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BDL’s 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Minnesota Timberwolves (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 12 Oct 2015 18:21:08 PDT)
The Timberwolves have a past-his-prime veteran battling a before-his-time fledgling for minutes at every position, which should make for an interesting basketball season in Minnesota. There’s 24-year-old Ricky Rubio and Final Four MVP Tyus Jones sandwiched around old man Andre Miller at point guard; slam dunk champ Zach LaVine and seasoned Kevin Martin at off guard; Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins and recent top prep recruit Shabazz Muhammad squeezing 2004 NBA champ Tayshaun Prince at small forward; No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns and living legend Kevin Garnett at big forward; and rapidly developing Gorgui Dieng alongside soon-to-be 30-year-old Nikola Pekovic at center. That’s one weird depth chart. [ Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Sign up for a league today ] The mentoring program in Minnesota may pay dividends down the line, but adding 39-year-olds Garnett and Miller with 35-year-old Prince to a team that won 16 games last season probably won’t translate to a worst-to-first season in the Western Conference. And who cares? This is Year 2 of the post-Kevin Love era, and the Timberwolves already seem better positioned for the long haul than they ever were with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ tertiary star. Heck, with the last two top picks headlining a talented young core that remains under their control through at least 2018, these Wolves might one day be better than the team Garnett led to a conference finals the last time he was in a Minnesota uniform. By then, Garnett will have his feet up on a desk in his front office , and for now Timberwolves fans get to enjoy both at the same time.

