level Media

  • Silver to NBA teams: Hire, promote, protect women
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a memo to all 30 teams on Friday urging them to hire, promote and protect women in the workplace.

    • The memo comes one day after the findings of an investigation into sexual harassment and workplace misconduct with the Dallas Mavericks. Silver asked teams to review the investigative findings and adhere to portions of the demands in place for the Dallas organization.

      "Respect and integrity are core NBA values," Silver wrote in the memo, published by ESPN. "And we must all work to ensure that they are reflected in the culture and workplaces of our organizations."

      Silver and the NBA launched a hotline available leaguewide to promote respect in the workplace following the Sports Illustrated story that helped launch an investigation of the Mavericks.

      Mavericks owner Mark Cuban claimed not to know of the workplace issues. He donated $10 million to raise awareness about domestic violence.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Wolves owner plans to trade Butler
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    In the days since Minnesota guard Jimmy Butler reportedly requested a trade, the Timberwolves have been fielding calls from teams looking to add the four-time All-Star.

    • The message from Minnesota's front office has been the same each time -- the Timberwolves intend to keep their star forward, according to ESPN.

      But ESPN also reported that owner Glen Taylor is expected to be involved in any discussions about a potential trade, and is far more willing to unload Butler than the front office. ESPN reported later Friday that Taylor told others at the Board of Governors meeting that Butler is available and inquiries should come through Taylor, if necessary.

      "The owner's trading him," a Board of Governors attendee told ESPN. "That was made clear. It's just a matter of when."

      The later report from ESPN added that the disconnect between Taylor and the front office has other teams believing a dispute between Taylor and team president and head coach Tom Thibodeau -- who oversees general manager Scott Layden -- could be coming regarding the Butler situation. Many at Friday's meeting believe Taylor wants to reach a resolution regarding Butler's request quickly, per ESPN.

      The Athletic, which first reported the trade request, said that Butler gave the Timberwolves a list of teams he would consider signing with for the long term and told Thibodeau he would leave in free agency next summer. Thibodeau has no interest in trading Butler.

      Butler, 29, is said to favor the Los Angeles Clippers, but also reportedly has interest in the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. All three teams will have maximum salary slots available next season.

      Butler's interest in the Clippers is fueled in part because Los Angeles will have two max contract slots available in July, ESPN reported, citing league sources. The second vacancy could go to All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, who could be a free agent next summer after his trade from San Antonio to Toronto two months ago.

      Taylor, who has overseen trades of All-Stars Kevin Love and Kevin Garnett out of Minnesota, would consider any trade in which the return is high and the Wolves' partner in the deal is willing to take on significant salary.

      Various rumors over the past year have suggested Butler would also be interested in teaming up with Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, who could be a free agent after this season as well.

      Butler joined Minnesota in a trade with the Chicago Bulls in June 2017. He played in 59 games for the Timberwolves last season, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

      Butler is entering the fourth season of a five-year, $92.3 million contract he signed with Chicago in 2015, but he can enter the free agent market next summer by opting out of the final year. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $18.7 million in 2018-19.

      In July, Butler reportedly turned down Minnesota's four-year extension offer worth $110 million.

      A first-round draft pick in 2011, Butler was named the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2014-15. He has made the All-NBA Third Team twice and the All-Defensive Second Team four times.

      --Field Level Media

  • Magic praises Lonzo's shot, predicts breakout year
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 21, 2018

    Lonzo Ball worked hard on his shot during the offseason.

    • The young guard's hard work has earned at least one appreciative critic: Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson.

      "We didn't want to bother him (with his shot)," Johnson said Thursday at the Lakers' practice facility. "I think he decided to do that on his own. ... And, man, it is beautiful."

      Johnson said he has seen progress both mentally and physically from Ball, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He predicted a breakout season from the guard, who averaged 10.2 points and 7.2 assists per game a season ago.

      "We explained that this is going to be the most important offseason and while he could be on the court, his shot looked great," Johnson said to reporters. "He is going to be ready to have a breakout season and build on what he did last season, because it was only a couple of things he had to do better, and that was driving to the basket, finish and get the midrange in terms of getting his shot where he is on balance. It is not his shot. He just has to be on balance. ... I am excited for Lonzo, and he is going to be fine."

      Ball will play alongside prized free agent signing LeBron James this season.

