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Big Baller Alert: 10 times Lavar Ball proved he’s a marketing genius

Lavar Ball loves his three sons. He has gone to tremendous lengths to make them the best basketball players they can be and it seems to have worked.

LaMelo and LiAngelo will play Division I basketball at UCLA after his oldest son Lonzo went for a year and was drafted 2nd overall by the Lakers in June.

But Lavar isn’t just a dedicated father who coaches his sons’ AAU teams. He is also a marketing genius who promotes his sons and his Big Baller Brand simultaneously, consistently making outlandish statements that land him on Sportscenter and other sports talk shows.

Lavar isn’t afraid to let everyone know that his sons are the best. He said that his son Lonzo was better than two-time MVP Stephen Curry.

The Ball dad isn’t afraid to big himself up either. Though he averaged just two points and two rebounds per game in one season at Washington State University, Lavar said he would beat Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, in a game of one-on-one.

But by constantly running his mouth, Lavar is keeping his family’s name at the front of everyone’s mind. So when the Zo2, BBB’s first signature sneaker was priced at $495, it gave him another opportunity to promote the brand.

Lavar and his sons are constantly wearing BBB t-shirts, sweatshirts, jogging pants, and dad hats and after an MVP-winning performance in Summer League, everyone is talking about Lonzo.

Lavar is a master at redirecting the spotlight away from his sons and turning it on himself, allowing them to focus on the game while he markets them.

Though he may be one of the most obnoxious parents in the sports world, he is also one of the most caring. Keep doing your thing Lavar.

The Houston Rockets are officially for sale. You copping?

The Houston Rockets are a stable franchise with multiple superstars, a dedicated fanbase, and one of the largest television markets in the country.

So it came as a shock to everyone around the NBA when team president Tad Brown announced that the team is up for sale.

“It’s been my great joy and honor to own the Houston Rockets for the past 24 years,” team owner Leslie Alexander said in a statement.

“I’ve had the incredible opportunity to witness true greatness through the players and coaches who have won championships for the city, been named to All-Star and All-NBA teams, enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and done so much for our franchise and our fans.”

Alexander purchased the team in 1993 for $85 million and has had great success since then, winning the title in his first two seasons as owner.

The Rockets are now the eighth most valuable franchise in the league, valued at $1.65 billion with annual revenues of $244 million, according to Forbes.

But as we saw with the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, it only takes two billionaires to get into a pissing contest and Alexander could be looking at a $3 billion payday.

Teams around the NBA are making more money than ever before so it seems odd that Alexander would give that up. He just inked James Harden to a huge extension and will have no problem filling the arena each night or selling a local cable contract.

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ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported that Alexander never expressed interest in selling the team before. Brown said there is no timetable for the sale and they will take their time with the process.

This allows all of us to get our bread together and go in on what might be the best sports investment of the decade.

Carmelo Anthony is ready to dip New York. Where’s he going?

It’s no secret Carmelo Anthony wants to leave New York.

It seems to have finally hit him that he is well past his prime and if he wants to chase a championship ring, the time is now.

But over the weekend ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Knicks are attempting to convince him to stay in the Big Apple for one more season.

Anthony wasn’t happy about that and informed Knicks management that he wants out.

For weeks it appeared there were two teams in the running to obtain the former Syracuse star’s services: the Houston Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But on Saturday, Portland Trailblazers guard C.J. McCollum posted a picture on Instagram of Carmelo Anthony in a Blazers uniform.

The Blazers could offer the Knicks a solid trade package centered around young, inexpensive wing players but it is unclear if Carmelo would waive his no-trade clause for Portland.

So if Carmelo is dealt, what would each trade look like and what would it provide each team on the court?

Cleveland Cavaliers

Lebron James Laughing GIF by Carmelo Anthony - Find & Share on GIPHY

The Cavs were praying the Knicks would buy out Carmelo and they could leverage his friendship with LeBron James to bring him to Cleveland.

But it appears the Knicks are looking to get something in return for Carmelo, which seriously hinders the Cavs’ chances.

