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Hot start carries Suns past 76ers

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PHILADELPHIA — The Phoenix Suns used a strong finish to win Sunday night. On Monday, they rode the momentum to a 124-113 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers

Guard Gerald Green scored a season-high 30 points and backcourt partner Goran Dragic added 24 for the Suns, who shot 77.3 percent from the field in the first quarter while outscoring the Sixers 40-26, then fought off Philadelphia the rest of the way.

Phoenix (26-18) posted its highest-scoring first quarter of the season.

Green made 10 of 12 shots from the floor and Dragic hit nine of 13. The Suns, who rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit to win in Cleveland on Sunday, shot 53.8 percent from the field in Philadelphia and equaled their season high for points.

“Last night we felt like we needed to start off games faster,” Green said, “so we told ourselves we just wanted to come and give ourselves a little lead in the first half.”

Added Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, “I think we learned a little bit last night from our first half, when we just kind of went out there and played. Second half we played better and said, ‘Let’s carry this over into tonight’s game.’ The guys did it right from the start.”

Forward P.J. Tucker added 15 points for Phoenix. Center Miles Plumlee contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds, and forward Markieff Morris had 13 points off the bench. Morris also had four of the Suns’ season-high 12 blocked shots, and Green added three.

Guard Michael Carter-Williams had 22 points and 11 assists for Philadelphia, which lost for the sixth time in seven games. Forwards Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner had 21 points each, and center Spencer Hawes had 18.

The Sixers (14-31) never led. They mounted their last challenge midway through the fourth quarter, reeling off seven straight points — including a three-point play by Young — to cut a 15-point deficit to 104-96 with 5:44 to play.

With the gap still 108-100, Tucker triggered a 10-2 run with a follow shot. Green added the last eight Phoenix points in that flurry, on a 3-pointer, a thunderous dunk and another 3-pointer. That gave the Suns a 118-102 lead with 2:11 to play.

“It felt good for me,” Green said. “I just kind of let the game come to me, just kind of took what the defense gave me. My teammates were doing a good job screening for me, getting me open, finding me in transition.”

After Tucker opened the game’s scoring by driving the baseline for a layup, Sixers coach Brett Brown called a timeout just 25 seconds into the game. It didn’t help. Phoenix made its next five shots as well, and nine of 10 from the floor to open a 21-9 lead.

When someone suggested to Brown afterward that it didn’t seem his team was committed to defense at the beginning of the game, he said, “That’s because we weren’t.”

By the end of the first quarter, Dragic and Green were each 5-for-5 from the field for 12 points, helping the Suns establish a 14-point lead. Phoenix’s marksmanship was the best by a Philadelphia opponent in any quarter this season, and the point total equaled the highest by a Sixers foe in a first quarter.

“Any time you let a team jump out on you,” Young said, “it’s going to be hard to recoup that.”

The Suns led 62-48 late in the second quarter before Turner scored the last six points of the half.

Dragic finished the half with 15 points, and Green had 14. Turner paced the Sixers with 13 first-half points.

Phoenix re-established a double-figure lead early in the third quarter and maintained it most of the quarter. The Suns scored the last five points of the third, three of those by Tucker, to build a 13-point bulge heading into the fourth quarter.

NOTES: Earlier in the day, the Sixers sent rookie G Lorenzo Brown to the Delaware 87ers of the Developmental League for the fourth time this season. Brown had 12 points and 10 assists while playing nearly 30 minutes in Delaware’s 99-87 victory over the Austin Toros — a 10 a.m. start — then returned to the Sixers and played the final five seconds of the game. He said it was like “AAU all over again.” … Suns coach Jeff Hornacek played 132 games for the Sixers between 1992 and 1994, 86 of them losses, after arriving from Phoenix in a trade involving All-Star forward Charles Barkley. “Even though we weren’t a great team, every night you could just feel the emotions in the city. That was fun,” Hornacek said. … Sixers coach Brett Brown called Hall of Famer Tom Gola, who died Sunday at age 81, “one of the icons.” Gola, a native Philadelphian who starred (and coached) at La Salle University, also fashioned a 10-year NBA career that included time with the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors. … Suns G Eric Bledsoe (right knee arthroscopy) missed his 13th consecutive game. … Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, F Thaddeus Young and F Evan Young were all assessed technical fouls.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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NBA releases schedule for Summer League 2021

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On Wednesday, the NBA announced the broadcast schedule for the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NBA had to cancel the Las Vegas Summer League last year in 2020. Fast forward to today, the 17th annual NBA Summer League will air live this year in Las Vegas, Nevada from August 8-17. During the 10-day tournament, the 75 total games will be broadcasted on these network channels: NBA TV, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPNews.