      "I think his shot looks incredible," general manager Rob Pelinka said of Ball. "He was here every day. He was one of the most committed guys this offseason. ... The way he's shooting the ball looks a lot more fluid now.

      "One of the things about his college metrics is he was an outstanding 3-point shooter. With this team, with so many different ball-handlers, I think that's a strength for him. If he pushes it ahead to someone and runs and fills a spot, and he's a catch-and-shoot player, he's going to have the ability, I think, to be a good shooter."

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Knicks president 'not taking any risks' on Porzingis
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 20, 2018

    When Kristaps Porzingis will return to the court at Madison Square Garden is anyone's guess.

    • New York Knicks team president Steve Mills updated the media on Thursday about Porzingis' recovery from the torn ACL in his left knee that he suffered in February, and he didn't commit to when the 7-foot-3 Latvian would suit up again.

      "There are a series of tests that are constantly taking place to see exactly where he is in his rehab," Mills said. "As he hits certain milestones we'll continue his rehab process all towards the direction of when he feels 100 percent comfortable, when we feel 100 percent comfortable. We're not taking any risks with him."

      In 48 games last season, Porzingis averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The 23-year-old is entering his fourth season. He is eligible for a five-year, $157 million contract extension, which would have to be offered and signed by Oct. 31 or otherwise he would have to wait until after the season.

      --The Philadelphia 76ers officially named former player Elton Brand as the team's new general manager.

      News initially broke on Tuesday that the team would promote Brand, who was previously the 76ers' vice president of basketball operations and GM of the G League affiliate Delaware Blue Coats, to fill its vacant GM position.

      In a statement, Brand called the promotion "a tremendous honor." Brand, 39, reportedly impressed both team ownership and head coach Brett Brown -- who also had been serving as interim GM -- during the team's extended interview process, one that raised eyebrows around the league for lasting months past the NBA draft in June as well as the start of free agency in July.

      --Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and John Wall have formed "Assist for Hurricane Florence," an online fundraiser similar to the one J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans formed after Hurricane Harvey ravaged his community a year ago. Watt's effort raised $41.6 million.

      Paul and Wall are North Carolina natives, and Curry attended high school and college in the state.

      Their effort, being administered by the Edward Charles Foundation, had raised $52,000 of its $500,000 goal as of Thursday afternoon. Another famous North Carolinian, Michael Jordan, already has made a pair of $1 million donations to help victims, contributing to the American Red Cross and Foundation For The Carolinas' Hurricane Florence Response Fund.

      --Field Level Media

  • Curry, Paul, Wall launch Hurricane Florence fundraiser
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 20, 2018

    Three star NBA guards have joined forces to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Florence in North Carolina.

    • Stephen Curry, Chris Paul and John Wall have formed "Assist for Hurricane Florence," an online fundraiser similar to the one J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans formed after Hurricane Harvey ravaged his community a year ago. Watt's effort raised $41.6 million.

      Paul and Wall are North Carolina natives, and Curry attended high school and college in the state.

      Curry tweeted: "Please join myself, @CP3 and @JohnWall supporting our home state of North Carolina and the surrounding area in #HurricaneFlorence recovery efforts! A lot of work to do and any amount helps those in the area get back on their feet quickly."

      .@stephencurry30, @johnwall & myself are teaming up to help with the #HurricaneFlorence relief efforts in the Carolinas! Donations will go to organizations on the ground helping the community - and any amount helps!! Join us by donating at https://t.co/3jOFgqEDzu pic.twitter.com/TIw6z2FNoK

      — Chris Paul (@CP3) September 20, 2018

  • Knicks president on Porzingis: 'We’re not taking any risks with him'
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 20, 2018

    When Kristaps Porzingis will return to the court at Madison Square Garden is anyone's guess.

    • New York Knicks team president Steve Mills updated the media on Thursday about Porzingis' recovery from the torn ACL in his left knee that he suffered in February, and he didn't commit to when the 7-foot-3 Latvian would suit up again.

      "There are a series of tests that are constantly taking place to see exactly where he is in his rehab," Mills said. "As he hits certain milestones we'll continue his rehab process all towards the direction of when he feels 100 percent comfortable, when we feel 100 percent comfortable. We're not taking any risks with him."

