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.

Sixers reportedly rebuffed in attempt to hire Rockets GM Daryl Morey

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Sixers reportedly rebuffed in attempt to hire Rockets GM Daryl Morey

Well, you can’t say the Sixers aren’t aiming high.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Sixers “have been rebuffed in their attempt to hire away Houston's Daryl Morey to take over as their new general manager.” Stein added that the team had great interest in Morey, but he couldn’t be lured away from the Rockets.

Morey, who has served as the Rockets’ general manager since 2007, was named the NBA’s Executive of the Year after Houston secured the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with a franchise-best 65-17 record during the 2017-18 regular season.

Morey obviously fits the Sixers from a surface standpoint with his analytics background, commitment to building a pace-and-space roster and desire to chase stars. However, what makes the Sixers’ desire in him really interesting is that Morey is the mentor of former Sixers front office executive Sam Hinkie.

Bryan Colangelo, the man who replaced Hinkie in the Sixers’ front office, resigned in June after a scandal involving multiple secret Twitter accounts rocked the franchise. Head coach Brett Brown took over as interim general manager following Colangelo's resignation.

The Sixers have been patient throughout their search as managing owner Josh Harris recently said there is no timetable to select a candidate.

“We’re just getting focused on it now, given everything with free agency and the draft, and also the other GMs are in the same place. We’re looking for the right person,” Harris told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Amy Fadool last week (see story). “One of the things that Bryan Colangelo did really well was we built a great staff, whether it be (vice president of basketball operations and chief of staff) Ned Cohen or (vice president of analytics and strategy) Alex Rucker or (vice president of player personnel) Marc Eversley or (Delaware Blue Coats general manger) Elton Brand, we have a lot of great people. It’s very consensus-oriented, there’s a lot of people in the dialogue, and we want to make sure we find the right fit for that. 

“It’s not going to be easy. My guess is it’s going to take awhile. And we’re obviously focused on doing it as quickly as possible, but at the same time I don’t want to set unrealistic expectations — it could take a little while. So we’re just starting that.”

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Sixers officially bring back Amir Johnson on 1-year contract

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Sixers officially bring back Amir Johnson on 1-year contract

The band is back together.

The Sixers are still making their offseason moves official, which is what happened on Monday when the team officially announced a one-year deal to bring back Amir Johnson. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is reportedly worth the veteran’s minimum, which would be $2.39 million for the center.

“Our experience with Amir last year confirms to us, on so many levels, that he is a perfect fit for our young and developing team,” Brett Brown said in a statement. “His work ethic, leadership and buy-in to team-first basketball all comes to mind when I think of his value to our ball club and his acceptance of a backup role to All-Star Joel Embiid is priceless. We are thrilled to have Amir and his family back in our program and I know this feeling is a shared by all of his teammates.”

Johnson, the last player drafted into the NBA straight from high school, spent his 13th professional season with the Sixers in 2017-18. The 31-year-old averaged 4.6 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 15.8 minutes a night.

However, it was the little things Johnson did that really added up for the Sixers. The big man had the highest aggregate hustle score, which measures screen assists, deflections, loose balls recovered, charges drawn and contested shots per contest, to win the league’s second-ever Hustle Award. 

“This is definitely an honor,” Johnson said after receiving the award. “I pride myself on doing the little things on the court and I just want to say thank you to my teammates and coaches. This award means a lot.”

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