Summer League Notes from Day 1: Where Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner are sweet together

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Eturner_summer.jpgA lot of things happen during Summer League, lots of games in one day. Here are some notes on the things that didn’t make their own post from the first day in Orlando.

* Jrue Holiday may have been the best single player to take the floor the first day of games in Orlando, which should makes Sixers fans happy. He has become a very patient person running the pick-and-roll. What should make the fans happier was how he played with No. 2 pick Evan Turner. There seemed to be some chemistry there — two ball handling guards in the backcourt who can set up plays for each other. And did. Turner had a nice game: He looked a little rusty and got a tough welcome for a first game being matched up on Terrance Williams, a fast-improving rookie last year. But he held his own, and is only going to get better. There’s a lot to be excited about.

* Utah’s Gordon Hayward is a scrapper. Going in we all knew the Butler product could shoot — he had a nice catch-and-shoot for one early bucket that he could do a lot this season — but Adam Morrison can knock it down if you leave him open. However Gordon would mix it up — on one of his first clean looks he could have tried to elevate for the 15-footer, but he leaned in and got the contact, held his own and got the shot off. He got rebounds, made some passes, had a couple steals, got to loose balls. He started the game tentative but seemed to find himself as it went on. No big numbers put up (2-2 shooting from the floor). One Summer League game counts for squat in the real world. But he did the little things you can ask, which is a good sign.

* Alexis Ajinca is a physical specimen at center for Charlotte, but he was always that. He had some strong rebounds in traffic that were impressive. More impressive: He seemed today to make more good plays, more smart plays than bad. Which is a change for the better. He showed out well on some picks, but also made a bad choice on another chasing Rod Benson out too far and giving him a lane to drive. Still, he looks better and if he could start to take some real minutes in the season it would be a boost.

* Gerald Henderson showed off an improved jumper to go with the leaping ability and athleticism we have always known he had. Henderson’s game looked more rounded, which could get him minutes for the Bobcats next season.

* I’ll admit I may have been wrong. I thought Luke Harangody’s game would not translate to the NBA. But the guy shot the rock — 9 of 13 from the floor, 4 of 6 from three. That led to 23 points for the Celtics. He was great at sliding into the open spot on the floor and not shying away from the shot. He also was smart: put a smaller guy on him and he posted the defender up, put a bigger defender on him and he drew him out to the arc. He can face up or go back to the basket. We’ll see if he can defend and how he does long term, but he may be a good fit after all.

* Another guy who had a good game was Oliver Lafayette. Who, you ask? Former University of Houston guy who had a stop in Fort Wayne D-League and was playing for the Celtics. He had a dozen points in the first half and showed himself a real scorer, but the defense got tighter on him in second half and he did not do a good job setting up teammates.

Top-10 college recruit Anfernee Simmons may go straight to NBA

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A couple of years back, Thon Maker decided to play a post-graduate fifth year of prep school ball, not go to a major college, then jump to the NBA. He could because he had graduated a year before and was 19, the Bucks took him in the lottery, and so far it has worked out for everyone.

Now another recruit, Anfernee Simmons, may follow that path. Simmons is spending this year at the IMG Academy, and the combo guard is considered a top-10 recruit in this class.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN broke the story after speaking to Simmons.

“Some people have brought it to my attention,” Simons told ESPN during an interview in Connecticut, where his team was participating in the National Prep Showcase. “As long as the opportunity is there, I will do it.

“I can see myself going to the NBA combine, if I have enough teams to actually invite me or recommend me for the combine and enough teams want to bring me for workouts. I really need to hit the weight room hard and get a little stronger.”

This is a sensible approach — find out where you roughly fall in the draft, then make a decision. Listen to the teams, not friends/family/agents. If you have a first-round guarantee, then go pro.

Givony and others describe the 6’3″ Simmons as talented but still a project for the NBA level, starting with the fact he needs to get stronger (something true of most rookies). Not that it really scares off teams any longer, many are willing to develop and wait on a player with potential (he could spend a chunk of his first season in the G-League). Simmons is fast when he drives, and has a smooth release on his jumper. If he gets stronger and his game matures, a team may take a risk on him.

Shorthanded Cavaliers now without Iman Shumpert for 5-7 days

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Isaiah Thomas is still rehabbing his hip, he should return next month.

With him out, Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers have had to lean more on Derrick Rose at the point, except he has a sprained ankle that is going to have him out a couple more weeks.

That has forced Iman Shumpert into the starting point guard role in Cleveland, although he mostly is there for defense/shooting as the playmaking duties fall to LeBron James.

Now the Cavaliers will have to get by without Shumpert for a while with water on the knee, Cleveland announced on Saturday. He left Friday night’s Cavs win against the Clippers with a sore knee and did not return

“Additional examination and imaging today at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health confirmed left knee effusion. He will be out 5-7 days while he undergoes treatment and rehabilitation,” the Cavaliers said in a statement.

This is going to force Lue to play Jose Calderon, who he has kept glued to the bench this season despite the injuries. J.R. Smith and Dwyane Wade will need to take on more run as well.

The Celtics have won four in a row — thanks to a more focused offense — and face the Pistons, Nets, and Hornets this week.

Joakim Noah on if he can play at former level: “Probably not. Probably not.”

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For three games, Joakim Noah has been clear of the 20-game PED suspension he started at the end of last season.

For three games, he has not even dressed for the Knicks.

This is the former Defensive Player of the Year who was already on the decline when Phil Jackson gave him a $72 million contract that is now the worst in the NBA. Noah is out of the rotation, where Enes Kanter starts at center (with Kristaps Porzingis at the four) and Kyle O’Quinn coming off the bench.

Noah told Marc Berman of the New York Post he is frustrated but gets the situation.

“I’ll be all right. I’ll be all right,’’ Noah said in his first comments since being reinstated. “I understand the situation. I’m going to make the best of it.”

When asked if he still feels he can be close to the player he was in his 2013-14 campaign, Noah said: “Probably not. Probably not. You know. I can help. I feel like I could help this team and that’s just my reality. But I just want to just be the best that I can be.

“It’s not about trying to be what I was three, four years ago, because it’s not the reality.”

Noah is a smart and mature player, he understands his reality, and he has the exact attitude you want a veteran off the bench. He can help in practices, he can help because he understands how to play defense and can teach it, and eventually, he will get a chance on the court. He is not part of the future of the Knicks, but he can guide these young players.

The Knicks new management will look for a way to unload Noah’s contract, but considering the sweeteners the Knicks would need to throw in to get a team to deal for Noah, it’s unlikely we see any action on that front for a long time.

Frustrated Gregg Popovich calls all three referees “f****** blind”

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The Spurs completed an amazing comeback win against the Thunder Friday night, coming from 23 down to knock off the Thunder when Carmelo Anthony‘s game-tying three was just a two because his toe was on the line.

Gregg Popovich was into this one.

So much so that when he didn’t like an out-of-bounds call he made sure all three officials knew exactly how blind he thought they were.

The best part of this is Popovich covering his eyes, just to really emphasize his point.

We’re really going to miss Pop when he steps away to live at a winery full time.