BDL’s 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Chicago Bulls (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 12 Oct 2015 16:54:55 PDT)
In the end, everyone just wanted the end to hurry up and get here. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] The Chicago Bulls sulked through a purgatorial season in 2014-15, never quite catching fire or establishing themselves as a true contender. The hoped-for roadblock in the way of LeBron James’ narrative chasing in Cleveland never materialized, as Chicago plugged its way toward 50 wins but achieved little in the way of consistency or rhythm. This mostly had to do with the inability of its mainstays — stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, alongside former coach Tom Thibodeau — to find solid footing. Thibodeau, in his mind, was cursed with needless minutes restrictions for both his former All-Stars, put in place by the team’s front office (to its discredit, two years too late), and he chirped about the handicap all season. Noah did not recover from the “minor” surgical procedure Chicago’s medical staff credited him for undergoing the previous May, and was an absolute liability offensively for most of the season. [ Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Sign up for a league today ] Rose, meanwhile, missed 31 games due to two sprained ankles and yet another surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee. The 2011 NBA MVP had his moments, but too often he seemed passive offensively, relying on his terrible 3-point shot to keep the attempts from the field up. Why Thibodeau, who barked at the most obvious of calls and innocuous of missteps, never confronted his point guard over his shot selection is anyone’s guess. This was the bed that the Chicago front office made, however, in backing off of Thibodeau for so long. By the time he was fired following a desultory second-round loss to LeBron’s Cavaliers, a parting seemed like the best move for two sides that were clearly sick of each other. The season wasn’t without its surprises, however. In spite of (and not “as a result of,” mind you) Thibodeau’s rather basic and obvious offensive sets, newly acquired center Pau Gasol enjoyed a renaissance season. The 7-footer made the All-Star team and carried the Bulls to several wins. Meanwhile, swingman Jimmy Butler worked tirelessly to prove that his early-season scoring outburst was no fluke, sustaining fantastic play on both ends on his way toward an All-Star berth of his own and max contract. The Bulls were never bigger than the sum of their parts, however, and this is where the coaching makeover comes in. Former Bull Fred Hoiberg was plucked from Iowa State to give this team a bit of a spark as head coach. He’ll be charged with propping up a lifeless offense that, while improved due to Gasol and Butler’s ascensions last season, was easy for opponents to map out. With a roster full of heady players who can’t help but give all on the other end, it is assumed that the defense will take care of itself, as Hoiberg (who is not far removed from working in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front office) seems like the rare NCAA-to-pros coach who should make a seamless transition. Quite a bit has to go right, however. Chicago still hasn’t settled on a starting lineup. Noah hopes to get one more shot to work alongside Gasol in a starting unit that seems straight out of every coach’s wildest dream, but that wild dream was an absolute nightmare for Thibodeau last season; in spite of their versatile gifts, Noah and Gasol just did not play well together. Rose, meanwhile, has already missed a few weeks of practice after fracturing his orbital bone, and Mike Dunleavy could be out for the better part of the season following back surgery. Potential starter Taj Gibson is weeks, if not months, away from being fully healthy following ankle surgery, and Noah hasn’t exactly performed like the 2013-14 model during the exhibition season. Then there is the matter of Rose, and how well a guy who can’t hit 3-pointers and isn’t a comfortable passer (not to say he’s selfish, just that it never came naturally to him) can thrive in an offense that seems more triangle than top-heavy. In a lot of ways, playing off the ball and darting along the baseline should seem right up Rose’s alley, but he’s always had the rock in his hands and the green light to do as he pleases. This isn’t to presume that Rose will pout as the play develops elsewhere, it’s just to assume that he’ll just … disappear. Chicago can’t have that. With Noah and Gasol potential free agents in 2016, and with the clock ticking, they need all hands on deck in 2015-16. Whether Rose and his teammates want to believe it or not is up to their own level of martyrdom, but this is a championship-worthy roster. Perhaps all the team needs is a coach who cares as much about April and May as he does December and January. 2014-15 in 140 characters or less: yeah flight leaves at 2 getting out as soon my locker’s clean wait sry supposed to be a dm Did the summer help at all? It couldn’t help but, um, help. This team was so sick of itself by the time the second-round series with Cleveland hit that the respite seemed almost court-ordered. The team did little-to-no tinkering with its roster, only adding the typical Ebullient Chicago Draft Pick From a Good Program in Bobby Portis. The Arkansas forward, selected 22nd overall by the Bulls in the draft, was born one month before Michael Jordan returned to play for Chicago partway through the 1994-95 season. Beyond that, Chicago just bet on its incumbents. An offseason of rest had to help Noah and Rose, righto? Gibson submitted to surgery on an ankle that he clearly should not have been playing on, while Dunleavy and the Bulls appeared to exhaust every option before giving in on that back surgery. Over the cap and not far from the luxury tax, the Bulls just worked around the fringes in potentially adding scorer Jordan Crawford while signing Butler to a well-earned five-year, $94 million contract. The Bulls had little choice but to move forward with what it already had in house, and in spite of all the caveats it’s hard not to blame the front office. Go-to offseason acquisition: Partially by choice but mostly because of its salary structure, the Bulls stayed quiet on the transaction front during the offseason, which makes the addition of Hoiberg not only the most significant addition of the offseason, but one of the league’s most compelling personnel moves. Hoiberg has never coached at this level, but the same applied prior to his time running Iowa State and that hardly seemed to stop him. A basketball lifer who, unlike his predecessor as Bulls coach, achieved some level of fame all the way back in his teens, Hoiberg brings a read and react offense to Chicago, bent on aligning itself with similar success stories in San Antonio, Golden State and Atlanta. The new coach’s designs should fall into place rather quickly, but one has to wonder if that isn’t soon enough.

BDL’s 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Denver Nuggets (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 12 Oct 2015 11:47:47 PDT)

Hawks rally late for 103-93 win over Pelicans (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 09 Oct 2015 20:32:41 PDT)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- - Dennis Schroder scored 11 points as the Atlanta Hawks overcame a slow first half to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 103-93 Friday night.

BDL's 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Washington Wizards (Ball Don't Lie)
(Fri, 09 Oct 2015 15:47:06 PDT)

NBA-National Basketball Association roundup
(Fri, 09 Oct 2015 15:38:07 PDT)
Atlanta Hawks guard/forward Thabo Sefolosha was found not guilty on Friday in a case stemming from a police incident outside a New York City nightclub in April. Sefolosha, 31, was arrested and charged on April 8 with obstructing governmental administration, refusing to clear the area of a crime scene, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct following an argument that resulted in the stabbing of Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland. A Manhattan jury deliberated for about an hour and found Sefolosha not guilty of all charges.

