The Latest: Doc Rivers urging eligible players ‘to go vote’
The Latest on NBA media day from around the league on Monday (all times Eastern):
Doc Rivers says he’s always been political, he just doesn’t talk about it much.
But the Los Angeles Clippers coach is urging his players who are eligible to vote in next month’s midterm elections to do so, saying, “It’s more important now than ever.”
Rivers says, “We have to go vote. We have to go register. Black men have to go vote. We have to do better, so I talk to my players about it.”
Rivers cited the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court as one reason players should get out and vote.
The Denver Nuggets haven’t set any sort of timetable for the return of guard Isaiah Thomas or forward Michael Porter Jr.
Thomas is coming off March hip surgery, while the rookie Porter had a second back procedure in July.
Thomas said Monday at Nuggets media day that, “I’m taking my sweet time, because I rushed it before and that didn’t work out for me.”
Thomas signed a $2 million, one-year deal with Denver to prove he and his hip are worth a big-time investment.
He says, “I’m only going to go out on the court when I’m able to produce on a high level.”
Porter was taken by Denver with the 14th overall pick in the June draft. He was considered a top-five selection before a back injury that required surgery limited him to three games at Missouri in 2017-18.
He says, “As I get better, (a timetable) is something we’ll talk about.”
Vince Carter already has the attention of his young Atlanta teammates.
Entering his 20th and likely final season in the NBA, the 41-year-old Carter joined the Hawks on a one-year contract to mentor players with little or no experience and help steady a long season of rebuilding.
Atlanta’s nucleus of Trae Young, John Collins and Taurean Prince reached out to Carter, an eight-time All-Star, as soon as he signed.
Carter says he took the same approach early in his career. Veteran teammates Charles Oakley, Doug Christie, Dee Brown and Kevin Willis played with some of the game’s legends — Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins — and Carter gleaned as much information as he could.
Marcin Gortat says his clash with John Wall is over.
Of course, it probably helps that Gortat was traded to the Clippers during the offseason and Wall is still in Washington.
Gortat says he exchanged messages with Wall and there’s “no bad blood.”
Gortat says someone had to take the blame for last season, when the Wizards finished 43-39 and lost to Toronto in the opening round of the playoffs. Gortat says that because he was the oldest on the team he took responsibility.
He and Wall had exchanged words over the point guard’s seeming lack of defense that put the 6-foot-11 Gortat in the difficult position of guarding smaller, quicker players.
Gortat jokes that in December he’s going to take a photo when it’s 86 degrees in Los Angeles and there’s snow in Washington, D.C. He also couldn’t resist pointing out the Clippers training camp is in Hawaii.
LeBron James says the Los Angeles Lakers can have success this season without winning a championship.
James made his first significant public appearance since joining the Lakers with a 13-minute news conference at media day in El Segundo. The superstar acknowledged he’s excited for his first real practice Tuesday with his new teammates, saying it’s like “the first day of school.”
But after leading his teams to the past eight consecutive NBA Finals, James made it clear he doesn’t share the championship-or-bust mentality espoused by Kobe Bryant. James acknowledged the Golden State Warriors and other title contenders are years ahead of the Lakers, and he’s more interested in controlling how his new team prepares for success this season.
Call it The LeBron James effect.
After leading Cleveland to four straight NBA Finals in his second stint with the Cavs, James left as a free agent this summer and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers — creating a massive void in Cleveland.
Still, the Cavs feel there is life without James and are embracing the chance to rebuild without him.
Coach Tyronn Lue said Monday during Cleveland’s media day that the team has “new challenges and a new chapter as far young guys, old guys mixing to have a good team on the floor and making the playoffs. I don’t see this as a rebuild or anything different.”
Perhaps to pay respect to his former teammate, All-Star Kevin Love wore a pair of James’ model sneakers while making the rounds Monday.
DeMarcus Cousins has progressed in his recovery from surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon, is doing light shooting and other skill work on the court and will be able to do some noncontact work when the Warriors’ training camp begins.
Golden State general manager Bob Myers says anyone who figures the two-time defending champions plan to “save DeMarcus for the playoffs, I think that’s inaccurate, when he can play he’ll play.”
That doesn’t mean Cousins will be rushed. He was re-examined last week by Dr. Richard Ferkel, the surgeon who performed his procedure, and all was positive.
Cousins injured his Achilles in late January and it prematurely ended his season with the Pelicans.
Before the injury, Cousins average 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 48 games.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are taking trade offers for four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler.
Six days after Butler’s request to be moved to another team became public knowledge, the Timberwolves gathered for physical exams and media obligations the day before their first practice of training camp.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau says the Wolves will deal Butler “if it makes sense for the team.” If not, Thibodeau says he expects Butler to participate in practice once he’s finished rehabbing some injuries in about a week.
Butler arrived in Minnesota prior to last season in a trade with the Chicago Bulls, where he played for Thibodeau in his first four NBA seasons.
DeMar DeRozan wasn’t happy when he got sent to the San Antonio Spurs by Toronto in the deal that saw the Raptors land Kawhi Leonard.
