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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Moments after the Los Angeles Lakers selected UCLA guard Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 overall pick in Thursday night’s NBA draft, Ball’s outspoken father, LaVar, made a bold proclamation on national television.

“Lonzo Ball is going to take the Lakers to the playoffs in his first year,” LaVar told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The Lakers have missed the playoffs for four straight seasons, the longest postseason drought in franchise history, and posted the league’s third-worst record last season at 26-56.

“That’s the goal,” Lonzo said when asked about his father’s comments. “You don’t play to lose. That’s definitely the goal. That’s the plan.”

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With his son making the interview rounds in the tunnels of Barclays Center, LaVar excitedly talked about how he had predicted for a long time that his son would go to the Lakers.

“Yes! Yes!” the elder Ball told ESPN not far from where other families and draft picks sat by the stage. “I told you I would speak it into existence. And everybody kept saying what if? What if? I don’t live on what ifs. If I live on what ifs, I will never get to where I am at.

“People always say, ‘LaVar, how come you are always right?’ I say, ‘Because I never get left.’”

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When asked about LaVar’s playoffs prediction, Lakers coach Luke Walton smiled.

“I’m a very optimistic person, but I don’t look that far into the future,” Walton said at the team’s practice facility, where a group of season-ticket holders and sponsors gathered for a draft party. “Right now, I’m hoping [Lonzo] leads us to a couple summer league victories, and we’ll take it from there.”

Walton said he expected LaVar’s comments will, at least initially, apply pressure on Lonzo.

2017 NBA draft

Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball went No. 1 and No. 2 on a wild NBA draft night in Brooklyn.

“I think it will make it more challenging, a little bit, but I think every top draft pick that comes in has a target on their back,” Walton said. “The best players in this league want to set the tone with these young players early, to let them know what it’s like here. I know when I was a young player, I had a target on my back from my own teammates because of things my dad [NBA great Bill Walton] said, but it ended up working out.

“What’s incredible is that he’s been, according to [Lonzo], his dad has been great. He’s always been there. He’s supported him. He obviously loves him, and that’s what you want out of a father, so I’m not overly concerned by it.”

Philadelphia 76ers teammates Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons indicated Thursday night that the pressure already is on.

Lonzo, though, downplayed whether the pressure will be greater because of his father’s comments.

“Nah, everybody says I have a target on my back,” he said. “I’m used to it by now. All I can do is go out there and play.”

Does he expect his father to keep a lower profile?

“I don’t know what he’s going to do. It’s going to be a surprise for you [media] and me,” Lonzo said.

Walton was also asked if he just wanted LaVar to stay out of the spotlight.

“He’s his own man,” Walton said. “He’s going to do what he does and we’re going to do what we do and we’re going to get after it here. We’re not going to change anything. I’m sure [Lonzo will] fit into our culture. He’ll help improve our culture with the way he plays, the way he passes, his selfless nature, and that’s why we took him.”
Despite the bluster associated with LaVar Ball, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said spending time with the Ball family at their home helped him to appreciate the patriarch.

“Listen, there can be a sense of bravado with some of the media stuff, but when you get to see the heart of the person and how they treat others, I think that’s when you really get to know them,” Pelinka said. “And all I can say is, we walked away from that time really impressed with the family.”

And while no one knows if LaVar Ball will tone down his talking, Pelinka said the Lakers won’t ask him to do so.

“I think LaVar is going to be LaVar,” Pelinka said. “Lonzo is going to be a Laker, and he’s going to be part of what we do on the court with the other players that we have, but LaVar is his own person.”

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The close of minicamp on Thursday officially ended the Chargers’ time in San Diego.

Despite the announced move to Los Angeles five months ago, the Chargers still conducted offseason workouts in their San Diego facility.

Philip Rivers was the last man off the field he’s known since being drafted in 2004.

“I had sweaty hands and was nervous before practice,” Rivers said, via the team’s official website. “I was like, ‘What is wrong with me?!’ I’m going into the last minicamp practice in year 14, and here I am nervous before going out there. It was a little bit ridiculous. But it was because of that.”

With the end of minicamp, the Chargers will move up Interstate 5 to Los Angeles, where they will play at StubHub Stadium in Carson, California, until the new stadium is ready in Inglewood.

The Chargers had been in San Diego since 1961. For Rivers, it’s the only professional home he’s known, but he can only look forward to the new scenery, noting all things “come to an end at some point”

“It is only right for me to be fired up to go up there, and know that everyone up there [in L.A.] is going to get the same guy that I’ve been here for the last 13 years,” he said.

The elongated departure is another reminder how much the move stinks for San Diego fans, especially those who continue to support a team moving out of town.

“The fans have been so supportive since I’ve been here,” Rivers said, via the L.A. Daily News. “I’m going to miss the place.”

The Chargers will hold training camp in Costa Mesa. Dates in late July have yet to be announced.

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OAKLAND, Calif. — LeBron James is thrilled the International Olympic Committee has approved a plan to add 3-on-3 basketball but you won’t be seeing him represent Team USA in Tokyo in 2020.

