Some of the big names of the 2011 NBA Draft have had a busy summer. Josh Selby was turning a few heads at the Impact Basketball Series in Vegas the last couple weeks. Jimmer Fredette was throwing his own rookie game in Utah. Derrick Williams has been working out with Kobe Bryant. Jonas Valanciunas has looked good playing for Lithuania at EuroBasket.
No. 1 pick Kyrie Irving has been nowhere to be seen.
And that’s just what the Cavaliers wanted for the Duke star who raced back from a foot injury to play in the NCAA Tournament, reports Brian Windhorst at ESPN.
During the single week that the Cavs were allowed to have contact with Irving between the time they drafted him and July 1, when the lockout’s iron veil dropped and severed any communication between players and teams, the team’s medical personnel and management met with Irving. They couldn’t really set too many terms — Irving hasn’t even signed a contract or accepted a check yet — but they strongly suggested that Irving shut it down for the summer to let his foot continue to heal….
“It was the hardest two months of my life,” Irving said. “It was hard to sit on the sidelines. Especially with the amount of exposure everyone was getting in playing in those pro-ams and being everywhere. That was different for me, not being able to work out and get better. Summertime is when my game has gone to a different level every year and that’s happened throughout my entire life. It was a learning experience.”
That foot injury — essentially turf toe — kept Irving out most of his freshman season and he only way it really heals is rest. So that’s what the doctors ordered.
But he’s good now and ready to go… if only the league were ready to go. But he might start to pop up at some events now.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.