Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Aug. 2) -- Hakeem Olajuwon interested in ownership stake with Houston Rockets Staff

This morning’s headlines:

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Olajuwon interested in ownership stake in Rockets; Beyonce is reportedly interested, too — Houston owner Les Alexander surprised the NBA world weeks ago when he put the Rockets up for sale. The list of folks with interest in owning the team apparently includes both former Rockets superstar and Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon as well as five-time Grammy-winning artist Beyonce.

First, here’s’s Mark Woods on Olajuwon’s interest in potentially buying a share in the team:

The Houston Rockets were put up for sale in July by long-time owner Leslie Alexander, and one former player said he’d be interested in joining a future ownership group.

“I’m buying it,” Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon joked Tuesday, before getting more serious about the matter.

“Many groups now have called me and want me involved,” Olajuwon, now a Rockets team ambassador, said. “With two of the groups, I’m doing my background check to see if that is a possibility. Just an association would be great.

“I’m still with the organization now. I have a contract with the Rockets, not to be in an ownership position. But if the opportunity opens itself, it will be something great.”

With Olajuwon, the Rockets won back-to-back titles. Both of those championships came after Alexander purchased the franchise in 1993.

“I think they were a championship team last year,” said Olajuwon, who now lives in the United Kingdom where his children are in school and he is involved with a basketball club in the city of Birmingham. “That series we lost against San Antonio, I think we could have given Golden State a better series than San Antonio did.

“I believe that I’ve never played one season thinking we cannot win a championship. It’s open in the playoffs — I believe if this team plays with confidence and plays their game, they have a chance.

“I’ve always believed that if you have a legitimate team like Houston, with one of the best records in the league, they are a championship team. But of course, the West is so strong that you have to go against Golden State or San Antonio. But I think they can beat San Antonio.”

And here’s’s Scott Soshnick on Beyonce’s interest in buying a share in the Rockets, too:

Pop superstar Beyonce, a Houston native, is mulling an investment in the National Basketball Association’s Rockets, according to people familiar with the matter.

Rockets owner Les Alexander, a former bond trader, said last month he was selling the team amid a surge in franchise values across sports. The club’s popularity in China may push the sale price past the record $2 billion Steve Ballmer paid for the Los Angeles Clippers three years ago.

It’s common for celebrities to make small investments in sports teams. Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z, for instance, was born in Brooklyn and once held a less than 1 percent stake in basketball’s Nets. He sold his share of the team after starting Roc Nation, which represents athletes.

There are plenty of other examples: Pop star Justin Timberlake, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, owns a piece of basketball’s Grizzlies; tennis players Venus and Serena Williams, as well as Jennifer Lopez, are investors in football’s Miami Dolphins; and actor Will Ferrell has a stake in Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Football Club.

The Rockets declined to comment. Beyonce’s publicist, Yvette Noel-Schure, didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. The entertainer’s representatives at Sony Music Entertainment declined to comment. A spokeswoman for her husband, Jay-Z, also didn’t immediately respond.

According to Forbes, Beyonce is second to Sean “Diddy” Combs on its 2017 list of highest-paid celebrities at $105 million. Her net worth is $350 million, Forbes said. Jay-Z is worth $810 million.

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Curry working on his swing at event — By just about any measure, 2017 has been a good year for Stephen Curry. He won his second NBA title, inked a lucrative new contract this summer and now, is getting in a little offseason golf with some pros. According to Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle, Curry got word of his invitation to the golf event he’s participating in on the day the Warriors won the 2017 title:

June 12 was a good day for Stephen Curry, even before he and the Warriors secured their second NBA championship in three years.

Curry awoke from his customary game-day nap about 1:30 p.m., checked his email and discovered an invitation to play in the Ellie Mae Classic, this week’s Tour event in Hayward. Curry, skimming quickly, figured the invitation was to play in the pro-am until he spotted the dates (Aug. 3-6).

“I thought, ‘The pro-am is multiple days? That doesn’t make any sense,’” Curry said Tuesday. “So I read it again, and I saw in the second paragraph it said, ‘sponsor exemption.’ I know what that means.”

That meant Curry was invited to play in the actual tournament. He’s borderline obsessed with golf, so he quickly accepted.