They don’t want to swap Kevin Love for Carmelo one-for-one because they feel Love is more valuable and could fetch more in another deal.

The Cavs could try and send Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson to New York, though I don’t think the Knicks are interested in either of those players.

On the court the Cavs could use Carmelo as a small-ball power forward and involve him in pick-and-rolls with LeBron or Kyrie Irving. Think of how Carmelo played in the Olympics: this is exactly how the Cavs would want to use him.

Instead of using him in the post like the Knicks do, they would station him beyond the three-point arc and let him fire away.

Anthony is also a capable rebounder when he wants to be and could hurt the Golden State Warriors on the boards in a potential Finals rematch. The King is apparently working hard to bring Anthony to Northeast Ohio.

Houston Rockets

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Houston has already had a huge offseason, bringing in Chris Paul, as well as role players P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute. Adding Carmelo would give them an extra offensive punch they will need to seriously challenge the Warriors.

Houston doesn’t want to part ways with Trevor Ariza but they might have to in order to get the deal done. Houston wants to unload the Ryan Anderson contract but the Knicks would have to be brain dead to accept that deal.

Anthony would fit nicely next to Paul and James Harden by playing off the ball in Mike D’Antoni’s system.

If they hold onto Ariza and Clint Capella, they will have a ton of versatile players that could cover up Carmelo’s defensive deficiencies.

Portland Trailblazers

Damian Lillard Basketball GIF by Portland Trail Blazers - Find & Share on GIPHY

Of all the teams rumored to be interested in ‘Melo, the Blazers are the most intriguing. The Blazers reportedly went after Paul George but found the price to be too high.

If they were able to land Carmelo he would give them the scoring from the wing they have long needed.

With Damian Lillard and McCollum dominating the ball and initiating the offense, the Blazers are looking for someone to take the scoring load off of them.

The Blazers could probably offer the Knicks the best deal centered around Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless, two wings who make less than $10 million per year.

The addition of Carmelo and a healthy Jusuf Nurkic could push the Blazers into the middle of the Western Conference.

Lonzo Ball posts another triple-double. Could he average one this season?

Following an awful debut, Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has been stuffing the stat sheet, collecting a pair of triple-doubles along the way.

In the NBA Summer League’s Round of 16 against the Cavaliers Thursday night, Ball posted 16 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds while rocking a pair of James Harden’s signature Adidas kicks.

He is now averaging 15.5 points, 9.3 assists and 8.3 rebounds so far in four games in Las Vegas.

Ball’s vision and unselfishness have become infectious and he is creating so many easy baskets for his teammates in transition.

In an up-tempo system without many bigs on the floor Lonzo is also able to scoop up long rebounds and immediately initiate the break.

But Ball’s jumper hasn’t been there and he’s struggled from distance.

When opposing guards go under on screen and rolls, Ball has been hesitant to launch and hasn’t shown the ability to break defenders down off the bounce with any regularity.

Looking at Ball’s numbers so far in Summer League and taking into account his obvious potential, is it far-fetched to think he could one day average a triple double?

Let’s break this down.

If the Lakers surround Ball with talented wings, he could rack up 12 to 15 assists per game in Luke Walton’s pace and space system.

The Lakers will very likely play with one big on the floor for most of the game and Ball, at 6 foot 5 inches, should be able to collect a number of long rebounds.

He is also a capable shooter who should be able to make three to four threes per game by his sophomore season.

Oh, and he can block shots too if he needs to.

The short answer: yes. Ball might not average a triple-double in the 30-10-10 Westbrook mold but I could see him averaging 15-12-10 on the next great Lakers team.

Lonzo Ball is a revolutionary player who might change the way point guards in the NBA play the game.

We’re hype to watch him next season.

The DraftKings/FanDuel merger is off. Both companies might be f*cked.

DraftKings and FanDuel, the two largest daily fantasy sports platforms, had agreed on a proposed merger in November, but in a sudden move Thursday, the companies announced that the deal is off.

