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Cats in the NBA

Former Kentucky Players in the NBA

Julius Randle: Coach Cal’s wedding present “better be something good”

Former Kentucky star Julius Randle is getting married to his long-time girlfriend in two weeks, and he has high expectations for John Calipari’s wedding present.

When talking to the media today, Randle said his work helping lead Kentucky to the national title game is worthy of something impressive from his former coach.

“It better be something good, man. All the screaming he did at me, all the running. I took him to a national championship, so it better be something good.

As far as his wedding goes, Randle says former Laker teammate and current Golden State Warrior Nick Young is most likely to make a fool out of himself at the celebration.

“Probably my ex-teammate Nick Young. He has no filter, no sense at all.”

Randle said he remains in constant contact with his former Kentucky teammates as well, listing James Young, the Harrison twins, Dakari Johnson, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Alex Poythress as guys he talks to the most.

With his wedding coming up, Randle said he also expects several of those former teammates to attend, Dakari Johnson in particular.

“I just FaceTimed (Johnson) last week (to congratulate him on signing his new contract with the Thunder.) He’s definitely going to be at my wedding in two weeks. I have a great relationship with all of those guys,” Randle said.


When it comes to the De’Aaron Fox vs. Lonzo Ball rivalry, Julius Randle is #TeamLonzo

(Kathy Kmonicek / Associated Press)

Former Wildcat guard De’Aaron Fox and media sensation Lonzo Ball are the NBA’s latest and greatest player rivalry, and the entire basketball world is taking sides.

In an interview with the media before his Skills Camp in Lexington this afternoon, former Kentucky big man Julius Randle said he’s all aboard the Lonzo hype train.

My point guard is Lonzo. I’m excited to play with him, excited to build chemistry throughout the season,” Randle said. “He makes everybody better. He’s a great player. He obviously can score, but he makes the game a lot easier for everybody. He makes the game very simple and I think the way he plays is contagious.

Just because Randle is #TeamLonzo, however, doesn’t mean he doesn’t support the former Wildcat.

“Obviously De’Aaron’s a great player,” Randle said. “I loved him through the whole season and the whole draft process. Obviously De’Aaron is gonna have a great career. He’s gonna be an excellent player.

I have a feeling this Fox vs. Ball rivalry is just getting started.


Former Wildcat Julius Randle speaks to the media before Skills Camp in Lexington

Former Wildcat Julius Randle speaks to the media before Skills Camp in Lexington

Former Wildcat big man Julius Randle is back in Lexington for his youth Skills Camp at the University of Kentucky, and the media had the opportunity to sit down with him to ask a few questions.

Randle touched on life in Los Angeles, playing for Coach Calipari, whether or not he stays in touch with former Wildcats, and what he thinks about the proposed All-UK vs. NBA super team matchup for the annual Alumni Game.

Watch his entire interview below:

Keep putting in work, Julius.


Dakari Johnson Makes it Official with the Thunder

After playing on the G-League team, Dakari Johnson is officially part of the OKC Thunder as of today.

OKC liked it, so they put a contract on it.

The only people happier than OKC Vice president and GM Sam Presti? Dakari and his teammates.

I’m loving the “La Familia” love! Congrats Dakari!


More Info on the John Wall Contract

Last night, we told you that John Wall signed a HUGE extension. 

According to Candace Buckner at the Washington Post, here’s a little more info on that “supermax” extension.

Wall, the 26-year-old point guard who has played all seven seasons with the Wizards, will be tied to Washington for at least the next five years — two on his current deal, and three on the extension before he can opt out. By earning all-NBA honors for the first time after a career year in 2016-17 — he was third team — Wall became eligible to sign the extension that begins in 2019. Through the life of the contract, Wall will earn 35 percent of the salary cap.

Here’s a video of Wall, talking about his contract.

This deal is a HUGE step for the Wizards, Wall and NBA Cats.

