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COMMENTARY: Should the Grizzlies trade Mike Conley and Marc Gasol to The Lakers?

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Though beloved in Memphis, Conley and Gasol have played in relative obscurity for a decade now. Playing alongside Lebron would certainly put a spotlight on their game while requiring neither one to be “The Alpha” on the team. If they can win rings while making history with The King . . . well, good for them. They’ve earned it.

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By Lee Eric Smith, The New Tri-State Defender
lesmith@tsdmemphis.com

Apparently, what I once considered “unthinkable” now seems more like inevitable.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped yet another “Woj Bomb” on the Grizzlies – breaking the news that for the first time, the Grizzlies will listen to trade offers for franchise icons Mike Conley and Marc Gasol.

Later, it was reported in multiple media outlets that Grizzlies owner Robert Pera spoke with both players by phone to confirm that they may well be in their final days/weeks with the team. Conley spoke with media about the call during shootaround for Wednesday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets.

“It’s where we’re at, I guess,” Conley shrugged. “Part of the business. “

It was all business and all joy two summers ago, when Conley signed a then-NBA record $150 million contract with the team. Gasol had signed a similar deal the year earlier.

Even though it was clear the Core Four’s days were numbered, the Conley and Gasol signings signaled some continuity, some hope that a playoff spot was within reach with both players healthy.

That has not happened.

“A couple of years back, that’s the thought that goes through your head, like ‘Man, I could be playing in the same place 14 or 15 years.’ That’d be awesome. Hopefully, retire one day as a Grizzly,’” Conley said Wednesday. “But you also understand that in three or four years, a lot can happen, a lot can change.

“Memphis is all I know. It’s my home. I love everybody here, my teammates the organization. It’s new ground for me and we’ll see how things play out.”

Gasol also spoke to media after shootaround. If you’ve listened to Marc talk about his career, his approach to his job or how he feels about Memphis, none of his comments should surprise you.

“You still have to do your job,” Gasol said. “Things happen, and you can’t control the things happening around you. But you still gotta go out there and do your job. Whatever you need to do, go out there and play basketball. Help your teammates. Make each other better. That’s it. And compete. That’s what fans want to see, what they want to watch.”
If you want to say it right now, I’ll join you: Gosh, I’m going to miss these guys.

Listening to sports talk radio, some analysts are quick to remind us that neither of these men have been traded yet – and that a trade may not happen before the Feb. 7 NBA deadline. It may not happen until the offseason. It may not happen at all, if the Grizzlies don’t get offers they can live with. Thus, the thinking is to pump the brakes on saying farewell to these sports heroes.

Balderdash! Clearly, these people forget how NBA trades work. You’re literally with your current team at 1 p.m. on a game day. By 6 p.m., you’ve been pulled out of the locker room and a team official tells you you’re gone. Your teammates, coaches and others don’t get much time to say goodbye, and if you’re a fan, you won’t get any.

The truth is, any remaining game this season might be the last in a Grizzlies uniform for either or both of these players. So, if you get your hands on a ticket, savor it. Cheer and clap, because both of these class acts deserve it.

Which brings us to the attention-grabbing headline at the top of this story. Until there actually is a trade, there will be no shortage of fan speculation. Devoted fans, maybe even you, have been blowing up ESPN’s Trade Machine. Most of them probably won’t happen for one reason or another. But while it’s no fun to watch the Grizzlies get beaten by 20 at home on MLK Day, it’s at least fun to play with the possibilities.

And I’ve got a trade scenario you’re going to love and hate. In fact, you may even love to hate it, while simultaneously hating that you love it. First, let’s set the context:

In an ideal trade, Conley and Gasol get traded to playoff contenders, perhaps elevating into title contention. They deserve a chance to play for a ring. Even more ideal, if they get to continue to play together on a new team.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies want to add young pieces around rookie phenom Jaren Jackson Jr. – the usual combination of draft picks, young talent, expiring contracts and financial flexibility. If all goes well, the team may stink for a couple of seasons before maturing into a playoff hopeful. It was painful, but that strategy paid off for the Philadelphia 76ers.

