Justin Dentmon

Justin Dentmon Gets Closer To NBA With His Play On Second Day Of D-League Showcase

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Justin Dentmon was named the Pac-10’s Most Improved Player as a senior during the 2008-09 NCAA season with the Washington Huskies, but the 6-foot guard has improved quite a bit since. He’s looking to show NBA decision-makers just how much more he’s improved this week while playing with the Austin Toros in the NBA D-League Showcase.

The 26-year-old was averaging 23 points along with 4.6 assists and 4.3 rebounds heading into Tuesday’s game in 10 games this D-League season — split between a training camp invite with the New Orleans Hornets — and came out backing those numbers in a 111-88 blowout victory over the Erie BayHawks. Dentmon scored 23 points and dished nine assists while sharing a backcourt with San Antonio Spurs assignee Cory Joseph.

“My main focus down here at the Showcase was just to throw the first punch,” Dentmon told Pro Basketball Talk after the game. “Coach wrote on the board before the game ‘do what you do and do what we do’ so I did what I do and got the rest of my team involved. Scoring comes naturally, but I wanted to show I can be a complete player out there.”

Dentmon is forced to play off the ball a bit with Joseph in the lineup, but  the third-year pro wants it made clear that he’s a point guard with the ability to score and not just a scorer who can play the point in a pinch.

“Today I thought I did a good job of putting our guys in the right spots and getting us set up in the offense, really,” Dentmon said. “They told me in New Orleans that I need to work on getting my teammates involved and run the offense better so that’s what I’m trying to show I can do.”

As soon as he proves he’s able to do that on a consistent basis, it’ll prove that turning down lucrative European offers paid off.

“What keeps me here is my dream. My dream is to be in the NBA and by me playing well, I don’t want to pass it up only to later say ‘what if?'” Dentmon said. “I don’t want to go overseas and then see a guy get called up and be like ‘what if that was me?’ I just want to be that ‘what if.'”

Other players that stood out on Day 2 in the D-League included:

  • The first game of the day on Tuesday included another player with Washington state connections making waves as former Seattle U standout Charles Garcia put in 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in a losing effort for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Garcia still has to prove he’s capable of fitting in on an NBA roster without causing any commotion, but he certainly has the size to contribute in an NBA frontcourt in the future.
  • Xavier Silas isn’t a name most basketball fans are familiar with, but the rookie out of Northern Illinois may have opened some eyes Tuesday morning with a game-high 21 points in the Maine Red Claws 98-92 victory. Silas was invited to camp with the Philadelphia 76ers so he obviously has NBA talent, but he’ll need to show he can perform on a consistent basiss in order to get a further looks from the big leagues.
  • Booker Woodfox has developed a reputation for standing out at the Showcase as the former Creighton standout shoots the lights out when on the big stage. It was Booker Time again on Tuesday afternoon as he had a few in attendance calling him ‘Microwave’ after coming off the bench for the Legends to score 22 points in 31 minutes.
  • Mike Anderson looked solid in defeat for the Dakota Wizards as the lengthy forward scored 19 points, grabbed six rebounds and swatted four shots while converting on multiple highlight plays on both ends of the court. Former Cleveland Cavalier Manny Harris led the Canton Charge over Anderson’s team, however, by coming off the bench to score 15 points in his first D-League game.

51 Q: Tom Thibodeau can coach, is he ready to run a franchise?

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 12: Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls yells to his players in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Five in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena on May 12, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Bulls 106-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Minnesota Timberwolves were probably not going to get Tom Thibodeau without the promise of organizational control. After his contentious relationship with the Bulls’ front office led to his exit after five seasons in Chicago, he took a year-long sabbatical from coaching and observed how other organizations run their operations from both a coaching and a front-office standpoint. He was in high demand as a coaching free agent and could essentially name his price, and if he wanted personnel control too, he could have it. That’s what ended up happening in Minnesota, and Thibodeau will be the latest test case in whether the two-in-one model works. Thibodeau’s coaching ability is indisputable. How he’ll fare as an executive is a different question entirely.

The Timberwolves had a solid offseason after a rumored draft-night trade for Jimmy Butler fell apart. Given Thibodeau’s history of stubbornness and intractability, it was a valid fear that he’d take the same approach to roster-building as his former mentor Doc Rivers has in Los Angeles, simply bringing back all of his old mainstays from the Bulls days. With Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Pau Gasol and Kirk Hinrich on the market, the opportunity was there to get the band back together, spending too much money in the process and hindering the development of maybe the most promising young core in the NBA in the name of more wins in the short term.

