Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2

Lucas Nogueira says he’s flexible on developing his skill set either in Europe or in the NBA

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TREVISO, Italy — Lucas Nogueira performed well during the first day of adidas Eurocamp, and perhaps even a bit better than expected. The competition level is always to be taken into account, but he showed a maturity on the floor and a controlled athleticism that made it easy to see why he’s projected as a first round draft choice.

“It went as I had planned,” Nogueira told NBCSports.com on Sunday, with the help of some translation assistance from his agent, Aylton Tesch. “I just tried to show what I could bring to an NBA team, which is protecting the rim, finishing plays at the rim, and running the floor. Just showing my athleticism. I feel comfortable (with how it went), but I know I have a lot of room for growth.”

The translation piece was a bit odd, considering a team source said that they were able to interview Nogueira completely in English. But speaking to the media in a second language can be a trickier proposition, so the precautionary measure wasn’t exactly a surprise.

Even with the translating happening, it was clear that Nogueira understood the majority of what was being said in English, and came across as relaxed, comfortable, and intelligent.

As far as areas where he needs to improve, Nogueira seemed to be aware of what scouts have been saying about him — especially as it relates to his size.

“Defense,” he said. “My vision of the court, and post defense. Because before I can block a shot, the offensive player will try to bang in the post. That comes into my physicality, and I’ll need to bulk up a little more. I’m also working on being more aggressive on the boards.”

The only real knock on Nogueira from scouts and NBA executives is his lack of muscle, which comes with it questions of whether or not he’ll be able to add the necessary bulk to be effective competing against bigs at the professional level. But Nogueira believes his overall talent should be able to overcome questions about his size.

“I will look to develop my body,” he said. “But at the same time, there’s something that I bring to the game that no one else does.”

Nogueira’s agent chimed in and stated the obvious — that knocking younger players for having a slender frame is a bit silly, considering that’s the case for most prospects, especially the ones like Nogueira who approach being seven feet tall.

“He’s just 20 years old,” Tesch said. “I think he could end up having the body of like a Jermaine O’Neal or a Joakim Noah. They may not have broad shoulders, but you can see how they were able to fill in.”

Besides the physical development, Nogueira knows that he needs to continue to develop as a player. Interestingly enough, he seems fine with doing that either in Europe or the states, depending on what the team that drafts him believes will ultimately be the best course of action.

“I think that the teams play a major role in the development of young players,” Tesch said. “We’re not here to force any NBA team to take him, because he’s still 20 years old. We know that he has to develop a lot, so we have to have a team on board with that to help him through this process, whether it takes a year or two more years in Europe, that’s fine. He’d still be just 22 at that point, so there’s plenty of time.”

Nogueira maintains a positive outlook on it all, and just seems to want to be drafted by an organization that will take the time necessary to invest in his future.

“I’ll leave that up to the team that picks me,” he said. “I’m flexible about going back to Europe, or staying in the NBA depending on what they feel is best. I just want a team that has a plan for me that I can follow.”

J.B. Bickerstaff calls Rockets ‘broken team,’ ‘fragmented bunch’

Houston Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff rubs his head in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Houston. The Wizards won 123-122. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been unafraid to sharply assess his team.

But after last night’s loss to the Trail Blazers – Houston’s third straight defeat and sixth in eight games – Bickerstaff kicked up the rhetoric even further.

Bickerstaff, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

“We’re broken,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s that simple. We’re a broken team, and we all need to use this break to figure out how we’re going to impact change. If we don’t want to impact change, then we need to be made aware of that, too, and we’ll go in a different direction.

“We can’t continue to go out and play this way. It’s easy to see it’s a fragmented bunch. You can’t win that way.”

This is why Dwight Howard is on the trade block. The Rockets are so incohesive, there’s no simple solution in sight. This increasingly looks like a lost season for Houston, which should emphasize future planning – like dealing Howard, who can become an unrestricted free agent at age 30 this summer.

Yet, the Rockets are just a half game from playoff position. They obviously dreamed much bigger when the season began, but at this point, merely making the postseason should qualify as a success.

It’s Bickerstaff’s job to get them there, no matter how unlikely. He has certainly shown little fear in trying, whether it’s giving these quotes or pulling all five starters simultaneously shortly into a game. He’s trying to put his mark on this team.

The players just aren’t responding, not more than periodically, at least. From James Harden down, nobody plays with the requisite focus and energy.

Nothing in Bickerstaff’s assessment is surprising. It’s just surprising he said it so bluntly publicly.

Then again, that’s nothing compared to what veteran Houston guard Jason Terry said. Eric Ringering of 750 The Game:

https://twitter.com/ringering45/status/697664478993756164

Devin Booker to replace Nerlens Noel in Rising Stars at All-Star Weeekend

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker reacts after hitting a 3-point shot against the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Sixers big man Nerlens Noel — who has looked much improved this season once Ish Smith was feeding him the rock on offense — sat out the Sixers game Wednesday night due to tendonitis in his right knee. After he missed his rookie season with knee issues, you can understand why the Sixers want him to be cautious.

Noel is going to sit out All-Star Weekend as well — he had been scheduled to play in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, but he is going to sit that out and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns will take his place, the league has announced (Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic broke that story).

Booker has been one of the few bright spots for the Suns this season, averaging 10.6 points a game and shooting 40.3 percent from three.

He will play for the USA in the World vs. USA format of the Rising Stars Challenge (the former rookie/sophomore game, featuring first and second year players).

With Emmanuel Mudiay replacing Patrick Beverley, NBA reveals Skills Challenge bracket

Houston Rockets' Patrick Beverley (2) knocks the ball away from Denver Nuggets' Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the first half of a NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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Out: Defending champion Patrick Beverley.

In: Emmanuel Mudiay Emmanuel Mudiay.

The NBA confirmed the Rockets guard would miss the Skills Challenge and that Mudiay would replace him. The league also release the bracket:

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My picks:

Quarterfinals

Semifinals

  • Isaiah Thomas over C.J. McCollum
  • Anthony Davis over Draymond Green

Final

  • Isaiah Thomas over Anthony Davis

NBA suspends Hassan Whiteside for elbowing Boban Marjanovic’s head

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Hassan Whiteside lost his cool and elbowed Boban Marjanovic in the head Tuesday.

The Heat center received a flagrant 2 and an ejection, and now he’s getting the rest of his punishment.

NBA release:

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside has been suspended one game without pay for throwing an elbow and making contact with the head of San Antonio Spurs center Boban Marjanovic, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Whiteside was assessed a Flagrant 2 and ejected, occurred with 9:35 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Spurs’ 119-101 win over the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Feb. 9.

Whiteside will serve his suspension when Miami plays the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 19 at Philips Arena.

The suspension will cost Whiteside $8,921. As a result, the Heat – in line to become the first team in NBA history to pay the repeater luxury-tax rate – trim their impending tax bill by $24,534.

More importantly for Whiteside, this will be a strike against him for teams considering offering him a big contract in free agency this summer.