Plus, the games can be watched live with the ESPN app. WatchESPN is free, but according to ESPN.com, the user must be a subscriber of a major cable service, such as AT&T U-Verse, BendBroadband, or Xfinity. Anyways, through the NBA.com website, tickets can be bought via the NBA Events section of the site. Each of the 30 NBA teams will play a total of five games over the course of the short, competitive tournament.

The Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion stadiums will host six to eight games per day. According to the 2021 schedule, for games 17-22 on Tuesday, August 10th, only six games will be played this day. The 75th game of the competition, the final matchup, will be the championship game. The 28 teams that fail to qualify for the championship game will play their fifth and final game on either August 16th or 17th. The title game is scheduled for Tuesday, August 17th at 9:00 p.m. (EST) on ESPN.

The Summer League 2021 tips off with a matchup between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks at the Cox Pavilion. This game is scheduled for Sunday, August 8th at 1:00 p.m. (EST) on NBA TV. The first four teams selecting in the 2021 NBA Draft will also be playing on this day: Detroit Pistons (No. 1 pick), Houston Rockets (No. 2 pick), Cleveland Cavaliers (No. 3 pick), and the Toronto Raptors (No. 4 pick). At the Thomas & Mack Center, the Raptors vs. Knicks game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2. Then, the Trail Blazers will face the Hornet at 6:00 p.m. (EST) on NBA TV.

For the opening game on the second day, the Pelicans will play the Bulls at 3:00 p.m. (EST) on ESPN2, followed by the Mavericks versus 76ers at 4:00 p.m. (EST) on NBA TV. There are several different games viewers can choose to watch over this 10-day span. Brandon Clarke was the most recent player to win the Las Vegas MVP award, in the Summer League of 2019. Clarke was drafted 21st overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2019 NBA Draft.

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NBA Trade Rumors: Bradley Beal never requested a trade, remains committed to Wizards

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This NBA offseason has been a frustrating one for some die-hard fans, especially Washington Wizards‘ fans. On June 18, 2021, news broke concerning shooting guard Bradley Beal announcing his commitment to play for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team. A few weeks ago, it was reported by USA Basketball that Beal would not play in the Tokyo Olympics. And, this was because the 28-year-old three-time NBA All-Star had to enter the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Missouri native.

In an interview published by CBS Sports on July 15, 2021, regarding the chance to play for USA Basketball, Beal told CBS’ Michael Kaskey-Blomain, “It’s an honor. It’s something that you take for granted. Not a lot of guys in the league get this opportunity. We all know that. We didn’t live up to what we wanted to a few years ago (in the 2019 FIBA World Cup), and so now we have an opportunity to get back what’s rightfully ours.”

In 2010, Beal won the FIBA-Under 17 World Cup MVP. Though, everyone can see his passion for basketball. Needless to say, it is an awful experience for any athlete to have to bow out of the Olympics. In addition to this unfortunate news, there is all kinds of speculation across the Internet concerning Beal’s future with the Wizards. From Boston.com, it was reported two days ago that Beal would welcome a trade if he was moved to the Boston Celtics. The report also included three other teams: Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat, and Philadelphia 76ers. This latest news information was originally reported by Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. Last Saturday, Fischer stated, “Boston’s path to securing Beal would appear far more costly, as the Celtics’ offer almost certainly has to include Jaylen Brown and all of their future draft picks they are able to part with.”

Although the report could still be accurate, many fans are asking for more evidence to help support this claim. This is Beal’s team; he was drafted by Washington third overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. Would the Wizards be wiling to trade their star player for Jaylen Brown and potential future draft picks? This remains to be seen. Plus, everyone should keep in mind that although Beal was open to a trade, at least he never demanded an immediate trade. The latest news is likely just trade rumors and meaningless gossip.

