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Victor Oladipo offered a big smile. He was reminded that, in an interview before the start of this season, he declared that 2017-18 would be a no-nonsense year. No more Mr. Nice Guy was how he’d put it as he headed into his first season with Indiana, just a short drive up from Indiana University, where Oladipo starred for three seasons.

All that begged the question: Had he been too nice during his first five NBA seasons?

Too nice in Orlando, apparently, where he had been the No. 2 pick in the 2013 draft but was never able to take control of a young team scrambling for a leader. By his third and final season with the Magic, he’d spent a quarter of a season as a sixth man, losing his starting backcourt spot to Evan Fournier and rookie Elfrid Payton.

Last year in Oklahoma City, he was a consistent starter again, but made little improvement, instead plucking his opportunities where he could behind league MVP Russell Westbrook.

Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram of the Lakers were in the Rising Stars game. For the Clippers, Lou Williams was in the Skills Challenge, and Tobias Harris was in the 3-Point Contest. That’s it.

There is something plain weird about being in Los Angeles for a celebration of the best of pro basketball and finding so few players from the LA franchises among the best. The only solace, perhaps, is that there are a handful of players with Los Angeles roots on hand.

Sporting News: How did you get involved with the promotion?

Hot Sauce: The good folks at Kumho Tire called me. They’re all about control, performance, handle and grip, so who better to collaborate with than the Sauce? They’re the official tires of the NBA. So I took the call and decided it would be fun to crack some of these fans ankles. I get paid to go out there and cross people up. It’s a great way to show off my skills for a great brand. Plus, it’s fun. The fans are all geeked up until they find out it’s me. I’ve had at least four guys quit. We basically pick a fan out, and if him or her [is] brave enough to go out there, I’ll break their ankles.

In the opening 7:16 of the Heat’s game in Dallas on Monday, we got the full Hassan Whiteside. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, seeking to exploit the undersized Mavericks, hammered the ball to Whiteside in the middle repeatedly.

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Move over Red Panda and Quick Change �� there’s a new show that is going viral during NBA games. Philip Champion, better known as Hot Sauce of AND1 mixtape fame, and Kumho Tire USA are offering fans a chance to win a set of four tires if they can stop the street-ball legend.

The challenge is simple: come to a Hawks home game, take the ball away from Hot Sauce within 24 seconds and win the prize. The key word there is simple, not easy. It hasn’t happened yet, and Hot Sauce is set on keeping it that way.

I’m not messing around out there. If a fan beats me, they’re going to earn it, Hot Sauce said. These are some expensive tires, and they’re really good. I can’t have my folks giving them away for nothing.

With holes at cornerback, edge rusher, the interior of the offensive line, wide receiver and possibly running back, there’s reason to believe the 49ers won’t hesitate to pursue players they think are worth adding to the mix, even if they’re expensive. As a team that suddenly looks like it could be back in the postseason hunt, filling important needs will be a priority. — Nick Wagoner

The combination means Ball can switch onto three positions against most teams. It gives the Lakers the flexibility to move him around on defense depending on the matchups, putting Ball in more positions to thrive off-ball. Caldwell-Pope, for example, can guard the opposing team’s point guard while Ball defends a shooting guard or small forward. Ball might not have the strength to defend every shooting guard and small forward in the league, but he can use his length to force them into taking tough shots.

James said he started the Uninterrupted video site to empower athletes to speak about whatever they want to speak about.

There was a time when athletes either felt they shouldn’t speak out on things or they didn’t feel the courage to speak about things that are going on. I do it because I’m passionate about it and I know this is bigger than me, personally. The hardest thing in the world for me personally, is raising two African-American boys and an African-American daughter in today’s society. It’s hard.

About five and a half million, Kerr said. I think he’ll take it, don’t you think?

Clearly Kerr was aware as a general manager he didn’t have the necessary cap room or talent to give James pause when it came to his final decision. He joined the Heat, won a couple titles and later returned to Cleveland. Now, it feels like the cycle is starting all over again with those ridiculous LeBron-to-the-Warriors rumors.