The two companies have struggled to remain profitable as they faced numerous legal battles all over the country. The merger had been discussed for close to a year before it was agreed upon and both sides saw it as a way to move the industry forward.

But it was met with resistance from the Federal Trades Commission because the new company would have controlled 90 percent of the DFS industry.

In June, the FTC, along with attorneys general from California and the District of Columbia filed suit to block the merger.

The merger would have formed one company, lowering lobbying costs to get daily fantasy sports legalized in the United States. Now the two companies will continue to spend millions of dollars each year in court and in statehouses throughout the country.

FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles released this statement:

“FanDuel decided to merge with DraftKings last November, because we believed that this deal would have increased investment in growth and product development thereby benefiting consumers and the greater sports entertainment industry. While our opinion has not changed, we have determined that it is in the best interest of our shareholders, customers, employees, and partners to terminate the merger agreement and move forward as an independent company. There is still enormous, untapped market opportunity for FanDuel, and we will continue to execute our strategy to grow our business and further expand the fantasy sports industry.”

While DraftKings CEO Jason Robbins explained:

Over the past few years, DraftKings has become the world’s leading fantasy sports company. We are recognized as a global sports entertainment brand and the industry leader in utilizing technology to bring our customers the best fantasy contests and products. We have a growing customer base of nearly 8 million, our revenue is growing over 30% year-over-year, and we are only just beginning to take our product overseas to the billions of international sports fans we have yet to even reach.

Robbins went on, saying he’s excited about the upcoming NFL season, always the most profitable time for sports gambling businesses,

Consequently, we believe it is in the best interests of our customers, employees, and investors to terminate our agreement to merge with FanDuel and move forward as a separate company. This will allow us to singularly focus on our mission of providing the most innovative and engaging interactive sports experience imaginable, forever changing the way fans connect with teams and athletes worldwide. We appreciate the continued loyalty of our players – it is you, our customers who have made this all possible – and we look forward to kicking off what is going to be our best NFL season yet!

If you were brand loyal to one of these companies and were suddenly worried about their impending merger, you’re in luck.

The fact that they couldn’t agree on a deal is also promising for other DFS companies to get in on the action.

KatyPerrysBootyHole and wetbutt23 break this season’s biggest baseball trade

Adrian Wojnarowski is the first to break almost every NBA transaction. Adam Schefter serves the same role for NFL deals. But in MLB there is a new pair of scoopers in town: KatyPerrysBootyHole and wetbutt23.

Somehow the trade flew under the radar of the national media and these two Reddit users were the first to find out about the Chicago White Sox trading starter Jose Quintana across town to the Cubs for a haul of prospects.

Look out Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush, webutt23 and KatyPerrysBootyHole might be on their way to the White House.

Even Fox’s Ken Rosenthal and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, two of baseball’s best reporters, were shocked by the trade:

Last night on Reddit’s r/whitesox board, KatyPerrysBootyHole wrote,

“Hey guys, take this with a grain of salt, but I heard from a friend who’s brothers friend works for the cubs (sounds like bullshit I know), that Q is going to the cubs in exchange for 4 players. Has anyone heard anything similar?”

Wetbutt23 then jumped in to say,

“I was just told that the trade was agreed to this morning. And the players were doing physicals and what not. Could have been before game, I am not 100% on the timeline of the physicals.”

Quintana has struggled so far this season, posting a 4-8 record and a 4.49 ERA, but since arriving on the South Side in 2012 he has been a front-end starter. Quintana was an All Star in 2016 and has recorded a sub-3.50 ERA every season since 2014.

The way the details of the trade broke were certainly unusual but the Cubs are praying it saves their season.

KD gets roasted at the ESPYS as Paul George takes his place in OKC

On the same day KD got roasted at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles, Oklahoma City threw a massive welcome party for his apparent replacement, Paul George.

Peyton Manning, who hosted the ESPYS, didn’t pull any punches. Here’s what he said.

“Our gymnastics team was so dominant that Kevin Durant told me he wants to play for them next year.”

