The NBA Development League’s annual Showcase is halfway through with eight games already having been played in lovely Reno, but the show goes on — and could even get better — when things gets underway on Wednesday. NBA TV’s live coverage tips off at 1 p.m. as Ricky Davis continues his comeback attempt against Eric Musselman’s Los Angeles D-Fenders, but all four games on Thursday feature interesting prospects.
Musselman’s D-Fenders are one of the deepest teams in the D-League as they boast a pair of former first round picks in Gerald Green and Mardy Collins, but quite a few scouts have their eye on Elijah Millsap. Millsap, the younger brother of NBA power forward Paul Millsap, has quite a bit of potential at the next level if he commits to becoming a shutdown defender on the perimeter.
Davis had his best game thus far earlier this week at the Showcase with 13 points on seven shot attempts, but scouts in attendance were a bit skeptical of the 32-year-old swingman. The former NBA starter seemed to be trying to be someone he isn’t as he deferred quite a bit more than most were used to when the former first round pick was trying to pick up triple-doubles in the big leagues, but he’ll have to show he’s still able to score in bunches if he’s going to get a good look from the big clubs.
NBA TV’s second game of the day features Antoine Walker and the Idaho Stampede taking on Toronto Raptors assignee Solomon Alabi and the Bakersfield Jam. Walker, the former Boston Celtics standout, will need to be pretty impressive on Wednesday after starting the Showcase out with a disappointing 1-0f-8 shooting effort from the field.
Wednesday’s third game might be the most intriguing as it features big men on the opposite ends of the spectrum as far as their careers are concerned. Greg Ostertag will continue his comeback with the Texas Legends as they take on up-and-coming power forward prospect Charles Garcia. Garcia scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds on Tuesday, but will need to show he can put up statistics in a winning effort if he’s really going to impress the scouts.
The last game of the Showcase’s penultimate day will feature the hosting Reno Bighorns taking on the Iowa Energy, the last team to make their Showcase debut. The Bighorns have a pair of NBA players in Sacramento Kings prospects Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Honeycutt, but former draft pick Andre Emmett stole the show in their first game this week. As far as the Energy are concerned, Marqus Blakely will be the player to watch as he looks to prove he has what it takes to play at the next level after being cut in training camp by the Houston Rockets.
The Thunder signed P.J. Dozier, who went undrafted out of South Carolina, to a seemingly innocuous two-way contract.
Then, they let him pick No. 35 – previously worn by Kevin Durant.
Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:
Honoring Reggie Lewis seems like a valid reason for Dozier, who probably didn’t want to get swept into what has become a minor controversy.
Personally, I don’t mind a player wearing any unretired number. Even numbers that will clearly be retired can be fair game until the jersey goes into the rafters. This is a non-issue to me.
But people care about this stuff. Many see it as a sign of disrespect to Durant, who left Oklahoma City on bad terms when signing with the Warriors. The Thunder lose deniability about not caring, considering they told Dion Waiters he couldn’t wear No. 13, which was previously worn by James Harden.
Will Oklahoma City eventually retire Durant’s No. 35? He spent a fantastic eight years there (and another season with the Seattle SuperSonics before they moved). Time will ease the bitterness of his exit. It’s certainly possible he’s honored that way.
In the meantime, let Dozier wear No. 35 in peace. It should have nothing to do with Durant.
76ers center Joel Embiid made clear yesterday he disliked the minute restriction placed on him, which Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said would keep Embiid below 20 minutes per game.
Today, sporting a new hairstyle, Embiid upped the rhetoric.
Embiid, via Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
“That’s f—ing BS,” he said after practice Tuesday. “I wish I was playing more minutes. I think I’m ready for more than I don’t know whatever number they have.”
“I think the concept of minute restrictions is kind of complicated,” Embiid said. “I don’t think there should ever be minute restrictions. I think it should always be about how my body feels and how it’s reacting.”
“They know that I’m frustrated, but once again you’ve got to trust the doctors,” Embiid said. “They care about me. It’s all about the long-term view.”
“Like I always say,” he said, “you’ve got to trust the process.”
We’ve been here before – an injury-prone Philadelphia center rocking cornrows (at least Embiid went all the way with them) and Embiid lashing out at his minute limit.
Embiid is incredibly competitive, and he can’t just turn it off. It’s an attribute that contributes to his on-court excellence.
Embiid appears to have just enough trust-the-process perspective here, but Brown will also likely have his hands full keeping Embiid from getting too frustrated throughout the season.
At least Embiid has his contract extension and isn’t restless to get on the court and earn his big payday.
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James may miss Cleveland’s opener Tuesday night against Boston because of a sprained left ankle.
James injured his ankle in practice on Sept. 27 and played in just one exhibition game. He participated in the team’s morning shootaround, and a team spokesman said it will be a game-time decision whether he faces the Celtics. James is officially listed as questionable.
James took some outside shots but did very little lateral movement when the media was permitted to watch the Cavs work out.
It’s hard to imagine James missing the first opener of his career and a chance to play against former teammate Kyrie Irving, who was traded this summer to Boston after telling Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert that he wanted out. James and Irving had a sometimes rocky relationship during three seasons together, but they made it to three straight NBA Finals and won the title in 2016.
Kyrie Irving said he requested a trade from the Cavaliers because he wanted to be happy and maximize his potential.
But why did he feel that couldn’t happen in Cleveland?
Irving hasn’t come close to directly answering that question, saying things like, “My intent, like I said, was for my best intentions.” Returning to Cleveland with the Celtics, Irving was again pressed to explain.
Irving, via MassLive:
Going forward, I kind of wanted to put that to rest in terms of everyone figuring out or trying to figure out and dive in and continue to dive into a narrative that they have no idea about and that probably will never, ever be divulged, because it’s not important. This was literally just a decision I wanted to make solely based on my happiness and pushing my career forward. I don’t want to pinpoint anything. I will never pinpoint anything, because that’s not what real grownups do. They continue to move on with their life and and continue to progress, and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.
Perhaps, Irving is just following Dwyane Wade‘s advice and taking the high road. But that won’t ease our collective curiosity. Fans will continue to speculate about why Irving wanted out, and reporters will continue to dig into it. Reporting and speculation have both centered on LeBron James.
If Irving eventually wants to set the record straight – and he doesn’t sound interested, lending credence to the theory he wanted to leave LeBron behind – everyone will be all ears.