Again, it’s tampering under the specific interpretation of the rule, and yet, it feels completely over the top.

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Like Bickerstaff, Silas was a finalist for the Rockets job before Mike D’Antoni took over two seasons ago. The 44-year-old is seven years into his second stint in Charlotte. He became an associate head coach when Patrick Ewing left to take the job at Georgetown.

Silas is respected by players and team executives throughout the league. He worked with Stephen Curry during his early years with the Warriors, and the two-time MVP certainly holds Silas in high regard.

Coach Silas is a big part of who I am today, Curry said. Getting to work with him was beneficial for me. It’s only a matter of time before he gets a gig. Really, he should probably already have one. Whoever gets him will be getting a winner.

With the way things are going in Cleveland, this was clearly the right move. The relationship between LeBron and the Cavs’ front office could be past the point of repair as the Cavs continue to struggle and look less likely each day to return to the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive year. (Counterpoint: Cleveland’s moves to change the team’s current roster and long-term future could have given James second thoughts about leaving. Only time will tell.)

And even though the Thunder have played better as of late, the OK3 trio of George, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook is still far from perfect together. George has bonded with Westbrook, but he isn’t offering any guarantees he’ll stay in Oklahoma City beyond this season.

There may be scenarios in which sneaker companies (like Under Armour, which played a significant role in sending Ferguson to Australia and Emmanuel Mudiay to China) could be willing to supplement this number.

While NCAA rules still prevent players from cashing in on their likenesses and signing endorsement deals, the NBL is under no such restrictions. Will the likes of Nike, Adidas and Under Armour attempt to get ahead of the competition and lock up elite-level prospects a year (or more) before they enter the NBA draft and send them to Australia? A sneaker company supplementing a playing contract with a multiyear shoe deal, like we’ve already seen happen with Brandon Jennings, Mudiay and Ferguson, would be a powerful incentive that would likely be very difficult to turn down.

DeAndre Jordan, Clippers: The big man has been a trade target for multiple teams, including the Cavs, Bucks, Heat and Trail Blazers. Jordan has a player option for next year as part of his current contract, so the possibility of free agency should be considered by any team looking to add a consistent rebounder and rim protector.

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Carter suffered a serious knee injury in his first exhibition game with the Bengals. He scored 15 rushing TDs from 1996-97 with the Bengals before bouncing after seven NFL seasons. He’s the last running back to be selected No. 1 in the NFL Draft.

Fullwood was known for being part of a loaded backfield at Auburn with Bo Jackson and Tommie Agee, but he didn’t quite adjust to the NFL. He did make the Pro Bowl in 1989 after rushing for 821 yards and five TDs, but he retired after the 1990 season.

Los Angeles Lakers: The long wait for Lonzo Ball to return from a knee injury appears to be winding down, as the much-talked-about rookie said Wednesday that he plans to be back on the court Friday against the Mavericks. Ball has missed 21 of the past 26 games for the Lakers while dealing with discomfort in his left knee and is shooting only 35.6 percent from the field and 48 percent from the free throw line this season.

Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies are 11-33 without Mike Conley in the lineup this season, and with Conley (heel surgery) sidelined for the rest of the season, there’s a good chance this trend will continue. Be aware of the potential of a blowout if you’re streaming players against Memphis or playing daily fantasy.

Brown is the first noteworthy example of a late-season acquisition in the past 10 years. In February of 2008, a 38-year-old Brown joined the Celtics nearly nine months removed from appearing in an NBA game.

While his scoring average was less than three points per game, Brown played a major role in Boston. In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, Brown scored 10 points without missing a field goal, highlighted by a clutch dagger with over a minute left. The Celtics went on to defeat the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals, and Brown retired a champion.

The Cavaliers not only have new players coming in, but they have six players going out as well. One of those players went out on more of a friendly deal as Dwyane Wade was sent home to Miami. It was bittersweet for James to see one of his best friends go, but to see the reception Wade got before the 91-85 win over the Bucks alleviated much of the pain.

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