BDL’s 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Sacramento Kings (Ball Don't Lie)
(Fri, 09 Oct 2015 14:50:47 PDT)
If you can recall a more combustible season from an otherwise anonymous team, at least from the modern era, I’d love to hear it. Anything to get my mind off of the 2014-15 Sacramento Kings. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] The team itself may have had playoff aspirations entering the season, but those outside Sacramento (figuring that it would take around 49 wins to make the playoffs in the West) would have settled for, at the very worst, competency. This was still a mismatched roster working off of a series of lottery draft pick whiffs, trying to settle on a rotation and a cogent philosophy. Instead, the owner and the general manager fired the team’s highly-regarded coach (thought of well by observers and franchise players alike) just after an illness to DeMarcus Cousins sent the Kings on an early-season swoon. A season that began with a 9-5 start was sent reeling once the Kings ownership group promoted Tyrone Corbin to the We’re Obviously Going to Fire This Guy After the Seasons Ends Interim Head Coach role, promising the basketball lifer that he’d have the gig for the rest of the year prior to firing him after a 7-21 run. [ Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Sign up for a league today ] Enter George Karl and, because the team’s owner enjoys doing this, Vlade Divac. Karl finished the Kings’ season by winning as many games as the coach that the Kings fired to start the season, Michael Malone, but it took him six more games to do as much. Meanwhile, Divac ascended from what felt like a ceremonial role as team ambassador to a fully-fledged gig as the team’s personnel chief. This was news to the incumbent GM and his staff, who fled in Divac’s wake. Yet again, the Kings were left with a coach that was hired prior to the personnel director, which has never worked in Kings history and rarely works in NBA annals. The owner of the outfit squelched any goodwill he earned for helping keep the Kings in Sacramento by valuing name guys over substantive decision-makers, digging deeper holes for one of the NBA’s saddest franchises along the way. Good thing the name guys, despite what looks to be an ongoing disconnect, have potential. George Karl will, eventually, burn your team. He will clash with your front office, possibly your owner, and he will piss your players off. Before he gets to that point – and that point will come – he will sand down the edges and help your team win. He will think on the fly, call appropriate sets, and he will motivate. Karl has never been good at running teams with heavy expectations, but if you’re looking for an “it’s just us against the world, men”-sort of leader, he’s your guy. And the Kings need that guy right now because, well, nobody trusts this roster. Vlade Divac, meanwhile, knows how to run organizations. He might come off as the affable 7-footer that smoked as a Laker and flopped as a King, but he can put things in order. Just a few months after moving up the ranks in Sacramento he managed to put Karl – a man who is fighting to earn the record for most coaching wins in NBA history, mind you – in line after Karl said some accurate-yet-pointless things on record about DeMarcus Cousins, before pushing to trade his star center . As a result, everything is cool now ; with Karl even apologizing for discussing any King (read: DeMarcus bloody Cousins) in those terms: “But it’s my responsibility to be smart enough to not say things like that,” Karl continued. “So I did apologize because I thought that was the only thing, maybe some other things, but really the only thing that got us separated was that comment that then everybody wrote the we’re going to trade [Cousins].” “To be honest with you, I apologized to DeMarcus for making the trade comment that I’ve never coached a player that’s untradeable,” Karl told Christensen. “That was wrong for me to say, because you all (the media) took it and blew it up into crazy.” Yeah, George. The media. Because Woj totally makes stuff up, and because we totally didn’t say you were right in pointing out that any player is just about available for the right price before slamming you for going public with those thoughts – the actual thing you apologized for. The media. Can we talk about basketball now? 2014-15 season in 140 characters or less: lol Did the summer help at all? In the sense that it mostly kept George Karl and DeMarcus Cousins away from each other, and away from the media, yes. We apologize for clinging to the soap opera aspect of this, but players and coaches rarely come more combustible than DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl, and Karl tried to get Cousins traded against the wishes of his bosses . He’s been there since February. Beyond that, the Kings did truly shore up a bit. We hope. Rookie Willie Cauley-Stein was reported to look somewhat winded and zaftig during the first week of camp, but if he’s able to translate that “I’m Shane Battier, but I’m also 7-feet tall”-game to the pros, he could be the perfect frontcourt pairing with Cousins eventually. Signee Marco Belinelli has fared well on teams with both great and poor spacing (the Kings figure to be the latter), while Kosta Koufos remains as good as reserve centers come. Meanwhile, the team signed heady types like Quincy Acy, Luc Mbah a Moute, and swingman Caron Butler while retaining Omri Casspi (who enjoyed an NBA rebirth under Karl last season). These aren’t boffo names, but if Karl and Divac are working in concert this could settle into a solid enough rotation. Go-to offseason acquisition: Anytime your team acquires Rajon Rondo, it’s going to be Rajon Rondo. We’ve prattled on endlessly about the Cousins and Karl dynamic, and for good reason. With that established, Rajon Rondo is going to have the ball in his hands this year. He’ll be directing Karl’s offense and running – George hopes – Karl’s plays. He’ll have an entire training camp, a purportedly healthy knee, and a learned knowledge of the roster to lean on. In short, Rajon Rondo has no excuses.

