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NBA Notes: Lakers fined $500K for tampering involving Paul George

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NBA Notes: Lakers fined $500K for tampering involving Paul George

NEW YORK -- New Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka's contact with Paul George's agent violated the NBA's anti-tampering rule and resulted in a $500,000 fine for Los Angeles on Thursday.

The league said a law firm's independent investigation didn't find evidence of an agreement or an understanding that the Lakers would sign or acquire George, who was with the Indiana Pacers at the time. George later was traded to Oklahoma City.

"We respect and accept the NBA's decision regarding this matter," Pelinka said in a statement. "On behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, I want to express our regret over this unfortunate incident to both our fans and the NBA."

The league had warned the Lakers about tampering following comments by president of basketball operations Magic Johnson about George on national TV on April 20.

The league said Pelinka's contact with George's agent "constituted a prohibited expression of interest in the player while he was under contract" (see full story).

Cavaliers: Irving doesn’t mention LeBron in Cleveland goodbye
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving did not mention LeBron James, now his former teammate, while thanking Cleveland fans after his trade to Boston was finalized.

Irving, who is now officially a member of the Celtics after the teams completed a blockbuster deal that had stalled, posted a lengthy thank-you note and video on his Instagram account Thursday. While somewhat vague about his intentions, the All-Star guard explained some the reasons that led to him requesting the Cavaliers trade him following six seasons -- and three straight trips to the NBA Finals.

In a meeting last month with Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert, Irving said he wanted out.

"You understand the magnitude of decisions that you make in your life can affect a lot of people all at once," Irving said in the more than 4-minute video . "And when you get to that point and you understand that the best intentions for you and ultimately to be in your truth, and find out what you really want to do in your life and how you want to accomplish it -- that moment comes and you take full advantage of it.

"And there are no other ulterior reasons other than being happy and to be somewhere you feel like it's an environment that's conducive for you maximizing your potential" (see full story).

Bulls: Payne to have surgery on broken right foot
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls say guard Cameron Payne will have surgery next week for a broken right foot.

Payne fractured the fifth metatarsal during a workout July 18. The team says six weeks of rest in a boot was prescribed, but a subsequent scan and examination this week revealed the foot has not healed "satisfactorily." Surgery is scheduled for Wednesday.

Payne also broke his right foot during the 2015-16 season with Oklahoma City.

Payne was acquired in the February trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder. He struggled for Chicago, averaging 4.9 points in 11 games.

Kings: Randolph faces misdemeanor marijuana charge
LOS ANGELES -- Sacramento Kings forward Zach Randolph has been charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession and resisting arrest following an incident this month when a large gathering became unruly at a Los Angeles housing project, prosecutors said Thursday.

The two-time NBA All-Star had initially been arrested on suspicion of possessing marijuana with intent to sell -- a felony -- but Los Angeles city prosecutors instead charged Randolph with misdemeanor drug possession.

Court documents say the 36-year-old Randolph possessed "more than 28.5 grams of marijuana or more than four grams of concentrated cannabis or both." Randolph also is accused of resisting arrest and obstructing a Los Angeles police officer in the discharge of their duties.

Randolph is scheduled to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom on Sept. 14, said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney's office, which is prosecuting the case.

Cavaliers: Gilbert vows to never move team from Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert vowed Thursday to "never" move his NBA team from Cleveland.

Earlier this week, when Gilbert scrapped plans for a $140 million renovation to Quicken Loans Arena that could now be back on, his move led to speculation the owner might leave the city when his lease expires in 2027.

"CLE, Let's put any silly rumors to rest: I will never move the Cleveland Cavaliers out of Cleveland," Gilbert wrote on Twitter . "Period. And that's unconditional."

As part of the project, the team would extend its lease to 2034. The Cavs were going to split the cost of the arena's makeover with public financing, but a local coalition opposed to using tax dollars for the remodeling was able to force a city referendum vote and Gilbert pulled out.

However, on Thursday, Greater Cleveland Congregations withdrew petitions challenging the arena deal.

The Cavaliers are still hoping to host a future All-Star game if an agreement can be reached on the project.

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

Banged-up Markelle Fultz is latest chapter in Sixers' painful rookie history

CAMDEN, N.J. — Brett Brown has been here before. The scenario isn’t as drastic in the past, but it’s familiar nonetheless: starting the season with an injured rookie for the fifth straight year.

Markelle Fultz will begin his first NBA season dealing with ongoing right shoulder and right knee soreness. The No. 1 pick is expected to play on opening night Wednesday, but will come off the bench after appearing in only two preseason games. 

Brown has learned to manage this type of situation after years of experience. Nerlens Noel missed Brown’s entire first season because of an ACL injury. Joel Embiid sat out the following two seasons with foot injuries. Ben Simmons suffered a season-ending foot fracture in last year’s training camp. 

The biggest lesson? 

“To go slow,” Brown said. “To not put them in a position where it’s going to produce some difficult times.” 

Fultz was likely to be a starter when the Sixers traded up to draft him first overall in June. The 19-year-old guard hasn’t had that much experience since then thanks to injuries in both summer league and preseason. 

The Sixers face John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Kyle Lowry in the first three games alone. That would be a tall defensive task if Fultz were to start. 

“This league is driven by men, this league is driven by veterans,” Brown said. “To just put him in that environment is just, I think, poor coaching and I’m not doing it.”

Just as Simmons took advice from Embiid during his injury, he is offering words of wisdom to Fultz.

“[You’ve] got to to take your time and you definitely have to take care of your body,” Simmons said. “Put your body first. There’s no need to rush.”

The Sixers have the backcourt depth to adjust without Fultz in the starting lineup. They have been turning to veteran Jerryd Bayless at shooting guard alongside Simmons, their intended backcourt pairing last season. 

In the meantime, Brown will balance Fultz’s health, his growth as an NBA player, and the team’s success. 

“The end game needs to be developing Markelle Fultz," Brown said. 

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

Joel Embiid disappointed Brett Brown has him on another minutes limit

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid would like to play 48 minutes every game. The Sixers are looking at a maximum of 20 for opening night.

"I don't really know if there's a solid number," Brett Brown said Monday after practice. "I can tell if you were to choose a number, it's somewhere in the teens."

Embiid was hoping for more playing time on Wednesday against the Wizards, his first regular-season game since Jan. 27 (left knee surgery).

"I didn't know about that, but that's very disappointing," Embiid said Monday of the minutes restriction. "I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today's practice and tomorrow's practice."

The Sixers are being cautious with Embiid, who has both a lengthy history of injuries and a massive new contract extension. He clocked 15 minutes in both of his preseason games last week. Embiid felt he could have played twice as many minutes.

While the Sixers aren't ready to go as high as 30 minutes yet, they could exercise some wiggle room based on the flow of the game.

"There will be some minutes restrictions, but it's also a judgment of how is the game being played, not just looking at rote, rigid number," Brown said.

The NBA's new timeout rules could impact Embiid's playing time. The updated format changes include a decrease in the maximum number of timeouts allowed (18 to 14), 75-second team timeouts and fewer timeouts in the final minutes of the game. 

"One of the things that we're doing this year unlike previous years is there's a little bit of a looseness in relation to it doesn't have to be rigid if the game didn't dictate some track meet," Brown said. "This is like I'm coaching in the London Olympic Games again. The game moves. I can have guys at a scorers table for two minutes with no stoppage. So sometimes the torrid pace of a game doesn't favor Jo where you go flying up and down."

In addition to individual games, it remains to be seen if Embiid will be cleared this season for back-to-backs. The Sixers face their first set of consecutive games this Friday and Saturday against the Celtics at home and the Raptors in Toronto.