But Thibodeau didn’t do that. Instead, he and GM Scott Layden plugged some holes with value deals. Getting Cold Aldrich for three years at $22 million gives them a more than serviceable backup center, and they landed Brandon Rush on a one-year deal for $3.5 million to provide some outside shooting. They didn’t do anything to sacrifice long-term flexibility and didn’t sign anyone that will get in the way of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine getting plenty of playing time.

The idea of a coach making personnel decisions is a dicey one for several reasons, not least of which being that it’s harder to have the emotional detachment to trade a player if you see them every day in practice. But the Chicago team Thibodeau inherited in 2010 was a readymade contender that needed a coaching upgrade. This Minnesota team isn’t there yet, and even his ability to get more wins than expected out of any roster he’s given won’t make them truly competitive in the upper echelon of the Western Conference playoff picture, at least not yet. So far, his moves reflect an understanding of that reality.

The first big roster decision Thibodeau will have to make during the season will be the point guard situation. Thibodeau loves Kris Dunn, whom he drafted at No. 5 overall in June, and Dunn provides shooting that Ricky Rubio does not. If Dunn takes the starting spot in training camp, Thibodeau will have to look long and hard at moving Rubio. Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad could also wind up on the block, depending on how the rotation shakes out, and how Thibodeau fares at getting a return on his trades will be worth monitoring.

With that said, it’s pretty hard to screw up a core that includes Wiggins and Towns, and Thibodeau seems to know what he has in those two. As long as he can put complementary pieces around them and keep their development up to pace on the court, this experiment should prove to be a success.

Julius Randle lacerates hand, to be re-evaluated in two weeks

Julius Randle
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Julius Randle suffered a season-ending injury in his first NBA game.

His third pro season includes an even earlier setback.

Lakers release:

Lakers forward Julius Randle suffered a laceration to his right hand (webbing between middle and ring fingers) yesterday while practicing. He received seven stitches and will be re-evaluated in approximately 14 days.

Thankfully, this doesn’t sound as major and happened well before training camp. Even if he needs twice as long to heal after his announced reevaluation, he’ll be ready for the preseason.

The key is getting Randle fully recovered. His ball-handling ability for a power forward is a key facet to his game, and a cut in his hand could impede it.

NBA rookies name Kevin Durant their favorite player

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 07:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors poses with his new jersey during the press conference where he was introduced as a member of the Golden State Warriors after they signed him as a free agent on July 7, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Kevin Durant faced tremendous backlash for leaving the Thunder for the Warriors.

But not from NBA rookies.

In the league’s annual rookie survey, a plurality of first-year players voted Durant their favorite player:

1. Kevin Durant, Golden State — 29.7%

T-2. Carmelo Anthony, New York — 9.4%

LeBron James, Cleveland — 9.4%

Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City — 9.4%

T-5. LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio — 6.3%

Kobe Bryant (retired) — 6.3%

Paul George, Indiana — 6.3%

Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers — 6.3%

T-9. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota — 4.7%

Others receiving votes: Vince Carter, Memphis; Stephen Curry, Golden State; Marc Gasol, Memphis; Kyrie Irving, Cleveland

This is the third straight year Durant has claimed the top spot, matching LeBron and Kobe for combined wins in the six years this question was asked of rookies:

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This is further evidence: If you resent Kevin Durant for exercising his right to switch employers after nine years with a company that acquired him by producing an awful product, you’re out of touch. Follow the kids’ lead and get with it.

Jason Terry: Luke Walton ‘utterly declined’ my offer to provide Lakers veteran leadership

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 19:  Guard Jason Terry #31 of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Luke Walton #4 of the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center on January 19, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Before signing with the Bucks, Jason Terry said he reached out to multiple contenders.

He also spoke with the Lakers.

Terry tried to leverage his relationship with Lakers coach Luke Walton, who also played at Arizona (though their time there didn’t overlap).

Terry on SiriusXM NBA Radio.

I called my good friend Luke. I told him if he needed any help, veteran leadership, in that capacity – Lakers – with an ability to coach at the end of my deal, then that was something I would be looking forward to. He utterly declined, and I respect him for that.

Gotta love a guy who announces to the world his pitch of providing veteran leadership was “utterly declined.”

The Lakers should be just fine with Jose Calderon and Luol Deng.