NBA player Sefolosha acquitted in New York nightclub case
(Fri, 09 Oct 2015 13:59:50 PDT)
Atlanta Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha was acquitted by a jury on Friday of all charges related to an April confrontation with New York City police outside a nightclub that left him with a broken leg. Sefolosha, a 31-year-old Swiss citizen who missed the rest of the National Basketball Association season last spring after suffering the injury, was found not guilty by a six-member jury on charges of obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. The April 8 incident took place at 4 a.m. outside the 1 OAK nightclub in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood where Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland and his former fiancée were stabbed.

Atlanta Hawks' Sefolosha found not guilty in night club arrest case
(Fri, 09 Oct 2015 10:31:20 PDT)
By Daniel Bases NEW YORK, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Thabo Sefolosha, a forward for the Atlanta Hawks basketball team, was acquitted on Friday of all charges related to an April confrontation with New York City police outside a nightclub that left him with a broken leg. Sefolosha, a 31 year old Swiss citizen who missed the rest of the 2014-15 season, was found not guilty by a six person jury on the charges of obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. The April 8 incident took place at 4 a.m. outside the 1 OAK nightclub in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood where Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland and his former fiance were stabbed.

NBA player Sefolosha acquitted in incident with NY police
(Fri, 09 Oct 2015 10:25:10 PDT)
Swiss NBA player Thabo Sefolosha was acquitted Friday of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct during a confrontation with police outside a Manhattan night club in which his leg was broken. The New York jury handed down the not-guilty verdict after deliberating for less than an hour, acquitting the Atlanta Hawks forward on all counts. "I am happy ... that my name has been cleared," a visibly relieved Sefolosha told reporters as he exited the court house.

NYC jury acquits Atlanta Hawks' Sefolosha in police fracas (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 09 Oct 2015 08:48:21 PDT)
Atlanta Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha was acquitted Friday of charges stemming from a struggle with police outside a trendy New York City nightclub that left him with a broken leg and ended his NBA season. A Manhattan jury deliberated less than an hour before finding Sefolosha not guilty of misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. ... I'm just happy all this is over now and I can put this behind me, knowing my name has been cleared,'' the 31-year-old Sefolosha told reporters.

Thabo Sefolosha found not guilty of all charges stemming from NYPD altercation (Ball Don't Lie)
(Fri, 09 Oct 2015 08:07:07 PDT)
It took 90 minutes for a jury to acquit Atlanta Hawks wing Thabo Sefolosha of charges stemming from an altercation with police  following the stabbing of then-Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland outside a popular New York City nightclub in the wee hours of a morning this past April. Sefolosha was charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest during a post-stabbing fracas on the street outside the venue, and he was found not guilty on all accounts early Friday morning, according to The Associated Press . NBA Players' Association executive director Michele Roberts applauded the jury soon after the decision. THABO AQUITTED! JUSTICE PREVAILS! THABO HAD THE COURAGE TO FIGHT THE CHARGES - WE ARE SO PROUD! #NOTGUILTY — Michele Roberts (@MRobertsNBPA) October 9, 2015 Sefolosha and the NYPD offered conflicting accounts as to who was the aggressor during a melee that left the Hawks player with a broken leg that cost him the remainder of the 2014-15 NBA season — and may have ended Atlanta's season prematurely, too — but the jury ultimately sided with the Swiss native. He can now return his focus to the basketball court, although the possibility remains that Sefolosha could turn around and sue the NYPD in civil court, particularly if the 31-year-old doesn't regain form in 2015-16. If Thabo Sefolosha doesn't recover from his arrest-related injuries and he's not the same player, he'd seek massive damages in any lawsuit. — Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) October 9, 2015 Sefolosha's attorney accused the NYPD of profiling " a black man in a hoodie " during his opening remarks to the trial earlier this week. The city's police department is already facing harsh criticism concerning alleged racial profiling in  the arrest of tennis star James Blake and the choking death of Eric Garner . - - - - - - - Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Ball Don't Lie and Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

