Ladies and gentlemen… start your engines. With a tentative labor deal being reached, attention has now shifted towards free agency as teams prepare for what could become one of the most hectic, exciting and hopefully unforgettable periods of movement in NBA history. Teams need to make up for lost time, and what better way than to get your star player recruiting on Twitter? This weekend Kevin Durant tweeted at veteran free agent Shane Battier: Hey @ShaneBattier, just wanted to see how you were doing and what size jersey you wear and also do u still want no.31? Battier responded: @KDTrey5 yes #31 is preferable and it’s true that I enjoy OKC steakhouses. And @nickcollison4 is my boy. Hmmmm……big selling points. That should get your juices flowing for the season to start – players schmoozing players, guys using anything in their power to get a leg up on the competition, shamelessly trying to assemble a roster capable of winning a championship. And you gotta love KD’s Calipari-esque techniques, offering up jersey numbers, asking which size Battier would prefer … But it doesn’t stop there. According to chron.com, the Rockets are preparing to go “all out” to sign former Denver Nuggets big man Nene. But they’re not the only team. The Warriors have also targeted Nene, along with a slew of other big men, including NBA champion Tyson Chandler, Samuel Dalembert, Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan. The Warriors need a post presence because Andris Biedrins just isn’t cutting it. A possible amnesty cut with the new agreement? Not according to the San Jose Mercury News who are reporting the Warriors have no intention of getting rid of Biedrins. Sorry Bay Area fans … The New York Post reported the Nets will make a strong push for Jamal Crawford, Tayshaun Prince and you guessed it, Nene. Keeping Deron Williams is obviously first priority in Nets camp, but adding a few of these guys couldn’t hurt. Talented players like playing with other talent. Maybe the Nets should stop overpaying certain people and actually sign some proven talent … We are going to have a season, but with 66 games in a shortened period of time, it may not look the same. Reports are indicating teams can look forward to back-to-back-to-backs (although never more than three times this year), and that the Finals will end about two weeks later than usual with the last possible day behind June 26. Everyone would play 48 games within their conference and 18 nonconference games, but won’t visit every city, and thankfully, the second round is expected to have some back-to-backs. That means that hopefully there won’t be an NBA playoff series seemingly lasting as long as an HBO series … We’re sure most of you saw UNLV stun No. 1-ranked North Carolina in the championship of the Las Vegas Invitational, but what many didn’t see was star player Harrison Barnes leaving the arena on crutches after the game. Barnes injured his ankle late in the first half on a loose ball near the sideline, sat out for several minutes then returned for the remainder of the game. A team spokesman told ESPN the crutches were a precautionary measure. Despite that, he was off for the entire second half, shooting like Matt Barnes instead of a future lottery pick. Jay Bilas warned everyone: This is a kid who looks unreal pulling up after one dribble. But going after two, he’s not nearly as effective. Barnes finished 6-16 from the floor, and most of those looked pretty ugly/off-balanced. How much of that was due to his ankle, we’ll find out soon. Let’s just hope this doesn’t turn into a lingering injury for Barnes, a kid we all want to see at full strength each and every night – unless you’re a Duke fan … And things are unraveling in Syracuse pretty quickly. The team is doing great, but Bernie ain’t too Fine right now. The long-time assistant coach was fired last night – effective immediately – because of growing allegations of child molestation. This story just keeps getting crazier. You have two stepbrothers accusing Fine of some bad crimes. Now you have a third person coming out – who also happens to have his own sexual misconduct allegations with a minor – and he’s accusing Fine of some inappropriate things, despite the fact that the accuser’s father is convinced he’s lying. Bobby Davis, the first to come out against Fine, also reportedly had an affair with the coach’s wife. And now a tape has surfaced between Davis and Fine’s wife, Laurie, where Laurie admits to knowing what was going on sexually between her husband and the ball boy. The question remains: should Jim Boeheim get in trouble for any of this? There will be a few folks calling for his head, given some of the parallels between this incident and the scandal at Penn State … As for college ball on the court, Missouri continued to roll, winning by 29 over Binghamton behind Kim English‘s 29 points and seven treys while Pitt won by 10 over Robert Morris and Alabama got enough from JaMychal Green (21 points and 14 rebounds) to sneak by VCU, 72-64 … We’re out like Fine.
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