NBA Notes: Steph Curry gets back to basketball


NBA Notes: Steph Curry gets back to basketball

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry shot for two days this week before he noticed a new plaque hanging above the court at the Golden State Warriors' practice facility recognizing his NBA-record 272 made 3-pointers last season. Then he looked at the area around the sign placed near the entrance to the locker room.

"There's space for another one," he said.

After a whirlwind summer around the world, Curry refuses to rest on recent achievements. Along with co-captain David Lee, Curry has organized voluntary team workouts for the second straight September, which proved pivotal to Golden State's strong start and surprising playoff run last season.

At least 10 players have shown, allowing for 5-on-5 scrimmages. And for the first time since 2010, Curry is not rehabbing from surgery on his troublesome right ankle, meaning he can be a full participant (see full story).

Bucks: Butler needs to be off-court leader
RACINE, Wis. -- Caron Butler is expected to provide more than points for a retooled Milwaukee Bucks team that is firmly committed to a young nucleus.

Butler was introduced Thursday as a member of the Bucks at a hometown news conference with family, friend and students at Racine Park High School, where he played.

"We talked about trying to build a championship-caliber team and we're really excited about some of the young pieces we have on our roster," Bucks general manager John Hammond said. "And, we're not going to stray from that. But, also at that time, we talked about needing veteran players that can help us in that process. A veteran player that can mentor, a veteran player that can help young guys. We know Caron can do that" (see full story).

Kings: Chris Mullin hired as adviser
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Sacramento Kings on Thursday hired Hall of Famer Chris Mullin as an adviser to owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Pete D'Alessandro.

Mullin had been advising Ranadive in an unofficial capacity since the Silicon Valley software magnate bought the team in May, including scouting ahead of the NBA draft. Ranadive also said he had sought Mullin's advice before hiring D'Alessandro, who worked under Mullin in Golden State's front office.

Mullin was the general manager of the Warriors from 2004-09, including a memorable playoff run in 2007 when the team upset the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round. He was a five-time All-Star with Golden State, a member of the USA's gold-medal winning "Dream Team" in 1992 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 (see full story).

NBA: Motion cameras to be placed in arenas
The NBA announced Thursday that it will install motion-tracking cameras in every arena this season to provide coaches, players and fans reams of data aimed at pulling back the curtain on what it takes to succeed at basketball's highest level.

The NBA has partnered with STATS on the SportVU cameras, and the relationship has grown from a single arena during the 2009 NBA Finals into a league-wide initiative that will be up and ready for the start of this season. The technology can monitor every move a player makes on the court, gauge how tired he is and can even keep an eye on the job referees are doing.

The project makes the NBA the first professional basketball league in the world, and the first sports league in the United States, to use the technology to analyze player movement (see full story).

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

Anthem singer at Sixers-Heat game kneels during performance

MIAMI — A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami on Friday night did so while kneeling at midcourt, and opening her jacket to show a shirt with the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. It was unclear if she remained in the arena after the performance, and messages left for her were not immediately returned.

Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the team released a statement saying it had no advance knowledge that she planned to kneel.

"We felt as a basketball team that we would do something united, so that was our focus," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Throughout all of this, I think the most important thing that has come out is the very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We've had great dialogue within our walls here and hopefully this will lead to action."

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand for its playing. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports -- and many levels, from youth all the way to professional -- have followed his lead in various ways.

"All I can say is what we've seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in New York earlier Friday, at a news conference following the league's board of governors meetings. "It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do."

The NBA has a rule calling for players and coaches to stand during the anthem.

Heat guard Wayne Ellington often speaks about the need to curb gun violence, after his father was shot and killed two years ago. He had his eyes closed for most of the anthem Friday, as per his own custom, though was aware of Lawrence's actions.

"At the end of the day, to each his own," Ellington said. "If she feels like that's the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her."

Making a statement in the manner that Lawrence did Friday is rare, but not unheard of in recent weeks.

When the Sacramento Kings played their first home preseason game earlier this month, anthem singer Leah Tysse dropped to one knee as she finished singing the song.

Tysse is white. Lawrence is black.

"I love and honor my country as deeply as anyone yet it is my responsibility as an American to speak up against injustice as it affects my fellow Americans," Tysse wrote on Facebook. "I have sung the anthem before but this time taking a knee felt like the most patriotic thing I could do. I cannot idly stand by as black people are unlawfully profiled, harassed and killed by our law enforcement over and over and without a drop of accountability."

Joel Embiid ends preseason on impressive note, has Sixers excited

Joel Embiid ends preseason on impressive note, has Sixers excited

MIAMI — It’s a cautious optimism to be sure — there can be no other type for the Sixers right now given their history of injuries — but you can tell the team is starting to get excited about Joel Embiid.

In Friday’s 113-110 exhibition finale win over the Miami Heat (see game story), Embiid scored 18 points in 18 minutes before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

The 7-0 center, who missed his first two NBA seasons because of foot surgeries, made 8 of 16 shots and 2 of 2 on free throws, adding a game-high nine rebounds.

“I’ve always felt like I’m a complete player — that’s what I do,” Embiid said. “I’m starting to get easy points.

“I just got better every game [in the preseason], defensively, offensively.”

Sixers coach Brett Brown said he is still learning how to best use Embiid.

Brown added that the rust is apparent in Embiid’s game. But …

“He is as self-taught as any player I’ve ever been around,” Brown said. “He grew up in Cameroon and hasn’t played a lot (because of injuries). But he studies, he looks at stuff. He pays attention. He’s instinctively curious.

“There’s a lot of stuff in his head that he thinks through. His mind is quicker than his feet. At times, his core, his balance and his decision-making are off because his mind is working faster than his body.”

Embiid scored most of his buckets on Friday at close range — a finger roll, a tip-in, a couple of put-back dunks, an alley-oop dunk and a fast-break layup. But he did make a 10-foot jumper and took — but missed — a three-point try.

“He does stuff in a game that makes you step back and say, ‘Wow,’” Brown said. “He will trail and hit a three. He will have a pound, pound drop-step, dunk.

“Like a traditional post, he will turn his face and make a bank shot. He has that up-and-under stuff.

“But he’s raw. His preseason has been highlighted by those few things that you notice, all under the umbrella of, ‘He really has a chance to be very, very good.’"

Brown was asked to summarize the Sixers' 2-5 preseason, and he called it a “completely erratic” exhibition season because of injuries.

“Jahlil [Okafor] hasn’t practiced,” Brown said. “Joel has been steady and incremental. I think we all see that Dario Saric has got a lot to offer. I think the pairing of Joel and Dario was solid.

“We’ve seen Jerami [Grant] have a really good preseason. Richaun Holmes has taken his opportunity to play big minutes. Those type of things come to my mind.”