Teams are interested in Roger Mason for who he's been, but is that who he'll be next season?

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rmason.jpgWhen the San Antonio Spurs picked up Roger Mason Jr. two years ago in free agency, it was an absolute steal.

Mason seemed like an ideal fit alongside the Spurs’ big three; as a knock-down shooter who could fill in at either guard spot and handle the ball a bit, Roger fit the Spurs’ needs of skill specialization and positional versatility brilliantly. He thrived in his first year with the Spurs, and was worth every penny of his $3.5 million salary in averaging 11.8 points per game and 42.1% shooting from three.

However, on the second year of his deal, Mason’s production fell off a cliff.

Surgery on his shooting hand had a fair bit to do with that, but it remains to be seen whether Roger can really bounce back. His three-point shooting percentage plummeted to 33.3%, he was buried in the rotation behind the healthy Tony Parker and an emerging George Hill, which made him very much an afterthought in San Antonio’s ’09-’10 season.

Roger only vaguely resembled the clutch shooter the Spurs had relied on just a year prior, causing San Antonio to lose their interest in playing him, much less re-signing him.

Other teams, however, apparently have enough faith in Mason’s ability to rebound (not literally) to give him a call, even if San Antonio doesn’t seem too interested. According to Marcus J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Clippers are all interested in Mason, and Jason Quick of the Oregonian reported that the Blazers, too, have expressed interest.

The Blazers are the odd team of the bunch, but the others make a bit of sense. As Chicago, Miami, New York, and L.A. look to surround their higher profile talent with low-salary players, guys like Mason are immensely valuable. All of those teams will need perimeter shooting to complement their newly-signed stars, and Roger’s ability to at least pretend to be a point guard will definitely come in handy. Minimum salary guys are typically energy players or specialists, and Mason could be a relatively cheap way to bridge the gap between the team’s elite players and the bargain bin finds.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.