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Kevin Durant confident that Nets ‘third star’ can be Caris LeVert

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Kevin Durant confident that Nets 'third star' can be Caris LeVert

When we get to the NBA offseason, there will be plenty of speculation about the Nets adding an established star to complement Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Based on Durant’s comments in recent interviews, it seems like he feels that Brooklyn already has the best complementary player on the roster: Caris LeVert.

“I think Caris is that perfect guy for us to, any given night he can lead us in scoring or lead us in assists or he can control the offense or we can go to him in the post in a matchup,” Durant said last week on the Old Man & The Three podcast. “I feel like he has the tools to do everything on the basketball court. On our team, we play unselfishly, and we’ve got guys that can play off the basketball so on any given night anybody can be the star.”

Durant was asked on the podcast if LeVert could be the “third star” for the Nets next season.

“For sure,” he said.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP also downplayed the idea that teams currently have three stars on the same roster.

It will be interesting to see how GM Sean Marks and the Nets approach this offseason. There has been — and will be — speculation that they will try to trade for a top player. Durant, it’s worth noting, has been effusive in his praise of LeVert. Based on that, it seem fair to assume that Brooklyn is unlikely to include LeVert in any trade package for an established star.

In addition to explaining again why he chose to sign with the Nets over the Knicks, Durant touched on a few other Nets topics in the podcast. The entire interview is worth your time if you are interested in Durant, the Nets or the NBA.

Here are a few Net-related highlights of Durant’s interview:

On Steve Nash

“Any time a former player gets a job as a coach in the league, I’m excited. Because their level of knowledge for the game runs deep, especially, (because they have experienced) it on the floor. His insight for the game, his communication, how he communicates the game of basketball, is definitely going to help me as a player develop and it’s going to help the rest of our team.”

Durant has a strong relationship with Nash, as documented here. So it’s not a surprise at all that Durant would be excited to play for Nash (he almost assuredly approved of the hire before it was made).

Here’s Durant on his relationship with Nash:

“Our relationship started from him playing and me admiring him as a player. And then playing against him and competing against him and then finally getting a chance to work out with Steve – 7 or 8 years ago. (I) understood how his mind works for the game and every time I was in the gym with him I was like a sponge. I’m looking forward to this, man. I always feel like I’m a student of the game and (Nash, as) somebody who has experienced so much and played in different eras, I’m looking forward to him teaching me some more things about it as well.”

On playing with Kyrie Irving

“Just his IQ for the game. He can score from any angle on the floor. I think that will open it up for everybody on our team. When you’ve got multiple guys who can score from all three levels, it makes your whole team better. So I’m excited to see how we work off of each other. Playing Team USA and All Star games gave me a little glimpse of what can happen but I’m looking forward to the full training camp and the full season.”

Durant and Irving will share a court for the first time next season in Brooklyn. Durant missed last season following an Achilles tear. Irving was in and out of the lineup; his season was cut short by a shoulder ailment.

Players Durant has been watching: Durant was asked about the players he’s watched this season while rehabbing his injury. He mentioned DeVonte Graham, Kristaps Porzingis and Zach LaVine.

Durant said LaVine ‘has star potential.’ On Porzingis, the ex-Knick, Durant said, ‘Watching him in the bubble when he was healthy, it was incredible. A guy who can shoot the ball so quick and with such accuracy and move that way. He plays with toughness; a lot of people don’t say that but I see that he plays with some toughness and he wants to play a little bit stronger and harder.”

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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Boost Your Retirement Income and Avoid Taxes With This Smart Move

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Boost Your Retirement Income and Avoid Taxes With This Smart Move

Though you should expect to collect some money from Social Security as a senior, and you may have a decent amount of retirement savings to tap, generating extra income during your later years is never a bad idea. You never know when costly home repairs or medical bills might creep up out of nowhere, and the more income sources you have at your disposal, the less financial stress you’ll have.

That said, having different sources of income could also mean giving the IRS more opportunities to get its hands on your money. Case in point: Social Security benefits are often subject to taxes, as are retirement plan withdrawals that don’t come from a Roth savings account. Interest income in your bank account is taxable, and pension payments are generally subject to taxes, too.

But what if you could boost your retirement income without adding to your tax burden? There actually is a solution that will let you do just that: municipal bonds.

Image source: Getty Images.

Why municipal bonds really pay

During retirement, it’s a good idea to focus on investments that aren’t particularly risky or volatile, and in that regard, municipal bonds fit the bill. Municipal bonds are those issued by cities, states, or other localities (whereas corporate bonds are issued by companies to raise capital). A city might issue municipal bonds to construct a new road, revamp its parks, or build a community center.

As is the case with all bonds, when you buy municipal bonds, you’re effectively loaning the issuer some money for a present period of time in exchange for interest payments that are made to you twice a year. Once your bonds come due, you’re entitled to your principal in return. It’s those interest payments, however, that generally trigger an extra tax bill, but with municipal bonds, they be avoidable completely.

