It was quite a different scene from the big boys matchup we see in the regular season.
The Spurs and Lakers met for a rumble to kick off Thursday at NBA Summer League Las Vegas. Still there were some things of note.
- Alonzo Gee, a D-League call-up to the Wizards who later signed with the Spurs (he played for the Spurs’ D-League affiliate Toros) continued his overwhelmingly impressive play, even with a diminished line. 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting certainly doesn’t sound like much, but it was how Gee was able to get to the rim whenever he wanted, and his vision in both the full and halfcourt sets. His halfcourt game was remarkably improved today, as he played more as a combo-forward, backing down smaller players and whipping past larger ones. Gee looks primed for a breakout season off the Spurs’ bench.
- Gerald Green stole the show for the Lakers, and finished with 18 points on 8 of 17 shooting, seven rebounds and the play of a game: a block on a corner three attempt that utilized every inch of his canoe-like frame. Green showed off the same athleticism that got him into the league and made him one of the elite dunkers in the league (remember the cupcake dunk?). But he also focused on leadership and elusiveness. Finishing with no turnovers certainly helped, as did responding from a cold streak in the second quarter.
- The surprise was Gary Neal for the Spurs, an overseas player out of Towson. Neal finished with 20 points on 8 of 16 shooting, including 4 of 9 from the arc. Neal especially showed off elite perimeter speed, and his baseline screen cuts almost always gave him wide open looks with feet to spare. With his lack of size, Neal needs to look more for assists to prove he can play points, but it was an especially strong outing for him.
- Derrick Caracter had a quiet game with 10 points, 6 boards and 7 fouls, but showed a lot of promise, as he’s done throughout Summer League. His frame is well suited to play inside, and the raw materials are definitely there, as all the scouts in town will tell you.
Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.
In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.
The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.
Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.
Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.
METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.
A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.
Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.
In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.
Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.
They’ll get their chance.
Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:
The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.
The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.
This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.
At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.
What’s going on?
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.
Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.
The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.
At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).
But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.
Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.