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Report: Kawhi Leonard Returns to Practice, Close to Return

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Sooner rather than later appears to be coming soon.

All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard accompanied the Spurs on their two-game road swing that opens tonight in Memphis. He is on the road to complete what coach Gregg Popovich calls “the last steps” in a months-long rehabilitation from a quadriceps injury.

Leonard has played two sessions of 5-on-5, going both halfcourt and full. At shootaround this morning at the FedEx Forum, Leonard practiced with the full team for the first time, Popovich said.

“Those are the last steps,” Popovich said. “That’s what Tony (Parker) did before he came back.”

Parker has played in two games since returning from a torn quadriceps tendon suffered in last season’s playoffs. Leonard, the Spurs’ leading scorer and top defender, has yet to play due to lingering teninopathy in his quad.

The team has announced no specific target date for Leonard’s return. Popovich has repeated “sooner rather than later” so often it is beginning to sound like a mantra. Yet it is clear from Leonard’s place in the rehab process that his 2017-18 debut is growing near.

“He’s starting to feel in a little bit better shape and feeling more confident,” Popovich said.

Source: Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News

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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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