      In 48 games last season, Porzingis averaged 22.7 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. The 23-year-old is entering his fourth season.

      He is eligible for a five-year, $157 million contract extension, which would have to be offered and signed by Oct. 31 or otherwise he would have to wait until after the season. The Knicks don't seem to be in a hurry to get that done, but Mills said that shouldn't dissuade Porzingis from staying with the Knicks.

      "He'll never feel like he's not a cornerstone part of what we're trying to do here," Mills said. "He understands that. We make that crystal clear to him and his representation."

      By waiting until July to re-sign Porzingis as a restricted free agent, the Knicks would save about $10 million in cap space for 2019 free agents, the New York Daily News reported.

      --Field Level Media

  • 76ers officially announce Brand as GM
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 20, 2018

    The Philadelphia 76ers officially named former player Elton Brand as the team's new general manager on Thursday.

    • News initially broke on Tuesday that the team would promote Brand, who was previously the 76ers' vice president of basketball operations and GM of the G League affiliate Delaware Blue Coats, to fill its vacant GM position.

      In a statement, Brand called the promotion "a tremendous honor." He continued, "I've had the privilege of playing for this team and these amazing fans, so I understand and embrace the expectations. I'm excited to help accelerate the development of our dynamic young core and watch them continue to come together as a team and reach new heights. This is a special team, an incredible opportunity, and we will lead a disciplined and determined path to building a championship organization."

      Brand, 39, reportedly impressed both team ownership and head coach Brett Brown -- who also had been serving as interim GM -- during the team's extended interview process, one that raised eyebrows around the league for lasting months past the NBA draft in June as well as the start of free agency in July.

      Brand beat out several reported candidates who interviewed, both internally and externally. Last month the Sixers reportedly interviewed Golden State Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris, Utah Jazz assistant GM Justin Zanik and Houston Rockets vice president Gersson Rosas. Other in-house candidates reportedly included 76ers assistant GM Ned Cohen and player personnel exec Marc Eversley.

      The search began after Bryan Colangelo resigned in June on the heels of a controversy surrounding Twitter burner accounts used to critique players and share privileged information.

      "[Brand] is a unique talent who is intelligent, hardworking and has an incredible feel for the game," managing partner Josh Harris said in a statement. "This is a player's league and Elton's strong relationships and commitment to culture are very important as we grow this team. We're excited to have him as our GM as we work toward our goal of winning an NBA championship."

      The 1999 No. 1 overall pick, Brand played 17 NBA seasons, including 263 games across two stints for the 76ers, retiring after 17 games with Philadelphia in 2015-16.

      --Field Level Media

  • LeBron, Coogler collaborating on new 'Space Jam'
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    LeBron James and director/producer Ryan Coogler, best known for directing "Black Panther," are teaming up to make a long anticipated new "Space Jam" film.

    • SpringHill Entertainment, James and business partner Maverick Carter's company, announced the news Tuesday by tweeting out a cartoon image of a locker room with lockers for James, Bugs Bunny, Coogler and Terence Nance, who will direct the film. Coogler will be the producer.

      According to ESPN, James and Carter have been in talks to make a new "Space Jam" film for more than five years, and James was personally involved in recruiting Coogler. ESPN also reported the movie will not be a sequel to the 1996 "Space Jam" film starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, a movie that grossed $375 million worldwide, more than double any other basketball movie.

      James has previously been vocal with his praise for Coogler and "Black Panther," a Marvel blockbuster featuring a primarily black cast and a black superhero.

      "I loved his vision," James told The Hollywood Reporter of Coogler. "So for Ryan to be able to bring that to kids, it's amazing."

      "The 'Space Jam' collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie," he continued. "It's so much bigger. I'd just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don't just give up on their dreams. And I think Ryan did that for a lot of people."

      SpringHill signed an agreement with Warner Bros. Entertainment, which owns "Space Jam," in 2015.

      Filming is expected to start next offseason, and it's possible that Jordan could be involved.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: Butler reportedly wants trade from T-wolves
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    A week before the start of training camp, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler reportedly has requested a trade.

    • The four-time All-Star informed coach Tom Thibodeau of his wishes on Tuesday, according to a report Wednesday from The Athletic, whose sources said that Butler, 29, gave the Timberwolves a list of teams he'd consider signing with for the long term. According to ESPN, those teams are the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers.