The 10-man rotation, starring *very* premature MVP talk (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 08 Oct 2015 19:58:15 PDT)
A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Sports Illustrated . Rob Mahoney checks in from the New Orleans Pelicans' first training camp under new head coach Alvin Gentry, where the players are all the same but everything is changing, and brings with him something so simple and clear that we hesitate to call it a prediction: "[Anthony] Davis would be an MVP candidate while playing for any coach in the league. Under Gentry he’s the clear favorite for the award." [ Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Sign up for a league today ] PF : . James Harden still thinks he was the NBA's Most Valuable Player last season, and enters this season eager to prove he can do even more, according to Fran Blinebury. (For what it's worth, Stephen Curry doesn't seem to think too much about all that.) SF : Bleacher Report . While the rest of us wonder when, not if , the Sacramento Kings will self-destruct this season, DeMarcus Cousins says this year's MVP trophy is "mine to grab" and that, for the first time in his career, the Kings have "playoff expectations." SG : SB Nation . Yes, Paul George got loose at the four-spot on Tuesday, but Mike Prada digs into the tape and sees that plenty of reason for the Indiana Pacers star to object to playing power forward — that's a lot of work. PG : . Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst dig deep to unearth the palace intrigue behind how the Atlanta Hawks' ownership group fell apart. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] 6th : Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News . Point guard Raul Neto looked impressive defensively in his preseason debut against the Los Angeles Lakers, and his dad loved John Stockton, so some Utah Jazz fans — eager for an answer at the point after Dante Exum's injury and amid Trey Burke's inconsistency — are already penciling the Brazilian rookie in for greatness. That has Jazz head coach Quin Snyder calling for brake-pumping. 7th : Eye on Basketball . Matt Moore sits down with Jameer Nelson to talk about what it takes to become a veteran leader, what it means to be a mentor, and how he views his role on a Denver Nuggets team intent on building around 19-year-old rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. 8th : Grantland . Jonathan Abrams on how Wesley Matthews became an NBA player, and how he's working his way back to being one after suffering arguably the most devastating injury an NBA player can suffer. 9th : Basketball Insiders . Ben Dowsett tries to figure out how Enes Kanter fits into new Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Billy Donovan's offensive and defensive philosophies, and comes away wondering just what Sam Presti spent $70 million to accomplish. 10th : . Our Ben Rohrbach, elsewhere, considers the decision facing the Boston Celtics and Brad Stevens: do we start Isaiah Thomas, or bring him off the bench as maybe the best sixth man in the league? - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

BDL’s 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Orlando Magic (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 08 Oct 2015 18:20:56 PDT)
The Orlando Magic have all the pieces. We just don’t know how they all fit yet.  Ever-improving 24-year-old 7-footer Nikola Vucevic is the eldest statesman in a starting lineup that features a fellow mid first-round find from the 2011 NBA draft, Tobias Harris, fresh off signing a four-year, $64 million extension in restricted free agency, and three top-10 picks from the 2013 and 2014 drafts — the uber-athletic trio of forward Aaron Gordon and guards Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton. [ Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Sign up for a league today ] Headlined by Vucevic, who was worthy of a 2014-15 All-Star invitation, even if he didn’t receive one, every member of the Magic’s young core has shown considerable promise. Mix this year’s No. 5 pick, Mario Hezonja, with an odd blend of untested youth and the team’s only players born before 1989 — Channing Frye, C.J. Watson and Jason Smith — and you’ve got arguably the league’s most unpredictable roster. There’s a reason Orlando has picked in the top five for three straight years. They’ve been bad. Like, really bad. They haven’t won more than 25 games in a season and own a .276 win percentage since trading Dwight Howard in 2012. Their Magic act has been worse than "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone"’s Rotten Tomatoes rating . It’s now up to prodigal son Scott Skiles to develop a cohesive unit out of this bunch in his first year coaching the Magic. His hardball approach has whipped young teams into shape in Phoenix, Chicago and Milwaukee, making playoff appearances in Year 2 of his short-lived tenure at each stop, but his act also meets a Siegfried & Roy end. But we’re talking Year 1 here, so he’s still all right. And the Magic might be, too.