The whole crowd laughed but Durant didn’t find any humor in the joke, he was shown scowling on the big screen. Lighten up big guy.

“And I’ve got to tell you: I don’t think you’d start for that team, Kevin,” Manning continued, before turning his attention to another attendee at Wednesday’s event. “Russell Westbrook, what do you think?”

Westbrook didn’t laugh either. Man, these guys are still so salty.

It wasn’t that long ago that Durant was the superstar who could do no wrong, battling to bring a championship to a small market with his pal Russell Westbrook.

Now, after teaming up with Goliath, the Golden State Warriors, the respect most sports fans once had for him has evaporated.

And now Paul George, a player who has long been thought of as KD Lite, is taking his place in OKC. As PG13 stepped off the plane, he was welcomed by thousands of Thunder fans chanting his name.

Though George will most likely only play with the Thunder for one season before jetting to LA, he should form a dynamic duo with Westbrook and Thunder fans are clearly excited.

Apparently Durant reached out to George and told him he would be blown away by the culture that has been established in OKC.

Westbrook is definitely hype to have a running mate and he’s ready to challenge Durant next season.

Lonzo Ball ditches BBB shoes for Nike, has best game of Summer League

LeBron James skipped out on the ESPY’s Awards Wednesday night, instead flying to Las Vegas to watch Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball in the NBA Summer League.

The King was treated to a show as Lonzo had his best game in a Lakers uniform to date, recording 36 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds.

Maybe LeBron, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, wanted to get a close look at Lonzo in case he decides to head to the City of Angels next summer.

LeBron tweeted and posted a video on Instagram of Lonzo wearing Nike Kobe A.D.’s with the caption “Just.Do.It.”

This was the first game of the summer that Lonzo sported anything besides his signature Big Baller Brand Zo2 sneaker and the results didn’t lie.

Following the game Lonzo told SportsCenter:

“At BBB, you can play in what you want. I already played in both of my shoes, might as well get the ‘Mamba Mentality’ going. Put ’em on, and it worked out tonight.”

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons made an interesting point about the BBB sneakers on his podcast earlier this week.

He pointed to the litany of injuries Grant Hill sustained which hindered his career and attributed it in part to the sneakers he was wearing during games.

In 2001 after Hill sustained another severe ankle injury, Charles Barkley said,

“When you’re wearing cheap shoes, and you don’t wear Nike, it’s going to happen. They gave him all that money to wear those cheap FILAs.”

It will be interesting to see if Lonzo goes back to wearing the BBB sneakers during the season or if Lakers executives step in and demand he wears Nike or Adidas, two brands that customize sneakers for an athlete’s foot. But as of now, there are no negotiations with Nike, according to Lonzo’s father, LaVar.

“Lonzo is not forced to wear any brand and can play in any shoe he wants as long as it’s OK with the NBA,” LaVar Ball told ESPN Thursday morning. “This is what being independent is all about.”

Lakers coach Luke Walton and GM Magic Johnson might need to sit down with the Ball family and explain the ramifications of wearing poorly made sneakers.

It isn’t worth the risk.

MLB’s All Star Game got us thinking: Which starters would be best relievers?

As Nationals ace Max Scherzer pumped in 98 mile per hour fastballs and mixed in a filthy slider, most hitters at last night’s All Star Game in Miami knew their fate before stepping into the batter’s box and ended up flailing at anything close to the strike zone. Then Red Sox flamethrower Chris Sale took the mound, and he produced similar results.

Scherzer and Sale, starters who typically pitch seven or eight innings per start and will most likely win the Cy Young in their respective leagues, were each tasked with facing between four and eight hitters in the exhibition game.

This shortened workload allowed them to go all out for one or two innings and the results were scary. This got me thinking: if some of baseball’s best starters were converted into a bullpen role, would they become virtually unhittable?

Short answer: Yes. Scherzer was able to direct all of his energy and adrenaline into one inning. As he stomped around the mound and grunted on the release of every pitch, even Aaron Judge, a reincarnation of Paul Bunyan, looked intimidated.

