How the NBA is using augmented reality to transform the fan experience

We are hours from Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, and in Bangkok, Thailand, a 15-year-old NBA fan is itching to watch Stephen Curry’s famed warm-up routine. The Chase Center is a 17-hour flight and thousands of American dollars away, but sitting in her living room, she picks up her phone, opens the NBA’s augmented reality app, and walks three feet to step into a portal that traverses 7, 900 miles.

The screen takes her courtside, just steps away from Curry as he begins the daily ritual that induces thousands of fans to line up early and enter the arena hours prior to Warriors games. She pans to her left, where Warriors assistant coach Bruce Fraser corrals a rebound and feeds Curry’s pocket.

The girl’s mother isn’t much of a sports fan, but there’s only one TV and the kids always win. During the game, she points her iPhone camera toward the TV, and optical trackers fix a blurb of every player’s interests over their heads. She finds out Kyrie Irving is a flat-earther and develops an immediate rooting interest in the Warriors. The girl’s brother, an analytics aficionado, has true shooting percentage, block rate, and turnover percentage hovering over players on his Android instead.

In transition, Andre Iguodala lobs the ball to Kevin Durant and he posterizes Jayson Tatum. On the bottom of the app, the best memes and reactions on NBA Twitter pop up, and a multi-angle replay will be available in minutes.

The clock dwindles to zero, Draymond Green whips the ball into the air, and the Warriors win their third straight championship. The family portals into the middle of the Chase Center arena, where fans, cameras, reporters, and staffers swarm and NBA employees construct a make-shift stage with the Larry O’Brein Trophy awaiting. The boy turns his phone to the right, where Bill Russell lingers, while his sister is staring up at the ceiling, where three championship banners hang in the rafters.

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Kevin Love signs four-year extension with Cavs

The Cleveland Cavaliers said goodbye to LeBron James this offseason for the second time in four years, and there has been some talk that Kevin Love could be the next to leave town. It does not seem like that is the team’s plan — at least for now.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst report that the Cavs have signed Love to a four-year, $120 million extension.

Adrian Wojnarowski

@wojespn

ESPN reporting with @WindhorstESPN: Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension — topping out his overall deal at five-years, $145 million, league sources tell ESPN.

The new contract is somewhat surprising, as many expected the Cavs to either trade Love or the star forward to aim for a big year statistically before heading into free agency next summer. Love has already won a championship, however, so it makes sense that he is opting for financial security.

Love still could be traded at some point, but that has seemed like a long shot all along. The four-year extension indicates the Cavs want him to become the face of their franchise rather than getting rid of everyone and starting over.

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NBA transactions: All the moves of the 2018-19 season

July 21: Atlanta waived guard Antonius Cleveland.

July 21: Boston waived guard Abdel Nader.

July 21: Los Angeles Lakers signed forward Johnathan Williams.

July 21: Sacramento signed forward Nemanja Bjelica.

July 20: Brooklyn traded forward Darrell Arthur to Phoenix for forward Jared Dudley and cash considerations.

July 20: Dallas signed forward Raymond Spalding.

July 20: Los Angeles Lakers signed forward Michael Beasley.

July 20: Memphis signed forward Yuta Watanabe to a two-way contract and waived guard Myke Henry.

July 20: Oklahoma City traded center Dakari Johnson to Orlando for guard Rodney Purvis.

July 20: Phoenix traded cash considerations to Philadelphia for forward Richaun Holmes.

July 20: San Antonio signed guard Marco Belinelli and forward Dante Cunningham.

July 20: Toronto re-signed guard Lorenzo Brown.

July 19: Guard Tyler Ennis signed with Fenerbahce (Turkey).

July 19: Atlanta waived guard Jaylen Morris.

July 19: Boston re-signed guard Marcus Smart.

July 19: Chicago re-signed guard Antonio Blakeney.

July 19: Cleveland signed center Channing Frye.

July 19: Detroit named Tim Grgurich and Micah Nori assistant coaches.

July 19: Los Angeles Lakers waived guard Malik Newman and signed guard Jeffrey Carroll

Full List here.

By: HoopsHype staff

LeBron or MJ? How the King is settling the GOAT debate

Who is the greatest NBA player of all time?

