It feels like every training camp we hear the same thing out of Atlanta — “this year we are going to really run, be more up tempo. We swear.” Then every year once the games start the Hawks return to their three-toed sloth tempo. They have finished in the bottom 10 in pace in the league the past four seasons.
But this year is different. They swear. Coach Larry Drew has been all about defense then fast breaks in training camp. Get the stop then get out in transition. That’s all the practices have focused on.
So much so that they haven’t worked on post play yet in camp — and Al Horford wants to. Here is what he told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“You need to have an inside presence,” Horford said. “You can’t just sit around and shoot jumpers all day. We have to have a paint presence. We have to establish that. In camp, we have really been focusing on the defensive stuff and getting out and running but at some point we are going to have to address it.”
With guys on the roster like Horford and Josh Smith, it would be foolish to just run and live from the outside where guys like Jeff Teague and Mo Williams are taking the shots. What do you think is the higher percentage, Teague from 18 feet or Horford from 5 feet? Exactly.
Horford is right, there needs to be a balance. The Hawks played good defense last season (sixth in defensive efficiency in the league) but they were average on offense. If they get out and run, if they can get just a few easy baskets in transition before the defense sets, that will help. They could use to be faster. But they still have some potent half-court weapons and if you don’t get Horford a lot of touches down on the block you are doing it wrong.
This is a huge season — a contract kind of season of sorts — for Noah Vonleh in Portland. The team has an option on him next season (the third of his rookie deal), and to impress people he is going to have to earn minutes at the four in front of Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, and Ed Davis.
The Blazers have high hopes for Vonleh, he was a central part of the Nicolas Batum trade with Charlotte. However, watching Vonleh at Summer League — 12 points a game on 46.3 percent shooting, 8.8 rebounds a game in more than 30 minutes a night — he didn’t show the development anyone had hoped to see. He should have dominated at that level. He didn’t.
Now there another injury setback for him.
He should be good to go around the start of training camp at the end of September.
But he can’t afford a slow start in training camp (that set him back his rookie season). He needs to show what he can do from day one, or Portland is going to move on without him.
The Boston Celtics have 16 players with guaranteed contracts and NBA rules allow just 15 players on the roster. Which means if a trade doesn’t happen by the start of the season, someone is going to get cut but still paid for the season.
This doesn’t change that.
The Celtics signed guard John Holland last season (he played a total of one playoff minute for them), but the deal was not guaranteed for this season. From Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
This was expected. Holland, who has played on the Puerto Rican national team, will be looking for a new gig either in the D-League or overseas (it’s unlikely an NBA team offers more than a training camp invite) By the end of training camp, the Celtics also likely will cut second-round pick Ben Bentil of Providence, who had a partially guaranteed deal.
That will leave R.J. Hunter and James Young battling it out for the final roster spot in Boston.
Ty Lawson is headed to the Kings, as first reported on Monday. The team made the move official on Wednesday with a press release, and USA Today‘s Sam Amick offers up another important piece of information: Lawson’s deal is not guaranteed, making it essentially a make-good camp invite.
It’s staggering how Lawson went from a borderline All-Star level point guard in 2012-13 to signing a non-guaranteed one-year deal with a lottery team three years later. His off-the-court issues have contributed to that, and he didn’t produce last season in Houston and Indiana. Still, he should have a pretty good chance of making the Kings’ roster, with Seth Curry and Rajon Rondo gone and Darren Collison their only proven point guard. They need depth there.
When Ben Simmons declared for the NBA draft this spring, he signed with LeBron James‘ Klutch Sports group for representation. That association would appear to have its advantages for the No. 1 overall pick, including the opportunity to work out with James and Dwyane Wade during the offseason. Wade posted a group photo on Instagram on Wednesday afternoon:
Also, it’s pretty staggering to see Simmons standing next to James and realizing that he’s bigger and taller.