Kobe, Italian team are working 'intensely' on deal

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Kobe, Italian team are working 'intensely' on deal

From Comcast SportsNet
ROME (AP) -- Kobe Bryant's representatives and Virtus Bologna are "working very intensely" to bring the Los Angeles Lakers' star to Italy during the NBA lockout. Bologna President Claudio Sabatini had told The Associated Press on Friday he had reached a tentative deal with agent Rob Pelinka for a 10-game contract worth more than 3 million. "Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna and the management of Mr. Bryant are working very intensely to try and create this important deal," the two parties said in a joint statement Monday. "Reaching such a complex deal requires both sides' maximum attention for every little detail. "Everyone wants a positive outcome to the deal, the goal of which is Kobe Bryant's presence in Italy, economic interests for the 17 clubs in Serie A and more attention for all of Italian basketball." The deal, however, hinges on other clubs changing their schedules to ensure Bologna has five home games during Bryant's 10-game contract. Bologna also wants its opening five away games played in Italy's biggest arenas, and wants to avoid an early-season bye. Smaller clubs Cremona and Varese have been reluctant to alter their schedules, although the Italian league said Saturday it was intervening to help spur an agreement. "I hope that very shortly we'll have a deal," Sabatini told the ANSA news agency. "I want to thank Kobe, who demonstrated again overnight that he wants to return to Italy." Bologna would need to have the deal signed by the end of this week to register Bryant before its opening game with Roma on Sunday. With Venezia recently added as a 17th team, the Italian league released its full schedule Monday. Although it could be changed again if Bryant signs with Bologna. After hosting Roma, Bologna visits Avellino the following weekend, then plays at Olimpia Milano, which recently signed Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari. In the following seven rounds, Bologna has home games with Cremona, Varese and Sassari; away games with Teramo, Montegranaro -- which is in talks with Toronto Raptors forward Andrea Bargnani -- and Biella; and a bye in the eighth week. Bryant lived in Italy between ages 6 and 13 while his father played in the country. He still speaks fluent Italian and has said it would be a "dream" to play in the country. In New York on Saturday, NBA owners and players failed to reach a new labor deal after about seven hours of talks focused mostly on the league's salary cap structure. The sides were meeting again Monday, though time is getting short to save the scheduled start of the regular season on Nov. 1.

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

BOSTON – The last 2 1/2 games for the Celtics have come without Isaiah Thomas (right hip) and it has certainly been a factor in Boston trailing Cleveland 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals heading into tonight’s must-win for the Celtics to keep their season alive.
 
There have been rumors that if the series with Cleveland were closer, maybe that would lead to a return to the floor for Thomas.
 
“No. No way. He’s done [this season],” Danny Ainge, Celtics president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s "Toucher & Rich" show this morning.
 
Ainge said there’s still swelling in the hip, and it probably won’t go down enough for doctors to make a determination whether surgery is needed for another couple weeks.

Thomas was in New York City earlier this week visiting a hip specialist. He's expected to consult with at least two more before making a decision as to what's the best course of treatment.
 
“Everybody agrees if there’s anything that needs to be done to it surgically, it helps...if the inflammation goes down,” Ainge said. “The recovery [time] would be quicker.”
 
The injury initially occurred on March 15 against Minnesota.
 
Ainge said he didn’t become too concerned about it until after Thomas re-aggravated it in Game 6 of the second-round series against Washington and was questionable to play in Game 7.
 
“I was worried going into the Cleveland series that he was nowhere near himself in Game 1 or 2,” Ainge said. “And Game 2 in the second quarter it was clear he was in a lot of pain. No way we could go out and allow him to play the second half.”
 
Boston was blown out 130-86 in Game 2. In the first half, Thomas had two points and six assists, while missing all six of his shots from the field.
 
Ainge said there was “a lot” of irritation and inflammation around the affected joint in Thomas' right hip.
 
“It had gotten worse from the MRIs he had before,” said Ainge, who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”
 

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

FOXBORO -- Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium gave reporters their first opportunity to see both Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore on the field at the same time.

Once Gilmore signed with the Patriots earlier this offseason, there was no guarantee he'd actually team up with the 27-year-old in his fourth season out of West Alabama. But Butler wasn't given an offer sheet by the Saints or anyone else, he wasn't traded, and now together they make up one of the most talented cornerback duos in the NFL. 

"Um, nothing much really," Butler replied when asked for his initial reaction to the Gilmore deal. "Nothing much really. We got a better player. We got another player. We got another good player on this team. Anything to help the team win, I'm down with."

Depite the fact that Gilmore is the one who received the big-money contract from the Patriots earlier this year, Butler had nothing but good things to say about his teammate following Thursday's workout. 

"He brings the size and the coverage skills," Butler said. "One of the best guys in the league. Very underrated. [He's] come in, head down, working hard. Just trying to build off each other no matter what."

Butler acknowledged that the corner group, which also includes Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones, has some work to do when it comes to their communication, but he indicated he'll be happy to chip in wherever he's needed. The Patriots could use some help in the slot following Logan Ryan's departure to Tennessee, and Butler said he'd be open to playing inside.

"Wherever they put me, I'm gonna play that role," he said. "I'm ready to play the slot if that's what it is."