Be careful about taking much away from preseason games. Backups get major run, coaches are experimenting, only the guys fighting for jobs are really motivated.
But one thing we can take note of from the Minnesota Timberwolves first preseason game (against the Lakers in London), the starting lineup:
Luke Ridnour, Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Darko Milicic.
That’s a tall lineup for Kurt Rambis, essentially playing the 6’7″ Johnson (a rookie) at the two. He had a good outside shot in college (he hit 41 percent of his threes) but this is a different position and a different level. This may well be a preseason experiment, but Rambis studied under Phil Jackson and he loves long, tall lineups.
This lineup makes Michael Beasley a three, playing out on the perimeter. Which is a bad thing, but Minnesota seems committed to it. (Yes, Beasley had a good game in this preseason contest against a disinterested Lakers defense, but I will take a couple years observation over that. A lot of commenters/emailers disagreed with that linked post, saying Beasley can play the three — I stand by my post. In Miami Beasley was better at the four. This Minnesota experiment only works if Beasley changes and steps up his game wing. It is not just me — I asked a few people, including scouts, if my perception of him was correct and to a man they said Beasley struggled on the perimeter. Unless that changes, forcing him to play on the perimeter will be a problem.)
The good news? This tall starting lineup for the Timberwolves should be a force on the boards. But on the flip side it seems to highlight a disconnect between the what the management thinks it is building — GM David Kahn said the teams should run — and the reality on the ground of how the team is built. That is a not a running lineup.
We’ll see if this is where the Timberwolves are with a starting lineup in a month. But for one game on another continent, the Timberwolves looked good against the Lakers.
Pistons owner Tom Gores said he’d pay the luxury tax if a contract extension for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope put Detroit over next season.
Yet, Caldwell-Pope hasn’t signed an extension with the deadline six days away.
What will it take?
Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
There was gossip over the summer that it would take a deal worth north of $20 million per year to get Caldwell-Pope’s signature.
That’s not an unreasonable demand. It’s up to Caldwell-Pope whether he’d accept less in exchange for more security, but I think he’d get even more as a restricted free agent next summer – maybe even a max contract, which projects to start at more than $24 million.
Caldwell-Pope is a good shooting guard in a league with a dearth of quality wings and a greater need for them as teams go smaller. He’ll be just 24 next offseason, so his next deal should last through his prime.
His preseason didn’t foreshadow a breakout year. He remains a good defender and streaky 3-point shooter. But it’s possible Caldwell-Pope steadies his outside stroke and/or becomes an even more impactful defender. He could also improve his off-the-dribble skills, though his bread is buttered as a 3-and-D player.
Still, it won’t take massive improvements for Caldwell-Pope to hold value. To some degree, the Pistons could view every dollar under the max on a Caldwell-Pope extension as savings.
If his demands remain high, the Pistons could always take another year to evaluate the fourth-year guard. With matching rights, they can always re-sign him in the offseason.
Until last season, the NBA set or tied its record for number of international players on opening-night rosters the previous three years.
But after peaking at 101 in 2014-15, the number dropped to 100 last season.
A sign the league has hit its foreign saturation point?
The NBA boasts a record 113 international players from a record 41 countries and territories to begin this season. Canada, with 11, leads the league for the third straight year.
A count of international players in the NBA on opening night:
- 2016-17: 113
- 2015-16: 100
- 2014-15: 101
- 2013-14: 92
- 2012-13: 84
Here’s a full list of 2016-17 international players, but before you read it, take our quizzes on opening-night rosters.
