Dallas Mavericks star Salah Mejri continues to help grow the game of basketball in his off-season this summer, as the Tunisian national delivers his SM50 Basketball Camp in Beirut, Lebanon.
Over a three-day schedule, 160 boys and girls aged 6-17 years old were invited to attend a host of life skill workshops, fundamental skill development sessions and off course the chance to play the game in 5-on-5 matches each day.
Those in attendance were also fortunate enough to meet and work with special professional guests including Egyptian-Lebanese player Ismail Ahmed, Beirut BC’s Basel Bawaji and Nadim Hakim, the President of Beirut Basketball Club.
Talking about the camp, Mejri said: “It’s a pleasure being able to give young Lebanese basketball players the opportunity to develop their fundamentals through my foundation in partnership with the Jr. NBA.
“The Salah Mejri 50 foundation’s mission is to bridge young basketball talent across the Arab world together to helping give them opportunities to fulfill their basketball dreams. The Salah Mejri Foundation (SM50) continues its commitment across the Middle East & North Africa region for the last 4 years through conducting Jr. NBA clinics & NBA Cares activities across the region.”
He added: “My most memorable highlight of my time in Beirut is the work we did with UNICEF Lebanon for our refugee clinic we conducted in partnership with Hoops club.”
Mejri also worked with UNICEF and his own initiative, The Mejri Foundation, to conduct NBA Care Clinics for 60 Syrian refugees. The importance of growing the game – no matter what your social status – is a key objective for the NBA within the GCC region.
Nader Girgis, Associate Vice President, EME said: “Seeing the interest from the SM50 Basketball Camp is encouraging for all of us at NBA, and we are delighted to support such initiatives across the region.”
The Los Angeles Lakers appear to be going all-in on colourful characters as they continued their series of head-scratching moves by signing the mercurial Michael Beasley.
Keeping in line with what they’ve done this summer, the Lakers added Beasley on a one-year, $3.5 million deal, according to ESPN.
Like those names, though, Beasley is only on a one-year contract, which means the Lakers will maintain financial flexibility for next summer when they’re expected to chase multiple stars in free agency.
For this season, the Beasley signing, so long as it’s guaranteed, means the Lakers are now at the max number of filled roster spots with 15.
Looking at the team’s depth chart, they’re deep at the guard and wing positions, but lacking for true centres, with only McGee and Ivica Zubac occupying that role.
LeBron James played a season with Michael Beasley in Miami. They had no major issues & LeBron said he respected Beasley's talent. I mean Erik Spoelstra decided Beas was unplayable in the postseason due to defensive lapses. But in fairness I don't recall him forgetting the score.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 20, 2018
Barring any significant moves, it appears as if the Lakers will head into the season looking to play a lot of small-ball lineups, which could utilise LeBron James at the five.
Beasley fits that style as a 6-foot-9 wing who can play inside and out, while theoretically defending multiple positions on the other end.
The 29-year-old’s offensive talent is unquestioned and though he’s never been someone who averages 20-plus points on a night-to-night basis, he has that kind of ability.
His efficiency has also improved later in his career as he’s shot over 50 per cent in three straight seasons and over 39 per cent from deep the past two years.
The real concern with Beasley is on defence, where he’s often lacked effort and focus.
Still, it would seem James is a fan of Beasley as unlike with Rondo, Stephenson or McGee, LeBron has played alongside the newest Laker before, back when they were on the Miami Heat for the 2013-14 season. Miami lost to San Antonio in the Finals that year while Beasley averaged 7.9 points on 49.9 per cent shooting in 15.1 minutes per game.
Whether or not the pairing is nearly as successful a second time around, the Lakers will be nothing if not interesting.
DeRozan, upset by the turn of events, had wrote on Instagram saying – “Told one thing and the outcome another. Can’t trust ’em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game.”
Ujiri revealed during the press conference in Toronto that the chance to seal the services of two-time Defensive Player of the Year Leonard was simply too good to throw away.
Although he admitted his regret having told DeRozan that he wouldn’t be traded.
“I want to apologise to DeMar DeRozan for a gap of miscommunication, but also to acknowledge him, and what he’s done here with the Raptors, for this city, for this country,” Ujiri said.
“I had a conversation with DeMar at Summer League, and I want to leave it at that. We spoke. I think maybe my mistake was talking about what we expected going forward from him, not necessarily about the trade,” Ujiri added.
DeRozan was instrumental in leading the the Raptors to five straight playoff appearances, but they came short in the past two post-seasons when up against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“You can’t do this same thing over and over again,” Ujiri said. “When you have a chance to get a top five player, we have to jump on it.”
The Raptors acquired Leonard and Danny Green and gave away DeRozan, Jakob Poetl and a 2019 first-round draft pick to San Antonio.
Leonard, meanwhile, made only nine appearances for Spurs last season due to injury as his relationship with the team went from bad to worse.
Leonard, it was rumoured, wanted a move to his hometown Los Angeles Lakers.
The 27-year old has reportedly let it be known that he isn’t going to play in Toronto long-term.
Although, Ujiri said the player “didn’t express a lack of interest to play in Canada to me”.
“I think there’s a lot of sell here, our team, our culture, our city,” Ujiri said. “We have everything here except the championship in my opinion.”