So, an ideal trade partner would have young assets and expiring contracts. But if you’re trading for Conley and/or Gasol (and those hefty contracts), you likely believe they can help you win now. Maybe you have a star player in his prime who could use high-level veterans to make a deep playoff run.

I think there’s just such a team. Unfortunately, they play in the Western Conference. And they happen to wear purple and gold.

Yes. I’m talking about the Los Angeles Lakers. Here’s my scenario, which, regardless of its success on the ESPN Trade Machine, will likely never happen:

Lakers get: Mike Conley, Marc Gasol

Grizzlies get: Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, Brandon Ingram, Michael Beasley and JaVale McGee.

Before diving into the pros and cons, let’s rewind about 11 years. Chris Wallace sent Pau Gasol to the Lakers in the deal that brought Marc to Memphis and eventually brought two more championship banners to Staples Center. Wallace stockpiled talent and picks, shuffling his pieces until he’d built a playoff contender. It was the rare deal that eventually proved to be a win for both franchises. Could it be again? Let’s dig in:

Why The Grizzlies do it: The chance to do right by Mike and Marc while simultaneously collecting a TON of young talent.

Though beloved in Memphis, Conley and Gasol have played in relative obscurity for a decade now. Playing alongside Lebron would certainly put a spotlight on their game while requiring neither one to be “The Alpha” on the team. If they can win rings while making history with The King . . . well, good for them. They’ve earned it.

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies would check off a ton of boxes for a rebuild. First of all, Rondo, McGee, Stephenson and Beasley would likely be bought out or waived; if not, their contracts expire this season anyway. Pope would become an unrestricted free agent, thus freeing up his $12 million.

That leaves Ball, Ingram and Hart to join Jaren Jackson. That certainly puts a jetpack on a rebuild. Plus, you get all the headlines that Lonzo’s dad Lavar would generate.

Why the Grizzlies don’t do it: Honestly? I can’t imagine the Grizzlies turning this deal down, unless the Lakers demand some outrageous draft picks or something.

Why the Lakers do it: To maximize a championship window with Lebron James, because for both Lebron and the Lakers, competing for anything less than a championship feels pointless.

So, for those of you counting at home, in my scenario, a whopping EIGHT players would arrive in Memphis, effectively gutting the Lakers roster. They would need to add three players just to get back to the league minimum. And I’ve heard there’s a certain friend of Lebron, who might soon be a free agent – Carmelo Anthony.

So, we could be talking about a Lakers starting five that includes Conley, James, Anthony and Gasol. And just like that, the Lakers are back in the headlines again, if not a threat to Houston and Golden State.

You’d have to imagine Lebron would be delighted to play with two hungry, team-first, playoff veterans. And like he does everywhere he goes, Lebron would likely draw the best out of Conley and Gasol – which even at their advanced ages, is a little scary.

Why the Lakers don’t do it: They want to keep their young talent, plus nobody likes older players with massive contracts.

But I don’t know if that’s a deterrent. The Lakers went through all this when Shaq was traded to Miami in 2006. Faced with the possibility of wasting the talents of Kobe Bryant, they pulled the trigger on the Grizzlies trade and went straight to the championship.

It’s hard to imagine the Lakers letting Lebron play on a string of non-championship contenders. Whether it’s this fantasy scenario or another one, the Lakers front office is going to swing for the fences, sooner than later.

Like I said, it’ll probably never happen. But admit it: Reading this was more fun than watching me squirm to make something interesting out of the 20-point MLK blowout game, right? But whether it happens in a day, a week or in June, soak up the time we have left with The Conductor and Big Spain.

It could be over before you know it.

