NBA Free Agency: Rudy Gay could be the Grizzlies' latest huge mistake

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nba_gay.jpgAmong this year’s free agent class, there are the can’t-miss prospects (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh), the impressive consolation prizes (Joe Johnson, Amar’e Stoudemire), and then a third, less illustrious subgroup: those destined to be overpaid.

Carlos Boozer seems a likely candidate as any, as a team with cap space and money to spare will probably end up throwing entirely too much money at a power forward that can score and rebound, but little else.

The same may be true of Rudy Gay, who as a young, talented, free agent, is sure to draw some interest this summer. That last sentence however, comes with a bit of a caveat: whereas guys like LeBron, Joe Johnson, and Carlos Boozer are unrestricted free agents, Gay’s restricted free agent status essentially ensures that if Rudy is going to find himself on a different roster next season, someone will have to overpay him. Otherwise, that team risks the Grizzlies matching their offer to Gay and keeping him at a reduced cost.

There’s just too many teams with available cap space this summer for someone not to take a swing at Rudy Gay. The LeBrons and Wades of this class can only go to so many teams, which will inevitably leave someone out in the cold with no star to call their own. Then, in their moment of vulnerability, a team could conceivably look to invest in Gay as a long-term pillar of their franchise, and they’re doomed to regret that decision down the line.

Rudy Gay is a fine player, but he’s far from an NBA star. He’s a dynamic talent, but whether or not he’s capable of making the jump from good to great is certainly in question. At present, he’s simply well above average, which is nice, but not quite centerpiece material.

No one bother to inform Grizzlies’ owner Michael Heisley of that apparently, who is posturing going into the free agency period. From Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

The Griz are preparing for the June 24 draft with the need for more shooting, versatility, point guard help and their talented, soon-to-be restricted free-agent forward in mind.

Heisley continues to insist that he is prepared to retain Gay at all costs.

“Rudy is going to be out there. But here’s the No. 1 thing: The option on what we pay him is mine,” Heisley said. “So when I say we’re going to have Rudy next year, that’s a pretty good indication that we’re going to have him.”

It’s tough to validate free agent talk at this point in the year, but if Heisley really is intent on retaining Gay no matter the cost, the Grizzlies are in some serious trouble. At present, their best move is likely to let Gay walk and try to move forward while building around O.J. Mayo and Marc Gasol, and locking Rudy up with a long-term deal would eliminate much of their financial flexibility going forward. 

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Associated Press
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.