“I think it’s great for basketball,” James said Sunday. “For us to be able to add another category to the Olympics, another basketball category, I think it’s pretty great. I haven’t seen the full layout of how they plan on executing it; and are they going to use NBA guys or are going to use college guys?”

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The IOC voted to add the sport on Friday. It will have eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams competing. As far as what teams are selected and how teams qualify, that’s still unclear.

The world basketball governing body, FIBA, has been conducting events for years. This summer a new three-on-three league, BIG3, is launching with a series of former stars, including Allen Iverson, Chauncey Billups and Jermaine O’Neal, slated to be among the players.

James won gold medals with Team USA in 2008 and 2012 and a bronze in 2004. He retired from Team USA after the London Olympics.

“I’m not very good in a three-on-three thing, I’m more of a five-on-five guy,” James said. “I stay out of the one-on-one matchups during our practice, the two-on-twos and the three-on-threes. So probably not. I probably won’t be a part of the three-on-three matchup that it has to offer.”
LeBron James is a three-time Olympic medalist, including two golds in the ’08 and ’12 Games. Getty Images
The best Cav at such a format, some players say, wouldn’t be James anyway but teammate Kyrie Irving.

“Kyrie for sure,” JR Smith said. “He’s probably the best one-on-one player already. And Kyle [Korver] would be a really good three-on-three player because he moves without the ball and he can catch-and-shoot the [expletive] out of it.”

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green said the new event would serve better without NBA stars.

“I grew up playing street ball so to have 3-on-3 a part of the Olympics I think it’s also something guys can win that are not pro athletes,” Green said. “So I think that could be really good. You see in these other sports where they go compete in the Olympics but they have regular day jobs. I think that can be like that for 3-on-3. So I think that can be great.”

The rules for Olympic 3-on-3 include shots outside the FIBA 3-point line being worth two points and all other baskets worth one point. There will be a 12-second shot clock and a 10-minute game clock with the game being played in half court where teams will have to “take it out” beyond the 2-point line before each possession.

“They don’t want just the basketball powers to compete in 3-on-3,” said USA Basketball CEO Jim Tooley. “FIBA will get together and figure out how teams will qualify. They will definitely want to reward countries that have been doing a lot of 3-on-3 activities.”

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Now that coaches are talking again during this week’s swath of mandatory minicamps, we’re finding out about all sorts of injury updates across the league.

That applies to Tennessee, where Titans coach Mike Mularkey broke news on a pair of key offensive players, running back DeMarco Murray and second-year receiver Tajae Sharpe.
Murray recently underwent a hand procedure on a minor, nagging injury, but should be out of a cast by Monday, per Mularkey. The 29-year-old runner will be “fine” for training camp.

“You know, like I said [it’s] just a little lingering issue that, you know, [we] thought, might as well just get it done now,” said Murray, who added that he initially suffered the injury during Week 2 of the 2016 season.

Sharpe also went under the knife and is currently recovering from foot surgery. Like Murray, last year’s fifth-round draft pick is expected to be ready for camp.

We could spend another five paragraphs telling you what this means for the Titans, but it ultimately means nothing if both players are ready to roll come July.

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CLEVELAND — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue is digging in his heels on his approach to coaching his team despite trailing the Golden State Warriors 0-2 heading into Wednesday’s Game 3.

Lue announced Tuesday that he will keep J.R. Smith as his starting shooting guard, even though Smith combined for just three points on 1-for-6 shooting, two rebounds and zero assists, steals and blocks in Games 1 and 2.

The Warriors took Game 2 in impressive fashion. We have you covered with the latest news and analysis entering Game 3 (Wed., 9 ET on ABC/WatchESPN). 2017 Finals »

A Cavs source told ESPN following Game 2 that the team would consider starting Iman Shumpert over Smith after Shumpert had some success guarding Kevin Durant and played aggressively on offense. Lue, however, is sticking with Smith, who started 35 of the 41 games in which he played this season.

Shumpert, who required an IV after Game 2, appeared Tuesday to have recovered from the cramps that plagued him Sunday. He and Smith engaged in a spirited game of 1-on-1 during the portion of the practice that was open to the media and Shumpert could be heard encouraging Smith to bring the same mindset he displayed in practice to the rest of the series.

Lue also remained steadfast in the Cavs playing with a frenetic pace, even though the Warriors have outscored them 245-204 in the series so far. The Cavs were average, at best, in terms of pace during the regular season, ranking 16th in the league.

“I think taking good shots when we’re playing with pace and not turning the basketball over, letting them get out in transition,” Lue said. “So, that’s our game. We’re not going to change our game because of who we’re playing. And I’m confident that we can play that way, and we did it last year. A lot of people said we couldn’t. But that’s our game. That’s who we are. And we’re not going to change just pause we’re playing Golden State.”

The Cavs are playing at a quicker pace than LeBron James has ever played before. James has played with an average pace of 90.6 possessions per game in his 14-year career, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the Finals, the Cavs are averaging 105.5 possessions per game so far.

In the first quarter of Game 2, the Cavs played with the fastest pace of any quarter of the 1,275 games James has played — regular season or postesason. Despite the extra possessions, Cleveland trailed 40-34 heading into the second. The quickened pace was not sustainable in Game 2, as the Cavs had 59 possessions in the first half and 49 possessions in the second half.