Moreover, the 2020-21 Wizards finished 34-38 (.472), ranking third in the Southeast Division and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference. The team lost four games to one in the first round of the postseason against the 76ers. The Wizards have not appeared in the NBA Finals since the 1978-79 season, and they have not won the championship since the 1977-78 season, when they defeated the Seattle Supersonics in Game 7 105-99. Not to mention, the Wizards were called the Bullets back then.

After the season ended, the organization agreed to part ways with head coach Scott Brooks. Perhaps Coach Brooks leaving the team is leading Beal to ask more questions about his own future. According to one report by NBC’s Pro Basketball Talk, Beal was irked over the organization hiring Wes Unseld Jr. over Sam Cassell for the vacant head coach position. How much does this play into trade talks?

Well, we all know that Beal is a competitive player, so three consecutive losing seasons by Washington might not be cutting it for him. Then again, a great player should be willing to give a new coach a chance. Last season, in 60 games played, the six-foot-three guard averaged 31.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game. The 9-year NBA veteran also shot 48.5 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc. In the 2021 All-Star Game, in 31 minutes played, Beal scored 26 points.

On October 17, 2019, Beal signed a two-year, $72 million extension with Washington. He earned $28.7 million this past season, and he will earn $34.5 million in the upcoming 2021-22 season. Beal’s player option for the 2022-23 season is also $37.2 million. So, folks should keep in mind that Beal is still showing his loyalty to the Wizards. He is only considering a trade request before the draft. The key word here is “considering.” Having said this, not even LeBron James is safe from a trade in this league. Ok, maybe only James is safe.

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Grizzlies trade Jonas Valanciunas to Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are shipping guard Eric Bledsoe, center Steven Adams, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks of this week’s upcoming draft. So, the Pelicans are giving up the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. Valanciunas, the 29-year-old veteran center, averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 62 games played throughout the 2020-21 season. He also shot 59 percent from the field. The seven-foot Lithuanian also ranks fourth overall in true shooting percentage (.616) among active players. On July 11, 2019, Valanciunas signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies. He is set to earn $4 million next season.

Additionally, in 71 games played last season, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The six-foot-one guard also shot 42.1 percent from the field in the 2020-21 season. On November 23, 2020, as part of a four-team trade, Bledsoe and Adams were traded to the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with two future first-round picks and the right to swap two additional first-round picks. Last season, in 71 games played, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His field goal percentage was 42.1 percent as well. The 11-year veteran is set to earn $18,125,000 in the 2021-22 season. Before he was traded to New Orleans, on March 4, 2019, the guard signed a four-year, $70 million extension. He earned his first All-Defensive second-team selection in the 2019-20 season.

Moreover, in 58 games played last season, Adams averaged 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The six-foot-eleven center ranks fifth among active players for effective field goal shooting percentage (.591). The eight-year veteran also ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, with an active statistic of 14 percent. On November 23, 2020, the same day Adams was traded to the Pelicans, he signed a two-year, $35 million extension. For next season, he is projected to earn $17,073,171. To add to this trade news, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are swapping second-round picks in this year’s draft, too. Referencing NBA.com’s “Consensus Mock Draft” article, with the No. 10 pick of the draft, the Pelicans were originally expected to draft either Josh Giddey or Davion Mitchell at this number. However, plans have now changed.

From ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade will not be finalized until August 6th, and this is because of the annual salaries of these said players. Free agency will begin on August 2, 6:00 p.m. (EST). Furthermore, per Spotrac’s 2021-22 NBA salary cap table, next season’s luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. The team’s current available luxury tax space is $22,555,195. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have a salary cap maximum of $112,414,000. Brandon Ingram, Bledsoe, and Adams had a combined cap percentage of 39.2 percent. Considering that Bledsoe and Adams are traded away, this will clear up $35,198,171 of dead cap space.

Yesterday, CBS Sports reported the news pertaining to Lonzo Ball’s desire to remain in New Orleans. With extra cap space, the team is expected to re-sign the 23-year-old guard. Likewise, for the Grizzlies, the teams has a luxury tax space of $37,019,952. Their current cap space is $8,321,229. As stated before, the transactions have not yet been finalized. The Grizzlies’ outgoing cap is now $14 million, but from the contracts of Adams and Bledsoe, they are bringing in $35,198,171.

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