- Argentina: Luis Scola, Brooklyn Nets
- Argentina: Nicolas Brussino, Dallas Mavericks
- Argentina: Nicolas Laprovittola, San Antonio Spurs
- Argentina: Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
- Australia: Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Australia: Andrew Bogut, Dallas Mavericks
- Australia: Aron Baynes, Detroit Pistons
- Australia: Matthew Dellavedova, Milwaukee Bucks
- Australia: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
- Australia: Patty Mills, San Antonio Spurs
- Australia: Dante Exum, Utah Jazz
- Australia: Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
- Austria: Jakob Poeltl, Toronto Raptors
- Bahamas: Buddy Hield, New Orleans Pelicans
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Jusuf Nurkic, Denver Nuggets
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Ivica Zubac, Los Angeles Lakers
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mirza Teletovic, Milwaukee Bucks
- Brazil: Tiago Splitter, Atlanta Hawks
- Brazil: Cristiano Felicio, Chicago Bulls
- Brazil: Anderson Varejao, Golden State Warriors
- Brazil: Nene, Houston Rockets
- Brazil: Marcelo Huertas, Los Angeles Lakers
- Brazil: Leandro Barbosa, Phoenix Suns
- Brazil: Bruno Caboclo, Toronto Raptors
- Brazil: Lucas Nogueira, Toronto Raptors
- Brazil: Raul Neto, Utah Jazz
- Cameroon: Luc Mbah a Moute, LA Clippers
- Cameroon: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
- Cameroon: Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors
- Canada: Kelly Olynyk, Boston Celtics
- Canada: Anthony Bennett, Brooklyn Nets
- Canada: Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Canada: Dwight Powell, Dallas Mavericks
- Canada: Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
- Canada: Tyler Ennis, Houston Rockets
- Canada: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Canada: Nik Stauskas, Philadelphia 76ers
- Canada: Cory Joseph, Toronto Raptors
- Canada: Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz
- Canada: Andrew Nicholson, Washington Wizards
- Cape Verde: Walter Tavares, Atlanta Hawks
- Congo: Serge Ibaka, Orlando Magic
- Croatia: Bojan Bogdanovic, Brooklyn Nets
- Croatia: Damjan Rudez, Orlando Magic
- Croatia: Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic
- Croatia: Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers
- Croatia: Dragan Bender, Phoenix Suns
- Czech Republic: Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: Bismack Biyombo, Orlando Magic
- Dominican Republic: Al Horford, Boston Celtics
- France: Nicolas Batum, Charlotte Hornets
- France: Kevin Seraphin, Indiana Pacers
- France: Alexis Ajinca, New Orleans Pelicans
- France: Joffrey Lauvergne, Oklahoma City Thunder
- France: Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
- France: Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Philadelphia 76ers
- France: Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs
- France: Boris Diaw, Utah Jazz
- France: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
- France: Ian Mahinmi, Washington Wizards
- Georgia: Zaza Pachulia, Golden State Warriors
- Germany: Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks
- Germany: Paul Zipser, Chicago Bulls
- Germany: Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
- Greece: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
- Greece: Georgios Papagiannis, Sacramento Kings
- Haiti: Skal Labissiere, Sacramento Kings
- Israel: Omri Casspi, Sacramento Kings
- Italy: Marco Belinelli, Charlotte Hornets
- Italy: Danilo Gallinari, Denver Nuggets
- Latvia: Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks
- Latvia: Davis Bertans, San Antonio Spurs
- Lithuania: Mindaugas Kuzminskas, New York Knicks
- Lithuania: Domantas Sabonis, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Lithuania: Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors
- Mali: Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans
- Montenegro: Nikola Mirotic, Chicago Bulls
- Montenegro: Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Montenegro: Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
- New Zealand: Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Nigeria: Festus Ezeli, Portland Trail Blazers
- Poland: Marcin Gortat, Washington Wizards
- Puerto Rico: Jose Juan Barea, Dallas Mavericks
- Russia: Timofey Mozgov, Los Angeles Lakers
- Senegal: Gorgui Dieng, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Senegal: Maurice Ndour, New York Knicks
- Serbia: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
- Serbia: Boban Marjanovic, Detroit Pistons
- Serbia: Nemanja Bjelica, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Slovenia: Beno Udrih, Detroit Pistons
- Slovenia: Goran Dragic, Miami Heat
- Slovenia: Sasha Vujacic, New York Knicks
- South Sudan: Luol Deng, Los Angeles Lakers
- South Sudan: Thon Maker, Milwaukee Bucks
- Spain: Juancho Hernangomez, Denver Nuggets
- Spain: Jose Calderon, Los Angeles Lakers
- Spain: Marc Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
- Spain: Ricky Rubio, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Spain: Guillermo Hernangomez, New York Knicks
- Spain: Alex Abrines, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Spain: Sergio Rodriguez, Philadelphia 76ers
- Spain: Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs
- Sweden: Jonas Jerebko, Boston Celtics
- Switzerland: Thabo Sefolosha, Atlanta Hawks
- Switzerland: Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
- Tunisia: Salah Mejri, Dallas Mavericks
- Turkey: Omer Asik, New Orleans Pelicans
- Turkey: Enes Kanter, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Turkey: Ersan Ilyasova, Oklahoma City Thunder
- Ukraine: Alex Len, Phoenix Suns
- Ukraine: Joel Bolomboy, Utah Jazz
- Venezuela: Greivis Vasquez, Brooklyn Nets
NBA teams cut their rosters to a maximum of 15 players yesterday. Only one team, the Bulls, has just 14 players.
That means there are 449 players in the NBA as the season tips off tonight.
How many of them can you name?
Take these two quizzes, one for the Eastern Conference and one for the Western Conference. Players are in a random order within their teams.
Chandler Parsons missed the Mavericks’ final 18 games last season, including the playoffs, due to knee problems.
Now with the Grizzlies, his games missed streak will hit 19.
Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com:
Maybe this is just a blip. Parsons will get healthy soon enough and diversify Memphis’ offense.
But Dallas didn’t make a stronger push to keep Parsons due to his knees. We could look back on this and chastise the Grizzlies for signing someone to a max contract who wasn’t even ready to play in the first place. They have big plans for Parsons, but he must play for those to work.
Brandan Wright just can’t get healthy. Maybe Memphis will believe this injury warrants missing time.