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NBA Notes: Kyrie Irving asks Cavaliers to trade him

NBA Notes: Kyrie Irving asks Cavaliers to trade him

CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving wants the stage for himself.

Cleveland's All-Star point guard has asked the Cavaliers to trade him, two people familiar with the situation told the Associated Press on Friday. Irving made the request last week to owner Dan Gilbert, said the people who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team is not commenting on the star's demands.

Irving's appeal was first reported by ESPN.

A four-time All-Star, Irving has spent six seasons with the Cavs, who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2011. The 25-year-old has overcome injury issues and blossomed into one of the league's elite point guards and biggest stars.

And now that he's finally established himself playing alongside LeBron James, Irving wants out (see full story).

Wizards: Wall reportedly gets 4-year, $170 million extension
WASHINGTON -- A person familiar with the deal says that All-Star point guard John Wall has agreed to a $170 million, four-year contract extension with the Washington Wizards that will start with the 2019 season.

The person confirmed the terms of the agreement to The Associated Press on Friday night on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.

Wall is a four-time Eastern Conference All-Star who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft out of Kentucky. He becomes the third player to agree this summer to a designated player "supermax" extension, joining Houston's James Harden and Golden State's Stephen Curry.

Wall's deal was first reported by NBA.com (see full story).

Cavaliers: Altman promoted to full-tme general manager
CLEVELAND -- A person familiar with the decision says the Cleveland Cavaliers are promoting assistant general manager Koby Altman to be their full-time GM.

Altman has been serving as the club's interim GM for the past few weeks. His deal is being finalized and will be announced in the next few days, said the person who spoke Friday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.

Altman has been with the Cavs since 2012 and had worked as David Griffin's assistant since after the 2016 title season. Griffin left the club last month after he couldn't work out a contract extension with owner Dan Gilbert.

The 34-year-old Altman will be one of the league's youngest executives.

He'll have a lot on his plate as All-Star guard Kyrie Irving has asked to be traded and LeBron James can opt out of his contract next summer.

Spurs: Gasol agrees to 3-year deal
A person with knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Pau Gasol has agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the San Antonio Spurs.

The 7-foot Spaniard and the Spurs came to agreement on Friday on a deal that is partially guaranteed for the third season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not made an official announcement.

Gasol declined the $16 million option on his contract in June the intent of signing a longer-term deal with the Spurs. The Spurs re-signed Patty Mills and added free agents Rudy Gay and Brandon Paul.

Gasol averaged 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 25.4 minutes per game for the Spurs last season.

ESPN first reported the agreement.

Grizzlies: Ex-Oregon forward Brooks signs
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month's NBA draft.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.

Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.

Trainer Drew Hanlen details offseason workouts of Sixers' Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid

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Trainer Drew Hanlen details offseason workouts of Sixers' Markelle Fultz, Joel Embiid

We’re now deep into the NBA offseason, which means we’ve reached the peak of players showing off their latest workouts on social media.

Unless you’re Markelle Fultz.

The 2017 No. 1 overall pick has mostly kept his sessions with CEO of Pure Sweat Basketball and famed skills coach Drew Hanlen, behind closed doors. 

Hanlen recently joined Alex Kennedy on the HoopsHype podcast and said the silence surrounding Fultz’s training is for a good reason.

“What I can tell you is that he’s doing very well,” Hanlen said. “I think that a lot of people think that we’re hiding him and we’re not hiding him. We’re just being very strategic in what we share because obviously, you don’t want to ever add pressure to a player when you don’t have to. 

“Fans and the media would love to be able to witness every workout of every player that I work with, especially guys like Markelle. All I can say is that it’s going really well and that we’re purposely doing things just to protect him right now. But I think Philly fans will be very excited.”

Meanwhile, Fultz’s Sixers teammate Joel Embiid is on the complete opposite end of the court when it comes to posting his workouts online.

So far this summer, Embiid has shared glimpses of everything from welcoming Orlando Magic draft pick Mo Bamba to the league to trash-talking with Boston Celtics phenom Jayson Tatum. The latest moment included a savage montage of Embiid dunking all over Portland Trail Blazers big man Myers Leonard.

