Thursday, August 20, 2015

Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant favorite players of 2015 rookies despite injuries

Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant had injury-marred seasons to forget in 2014-15, but this year's rookie class still counts the stars of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Lakers as its favorite players.

Durant, at 21.2 percent, won the vote, edging out Bryant, at 18.2 percent, in an annual survey of rookies conducted by

LeBron James finished third at 15.2 percent to complete a top three that was identical to the choices of the 2014 rookie class. Reigning league MVP and NBA champion Stephen Curry finished tied with Dwyane Wade in fourth, each earning 9.1 percent of the vote.

The voting was conducted at the Panini Rookie Photo Shoot at the New York Knicks' practice facility earlier this month.

In addition to being asked questions about their expectations entering the league, the rookies were asked to evaluate their fellow 2015 draftees.

According to the rookies, No. 3 overall pick Jahlil Okafor is No. 1 when it comes to this year's class; the Philadelphia 76ers center was voted most likely to be named rookie of the year and most likely to have the best career.

Okafor, who was drafted behind Karl-Anthony Towns of the Timberwolves and D'Angelo Russell of the Lakers, earned 41.9 percent of the vote for rookie of the year predictions. The vote for best overall career was closer, with Okafor, at 24.1 percent, winning by just 6.9 percentage points over Towns, who got 17.2 percent of the vote.

Among the other survey winners, Russell was voted the best playmaker in the draft, and Brooklyn's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (44.3 percent) was considered the funniest by a wide margin over Charlotte's Frank Kaminsky (25.7 percent).


Monday, July 27, 2015

Dellavedova takes qualifying offer, re-signs with Cavs

CLEVELAND (AP) — Matthew Dellavedova has hustled his way back to the Cavaliers.

Dellavedova, who emerged as an unlikely postseason hero when All-Star guard Kyrie Irving was injured, signed a $1.2 million contract for next season on Monday.

He had been a restricted free agent, and although the Cavs signed Mo Williams this summer to be Irving's primary backup, the team wanted to keep Dellavedova because of the energy he brings off the bench.

Dellavedova accepted the Cavs' qualifying offer and he can be an unrestricted free agent next summer when the league's salary cap will expand. He made $816,000 last season.

The Australian has endeared himself to Cleveland fans, and his teammates adore "Delly" for his non-stop hustle and attitude. Dellavedova started 13 games during the regular season, but was forced into a more prominent role in the playoffs because Irving was slowed by injuries.

With Irving out, Dellavedova scored 19 points in a series-clinching win over Chicago in the second round and he scored 20 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against Golden State. He was hospitalized following the game for dehydration.

Dellavedova played in 67 games during the regular season, averaging 4.8 points, 3.0 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 20.6 minutes. He shot a career-high .407 percentage from the 3-point line.

In the playoffs, he averaged 7.2 points and 2.7 assists in 24.9 minutes.

General manager David Griffin's goal was to re-sign the Cavs' core players this summer and he has gotten deals done with LeBron James, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, James Jones and Dellavedova.

The Cavs remain interested in re-signing free agents Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith.

Cleveland also traded center Brendan Haywood - and his expiring $10.5 million contract - and forward Mike Miller to Portland for two trade exceptions and to save luxury-tax money.