When Michael Jordan made his final shot for the Chicago Bulls 20 years ago next month, that question was easy to answer. While cases could be made for Bill Russell based on championship rings, Wilt Chamberlain on statistical dominance and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on longevity, the consensus was clear: Jordan was the greatest basketball player who had ever lived.

And then along came LeBron James, a challenger to the throne unlike any before him. The comparison between James and Jordan, once premature, is now fair to make. This is James’ 15th NBA season, matching Jordan’s total, and he has already played 71 more regular-season games and an incredible 49 more playoff games. With James still established as the league’s best player at age 33 and adding playoff game winners to his résumé seemingly by the week, the question is worth asking: Jordan or LeBron?

Championships added: James closing fast

Two years ago, when ESPN was ranking the best players in NBA history (result: Jordan first, with James third behind Abdul-Jabbar), I developed a metric that could evaluate the league’s greatest stars throughout the decades on a level playing field. The result was championships added, which uses Basketball-Reference.com’s win shares to estimate how much a player added to his team’s chances of walking away with the title that season based on regular-season and playoff performance.

Back then, Jordan was first and James third by the numbers, too — although Chamberlain, not Abdul-Jabbar, occupied the spot between them. However, James has spent the subsequent two-plus years burnishing his legacy, most notably leading his Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 championship by upsetting Golden State in the NBA Finals after the Warriors surpassed Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls for the best regular-season record ever. At the time, I noted James’ playoff run had pushed him past Chamberlain into second in all-time championships added.

Let’s take another look at James vs. Jordan by championships added (regular season and playoffs combined), going season by season.

By: Kevin Pelton

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NBA Rumors: 76ers Have Big (Like, Really Big) Plans This Offseason

When watching the Philadelphia 76ers in their second-round NBA playoffs series with the Boston Celtics, it was clear that Philly is one big piece away from being a true title contender.

(Head coach Brett Brown and general manager Bryan Colangelo admitted as much after the Sixers were eliminated from the postseason.)

So, how will the 76ers go about addressing their needs? Well, let’s just say they plan on shooting for the moon.

Should LeBron James opt out of his current deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers after this season, the Sixers are expected to make a push for the 33-year-old superstar, Philly.com’s Keith Pompey reported Saturday. Furthermore, the Sixers will explore either a trade for San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard or a free-agent deal for Oklahoma City Thunder swingman Paul George.

“Paul George is another free agent the Sixers  have interest in, according to folks around the league,” Pompey wrote. ” … Don’t be surprised if they also try to acquire San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in a trade. Sources have said the Sixers have expressed interest in the two-time all-star.”

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By. Dakota Randall

Adam Silver Warns Against Tanking

Written by ESPN Staff at ESPN.com

Commissioner Adam Silver reminded all 30 NBA teams that tanking “has no place in our game” in a memo sent last week to explain the league’s six-figure fine of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

“We have been careful to distinguish between efforts teams may make to rebuild their rosters, including through personnel changes over the course of several seasons, and circumstances in which players or coaches on the floor take steps to lose games,” Silver wrote in the memo, obtained by USA Today Sports.

“The former can be a legitimate strategy to construct a successful team within the confines of league rules; the latter — which we have not found and hope never to see in the NBA — has no place in our game. If we ever received evidence that players or coaches were attempting to lose or otherwise taking steps to cause any game to result otherwise than on its competitive merits, that conduct would be met with the swiftest and harshest response possible from the league office.”

Cuban made headlines earlier this month when he revealed during a podcast that he told members of the Mavericks that “losing is our best option.” The league responded Feb. 21 by fining him $600,000, citing “public statements detrimental to the NBA.”

Silver mentioned “integrity” on multiple occasions in the subsequent memo, portions of which were published Wednesday as part of a USA Today report. He said the league doesn’t believe the Mavericks are tanking.

The Mavericks enter Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a 19-42 record, just 1 1/2 games ahead of the Phoenix Suns (18-44) for the worst record in the league. The bottom eight teams in the league are separated by just 2 1/2 games in the standings.

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Bucks Get Tyler Zeller From Nets

Written by Colin Ward-Henniger at CBS Sports.com

The Milwaukee Bucks added to their frontcourt depth by agreeing to acquire center Tyler Zeller from the Brooklyn Nets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

In return, the Nets will receive guard Rashad Vaughn, along with a second-round draft pick, the details of which Wojnarowski detailed in his report:

The Bucks will send the 2018 second-round pick to the Nets should it fall between 31 and 47 in the draft. Otherwise, Phoenix will receive the pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. If the Bucks pick doesn’t convey in 2018, Milwaukee will send its unprotected second-round pick in 2020 to Brooklyn, league sources said.