      Butler joined Minnesota in a trade with the Chicago Bulls in June 2017. He played in 59 games for the Timberwolves last season, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

      Butler is entering the fourth season of a five-year, $92.3 million contract he signed with Chicago in 2015, but he can enter the free agent market next summer by opting out of the final year. In July, Butler reportedly turned down Minnesota's four-year extension offer worth $110 million.

      --Dallas Mavericks billionaire owner Mark Cuban will donate $10 million to women's leadership and anti-domestic violence groups, the NBA revealed as the findings of an independent investigation into workplace conduct were revealed.

      The probe found evidence of "disturbing and heartbreaking" workplace misconduct by current and former members of the Mavericks' organization, the NBA revealed.

      In a joint statement, the league detailed findings after an investigation that lasted several months following the bombshell Sports Illustrated report that revealed a series of harassment allegations against former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery, two domestic violence incidents involving former team reporter Earl K. Sneed and a series of misconduct incidents by former ticket sales employee Chris Hyde.

      --Lakers guard Lonzo Ball, the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft who played in 52 games last season, is not ready for contact and will be limited when Los Angeles opens training camp next week.

      Head coach Luke Walton said the Lakers are in no rush to put Ball into full-contact drills. Ball had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July.

      The addition of LeBron James in the offseason opened conversation about how the Lakers might use Ball, a pass-first guard who plays with the ball in his hands, while also running the offense through James. The Lakers also signed Rajon Rondo, who could eat into Ball's minutes at point guard.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA mandates Cuban to donate $10M to women's groups
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    Dallas Mavericks billionaire owner Mark Cuban will donate $10 million women's leadership and anti-domestic violence groups the NBA revealed Wednesday as the findings of an independent investigation into workplace conduct were revealed.

    • The probe found evidence of "disturbing and heartbreaking" workplace misconduct by current and former members of the Mavericks' organization, the NBA revealed.

      In a joint statement released Wednesday, the league detailed findings after an investigation that lasted several months following the bombshell Sports Illustrated report that revealed a series of harassment allegations against former team president and CEO Terdema Ussery, two domestic violence incidents involving former team reporter Earl K. Sneed and a series of misconduct incidents by former ticket sales employee Chris Hyde.

      Ex-New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram headed the inquiry that revealed 15 women within the Mavericks' organization were victims of harassment by Ussery that included "inappropriate comments, touching, and forcible kissing."

      Hyde was found by investigators to have engaged in several examples of "improper workplace conduct" that included inappropriate sexual comments to women, shared and viewed pornographic images and videos, unwanted sexual advances and violent outbursts toward colleagues.

      The investigation also alleged that the ex-Mavs.com writer Sneed perpetrated two separate acts of domestic violence, with one coming against a team employee.

      The league said the independent investigation interviewed over 200 witnesses, and none said they informed Cuban about the conduct of Ussery, a one-time rising star in 18 years with the franchise who left the organization in 2015. Cuban was not mentioned by any witnesses as having direct knowledge of any improper behavior, matching his denials since the SI story went public in February.

      Nonetheless, the league concluded that no one within Mavs management helped curtail any misbehavior by its employees, creating a culture where violations continued to fester without adequate protection and consequences.

      "The findings of the independent investigation are disturbing and heartbreaking and no employee in the NBA, or any workplace for that matter, should be subject to the type of working environment described in the report," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, per the statement. "We appreciate that Mark Cuban reacted swiftly, thoroughly and transparently to the allegations first set forth in Sports Illustrated -- including the immediate hiring of Cynthia Marshall as CEO to effect change, but as Mark has acknowledged, he is ultimately responsible for the culture and conduct of his employees."

      Per the announcement, the league also mandated that the team improve and implement "Respect in the Workplace" for all staff members, including Cuban. In addition, the Mavericks are required to submit quarterly reports to the NBA office with updates and recommendations to its related human resources policies.

      In the weeks after the SI story was published, the Mavericks hired Cynthia Marshall, former chief diversity officer and vice president of human resources at AT&T, as the team's new CEO with the purpose of transforming the internal culture in the organization.