James rejected a reporter’s call for more of a halfcourt-oriented game from the Cavs on Wednesday.

“That’s not our game. We don’t play slowdown basketball,” James said. “We play at our pace. We play our game. We got to this point playing our way. We have won a lot of games playing the way we play, so we’re not going to change.”

Lue acknowledged one adjustment, saying that starting center Tristan Thompson could continue to play reduced minutes.

“It’s not anything Tristan isn’t doing,” Lue said. “I just think that against this team you have to score the basketball.”

If it’s not Thompson, the Cavs will likely go more to Channing Frye, who was 1-for-5 for two points in Game 2. He is not the only role player struggling. Smith, of course, has yet to make an impact, and Deron Williams is 0-for-9 in the Finals so far.

“We have done a great job of getting everyone involved and making sure that everyone feels comfortable, but now we need everything and everybody,” Kyrie Irving said. “And I know they know how important they are. And it’s our job, my job to exude as much confidence as I can in them in order to get the very best, and I will do that.”

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Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters intends to decline his 2017-18 player option to enter unrestricted free agency on July 1, league sources tell ESPN.

Waiters, 25, will turn down an option worth a little more than $3.2 million. His consistent production this past season bodes well for a considerable salary increase.

June 29 is Waiters’ official deadline date. Sources say the Heat are aware of his intentions.

He had a breakout season under head coach Erik Spoelstra. In his lone season with the Heat, Waiters registered career highs in rebounds (3.3), assists (4.3) and 3-point percentage (40%). His 15.8 points per game average was the third highest on the team and his second highest career mark.

Waiters has repeatedly expressed his desire to return to Miami, where he experienced a career rejuvenation.

He was selected fourth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2012 draft and traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a three-team deal in January of 2015. He signed with the Heat as a free agent last offseason.

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OAKLAND, Calif. — If Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr feels well over the next few days without any setbacks, there remains some optimism he could coach Sunday in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources told ESPN.

“He may coach Sunday. He’s feeling better,” a source close to Kerr told ESPN’s Marc Spears.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who has been out since the middle of the first round of the playoffs due to effects from back surgery almost two years ago, is feeling better, a source said. Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images
Kerr had been feeling well enough earlier this week to be hopeful that he would be able to coach in Game 1 on Thursday, but according to team sources, after he had a bad day Wednesday, he decided it was best for acting head coach Mike Brown to continue leading the team.

Brown urged Kerr to wait until game time to make a final decision about coaching Game 1, but Kerr felt he needed to string together several good days in a row before returning.

Kerr watched Game 1 with Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton as Brown tallied his 11th consecutive victory with a 113-91 rout of his former team at Oracle Arena.

2017 NBA Finals: Full coverage
We have you covered with the latest news, analysis and more. 2017 NBA Finals »

Kerr implied earlier in the week that he was aiming to make a definitive decision on his status if unable to coach the opening game.

However, general manager Bob Myers told ESPN on Thursday that the Warriors are “not closing the door” on Kerr’s return this series and will remain patient to allow him the necessary time to recover, even it happens to occur deep into the series.

Kerr doesn’t want to be a distraction, but the team doesn’t view this situation as such and is committed to seeing the process through.

The 2015-16 coach of the year took an indefinite leave of absence during the middle of the first round to find a remedy for the migraines and nausea he has experienced stemming from back surgery almost two years ago.

Golden State is a perfect 13-0 in these playoffs, matching the longest winning streak in postseason history.

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PITTSBURGH — Prosecutors are dropping charges filed against a Tennessee man for throwing a catfish onto the rink in Pittsburgh during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Jacob Waddell, 36, was charged in Allegheny County with disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of crime and disrupting meetings or processions after tossing the dead fish over the glass surrounding the rink Monday night during the Nashville Predators-Pittsburgh Penguins game.
The Penguins ice crew removes a catfish from the ice during the second period in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire
District Attorney Stephen Zappala said in a Facebook post Wednesday that Waddell’s actions “do not rise to the level of criminal charges” so the charges “will be withdrawn in a timely manner.”

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry had called for the charges to be “quickly dismissed.”

In an interview Tuesday with 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, Waddell described all that went into the catfish toss:

He paid $350 for a pair of upper-level tickets to the game, then bought “an entirely too big” catfish at a Tennessee market. He said his wife was “tentatively OK with it.”

He sprayed it down with Old Spice cologne and threw it into a cooler for the trip to Pittsburgh.

On Monday night, before Game 1, he filleted the fish at a relative’s house, cut out half its spine, and then ran it over with his truck in an attempt to better conceal it.

He stashed the fish over his underwear, then under a pair of compression shorts and baggy shorts.

He entered the arena, then staked out a lower-bowl section where he could heave the catfish over the glass. Sure enough, during a stoppage of play, Waddell made the move.

Recalling how it unfolded, Waddell told 104.5 The Zone: “I thought, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be awesome to get to go to that game?’ And then, like an ignorant redneck, I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to throw a catfish on the ice at this game?’”