UPDATE 11:08 AM: According to Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic, it’s not a make-good deal after all. Despite earlier reports from the Republic pointing to a fully unguaranteed, make-good agreement, the Suns have signed Lawal to a three-year contract with the initial season fully guaranteed for $473,604. The second and third seasons will only be partially guaranteed, and could be options.
8:00 AM: It was a little hard to judge Gani Lawal coming into the draft. He was a power forward for Georgia Tech which meant two things: He had Derrick Favors on the other side of the lane drawing a lot of attention, and he had point guards incapable of getting him the ball in a good position.
So he dropped to the second round, where the Phoenix Suns grabbed him at 46.
Then Lawal went to Summer League in Vegas and impressed — he was athletic, hard working and consistent. He got out on the break, he was very good at drawing contact and getting to the line. He averaged 15.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Suns coaches spoke well of him, as did scouts watching the games.
The Suns and Lawal have agreed to a deal, according to the Arizona Republic. This is a make-good contract — meaning he gets invited to training camp but the deal is not guaranteed. They can still cut him.
Lawal has a chance to make the roster, however. For one thing, the Suns now have just 12 people under contract, so there is roster room. Also, he showed at Summer League he can play in the system, and coaches like guys who are hard workers. He could fill that Lou Amundson role coming off the bench. At least, he’ll get the chance to prove he can.
Billy Donovan was given the head coaching job in Oklahoma City to bring their offense into modern times — and it seems to be working, Russell Westbrook said he feels a lot more space in the system.
But if the Thunder are going to contend for a title, they need a top 10 defense as well — and to do that Donovan is going to keep a Scott Brooks move and continue to start Andre Roberson and Steven Adams. Check out the starting lineup for their first preseason game Wednesday.
There also was this report via Anthony Slater in the Oklahoman yesterday about a scrimmage at practice.
Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Andre Roberson all started for the White team. Nick Collison joined them, but that was only because Steven Adams sat out with back soreness….
Donovan said the teams weren’t split by accident. That’s how they’ve been divided in practice. So at this point, it seems Roberson is this team’s starting shooting guard and Adams is the team’s starting center.
This is the smart move. Last season the lineup of Westbrook, Roberson, Durant, Ibaka and Adams was +13.4 points per 100 possessions over their opponents. Roberson and Adams are there for defense — neither brings much offensive game to the floor, but when you have Westbrook and Durant and only one ball between them, you don’t need more offensive threats. You’re going to get plenty of points.
If they can just stay healthy, Oklahoma City is a team to be feared.
The Hall of Fame player behind the original iron man streak is with us no more.
Knicks’ legend Harry Gallatin passes away at age 88, the team confirmed Wednesday.
Gallatin led the Knicks of the late 1940s and into the 1950s, when he set a then record playing in 610 consecutive games. Nicknamed “The Horse,” he was a beast on the boards who averaged 15.3 rebounds a game one season and averaged 11.9 boards and 13 points per game over the course of his 10-year career. He’s still fourth all time in total rebounds in Knicks franchise history.
Gallatin was a seven-time All-Star and twice All-NBA selection. After his playing days, he spent many years as the athletic director at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.