[John Wall agrees to four-year, ‘supermax’ extension with the Wizards]

 


@ESPN

John Wall agrees to monster extension with Wizards

@ESPN

It was reported a few weeks back that the Washington Wizards had offered John Wall a huge contract extension, but he had decided to think it over before deciding to agree to those terms. Well, here we have it, late on a Friday night, news is breaking that Wall has agreed to stay in Washington through 2023.

Wall’s extension is for 4 years and $170 million. And to think, some people think he should’ve stayed four years and received his college degree rather than going one and done. I think he probably got the better end of that situation.

Quick shoutout to our own Jack Pilgrim for the number crunch and the subtle jab at the haters. Even more impressive than that number is what Wall could potentially be making per game in the final year of his contract.

A huge congrats to Wall and his family. This is exactly what Coach Cal is always talking about when he says he wants to change lives for these kids. It won’t be long until we’re hearing about deals like this for a bunch of former Kentucky guys.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


Could Kyrie Irving be teaming up with Karl Towns?

Could Kyrie Irving be teaming up with Karl Towns?

Major NBA news broke in the last few hours, with reports circulating that Kyrie Irving made a request to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a trade before this upcoming season starts. ESPN is also reporting that there were four landing spots that were given as preferred by Irving and his agent. Those four teams were the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Immediate thoughts on those four teams with the addition of Kyrie? The Knicks are a dumpster fire of an organization so that would be a waste of one of the top guards in the league. It’d be awesome to see him work in a Popovich inspired offense rather than an iso-offense that he ran in Cleveland. He could make a living in South Beach throwing lobs to Bam and Hassan Whiteside. But the most intriguing of the four teams are the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The T’Wolves are on the verge of being a contender for the top few spots in the Western Conference with the offseason addition of Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Jamal Crawford. Add in Kyrie to make a starting lineup of Irving at the point, Butler at the two, Andrew Wiggins at the wing, with Karl Towns and Taj Gibson running the paint. That team is incredibly solid, especially when you realize that the bench includes Teague, Crawford, and others.

Now obviously there are several factors that would influence a possible trade, but I went over to ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine to see if I could get the financials to work for both teams. I tried a few possible trades that did not work, but managed to find this possibility without too much work.

The Timberwolves would receive Irving, while giving up a few guys that most UK fans should recognize: former Louisville big man Gorgui Dieng, former Duke guard and Kentucky recruit Tyus Jones, and former UCLA Bruin and Kentucky recruit Shabazz Muhammad. Would both teams accept this trade? No way to know, but the possibility of it is extremely exciting to think about for Towns and Kentucky fans everywhere.

@BrettBibbinsKSR


WATCH: Skal Labissiere reunited with man who helped dig him out of the earthquake debris

WATCH: Skal Labissiere reunited with man who helped dig him out of the earthquake debris

Yesterday, I shared video and pictures of Skal Labissiere’s first trip back to Haiti in seven years, and today, we have some footage that is even more moving to pass along. As you know, Skal was trapped in the debris of the Haiti earthquake for over three hours until his father and others could dig him out. While visiting his old stomping grounds in Port-au-Prince today, Skal ran into one of the men who helped find him in the debris, and the video of their reunion is pretty special:

Here’s another video from @SacramentoKings of Skal touring his old neighborhood before arriving at his basketball camp, Camp S.K.A.L.:

Awesome stuff.


WATCH: Anthony Davis does the Drive-By Dunk Challenge

WATCH: Anthony Davis does the Drive-By Dunk Challenge

The Drive-By Dunk Challenge is the latest craze sweeping the internet, and last night, Anthony Davis got in on the fun.

The premise is simple: drive around, find a basketball goal in someone’s driveway, stop your car, and go dunk on it. Videos of kids doing the challenge have taken over the internet, but so far, Anthony Davis is the most famous participant:

Hey other NBA Cats: you’re on the clock.

Click through the jump to see some more drive-by dunks, albeit from normal human beings.

(more…)


Friday’s Top 10: NBA Cats get deals, KSR gets on Netflix, and Talking Season rolls on

Friday’s Top 10: NBA Cats get deals, KSR gets on Netflix, and Talking Season rolls on

Good morning, friends, and happy Friday. I don’t know about you guys, but it’s been a really long week. If only we could all be as lucky as these Kentucky fans, who are repping the Cats at The Narrows and Angels Landing in Zion National Park, Utah. Those pictures are incredibly gorgeous.