Jury begins deliberations in Thabo Sefolosha-NYPD trial (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 08 Oct 2015 16:37:39 PDT)

Jury deliberating in trial of Atlanta Hawks' Thabo Sefolosha (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 08 Oct 2015 15:41:51 PDT)
A jury began deliberating in the criminal case against NBA player Thabo Sefolosha on Thursday, six months after he was arrested outside a trendy nightclub following a confrontation with police. The Atlanta Hawks guard-forward, who suffered a fractured right leg in the April 8 struggle with police, has pleaded not guilty to charges he repeatedly disobeyed the orders of the officers telling him to leave the area around the club where another NBA player, Chris Copeland, had been stabbed. ''They arrested him,'' Sefolosha's attorney, Alex Spiro, said in his closing argument.

BDL's 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Phoenix Suns (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 08 Oct 2015 14:05:29 PDT)

NBA star says NY police 'looked for reason' to arrest him
(Thu, 08 Oct 2015 11:43:28 PDT)
Swiss NBA player Thabo Sefolosha told a New York court Thursday that police were "looking for a reason" to arrest him, on the third day of his trial for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Lawyers for the Atlanta Hawks forward maintain that New York police officers who arrested him earlier this year outside a Manhattan nightclub handled him so aggressively that they broke his leg. Lawyers for the player and Sefolosha, who is black, have cast the incident as another case of overzealous police handling of black men in the United States.

Swiss-born black NBA player slams alleged police brutality
(Wed, 07 Oct 2015 20:14:31 PDT)
Swiss NBA star Thabo Sefolosha insisted Wednesday that he was targeted with unjustified police violence after an incident outside a night club, at his trial for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. Lawyers for the Atlanta Hawks forward, who is black, maintain that New York police officers who arrested him handled him so aggressively that they broke his leg. Police say Sefolosha was belligerent, and that he called an officer a midget.

Teague leads Hawks over Cavaliers 98-96 in preseason opener (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 07 Oct 2015 19:42:59 PDT)
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Jeff Teague scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half and the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 98-96 in the preseason opener for both teams.

LeBron James takes selfie with kids during timeout at Cavs preseason game (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 07 Oct 2015 19:32:28 PDT)
The NBA preseason is a time for teams to sort out their on-court systems and prepare for the season ahead, but it's also by nature a more relaxed atmosphere than what basketball fans usually see on the court. Players are a little looser, fans don't care quite so much about the final score, and coaches only yell for 40 minutes instead of their usual 48. It's basically the pro basketball version of a Casual Friday. [ Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Sign up for a league today ] If you're a kid, that also means you'll have a better chance to interact with your favorite player. Just look at this group of kids that ran up to LeBron James during a third-quarter replay review in Wednesday's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati. As LeBron waited at the scorer's table to restart the game, these kids took advantage of the break to grab a memorable moment: Dave McMenamin of details how it went down: During a ref review, about 30 kids rushed down an aisle to where LeBron was sitting at the scorer's table & LeBron posed for a group selfie — Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 8, 2015 Nice work, kids. Just don't expect the same outcome next month. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr:  The best slams from all of basketball] Cool moment aside, LeBron mostly struggled on Wednesday, shooting just 3-of-13 from the field in 22 minutes as the Hawks won 98-96 . Jeff Teague led all scorers with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting in 21 minutes. - - - - - - - Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @FreemanEric

Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic testify in NYPD case (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 07 Oct 2015 18:09:41 PDT)

