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Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings agree to 1-year deal

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Free-agent center Hassan Whiteside has agreed to a one-year deal with the Sacramento Kings, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Whiteside, while averaging 30.0 minutes, led the NBA with 2.9 blocks per game and finished third with 13.5 rebounds last season while with the Portland Trail Blazers.

His 25.07 PER was eighth best in the league, just behind that of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

A 7-foot, 265-pound center, Whiteside arrived in Portland in a July 2019 trade in which Mo Harkless and Meyers Leonard were sent to the Miami Heat. The trade came one month after Whiteside exercised a $27.1 million player option on his contract, the final year of the four-year, $98 million contract he signed with Miami.

Entering his ninth year, Whiteside, 31, has career averages of 13.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.

He joins a Kings team that declined to match the Atlanta Hawks‘ offer sheet for restricted free-agent guard Bogdan Bogdanovic on Tuesday, with new general manager Monte McNair planning to maintain roster flexibility and continuing to reshape around his young core of De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield.

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James Harden thanks Houston Rockets, fans in Instagram post

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Newly acquired Brooklyn Nets forward James Harden took to social media on Friday to thank the city of Houston and the Rockets, saying he was “indebted” to the franchise.

“Houston you welcomed me with no guarantees. Took a leap of faith and it changed my life and the lives of my family forever,” Harden wrote in an Instagram post which also featured a highlight video of some of Harden’s more memorable moments in a Rockets uniform.

“This organization, this city has given me everything I could ask for and more. Before the scoring titles long before MVP you believed. For that I am forever indebted. I gave my mind body and soul in hopes of bringing the glory to the city. I fell short and for that I am forever indebted. It’s far from a good bye as I pay all my debts.”

Harden was traded from the Rockets to the Nets on Thursday as part of a blockbuster four-team trade that also involved the Pacers and Cavaliers. The deal reunites Harden with former Oklahoma City teammate Kevin Durant in Brooklyn and positions the Nets, who also have All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, as title contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Harden, who was unable to get the Rockets past the Western Conference finals, had remained quiet through months of reports that he was unhappy in Houston. First-year Rockets head coach Stephen Silas called the drama surrounding Harden an “all-around messed up situation.”

ESPN’s Malika Andrews, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and The Associated Press all contributed to this report.



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Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving expected to play vs. Orlando Magic after NBA-ordered quarantine, sources say

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Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $50,000 for violating the league’s health and safety protocols and ordered to take part in a five-day quarantine, NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell announced Friday.

Irving would be allowed to return to team activities Saturday if he continues to test negative for COVID-19, and sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Irving is expected to play in Saturday’s game against the Orlando Magic.

Irving has been away from the team for its past five games for personal reasons. The Nets have not divulged details about Irving’s absence, but general manager Sean Marks said Thursday that the guard has said he is looking forward to returning to the team.

According to a release from the NBA, Irving violated the protocols by attending a private indoor party last weekend. The release noted league rules against “attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments.”

Irving will forfeit $816,898 in salary for the two games he missed this week due to his quarantine, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

Irving’s new teammate, James Harden, was fined $50,000 in December for a violation of the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols after the league reviewed video of him socializing maskless at a club.

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Introducing Willie Cauley-Stein, Mavericks center and painter extraordinaire

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Willie Cauley-Stein was in fifth grade when he packed up his bag for a trek across Spearville, Kansas, a tiny blip of a town — population: 800 — just up US-50 from Dodge City, which passes for a metropolis in a blur of flatlands and windmills.

Cauley-Stein was headed to a class, in which he was enrolled by his grandmother, at a family friend’s house. The snacks were good, he thought, so it was worth the walk. His bag brimmed with notebooks and pastels. It was his introduction to art.

Since then, Cauley-Stein has graduated from a schoolboy drawing houses and landscapes to a 27-year-old using spray paint — and acrylic paint when he wants to get more intricate — to work on his canvases.

It’s all a vessel for expressing his feelings about relationships, heroes and life as a veteran center with the Dallas Mavericks. Cauley-Stein, who became a father in July, decided not to finish last season in the bubble, then declined his player option with the Mavericks before re-signing with Dallas for two more years. That journey, he says, is represented in his art. But for many, an NBA life is separate from a creative one.

According to Cauley-Stein, that is by design. The league’s decision-makers, he says, often want complete devotion to the game. If you’re known for drawing freehand instead of practicing your free throws, it’s a bad career move.