But while Embiid is just being his usual outgoing self for social media, Hanlen made it clear that the All-Star center is putting in real effort to sharpen his craft.

“Our big three things this summer, No. 1 was just low-post dominance,” Hanlen said. “Obviously he was really good in the mid-post last season, but when you look at the game where he had like 46 points, the Lakers game, and the game before when I think he had [32] against the Clippers, he was a bully down low. Our first thing is just becoming a bully on the block.

“Our second thing is being able to consistently make threes. When he’s making threes at a high clip, no one in the NBA can guard him. It just stretches the floor out so much and it opens up driving room.

“No. 3 is playing on the perimeter slash taking care of the ball. We noticed that he turned the ball over too much (3.7 turnovers per game) and most of those turnovers came from drives on the perimeter or drives from facing up in the triple threat in the mid-post. So our third thing is just being able to make plays while facing up. That means tightening your handle, making more plays off the bounce, changing directions and adding some kind of face-up moves so he can be better in that category as well.”

Hanlen touched on a bunch of other topics, including how his team is trying to model Bamba’s offensive game after Embiid and which player he would really like to work with in the gym. Check out the full podcast right here.

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Sixers put bench under construction, but is second unit now any better?

Sixers put bench under construction, but is second unit now any better?

After a relatively quiet offseason, the Sixers’ roster has suddenly turned into musical chairs over the past few days.

In are Mike Muscala and Jonah Bolden. Out are Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and Richaun Holmes.

Not exactly earth-shattering moves, but moves nonetheless.

Of course, all of those changes were directed at the Sixers’ bench. That’s because the team already has one of the best starting rotations in the entire NBA. The Sixers’ five-man combination of Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid was plus-21.4 points per 100 possessions in 600 minutes of action together last season.

The reserves were a different story. The Sixers’ bench was among the league’s worst scoring-wise in 2017-18 before buyout veterans Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova pumped life into the group. With that duo on the squad, the Sixers posted a 20-3 record to close out the regular season and made quick work of the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

Those results changed against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Sixers’ bench was exposed defensively and smothered on offense in the five-game series.

“I’ve said on record, and I’ll say it again, I believe that anything that kind of matters, you’re probably going to bump into the Celtics,” Brett Brown said during the Sixers’ exit interviews. “So they’re always going to be sort of on our mind in relation to how do you compete with them?”

Competing with the Celtics and beating them are two very different things.

Did the Sixers’ tinkering with their bench put them any closer to knocking off their longtime rival? That’s a tough one to answer right now.

Despite shipping away Anderson, Luwawu-Cabarrot and Holmes, you can argue that the Sixers’ second unit will still be more athletic next season. A fully healthy Markelle Fultz will likely start out as the sixth man, and we know he’s got some incredible bounce to his game. Zhaire Smith already gave a glimpse of what type of athlete he is during summer league. And while 31 years old, Wilson Chandler can still rise up to throw it down.

Defensively is where that athleticism should really shine for the latter two. The rookie Smith has continually said defense is his best skill as he was named to the Big 12 All-Defensive team during his lone season at Texas Tech. Chandler possesses the ability to defend both forward spots and takes pride on that end of the floor.

Meanwhile, Muscala and Bolden aren't anywhere near leapers of Holmes' caliber. However, they are still bigger bodies that have the ability to move their feet to keep up with their man. That’s in addition to known hustlers T.J. McConnell and Amir Johnson putting forth their maximum effort guarding opponents.

But is that enough when a healthy Celtics team gets its projected roster back and rolls out a reserve lineup of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Semi Ojeleye, Marcus Morris and Aron Baynes?

If the Sixers are unable to contain Boston’s talented starters and deep reserve blend, they might really run into problems trying to keep pace with offense of their own now that they lack a serious three-point threat outside of Redick. Belinelli and Ilyasova, who both departed moments into free agency, gave the team a one-two punch off the bench that could drain shots from anywhere. Now the only serviceable shooter in a backup role is the 6-foot-11, 240-pound Muscala (a career 37.8 percent shooter from long range). Kyle Korver, anyone?

The bench reset was necessary if the Sixers planned on getting to the next level. Is it enough to put them on the same level as the Celtics or will they remain green with envy?

We’ll see.

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