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Carolyn’s Kids Foundation Honors Graduates

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Each 8th-grade student received a $100 gift card to go towards their high school fees. Additionally, two high school seniors received the CKF HBCU-Jackson State Bound Scholarship. Jamari White and Kevin Barber Jr. both received $1000 each. Two $500 scholarships were awarded to mothers who are continuing their postsecondary education.
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On Sunday, June 5, 2022, the Carolyn’s Kids Foundation honored 140, 8th-grade students across Chicagoland areas. Hosted at Visions Events Chicago at 11901 S. Loomis, parents, students, and schoolteachers participated in the 6th Annual CKF Scholarship Luncheon.

HBCU Bound Scholars-Jackson State University Carolyn Griffin Palmer, CKF-CEO, Kevin Barber Jr., Jamari White, and Brendolyn Hart-Glover, President of the Jackson State University Chicago Alumni Chapter

HBCU Bound Scholars-Jackson State University
Carolyn Griffin Palmer, CKF-CEO, Kevin Barber Jr., Jamari White, and Brendolyn Hart-Glover, President of the Jackson State University Chicago Alumni Chapter

HBCU Bound Scholars-Jackson State University
Carolyn Griffin Palmer, CKF-CEO, Kevin Barber Jr., Jamari White, and Brendolyn Hart-Glover, President of the Jackson State University Chicago Alumni Chapter

Each 8th-grade student received a $100 gift card to go towards their high school fees. Additionally, two high school seniors received the CKF HBCU-Jackson State Bound Scholarship. Jamari White and Kevin Barber Jr. both received $1000 each. Two $500 scholarships were awarded to mothers who are continuing their postsecondary education.

Carolyn’s Kids Foundation has awarded over $50,000 in the past 5 years, and this year $17,000 was distributed to the Class of 2022. To support the Carolyn’s Kids Foundation and learn more, please visit their website: www.ckfchicago.org and follow them on FB @ckfchicago.

The post Carolyn’s Kids Foundation Honors Graduates appeared first on Chicago Defender.

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Justice Department Announces Investigation of the Louisiana State Police

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “Every American, regardless of race, has the right to constitutional policing,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Based on an extensive review of publicly available information and information provided to us, we find significant justification to investigate whether Louisiana State Police engages in excessive force and engages in racially discriminatory policing against Black residents and other people of color.”
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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a pattern or practice investigation into the Louisiana State Police (LSP) to assess whether the law enforcement agency uses excessive force and whether it engages in racially discriminatory policing.

According to a news release, the investigation will include a comprehensive review of LSP policies, training, supervision, and force investigations, as well as LSP’s systems of accountability, including misconduct complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition, and discipline.

“Protecting the civil rights of all Americans and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve are among the Justice Department’s most important responsibilities,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the release.

“This investigation, like all of our pattern or practice investigations, will seek to promote the transparency, accountability, and public trust that is essential to public safety.”

The DOJ said it’s conducting the investigation pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which prohibits state and local governments from engaging in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers that deprives individuals of rights protected by the Constitution or federal law.

The statute allows the DOJ to remedy such misconduct through civil litigation, and law enforcement practices under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as under the Safe Streets Act of 1968 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Officials called the investigation separate from any federal criminal investigation of LSP troopers.

Before the announcement, DOJ officials informed Governor John Bel Edwards, Colonel Lamar Davis, and Deputy General Counsel Gail Holland of the investigation.

According to the news release, each pledged to cooperate with the investigation.

As part of the investigation, DOJ officials will reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with LSP.

The Special Litigation Section of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern, Middle, and Western Districts of Louisiana are conducting the investigation jointly.

“Every American, regardless of race, has the right to constitutional policing,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“Based on an extensive review of publicly available information and information provided to us, we find significant justification to investigate whether Louisiana State Police engages in excessive force and engages in racially discriminatory policing against Black residents and other people of color.”

Clarke continued:

“The Justice Department stands ready to use every tool in our arsenal to confront allegations of misconduct and to ensure legitimacy during encounters with law enforcement.”

The DOJ ask that anyone with relevant information to contact them via email at Community.Louisiana@usdoj.gov or by phone at (202) 353-0684.

Individuals can also report civil rights violations regarding this or other matters using the Civil Rights Division’s reporting portal, available at civilrights.justice.gov.

