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Cats in the NBA
Former Kentucky Players in the NBA
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 22nd, 2017 @ 4:00pm
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.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 22nd, 2017 @ 3:00pm
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.
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.
Thunder has officially announced the signing of 2015 2nd rounder Dakari Johnson. Statement from Sam Presti: pic.twitter.com/9XwyGuiRv7
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) July 22, 2017
The only people happier than OKC Vice president and GM Sam Presti? Dakari and his teammates.
— Dakari Johnson (@DakariJohnson) July 22, 2017
Congrats brother! 🙌🏾@DakariJohnson
— Julius Randle (@J30_RANDLE) July 21, 2017
I’m loving the “La Familia” love! Congrats Dakari!
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.
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) July 22, 2017
This deal is a HUGE step for the Wizards, Wall and NBA Cats.
By Brett Bibbins on ©July 21st, 2017 @ 11:00pm
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.
John Wall has agreed to the designated player veteran exception in Washington, per source, that will pay him a total of $207M through 2023.
— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 22, 2017
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.
John Wall will be making $42.5 million a year starting in 2019. But if only he got that college degree, am I right? https://t.co/613WeLJqo7
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) July 22, 2017
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.
If John Wall exercises the 4th year on his designated player extension,he will make $570,743 per #NBA in season game in final yr of ext.
— Robert Raiola, CPA (@SportsTaxMan) July 22, 2017
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.
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 21st, 2017 @ 3:29pm
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:
It was hugs and handshakes all around for Skal when he visited his old stomping grounds 💜 pic.twitter.com/mXHf9Zbs4y
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) July 21, 2017
Here’s another video from @SacramentoKings of Skal touring his old neighborhood before arriving at his basketball camp, Camp S.K.A.L.:
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) July 20, 2017
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 21st, 2017 @ 10:00am
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:
— Anthony Davis (@AntDavis23) July 21, 2017
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 21st, 2017 @ 9:00am
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:
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?
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.”
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:
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) July 20, 2017
We have a feeling that the Smoothie King Center will have a Kentucky blue hint to it as well. 😺 https://t.co/m3Ml6EQ0UL
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) July 20, 2017
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 20th, 2017 @ 8:24pm
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 20th, 2017 @ 1:29pm
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 20th, 2017 @ 12:30pm
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:
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) July 19, 2017
And some photos of Camp S.K.A.L., which started yesterday:
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.
A post shared by Skal Labissière (@skal_lab) on
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 19th, 2017 @ 6:00pm
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.”
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):
A post shared by NBA 2K (@nba2k) on
Devin Booker was also an 86:
A post shared by NBA 2K (@nba2k) on
Trust the process, Devin.
By Nick Roush on ©July 18th, 2017 @ 9:00pm
Since NBA free agency season tipped-off with a frenzy on July 1, most of the marquee names have found a new home. One of the few exceptions is former UK big man Nerlens Noel.
Traded from Philadelphia to Dallas near the 2017 season’s trade deadline, Noel was primed to join in on the free agency fun with a ton of money this offseason. Eighteen days later, the restricted free agent has yet to receive the offer he’s looking for.
“We’re very disappointed with where things stand,” Noel’s agent Happy Walters told SportsDay. “Nerlens loves Dallas and spent June there working out, but we’re still waiting on a serious offer.”
The Knicks spent more than $70 million on Tim Hardaway Jr., but the proven rim protector can’t get a good deal. What gives?
There’s no easy answer to the question, but as Yahoo! points out, he’s not alone. Last year a trio of centers with a lesser pedigree received a combined $200 million. Now Noel, Pau Gasol, Mason Plumlee and Alex Len are searching for money that just isn’t there. Teams that needed centers a year ago panicked, leaving little cap room. As the league shifts towards a perimeter focus, true centers have been left behind.
There’s still time for Noel to make the money he deserves, but as a restricted free agent, he has little leverage. His agent is using the press to make something happen, but will it help or hurt the BBN’s favorite flat-topped shot-blocker? Only time will tell.