Who looked good in Vegas Day 1: Marreese Speights, Iman Shumpert

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Monday was Day 1 of the Impact Competitive Training Series out in Las Vegas. That is some organized run for NBA guys, a chance for them to fine tune their games and get in shape for training camps and a season that may or may not come soon.

About 40 guys were there for the first day (guys are expected to drop in and out). A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com was out there and filed a report on who looked good.

Just a word of caution: Impact is like Summer League — you can get some insight into who has been working on their game and might take a step forward, but don’t read too much into the results. These are glorified pickup games, not NBA run. That said, Sixers and Knicks fans should be happy.

Marreese Speights, C, Philadelphia: After seeing limited time last season with the Sixers, Speights is out to regain the form and promise he showed as a rookie three years ago. The 6-foot-10 center showed a nice inside-outside game, tallying 21 points (including a 3-pointer) along with 12 rebounds.

Isaiah Thomas, G, Sacramento: The smallest guy on the floor put up big numbers while playing in two games. In his first game, the 5-foot-9 guard barely missed having a triple-double with 28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. He followed that up with a 26-point, seven-assist effort.

Iman Shumpert, G/F, New York: There were a handful of rookies here, but Shumpert was hands-down the best of the bunch. His athleticism was impressive, but he showed the ability to knock down jumpers as well which would make him an extremely tough cover in the coming years. He had 25 points and six rebounds.

Again, any run where Thomas and Shumpert are stars should not be taken too seriously. But when we looked what the Kings should do post lockout the big question was “who will be the facilitator on this team?” Maybe Thomas can grow into that role. Shumpert is not going to get a lot of shots in NYC — they pay a couple guys named ‘Melo and Amar’e a lot of money to take the lion’s share — but if he can knock down jumpers he will get minutes under Mike D’Antoni.

Other guys Blakely said looked good were Austin Daye and Jermaine O’Neal, at least until O’Neal started to tire as the game wore on. Boston can’t count on him for big minutes.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.

Sprained ankle has LeBron James questionable for opener vs. Celtics

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James‘ playing status for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston remains unclear.

James has been slowed by a sprained left ankle for more than two weeks and it’s still not known whether he’ll be on the floor when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, who asked to be traded by Cleveland this summer.

Following Monday’s practice, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said “I really don’t know” when asked if James will play.

James took part in some post-practice shooting drills with teammates. He did not speak with the media as the Cavaliers prepared for their opener, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

James has never missed an opener in his NBA career, and teammate J.R. Smith doesn’t expect him to miss this one.

“Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said. “He’s going to go, trust me that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.”