We also have some context for this experiment: look at what Andrew Miller, a converted starter, has done in his ‘fireman’ role with the Cleveland Indians.

The combination of his high-90’s fastball and possibly the best slider in baseball history carried the Tribe to a World Series appearance last year. Miller only throws two pitches but both are extremely effective and he could go down as the best reliever ever.

So, which five starting pitchers would be the toughest to face in a one-inning situation?

1. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

Scherzer proved last night that if he was asked to get three outs in the ninth inning of a World Series game he would be nearly impossible to hit.

2. Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers

Fulmer was selected to the American League All Star team but didn’t get a chance to pitch in the game.

Detroit’s ace often hits 97 or 98 on the radar gun and if he knew his only job was to get out three hitters, I’m sure he could reach 100.

Fulmer is having a breakout season and will be one of the AL’s best pitchers for years to come.

3. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

Syndergaard has battled injuries this season, but when healthy he is a one of baseball’s most intimidating pitchers.

He dominated the San Francisco Giants in last year’s Wild Card Game, consistently pumping in 100 mile per hour fastballs and mixing it up with his deadly slider, which can touch 95.

If Syndergaard only had to lock in for one inning, the results would be scary.

4. Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays

Sanchez is now a starter, but when he pitched out of the pen, his fastball consistently reached triple digits.

Sanchez, still only 25-years old, has yet to refine his approach on the mound, but when he mixes in his wicked 12-6 curveball it leaves batters stuck in the mud.

5. Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

Cole was a prized prospect in the Pirates system but outside of a strong 2015 season, he has yet to live up to the hype.

Cole’s average 2017 pitch speed is 96.13 miles per hour and he consistently leads starters in that category.

I think a decreased role for Cole would spell disaster for opposing hitters.

Kevin Durant just dropped a new doc on YouTube, here’s 5 takeaways

Kevin Durant released Still KD: Through the Noise Tuesday, a 35-minute film that gives viewers an in-depth look into the superstar’s life off the court and his championship run with the Golden State Warriors.

KD endured a ton of hate last season following his decision to join the winningest regular season team of all time. But he was able to quiet some of the critics after capturing the title and the Finals MVP, proving he was the best player on the league’s best team.

In the video, which was filmed in collaboration with Nike, Durant provides some insight into his mindset and the steps he took to become one of the best high school and college basketball players in the country.

Here are five things we learned from KD’s documentary:

KD doesn’t want to talk about his decision to leave OKC anymore

Outside of a few highlights from his time with the Thunder, there isn’t any mention of the 2012 Finals loss or the time he spent with Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

He conspicuously left OKC out of the film and didn’t discuss his reason for choosing Golden State in free agency. Weird.

KD has been shooting in the gym

Man, Durant puts in that work. For years, he has been widely respected for being one of the hardest workers in the NBA.

In the vlog, his dedication to the game shines through and it is clear Durant has poured blood, sweat, and tears into his career.

Steve Nash has had a huge impact on Durant during his time with the Warriors

I thought that Nash was a player development coach who acted more as a consultant than a trainer who spends hours in the gym.

But in the video, Nash is shown helping Durant rehab from his knee injury midseason and working on those yoga/basketball moves the two-time MVP perfected as a Phoenix Sun.

Durant has immersed himself in the community

Dating back to his time in OKC, Durant has always played a philanthropic role in the city he played in.

Durant donated a large sum of money to build a number of basketball courts in an underserved Oakland neighborhood.

During a press conference, Durant talks about the role that basketball played in his life, teaching him the importance of teamwork and leadership.

Durant quickly acclimated himself to the Warriors culture

Though Durant wasn’t around for the Dubs’ meltdown in the 2016 Finals, he said he felt the team’s collective pain after they lost a Christmas Day showdown versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Towards the end of the video, Durant is seen hyping up Ian Clarke and Pat McCaw, two players with lesser roles on the team.

I still miss the old KD, but this new version might not be so bad.