After an insanely slow news week, we had one of the busier nights in recent memory last night. Let’s hop right in.

1. Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze is out

The biggest bombshell came around 8 p.m., when Yahoo Sports announced that Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze resigned after the school discovered a call he made on his school-issued cell phone to an escort service in Florida. In a press conference, Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork said the call wasn’t the only reason Freeze was asked to resign, citing a “pattern of misconduct.”

Ole Miss co-offensive coordinator Matt Luke has been named the interim head coach. Somewhere, Les Miles is wondering how the grass in Oxford tastes. Somewhere else, Freeze is wondering if UofL has any job openings.

2. Dakari Johnson’s hard work paid off

Just after the Hugh Freeze news broke word came that Dakari Johnson agreed to a guaranteed two-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Since being drafted by OKC in 2015, Dakari has patiently worked on his game in the D-League, earning D-League First Team honors and turning heads in the summer league. Faced with a situation in which many would have given up, Dakari went to work and earned his second contract. Honestly, it’s downright refreshing to see hard work paying off.

3. Derek Willis agrees to one-year deal with the Pistons

Willis also made the most of his opportunity this summer and was rewarded with a one-year deal with the Detroit Pistons. For a kid who admitted that he doubted himself and didn’t always give 100% at times in his college career, Derek sure turned it around when it mattered. Best of luck to him and Keely as they head to Motor City.

4. The Louisville Kickoff Luncheon is today

Ready for some football? Mark Stoops, Eddie Gran, and Matt House will talk to reporters before the annual Greater Louisville Alumni Luncheon today around 11:30 a.m. Should any news break (such as Stoops confirming reports that Lynn Bowden is on campus), I’ll bring it to you. Maybe Freddie will even write us a short recap if we’re lucky.

5. John Calipari was in Washington yesterday

Cal took a break from recruiting to support his friend Kelly Knight Craft and her nomination as U.S. Ambassador to Canada. Cal was like a kid in a candy store all day, tweeting pictures with various members of Congress and the Senate, including Mitch McConnell, and making sure he was front and center when the cameras were flashing:

@HillaryWKYT

6. Jemarl Baker is first in CoachCal.com’s Meet the Wildcats series

Head on over to CoachCal.com to read more about the mysterious sharpshooter from California, or check out his skills for yourself in his #HorseWithTheCats session with Rex Chapman:

7. Kent Bulle is on the course RIGHT NOW at the British Open

After an opening round 68, Bulle is currently tied for 7th at -2 through ten holes. Granted, he was one of the first people on the course this morning, but that’s still awesome for our friend. We’ll keep track of his progress on The Golf Channel throughout the morning.

8. “Last Chance U” Season Two is now streaming

If you didn’t see the post below, we woke up to the very cool news that KSR was featured in the opening scenes of season two of “Last Chance U.” Scroll down to check it out. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to stop what you’re doing and binge the rest of it. Soon. Soon.

9. Lexington’s Eastern Little League All-Stars won the state title

Congrats to Lexington’s Eastern Little League 12-year-old All-Stars, who defeated Bowling Green East 11-8 to win the state championship on Wednesday night. This is the first state title for Eastern since 1953, and the squad will now make their first ever trip to the Great Lakes Little League Regional Finals in Indianapolis August 6-12. Good luck, kids!

10. Today on KSR: Vince Marrow and Lamar Thomas

Tune in for two hours of football awesomeness. Will they talk about Hugh Freeze?


The Pelicans introduce Rajon Rondo

The Pelicans introduce Rajon Rondo

It’s officially official: Rajon Rondo is a New Orleans Pelican. The Pelicans announced the addition today in a press release on their website.

“We are excited to welcome Rajon to the New Orleans Pelicans,” said Pelicans Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations/General Manager Dell Demps. “Throughout his NBA career, Rajon has showed that he’s a great competitor, leader and teammate with significant playoff experience.”

