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Despite summer of change, here are 10 safe bets for 2016-17 NBA season

Despite summer of change, here are 10 safe bets for 2016-17 NBA season

The NBA will look pretty different this season: Kevin Durant is a Warrior, Derrick Rose is a Knick and three all-time greats – Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett – have retired. 

A flurry of changes over the summer were deceiving though, because when the NBA regular season opens in five days, a lot of things will be exactly as we left them. 

If you're a betting type, take a look at this list of 10 safe wagers for the coming year. 

1. The Cavaliers and Warriors will 3-peat in the Finals – LeBron James is the NBA Finals at this point. Book his 7th trip. As for Golden State, the team has four max level players in its starting five. And now they're angry from last year's championship loss. Who's betting against them? 

2. Which brings us to Charles Barkley, who will bet against the Warriors because ... they're a jump shooting team. He already went in on the 2016-17 Dubs a few days ago. "They're going to still be shooting jumpers ..." And so it begins. 

3. There will be at least one Snapchat scandal. I feel really good about this call. Nick Young is still in the league. D'Angelo Russell is still in the league. And there will be dozens of rookies (including Diamond Stone). Everything could go wrong. 

4. John Wall will be an All-Star. Two summer knee surgeries? No problem. The Wizards point guard looked dynamic as ever in preseason action, slicing to the basket at will. There's no reason he shouldn't make his fourth All-Star appearance. 

5. The Spurs will be great. Yes, the Big Fundamental is gone. There has been some rumor of San Antonio considering trading LaMarcus Aldridge. But don't forget about Kawhi Leonard and last year's 67 wins. Even if the Spurs regress by 10 wins, they're still very good. 

6. Drake will attend games in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Toronto, at minimum. Did I forget any cities the rapper could potentially party in or claim as his own? 

7. Carmelo Anthony will wear a ridiculous hat to a game. Melo has a slideshow on his own website titled "The 7 Best Hats Melo Has Ever Worn." He'll probably take 20 shots per night, too, but let's stick with one Melo prediction per listicle, shall we?

8. Knicks fans will demand Phil Jackson be fired. If the Rose trade does not work out, or the Triangle Offense doesn't work out, or Melo plays like he's 32 ... there are too many scenarios in which New York fans might burn Jackson in effigy. After all, every Knicks fan is an amateur GM who thinks they could do a better job. 

9. Russell Westbrook will give Kevin Durant the stink eye at every opportunity and barely deny it. No one in the NBA has a better mean mug than Westbrook. And Russ has all but admitted he's pissed at Durant for leaving the Thunder without speaking to him about it. But really, this is good news for everyone else. An angry, kamikaze Westbrook is the most fun kind of Westbrook. 

10. Fans will rabidly defend Michael Jordan and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. At some point, some person somewhere will compare someone and/or something to Michael Jordan and/or the 1995-96 Bulls. What a mistake that will be. Even breathing MJ's name will be perceived as a grievous sin against the history of American sport. It will not be tolerated. And basketball Twitter will mete out justice. 

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

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The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

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Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:

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2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:

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4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:

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