BDL's 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Miami Heat (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 07 Oct 2015 16:44:00 PDT)
Pat Riley just rolls one big boffo experiment into another – he can’t help it. The name (if not “star”)-driven firepower of the 1990s and early aughts Miami Heat bled into a year of almost position-less basketball in Dwyane Wade’s first year, which then allowed Riley to go right back after stars ( this guy ) names (not stars at the time: Christian Laettner, Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, Gary Payton) to bring in a championship in 2006. This gave both Wade and Riley the capital to clear out and shoot for the moon with LeBron James and Chris Bosh in 2010. That trio brought home two titles and four Finals appearances before the top-heavy experiment petered out. Riley, ironically, went in the same oft-criticized direction as the Cavaliers did following LeBron’s move from the Cavaliers in 2010 with his 2014-15 Heat, but that capital (and the presence of three current or former All-Stars) allowed him to elude criticism. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Unfortunate injuries and a frightening illness also allowed Riley to elude criticism when his Heat missed the playoffs in 2015. The looming presence of the potential to possibly grab enough cap space by the hair of his suddenly-whiskered chinny-chin-chin to go after Kevin Durant in 2016 then allowed Riley to skate through the offseason without a major move. Will this be the year Riley finally faces the, oh god we didn’t mean to go here but alas here we are, heat? Probably not. Miami will enter 2015-16 with one of the more enviable starting lineups in basketball, while Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra will be afforded all the patience in the world as a smarter batch of NBA fandom and media are reminded that the lineup – Hassan Whiteside at center, Chris Bosh at big forward, Luol Deng at small forward, Wade at off guard and Goran Dragic at point guard – has yet to play a single minute together. [ Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Sign up for a league today ] And they’ll be given the buffer, knowing that Dwyane Wade always breaks down for certain stretches of the year. And that Chris Bosh, in his first season back after overcoming a scary pulmonary embolism bout, simply wasn’t the same player away from LeBron James despite what, overall, was a darn good year. And that Hassan Whiteside will be playing for a contract, and that he might not pass to anyone else all season. And that the wheels could fall off Luol Deng, like so many Bluesmobiles , at any time. And that Dragic and Wade, two guys who kind of need the ball, may never mesh. And that Josh McRoberts may not be the same after a meniscus surgery. And that, even with the storm and stress given all the credibility it deserves in 2014-15, the team may have underachieved at times. Riley will take it. He doesn’t know if his latest batch of goodness will turn into a Conference contender, and he doesn’t know how the 2016 offseason will play out once all those cap holds and incumbent free agents are accounted for. What he does know, with nine rings in as a player, assistant and head coach, and executive, is that he’s going to have some fun with it. And for all the caveats pushing down on the Heat’s collective shoulder right now, this figures to be a fascinating team to watch. 2014-15 season in 140 characters or less: "D-Wade here?" "Nah." "Chris back?" "No." "Hassan in?" "Nope." "Birdman?" "Out." "Mario around?" "Yep." "Dammit." Did the summer help at all? In some ways. For the pessimist, all Miami’s summer did was truly lay bare how difficult it will be to sign someone like Kevin Durant to a massive free agent deal in 2016. After giving up money in 2010 and 2014 to help accommodate LeBron James, Dwyane Wade opted out of his contract to start the offseason. After some consternation , he signed a one-year $20 million deal that would earn him $3.9 million more than the deal he opted out of. A fair move for both sides, no doubt, but one that allows for the nagging realization that Wade isn’t really thinking about that $3.9 million as much as he is the millions that await him as a 2016 free agent, with that salary cap rising. Had Wade, who turns 34 midseason, signed the long-term deal many thought he would – that Big Final Contract – things would be different. Now there’s the wonder that Wade will try, after giving up cash twice in his career to help the franchise, to make as much as possible or even (shock horror) bolt in 2016, denying Pat Riley a chance at his next Big Three around Durant. Beyond that, though, the team locked up Goran Dragic for a five-year $90 million deal that won’t be any sort of millstone just as long as the 29-year old plays up to expectation, and will be a downright bargain if he can not only mesh with Wade, but sustain his pell-mell style deep into Wade’s declining years. Luol Deng exercised his $10.1 player option, Gerald Green was brought in on the cheap, as was Amar’e Stoudemire. The optimist points to the fact that each of the recently injury and illness-hit Heat – Wade, Bosh, Deng, Chris Andersen, Josh McRoberts – have now had a summer to recuperate. This is a clean slate that is full of familiar names. Go-to offseason acquisition: One doesn’t want to burden the rookie with outsized expectations, but Miami hopes they pulled out the steal in the draft in Duke swingman Justice Winslow. The versatile 19-year old can’t help but hear the whispered comparisons to fellow draft drop-ees like Paul Pierce (come on) and Paul George (well …), and though he’ll be working behind Wade and a player in Luol Deng that has twice led the NBA in minutes per game, he’ll have his chances. Winslow didn’t shoot well from the outside during the Summer League or in his first exhibition game, but his heady style and out and out game should quickly ingratiate him in with his veteran teammates. To wit : “He belongs,” Dwyane Wade said. “He’ll continue to get comfortable with what his role is gonna be. He can play in this league. He has the body for it, he has the talent and he has a team around him so that he doesn’t have to do too much. This is the perfect situation for him.” Glaring weakness: There is a lot to choose from, this was a 37-year old team last season for very good reasons – reasons that could sustain through 2015-16.