      The league cited Marshall's immediate directives in helping halt some of the alleged misconduct that was overlooked in the past. Marshall, who said upon her hiring that she was "disgusted" by SI's story, emphasized three main focuses to address the franchise's issues: an independent investigation, cultural transformation and operational effectiveness.

      "I really want to see us as a model of how to respond to this," Marshall said. "This is going on all around the country. I want us to be a model."

      Since coming aboard, the NBA said Wednesday that the team has added and replaced several leadership posts within the franchise, including hiring a new head of Human Resources, a Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, a head of Diversity & Inclusion and a new General Counsel.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: Timberwolves' Butler requests trade, eyes Clippers
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    A week before the start of training camp, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler reportedly has requested a trade, according to multiple media sources Wednesday.

    • His favored destination is the Los Angeles Clippers, according to a report from ESPN later in the day.

      The four-time All-Star informed coach Tom Thibodeau of his wishes on Tuesday, according to a report earlier in the day from The Athletic.

      The Athletic's sources said that Butler, 29, gave the Timberwolves a list of teams he'd consider signing with for the long term. An earlier report from ESPN listed the Clippers, the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks as place Butler would want to go, before the later report singling out the Clippers.

      Butler's interest in the Clippers is fueled in part because Los Angeles will have two max contract slots available in July, ESPN reported, citing league sources. The second vacancy could go to All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, who could be a free agent this summer after his trade from San Antonio to Toronto two months ago.

      Various rumors over the last year have suggested Butler would also be interested in teaming up with Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, who also could be a free agent after this year.

      Butler joined Minnesota in a trade with the Chicago Bulls in June 2017. He played in 59 games for the Timberwolves last season, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game.

      Butler is entering the fourth season of a five-year, $92.3 million contract he signed with Chicago in 2015, but he can enter the free agent market next summer by opting out of the final year. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $18.7 million in 2018-19, according to Spotrac.

      In July, Butler reportedly turned down Minnesota's four-year extension offer worth $110 million.

      A first-round draft pick in 2011, Butler was named the NBA's Most Improved Player in 2014-15. He has made the All-NBA Third Team twice and the All-Defensive Second Team four times.

      --Field Level Media

  • Lakers G Ball not ready for contact
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 19, 2018

    Lakers guard Lonzo Ball is not ready for contact and will be limited when Los Angeles opens training camp next week.

    • Head coach Luke Walton said the Lakers are in no rush to put Ball into full-contact drills. Ball had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July.

      The second-year point guard was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 draft and played in 52 games last season.

      "He will be in camp participating. He won't be doing full 5-on-5 contact at camp, at the start of camp," Walton told Spectrum SportsNet. "So we're starting to ease him into it again, play some one-on-one, things like that, half-court stuff.

      "But with a player of his ability, and how much he's gonna be a part of our future, the conversation is ... take as much time as you need to make sure he's healthy. We won't rush him back at all."

      The addition of LeBron James in the offseason opened conversation about how the Lakers might use Ball, a pass-first guard who plays with the ball in his hands, while also running the offense through James.

      The Lakers also signed Rajon Rondo, who could eat into Ball's minutes at point guard.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA notebook: 76ers to promote Brand to GM role
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    The Philadelphia 76ers will name former on-court star Elton Brand, who had two separate stints for the team in his 17-year playing career, to fill the club's vacant general manager role, ESPN reported Tuesday.

    • NBA sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Brand will be promoted from his current position as the team's vice president of basketball operations. Per the report, Brand will be announced as the new GM at a press conference on Thursday.

      Wojnarowski said that Brand, 39, impressed both team ownership and head coach Brett Brown during the team's extended interview process, one that raised eyebrows around the league for lasting months past the NBA draft in June as well as the start of free agency in July.

      The surprising choice of Brand to handle the team's GM duties will cap a turbulent offseason for the up-and-coming 76ers, who leapt from just 10 wins two seasons ago to 52 last season. Brown has served as the interim GM since Bryan Colangelo was dismissed in June on the heels of a controversy surrounding Twitter burner accounts used to critique players and share privileged information.

      --Miami Heat president Pat Riley said that shooting guard Dion Waiters won't be ready for the start of training camp on Sept. 25 and likely will miss the start of the regular season.

      Waiters underwent surgery on the left ankle in mid-January and was informed at the time that he might not be available at the beginning of the season. Waiters averaged 14.3 points in 30 games last season. He played in his final game on Dec. 23 before undergoing the surgery a few weeks later.

