Everybody on Toronto was lighting up the Phoenix Suns in their first exhibition game Wednesday night — when you put up 129 and win by 51 everybody is getting their shot to fall.
Well, except Andrea Bargnani, who was just 1-of-9 for three points. We’ll call it an off night and look the other way on that one (he may not be great, but he’s not 1 of 9 every night bad, either).
But one guy stepped up and is someone to watch this season — Linas Kleiza. In this game he was 7-of-9 shots, 4-of-4 from beyond the arc and finished with 20 points, 5 rebounds and chipped in a couple of steals.
This year Kleiza is a guy who could break out. He was a guy boxed in by the Denver system and players for years — Carmelo Anthony (and at times Allen Iverson) where the guys who created shots. Kleiza was there to knock down threes or dunk. Little else.
But he can do more. So he went to Olympiakos for a year where he was given more freedom — and he led the EuroLeague in scoring. Then this summer he was a force at the World Championships for Lithuania, scoring 19 points a game, shooting 52 percent and 38 percent from three.
On a team looking for guys to step up, Kleiza could be that guy. He is a new man, having come back to the NBA full of confidence. Bargnani may or may not step up into the role of leader, but you can bet that Kleiza will step forward.
On Monday, Dion Waiters agreed to a one-year, $2.9 million deal with the Heat, far less than most people thought he would get as one of the few significant free agents still on the market. Tuesday afternoon, he posted an explanation on Instagram for his deal.
Here’s what he said:
I didn’t do it for the money… I did it for the opportunity to go out & ball & have fun. Everything else will take care of its self!!! I just felt like it was the best situation for me…& my family. I could have waited & got wat I wanted. But I rather be happy then miserable at the end of the day!!! Meaning Yu can have everything & still not be happy… #heatnation let’s get it!!! #provethemwrong #stamped #Philly
It seems clear, based on the market, that the kinds of offers Waiters was hoping for weren’t out there for him. In Miami, with Dwyane Wade gone, he’ll probably start at shooting guard and have plenty of opportunities to prove himself in hopes of landing a long-term deal next summer.
While we wait for the Celtics to make a bigger move to trade for another star, they’re filling out the end of their roster. Sheridan Hoops’ Michael Scotto is reporting that they’ve signed Demetrius Jackson, the No. 45 pick in last month’s draft, to a four-year deal.
Jackson declared for the draft after his junior season at Notre Dame. Talent-wise, he has the chance to be a major steal for Boston — DraftExpress has him ranked as the 17th-best overall prospect in this year’s draft class. But he might not play much his first year. The Celtics’ roster is already crowded and there’s still the chance that they’ll make another move with some of their much-vaunted assets if the right star becomes available.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have signed undrafted rookie free agent center Matt Costello of Michigan State.
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound Costello averaged 5.7 points and 5 rebounds on the Hawks’ summer league team in Las Vegas.
Costello averaged 10.7 points and 8.2 rebounds as a senior at Michigan State. He holds the school’s career record with 146 blocked shots.
Terms of the deal were not released.
Jamal Crawford knows how to get buckets.
He does it against NBA level defenders, so put him in a free-flowing pro-am — let’s say the Seattle pro-am in his hometown — and he barely breaks a sweat dropping 44. And nailing the game winner.
Doc Rivers hopes to see a lot of that next season.