Zeller is a 7-foot center averaging 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in nearly 17 minutes this season for the Nets. He’ll compete with Bucks big men John Henson and Thon Maker for playing time in Milwaukee.

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Blake Griffin Traded To Detroit Pistons

Written by ESPN News Service at ESPN.com

Blake Griffin is ready for the next chapter of his basketball career.

On Tuesday, the All-Star forward tweeted out a statement to thank the LA Clippers’ fans and the city of Los Angeles after he was traded to the Detroit Pistons.

The 28-year-old Griffin had been the face of the Clippers, and in July he agreed to a $171 million, five-year deal, ending a brief flirtation with free agency. The deal didn’t include a no-trade clause.

While a free agent in the 2017 offseason, Griffin met with Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, coach Doc Rivers and several players at Staples Center in a celebration of his career. At the end of the two-hour fete, Griffin rose and spoke, telling teammates, his coach and the owner, “I want my legacy to be a Clipper.”

In Detroit, where the Cavaliers will play the Pistons on Tuesday night, LeBron James lamented that trades like Griffin’s are considered part of the business, while players who explore free agency are blamed for being disloyal.

“When a player gets traded, it’s, ‘They was doing what’s best for the franchise.’ But when a player decides to leave, it’s, ‘He’s not loyal. He’s a snake. He’s not committed.’ It’s just, that’s the narrative of how it goes. So I’m definitely [aware],” he said. “I know that firsthand.”

Griffin will not play Tuesday night, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said.

Griffin will wear jersey No. 23 with the Pistons, making the switch to the same number he wore in college at Oklahoma. His previous jersey number, 32, is not available in Detroit because the Pistons had retired it in honor of Richard Hamilton.

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Cavaliers’ Love Out 6-8 Weeks

Written by Colin Ward-Henninger at CBS Sports.com

This hasn’t been a good week for All-Stars when it comes to injuries.

First DeMarcus Cousins tore his Achilles. Then the Wizards announced that John Wall would have a knee procedure and be out for two months. Now it’s Kevin Love’s turn.

Love broke his hand during Tuesday’s game between the Cleveland Cavalier sand Detroit Pistons, and will reportedly miss 6-8 weeks.

 

Here’s the play where Love was injured:

The injury comes at the worst possible time for the Cavs, who had won two games in a row entering Tuesday’s game after losing 10 of 13. The bad month was accompanied by some reported finger-pointing and hostility from the Cavs, with Isaiah Thomas questioning why Love left the team’s blowout loss to the Thunder early.

SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh’s computer projection model shows a decline for the Cavs with Love out of the lineup.

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KD Drills OT Game Winner Over Lonzo Ball To Win On Kobe’s Jersey Retirement Night

Written by Drew Garrison at Silver Screen and Roll.com

The Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors put on an exciting game on a night all about honoring Kobe Bryant, but the Warriors would pull away 116-114 in overtime. The Lakers once again pushed the Warriors to the brink, but once again couldn’t close things out in extra time.

Kevin Durant put the finishing touches on the Lakers in OT, but overall the defense did a good job keeping him in check. Durant finished the night with 36 points, but shot 10-of-29 from the field. Klay Thompson added in 17 points, but on 6-of-24 shooting.

Overall the Lakers did a fairly good job of disrupting the Warriors’ offense, holding them to 40.2 percent shooting from the field. Once again it was horrific free-throw shooting (22-35) and turnovers (12) dooming an otherwise-solid effort from the Lakers.

The Warriors were without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, but even 25 points off the bench from Kyle Kuzma — putting on a show in front of Kobe — weren’t enough to take advantage of Golden State being shorthanded.

Lonzo Ball scored 16 points with six rebounds and six assists. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope continues racking up the attempts, going 4-of-17 on the night.

The Lakers are off Tuesday, traveling to face the Houston Rockets on Wednesday before bouncing back up to face the Warriors again on Friday. The game, ultimately, served as the backdrop to a much bigger night honoring one of the greatest professional athletes ever.

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