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PRESS ROOM: 81 Grassroots Organizations Awarded a Total of $750,000 in Grants through Industry’s ‘Make Golf Your Thing’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The grant program is part of the industry’s broader commitment to making the sport more inclusive for all. Last month, a new Make Golf Your Thing search directory was launched for consumers, consisting of more than 8,400 registered golf programs and organizations across the U.S.
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – 81 grassroots golf organizations will receive a total of $750,000 in funding to further their efforts to engage underrepresented populations of the sport. These groups (*full list below) are being awarded with a grant through Make Golf Your Thing, the industry’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in making the sport more welcome for all.

Initially introduced in 2021 (by the Make Golf Your Thing youth & adult player development work group), the grant program to date has provided 155 grants to 111 unique grassroots organizations, totaling more than $1 million overall (May 2021: 43 grants totaling $150,000; Jan. 2022: 31 grants totaling $150,000).

The program was established to support organizations dedicated to increasing participation among golf’s underrepresented populations (i.e., Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous communities, as well as women, LGBTQI+ individuals, veterans, and individuals with disabilities).

“When the game comes together and pools every resource to grow and broaden the reach of the game, only great things can happen,” said Mike Whan, CEO of the USGA and executive sponsor of the youth & adult player development work group for Make Golf Your Thing.

“This unifying movement is helping to make a difference in communities across America and advance the game in ways none of us can do alone.”

“Access to golf in a business context is a pathway to opportunity,” said Anna Alvarez Boyd, co-founder of FairWays to Leadership (one of the 81 grant recipients).

“Our group’s mission is to increase diversity in business and in golf by teaching college students from diverse backgrounds the skills they need to become effective leaders. The financial commitment of the grant program to organizations like ours will only further golf’s collective efforts to bring new and diverse audiences into our sport.”

The grant program is part of the industry’s broader commitment to making the sport more inclusive for all. Last month, a new Make Golf Your Thing search directory was launched for consumers, consisting of more than 8,400 registered golf programs and organizations across the U.S.

The directory allows individuals to search for programs and events using filters such as location, age, ability, gender, etc., giving new and diverse audiences an opportunity to become more engaged in the sport through programs in their own community.

Formally launched in May 2021, Make Golf Your Thing is the industry’s movement to make golf accessible to individuals from all backgrounds.

Led by six cross-industry work groups, the initiative is specifically focused on: education & skill development, talent acquisition, procurement, human resources, youth & adult player development, and marketing/communications.

Funding for the grant program is being administered by the American Golf Industry Coalition, a partnership among golf’s leading organizations to promote and advocate for the collective interests of the sport.

Financial support for the program is led by a contingent of industry supporters committed to making the sport more welcoming and inclusive for all.

About Make Golf Your Thing

A multi-faceted, multi-year movement, Make Golf Your Thing is a collaborative effort across the industry to invite more people to golf from all backgrounds.

Six cross-industry work groups are committed to making the sport more diverse, equitable and inclusive, with a specific focus on: education & skill development, talent acquisition, procurement, human resources, youth & adult player development, and marketing/communications. For more, www.makegolfyourthing.org.

About the American Golf Industry Coalition

The American Golf Industry Coalition advocates on behalf of golf’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts; environmental and sustainability initiatives; contributions to the economy (local and national); health and wellness benefits, as well as charitable giving.

The organization unites the golf industry in pursuit of goals designed to enhance the vitality and diversity of both the business and recreational levels of the sport. The American Golf Industry Coalition is a division of the World Golf Foundation.

To learn more, visit www.golfcoalition.org.

