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LeBron James, James Harden Named Players of the Month

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The Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden today were named the Kia NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month, respectively, for games played in October and November.

James ranked third in the NBA in scoring (28.0 ppg) and fourth in assists (8.5 apg) for the Cavaliers (15-7), who finished November on a 10-game winning streak.  The 13-time All-Star shot 58.4 percent from the field, the second-highest mark of his career through 22 games of a season.  James also shot 42.5 percent from three-point range, his third-best percentage through 22 games.  The 6-8 forward, who also averaged 8.1 rebounds, was the only player in the league to average at least 25.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists.  In a 130-122 victory at the Washington Wizards on Nov. 3, the four-time Kia NBA MVP became the seventh player in NBA history to reach the 29,000-point mark, as well as the youngest at 32 years and 308 days.

Harden paced the NBA in scoring (31.5 ppg), assists (9.8 apg), three-pointers made (94) and free throws made (168) for the Western Conference-leading Rockets (17-4), who produced the third-best start in franchise history.  The 2016-17 Kia NBA MVP runner-up shot 45.1 percent from the field, 40.3 percent from three-point range and 86.6 percent from the free throw line.  Harden scored at least 20 points in all 21 games, the longest season-opening streak since James in 2012-13 (first 33 games).  On Nov. 5, the 28-year-old guard scored a career-high 56 points in a 137-110 win over the Utah Jazz.

Source: NBA.com

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Sources: Jimmy Butler Trade Talks ‘mostly dormant’

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For now, Minnesota’s talks with teams around the NBA are mostly dormant, league sources told The Athletic. The Miami Heat have long been the most aggressive team pursuing Butler, having advantages with a young, promising wing in Josh Richardson, being a team not in Minnesota’s conference and holding other assets to add in a package. Yet days before their own season opener Wednesday, Miami president Pat Riley informed his locker room that the team would stick with the current roster to start the season in a show of loyalty the organization has for their current players, league sources said.

Source: Shams Charania of The Athletic

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Sources: HEAT, Pat Riley ‘pulling the plug’ on Jimmy Butler Trade

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In another rare confirmation of Miami Heat trade negotiations, a team spokesman confirmed shortly before Thursday night’s game that Heat President Pat Riley recently told the team’s players he was “pulling the plug” on trade negotiations regarding disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler.

Amid growing speculation of specific Heat players being offered for Butler, Riley, during a recent practice session, lined up the team’s players on the practice court at AmericanAirlines Arena and told them he was standing by them.

Riley, however, did not state that a trade was categorically off the table.

Source: Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel

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Report: G League to Offer $125K Salaries to Elite Prospects

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The NBA G League today announced a Select Contract as part of a comprehensive professional path that will be available, beginning with the 2019-20 season, to elite prospects who are eligible to play in the NBA G League but not yet eligible for the NBA.  The contracts, which will include robust programmatic opportunities for development, are for elite players who are at least 18 years old and will pay $125,000 for the five-month season.

“Select Contracts are an answer to the basketball community’s call for additional development options for elite players before they are eligible for the NBA,” said NBA G League President Malcolm Turner.  “The supporting infrastructure surrounding these newly-created Select Contracts is designed to provide a rich offering of basketball and life skills developmental tools for top young players to grow along their professional paths from high school to the pros.”

Source: NBA

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