The interest you collect on municipal bonds is always tax-exempt at the federal level. Furthermore, if you buy municipal bonds issued by your state of residence, you’ll avoid state and local taxes on those interest payments as well. Or, to put it another way, if you invest in municipal bonds that pay you $500 a year in interest, that $500 will be yours to keep in full.

Now to be clear, the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds refers to their interest payments alone. If you sell your municipal bonds at a profit, you’ll still be subject to capital gains taxes, the same way you would if you were to sell off some stock at a share price that’s higher than what you paid. But collecting those steady interest payments tax-free could make for a much more comfortable retirement, and so it’s worth adding some municipal bonds to your portfolio.

Keep the IRS away

Taxes are a burden at any age, but they can be especially troubling during retirement, when your income may be limited. Municipal bonds will take that particular worry off of the table so you can sit back, collect your interest twice a year, and not have to think about the IRS until the time comes to file your annual return.

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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No. 2 Crimson Tide rolls on offense to 38-19 win over Mizzou

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No. 2 Crimson Tide rolls on offense to 38-19 win over Mizzou

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Nick Saban has never lost a season opener while coaching Alabama.

Then again, he’d never had one like this.

Yet despite an offseason largely scrapped by the coronavirus pandemic, and a delayed start to the season, Saban’s second-ranked Crimson Tide looked just fine as they began their SEC-only schedule on Saturday night.

Mac Jones threw for 249 yards and two scores in less than three quarters of work, and Jaylen Waddle and Najee Harris had dynamic performances on offense, helping Alabama roll to a 38-19 victory over the rebuilding Tigers.

”I think from a team standpoint, when you play a first game you sort of figure out who you are,” Saban said after finally taking off his mask. ”You figure out where you and the last thing is, ‘What do I have to do to get better?’ Everybody on our team has a lot of maturity in what they need to do to get better.”

Oh, there are areas to improve. The Crimson Tide had a few too many penalties, a few too many breakdowns on defense and they allowed Missouri to finally get its up-tempo offense going against their backups in the fourth quarter.

They still looked every bit a national title contender, though.

Waddle finished with eight catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns, and Harris ran for 98 yards and three more scores, helping the Crimson Tide spoil the debut of new Tigers coach Eli Drinkwitz and win their 27th straight over the SEC East before a COVID-19-curtailed crowd of 11,738 fans at Faurot Field.

TCU transfer Shawn Robinson, who started for the Tigers over Connor Bazelak, threw for 185 yards and a score. Bazelak also got a few series and was equally ineffective against Dylan Moses, Patrick Surtain II and the rest of the Crimson Tide defense, which kept Drinkwitz’s creative offense out of the end zone until midway through the fourth quarter.

Bazelak added a touchdown scamper on the final play of the game for the final margin.

”I saw a lot of fight. I really did,” Drinkwitz said. ”I thought those guys answered the bell. I don’t think it was an issue of not being good enough at all. I thought our guys fought.”

Alabama’s long wait to start the season actually began with a thud – a three-and-out on offense. But after forcing a three-and-out of their own, Jones began to find his wide receivers downfield and the Crimson Tide got rolling.

At one point, the only question was who was going to score their touchdowns.

Harris had the first on a short plunge and Waddle hauled in 18-yarder for the second a few minutes later. Waddle looked like had another on the Tide’s ensuing possession, but a review ruled that he hit the pylon before crossing the goal line and Harris wound up poaching the touchdown for his second of the game.

Waddle eventually got his second, too, when he hauled in a spectacular 23-yard grab in double coverage that sent Alabama into the locker room with a 28-3 lead. In fact, the only slip-up to that point for the Tide came at the end of that play, when Waddle’s cleats slipped on the asphalt through the end zone and he landed on his rear.

”Waddle is a great player. He gets open – that’s his job – and he does a great job doing it,” Jones said. ”We’ve had a great relationship going back to summer, 7-on-7s, getting that chemistry with him, all the late nights at the indoor. He’s going to get open and do his job. He makes plays.”

Harris added his third touchdown on a twisting 8-yard run early in the second half, allowing Saban to see what freshman quarterback Bryce Young and the rest of their backups could do. They moved the ball in fits and starts, but it was Missouri that finished the game on a high note with a touchdown on the final play.

”We played very well the first half but the second half we need to finish,” said Moses, a Butkus Award finalist two years ago who missed all of last season to an injury. ”But it’s our first game. We just need to improve.”

COVID-19

Missouri defensive backs coach Charlie Harbison was absent because of COVID-19 and defensive quality control analyst Grant O’Brien filled the role. O’Brien also will handle those duties next weekend at Tennessee.

THE TAKEAWAY

Alabama won its fifth straight against Missouri and has now won 92 straight against unranked foes. Just about all their stars got into the act, too. DeVonta Smith added eight catches for 89 yards, Moses spent most of the night in the Tigers’ backfield and Surtain jumped on a fumble to keep things rolling at the start of the second half.