BDL's 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Los Angeles Lakers (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 07 Oct 2015 16:11:46 PDT)

At trial, NBA's Sefolosha describes struggle with NYC police (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 07 Oct 2015 15:58:16 PDT)
A professional basketball player testified Wednesday that he was trying to give money to a beggar after a testy verbal exchange with a police officer when he was kicked in the leg and taken to the ground by the police. The Atlanta Hawks' Thabo Sefolosha, whose right leg was fractured in the struggle, said he had been following police orders to clear the area after the stabbing of another NBA player outside a New York City nightclub but was singled out by a particularly confrontational and vulgar officer. You're a midget,''' the 6-foot-6-inch guard-forward said of the officer, JohnPaul Giacona, who is 5 feet 7 inches tall.

Defense: NYPD profiled Sefolosha as 'black man in a hoodie' in April arrest (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 07 Oct 2015 11:23:30 PDT)

Defense lawyer: White officer targeted black NBA player (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:28:37 PDT)
A white police officer singled out a black professional basketball player as he filed out of a trendy nightclub this year, sparking a confrontation that resulted in the player's arrest and a season-ending leg fracture, a defense lawyer told jurors Tuesday. ''I don't know what he saw,'' attorney Alex Spiro said of the officer, JohnPaul Giacona, who first told the Atlanta Hawks' Thabo Sefolosha to clear the area early on April 8. ''The defendant does not think he needs to obey the law,'' assistant district attorney Jesse Matthews said.

Hawks begin preseason vs team that ended last season (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 06 Oct 2015 16:14:56 PDT)
The Atlanta Hawks open the preseason against the team they last saw in the Eastern Conference final. The Hawks were heading to Cincinnati to face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who blew out the top-seeded Hawks in four straight games to advance to the NBA Finals. While Wednesday night's contest won't mean much in the grand scheme of Atlanta's season, it will be the first glimpse of a team that got much bigger in the offseason but no longer has emotional leader DeMarre Carroll, who signed with conference rival Toronto.

BDL's 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Charlotte Hornets (Ball Don't Lie)
(Tue, 06 Oct 2015 12:53:47 PDT)

BDL’s 2015-16 NBA Season Previews: Los Angeles Clippers (Ball Don't Lie)
(Tue, 06 Oct 2015 07:58:40 PDT)
The Clippers were as close to a first-round exit in 2015 as they were to a Western Conference finals date with the Warriors, playing a pair of seven-game series against the Spurs and Rockets in the first two rounds of the playoffs. When all was said and done, their season ended no better than it had the previous three seasons. If you’re looking at the glass as half full, they were a Chris Paul hamstring pull away from reaching new heights as an organization in the first year under new owner Steve Ballmer. They’ve returned a core that includes a pair of perennial MVP candidates and a somewhat surprising Defensive Player of the Year contender, and they’ve reconstructed what was an abysmal bench with no cap space to spend. [ Yahoo Fantasy Basketball: Sign up for a league today ] And if you’re looking at the glass as half empty, Paul is now north of 30 years old, and we’re entering year five of the Paul-Blake Griffin-DeAndre Jordan triumvirate with nothing more than a trio of conference semifinals appearances to show for it. They’ve also added three strong personalities to an already volatile team chemistry experiment that nearly blew up in GM/coach Doc Rivers’ face over the summer. That cup could runneth over with championship champagne come June, if all goes according to plan. That is, if Rivers can work Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce, Josh Smith and a handful of newcomers into a roster that won 56 games despite having the NBA’s second-worst bench last season, the Clippers are contenders again. Or they could just as easily self-destruct and spill it all over their new uniforms . The real pressure won’t heat up until the Clippers reach the second round for the fourth time in five years, and it’ll all probably boil down to another seven-game series.

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