The first round of D-League waiver claims are behind us, and three quasi-NBA talents will join a D-League season already underway. According to Scott Schroeder of NBA FanHouse, Joe Alexander, Stanley Robinson, and DeShawn Sims will all ply their trade in the D this season. Alexander will play for the Texas Legends, Robinson for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and Sims for the Maine Red Claws.
Alexander, a lottery pick in 2008, likely has the highest profile of the three. He has a ways to go before becoming a real NBA contributor, but Alexander could very well be called up as an answer to some team’s injury misfortune or a project of sorts. He’s still a tremendous athlete, and if he can tone down his fouling, improve his shooting, and hold his own defensively, Alexander could conceivably become a passable NBA player. The D-League would optimally give Alexander a spot to work on his game, but I have a feeling that his time in Frisco will be relatively short-lived. It’s not all that surprising that the Bulls elected to cut Alexander lose rather than pay him a multi-million dollar annual salary, but he’s likely worth the minimum somewhere.
Robinson was the Orlando Magic’s second round pick in this summer’s draft, and now he’ll join the ground level of the Houston Rockets’ operation. As Schroeder noted in his report, the Rockets are among the more active call-up teams in the NBA, and if Robinson succeeds in the D-League, he’ll likely get a pat on the head and 10 days’ worth of NBA salary for his efforts.
Sims was a quality scorer and rebounder last season for Michigan, and followed up his collegiate career with a strong showing at the Orlando Summer League. After playing a few games in Greece for PAOK BC, Sims has decided to return to the States, where he’ll grab a smaller paycheck but enjoy a more immediately visible big-league audition. The international route is clearly fitting for those who need the coin, but the D-League has rapidly grown into the premier avenue for NBA hopefuls. Sims is certainly one such player, and he’ll go to work in the D with the hope of turning a few heads.
The second round was supposed to be when things got exciting. Instead, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic at home, blowing out the Oklahoma City Thunder, 124-92 to take a 1-0 series lead.
Just about everything went in for San Antonio, particularly for LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, who combined for 63 points. How dominant were they?
Aldridge in particular got anything he wanted against the Thunder. Oklahoma City’s stars were quiet, with Kevin Durant scoring just 16 points and Russell Westbrook 14. San Antonio controlled the game from the start and Oklahoma City never recovered from the opening punch.
It’s hard to imagine Durant and Westbrook are this ineffective again, and hopefully the rest of this series will be a little more competitive. But the Spurs did what the Spurs do, and did nothing to shake the feeling that they’re the favorites to win the west, now that Stephen Curry‘s status is unknown.
ATLANTA (AP) A year ago, Atlanta’s magical season ended with a resounding sweep by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference final.
Now, the Hawks have another shot at LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
Feeling confident after an opening-round victory over Boston, the Hawks returned to practice Saturday to begin preparations for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1 is Monday night in Cleveland.
The Hawks were the top-seeded team in the East last season after a record 60-win campaign. It didn’t do them much good against the Cavaliers, who steamrolled Atlanta in four straight games.
Even though they slipped to 48 wins and fourth in the conference, the Hawks actually sound a bit more confident heading into this matchup, largely because of their improved defense and rebounding.
For the second consecutive year, the Warriors have lost their lead assistant to another team. When the Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry during last year’s playoffs, Steve Kerr promoted Luke Walton to associate head coach and added former journeyman big man Jarron Collins to the bench. Now that Walton is headed to the Lakers as their next head coach, the Warriors will go outside the organization to find a replacement, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein. And one name that will likely not be in the mix is David Blatt, who very nearly became an assistant under Kerr in 2014 before being offered the Cavaliers’ head job.
Given Walton’s success this season as interim head coach while Kerr recovered from back surgery, this will undoubtedly be the most attractive assistant job in the league.
In the last few years, NBA head coaching salaries have skyrocketed, and new Lakers coach Luke Walton is no exception. According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan, Walton is getting $25 million over five years, which is the same as Steve Kerr’s deal with the Warriors, now-former Knicks coach Derek Fisher’s deal in New York, and Fred Hoiberg’s deal with the Bulls.
This kind of money has become standard for head coaches who don’t also have front-office power. Tom Thibodeau and Stan Van Gundy both get between $7 and $8 million annually to do both jobs. Given how good Walton’s current situation with the Warriors is, the Lakers probably had to be on the high end of the coaching spectrum to get him to leave.