Daniel Orton

Daniel Orton made his NBA debut 582 days after being drafted by Orlando Magic

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The Orlando Magic drafted Daniel Orton on June 24, 2010, with the 29th overall pick of the NBA Draft. 582 days later, the 6-foot-10 center made his big league debut in garbage time of Friday night’s 93-67 loss to the New Orleans Hornets.

Orton, a project pick and one of five Kentucky players selected in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft, sank two free-throws in his three minutes and nine seconds off the bench for the Magic in Friday’s blowout loss. It wasn’t much, obviously, but at least he can say that he’s finally played in the NBA. It was a long road to that point, too, as Orton had to deal with a season-ending knee injury last season while on assignment in the NBA Development League.

While Orton waited to make his NBA debut, teammate Dwight Howard was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year for a third straight season, ‘strongly’ considered playing overseas and decided that his trade demand would extend to nearly half of the teams in the NBA before his emotions bubbled over following the loss to the Hornets. It would seem that Howard’s likely going to be traded sooner rather than later following the latest incident, though that doesn’t necessarily bode well for his backup’s future in Disney World.

The Magic declined Orton’s rookie option earlier in the week, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but it wasn’t without controversy. There are very few players that haven’t had their first rookie option extended — Joe Alexander being one of the more high-profile prospects of the bunch — but Orton’s case was quite rare considering that, prior to Friday it looked like he may never play a game with the team that drafted him.

“I haven’t done anything on the court to prove that I can play or anything, so I understand why they did it,” Orton told the Orlando Sentinel. “But I don’t understand a lot of things, such as why I didn’t get a chance maybe to showcase what I have.”

Getting to the charity stripe for a pair of free-throws in a blowout loss to the Hornets probably wasn’t exactly what Orton had in mind when he made the above comment, but it’ll be interesting to see exactly what happens with him down the road when he’s able to actually showcase what he has. There aren’t a lot of players that have Orton’s combination of size, strength and shooting touch, but the Magic apparently weren’t impressed with what he brought to the table during practice.

Considering he’s just 21 years of age, however, there’s a solid chance that whichever team picks him up this summer might better utilize him on their roster. At the very least, it’s unlikely he’d have to go another 50,284,800 seconds on an NBA roster without actually seeing the court during a game, right?

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.

Ben Simmons says he plans to work on shooting, handles, getting stronger before camp

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons cheers from the bunch during the first half of the team's NBA summer league basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Thursday, July 14, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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The leap from college — even high-level college programs — to the NBA can be hard to describe. Now everybody is bigger, longer, and far more athletic — the guy at the end of the bench barely getting any burn was one of the best players on his college team.

Players get their first taste of that at Summer League. The Sixers’ No. 1 pick Ben Simmons looked pretty good when he got that taste, but you can see the development that needs to go on as well.

He’s spending the time between now and the start of training camp working on his shooting and getting stronger, among other things, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com.

“I think just getting in the gym and making sure I’m getting reps up, shooting-wise, dribbling,” Simmons said earlier this week after an appearance at Sixers Camp in Wayne, Pennsylvania. “The weight room as well, making sure I get my strength back and my weight up.”

All good things. Handles and shooting in particular — he’s about to start seeing much better defenders nightly. It’s going to take time, and we’ll see how far he can go, but Simmons unquestionably brings a lot of skill and potential to the table. That he’s putting in the work is a good sign — that was one of the concerns about him heading into the draft.

New GM Bryan Colangelo is going to benefit from Sam Hinkie’s process. So long as he doesn’t screw it up.

Report: Warriors sign JaVale McGee to make-good training camp contract

JaVale McGee
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JaVale McGee is getting another shot in the NBA.

He played just 34 games off the bench for Dallas last season. He played 23 games the season before that due to injury.

But the Golden State Warriors are thin up front — Zaza Pachulia will get the bulk of the minutes at the five (when the Warriors use a traditional center), and there is the often-injured Anderson Varejao behind him. The Warriors could use another big. So they are giving McGee a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

This is a low-risk move by the Warriors, and it’s worth the gamble. Vintage McGee, for all his Shaqtin’ a Fool flaws, is far more athletic and a better rim protector than any of the guys the Warriors now have at the five. If it doesn’t work out — and the odds are it will not — they cut him, if it does they pay him a minimum deal.

I hope he makes it, just because the league is more fun when McGee is in it.

Russell Westbrook laughs off question about Kevin Durant

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant #35 discuss play during the first half against the Los Angeles ClipperLos Angeles Kingsat Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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At some point, Russell Westbrook will sit down with members of the media and discuss Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, how he felt about the move, and how it impacted him both personally and professionally.

But not right now. He remains silent.

This Vine making its way around, where Westbrook laughs — probably at the question, although read into that whatever you want — when asked about Durant sums up where we are.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

In the full Facebook clip, Westbrook walks away, too. It’s his right. He can talk about it on his schedule.