      The Heat open the season on Oct. 18 against the Magic in Orlando and will have Dwyane Wade available to play shooting guard. Wade officially signed his one-year, $2.4 million deal on Tuesday. The 12-time All-Star has indicated this will be his final season.

      --Minnesota Timberwolves center Justin Patton had surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot, the team announced.

      The procedure, performed in New York, was deemed successful in addressing the fractured fifth metatarsal in Patton's right foot. Per the team, the 6-foot-11 center will be out of action indefinitely and did not disclose a timetable for recovery.

      It marks the second straight year that Patton, the No. 16 overall pick in 2017, has sustained a broken foot before the season. Entering his rookie season last year, Patton fractured his left foot, which sidelined him for summer league and training camp.

      --The NBA salary cap is climbing to $109 million in 2019 and $118 million in 2020, The Athletic reported.

      Luxury-tax rates will be $132 million next season and $143 million in 2020, per the report.

      In June, the NBA announced it set the salary cap for the 2018-19 season at $101.9 million.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: 76ers to promote ex-center Brand to GM role
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    The Philadelphia 76ers will name former on-court star Elton Brand to fill the team's vacant general manager role, ESPN reported Tuesday.

    • NBA sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that Brand, who had two separate stints for the Sixers in his 17-year playing career, will be promoted from his current position as the team's vice president of basketball operations.

      Per the report, Brand will be announced as the new GM at a team press conference on Thursday.

      Wojnarowski said that Brand, 39, impressed both team ownership and head coach Brett Brown during the team's extended interview process, one that raised eyebrows around the league for lasting months past the NBA draft in June as well as the start of free agency in July.

      Brand beat out several reported candidates who interviewed, both internally and externally. Last month the Sixers reportedly interviewed Golden State Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris, Utah Jazz assistant GM Justin Zanik and Houston Rockets vice president Gersson Rosas. Other in-house candidates reportedly included 76ers assistant GM Ned Cohen and player personnel exec Marc Eversley.

      The choice of Brand to handle the team's GM duties marks a bit of a surprise, but it will cap a turbulent offseason for the up-and-coming 76ers, who leapt from just 10 wins two seasons ago to 52 this past season. Brown has served as the interim GM since Bryan Colangelo was dismissed in June on the heels of a controversy surrounding Twitter burner accounts used to critique players and share privileged information.

      After public reports of the Sixers being rebuffed in efforts to bring other high-profile personnel executives, such as Houston GM Daryl Morey and San Antonio GM R.C. Buford, the team seemed to be digging in for a much longer selection process that would last into the regular season. Brown told local reporters this summer that the team was interested in hiring a more "collaborative" GM instead of giving complete and final say in personnel decisions to one person.

      "There are a very small number of elite sitting GMs and they're generally under contract with teams for a long time," Sixers managing partner Josh Harris told ESPN last month. "We're going to have a pretty selective list. This is not going to be huge tournament. We're going to talk to some people who aren't sitting GMs who could add value to our situation."

      Brand also had been serving as GM of the Delaware Blue Coats, the 76ers' G League affiliate. He retired for good from his playing career in 2016 after playing 17 games with the 76ers in his second go-around with the team.

      Brand, the former Duke star and No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft, was a 20 points-per-game scorer six times in his career and averaged a double-double in points and rebounds on six occasions. The two-time All-Star finished with career averages of 15.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in mostly starring roles with the Chicago Bulls (1999-2001), Los Angeles Clippers (2001-08) the 76ers (2008-12, 2016), Dallas Mavericks (2012-13) and Atlanta Hawks (2013-15).

      In addition to tabbing Brand as the team's GM, the 76ers also reportedly plan to promote Alex Rucker to executive vice president of basketball operations. Cohen and Eversley will retain their roles, sources told Wojnarowski.

      --Field Level Media

  • Heat G Waiters likely will miss start of season
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    Shooting guard Dion Waiters' ankle surgery isn't progressing as fast as hoped.

    • Miami Heat president Pat Riley said Tuesday that Waiters won't be ready for the start of training camp on Sept. 25 and likely will miss the start of the regular season.