“They put that tag on you,” says Cauley-Stein, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft, now on his third team in six seasons. “‘Well, you don’t love basketball because you do other things.’ You’re like, ‘What?’ I bet there are a lot more [artists in the NBA than we know about] just for that reason — they don’t want people to know.”

Cauley-Stein, for his part, doesn’t mind the label. He purposely surrounds himself with a pack of creatives who do everything from music producing and beat-making to fashion design — including his girlfriend, Kelsey Brooks, who collaborates with him on his artwork. Eventually, they all want to make movies together.

For now, Cauley-Stein basks in the good vibes he says his crew gives him, a welcome oasis from the craziness of NBA life. Those vibes, he says, turn into inspiration, and that inspiration turns into art, which he creates in his downtime. Here’s Cauley-Stein, in his own words.

It was my second time using spray cans, and my girl was like, “You should do a Pac-Man.” And I’m like, “A Pac-Man would be cool just because of the colors.” And it’d be easy with the can. But then I got into it. PPP is one of my crew’s things. It stands for philosophical, power and peace. Pac-Man is the crew. And we’re just eating that message up, you know what I mean? The “Outa Space” part — instead of outer space — is funny because I just ran out of space. The astronaut and the UFO fit so nicely in there.

I just watched [ESPN’s Bruce Lee documentary] “Be Water,” and I just felt like I needed to do the eye of the tiger. It just made sense with Rocky too. Oh, and there’s another thing: My girlfriend had never watched any of the Rocky movies, so we had to binge-watch all of them.

My biggest thing is finding my inner consciousness of not being afraid to fail. And that’s why I chose that Bruce Lee quote, because you conquer that fear in trying. That was such a big thing for me coming to Dallas and taking that leap of faith. And the little dog looking in the mirror … I made that for my friend for Christmas. The dog’s name is Hendrix. It came out so dope. I liked that concept of looking in the mirror and seeing something different.

Oh, and that’s Jimi Hendrix. I just got him tatted on my leg. I just love everything he did for me, man. He is the embodiment of “jiggy” and just the creativity that he brought, flipping the guitar upside down and playing that new sound, is just revolutionary to the game. And I did [the boy on the basketball court with the newspaper] because that’s how my house was set up when I was in the Bay. I lived by [San Francisco’s Fisherman’s] Wharf. I could see this elementary school court. I was sitting there enjoying the view. The message in that one: Don’t read your news clippings.

I’m really, really into the Renaissance era. I’ve been into that for a while. My brother — the one with the silver armor in front of the red background — and another family member, the one with the black armor, passed away recently. That’s the inspiration behind the two kings. I had already done a painting on that canvas, then I got the kings idea … and I just painted over the top of it. That’s why the background is like that, and I ended up liking it.

My crew is infatuated with anime and the Naruto story. I mean, it’s pretty much the bible to us. Those are the three main characters — Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke [left to right] — in the story. The headbands are for Shift, our record label. That’s the identity of our crew — Shift Records. You’ll see me put #ShiftEverything on my Instagram, and that’s our whole movement.

I feel like that’s my relationship with my girl. Oh, man. She’s definitely Batman, and I’m the Joker. She is five steps ahead of me. What’s cool is we collab’ed on it. She loves when I create.

That day, when I was in the garage, I was like, “Here, you throw the cans around.” You’ll see on [the Joker’s] clothes, and in the background, some random stuff. That was actually her, and I just made the little symbols that she made into part of his clothing and part of the background. I just took it and ran with it. She didn’t even know that I was doing it. I told her, “Come check it out.” And she was like, “What? You turned it into that?” It was so fast too. Sometimes I just get locked in and I can spend six hours. I knocked [out] both of those.

This is all part of a concept called Addicted to Sauce. A Gucci logo is actually going to go on that bag that’s on his knee. There’s the Chanel one, where the dude is melting down the Chanel C’s on the spoon, and there’s the Fendi logo on the pill bottle. Then the Saint Laurent one, smoking out of the can.

Obviously, our society has a huge drug problem. So that was my inspiration behind that. I had gone down a hole of buying a lot of name-brand clothing. I’m talking almost $500,000 worth of clothing. I didn’t realize, until I was done buying it all throughout the years, like, damn, I am really addicted. That’s how I came up with all that. You spend 500K on clothes, and you could have put 500K into your own [clothing line] instead of brands that are already making super-money. It made me shift my focus on the world; I’m trying to not be addicted to these other people’s sauce. I’m trying to get addicted to my own.

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