Missouri was overmatched but showed plenty of fight, and Drinkwitz can certainly build on that fact. It hardly helped his cause that the former Appalachian State coach had such a pandemic-altered offseason to install his system, and the kinks were particularly evident when Alabama was pulling away in the first half.

UP NEXT

The Crimson Tide play their home opener next Saturday against Texas A&M. Missouri heads to Tennessee.

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http:www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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No. 16 Tennessee wins seventh straight 31-27 over Gamecocks

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No. 16 Tennessee wins seventh straight 31-27 over Gamecocks

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Tennessee quarterback Jarrett Guarantano expected a difficult time at South Carolina. He also expected the 16th-ranked Vols to come out on top, no matter how hard things got.

The Vols squandered a two-touchdown lead in the second half and held on to defeat the Gamecocks 31-27 for their seventh straight victory.

The game wasn’t decided until a Tennessee punt touched South Carolina’s Cam Smith and the Vols’ Jimmy Holiday recovered with 1:24 to go.

”When you go on the road in the SEC, nothing comes easy,” Guarantano said. ”You saw some of that today.”

There was also plenty of Guarantano to see, as well. The fifth-year passer threw the tie-breaking touchdown to Josh Palmer with 9:35 left in the game, then stayed poised enough down the stretch to keep South Carolina at bay.

”I’m tickled that they found a way you know?” Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt said.

Despite the nerve-wracking finish Pruitt said it was mission accomplished for the Vols.

”The bottom line is we’re leaving Columbia with a ‘W’, and that’s what we came here for,” he said.

Tennessee looked to have the Southeastern Conference and season opener in hand when they went ahead 21-7 on Eric Gray’s 12-yard scoring run on their opening drive of the third quarter.

But South Carolina rallied behind first-time starter quarterback Collin Hill with two touchdowns and a field goal to tie it at 24-all in the fourth quarter.

That’s when Guarantano struck with back-to-back big plays for the deciding score.

Guarantano was heavily pressured when he got the ball to an all-alone Brandon Johnson for 33 yards inside South Carolina territory. The next play, Guarantano threw a picture perfect pass to Palmer for a 32-yard touchdown.

Palmer was grateful Guarantano trusted him with the play. ”But it was just a traditional go route, beat the defender and caught it over the shoulder,” he said.

For Pruitt, there was lots of inconsistency to correct for Guarantano and the offense going forward.

”We’ve got to go back and figure out where we are offensively and where we can create some consistency,” the third-year coach said. ”But we put some drives together and finished the game off.”

South Carolina looked like it had a final chance when it forced a Tennessee punt with 90 seconds left. But the punt touched Cam Smith after it hit the ground, Holiday recovered and the Vols ran out the clock for the win.

”No one play lost us the game,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said.

Guarantano finished 19 of 31 for 259 yards. He also rushed for Tennessee’s first touchdown.

South Carolina, with a new offensive coordinator in ex-Colorado State coach Mike Bobo and new quarterback in grad transfer Hill, showed some spark as it took the opening drive 75 yards for a touchdown on Kevin Harris’ 3-yard run.

Linebacker Henry To’o To’o had a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown, catching the ball after it bounced off receiver Shi Smith’s hands and tip-toeing down the sideline for the score.

Hill finished 25 of 39 passing for 290 yards and a touchdown. Smith had 10 catches for 140 yards for the Gamecocks.

Hill blamed himself for the interception, throwing the ball behind Smith where To’o To’o could make the defensive play.

”The play that sticks out to me is the pick six,” Hill said. ”You just can’t turn the ball over.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Tennessee: Vols AD Phil Fulmer said Thursday the school extended Pruitt’s contract through 2025, an indicator of how strongly it feels about its current leadership. While Tennessee has some work ahead, it kept its poise down the stretch to keep its win streak alive.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks’ attack had scored only one offensive touchdown in its final three games last year. They tripled that total in this one as Hill looked confident in his first start since transferring from Colorado State.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Hard to see Tennessee falling in the rankings with a solid SEC road win to start the season.

MAKING A CHOICE

The Gamecocks, trailing 31-24, had a fourth-and-12 at the Tennessee 28 with less than four minutes left when Muschamp chose to send Parker White on for a 45-yard field goal for South Carolina’s final points. The strategy of defense and timeouts appeared to work until the punt muff. Muschamp said he might not have kicked if ”it had been less than fourth-and-12.”

COVID-19 CROWD

South Carolina had permission from the state to allow about 20,000 people into Williams-Brice Stadium due to the pandemic. There were 15,009 who turned out, sitting at prescribed spots in the socially distant stadium. Those that were there still made an impact, To’o To’o said. ”You couldn’t really tell it was empty,” he said. ”South Carolina’s fans did a great job of coming out supporting them, playing. They were loud.”

UP NEXT

Tennessee plays its home opener against Missouri next Saturday.

South Carolina goes on the road to face No. 5 Florida on Saturday.

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http:www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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