      Waiters underwent surgery on the left ankle in mid-January and was informed at the time that he might not be available at the beginning of the season.

      "Dion will not be returning to the court until the Heat medical team and training staff deem him healed, rehabbed and physically conditioned for all basketball activities," Riley said in a statement.

      The news stunned Heat point guard Goran Dragic.

      "This is kind of out of the blue for me," Dragic said. "At the end of the day, he knows what is best for him. I'm hoping he's going to be ready when we need him."

      Waiters averaged 14.3 points in 30 games last season. He played in his final game on Dec. 23 before undergoing the surgery a few weeks later.

      The Heat open the season on Oct. 18 against the Magic in Orlando and will have Dwyane Wade available to play shooting guard.

      Wade officially signed his one-year, $2.4 million deal on Tuesday. The 12-time All-Star has indicated this will be his final season.

      "We are very delighted that Dwyane decided to return," Riley said. "I believe that Dwyane can play a big part in us winning. That's what he is all about. I'm glad he's back."

      --Field Level Media

  • T-wolves C Patton out indefinitely after foot surgery
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    Minnesota Timberwolves center Justin Patton had surgery to repair a broken bone in his right foot, the team announced Tuesday.

    • The procedure, performed in New York, was deemed successful in addressing the fractured fifth metatarsal in Patton's right foot. Per the team, the 6-foot-11 center will be out of action indefinitely and did not disclose a timetable for recovery.

      Prior to surgery on Sunday, a source told the Star Tribune that Patton broke his right foot during pre-camp workouts.

      It marks the second straight year that Patton has suffered a broken foot before the season. Entering his rookie season last year, Patton fractured his left foot, which sidelined him for summer league and training camp.

      Last season's foot injury delayed his NBA debut, with the former Creighton center playing 38 games for the Iowa Wolves, Minnesota's G League affiliate, before playing under four minutes in a game against Utah on April 1.

      In April, Patton underwent surgery to "encourage further healing" in his left foot and the fractured fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

      Patton, the No. 16 overall pick in 2017, joined the Timberwolves in a draft-night trade that brought star forward Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen.

      --Field Level Media

  • NBA salary cap: $109M in 2019, $118M in 2020
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    The NBA salary cap is climbing to $109 million in 2019 and $118 million in 2020, The Athletic reported.

    • Luxury tax rates will be $132 million next season and $143 million in 2020, per the report.

      In June, the NBA announced it set the salary cap for the upcoming 2018-19 season at $101.9 million.

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: Jack's going back to New Orleans
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    Guard Jarrett Jack, by no means a stranger to New Orleans, is going back for a third NBA stop there, according to a report from The Athletic on Monday.

    • Jack, who played 115 games for the New Orleans Hornets 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, then two games for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2016-17, will sign a one-year contract, according to the report from Shams Charania.

      Jack played 62 games, starting 56 of them, for the New York Knicks last season, averaging 7.5 and 5.6 assists in 25 minutes per game.

      The Georgia Tech product will be starting his 14th NBA season, having also played for Portland, Indiana, Toronto, Golden State, Cleveland and Brooklyn.

      In 867 games, 399 as a starter, he has averaged 10.8 points and 4.6 assists in just under 28 minutes per game.

      Jack was taken in the first round, 22nd overall, by Denver in the 2005 draft, and he was traded to Portland the draft rights to Linas Kleiza and the draft rights to Ricky Sanchez.

      --Field Level Media

  • SI's Lee Jenkins joins Clippers' front office
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    Sports Illustrated is losing a second writer in 13 months to a front office job with an NBA team.

    • Lee Jenkins, SI's lead NBA writer for the past eight years, is departing to become executive director of research & identity for the Los Angeles Clippers.

      According to the Clippers, Jenkins' position is the first of its kind for any NBA team. He will use his extensive reporting background and interviewing style to contribute to the franchise's amateur and professional scouting infrastructure.

      "Sports Illustrated called on my 30th birthday, the greatest gift of my professional life," the 40-year-old Jenkins said in an article by the magazine. "I was one of those kids who grew up running to the mailbox on Thursday afternoons. SI taught me to read, and then, to write. With dream jobs, reality often disappoints, but everything about SI only exceeded my imagination. I've worked alongside my idols, Tim Layden, Tom Verducci and S.L. Price, and with my friends, Michael Rosenberg, Chris Ballard and Greg Bishop. There is no honor in this business like sharing a page with them.

