76ers

NBA Notes: Board approves Pistons' downtown move

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NBA Notes: Board approves Pistons' downtown move

NEW YORK -- The NBA's board of governors has approved the Detroit Pistons' relocation to downtown Detroit.

The league announced the approval Thursday.

The Pistons will begin playing next season at Little Caesars Arena, a new venue that will also house the Detroit Red Wings. The Pistons are moving there after 29 seasons playing their home games in the suburbs at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Detroit will now have all four of its major pro teams playing within a few blocks of each other. Comerica Park (Tigers) and Ford Field (Lions) are in the same area as Little Caesars Arena.

The Pistons had formally announced their plans to move downtown in November.

Warriors: Curry shoots 4-over 74 in pro golf debut
HAYWARD, California -- Stephen Curry pumped his right fist, raised his arms in the air with club in hand and gave a firm shoulder bump to caddie Jonnie West, his golf partner on road trips with the Golden State Warriors.

After three bogeys in five holes of his professional golf debut, a birdie was worthy of celebration.

There was the animated, confident Steph that NBA fans know so well, the two-time league MVP finally feeling it and making the tough shots on the challenging course at TPC Stonebrae while competing in a tournament one step below the PGA Tour.

With a bogey on the last hole, he had a respectable 4-over 74.

"It was an amazing experience, I've been looking forward to this since I found out and to finally hit my first shot in tournament play was a really, really nervous moment but it was everything I hoped for," Curry said. "If you told me I was going to shoot 74 going into the first round I'd take that all day, every day. I'm pretty happy with it" (see full story).

Bucks: Team takes step forward with new practice facility
MILWAUKEE -- Recruiting and retaining players in the NBA means more than just offering top-dollar contracts.

Money, of course, helps. But a shiny new practice facility, complete with a state-of-the-art weight room and even its own barber shop, can help build a case, too.

Consider the Milwaukee Bucks' new downtown training center another step forward for one of the NBA's up-and-coming teams.

"This is amazing," general manager Jon Horst said. "This is going to change the way we do things."

The Bucks held a grand opening ceremony on Thursday for the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center, which is across the street from the construction site of the team's new area scheduled to be ready for the 2018-19 season.

This upcoming season will be the last for the team at the Bradley Center, which is one block south of the new arena site. But when the Bucks return for practice in a couple months, they'll report downtown instead of their old training facility in the Milwaukee suburb of St. Francis (see full story).

Trail Blazers: Lillard’s jersey to be retired by Weber State
OGDEN, Utah -- Weber State will retire the jersey of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard on Aug. 26.

The two-time All-Star will have his No. 1 retired during an alumni game in which he will be one of the coaches.

Lillard will be the third men's basketball player at Weber State to have his jersey retired, joining Willie Sojourner and Bruce Collins. He was a two-time Big Sky MVP and the only player in Big Sky history to be selected to an All-America team. He was named third-team in 2012.

Lillard was second in the country with 24.5 points per game during the 2011-12 season and finished his career with the third-most points (1,934) in school history. He was the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA draft and went on to be rookie of the year.

Brown says 'nobody has any fears' over long-term impact on Fultz's shot

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Brown says 'nobody has any fears' over long-term impact on Fultz's shot

DETROIT — If you’re under the impression Markelle Fultz’s shooting game has been affected by his sore right shoulder, you’re not alone.

Sixers coach Brett Brown thinks so, too.

“There’s no doubt that it factors into what people question right now about his shot. There’s no doubt,” Brown said prior to the Sixers’ matchup Monday night in Detroit. “You don’t just walk a certain way for a long period of your life, and then all of the sudden, start to limp.”

Brown’s comments come on the heels of another worrisome shooting performance from Fultz, who made just 1 of 5 shots en route to six points in Saturday’s 128-94 blowout loss in Toronto.

It marked the second straight game Fultz logged only six points after he made just 2 of 9 shots in the Sixers’ home-opening loss to the Boston Celtics.

“(Fultz) doesn’t let on much. He doesn’t want to let on much,” Brown said. “But nobody’s hiding anything. It’s just, none of us can dismiss that it doesn’t factor into some of the shooting concerns that he might have. 

“What I do know is that the work he puts in, the work on his shoulder, all that stuff, nobody is dramatizing it. It’s consistent and I think it’s heading into the path that we want.”

Brown acknowledged that Fultz’s shoulder woes remain a cause for concern. That said, it appears Brown has no intention of sitting the 19-year-old sharpshooter, who has yet to attempt a three-pointer in his first three regular-season games, despite shooting 41.3 percent from behind the arc in his lone season season at the University of Washington.

“I’m trying to grow him and find minutes for him, and become a part of what we’re doing,” Brown said. “He’s obviously a huge part of our future. That kind of stuff is what’s mostly on my mind.”

Asked whether he had concerns about whether continuing to play Fultz could affect his shot down the road, Brown was quick to dismiss the notion, citing the opinion of the team’s medical staff. 

“I’m advised mostly by the medical people — that’s what I get worried about the most. And nobody has any fears,” Brown said. “Like we’ve said to Markelle, this is not going to define him. This first season is not going to define him. 

“He’s so compliant. When you really dig in deeper, and not get tricked by just statistics, he’s been good. He really has been good.”

Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

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Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

Ben Simmons had himself a historic first week in the NBA and as a result, his MVP odds have changed substantially.

Listed by Bovada on Oct. 10 at 80/1 to win MVP, Simmons is now at 33/1, tied with DeMarcus Cousins and ahead of Marc Gasol, Blake Griffin and Damian Lillard.

Simmons became the first player since Oscar Robertson to produce at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in each of his first three career games.

Teammate Joel Embiid had a less successful start to the year, averaging 14.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in two games but shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and missing all 10 three-point attempts.

And yet somehow, Embiid's MVP odds have changed from 40/1 to 25/1. He has the same MVP odds as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis.

Griffin, at 50/1, is a sneaky good bet for MVP. The Clippers are his team now with Chris Paul in Houston, and Griffin has added long-distance shooting to his game, making three triples in each game. Two games in, he's averaging 29.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists. 

If he can stay healthy (a huge if) and lead the Clippers to 52-plus wins in a loaded Western Conference, you'd have to think Griffin would be looked at more favorably in terms of MVP odds than someone on a star-studded team like any of the Warriors or Rockets, if Paul returns from his knee injury within a month and affects James Harden's stats even slightly. 

Giannis Antetokounpo and LeBron James look like the two players most likely to win MVP, but 50/1 for Griffin is good value if you think this is the year he stays healthy. If he didn't have a history of injuries, his odds right now would be closer to those of John Wall (28/1) or Towns (25/1).