NBA

NBA outfit Boston Celtics sign Egyptian-born rookie Abdel Nader

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Abdel Nader

The Boston Celtics have announced they have signed the Egyptian-born rookie forward Abdel Nader.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Nader (6-6, 230 lbs.) became the first internationally-born player to be named Rookie of the Year in the G League. He becomes the first Egyptian to play for the Celtics since Alaa Abdelnaby.

The 2016-17 G League All-Star scored at least 30 points in five contests, including a 32-point, 10-rebound, 8-assist game against the Long Island Nets on Jan. 6.

Nader, the reigning 2016-17 NBA G League Rookie of the Year, averaged a team-high 21.3 points (44.7% FG, 34.9% 3-PT, 79.4% FT), 6.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.00 steal, 0.83 blocked shots and 33.5 minutes over 40 games with the Maine Red Claws in his first professional season.

The 23-year-old was originally selected by Boston in the second round (58th overall) of the 2016 NBA Draft.

The Celtics also announced they have waived guard Demetrius Jackson.

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Rajon Rondo could be boom or bust for the New Orleans Pelicans

Jay Asser 16/07/2017
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Always on the move: Rajon Rondo. Picture: Getty Images.

Rajon Rondo may not be the player he once was, but the high variance that comes with the point guard makes his situation with the New Orleans Pelicans a potential high-risk, high-reward situation.

The 31-year-old veteran agreed to a one-year deal to join his fifth team, following a lone season with the Chicago Bulls.

Since leaving Boston in 2014, Rondo also played a half season with Dallas and spent a single year in Sacramento alongside DeMarcus Cousins, who he reunites with in New Orleans.

Rondo’s brief stint with the Bulls saw him average 7.8 points, 6.7 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 40.8 per cent shooting overall. He did, however, set a career high in 3-point percentage with his mark of 37.6 on 1.9 attempts per game and was instrumental in the first two games of Chicago’s first-round playoff series against Boston – both wins – before suffering a thumb injury that ended his campaign.

As far as chemistry with teammates and coaches, an area Rondo carries baggage in, he embraced a leadership role with the Bulls’ young players and took a professional approach for the most part, despite his minutes varying wildly.

The publicised clashes he had came when he blasted fellow veterans Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade through an Instagram post for calling out the team’s younger players, and when he served a one-game suspension for an incident with assistant coach Jim Boylen.

With the Pelicans, Rondo will once again share the court with Cousins, a volatile personality in his own right.

The two flourished in the one season they previous played together in Sacramento in 2015-16, with Rondo averaging 11.9 points, 11.7 assists and 6.0 rebounds, while Cousins put up 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds per game.

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Rondo is expected to both play with and back-up Jrue Holiday, who re-signed on a five-year, $126 million deal earlier in the summer.

While shooting and floor spacing could be a concern for the Pelicans when Rondo, Cousins and Anthony Davis are all on the floor, the two big men will now have a pass-first distributor to lubricate the offence.

The addition of Rondo could have a positive effect on Cousins before the centre hits free agency next offseason, which in turn could keep the Pelicans’ core intact and allow them to avoid preemptively trading Davis before his contract runs out.

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Lonzo Ball's Summer League performance has improved as he's ditched his own shoes

Jay Asser 14/07/2017
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On the Ball: Lonzo Ball. Picture: Getty Images.

Coincidentally or not, Lonzo Ball’s rise in play in the NBA’s Summer League has come as he’s moved away from his signature shoe line.

After donning the Big Baller Brand’s ZO2 in his first two games at the Las Vegas circuit, the Los Angeles Lakers point guard has made headlines for switching up both his footwear and play on the court.

For his third game, last month’s number two overall draft pick went with Nike’s Kobe A.D. in the Purple Stardust colourway and had his best performance yet, dropping 36 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and five steals in a 103-102 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Ball followed that showing up by wearing the Night Life version of adidas’ Harden Vol 1 and recording his second triple-double with 16 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to defeat Cleveland 94-83 on Thursday.

On his decision to wear the Kobe A.D., Ball said on ESPN he wanted to get the “Mamba mentality”, referring to Kobe Bryant’s nickname, and had a similar answer when asked why he then wore the Harden Vol 1.

“‘Fear the beard,” Ball said after the victory over the Cavaliers, invoking James Harden’s trademark facial hair. “Even though I don’t have one (a beard), but it’s just something different.”

LaVar Ball, Lonzo’s father and unofficial hype man, has no problem with his son’s choice of footwear, telling ESPN: “Lonzo is not forced to wear any brand and can play in any shoe he wants as long as it’s OK with the NBA. This is what being independent is all about.”

The Lakers play their final game of their Summer League schedule today against Brooklyn (UAE: 06:00 +1), but through four appearances, Ball has undoubtedly been better when he’s worn a brand other than his own on his feet.

He’s averaging 26.0 points, 11.5 assists, 9.0 rebounds, 5.0 steals, 42.8 per cent shooting from the field and 25.0 per cent on 3-pointers with non-Big Baller Brand kicks, compared to 8.0 points, 8.0 assists, 7.0 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 25.0 per cent shooting overall and 12.5 per cent from long range with his signature shoe.

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Ball, however, believes the biggest factor to his improvement has been his fitness.

“I would say my wind,” Ball said. The first couple of games I was getting tired fast, this was my first time playing in how long.

“Now it’s comfortable and I’m playing the whole fourth quarter, so I feel good out there.”

Whatever shoe he wears going forward, it won’t matter if Ball keeps playing like he has of late.

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