      "SI remains the ultimate platform for sportswriting and I would not leave for another media outlet. But I was offered an extraordinary opportunity to work in the front office of an NBA team and see the league I cover from a different angle. I've been privileged to tell a lot of triumphant basketball stories over the past decade. With Steve Ballmer and Jerry West, Lawrence Frank and Michael Winger, Doc Rivers and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, I'm going to try to help build one."

      Jenkins will work with Clippers president of basketball of operations Frank and general manager Winger in the franchise's reshaped front office.

      "Lee has spent his career profiling elite athletes, including most of the top players in the NBA," Frank said in a Clippers release. "Given Lee's talent, knowledge, and credibility, we hope to blend his approach with our existing evaluation systems and highlight the personalities of our players. He is the NBA's preeminent storyteller and adding him to the team is a reflection of Steve's commitment to innovation and building a best-in-class organization."

      The other SI writer who recently departed was Luke Winn, formerly a senior writer who covered college basketball, baseball and the Olympics before he was hired by the Toronto Raptors as director of prospect strategy in August 2017.

      On Monday night, Jenkins told ESPN: "As a reporter, I can ask a hundred questions to a hundred people, but I could never know what really goes on behind the curtain. The deadline. The draft. Free agency. All the strategy and gymnastics and prep work that goes into those events, but also the everyday of an organization. On a personal level, I came to the realization that no matter how many player profiles I write, I still have a ton to learn about the NBA, and the best way to learn it is through immersion. ...

      "This team is interested not just in what players do but who they are -- how they're wired, how they're motivated -- and that's an area I love to explore. But I have to be honest with myself. This is all very new and there will be trial and error. All I know for sure is that the Clippers have the tools to build one of the great sports stories, and I'm excited to contribute."

      Jenkins joined SI as a senior writer in 2007. His primary beat has been the NBA since 2010.

      --Field Level Media

  • Spurs hire Barry as VP of basketball operations
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 17, 2018

    The San Antonio Spurs hired former player and television analyst Brent Barry as vice president of basketball operations on Monday.

    • Barry reportedly had been considering making such a move since early this decade.

      The 46-year-old Barry retired as a player in 2009 and joined Turner Sports the following year. He worked for NBA TV in addition to broadcasts on TNT.

      Barry was part of two NBA title teams with the Spurs (2005 and 2007) during his 14-year playing career. He averaged 9.3 points, 3.2 assists, 3.0 rebounds and made 1,395 3-point baskets in 912 games (449 starts) with the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics, Spurs and Houston Rockets.

      Barry replaces Monty Williams, who departed in June to become an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers.

      Barry is the son of basketball Hall of Fame member Rick Barry.

      --Field Level Media

  • Wade back with Heat for final season
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 17, 2018

    Dwyane Wade kept his fans waiting to almost the cusp of NBA training camp, but in an emotional video, he told them what they wanted to hear.

    • "I feel like it's right to ask you guys to join me for one last dance, for one last season," he said about his decision to return to the Miami Heat for a 16th NBA season.

      Wade, a 36-year-old free agent, had previously said it was either play for the Heat this season or retire, and he opted for the former.

      "This is it. I've given this game everything that I have, and I'm happy about that. I'm going to give it for one last season, everything else I have left," he said in the 10-minute video titled "One Last Dance ..." and posted on YouTube.

      The 12-time All-Star played his first 13 seasons with the Heat before signing with the Chicago Bulls for 2016-17. He started the 2017-18 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers before being traded back to Miami for the final 21 games of the season.

      Wade holds career averages of 22.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He averaged 12.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game coming off the bench for the Heat last season.

      He was a key part of three NBA championship teams in Miami, the first alongside Shaquille O'Neal in 2006 and then two with LeBron James and Chris Bosh, in 2012 and 2013. Wade was the NBA Finals MVP in 2006.

      Wade was selected to the NBA All-Defensive team three times, and he won the league's scoring championship in 2008-09 when he averaged 30.2 points.

      Wade reportedly received a three-year, $25 million offer to play this summer for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls in China.

      Wade's return leaves the Heat with 20 players, the maximum, on their training camp roster.

      --Field Level Media