Rondo signing his contract with Dell Demps (Photo via Layne Murdoch Jr./New Orleans Pelicans)

Last season with the Bulls, Rondo averaged 7.8 points, 6.7 assists, and 5.1 rebounds in 26.7 minutes per game. He’ll share the Pelicans backcourt with Jrue Holiday and joins fellow former Cats De’Marcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Darius Miller, and potentially James Young on the roster. As the @PelicansNBA and @KentuckyMBB joked on Twitter, that’s a lot of Wildcats on one squad:

Keep in mind Kentucky plays UCLA at the Smoothie King Center on December 23. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to schedule a Pelicans game around then, guys. Just saying.


Dakari Johnson signs a guaranteed deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder

For the past two years, Dakari Johnson has quietly worked on his game in the D-League for Oklahoma City; now, that patience has finally paid off. According to Shams Charania, the Thunder are signing Dakari to a guaranteed two-year deal.

Dakari has certainly earned it. Last season, he was named a D-League All-Star and All-NBA D-League First Team after averaging 18.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks for the Oklahoma City Blue. Earlier this month, he was second in the Orlando Summer League in scoring with 18 points per game. In the past year especially, Dakari has expanded his game, improving his ball-handling to the point that OKC even let him bring the ball down the court during the summer league on occasion.

Congrats to Dakari, a great dude who has kept his nose down and worked hard. He deserves this.

 


Derek Willis agrees to a one-year deal with the Detroit Pistons

Ready for some great news? According to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Derek Willis has agreed to a one-year deal with the Detroit Pistons.

Derek played for the Pistons in the Orlando Summer League, averaging 3.5 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists over four games. In his senior season at Kentucky, he averaged 7.0 points and 5.4 rebounds. With a deal in hand, he’ll head to training camp in September.

Congrats, Derek!

 


WATCH: Skal Labissiere returns to Haiti for the first time in 7 years

WATCH: Skal Labissiere returns to Haiti for the first time in 7 years

Seven years after being trapped in the rubble of the Haiti earthquake, Skal Labissiere has returned to his homeland.

By now, you are familiar with this story. In 2010, a 14-year-old Skal was trapped in the debris of the massive earthquake for three hours until his father dug him out. A few months later, his family sent him to the US to pursue his basketball career, which took him to Kentucky, and now, the Sacramento Kings. For the first time in seven years, Skal has returned to his homeland to host a basketball camp, a dream he’s had since leaving. Check out this heartwarming video of his visit from the Kings:

And some photos of Camp S.K.A.L., which started yesterday:

Photo via Sacramento Kings

Photo via the Sacramento Kings

I remember Skal telling me before the 2016 Draft how much it would mean to him to be able to return to Haiti to host a camp one day. That day has come, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

Nothing like home🇭🇹 #GodisGood

A post shared by Skal Labissière (@skal_lab) on

 


WATCH: Karl Towns trolls Joel Embiid over NBA2K rating

Karl Towns is just about the nicest person you will ever meet, but even he couldn’t help but throw a little good-natured trash talk at Joel Embiid. The latest version of NBA2K comes out in two months, and to drum up publicity, the creators told several of the players their rating for an upcoming commercial. For gamers like Karl Towns, this is a pretty big deal, and when he learned his rating was higher than he thought, he threw a shot at Joel “Trust the Process” Embiid.

“Really?” Karl said upon hearing his rating was 91. “I can’t wait to tell Joel [Embiid] I have nothing to complain about. I do trust the process with that one, I do trust the process.”

The #NBA2K18 Process is looking just fine to @karltowns at Commercial Shoot

A post shared by NBA 2K (@nba2k) on

What was Embiid’s rating? Eighty-six, which he said was “bullcrap” (I’m not going to lie, I find Embiid really, really entertaining):

Joel Embiid discussing The Process behind his #NBA2K18 rating @joelembiid

A post shared by NBA 2K (@nba2k) on

Devin Booker was also an 86:

70 point game intact, @dbook checks in on his #NBA2K18 rating

A post shared by NBA 2K (@nba2k) on

Trust the process, Devin.