Grassroots Organization City/Town State
A Perfect Swing Foundation Inc. Charlotte NC
Adaptive Golfers North Myrtle Beach SC
Annika Foundation Orlando FL
Be Counted On Foundation Gahanna OH
Black College Golf Coaches Association Vestavia AL
Button Hole Providence RI
Cameron Champ Foundation Citrus Heights CA
CitySwing Foundation Washington D.C.
County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation Alhambra CA
DC on the Green McKinney AL
Edu-Sports Academy Willingboro NJ
El Dorado High School Golf Team El Paso TX
Excel Youth Academy Lawrenceville GA
FabNewport, Inc Newport RI
FairWays to Leadership, Inc. Orlando FL
First Tee – Central Florida Orlando FL
First Tee – Central Mississippi Flowood MS
First Tee – Greater Charleston Mt. Pleasant SC
First Tee – Greater Richmond Richmond VA
First Tee – Greater Sacramento (Sacramento Area Youth Golf Association) Sacramento CA
First Tee – Greater Trenton Trenton NJ
First Tee – Greater Tyler Bullard TX
First Tee – Greater Washington, DC Washington D.C.
First Tee – Greater Wichita Wichita KS
First Tee – Indiana Indianapolis IN
First Tee – Jersey Shore Point Pleasant NJ
First Tee – North Florida (Rising Leaders of North Florida, Inc.) St. Augustine FL
First Tee – Omaha (Hogan’s Junior Golf Heroes) Omaha NE
First Tee – Pittsburgh Pittsburgh PA
First Tee – Southeastern New Mexico Roswell NM
First Tee – Tennessee Knoxville TN
First Tee – Triangle Raleigh NC
First Tee – Tulsa (Youth Development of Tulsa) Tulsa OK
First Tee – West Michigan (Lake Michigan Junior Golf Association) Kentwood MI
Fore Life Inc. Lauderhill FL
Fore the Ladies Sylvania OH
Future Successors Atlanta GA
Gator Junior Golf Association Gainesville FL
Girls Golf of America, Inc. Greensboro NC
Golf. My Future. My Game. Washington D.C.
Greater Cleveland Junior Golf Scholarship Fund Bedford OH
Harris Park Midtown Sports & Activity Center Kansas City MO
Hi-Tee Junior Little League Golf Program Renton WA
Hit It Straight Golf Academy Homewood IL
I AM a Golfer Foundation Dallas TX
iGolf4VETS, Inc. Riverview FL
Inland Golf Academy Riverside CA
Inner City Youth Golfers’ Inc. Palm Beach Gardens FL
Inspiring Greatness In You Covington GA
Jackson Park Golf Association Chicago IL
Ladies of Futurity, Inc West Palm Beach FL
Latina Golfers Association Foundation Los Angeles CA
Little Linksters Sorrento FL
Matrix Human Services Detroit MI
Michigan Women’s Golf Association Detroit MI
Midnight Golf Program Bingham Farms MI
Milwaukee Area Youth Golf Academy, Inc. Glendale WI
Moore-Myers Children’s Fund Jacksonville FL
My Vision Golf Fayetteville GA
New Jersey Golf Foundation Inc. Bedminster NJ
Next 18 Fox Point WI
Northern Texas PGA Foundation – Fairway to Success Dallas TX
One Hundred Black Men, Inc. New York NY
Par Excellence Youth Development Huntsville AL
Range Fore Hope Foundation Blythewood SC
Rose Hill Schools Rose Hill KS
Southern California Golf Association – Junior Golf Foundation Studio City CA
Southern Area Youth Program, Inc. Los Angeles CA
Special Olympics Connecticut Hamden CT
SwingPals, Inc. Durham NC
Ted Rhodes Foundation, Inc. Chicago IL
The Caddie & Leadership Academy Kenosha WI
The Darby Foundation Lafayette LA
The Glove Foundation Mobile AL
The Honors Junior Golf Program Corona CA
The Pinkney Foundation Pittsburg CA
Upstate-Carolina Adaptive Golf Greenville SC
Western States Junior Golf Association Las Vegas NV
Women Golfers Give Back Plymouth Meeting PA
Women in Golf Foundation, Inc. Ellenwood GA

The post PRESS ROOM: 81 Grassroots Organizations Awarded a Total of $750,000 in Grants through Industry’s ‘Make Golf Your Thing’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative first appeared on BlackPressUSA.

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