He says the frustration is in the past.
DeRozan spoke at Spurs media day Monday, saying that talks with Spurs veteran Rudy Gay helped him get his mind right again. DeRozan’s close relationship with Toronto’s Kyle Lowry is well-known, but says the reason he was so tight with his former Raptors’ backcourt mate is because of Gay bringing them together.
DeRozan says “everybody looks at me and Kyle’s relationship, but me and Kyle’s relationship wouldn’t have started if it hadn’t been for Rudy. That should kind of speak volumes.”
DeRozan also says to be wanted by a coach as accomplished as Gregg Popovich and a franchise that wins so much as the Spurs is “definitely a blessing.”
Boston’s Kyrie Irving says spending part of his summer in Seattle at Jamal Crawford’s annual summer league is exactly what he needed to get acclimated to playing basketball again.
Irving joined Crawford and several NBA players including John Wall, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant at the event, which Crawford has helped organize since 2005. In all Irving spent about three weeks in the Pacific Northwest, participating in pickup games that drew spectators like Seattle-area resident and Celtics legend Bill Russell.
Irving said Monday at Boston’s media day that “it was just great to be up there getting some quality runs in.”
The Boston guard is coming off rehab from multiple left knee surgeries that prematurely ended his season last April. He was left to be a spectator while his Celtics teammates made a run to the Eastern Conference finals before falling in seven games to the Cavaliers.
He says his knee “feels great,” though he says only after playing in NBA games will help him fully feel like himself again.”
Hornets point guard Kemba Walker says he doesn’t want go play for a super team.
He wants to stay in Charlotte.
The two-time NBA All-Star becomes an unrestricted free agent next July. There is expected to be plenty of interest in him around the league next summer, but Walker says unequivocally that his goal is to continue playing for Michael Jordan’s Hornets.
The 28-year-old Walker said Monday at Hornets media day that he doesn’t “want to be nowhere else.”
Walker is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer and is entering his eighth season with the Hornets.
He said, “You see guys who are on elite teams. I don’t want to do that. I want to create something special here in Charlotte, something that we have never had here before. I want to create some consistency. And I want to be a part of that.”
Walker is “confident” the Hornets will try to resign him next summer, saying “I just have that feeling.”
Kristaps Porzingis says he is taking a conservative approach to his recovery from a torn ACL and has no timetable for his return to the court.
Porzingis was injured in February and the Knicks have said he won’t return until both the team and player are certain he is ready.
Porzingis said Monday during Knicks media day that he is running lightly but not sprinting yet. Part of the reason for taking the rehab process slowly, he says, is that doctors say there is no precedent for a 7-foot-3 player recovering from that type of knee injury.
Porzingis also says he is not thinking about a contract extension, which he would have to sign before the season starts or wait until next summer.
Kawhi Leonard knows that people want to know his future plans.
He’s more focused on the here and now.
Leonard spoke out as a member of the Toronto Raptors for the first time on Monday, and one of the questions he fielded at media day was about his future — specifically, whether it includes staying in Toronto past this season.
He didn’t offer any hints. Leonard says when it comes to what’s next, he looks at it “as a day-to-day process.”
Leonard says his focus “is on this year, this group that I have and striving to get to a championship. We all want to win and if you’re looking in the future you’re going to trip over the present.”
The Raptors held their media day in Toronto, and are flying to British Columbia for training camp that starts Tuesday.
New Washington Wizards center Dwight Howard could miss the start of training camp with a bad back.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said Monday at the team’s media day that Howard’s back is sore and his status is considered day-to-day.
Brooks says “we’ll see how he feels” on Tuesday, the first day of camp.
The coach says the Wizards are “not going to rush him.”
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra predicts that most Heat players won’t sleep well on Monday night, because they know what’s coming in the first day of practice on Tuesday.
Dwyane Wade said Monday at the Heat’s media day that he’ll sleep just fine.
The three-time NBA champion who’s entering his 16th and final season says he’s actually excited to get going, simply because he knows these are the first steps in what he’s calling “the last dance” of his career.
Wade says that he’s “trying to enjoy this, the first of the last, whatever it is, the last of the first, I don’t know, the last of the lasts. I’m just trying to enjoy it. There’s nothing that they can do to me this year that I haven’t seen or been a part of or done.”
The NBA offseason is over.
Media day — the day where most of the league’s 30 teams will have players and coaches answer questions about how they spent their summer vacation and discuss other more-pertinent matters — is Monday around the league. Dallas and Philadelphia got their media-day responsibilities out of the way late last week, because they are off to China for preseason games soon.
The other 28 teams will have availabilities throughout the day.
Golden State will be asked about the quest to win a third straight title. Minnesota will be talking about Karl-Anthony Towns’ new super-max $190 million deal and Jimmy Butler’s trade demand. LeBron James will draw much attention as he speaks in a Los Angeles Lakers jersey. And in Miami, Dwyane Wade will hold the final media-day news conference of his career.
The 28 teams with media days Monday all open training camp Tuesday.
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