And know this: Curry holds no illusions about where he fits in the golf galaxy. He realizes these players are one step away from the PGA Tour, the world’s highest level, and he knows that puts them on a different plane than even a scratch player like himself.

He hopes to make the cut, but he also seems to understand it’s an extreme long shot.

“It probably would require me to play two of the best rounds I’ve played in my life,” Curry said.

His participation in this tournament has drawn a wide range of responses, especially on social media. Many fans, and some players, found it inappropriate for the Tour to offer Curry a sponsor exemption.

Their stance: This is an event for tour pros trying to earn their living. Curry’s presence is all about promoting the tournament and selling tickets, absolutely.

Moore, a rookie, understands the criticism but also sees the positive impact.

“I could definitely see the ridicule,” said Moore, 24. “For a lot of guys, this is their job and for them to have a spot in this tournament could be the difference in their career.

“But I think it’s pretty cool for a world-class athlete like Steph to play in an event like this and kind of promote our sport in a different light. … I don’t have a problem with it.”

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Raptors’ hopes may hinge on youngsters — As our John Schuhmann detailed a few weeks ago, the Raptors are putting a lot of faith in their young prospects for 2017-18. That’s especially true after an offseason that saw Cory Joseph, DeMarre Carroll, P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson leave for other teams. David Yapkowitz of caught up with some of Toronto’s young prospects to discuss their goals for the coming season:

With their main free agents back in the fold, the Raptors were not only over the cap, but hard capped as well. Miles was their only major new addition. Thus, the key to keeping pace in the East, and trying to field a team capable of challenging Cleveland, is simple for Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. It’s going to have come from within, from the multiple young players on the team.

“It’s really important, I think where our franchise is right now, we’re in a situation where we’re building,” Casey told Basketball Insiders. “Just to have those core guys come back, we have DeMar, Kyle, Serge, Valanciunas, what we have to do now is get some of our young players to step up and improve.”

“I think we bring energy. We bring commitment, hustle, we buy in to doing whatever the vets need. DeMar, Kyle, Serge, whatever they need to help them with their play, making it easier on them,” Powell told Basketball Insiders. “I think it’s gonna be good for them cause we’re able to develop and we have some room to grow.”

Powell took another step further in his development this past season. Needing a spark after going down 2-1 against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, Casey inserted Powell into the starting lineup. He responded by holding Khris Middleton to 12.3 points per game on 38.2 percent shooting. He also shot 10-11 from the three-point line throughout the series.

In addition to Powell, the Raptors have a couple of other players looking to make their mark on the team. Delon Wright was drafted by the team the same year as Powell, but his playing time has been a bit more sporadic.

In the playoffs, Wright’s numbers didn’t fill up the stat sheet, but his presence was clearly felt. He did a better job at times than Joseph at keeping the ball moving offensively and staying aggressive. His length bothered the Bucks’ second unit defensively.

“It’s a good opportunity for me because they’re kind of expecting me to step up now with it being my third year. They’re looking for me to step up and I think I’m ready,” Wright told Basketball Insiders. “They expect the young guys to bring energy and play hard, and just kind of do little things that the veterans aren’t doing right now. Get loose balls and play defensively.”

One player who fits that description perfectly in terms of bringing energy and playing hard defensively is Pascal Siakam. Siakam was a rookie this past year and was thrown into the fire from the get-go.

“It was good to be able to learn. A lot of rookies sit on the bench and not play,” Siakam told Basketball Insiders. “I had the opportunity to play and it was the best thing I could ask for.”

“We just got to go in with the mindset that we got to work to get back to where we were last year. Nobody’s gonna give it to us, nothing is given,” Casey told Basketball Insiders. “We got to go back with our work boots on, our hard hat mentality to get back where we were last year. Nobody is gonna hand it to us.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Bulls star Dwyane Wade has an interesting idea on how teams can stop Stephen Curry … Via Instagram, Allen Iverson apologized for missing a Big3 event in Dallas … Second-year Mavs guard Yogi Ferrell is looking forward to playing with rookie Dennis Smith Jr. … Former Pistons GM Joe Dumars has been hired to head up the basketball division of the International Sports & Entertainment sports agency … According to a report, the Lakers are confident they could move Jordan Clarkson if they needed to free up more future cap space …